Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) (HBO)

He finally breaks free in this episode, and his actions go a long way to showing how much Jason has grown since the first season, and kudos to the writers and Ryan Kwanten for making that growth seem logical and organic.

Every good TV geek knows the feeling they get when a character they like acts completely out of character – often it’s what we really mean when we talk about a show jumping the shark. It’s those moments when you say to yourself, “Wait a minute, I’ve been watching this show for three seasons and Buffy/Starbuck/Jack Bauer/Jack Shepherd would never do that.” (Or, in the case of “True Blood,” if Eric or Alcide started wearing shirts on a regular basis, that would be completely out of character.)

Conversely, the development of Jason from complete buffoon to a more responsible and capable character has been a natural progression. In earlier seasons, Jason was essentially comic relief – he slept with every woman he could, he got addicted to V, he couldn’t stand up to Amy, he came up with schemes that were, at best, quarter-baked, and threw himself into them, etc.

As mentioned, Jason has spent most of this season tied to a bed in Hot Shot, and in this episode the women of the werepanther clan are taking turns raping him, hoping to get pregnant and add a little diversity to their stagnant, brackish gene pool.

When the youngest werepanther girl, Becky, is left alone with Jason, he talks her into letting him go. Yes, it was said to save his own skin, but I’m not sure it would have even occurred to Season One Jason to tell a character about to lose her virginity that “your first time should be with a boy you really like, who brings you presents and candy.” (Maybe I’m giving the character too much credit, or it was just really well acted by Kwanten, but it seemed like he meant what he was saying and he wasn’t just being self-serving.)

For that matter, Season One Jason was not nearly responsible enough to live up to his promise to take care of the people of Hot Shot, as he has been doing since the end of Season Three, and I’m not sure he would have been strong enough to reject Crystal like he does in this episode.

The “True Blood” version of one of those kitty-cat “hang in there” posters. (HBO)


- On the other hand, “True Blood” writers, having the werepanthers refer to one another as “brother/husband” or “Uncle Daddy” wasn’t that funny to begin with and is just tired now. They’re incestuous backwoods folk, we get it.

- Crystal tells Jason that once he’s a werepanther, “Hot Shot’s the only place that will take you in.” Yes, clearly, because the rest of the people he knows are so uptight and intolerant when it comes to supernatural creatures...

- Poll

“You drank the whole fairy. Now go to your room!” (HBO)

- First we get a dead parrot. Now a scene from the Spanish Inquisition. I can only assume a visit to the vampire ministry of silly walks is coming soon. And that Marnie’s next spell will cause a giant foot to come crashing down on Bill.

- Nan threatens Bill that he’ll answer to her if any humans in the Wiccan circle are harmed; she doesn’t want vampires to get any more bad PR. Curiously, Bill refers to the last incident of a witch using death magic on vampires by asking Nan if she remembers “The Spanish Massacre” rather than the Spanish Inquisition, and Nan writes it off as the work of “a single powerful witch with a reason to go after vampires.” She asks him whether he remembers Salem, a reference to the overblown witch trials. I wasn’t sure if they were using “remember” colloquially, or if it was a lapse in continuity, as neither vampire should be old enough to actually remember either event.

- Bill is old enough to have a great, great, great, great granddaughter though, and to sleep with her without realizing they are related. He ends it with Portia immediately, and even Bill, who has done plenty of awful and depraved things in his life, seems grossed out.

- Katherine Helmond is introduced as Andy and Portia’s grandmother. Does this mean they were raised by Tony Danza?