The wait is over, and after all the footage HBO showed us in promos, including the first eight minutes of the season 4 premiere, we still got a few surprises: The biggest and best being that Sookie had been in the fairy realm -- a façade of silk, chiffon, and lace (like pastel week on Dancing With the Stars when every couple is doing the rumba) -- for a year and two weeks. Much has changed.
Like America in every global disaster movie, Sookie was apparently the only one smart enough to figure out that the near-orgasmic “light fruit” being served in the fairy plane was a trap. She tried to warn Barry the Bellboy from season 2, another recent arrival, but he bit into the forbidden fruit before she could stop him. I hope he will be very happy with his fairy godmother Lloyd. I know I would be.
Once Sookie talked with her grandfather Earl (guest star Gary Cole), who thought he saw her just last week instead of 20 years ago, Sookie realized time stood still there and they needed to leave. Because all fairies are telepathic and not just the Stackhouses, everyone heard Sookie tell Earl as much. That's when we met Mab, the fairy royalty who'd sent for Sookie. Because Bill had tasted Sookie and breached the plane that fairies had fled to long ago when vampires nearly drank them extinct, she's harvesting the humans with fae blood and plans on sealing off their world so no one can travel between. Some of the fairies are for this -- presumably Sookie's fairy godmother Claudine, who brought her there. ("I have a fairy godmother? Okay, if your job is to look after me, can I just say you suck," Sookie told her. I look forward to the montage of all the times Claudine did help her.) Others, like Claudine's brother, want the right to visit the human realm, and must know that Mab won't close it off with Sookie in it, which is why they helped Sookie find the portal to return home amidst a fairy fight. (How did Sookie have enough power to put Mab on her ass?)
The fairies are so much more interesting than I thought they'd be now that we know they're truly ugly and vicious when they don't get their way. Though Earl was warned he couldn't leave if he'd eaten the fruit, he went with Sookie when he forced her to jump into the portal. Bill and Eric sensed the moment Sookie touched down in the cemetery, but it was daylight, which meant we had time to get through some other business before they came calling. Sookie helped Earl hobble over to the family plots, where he died and vanished after giving her his pocket watch to give to Jason. At least this time, Sookie didn’t need to scrub anything.
When Sookie arrived at her house, she found it being renovated. The workmen threatened to call the cops, and who finally walked through the door, filling out the uniform nicely -- Jason. Personally, I would have wanted to discuss his facial hair. But Sookie wanted to know how long she'd been gone, 12.5 months, which is why he assumed she was dead and had sold her house to an anonymous real estate company willing to pay too much for it. I guessed it was Eric even before he arrived to tell her that unlike Bill, who also showed up, he never gave up hope that she was alive. You? Jason had told Sookie she'd be locked up if she told people she time-traveled to a fairy realm, but she hadn't had time to think of a cover story when Sheriff Andy, now a V addict, arrived to yell at her for making him waste man hours and money on the search for her. Luckily, Bill told Andy that she had been out-of-town on vampire business for him. If Bill had told the truth during her absence, human lives would have been in danger, he said. Bill promised to cover the cost of the search after Andy cleared his name. Everyone assumed Bill had killed her.
Even though more than a year had passed, to Sookie, it felt like just an hour ago that Bill had broken her heart (when Eric made him confess that he'd let Sookie get beaten to near death when they met so he could feed her his blood and force the attraction). Sookie wasn't ready to forgive Bill, but she seemed sad that he was so willing to give her space. He said he'd felt "so empty" without her, but he filled his days (or rather, nights) with business. I should’ve guessed by the way Eric left Sookie's front yard when Bill asked him to that Bill was now the King of Louisiana.
NEXT: Tara found peace, and Lafayette found the place where air fresheners go to die.