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imageTypical of early seasons past, it’s hard to keep up with new characters, quickly-changing plot developments and disparate action in far-flung locales on this week’s “True Blood,” but we love trying.

Confusion begins to clear about how exactly regular-old Bill ascended to the Vampire King throne, but more questions are still raised than answered. Last season’s finale left us hanging, literally, in the air with Bill and Queen Sophie ready to collide in a fang fight to the death, and this season’s premiere did little to assuage our curiosity. But finally this week, we see not only what happened in the death match, but also the 30-year-old deal with the devil – Nan Flanagan of the Vampire Authority – that made it happen.

It appears that Bill’s been in cahoots with the vampire league since way back in his previously unrevealed days as a London punker in the ‘80s. Cheesy. The mid-air cliffhanger is wrapped up too neatly in a flashback where Flanagan’s henchmen step in and make quick work of Queen Sophie. And… You’re King. Done.

imageIn a “It’s good to be king” moment, Bill learns from his witchy spy Katerina that the local coven are necromancers – able to animate and control dead things, including vampires – then rewards the information by giving Katerina angry rapid-fire vampire sex. In an equal and opposite “heavy is the head that wears the crown” moment, Sookie stops by just in time to catch them and remind Bill that his heart is broken. Yawn.

Tara comes home to greet Sookie. Yes, she’s still posing in New Orleans as a lesbian cage fighter from Atlanta, but she had to stop by and say hi. Sookie’s too busy with her Bill-or-Eric vampire drama, so Tara drops in on gay magic afficianados Lafayette and Jesus just in time to accompany them to their witches’ coven meeting.

Nordic vampire stud Eric is dangling the fact that he owns Sookie’s house over her head. He’s making modifications to the house, including a day-sleeper cubby for himself. But that’s nothing compared to the modifications the witches coven make on him. When he stops by to warn them to stop their necromancy ways, Head Witch in Charge Marnie (second photo) goes all trancy, speaks in tongues and leaves Eric wandering the streets shirtless with no memory of who he is.

imageSpeaking of looking hot shirtless, Jason Stackhouse is tied to a bed and wondering why his trailer trashy charges have turned on him. The season’s first shots of his awe-inspiring abs and obliques are revealed when gutter trash-panther-shapeshifter Crystal rips open his shirt with her teeth. Apparently, she and her common law panther hick hubby can’t conceive a child, so they turn Jason into one of them (third photo) so he can be their panther-shifting baby daddy.

Elsewhere in Bon Temps, Sam is making inroads with fellow shapeshifter Luna, his estranged brother Tommy wants back into his life, and all of them get naked a lot. Jessica and Hoyt (bottom photo) have a fight over nothing, so she goes to the Fangtasia club to make out with a random hot vampire in a bathroom stall. And Arlene’s cute-as-a-button evil baby is ramping up the torment on her even while her husband remains blissfully ignorant.

imageWill Eric come to his senses or drink Sookie dry? Will Sam and Tommy have more “I won’t look if you won’t look” naked conversations in the woods? Will the witches wreak havoc in Bill’s kingdom? Will Jason finally get some nookie now that he’s transformed? Will Tara continue to appear and disappear from the scene? And where are those damned faeries?

Keep watching as the tangled web “True Blood” weaves continues to unravel next week.