I’d like to begin this week’s blog with a plea to the publicists at HBO to provide us with some more photo assets for “True Blood,” because I have to believe that you’re just as sick of looking at this all-purpose promo shot as I am. But what can I do? We haven’t been given new shots in ages, and that’s really the most appropriate picture I’ve got to kick off the proceedings. Basically, what I’m saying is blame HBO, not me. In the meantime, though, have another look at the gift that keeps on giving, week after week after bloody week…

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let me applaud Alan Ball and his crew for offering up an awesome nod to the competing programming – yes, the Emmys – by kicking off tonight’s episode with “True Blood: In Memoriam,” which was a little bit of genius…and, if I’m to be honest, was more effective that the Emmy’s “In Memoriam” segment. (Loved the song, Jewel, but the pacing of the whole thing was off, possibly because they’re not used to scoring it to something other than just some plain old orchestral music.)

On to the episode proper. Bill blows into Fangtasia on a quest to find Sookie, but on his way toward the basement, he’s stopped by Pam, who tries to tell him that he just needs to chill out and put things into their proper perspective. He ignores her and heads for the stairs, but he’s taken down by Pam’s handy-dandy silver spray. As it happens, Sookie looks to have another savior: Eric’s Russian stripper girlfriend, who’s bitter at being blown off by him – possibly because he’s been underestimating her (who knew she was a cardiologist?) – and decides to let Sookie go…and the timing couldn’t be more perfect, since she pops up and saves Bill from Pam’s wrath. Pam’s kinda pissed about the situation, since she’s of the belief that things are going to go to hell if Eric isn’t able to present Sookie as a gift to The King.

Lafayette and Jesus are coming down from their crazy-ass trip. Jesus was clearly moved by the experience, but Lafayette, while admitting that it was pretty unique even for him, isn’t particularly interested in revisiting the situation again…and that was before he had his first flashback. But how about that second flashback, with all of the dolls coming to life and talking to him? Loved it.

So Jason’s girlfriend is a were-panther, eh? You can’t blame him for being a little upset at this revelation, especially since – as he informs her – he’d figured that her big secret was “shoplifting or something.” He bristles at her suggestion that he might not be a real man, but, hell, compared to the guys in her family, he actually is kind of a wuss. With no one to talk to, Jason finds himself wandering over to the the football field, where he finds his young high-school student nemesis from earlier this season alienating his girlfriend and pissing off his teammates from working them so hard, but I can’t tell if it’s because he’s on something or if it’s because he’s just kind of an obsessive jerk. (It’s probably both.)

Hey, Jessica and Hoyt are back together! But is it over again before it starts? At first, I thought it might be, what with her admission to him about the trucker, but, no, he’s clearly decided that if she’s going to put all of her cards on the table, then he’s going all in, too. I could probably follow that line with a couple of other “all in” jokes, starting with her fangs and moving down from there, but I’ll stop while I’m ahead. While that’s going on, however, Hoyt’s ex-girlfriend Summer comes crying back to Hoyt’s big, fat mama, who apparently set the poor girl on the path to get her son to marry him. Boy, these two are a perfect pair. Perfectly awful, that is. God only knows what Hoyt’s mama means when she says they’re not done by a long shot, but it can’t be good.

The King is battling with his tenses before battling with Eric, who arrives, explains why he’s so pissed off at him, and does an impressive job of keeping it together when The King unabashedly mocks him for having killed Talbot because he misses his mommy and daddy. Indeed, for a brief moment, it looks as though Eric’s actually willing to team up and help The King conquer the world and elsewhere, but The King’s not having it…until, that is, Eric pitches the possibility of being able to walk in the sun, even going so far as to say, “If I’m wrong, kill me tomorrow.” The King is impressed by the way Eric is wielding temptation as a weapon, but I think it’s fair to say that Eric’s credibility took a bit of a hit when we learned that his ringtone for Pam is “Ain’t We Got Fun.”

Tara’s crying over Eggs’s grave. Boy, that girl’s really falling apart this season. Meanwhile, Arlene’s still conferring with Holly over her pregnancy – that’s not going to go well, I just know it – when a ridiculously drunken Sam blows into the bar, demanding his whiskey. Terry tries to talk Sam down and gets nothing but abuse for his trouble (I can’t imagine I’m the only one who cringed when he used the phrase “shell-shocked motherfucker”), and in the end, Sam’s such a jackass that his waitresses walk out of him, too. Tara strolls in, but she refuses to help out, instead taking a seat with Sheriff Andy. I love that guy and all his drinking-hot-sauce-out-of-the-bottle ways, but she clearly scared the hell out of him when she told him that she knew the truth about how Eggs died. Similarly, though, I think she was as surprised as I was when he burst into a tearful apology.

What the hell’s going on with Sam and Tommy? Now Sam’s the one who’s pissed off and Tommy’s the one who isn’t sure how to deal with the situation. It was nice to see Sam and Tara get that quiet scene together, and I guess it was arguably even nicer to see them drift into each other’s arms, even if it was only for some quick, meaningless sex.

And how about Holly? She certainly thinks she’s got otherworldly powers, but I don’t think Arlene’s completely convinced. She’s still willing to take a shot at putting her faith in this plan, even though she’s also still kind of trying to convince herself that she’s doing it for the right reasons. Me, I’d think that any plan which involves taking a dagger, drawing blood, and letting it fall into your beverage is probably something you’d probably want to stay away from…and given the state of the sheets after she wakes up, I’m even more convinced of it. I felt bad laughing when Arlene, covering in blood, told Terry, “I think we’re losing the baby,” especially after he started crying, but I felt better about it when, amazingly, it turned out that the baby was fine! (How is that, exactly?)

Yep, High School Boy is on V, which might be why he’s such a jackass, but I’ve got a feeling that Jason’s competitive nature is going to lead him to try and match this kid…and I’ve got a bad feeling that it might involve him taking V, too. In the meantime, though, he’s going back to his were-panther girlfriend, having decided that his situation isn’t as bad as it could be (I feel like his standards are getting lower with each subsequent season), even if he does possibly have to fight alongside her family in a battle that has nothing to do with him.

Bill’s trying to be all sweet and romantic with Sookie while they’re on their drive, but it’s clear that A) he’s worried that she’s falling for Eric, and B) he’s right to worry. Still, she’s willing to try and imagine a rose-colored future with Bill…which lasts right up until they come up on The King and Eric standing in the middle of the road. D’oh! It’s back to Fangtasia the four of them go, and the conversation starts to get pretty heavy between Sookie and The King before they slip inside. Meanwhile, Eric says he has a plan. Suuuuuuuure he does…and apparently part of it involves telling The King that Sookie is a faerie, something which he finds positively laughable. The other part, however, involves Eric having to prove that drinking the blood of a faerie will allow vampires to go out in the sun. That does pique The King’s interest, and the next thing you know, they’re both taking a hit off Sookie. As you’d imagine, Eric’s first steps into the sunlight are tentative, but the look on his face when he realizes that it’s worked is pretty sweet. It’s short-lived, of course, but he puts on an amazing front, allowing himself to be burned a bit in order to tempt The King to step out. One quick flip of the cuffs later, and Eric utters the words that have given us the title to this week’s blog.

There’s no way Eric’s going to be departing the series anytime soon. Russell’s future, however, seems far less certain.