As the penultimate episode of the fourth season of True Blood opens, we see what looks to be a final standoff between witches and the vampires, with Sookie Stackhouse and company, once again caught in the crossfire. After the lengthy lead up to this all season, neither side is pulling their punches any more, with Marnie forcing her will on the coven and the vampires marching on their base, armed to the teeth for the coming battle.

Seeing Marnie crumble under the pressure here feels strange after seeing her power and poise in previous installments. It is explained away slightly by making her out to be more a victim, trying to make herself strong and important. However she does become a bit more threatening as the episode progresses. After coming to admire Antonia’s character it felt a little bit like settling for second best. That being said her desperation is pitch perfect and Fiona Shaw manages to make her character a pleasure watch to the bitter and graphic end.

The vampires by comparison, which have been the seasons stock and trade since its inception, seemed largely ineffectual in the conflict. With this in mind seeing them finally give into their brutal natures at long last seemed to be too little too late to save them from feeling like anything more than guest stars. It was also a little disappointing to see Eric and Bill so willing to kill themselves to save the objects of their lust. We hope there is something more to their story in next week’s final episode.

In the wider supernatural community Sam and Luna are on the hunt for packmaster Marcus who has abducted his daughter and is now preparing to go on the run. The drama from this particular plot thread has not been bad, but it has always felt a little underdone in this season. It has finally ended with the treacherous Debbie Pelt being disowned and abandoned by long time lover Alcide. Meanwhile in a spectacularly surreal moment, Andy Bellefleur meets and makes love with a mysterious fairy visitor while wandering the woods. After his surprisingly lackluster story this season this is a huge surprise, which seems out of place, and will hopefully be explained somewhat before the finale.

The episode is good, but once again fails to reach up to the levels it managed in the middle, and with just one more episode to go the show needs to shift into top gear. Thankfully, the climax manages to pull out one more little twist to set the scene for the finale, in which we are hoping will turn out to be a worthy ending to a roller coaster of a season.