John P. Johnson/HBO
Mandi Bierly
August 11, 2014 AT 02:00 AM EDT

Just when you think all is right with the world and Eric Northman’s heavage is once again untarnished by Hep-V veins, Bill has to go and decide he doesn’t want to be cured. But that isn’t the only surprise in this nicely-paced hour, which also finds time to let Jason Stackhouse have two meaningful conversations: The resolution of Tara’s story line makes the long wait worth it, and Violet proves most entertaining right before she meets the true death. Here we go.

Eric is cured: Despite Sarah Newlin’s insistence that Eric kill her so she can return as the messiah, “The Princess of Peace,” he lets her live because Pam threatens to kill herself. (How many times can the show play chicken with Pam’s life this season? Anyone else beginning to worry they’ll have to follow through at some point?) Eric drinks from Sarah and lets out a giddy, triumphant call as he heals—viewers make the same yells later when Eric changes out of those borrowed clothes.

Sookie gets answers: Sookie uses her and Bill’s postcoital pillow talk to finally ask him what Queen Sophie-Anne had wanted him to do with her once he confirmed she was a halfling. Because Sophie-Anne knew of the plan to close the portal to the fae realm, she wanted to start breeding Sookie. Anna Paquin’s appalled reaction to the word “breeding” is perfect. The conversation takes an interesting turn when Sookie asks Bill to explain why he didn’t take her to Sophie-Anne: In short, the light in Sookie seemed to restore a piece of Bill’s humanity at a time when he had none. He’d thought if he could keep her safe, it would help erase his past, but now, he sees he could never escape his darkness. Sookie tells him she never could have felt real love for him if that’s all there was in him. If you haven’t already been thinking Bill is ready to die, believe it now.

Tara asks for forgiveness, and grants it: The frustration with the Tara-Lettie Mae story line this season has been that it’s dragged on and taken away screen time from characters like Sam, who was totally AWOL this hour, or Willa, whose story is really just beginning as the show comes to an end, and Lafayette and James, whose relationship we’d like to see more of. But finally, the payoff arrives as Lettie Mae convinces the Rev. to believe in her and drink from James. He joins Lettie Mae and Lafayette, stumbling into Tara’s childhood home to watch what episode writer Kate Barnow refers to as an origin story for the mother and daughter. (Read our full postmortem.) There’s one light moment—seeing Lafayette’s early love of vests and jewelry at Tara’s birthday party—but otherwise, it’s tough to watch. Tara’s abusive, alcoholic father returns home to crash the party and complain about how much money Lettie Mae must have spent on it.

Why does Tara want Lettie Mae to see this? She wants her to know that she thought about shooting her father that day after he threatened to kill Lettie Mae. But unable to pull the trigger, Tara buried the gun in the front yard, and watched her mother cry out as her father left them, wondering how she’d be able to raise Tara alone. Tara apologizes to Lettie Mae, acknowledging that bad things had happened to her mother, too, and in the process, helps redeem that character we’ve always judged and loathed. Tara asks Lettie Mae to let her go by promising she’ll stop blaming herself and live. When Lettie Mae smiles as Tara peacefully walks off into the distance, it’s a tearful ending.

NEXT: RIP, Violet

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