Tonight's episode is the most agreeable this show has been in quite some time. I'm not saying it was great or anything, but hey, nobody got skinned alive. In fact, the first half-hour panned a modest amount of gold by setting up a dinner party that should be a disaster and treating it as a joke when things go surprisingly… agreeably. Since Josh and Julia are now turning into a couple—as Aidan points out, they've already had sex, although as Josh is quick to point out by way of a reply, Jay Baruchel was possessing his body at the time, so just hold off on that high five—and Aidan and Suren have got it going on pretty good, so it just seems natural for everyone to get together for a little dinner party, while Sally sits nearby, seen by everyone in the room except for Julia but required to keep her presence unknown to the regular ol' normal chick, and try not to die of boredom. It doesn't seem all that natural to me, but last week, what seemed natural to this show was to have Meaghan Rath spend the hour lying crumpled in a heap at the bottom of the stairs, occasionally doing selected scenes from Evil Dead II. As Sally herself puts it, summing up the dinner, "I stopped wanting to claw my eyes out by dessert." Progress! I know we're grading on a curve here, but still—detectable signs of progress!
Part of the fun of the dinner party scene is that it, finally, gives Dichen Lachman a chance to show off some of that unpredictable, velvety edginess that she had on Dollhouse. Breaking the static flow of small talk like a hatchet hitting an icy surface, she turns to Aidan and says, "You have no idea how long I've loved you, do you?" She uses this conversation stopper to ease into a story about noticing Aidan tending an orchid that her mother had given her and that she had opted to let die, out of spite. Sam Witwer, who must have read this scene five or six times before he could accept the fact that his eyes weren't deceiving him, and it didn't say anything about him being covered in blood and rolling his eyes toward the heavens, is right there with her, and for a minute, damned if the show isn't kind of sexy. When Julia asks Suren if she watches much TV, and Suren, talking over Aidan's assurances that she doesn't, admits to sharing Josh's passion for Antiques Roadhouse, the show can add being kind of funny to its accomplishments. Then, while the boys are in the kitchen, congratulating themselves on pulling off a frictionless evening, Suren says something to Julia about how they've both landed in the sack with Aidan. True that, says Julia, who's relieved to have it out in the open. It's just a good thing that the two women's time with Aidan never "overlapped." "This conversation would be going very differently if we'd overlapped," she says. "Yes," says Suren, with a smile that could freeze a campfire. "It would."
It's too bad that the big bad vampire conspiracy plot has to horn in. It's especially too bad that Mother is back, looking and acting more than ever like a drag queen in a bad wig imitating Lana Parrilla in a junior high production of Once Upon A Time. She calls a meeting of all the vampire CEOs and congratulates Suren on finally getting Boston back in smooth running order. As a reward, she gets to remain in Boston and keep watching the store, news that Suren takes as if she were Albert Brooks in Lost In America finding out that he's not getting the vice-presidency of the company after he'd already made arrangements to buy the car and the boat that should go with it. Then Mother informs Aidan that, since he worked so hard to pitch in and help out, she's going to give him exactly what he's been insisting he wants since the series began: i.e., excommunication and total exile from the vampire community, MWAH-HAH-HA-HA!
Since, as we established in the previous sentence, this is exactly what Aidan's been saying he wants all along, and he cried like a little girl in the season premiere because he couldn't have it, I couldn't figure out why Mother takes such nasty relish in giving it to him, almost as if she were screwing him over. But damned if Aidan doesn't think she is screwing him over. He howls about betrayal and rank ingratitude, demands to know how she can do this to him, lunges for her throat and has to be held back by her goons. At first, I thought maybe this was just temporary madness because he and Suren were being separated, but afterward, with Josh, he enumerates all the reasons that being cut off from his own kind sucks. He won't be able to feed. He won't be able to call in the services of a clean-up crew when he screws up. ("You won't screw up," Josh tells him. What show has he been watching?) It turns out that Aidan is the vampire equivalent of one of those people who call in to talk radio shows to rail about big government and say they want everybody's taxes cut to the bone so as to starve the beast to death, since it's never done anything for them, but who'd have a coronary if their farm subsidies were taken away and the mailman was a day late with their Social Security check. I've made my peace with the fact that Aidan has to kill a certain number of innocent people every few episodes, but it's disappointing to find out that he's this big an asshole. You think he'd be old enough to know better.
The other big news on the relationship front is the return of Nora, looking crestfallen and heartsick over having broken up with her werewolf boyfriend and then stayed away long enough for him to reconnect with his ex-fiancee. She has other things on her mind, too. "I'm not in pain because of who I am," she tells Josh, "I'm in pain because of what I've done." Apparently she never heard the one about action being character, but then, neither have the writers; On this show, you can have action in one episode and character in another, but never both in the same hour. What do you think this is, Buffy? Since most of this season has been devoted to establishing that the show is a lot better at character than it is at action, it's a relief that Nora is mainly here to talk. She even helps Sally—who is inexplicably still exchanging words with Scott the Reaper, even though we all now know that he doesn't exist (or is really a "part of her" or some bullshit), and his haircut isn't getting any easier to look at—by going to the psych ward and telling the girl who Sally possessed so she could have sex with her boyfriend that she isn't crazy, she had just been… Oh, well. The important thing is, anyone watching this season who was wondering what ever happened to that poor girl and how Sally was ever going to be able to make it right has closure now.
Nora also has some hot news for Josh: She knows how he can "lift the curse." "It's about finding the one who turned you" and killing him, she says, Helpful to a fault, the editor immediately slips in a clip from last season showing Ray, the one who turned Josh, telling Josh, "I'm the one who turned you." Is the actor who played Ray slotted in for another trip to Montreal with a paycheck attached? Will Suren and Aidan be allowed to run away together and have little vampire babies together? Have we seen the last of Brynn, who, Nora tells us, was really the more dangerous half of the twin purebred werewolf posse? How long before the wild animal inside Josh, or at least his inner George Costanza, takes over when both Julia and Nora are within earshot and he suggests a threesome? And how long will it take Sally to snap out of it and say to herself, "Wait, I can deal with the fact that I'm miserable because I'm being stalked by my own imaginary friend, but seriously—'Scott!?'" I do not know the answer to these questions, but I do known that next week's episode title contains a Bonnie Tyler reference. Be afraid, be very afraid…