Will True Blood continue to steamroll its way into a stellar season five, or just hit the snooze button?

After a jaw-dropping first two episodes (new vampires! Russell! Torture! Pam!), episode three takes it down a few notches to build on some key story lines for the season. Sure, detail and exposition are great, but so is turning vampires into bloody goo. Bill and Eric are still locked down with The Authority who, despite their collective thousands of years, can’t decide what to do with them. After another round of bickering, Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) are granted their lives in order to pursue Russell and attempt to end his. But, being the stone cold Authority and all, they still have to wear some crazy “iStake” harness (dispatched by Tina Majorino) that could goo-ify them at the click of an app. Good to see that vampires are so up on technology.

Still not convinced that Bill and Eric aren’t part of the Sanguinista movement, Roman (Christopher Meloni) quietly dispatches Salome (Valentina Cervi) to use her best weapon against them- herself. After seducing both men, she and Roman conclude they may not be enemies, but they aren’t exactly the hardcore mainstreamers they were hoping for. Nora (Lucy Griffiths), however, confesses to being part of the anti-mainstream movement, and gets pumped full of silver. No fun. Reverend Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian) is nominated as “the new Nan Flannagan” thanks to his former role with the Fellowship of the Sun and as a direct path to the religious right. Basically putty in The Authority’s hands, infant vampire Newlin could prove to be great asset, or hilarious disaster.

Above ground, Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley) finds her footing as a new vampire while Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Lafayatte (Nelsan Ellis) give chase. She can run! She can see through space! She has crazy heightened senses! Despite her fun new toys, Tara is still… Tara. Petulant and unlikable as a character, but if the show insists on keeping her, we have to make due. After locking her in Merlotte’s walk-in overnight, Sookie and Lafayette find themselves in more hot water thanks to wolf trash Debbie Pelt and her concerned parents searching Bon Temps for their daughter. Sookie dismisses Sheriff Bellefleur, telling him Debbie was a V addict and unpredicable and she didn’t give a flying f’ where she was. Alcide (Joe Manganiello), still shirted, sees (sniffs?) right through Sookie and for some ungodly reason she confesses to him. REALLY?

Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) again gets some well-deserved screen time and her backstory with Eric is (nearly) wrapped up. As predicted, they did have something of a relationship, but only in a dominant/submissive/vampire/human way. It’s also revealed that a newly turned Bill and Eric also met at this time, circa Lorena and their trail of hooker blood. Pam is transfixed, convinced that becoming a vampire would be her only ticket out of aging, syphilitic whoredom. Eric at first refuses to turn her, but Pam isn’t one to take no for an answer and slits her wrists in a desperate attempt to be turned.

The other subplots this episode were a bit of a bore. It’s revealed that Jason (Ryan Kwanten) was the victim of statutory rape as a high school student, and after bedding his perpetrator, Miss Stiller, finally comes to the realization that the abuse scarred him for life and doomed him to years of promiscuity. Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) puts her fangs (and boobs) away to talk to Jason, and their f’ buddy status adds a layer of actual friendship. In doing so, Jessica lost the scent of a mysterious stranger that smelled like, “fresh baked bread and sex” and left an element of intrigue for episode four.

Tune in next week!