Someone recently reminded me that seasons of "True Blood" tend to progress on a slow burn, and to be honest, this is the first time I'm watching the show in real time. So maybe that has something to do with my impression that the story is taking a while to gain momentum. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's frustrating to have the desire to move right into the next episode and have to wait!
This episode was all about fleshing out the scope of the season arc and the complex status quo within the vampire and werewolf communities, and I liked it for those reasons. I also thought it was interesting how the writers managed to get so many main characters into deeply compromised positions.
I can't speak to how well this tracks with the third Charlaine Harris book, but I like how this throws a bit of a wrench into the Sookie/Bill relationship. While Sookie was strong in the first season, I thought she spent a lot of time in the second season reacting to threats to her relationship with Bill, direct or indirect. Even the beginning of this season had her focusing on that to exclusion of most else.
Bill's decision to protect Sookie by breaking off ties with her (at least, that's my interpretation) is forcing Sookie to find her core strength again. Sookie has had a lot of her support system stripped away since meeting Bill, so it would be great to see her taking steps to even more potent self-reliance. (And her pseudo-goth look was more than worth the price of admission!)
As for the rest, Tara's subplot is just plain disturbing on nearly every level, Sam is definitely getting in over his head, it's great to see Jessica moving into a new role, and the Russell/werewolf connection should make things very interesting. It may feel a bit slow now, but the writers have certainly bitten off a large portion.