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Tuesday
Jul082014

True to the End? A Final Season in Bon Temps

Here's Adam on a show that probably should have ended a couple of years ago but finally has its eviction notice -Editor


It’s been seven years and we’re finally (almost) to the end. I don’t know how many people of you have stuck with True Blood from the beginning. Nathaniel bolted during the show's nadir (season 5) though he's silently returned since. But if you’re anything like me, you believe that season six was, as much as it could be, a return to form, a reminder or the series glory days. 

As I plowed through the first three episodes of this seventh and final season, I could not help but feel that it has all been a prolonged set up to something better... or perhaps 'trimming down' to something better more aptly explains it. While no episode has been an absolute knock out, you can feel season 7 trying desperately to become the show it once was before it meets the true death. 

Lets start at the beginning of the end... 

SYNOPSIS

Season six left off with Sam as the new mayor of Bon Temps (Because, why not?) giving a speech at a social, with nearly the entire town in attendance. In order for everybody to advance in this world and move forward from their dark past and ensure peace between vampires and humans forever, Sam decrees that each human will have a designated vampire to be their protector. In exchange, the vampire will be allowed to feed off the human in moderated doses at the donor’s discretion. During the festivities, a pack of intruding Hep-V stricken vampires killed a majority of Bon Temps residents and kidnapped others, forcibly regressing the town back to its past social structure, with humans hating anybody who’s not human like their lives depend on it. 

As the Bon Temps social structure crumbles beneath its citizens’ feet, this season tracks how these characters either choose to be consumed by the destruction and let the unraveling define them, or how they fight against the chaos.  

For years, it hasn’t been a hypothetical question as whether the quality of True Blood has decreased. Even as a diehard fan I can proudly inquire as to what the fuck season five was. You could say True Blood has a problem of sucking off more than it can drain. Too many uninteresting or one note characters without compelling integrated storylines (I’m looking at you were-panthers, Alcide’s wolfpack, Sam Merlotte in general. To be fair, I’d even throw Sookie in there.) So, instead, lets focus on what the show is doing well in season 7 

YOU'RE DOING IT RIGHT, TRUE BLOOD

Condensing of storylines.

It only took a few years for the writers room to realize what wasn't working, thereby cutting the fat. What do you do with characters whose solo storylines have proved worthless for years? Force them to share one big super storyline! Completely getting rid of any solo Alcide and Sam narratives and joining all the characters into a search party is a godsend. We’ve been following these characters’ lives for seven years and I’ll be goddamned if I didn’t miss them interacting amongst one another. So, seeing the majority of them banding together to find the kidnapped Arlene, Holly and Sam’s girlfriend is a real treat. 

Welcome Returns. 


I don’t know about the rest of you, but I nearly shit all over my duvet when Nan popped back up, even if it was only for a flashback. Memorably returning last season, Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp) is a delicious antagonist who is thrillingly now the one being hunted. However, she’s not even being pursued by a merry band of vampires, fairies, shifters, werewolves, and humans…yet. Just some sword-wielding hitmen hired by some pissed off Tru Blood executives. 

Hunter/Protector


Jessica’s journey towards atonement after murdering three of Andy Bellefleur’s litter of fairy daughters is the most moving storyline. Her character has always been the undead beating heart of the show, even piercing through season five’s dullness with her goodbye glamoring of Hoyt as he left the series for Alaska. Watching her change from hunter to protector, for a fairy of all temptations, shows remarkable growth for her character. 

POTENTIAL, BUT NOT THERE YET

Given the opportunity, I’d stake Sookie and Bill off myself if that meant Pam and Eric could be the leads of the show. It’s just a shame Pam’s journey to find Eric was presented with an end so sudden and abrupt, without any time and pay off. Regardless, when Pam reinvigorates Eric with a will to live and hunt down Sarah Newlin, I tingled all over.  

The Gay

Did it ever occur to you that maybe I want a piece of happiness too?

Dare I hope they're setting up a meaningful storyline and maybe a sincere romance for Lafayette? Maybe a love interest that won’t be killed off just as the relationship’s being taken seriously? Lafayette has been adrift ever since Jesus’ death in season four. The show hasn’t known what to do with him for years, reducing him to a snapping sassy one-liner cameo machine. Like Tara, he’s seen his fair share of bullshit and if anybody deserves some fucking happiness at the conclusion of this series, it’s Lafayette. However, just as a new tender relationship for him seems to begin, the mockery of a fantasy sex scene between Eric and Jason only reminds us of True Blood’s masked homophobia. Look, we show guys kissing and Lafayette even had a boyfriend for a few episodes. We totally love gay people. Psh, it’s like when someone says they’re not racist because they have black friends. But then again, even as I type that, I can’t deny that having seen Eric and Jason canoodle, naked, wasn’t a sight for blood soaked eyes. It’s just too bad the scene could not have served a purpose other than joking shock value, fandering, or a sign that the show’s creators are going for broke in its final season. 

True Death


While I was never the biggest fan of Tara, she didn’t get the proper send off she was entitled to. She was killed off screen, for god’s sake. Alcide’s death? Eh, I’m okay with it. I mean, he was pretty to look at but did anybody really believe that him and Sookie were suddenly in love at the conclusion of season six? You can only take so much growling in everyday dialogue. The most rewarding death so far is, hands down, Maxine Fortenberry. At least she had some killer one-liners and some hearty as shit laughs before her heart was literally ripped out. Now, that’s a deserved exit. 

WRAP IT UP


All in all, by True Blood standards at least, the seventh and final season is off to a pretty solid start. The visuals have been eerily unsettling (the mass grave of human casualties in St. Alice) and the dark self-effacing humor is finally back (anything out of Maxine Fortenberry’s mouth, especially when persuading the townspeople to lock up Adilyn and Holly’s son during the police station raid). Like many characters have said already, “fuck the past. Only now matters.” If True Blood keeps taking pointers from George RR Martin, then what has happened in previous seasons really does mean nothing, everybody’s fair game, and nobody’s safe. Though in True Blood people rarely stay dead. Who knows, maybe since we never saw Tara perish, only her grisly aftermath, she’s still alive? We’re already three significant characters down with seven more episodes to go.

Lets ride this final season out and, as the advertisements suggest, stay true to end.


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Reader Comments (11)

True Blood has been a clusterfuck of what for quite sometime but this season is really all over the place. (I feel as if i could say that about any of the past three or four seasons.) Right now, i'm just here because i like to see shows through to the end, no matter what. This season has been testing me though. I spent the whole premiere thinking "OH MY GOD, I REALLY DON'T CARE" but the last two episodes have been somewhat better.

I *screamed* when Nan showed up. I forgot how much I missed her. I always had love for her but that was pretty much cemented when she called Eric a "whiny little bitch". I just need Ginger to scream her head off and i'll be done.

Alcide's death was egregious even if i never cared for him as a character but Tara's? Man. To be a main castmember since the beginning and die OFFSCREEN in the FIRST TEN MINUTES of the season premiere? I don't know what Rutina Wesley did to piss the writers off because they really screwed her over.

Fuckin' Sookie.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

Whoops. Forgot to mention that scene between Eric and Jason. Total fan service but i was physically and mentally quiet for the entire scene.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

Derreck - i'm confused how you can make it through season 5 without it testing your resolve but not this year. At least things are happening.

I'd wager that True Blood's insistence on never killing off any of its main characters in a show largely about death became its biggest narrative hurdles several years ago. The deaths this season have felt "oh, well, we're closing up shop" shock wild but not dramatically effective but who knows what's coming ... it's a pity that they weren't a little more like Game of Thrones from the get go.

I don't like Game of Thrones (too violent /brutal for me and I hate how the character never truly interact with each other past Season 1 -- same thing in the books) but for some reason True Blood's been doing the Game of Thrones thing of nobody ever really sharing scenes and storylines (which makes much less sense when people live a few blocks from each other) but has NOT been willing to be at all consequential in terms of its violence. It shares the wrong things with that show ;)

July 8, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I just started watching this season, having never watched an episode of True Blood before. It's batshit crazy. I have no idea what's going on 99% of the time. I love every minute of it, and I have no plans to watch the rest of the series.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

Anne Marie -- you know what is batshit crazy? Watching a show this batshit crazy in only its final year long after anything made any sense and isn't half as good as it once was ;)

My feeling is Seasons 1-4 have their charms but it's never been a "great" show since it has truly terrible 'nothing is actually happening or is only happening over and over again each episode to provide the illusion of something happening' pacing problems in every season -- even the most popular one like Season 2.

July 8, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathaniel -- Touche. Touche. I can't promise I'll finish it before the series finale, but I'll put it on my Camp TV To Do list under American Horror Story Season 2 and the new season of Lost Girl.

I have to say I've noticed pacing problems too, although I'm usually grateful because I get a moment to catch my breath and figure out who just died and whether they're important. I didn't realize Tara was a big deal until she briefly showed up rocking an albino python in that hallucination/fever dream/heaven/??? scene.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

Nathaniel - With me, there's usually SO MUCH going on within one episode that i'm usually blank when it comes to seasons. I think season 3? 4? was where I was like "ugh, i'm so done with this shiow" but then it ends, i promptly forget whatever i hated and tune into into a new season where nothing from the previous season ever matters. I must be the ideal True Blood audience. Someone who gets seemingly glamoured in between seasons.

This season's premiere? It took me ages to remember what was going on even though I really didn't care about anyone or anything.

True Blood in its final season should be balls to the wall madness but other than that obvious fan service with that Eric and Jason scene, it's still pretty disappointing (big surprise) Tara and Alcide's deaths were both pretty foolish and could've been handled so much better. You're right about death being avoided for the major characters for the most part. Tara should've been killed off ages ago but this wasn't the way to do it and Alcide only died to get Sookie back together with Bill. Those two lost their chemistry immediately after season 1.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

Anne Marie - Okay, if you're going to catch up on the series, just to preface, I've never been a big fan of season 1. Basically, if fulfills the intrigue and promise of a shit ton of sex and gore, but it always skewed a bit too much like the Twilight-esque romance narrative. Although, Jason Stackhouse is naked for like the whole season, so there's that. Seasons 2 and 3, for what they were and had to be, fucking wonderful camp brilliance. 4 was a lot of fun, but you could feel it waning as each episode progressed. Season 5 is more like filler. We technically need it so you understand where we're at now, but could totally be summed up in a little recap video and you'd be good. For a show about the supernatural, in the earlier seasons at least, the characters all had problems that were inherently human which made them and their stories all the more compelling. Season 5 placed mythology precedence over the characters, the similar way in which Glee season 2 placed song choice and guest stars over story, and each suffered for it. However, it definitely is back on the upswing, even if it's slightly. I'm really excited to see where they take the remainder of this final season.

Derreck - Also, in regards to Terra, even though Pam already felt something inside her that Terra met the true death, I can't help but think her death offscreen was intentional and that she isn't really dead. Nothing adds up about her death, at all. Maybe I'm just in denial, like when Rachel died in The Dark Knight, but I feel like there's something still to be discovered.

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

True Blood was always junk food - first it was the "late night munchies oh this is so delicious" junk food, then it was the "why did I eat that bag of Doritos, why are my fingers orange, wtf is happening to me?" junk food, and now it's the "i'm sick of this, let's go somewhere else tonight" junk food.

That said, the reason I'm still watching is because of the Lafayette/James scenes. They're sweet and real and funny - very uncharacteristic for TB - and Nathan Parsons is adorable (like Milo Ventimiglia before he 'roided up). I'm sure they'll do something to cock it up in no time, but it has been a minor saving grace so far.

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Roark -- this is the best analogy evah

July 9, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathan Parsons--swoon!

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

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