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« Emmy Aftermath: The Repetitions, The Rules, The Fixes. | Main | Curio: Back to (Film) School »
Tuesday
Aug262014

True Blood's Mercy Killing

Here's Adam Armstrong and me on the series finale of True Blood. My comments after Adam's -Nathaniel

One thing you should know about me: I am a pro-rationalizer. I don’t enjoy disliking things, especially when it comes to movies and TV shows. So many people, so much hard work, so on and so forth. Take for example, this one time, on the way home from seeing the third Paranormal Activity movie. I was so invested in the series I went to every midnight showing. I loved them. And then that movie played its final 20 mins, and it was fucking garbage. It was the American Horror Story: Coven of movies before Coven was even around.* Seriously, was Ryan Murphy a creative consultant for the ending of that movie? But, still, on that ride home, ridden with disappointment and rage, I clung to one aspect of the movie I liked in order to forcibly admire it. “BUT, THAT ROTATING FAN SHOT, RIGHT?!” 

However, some train wrecks are beyond extreme and unreasonable rationalization. As you damn well know, I was more than liking this season, especially when evaluated on the True Blood grading curve. But what the actual fuck True Blood? [more...]

You know something’s terribly, irrevocably amiss when my favorite part of the episode was Sookie & Bill’s storyline. It was that terrible. I’m not going to dwell any further on my hatred of Bill, but suffice to say, I love the way he died, and my only grievance is that the stake wasn’t in him longer before he exploded. 

Remember that time when Lafayette got no screen time in the series finale except in a pan shot involving nearly all of the characters? 

Remember when Jessica and Hoyt got married, because why not throw in an overdone finale trope? 

Remember when Sarah Newlin said she had nothing to be grateful for when she was the best addition to the show for the past couple years?

Adam ArmstrongBut I guess we’ve gotten down to what True Blood is at its core, a bunch of foreplay only to be foiled by ill-timed erectile dysfunction. After a certain point, they just couldn’t perform and we were infinitely left craving more.

Perhaps it ended the best that it could have given what came before but this finale was so terrible that I don’t even want to write about it. I’m just going to glamour the hell out of myself by rubbing my eyes after I eat a handful of wasabi green peas, and forget that the show even happened after season 4.

You can follow Adam Armstrong on Twitter or read his previous posts here.

 

*Just so we’re clear, I’ve also compelled myself to love the past season of American Horror Story. I know. After months of mentally debating between my logical and illogical parts of my brain, it now only makes sense that Taissa Farmiga’s vagina could kill people and the plot would naturally culminate with Jessica Lange in Hell bellowing the words “Knotty pine”, and Precious herself fucking a minotaur inbetween them. 

 

Editorial Post Script:
One last swig of that Tru-Blood. Hey, everyone it's Nathaniel. Since I did spend a good amount of time writing up True Blood in its last worthwhile season (4) I wanted closure here on the blog so I thank Adam for doing the dirty work (filthy dirty, as it's True Blood) as I just didn't have the heart. Insufferable Vampire Bill ripped it from me ages ago. I suppose in the writer's room it felt correct to end on Sookie & Bill's romance, which is how the series essentially began. And that wouldn't have been a bad place to go apart from all the filler inbetween. With that inbetween, you're only highlighting that you've run in circles the whole time. The show spun and spun each year stretching 3 episodes of plot into 12 hours, keeping up interest only with its insane horniness and several wickedly clever actors. True Blood was a series that just couldn't evolve, so it kept spinning with less and less subtance in the eye of the storm (Sookie & Bill). It's always best when series win tearful goodbyes instead of mercy killings. But in the end, not unlike Vampire Bill, True Blood had to be put down. Sookie wielded the stake, but it was an enormous failure to then jump ahead to insure us that everyone, including Sookie, lived happily ever after in Bon Temps. When it comes to town's riddled with dangerous supernatural beasties, this is the only logical conclusion. 


Still, despite True Blood's difficulties with repetition and growth and absurd degrees of fandering and writing itself into corners... despite absolutely awful things like were-panthers, let's end positive. I have to say "Thank You" like this series finale's title for the following ten things which I'll always treasure or respect.

  1. Introducing the wide world to its incredibly talented MVP trio of vampire actors: another round of applause please for Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica), Kristin Bauer van Straten (Pam) and Alexander Skarsgård (Eric) who never failed to move us, crack us up, and glamour our asses. They can always get it.
  2. The opening titles and their sing-along genius. Irresistible and brilliantly mood-setting.
  3. Overachievement in getting Ryan Kwanten's clothes off in nearly every episode.
  4. Perpetual horniness but especially that moment when Bill emerged from the earth like a grimy zombie to give it to Sookie (my choice for the show's most memorable sex scene)
  5. Lafayette, hookers. (Even though they never knew what to do with him beyond fabulous one-liners)
  6. Arlene. Carrie Preston is such a gem.
  7. Literally everything about Fangtasia. From its video store origins to its secret passageways, camp-tastic throne, and that terrifyingly familiar dungeon. Great art direction and cinematography on this series throughout.
  8. The rich female big bads: Michelle Forbes as Maryann (S2), Fiona Shaw as Marnie (S4), and Anna Camp as Sarah Newlin (S2, S6, S7) but especially her "Fellowship of the Sun" origins and for being one of the only characters on the show whose plotlines were always interesting without ever pushing her out of character to get there. 
  9. Our first unmistakably bold clue that Lizzy Caplan had much more range than we could have ever known from Mean Girls (S1)
  10. The Casting Directors Libby Goldstein and Junie Lowry-Johnson. They always brought it with great character faces and/or hotness. Extra special kudos for finding the perfect Ginger (Tara Buck) and Maxine Hoytenberry (Dale Raoul)

What's your final takeaway from True Blood? Will you remember it fondly? 

 

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Reader Comments (12)

Ugh. What a terrible finale. I mean, i wasn't expecting much considering the whole nothingness this season has been but still....ugh.

I can kind of appreciate the way that Bill died because of the pure drama of it all but it was still **incredibly** selfish to have to bring Sookie into it. Why couldn't he just go into the sun like a normal vampire? (but then again, that might have taken away from Godric's beautiful exit). Why couldn't he just let his rapidly progressing disease kill him off?

Why did Hoyt marry Jessica even though he has no memory of her beyond the previous day?

Why did Bridgette get more screen-time than Lafayette who's actually supposed to be a part of the main cast?

Why was there no last hurrah of Jason nudity?

Why did--You know what? I'll stop there.

The only two things that I really liked in the finale:
"Sarah Newlin, the televangelist's wife who had a second career as an international mass murderer" - i literally laughed out loud.

Props to the casting department for finding Young Tara since her voice was *on point*.

Thanks Adam and Nathaniel for covering the slow true death of True Blood!

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

and i totally believe that the graveyard sex in the first season totally encompassed everything great about this show. that's a highlight for me too!

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

OH JESUS. We forgot to mention Nan! She was also one of the high points of the series.

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

I *love* Jessica/Hoyt but I thought their reunion sex should've been where we left it off with them. The wedding (and then ALLLLLL the babies) in the finale just left a bad taste in my mouth as if the show is saying "look how super conventional we really are! gay sex? orgies? whaaaat? no! heteronormativity rules!"

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

I believe Flashback Tara's voice was Rutina Wesley, processed. And it was creepy.

This is the show that taught me the meaning of hate-watching, something I had always considered pointless. (In fact, I still do.)

For a supposed gay allegory, this show ended up being extremely heteronormative (that series finale!), culturally retro and a major cocktease/cockblock. And it is a disgrace what they did to their two principal black characters, both of whom started out with such promise, especially Lafayette.

Season rankings: 1. 3, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7. It went steadily downhill, although Denis O'Hare and James Frain made Season 3 superior to 2 (with its maenad plotline that almost completely turned me off).

I hear the show was fun to work on, but the viewing experience was hit and miss, to be kind. Batshit crazy is great; batshit stupid not so much.

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I admit again to being the late one to the party, but I have thouroughly enjoyed, if not the show itself, then at least coming to TFE to dish over whatever batshittery happens each week. Thank you Adam (and Nathaniel)!

Also, I know that Bill's death was supposed to be highly dramatic, but it mostly reminded me of a water balloon filled with red food dye. Pop, splash! Bye bye, Bill!

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

The finale stunk it up pretty badly, but there are a few great things I'll remember:
- Female actors seem to be greatly served by creative gay male show creators (Ryan Murphy and Alan Ball) crafting unusual roles and discovering real talent (the callouts above but also Rutina Wesley doing *nothing* before and resurrecting the career of Kristin Bauer van Straten)
- Anna Paquin is amazing. She had a truly horrible character to work with, and still made something out of it.
- The Sarsgaard acting pool is deep. Very deep. And hot.
- Inconsistent writing constantly undermining a tremendous amount of talent. (See, boring Bill and sassy Stephen Moyer)
- Anna Camp is awesome, and deserves a lead role to showcase the depth she's got.
- Nelsan Ellis. Yes, always.
- RIP Terry Bellefleur. Todd Lowe was fantastic, never overdoing it on a show all about overdoing it.
- WTF Authority. Whatever.
- Head twisting sex was never meant to be literal. Alas.
- An HBO show had Chris Meloni and he had no sex scenes? Go figure.
- More characters than a small town, but I guess that was the point of world building.
- Sex was the baseline, but the richly drawn world was the gift the show left behind. Logic not included.

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterrich

I was not a fan of the finale at all, which really was a step back from what "True Blood" was all about, embracing what was different about oneself and learning to be crazy, even amongst people who judged you or met you with violence. Everyone kept trying to strive for normalcy and achieved it in the end.

Loved all of your points, Nathaniel. So much good to come out of a show that truly crashed and burned.

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Anne Marie - Where was the penis brander when we needed it?

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

Right now, I'm still so pissed off over the finale. I'm going to choose to remember this show from seasons 1-4 when it was actually very good. Everything after that has been awful.

August 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrittani

We are the island

August 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterUnamused

I'm not going to lie, I hated this finale, for ways that are mostly described above. Not focusing on the Bill and Sookie thing, the fact that Eric and Pam took out the Yakuzza (or whatever they ere called) like they were nothing but a joke really irritated me. They made them out to be this big, bad, mafia-type gang. If it was zoo easy to kill them with a snap of his fingers in the finale, why not do it EPISODES ago? Eric could have EASILY taken them out 4 episodes ago if he could do it soo simply in the finale. Also, keeping Sarah Newlin chained up in the basement as a slave for life in Fangtasia??? While I do agree she desired her comeuppance for what she'd done, that was just screwed up, and no in the delicious and taboo True Blood way. It was just really messed up.

And while I couldn't help but feel Bill's death justified after everything, I still felt it would have made sense that Sookie use her light on him and it turns him human. That would make perfect sense given the character. But all my other points on why the finale really left a bad taste in my mouth is explained via Adam above. There were good points about this season and the show in general as Nathaniel points out. But ultimately, while I still love this show for what it was, especially seasons 1-4, I can't help but be utterly let down in the end. A series with the amount of potential this and ultimately went nowhere but 6 Feet Under (see what I did there?)

Good review, guys!!!

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChris Daniels

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