**SPOILER WARNING FOR ANYONE WHO STILL CARES ABOUT TRUE BLOOD BUT DIDN’T WATCH THE FINALE** - Although I’m not sure one needs a spoiler warning if the show has run out of plot points and things to say…
I had completely given up on True Blood after its cringe-worthy fifth season as I found it hard to care about the characters or suspend my disbelief at the ridiculous nature of the storylines (and I was beyond fed up with how many great guest stars they had that season and how they wasted every single one of them). But my partner was still watching and given that it was the final season I picked it back up. Below are some of my thoughts on the finale and the final season in general.
This season was a mess (often literally as well as figuratively) but it’s major problems were the aspects of a good TV show it was lacking, so I’ve categorised my issues under those sections for clarity.
Drama and Tension
Anyone remember the good old days of early True Blood where every episode ended on a shock moment or cliffhanger so that despite yourself you just had to see the next one? It wasn’t ever particularly clever or innovative writing but it was fun and it had me hooked. This season was completely devoid of that, each of the episodes’ endings felt flat. Part of this seemed to be because this season lacked an overarching storyline or big bad.
There were little missions along the way - Pam’s hunt for Eric, the hunt for Sarah Newlin, the gross Hep-V vamps and the missing townspeople (Holly, Arlene, etc) that linked to the ‘bad’ townspeople revolting, etc - but throughout all of them a few crucial points were missing. But I either didn’t believe there was any real threat or danger to the success of the mission (of course Pam would find Eric, of course Holly and Arlene would be fine, etc) or it was cleaned up so swiftly it wasn’t around long enough to have been of real concern and the way it was cleaned up was often boring (Sookie asks for a cure for Hep-V and one literally turns up on her doorstep and the Hep-V vamps/dissenting townspeople are basically just defeated and there’s no more threat - simple as that).
There’s no real struggle for these characters this season except internally, which would be fine if this wasn’t True Blood - a show that has built itself on action and shock and has never really had any kind of character development. None of the characters grew or changed over the series. The only exceptions are maybe Jason, whose changes were incredibly flawed (does anyone remember he was raped on at least two different occasions but that’s never properly dealt with), having him inconsistently flip-flop as it suited the writers until he essentially ended up where he started and Lettie-Mae whose process of change seemed like more of an after-thought (an attempt to create an impact from Tara’s death) and stuck out oddly considering she was a side character we never really needed a storyline for. It also meant there was nothing to unite all the characters and subsequently, on top of a lack of drama and tension, there was a lack of cohesion to this season and the series as a whole, something I generally crave from a series final and often leads to a real sense of closure.
Considering the really creepy,entertaining villains of past seasons - Russell Edgington, Maryann Forrester, Rene Lenier, Eric Northman (originally) etc - who all knew how to put on a show, the absence of one this year was truly disappointing. This season gave us Violet (a poor shadow of Salome who never lived up to her full potential either), the townsfolk/Hep-V vamps (never a tangible threat), and Sarah Newlin (more pitiful than anything else). I was left with a feeling of impotence from the final season, from a show that started with a raging hard-on.
Lack of Impact of any of the Deaths
This isn’t helped by the fact that I cared very little about any of the characters by the final season, but this is an issue that many shows that have numerous deaths have to deal with and few pull off. Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad are two I often point to as successes at this. There is definitely cannon fodder in both that have to happen without pause but for the major deaths - even those that don’t involve characters we’ve become attached to (I’m specifically thinking of the death in Dead Freight) - there is a sufficient gut punch to each.
In these two shows, part of the power is not in shock value, as most shows seem to strive for, but in the tension of the scene. We can see what is coming and feeling powerless to stop it engages the audience far more than a straight up shock, which is likely to have the opposite effect and jolt us out of the moment. Both shows don’t rush away from these deaths either, there is often a significant amount of time spent with the body or on the impact of the death. By impact I don’t mean they are sad for an episode (Sookie’s mourning of Alcide) or they chase after something for closure (Tara’s mother digging up a stranger’s yard for an item that held no meaning for the viewers and didn’t reveal anything new about their mother/daughter dynamic we didn’t already know). Instead, the death should act as a catalyst in some way, a change in motivation or position in an argument, it influences the character’s behavior, choices and actions in the following episodes.
In True Blood the deaths were quick and bloody, and other than Sam’s pregnant fiancee who decides to leave town because everyone is clearly nuts, there is no lasting effect to them. And even in that example, we are not positioned to agree with Sam’s fiancee, but purely to understand (but not really like) Sam’s motivations in following her. His exit still feels weird and abrupt despite this.
Had Bill’s reasons for suicide been driven just by his feeling that he’d lived too long and his place was in the ground with his family, I would have understood that. Many supernatural shows have had to tackle the issues of immortality so while it wouldn’t have broken new ground, it would have made sense. But dragging Sookie and their already convoluted love story into it muddied the waters beyond repair.
For starters he proved throughout the episode that Jessica was, without a doubt, his daughter despite no natural conception - so the whole idea that if he and Sookie were together she wouldn’t experience motherhood was complete rubbish as True Blood has proved time and again (literally and figuratively) that feelings are stronger than blood, and non-traditional families are just as real as any other.
Add to that the fact that Bill not only approved of, but had a very active hand in, his daughter making the exact choice he was against Sookie making. But looking at this extra-diegetically, it didn’t fit with True Blood's allegory for homosexuality and the overriding theme of acceptance of those who don't fit the standard definition of 'normal'.
Not to mention the sexism or the insult to those who choose not to have children or can’t conceive children via the usual insemination process, that saturated the idea that Bill could dictate Sookie’s future (one which had to lead to a ‘normal’ marriage and children). Only to then have that hammered home by the final scene which showed Sookie’s ‘happily ever after’ - it didn’t matter who Sookie ended up with, it just had to be a normal man who impregnated her good and proper and could carve a turkey.
Other Stray Thoughts
What the hell were some of those time jumps? Generally I hate time jumps, especially in finales, as they tend to lead to predictability, blandness and mediocrity as well as pregnancies and babies. And this one was no exception. But on top of the hey look everyone is loved up and/or has procreated, we also got the completely unnecessary recap of the season through Pam and Eric in the form of an ad for New Blood and if New Blood becomes a spin off so help me god…
Essentially ten seconds of Lafayette without dialogue? I understand he didn’t really have a story left to tell but neither did a lot of people who got dialogue in this episode and Lafayette had more sass and more amusing things to say than all of them combined. I really hope to see Nelsan Ellis, Alexander Skarsgård, Deborah Ann Woll and Ryan Kwanten on better TV shows in the near future (ones that use them to their full potentials).
How convenient that Hoyt very vocally stated he didn’t want children.
Eric dancing in the car is easily the only thing that made me happy in the whole finale (alright and Pam, but Pam being awesome is to be expected). I could have just looked up the .gif online. What a waste of my TV time. Here it is again (courtesy of popsugar):
Until next time,
Slightly Bibliophilic xx