Sunday, August 24, 2014

“True Blood” Series Finale: “Thank You”

Posted By on Sun, Aug 24, 2014 at 11:53 PM

I think we can all agree that this one falls under the “Whimper” category, not “Bang,” right?

I have actually been digging the laid-back, ongoing-wake feeling of the second half of this last season. I thought it was bold in its own way, and I enjoyed much of the character work it entailed. But I suppose I was expecting something more from the series finale -- something shocking, some water-cooler moment, like this show used to serve up on a weekly basis. But instead we got a very slow episode with only one true sequence of note. It all felt very much like “settling” to me. Or, I guess if we’re talking the stages of grief, “acceptance.” Which is fitting for a show that was so defined by death. But not terribly interesting or fun to watch.

Last episode’s cliffhanger -- the Yakuza were on their way to kill Sookie because she knew about Sarah Newlin and the Hep V cure -- was handled in roughly 10 minutes. Eric did what should have been done about four episodes back: he dispatched Mr. Gus and his assassins by, you know, using the vampire powers he has had for literally 1000 years. The Yakuza were totally throwaway villains. They were never a credible threat to the vampires (which made it so infuriating when Pam kept being taken hostage by them) and they had no real power position. At least we did get to see a blood-spattered Eric Northman grooving out behind the steering wheel of a kick-ass sports car.

The larger arc for the episode was, predictably, Sookie and Bill. As promised last episode, Bill came to call on Sookie to explain his rationale for rejecting the cure. And it really did make sense. He had lived his life, and his prolonged existence was unnatural, and detrimental to the woman he loves. So, noble. Good on Vampire Bill for being a Southern gentleman right to the end. Except, problem: he didn’t just want to die. He wanted Sookie to kill him using her magic one-time fairy bomb, which would also wipe out her fairy powers, leaving her free of vampires forever.

That was a Class-A dick move on Bill’s part. Not only is it messed up to ask someone else to assist you in your suicide. But he wanted her to do so in a way that would fundamentally change her entire life and -- forgive me, this is going to sound terrible -- ruin her for all other vampires. You can argue that he was only trying to give Sookie a normal life, something she’s always wanted. But you can also make a pretty strong case that this was Bill trying to control Sookie to the bitter end, and make sure no other vampire called her "mine." All those likability points he had racked up over the course of this last season? Gone now.

And then Bill went into a likability deficit when he more or less coerced Hoyt and Jessica into a shotgun wedding (the shotgun is loaded with wooden bullets, naturally) so that he could walk a daughter down the aisle before he died. The two of them reunited the DAY BEFORE and he started talking marriage because he was about to die. You are terrible, Bill! Terrible! But Hoyt and Jessica went through it in a wedding scene that seemed to go on forever, but which elicited absolutely no emotion from me. Seriously, I’m very invested in the Hoyt/Jessica relationship. I love those characters. The whole time I was watching that wedding scene I kept thinking, 1) WHAT NO WHY NO WHAT and 2) Why was Adilyn not there? Jessica and Adilyn have a very tight bond. Minor nitpick, but that literally is what kept preoccupying me during the wedding scene of two beloved characters. And that’s not great, show.

Following the wedding, a flashback with Gran (GRAN!!!), and a consultation with Reverend Daniels (it was weird to me that he had a larger speaking role in the series finale than half of the cast that’s been with this show since the beginning -- LaFayette didn’t even get a LINE), Sookie made the decision to give in to Bill’s request and fairy-ball him in his gravesite. (That sounds like something I should try some Saturday night…) And this scene was truly the only sequence in the finale that held any real suspense for me. That was partially because I thought the drama was gripping, as Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin -- married in real life -- must have been Going Through It while dealing with some very deep emotions. But beyond that, I didn’t know what was going to happen. I kept waiting for Eric or Jessica to show up to force the cure on Bill. I even started to wonder if they were going to give us a big twist -- that because Bill became Hep V infected with fairy blood, and Sookie was going to use her fairy bomb, that it would not only cure Bill, but make him human again. Between his increase in body temperature and Sookie’s sudden ability to hear his thoughts, I really thought they were going that way. Which would have been bold, but infuriating to a lot of viewers.

But they went an arguably even more controversial route, by having Sookie choose not to use her fairy ball -- keeping her an outsider, by choice -- and instead killing Bill the old-fashioned way, with a stake. (Bill helped her make the final stab.) That was difficult to watch, and kind of upsetting. Sookie actually killed Bill. There’s no way around that. She put a stake through his heart and then ended up covered in his blood and offal. I did not expect that, at all.

Unfortunately, the rest of the episode wrapped up predictably, with a montage that jumped in time one year, then five years (I think). A brief rundown of where the characters ended up, most of it not terribly interesting.

-Eric and Pam decided to manufacture New Blood themselves -- with Sarah’s image on the containers, and pimped in a horrible infomercial that I think included a cameo by original Sookie Stackhouse author Charlain Harris -- and became mega, filthy rich. I mean, richer. They reopened Fangtasia and returned it to its hedonistic glory days, and charged vamp patrons $100,000 for 60 seconds with Sarah herself, who was chained in the basement. And she went fully crazy. So that was kind of a bummer.

-Jason ended up married to Bridget and had babies. No surprises there.

-A grand Thanksgiving dinner showed that all of the current couples -- LaFayette/James, Arlene/Paul, Sam/Nicole, etc. -- were still together. Again, no surprises, and frankly kind of boring.

-And finally, Sookie ended up pregnant by a man we never saw. We only know that he’s brown haired and had a beard. It was an interesting choice to not tell the audience who she ended up with, and I found the end of the scene where she killed Bill weirdly shot -- she walked out of the graveyard, and it seemed to me that she was headed a different direction than home. But regardless, it looks like Sookie got her normal life without giving up her extraordinary talents. And I guess that’s a happy ending? Maybe?

I just want to remind viewers that this show used to routinely feature town-wide orgies with meat pillars, ancient vampires with jars full of the remains of their staked gay lovers, white-trash wolf goddess Miss Deborah Pelt, vampires having their heads twisted 360 during particularly rough sex, death camps, the frequently nude body of Joe Mangianello, crazy inbred were-panther she-rapists, and even Minerva the Ghost Parrot. But we ended with everyone eating a nice Thanksgiving dinner and basically being nice and boring. This was the series finale equivalent of that functionally alcoholic, wild cousin you always admired coming home wearing pleated khakis and with fiancée named Peter. Peter is an insurance adjustor, has male-pattern baldness, likes birdwatching, and just can’t get enough of “Hot in Cleveland” or the sultry sounds of Michael Buble. I understand that we all have to stop being messy sluts at some point, but…not like this, “True Blood.” Not with a tasteful community turkey dinner. I bet they even served cranberry sauce from a can. FROM A CAN!!!

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