Monday, August 19, 2013

"True Blood" Season 6: Unpacking the finale

Or, Did they just really kill him like that?

Posted By on Mon, Aug 19, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Season 6 of "True Blood" ended last night, and like the season overall it was a bizarre mix of highs and lows. I had serious problems with the show for the first quarter of the season, but then it seemed to get its act together for the middle portion before sinking to arguably series lows with the ridiculous hand-wringing over a not-even-tertiary character (I never want to hear the name Terry Bellefleur again; enough already). If I had to assign a grade to S6 overall I don't know where I would start. As for the finale, let's look at the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good: Alcide got a haircut! Thank god, because that parched-ass wig that was stapled to his head at the episode's beginning was DREADFUL. He also no longer seems to be an asshole. And apparently he's now banging Sookie. I am not overly thrilled about that last development for two reasons. First, Alcide's relationship with Sookie means we'll probably never see Quinn from the books. And second, I was pushing for Sookie and Alcide after seasons 3 and 4. I don't really care about either one of them at this point. Throwing them together after the awkward six-month jump in this episode seemed like fan service, but service for fans from like three years ago. That's when the show was at its peak, so that may have very well been the idea.

The Bad: The resolution to the Warlow plotline. It became increasingly clear that the showrunner this season was not into that character and his build up, since as soon as SookieID'd him as Ben and his fairy/vamp nature was revealed, Warlow literally spent five episodes tied to a tombstone in fairy land. (The ultimate insult: he was wearing his shirt the entire time. Missed opportunity!) He went from terrifying fairy-slaughtering maniac to an alpha SNAG (sensitive new-age guy), and Sookie went from pissing her pants over him to creaming her shorts in literally like one episode. We know Sookie's taste in men is terrible, but that was ridiculous. So this episode, after he'd been off the table for literally half the season, he went right back to Sookie-beating bad guy until Fairy Grandpa Colonel Sanders came back from the hell dimension and held Warlow until Jason could stake him. And poof! That was it. THAT WAS IT?! A stake was all it took? After all that build up? I feel so bad for Rob Kazinksy, who must have been reading these scripts and thinking, "...the hell?" I personally volunteer to make him feel better. Call me, Rob! I also really liked you in "Pacific Rim"!

The Good: Vamp Camp is over, Billith is over, and the show seems deliberately to be refocusing on Bon Temps and the slutty weirdos who call it home. That is exactly what the series has to do right now - drilling down its focus.

The Bad: The six-month jump was a lazy attempt at pushing the reset button. Seriously, that is what you do when your writers don't know how to dig out of the hole they've burrowed for themselves. Of the new status quo, Sookie and Alcide is actually the least of my complaints. (We should at least get some quality shirtlessness out of it.) Bill has written a best-selling book about his time as Billith and the origins of Hep V in which he admits to multiple murders, but apparently he'll never see trial for any of it. I question the legality of that. But here's the worst: Sam is now the MAYOR of Bon Temps?! In six months? You have to be kidding. He's been wanted for murder, implicated in god knows how many crimes, and his own business has been the site of countless homicides. Who would vote for him? His annoying girlfriend is still around, and still pregnant. I am hopeful that that story arc will eventually pay off with shifters being publicly outed because, seriously, it's ridiculous at this point. I'm fine with Arlene taking over Merlotte's if it means I never have to see her whining over Terry again.

The Good: We ended the season with Sarah Newlin still alive. She gets my MVP award for this season - that catfight a few episodes back was one of the best sequences I've seen on this show in years. I would love for her to come back at some point for one last, brutal attempt to wipe out the vamps (and sympathizers) who have repeatedly screwed up her plans. She's a surprisingly effective Big Bad for this show. Thank you, Jesus!

The Bad: We ended the season with several new, unneeded characters. Willa worked as a plot point but I question if we need yet another baby vamp, given that Tara has been given basically nothing to do for the past two seasons. I'm ambivalent about Adilyn, Andy's daughter, who also was there to move along the plot. At least she's a fairy, which is still fairly rare. But Violet survived? Really? She had chaff written all over her from her first appearance in Vamp Camp. And yet, there is something beautifully karmic about Jason Stackhouse stuck in a one-way sexual relationship for eternity, never getting his chance for, um, release.

The Ugly: We never got the teased Jason/Eric sex dream after Eric gave Jason his blood last episode. OUTRAGE!

The Unfathomable: Was that the end of Eric? Seriously? He burns to death in the mountains of Europe after Warlow's fairy blood wears off? I cannot accept that. I can't. Last episode, when Eric flew away, it seemed like he was going on some kind of fateful mission - possibly even to kill himself. This episode we find out he just went to go read a book and sunbathe naked on a mountain. Hey, random. While we did get to see Alexander Skarsgard in his full glory, I just can't believe that one of the key characters on this show was snuffed out in such an idiotic fashion. And ultimately I don't believe he was. For one, the camera cut away before we saw him crumble to ash. And second, Pam was deliberately out looking for him. So I do think we'll see Eric again. But I don't think he'll be a regular next season. (I even wonder if that was their way of writing out Pam.) Ratings are down and there's no way they're going to keep affording all of those actors. ASkars likely has no shortage of offers.

The Deeply Uncomfortable: The scene between Tara and her mother - who have barely been seen this season, and I don't think have interacted since she was turned in Season 5 - was cringe-inducingly awkward. Intentionally, of course. But as I was watching it I found myself actually flinching. Thinking about it again - "Let me nourish you" - SHUDDER!

The Questionable: So the big cliffhanger and set up for next season is, basically, vampire zombies. The Hep V plague has led to roving packs of sick vampires going from town to town to feast on humans. The response to this, in Bon Temps at least, is an organized symbiotic relationship between healthy vamps and humans. Humans voluntarily feed healthy vamps, who then act as their protection from the sick vampires. There are a few logical problems with this. First, we saw Hep V kill vampires in hours at Vamp Camp. It wasn't more than a day or two that they went from infection to jelly. Now we're supposed to believe that these vampires have been roaming for months while infected? But beyond that, I don't understand why humans are so worried about sick vampires. They can't get inside their homes. Why don't they all just stay indoors at night for a month or two? Nobody goes out, vampires can't get in. Problem solved. But of course, the geniuses of Bon Temps have to have a town-wide party at night, at a public place, which of course attracts a horde of infected, slavering zombie vamps. Of course it does. I guess there's some comfort in knowing that Sam Merlotte is as good a mayor as he was a business owner.

Ultimately I think the Season 6 finale succeeded in getting the show back to its Bon Temps roots, but it did so at the expense of burning through quite a bit of character development and making some bizarre decisions. It was certainly better than the conclusion to the previous two seasons, and I'm eager to see what the new showrunner can do. Because my gut says that Season 7 will be the final bite for "True Blood."

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