Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

True Blood: “Thank You”

One last time:
Anna Paquin

It’s hard to tell exactly what True Blood’s legacy will be. Will it be remembered as the sort-of sexy, sort-of gory, mostly entertaining monster pastiche it was for the first few seasons? Or will its lasting impression be disgust at the long, slow march it took toward irrelevance in its later seasons? True Blood was never a great show, but at its height it was at least a tremendously relevant show in the television landscape. People watched it, a lot of people, and those people talked about it. It’s because of that relevance it lasted for seven (long) seasons, far past the point where it still had anything to say—let alone any idea of how to say it.

Which brings the series to its finale here, coming on the heels of a season that wasn’t just limping to the finish, it was practically staggering, drunk and incoherent, as if just coming off a particularly brutal week-long bender at Fangtasia. The season’s greatest fault was that it somehow forgot it should still be trying to tell stories on a week-to-week basis, spending most of its time putting its characters into position for the finale and then leaving them there, stranded, for episodes at a time to just sit in rooms together and talk. There is a way to make this setup work on a deeper level, but the problem is that True Blood has no deeper level; even the character relationships the show has spent seven seasons building managed to only hit the level of “touching” on a fleeting basis. This lead to whole episodes that were essentially frustrating bits of nothing, and unfortunately the finale these episodes stagnated to set up wasn’t any better.

It’s obvious now the show’s final season trajectory existed solely to set up the scene where Sookie is forced to kill Bill. The instinct is a good one: The show started with Sookie and Bill’s love story, and even if that story got convoluted over the course of the show it’s a pure way to bring things full circle. The problem comes precisely because Sookie and Bill’s love story did get so convoluted over the years, practically being ignored until this season’s insistence their true love was stronger than anything. This is true love that required the show to kill Alcide and then have Sookie almost immediately forget him, true love that required endlessly boring flashbacks to Bill’s time as a human in order to redeem his character from whatever he was in the previous two seasons. It ended up requiring far more awkward setup than there was eventual payoff, and this imbalance hurt the entire final season.

If I give the show credit for one thing in this final season, however, is that it had the guts to actually kill Bill. Putting aside Bill’s ridiculously patriarchal reasons for wanting to die in order to “save” Sookie from him. Putting aside Bill’s ridiculously horrific request that Sookie be the one to kill him using her fairy power, stripping her of her identity and acting like it was his noble gift to her somehow. When Sookie walked up to Bill’s grave, I definitely expected some last-minute swerve, saving their true love and allowing them to be together forever. But that didn’t happen; Sookie did kill him, and even managed to gain a smidgen of character development as she did it by refusing to use her light ball and lose her fairy nature. This forced her to actually stake him, and even if the image of Sookie straddling Bill while he turned into a puddle of gooey blood and guts was more amusing than sad, it was still something.

Which is more than I can say for the rest of the episode. If during the madness of season two you would have said the main event of the series finale would be an extremely simple (and fairly silly) wedding, I would have laughed in your face. Hoyt literally came back to the show a few episodes ago, met up with Jessica again, had his erased memories explained to him, and now he’s proposing? It’s so, so, so, so silly, yes, but it’s biggest sin is that it’s boring. That’s the biggest sin of this entire final season, really: It was all just so boring. True Blood was often a structural mess, it often followed tertiary characters down long paths of nonsense that never really lead anywhere, it often seemed to have no idea what to do with the few strong main characters it had. But in its prime, it was never boring.

There was a fleeting moment in the finale where Eric finally remembered he was a powerful vampire and took down Mr. Gus and the Yakuza in two easy steps, then drove back to Fangtasia, dancing in the front seat while their dead bodies are piled up in back. It was a lone bright spot of fun in this episode of blah, and it was a perfect metaphor for what went wrong with the show’s final season. It needed to be far more of Eric in that car and far less of Sookie and Bill’s dying declarations in that cemetery, because it’s the moments like Eric’s that will end up being the show’s most memorable.


Stray observations:

  • Goodbye, lovely commenters. Thanks for putting up with me trying to figure out how to make any sense of this crazy show for the past few years, and thanks for all the laughs. (Now go back and watch the first few seasons of The Vampire Diaries if you want to watch an exciting, well-plotted vampire show.)
  • Who did Sookie procreate with in the flash forward? WHO CARES? It literally doesn’t matter, as her pregnant belly is the only sign of her happiness and well-being we need, because this is apparently 1950.
  • If Eric and Pam are infomercial queens and ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, why do they still have Fangtasia? And why do they need to charge $100,000 for randoms to feed off of Sarah Newlin? Eric should have taken over the world, dammit.
  • Eric and Pam finally killed the Yakuza, something they could have done at least four episodes ago, but then that would have required writing an actual story for them. Can’t have that!
  • The show remembered Tara existed (and Gran, hi Gran!) but Rutina Wesley is nowhere to be found. Harsh.