Deborah Ann Woll of 'True Blood'
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Anybody who read my early-season "True Blood" review
knows that I took a vow of Not Caring. I decided that expecting "True Blood" to be anything other than country-fried hokum slathered with several ladles of silly-sauce was folly and that expecting meaning, nuance or consistency from Alan Ball and his team could only lead to disappointment.
I swear I tried.
[Spoilers coming, y'all...]
But then I sat through seven or eight weeks of trying desperately to pretend that Fiona Shaw being British acting royalty somehow meant that she couldn't possibly be giving one of the worst performances I've ever seen on TV. Her interpretation of Marnie as an irate stroke patient unable to do either a Southern accent or a Spanish accent properly may be viewed as courageously hammy in some eyes, but to me, it was just a huge mess and the center of a long-term witching plotline that never engaged me for a single second.
I watched Sookie Stackhouse, once at least a vaguely interesting character, become so erratic and inconsistently motivated that it became clear that she wasn't being written by a team of writers, but rather steered by the psychic energies of a group of schizophrenic fan-fic devotees who ultimately decided what they truly wanted was for Sookie to be having a supernatural gangbang every week with five or six vampires, two or three werewolves and whatever treasure-hording leprechauns happened to be passing through Bon Temps.
There was an anti-climactic plotline involving Arlene and Terry's Demon Baby and its Demon Doll that ultimately raised more questions than were ever answered, before everybody agreed never to discuss it again.
There was the rape-tastic arc in Hot Shot that left Jason Stackhouse briefly physically and mentally scarred before everybody agreed to never discuss it again.
There was a plotline involving new scruffy werewolves, which dovetailed the Alcide and Sam arcs because the writers must have looked at their early outlines for the season and realized that neither character had any reason to be on the show at all, much less take off their shirts.
There was Andy Bellefleur's battle with V addiction, which was cured thanks to some tough love from Terry and to a roll in the hay with a fairy. Or something like those things.
There was Tara running off to become a lesbian cage-fighter determined she'd never let herself be a victim to malevolent forces ever again, only to saunter back to Bon Temps to become exactly the annoying perpetual victim she always was before.
There was Eric, who went from deliciously evil to amusingly brain wiped to OH DEAR GOD, BRING BACK REAL ERIC in a period of 15 minutes. All that arc did for me was prove that it's possible for Anna Paquin nudity to finally become a bit excessive. I don't remember if it was the soft core sex scene in the forest or the other soft core sex scene in the snow or the other soft core sex scene in the shower, but at some point I looked at the TV and said, "Maybe it's time you put on some clothing, young lady." I hope I never feel that way about gratuitous HBO nudity ever again.
There was Bill having sex with his great-great-great-etc-granddaughter, briefly chatting with the chick from "Who's The Boss?" and deciding that arc was never worth discussing ever again.
There were the consecutive episodes in which characters compared the Vampire Rights Movement to the Civil Rights Movement, which would have been hilariously offensive and ignorant except that when Alan Ball says "True Blood" isn't allegorical in ANY way, he's not kidding. So Nan and Bill were actually referring to some totally fictional Civil Rights Movement, perhaps one involving elves at the North Pole.
And there was the weird thing where we were supposed to all be sad about Tommy when he died, even though he was the most annoying and unnecessary character ever on a show that specializes in annoying and unnecessary characters and my reaction was, "Why the [bleep] didn't they just kill him last season?"
Yeah, I really put a little effort into making "True Blood" into Turn Off The Brain Sunday Entertainment, but Alan Ball and company often couldn't even deliver on that. And don't give me that "If you dislike 'True Blood' so much, why do you watch?" tripe. If you don't know already that I'm fueled by my annoyance, it's like we don't know each other at all.
But speaking of annoyance... Time for at least a little chatter about Sunday's (September 11) "True Blood" finale. This won't be a recap, because Leslie recaps
"True Blood" for HitFix.
So, in fact, let's just do this in bullet-points.
*** The last five minutes were badass. There. I acknowledged it. Are you happy? Actually, I don't know if it was really five minutes. Let's say that from the point at which Alcide discovers that somebody (Russell Edgington, presumably, though there could be other vampires silvered and buried in concrete in the vicinity) was dug out of his parking garage until we were left with Sookie trying desperately to do anything to summon help (anything short of picking up a phone) for a seemingly dead Tara, I really liked all of that. Bill staking Nan and Eric beheading her three "gay stormtroopers" for insinuating that they were Sookie's puppies? Excellent. Sookie blasting away at Debbie Pelt? About darned time. And Tara presumably being sent to the hereafter? Well, let's just say that I have no desire for that character to return again, but I fear that the writers have other plans to victimize Tara again and again in the future. Because... after all... it was quite the night for comebacks.
*** Michael McMillian's Steve Newlin's back! And he's a vampire now. Oh. Sure. I'd say "It's like when an ultra conservative preacher rails against the homosexual lifestyle, but then turns out to be gay himself," but "True Blood" IS NOT ABOUT ALLEGORY. Or satire. Or... anything. Provided Jason doesn't accidentally invite Steve into his shanty, I'm not especially interested.
*** Michael Raymond-James' Rene's back! And he's warning Arlene that Terry's got some ghosts in his past and that bad stuff is coming. I don't know how those bad things relate to the arrival of Scott Foley as Terry's old military buddy, but I'm sure I would if I'd read the books. Anyway, I'd rather have Britt Pollack back, but the fact that 95% of "True Blood" fans don't know who Britt Pollack is probably explains why he isn't coming back.
*** Lois Smith's Gran's back! And she's weirdly powerful! Marnie, the major plotline of the season, was resolved with a carton of salt, a barely relevant character named Holly and a deus ex Gran. I think Gran also told Sookie that it's OK to be alone, which led to...
*** The Most. Awkward. Rose. Ceremony. Ever. Sookie's letting both Eric and Bill suckle at her wrists, in adorably matching blue-and-red striped bathrobes, and having achieved exactly the menage a trois she's spent three seasons trying to craft, she decides this is the right moment to make a big "I choose me..." speech. I expected Chris Harrison to wander in, console Bill and Eric and reassure them that they'll always have a home on "Vampire Bachelor Pad." It's easy for Sookie to do, because she's the love of Bill's life, the love of Eric's life and Alcide already suggested that she may be the love of his life as well and he hasn't even had sex in a forest with her. And *everybody* has had sex in the forest with Sookie. More than a few viewers probably were inclined to agree with Pam and her outraged pronouncement, "I'm so over Sookie and her precious fairy vagina and her unbelievably stupid name. F*** Sookie."
*** Going back to Tara for a second. We're two minutes into the episode and I'm taking notes. Tara and Sookie are having a heart to heart and Tara says "What are we, like magnets for f***ing craziness or something?" At this point, my notes read "So, ummm... Tara's dead, right?" I did not, however, predict death-by-shotgun. [I'm not saying I'm smart. Or clairvoyant. Just that "True Blood" has some hacky writers.
*** Nelsan Ellis got to do a lot of acting this season, didn't he? I thought he did a better job of playing the creole mama than Marnie, but who can blame him? Fiona Shaw didn't give nearly a consistent enough performance for Ellis to have a clue how to impersonate him.
*** Are you impressed that I made it this far without mentioning Little Red Riding Jessica? The "I'm not looking for a relationship" scene with Jessica and Jason was the first scene in the finale to interest me and it was nearly 40 minutes into the episode. Jessica had more of an arc this season and more Deborah Ann Woll is good for "True Blood." But how many times have we done the "Jason Stackhouse wants to prove he's more than just a himbo" thing? Several.
*** Little Red Riding Jessica. Worth repeating. Excellent.
This finale was a bit less excessively cliffhanger-y than last season's mess of a season-ender. Or maybe it was and I'm just not as invested? I guess it's bad that Eric and Bill are marked for the true death by the American Vampire League (and Russell won't be too happy with them either). And Terry's ghosts, that doesn't sound terrific (though Terry and Arlene already dealt with a spirit this season, so... whatever). And Sookie's really unhappy that Tara might be dead. And Sam and Luna are totally gonna date, which is sure to be dramatic.
Mostly, though, I have nine more months before "True Blood" returns. That's nine more months to try again to figure out how not to care...
Wish me luck.
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