[Contains cheesy shopping-channel pitches and SPOILERS!!!]
Watching the first episode of the final season of True Blood, it slowly dawned on me that I didn’t really care what happened to anyone in Bon Temps anymore… except maybe ‘Arlene’ (Carrie Preston), who was always pretty funny, and had a good grounding effect on others… but everyone else had long since worn out their welcome in my heart. The time jump at the end of the previous season’s finale probably didn’t help… suddenly ‘Sam’ was mayor and ‘Sookie’ (Anna Paquin) was cosying up to ‘Alcide’ again, and the writers hadn’t done any of the hard work to make us care about either of those developments.
When ‘Lettie Mae’ (Adina Porter) declared that ‘Tara’ (Rutina Wesley) had been killed off-screen by a single assailant, I assumed it was a cheap fake-out… but then ‘Pam’ (Kristin Bauer van Straten) confirmed the kill a couple eps later, and that was that. The posthumous reconciliation between mother and daughter was quite moving in itself, and Porter remained one of the show’s strongest assets, but I still wish they’d given Tara a “guns blazing” death scene, to make up for all that sniping and griping we’d had to endure over the years.
When everyone started catching Hep-V, that “AIDS” song from Team America started playing in my head (because I’m a terrible person)… the writers have always tried to equate vampirism with homosexuality, but it’s a false equivalency because vampires are sadistic, predatory, blood-sucking monsters with supernatural powers, and gay people are just people. Vampires are outcast for very good reasons, while gay people were/are outcast for very bad reasons. So, trying to suggest that they’re the same is actually pretty offensive, in a way. Ah, well… I guess it gave Deborah Ann Woll more meaty material to sink her fangs into, as the guilt-ridden and grieving ‘Jessica’… but then ‘Hoyt’ came home, and I started to drift back into apathy again. Was anyone pulling for those two to hook up again? It’s kinda hard to remember how I felt about Hoyt, before that whole memory-wipe exodus thing… “He’s back and he’s just as in love with her as he ever was, so they should get married immediately!” M’kay… if you say so, show.
Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) and Pam’s scenes were reliably entertaining, and I appreciated the flashbacks to show how they wound up at Fangtasia, even if it felt like an afterthought this late into the show’s run. I also enjoyed seeing how poor ‘Ginger’ (Tara Buck) first came into their orbit… and the scene where she finally got to grind on Eric was probably the comedic highpoint of the season. Bless.
Anna Camp’s return as ‘Sarah Newlin’ was a bit of a let-down though, since she spent most of her screentime either screaming-and-running or bound-and-gagged. What a waste! As a love-to-hate character, she’s much more fun when she’s in a position of power and gloating (or ranting) away, so there was a lot of promise in her budding messianic complex… but she was quickly demoted to silent damsel-in-distress/blood-cow status, and my interest in the show drooped again as a result. Perhaps it’s been too long since I saw the previous seasons to remember exactly how cruel and vindictive a villainess she was, but I found the final scene of her hanging from chains in the Fangtasia basement, being sucked on by any vamp with the cash to afford a crack at her, particularly dispiriting and distasteful. (I was also a little confused as to why Pam and Eric were still slumming it in the boondocks, when they should be living it up in a swanky penthouse apartment somewhere… but that’s beside the point).
Overall, I thought this was probably the best-written season, from a thematic and structural perspective… but it was also the least engaging, because there was no real Big Bad to fight… besides Hepatitis, the Yakuza, and grinding mortality, I mean. Meh.