After a season of making choices I couldn’t necessarily get behind True Blood finally did the right thing: it ruined everything. And I think we're all as shocked as Sookie is in that photo to the left.
This includes the sudden end of Russell Edgington’s rampage. As wonderful as Denis O’Hare’s dastardly hedonist is, it was time to lay him to rest. The political intrigue was too much with Russell’s own directionless agenda. When he approached the fairy tent with his newfound clarity (thanks to the elder fairy’s blood) it was a welcome relief to see Eric swoop in as the greaser hero and murder the S.O.B. It was a little unceremonious, considering all Russell has done, but he had his season. And this time, he really isn’t the problem: Bill is.
And that’s where the episode also gets it right. After Eric kills Russell and deplores Sookie to save her former love, Eric, Sookie, Jason, Tara, and Nora storm the Authority to get Bill back and rescue Pam and Jessica. By the time Eric and Sookie get to Bill, he’s tricked his lover Salome into drinking silver-tainted blood so he could stake her in what appears to be the bloodiest episode ever. He’s holding the vial of Lilith’s blood, and as the last of the delusional Authority set, he’s prepared to drink it. Sookie gives an impassioned speech about how he was the best, kindest, most amazing vampire she’s ever met. He comes back with a quip about her being an abomination and the assertion that vampires eventually turn on those they love. With that, he breaks Sookie’s heart (again) and drinks the blood.
At first, it seems that True Blood has done the impossible: killed Bill. His blood drains from his face like someone opening the Arc of the Covenant and he melts into a puddle. But Sookie can barely get out three tears on Eric’s well-formed chest before Bill emerges from the pile of goo: He’s officially become male-Lilith. It’s enough to make you say something along the lines of, “Well, sh*t.” But it’s also the perfect, most intriguing way to end the season.
All too often, True Blood sews up its big questions with a sudden vanquishing of evil. This season, the really big question was “Is Bill really evil?” And in the season finale, that question gets a brutal answer that begs a thousand more inquiries. What is the series without a prospect for Bill and Sookie? It’s a delicious notion that the show may actually be willing to endanger those aspects we take as “givens.” It’s not exactly Breaking Bad, but the series deserves credit for a solid season-ending transformation.
But it’s not just Bill’s last twist that’s more satisfying than watching Sam rip that godawful auburn-haired Authority chancellor to shreds. Tara finally completes her transformation from completely unforgivable character to someone we actually like having around. All season, her storyline with Pam has been kept at arm’s length while stories of species-ist Obamas, curses and sundry magical headaches, and lovesick Hoyt (thank God we only had one of him) took the spotlight. Finally, finally, finally Tara and Pam get at least a shred of the pomp and circumstance they deserve. When Sookie and Tara finally save Jessica and Pam from their cells, Tara doesn’t even flinch at grabbing the silver gate to free Pam because as Jessica so adorably exclaims, they were totally into each other. It’s the perfect development for both characters because Pam deserves to stop whining about Eric constantly and Tara needs something that makes her the opposite of abhorrent.
Unfortunately, things aren’t as peachy for another lady vampire. Jessica is shocked to hear Jason respond to her confession of love with the resolute belief that he could never love a vampire. Now, this is where the series’ good deeds start to drop off. Jason, after being hit accidentally with a fairy ray, has started seeing his dead parents everywhere he goes. His dead parent ghosts also happen to be insufferable bigots. They whisper in his ear all episode-long, convincing him that he hates vampires and his duty is to kill as many as he can. Suddenly, Jason’s only real definable qualities (other than his capacity for lust) are gone. He’s always been a little gullible and a bit of a ditz, but mostly, he had a great big heart full of truly good intentions no matter how often they happened to misfire.
The Jason of the Season 5 finale looks nothing like the Jason we’ve come to love. Even when he joined Reverend Newlin’s church back in Season 3, he wasn’t drinking the Koolaid this resolutely. Sookie helpfully informs us that the issue is the giant, untreated headwound he’s rocking, but that doesn’t stop him from going on a bloody rampage. Luckily, he doesn’t turn the gun on the vampires helping him storm the Authority, but we really can’t trust this new Jason. Well, we can’t until the final “bonus” scene of the episode.
In a scene that the writers apparently couldn’t figure out how to fit into the episode naturally, Jason and crew explore the escape route from the Authority. Along the way, Jason is still talking to his parent-ghosts and utters the name Warlow. Just like that, Nora has a surefire way of not getting one of Jason’s wooden bullets: she asks him what he knows about Warlow. Clearly, Nora is not going anywhere, but if she leads us to this sinister vamp (who should seriously have considered changing his name to something a little more terrifying) her annoying leech-like presence next to Eric can be tolerated.
Clearly, in vampire families, the lines are very blurred. “Moms” and “daughters” can also be girlfriends. “Brothers” and “sisters” can be lovers. But Eric and Nora are completely obnoxious together - and not just because they’re in the way of Sookie-Eric potential. Okay, that is a big part of it. We can see, however, that Eric still cares greatly for his little blonde friend. From the way he threatens Nora’s life when she tries to eat Sookie, to the way he tells the Authority guard she “is amazing, but she’s mine” it’s clear that Eric has not fully left his feelings, whatever they may be now, for Sookie behind him. Thank God.
Of course, the season finale didn’t completely clean house. (As much as we might have hoped it would.) Sam and Luna are still on their path to saving Emma from the Authority. After Bill encounters Sam and commands the entire security force to find him (the ability to become a fly suddenly sure comes in handy when being chased by vampires), Sam and Luna are under the gun. Sam’s brilliant idea is to have Luna transform into Newlin since he fled once Russell was killed. Luna does it, steals Emma, and proceeds to attempt to deliver Newlin’s message refuting his involvement in Russell’s tirade on a frat house via live broadcast. The only issue with Sam’s brilliant plan is that last time Luna shifted into a person, she almost died. Sam’s brother also died after shifting into people too many times. Why in the world would he let her do that? This, truly, makes no sense. It’s more likely he would have sacrificed himself - plus he actually has a southern accent and would have avoided that whole receptionist-catching-Luna-red-handed issue.
Luckily for Luna, she doesn’t die... immediately. She involuntarily shifts back into herself when she’s trying to deliver Newlin’s speech. Instead, she tells live TV that vampires are keeping a whole basement of humans as their personal snack pantry. Just before the infernal redhead chancellor can take Luna out, Sam (as a fly) zips into her mouth, shifts and kills her. So that’s why he needed her to be the one transforming into Newlin? Poor choice, writers. We now know that ladies look better covered head-to-toe in blood than men do.
Andy, unfortunately, also still has a story - with plenty of unnecessary characters along for the ride, to boot. Mirella, and her insatiable hunger for pure salt (where the hell did that come from?), is ready to have her baby. Just as Andy is telling Holly the horrible truth about his other lady and her state, Mirella’s “light breaks” and she starts popping out babies. And because none of this was uncomfortable enough, she also has Earth-shattering orgasms with each birth. Lafayette and Arlene look on in awe (and the glow of who knows how many “Cajun margaritas”) and I couldn’t help but wish I was as tipsy as they were.
Mirella leaves Andy with all four babies, saying he’s now required to take care of them. Holly resolutely breaks up with, calling him an asshole. And suddenly, Andy is relegated to a Season 6 about his transformation to Mr. Mom. This is not what we needed, writers.
We also didn’t need for Alcide’s story to take him further from the vampire circle. We love Alcide (I love Alcide), but taking him deeper and deeper into werewolf culture takes him further and further from the characters we care about. This week, Martha brings him Ricky, who’s been force-fed V and is overdosing. Papa Alcide has a remedy and they treat Ricky while she secured Alcide as her man and tells him that J.D. force-fed everyone V and raped the younger were-ladies.
Without so much as a moment to consider the gravity of his father’s suggestion that he take V to even the playing field and defeat J.D., Alcide uncharacteristically takes V without so much as a struggle (even though it’s what drove his childhood sweetheart to insanity). Sure, he kills J.D. and fixes it by saying that his first ruling as the new packmaster is that there will be no more V or rape, but his character simply rolls through these plot points with too much ease. Besides, without his connection to the main plot, his stories can’t help but feel like throwaways. It may not be realistic for him to be involved in regular Bon Temps life, but it’s also not realistic that he’s a werewolf who lusted after a fairy who’s in love with two vampires. Realism isn’t always the answer.
The episode still had the issue of feeling a little disjointed. While Bill’s transformation is a definitive end-cap on the season, the rest of the stories felt severely unfinished. The benefit of that is that there will be plenty to get into as soon as the season gets underway next summer. The problem is that, other than Bill, these side plots may not be strong enough to merit our salivating over their possible conclusions for another year.
Were you satisfied with the True Blood season finale? Did you see Bill’s final state coming? Did you think he’d actually died for a second there?
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[Photo Credit: HBO]