Mon
Aug 25 2014 10:00am

Not with a Bang: True Blood’s Powerfully Unsexy Series Finale

True Blood Thank You

Leave it to True Blood to figure out one last stake to twist into the hearts of its diminished audience. Will Sookie and Bill be together forever? Will Eric get naked one last time? Will we see some characters get a little closure? Will the show go completely off the rails and end up with Sookie becoming president of a new, vampiric, world order?

Nope!

I mean, this was once an Alan Ball show and he was responsible for the best series finale ever—Six Feet Under. But Ball is long gone. And while we didn’t go into full-on Dexter levels of lunacy or TV-punching rage like Lost or Battlestar Galactica, True Blood’s finale was definitely the most flaccid sixty-five minutes of TV in some time. Because, you know, if an excellent series finale is supposed to contain the show’s mini-thesis, True Blood’s running theme was most certainly ham-fisted meditations on conventional morality by fully-clothed people, right?

I’d love to stick to my usual episode review format and just list under each character’s name a giant “Who cares?” But I’ll try to put a little more effort into this, my 300th post, than True Blood’s writers put into this final hour.

I’m mad that this last episode wasn’t as mind-breakingly ludicrous as Dexter’s. If you’re going to watch a shitty show, it can at least have the goddamned decency to suck spectacularly.

Let’s start with the dumbness of hiring noted martial artist Will Yun Lee as the show’s lamest, most grating, Big Bad to date and having him die in a two-second explosion. Okay, good for Will Yun Lee to play against type. But he sucked. I can’t even just be polite and blame it on bad writers. He was just bad and he should feel bad.

But, yeah, bad writers, bad. So that was the big epic last standoff True Blood? And Sookie wasn’t even involved? Almost every other season ended with Sookie involved in the final conflict, but I guess she stopped being a central figure in Bon Temps somewhere around the rescue of Holly and the mysterious disappearance of every Hep-V mad fanger in Louisiana.

But we got this Eric victorious slow-jam gif:

True Blood Thank You Eric

That was the only fun thing about the episode.

What did we get instead of badass fight scenes and battle speeches and epicness? We got an impromptu wedding and babies. Damn, people in Bon Temps sure can throw a last-minute party. (Note: I attended a wedding this weekend, too, and I’m sure the newlywed couple wished planning a wedding was so easy.)

You know, because Heaven forbid that Sookie and Jason and Jessica end the series in the present, without being happily married and reproducing. That wouldn’t fit into the late bestselling author Bill Compton’s last mopey speech about life being about watching your grandkids grow up. Yes, kids are a reality for many people, but it’s not the only option. And what about Jessica and Hoyt, who can’t have kids? Was it so necessary for Jessica to get married to Hoyt when he barely remembered her the day before? I still don’t buy that Jess had nearly enough time to “discover herself“ away from Hoyt to return to him as some kind of new woman. This whole storyline was a season low point and would have smacked of the laziest possible way to tie up this character’s story if only Jason and Sookie’s last scenes weren’t even more desperate.

As feared, Hoyt’s leggy girlfriend was introduced in the eleventh hour and we’re supposed to go “Aw, look! Whatshername did fuck Jason after all and have multiple babies! Hooray! Jason is a changed man after seven seasons of almost not being a walking set of abs because he had babies.“ Or maybe we’re just supposed to be happy he didn’t die?

And Sookie.

Oh, Sookie. And Bill.

Bill didn’t even go nobly into that good night. He died like he lived. Like an asshole. He didn’t sacrifice himself to any greater cause other than a mansplainin’ “Sookie deserves a normal life.” He tried to get her to use her fairy light one last time and be normal and to her credit, she declined. But why? It’s not like her stupid fey powers mattered at all in this last season.

So we were supposed to see her as strong when she staked Bill, but I thought it was actually pretty cruel of Bill to make her do that. But Bill hasn’t had his own desires all season. He’s just been a Macguffin for Sookie’s journey towards… getting knocked up by some bearded dude whose face we don’t even see.

Fuck you, True Blood.

 

Final thoughts:

  • I loved that even the omniscient title cards at the ending were basically a shrug. “About a year later.” Way to be specific. The quick forwards into the future were pointless. True Blood ends on a shot that was basically like the big dinner party of last episode.
  • And: Sookie and her magical vagina are too special for being in love with a vampire, but it's all good for Arlene, Lafayette, and Hoyt? Why?
  • Eric and Pam’s triumph is basically just them becoming rich and getting revenge on Sarah Newlin by tricking her out. Okay, then. That could be satisfying to someone, somewhere.
  • Eric looked bored on his throne. Why would he want to keep Fangtasia just as it was? Pride? Memories? Being close to his ex Sookie? With all of his money and fame, he could've launched that into something bigger and better. In a nicer neighborhood.
  • Lafayette didn’t even get a line!
  • Seriously. Bill is an asshole. ”Mourn me, Sookie, as you wash my death goop out of your one sexy funeral dress." Because we all know the grieving love to do laundry.
  • This was definitely one of those series finales that makes me entirely uninterested in rewatching the show. I felt the same about Lost, but not BSG. I just don't watch the last half of season four. A good finale feels complete, like a good novel. It leaves you with a the feeling that the show stayed true to itself and went out in some rousing way — where it's the drama of Breaking Bad, the artful maddening abruptness of The Sopranos, the poignancy of Six Feet Under, the doggedness of Angel. True Blood just guttered out.

 

Next week: I will read a book on Sunday night instead. Thanks to all the regular commenters here whose insight and shared frustration made watching bad TV way more fun. You folks have iron determination!


Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com, covering TV and gaming news. She’s also a guest on the latest episode of Wired.com’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast discussing Game of Thrones. And the resident Hannibal fannibal at Boing Boing. Follow her on Twitter @tdelucci

23 comments
ViewerB
1. ViewerB
I had a realization last night during the opening credits that the show hasn't lived up to the opening sequence in quite a while. The Southern Gothic charm hasn't been present in quite a while. Sad that it came to this.
ViewerB
2. NinthWanderer
"If you’re going to watch a shitty show, it can at least have the goddamned decency to suck spectacularly."

This encapsulates my feelings perfectly.
ViewerB
3. meonlyme
I've reached such a level of ambivalence for this show, I can't muster the emotion to be upset about the finale. I'll admit to feeling a bit cheated when Sookie's baby-Daddy wasn't more fully revealed, but I got over it quickly.

*sigh* When does Game of Thrones come back on??

BTW, I've loved reading your TB episode wrap-ups, Theresa. You made watching a slowly dying-the-true-death show bearable.
ViewerB
4. Hades
Well that was the crappiest ass finale I've ever seen in my life. It was even more boring than the rest of a very boring season. And the worst part of it was watching a woman get raped for over five years. I know she was nuts but nobody deserves that.
ViewerB
5. EdMigPer
I couldn't be further disappointed in True Blood. It was an overbloated douche bag wrapped in a soppy wet fuzzy blanket.

Even by the end, not a single sulfuric stink of Desmond Cataliades or my favorite character, Diantha. They turned demons into some stupid voodoo spirit possession (Jesus, Lafayette).

But even taking the show for what it was, it was terrible. The entire season was one big wrap-up, but it felt empty and rushed, especially the last episode.

They should have dropped the ball. Actually, they did, but they should have dropped Alan Ball a long time ago. And all the other writers.

This ending to a TV show was even worse than the weak ending of Battlestar Galactica where they have to use a giant, literal Deus ex machina. That was terrible. True Blood's ending was worse because they spent the entire last season wrapping things up and then they had to RUSH to wrap it all up in the last episode, not giving anyone any iota of time to be emotionally invested in the wrap up.
ViewerB
6. Gardner Dozois
About the best I can muster about this lame, limp end to what was once a major series is that it could have been worse. At one time, I thought they were going to kill all the major characters off one by one until none were left, and that would have been, probably, somewhat worse. I was okay with leaving most of them alive and happy by the end of the show--although I still don't like Jessica and Hoyt and Jason and Nameless Bimbo being together), and I can even live with Sookie having Moved On rather than ending up with Eric, because, after all, although they might be fantastic fucks, vampires Can't Knock You Up. Glad to see that Layfette made it out alive, since as a gay black drug-user he seemed a fairly certain character to get offed; they could at least have given him a parting line of dialogue, though.

I'm left wondering, though, where are all the ravaging Hep-V vampires that had left the world in a Post-Apocalyptic state in the first couple of episodes, with even the Federal Government having more or less collapsed, as apparently had the state government, leaving Bon Temps to fend for itself? They more or less forgot about this whole storyline in the last third of the season, and toward the end it became clear that everywhere else in the world was normal, with only Bon Temps affected. Then the threat mysteriously vanishes from Bon Temps too. Lame.

Not only was Gus the Cowboy Yakuza by far the lamest Big Bad of the series, the threat of the yakuza themselves was a non-threat; Eric could have just as easily have killed them all in the previous episode as he does here (and why, with even the remnants of a worldwide corporate empire at their command, does everyone huddle in the basement of Fangtasia?) And you'are absoluely right--Sookie should have been a pivotal part of the final battle, and there should have been some sense of menace that they might lose; she was the main character of the show, after all, like it or not. Instead, it all happens offstage, and she doesn't even know any of it is happening.

By far the worse part of the episode, though, was Bill's Demise. It's INCREDIBLY cruel of Bill to insist that his lover kill him, no doubt leaving her struggling with guilt and trauma for the rest of her life. If he wanted to die that badly, why not just walk out into the sun? What a douchebag. I will give them points for Sookie's decision not to use her light and lose her special nature, but, even so--geez, how stupid.

It's really a shame they couldn't have hired some decent writers. A show where people have invested this much in the characters over a period of years could have been brought to a much more satisfying end, knowing that it was the last season. Done right, the last season could have been terrific. Instead, because of the incredibly stupid writing and plotting (the actors always did the best they could with the material they were given), it was lame.

Good luck selling lots of copies of the last season DVD, guys.
ViewerB
7. Charles Mohapel
Theresa DeLucci, you were too kind. How many times did you scrap your review before writing this toned down condemnation of a limp-noodled ending for what was an absolutely crappy final season? I found the final season incomprehensibly putrid from start to finish and pray that the showrunners come to their senses before working on any other shows.
ViewerB
8. BillKill
So the show on the same high note that the books did, wow, who would have expected
ViewerB
9. themortal1@hotmail.com
Does the picture at the top of the article remind anyone else of Zoe and Mal at the end of the torture episode of Firefly? "Take me now, sir, take me hard"? Awkward hands, too much distance, and lack of romantic chemistry?
Theresa DeLucci
10. theresa_delucci
@7 Actually they published my post before it was even finished! =/ A mistake behind the curtains. I definitely wanted to give it a once over after a night's sleep and complain about a few more things. (Which I've edited into the post under final thoughts.) Also, I don't even feel strongly enough about True Blood to waste hate on it. I just found it plain BORING.

Namely: Like Sookie and her magical vagina are too special for being in love with a vampire, but it's all good for Arlene, Lafayette, and Hoyt.

Eric looked bored on his throne. Why would he want to keep Fangtasia just as it was? Pride? Memories? Being close to his ex Sookie? With all of his money and fame, he could've launched that into something bigger and better. In a nicer neighborhood.

Bill really was an asshole for making Sookie kill him. Yes, mourn for me, Sookie, as you do laundry to get my death goop out from your one sexy funeral dress.
Kimani Rogers
11. KiManiak
Thanks Theresa,

Well, at least it’s over, even if it didn’t end well. And I actually liked Lost and BSG’s series finales as they set a proper tone and addressed what they could (I would have kept the technology and not sent the fleet into the sun, but that’s just me). But this series ended very poorly, easily among the worst series finales that I’ve seen.

Like I said, at least it’s over.
Gregg Anderson
12. digrifter
At last True Blood has embraced the TRUE DEATH.

This is the first show I was able to defeat my obsessive compulsion to watch until the bitter end -- no matter how bad it became (I realised my sickness after watching all of Smallville). Good-bye, and good riddance Sookie Stackhouse!!
ViewerB
13. Anemic
This show centered on vampires ... But it ended with babies, tons of babies hanging off all the fertile females?! What was the point?? Was it to emphasize "life" in a show about vampires ? How annoying is that? What terrible choices. I knew there was trouble as soon as they started pairing people off.... So embarrassingly lame.
Alan Brown
14. AlanBrown
I myself was pleased by the finale. Although a lot of that is probably because the season that preceded it set the bar so low.
I didn't like Bill enlisting Sookie to help kill him, but I am glad that the writers allowed Bill to die with dignity. The show then became the story of Sookie and Bill, from beginning to end. And the death gave meaning to all the flashbacks to Bill's human life that had occurred in the season, it made us realize how much he missed being human, and his discovery that his continued existence was not really a continuation of his life. There were times during the episode when I thought that he was going to turn into a human at the end, "Pinocchio becomes a real boy and they all live happily ever after." That would have been too trite for words.
I didn't buy into Hoyt and Jessica marrying at first, but thought it was handled well. Jason falling for yet another former Hoyt girlfriend, though, was more than a bit strange. Eric and Pam helped keep the episode from being too sappy and boring with their own amusing transformation into smarmy capitalists.
I have a theory about the whole Hep-V rampaging vampire thing. I think during the last season, someone in the business end of HBO decided that True Blood was losing steam, and needed a new direction. Walking Dead being a hot show, they told the writers to move things in that direction, with the Hep-V vampires becoming basically an apocolyptic zombie horde. But then, for whatever reason (perhaps negative fan reaction to the end of last season?), HBO decided instead to cancel the show. So the writers had the double challenge of getting out of the whole Hep-V scenario, while at the same time trying to get the show back to its roots, and bring its major arcs to some sort of satisfactory conclusion. That would explain a lot of why so many new things appeared, but then were quickly thrown overboard.
Finally, I liked the dinner party with the implication that everyone was living happily ever after. But I do admit that it was a pretty conventional ending to a show that was so 'out there.' Maybe it was meant to be ironic, ending a show that relished the counterculture and alternative lifestyles with a scene where everyone had apparently found wholesome monogamous picket fence-bounded happiness with an average of 2.3 kids per family (the fertile Jason Stackhouse family making up for those vampire couples who couldn't have kids).
But in the end, I suppose I must console myself with the thought that any landing you can walk away from is a good one.
ViewerB
15. Gemini5150
Booo booo booo rubbish filth muck phew trecance! What started out as a good show started to spiral into the drain with season 4. The series finale the last drop drains away and nothing of what was good is left, this finale is in the same boat as Dexter a waste of six years of watching a series that builds up to nothing. Game of Thrones and S.O.A. your my only hope, dont fuck up the end, because if the end is nothing, then the journey is worthless.
ViewerB
16. Carrie1010
Was so disappointing. If they wanted to tie it up as a love story, all they ended up saying is men are disposable. If you're a woman, just find a man that can give you babies, otherwise there is no meaning to a love union. It's ok for a guy (Hoyt) to choose not to have babies or a gay man (Lafayette), and a woman who has already has children (Arlene). But if you're a young woman, you can't possibly be complete without having children, so give up the love of your life and find some faceless sperm donor.
Theresa DeLucci
17. theresa_delucci
@16 That's an interesting take on it. I didn't think about what Hoyt, Arlene and Lala had in common aside from immortal lovers (which is always my number one concern about dating a vampire.) Now that makes me hate this mainstream boring soap opera endgame even more! Thanks for that.
Verne Arase
18. varase
Oy ... were the last few books as lame as the series became?

Now I'm afaid to read them.
ViewerB
19. ElizabethEmerson
I won't miss true blood. I actually haven't watched this season at all. Maybe I never will. But I will miss your reviews of it. Not that I enjoy bitter laughing. Maybe I do. Although, how weird is it that I read all your reviews this season but watched nary an episode? Not that weird, I appreciate good writing. And Lafayette. I propose a comedy series where Lafayette discovers his "La fae" powers. It can be any sort of "fairy" power. Maybe a comic strip?

Thank you you for suffering to the end of True Blood and writing about it. Thank you.
ViewerB
20. JDH
What pissed me off most was the terrible plot flaw where Sookie was meant to have given Bill Hep-V even though she was exposed to the virus after he fed from her. I kept waiting for a clever reveal but it really was just a ridiculous mistake.
Chuk Goodin
22. Chuk
Thank you for watching this so I didn't have to. Congrats on your 300th post, and also you are so right about the finale of Six Feet Under.
ViewerB
23. Cremeggsrock
What happened to True Blood! It's used to be an absolutely brilliant series and I actually preferred the show to the books. Brilliantly sharp and charismatic characters which were brought to life by some excellent actors. And then the writers seemed to slump. They lost the sparkle and killed the characters' sparkle. Even Eric got boring!

Why would Tara get killed off in such a mundane way? I've never been much of a fan of Tara but the character deserved better. What happened to Lafayette in the last episode? How did his new found boyfriend suddenly turn gay from being Jessica's man in the vampire prison? I thought he was meant to be this caring morale vamp so it didn't make sense for him to suddenly have an affair with Lafayette. What happened to Bill's character? They made him into an interesting charismatic character and then suddenly a boring blink and you miss him drone. And Eric... He's this brilliantly powerful thousand year old vampire ... Yet gets revenge by throwing some fire down a tunnel and becomes a cheesy businessman zzzzz.

I didn't want to see Sookie end up with some non-descript human man. Sookie is too complex for mundane endings. Why do the writers have to bring a strong woman down to being not much more than a child bearing wifey? I'd have put her with Eric preferably or Bill or Sam but not a faceless human.

And Hoyt... Was there any point in him coming back other than to give Jessica an ending? I would have put Jason & Jess together. Hoyt coming back added nothing and meant too much of the final episodes were spent wrapping up the ending of supporting characters instead of Sookie and Bill.

And Sam. WTF? To go from Sookie-loving bar owning shapeshifter to getting with Luna to suddenly Luna dying and then he's hooking up with someone 5 mins later, giving up his bar, becoming mayor then leaving to be a partner and dad. Sorry but that storyline didn't make sense and was totally pointless & against Sam's character

I'm so disappointed that the writers did this to True Blood. They should be ashamed.

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