After seven seasons, ‘True Blood’ finally comes to an end but did the last episode close out the vampire epic in the right way or was there always a wooden stake hanging over head just begging to put this show out of its misery?
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
In the current day and age of television when a hit show becomes a serialized hit over the course of a few seasons, the build up towards a grand finale is many times how the run is judged. Right or wrong, viewers want a show to wrap up every character arc in a satisfying way while tying a symbolic bow around the entire series to give fans closure and a way to point towards a beginning, middle and end of a story.
The last decade has given way to the real scrutiny when it comes to series finales and how the ending of a show can either compliment or serve as a detriment to the overall enjoyment of the product. There have also undoubtedly been more bad finishes than good ones in terms of a show finale being judged positively versus negatively. For every ‘Breaking Bad’ (which still remains the best series finale in history) there are plenty of shows like ‘Lost’ or ‘The Sopranos’, which are amongst the best TV series of all time, still marred by the way it all ended.
‘True Blood’ had an impossibly monstrous mountain to climb to truly bring viewers a ‘happy’ ending, but at the same time there’s no way expectations could have been all that high. It’s been a few years since ‘True Blood’ was can’t miss television and the show has gone far and away from the socially conscious, thrilling sex romp it started out with seven seasons ago when ‘Six Feet Under’ creator Alan Ball went from funeral homes to vampires coming out of the coffin. The final season has been a hit and miss hodge podge of episodes that started out with an infected group of vampires stalking the town of Bon Temps to the end where it was the Yakuza haunting the residents while cooking up a batch of antidote to put a stop to the vampire apocalypse. If it all sounds strange, then you’re all caught up because the last season of ‘True Blood’ wasn’t bad by any means — as a matter of fact it was the strongest of recent years, but still the reason the show is coming to an end is because of the mix and match way this series started to be put together and rather than drag it out for another year just to see a few more fangs and boobs flashed across the screen, the executives at HBO demanded a stake get put in it already.
So how did ‘True Blood’s finale stack up to other long running shows from networks like HBO? Let’s recap the events to get started
Determined to Die
Bill Compton can’t be talked out of his plan to die after being infected with Hep-V. Even after he was presented with the cure, Bill wants no part of this world any longer, especially at the cost of Sookie living a life where she can’t have children and will eventually grow old and grey while he remains as vibrant as he was 150 years ago. As a parting gift, Bill asks Sookie to kill him by using her ‘fairy light’, which for those with short memories — Sookie can conjur all of her fairy powers into one concentrated shot that will kill a vampire, but once it’s gone that’s it, there’s no recharging the batteries and she’ll human when it’s all over. Bill’s idea is if Sookie finishes him off with her fairy powers, he’ll be gone and she’ll be a regular, everyday person no longer haunted by the thoughts of those around her and she can have a family and just be a normal functioning adult (with no education or skill set outside of being a waitress, but that’s just nitpicking).
Bill also pushes Hoyt and Jessica into getting married sooner rather than later so that he’ll have a chance to give his ‘daughter’ away. Following last week’s episode where Bill released Jessica from their bond of maker and progeny, the red headed teenager for life told her adoptive father that if he truly wants to die and won’t safe himself, she will be okay without him. It was a sweet moment for Jessica to relieve Bill’s worried mind, but moments later the entire situation is hurried so that a wedding can take place before he melts into a gooey mess.
Hoyt calls on Jason to be his best man while apologizing for giving him a shiner the night before. Jessica has Sookie next to her and the couple’s closest friends and relatives come in for the occasion.
At Bill’s house, Andy is in charge of the nuptials but before things can proceed he has to have a chat with his great, great, great, great, great grand relative. If you remember back a couple of seasons when Bill was involved with Andy’s sister, they discovered that the Bellefleurs and the Compton’s crossed bloodlines, making them related from over a hundred years ago. Well since Bill can’t technically bestow his house and belongings to Jessica because she’s not his blood relative, he instead gives his entire inheritance to Andy since they are technically family. Bill’s conditions are easy — he allows Hoyt and Jessica to live there for the cost of $1 per month and if they slip up and fail to pay, he’ll let it slide. Andy agrees of course and the wedding is about to begin.
While it felt like the ceremony took an exceedingly long time — although it was very sweet — this came back to the problem with the final season of ‘True Blood’ in the first place, which was a lot of time wasted when there were plenty of other stories to be told. Still, seeing Hoyt and Jessica tie the knot with Bill there to give her away was a sweet gesture. Andy’s act as ‘minister’ or ‘justice of the peace’ was also beautifully written as he made several points about how Hoyt and Jessica are married because ‘love is love’ and that doesn’t change just because the government doesn’t recognize the union. It was a subtle reminder to the early days of ‘True Blood’ where Alan Ball used the show as an allegory for the ongoing struggle for gay couples to get married, share health benefits, adopt and raise children and any other number of imbalanced politics that ruled our country (and still do in many places) at the time.
Before the wedding came to an end, Sookie heard a voice inside her head that she’d never had there before — it was Bill’s. It seems as the Hep-V took hold of his body, Bill’s strength was zapped away and as he put it he because more human than ever before. Apparently it was enough that Sookie was able to hear his thoughts as he professed his love for her one final time before his desire to meet the true death.
If there was one storyline I disliked more than any this season other than Tara’s insanely stupid mystical exit, it was the introduction of Mr. Gus and the Yakanomo corporation along with Eric’s long lost love from earlier this year. I expressed quite adamantly at the time that Eric’s backstory kept changing and twisting for the sake of giving him more and more humanity for a character that seemingly discovered it while a bigger part of this show.
So in real ‘True Blood’ fashion, the Mr. Gus/New Blood story came to a rapid fire end this week as Eric and Pam finally got fed up with the ‘Fast and the Furious’ driving Yakuza crew and decided to off all of them while taking Sarah Newlin as a prisoner for their own keeping. Eric set Fangtasia on fire and wiped out Mr. Gus and then quickly flew to Sookie’s house where he had sent a hit squad to kill her for knowing about the cure (Sarah) and dispatched of them before she even knew she had visitors outside.
Oh it was kind of funny seeing Eric drive away in the souped up Honda with dubstep music pumping on the speakers and the limbs of four dead Yakuza soldiers piled up in the back while he bobbed his head like he just spent a night out at the Roxbury with Will Ferrell. Meanwhile, Pam scooped up Sarah Newlin before they had an awkward conversation about what’s to become of her as the only source of the cure for Hep-V. Sarah decided to try and convince Pam to turn her into a vampire where she would become her willing lesbian sex slave, and of course she was turned down flat.
From there, Eric and Pam disappeared only to be seen again in the final 10 minutes of the episode. A rather sizable let down for two of the major characters on the show.
Goodbye, Dear Friend
Sookie decides to give Bill what he wants so she invites him to the Bon Temps graveyard at sundown where she will kill him before the Hep-V completely ravishes his body. She summons her final ball of fairy light as Bill climbed down into the grave that was marked for him after he supposedly died during the Civil War.
Unfortunately, Sookie couldn’t bring herself to do it — at least with the last of her fairy powers. She finally realized that she was born a fairy because that’s who she was supposed to be. A touching conversation with Reverend Daniels made her feel deep down that she wasn’t a mistake, or some kind of freak of nature. Sookie was meant to be a fairy because that’s who she was always going to be. With her fairy light back inside where it belongs, Sookie decides to finish bill off with a stake instead. She climbs down into his coffin and even with Sookie straddling him one last time, Bill is still ready to meet the true death.
She sobs as she plunges the wooden plank into his heart and Bill gets one final look at the love of his life before he finally greets death as a friend. Sookie, still covered in Bill’s blood, closes his coffin and covers his grave with dirt. This tumultuous relationship was the backbone of the entire show and while Sookie went onto a ton of relationships after Bill, this was always the place she would call home.
Like many series finales, ‘True Blood’ skipped ahead a few years to wrap up the last pieces of the puzzle for the show. Sure it’s kind of a cheap way to see how the characters progressed, but at this point it’s a television closure trope as old as time so why not use it again?
Eric and Pam mass synthesized Sarah’s blood and now ‘New Blood’ is available at your local convenience store for purchase. They are rich beyond their wildest dreams and Eric still sits in his throne as the king of Fangtasia. In the basement we find Sarah Newlin is still kept captive and vampires can feed on her for $100,000 a pop to get the cure for Hep-V instead of just the Robitussin version of New Blood that stops the symptoms but doesn’t actually cure the disease.
At Sookie’s we find that Jason married Bridget and they now have three kids of their own — and considering the story only flashed forward four years, they got busy in a hurry. She’s hosting a Thanksgiving feast and all the regulars are in attendance. Hoyt and Jessica are madly in love. Andy and Holly are married. Sam and Nicole are visiting from Chicago with their rugrats. And there’s Sookie — with a big pregnant belly about to pop out a baby.
As the camera turned to each face and panned around the room, I was waiting for the big reveal to find out who Sookie’s new beau was that finally gave her the family she always wanted and then — there’s the back of his head and fade to black. Yes, Sookie is married (maybe) and with child by some no name guy from Bon Temps. I guess the moral of the story was Sookie got on with her life since Bill was gone, which is exactly what he wanted, and the big reveal was likely the fact that she’s pregnant, which obviously couldn’t have happened if she stayed with him.
But the fact that there was no resolution to who she ended up with was the biggest let down of all. Sookie was the central character of ‘True Blood’ for all seven seasons and her romantic woes ate up the majority of the canvas for the different stories told throughout the show. From Bill to Eric to Sam to Alcide, the days and nights of Sookie Stackhouse were the romantic overtones that carried the show from start to finish except for the grand thud that landed in the final seconds when she was carrying a baby while married to some nameless man. She didn’t end up with Bill, Eric, Sam or Alcide. Really, I have no clue who she ended up with and neither do you.
I started this article by talking about the pressure on show runners to close out a series with a giant exclamation point as if a poorly written ending can somehow ruin the previous 80 or 90 episodes. I mentioned ‘Lost’ and ‘The Sopranos’ as two shows that serve as the benchmark in the public eye for how not to do a series finale. Both series are on my list for the best shows in television history and while I may not love the fact that Jack and his plane crash survivors ended up in heaven instead of going home while Tony Soprano was busy munching onion rings while his daughter failed miserably at how to parallel park doesn’t take away from how great both shows were over several seasons. The sum of the parts were far better than the crappy endings those two shows received and it shouldn’t reflect in terms of the regard with which they are held years after the series concluded.
‘True Blood’ is in a different category because the wheels started to come off of this series a few years ago. At one time, this was a finely tuned automobile, churning out exciting episode after exciting episode and every Sunday was dedicated to ‘True Blood’. Those days ended and by the time ‘True Blood’ petered into the final year, the Ferrari of years past had transformed into a busted down van barely capable of driving down the highway. Still the show runners managed to craft and weave a few stories together worthy of the higher points of ‘True Blood’s more euphoric past. Hoyt and Jessica reuniting was a nice touch. Lafayette finding love was fitting. Tara dying and still refusing to go away was pretty much par for the course. Even Bill’s death was a conclusion that was sad yet understandable given the reasons behind his request to be let go by the woman he loved most in the world. His selfless act gave Jessica her freedom and Sookie the chance to lead a normal life, far away from the dark corners of the world where vampires had to exist.
The only problem is Sookie did move on but we have no idea how or who with, and why didn’t she turn to Eric as she did so many times in the past? Who is this nameless, faceless man who finally wrangled Sookie Stackhouse into marriage and kids?
The final episode of ‘True Blood’ was an amalgamation of everything that went wrong with a once great series. There were a couple of outstanding moments and some emotional goodbyes worthy of a few bloody tears, but the lack of attention to detail and the gigantic thud with which the show ended by revealing Sookie moved on without saying who she moved on with was an epic failure. Just to make it clear, not everything about this final was bad just these last moments and unfortunately that’s the part we’re going to remember a year or two from now whenever anybody asks ‘have you ever watched True Blood’?