To say that I’d never watched True Blood at all would be a lie, unfortunately. I “watched” all of the first season, but had definitely checked out by episode 4 or 5, around the time that one figures out that this is less a dark, gothic, cajun horror novel and more a hyper-sexualized, chick-lit, blood/fairy fest. It’s not high art by any means, and it was a little over-the-top emotional for my taste. Just not exactly my cup of tea, for what that’s worth. Yet, I decided last night the True Blood had been enough of a cultural phenomenon that I needed to give the last episode, “Thank You”, a look-see. (Aside: Between this show using Led Zeppelin and all of the songs the other shows use, I’d love to see the HBO music budget. It must be ridiculous!)
I remembered almost nothing of the story other than there was a chick named Sookie (in the running for worst name on television), a vampire named Bill, they loved each other? I guess? There was a sassy cook, and a bar owner who was a dog, or something like that. There was lots of blood but it was way less Louisiana-y than something like, say, True Detective. It always felt like it was both the pinnacle and the eventual death-knell of the recent vampire craze, mostly because it embodied all of the different styles of vampire fiction, or at least it tried.
Going in to the finale with this sort of background, I was pretty sure I would both A) Have absolutely no idea what on Earth was going on, and B) Probably think that it was just as hokey and silly as it was when I left it. Both prognostications proved to be accurate about 5 minutes into the show, or less. I suppose I’ll blame Lost for this, but it seems to me that every TV show these days has contrived plots so convoluted that by the end the narrative of any show is gibberish to all but a select few. This was definitely true of True Blood and I have to admit that when the dialogue delved into Fairies, and Shapeshifters, and “balls of light”, and “Hep-V”, and all of that jazz, I had no idea what was happening. I might have even fallen asleep for about 10 minutes in the middle without noticing. That being said, here are the basics–made intentionally vague so as to avoid spoilers–about how True Blood ended its sanguine run last night.
Again, having missed approximately 5 seasons worth of story, I didn’t get the same emotional impact from last night’s happenings, but this did feel like a wrap on the emotional side of things. For the past few episodes (I’m told by wikipedia) Bill has been hankering for a ‘true death’ after having caught Hep-V and all the while pining for his long lost family. This is the real crux of the episode as he tries to convince the people around him, Sookie/Jessica, to accept that he wishes to die and they try to convince him to cure himself. Bill is great anyway, just because he acts the way Keanu Reeves would act if he were told to act like a robot. It’s hilariously dull. I won’t tell you what he ultimately decides, but it seems clear that the Sookie and Bill storyline received a satisfactory ending for those invested in the show.
The other parts of the episode were fairly confusing for me, with Eric and Pam defeating some Yakuza vampires (that sounds like an awesome B-movie) so quickly that it felt like the romance angle in Rambo: First Blood Part II. There’s quite a bit dealing with Hoyt and Jessica, the vampiress/human couple who I’m pretty sure were in the first season, and their will they/won’t they marriage. There’s something with Sookie’s brother and Hoyt’s ex from Alaska or something, and there is one big mandatory flash back scene. None of these vignettes were of particular interest to me, though I have to admit, that even without context, the epilogue scene with Eric and Pam selling a new product was pretty funny.
There were also a slew of great, hammy quotes that made me laugh out loud. There were a few unnecessary f-bombs, but for the most part they were funny out of context just for the absurdity of the language. Some highlights were:
“This is where I first called on ya.” – Bill, trying so hard to sound Louisianan.
“I’ll never know why the f**k you’re doing this.” – Sookie with the unnecessary f-bomb.
“I might be a vampire, Bill, but I am also a girl.” – Jessica
“Stay out of my head Sookie Stackhouse!” – Grandma, reiterating how bad a character name this was.
“It’s Bill. He asked me to kill him with my LightBall.” – Sookie
“Copy that Vampire Bill” – Sheriff Bellefleur, making a great pitch for a M*A*S*H* spinoff.
I was constantly laughing during the episode, even when I didn’t know what was happening, and that’s always fun.
I have enjoyed a number of shows with complex plots, and I know that the soap opera standard requires inexplicable and reasonless, constant change. That being said I always thought that True Blood was too much. Too many mythologies, too many characters, and too many criss-crossing relationships. What TB did wrong is what another hammy show like American Horror Story did right by breaking each season into distinct units and containing all of the craziness each season into that season alone.
That being said, if you invested the time these past seven years, and if you delved so deep into True Blood that you understood what was happening last night, you’ll probably find some emotional closure. Stories this messy don’t always end on the note that you want them to, and they almost never close all the loose ends. But if they can make you feel and if they can give you characters that you care about, whose futures you’re invested in, well then who really cares if it’s high art or not. You got what you came for and that’s probably good enough.