True Blood Season 7 Review: Slowly, but Surely Reaching the Finish Line

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The final season of HBO’s supernatural sensation was often burdened by the show’s previous missteps, but still managed to give us an exciting last look into the world of Bon Temps.

I’ve written ad nauseam about how much of a corner True Blood back itself into at the start of this season. The unnecessary time-jump to six months in the future did nothing but further complicate the show’s characters and the overall narrative arc. All of a sudden, we were thrown into a confusing mess of storytelling, and waiting for things to be pulled together and move forward.

I’ve recently realized, however, that the show’s real problems cannot solely be blamed on this one instance of poor plot progression. The truth is, True Blood has run out of stories to tell. If I’m being totally honest, the show probably should’ve ended after season 4. The dissonance between the earlier seasons and the latter three is startling. After witnessing a maenad deity make people lick ostrich eggs and participate in outdoor orgies, a bloodthirsty vampire king rip out a news anchor’s spine on live TV, and a possessed witch hold several townsfolk captive, watching a bunch of rabid, diseased vampires roaming around before eventually dying off just wasn’t any fun.

The Hep V virus was host to its share of important moments, and certainly brought a sense of urgency with it as it infected several of the show’s main characters. Still, in terms of creating a sense of villainy, it wasn’t too effective. It took entirely too long for Sookie and the gang to discover where Arlene, Holly and Nicole were being held captive—even though Fangtasia would be the logical first place to look. Some interesting dynamics were put in play when the town decided to revolt against Sam’s vampire-human bonding program, but the opportunity for greatness was ultimately squandered on a bunch of no-name characters we never heard from again.

True Blood started off its final season in an attempt to rebuild the same sort of suspense it had captured during its earlier years. “Jesus Gonna Be Here,” “I found you,” and “Fire in the Hole” were full of shocking moments—Tara and Alcide’s deaths—but also were full of confusing character developments that deterred from the overall sense of mystery. Willa and The Reverend are two characters of little import, and yet they got a massive amount of screen time that was surprisingly touching. Though I enjoyed many of the season’s more intimate conversation scenes, they often felt like distractions for the lack of a general plot.

Then, of course, came “Death is Not the End,” and episode that revived a lot of the show’s former glory. Here we got a welcome dose of the show’s over-the-top humor, as well as some cohesive character moments between Jessica and Lafayette, and Arlene and Terry. The H-Vamps were dealt with in a fun and thrilling way, and Eric and Pam returned to the fold. All in all, it was a resounding success.

It’s too bad that this was followed by “Lost Cause,” arguably the worst episode of the season. Alcide and Tara’s losses were treated to quick speeches and tequila shots, while everyone else hooked up and broke up like they were in high school. It was a weird change of pace, and one that made me concerned for the final five episodes to come.

The re-introduction of Sarah Newlin and the Yakumono organization proved to be both good and bad for the show. On one hand, Anna Camp’s hilarious characterizations were a welcome delight amongst all the somber conversation scenes. Her descent into madness was especially entertaining. On the other hand, these villains offered the same sort of nonsensicality that the H-Vamps did. Why did it take Eric and Pam till the finale to wipe them out? Because, if they had done so sooner, there would’ve been nothing left for them to do.

I did enjoy several parts of the latter episodes of this season. “Karma” provided some surprising pathos for Lettie Mae, and gave a sense of world-building authenticity to the Hep V virus. Meanwhile, “Love is to Die” put in motion the idea that Bill might not make out of this show alive. His intentions were rather confusing, but they were explained in more detail during the finale.

Ah yes, the finale. The best way to really describe True Blood‘s final hour is “polarizing.” I enjoyed “Thank You,” as a way to climactically say goodbye to these characters—namely, Bill—but I understand some of the critical frustration surrounding it. Why was so much time spent on side conversations leading up to Hoyt and Jessica’s wedding? Why were Bill’s dying wishes to see Jessica get married and for Sookie to have children, when this has always been a show that turns conservative viewpoints on their heads? These issues are perplexing, but there’s one thing that I found to be highly compelling: Sookie’s final moments in the cemetery with Bill.

Here, we got to see a few things play out. Sookie stands up for herself and her fairy identity after refusing to kill Bill with her light blast. Then, the show’s emotional and romantic core was brought to the forefront when she decides to stake him in his coffin. Sure, it’s not the ending that most of us pictured. But for a show that gave us unsatisfying endings to Tara and Alcide, it was nice that Bill’s sendoff was met with the proper amount of feeling. Sookie and Bill’s relationship has always been complicated at best, so it’s fitting that he goes out of her life the same way he came in: in a swirl of darkness, and with lots of blood.

It’s difficult to determine how True Blood will be remembered as a whole. Will it be known for its zany, outrageous, and highly entertaining former seasons, or will it be constantly bogged down by its later mistakes. I, for one, have plans to remember this show fondly. It certainly had its faults, but there was enough light in the final season to make me remember why I fell in love with it in the first place. Farewell, True Blood. Thanks for never being boring. Grade: B

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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