True Blood: “Thank You” Series Finale Review

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Goodbye Bon Temps. You were weird, but I’ll miss you.

It’s strange to think back to True Blood‘s first few seasons, because it almost feels like they were part of an entirely different show. The pace was more frenetic, the mysteries were juicier, and the romance had a certain gothic charm. The world of Bon Temps was a fascinating place; full of seemingly ordinary people and the potential for just about anything to happen.

Just about everything did happen, which unfortunately seems to be the show’s undoing. The problem with True Blood‘s latter seasons is that so much ground had already been covered, that any new material felt forced. I’ll go into this in more detail during my season review tomorrow, but I think the lack of excitement is really what weakened the series’ quality.

That being said, I still had high hopes for the finale. Surely, after all these characters have been through, the writers could pull together for one last hour of supernatural fun. This is, after all, a show that puts Game of Thrones to shame when it comes to being provocative.

Well, I’m pleased to say that “Thank You” was a wholly satisfying hour. It suffered from a few missteps, but all in all it provided a charming sendoff for this eclectic group of people. True Blood has often been accused of paying a little too much service to its fans. The most interesting thing about this week’s episode, is that I don’t think it’s what anyone was expecting.

One of the reasons I mentioned that the show is running short on exciting stories, is because of how quickly Gus Jr. and his Yakuza agents were taken care of. On one hand, I found this to be very realistic. Pam and Eric are obviously much more powerful than a bunch of hired guns, and it’s a little surprising that they waited this long to obliterate them. It was nice to see them back in action again, especially since they were working together.

The downside of this, however, is that it left a lot of time to kill before the main narrative plot points could be executed. My one issue with this episode is that there were too many instances of a character going up to another character and saying, “can I talk to you for a second?” before going into a private conversation.

Some of these two-person scenes were actually quite lovely. Jason and Hoyt shared a genuine bonding moment that was reminiscent of how strong their friendship used to be. Equally as touching was Jessica’s conversation with Bill in which she discusses her feelings on weddings. Sookie’s conversation with Bridgette about how to best wake Jason up? Meh. Not really necessary. The same goes for her talk with The Reverend about whether or not to give up her fairy powers. Sure his sage words of wisdom are always endearing, but since she basically ends up reiterating the same thing to Bill in the cemetery, I didn’t really see the point.

It’s clear that there were a few things that needed to be dealt with, but doing so directly wouldn’t take up an entire hour. The main plots of the episode were Eric and Pam’s conquest over Gus Jr. and New Blood, Jessica’s impromptu marriage to Hoyt, and Bill’s decision to accept the True Death. When the show focused on these three things, it was compelling. The pointless conversations, not so much.

Jessica and Hoyt’s wedding ended up being a sweetly intimate ceremony. For two of the show’s most innocent characters, it felt very fitting. Deborah Ann Woll has given continuously emotional performances this season, but she seems to have saved her character from simply becoming a crybaby. Yes, she’s very tearful at the wedding, but this is preceded by a scene in which she tells Bill she’s going to be okay without him. Not right away, of course, but she’ll be able to make her peace with it. It’s a welcome moment of strength, and helps to really sell their father-daughter relationship dynamic.

Then, of course, there’s the matter of Mr. Bill Compton. He tells Sookie that in his final days, he’s started to feel somewhat human again. Death, apparently, is the only way he’ll be at peace, and the only way Sookie will really be able to move on. He loves her too much to simply let her go, and he knows she won’t do the same for him. This makes a lot more sense than the whatever he sputtered about last week. Sookie and Bill have always been the core of the show’s romance factor, and after all the darkness he’s brought upon her it seems just that she be the one to put him out of his misery.

An intriguing aspect of this arc revolved around whether or not Sookie would use her powerful light blast to kill him, thus taking away any connection she would have to her fairy roots. Sookie’s often talked about what a nuisance her telepathy is, but it’s also part of what makes her who she is. An earnest flashback sequence shows her talking with Tara and Gran—welcome back Lois Smith!—about how she’ll never be able to find love because of her powers. Gran dissuades this idea, saying the only limits she has are the ones she puts on herself. For a show that’s constantly stresses the acceptance of people’s differences, it seems Sookie has finally accepted herself.

Sookie and Bill’s final scene in the cemetery is brutal, but also beautiful. After deciding against using her light blast, she asks Bill if he still wants to die. He, of course, says yes, so she does things the old-fashioned way—by staking him in the heart. Well, really, they do it together. Sookie sits in Bill’s blood for a while and, naturally, sobs. Later, as she walks out of the cemetery, she seems slightly uplifted. A part of her heart will always remember him, but now she can truly be free.

The epilogue of “Thank You” provides a bit of levity after such a somber moment. Years later, Eric and Pam take their New Blood corporation to new heights, while forever punishing Sarah Newlin by keeping her trapped in the basement of Fangtasia. A pregnant Sookie prepares a Thanksgiving dinner for her friends, several of whom have new families of their own as well. Sure, a part of me wanted to see who the new man in Sookie’s life is, but the point of his face never being revealed was to show how she was able to adopt a more ordinary lifestyle. In other words, it doesn’t really matter who he is. Everyone’s happy.

The final shot of the episode panned out to show a the Thanksgiving table with everyone eating, talking, and smiling. It was pleasing to see a group of people who’ve all been through hell and back finally enjoying a moment of happiness. In a way, it made me think of the relationship that we as viewers have with this show. It’s been a rough road for those who have stuck with the series till the end, but I think I’ll always look back on these characters and smile. True Blood, you were far from perfect, but I’m glad I went along for the ride. Grade: B+

 

 

By Mike Papirmeister

 

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