Monday, August 4, 2014

Building More Plotlines For True Blood “May Be The Last Time” With The Late-Series Episode!

The Good: Engaging storyline, Moments of character, Decent performances
The Bad: Cluttered with new/ridiculously minor characters
The Basics: “May Be The Last Time” pushes True Blood forward as Bill nears death, Eric nears Sarah Newlin and other residents of Bon Temps struggle with deciding the town’s future.

As True Blood eeks toward its end, the structure of the show is beginning to foreshadow the type of finale the series will have. Shows that end with something of a cataclysm tend to start clipping the wings of the various characters as the series finale approaches. The type of big, bold ending that comes from a series with a large cast trimming down its plotlines does so in order to bring focus to the narrative. If “May Be The Last Time” is any indication, True Blood will go out on a much softer note. Given the attention to ridiculously minor characters (like Adilyn and Wade) and the addition of new characters this late in the story (Gus Jr. becomes a genuine presence and Dr. Ludwig pops forcefully into this new episode) create the impression that True Blood will, as a series, be a story that is a snapshot of a larger continuum. In other words, “May Be The Last Time” foreshadows a series finale that will end the show on a note that leaves viewers with the impression that life goes on for the citizens of Bon Temps and the world (whomever survives).

This late in True Blood, the main storylines involve Eric and Pam searching for Sarah Newlin while the citizens of Bon Temps recover from being besieged by Hep-V infected vampires (and the prominent vampires there die of the disease). “May Be The Last Time” picks up moments after “Karma” (reviewed here!) with the Eric and Pam plotline. Having captured Amber Mills (Sarah Newlin’s sister), the pair begins the episode strong.

Eric, Pam and “Gus Jr.” interrogate Amber for the current location of Sarah Newlin, learning that Sarah is now the cure for Hep-V before Eric kills her. Andy and Holly track Adilyn and Wade to Camp Bellefleur, where they find only the kids’ cell phones. Andy freaks out when they go missing and he calls Jessica for help. Lured by Violet back to her home under the pretense of getting the chance to have lots of sex safely, Adilyn and Wade are essentially (witlessly) captured by Violet. Gus Jr. calms Eric’s bloodlust with a business proposal that will give Eric an almost half-stake in Yamamoto Corporation when they find Sarah Newlin. As Bill and Jessica rest, Sookie calls in reinforcements.

Hoyt returns to Bon Temps with his new girlfriend Bridget, leaving Arlene surprised that the young man does not recognize Jason Stackhouse at all. While Jason has lunch with his old (now glamoured) friend, Dr. Ludwig arrives at Sookie’s to perform an examination on Bill Compton. Dr. Ludwig suspects that Sookie is not necessarily involved with the accelerated spread of Bill’s Hep-V and she freaks out when Sookie mentions her relation to Niall. Sookie calls upon Niall, who appears to reluctantly aid her. Sarah arrives at the old compound of the Children Of The Sun where she hallucinates Jason Stackhouse and intuits that her number is up. The Japanese spy upon her and Gus Jr. leads the charge to take her alive. As Sam decides whether or not to stay in Bon Temps, Holly and Andy hit a dead end in the search for their children.

“May Be The Last Time” struggles on its own with the nature of the series. Trying to find a compelling direction for Andy and Holly at this point forces “May Be The Last Time” to include a somewhat witless subplot involving Adilyn, Wade and Violet. Violet’s sex dungeon has no real point other than to add a shock factor to the episode and allow Wade a moment of true honesty with his girlfriend. The thing is, fans who dove headfirst into the series are likely to feel they were robbed of time with characters they care about for the plot involving Wade and Adilyn. Similarly, Arlene’s sexual dream about Keith seems more like filler than compelling character development.

With Hoyt and Niall’s return to the story in the same episode, fans of True Blood are not apt to mind all of the filler that much. Hoyt has a long arc with Jason Stackhouse so bringing him back is far more interesting as a potential way for Jason Stackhouse to be used than the sheriff’s “relationship” with Violet. Hoyt’s re-introduction in “May Be The Last Time” is engaging-enough, though it seems to be the start of a plotline as opposed to tying anything up. Four episodes from the end of the series, it’s intriguing that the show is picking up old plotlines, as opposed to focusing the show. Far more gratuitous is the return of Niall. Sookie’s many times great fairy Grandfather pops back, simply because Sookie calls for him. His return reveals the existence of yet another supernatural race, the Dwarves, who were apparently slaughtered by the fae.

Bill’s character continues to be fleshed out through flashbacks in “May Be The Last Time.” Bill meeting his wife Caroline is shown explicitly in “May Be The Last Time,” as is the everyday miracle of their child. The purpose of the flashbacks is somewhat wanting in this episode. Are we to believe that Sookie seeing Bill’s past is what drives her back to his arms? Why it would is something of a mystery.

“May Be The Last Time” does not have any bad performances, though there is something of a creep-out factor in Bailey Noble’s Adilyn and Noah Matthews’ Wade spending so much time on-screen playing underage characters having sex. Carrie Preston and Anna Camp deliver solid performances and even Anna Paquin manages to sell Sookie as not at all creeped out by the grossly degrading body of Bill when they make love.

Despite being crowded by characters and plots that are less compelling than the main characters, “May Be The Last Time” moves True Blood forward in a way that actually makes the viewer excited for the next episode.

For other works with Will Yun Lee, please check out my reviews of:
The Wolverine
Red Dawn
Total Recall
Die Another Day

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into True Blood - The Complete Sevent Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the final season of the supernatural show here!


For other television reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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