Monday, August 18, 2014

Penultimate True Blood: “Love Is To Die” Has One Good Arc As It Cuts Ties!

The Good: Good acting between Jim Parrack and Deborah Ann Woll, Moments of character
The Bad: Light on plot, Blasé character moments, Mostly unexceptional performances
The Basics: “Love Is To Die” moves True Blood much closer to its end; without leaving a compelling hook for fans to come back for the finale.

With only two episodes of True Blood left, the penultimate episode works very hard to frame how the series will end. True Blood’s “Love Is To Die” sets up a finale that is likely to be less bang and more “fade away.” The way the second-to-last episode feeds into the finale is actually somewhat unsurprising; the seventh and final season of True Blood has been a lot of fizzling out and the cramped cast has struggled to find a compelling story to tell. In fact, given how serialized the show is, it is almost surprising that “Love Is To Die” bothers with a “previously on” montage at the beginning of the episode.

“Love Is To Die” picks up where “Almost Home” (reviewed here!) ended and it continues the trend of the last few episodes of cutting ties for the characters. In fact, given the tone of most of “Love Is To Die,” the finale is almost unnecessary. There is a “ho-hum,” “this place is becoming a ghost town” attitude toward Bon Temps that the show feels like it is just waiting out the clock at this point. In discussing “Love Is To Die,” it is not possible to discuss where the characters are without (potentially) spoiling prior events from the season.

With Bill refusing to drink Sarah Newlin’s blood and be cured of the Hep-V infection that is ravishing his body, both Jessica and Sookie are furious at Bill Compton. After Bill renounces his ties to Jessica, she turns to Pam and Sookie finds herself in Eric’s arms. Sookie and Jessica visit Sam’s house where they find it abandoned and two letters waiting for them. Sookie’s letter explains to her exactly why he and Nicole have abandoned Bon Temps; the letter Sam left for Andy is simply his resignation as mayor. As Bellefleur’s, Jessica makes peace with James and LaFayette. Hoyt and Bridgette fight, largely because Bridgette is jealous of Jessica. Things get worse for their relationship when Jessica shows up. Bridgette gives Hoyt an ultimatum and Hoyt follows the vampire out into the night. Jessica and Hoyt reconcile and Jessica tells Hoyt their story.

While the bulk of the remaining town has dinner together at Bellefleur’s, Eric visits Bill Compton (who has returned to his mansion). There, Eric tries to convince Bill to take the cure and live on for Sookie. When Jason tries to rescue Bridgette from Hoyt’s house, he gets knocked out and she ends up rescuing him (though he helps book her a ticket back to Anchorage). Pam restores Sarah Newlin to her traditional look in preparation to sell her to the highest bidders (billing her as potentially the highest paid trollop in history). As the party at Bellefleur’s breaks up, Eric approaches Sookie to try to explain why Bill is allowing himself to die. Sookie returns home to attend to Bill as he dies. At Fangtasia, Eric almost fucks Ginger and he descends to the basement where Gus Jr. has Pam captured. Forced to be honest to save her life, Eric tells Gus Jr. where Sookie lives.

“Love Is To Die” is a mediocre episode that continues the trend of writing out characters to the series in thoroughly underwhelming ways. Earlier in the season, Tara died off camera and her arc in the season had her existing as a ghost to essentially further the unlikable character of Lettie Mae. Sam is similarly written out with an off-camera departure, which is incredibly unsatisfying for viewers who have stuck with the series so long. It is somewhat ridiculous to make Sam mayor only to have him have only one tiny arc! Sam’s big character arc was over at the end of the prior season when he proposed the pairing of humans and vampires for protection. This season, he has been a non-entity and his promotion to mayor has had less impact than Andy Bellefleur wanting to marry Holly! One of the essential characters at the beginning of the series, Sam has faded to not at all a presence by “Love Is To Die.”

The scene between Hoyt and Bridgette is more melodramatic and like a soap opera than it is realistic and compelling. Far more interesting in “Love Is To Die” is how much time the episode devotes to Jessica and Hoyt. Hoyt was a supporting character at the outset of True Blood and his arc with Jessica was a good one for the seasons they were involved. “Love Is To Die” capitalizes on the on-screen chemistry that Jim Parrack and Deborah Ann Woll have. Boosted by the scene where Jason tells Bridgette about his childhood with Hoyt and the relationship Hoyt and Jessica had before. More than any other relationship in True Blood, “Love Is To Die” frames Jessica and Hoyt as the great love story of the series.

This late in the story, the burgeoning relationship between Jason and Bridgette seems somewhat forced. In fact, not since Star Trek: Voyager contrived a relationship between Chakotay and Seven Of Nine in the final few episodes has a relationship seemed so forced on television near its end. At least the almost-sex scene between Ginger and Eric is treated with appropriate ridiculousness.

“Love Is To Die” is an episode where virtually nothing happens; the characters are realigned, but there are no stellar events to make one want to bother with the finale.

For other penultimate episodes to television series’, please visit my reviews of:
“The Dogs Of War” - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
“Parallel Lives” - VR.5
“Episode 28” - Twin Peaks

[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 episode and movie reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page!

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