Friday, October 24, 2014

Death Of The Supernatural Soap Opera: True Blood Season Seven Disappoints!

The Good: Decent-enough acting
The Bad: Ridiculous plot direction, Poor character arcs, Erratic special effects
The Basics: The final season of True Blood takes a disappointing turn for the series, making it a virtually unwatchable end to the story of Sookie Stackhouse and Bill Compton.

Over the course of a series, how a television show will end is always a big consideration for the writers and executive producers. The audacious shows have big endings, the shows that did not begin with a firm goal often fizzle out. True Blood is definitely the latter.

The seeds of destruction for True Blood were built into the sixth season finale, “Radioactive” (reviewed here!) when the penultimate season ended with a six month leap forward in the True Blood timeline. The move forward would not have been so troubling had True Blood not already done a narrative skip forward seasons before and the climactic events were ridiculous teases. The death of Eric Northman at long range, not seen clearly was a suspension of disbelief that no fan in their right mind bought; the sudden appearance of (essentially) zombie vampires was a left turn that made no rational sense (given how the vampires in the sixth season reacted to Hepatitis V infections at the Governor’s compound, six months after the infection broke out, all of the infected would be long dead).

The seventh season opens up immediately where the sixth left off, where a town mixer where Mayor Sam Merlotte has pitched pairing humans and healthy vampires for mutual protection, is surrounded by Hepatitis V-infected vampires. In the slaughter that follows, a few of the townsfolk are abducted by the invading vampires and Tara is killed. As Sookie, Jason and Alcide investigate the nearby town of Saint Alice and discover that the town has been wiped out by the Hep V-infected vampires, fears in Bon Temps grow. To try to bring down the villains, Sookie uses herself as bait while the townspeople rally against the vampires and other supernatural beings around Bon Temps. When Alcide is killed, Sookie is emotionally adrift.

Meanwhile, Pam goes in search of Eric and finds him alive in Europe. Unfortunately, Eric is infected with Hep-V and is very slowly dying of the disease. Goaded by Pam, Eric returns to Louisiana and goes on a hunt for Sarah Newlin. The search for Sarah Newlin turns from an opportunity for Eric to get revenge on the woman who started the outbreak to a business opportunity he can exploit. Together, Pam and Eric negotiate to produce a new product for vampires that will treat Hepatitis V, but not cure it (making them rich). The storylines converge when Bill gets infected with Hep V and refuses treatment for it, causing Sookie to freak out.

The final season of True Blood is erratic, melodramatic and defies what semblance of reason existed in the earlier seasons of the supernatural drama. One of the strengths of True Blood in its initial concept was exploring the way the real world would interact with supernatural creatures. Throughout the seasons, the addition of more and more supernatural beings and more preposterous situations has gutted the metaphoric bent that made the series clever and any sense of realism. The seventh season is like a soap opera in the character relationships as the show strains to resolve all the dangling character arcs and a series of plot contrivances that are ridiculous. Amid episodes where Sookie loses more people in her life, True Blood struggles to make viewers care about what is going on with Lafayette, Arlene and Sam. Most of the beloved characters from True Blood are treated as afterthoughts in this season; Tara is even killed off off-screen, robbing viewers of a reasonable catharsis.

Nevertheless, the show has characters who fans have grown to love over the prior six years and the final season of True Blood finds them thus:

Sookie Stackhouse – After the death of her closest friend, she and Jason try to save the rest of Bon Temps. Discovering how widespread the carnage in the world goes, she becomes more ambivalent toward vampirekind. But, when Alcide dies and she finds herself alone again, she turns toward Bill and discovers she still loves him,

Bill Compton – After championing vampire rights and trying to make amends for his time possessed by Lilith, he drifts. When he is infected with Hepatitis V, he makes the difficult decision to finally die and be at peace, a decision Sookie cannot understand,

Jason Stackhouse – His relationship with an ancient vampire having progressed, he finds himself giving into all of Violet’s desires. But when he Violet goes crazy, he is rescued by the least likely person. In the aftermath, he steps aside so Hoyt and Jessica may resume their romance and he befriends Hoyt’s girlfriend, though he takes a stab at not sleeping with her,

Andy Bellefleur – The sheriff of Bon Temps struggles to protect his remaining daughter and he goes hunting for Holly when she is captured by the Hep V-infected vampires. Desperate to protect both his love and his daughter, he has to turn to Jessica for assistance. When Sam’s girlfriend give him an ultimatum, it is Andy who must take charge of Bon Temps,

Eric Northman – Having managed to survive nearly being burnt alive when his immunity to the sun expired, he finds himself infected with Hepatitis V through his own carelessness. He goes to hunt down Sarah Newlin until he learns that she possesses the cure that will save his life. Teaming with the inventors of Tru Blood who were ruined by the outbreak of Hep-V, he goes into business exploiting the outbreak Newlin caused,

Pam De Beaufort – Bound to Eric, she experiences a loss when Tara is killed and she is angered when Eric appears ready to give up. After goading Eric into returning to the United States, she teams up with him to hunt Sarah Newlin,

Jessica Hamby – Feeling horrible for slaughtering most of Andy’s family, she vows to protect his remaining daughter. When she succeeds in stopping the Hep V-infected vampires from taking the half-fairy daughter of Andy, she is captured by a vengeful Violet. When she is rescued, she begins to find herself drawn back to Hoyt,

Arlene – Captured during the raid on her new bar (formerly Merlotte’s), she appeals to the humanity in one of the remaining Hep V-infected vampires. Upon being rescued, she allows herself to get seduced by a vampire herself,

Sam Merlotte – Almost an afterthought this season, he tries to protect Nicole (who is pregnant with his baby), but fails horribly. Despite coming to her rescue, she loathes remaining in Bon Temps, forcing the mayor to make a difficult choice,

Lafayette – Also a virtual afterthought, he helps Lettie Mae search for Tara’s ghost. He get involved with Jessica’s prison boyfriend and nearly breaks her heart. After that, he just hangs out in Bon Temps until the end,

Alcide – Happy dating Sookie, he tries to protect her. In the battle with the Hep V-infected vampires and townspeople, he pays the ultimate price,

and Tara – Before she has a chance to grow or develop, she is killed, which sets her mother on a drug-riddled trip to follow her ghost.

Any number of issues arise with the characters in season seven of True Blood. In order to draw out the relationship between Jason and Violet, her initial characterization has to be obliterated. In a similar fashion, Eric Northman becoming infected with Hep-V only jives if one forgets how careful he has been and how smart his character is. Moreover, for a character who evolved beyond his absolutism and vengeful qualities in the past, the way he degenerates into a completely avaricious vampire for his final arc is disappointing.

True Blood in its final season robs its performers of any big moments. Outside of the last two episodes when Deborah Ann Woll is given a genuine romance to play off Jim Parrack and Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer are given the chance to infuse their love back into their characters, the season is devoid of great performances. Instead, the actors plod through their final ten episodes in a location once magical, now full of death.

For more information on this season, please visit my reviews of the individual episodes:
“Jesus Gonna Be Here”
“I Found You Here”
”Fire In The Hole”
“Death Is Not The End”
“Lost Cause”
“May Be The Last Time”
“Almost Home”
”Love Is To Die”
“Thank You”


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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