“All this trouble in the world? It’s a blessing.”
If betraying great character development is considered a blessing then, sure. True Blood is a strange series, isn’t it? It’s had some of television’s many odd, disturbing, freaky and shocking moments and then some. Plot wise, this is one of the few drama shows on air right now that can shift in almost any weird direction and capitalize off of it’s audacity to go deeper into unassuming strangeness than is even comprehensible. The season six finale of True Blood has switched up its narrative by deciding to tread backwards instead of forwards, but is that a bad thing, really? In going back, it is doing something that shakes up the show’s premise as a whole. Already fans are split on this change--this altered world of Bon Temps--this strange and unprecedented new togetherness, in the dark of a scared and withering society. We’ve got both humans and vampires asking for forgiveness, and yet the world’s darkest new age is certainly on the way. “Radioactive” (aired August 18th) presents an intriguing new dilemma for the revitalized town of Bon Temps and its changed inhabitants. However it does stumble a lot with old and tired narratives resurfacing as well and a frustrating shift in action. Some of them workout, while some others (and a specific one I am personally annoyed at seeing still on this show) fail. Still, this finale isn’t a completely ridiculous blunder. Not completely…
Sookie’s a mess. Truly. At this point, she’s at a personal impasse that doesn’t entirely make sense to her. Faced with letting her fate catch up to her and returning to whatever semblance of normalcy she had before Warlow entered her life, Sookie still seems to be reaching out to find something to hold on in her mortal life. Her reconnection with Alcide is an organic one that has been a long time coming. These two are always a less complicated pair. Their easy--simple. They understand each other. With everything that Alcide has seen and dealt with this season, he finds solace in returning to Sookie and to Bon Temps as well. And for Sookie, Alcide is a certain sight for sore eyes. More than that, Terry’s funeral was a wake up call to Sookie that her throwing her life away--her friends and family--her community simply to satisfy Warlow would be the most careless decision of her life. Add the relief of witnessing her friends safe and sound, dancing naked in the sun and you’ve got a Sookie that isn’t ready to give this new salvation up for anything. That said, as Sookie sees her friends and Jason (and Jason’s new vampire girlfriend, Violet, who is quickly growing on me) she must also face her real feelings for Warlow.
Trying to compromise the best she can, Sookie insists that she and Warlow merely take things slow and date rather than bind themselves together for all of eternity. However, the true Warlow comes to light; basically an abusive stalker ex-boyfriend that wants to force a demented marriage upon our heroine. Warlow does well to terrorize his bride to be, convinced he is doing the right thing and Sookie will come to realize this truth. One’s shouldn’t be too surprised at this turn of events. After all, Warlow did kill Sookie’s parents. He must have some sort of temper he’s kept locked away until now, when his patience has worn thin. He may be in love with Sookie (obsessively) but he’s also still a vampire just as much as he is a faerie. Does that make him a bad guy--a villain? Not in the typical sense, but Sookie should have seen this coming. Still she always seems to blinded when it comes to vampire men. Warlow’s actions are wrong of course; however, as he perceives the scenario, he is the one who is being wronged and emotionally abused. He’s done being abused both by these vampires and these mortals, wasting time so he decides to take what he thinks is rightfully his after waiting for so long…
And here is where things get a bit annoying. They put Sookie back into the same old damsel in distress scenario, instead of working out a way to salvage our heroine and deliver her from the tiresome True Blood trope that fans thought we’d see her graduate from by the end of the season. For one season, I’d like to see the strong, badass Sookie who saves herself, the very same one we saw back in the middle of Season 3 when she kicked Debbie Pelt’s ass for invading her home. I’d have loved to see that in this finale. Instead we are forced to witness the same narrative that we’ve seen time and time again. However, I will say this: How the writers utilize this tiresome 'save Sookie' trope to bring our characters (old and new) together for a good cause is what mostly pays off. While Bill mopes about not having his Lilith powers anymore, things quickly get real as Warlow makes his fifty-five thousand year old plan for Sookie a reality. It takes some doing, but Jessica, is the one who really initiates a rescue mission that saves Sookie, pushing Bill to do the right thing for once after being a monster towards Sookie. But that was all during a state of crisis and great power. Bill’s god-like power corrupted him--started making him less of the humanity-wielding vampire we all know him to be. Now that it is gone, he’s seeing clearly. The salvation of vampire kind resulted in loss of power and the much-needed return of humanity--humanity that without Jessica would not have been found again.
A big step in this rescue mission once again involves a confrontation between Andy and Bill, but this time Bill is asking for favors. The innocence and maybe foolish do-gooder in our brave yet misguided Adeline is one that allows Bill, Jason, Violet, and a very reluctant Andy access into the plane of Faerie to stop Warlow’s sinister plans. It’s a fun rescue mission to watch play out. It’s nothing remarkably special or game-changing to the series, but entertaining and rather suspenseful no less. Somehow, through some contrivance, grandpa Niall comes through the portal in Sookie’s bathroom just in the nick of time to help put an end to all of the chaos and hold him still long enough to have Jason stake the abusive bastard vamp-faerie. That’s it. It doesn’t do anything in terms of dramatically affecting our characters, which is why all of this buildup is wasted. And given the fact that I personally believe Sookie should have been the one to kill Warlow, I find his inevitable end a bit anticlimactic. After all, Sookie just stands there looking helpless when we know she’s not. All of the hype about the fairy ball of light and Sookie doesn’t even get to use it. Granted, it would have left Sookie just as a mere human--no longer “special” but anything would have been better than Sookie just gawking as everyone else saves her live. Again! A plea to the writers for next season: Stop the ‘save Sookie’ narrative. Sookie says in the beginning of the episode that she is a survivor. Well, no one could notice the way the writers made her useless in the finale’s most pivotal moments. This finale could have had many strong moments for Sookie, but…you ruined it. Reprehensible.
With Warlow gone, the vampires’ ability to daywalk is erased, which sucks for a myriad of reasons. I for one loved seeing vampires play and have sex in the sun without a worry that it would wear off at some point. It’s a detail I wish the writers decided to keep around for a while longer. I’m betting the most talked about scene of the finale will be the only one involving our dear Eric Northman. After Pam leaves Bon Temps and a disappointed Tara behind to search for her maker. After all of this, Pam still can’t let Eric go and honestly it is quite annoying. Why can’t she ever allow him to come back to her. Incredibly frustrating, so much so that I feel Tara’s pain. People keep leaving her and abandoning--forsaking her in some way shape or form. They did it when Tara was a human and the cycle is still going on as a vampire. When Tara deems Eric and Pam the worst makers ever, she isn’t too far from the truth. At least when one looks at this season as evidence. I might factor in the fact that Pam actually threatened to release Tara. I’m not sure if she says this for Tara’s own good or she’s just that dedicated to getting Eric back. Either way it’s another devastating moment for Tara to add to a lifetime of them. And for Eric, his choice of setting couldn’t have been worse at the time, leaving his fate unknown for the time being, but I’m sure there is no reason to actually think the writers would kill Eric off when they have another season in their belt. After all, he’s arguably the show’s biggest meal ticket. But what if…what if Eric is truly dead and Pam finds his remains? Well that would be surprising, wouldn’t it. At least we all got to witness a bit of full-frontal action from the Viking vampire god before he went…
Six months later and Bon Temps is arguably better than its been in a while. Or so they’ve made it seem. After becoming a god, saving his vampire brethren, losing those godly powers and doing right by Sookie by saving her from losing her life, Bill Compton is on the map. By sharing his mind-bending story with the world he reveals himself as Governor Burrell’s murderer who also believes he is the savior of vampire kind. But in revealing so, Bill also has revealed the despicable creation of Hepatitis V. This lays out these two big sins that have been done both against humans and against vampires and the second half of this finale sets up the start of both races attempting to seek some sort of forgiveness in the other. How do humans and vampires move on from a war that has brought both to their knees in rage, shame, disgust, devastation and now forgiveness. As it would seem too much damage has been done--too much retribution has been perpetrated to ask for peace and co-existence. And yet the small town of Bon Temps is trying--trying to at least put up the façade of co-existence. But will it work? And how?
There are a few nice surprises six months later, such as Sookie and Alcide officially being a committed pair, although one can infer that Sookie still pines for Bill or at least for what she once had with him when he was at his best. There is a celibate Jason Stackhouse. Oh, yes Violet is making Jason work for it, and it may just be the best decision to make for the character development of Jason. Violet is attempting to discipline him--build anticipation. She has rules--strict ones that makes sense, her being an eight-hundred year old vamp who has mastered self-control she plays off of Jason Stackhouse in a fascinating way. However, she is certainly a jealous one, which could lead to disaster of all kinds. Arlene takes over Sam’s bar. Oh, and Sam Merlotte is mayor of Bon Temps because…well, that just makes sense, doesn’t it. As we get back into the town of Bon Temps, we slowly discover this new defense against rouge and Hep-V infected vampires in which both Sam and Bill have come up with. The defense being that every human adult will enter a respectful symbiotic feeding relationship with a vampire to keep the peace between hungry vamps and concerned humans. It’s an iffy plan and sort of vampire/human harmony utopian-ish, but right now it is the best they can do. With Tru Blood absent, this is the next best solution to trying to keep vampires and humans from offing each other. Still many Bon Temps citizens aren’t even considering this solution and you can’t roll your eyes at their apprehension. The country is apparently split with their concerns in dealing with vampire to human relations, but Bon Temps is creating their own (strange and unprecedented) way of fixing what seems to be an unfixable problem that has a history of a lot of bloodshed and hate.
Sam and Bill’s co-existence solution is probably the most surprising turn of events of the finale. Yet the solution is inherently flawed. There is quite a bit that could go wrong, but at least Bon Temps is trying for peace and defense. There is an air of good old small country town togetherness that is waiting to be broken. Everything is set up for the seventh season, even a moving yet equally strange scene involving Tara and her mother, Lettie Mae that only a series like True Blood could pull off. Although one might infer Lettie Mae simply infected Tara with Hep-V, which would make the scene all the more twisted. That said, I love that this new system of human/vampire co-existing has a lot of fresh storytelling potential between our many characters. One of those stories beings when Jessica attempts to make amends with Andy Bellefleur for murdering his three other daughters by offering her protection from aforementioned rouge, Hep-V infected vampires. Even Bill tries to make a case to Sookie that she especially needs his protection, now more than ever (great way to put Sookie back into the damsel in distress role. UGH!). Vampires protecting humans and in return the humans let the vamps feed on them. There are a lot of story options there! This defense is riddled with problematic scenarios, yet even then Bon Temps’ biggest worry is outside its comfortable Southern town. It’s a large horde of rouge, Hep-V infected zombie vampires.
There are a lot of things wrong with this finale. But I don’t consider it a blunder. The innovative system of human/vampire co-existing is what saves this finale from a pitiful rating. After what may be a great season, the writers almost ruined it by taking the easy way out--and they did for the most part. But by going back to basics, it saves itself. I’m deducting a star for not having any lines from Lafayette. But mostly because this finale, as great as a set-up for Season 7 it is, fails to dramatically alter character arcs that develop when most of the season has been promising just that, especially for our main heroine and particularly for the character of Warlow. It’s a reprehensible cheap writing trick that inauthentically builds excitement and entertainment, sure but ultimately it is a momentary high that we come down from pretty much instantly. You’re better than this True Blood, c’mon! As far as I’m concerned the writers completely betrayed the great character development they up until now created for Sookie and Warlow, as well as their relationship and they chose to ended it on a strange and unprecedented note that at least has great potential. Horrible job at tying up a few season long arcs but great job at creating hopefully refreshing bouts of new story arcs for next season. So all this trouble in the world? It was (almost) basically for nothing. “Radioactive” gets 3 out of 5 stars!
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© Patrick Broadnax 2013