With only days left before the finale, I’ve been trying to sort out how I feel about this whole thing.
On the surface, it’s an easy enough answer: I’m going to miss the show, but I’m ready for the show to be done. It’s bittersweet, really.
As I dig deeper though, I’m trying to figure out why I’ve been so harsh on this season. If I’m realistic, it’s probably not that much more uneven or mixed up than the past several seasons, but I feel like I’ve been harsher on it than I have other seasons that have come before it. I expect in time my opinion will soften, but why do I feel the way that I do?
I think I’ve narrowed it down to three things:
Lack of a true antagonist – whether you prefer the earliest seasons or the ones in the middle, one thing that has been consistent is that there’s always be a readily identifiable Big Bad that helped to drive the story. Let’s look at this list:
- Season 1 – Rene
- Season 2 – Maryann & The FotS
- Season 3 – Russell
- Season 4 – Marnie
- Season 5 – Authority, Lilith, Ifrit
- Season 6 – Burrell/Sarah Newlin & Warlow
- Season 7 – ??????
The Hep V vamps and the obnoxious human vigilantes were all dispatched at the end of episode 3, having done their true job (i.e. get Alcide and Tara killed). Mr. Gus, who is apparently is supposed to be a villain is completely toothless. When Eric was sick from Hep V, I can see how he could order Eric around (since it’s clear that Hep V, especially later stages, leaves vampires just barely stronger than a human), but now? And even then, his legitimacy in the present is suspect because it’s clear that in the flashback that his strength came from the strength of The Authority. There is no Authority. The Authority more or less ceased to exist when Bill killed Salome right before becoming Billith. Given how quickly the chaos caused by Hep V spread and how it’s never been mentioned again, odds are high that no one has had time to claim Guardianship or set up a new set of Chancellors. The big muscle – the threat that kept Eric in line in the 80s – is literally gone, leaving Mr. Gus with just a couple of Yakuza and little else (speaking of, if he was broke, how did he keep their loyalty?). That begs the question: once Eric drank the cure from Sarah, why not just kill them all? A few humans are nothing to Pam, let alone Eric. Anyway. I’m guessing the writers would say that Hep V is the true antagonist, because it is driving the plot, but even that doesn’t work because they’ve already got a damn cure! Without an antagonist, you have no tension and a show like this needs tension to succeed. Yeah, they succeeded in going smaller, but I think you can safely make an argument that they missed and went too small. Speaking of…
Not enough story – talk about words I’d never thought I’d have to type for this show. This is a show that is notorious for having more story threads than episodes. Take the particularly notorious case of season 4. It’s been confirmed that the fae storyline in that season was dropped because producers realized they didn’t have enough time to handle it. Also dropped with no proper resolution was Jason and the werepanthers. He’s rescued and then it’s never spoken of again. What happened to the panthers? Did Jason get anyone pregnant? How did Jason feel about getting serially raped for days on end? Gone. Poof. All because they didn’t have time – and this was when the show still has 12 episode seasons! Also, let’s not forget that most episodes of True Blood ran in the 50-55 minute range – an “hour” of network of television is 42 minutes once you remove commercials, so even that 12 episode season was closer to 14 in network terms! But this season? It’s like they ran out of juice half-way through the season, like they forgot they had a 10 episode order to fill. I don’t even know how this happened, but it somehow did, because so much of this season was filler, plain and simple.
Not enough moments that make you go “ho shit”/too much fan service – Look. Fan service can be fun, and I get why the writers and producers would want to say thanks to their audience by putting this in to this last season. Problem was, none of it made any real sense. Jason/Eric’s sex dream only would have made sense before the time jump. By the time it happened, not only would have Eric’s blood worn off, but you figure Violet would have made him drink her blood (given how possessive she was) so if Jason should have been having dreams about anyone, it should have been Violet. That scene existed because we got our hopes up after Jason drank his blood and they were trying to dodge the things being thrown at them by the internet. Likewise, although the flashbacks to the origins of Fangtasia were fantastic, they didn’t need to exist – their purpose (to reveal that oh hey, they’re a conveniently placed tunnel here) could have been conveyed in a line of dialogue. This was just to give Pam and Eric screen time, since Eric’s screen time was supposed to be rather marginalized this year.
And yet, despite this, these moments of fan service are what got everyone excited the most, probably because there was nothing else to get excited about. The “Bellagio of blood” that Stephen Moyer teased could barely be seen and was an easy blink-and-you’ll miss moment. Sarah went crazy so fast that if/when she dies next week, it’ll be more like a mercy killing than an “OMG DID YOU SEE THAT” kind of moment. True Blood has always been at its best when it’s given us those moments – Russell and the newsman. Eric drinking from the heart of Marnie’s human. Billith’s emergence. Bill ripping the head off of Burrell. Steve proclaiming his love for Jason as he burned. Over the top and glorious they were legit water cooler moments. Even at the fan service’s best moments, in the long run, they won’t hold up. They might still be seen as cool moments from a lackluster season, but you probably won’t be seeing them on any lists of awesome True Blood moments.
Speaking of fan service, not all of it was even worth. Take Hoyt and Bridgette for example. This is a show that specifically showed Jessica and Hoyt getting bored of one another (as is often the case with first loves) and breaking up after Jessica cheated on him. Now the show wants us to believe that Hoyt and Jessica are like soul mates? Instead of wasting time on this (and also ruining what was one of the shows lovely moments ever) and Jason and Bridgette (whom I will be mad if this week we see is supposed to have a Happily Ever After with her, given she’s Jessica 2.0 and he’s known her for like an hour) why not use the time spent on that, to say, spend time on Willa who the writers only seemed to insert into the show so that Lettie Mae could go on her V-trip. How sad is it that a dead character gets more actual screen time than a living one? Or I know, you could have also used that time to let Sookie actually grieve for Alcide. Perish the thought! The writers didn’t know how to fill the time properly and chose fan service over story development and for me at least, it really hurt this season.
I do think the season did some small things well – like Andy’s proposal and Arlene’s pep talks – which is why as time passes I’ll probably be less harsh towards it. But right now? HBO themselves admitted it: the storytelling hit a wall. And on a show that told some absolute whoppers, it’s a near-fatal flaw. The car is clearly sputtering and I just want it to die. I want it to die so the actors may live and explore new projects and get new roles. I think the show has been a boon to many of their careers and I look forward to watching them grow and seeing their new work.
I’ve gone on way too long, so I’ll bring it back down to a simple end: this show will always have a place in my heart, but it’s time. Let’s pull the plug.