It may be more true in horror than in any other genre that certain subgenres ebb and flow in popularity over time. Vampires were hot in the mid-’90s when you had Interview with the Vampire, From Dusk Till Dawn, Blade and the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Then, vampires sat out of popular discourse for the next ten years or so, until the double whammy of Twilight and True Blood hitting in 2008, causing a tidal wave of vampiric fiction from the arty (Only Lovers Left Alive, Byzantium) to the schlocky (Dracula Untold, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter) that hasn’t slowed down since.
After such a solid final season, True Blood’s finale is almost a disappointment. Too many storylines feel forced or rushed, and the ending, though happy, rings a little false. Of course, the show didn’t exit without releasing a few more shocking surprises–including a pivotal moment that involves the death of a major character since series’s beginning.
With only one episode left in the series, True Blood makes it clear in “Love is to Die” that it’s ready for the end. Couples are splitting up, reuniting, or just beginning, people are leaving town, and all of this season’s story threads are being whittled down in a promising and reassuring way–it’s unlikely the series finale will be disappointing after a season this good.
True Blood’s final season has been excellent thus far–the writing’s tight, the story line’s are cohesive even when they branch in various directions, and the acting’s been lovely. After so many solid episodes, there was bound to be a dud–“May Be the Last Time” is, arguably, the weakest contribution to the series’s final season.
The best way to tell when the creators and writers of a show actually have a plan and a structured story path is how well they bring back storylines, or even mere moments of story, from the past and mesh them with current storylines. Several episodes ago, when Sookie was splashed with the blood of several Hep-V vampires, it felt like little more than True Blood engaging in the gross-out gore it’s used since the pilot–but no, it actually had much larger and more heartbreaking reverberations that are just now making themselves known.
One of the best things this season of True Blood has done is balance the action with retrospective character moments–the past two weeks have featured plenty of bloodshed, so “Lost Cause” fittingly focuses solely on the residents of Bon Temps, human and supernatural alike. The result is an episode that isn’t particularly thrilling but is still satisfying on a deeply emotional level.
Remember when True Blood premiered, and it was simply a campy, supernatural-flavored summer show–a fun way to pass the time, but too lighthearted and silly to truly take seriously? Sure, the characters were great and the writing was good (if not always coherent or streamlined), but True Blood’s never really been truly great television. Until “Death is Not the End”, that is.
From the very beginning of the show’s pilot, True Blood has done its best to explore the idea of belonging and fitting into a world that doesn’t want or accept you. Sure, the show originally used vampires as a metaphor for LGBT rights, but, with the final season, the struggle to belong is much more rooted in the show’s supernatural and small-town environment.
Proving last week’s stellar season opener wasn’t a fluke, “I Found You” is an excellent follow-up episode. Despite the supernatural nature of the show, True Blood’s final season is unfolding with a heavy dose of realism–the actions and emotions of the characters are right on point, and even the brief touches of humor feel natural and earned among so much horror and dread.
True Blood hasn’t truly been good since its first season–easily the best season–though it’s had its ups and downs. As sad as it is, especially for longtime fans, the show has seen a definite decline in quality with each passing season. Turns out, all True Blood needed to revive itself was an end date because the final season opener, “Jesus Gonna Be Here,” is all kinds of crazy good, even great.
If anyone sticks around after an episode of True Blood finishes to see the “inside the episode” segment, then you’ll have seen one of the powers-at-be talk about how “Life Matters” is one instance of True Blood taking time to feel something, which hasn’t really been the show’s style ever. This is a fast-moving story (to a fault, sometimes), so you wouldn’t have been wrong to have expected there not to be much done about Terry’s death in the wake of that event. How wrong you would have been, though. “Life Matters” has at its centerpiece Terry’s funeral, which drew out a whole range of reactions – some expected, some incredibly surprising.
When some reviewers – including myself – anticipated some of the stagnancy that might be felt by viewers in this current season of True Blood, one of the more likely sources of conflict was the cast of this show and just how immortal they seem to be (you know, despite that fact that some of the characters are immortal). It’s probably not accurate to say that True Blood has quelled that issue, but it took a huge stride in that direction when, last week, Terry bit the bullet.