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True Blood, Ep. 6.10: “Radioactive” closes the season in trademark ridiculous fashion

True Blood, Ep. 6.10: “Radioactive” closes the season in trademark ridiculous fashion


True Blood, Season 6 – Episode 10: “Radioactive”
Directed by Scott Winant
Written by Kate Barnow
Returns Summer 2014 to HBO

Not too much longer than halfway into “Radioactive,” True Blood does a fast-forward in its timeline. For a series that usually picks up each new episode almost immediately after the previous episode, this shift seems a bit strange. Is it executed really poorly? Not exactly. But it makes you wonder if there wasn’t a way to end season six differently and move all of the “six months later” material to the beginning of next season. We’ve seen True Blood do that in the past when Sookie’s lost time in the Fey world, and even though the story wasn’t great around that time, that timeshift offered an interesting structure for the season as we got to see what had changed since Sookie had been away. Here, we see the changes immediately and they come off with hardly more than a “ehh” reaction. Sookie and Alcide are together: ehh. We know that’s not going to last, so why not just introduce us to that next season? Alcide has hardly been a part of season six, and the part he did play was in one of the more tiring plotlines this year. But that’s that, so let’s take what this season finale gave us and see what it all means.

Eric is dead. But not really. Even if we didn’t know how blatantly True Blood teases killing its characters, new showrunner Brian Buckner has preemptively addressed all the hate mail he was going to receive if he had been stupid enough to get rid of one of the main reasons people still watch this show. Eric will be back next season (probably with more clothes). In what capacity? We don’t know. All we know is that Pam is probably going to be the one to find him, bringing back one of the original, strong relationships that was a part of this show.

There were plenty of first-season callbacks here, including the re-introduction of a Sookie-Bill relationship in which Bill resembles the vampire that he used to be, the development of Tara and her mother’s relationship (more on that in just a moment) and when Jason comes out and says that Violet for him is like Bill was for Sookie when those two first met – and, to add to the callbacks, Jason is mainly depicted as a boy-toy in this finale. Callbacks are pleasant on some kind of level by default, because they reward longtime viewers of the show, but throwing them around for the sake of it doesn’t add much to the experience except for in the moment. We are now used to rolling our eyes whenever the prospect of Sookie being with Bill is a part of this show. The one instance of those mentioned that might have some real baring, though, is what happens with Tara and her mother. Depending on how you interpret that scene, it could come off as rather sweet and cathartic. Here is Mae owning up to some of the horrible things she did while Tara was growing up, and it sounds completely genuine. If you lean more on the cynical or skeptical side, however, you might be wondering what the results of Mae’s blood test were and if she’s purposefully infecting Tara in that scene. Tara is another character who was mostly lost this season, so if they decide to get rid of her at the start of the seventh season, it might not be a huge loss on the quality of the narrative. But then you would think they would have done as much in this episode.

Other things happened in “Radioactive” – things that should be or at least feel kind of important – but most of those things are unremarkable. Warlow was killed in a scene that brought back Rutger Hauer. Okay? Considering Robert Kazinsky actually has some natural charisma as an actor, Warlow was a huge waste of a character; specifically, he was a nonsensical waste. Warlow’s motivations and traits shifted so much from episode to episode that seeing him turn on Sookie wasn’t even entertaining on the most visceral level. He was a means to an end for other characters, and he will be lost behind other True Blood villains who had more interesting things to do, like Russell Edgington.

None of this should take away from the fact that True Blood‘s sixth season managed to improve itself as it went along, even if the finale was a bit of a mess. This will be the season for which fans will remember how much Terry meant to the show. The death and funeral episodes were some of the highlights and lent the show some emotional depth that’s easy to forget about when the writers are juggling so many other things at once. And that is the main concern going forward: juggling. True Blood‘s first season was a simple journey. Since then, the intensity has mostly been cranked up to 11. Sometimes that pays off, sometimes it doesn’t. After all the chaos of this past season, would it be too much to ask for it to be reined in? Okay, there’s rogue vampires walking into the party in Bon Temps ready to tear shit up. Fine. But let’s make that the main concern of next season: rogue vampires. That’s simple enough and there is enough there to build a whole season around without throwing on another dozen threats to some of our characters. Brian Buckner says he wants to get back to some of True Blood‘s roots. So, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that all the crazy shit that happened this year is in the interest of setting up a better, manageable foundation for whatever is going to happen next season.