Around the Water Cooler: “True Blood” – The Season 6 Finale & Season Recap (SPOILERS)

THE SPECS:

Who: The show is available to HBO subscribers exclusively, as it is HBO produced original content.  Of course, there are other ways to find it, as it’s kind of massively popular.

What: “True Blood,” a drama wherein vampires have come out of the coffin after the manufacture of a synthetic blood substitute called TruBlood, and a Southern waitress named Sookie Stackhouse, who is a telepath, is at the center of it all (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_Blood).

When: The Season 6 finale aired on Sunday, August 18, 2013, at 9:00 PM on HBO.

Where: The show is set in fictional Bon Temps, Louisiana, in or around present day.

Why: This show was recommended to me by a friend because I love all things with vampires in them and tend to gravitate toward story lines with fantasy, including supernatural, themes.  I have stuck with it because of 1) vampires; 2) the sense of humor; and 3) hot men, particularly Alexander Skarsgard, better known as Eric Northman, the 1000 year old Viking vampire, and Joe Mangianello, aka Alcide Herveux, the resident werewolf.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

This season was, in some ways, better than previous seasons and, in some ways, much worse.  Let’s break it down by character.

Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) – Sookie, it seems, was more of a prop or a plot development than an actual character this season.  While some Sookie haters might have relished her reduced role in favor of the prominence of the vampires, she was also given short shrift in relation to the minor characters that had very little to do and offered little interest to the viewer.  This season was about the emergence of primary villain Warlow, the fairy vampire hybrid, made by Lillith, the god of all vampires, who, as it turns out, murdered Sookie and her brother Jason’s (Ryan Kwanten) parents.  Sookie eventually learns that it was actually her parents who tried to kill her first for fear that Warlow would take her to be his fairy vampire bride, which is how they drowned in the end.  Warlow sees Sookie as a fairy princess with whom he could have a symbiotic relationship of heal and be healed with her blood; when Sookie learns about her parents, she loses faith in most things human and almost agrees to willingly take on the role, given that she feels a strong pull toward Warlow – evidenced by her having reasonably hot consensual sex with him on the fairy plane.  Yet, when she wants Warlow to agree to date her and to be integrated into her society, he turns all evil and almost forces her to be made, until she is saved by Bill (Stephen Moyer), Jason, Andy Bellefleur, Violet (Jason’s new vampire girlfriend), and Adilyn, Andy’s fairy daughter. Good thing her fairy grandfather Niall (Rutger Hauer) gets there in the nick of time to stake Warlow, thereby achieving his long sought-after vengeance for Warlow murdering the Stackhouse line through the ages, including Niall’s parents.  It seemed like an anticlimactic end for Warlow, though.

In the set up half hour of the finale, we learn that Sookie and Alcide are an item (since Sookie’s efforts to throw herself at Sam [Sam Trammell] in the end were ill timed and unsuccessful).  It  also appears that Bill loves her again, and don’t even get me started about Eric.

Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) – Jason had an interesting season.  First, he hates vampires and wants them all dead after finding out that his parents were murdered in cold blood by Warlow.  Add to the fact that Bill was Billith the whole season, assuming godlike qualities and trying to save vampire kind after his tempestuous affair with Sookie, Jason had real anger issues.  First, he meets his fairy grandfather Niall and finds out that he was missed as far as the fairy genetic code.  Then, partially spurred on by his latent feelings for Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), Jason goes upon storming Vamp Camp to save the vampires after Sarah Newlin has meaningless sex with him and then wigs out upon meeting his vampire ex-girlfriend.  He spares Sarah’s life after Eric makes mincemeat of Vamp Camp, so she’ll probably rear her ugly head again.  Violet claims him for hers while in Camp though, after Sarah throws him in with Female Gen Pop, so now he’s in a monogamous feed or be-fed to relationship with Violet and understands what drew Sookie into her past relationships with vampires.  It’s too bad Violet keeps teasing him with actual sex; in the meantime, he’s apparently gone down on her 178 days in a row.

Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) – After drinking the remaining vial of Lillith’s blood in season 5, Bill assumes superior powers and Lillith’s earthly form.  He can walk in daylight, enter homes without being invited, and survive being staked through the heart.  He is charged with saving all vampires, which are threatened by Governor Burrell’s manufacture of Hepatitis V or Hep V, which he adds to newly minted bottles of TruBlood following the bombing of TruBlood factories nationwide.  Bill reasons that the only way to save vampires is to infuse their blood with fairy light.  First, he seeks the inventor of TruBlood to analyze a sample of fairy blood, which Bill takes from Andy Bellefleur’s quadruplet fairy daughters (by Claudette), while Sookie and Warlow hide in the fairy plane away from Billith’s sight (as Lillith made Warlow).  When that doesn’t work, Bill drinks the blood himself and demands that Sookie lead him to Warlow.  When Eric, upon Nora’s death from an injection of Hep V in Vamp Camp, gets there first, Bill storms upon Vamp Camp, fearful that his visions of seeing his vampire friends frying at the hands of the sun in a white room will come true.  In the end, he decides to allow his friends to feed on him; they inherit the fairy light and are able to walk around in daylight until Warlow meets his end by Niall.  Unfortunately, Bill’s sacrifice renders him normal Bill again, capable of dying the true death and also capable of feeling for Sookie again.

In the last, set-up half hour, he offers himself as Sookie’s protector, as millions of vampires nationwide have been infected with Hep V after drinking spoiled bottles of TruBlood, and as Bon Temps’ new mayor, Sam, proposes that humans make deals with healthy vampires to offer a mutual arrangement of food for the vampires and protection for the humans.  Sookie, however, wants nothing to do with Bill.

Jessica Hamby (Deborah Ann Woll) – First, Jessica freaks out that her maker, akin to her father, Bill is all Billith-ed.  When Bill and Jessica manage to lure Andy’s four fairy halfling daughters, including Adilyn, to the Compton manor for the purpose of taking their blood for researching protection for vampires, Jessica loses control while Bill threatens the inventor of TruBlood and eats three of the four daughters. Then, she is nabbed and taken into Vamp Camp, where she meets a handsome stranger vampire (James) that she is initially forced to have sex with for research – though he chivalrously declines, only to agree to have consensual private sex later.  Though Jason tries to save her and the others the best he can, Jessica hides with Tara and Pam in Female Gen Pop until Eric and eventually maker Bill liberate them.  Bill had tasked his progeny to tether his humanity; she successfully does so when he loses his Billith abilities and begins to feel something for Sookie again.  She also offers to Andy Bellefleur to be his and Adilyn’s protector without them having to provide her blood, though Andy nearly blows her head off over his latent grief for his other three daughters.

Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) – Eric does a very decent thing at the beginning of the season by relinquishing the deed to Sookie’s house back to Sookie.  In exchange for a more peaceful life, Sookie rescinds his invitation.  Eric is later joined by Nora, his sister by Godric, who informs him about Bill.  Eric discovers that Bill is more powerful than before and elects to steer clear of him while he and the other vampires consider their options.  Eric later does some reconnaissance at the Governor’s mansion, after the Governor orders all vampire-run businesses, such as Fangtasia, to be closed.  In leu of the Governor’s (and his mistress, Sarah Newlin’s) new anti-vampire initiatives, Eric lures the Governor’s daughter Willa into consenting to be made vampire, and we find out that Willa and Pam are the only two progeny Eric has every created in his 1000 years on earth.  Eric returns Willa to the Governor; Sarah, in her fervently biblical prejudice against vampires, convinces the Governor to throw Willa into Vamp Camp.  Tara and Pam are later nabbed and thrown into the Camp, and Eric takes it upon himself to get himself captured to save his progeny along with Nora, except that Nora is infected with Hep V while Eric watches.  Eric manages to break out of camp with Nora in tow and seeks help from Bill, who he acquiesces may now be a god.  Bill tries to save Nora with his blood, but eventually, Nora succumbs to the Hep V and dies the true death in a beset Eric’s arms.  Eric, livid and bent on vengeance, takes matters into his own hands; while Bill tries to convince Sookie to reveal Warlow’s location, Eric figures out that Warlow is hidden on the fairy plane.  He eventually breaks into the fairy world (I forget how), nearly drains Warlow to death, and breaks back into Vamp Camp, where he liberates the vampires until Bill eventually arrives and feeds them his own blood.  Once the Camp is liberated, Eric flies away.

In the last half hour, as Warlow dies, we see Eric, naked as a jaybird (hubba hubba) and sunning himself in the Alps during daytime.  He then catches fire as the effects of Warlow’s blood die with him.  So help me, he better not be dead!

Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley) – Tara’s journey ends with most of the rest of the other vampires.  For her, it was about starting an impassioned relationship with her maker, Pam; defying grand sire Eric; and protecting Willa (her aunt?) in Vamp Camp.  She is liberated by Bill when he feeds her his fairy-infused blood and parties like its 1999 at Compton manor with the rest of the healthy vampires.

In the last half hour, her mother, Lettie Mae, finds her to apologize for how horribly she treated Tara as a child and offers to be sustenance to Tara, which Tara hesitantly accepts. It’s weird, and Tara is not gentle when she gnaws on her mother’s neck.

Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis) – Lafayette was reduced to mere comic relief this season.  He serves as medium for Sookie when she tries summoning the spirits of her parents to ask about Warlow and channels Daddy Stackhouse’s spirit as the latter attempts to kill his daughter once more.  He also helps Arlene following the death of Terry Bellefleur and discovers the life insurance policy in the safe deposit box, the key to which Terry gives Lafayette before Terry dies.  Lafayette also helps Sam in the ongoing war between the werewolves and him over Emma, Luna’s daughter.

Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) – Sam begins the season in mourning, when Luna succumbs to the after effects of skinwalking and dies.  Sam then tries to protect Emma as the local werewolf pack, with Alcide as their new pack master, attempt to steal Emma away.  In the meantime, a group of idealistic youths, led by a woman named Nikki, try to convince Sam to come out of the supernatural closet as a shifter and end up getting caught in the fray between the werewolves and Sam.  Sam and Nikki and Emma then spend a majority of the season running from the werewolves, though not without Sam and Nikki striking up a relationship, including steamy shower sex and eventually Nikki becoming pregnant.  Alcide ultimately acquiesces and saves their lives, while Sam returns Emma to her grandmother.  Sookie also throws herself at Sam in the throes of her deeper sadness, and Sam gets understandably upset, given Sookie’s past tendency to favor vampires over him, indicating that he’s moved on with Nikki.

In the last half hour, we find out that Sam is the mayor of Bon Temps, has sold his bar to Arlene, and has proposed a crazy arrangement whereby healthy human citizens of Bon Temps and healthy, non Hep V infected vampires can agree to exchange blood for protection from legions of rabid, Hep V infected vampires roaming the countryside.

Alcide Herveux (Joe Mangianello) – Alcide begins the season as a bona fide dick, as he navigates what it means to be pack master.  He takes orders from Rikki, a she-wolf in his pack who latches onto whomever is in charge, apparently, and ignores advice from his deadbeat dad (Robert Patrick).  He spends the majority of the season hunting Sam down in order to reclaim Emma into the pack but ultimately decides that pack life is not for him and defects from the pack after they try to kill Nikki and her mother in retaliation for Nikki trying to “out” the rest of supernatural kind.  Alcide reunites with Sookie at Terry’s funeral, and they become a couple shortly thereafter.  He continues to distrust vampires, particularly BIll, who offers Sookie protection in the last half hour of the season.

Pam De Beaufort (Kristen Bauer van Straten) – Pam is mortified wh enthe Governor’s anti-vampire forces close down Fangtasia, which she takes much more personally than Eric. She also struggles with feelings for her progeny, Tara, and openly questions her maker when he turns Willa into a vampire. Pam is captured with Tara and Eric and is thrown into Vamp Camp.  While there, the resident psychologist forms an obsession with her; in exchange for information and eventually sex, he offers her fresh blood and agrees to transfer her from solitary confinement to Gen Pop.  There, she is able to watch Tara, Jessica, and Willa more closely, even as she is pitted against Eric in a fight where ultimately they turn the tables on snipers trained on them in the White Room (we also learn Pam can fly like Eric). When Eric liberates Vamp Camp along with Bill, Pam slaughters the psychologist and is high on the fairy blood she takes from Bill but watches as Eric inexplicably flies away.  At the end of the season finale, she informs Tara that she is going after Eric, at which point, Tara opines that Pam and Eric are “the worst fucking makers ever.”

Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) – Andy was met with a surprise at the start of the season: four infant daughters, courtesy of his one night romp in the woods with Claudette the fairy.  Though Holly initially wants nothing to do with him for his indiscretion, she eventually warms up to him again after watching as Andy’s daughters age from babies to teenagers in two weeks, learn to read everyone’s minds, and rebel like teenager daughters do.  Things go awry when Bill and Jessica lure Andy’s offspring to the Compton mansion, whereupon Jessica, intoxicated by the effects fairy blood has on vampires, accidentally eats and kills three of them, leaving one, who asks to be called Adilyn, alive.  For the second half of the season, Andy counsels cousin-in-law Arlene after Terry passes away and helps save Sookie from Warlow when Adilyn wants to help Jason save his sister.   He also elects not to attend the mixer at Arlene’s bar (formerly Merlotte’s) in which Sam and Bill encourage vampires and humans to make arrangements for food and protection, though Jessica seeks him out to offer him and Adilyn protection without condition in an effort to atone for the deaths of Andy’s other daughters.

Terry and Arlene Bellefleur (Todd Lowe and Carrie Preston) – Terry is haunted by the death of his friend and the actions of the Ifrit at the end of season five, including his role in their deaths.  Though Arlene does her best to help him cope and to cover for him, Terry cannot shake the feelings of guilt and remorse he feels since he left the army, and so he calls upon another fellow soldier and former battalion buddy to kill him.  He takes out a life insurance policy worth three million dollars, which he places in a safe deposit box, the key of which he gives to Lafayette.  After a particularly bad episode of PTSD, Holly encourages Arlene to allow a vampire acquaintance of Holly’s to glamour Terry into forgetting all of the bad stuff that happened to him and because of him.  Terry is successfully glamoured, and for a short time, he seems happy and well adjusted; however, the glamour also produces the effect of Terry having forgotten about his friend, and one day, as he is taking out the trash in the back of Merlotte’s, Terry meets his end via gunshot to the back.  He dies in Arlene’s arms. RIP Terry.

Questions, Impressions, and Cliffhangers

1) IS ERIC ALIVE?  He better be.  I hope Pam finds him in time and saves him, since we didn’t see what happened to her when Warlow met his end.

2) Sookie and Alcide?  Really?  What was the point of the pack story?  Why do the writers expect us all to forget how horrible Alcide was this season?

3) Is Sookie really over Vampire Bill and Vampire Eric?  Will she never be with Sam?

4) I think Jason and Jessica are still sharing furtive glances and complicated emotions.  Are they over for good?  And what’s with this Violet vamp?  I don’t particularly want to watch Jason eating her out over a whole season.

5) They aren’t really going to belabor the Tara/Lettie Mae thing, I hope.

6) PLEASE GIVE LAFAYETTE MORE TO DO.  His one liners are great, but he is sorely underutilized.

7) Are Tara and Willa an item?  Willa really emphasized her ‘friendship’ with Tara to Lettie Mae.

8) Where did Fairy Grandfather Niall go?

9) RIP Warlow.  The actor who played you was damn fine.

10) Is Sam’s baby going to be a shifter?  Is Sam’s baby going to be born?

11) So, the new threat is the rabid, Hep-V infected vampires.  They now look like zombie vampires.  This could be very good or very bad.  Whatever else can be said, it’s not very original.

12) Arlene clearly kept the money.  Was there no investigation?  Terry purchased the policy three days before his death.  Not that I want to see the investigation onscreen.

PARTING SHOTS

True Blood is clearly on its last legs.  While the writers, with Creator Alan Ball stepping down to fulfill only an executive producer role, did well to focus the action on the vampires the most, there were still some superfluous, uninteresting plot lines and characters, particularly surrounding Alcide and Sam. Terry’s death, though sad and beautifully written and performed, was probably the right call, given that there was no where else to go with his character.  Steve Newlin also met his end this season; kind of a shame, really, since a gay vampire former evangelical was pure comedy gold.  Though the plethora of handsome men and naughtiness keeps the show interesting, I feel that True Blood maybe has one good season left before HBO and/or the show’s producers should call it quits.  It’s not like the show follows the Sookie Stackhouse novels at all anymore.  At this point, it’s about the quality of writing declining and the characters having no clear objective or arc to render them interesting.  Forwarding the end of the season finale six months in time and finding the characters in new positions (Bill even writes a bestseller about his time as Billith and travels the media circuit promoting it) may prove to inject new life into the show, almost like a reboot of the plot lines.  We’ll see how successful the transition actually is.

LOOKING AHEAD:

True Blood will return for Season 7 in June 2014.

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