So we have come to the end of what was once one of the most popular cable shows on TV. Over the years, the quantity of viewership has regressed right along with the quality of writing, with the show’s relevance relying too much on it’s often likable characters to carry some ridiculously lame plots. Over the years True Blood diverged further and further away from the Sookie Stakehouse novels on which it is based, sending the show on a very rocky path and making many question why they even bother anymore.
Maybe I’m being too harsh. For what it is, True Blood is still an enjoyable watch, and even if they have killed off the majority of interesting characters (eg. Russell Edgington, Steve Newlin) to make way for terrible ones (eg. Warlow, Hep-V Vamps), the show will always benefit because we have become so invested in loveable idiots like Jason, Andy, Bill, Pam, Eric, Lafayette, and even Sookie.
While seasons 3 and 4 were pretty terrible, 5 and 6 somewhat picked things back up by embracing how ridiculous the show has become and giving us material which is fun to watch. By not focusing heavily on the dull Warlow storyline in the previous season, True Blood ended it’s penultimate run on fairly decent ground. “Jesus Gonna Be Here,” the first episode of the current season, took all that decent build up and completely squashed it. A cheap ‘no one is safe’ message was driven home with the shockingly quick and surprisingly dull death of Tara, a primary character who at least deserved an on-screen death. It’s a classic way to raise the stakes (pun intended), but the rather dulled reactions of characters like Sookie, Jason and Lafayette stopped any sort of emotional gut-punch from happening.
Taking it’s time setting up some dull plots, “Jesus Gonna Be Here” set a very lukewarm tone given that this season only has 10 episodes in total. Andy and Jason are still bumbling buddy-cops who occasionally flash some competence when they’ve had enough to people laughing at them; Sookie falls right back into her status as the most frustrating character on the show; Lafayette gets to play all numbed and apathetic while he pairs up with Jessica’s boyfriend; and Sam falls even more into the background than he ever has. How far True Blood has fallen since it’s stellar first two seasons.
The infinitely lovable Jessica got to delve into the episodes only interesting story line, staying true to her promise in protecting Adilyn after Jessica murdered every other one of Andy’s fairy daughters. We meet a creepy hep-v vamp here, but are quickly rid of him as soon as Adilyn unsurprisingly relents her fear of Jessica and invites the baby vamp in to hide in the attic. Unfortunately this doesn’t really move anywhere in “I Found You,” the second episode of the season which does it best to pick things up but only manages to hover slightly above the first.
Whereas the ending in “Jesus Gonna Be Here” was one of the most boring endings I have ever seen for a TV series, “I Found You” respectably cut straight through to fans’ love of Eric and ended on a very ominous cliffhanger. It looks like we could be losing one of the show’s most exciting characters quite early in the season, and just after Pam had gone through some dumb vampire Russian roulette to find him.
True Blood’s seasons live or die on their ‘big bad’ and so having a group of boring, sickly vamps as the main threat seems like a pretty poor choice. It would be much better if these vampires were somehow stronger or more rabid than folk like Bill or Eric, but since our two main vampires have been built up to be super strong killing machines, this group of antagonists just aren’t believable. The fact that they wiped out an entire neighboring town isn’t convincing either. Wouldn’t people figure out that all they had to do is stay in doors and not invite the vampires in?
Carrie Preston remains one of the show’s best actresses, turning up the idiosyncrasies of Arlene to violently escape capture with Holly, and taking the reigns from Jessica to place herself in the second episode’s finest moment. But ultimately, a few entertaining romps here and there aren’t near enough to spark any kind of interest in what is looking like a lukewarm farewell to one of HBO’s most popular series.
It seems like True Blood needs to, once again, embrace its absurdity and just turn up the gratuitous sex and violence. There are traces of that here; Jason has sex Violet on the hood of a car in episode 1, and Jason has an extended sex dream about Eric at the beginning of episode 2. But aside from fan service and pandering to the teens who only watch the show to see Alexander Skarsgard, True Blood is doing a poor job at masking the very real possibility that the writers just don’t care anymore.
Review Score: ONE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
– Jessica’s loyalty
– Some genuinely hilarious humour
– Arlene escapes
– Dull villains
– Writers and actors seem to not even care anymore
– Sookie whiny and useless
– Eric infected
– Tara’s death had little impact
Episode M.V.P(s): Jessica, Arlene, Jason, Bill
True Blood airs on Showcase on Mondays at 3:35pm and is repeated at 5:35pm on Showcase.Two