True Blood: A Three-Quarters Assessment
Of a typical 12 episode season for True Blood (and most summer shows for that matter), here we stand 9 deep with the last 3 remaining. I chose to write this piece and reflection about the current season of the show at this time because this is usually when the plot starts to lose its understanding of boundaries and go straight up bananas. For the most part, the homestretch of a True Blood season is really enjoyable in this way. All hell breaks loose, and just before we see the point of no return, the writing team corrals everything in time to set up details and hints about the next season. Based on where this season has been, is, and is going, I’m not sure I’m ready or that much anticipating what the resolution will look like. There have been instances along the way where I felt like I had the old show back, but for all the times its peered towards the edge over the course of almost 5 full seasons, my gut tells me my interest may be slowly slipping for good now.
The start of any season of True Blood up to this point has me intrigued and to a certain extent mad with anticipation. There were signs from season 4 (the were-panther arc, the end of the Marnie story, countless plot holes without explanation) that could have hinted that the show was losing its way, but I repressed those thoughts in favor of happier ones as to not cloud any judgment. And then came the first episode. IMHO, an absolute dud. At no point did I say to myself, “Awesome!” It was more like, “Is this what the whole season is going to be like?” There was the revelation that Tara was alive, a total bummer for me – ironically her arc has been one thing I’ve really enjoyed this season – because she was my least favorite character; sounds harsh, but it’s a TV show, come on. Then the anticipation left from last season’s finale about Russell only to realize he didn’t show up here (or the next few hours either). And of course, the extremely odd part with Steve Newlin and his obsession with Jason. We knew he was going to be a vampire, but their immediate direction with him was very anti-climactic.
To the show’s credit, the next few episodes definitely picked up the pace, only to seemingly plateau again soon after. We had the stagnant arc of Terry and that guy from Felicity going all PTSD, simultaneously accompanied by Bill and Eric’s and their condemnation to the Authority building. Forever. Like I mentioned, there have been bursts of brilliance, harkening back memories of near flawless seasons like 2 and 3. However, a pattern that began to emerge in season 3 (werewolves) continued in season 4 (witches, fairies) and was headed in a direction GOK coming into this season may stain whatever is left. With so many characters involved in so many narratives, it appears as if this was better served when we were dealing with vampires, and them alone. The introduction of other supernatural creatures like clockwork and an attempt to integrate it all seamlessly is grinding the gears to a point that may have even the actors thinking, “what the hell is going on here?”
With all of that being said, perhaps the final 3 episodes will impact me so much I will rescind any bad thing I ever said about the show. And to be honest, the capacity for that actually exists. Furthermore, when I said my interest may be slowly slipping away for good, I did mean slowly. My obsession may never return to its peak but I will continue to watch even as my interest declines. I hope the next three weeks are telling in the best way possible.
Some other lowlights that I wanted to mention:
Christopher Meloni’s part – underwhelming; more the writing (he tried REALLY hard) than anything else. I WANT MORE LAFAYETTE. The relapse of Jason into utter stupidity; he’s funny that way, but he showed last season he can be funny and evolving at the same time. The absence of a naked Jessica. WAY too political; perhaps it’s Alan Ball’s drop the mic moment as fades into the sunset. Bill’s transformation; believed Eric’s last season, having a hard time with Bill now. Eric calling Nora his sister; just because vampire babies are made different doesn’t change what they did as incest. Having a child vampire as the bad guy – no fun for anybody. Weird fairy parties.
There have also certainly been some highlights:
Lafayette’s mom and her one, glorious scene. (She deserves to be isolated)
Alcide just being a total badass and sensitive at the same time. Eric; he grows on me every season, a nod to Skarsgard and his versatility. Andy’s one liners. The return of Bud Dearborne, if only too brief. When Russell finally came back and actually contributed to the plot; be careful with him writers of True Blood! The dynamic between Pam and Tara as maker and progeny; I actually care about Tara’s story now! Don Bartolo – I just love that name.
Concerning all of the lowlights, the highlights, the good and the bad, the weird and the nauseating, I’ll be doing a more in depth season review after the last episode.
If you’ve seen most of the season do you agree? Disagree? Don’t care anymore and just want to see more blood and sex? Me too.