August 27, 2012



“Are you kidding me?  It’s always the weird stuff that’s the best,” Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) said at one point during tonight’s season finale of TRUE BLOOD–he was watching the birth of half-human/half-faerie quadruplets at the time–and that appears to be the case for the show’s many fans as well.  The hour had no shortage of weird stuff, and be warned, there will be many SPOILERS about them below.

True Blood, the disreputable master of HBO’s domain, is often the highest rated show on all of television on the nights it airs, even though it’s available in only a quarter of American households.  So calling it crazy beyond all hope of rehabilitation or saying that it hasn’t just jumped the shark, it’s performed Olympic-level feats of synchronized swimming over that poor fish hardly even counts as an insult.  In its 5th season, the final one to be run by series creator Alan Ball (writer of the season finale, which was directed by Michael Lehmann), the series swerved so far from its roots as a supernatural gothic romance that it’s now practically a Mel Brooks parody of its own genre.

The main storyline of the season, and as it turned out the set-up for Season 6, was the transformation of Bill (Stephen Moyer) from soulful, guilty vampire lover to pitiless reincarnation of fanger goddess Lilith (Jessica Clark).  Only poor deluded Salome (Valentina Cervi) failed to see that Bill’s seeming agreement to acknowledge her as Lilith’s chosen vessel meant that he’d replaced the holy blood with silver in order to poison her, and she joined the ranks of many, many vamps to explode bloodily during the course of the evening–most disappointingly Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare), dispatched in the first few seconds of the episode.  Presumably by the end of next season, some kind of Xtreme Xorcism will restore Bill to his old self, although who knows.  Meanwhile, as Bill took up residence in Crazytown, Eric (Alexander Sarsgard) became cemented as the show’s new leading man, and his low-key double takes to Bill’s increasing madness were some of the highlights of the season.

The hour was crammed full of nuttiness, most of which led nowhere except to next season:  Jason (Ryan Kwanten), zonked by faerie light, was suddenly seeing visions of his late parents, who instructed him to hate and kill all vampires, which led to the only emotionally affecting moment of the entire season finale, when he roundly rejected poor Jessica (Deborah Ann Wolf).  Luna (Janina Gavankar) may or may not have died while skinwalking on live TV as Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian), as she and Sam (Sam Trammell), who spent most of the episode shapeshifted into a fly, tried to free her wolf-cub daughter.  Alcide (Joe Manganiello), high on V, killed the evil leader of his pack and appeared to take over as pack leader.  Tara (Rutina Wesley) and Pam (Kristin Bauer von Straten) finally followed through on their season-long flirty hostility.  And, yeah, next season presumably Sheriff Andy (Chris Bauer) will be raising those 4 half-faerie kids (the good news is that he’ll be considered a success if even 2 of them reach adulthood).

Viewed objectively, it was a strange, bad season for True Blood, which completely abandoned its original moorings without finding any new center.  Sookie (Anna Paquin) barely rates a mention here, because she hardly had anything to do all season except fret about Bill, Eric, Tara, Jason and whoever else was at risk that week.  With Bill and Eric in the bowels of the Authority for most of the season, and Jason’s angry resistance to Jessica, the series has been drained of all its romance as ruthlessly as a vampire deprived of True Blood empties a human.  The season’s faerie subplot, as usual, went nowhere, with the question of what vampire bought Sookie from her parents before her birth left open.  And then there was the Smoke Monster, which just made one weep for the loss of Lost.

True Blood, a show that started with pointed satire about vampires “coming out” into mainstream society, has become an occasion for little more than endless splatters of immolated vamps.  None of the actors on the show really get to act anymore, no storyline is satisfyingly played out or resolved, and the relationships are just excuses for more numbskull plot twists.  But hey, it’s a smash hit, so there’s little incentive to make any change.  Sadly, any kind of emotional truth has dropped out of True Blood; all that’s left is the blood.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."