August 25, 2014

THE SKED Series Finale Review: “True Blood”


Before the final 2 weeks of its run, the word no one would ever have dreamed of attaching to TRUE BLOOD was “subdued”; it was the guilty pleasure HBO series that was loaded with sex and violence and got great ratings, but without the class of, say, Game of Thrones, and with no serious consideration at Emmy time.  Showrunner Brian Buckner, however, who wrote both episodes, chose to end the series in a decidedly low-key way.  Sure, there was a bit of by-play with a Japanese billionaire and his ninja warriors (all of them swiftly eliminated), but nothing to compare with the multi-species bloodbaths of seasons past.  Instead, the focus was kept tightly on the personal lives of Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), her brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten), and the most important vampires in their lives:  Bill (Stephen Moyer), Eric (Alexander Skarsgard), and Jessica (Deborah Ann Wolf).

The entire final season seemed to be constructed to avoid prior excesses.  The bulk of the story took place in a short period of time, confined to the area in and around Bon Temps, and with almost all of the bloody action taking place in the early episodes, arising out of the Hep V vampire attack that ended Season 6.  Once the Bon Temps hostages were rescued from the Hep V-infected vamps halfway through the season, the main storyline became the search for a cure for Hep V, which was found in the person of Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp), who had swallowed the antidote in Season 6.  (There were odd parallels between the storylines of The Last Ship and this season of True Blood, both of them revolving around cures for epidemics keyed to the blood of a single individual.)  The penultimate hour mostly played out the quadrangle of Jason, Jessica, Jason’s old friend and Jessica’s ex-beau Hoyt (Jim Parrack)–who returned to town after the death of his mother and was eventually told of his pre-glamour romance with Jessica that ended when Jason slept with her–and Hoyt’s new girlfriend, the conveniently gorgeous Bridgette (Ashley Hinshaw).  It all worked out in the nicest possible way, with the couples re-forming as Jessica/Hoyt and Jason/Bridgette.

The finale, directed by Scott Winant, was built around Bill’s sickness, and his refusal to drink Sarah’s blood and be cured, resolving instead to die the true death in order to set Sookie (and himself) free.  Bill asked Jessica and Hoyt to get married immediately so that he could give her away (the wedding itself was written to play up the similarity between vampire/human and same-sex marriages as much as possible).  After that, there was much discussion of mortality and destiny, especially as Bill wanted Sookie to use her faerie energy-ball to kill him, thinking he was doing her a favor because that would end her faerie life.  Despite all her complaints these 7 seasons about the consequences of being half-supernatural, however, in the end she decided that it was a part of her life, and instead she and Bill mutually ended his life with a much more intimate broken shovel handle to the heart.  A happy epilogue established that everyone was still doing very well several years later (except Sarah, being rented out for $100K per minute of her magical blood), including Sookie, who was pregnant by a man whose identity was deliberately kept a mystery, apparently not so much as a tease as to suggest that he was just a normal guy and she now had a normal life.

It was all well-acted and not badly written, but one could be excused for thinking that in its earnestness, the finale was ducking the naughty appeal that had kept the show a smash hit for so many years.  If all of True Blood had been as dialogue-heavy, sentimental and anticlimactic as these final hours, the series might never have made it to Season 2, although as it was, audiences had so much invested in these characters that there was some satisfaction in seeing virtually every loose end tied up, with pleasant fates for most.

Although True Blood was a tremendous success for HBO, it was never one of the network’s elite series, yet it had a nutty half-comic intensity all its own.  That quality wasn’t particularly evident in the finale, which was warm-hearted rather than hot-blooded.



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."