Although we’re too addicted to True Blood to quit anytime soon, this season had us worried. The series was showing some serious signs of running out of ideas — it was trying to keep too many story lines running at once, spending too much time on characters we didn’t care about, and replaying the same “Which vampire will Sookie choose?” dilemma ad nauseam. But if there’s one thing we know about True Blood creator Alan Ball, it’s that we should never declare his shows a lost cause — he did, after all, bring his last show, Six Feet Under, back from the brink of melodrama for a wonderful and heartbreaking final season. Last night’s finale proved that Ball and his writers know that big changes are in order if Sookie Stackhouse and her menagerie of supernatural creatures are going to hold our attention for another few seasons.
Major spoilers after the jump — don’t read on if you haven’t seen the season finale yet.
Others may feel differently, but we’re totally on board with the episode’s epic body count. True Blood‘s cast has needed thinning out for quite a while, and everyone who’s died recently was killed for a reason important to their own character arc or the series’ larger plot line. In the past few installments of the show, we’ve said goodbye to Sam’s little brother Tommy — who always annoyed the shit out of us — and wolf pack leader Marcus, who was entertaining but quickly served his purpose and wouldn’t have been a good addition to Season 5. Let’s take a look at everyone who followed Gran to the great beyond in the finale:
Jesus: We admit that, early in last night’s episode, we said we’d be finished with the show if they killed off Lafayette or Jesus — and if it had been Lafayette who died, we’re pretty sure we would have kept that vow. But by the time the credits rolled, we had come to terms with Jesus’ demise. For one thing, Lafayette had been in a stable relationship for longer than just about anyone on the show. It’s time for his life to get shaken up a bit. Also, now he’s got a brujo guardian angel. This opens up a lot of possibilities for our favorite character in Season 5, beyond the whole ghost-swallowing routine.
Marnie: Although she was shot in the head last week, it wasn’t until she invaded Lafayette’s body, used him to kill Jesus, attempted to incinerate Eric and Bill, and then allowed Antonia and Gran to coax her away from the world of the living that we could really count her out. Marnie was essential to this season, but we always thought her motivations were both flimsy and pat — the character whose feelings of alienation lead her to violence is such a cliché.
Tara: A main character since the beginning, Tara was last night’s most shocking death. Perhaps this has something to do with Rutina Wesley’s distractingly terrible Louisiana accent, but we’ve been waiting for her to get it for a few seasons now. Tara’s fling with lesbianism was an interesting diversion at the beginning of the season, but it barely went anywhere, and she’s been somewhat tangential to the plot for the past several episodes. What’s poignant about her bullet to the head is that Tara came so close to getting out of Bon Temps and making a new life for herself.
Debbie: Alcide’s wife was obviously a bad egg, but we never thought she’d come at Sookie with a shotgun. Good riddance to a character who always felt too one-dimensional to support a story line of her own. We’ll add that, though he’s a solid guy, we’d like to see less of Alcide next season, too. Aside from trying to pester Sookie into falling in love with him, what has he really done to make our lives more interesting?
Nan: How satisfying was the moment when Eric and Bill teamed up to behead the newly deposed American Vampire League spokesperson’s minions and administer to the true death to her? Nan was a nasty piece of work, and she served her purpose. Plus, it looks like Sookie’s rejected rival suitors may spend next season as fugitives — together. Very promising.
Meanwhile, the finale also introduced some new possibilities for Season 5:
Terry’s past: Poor Arlene. Now that Tara’s gone, it looks like she’s officially taken on the mantle of Girl Who Can’t Catch a Break. Last night, the soldier whose life Terry saved during his traumatic time as a Marine in the Iraq war walks into Merlotte’s to visit his old buddy — and if that wasn’t foreboding enough, the ghost of evil René comes back to warn her about it.
Reverend Newlin: Speaking of the past coming back to bite you, Jason’s old Fellowship of the Sun comrade shows up on his doorstep on Halloween night. And now he’s a vampire! Or is he? We were always entertained by True Blood‘s resident Christian extremists, so we’ll be excited to see Steve Newlin — whatever he is these days — making trouble again.
A whole new Sookie: For some reason, probably because her fairy blood tastes so sweet, everyone is still in love with Sookie. But in the finale, she rejected all three of the monsters who adore her — Bill, Eric, and Alcide. We’d be excited to see a whole new love interest next year.
Sam vs. the wolf: Will the Season 5 premiere add another casualty to last night’s body count? The last we see Sam, he’s face-to-face with a snarling wolf — and we assume a whole pack is about to be after him. Maybe he should go on the run with Eric and Bill?
So, that’s our take on the True Blood Season 4 finale — an episode that will give the show plenty of reboot potential that we hope Alan Ball, et al, make the most of. Did you love it as much as we did? What do you hope to see in Season 5?