No TV show says summer to us more than True Blood, its Southern Gothic atmosphere and pulpy pleasures providing the perfect complement to sweaty evenings spent drinking mint juleps at home after another exhausting day in the hot sun. The show alternately drives us crazy and enthralls us, and its final season is as silly as ever. This week: an end to many things. But not all of them.
True Blood has spent the majority of its final season slumping toward the finish line, but last night’s episode was one to remind us of exactly why we liked the show in the first place. The narratives were taut and compelling, there was no bullshit involving minor characters to provide a pretext for putting the kettle on and/or hitting “skip,” and there were a couple of genuinely emotive moments of the sort that have been largely missing for the last couple of seasons. And there was a torture device called the “breast ripper.”
The device in question was wielded by Jason Stackhouse’s spurned ex-lover Violet, who’s hinted at the potential to be a) interesting and b) evil for much of the last season, without ever really delivering on either. Last night, though, she made up for lost time. It always seemed unlikely that she’d take Jason having dumped her with the equanimity she showed a couple of weeks back, and last night she wreaked her revenge. The tortures she dreamed up for her victims — star-cross’d lovers Wade and Adeline, plus Jessica and Jason — were genuinely disturbing: thumbscrews for Wade, the aforementioned breast ripper for Adeline, a ghastly red hot dildo for Jessica and… well, happily we never get to hear what she had in mind for Jason, because before she could , she was shot neatly through the heart by Hoyt.
Hoyt! He was one of two old regulars to play an important part in this week’s episode. The idea of having him glamored to not remember either Jason or Jessica is a neat take on the time-honored amnesia plot device, and the chemistry he displayed with Jessica second time around puts Bill and Sookie to shame. For a moment, it looked like he was going to end up with Jessica, again, and that Jason would happily take his (super-hot) fiancée off his hands for him. But no, that would be all too neat (and require either either a hell of a lot of deception or a hell of a lot of explanation), and in the end all we’re left with is a lot of resolved sexual tension. Which, really, is the only way that things could have worked out.
Another plotline to be brought to resolution this week was the entire Tara/Lettie Mae business, which saw the return of Rutina Wesley one last time to bring her narrative arc to a close. Again, the domestic violence scene involving Tara’s parents was genuinely heartwrenching, especially with the idea of subjecting Tara and Lettie Mae to living through of it again. Adina Porter’s performance as Lettie Mae was nuanced and sad, and you end up feeling a great deal of sympathy for a character who’s often been entirely unsympathetic, once you (finally) see what lies at the root of her alcohol abuse and generally awful behavior. The whole idea of Tara calling from beyond the grave hasn’t really worked, but the scene between mother and daughter was moving and really rather beautiful.
And then, finally, there was Bill and Sookie. The romance between these two has long since been supplanted as the show’s key narrative, and last week’s veiny sex scene was really kinda revolting, but the rapprochement to which the two come after getting it on one last time. It turns out that yes, Bill really was sent to “acquire” Sookie for the late Queen Sophie Anne, but also that the love he felt for Sookie was real. Stephen Moyer’s performance as Nice Guy Bill hasn’t really convinced over the last few seasons, but he nails it here. And then, of course, he ruins it all.
There has to be some unresolved drama to drive the show’s last couple of episodes, and this week’s cliffhanger revolves around the fact that, hey, maybe Bill does want to die! After Sookie and Eric have risked life and limb to get him in a position to be cured of the disease that’s quickly killing him, Bill decides that, no, he doesn’t want to be cured. It’s the sort of stunt that makes you want to knock his fangs out, especially given the risks that everyone is taking on his behalf — as Pam notes in characteristically acid fashion, “We’re doing something stupid, aren’t we?”. Surely Bill’s not going to just let himself die? Of course not: there are two episodes left! Until next week….