Television

Published on September 9th, 2014 | by Bean

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True Blood Series Finale Review – Season 7 Episode 10 – “Thank You”

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As the porniest show of the decade draws to a close, it buttons up it’s collar and makes an unexpected sidestep into courtly romance. I suppose it should come as no real surprise; having recently re-watched True Blood’s pilot, I was once again drawn into the magnetism of Sookie and Bill’s affair. That the show managed to buy their affections back in a genuine and believable way is to it’s credit, though it may have garnered some criticism from those who thought that romance dead and buried.

This tonal return to form allows for growth as well as a wistful quality fitting in a series finale. True Blood never pretended it didn’t have a heart, it just got caught up in it’s loins. This pre-occupation became quite tiresome around Season 5/6; I vividly recall eye-rolling a lot during yet another de-robing of whoever’s turn it was to get unnecessarily horny. To find the show stepping back from the excessive bonking and choosing to wear it’s heart on it’s sleeve is a pleasant surprise. I don’t doubt it will divide fans; the bestie I have always watched TB with found a good deal of the lovey-dovey moments from the series finale corny, while I couldn’t help but be charmed, despite my inherent cynicism. I can understand her reaction, probably more than I can defend my own; nevertheless, I was consistently moved.

With the exception of the direct aftermath of Alcide’s murder, nearly every episode has picked up exactly where the last ended this season. “Thank You” does not diverge from the pattern, and opens with Bill “calling upon” Sookie. The bookend of Season 1 to 7 is referred to directly, through his nostalgic recollections of their relationship’s origins in that house. Never one to circle around a point, Sookie calls Bill on his behaviour and, however reluctantly, begins to understand his motivations, if not necessarily agreeing with them.
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Many of the characters on True Blood share Sookie’s direct approach to dialogue; a no-nonsense means of address that fits their characterisations, the idiosyncrasies of their dialects and the needs of their community. It can make character subtext trickier to embed, as people tend to mostly say what they mean as opposed to the obfuscation of real life or more textured drama. This isn’t a criticism, I love that they cut the crap. The show has always kept it’s subtext in it’s backbone; it’s central metaphors of race and sexuality in America. But when tackling a pivotal topic, like a person asking their lover to help them commit suicide, the dialogue would flounder if not for the committed performances of it’s leads.

All seems to be unfolding in a straightforward fashion until Bill’s request, which is well-meaning but ultimately misguided. The result of Sookie not understanding the significance of her true nature is that neither does Bill. He can only take her lead and parrot back her many complaints of what an impediment her gift is to leading a normal life; complaints she never made of the same impediments Bill offered her. Essentially, she was always able to love him but not herself, and the choice she makes in the end conveys self-love and the ability to finally let Bill go; to let their love story die with him, and her own life go on. So, yes, Bill’s usually insightful advice is off here, but thankfully it is only a secondary motivation; first and foremost, he wishes to die, just not alone. The symbolism of this season’s pre-vamp flashbacks finally bear fruit – a life, if not flashing before his eyes, then remembered slowly.

Some viewers will no doubt take issue with Bill asking Sookie to submit her power, to cast off that which makes her unique. Whilst my feminist hackles wanted to prickle at the concept, I didn’t read it that way; he does genuinely seem to have the best intentions for Sookie. But Sookie proves that no-one can decide what is best for another person by following her own path and keeping her fey powers, regardless of whether they are what makes her special or not. There is a lovely exchange with Reverend Daniels that leads her a little closer to her principles; the pastor won’t let her decision be hijacked by God, a frankly absent figure in her life, and counsels free will and trusting her instincts. Both Paquin and Gregg Daniel do lovely work in a gentle rumination of a scene. And if the cryptic “It’ll all be over soon” line stumps anyone, let the fact that these were the last lines of dialogue shot on True Blood go some way to explaining it. Or you know, the brevity of life and whatnot.

For the other players on the board there isn’t too much to sum up at this stage of the game; Hoyt and Jessica get their happy ending, and everybody gets adorably dolled up for the ‘do. Seeing Jason legitimately allowed to call Hoyt ‘bubba’ again and reclaim what he thought lost to him forever, his very best friend, was gorgeous. Arlene was a basket of goodies, whether digging Bill’s fancy interior design or speculating on whether a vampire can get pregnant, Carrie Preston continued to balance the barmy/charming elements of her character with her usual casual grace. I will miss Arlene nearly as much as I still miss Walter Bishop.
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The wedding is unashamedly romantic; my bestie joked that she hoped Bill didn’t explode and ruin it all! But it seems the show decided that the end required a divergence from the hack and slash. Wrapping up the silly Yakuza “threat” in about four minutes, the comic dispatch of both Mr Gus and his minions is all the daft Wee-Bads warrant; I’m still not sure what their actual leverage over Eric was. Pah, never mind. It does allow Eric his most ‘Spike’ moment of the series, grooving in the front seat of a shiny sports car, admiring the pile ‘o’ bodies accrued in the back. This marks a full recovery from the disease of feeling human, and an utter return to form for Mr Northman – welcome back you glorious bastard.

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Sarah Newlin’s pitiful bargaining with Pam shows a woman who can sink no lower making her last ditch attempt to survive. One perhaps could admire the rodent-like tenacity of Newlin, if she weren’t so utterly ignorant. Playing the pussy card with Pam is a lamentable error, and she still just doesn’t get it.  To sire her would to be empower her, to give her importance, make her part of a family. She doesn’t comprehend this last part, tossing Tara’s name thoughtlessly into the conversation, and  Pam soon disabuses Newlin of the notion that she’s all that. Pamela Swynford Du Beaufort has had some priceless lines in her time, but “I wouldn’t let you go down on me for a billion dollars” is a new standard.

And so to the big finish. The show plays up the ceremony of it all, taking time over the details – Sookie in a shaft of reflected sunlight already in her mourning dress; waiting by the open grave for nightfall; contemplating Bill’s coffin. True Blood never shied away from the gore, and it seems determined to give us, once more, the guts of elemental pain. There is a diligence to how the show acknowledges the gravity of Bill’s death, and a dignity to both Moyer and Paquin’s performance that elevates it above melodrama to a sort of transcendent orgy of grief. I may have sobbed.
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If anything goes unsaid in the episode main, the epilogue covers it. No stone is left unturned, and the finality palpable. Eric and Pam as the new capitalist nobility, truly equal partners at last, mainstreaming it by ‘day’ and pimping Sarah Newlin’s veins by night. The sight of Newlin rapidly going insane in the basement of Fangtasia, a pitiful blood bag finally beaten is the final word in sorry demises. True Blood’s unlikely Big Bad vanquished in the worst ways possible – by madness, subjugation and captivity.

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On the nicer side of town, Jason is wearing pink with the woman and family of his (actually) wildest dreams, Sam has a passel of critters, and all the rest of the couples Season 7 worked so hard to unite are still together; Lafayette and James, Jess and Hoyt, Andy and Holly, Arlene and Keith, even Adilyn and Wade! Sookie’s mystery man remains just that, his back firmly to camera, and it’s just as well; he’s a concept more than a character, the idea of Sookie’s normal life. As she hugs the cipher and sits him at the head of her table, the message couldn’t be plainer; ultimately True Blood chose to celebrate love and life over sex and death, and if the porridge was too sweet for some, it was just right for this Goldilocks.

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Review by Nina Clark

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Bean

Director at Nina Clark Music / The Musical Walkabout at Nina Clark Music
Bean is the family nickname of Nina Clark, singer, songwriter and professional musician. Nina's many nerdly passions, aside from music, include Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and all things Whedon. (re. GoT, she has NOT read the books, so please be cool - no spoilers!)
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