Tuesday, 28 August 2012

TRUE BLOOD, 5.12 - 'Save Yourself'

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

"You're a dick" -- Holly to Andy

Another mess, as expected. I had mild hope that True Blood would give us a satisfying finale, but it didn't even have the grace to resolve the Lilith storyline. In addition, the feeling everything's half-improvised and they have no idea what they're doing was back in force. I'd love to know if the writers sit down and map out the entire season, or if they just wing it with a Charlaine Harris book as a vague outline. It's terribly done, but I guess the ratings stay solid because it keeps delivering violence, black humour, sex and nudity. Oh for a world where character, story and dialogue were the fixed priorities for audiences.

I don't have the will power to martial my thoughts into the usual review, because the show works so tirelessly against that itself, so here instead are bullet points of things that lodged in my head:

  • Why was Russell Edgington (Denis O'Hare), one of the show's most popular characters and its most venerable villain, given such an underwhelming death? Effortlessly staked by Eric (Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd) in a field, and not even given a memorable final line. It was a real tragedy that they couldn't even give this character a worthy exit.
  • Why was Jason (Ryan Kwanten) suddenly able to see his dead parents as ghosts? Or were they hallucinations? I take it the fairy blast he was hit with was responsible, but that feels like a stretch. And wouldn't you mention to someone, especially your sister, that you're seeing dead people now? Also, if those are his parents, they seem like really horrible people.

  • This was an episode of bad exits for characters, as even J.D (Louis Hertham) was beaten to a pulp and defeated by Alcide (Joseph Manganiello) after he drank some of his dad's first-rate vampire blood. So now Alcide's the packmaster, hooray. We can sleep easy, or something.
  • Um, Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) and Tara (Rutina Wesley) fancied each other? When Tara arrived with the others to rescue her maker, planting a passionate kiss on her lips, was I the only one who didn't catch the foreshadowing on that? Huh.
  • Sam (Sam Trammell) and Luna (Janina Gavankar) led the vampires a merry dance around Authority HQ, by transforming into flies. I was confused that the humans being detained alongside them never batted an eyelid when those two were 'shifting, however, because aren't shape-shifters unknown to humans? Why was nobody reacting in that prison? Bizarre. Still, I did enjoy the moment Sam killed Chancellor Harris (Carolyn Hennesy) by entering her mouth as a fly and transforming back to human form inside her. An effective and creative gross-out.

  • Bill (Stephen Moyer) became more and more convinced of Lilith's doctrine, tricking Salome (Valentina Cervi) into drinking Lilith's blood to become their leader—while actually making her drink regular blood laced with silver. The one interesting part of this finale was how the story stuck to the idea Bill's gone cuckoo, even when Sookie (Anna Paquin) arrived to try and talk him around. I just could have done without Bill drinking Lilith's blood, turning into an icky puddle, then being resurrected as a blood-soaked super-vampire.
  • Andy (Chris Bauer) confesses he's been unfaithful to Holly (Lauren Bowles), seconds before his fairy mistress gave birth to four children. It was one of the worst ideas and scenes on True Blood. Why were they delivering kids on a pool table during opening hours? What if someone came in? Why was Arlene (Carrie Preston), Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and Mrs Boathouse sitting so far away drinking cocktails while this was happening? They didn't even come over to coo over the babies that were being delivered. God, it was awful. Is anyone happy we're going to have Andy as the father of four half-fairies next season? Yawn.
  • I guess the season ran out of time when it came to Sookie and Jason trying to find the scary vampire who killed their parents.

You weren't kidding about the blowback on those ketchup sachets

Overall, this was typical post-season 2 True Blood: stuff and nonsense, working tirelessly to make you forget little of it make sense, and doing a piss-poor job with logic and servicing its characters effectively. And no, it doesn't help when characters themselves comment on the ridiculousness of the show—like Mrs Boathouse saying "I have no idea what's happening", to which Lafayette replied "who the fuck does?" It just irritates me even more that the writers are unsubtly confessing their show is built on bullshit. The only positives to take away from this finale was how it broke with tradition and actually filled its whole hour without the usual protracted set-up for the next season (mainly because season 6 will be a direct continuation), and it at least pruned the mushrooming cast by killing three characters. (Even if only one of them was a major loss.)

Oh well, see you next year? "Billith" will be the supervillain, the world knows about shape-shifters thanks to Luna's appearance on live TV, Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian) will be in trouble for killing 22 frat boys, and Sheriff Andy's going to be knee-deep in diapers. Oh fun. On the optimistic side, Alan Ball has relinquished his role as showrunner, so there's a tiny chance his replacement will steer the show back to its earlier form. But it's more likely one of the existing writers will simply takeover, instructed by HBO to keep doing what they're doing until the ratings say otherwise.

written by Alan Ball / directed by Michael Lehmann / 26 August 2012 / HBO