Why is it so hard for TV shows to end on a high note? I usually think the problem is overly lofty ambitions, in which shows try to pack years’ worth of meaning and growth into a single hour, which is as foolish as trying to sum up your whole life in your last words (the exception being Oscar Wilde’s “Either these curtains go or I do.”) Another problem is that writing duties on a finale are usually given to the showrunner, who is frequently not the best writer in the room. Yet another common pitfall is an attempt to make the finale an extended love letter to a single character, who is rarely the character the audience loves most (I don’t want to say Pete Lattimer, but whoops, I just did). You could say that the True Blood finale had any or all of these problems, or you could sum up all it issues in three words: The Bill Show.
When last we left Bon Temps, Bill was standing outside Sookie’s door, about to explain his reasons for embracing the True Death. The big one is that Bill thinks Sookie should have kids, which they could never do together. Right, because relationships in which two people can’t biologically conceive are basically hollow, and Sookie choosing to have priorities other than reproduction is unthinkable. Sookie reasonably proposes that they just break up, and maybe somebody moves to Alaska and gets their memory erased. But Bill manfully shakes his head, like “Sookie, Sookie, Sookie. Could you really stay away from all this?” (“This” being a man alive nearly two hundred years and who in that time has managed to purchase ONE SHIRT.)
Sookie opts out of arguing this point, but then Bill adds a condition to his death wish.
Bill: You see, it’s always been my dream that in dying, I could both scar you for life and prevent you from ever being loved by another vampire. With that in mind, I’d like you to lose the last of your fairy light to kill me and become un-fae.
Sookie: Um how about no? Even better, how about fuck no?
Bill: But I’m dyyyying.
Sookie: Not quickly enough.
And then we have the title sequence, which you better believe I sang along to, by way of farewell. (OH PERFECT OPENING CREDITS, WE MAY NEVER SEE YOUR LIKE AGAIN.)
Okay so remember how last week, I was all “Sure am glad we have this Yakonomo storyline to provide some action, or this would be a real snoozer.” Like all good things that you mention your gratitude to, it immediately ceases to exist. First, Gus hubristically holds Eric, Pam, and Sarah captive in the Fangtasia basement, while he waits for his henchmen to kill Sookie. Having fully exhausted any inclination to be a nice guy last week, Eric comes up with a plan.
First they set Sarah free, having had a few drops of Pam’s blood to serve as a tracking device. Then they lure Gus into the dungeon, where they do some fancy acrobatics and kill Gus and his men. I get that it’s a little late in the game to be raising continuity questions, but whoever pointed it out in last week’s comments was right: True Blood is outrageously inconsistent about vampires’ powers. Like, one second Eric and Pam are escaping the danger room in Vamp Camp, but then Pam spends an entire season getting held at stake-point by various dim-witted humans. I wish the show had given Pam the ability to slay with more than her one-liners.
With Gus dead, Eric races to Bon Temps to kill the Yakuzas before they can kill Sookie. This he does with ease, and steals their fancy car to drive back to Shreveport, bobbing his head along to the music in the show’s funniest moment. Nearly as funny is when the the dying Yakuzas almost wake Sookie up, but she’s like “It sounds like an historical reenactment of Kill Bill is happening in my yard, but if I woke up every time that happened, I wouldn’t have slept since season one.”
Meanwhile, Pam tracks down Sarah to the amusement park where Eric turned Willa, which Sarah knows about from reading Bill’s book. Pam, delightfully, is like “Yeah I pretty much just skimmed it looking for the parts about me,” which: you just described how I write these recaps, Pam.
Anyway Sarah brought them to a place so steeped in history because she has a WONDERFUL IDEA, and here she turns the charm up so high she practically looks like a cartoon. Since she is already a soulless bloodsucker, Sarah reasons that there’s no reason she wouldn’t make a “kick-ass vampire.” Pam thinks this is the second-funniest thing she’s ever heard—after Sookie’s name—so I’m gonna let the actual dialogue play out.
Sarah: I have spent my entire adult life trying to be the best woman behind the man I could be, and maybe the problem all along is I was meant to be the woman behind the woman.
Pam: So you’re just gonna be a lesbian now?
Sarah: If you made me a vampire, yes! I would do things for you. Or you could do things to me. However you want to play it. I figure that since Tara is gone…
Oh, but then Pam wraps her fingers around Sarah’s throat and orders her never to speak the name of her beloved, departed progeny again. She also explains that there is neither enough money nor tequila in the world to make Sarah’s vagina seem like a pleasant place to be, especially considering its previous occupants. Pam will, however, help herself to Sarah’s blood to vaccinate herself against Hep-V. So Pam feeds and Sarah screams and for a minute you remember what vampires were like before Twilight made them all cuddly.That is: lustful, amoral, and dangerous.
Ugh, speaking of everything wrong with modern vampires, we next go to Bill’s house, where Jessica and Hoyt show up to pay their respects. Jessica kindly says that while she will never understand Bill’s reasons for dying, she wants him to know that she will be all right. Bill gratefully accepts this assurance but, because he is Bill, instantly hits upon a way to ruin the moment.
Bill: Well, since you two have been back together for a whole day now, I hope Hoyt will indulge me by asking for Jess’s hand in marriage.
Jessica: The fuck? This is supposed to be the most romantic moment of my life, and you’re somehow managing to make it about you.
Bill: But it’s always been my dream to give away a young woman, just to really savor the property exchange of it all.
Bill: But I’m dyyyyying.
Jess: Well in that case, let me see if I can organize a wedding for later today.
I’m not going to get into the whole wedding thing, because I am so disappointed that it’s happening at all. Like, we’re all happy that Jess and Hoyt reunited, but we sure as hell don’t need a wedding for that to feel meaningful. This isn’t a Jane Austen novel, you know? Marching them to the altar after one day of couplehood is grotesquely forced, and made worse by the fact that it’s all for Bill’s benefit. Jessica even says that this isn’t the way she wants to do it, but she bows to his wishes. Andy—who for some reason is performing the ceremony—says “love is love.” But I’m sorry, True Blood, the gay parallel lost its subversive thrill a long time ago. The times, they have a’changed. And you don’t have to be a women’s studies major to get that this wedding is a ceremonial passing off of Jessica from one man’s control to another’s. There’s nothing progressive, or even emotionally satisfying about that. Bill says “I want to know you’re spoken for.” Motherfucker, she can speak for herself.