I'm gonna stay here till season 4, okay?
A brief survey of the several million True Blood fan-sites reveals that most viewers were disappointed by this season finale, ending as it did with more cliff-hangers than a very big cliff-wardrobe. Certainly some of the pacing and denouements were rather odd. However, there was also plenty to enjoy in an episode in which Maxine Fortenberry described Jessica as that ‘red-headed dead girl’. So let’s examine the good bits first, before going all mean and critical.
Tension over who will burn, baby, burn – It was an exciting start. How Eric would get out of the frying pan and into the dark cool indoors? Inevitably Sookie rescued him. Goodness only knows how these vampires managed their affairs for so many centuries without good ol’ Sook bursting in to sort them out.
That double-crossing Bill – In one of the most shocking True Blood scenes ever, and lord knows that’s a list and a half, Bill shook Eric’s hand after helping him bury Russell alive. Then he hurled Eric to the ground and turned the cement machine thingy onto him too, dammit! You very very bad man, Bill.
Qwerty is proved right! – When Eric escaped from the cement, thanks to kick-ass Pam, he went right round to Sookie’s to tell tales. And what he told her is what I had already worked a couple of weeks ago, viz. that Bill deliberately got her into bother with the stage-baddie Rattrays (boo!) so he could feed her his blood and thus permanently tie her to him. Well it just goes to show, doesn’t it? Never trust handsome dark dead men.
Everyone was in need of counselling this week. A freelance Mississippi therapist could have strolled in and made a killing. Not literally, of course; that they can leave to Russell.
Candidates for couples counselling:
Ah, just a nice quiet time in the garden...
1. Sookie & Bill. So cute watching them drive along, imagining their wonderful life when ‘all this is over’. Bless them that they think it’s going to be over any time soon: series four’s already in the pipeline and I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that it won’t have domestic bliss as a major storyline. Funnily enough, the exact moment they swore to a fresh start, their car was upended by Eric and Russell, and just minutes later Bill had agreed they could drain Sookie dry in order to ‘day walk’ – every vampire’s dream, according to Russell. Though why we should believe anything said by a man who carries his lover’s entrails around in a jar is beyond me. Anyway, nought out of ten for Bill’s contribution to this so-called ‘fresh start’.
2. Tara & Sam. A drunk mean Sam scared everyone away except Tara, who doesn’t need drink in order to be mean. They were shagging before you could say hey guys, remember it wasn’t such a good idea last time, before you both went round the twist. As Tara had spent the earlier part of the evening sobbing dementedly at Eggs’ grave and blackmailing Andy this rounded off her night nicely.
3. Hoyt & Summer. Though they’re not really a couple anymore, a fact mourned by Maxine Fortenberry, one of my favourite characters. Summer was mainly upset that Hoyt hadn’t been seduced by her best bra.
Episode of the series! I know I’ve probably given this accolade to other episodes already, but this really was a corker.
Next, travel news. Hey, where's everyone gone?
The very best scene of all, ever – and I mean in the history of television, not just True Blood – starred the crazed love-sick Russell bursting into a tv studio to interrupt a vampire rights discussion with a little light spine removal. Nan Flanagan, stopped in her tracks mid-bite (ooh, the hypocrite pretending she subsists on Tru Blood), could only watch in horrified agogness as Russell gleefully undid the vampire PR work of decades. To stunned silence, he finished off his murderous tour de force with the grandstanding: ‘We will EAT YOU, after we EAT YOUR CHILDREN. Now time for the weather… Tiffany?’
You gotta love Russell, even if he is carrying round his dead lover’s entrails in a see-through urn and declaring war on humanity. I don’t remember that being one of the stages of bereavement from Psych 101 but hey, whatever gets you through. As an aside, I just want to note how many of the True Blood baddies are also eco-warriors. Russell, banging on about SUVs and unnecessary flights, reminded me of Amy, Jason’s late girlfriend. She also thought that recycling cardboard cancelled out her murdering and drug-abusing. It only makes me love the TB writers more that they have noticed how often a professed love of the environment goes hand-in-hand with appalling behaviour.
Gene Simmons says I can jam with the band
Everyone cried buckets in this episode. It was a mass waterworks, or in some cases, bloodworks. Bill started it when Sookie broke up with him. As ground for the split she could have cited her hospitalisation owing to him having drained her entire blood supply, but focused instead on them not being a normal couple. Well, yeah Sook: he’s dead. Sookie’s eyes also ran with tears, but who noticed them when Bill cried so much blood he resembled a member of Kiss?
Sookie snivelled again later when Alcide had to go off and be manly somewhere else. They nearly kissed but they are both too upright and anyway they both have a fatal taste for the poignant. So off he went, leaving Sookie to defend her much-attacked home by herself.
Then Jessica joined in the weep-fest. It was sweet the way she threw her arms round Bill, then she lost it when he said he would release her. ‘I – sob – don’t – sniff – want you to!’ she wailed. Bill finally agreed she could stick around, but insisted she learn techniques to see off baddies. They had a terrific practice fight session which made one feel they were really bonding in father-daughter-slo-mo-Matrix style. Though I guess not all fathers insist their girls pick up street smarts to help them track down and scoff werewolves.
The only moment when no-one was crying
Tara wasn’t crying, but she was staring straight ahead of her in traumatised fashion. I wasn’t sure if it was because of all she had been through with Franklin, or because Lafayette was giving her a foot massage. She soon got her act together for some girl-talk with Sookie. One minute they were holding hands in the sun, reminiscing about all the people they’ve known who’ve died lately (this took a while); the next she was chastising Sookie for her soppy adherence to Bill, love and country music: ‘At the end of those songs those dumb bitches always end up dead.’
In the continuing bid for high drama before the credits, Sookie staked Lorena, causing a great tsunami of blood to go geysering up to the ceiling before coming down splat! on top of poor old Bill who was shackled underneath. I’ve high-fived the props department before (‘thirty vats more ketchup over here!’) but they surpassed themselves with the amazing red gloop that once was Lorena. Can’t say I was sorry to see her go. I imagine almost all that red gloop was her lipstick.
We galloped into this episode with the same thundering pace of last week: Sookie and Tara teaming up telepathically to overpower the wildly irritating Debbie, Alcide putting a silver bullet in the horrible Cooder, and everyone dragging Bill into Alcide’s van and tearing off across the manicured lawn, running over a werewolf or two en route. Blimey, I said, and not for the last time, as I steadied my nerves with a slug of Babysham. Phew, I added, as Alcide and Tara had a sensible conversation and Sookie cut her arm with a hacksaw to revive Bill, as you do. All back to normal I see. Sookie cutting herself with a hacksaw constitutes a calm interlude round these parts. But Bill went bonkers and drained Sookie dry, and when Tara opened the back of the van and saw what he gone done, she threw him into the blazing sunlight and got Sookie pronto to the hospital where she was at death’s door because she is just plain weird and doesn’t have a blood type. If I was smart this would doubtless tell me something about what Sookie is but as I’m not I’ll just stick to ‘plain weird’ as my verdict for now.
Let me straighten your necklace, Your Maj.
Hot on the heels of the most amusing episode, this was the most tense – possibly ever, but certainly in this series. My stomach was in knots from the start, and my dreams were filled with blood and torture. Terrific stuff, chaps – keep up the good work! As well as being stressful, this episode raised as many questions than it answered. Which was no mean feat, as it answered a lot of questions an’ all. Here are my top ten questions yet to be addressed:
1. As Russell is almost 3000 years old, why is he called Russell? It’s apparently an old French name: but surely it’s not biblically old? Perhaps he changed his name because Talbot thought Methuselah didn’t go with the decor. Ok, I guess I’ve answered that one.
2. Bill seems a smart guy. So why, if he wanted to be of any use at all to the captured Sookie, did he stake a vampire guard? He knew it wouldn’t go down well. Neither did his attempt to spike Russell. Talbot was once again appalled by the mess on his carpet. Poor chap, I do feel for him. Blood is so hard to get out of soft furnishings – just ask Sookie. I wish they’d distract Talbot by having Eric flirt shamelessly with him. Oh yes, so they have.
3. Hasn’t Tara been watching True Blood? I can’t believe she thought that smashing Franklin’s head in with a silver mace would finish him off. He’s going to turn up all healed next episode, you mark my words, and he’s going to be rather miffed. A stake, cupcake, that’s what you need: a stake. Say after me: ‘I need a stake.’
Thanks for the flowers, Franklin. And, uh, the rope.
Episode of the Series is hereby awarded to this week’s roller-coaster of delights. The last few episodes were slightly in danger of losing their sense of humour, so embroiled were they in action, plot and blood. But this week there were so many light – darkly light – moments to savour. Most involved my new favourite couple, Franklin and Tara. From him jealously strangling her when she received a text from Lafayette, and Tara choking out ‘He’s – my – cousin – and – he’s – gay!’, to Franklin texting him back: ‘Watch how fast I can type motherfucker,’ I love every crazy minute these two spend together. Admittedly, in Tara’s case those minutes are spent somewhat unwillingly and indeed, tied up. Franklin’s nuts about Tara, as well as being just nuts. He told Russell, ‘She’s such a fucking disaster, we could be twins’ and bust into great racking, psychotically over the top blood-stained sobs after Tara tried to escape. Their brief romance stepped up a pace when Franklin offered to take her out for a ‘last dinner,’ because he was planning to turn her into his vampire bride. Her Hammer House of Horror expression on receiving this proposal was a thing of beauty.
Honey, isn't this an easier way to not see my face?
In rather shocking fashion – not that I should be shocked by True Blood anymore – Bill broke up with Sookie over the phone. An’ ah thought he wuz a gen’leman! He told her the gory details about his shag with Lorena, though omitted the goriest detail: that he turned Lorena’s head 180 degrees in mid-congress. I guess some things must remain between lovers. While Sookie was comforted by hunky werewolf-minder Alcide, Lorena clicked her jaw back into place and purred, ‘That was the best sex I’ve had in decades.’ Bill’s response was to hurl her across the room. Romantic, I thought.
Being dumped typically made Sookie more determined than ever to find Bill. He sure does attract the persistent type. Like all scorned women – though we don’t all go quite so goth – Sookie changed her hairdo. I couldn’t understand why she thought temporary tattoos and a leather skirt made her look kick-ass. She looked wimpy as ever, except with dark hair.
She instantly got into a contretemps at the werewolf bar with Debbie, Alcide’s trashy girlfriend, who was being initiated into the pack. There was some stuff with Russell and blood and branding, but I was more entertained by Sookie’s attempts to be a tough girl by swearing primly and downing three shots. The booze had no discernable impact on her faculties, maybe because her faculties are usually rather dull. This scene ended somewhat predictably, with everyone turning into wolves. Alcide (struggling against the urge to wolfify): Run, Sookie!’ Sookie hesitating because now she was wearing a wig she was a dumb brunette instead of a dumb blonde. ‘RUN I SAID!’ And finally she legged it, like Daphne in Scooby Doo.
Ok, you might be taller than me, and VERY cute, but... my damn rug!
Even before the credits, Eric violently savaged a werewolf in Sookie’s house. What IS it with that house? Makes Amityville look like a retirement home for gentlefolk. Sookie ought to just redecorate in red, it’d save so much on Mr Muscle. Eric was unrepentant that he’d added to the mess. ‘I got your rug all wet,’ he growled, through a faceful of werewolf blood.
The credits provided brief respite before we were plunged into the King of Louisiana’s palace, silver-lined doors and burning ex-girlfriends a speciality. Talbot was most displeased that a valuable tapestry was used to put Lorena out, but the King dismissed him with a camply-arched eyebrow, and settled down to give Bill a little homily on love and humans, leaving the usually opinionated Bill quite speechless.
We got quite a bit more Bill back-story: how he tried to return to his wife after becoming a vampire (doh! Bad idea, Bill), and how Lorena came after him with her infuriating belief that there’s no such thing as too much make-up. It shows how evil Lorena is that I was amazed she merely glamoured Bill’s wife, rather than biting a hole in her neck and ruining yet another perfectly good rug. Poor old Bill just cannot shake off Lorena; she is the thick-skinned sort who considers mere stalking a tame way to court love. Her cunning plan was that Bill would turn down the King and thus get Sookie killed, but Bill thwartingly renounced his allegiance to Louisiana. Then he started shagging Lorena violently – and when I say violently, I mean he twisted her head all the way round to the opposite side of her neck so he wouldn’t have to look at her – with all of us yelling, ‘No, Bill! NO!’ It was the most disturbing sex scene in TB by far, and that includes all those other ones that you can think of.
To say the plot is thickening scarcely hints at the extent of it. Nazis! Werewolves! Nazi Werewolves! Camp drawling kings with takeover plans! Mothers in loony bins! Whole new families of shape-shifters!
The plot was thicker than porridge, thicker than mud, go on then, even thicker than blood. It became officially too complicated to follow. But it didn’t matter really, because it was so enjoyable. I’ll try and relay what I saw, but rather like a dream in which everyone changes identity and you can’t cross the road because your legs are made of custard, it mightn’t make any sense.
We began with Bill chewing up a bunch of werewolves in a scene so gory that I pushed aside my chicken dinner with a little moan. Then in galloped an anachronistic figure, a riding-jacketed toff on a horse. Turned out he was Vampire King of Mississippi – but of course – and he it was who had got the werewolves to kidnap Bill, in a cockamamie plan to win the hand in marriage of Queen Sophie-Ann. Don’t worry if you’re not following; that makes two of us.