How the True Blood finale lived up to its name

Let’s start with a reminder of what the product “True Blood” is. It’s a blood substitute. It’s kept cold and to the vampires who consume it (even a newbie as we saw with Jessica) it tastes like shit. While it comes in a few flavors (different blood types), it really never satisfies. So in the end, you’ve got a product that vampires are meant to consume, to pay for, and they’re supposed to fake enjoying to get along in society.

In so many ways, the True Blood finale last night was just like that: emotionally distant, lacking any real substance, and leaving a shitty aftertaste.

Fuck, where do I even start?

Okay, let’s go with Bill and Sookie’s plot, since that took up most of the episode. First off, I’ve given up any hope of Bill’s decision-making being anything similar to our decision-making skills. Bill Compton, despite all of his professing otherwise, has always put himself and his way of thinking first. You see it in the way he wants to “mainstream” and you see it in the way he wants to “raise” Jessica. So when he makes the decision to end his life because that’s the only way Sookie will ever move on, he’s not really thinking about Sookie’s well-being. He’s convinced himself he is and he’s convinced himself that this is the “only way” she will ever move on, but all he does is strip her of any choices and then fucking mess her up psychologically by asking her to finish him. You know who he could have asked, who would have gladly put it through him and been done with it? Eric. You know how he could have done it himself? Let the Hep-V take its course or walk into the sun he waited to go down. Instead, he wanted Sookie to use the last of her fairy light to take him out of the world so that she could go live a ‘normal’ life.

His logic alone was so rampantly sexist I was willing to reach through and do it myself. He didn’t want to stay with Sookie because she would “never have children, never have a real life” and he believed that so long as he was alive somewhere, she would never get over him. The show–including Sookie–just accepts this as justifiable cause. The reason is so sexist, I’m still groaning and rolling my eyes at it. The message completely reads, “I am man. You can never move past me because of my awesome effect on your life. You’re obviously not a woman if you do not procreate. Being different is bad, you should try to blend in.” So in the end, I’m glad that they staked Bill and got that fucking backwards, archaic logic out of the world-setting. I just wish Sookie had gotten pissed at him beforehand and called him out on his complete crap. I wish she’d done it as an expression of “I do need you out of my life, you’re damaging it. I’ve accepted who I am and who I choose to love, but you never accepted yourself or me.” —Her final speech did have elements of it, but it lacked the anger or resolve of removing the toxicity from her life finally.

Of course, maybe she couldn’t have that mentality because the show’s writers certainly didn’t. After Bill’s scene, we’re treated to a “several years later” montage of watching Eric and Pam set up for their new business, while still keeping the old perfectly afloat, showing that nothing from the events of the show has actually done anything other than increase their wealth in the end. And then, the Thanksgiving scene. Holy fucking shit. Are we supposed to suspend our disbelief so far that all of the people that we’ve seen hook up in the final season are still together after four years when during the course of the show they all broke up and connected with new flames a couple of times? Some of them, yeah, it’d be understandable, but far more believable if at least a couple of people at the table had had someone new sitting besides them.

However, the worst part is that we start this scene with seeing a pregnant Sookie in the kitchen. She, who has always struggled with ‘normal’ men, she who earlier in the episode flashbacked to a moment when she believed that she’d never have a normal marriage and all that, is pregnant and in the kitchen. To top off this nightmare, we never see the face of the man in her life now. We get the back of his head, just enough of the side of his face to see that he’s got a beard, and on top of all of that, he’s got the head of the table seat. It sends the message that, despite having the rest of her family there (both blood and those close friends), her life was not the happy, perfect bliss without the fucking man and a fucking baby on the way.

And on top of all that, at the beginning of the episode, we see Bill force Jessica’s hand into an impromptu wedding with Hoyt because he never got the joy of giving his daughter away at a marriage. We see amnesiac Hoyt deciding that after one night, yes, he would like to marry Jessica one day and sure that day could be today. Jessica starts out by saying “Oh hell no, this isn’t what I wanted for my wedding day” and then Bill talks her into it with his “Ah, but I haven’t gotten to do what is mine by right,” *cough* sorry, “I haven’t gotten to have my privilege,” *cough* sorry again, “I haven’t gotten to do what so many other men fantasize about doing” –oh fuck it all. He emotionally blackmails her into the act. So we get a by-now cliche moment of him getting to hand her off at a wedding–the trope being badly misused in this situation because Bill Compton was given the chance to cure his terminal disease and instead he chose to go on towards the True Death. Because Bill chose not to take the cure, any emotional connectivity to the scene is completely lost. Once again we were forced to witness Bill’s bad decision-making dictate how everyone else got on with their futures.

In other story-telling aspects, the episode failed to deliver. We knew Bill was going to die (though because of the ‘he’s feeling human’ comments and symptoms there were bets that Bill was going to turn human in the end for Sookie) because he kept driving that point home. The scenes lacked any sort of tension, especially since the one tense force left on the show–the Yakuza–got taken out in the first seven or eight minutes. No one was in any danger, nothing was going to change the blandness that was happening, and we got was a drama that moved about as much as a vampire’s heart. For a season that began with a tense ‘anyone could die next, anything could change,’ the ending wound up safe, slow, and almost-line-by-line predictable. It was like the Hep-V vampire disaster ended too quickly, and since they didn’t know what else to do with their time, the writers/showrunners just started hooking everyone back up for the happy ending. True Blood never cared for that happy ending before–always leaving each season off with a giant hook, always gripping onto the next violent problem, but after Hep-V and Bill being essentially over, they don’t even discuss or mention the political fall out from everything that’s gone on in the last year. No hope or mention that vampires would get their rights back, that while everyone’s survived, their universe has a long way to go before it’s okay–and no one cares about the shape-shifter moment on national television or that the entire town found out about Sam’s ability. Naw, domestic bliss saves the day, doesn’t it?

For my friends and I, the ending felt so unsatisfying that we agreed that we’d wasted our time on the entire show. We’d been sucked into the world of Bon Temps for years and instead of a reward for the journey, we were wanting to spit it out faster than a baby vamp and her first bottle of O Pos. I can’t recommend the whole journey in good conscience any more. At least when next summer rolls around and I hunt down something else to watch, I won’t be sitting back and missing True Blood and pining away to know what happened after the end. As Bill Compton would have wanted, we can all move on with our lives without any profound effects.

Dark Angel, A transgenic soap opera worth hunting

Okay, so, a friend and I are pretty huge Jensen Ackles fans and a couple months back I pointed out that he was in the show Dark Angel. She, wanting so badly to rewatch it again anyway, bought up copies of the DVDs and we were set to go. I was expecting to have to hold my sides and groan through the whole thing, bearing through it just to get some glimpses of an actor I liked watching. After all, I’d already put myself through Shark Attack 3 for John Barrowman, Red Faction Origins for Gareth David-Lloyd, and The Grudge for Sarah Michelle Gellar. So what the hell, I figured, why not?

However, Dark Angel turned out to be an amazing gem. Sure, it’s got its imperfections, but there’s a whole lot of good going on in it too.

Let’s start with some of that good. Dark Angel is set in the not-so-distant future (having been made/written during the early ’00’s, that means it’d be happening about, oh five years from now…) in a post-Apocalyptic Seattle. The cause of this little Apocalypse was something referred to as the Pulse–when a giant EM bomb catastrophe happened over most major cities. This event’s the background radiation of the entire show. It’s why everything’s run down, why it’s a big deal if you can manage gas, why resources are something that the characters continually struggle with. It creates a world setting in which characters struggle to survive, complimenting the main character Max’s struggles too.

Another awesome aspect is the diversity of characters. In the first season, for main cast regular characters, you’ve got a three main women and four main men. The second season sees that skew to two and five, which was a disappointment. However, not everyone in the background or filling up the guest spots is a cis het white dude (I’m pointing at you, season 9 Supernatural and so many other mainstream shows.) Plus, the show gave us Original Cindy, the only black lesbian on a cable television show I can name. (Hell, I keep up on way too many tv shows to count and sadly could name off probably less than ten queer characters on current running programs.)

Okay, so one of the negatives. The show writers (or maybe the control of the producers on the writers?) created some of the most cliched lines and plots that the world has seen. I’m all for being able to predict what’s coming next–that’s simply good storytelling really–but Dark Angel severely lacked some original plot ideas. Part of the problem was the focus on the Max/Logan relationship and making sure that didn’t work. These two characters then wind up in an emotional stand-still, forced into wanting each other always ’cause of the script and the writers/producers/someone-in-charge not letting them move on. That wound up creating a lot of wasted story time. The government conspiracy plots were laid on thick too, and the secret cult of season 2 that had been around for virtually forever was, well, bland. It feels like the PTB of the show concluded that it was going to be around for at least three or four seasons and so allowed plots to develop too slowly. That allowed for too much mystery and not enough answers or even building towards solutions. Characters often repeated themselves for four or five episodes about their opinions on a certain plot and when the plot’s already so cliche it stings, that doesn’t help.

Back to the good. The actors, nearly every single one of ’em even when you include the recurring/guest ones, actually manage to pull of the stereotypical characters. While the lines sometimes make you want to groan, roll your eyes, or shove your face into a pillow, the actors did their best to make you believe these were real people with real problems. They interacted well with one another and very rarely did it ever feel like the actors talked *at* each other instead of *to* each other. Acting is like playing catch–one actor pitches the line at the other, that actor corresponds by reacting to the line and pitching it back. In scenes with a large amount of actors, that can get way more complicated, but the Jam Pony scenes always had energy, atmosphere, and believability–no matter what crazy ass plot was going on that week. I think, now that I’m done with the show, I’m going to wind up missing Jam Pony the most, because you don’t get massive scenes with actors coming and going, background characters from all kinds of histories, or feel like you’re that much of a television’s show’s world nearly often enough.

All in all, I’d recommend it if you’re looking to see something different and maybe heckle some plot decisions. It’s not a priceless diamond in any respect, but it’s a nice little find if you’re tired of seeing the exact same level of bland on current programming. The only sad part is that the program’s only available via DVD, unless you go hacking. Hopefully that’ll change some day and make this more accessible ’cause it’s at least worth checking out.