Preacher: Take Me to Church

I’m sure in recent weeks the pun on Hozier’s song and AMC’s new show Preacher has been made more than a few times, but I couldn’t resist the urge. There’s something about the slow, steady rhythm and blasphemous nature of ‘Take Me to Church’ that fits right in line with the attitude and delivery of Preacher.

That delivery is amazing so far. I’ve enjoyed the show so much that I’m having hard time finding a place to start talking about it. The episodes are tense, character-driven, cinematic beauties with a dark humor and a flair for violence. What could wind up being ridiculously unbelievable characters are acted (and directed and written) with just enough down-to-Earthness to make the ludicrous things that happen sympathetic. Cassidy is just a fun loving guy (well, vampire) that just happens to wind up in these terribly bloody fights. Tulip is smart, clever, and completely capable of getting whatever she wants in a scene (respect, a map, surviving) except for Jesse. And Jesse wants a quiet no-hassle life but people won’t stop pushing for him to do his new job and he feels compelled to protect innocents.

I’ve only seen the first three episodes so far, but there’s some great dynamics happening with the main three characters and the other lead supporting cast. The relationship between Tulip and Jesse is the hardest to figure out so far, but that’s half the point of the presentation. The audience meets Tulip in the middle of a fight, who then goes on to prepare for the next wave of attack, protect a couple of kids by getting them out of harm’s way before the fight even starts, and then she’s off. While she gives a small speech about love during all of this, she never brings up Jesse’s name or any details about this ex of her. That part becomes clear later on. Without this early scene, she’d likely come off as the psych-exgirlfriend. She still does in some of her scenes with Jesse, but bits and pieces of their past are coming to light through the show and it’s obvious that something deeply traumatic and wrong happened–something that pushed Jesse away from their old lives and made Tulip cling to it and her mental image of Jesse even harder. There’s unfinished business and Tulip seems to need Jesse to complete, not because she needs her man, but because he was there when the business started. All parties need to be there to see it through–including Jesse if she has to drag him back kicking and screaming (which she just might at this point…) So, really, the greatest part of Tulip and Jesse’s relationship is the fact that it pulls double duty as a plot.

One of the other fantastic aspects of the show is the sets and cinematography. Like other AMC shows (Walking Dead and Hell on Wheels come to mind), Preacher‘s not afraid to use longer, wider shots. Instead of bouncing from face to face, as most shows do during conversations, Jesse and Cassidy lounge on pews, furniture, whatever’s handy. The show loves to feature the long, dusty road up to church. You get to see Jesse’s truck sitting in the background when he goes into a place. Basically, there’s a strong sense of world in this show that helps envelop you in its reality.

I’m really liking this show so far and hopefully we’ll get many more seasons of Preacher (and hopefully it doesn’t eventually disappoint like some things). Definitely go check out the first few episodes on or double check your On Demand for access.


“Fear” the Walking Dead

I’m not huge into zombie media. The classic monster type is at the top of ‘things that freak me out.’ Give me vampires or demons or any of horror’s other plethora of creatures, but please please please, not the zombies! Which is why The Walking Dead was such a surprise for me. I started watching it because so many people were talking about it and since I can never seem to get into sports, I need a conversation starter of some kind. So I downed the first episode and the second and then seasons. It’s not a perfect show, but there’s something I love about The Walking Dead that brings me back most weeks. So when AMC announced that they were doing a spin-off called Fear the Walking Dead, I–like so many other fans–was completely psyched. More stories in this world? And it’d fill those empty months between TWD episodes? Awesome!

Unfortunately, like so many other spin-offs and recent creations, Fear the Walking Dead isn’t living up to the hopes and dreams. I gave it the benefit of the doubt for a whole season. Zombies aren’t the reason I’m into these shows, so I didn’t care that we barely saw them during the first season (though one of my friend’s consistent complaints was that we weren’t seeing enough of the undead). The show built up and built up these characters, some I cared about, some I didn’t, but hey, they’d have to spend some time doing that, right? Unlike TWD, there’s no precedent for the Fear cast. No comics to fall back on and bring out loads of information, just brand new people for the writers to explore. The show fell a little flat, but that’s not uncommon, especially in such a short season of a brand new show.

But then, at the beginning of the second episode of season 2, Fear gave us the perfect analogy of what’s really wrong with their show. If you haven’t seen it (and don’t mind being spoiled), that episode starts with two children playing in the sand. They’re happy and content playing in the perfect day sunshine. Zombies lumber up the beach towards them. Oh no! The children are in danger! Except, hold on, the zombies are blocked off by a well constructed fence. The element of danger we as the audience feels completely dissipates. As the episode drags on, the main cast encounters this little family and we get more exposition about how the world is now. We get treated to the same argument we’ll be seeing the rest of the season it seems–Strand does not want anyone else on his boat and while the others grumble about it, they don’t seem quite willing to do anything (I say this not having seen the episode on 5/1).

So the problem is that we have a complete lack of tension. The characters manage to have all of these perfect save moments–when Strand and Nick were escaping from the facility and everyone happened to come together at the same door, one of them even having the needed key card! Ofelia has an infection and oh look, Nick managed to find the right drugs! The sources of conflict should be many with the world setting alone, but the families were protected first by the military and then by the boat they have now (and oh man, when it broke down, Travis managed to fix it in a day!) Instead of giving these characters experiences which they’ll draw on in the future, that will harden them into the necessary group of survivors that it takes to make it in this world, the group is little better than the Hilltop or Alexandria from TWD. They’ve got a slight ability in this world, but really, this seems much more like a group that would get torn down to about half before running into Rick’s group and eking out a life, maybe only one or two of them surviving until season 6. Of course they shouldn’t be perfect badasses from the get-go, but it seems like they’re being treated with kid gloves by the writers. We never worry about this core group because on the rare chance they encounter something, they dodge it almost perfectly.

The other should-be source of tension would be the interpersonal relationships of the main group. Strand has his secrets and keeps reminding everyone that the boat is his so his say is final, but the other characters only seem to have minor frustrations with this. Sure, Travis, Maddie, and Daniel have a couple of conversations, but I’m almost surprised that episode from 5/1 had previews saying that conflict was going to come to a head. Daniel spends a lot of time telling Ofelia that Maddie and her family are only going to look out for themselves, but he seems to be saber rattling. In fact, Maddie and the other members of her family only ever seem to try and bring more people into their survivors unit, so I don’t understand Daniel’s continued paranoia about them. They’re eight people and the yacht isn’t that large, why haven’t they gotten on each other’s nerves more? Alicia and Nick are getting along fine, Nick has wormed his way into ‘acceptable’ with everyone on board (except maybe Daniel who trusts only his daughter), Chris roams however he wants with no one caring. Strand isn’t quite Shane from TWD and Maddie isn’t quite Dale. It feels like the creators spent a lot of time making an ideal zombie survival group without giving them the personalities that would butt heads.

Basically, what we’ve got so far is just a great and long lesson in what a project looks like without that tension to keep a viewer on the edge of their seat. This is what happens when it’s too much exposition and not enough action. (They even managed to drive to Strand’s house without incident at the end of last season, come on!) At this point, my interest in the show has waned. Maybe I’ll pick it back up when the whole season’s available for a quick watch, you know, if I need some low-key background noise.

I’d like to stop dying.

People who talk to me on a regular basis would probably tell you that I get angry, a lot. That I get angry at media more often than anything. And that I’m ready to unleash my opinions on a trigger notice. I’ll go off about story-telling flaws–I’ve got long lists of ‘wouldn’t it be cool if?’ or ‘I would have done it this way if I was in charge.’ My other major aggravation is lack of representation. It’s been so cool this last year to see How to Get Away with Murder and Star Wars: Force Awakens and Mad MaxFury Road do well. The fact that women-led movies have dominated the box office the last couple of years is great. We’ve got more in a lot of ways.

And yet, somehow, a lot of the shows I watch decided that now was a great time to start killing off LGBT characters–specifically LGBT women. In the last week and a half alone, two different shows have killed same-sex inclined women. This trend isn’t anything new either. Autostraddle’s ever growing list goes back decades.

The trend is outright frustrating, especially in most cases the deaths aren’t necessary to continue the plot. Even more so because there are so few queer characters in the first place that killing them often means not seeing or finding another queer character for seasons–if the show gets to continue that long in the first place. The Walking Dead is now six seasons done with hundreds of characters, yet only five have ever been openly declared LGBT characters. Three of those have been women and two of those three are dead. The Vampire Diaries is in its seventh season and has had few queer characters to begin with, but they just decided to blow up Nora and Mary-Louise (the only f/f couple I can recall) in one move.

My largest source of anger comes from the fact that these characters are often killed for the sake of a main man’s plot. Supernatural producers defend their Charlie-killing (one of like only 5 LGBT identified characters in the show’s 200+ episode history) as ‘where the story took them.’ In this case, that was to get Dean to the point where he’d be willing to go kill a bunch of men. And it had to be death because, you know, torturing or kidnapping a character he saw like a little sister wouldn’t have been enough to set off the already everyone-kept-commenting-on-anger-levels Dean. Right. Never mind that Charlie had been out surviving on her own for practically a year, somehow she lost a fight when she literally should have climbed out the window. ‘For the story.’

Denise’s death on The Walking Dead isn’t any better. For one, she’s one where they decided to change comic book cannon. Instead of hooking up with Heath, she was with Tara. On top of that, Denise survived longer than her comic-counterpart. I’d assumed it’d be so we could have a lot longer with her–Carol’s still alive seasons after. But no, Denise uttered that she was scared about love and then bammo, less than a minute later she has an arrow through the eye. And what have the only effects been so far? Daryl getting pissed off and going out on a revenge spree (that was quickly cut off) and Rosita joining him on that. (You could attempt to argue that was why Maggie needed to go to Hilltop–without their doctor, she needed care. However, I will remind you that Denise was a novice doctor with limited resources while the Hilltop’s doctor was an obgyn with an ultrasound and Maggie’s pain has been abdominal. They would have needed to go to Hilltop anyway.)

On Arrow, Sarah Lance died because Malcolm wanted Oliver to deal with the League of Assassins for him. Oh, and the source of extra angst for most of that season was not telling her father because of his ‘weakened’ condition (a condition that seems to come and go as needed…) I don’t even know why Toshiko Sato of Torchwood had to die except those producers were getting rid of like everyone but Gwen and Jack (no, really, it’s inside of four episodes of the show that you lose 60% of the cast). But considering her death was part of Gray’s plan (worst plan and villain ever, btw) of revenge on Jack, that means that Tosh didn’t die as part of her own plot, but his.

Nora and Mary-Louise’s deaths on The Vampire Diaries were completely unexpected as well. I’m not even sure why the story went that way, and honestly it’s been hard understanding where this season’s story arc wanders in any given episode. I’d say they died for their own cause, except there’s a hitch with that. See, they blow this relic so that they don’t get separated. Sure. Makes sense, makes it about them. Only this moment is entirely framed around the fact that Stephan is laying on the ground, soul in the damn relic. And I don’t know why Raina threw her sword at Nora and Mary-Louise when she spent a chunk of the episode getting the sword back. Just doesn’t make any sense, unless it’s done entirely to prevent easy re-ensouling of Stephan, therefore, they died ’cause of a guy.

These have just been the characters I’m most familiar with in recent years. The frustration stems from the fact that 1. It’s so hard to find LGBTQA characters to begin with, 2. That they get to be fully realized characters in the first place and not just stereotypes, and 3. You get to spend just enough time with them that you can find something relatable. So it’s devastating that over and over, I get to have hope that these characters exist in these often violent worlds. I get to see that, hey yeah, there’s all kinds of people! That the world is wide and full of possibilities. And just when I get used to the idea, those characters are ripped away. With Nora and Mary-Louise, I was like ‘yes, awesome! we get to go through the ‘my lover is dying and I’ll do anything to save her’ plot/trope, only to have that turn into a ‘if we can’t be together we’ll die on our own terms’ inside of an episode–meanwhile Damen gets to fucking lament about Elena and/or Stephan for like the millionth time.

So I’m going to propose that for the next 5 years tv doesn’t kill another LGBT woman. Hell, at the current rate, I will take the next 5 weeks. I want the chance to feel included, not to sit there wondering how long until the clock runs out on the queer women this week. Come on, it’s not that hard to let characters live in these fictional worlds.

After all, the lead guys are all still there.

“Go dark.” –did Agents of SHIELD production crew get that command, too?

Last season Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (to be hereafter referred to Agents) left us with a shattered intelligence agency, injured team members, and more traitors than allies. Most of the first season wound up feeling more killing time than action packed story-telling–probably because the production crew knew that Captain America: Winter Soldier would bring S.H.I.E.L.D. to the ground–something with which Agents would have to cope. The last few episodes of the season, Coulson’s team had to contend with the collapse, with traitors in their midst, and then stop Agent Garrett. The team saved the day, but not without losses.

Season 2 picks up a few months after last season’s close. Throughout the episode we’re given little updates on our main team. For starters, Skye is doing field work with Trip and Mae. Agent Barkley (Lucy Lawless’s character) is a new face on the show, but she’s an undercover operative with a team of mercenaries.  Coulson isn’t around. He’s been looking for agents, out recruiting and having to meet with people face to face in order to ‘get a read on them.’ Fitz and Simmons are working in the lab on cloaking technology and identifying metal for their most recent mission.

All on the surface looks slightly problematic. Scratch the surface and the raw pain comes through.

The first symptoms of the pain? Fitz. The beginning of his scene shows him withdrawn, but that’s a bit of a false start. He communicates, but sometimes he pauses to search for the right word. When the metal they brought back begins to bleed, Fitz asks Mae, “Can you see that?” The relief that comes over him when she does is palpable, suggesting that in the interim months, Fitz has seen many things that others haven’t.

More pain follows. We finally see Ward. He’s locked up in the new base’s basement and demanding that if he’s going to talk, it’s going to be to Skye. When she’s finally forced to face him for the first time in months, she notices the self-inflicted injuries. Ward went through a ‘dark patch’ (I think those were his words), and the way he flinches when Skye references his murders suggests that he might not be through yet.

Skye is hurting, too. She doesn’t want to talk to Ward, but she does. She follows orders without question in this episode. We see the way the rest of her team, but Skye’s pain comes through with Chloe Bennet’s performance more than any actions and lines. Overall, though, she’s calmer and interjects less thoughts.

Then there’s the plot–We find out that Talbot has only sent Hydra off into the dark. Agent Berkley commands one of her subordinates to cut off her arm in order to save her life. Meanwhile Mae, Trip, and Skye continue on towards their other prize of the mission, even though they’re pinned down. We’re led to believe that not everyone makes it out of this encounter alive–with Agent Berkley’s SUV flipping and most likely killing her and one of her subordinates.

At the climactic moment, Coulson reveals even more. That while we knew SHIELD would have to downplay their existence, that SHIELD needs to ‘disappear’ and ‘operate from the shadows.’ In that speech, we learn that Simmons has been gone and that Fitz is deteriorating. He’s gotten worse.

Darkness isn’t only in play with the plot and character development. The warehouse for the undercover job, the new base, Ward’s cell, the base they break into, all feature dark rooms with only just enough lighting to see. Added on top of that, everyone’s favoring dark clothing, making the bright blue uniform Trip and General Talbot wear a fantastic pop of color.

Word choice hints at the darkness, too. Hydra has ‘slithered,’ SHIELD has to ‘fight from the shadows,’ a focus on stealth technology, the cell wall becomes ‘opaque,’ the command for an abort mission is to ‘Go dark.’ While out of context the choices are obvious, they repeat the motif in the episode.

We are given one shining moment of hope, though. Skye, Trip, and Mae are successful at stealing their objective. Coulson gives a rally idea in his speech–that SHIELD will fight on to honor those they’ve lost. While it isn’t much, it’s what SHIELD has to hold onto.

Honor and duty–if those remain SHIELD’s first two stones in its reconstruction, there may be hope for them yet.

Heat vs. Storm

Being a huge Nathan Fillion fan, I checked out Castle when it first came on the air many seasons ago. Despite being yet another procedural show about yet another NYPD homicide department, having a writer in the mix changed up the game enough to keep my interest and unlike other cop shows with specialists, what Richard Castle and the guest spots have to say about writing is fairly authentic. (You wanna see a physical anthropologist’s head explode, ask them about Temperance Brennan of Bones.)

Some executive had the brains to green light one of the best media tie-ins you could do with a show about a writer. ABC Entertainment has actually published books bearing the pseudonym Richard Castle which has so far included several novels, three ebooks, and even the comic books referenced in the show. Media tie-ins often get the rap of being glorified fanfiction, but anyone who spends rampant amounts of time delving into fandoms will wind up telling you that fanfiction’s got a place in the world. That’s a topic of conversation for another day, but the point is that even if they are, some media tie-ins are definitely worth the time. The fantastic part about Richard Castle’s books is that they actually stand alone from the show. While knowing Castle will get you insight into where certain lines or situations come from, the characters of the books only bear a resemblance to those on the show and come with their own histories and personalities. You don’t need to know Castle in order to understand what’s happening and that’s one of the great aspects of the books.

Recently, I finished reading Storm Front, a Derrick Storm novel available, and rereading Naked Heat along with listening to an audiobook format of Heat Rises, both of which are Nikki Heat novels.

Both series of books are murder mysteries. However, Storm Front sees Derek Storm coming back as a private investigator turned CIA operative while Nikki Heat remains a NYPD homicide detective in her books so far (I have yet to get to Frozen Heat). They share quite a few characteristics–both characters are driven, resourceful, and intelligent, but Heat’s got a leg up on Storm. Storm’s attitude, mannerisms, and behavior come off as a blunt caricature of the man’s man best-spy-there-is-besides-007. In Storm Front, he’s impersonal with everyone but the Chinese Agent Ling Xi Bang. While the ghost writer attempts to make Storm more likable–looks, he’s fallen in love with a beautiful woman inside of two seconds, hey also look he cares about these orphans–Storm comes off entirely flat. Storm never changes as a person. He is as he was at the beginning of the book and despite his actions, he winds up barely scratched himself. Even the great budding ‘romance’ he had with Ling Xi Bang getting cut off abruptly by her death does nothing to sway his overall attitudes.

On the other hand, Nikki Heat is an individual. The ghost writer(s) for her, especially in Naked Heat and Heat Rises, has shown that Nikki is a full person. She’s smart, she’s independent, she’s a quick-thinker, but she’s angry, outraged, and frightened at times too. At points she runs into an aspect in her personal life that reminds her what she’s doing wrong in a case, or she’ll chastise herself for the kind of thoughts that everyone gets from time to time. Nikki Heat is never a machine running from one plot point to the next. Every moment of Nikki’s has a clear motivation and emotional connection, whether it’s approval and support as she delegates tasks to her squad or anger and wanting to forgive when Rook finally has a chance to explain where he’s been. Nikki is human first and a cop second, and that makes all the difference in the text.

These two sleuths share another same character background piece: both of them have the dead woman trope in their stories. You know the trope well, a woman must die so the plot can advance and/or the hero has motivation to fight the good fight. Once again, the handling’s done completely different between Storm Front and the Heat series. As mentioned, Derrick entangles himself with the mysterious foreign agent Ling Xi Bang (which the book says to pronounce ‘she bang’) and from the moment he’s laid eyes on her, he wants her. And of course he gets her, despite him working for the CIA and her working for the Chinese government, they hook up, because who can resist Derrick Storm, right? (This isn’t just my ranting, it’s hinted at in the book with some of the other men’s attitudes towards Derrick having no trouble picking up women). To top off the incredulous hook-up, and Derrick’s massive passionate feelings that have blossomed overnight, the bad guy Valkov takes out Xi Bang during a shootout that’s not even on the page. Derrick comes up after the violence is done to see that she won’t survive her injuries–one of which is the classic gut wound, of course. While she’s painted as a somewhat novice in her field, there’s no real reason why Xi Bang had to die in that scene, except to take her out of the picture for Derrick’s other love, Clara Strike (who, btw, had apparently faked her death at one point and left Derrick to mourn her for a while. Also, Derrick’s mother passed away when he was young. I’m all for the rule of three’s in writing when it makes sense, but this one’s ridiculous.) You can’t even argue that Xi Bang’s death was motivation for Storm hunting down Valkov (he was already determined because of their past), or that her death caused him to learn a valuable lesson about rushing in (he chases down a plane and climbs onto the freaking landing gear.) Her death, basically, was only to try and keep a not-even-flagging sense of danger going.

On the other hand, we see the same dead woman trope in Nikki’s background, but the treatment’s different. It’s mentioned a few times in Heat Rises and Naked Heat that her mother was a murder victim. The murder of a loved one carried a strong emotional punch in Nikki’s life and drove her to become a cop–but that’s not where the treatment of the trope ends. Nikki’s past motivates not only her life’s goals, but also her attitudes and behaviors. She does everything in her power to ensure that respect is given to the victim and to the families of her cases–including reminders to her squad and even visiting detectives that they need to have that respect too. When her mother’s death is talked about, the pain is an old emotional scar that still affects her psyche, so instead of falling into the chasm of cliche, the ghost writer(s) used the trope to make Nikki more of a human being by instilling emotions and behavior alongside the motivation.

In the end, Nikki Heat is far more believable and convincing a hero than Derrick Storm of Storm Front. She’s human and he’s an obnoxious stereotype. If you’ve only got so much time for novels, put Heat on your list first, especially if you’re looking for a well-rounded lead character and/or to be welcomed into a world-setting that’s vibrant and enjoyable.

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.