Warning: An Onslaught of Spoilers Ahead
A series finale, especially one for as long-running and once-beloved a series as True Blood, is a tricky thing. The goal, of course, is to satisfy all of the show’s longtime viewers. Which is impossible. Yet every year, producers of outgoing series do their best to do just that, and in the process tend to use one of two tactics: they either try too hard and pack too much into those final fleeting minutes, or they do too little and allow the key moments and controversies from every prefacing episode to stand as the series’ legacy. Neither option is very satisfying. Which is why the ratio of beloved small-screen send-offs to hated ones is heavily skewed in the latter direction. Last night’s True Blood finale was a prime example of why. It’s not that “Thank You” (True Blood’s 80th and final episode, written by current showrunner Brian Buckner) left fans feeling angry—it’s that it left them feeling nothing at all. Except that they probably should have stopped watching after season three.
When the promos for True Blood’s seventh season began airing and its producers started talking, it looked and sounded as if the plan was to take the series back its gloriously gratuitous (both in terms of sex and violence) beginnings. In an interview with Vulture at the conclusion of the show’s penultimate season, Buckner even noted that “our number one mandate is to entertain, and if we start to politicize too much I think we will hurt ourselves. The show started out as “'popcorn for smart people’—that was [original showrunner] Alan [Ball's] mission statement, and I would love it to still be for smart people. Of course I want it to be smarter. Because all these television shows that people are watching is because they’re smart, and I would love to see my work on that list. But we have set up an expectation that we are going to devour story and give a ton of ‘WTF moments,’ as Alan would call them, and we still have to do that too.”
The only WTFs generated last night were from tweets by disappointed viewers. Let’s recap the many reasons why (in non-chronological order)…
Sookie & Bill: When shirt-hating werewolf Alcide took a bullet to the head earlier this season, the door opened yet again for Sookie and Bill’s happily ever (and ever…and ever) after. Alas, it was not meant to be. And not because Sookie gave him a mean case of Hep V that’s been progressing at an alarming rate, or because Bill refused to drink the blood of the antidote known as Sarah Newlin. It’s because Bill wants Sookie to have all of the wonderful things he can’t give her in life. Like a husband who can make an early-morning Starbucks run. And, most importantly, children. (I know he’s a couple centuries old, but would it have killed someone to tell Bill about the scientific advancement known as sperm donation?)
Instead of asking for her hand in marriage, Bill, ever the genteel Southerner, asks Sookie (a.k.a. Sook-eh) to use that ball of lightning she’s been saving up to do him “the ultimate kindness” and kill him. After much thought, Sookie agrees. But she’s not about to use a bad CGI fireball to do it. Nope, Sookie, always ready to get down and dirty, quite disgustingly opts for a good old stake through the heart instead. Which makes one bloody hell of a mess. (If Sookie were smart, she would have bought stock in The Clorox Company back in season one.)
Jessica & Hoyt: That Hoyt made his way back into True Blood is one of the final season’s nicest surprises, even if he doesn’t remember that he and Jessica were once in love and/or that his former best friend Jason is what screwed it up. But the always-fun-to-watch Jessica (who, one could argue, is really the show’s conscious) has come clean on her prior indiscretions because she’s realized that she and Hoyt are indeed meant to be together, and that she just wasn’t ready before. Now she is, and Hoyt kind of agrees, even though he’s technically only known her for about 24 hours at this point. But the same Bill who has determined that vampire-human love would be the worst thing to happen to Sookie has no problem pushing the same scenario on his former progeny. His dying wish (at least one of them) is that these two kids say “I do,” and that he be the man to give her away. Fair enough.
Jason & Bridgette: Though he initially fights the urge to take up with another one of Hoyt’s girlfriends, Jason—and his impressive abs—can’t help it. And though we’ve seen nothing particularly intriguing about Bridgette beyond the fact that she’s a hot blonde, maybe that’s what makes her a perfect fit for Bon Temps’ most lovable dimwit.
Arlene & Keith: Arlene’s about as happy as she has ever been with her new vampire beau. And a happy Arlene always makes for a more entertaining show, or at least a more comedic one. If only she’d turned fang-banger years ago!
Andy & Holly and Adilyn & Wade: Take the sort of incestuous relationship out of this storyline and you’ve got one big happy family. In which the kids happen to be sleeping with one another.
Lafayette & Sam: Calm down! This coupling isn’t a romantic one. But one of the show’s biggest disappointments is that Lafayette—easily the show’s most beloved character—and Sam suffered the same fate. They were each essentially written out of the show earlier this season, even though we’ve seen them pop up here and there. Mayor Sam abandoned his post and took off with his pregnant girlfriend to provide a better life for his family, and yet his sendoff is done in voiceover, in an emotional letter to Sookie, which doesn’t even allow Sam the chance to say goodbye on camera. Lafayette’s final shining moments came when he and Lettie Mae finally came to terms with Tara’s death. (For the record, Tara was another main character who got the shaft, but that really happened when she first turned vamp.)
Eric & Pam: Like any by-the-numbers finale, this one’s got a flash-forward—two of them, actually. The first comes one year after Bill’s death and features Eric and Pam as the ultimate infomercial spokespeople, with Eric (like a hot Billy Mays minus the blue shirt and deafening volume) pitching “New Blood,” the vampire beverage that’s been synthesized from what they claim to be the last few drops of ‘Ms. Hep V Antidote’ Sarah Newlin’s blood left behind. The second glimpse comes three years into the future, with Eric and Pam holding court at the New York Stock Exchange. Then back at Fangtasia, where the very much alive Sarah is chained up in the basement, being pimped out as a blood source at the rate of $100,000 per minute.
Formal gatherings as series send-offs have become a bit of a cliché, and are typically reserved for cheesy sitcoms and teen soaps. But that’s exactly what we get in True Blood’s final minutes. It’s Thanksgiving in Bon Temps and all of its shiny happy residents, current and former, arrive at Stackhouse Manor to eat turkey and get drunk. All the gang’s there, some of them (read: Sam and Jason) now with kids in tow. And then we see a pregnant, and seemingly happy, Sookie.
Throughout the series, both in present time and flashbacks, Sookie has lamented the fact that she’ll never be normal. We only get to see the back of her new man’s head, assuming he is a man at all and not some sort of new fairy-vampire-werewolf-Meanad-shape-shifter-leprechaun hybrid that has recently invaded her tiny town—and with all the sex that’s been happening here over the past seven seasons, is that really so far-fetched? But in the end, she got her wish. As did Bill. You know, that circle of life bullshit.
Final Verdict: True Blood’s last hour won’t go down in the annals of television history among the sloppiest of series finales (the most recent contender for that record is, of course, Dexter’s lumberjack transformation), but Vampire Bill could’ve learned a thing or two from Walter White.
Jennifer Wood writes about movies, television, travel, food, art, technology, cocktails, and beer for a variety of publications, which means that she considers binge-watching The Wire with a bottle of tequila "research." She is also an animal hoarder. She tweets here.