Art by Katie Bacigalupi

WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers for those not caught up on TRUE BLOOD

Looking at all 7 seasons of HBO’s blood-soaked vampire epic TRUE BLOOD, I can tell you that it’s an above average show that definitely has its fair share of “hits” and “misses”. While not for everyone, I can easily recommend it to any like-minded nerds out there looking for their fill of vampire soap opera drama, gore, graphic sex, and frequent drug use. Like most HBO shows, it’s rated M for mature for just about every reason possible. And while I wanted nothing more than for the 7th and final season to end in a blaze of M-rated glory, it ends up just fizzing to a halt in what amounts to one of the most anticlimactic and confusing last seasons in recent memory. I suppose it’s better than getting canceled (*cough* DEADWOOD, CARNIVALE, JOHN FROM CINCINATTI *cough*), but I can’t help but feel that this final season could have (and should have) been so much more. “Disjointed”, “confusing”, “anti-climatic” and “identity crisis” pretty much sums it all up. What a shame.

I think one of the many missteps here in the final season was the lack of any true “villain” or focused story arc. In past seasons we definitely had themes and focal points such a witches, werewolves, and even the Vampire Authority. And who can forget classic villains such as Rene, Warlow, and especially Russell Edgington who may just be one of my favorite TV villains of all time. These are the backbones of each season and really made each year feel fresh, exciting, and unpredictable. In season 7 we get the Hep V disease that slowly (or quickly if you are Bill) kills vampires, and the Yakuza!? Booooooring. In past seasons, the main theme or villain would wreak havoc consuming and destroying the lives of almost everyone in the show ending in a glorious battle or revelation. Here we get a lazily written Hep V arc with a simple and uninteresting cure, and a bunch of sterotypical Yakuza gang members who just sort of conveniently exist  to move some story elements forward. Again, very boring and not memorable in the least. Fans deserved something much better. The trailers for this season (and build up from season 6) had me believing that the vampire disease would be wiping out half the cast, causing mass pandemonium, and possibly even zombie-vampires mindlessly killing and eating everything in their path. Well, we kind of got that, but it just fizzed out, turned out to be just one random town we were not emotionally invested in, and the cure was found very quick in the season destroying any form of danger or suspense that had built up.

So yeah, the story arc here in season 7 was extremely “meh” bordering on just plain boring, but most come to a show like TRUE BLOOD for the characters. They are beautifully eccentric and endearing for the most part. I was extremely anxious to see the fates of my favorite characters (Sam!) and was a bit nervous going in knowing that there were going to be a lot of brutal deaths, betrayals, and plot twists. Well, not really. As it turns out, we get a few insanely uneventful deaths, some confusing choices made by major characters, and really nothing all that interesting making this final season more of a slow and boring bookend to an otherwise wonderful and exciting show.

The biggest misstep has to be the anticlimatic death of both Tara (Rutina Westly) the hot-mess turned vampire-lesbian, and Alcide (Joe Manganiello) the over-protective werewolf that I suppose nobody really gave a shit about in the end. Tara, one of the biggest characters since episode 1, gets an off-screen death right off the bat in this season! Off-screen death! That makes no sense and really disrespects the character and her fans. Besides that, Alcide randomly gets shot in the head by a stray bullet in what goes down as one of the biggest letdown deaths of a character in the history of TV. And the cherry on top? Nobody really gave a shit and even Sookie (who was his girlfriend at the time and lived with him) ended up banging Bill like 2 days later. Poor guy, he just wanted to protect and love Sookie, and when he died, everyone just kind of shrugged it off and he was all but forgotten a few episodes later. Bummer dude. And didn’t people spend like half a season or more mourning the death of Terry (Todd Lowe)? Arlene (Carrie Preston) was still hurt by it until the very end of this series. Why didn’t anyone care about Alcide and no one really cared about Tara besides Tara’s perfectly eccentric low down and regret-filled mom Lettie Mae (Adina Porter)? On a side note, Porter as Lettie Mae is such a great character! Under appreciated!

Sookie (Anna Paquin) is her usual tough-as-nails yet extremely vulnerable self that bounces back and forth between the hunks of TRUE BLOOD. Her arc this season was really all about coming back to Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) as they decided that for better or for worse they are each others true love. Kind of confusing since Bill’s transformation after the “true death” where he was seemingly possessed by a demonic vampire god. Did that just go away? Huh… Ok, whatever, it was Bill again. I will admit I did like Bill’s flashbacks this season even though they only served to re-humanize him and add weight to the shows final moments between him and Sookie. Which brings me to one of the biggest points of confusion. So Bill got the deadly Hep V virus securing his impending true death. Eric found a cure in the form of Sarah Newlin’s (Anna Camp) blood. All is well right!? Drink the damn blood an live! Well not so fast my fellow common-sense thinkers. Even though there was a cure, Bill decides his time is up and he wants to die to spare Sookie of all the danger he invites into her life. His main point of reasoning being that he and Sookie will always be drawn to one another and as long as that happens, Sookie is in danger!? Oooooook, but they made it through thick and thin together already, how much worse could it possibly get? So instead of living together while they had time (Bill is Imortal, Sookie is not), instead of turning Sookie into a Vamp so they could be together forever, and instead of just, oh I dunno, breaking-up, Bill decides he must depart and confront the true death (again…). He wants Sookie to be happy, have kids, and enjoy life while she can. I guess I understand that he loved her so much that the only way for her to be truly happy was for him to exit stage left. I dunno, it all seemed sort of hammy and out of place. Grr, maybe the romantic in me just wanted them to live together forever happily ever after (no, I’m not crying…YOU ARE! Leave me alone!)

And speaking of flashbacks (Bill had some remember?), the highlight of this season by far was the 80’s flashbacks chronicling Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) and Pam’s (Kristin Bauer van Straten) first encounters with Bon Temps as they went from lowly video store owners to the king and queen of their club Fangtasia. It was especially awesome to see Ginger’s (Tara Buck) back story and her expanding obsession with Eric. On top of that, she gets a little something something from Eric this season that was just perfect to watch. Overall, if it were not for these hilarious flashbacks (Eric and Pam in the 80’s is just perfect), the season would have been an even larger dissapointment.

This season also sees the return of Hoyt (Jim Parrack) after Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) mind-wiped him a few season back for his own protection. It was great seeing him return an added a nostalgic flare to the show echoing the first few seasons. And present, but to the side since there are so many damn characters in this show, was Jason (Ryan Kwanten), Sam (Sam Trammell), Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis), Arlene, Andy (Chris Bauer), and even a few spiritual peeks at Terry for good measure. Most of these character arcs are nothing to write home about. Jason is back to his usual sex-addicted ways until he meets Hoyt’s ex-girlfriend Brigette (Ashley Hinshaw) who wants to make an honest man out of him, Sam peacefully retreats to live the family life with a baby on the way, Lafayette finds solace in a vampire man that accepts him for who he is, Arlene comes to grips with Terry’s loss (still…), and Andy settles down a bit with his love Holly (Lauren Bowles). Nothing really huge to speak of for any of these characters all culminating in a final scene where all the surviving members of the show are eating dinner together at Sookie’s in a reunion of sorts. And Sookie is there with a faceless bearded man we never get to meet along with some kids. So was Bill’s sacrifice justified or is Sookie miserable without him and just settled on the next ripped dude that entered into her life. I suppose the answer to that lies within each person and may differ depending on your overall outlook on life. Me, I think Bill and Sookie should have been together forever. Kids aren’t everything. True love trumps all right!? And come on, their love even had a familiar musical theme that came on whenever they were near each other and in the mooooooood!

It’s clear that season 7 of HBO’s TRUE BLOOD was a bookend to a wonderful show. The problem is that nothing really noteworthy really happened, and anything that could be considered noteworthy was kind of confusing. Sure it was great seeing some flashbacks that helped flesh out some of the story and characters, but it just wasn’t enough to consider this season a success in my book. What could have been an exciting and unforgettable season turned into quite the opposite. And that’s hard to admit because I love this show so much and have stuck with it since the beginning. No clear theme or villain, too many characters with uninteresting endings, boring and anticlimatic events , and an overall sense of “why” pollute this season into being nothing more than a mediocre sendoff to a show that deserved much better. Sure there were a handful of fun moments, and a great sense of nostalgia for fans of the show, but it was all just a little unsatisfying. The silver lining is that these characters deserved a break and some time to just be happy. The characters that survived got that in the end, but for a show like TRUE BLOOD where gore, sex, and drugs are the order of the day, it just wasn’t enough. If I was in the writers room here, we would have had an awesome villain wreaking havoc on Bon Temps one last time filling the show with epic deaths and sacrifices (that make sense), some added danger to make things exciting, more character twists and betrayals, and just a larger amount of fun. Sure it’s all so easy for me to say, but I think most who saw this show all the way through would agree that we just needed more fun and chaos from a show that really set a standard for fun and chaos.

Final Score: 5 out of 10