True Blood has always been a little bit frustrating to watch but at the same time it has never been a show without its merits. The series unique blend of supernatural drama, romance and social-allegory did separate it from a lot of the other prestige-drama shows on TV. After six seasons however, even this formula has begun to wear thin. Unfortunately, True Blood’s final series ends up being more of a manifestation of its worst aspects rather than a swan song for the show’s best quirks.
The elephant in the room here is Season 7’s overarching plot – or more accurately, the lack thereof. The show’s biggest plot-thread (Sookie’s Fey-heritage and betrothment to Warlow) was more-or-less completely resolved last season and it’s left True Blood in an awkward place where it can’t really build up in drama or tensions except by systematically killing off its main cast.
Although the Season attempts to shake things up by forcing vampires and humans to work together, the show constantly feels like it’s spinning in creative circles rather than towards some kind of substantial narrative outcome or climax.There are a few attempts at dramatic storytelling here with the series regular’s struggling against the Hep V epidemic and those infected by it (as well as an grueling subplot which drags Sarah Newlin and the Yakimono Corporation back into the mix) but nothing sticks and it all feels like wasted-screentime and a backdrop while we watch the residents of Bon Temps drop dead one by one.
True Blood’s ability to balance out its approach to vampires such that it can appeal to fans of both vampire-horror and vampire-romance crowds has always been one of its stronger aspects. Sadly, the series final ten episodes end up leaning far more heavily on the latter side of things – to both the detriment of the series greater mythology and the development of its characters.
This goes hand in hand with series favorites like Lafayette, Eric, Sam and Pam being marginalized for much of the season – and don’t even get me started on Tara. The one credit I will give the writers this time around is that they finally got some semblance of a grip on writing dialogue for Pam – something they dropped the ball on last season after showrunner Alan Ball’s departure. There’s also a half-dozen new vampire characters who get thrown into the mix but it’s hard to care about them given that their late-arrival on the show means they almost certainly won’t play into the endgame.
There’s been a long standing sentiment amongst fans that Sookie’s plotlines have always been the weakest part of the show in spite of her being the series protagonist. Season 7 gives Sookie a bit more screentime to play with but fails to prove this assessment of the show wrong. Her, Bill and Alcide spend most of the season standing still and repeating the same cringeworthy declarations of love we’ve all seen in this show dozens of times before.
It’s not all bad. There’s one particularly strong episode (‘Death is not the End’) and more than a few fun dialogue moments. For as many characters who meet their end in infuriatingly lacklustre and corny ways, there are a handful of character arcs that stay true to their original course and stick the landing with some thematic and emotional resonance
Although there is a nice theme of mortality underlying the final season of True Blood, it abandons almost all the series’ previously redeeming aspects to commit to the love story which, although technically the ‘heart’ of the series, has always been it’s weakest part.