Live and Let Die

September 19, 2011 in 4.12 And When I Die, Episodes, True Blood

In this week’s finale of True Blood, we learn that runny yolks can kill, table salt brings grannies back to life, pork rind casseroles keep families together, and even lame parties end up in the kitchen when Debbie Pelt’s invited…

Sink your teeth into some spoilery commentary after the jump…

Well, it’s been a whole week since last Sunday’s finale—long enough for the gaping head wound left by season four’s last installment to crust over. So it’s a good thing I’m finally here to pick that shotgun shell-sized scab right off!

Let’s relive the madness for old times’ sake, shall we?

Stabby Side Up

The finale begins over Halloween morning breakfast at the Velasquez-Reynolds household, where Jesus has prepared a nutritious, non-pig-fat-fried meal for his beloved possessed boyfriend.

Lafayette’s acting all weird—you know, because he’s actually Marnie—but Jesus chalks it up to the traumatic events of the previous evening, and declares that he’s prepared to put magic behind them for good if that’s what Lafayette wants. Unfortunately, he realizes a little too late that they’re both in deep shit already, and ends up with his hand unceremoniously skewered by a yolky fork.

TOTALLY SAW THAT COMING… and was not disappointed at all.

Marnie ties Jesus up to a chair in Lafayette’s living room, explaining that she wants his magic and that she’s more than willing to go to great lengths to get it. Jesus gives her a lecture about how loneliness and the pursuit of power have corrupted her, but when she threatens to mutilate Lafayette’s unwilling body, he ultimately gives in and starts reciting his BRRRUJO incantations.

Then, of course, Marnie stabs Jesus and licks his blood, effectively killing him and stealing his demon in one fell swoop. But it’s all good, because as Jesus later tells Lafayette, he would’ve just died with an ass full of bedsores in a nursing home somewhere, anyway.  Besides, now that Lafayette’s a medium, being alive and/or undead is no longer necessary in order for any given cast member to ride this ride.

Thusly, next summer, I expect we’ll finally get that much-anticipated Jesus and Lafayette sex scene we’ve all been waiting for. Maybe Louisiana will even pass a new human/ghost marriage law so that they can top it off with a totally fabulous wedding, officiated by Tio Luca himself.

And you said you weren’t going to watch next season.  

Casserole With the Punches

Meanwhile, in the Bon Temps Cemetery, Sam lays his dearly departed brother to rest with a moment of silence at the saddest gravesite we’ve seen since Eggs decided to disappear into True Blood history, never to be mentioned again.

Maxine Fotenberry arrives to pay her respects, confessing to Sam that Tommy was like a son to her, even though he stole her underwear and church shoes and sold her house out from under her (which she obviously doesn’t know about yet). And in a rare moment of maternal compassion, she offers Sam a pork rind casserole and tells him to call her Momma, because THEY’RE THE ONLY FAMILY THEY’VE GOT.

You know, if you don’t count Hoyt, who might as well just walk around wearing a toilet seat around his neck at this point.

Later, Luna and Emma show up, and Sam spends the day parading his girlfriend’s daughter around his bar so that she can tell everyone how cool she is with her Dad being dead. He also gives Sookie her job back, even though it’s clear that the only reason the writers had her punching in today was so that Alcide could beg her to follow her brain and drop her drawers for him.

I mean, it’s been a whole 12 hours since he abjured Debbie. Werewolves have needs, you know.

Meanwhile, Terry Bellefleur’s old war buddy shows up at Merlotte’s, and as much as I’d like to get excited over a storyline that dredges up the skeletons of his past, I just can’t—even though I’m pretty sure this new guy is part of the trouble about which Ghost Rene later warned Arlene in his fake Cajun accent. Suffice to say that it looks like Terry is shaping up to take over as next year’s walking, talking Port-A-Pot, which should come as a great relief to Hoyt.

Anyway, later that evening, Sam finally says goodnight to Luna, only to find a werewolf snarling behind him. Who could it be??? A member of the Shreveport pack, perhaps?? Or maybe even Terry’s new old war buddy?

Does anyone really care?

Graveyard Short Shrift

Back at Lafayette’s house, Tara finds Jesus’ corpse and immediately knows what’s up—so she collects Sookie and a very stoned Holly to go deal with Marnie once and for all. Marnie, meanwhile, has been busy killing all of Bill’s guards and silvering him and Eric to a stake in preparation for a Samhain barbecue.

Don’t ask me how Marnie accomplished this, since she no longer possesses Antonia’s necromancy powers.

The important part is that Sookie gets to cry over Bill and Eric before breaking out with a convenient case of sternohands again.

Shortly after, Holly, Tara, and Sookie begin to chant in their salt circle, at which time, a whole bunch of dead people—including Gran and Antonia—show up to see what all the fuss is about. Luckily, it seems that Gran has been busy practicing the art of exorcism in the afterlife, because she’s somehow able to rip Marnie’s spirit out of Lafayette so that she and Antonia can put all of the neat stuff they learned on Dr. Phil to good use.

So it is that, after a whole lot of platitudinous protest, Marnie finally whines her way into the afterlife with Antonia… and all those other random ghosts… and GRAN. Because change is hard, we all die alone, and the answer is in your heart. Or something.

THE END.

That’s right—Marnie’s character raises literal Hell all season long, only to be defeated by a pound of Morton’s. And GRAN. And once again, the audience is beaten over the head with an anything-but-subtle exposition on anger and forgiveness in the finale, courtesy of cringe-worthy dialogue that falls out of the characters’ mouths about as gracefully as a horse on roller skates.

I wanted to hide behind my couch during the entire mess, you guys. That’s how embarrassed I was for this show on Sunday night.

Sofa King Stupid

Speaking of couches and embarrassment, don’t think I’ve failed to notice that, all season long, this show has gone to great pains to put Bill in an Eric suit and Eric in a Bill suit—quite literally, you’ll find, if you peruse even a handful of screencaps. And in the finale, it appears that we’re finally offered the culmination of this subliminal strategy: Bill and Eric on either side of Sookie, sporting Randolph and Mortimer robes while they suck her tasty blood and she actively tries not to cream her fairy panties.

Needless to say, it’s not a good look on anyone… including (and maybe especially) Sookie.

Was this the intention? I don’t know—and I don’t know if I care, either. Because, however you interpret it, there were so many things wrong with this scene, I don’t even know where to start.

Should Sookie “forgive” Bill? HELL YES, SHE SHOULD. As this show is so fond of reminding us, anger—the granddaddy of all emotional afflictions—is a cancer that will eat away at our psyche until there’s nothing left but a stinking metaphorical carcass. Luckily, forgiveness is an excellent solution to that problem.

But you know what? It’s also a process—one that hasn’t been explored in the least with Sookie’s character this season, making for both a horribly wasted opportunity as well as a disingenuous resolution to this fucked up “triangle,” even as Sookie does the right thing and walks away from both vampires.

In fact, I’d be totally behind Sookie forgiving Bill—even within the exaggerated timeline of the show—if she didn’t also feel the need to justify his past behavior as an act of love in the process, and in the next breath, ask for his forgiveness in return.

Take it away one more time, Stefon…

SERIOUSLY, YOU GUYS. I have nothing more to say about this little nugget. Except that, as someone who has buried the hatchet with a few shitty exes in the past, that’s NOT really how it works.

But unfortunately, it appears as though the writers have decided to sacrifice believable storytelling in order to turn this finale into a soapy, supernatural episode of The Bachelorette—made all the worse by the empty ballsack formerly known as Eric Northman’s pathetic excitement when he thought he was getting the last rose, not to mention Sookie’s ridiculous blubbering after making “the hardest decision of her life” and choosing to spend some time alone.

Really, writers??? REALLY.

Excuse me while I go throw shit and scream about Sookie’s precious fairy vagina like my girl Pam—whose all-too-brief scene, by the way, was probably the best meta moment of the entire series.

source

If only Ginger could have come and hugged me as my respect for this show died a sad, degrading death before my very eyes.

And while we’re on the subject of sad, degrading deaths…

Nan ends the episode in a bloody heap next to her decapitated Spaceball Squad, after Eric gives Bill a verbal rim job in her presence and she lets both of them know that Sookie’s secret isn’t so secret after all. Of course, this isn’t a particularly helpful move, as she also explains that The Authority has an order on their heads—or at least, one of the “factions” do.

Which means everyone can start getting excited for another nonsensical political storyline next season. Or, alternatively, aforementioned “factions” and “orders” may never be mentioned again. We just never do know, now do we?

Little Red Riding Wood

Elsewhere in Bon Temps, Jason decides to end the struggle with his conscience by manning up and telling Hoyt that he banged Jessica. After a quick pep talk and a pat of his truck, he finally confesses, and Hoyt reacts pretty much the way one would expect him to—by kicking Jason’s ass, and telling him that he’s a piece of shit for moving in on his best friend’s ex when he could have had anyone else, and that he’s an even bigger piece of shit for trying to blame his fucked up choices on Jessica’s blood.

THESE ARE TRUE FACTS, HOYT.

Later that night, Jessica shows up at Jason’s house sporting lingerie and a red cloak, while Jason tends to his wounds with frozen fruit pops. And at this point, I kind of wish that the entire finale consisted solely of Jason eating popsicles, because he’s an adorable manwhore, and I probably would have enjoyed it more than 99 percent of everything else on offer.

Anyway, Jess and Jason do the nasty, remaining ever vigilant in ensuring that nary a nipple is seen.

And then, they stop right in the middle of said sexytime session to have a conversation about their “relationship.”

Yeah… about that

I realize that, for Jessica, this season has been all about spreading her wings and embracing her sexual independence. Nevertheless, I find this character’s swift transition from homeschooled, teen-aged, perpetual virgin to sexy siren capable of seducing the likes of Jason Stackhouse just a little bit jarring and hard to swallow. And I won’t even bother to mention Jason’s lack of sexual trauma after the whole Hotshot debacle—because understandably, it’s been brought up quite enough already.

My point is, I really want to root for these two as a couple. But the fact is, they just don’t make a whole lot of sense—aside from the fact that both of them could obviously do worse in the fuckbuddy department.

It seems like a lot of trouble to go to for a lay. I’m just saying.

Kitchen Nightmares

Meanwhile, Jason isn’t the only one getting surprise visitors this evening, as Debbie shows up with a gun in Sookie’s kitchen and aims for Sookie, but shoots Tara instead. And then, of course, Sookie shoots Debbie, while Debbie begs for her life.

All in the last 30 seconds of the episode… but not without the requisite ZOMG, DEAD GRAN and LET’S WATCH THE SUNSET TOGETHER foreshadowing.

I’m sorry, but Debbie Pelt deserved better than that. With the way they actually fleshed out her character this season, she deserved a magnum opus of a swan song before her eventual death—you know, instead of being tacked onto the end of the episode like an afterthought, toting a double-barrel shotgun and looking like she was just teleported back from a Mötley Crüe concert circa 1984.

I don’t know about you, but I expected a lot more—and I feel that both the event and Debbie’s character were just a little bit wasted here.

Tara, on the other hand, probably deserved considerably less, given the beating her character gave the proverbial dead horse this season. But I do like to think that maybe this was the show’s way of telling us that it WAS her gun that shot Sookie… and that, maybe, this was Tara’s way of making amends for her mistake.

One thing I will give the show: I honestly didn’t think for a second that they would kill off Tara—though with the way the character has been consistently spinning her self-contradictory wheels, I can’t call it an entirely unwelcome development.

But then, we don’t know that she’s really dead, anyway. As many in the fandom have already pointed out, there’s the distinct possibility that she’ll be turned into a vampire—which would be an interesting little narrative experiment, given her hatred for everything and anything with fangs, not to mention an appropriately ironic turn for her character.

With all that said, however, I’m pretty sure I saw some brains in her puddle of blood—so it’s just as likely that, YES, she’s actually dead. Not that this would pose any more of a permanent loss, since this episode effectively removed all the narrative tension that would otherwise result from aforementioned death, by allowing everyone and their decapitated mother to communicate with Lafayette… or at least go to live in that Great Big Photoshop Job in the Sky with Gran.

In any case, they always come back. At this point, watching True Blood is a lot like being one of those family members on Hoarders who finds a broken cat-shit-covered carnival prize from 1973 sitting in the living room, after it was just thrown in the 1-800-GOT-JUNK dumpster thirty minutes earlier.

Rotten to the Encore

In the interest of ending this segment of the recap on a more positive note, let me take a moment to squeal a little over a couple of cliffhangery developments that do have me excited—namely, the return of my two all-time favorite bad guys, Steve Newlin and Russell Edgington.

First, Steve knocks on Jason’s door in the middle of the night dressed like a villain from an 80s movie. He then shamelessly ogles the elder Stackhouse’s manbits, before—TA-DAH!—he flashes a new set of fangs.

Is it a costume??? Is it real??? I’m going with the latter, if only because of the way said fangs popped out. But time will tell—and either way, his return is a welcome one, even if I am a little confused as to why he would show up at Jason’s doorstep after being missing for months. This, ladies and gentleman, is one random plot development I can stand by.

Then there’s Russell, who we knew would be returning… but that didn’t make it any less titillating when I heard his operatic theme resurface in the background as Alcide stared, puzzled, at the abandoned silver chains in his hands.

Surely, I was not the only one who yelled TAAAAAALBOOOOOT!!!! from my couch.

So who let him out? From what Alcide’s employee said, it seems it was another vampire. And if I had to guess, I’d go with Nan herself. She was just about ready to FUCK THE AUTHORITY before Eric and Bill decided to stake her out of existence—and releasing Russell Edgington would pretty much be the vampire equivalent of shitting in the water tank of your boss’ private toilet on your way out the door.

In any case, the mere thought of having a double-dose of awesomely campy evil in a single season is enough to make my head explode. And it’s a good thing, too, because this finale ran more than a little short on reasons to return next summer.

In Summary…

Do I even really need to summarize?

I could go on for pages and pages about the painfully obvious themes of “And When I Die”—the impermanence of life, the destructiveness of fear and anger, the futility of the human concept of justice, and the spiritual imperatives of compassion, clarity, and forgiveness, just to name a few. Alan Ball’s self-professed Buddhist leanings shone through brightly in this episode—especially in the scenes featuring Lafayette, Jesus, Gran, and Marnie—and while the execution was saccharine and ham-fisted, I do appreciate the now-trademark sentiment.

And I think it’s both appropriate and brilliantly ironic in the context of this show’s subject matter. While we spend the entirety of our human lives fearing the dark unknown that comes after life, the truth of the matter is that life is a painful hell unto itself—and the undead are damned specifically because they’ll never die, and never experience the eternal peace that comes with true freedom from attachment and affliction.

But you know… that lovely little chestnut doesn’t change the fact that this finale was a huge disappointment to me.

As both a genuine fan and a viewer who appreciates character-driven television, I expect so much more from showrunner Alan Ball, whose work I have always enjoyed immensely. And yet, if the series went off the rails three episodes ago, then it’s safe to say that this episode careened True Blood into full on train-wreck territory… leaving me with horrible flashbacks to season two’s ostrich-egg-meets-Yahtzee-meets-premature-proposal finale of FAIL.

But at least that finale still had consistent character development… which is more than I can say for this one. Following suit with the handful of episodes before it, this episode took four years’ worth of its own history and turned it on its head, sacrificing credibility in order to promote the thematic agenda du jour, instead of painstakingly crafting the characters’ actions to service the show’s message in an effortless way.

In short, Sunday’s finale told the story it should have been showing. And all it managed to do was rip me right out of this series’ world—while simultaneously making it very difficult to take any of the aforementioned themes seriously—as a result.

On the bright side, it had camp value in spades—I’ll give it that. But sadly, aforementioned camp wasn’t executed even half as intelligently (or maybe even intentionally) as it needed to be in order to save what little creative integrity this show seems to have left. And this obvious failure is the main reason why I can’t help but think that both Alan Ball and his team of writers have lost just a little bit of the enthusiasm they once had for this project… because there’s no question that, over the course of this summer, I most definitely have.

In twelve short weeks, the fourth season has come and gone, and I feel just a little bit dumber because of it. It’s been a frustrating and fun ride—the former because Alan Ball and company obviously picked up the crack pipe this year, and the latter because the fourth season wasn’t without its high points, the plateaus of which I was at least able to mercilessly ridicule with all of you.

I really can’t tell you how much I love reading your intelligent, insightful, and routinely hilarious comments every week… and there just aren’t words to express how happy it makes me to be able to make you laugh. Most importantly, SVB, I can’t possibly thank you enough for giving me the chance to take up space on this amazing blog you have created, or for the time and care you’ve put into making it one of the most popular fansites of its kind on the internet.

For the last two years, sharing this show with all of you has been the highlight of my summer… and that’s why it is with great sadness that I announce my official retirement from the recapping biz.

As you may already know, my first tiny teacup human is on his way, due to arrive this December. Suffice to say that next summer’s spare hours will almost certainly be devoted to dirty diapers and strained peas in the MASpencer household—so as it turns out, the supreme suckage of the latter half of this season couldn’t have been more timely.

In fact, I like to think the writers were just trying to make this easier for me… because, well, I’m a narcissist like that. Which means that, while my weekly recap may be no more, I still hope to see you around the forum… where I can spend what little free time I have left assaulting you with tangential Steel Magnolias references and offering copious unsolicited details about the consistency of my adorable new baby’s poop.

Until then, stay classy, Sookieverse… and sound off, for the last time, below!

Related Posts with Thumbnails