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September 14, 2011  | by: Kerri O'Malley

Now that the shock of last weekend’s True Blood Season 4 finale has finally begun to wear off, I’m ready to wallow in the gore and glory a bit more.  This has definitely been the most divisive season of True Blood ever, with bloggers and fans crying out against the unending stream of pointless story lines and vomit-inducing melodrama.  Even that so-so storyline involving Maryann, that lady with the crazy animal head who made everybody have sex all the time a few seasons back, seems totally cohesive and valid compared to this season’s onslaught of ridiculousness — at least it involved more sex.

Yet, in an unexpectedly shocking end to an otherwise boring season, the Season 4 finale reeked of death, literally killing off a bunch of going-nowhere mini-plots (and thank god for that).  But it also had a strange sense of re-animation, not just for the dead characters of seasons past, but for past story lines and perhaps the series in general.  In its wake, former detractors have been left relatively speechless and suddenly excited for next summer’s blood mania.  But did the season finale really justify the entire season or was it just a bandage over bad plot lines?  Does Season 5 stand a chance at redeeming the franchise after a summer full of upset fans?

To properly answer these questions and determine the true damage done by this season, I propose a survey of the good and the bad from the Season 4 finale and its hints at what’s to come.  Beware, untimely True Blood fans.  Spoilers abound!

Good: Sookie is Quitting Vampires For Real This Time…I Hope. After yet another Alcide lecture and the realization that vampire threesomes might not be her thing after all (dammit), Sookie seems to have finally, and let me emphasize FINALLY, made a decision about the whole Eric v. Bill thing: She’s walking away.  It’s about time.  I know that a few episodes ago, I was advocating a continued Sookie-and-evil-vampire relationship, but that was when Bill and Eric both looked (briefly) bad.  The last two episodes have seen Bill & Eric ponder double-suicide for the sake of Sookie, then later whimper and bat their eyes as Sookie let them suck on her wrists post-Marnie’s Blood-Suckers BBQ.  “You saved both of us,” Bill coos as Eric looks into Sookie’s eyes longingly…and I hold the chunks back in my throat on the couch.  That whole scene was the most torturous, drawn-out, annoying scene of the whole finale, but I’m glad to have sat through it if it means that Sookie really can move on and release Bill and Eric from her love slave cage, less for her sake than for theirs.  That whole love triangle is dragging everybody down and squeezing the fun out of all the characters involved.  But of course, Sookie can’t be alone for long, which leads us to…

The Shape of Things to Come

Good: Sookie is Going to Bang Alcide (Hopefully A Lot) Next Season. So now that Sookie has dumped Eric and Bill, there’s only one clear path for her, and it leads straight into the wide-open arms of Alcide.  “We should try harder to follow our brains, not our hearts, Sook.  Remember that time you said if you were smart you would love me?”  Geez, Alcide. Can you hint any louder?  Do you already have the hotel room keys in your pocket?  Despite the fact that Sookie shot his ex-girlfriend in the head, I have a feeling this wolf is gonna be howling for Sookie pretty soon.  Even though watching Alide and Sookie have sex will probably be like watching an 18 wheeler crush a sports car, any excuse to see that scruffy lumberjack of a werewolf naked is a good excuse.

Bad: Alcide is Turning into Sookie’s Dad. I half expect next season to start off with Alcide saying, “Sook, I am your father.”  It seems like just when we’re finally going to get the chance to sleep with Alcide — I mean, watch Sookie sleep with him, ahem — True Blood‘s writers are ruining it for us once again.  They already took Eric away from us earlier this season, thus ruining all of the Sookie-on-Eric sex scenes.  Did they have to do the same for Alcide too?  All Alcide has done this entire season is give Sookie annoying fatherly advice about who she should and shouldn’t love.  Enough with the lecutres, Daddy-o.  I want to embrace your future love affair with Sookie without feeling like we’re indulging in blondie’s latent daddy issues.  Gross.

Lafayette or Mr. T?

Good: Debbie, Jesus and Tara Are Dead. Call me a heartless bitch, but I’m so glad all of those characters bit the dust.  I guess the most innocent and unnecessary death out of the three would have to be Tara.  All that Tara’s done this season is her usual Tara thing: get involved in some evil magic, find some dead bodies, whine a lot, and save Sookie’s life.  But it was getting pretty old.  I didn’t long for her death, but now that it’s here, I’m not complaining.  As for Jesus and Debbie, I have to admit a little overt longing.  Debbie had her awesome moments, but her character had become little more than an obvious roadblock between Alcide and Sookie’s hook-up.  Jesus was a broken record, providing the most “duh” moments of the entire season (although he did kill it with that Pokemon cards line in the finale) and drawing out that magical subplot for way too long.  His death was necessary for the Marnie plot and our sanity, and only unfortunate for one reason, which is…

Bad: Lafayette Is Going to Continue to Suck A Lot Next Season. Remember when Lafayette was hilarious? Those were the days…This season (and last), Lafayette has done little but cower, whine and cry.  I’m sick of it.  I want the sass back, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to be possible with Jesus and Tara both dead.  Lafayette will probably mourn for most, if not all, of the next season and all the seasons to come, until the writers finally decide to kill him off too cause they don’t know what to do with him.  Not cool.

Bad: Our Favorite Vampires Suck A Lot Too. Aside from a last-minute mass be-heading and awesome “gay stormtroopers” line, our favorite vamps, Eric, Pam, and Jessica, have been looking a little paler than usual this season. Even on the other side of his infantile memory loss stage, Eric is still all gooey-eyed and earnest, while Pam’s turned into a sopping wreck without his approval, crying on Ginger’s shoulder like a little girl, and Jessica’s sleeping with tiny-face Jason in a story line that’s only bound for more melodrama (at least it comes with hot sex scenes).  Where did our badasses go?  Pam and Eric used to be nothing but cold and calculating.  I miss their cold stares and witty lines.  But hopefully this is all about to turn around thanks to Sookie’s rejection and a whole host of plot twists, because it looks like…

Good: Vampires Are About to Get Awesome Again. With Sookie out of their romantic horizons, Bill and Eric are already looking cooler next season, but the vampire fun doesn’t stop there.  With the shocking death of the American Vampire League’s Nan and the wrath of The Authority headed towards Bon Temps’ vampire duo, Bill and Eric are in a whole lot of (exciting) trouble already.  But add to that the possible return of previously-encased-in-concrete Russell Edgington, and things are definitely getting interesting.  His return may kill the political vibe of this season’s vampire moments and add some much-needed evil back in.

Nan spent the whole season recovering from the Edgington effect, and the Vampire equal rights plot line suffered greatly because of it, even though it was an important part of the True Blood premise.  Bringing Edgington back may kill that part of the show off once and for all, for better or worse, but at this point, all I really care about is adding more excitement back in.  Edgington was always good for that. He obviously had accomplices in his escape, so there must be a breed of Russell supporters out there.  It’s possible that Eric may even know something about this, as Nan hinted that Eric has ties to anti-Authority factions right before she died.  Will there be an uprising against The Authority next season?  Will we finally meet The Authority?  What the hell will Russell Edgington’s return do to the state of vampires?  Also, the Reverend from Season 2 is a vampire?  What does that have to do with anything?  Is True Blood actually intriguing again?

Bring the Funny Back, True Blood!

When we add it all up, we’ve still lost a whole season dealing with a witch who didn’t turn out to be much of a threat after all, just to end up back at the beginning with a number of worn-out characters left in the dust and a whole lot of old faces thrown back in again.  After a season of dead story lines, repetitive scenes, and a serious lack of humor, the finale didn’t manage to justify what we just sat through, but it did rekindle hope for Season 5 in this ice-cold heart of mine.  Between the fairy sex and the messages from the dead, it seems that even Andy and Arlene are bound for more interesting plot lines next year.  I hope that Season 5 will take the many truly interesting subplots it created in this finale episode to fruition and manage to tie them together much more cohesively next year, while re-invigorating its old dry humor.  With True Blood, there’s little left to do but hang on and hope.

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