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True Blood Season Finale Review: Some Deaths, Lots of Dialogue

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My goodness, that was tedious.

I will do my best to write a reasonable, well thought-out critique of the True Blood finale, "And When I Die," but it may be difficult to not simply vent incoherently after such an abysmal conclusion to a season that kicked off with such promise.

Lafayette as a Medium

Let's start by considering the climax to the Marnie storyline: without any build-up, Bill and Eric are suddenly chained together in a field. Holly, who has spent more time on the sidelines this season than a professional football coach, chants a bit and casts a spell that awakens some dead people.

Enter Adele Stackhouse, who pulls Marnie out of Lafayette's throat, and Antonia, who talks Marnie through her angst and convinces her that everything will be okay. Then, the drama is simply over, as all three spirits wander out, Fields of Dreams style, into the cemetery.

Seriously. That was how the most significant arc of season four concluded. Moreover, it was the only action sequence - can we even call it an action sequence? - of the entire episode.

For a show based around blood and gore and sex and violence, everyone pretty much just talked for an hour.

Sookie and Tara foreshadowed the latter's death by saying they hope they grow old together; Sam and Mrs. Fortenberry chatted about Tommy; Alcide opened up to Sookie; Steve Newlin is apparently a vampire; heck, Rene even figured he'd get into the dialogue-heavy action, offering up a warning to Arlene; and then, to top the tedium off, Sookie spent 10 minutes breaking up with both Bill and Eric.

It was excruciatingly boring execution, playing out as if Alan Ball and company truly had no more season four plot. They just had to kill 55 minutes until they could throw in a couple of season five teases in the closing moments.

Terry has a mysterious past; Bill and Eric are now on the same team and will be going up against the Authority; Russell Edgington is coming back (a development we all knew would take place the moment Bill and Eric chose not to kill him last year); and, oh yeah, Tara is dead.*

(*She damn well better be. If this is nothing but a misdirection, and she's saved by vampire blood next season, there's no hope for the show. There has to be actual consequences; it's a major cop-out and it would remove all drama from the series if everyone just gets revived all the time via vampire blood. Plus, A PIECE OF HER HEAD WAS BLOWN OFF.)

Not a Puppy!

I can scarcely even celebrate that fact, though, considering the random nature of her murder. It was just another example of the lack of coherence to the episode. Shouldn't season finales feel as if the previous three months has led you to a certain point? As if everything is coming together and you can hardly wait to see what happens? Did anyone get that feeling at all from "And When I Die?" Or do you share my irritated sentiment that it was a series of conversations just tossed together until a couple supposedly shocking scenes at the end?

Yes, I grew tense in the concluding couple scenes, but not because the episode did a solid job of leading me to that point. Instead, so little had actually taken place, I was simply anxious because I figured something had to happen. That's not good storytelling.

And don't even get me started on the fairies, or lackthereof! Were the writers simply playing a joke on us? I can picture them sharing a good laugh together, having successfully introduced fairy land in the premiere, only to ignore the arc again until one of these creatures had sex with Andy in the woods last week, and then not saying one word about that act or Sookie's pals on the finale.

Will it come up again next season? Maybe? Probably? But this has become a constant problem for True Blood: nothing is ever resolved. Things either fizzle out or get dragged out, with the goal to seemingly lead viewers on from week to week and season to season. The goal of the show is to tease us, never to reward us, and I'm fed up with it.

I'll stop my ranting now because I'm curious to hear from readers. Were you satisfied with the episode? Did it feel like a conclusion to season four or a teaser for season five? Will you miss Tara? And is this line, the only highlight of the finale for me, the funniest thing Pam has ever said?

Pam: I am so over Sookie and her precious fairy vagina and her unbelievably stupid name. F**k Sookie! | permalink

Review

Editor Rating: 2.1 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.5 / 5.0 (587 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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I didn't like this season for sure but what I don't understand is why everyone assumes Tara is dead? Anyone shot whether grazed or not would have the wind blown out of them and knocked into a tizzy with a gun like Debbie had. If you looked how the shot went it hit the window and glass was flying that hit her. I don't think she is dead personally but I guess we shall see. I don't think if they cut Tara the show will be the same and some will lose interest. She is a necessary character in my opinion. I liked that Eric and Bill were working together now. I never liked the Nan character...good riddance. I am not sure what happened with Sam since they moved away from a scene with a werewolf growling at him and then Debbie showed up at Sookie's. She is actually the main character all these stories are suppose to revolve around her. Ball hasn't exactly followed the books, he seems to think he knows better to the point that his writers, in my opinion, have ruined the show. There is too much of everything. I hated the demise of Jesus. That was a good storyline and I really liked the actor. He was excellent in his part. Some of the others, I could care less. I never liked the Marnie character and thought it downright stupid. No witch, or Wiccan would do what he portrayed but it is fantasy of course. The salt circle was very appropriate. There were a lot of things to cover to end the season and that is why they couldn't show everything explicitly. I got it so why didn't others? Some are saying elsewhere that this is the best season but personally, I thought it the worst. Tone down the sexual encounters and show some actual character building rather than glitz and fluffy shock value scenes and a less maudlin Sookie.

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Can't really agree with that. True Blood has in my opinion been getting weaker and weaker with every season since the first, this season finale was the first episode in a while I really enjoyed - especially because of the end. I didn't like the whole fairy-world stuff in the entire last season, so good riddance to that and thank you for not putting in more of the stuff!
Same for werepanthers - I even think the word is stupid. It was FAR from perfect though: Marnie coming back was boring and not to well thought-out, the 'big rescue' of Bill and Eric was just lame. Sook breaking up with the 2 of them dragged on forever (I actually skipped some of it on my tivo), although I think it was one of the most believable and sensible things Sook has done within the last 2 seasons. Does it sound terrible when I say I liked Jesus dieing? I did like is character as being a altogether good guy and sympathetic. But he always was more of a plot device and sidekick, so killing him makes sense from a storytelling point of view.
Jas & Jes are a nice little side-story, let's see where they take this.
Eric and Bill killing Nan, probably the second best moment in the season, and very promising concerning the 5th.
Tara being killed and Sook shooting Debbie dead: best moment in the whole season for me. I'll really miss her character, but drama series do require, well, drama and struggle and grief. Finally someone had the guts to put that back in TB. As for the teasers on season 5: Rene uttering some weird kind of warning about Terry - not really interested yet, but let's see.
Revolt against the AVL and Authority: Yes please! The potential for intrigue, betrayal, corrupt politics, I'm very much looking forward to this.
Edgington (possibly) returning: I can't see a way to generate a lot of plot from this, but certainly a whole lot of action and tenseness.
Newlin is back and a vampire: seems a bit weird to me, I'll have to wait and see... Overall I liked that there was a denser plot for once - something I missed in pretty much every episode from 3x01 till 4x10. So I really don't think the episode was to dialoge-heavy. More like the last 20 or so had a lack thereof. But I guess everyone has different expectations and therefore different opinions on TB :)

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I also find it crazy that vampires would get anywhere near a Necromancer. Eric and Bill are centuries old, although you could sense they felt immediate danger....a real necromancer can raise all the dead, including the whole cemetery and control any vampire the necromancer chooses, but the necromancer has to use their own blood to control the dead. I mean, it is fiction, so it can be written how they writer chooses, but I would have done it differently. Seems to me that Eric or Bill would not have taken the chance to go near a necromancer. Marnie was so busy doing other things, that she did not see people plotting against her, like Lafayette and Jesus and then whats her name with the salt? That wasn't really believable either. I love true blood, I will watch it until the end, I am just saying...Necromancers are very powerful creatures.....not that easy to defeat.

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Okay not just ANY vampire can get into Sookies house, they have to have a plan here, but not yet addressed. Eric can come in his own house obviously and I saw Bill go into her house, BUT like Eric and Bill would leave it to where just any vampire can go into Sookies house? That seems a little dangerous to me. If that is the story line, and any vamp can get in her house, then it needs to be written that Eric gives Sookie her house back. What does that mean for people who rent houses? That any vampire can come in? They gotta fix that. Good riddance to love stricken Eric. It was not believable to me that Eric and Bill were willing to meet the true death in front of Marni's place last week. I mean come on? No freakin way. I did not believe that plot AT ALL. I am somewhat disappointed that Sookie did not use her fairy "listening" powers a little more in this season. She could of heard Debbie waiting for her in her house if she was "listening". She should tap into that power much more in my opinion. She could of saved Tara's life. Vampires cannot be made out of someone who has had their head blown off. It just does not happen like that. It is fiction, so anything can happen I suppose. But you cannot save the already dead. You can turn someone who is dying perhaps, but I have never heard of someone with their head being blown off turned to a vamp. She could be a Zombie for sure.

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So many plot holes this season. I also have to agree - too much dialogue. And, the dialogue often, excuse the pun, sucked. In addition, way too many characters to track. I'm starting to forget who the "main" characters are anymore. Unanswered character questions: the faery resistance and attempts to capture Sookie, Andy's faery, Hot Shot werepanthers (I really sympathized with the young girl and wanted to learn more about what happened to her), Nan Flanigan's past, more about Marnie, closure on the killing Marcus side-plot... I could go on. I think Ball and Co. may have been smoking something when they wrote season 4. I also don't care if Season 4 was purposely planned as a seg into Season 5 and they plan to wrap up a lot in Season 5....there's no excuse. They should have offered a 22 episode Season 4 if that's what they wanted to do. Not to mention, previous seasons tied together just fine without leaving everyone hanging. I'd say that True Blood this season ranks only slightly higher than Torchwood Miracle Day and TMD did the same thing... tried to transition to a broadcast television 22 episode season framework and managed to kill plot and dialogue in the process with only the excellent ability of the actors involved saving what little they had to work with. Torchwood's finale left a lot open-ended as well.

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The first words out of my mouth after the finale..." Wow, that wasn't a very good ending." Sookie very calmly breaks up with the loves of her life in 10 minutes! Why kill Jesus? He was not a main character but, Lafayette really loved him. The Sam Merlotte story was a bad non-climactic ending. I am shocked. I have watched all the seasons and this was the worst finale of all. That is too bad. I love this show. I am also glad Debbie and Tommy are dead. Not a fan of their story lines. What is going on ??

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I also was surprised that so many fans were bothered by the (anti)climax scene began w/ Eric and Bill already tied up. I personally thought that was good writing. We already know Marnie's powers have quadrupled because she stole them. We already know she could cast powerful spells. We already know she's angry and power hungry. We already know she caught them off guard because she was (1)Supposedly dead and (2) in Lafayette's body. Do we really need to know exactly how she got them there, especially since in the previous scene Sookie hinted that might be the case? I didn't. Somethings are better left to individual interpretation. At least that's how I see it.

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As life goes there's a give and take in everything. Such is the case with watching great television shows. Pros and Cons, cause and effect, experiments and outcomes... If one wants an awesome well written character driven show then one must accept the fact that eventually major characters will be led to their demise. If one wants to hold on to said characters forever then he/she should accept that the storyline will be mediocre at best w/ twist and jolts that bring action and excitement but at a cost---to make sure favorites remain alive. This is why Tara must stay gone. She must not come back as a vamp, a zombie a mediumed ghots...none of that. It hurts me to say that because although Tara was not a sterling character she was definitely purposefully. She is a compliment to Lafayette and vice versa. They bring TRUE comedic relief to the blood, gore and tension. Also they offer a point of view that is not mainstream and structured. Without her Lafayette becomes a babbling idiot at worse and/or drama filled freak at best. But if the storyline is to move on properly---now that they made the decision to off her---they must stand by it. Less the show develops a cheesy soap opera feel. We've already seen Sookie shot and revived. NO MORE! Sorry Tara...I love you, girl lol

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You all forget that this show has A LOT of characters in which they have to make money off of and waste no expense because they're already paid under contract (no offense to the actors(esses)) and not only that it all has to be compiled into an hour it's hard to fit everything in for it to make sense otherwise we'd have a very boring(er to some of you all) season, I loved all of it mostly because I'm a fan and the seasons might look a lil bleak to you newbies but did you ever bother to actually get into the previous seasons? and if you don't like those you definitely won't like the rest. But off this topic! I cannot wait until the next season.... omg that finale was way too intense lol my brain was on fire! from the jesus' death to tara's demise all had me just in tears... I loved all the characters who died (except for the marnie character) even Nan. And I don't think Pam set Russel free, as much as she's upset with Eric, she still loves Eric and she'd do anything for him because she loves him and also because she kinda has no choice lol. Jess & Jay: Isn't obvious that they're going to get together, I've come to love them and hopefully Hoyt doesn't kill himself... Tara: She's dead, but I have a feeling they're going to bring her back somehow... unless someone has the guts to look it up. Bill & Eric: I find it very HAWT that they're working together. Can't wait to see how they work together next season... Sookie's gonna need it -__- Sam & Others...: Now that Tommy's out the picture Sam can finally live his life... NOT trouble is already on his doorstep. Make like a bird and fly away? And it also appears that "Momma" just found herself a new Hoyt :) I would say more but I feel like I'm doing too much, off somewhere, or that I'm kinda wasting time writing lol eh GN

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Werepanthers were a pointless waste of time and I actually found it offensive that Jason was gang raped and everyone was so ho-hum and he's back to his horny self. Weak. They could've trimmed down the Sam Merlotte stuff. Didn't care about his new girlfriend and didn't care about Tommy. Sam was interesting when he interacted with Tara and Sookie - now he's just on the peripheral in boring-filler land. I felt like there were lots of engines revving, but nothing left the garage. Faeries - shut down after 2 episodes. Werepanthers - see above. Haunted baby & creepy doll - we could get the medium point from the Mexico trip and didn't need this side adventure. Didn't the baby have creepy eyes at one point? Is he also messed up or was that all just from the olde tyme ghost? Witches - they should've left Marnie dead cause that was a super weak comeback. She's some scary demon and kills Jesus but then hugs it out?? Tara the lesbian - who cares, didn't make a difference. We don't see enough of Sookie doing things that make her interesting now. She cries, throws lightening, and is so conflicted about which of the hot guys (except Bill who is not hot) she should be with. !t least this season, I have no idea why any of those guys would want her.

True Blood Season 4 Episode 12 Quotes

Ain't nothing more important to you than your dick. Not even your best friend.

Hoyt [to Jason]

If heaven does exist, I'm pretty sure Adele Stackhouse would be elected president there.

Tara
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