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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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Elenalovesspn

@chill out everyone: I hate what Bill Compton and Alan Ball made to her character, I don't hate her. Hate is such a strong word. I love the Sookie in the books, she kicks ass and remember that time Bill said "She is mine" and she gave him the middlefinger and Eric just laughed and said "I think Sookie wants to show us that she belongs to herself". I liked how she was around Eric but everytime she sees Bill it's like she's turning into that puppy. The writers seem to make us believe that the Ratray's incedent didn't happen and that's just not acceptable! And then being all "But Eric is so bad, he lied to me and precious Beel so many times!" How can you even compare Eric's lying to Bill's betrayal??
And I keep watching the show because I actually kind of love it, just don't like how S4 turned out.

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i also liked eric and bills matching robes!

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okay did no one else notice that they freaking killed jesus!?!?!?! i mean i cried like a baby with the scene of him and lafayette at the end and i was so pissed that they killed him because he was so gorgeous but it was also so sweet because he sacrificed himself to save lafayette! personally i thought the jess-jason thing was slow and annoying and they took to long talking and i was like okay i get it! i liked tara dying and it was so intense when alcide found where russell used to be and also when steve newlin came back! pam had one of the best lines of any tv series ever and eric had a good one too! i wanted sookie to get back with bill because she doesn't deserve eric and i don't like bill so if they are together then the two people i don't like (one of) will be together so they can just bother each other. eric and bill teaming up and killing nan was cool cuz i was so over nan anyway! not much happened with sam but at the end there was that random part where like a wolf was standing behind him but i'm not too concerned. i didn't really get the part with rene...like i got it that he was warning arlene about terry but like i don't get how he could have a dark past i mean he was a marine so he had like moments and stuff but besides that i can't see what they are going to do...good thing i don't write the show. all in all i didn't hate the episode but i will admit i have seen better! can't wait for next season!!!

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In reply to chill out everyone, I just wanted to comment that I love book Sookie but I don't like true blood sookie. The reason I think I don't like true blood sookie is because we don't really get to know her, not like book sooke (where it is all from her perspective). I think if we got to know Sookie a bit better and we understood her reasoning, she wouldn't seem so vapid and frankly a bit crazy.

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I have read all the books and I was really looking forward to this season because I loved the 4th book. I think I was a bit disappointed with the choices that they made. The 4th book I felt like had really great pacing, including an exciting climax. I didn't feel the build for this season like I did for the book. That being said I love some of the changes that they did go with. For me what was missing was the intimacy between Eric and sookie. On the show we saw eric be a bit like a puppy and some sweetness but it should have shown more. I would have rather seen that than some of the other scenes. This may be a spoiler but I liked it in the books how eric did not remember right away. I think that gave it a bit of a mystery compared to I know who I am, Bill sucks, I love you. Also I am not a season 1-3 bill fan but I love vampire bill and I loved it when he killed nan. I like vampire duo bill and eric. They are fun and bad a**. I am also excited to see where they are going to go with the whole vampire steve newlin and russell breaking out story lines. Should be lots of fun. Ohh yeah and Scott Foley. While I love terry what can I say scott is cute and I hope we get to see more of him.

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Everyone hates sookie so much? Why cuz she's wanted by every man pretty much? Yes ladies some women do have that affect of men. And its just a story its not true. Sookie is a great character in the books and I believe on screen. She doesn't end up with alcide. Or bill. Its eric at least in the books and their romance is beautiful. And she's supposed to be done with the both of them at this point. Bottom line if u don't like the show don't watch it. I love it, I like the books more but the show is exciting.

Elenalovesspn

I agree, I wanted to kiss Pam for that line. I also agree that this episode was NOTHING compared to the other finales. Now this weird mask is on Marnie's head? Oh, really?
And the fact that Sookie said "I forgive you" to Bill and then be like "You've lied so many times, Eric, but Bill did it to protect me (more like to protect himself)" makes me question if our little fairy lost her brain in Fairyland.
I'm reading the 4rd book and this whole season was really a dissapointment.
The only good thing about this episode was that Russell came back & the weird Priest (Forgot his name) too. And I'm pretty sure those two badasses will now team up, Russell for Eric's head on a silver tablet and the priest, well ... I guess that he's now a Vampire has changed his personality a bit and he probably just wants every fuckin' traitor to die.
No build up at all and, as a Sookie/Eric shipper, I don't know if I could ship my OTP right now with any doubt. To be honest, I want this lame, blande Sookie Stackhouse to stay away from my Viking. Their whole relationship in the books is pure epicness and shows that Sookie is actually a strong, independent woman who once showed Bill the middlefinger when he said that "Sookeh is maine" line again.
And why is Pam always crying? I understand it, but ... why??
The writers really want us all to like Bill Compton, as for me, I still fucking hate him and I don't think anything will change that.
Anyways, I remember an interview with Stephen Moyer saying that we will see "some flashbacks which show us Bill's reasons etc." so I thought that might happen this episode, but NO, Alan Ball freakin' forgot it while writing the dumbest storylines since "Human Centipede"!
And NO, that interview wasn't 4 years ago, it was actually about Season 4 and how Alan Ball might not be around next Season. If so
CONFETTI, IT'S A FUCKING PARADE!!

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I think a lot of people need to read the books to understand a lot of the characters...tara is hardly in the books so I'm glad she's gone...lafyette dies in the first but I think he's a funny character to watch same with jessica who I haven't come across...I think the readers are always going to be disappointed bcuz the books are much better and I think the witches should've stayed how they were in the book were they were shifters and they need to stop making alcide look like a lone wolf and they need to show how him and sookie have a deeper relationship but its full of disapointment and in the books the fairies are more evil as the vamps so if you all didn't like this season then you should just stop watching bcuz things are just heating up and they took pieces from other books I bet so the audience knows more about everyone and so were not ok this is totally random...I'm telling you read the books all 11 of them

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Obviously Bill or Eric has to die at the beginning of season five. If that happens I bet it will be Bill, Eric just looks better and isn't that annoying. Alcide will frag the fuckin Sookie for whole season until he screws up like the others, at the end she will be with someone else. Tara was really just watching for 4 seasons and playing victim, getting scared. With or without her nothing would change. Lafayette will be our new super gay power and will probably join the vampire war on Russell's side and be his gay friend

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Worst. Season. Ever. We waited so long for it, and were so excited for it, knowing what happened in this book. The story line was erratic and crowded. There was no defining main story line. I guess Marnie was the climax? I'm glad they killed off a few people but I wish more fat had been cut throughout the season, as opposed to just going for shock value and a seemingly random selection in the finale. I agree with all your points (Faye especially) But what about the were-panthers, too? Anyone remember that story line? Jason did kill the leader AND was suppose to transform. No one from hot shot wanted to drop him a line after he got back? Feels like they just dropped it. Are the writers for this show ADD or something?

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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