I know I’m a little late to the party. Word on the interwebs is that the season 3 finale of True Blood sucked (best to get the obligatory vampire pun out of the way early).
The entire season has been underwhelming, so it makes sense that the ending would tend toward “meh.” The narrative was too slow and sprawling, following all the characters in their own, mostly uninteresting directions. On one level, the finale disappointed because it offered no sense of plot convergence. Nothing came together, and in the end everyone was running away. Sookie’s off to fairyland. Jason’s in Hotshot. Sam’s visiting sociopath town. Tara’s gone who knows were. And Lala is halfway in the spirit realm. Hoyt and Jessica want to live happily ever after, but I suspect gun toting Mama and doll obsessed short girl will have something violent to say about that. None of these points are particularly interesting. I’m not interested in seeing Bill and Sophie Ann fight, Matrix style, at the beginning of next season. Side note: the Queen looked amazing in that outfit.
I think I enjoyed this episode more than others because it appears to maybe (hopefully) spell the end of the Sookie <3’s Bill forevah storyline. I’ve read the books, and I’m on Team Eric. Bill Compton is quite possibly the most boring vampire ever. That Sookie continued to stick with him, and was just about to, once again, return to him when Eric dropped the “you know the queen sent him to get you” bomb, has frustrated me all season long. Bill continually treated her like crap and wanted to control her every movement. His desire to kill everyone who knew or would ever know her secret was not endearing or romantic or thoughtful or chivalrous, it was fraking psycho-stalkerish.
Which brings me to the problem I’ve been having with the series in general. Sookie should be the central character. It should be through her perspective that we see and experience her supernaturally infused world. Instead, she the object over which other people argue and fight, a perpetual damsel in distress with no sense of agency or personality.
I’m a not book loyalist, by any means, not killing off Lala, adding baby vamp Jessica, and making Russell wonderfully insane, have been positive changes, but I do think Ball’s stripped Sookie of what makes her a compelling character in Harris’ books. She’s steadfastly loyal and a quick thinker. Sure, she’s narcissistic but understandably so. Her power has forced her to live so much of her life alone with her thoughts, if only so that she could filter the constant barrage of unwanted thoughts from everyone else around her. Ball’s Sookie is naive, and her power to read minds is often forgotten until it’s a useful plot device. Does anyone honestly believe she’d change into that silly sun dress and head band after the day and evening she’d just had? She’d shower, crawl into bed, and be very angry with Bill when he showed up on her doorstep at god knows what hour.
Ball kept the addition of the werewolves, but failed to keep what makes them interesting in the story for Sookie. She becomes a valuable asset to the pack and is respected by them (unless they dislike her for spoiling her plans). Alcide is a momentary temptation, but nothing ever really happens. They become friends, which proves to be a more interesting relationship then if they had gotten together. On the series, Alcide’s just one more dude who’s into Sookie. And the fairy plot line has just become a distraction instead of adding and interesting, if albeit silly explanation for a few things. Chalk this up to me being bitter with Claudine’s complete miscasting. Now all I can think is how awful the actress was on the terrible last season of Robin Hood.
The decision to go with a more ensemble feel rather than keeping with the first-person narrative framing of the novels felt like a good choice in the first season, but the addition of more characters and more plot lines has not done the series any favors since then. There’s too much going on now, without any sense that the stories are related beyond a very tenuous thematic link. For me, the successful ensemble series is one that can integrate divergent arcs together. I wonder how True Blood would have fared if it had taken a note from Dexter, another series adapted from books with a strong first-person presence. The first-person perspective limits the narrative to some degree, but in the long run, our identification with one primary point of view brings all the divergent lines together. But, these are just some random observations that I’d need to give more thought.