Monday, September 14, 2009

The Season Finale That Wasn't What It Should Have Been

True Blood has been AMAZINGLY ADDICTIVE this season. The ratings and buzz around it show that.

But what a let-down of a finale, only slightly intriguing at the very last moment with a seemingly out of nowhere cliffhanger.

I've been of the opinion that True Blood, since Sookie, Bill, Jason, and Eric returned from Dallas to Bon Temps in episode 10, the show lost some key elements of what made this season so awesome: the hilarious Fellowship of the Sun plot, the Vampire lore brought to us courtesy of Godric and a sense of true danger... not just "wow, that's some crazy shit happening" brought to us by Maryann.

Don't get me wrong. A considerable amount of what made True Blood so awesome this season WAS the Maryann mystery and Michelle Forbes' performance (GIVE THIS WOMAN AN EMMY). But it petered out.

Also making this season a lot of fun: the Jessica / Hoyt romance.

Anyways, two weeks ago, we got a slower-than-usual episode from a series that, this season, has burned through plot like it was a SoCal brush fire (... too soon?) Which, I was sure, was setting the stage for THE FINALE OF ALL FINALES.

Perhaps my expectations were too high.

The episode began creepily enough, and continued to work its way through the plot until Maryann died... unfortunately in a way that was rather predictable (the Sam / Bill combo) given what Sophie-Anne told Bill last week. When the Vampire Queen of Louisiana this week told Eric (who, I guess, is still playing Yahtzee with her?) that the information she gave Bill may be truth based on rumors... but it also might be horseshit. Apparently, it wasn't the latter.

I wouldn't really have a problem with this if the episode had carried the crazy times and tension out to, say, the 3/4 mark. But Maryann died what seemed like under halfway through. And we were left with 30 minutes of epilogue, checking in on EVERY SINGLE TOWNPERSON and getting their thoughts on why they couldn't remember what had happened. Buffy blew by this in 20 seconds at the end of its two-hour pilot with Giles saying that "people have a tendency to rationalize what they can and forget what they can't." Though some characters noted that they didn't think it's the end, there was no last minute reversal in the Maryann plot. It simply came and went.

Which was a massive, massive let-down.

The first season finale ticked me off because, the end of the penultimate episode showed us who the killer was. But we still got a finale that was 50 minutes tension and 10 minutes episode followed by a cliffhanger. The still worked as an hour of television, even if the mystery had been sucked out of it.

This season was so far above the first in quality that it really saddened me to see the finale play out the way it did. The only thing I can think of to try and, well, rationalize this and the penultimate episode of this season (the one from two weeks ago) is that the writers came up with 11 episodes but had to film 12. So two weeks ago we got a plodding pace and very little narrative movement within a "setting the stage" episode... and this week we got half an episode of "finale" and half an episode of "epilogue." Put the two of those episodes together but make them into a single hour... I think that'd be a damn fine episode of television instead of two subpar outings.

Oh, well.

As far as next season goes... yes, I'm still looking forward to it. The questions that were raised in this season and in the finale... what is Sookie, really; who are Sam's parents; who vampnapped Bill (actually, I don't really care about that so much); what is Sophie-Anne's plan with distributing V of her own blood (I've got a theory!); what will become of Jason now that he's shot and killed Eggs; what will become of Jessica (as well as Jessica and Hoyt)... they all intrigue me (and, let's be honest, the only major cliffhangers going into season two was "who is the dead body in Andy's car?" and "what's up with Maryann?" so it's not like the fervor of a great cliffhanger is lacking this go around, especially in comparison to season one).

As to my theory on Sophie-Anne (sigh, I so should not be putting this out there as, of course, it's bound to be flat out wrong)... I haven't read the Sookie Stackhouse books, but given what we've been told about vampire blood (the bonding between Sookie/Bill and Sookie/Eric because she drank their blood), I'm curious whether Sophie-Anne is trying to develop, like, an army of human devotees via spreading her blood around. Just a stab in the dark... also, is Sam going to have a thing for Bill now that he's had a ton of Bill's blood?


Mike said...

I completely agree with you, Travis. What a letdown. The season overall was very good, but this finale couldn't have been more anti-climatic.

Hung also had a poor finale. I liked the show more than you did, but after the Jemma storyline was wrapped, it ran out of gas.

Anonymous said...

I have read the books and the finale was nothing like the book.
In the book, Maryanne was only seen twice and the second time she wasn't defeated, she left after killing some people.It makes me nervous for the writers to diverge further from the source material.

I thought the pacing in episode 10 was the vampire effect, having to pad an episode so the humans can walk around in the daytime and really not accomplish anything.