Premieres Sunday, June 22 at 8pm on HBO.
When approaching the final season of a long-running show, the last thing you want is for people to welcome the end. But, like Dexterbefore it, HBO's True Blood has became a pale shadow of the trashy, Southern-fried horror confection it once was. After years of building up an unwieldy ensemble through a series of ludicrous plot twists, the supernatural soap opera has burned up a lot of goodwill and driven many of its fan-favorite characters into the ground. With one last shot at redemption, the citizens of Bon Temps head into their final chapter looking for a fight.
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The mid-episode time jump of last season's finale presented a new normal for the small Louisiana town. Freshly elected mayor Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) and Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) sought to address the population of Hep-V infected vampires by insisting that each human in Bon Temps pair with a vampire. This mutually beneficial relationship would ensure that the vampire would get clean, uninfected blood, while the human would appreciate protection from their new undead bodyguard. The solution is quickly tested when a group of diseased vamps attack Bon Temps' unity barbecue, killing and wounding several people while also kidnapping a few for the purpose of late night snacking and plot progression. With tensions running incredibly high, town pariah Sookie (Anna Paquin) attempts to lend her vampire knowledge in an effort to track down their missing friends and guard against future attacks.
It's remarkable to see how characters that were once a joy to follow have become utterly intolerable. Deborah Ann Woll's Jessica is the only long-running member of the swollen ensemble who remains above the fray. Her commitment to protect fairy child Adilyn (Bailey Noble) as penance for accidentally killing her sisters is a compelling plot line in the midst of what is otherwise familiar and tired True Blood territory.
Sookie has always been a bit of a challenge for the show, often wavering between tough cookie and whiney wet blanket and every extended monologue she has in the season's opening episodes falls squarely into the latter category. As the series tries to rally the main plot line around her, it falters under the weight of her continued martyr complex.
While Bon Temps faces down a threat from a bunch of nasty vampires, True Blood's most revered vampire characters are largely AWOL in the opening episodes. Moyer's Bill makes a few brief appearances, which, given the amount of make-up work he has to do after his recent brush with the bad side, seems like a poor choice. Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and Tara (Rutina Wesley) are almost wholly absent. And the always lovable Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) is off on the other side of the world on a quest to reunite with her maker. No wonder Bon Temps is so boring.
Whether or not True Blood will go full lumberjack in its final hours a la Dexter or somehow find a way stick the landing remains to be seen, but these opening episodes indicate that its learned nothing from the mistakes of recent years. If there's any show that should go out with a bang it should be this one. Right now its looking like its going to be all whimper.