True Blood: Radioactive, Review

The True Blood Season Finale is full of deaths, fakeout deaths and a dizzying new status quo where Sookie might actually be useful!

Okay, so hear me out. You got Eric Northman, this 1,000 year old, Nordic uber-Viking Vampire Prince. Other than a few stressful Sookie and Warlow drains, he hasn’t really seen the sun, much less enjoyed it, in a millennium. So, when his sister is avenged and his progeny are free to frolic and have a good orgy with other little vampires (and it’s HBO…when do they say no to a good orgy?), he decides to take some much needed and well-earned R&R. Ergo, he’s unwinding on this mountain in the Swedish municipality of Are, doing what I can only assume all Swedes must do in their free time—sunbathing in the complete butt-naked nude while reading a good book—when a random faerie discharge happens because of a deus ex machina on the other side of the world (Oh, WE’LL GET THERE) that rudely, and gratuitously, ruins his day while exciting his female viewers. He bursts into flames, screams no to the Heavens and we’re supposedly left in nerve-racking suspense as to whether he lived or died, but really we’re just confused and wondering if we did in fact just see penis (yes, yes we did). It’s funny, bizarre and all together muddled in its final moments, which attempt to create some kind of phony suspense. In short, it is the summation of the sixth season of True Blood in 30 seconds, which just so happened to end its run tonight. Not bad…I think. This wholly wackadoo episode begins like the inevitably bad drop-off following a good high or buzz. We all know it’s coming, but it’s still a surprise when the hangover hits. For our wayward protagonist Sookie, who has impressively gone a whole season without doing a damn thing worth noting for television posterity, it has become apparent she missed the whole adventure when an army of vampires come crashing in on the tail-end of Terry’s funeral and into Bill Compton’s front yard. We got Bill the conquering hero, Jessica the virtuous child in the woods that has found her way home, Willa the OTHER virtuous child in the woods, Violet the European, Pam the Awesome, and Tara the “How Are You Still Breathing?!” Heck, even Jason Stackhouse, Bon Temps’ latter-day Barney Fife, comes by to take a bow before joining the fuck-pit (HBO+VAMPIRES=ORGY, it’s probably in their contract). But Sookie? She can only look on, wanting to cling to life.  Last week, she made the rather deliberate, yet still asinine, decision to become Warlow’s Faerie Vampire Bride for eternity so that he can help Billith save vampire kind from Sarah Newlin. Now, why did she consider the offer of a real LONGHAUL marriage to a fanger she only just met that also so happened to kill her parents, instead of simply handing him over to Bill, thereby getting the immediate job of friend-saving done? Well, I got nothing. But it shouldn’t even matter! Eric skipped the sadsack Stackhouse middle woman to get the Warlow blood fresh from the source. Also, Bill ended up using small quantities of Warlow blood that he had already ascertained. In other words, Warlow didn’t do anything. Yet, Sookie feels obligated and indebted to a vampire whose whining makes Edward Cullen look like Fonzie in comparison (actually I would love to see that). But prepared to say goodbye to life she is until she realizes how much people will always miss Terry Bellefleur. And seeing Jason cavorting and eventually playing volleyball with a sister-kissing (she is European) Undead seductress from another millennium has filled her with a love for life like she’s Jimmy Stewart running past a wonderful, old building and loan. It can’t hurt that Alcide also attended the memorial to flash his bright eyes at Sookie. Apparently Eric’s spell that made Alcide repulsed at the touch of Sookie for life had only a one-season warranty. As Sookie peruses all the vampire happiness, she goes back to Warlow to explain that so much has changed since they last met, and when she made that promise they were like totally different people; children in the summer wind, man. “You’ve been gone four hours.” Clearly, someone has not spent a lot of time in the tumultuous love triangles of Bon Temps, Warlow.  Sookie politely, and smartly, asks for Warlow to slow it down so that they can at least get to know each other before eternity. Warlow considers her words respectfully and pensively, before revealing to the surprise of absolutely no one but Sookie that he was what we always guessed: a cad. He violently and viscously slaps her across the face and binds her to his maple tree of love, demanding her body if not her mind. I get what the writers have been trying to do this season. I really do. Warlow is like the speed-dating version of Bill, and since he turns into a snarling woman-hating Lifetime Movie Channel villain in the Season Finale, Bill in contrast looks pretty damn sympathetic all of a sudden. Plus, the Warlow device even provides the opportunity to force Sookie to look into the mirror at her own self-destructive, vampire-loving ways. And it still just does not quite work. Sookie has been too passive in her own life for the last two seasons, leading to this point where she willingly lets a vampire bequeath fangs upon her rather than make up her own mind or even attempt to figure a way out of her latest pickle. It comes off as lazy and uninspired while making our protagonist so timid that she cannot even save herself. Like a princess in need of a pair of plumbers, Sookie needs ALL THE MEN on the show, or at least in her area code, to come save her. It begins with Bill finally saying goodbye to Billith. In a subplot that just one year ago seemed to doom the show to the belly of an aquatic Discovery Channel beast, Billith turned out to be a blessing for the Bill character. He has successfully reformed himself into one of the most interesting personalities and parts of the show. Thus, it is only logical that Jessica finds him in fear when he acknowledges that Billith is no more. Since she and the other vamp campers drank his Lilith blood, he is now plain old Vampire Bill from over the hill. Worse still, he proves that losing Lilith is an immediate problem, as his mind jumps back to Suuk-ehhh. He tells Jess of the bargain that he has made with Warlow. Jessica is horrified. She gives Bill the pep talk he needs to go save his Lady Fae. But what if she still hates me? “Yeah, maybe you were an asshole,” Jessica says, underselling Billith’s approach to romance. “But this is your opportunity to make things right.” Why do I feel like Jessica imagines Bill showing up for Sookie’s hand in Navy White with the soft accompaniment of Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes? Or in Bill’s case, Confederate Gray. Alas, to save the faerie princess, Bill must join forces with Jason, Jason’s new master Violet, and Andy Bellefleur. In one of the best scenes of the night, Jason and Violet ask for the help of Andy’s daughter. Andy expressly forbids it, but Adilyn Bellefleur, hearing the desperation in Jason’s mind, insists on joining the cause. After all, Sookie is the only faerie hybrid left in town. And so it was that on the tenth episode of the sixth season, Andy and Jason picked up their silver bullets and heavy weaponry like Butch and Sundance being roped into one more job. It was fantastic to see.  The dream team of Warlow slayers—Bill, Jason, Andy, Violet and Adilyn—gloriously transport themselves to the faerie plane where they can do battle to save poor Sookie. Bill makes the sacrifice play and tells everyone else to get Sookie out of this dimension while he does battle with the oldest living vampire. Yet, however improbable and inexplicable, the newly depowered Bill holds his own against Barlow (I’m bringing it back) and even gets a few licks in before they teleport to our reality. At the Stackhouse homestead, Violet heals Sookie from Warlow’s cruelty with some vampire blood and Adilyn hides in Eric’s old cubby. Soon enough, the easily defeated Jason and Andy join her down there as Warlow corners his prey. This man has lied to Sookie, manipulated Sookie and threatened to rape her seemingly forever if she never accepts his madness. So, is she given the opportunity to end him with her faerie killing power? Will she be allowed a moment of triumph and defiance against the men and vampires who have used and abused her for years, sending a message that Sookie doesn’t need their shit any more than she needs her endangering faerie power? Well…no. She can’t do it. Luckily, Grandpa Niall happened to be standing by in the next dimension to come out at the exact right moment at the exact right time to save his granddaughter. Don’t recall that portal? Niall found it six or seven episodes ago to Jason. Apparently a few seconds here is the equivalent of a day in there. And despite knowing about this hidden exit, Niall has spent a week in our time just chilling around the portal waiting to come out at the right opportune moment. Whatever. Niall grabs Warlow from behind and Jason, freed by Violet downstairs, rushes up the steps to finally stake the sucker who killed ma and pa. Justice is served, the fair, hapless maiden is saved and Bill gets no credit for saving Sookie’s life. Again. Oh also, all of the vampires with Warlow’s blood are cured of their sun immunity and Eric bursts into flames while on a snowy mountain where he presumably dies. Yeah right. It is at this moment that a curious thing happens…the show jumps SIX MONTHS into the future. And an even more inexplicable curiosity slowly occurs over the remaining 20+ minutes of the show: my interest is piqued. Now, don’t get me wrong. It is kind of a mess to figure out what exactly has happened. It begins with a muddled but cute bridge, in which it is revealed that Bill Compton has become a national celebrity among humans thanks to his new book, “And God Bled.” Appearing with Lawrence O’Donnell, who apparently has been missing his HBO cameos since Big Love wrapped up, Bill gives a candid interview admitting to his brief flirtation with divinity, as well as his role in the slaying of Governor Burrell. Lawrence rightly points out that this is an admission to the assassination of a U.S. governor, but bill just shrugs. It seems “Hep V” has become an epidemic in the previous half-year, claiming at least 1/8 of the vampire population. Since Burrell was the madman behind this implied plague of Biblical proportions, surely any jury would agree that Mr. Compton was justified. Of course, this candor is also just Bill’s elaborate way to get back into Sookie’s good graces by saying that he is done with secrets. However, Sookie seems to be done with Mr. Compton (even though she can’t get enough of him on the TV). In a completely believable turn of events, Sookie is now in a committed and healthy relationship with Alcide. I would prefer the silverfox at Merlotte’s to this stiff-as-a-timber-wolf breed of shifter, but at least it means maybe Sookie will be less down on herself and that we have seen the last of that damnable Shreveport pack.  Unfortunately, it appears that Governor Burrell’s genocidal plans needed to go back to formula. Instead of killing the vampire race, Hep V has spread like wildfire and turned vampires into mutant zombie-like countryside-roaming creatures. Henceforth, I shall dub them Vombies. It appears that these Vombies are such a serious threat that people have lost faith in their government, save for one Sam Merlotte. Yep, six months of impending fatherhood has given Sam a new lease on life. He is now Mayor Merlotte, leader of the good folk of Bon Temps. And in an incredibly authentic Southern solution to hysteria, Sam gathers all of his community under the roof of a Christian church to hold his governance. It is little touches like this that makes Bon Temps a totally probable absurdist landscape. Sam’s solution to this Vombie epidemic is for a barbecue dinner at Bellefleur’s (the new name of Merlotte’s, which is now owned by an affluent Arlene Bellefleur), and that every human agree to vampire protection in exchange for volunteer feeding. The town is an uproar, but many appear to agree. Though not Andy. It is not really a surprise that Andy has had his fill of vampires and that he keeps Adilyn under lock and key with his handgun. Yet, when Jessica offers to protect them for free, if only to apologize for murdering his daughters, it is all he can do to not put a silver bullet right in ginger scalp. He slams the door in her face, but Jessica apparently will remain by their side, ever watchful. Even Tara gets some resolution this season when she finally seemingly reconciles with her vampire-hating and daughter-ruining mother, who tries to mend the fence by offering her neck to feed her hungry baby girl. And then there is Sookie. Sookie and Alcide play nice at Arlene’s party, but make a discrete exit to the parking lot after an hour. It is there that they run into Bill Compton. Bill, ever the Southern gent, offers his services to Miss Stackhouse free of charge. She would rather take her chances with the Alcide’s Bright Eyes (Bill’s words, not mine). Sookie, honey, we have all seen how well werewolves do against vampires in this True Blood universe. You’d best take Bill’s offer. She may not have a choice as a peculiar cliffhanger takes place when apparent Vombies stumble upon Arlene’s party ready to try the salsa. It’s a cliffhanger that leaves me actually intrigued for a Season 7, even though it makes absolutely no sense. Hep V was made to instantly kill vampires. And it is very effective, as we witnessed on poor Nora, the first of her kind to die. Yet, now it has mutated vampires into town-destroying deadites? Say that again? Instead of establishing a post-apocalyptic world where Vombies are a threat to communities around the world, the time jump opens with a very tranquil interview between Bill and Lawrence O’Donnell that makes no mention of the danger posed by Hep V victims. Yet, a few scenes later, some clunky exposition from Sam and Andy before the church meeting seems to imply that people have lost faith in their government to the point where it is every town for themselves. If the country has descended into such complete anarchy, why is nobody batting an eye about a vampire spokesman doing PR damage control with a routine flight between New Orleans and New York? And if vampires are a threat, why is Bill being treated like a pillar of his community? Even during times of complete societal collapse and anarchy, one would think law enforcement would have some words with a man openly admitting to assassinating a sitting U.S. governor, corrupt monster or not. Either the U.S. has become a desolate Walking Dead wasteland coupled with the social collapse of Bane’s Gotham City or it hasn’t and Bill should be charged with murder. Either everyday citizens should be fearing for their lives trapped inside their homes or things should be peachy enough to justify an outdoor barbecue with Vombies stumbling around. The ending is as forced as Eric’s “death scene”—C’mon you know Pam saved him. I know it, the writers know it, and even toasty Eric knows it. We didn’t see him die and Pam is the only Bon Temps resident now shown after the time jump—and twice as confusing. But I kind of like it. Unlike how Billith appeared a year ago, the idea of vampire-zombie hybrids walking around is a fascinating teaser (no matter how clumsy the initial execution is). Also, the new status quo of Bon Temps where Sam is mayor, Bill is civic leader and Sookie is finally not throwing a pity party about vampire beaus is infinitely refreshing, if still a big pill to swallow. Why not? I am kind of hooked after a dizzying hour of overstuffed narrative squeezed in between plenty of nudity and sex (oh yes, Jason is now Violet’s boy toy). Like Season 6 as a whole, it doesn’t really make much sense, and Sookie was completely wasted. But I think I enjoyed it. I think. Now, if only Tara’s mother is a secret carrier of the Hep V virus and she was simply conning Tara into a “mercy kill.” You know the thought crossed your mind. And it turned to hope. And here’s to hoping next season is more coherent or is at least as entertaining as watching Billith remove Louisiana’s Head of State and Sarah Newlin become a series highlight shoe-in. Den of Geek Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


3 out of 5