So True Blood had its season finale last night. Who else out there was watching it? If you weren’t, but you plan to catch it on DVD or something, then you probably don’t want to click through and read the rest of this post. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed the first season immensely, thought the finale did a satisfying job of wrapping the storyline up, and can’t wait for the second season to begin.
I have to say, this series surpassed my expectations of it, which leads me to think I was probably better off for not having read the “Sookie Stackhouse’ novels it was based on. To be honest, I was only expecting to watch a drama about vampires coming out of the closet and human beings dealing with that. What I didn’t realize is that this would only be the premise on top of which the real stories would be told — in much the same way as you walk into a Star Trek show accepting the premise of warp drive and teleportation and a race of uber-logical people with pointy ears called Vulcans, then move on from there.
The whole vampire thing certainly received a lot of play, to be sure. There were plenty of turnings and stakings, lots of fang flashing and blood drinking, humans being “glamoured”, vampires hanging out in shady bars with human minions, and even an awesome scene where Bill the Vampire claws his way out of the ground … and immediately proceeds to have sex with his human girlfriend, Sookie. And that scene right there probably sums up better than any other just how quirky and interesting this show proved to be.
Because it’s not just that there are vampires, or even that some of the vampires are good and some are bad. We’ve all seen those themes before. It’s that there are “Fang Bangers” — humans who like to have sex with vampires. It’s that the most compelling relationship in the series is the one between Bill the Vampire and Sookie the Human Mind-Reader. It’s the fact that Sookie is a mind-reader in the first place, and this is why she finds Bill so fascinating — because she can’t read HIS mind. And that Sookie works for a guy, Sam, who she eventually figures out is a shapeshifter, but who seems ashamed to be a shapeshifter, and only ever changes shape into a dog. And that Lafayette, the cook at Sam’s bar/restaurant, is kind of a street thug one minute, flamboyantly gay the next, and deals vampire blood (“V”) as a powerful drug, which he acquires by giving sexual favors to a self-loathing gay vampire. And so on and so on.
The complexity of the plots would probably be enough to keep me coming back every week, but it’s the characters that really push this series over the edge. As written, and as acted brilliantly by Anna Paquin, Sookie is painted as a strong woman who, in spite of her naivete and short-shorts, seems capable of handling with grace and defiance just about any crazy, horrible thing that life throws at her. As an un-closeted vampire, Bill really seems more like a closeted human, consistently flying in the face of just about everything his “kind” stands for, yet always deferring to vampire “law”. Sookie’s brother Jason is the asshole you just want to hate, but it’s hard to, because you realize he’s so dopey that he doesn’t really know any better. Likewise, you want to love Tara, Sookie’s outspoken best friend, but there are times when you realize that she may just be “too broken” as a result of her upbringing by an alcoholic mother to ever not push away every good thing that comes into her life.
Of course, the character that both my wife and I liked most of all was Rene, with his cool Cajun voice and happy attitude. Unlike everybody else, he seemed so simple and loyal and likeable and agenda-less. Little did we realize. After an entire season spent wondering who the serial killer of fang-bangers was, it never once occurred to us that it might be Rene, a.k.a. Drew Marshall, who apparently killed his own sister for having sex with vampires. This was hidden so well in the writing that the reveal last week was a complete “Keyser Soze”-level surprise. And while I hated the show for doing that to me, I loved it all the same. Because the only thing I like better than being able to solve the mystery on a show like this is NOT being able to solve it, and having the solution be a good one. So … well played, Alan Ball!
And just to dick with us a little more, the show leaves us with a few mysteries to tide us over until the next season begins …
1) What the hell happened to Lafayette? The last we saw of him, something was speeding toward him, and he jumped on top of the dumpster to get away from it. The first suspicion is that it was probably a vampire … but then why jump onto the dumpster? Isn’t that something you’d do get away from something that was low to the ground? So was it a werewolf maybe? We never saw him die, so I refuse to think he’s dead — it would be sloppy writing for a show this well written to kill off a major character like that between scenes.
2) Who’s in Andy’s car, and how did they get there? Internet buzz is that Lafayette’s is the leg we see hanging out of Andy Bellefleur’s car, and that he’s dead. I’m not sure I agree with that, for the reason stated above. I’m not dismissing the possibility that it’s him, but I suspect there’s a more complicated story behind it. Maybe he’s a werewolf, he just killed somebody/something, fell asleep in Andy’s car, and has reverted back to human with blood all over him? Who knows.
3) What’s up with Michelle Forbes? Or whatever her character’s name is. My wife thinks she might be The Devil, or something like that. Whatever/whoever she is, she knows Sam and Sam knows her, and for some reason, Sam is stuffing all his money into a sack as if he’s going to skip town. So is she a shapeshifter? Is she related to Sam? And what’s up the pigs? And why did she look so bedraggled the first time we/Tara saw her standing in the middle of the road (with a pig)? Again, who knows.
Sadly, we won’t get any answers until the series returns in “Summer 2009”. Hopefully, that will be the beginning of the summer, and not the end. But whenever it is, I’ll be there.
So what did you think?