True Blood: The Final Two Reviewed

Today, I’ll cover the last 2 episodes (ever!) of True Blood. I have mixed feelings about the way the series ends, so let’s just dive in:

“Love is to Die,” the 9th episode of True Blood‘s 7th season (its penultimate episode of the series), centers around Bill’s decision not to drink the antidote that is in Sarah Newlins blood. Sookie and Jessica are both distraught, of course. Bill has been a vampire father to Jessica, more real than her own living father, more prescient and important to her. Bill has been Sookie’s lover, and I think we’re supposed to gather that he was her first real love. And, ya know, the antidote is standing in front of him and would take about  90 seconds, if that to consume. So the girls (like most of the rest of us) are scandalized.

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I cheered when Sookie slapped Bill, because he was being insufferable. He presents his choice as something else, as some kind of compulsion or fate. Sookie makes him acknowledge that with the antidote to his “fated” death by Hep-V standing right beside him, it’s no longer fate. It’s an active and willful suicide. Bill can’t really articulate his reasons yet. Jessica asks to be released rather than watch him die, rather than deal with giving up his suicide. Bill releases her, and I’d have felt more sympathy for his words if he didn’t have the cure standing 10 ft away from him. When Eric stopped Sookie’s tirade and told Bill to leave, I thought we were hopefully close to Bill’s point of demise rather than having to spend a lot more time on it. Damn, was I wrong.

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Jessica and Sookie, after leaving Fangtasia’s basement (where Sarah Newlin is being held captive) go to Sam’s house. Now, I’ve no idea why. There’s no reason for Jessica and Sookie to go to Sam’s. But go they do, and they discover an empty home and 2 letters. One is for Sookie, and she opens it and reads Sam’s goodbye. He cant stay in Bon Temps–he has to go with Nicole and raise the child she’s about to have. And god, I wish they’d do this sooner. Sam was a favorite of mine for years, and this season he’s been so ill-used as a character that it’d have been better to write him and Nicole a goodbye when she wanted to leave half the season ago.

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So that’s it for Sam, and Sookie goes to Bellefleur’s to break the news to everyone and give Andy the second letter Sam left. It’s a very short “I resign” letter. Arlene and the whole Bellefleur’s staff are there. They’re dining and partying together with the hopes of drawing in customers with the place newly clean and cheerful again. Jessica speaks to James, who is there with Lafayette. She admits that she doesn’t–didn’t really know him and apologizes, says that’s she’s happy that he’s happy. Then she runs off. Sookie stays in the diner, but she doesn’t immediately sit with the group. She and Arlene have a quick, heartfelt conversation though about how Arlene is always able to start over again, and then Sookie joins the crowd for dinner.

Meanwhile, Eric goes to see Bill in hopes of talking him out of death and dying. But Bill is set on doing what he’s doing, and this time he is at least able to explain himself. He tells Eric about the dream of the faceless child and about how Sookie will always be attracted to the dark in them (vampires) because of her fae light, and they’ll always be attracted to her light because of their dark. His solution? Death. This is all puzzling (does Bill think he and Sookie don’t have a real love, that its just a chemical attraction; does he think he’s the only vampire she’s attracted to; why does he get to be the arbiter of her happiness), but Eric agrees that it’s for the best (?) and flies off to convince Sookie to talk to Bill.

Meanwhile, Pam dyes a panicked Sarah Newlin’s hair, taking her back to blonde and preparing to sell her like a prostitute. The highest paid in history, in all likelihood, because of her pure, antidotal blood. Well, that’s dark.

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Eric picks up Sookie outside of Bellefleur’s and asks her to speak with Bill. She reluctantly agrees, and Eric flies her home. It’s pretty cute, actually, and though we know the show isn’t going back down the Sookie-and-Eric road, it’s a nice little moment. They land, and Eric hears the phone ringing, knowing that it must be Bill. Eric leaves, and Sookie talks with Bill over the phone. She agrees that he can come over, and she waits for him there.

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Back at Fangtasia, Ginger finally has her moment. In one of the most bizarrely funny scenes in the show’s history, Eric tells Ginger that they’re finally going to [redacted so this will be SFW]. And they do. For about 10 seconds, anyway, and then Ginger’s done and lying on the floor, snoring happily away. Eric is a little confused, but he straightens his clothes and heads to the basement, where the Yakuza have captured Pam. They almost kill her before Eric admits to telling Sookie about the antidote. Mr. Gus asks for Sookie’s address, and we don’t see the answer Eric gives.

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Across town, though, Jessica has made her way to Hoyt’s house. She interrupts an argument that Bridgette and Hoyt were having about her, about who she is to Hoyt. Jessica explains that she knows Hoyt but he doesn’t know her because they were together before but his memories are gone. Bridgette is furious and gives Hoyt an ultimatum. Unsurprisingly, Hoyt chooses to hear out Jessica, and Bridgette calls Jason to pick her up. When Jason arrives, Hoyt punches him, and he wakes up in his squad car with Bridgette driving. While Hoyt and Jessica talk out their past and their possible future, Jason and Bridgette work on getting her a flight back to Alaska that won’t cost $1200. They get in bed together, with Bridgette assuring Jason that she’ll teaching him “how to not have sex.” It’s a funny, cute moment, even if we’ve all seen Bridgette and Jason’s relationship coming from a mile away.

And that puts us at the beginning of “Thank You,” the show’s final hour. And honestly, I wish it had been better. I spent a lot of time frustrated by Bill, ready for him to just die already. It’s no  secret that he’s never been one of my favorite characters, but he seemed especially boorish in this episode, especially when he finally showed up at Sookie’s, which is where our episode begins. Bill can’t give Sookie children. He can’t do this or that or the other thing for her. And he can’t make her normal…Unless he can. His solution to everything? Sookie should use her fairy light to blast him, meaning she’ll lose all her fae powers and kill Bill in the same instant. What the hell? So it’s not enough that he’s got the sexist mentality that he knows what’s best for her when she’s clearly telling her that it’s not, but now he also wants her to give up an essential part of herself to kill him when 1) he’s already dying, quickly, and 2) he could stake himself or go stand in the sun and accomplish the same thing. Screw you, Vampire Bill.

Meanwhile, Eric glamours Sarah Newlin and makes her drink Pam’s blood. He knows they’ll be able to sense her fear and that Pam will be able to find her, and so they set Sarah free. They do some handy fighting-work to kill the Yakuza still in the room, and Mr. Gus, who has gone through the basement tunnel after Sarah, gets the fire-in-the-hole treatment. Eric then goes to kill the Yakuza who’ve shown up at Sookie’s, and Pam goes to find Sarah. She’s in an abandoned park, in the carousel. She offers to be Pam’s new progeny and to be Pam’s lover. But Pam wants nothing except inoculation. She drinks from Sarah, making her immune to Hep-V.

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And Jessica and Hoyt show up at Bill’s house. Jessica wants to tell Bill that she’s come to terms with what is happening and will be ok. And somehow, Bill manages to guilt Jessica and Hoyt into getting married. Like right then. Andy comes over to perform the ceremony, Sookie comes through with some white dresses, and Arlene, Holley, Jason, and Sookie are witnesses to a ceremony that I think the writers assumed would make fans happy but that only felt clunky and sad to me. As Jessica says, Hoyt’s memories of her only go back a day. How long before he gets tired of everyone in town knowing more about himself than he does? How long before Jessica either gets tired of him again or finds that the differences wrought from memory changes and a new life are too big? Anyway, Andy gets to inherit Bill’s house, since he’s the closest living relative, and he agrees to rent it to Hoyt and Jessica for $1 after Bill’s death. And, mid-wedding, Sookie can hear Bill’s thoughts for the first time. He’s really, really sick.

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After having a chat with the Reverend about free will, Sookie decides that maybe Bill’s plan is best. She meets him in the cemetery after dark, having made all of the arrangements for his grave to be dug up. There’s a coffin there, but of course no Bill. He climbs into the grave, and Sookie stand above him for what seems like a thousand years, contemplating her light-ball. But she can’t do it. Being fae is part of her. Cue my sigh of relief that the show didn’t do something that idiotic. Sookie does, however, climb down into the grave, stake Bill, cry for another eternity while she’s covered in Bill-goop, and then somehow manage to climb out of that grave and go home.

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Cut to about a year later and a horribly hilarious infomercial for New Blood featuring Eric and Pam. About 3 years later, they’re at the NY Stock Exchange, and a year or so after that, they’re in Fangtasia with Sarah Newlin chained in the basement, being sold for about $100,000 a minute for vampires to drink her blood. Sarah’s losing her mind—Steve Newlin is haunting her again. It’s a dark moment before we switch to Thanksgiving at Sookie’s house, where a very pregnant Sookie is getting everything together for a meal. We see Bridgette and Jason with their 3 kids, and most of our other couples as well (Lafayette and James, Holly and Andy, Adilyn and Wade, Lettie May and the Reverend, and Sam and Nicole with their children). Notably absent are Pam and Eric, but I think we’re to assume that Pam and Eric aren’t very involved in Bon Temps anymore. Sookie’s significant other is faceless–we only see his back and a hint of brown hair and beard.

All in all, a decent ending, but it lacks the punch that True Blood once had. Instead of an episode that was thrilling, it was an episode that was predictable and slow-paced. If it were a paper, I’d give it a C-.

The End

Broken Bells – After the Disco Concert Review

Last week I tried to talk through some of why I like the Broken Bells. They’re my favorite band; I hope some enthusiasm showed through! But I wanted to give a further look, to give a review of the concert I went to, to let you know where you can find the Broken Bells.

Real photo - just not a real good photo!

Real photo – just not a real good photo!

This is me finishing up my first series of music posts, which have been vaguely connecting through veins of me sharing some of my favorite bands, and talking about how I interact with and find music. Two sides of the same coin, since one of the best ways to find music is through recommendations, and, once recommended, through sampling the music yourself. Hopefully you’ve found someone new or something you like through my writing, because I know your comments and recommendations have helped me find some new music.

So let me know in the comments below what you think of my music series, or the Broken Bells, or who your favorite band is, or really, whatever you like! But for now: Broken Bells!

It’s a Perfect World

As the band came out, it was the vocals that play at the beginning of their recent music video, for Holding on for Life. And on the screen at the back of the stage, projected from a circular mirror array in the middle of the stage, was a reflection of the audience. Spotlights flowed around the audience, which started to bounce and beat and get excited and flow with the start of the music.

The show opened with the first song from their new album, the album they’re touring for, After the Disco. The song is called Perfect World, and it set a stage. The song opens with about a minute of just instrumental, of just them playing. It was a great warm up, a great way to get us in and excited and get things started.

On the screen, they panned away from the audience. Up, into the sky. To the Earth – with a great night sky shot, with all the cities lit up, their own little stars. It pans out further – off and away. Planets. Pulling away further. And then, suddenly, warping away, all with the music.

They took us out, away from home, somewhere else. They took us to a place of sound, of music, away from home and worries, for a while.

For their second song, they played my favorite: The Ghost Inside. I’ve referenced before the power and influence this song holds over me. It was pretty powerful still, it hit me pretty hard. I don’t think I was the only one – there were people dancing in the aisles ahead of us. But honestly? The best part was the end. James Mercer got us all clapping, got us in time. And they flowed, through this time, seamlessly from The Ghost Inside to After the Disco.

After your Faith has let you down,

I know you’ll want to run around,

And follow the crowd into the night,

But after the Disco…

All of the shine

Just faded away

-Broken Bells, After the Disco

It was magical. It was really the beginning of me rethinking their music, of me seeing it in this new light – of them blending and merging their two albums. They did this also on the screens with highlighting a character, mostly a silhouette, of the girl from the Holding on for Life video. I’m not sure if she’s meant to be the same character as Christina Hendricks was in The Ghost Inside – I would understand, I imagine she’s harder to get in a music video these days. Nonetheless, she became this recurring character throughout our journey for the evening.

Their first pause was after After the Disco. Not much, but enough to name the song before they played it: Mongrel Heart. A song I was pleased to see made the cut to the concert: it’s part of the strong finish to their first album, but not necessarily a song that stands entirely on its own. I mean, part of what’s great is how it fades into The Mall and the Misery

So, they transitioned it into The Mall and the Misery.

They did a lot with light during the show. Projections like stars on the theater ceiling, projected rays of light while we were warping away into space. Darkness between songs. It was after The Mall and the Misery that they first did one of their big shifts during the silence: suddenly, they were in a new position.

The artists, writ large.

The artists, writ large.

With Danger Mouse in a seat, playing the guitar, and Mercer next to him singing (and later, whistling), they played The Angel and the Fool. A beautiful song, and fun in the presentation as well. I saw it, and felt I just had to get out my phone (limping along on its last few percent of power) and snap a photo. I love how it turned out.

I won’t drag on and talk about every song they played – they eventually got in 18 (I think) of their 25 songs from their albums. Pretty good representation! Continue reading