The True Blood Season Finale
Not enough skin, not enough scares, plenty of cliffhangers.
Ball once again counters the feminist attack on the show by having Sookie insist that Bill "doesn't own" her, and Russell makes clear that Bill's assault on her was not his fault, that her blood is so amazing that almost any other vampire starving of thirst would have killed her. In other words, this isn't domestic abuse. It's vampire nature. That said, Bill does become more than a little creepy, the kind of obsessed ex you just can't get rid of.
This closing episode had more the feel of a beginning than an end, leaving fans with many questions. Did Sam really kill his half-brother? What is that voodoo-looking doll inside the house of Jessica and Hoyt? Will Jason lead a nation of hillbillies? And who will win the air battle between Bill and the vampire queen? That's a lot of cliffhangers, but looking forward, clearly you can expect Season 4, coming next summer, to be about fairies and witches.
My prediction is Ball will turn the reputations of these two creatures on their heads and give us attractive, modern witches and fairies less benign that you think. Memo to Ball: study the movies of Guillermo del Toro for a primer on how to make fairies scary. And with Hoyt's mother buying guns at a shop with an Obama photo on the wall, do not be surprised to see a stand-in for the Tea Party.
In the end of the most tedious character plotline of the year—the forever tearing-up victim Tara—she has a serious talk with Sam about making a big change, starting over with a "brand new life." It's a speech that prepares us for a big dramatic shift, and if anyone needs one, it's Tara, who was a smart, sassy dynamo before she became a walking water fountain. So she thinks it over, cries, stares in the mirror and then studies a pair of scissors. Slashing horror movie music turns into soulful guitar strums as she makes her big move. Tara gets a haircut. Stunned, Sookie gasps, "Oh my God." To be fair, it is a startlingly professional job considering Tara did it by herself.
This would be a great joke if it began with the guitar and moved to the Bernard Herrmann score when the world's most dramatic trim was complete. But the tone was too straight and if it was meant as a joke, it was easy to miss the punch line. Since the shortening of Eric's locks did anticipate his evolution, maybe here is the real secret to True Blood. Character changes, but hair is destiny.
Jason Zinoman writes about theater for the New York Times. He is the author of Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.