04 February 2010

True Blood S1 E12 (Season Finale) "You'll Be the Death of Me"

Spoilers Ahead

All too quickly the first season of True Blood reached its finale. I don't know about anyone else but I would have been happy to watch at least another twelve episodes. At least. Because, unlike The Vampire Diaries, everything going on in True Blood (and there is a lot) is actually interesting, enjoyable, and has a point to it. I know--novel concept for a television show (the way the American networks have been running things, I'm actually surprised it didn't get cancelled). So, here's to the end of Season 1, the soon-to-be reviewed episodes of Season 2, and the eventual start of Season 3.

Continuing the trend started in "To Love Is to Bury," this episode doesn't start at exactly the same point the last one left off. This time we come in on Jason in a jail cell as he tells Rene--who we now know is the murderer--where he'd like all his belongings to go. Rene gets Jason's prized truck, and doesn't betray any hint of remorse or guilt at seeing his friend take the fall for him. Instead he makes a comment about the murdered women not being innocent, that as fang bangers they would have ended up dead sooner or later. But Jason is convinced something is wrong with himself.

Rene is showing his true colours in all sorts of little (and big) ways this episode. From the camera focusing on him at significant moments (like when Sookie says she's close to finding out who the real killer is), to the music he's singing along to ("Devil in Disguise"), to Sookie commenting that his thoughts don't have a Cajun accent. And one of the funniest, and most disturbing, scenes all season is when the camera cuts to Arlene's kids watching Maudette's missing sex tape. It turns out to have been stored with Rene's stuff in the garage, along with an instructional cassette on Cajun dialect. Unfortunately this funny moment comes at the expense of plot: why would Rene ever have kept this stuff, let alone in an open box in the garage at home where anyone could get to it? I don't know--maybe in his twisted mind he thought Arlene would be sympathetic, given her general antipathy toward vampires. Or maybe someone just dropped the ball (we'll forgive them...this time...)

After Andy Bellefleur refuses to believe Jason isn't the killer (he never got the fax with Rene/Drew Marshall's name and photo on it, but even if he did he just seems to have an innate hatred for Jason), Sookie has an even harder time dealing with the thoughts of people at the bar. Not only is the general consensus that Jason is the murderer, but most people seem to agree that Sookie and her entire family are a bunch of shameless freaks. Rough day at the office. Against Sam's advice (he can't leave the bar, so can't go with to protect her) she insists she needs to go home. When her car won't start she gladly accepts a ride home with Rene, but not before he "tries" to fix her car--and then disposes of what is apparently the needed part. Now would be a good time to suck it up and use your unappreciated mind-reading ability, Sookie.

Things are going considerably better for Tara--at least on the surface. She wakes up in luxurious surroundings, is waited on by a butler, has the sympathy and support of Maryann, and meets a guitar-playing hottie named Eggs (Mehcad Brooks, The Deep End). Actually his real name is Benedict--get it? If it all seems too good to be true, well, you know how it goes. The butler slyly pockets Tara's phone, there's an unnatural amount food around, Eggs seems a little too convinced of the awesomeness of the so-called social worker, and, oh yeah, Maryann turns out not to be your average human (we see her entire body buzzing and flickering). Later on we also find out that Sam and Maryann know each other--and it is not a happy reunion. For one thing, she's aware he's a shapeshifter and apparently has gone out of her way to find him again. Why Sam doesn't warn Tara about Maryann or just come clean about what he is, though, is a question along the same lines of why Rene didn't get rid of those incriminating tapes. Best not to ask.

Back at Sookie's house, Rene comes in to "watch over her" until Sam can get there. As Sookie busies herself getting iced tea, Rene's thoughts start slipping away from him. Sookie hears him thinking about all the blood that was in her house, and gets an image of him killing her Gran. She tries to hide what she knows but Rene is done pretending. He smirks at her as she aims a rifle at him (he'd already removed the bullets) and drops his accent. Sookie manages to get out of the house, and then the chase is on. Michael Raymond-James, who plays Rene, does a good job of portraying an alternately creepy and enraged psychopath as he chases Sookie. She finally takes advantage of her telepathy and forces him to re-live the murders he committed. It's cool to see Sookie as a powerful character again, rather than one always waiting to be saved. Having her in his head stops Rene long enough for Sookie to hide in an open grave, but he's soon after her again. Annoyingly she falls for his obvious misdirect ("She must have run into the woods--guess I'll follow her there now...") and reveals herself. Of course he's waiting, and a minute later he's choking the life out of her.

Sookie's not entirely on her own, though. Back at Merlotte's, Sam decides to sniff Rene's work vest. It seems weird until he flashes back to rolling around in Dawn's sheets after she'd been killed. It turns out he'd noted the killer's scent and now realizes the killer is Rene. Meanwhile, Bill wakes up aware that Sookie's in serious trouble. I guess Bill felt bad for leaving Sookie on her own while he went to the Tribunal because he runs (or rather, stumbles) off to save her, even though it's the middle of the day. Rather than bursting into flames, it looks like poor Bill is being roasted alive, his skin turning black and crusty while smoke pours off him. He should've used Spike's trick and brought a blanket along for cover.

Sam, in dog form, reaches Sookie first. He attacks Rene but the human gets the upper hand. Rene then gets distracted when he kicks the dog into unconsciousness and it turns back into Sam. Poor Rene--surrounded by freaks. Bill finally comes within sight of Sookie, but the sun finally overcomes him and he collapses, saying her name. If that's not devotion, I don't know what is. At this point Sookie suddenly comes awake, grabs a nearby shovel, and has at Rene. He fights back viciously and I doubt anyone feels sorry for him as Sookie embeds the shovel into the back of his head. She and Sam then turn their attention to Bill who, despite looking like a giant piece of charcoal, apologizes to Sookie for having failed to save her. She breaks down sobbing, and Sam buries Bill in the open grave.

The next scene cuts to Sookie, bruised, in bed and groggily waking up. Tara, Lafayette, and Sam are there. They're all thrilled she's okay, although they think she's out of it when she says Sam turned into a dog and bit Rene. Sam doesn't tell them otherwise, and Sookie lets him know how great he is and that he should let people see the real him. Tara apparently takes Sookie's words to heart because a few minutes later she tells Sam that he really is a wonderful person who deserves to have everything he wants happen--and so does she. Then she takes off with Maryann, but not before Sam and Maryann have the encounter I mentioned. This would have been a good time for Sam to warn Tara, if for no other reason than to prevent her from sounding like a cheesy motivational speaker as she quotes Maryann every five minutes, which happens by the end of the episode. Further proof that Maryann is not good people.

A weepy Arlene comes by to see Sookie, feeling responsible not only for not realizing who Rene was, but for telling Sookie to stay out of her (and by extension, his) head, thereby preventing Sookie from picking up on his true nature. This is probably the first time I've really liked Arlene, boosted by her asking how Bill is doing. Sookie breaks down as she admits she doesn't think he'll be okay.

Back at the Sheriff's department, Jason has a revelation. Early in the day he was visited by Orry Dawson, a representative of the Fellowship of the Sun church, an anti-vampire church, as the name suggests, although Dawson claims they don't hate vampires--they just really, really like humans. He says that while the church can't technically condone Jason's killing of four human women--even misguided ones--killing vampire Eddie was a service to "his race and Jesus." Besides, they know Jason's intentions were "pure." They've set up a defense fund for Jason, and Dawson leaves him with some reading material. Jason doesn't seem impressed by any of this (mostly just confused), but when Andy angrily arrives to set him free and calls his release a "miracle," Jason looks heavenward and we know that boy is about to get himself into serious trouble. When he goes to see Sookie, he tells her he's been "saved" and that all the bad stuff that happened was for a reason, not that he knows what that reason is. But it's no surprise when, at the end of the episode, we see him at the church, soaking up every word of the obnoxious Rev. Steve Newlin's sermon, and being moved by the spirit. Oh, Jason--first Amy and now this.

The best part of the episode for me comes when everyone has left and Sookie's safe on her own. She hears something outside, and when she opens the door Bill is there, completely healed. After a long moment of shock, she invites him back in. He's ready to give her his blood to heal her wounds, but she claims that after everything that's happened she wants to feel human (an interesting take on humanity, and one I can't disagree with). When Bill tries to apologize for failing her, Sookie stops him because her life is too short. Then they share a lingering kiss. It's no secret that Bill is one of my favourite vampires (second only to that other William, aka Spike) and scenes like this just confirm it. I have to say, though, I'm surprised no one has mentioned Bill yet in my True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse contest. I'm a little disappointed here, people.

Anyway, after their kiss, the screen fades to be replaced with the words "Two Weeks Later." This postscript is when we see Jason at the Fellowship of the Sun service, and discover Tara is a full-out Maryann disciple. There's plenty more going on as well. Andy Bellefleur has become a bitter relapsed drunk. Lafayette has been missing for a couple of weeks (we saw him attacked by something after he left Sookie's place but we didn't get to see what happened). Hoyt asks Sookie if Bill knows any nice vampire girls his age for him to date. Arlene and Terry continue bonding, with Terry becoming a little more openly--if awkwardly--flirtatious. Sam is in a permanently pissed off state, no doubt due to Sookie's renewed relationship with Bill, Tara's infatuation with Maryann (and loss of interest in him), and Maryann's very presence; we see him retrieving bundles of money from Merlotte's safe, although where he got them and what he's going to do with them is anybody's guess. As well, marriage between humans and vampires is legalized for the first time, but only in Vermont--I'm not sure how I feel about this; vampires are not domestic creatures, and one really can't get more domestic than getting married. I think the vampires of True Blood are heading down a path they really shouldn't go down (talk about being de-fanged).

Sookie and Bill have a big night planned, but before Sookie can meet Bill at his place, Jessica shows up, accompanied by Eric and Pam. They've had enough of putting up with her, so Bill's deal with Eric is off--that is, unless Bill wants to give Sookie to Eric. That's not happening, so Bill's back on Maker duty with a bratty neonate teenager. Can't wait to see how Sookie reacts to this.

The last scene of the finale involves Andy, Sookie, and Tara. As the girls follow a drunken Andy to his car, trying to convince him to give them his keys, he notices the car door is slightly ajar. As he opens it, we can see a limp leg hanging out. And then Sookie and Tara scream.

Nice cliffhanger to tide us over to the second season. There's a lot of potential and promise for season 2, as well as plenty to keep us worried and wondering. You really can't ask for more of a finale.

Fang Files

Appearance: Pale humans with snake-like fangs that descend at will.

Strengths: Super speed. Ability to withstand extreme pain.

Weaknesses: The sun.

Mythology: Vampires need an invitation into a private residence; they're compelled to leave if the invitation is rescinded. Vampires are technically walking corpses, animated only by blood. Vampires sleep during the day. Once a human has drunk vampire blood, the vampire will always have a connection to them and can find them.

Sound Bites

Tara: I didn't just wreck my car. I totalled my whole life. All of it.

Tara: (after meeting Eggs) So, collecting stray black people, that some kind of hobby of hers [Maryann's]?

Bill: (on the verge of death after being unable to save Sookie from Rene) I...am...sorry.

Jason: You know, I was sitting in that jail, and I just kept thinkin' about all the stupid stuff I've done.
Sookie: That must have kept you busy.

Sookie: You're alive?
Bill: Well, technically no.

Eric: (after returning Jessica to Bill) There are favors, and there are favors.
Pam: She is extremely annoying.

True Blood, S1 E12 (season finale) "You'll Be the Death of Me." Written by Charlaine Harris and Raelle Tucker. Directed by Alan Ball. From HBO.

Season One Reviews

Episode 1 "Strange Love"

Episode 2 "First Taste"

Episode 3 "Mine"

Episode 4 "Escape from Dragon House"

Episode 5 "Sparks Fly Out"

Episode 6 "Cold Ground"

Episode 7 "Burning House of Love"

Episode 8 "The Fourth Man in the Fire"

Episode 9 "Plaisir D'Amour"

Episode 10 "I Don't Wanna Know"

Episode 11 "To Love Is to Bury"

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