Following last week’s episode of True Blood – which could have been seen as a competent resolution – the “official” True Blood season 4 finale feels like nothing more than an unnecessary addition to a series that’s on verge of proverbially imploding because of its tendency to follow operatic logic while continuously positioning itself as a fantastical drama.
Despite adequately concluding the myriad of concurrent storylines and subplots that have run rampant throughout the series’ evolution, the True Blood season 4 finale was also a cavalcade of ridiculousness wrapped in a veil of poorly executed scenes and a litany of “twists” that serve no other purpose than to reduce the number of actors the series has to employ.
Unfortunately, whatever complaints that can be made about the way True Blood’s fourth season concluded are magnified by the simple fact that the producers decided to set the finale on Halloween. Of course, even if one was attempting to forgive this decision, the illogical reference to MTV’s Teen Mom 2 would have certainly prevented that. Even lovers of Teen Mom will acknowledge that the original cast is the more interesting of the two.
With a rush to include any and all remaining character storylines, many of the finale’s scenes are rife with disproportionate rationality driven by forced emotions and convoluted dialogue, poorly juxtaposed to the imagery presented. Bill and Eric being burned on the cross while Marnie comes to terms with her death and Jessica and Jason having sex while talking about Hoyt are just a few examples of this.
To give credit where credit is due, the True Blood season 4 finale does present a more earnest conclusion to this past season’s storylines than the disastrous True Blood season 3 finale – but that’s not saying much.
Despite the core storylines being defined more by their frivolity than intrigue, the cliffhangers leading into True Blood season 5 are appealing in their own right – but does that really make a difference?
[MAJOR SPOILER ALERT]
Even if the revelation that Russell Edgington has escaped his cement coffin OR the news that the vampire alliance is falling apart OR the “shocking” twist of Tara being killed was enough to entice you to tune in to next season, one must ask themselves whether or not these relished twists and cliffhangers are even important when there’s precedence that these plots could be as poorly executed as previous storylines.
In a year when True Blood needed to prove itself as an ever-evolving series that can handle the prodigious mythos that comes from the Sookie Stackhouse novels, the series has, for all intents and purposes, chosen not to evolve, but to adapt; Alan Ball has (unfortunately) adapted this series into a proverbial adult soap opera before the audience’s eyes.
While this soap opera approach has worked well on, say, daytime television (though, not anymore) and resulted in entertaining, seemingly well-orchestrated storytelling, it’s often at the expense of deep, rich, character-driven stories.
Although, perhaps True Blood season 4 will serve as another rung in the ladder of growth that the series hopes to achieve. The improvement between season 3 and season 4 is apparent, so perhaps the transition from season 4 to season 5 will be as well.
That being said, in a world where television has elevated itself to be more than a litany of 30-minute network sitcoms, is there any room for a television series that’s trying to find itself over the course of 5 years to still be on the air? With a vertebral treasure trove of well-told stories continuously available every night of the week, are audiences willing to suffer through the growing pains of True Blood in hopes that something amazing will eventually occur?
Even though there’s no way that True Blood will be taken off the air anytime soon, at a certain point these contrivances will most certainly catch up with them, unless they’re changed.
It’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.”
True Blood season 5 will premiere July 2012 on HBO
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