Like in past seasons, the True Blood season 5 finale sidesteps the typically energetic seasonal ending – which was ostensibly contained in its penultimate episode – for the familiar, chaotic character wrap-up, angling towards setting up an exciting next season. However, unlike in seasons past, the overlap of so many of its character story-arcs lends itself to a much more engaging, fluid viewing experience, replacing the typically separate (and nominal) storylines with four, then three, to encapsulate the series’ ever growing now dwindling cast.

In an attempt to regain some control over True Blood’s expansive cast, more than a few of Bon Temps’ more eclectic inhabitants have been more-or-less unceremoniously written off, either through an out-of-nowhere move to a new locale or through (the true) death. Though the True Blood season 5 finale does show how a smaller cast can benefit the series, the means by which many of these characters have been removed leave much to be desired, both emotionally and logically.

Taking time to continuously highlight Russell Edgington’s obsession over fairy blood, and the power that it contains, viewers received only a slight glimpse of its results before a quick ending is brought to the character’s journey, which we spent (many) hours following. Without revealing any true representation of what exactly fairy blood can do to a vampire – other than shielding it from an onslaught of fairy power, which itself doesn’t kill vampires – what currently remains of this multi-season story thread is the fact that every vampire comments on how good Sookie smells to them, not what the power of her blood can truly do.

As the majority of the series’ characters begin converging on the Vampire Authority, the typically Sookie-focused storyline is refreshingly transitioned into an earnest ensemble piece, allowing each character to not only shine in their combined moments, but to also convey more character depth than past seasons unfortunately allowed. With Tara finding love, Alcide taking over the pack, Eric remaining resolute, Sam exploring his familial hopes, and Jason (somewhat) finding himself, the producers have provided more than enough compelling reasons to not only continue tuning in to the series, but to also be excited about what’s to come next season.

Though Jason’s (hopefully skewed) visual representation of his parents is never explained, and their comments serving to be more hateful than hurtful, their appearance does allow the character to take steps towards emotionally identifying himself, while also providing him with the foundation to explore and justify his personal wants and needs, even if some of them may still be awry.

However, even though True Blood has exponentially matured in its ability to tell so many concurrent storylines, a few remnants of awkward storytelling still remain. Taking a trip back to Merlot’s, everyone’s favorite sheriff, Andy Bellefleur, is now burdened with four fairy children, from a character we briefly saw, from a relationship which was anything but developed. So while the glowing birth of fae children did provide an exceptionally comedic moment in what is generally a more serious finale, the lack of viewer attachment to the circumstances surrounding it left many viewers feeling as perplexed as Bellefleur was with having to raise four children on his own, even if only two need to survive.

As the True Blood season 5 finale reached its climax, it was an all-out onslaught on the Vampire Authority, providing an exciting convergence of compelling storylines, leading to an even more compelling cliffhanger. Now that Bill’s motives have become increasingly crazed and dire, his disastrous goals of taking on the power of Lilith are perfectly extenuated by the emotional attachment that viewers have built up for the character over the past five years, to help make each and every action of his even more impactful.

Still not without its flaws – namely Jason’s “crack shot,” the Vampire Authority’s lack of capable security, and the Steve Newlan transition – it’s hard to fault the series for adding some exciting moments into what was already a highly-anticipated finale. Additionally, the producers’ ability to bring (almost) everyone and everything together in a single location should be applauded, as it helped to clearly define the landscape in which True Blood exists, rather than presenting sporadic story elements which viewers themselves must make attempt to piece together to form the proverbial “big picture”.

Taking his final steps in becoming the most powerful vampire in existence, Bill’s transition into the manic monster provided a terrifying conclusion to what was generally an enjoyable season. Playing on the few remaining emotional attachments that viewers have for the character, Bill’s brief death was surprisingly impactful and shocking. Seamlessly transitioning the scene into Bill being reborn under Lilith’s power, the brief pause viewers previously gave the scene quickly turned into suspense, as what came out of the pile of blood appeared hell-bent on causing destruction – something that the Eric and Sookie also felt as Eric’s shouts of fleeing ended the episode.

And with True Blood season 5 coming to a close, fans must bid farewell to series creator Alan Ball, as he decided to leave the series following the end of this season. While many might wonder what will come of television’s beloved vampire series, it’s clear that Ball has left the series on a high. After being on the air for five years, the remaining cast and crew, writers and producers, are more than capable of carrying things on in his absence.

Helping to slim down the cast, as well as bringing wholeness to a series of many parts, Ball has helped to perfectly transition True Blood into a legacy. As every television series deals with growing (and aging) pains, it takes a competent mind with a talented team to make sure a show can continue years into the future, without its creator. So while we’ll have to wait and see exactly who Warlow is, as least we can rest easy in knowing that True Blood is continuing on the right track.

Now let’s just hope that it stays on it.

True Blood season 6 will premiere on HBO in 2013

Follow Anthony on Twitter @anthonyocasio