True Blood Mania TV Review - Mania.com



Mania Grade: B

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  • TV Series: True Blood
  • Episode: And When I Die
  • Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Ryan Kwanten, Sam Trammell, Rutina Wesley, Nelsan Ellis and Fiona Shaw
  • Written by: Raelle Tucker
  • Directed by: Scott Winant
  • Network: HBO
  • Series:

True Blood Mania TV Review

Strike a match and start the party.

By Rob Vaux     September 11, 2011

 Aunt Petunia never leaves, even when she's dead, and once again she holds the line for one last episode of True Blood. Nelsan Ellis has to take up the mantle tonight: possessed by Marnie's vengeful spirit and looking for payback after the whole "getting killed" thing.  It also gives her a chance to prune back some of the cast in appropriately gory fashion.

Ellis isn't Fiona Shaw, of course, and the difference is noticeable. Then again, it's supposed to be: Lafayette's possession attains far creepier heights than one would expect, especially when he turns the knife on himself in an effort to coerce Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) into surrendering his power. But he acquits himself quite well until Shaw returns for some final dramatics, and his late-inning dialogue with Jesus provides the episode with its most touching moment.

As for Shaw's curtain call, it hits the target as well as can be expected: soapy, intense and colored with a few hints of humor to keep us from taking it too seriously. That helps mitigate the rather arbitrary nature of the big climax: a Halloween showdown with Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) chained to a burning stake. Director Scott Winart loves visual flourishes and lends the showdown a nice sense of Halloween fun, but it threatens to run away with him at times. On the other hand, it also gives us the delicious sight of Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) in lingerie and a Red Riding Hood dashing through the Louisiana night. (We're not above a little cheesecake now and then, and if you can't enjoy it on True Blood, where can you?)

Add to that some other nice touches – including Pam's (Kristin Bauer van Straten) temper tantrum about Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Tommy's decidedly awkward funeral -- and "And When I Die" aptly maintains the goodwill restored by last week's season high point. 

Which isn't to say it shakes the dead weight. Sam (Sam Trammell) is still at sea, and though he and Paquin have a nice "old friends" moment, it can't save him from slipping further into irrelevance.  Alcide (Joe Manganiello) shows up to complicate Sookie's love life yet again -- been there, done that -- and Sookie’s apparent menage a trois with Bill and Eric utterly lacks the required emotional resonance. It hasn't worked all season, and while the show has compensated in other ways, this is supposed to be the core of it all. Its overall flatness is utterly inexcusable.

Jason (Ryan Kwanten) does better with another curiously sweet coupling with Jessica (and he does not, in fact, become a panther -- so this is me eating all kinds of crow) followed by one of the better twists to come along in quite some time. In fact, the whole bevy of season-ending cliffhangers gives the episode a lift: ranging from the expected-but-delicious to the genuinely eyebrow-raising. Only the last one feels forced: part of that "winnowing down the cast" notion that doesn't feel half as shocking as it should.

This is what True Blood has become after four seasons: good promises and bad ones mixed together so completely that one can never be extricated from the other. Yet it delivers on enough of them to keep us watching, and once again it entices us with the prospect of a truly delicious Season Five. It has some ground to make up -- this year has constituted a definite let-down -- but hope remains alive. We can't ask for anything more from this closing episode.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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isgrimner 9/12/2011 7:38:40 AM

I would have given it a D.  The whole season kind of felt like a bridge/filler season.   The main parts of this season wheren't climatic, and events resolved themselves quite easily.  For instance Jesus warning Marnie/LaFeyette that his magic is "dark" and if she takes it, it will influence her.  Does it?  No.  All it takes is for a few ghosts to come by and have a heart to heart with her and everything's peachy. 

Jessica in the Red Riding Hood outfit was probably the highlight. 

As to the ending surprises that weren't mentioned explicitly in the review, well I was expecting the one and the other, well, I'll just remember the way comics treat similar incidents.  It rarely lasts.  So I won't be surprised if we see them again. 

Next season also promices the return of Russel, so that looks to be a plus.  Also, you have to suspect that it was Pam who freed him out of anger at Eric/Sookie. 

Cfancher 9/12/2011 10:01:09 AM

I have to say this whole season did seem like a let down. I give this season a C -, i mean it just did not have enough twists and turns for me. I will say seeing Jessica in leather, and the red riding hood outfit, was probably the best part of the season. I wish Jason would have turned into the panther and well they still might take him down that road, but i was shocked that we didnt see that girl from hotshot come back after the full moon to check and see if Jason was a were-panther, i mean wth, with all that talk she did it kind of felt like the abondened it. And as for Eric losing his memory his was just a big baby to me, i mean wth on that, it totally sucked and every scene with Eric and Bill it just seemed off beat(then again if i was married to Paquin and Alexander was screwing my wife i would be tense too).

And the whole witch thing just seemed like complete crap, it was the same story every damn week, Marnie moaning and whining, i mean damn it got old quick. And what the heck was the point of having the black woman take control of Layafette just to get kicked out of the story that quick. I mean that was just to show us that Layafette was a medium? I knew Jesus was going to die, but i agree with you isgrimner, Jesus talked about all the dark magic and then the new charmed trio chants and brings back the dead and Marnie is like, "Oh well i am pissed but yea its time to go" I means seriously?

I will say (spoiler warning) i like the whole ending of where Tara gets shot or appears to, maybe its the glass that cut her, but it may just be me but i am getting so sick of her. I mean all she does is bitch and complain about being in the town, i hope she is gone that way we can either focus on who is there or someone new comes in.

But all in all, season kinda sucked, i hope that Season 5 is better, but either way i will be watching it.

wish 9/12/2011 12:06:15 PM

WOW what an ending!  Steve is a Vamp?  Russell is back?  Tara is finally dead? 

All good shit.

I quite liked this season. 

Deborah Ann Woll is the hottest girl in the galaxy.  No contest! 

Season 5 might be the end so I hope they pull out all the stops and empty the industry of fake blood!!!!

TheMovieGuy28 9/12/2011 1:28:29 PM

This season was such an extreme disappointment.

-Why'd they have to kill Jesus?
-Oh look, Russell is back. Called that one when they buried him
-Order of the Sun perhaps Antonia's secret vampire sect?
-So Jason's not a panther? Well there was a waste of what had to amount to nearly an hour of episode time, or 1 full show, during the beginning of the season
-Alcide just happened to come by Sam's when Sookie decides to work. Which is another thing, where's Sookie get money from? She's been gone over a year and has 1 shift at Sams?

You know, all my points above are weakly-explained and half-thought out. But maybe that's because this season of True Blood was the same way. Weak explinations and half-thought out storylines.

At least Tara is dead.....for the time being. And hey, maybe next year we'll see some faeries, like, you know, how they basically made us think we'd see this year with that entire opening Star Trek desert meets the OC scene.

I'm still pissed Jesus had to die.

crimsonkingtph 9/12/2011 2:26:43 PM

 Not a bad season finale, not great but not bad. I am sick of the whole Sookie/Eric/Bill story though, the vampires really need to move on from the faerie vagina and grow some fangs. Best part was Steve Newlin showing up at Jason's door. And Tara will most likely live, the wooped vamps will show up feeling that Sookie is in trouble, Eric will get rid of Debbie's body and Bill will save Tara and that will start Bill and Tara sex dreams....so Tara will be around to cry about that!

norseman72 9/12/2011 5:07:31 PM

I cant complain about this season. still a great ride thru the world of sci-fi/fantasy. much of the episode was just winding down besides the last 5 minutes where it felt like watching KILL BILL. LOL ,SERIOUSLY NAN!!!! SHE WAS THE BEST! she wasnt in much, but her character served such a great purpose and just chewed the scenery. speaking of which, as usual Pam steals the show. her temper tantrum was awesome. shes totally reflecting the fans who just dont see the appeal Sookie has over Erik or any other vampire (no offence to anna paquin).

i am disappointed by the whole Jesus dieing and Lafayette mourning him. Tara did that last year (my god that family is cursed). so now Jesus will be paying visits like Ben Kenobi. 'there is another medium....your cousin....'

I am glad to see the "normal" people getting more screen time. the belflours need to be fleshed out.

looking forward to season 5.

p.s still waiting for Jason to be a werepanther

SPOILER ALERT:

(he does in the books)

fatpantz 9/12/2011 6:38:15 PM

Strange hoe the season ended with such a happy ending.....Tera is dead!

Please....nobody save her!!

As well, we finally see Jessica nude....my day is complete

InnerSanctum 9/12/2011 8:49:06 PM

 And, on the 7th season...Jesus rose from the dead.  

Skroin 9/13/2011 7:17:58 AM

I enjoyed the seaon, but agree it hasn't been as good as the previous ones.

I'm sure they'll find a way for Tara to live, unfortunately. Crimsonknight basically stated what I thought after finishing the episode, but then my wife had a valid point.

To become a vampire you gotta have your blood drank and then you drink their blood. Well, how can Tara really drink blood when her brains are splattered all over the kitchen? I really hope they leave her dead.

I was actually disappointed with the death of Jesus. I was hoping they'd flesh out the whole Jesus/Lafayette growing stronger in magic more.

My biggest and glaring thing that bugged me about this episode......How the hell can Tara just show up to Lafette's house, see Jesus dead and automaticaly think "O I know! Lafeyette is possesssed by Marnie!"

And I wish they would have shown exactly what happened to lead up to Eric and Biill being chained to the stake. It just felt thrown in.

axia777 9/13/2011 10:23:49 AM

What TheMovieGuy28 said.

Also, Jessica for the WIN X 1,000,000. Her and the chick that plays Pam are the hottest women in the show, period. Jessica is way hotter than Sookie hands down. Hell, even the mom dressed as a Fairy is hotter than Sookie.

Best part of the season? Eric ripping that white trashes Wiccan's heart out and then drinking it like a Slurpee. Yes, that was EPIC awesome. Eric could kill everyone on that show and not eve break a sweat.

 

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