True Blood Season Six Postmortem: Still Having a Ball

TRUE BLOOD episode 47 (season 4, episode 11): Rutina Wesley, Lauren Bowles, Anna Paquin, Nelsan Ellis, Kevin Alejandro. photo: John P. Johnson TRUE BLOOD episode 47 (season 4, episode 11): Alexander Skarsgard, Stephen Moyer. photo: John P. Johnson/HBO Photo: HBO

When it was announced that this season of True Blood wouldn’t have Alan Ball at its helm, the first thing we all thought was Don’t screw this up. Or, rather, Don’t unscrew this up, since True Blood would be nothing without its screwing. In fact, if this show were a telenovela, its name would be ¡Scréwamos! Luckily, for the most part, the writers stepped up their game this year, compensating for the loss of Ball (not to be confused with a loss of balls, the sixth season’s most gruesome flourish). But that doesn’t mean that there weren’t a few fumbles. Let’s break it down.

“Humans fighting back” was the major theme this season, and it worked beautifully as a narrative framework. (It would have also been a better name for Occupy Wall Street.) The glamour-repellent contact lenses, the neon Furby bullets, the air of freshly acquired nonchalance mixed with vengeance — it all came together effectively under Mr. Clean, a.k.a. Governor Burrell’s determined tutelage (that is, until Bill decapitated him and left his head as a present for Sarah Newlin). Over the season, countless vampires found themselves thwarted and summarily marched off to SoulCycle. At the end of the day, it’s a cruel world for humans and supernaturals alike.

Season six was shortened to ten episodes in light of Anna Paquin’s pregnancy — not that you would ever guess that she had just given birth to twins. Seriously, is she an X-Woman in real life? Whatever the case, Sookie showed better judgment this season, calling Warlow’s bluff earlier than she might have done with her previous suitors. Still, she did eventually fall for him before he decided that, after 6,000 years of waiting, the smoothest tactic was to lose his shiznit because she suggested “dating.” Sookie and Alcide finally got together — and none too soon, because Alcide finally cut his hair. No man that fine should look like he told his barber, “Give me the Jim Henson.” Honestly, I would have sacrificed half an episode to watch his haircut in real time. With Warlow out of the picture, it’s now looking as if this series is setting up Sookie and Bill for a romantic ending after their insane history. Great — I guess they can use Carrie Bradshaw’s old apartment as a starter home.

One of the main threads of this season was obviously the emergence of Billith, a fedora-less Ne-Yo. After convening with his prophetess on a Boca Raton soundstage, Bill saw himself as a savior, which involved moving more small objects than Anna Kendrick’s “Cups.” Bill went straight-up Desmond Hume from Lost on us, foreseeing the demise of his nearest and dearest vamps. Bill, divested of his demigod status, is now the best-selling author of And God Bled (ghostwritten by Dan Brown).

As has often been the case, Eric had the most compelling narrative this season. We saw him add one more female to his progeny — Mr. Clean’s daughter, Willa. Then, when Nora died in Chita Rivera’s costume from Kiss of the Spider Woman, we also saw Alexander Skarsgård bring back the cry-whimper that he used when Godric met the sun. After Eric set all of the vampires free and neutered Dr. Overlark, he gave one particularly longing look at Pam before shooting into the sky like Augustus Gloop in a chocolate pipe. Pam left Bon Temps in search of Eric in the finale, and I am hoping that she somehow saves him from his naked mountaintop roast during the season seven premiere. Listen: I am a tax-paying citizen and a registered voter and have made all of my jury-duty appointments with aplomb. I deserve Eric Northman. I mean, if I have to live through an Eric-less season seven, it will be harder than coming out of the closet.

Season six also gave us the fantastic therapy sessions with Miss Pam and her creepy interrogator, Finn. (Jury is out on whether season seven will show us Pam and her therapist’s eventual love child: The Sopranos’s Dr. Melfi.) I didn’t quite capture everything in these scenes because, as an Indian person, the name of Pam’s feeding surrogate, “Somchai,” sounded like someone offering me tea. But in any case, we got to hear the dark musings of Pam’s brothel- and blood-warped mind.

Speaking of Tara: She was given little to do this season besides dispense the occasional tidbit to Willa. After all this time, I still don’t get why people have problems with Tara. She was hysterical in the first two seasons, and although things went off the rails with her in season three, Rutina Wesley continues to be a wonderful actress and deserves more screen time than Reverend Daniels, who was maybe the protagonist of the past two episodes? Put another way: My season-finale notes about Tara should not begin and end with “Tara and her mom pass the Bechdel test before the former feeds on the latter.”

Steve Newlin
RIP, ex-reverend Newlin! As the resident Benedict Arnold of his colony, there was no way that Steve was going to emerge from this debacle unscathed — or intact. Michael McMillian has played the role with unctuous perfection, deploying his fleshy smile often and with relish. But after contributing to Nora’s death and divulging to his ex-wife why the vampires were resisting the tainted TruBlood, he deserved to meet the sun under Eric’s grip. His joyous proclamation of love for Jason Stackhouse was a fitting demise. (It’s also how I wake up every morning.) Thankfully, we can still get our Steve Newlin fix by buying this forthcoming book, Steve Newlin’s Field Guide to Vampires.

Jason began the season by mistaking Rutger Hauer’s Niall for Warlow, then gave us the best scene of the entire season, if not the series, by having a shaving fantasy about Warlow. (He’s now had Eric’s blood to drink, so let’s hope that the Barbasol jamboree continues apace.) Jason then spent the latter half of the season infiltrating the vampire camp the way that he infiltrated the Fellowship of the Sun. While at camp, he became the chosen one of possessive vampire Violet Mazursky, who sounds like the feisty proprietress of a kosher deli called Unleavened. We will see how this relationship plays out, but right now, it seems as if it is heavily, um, favored toward Violet.

Sarah Newlin
This all happened, of course, after Jason confronted, then released, Sarah Newlin. Oh, Sarah. Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. Thank God that Anna Camp projectile-vomited herself from Pitch Perfect back on to this show because her hair alone added new dimensions. After aligning forces with Mr. Clean, then disguising her widowhood in the name of Jesus, she orchestrated the catfight to end all catfights. Her stiletto-impaling of Tía Carrere (that’s Tia Carrere’s aunt) was perhaps even more disturbing than Dr. Overlark’s emasculation. She is still on the loose and newly Steve Newlin–less, so I suspect that we’ll see her in season seven as a love interest for Sam Merlotte.

Sam Merlotte
And dear Sam Merlotte … When the finale began with a shot of Terry Bellefleur’s newly made grave, I thought that the camera would pan to Sam hitting on another woman, given that he started dating Nicole’s hair while Luna was flatlining. Sam spent most of the season tussling with the werewolves, then put that beef to bed when Alcide left his own pack. When not busy with Bulleit rye product placements, Sam knocked up Nicole, then spurned Sookie when she finally came to him of her own free will. He asked his fellow Bon Temp–ers to curb the hep V outbreak by offering themselves willingly to a vampire in need. I would rather have spent the episode seeing him in another sleeveless sweatshirt. In fact, in season seven, I would like Sam and Andy to appear in a cover band called Sleeveless Sweatshirt.

One of the highlights of this season was Deborah Ann Woll’s fabulous depiction of getting high on fairy-vampire blood, which looked like a Tilt-a-Whirl. Jessica played the ever-loyal progeny this season, trying to see the best in Bill while he alienated everyone else. She then met her current boyfriend, James, who won her heart by not assaulting her in public. By the looks of the finale, he is a fledgling indie rocker, while she may face some fierce reprobation by Violet. As long as that reprobation leads to more Tilt-a-Whirling, we’re good.

Andy Bellefleur
Did you know that Andy had four fairy daughters and then Jessica killed three of them and then there was one? This entire paragraph is still shorter than Adilyn’s full name. #MoreHollyPlease

Terry and Arlene
Okay, I understand that some people enjoyed the funeral scene for the dearly departed Terry Bellefleur. I, however, was not one of them. So it’s not the best cliffhanger to show the entire town of Bon Temps in danger of a ferocious vampire attack, given how I was wishing for the same thing while the funeral was happening. (Though I will, of course, miss Todd Lowe’s adorable mug as Terry.) All the same, I am always in favor of seeing Carrie Preston act her little heart out in the midst of trauma, so if a tornado has to land on her face next season, I guess I’ll understand. At the same time, renaming Merlotte’s as Bellefleur’s? Big no-no. Sidenote: Sookie revealed to everyone during her telepath confession that Terry fell in love with Arlene the first time she walked into his life. Perhaps that’s true, but are we just going to forget that they really got together under the mind-possessing spell of a demonic maenad? Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

Nelsan Ellis, I want you to star in everything. Take Rutina Wesley by her perfectly sculpted arm and star in an Off Broadway revue. Everyone’s two-drink minimums are on me.

All in all, this was a very compelling and complex season; the problem is that, because of the final two episodes, people are going to say that this season was lackluster. Don’t fall for that. This was a very strong showing by the True Blood team, and it pulled out some of the finest acting from the show’s stars. But I swear: If 2014 confirms Eric’s demise, I will scream louder than Ginger has ever screamed.

True Blood Season Six Postmortem