Your enjoyment of this final season of True Blood likely comes down to whether you’d be charmed by a recurring hookup suddenly asking you if you think they’re a good person inside. Like, excuse me, sexy friend, but thoughtfulness is maybe not why we’ve been meeting up at this shady motel (HBO) all these years? True Blood has spent most of this season transforming itself from a madcap sex cartoon into a thoughtful examination of the nature of community as well as the harms we’ll endure in our undying desire to be loved. This newfound introspection is tantamount to a rug-pulling for those who’d prefer True Blood to simply sit and look pretty as it disappears into oblivion. But for those of us who’ve actually found ourselves invested in this thing over the past seven years, it feels earned, rich, and shockingly rewarding. Tell us more about yourself, sexy friend. You’ve earned it. (P.S.: What is sex? I’ve hearing a lot about it lately.)
For the one or two people who’d been holding out hope for a Sookie-Bill romantic rekindling: Was Bill’s Hep-V-infected, veiny torso awkwardly humping on Sookie all you’d been dreaming of? Because that happened! Boy, did it. Gotta hand it to True Blood — while it wasn’t much of a shock that Sookie and Bill finally reunited their junk, it was surprising that it happened so fast and unceremoniously. Personally, I appreciate that it wasn’t made into some epic series-finale-type romantic moment. Nope, their reunion ended up feeling like an inevitable afterthought tacked onto the end of a mid-season episode, which thankfully means that Sookie’s journey won’t be defined by which man she ends up with. But, on the other hand, yuck? No me gusta. Terminal illness and flashbacks can only undo so much of Bill’s total character implosion, but hey, Sookie’s in a dark place lately, and it stood to reason that Bill’s rapidly approaching demise would make her want to grab on with both hands.
We can probably all agree that the best part of Bill’s section this week was the return of Dr. Ludvig (played by the great Marcia de Rousse), whom we last saw back in season four, ripping Pam’s skin off following her run-in with Marnie. From her arrival in an enormous Hummer to her repeated claim that she fears no monster (except for, apparently, certain faeries), Dr. Ludvig provided just the right amount of no-nonsense, Tangina-channeling insanity True Blood delights in. Among the many reasons I love this season so much (is it obvious yet that I really love this season?) is how it has walked the line between a greatest-hits compilation of True Blood callbacks while also feeling like a new and final saga. Ludvig’s visit still didn’t provide us with a full explanation for why Bill’s Hep-V is progressing so quickly, but it did lead to a return visit from Sookie’s “faerie godfather” Niall. You know, sometimes when a girl stands in a graveyard asking for help, it’s nice to know someone out there might actually show up, if only to impart a weird lesson about the miracle of forgiveness. (Or whatever.) I just liked that Niall’s visit was more about pathos and callbacks than a legit return to the bankrupt faerie lore. So hopefully that’s it, and fingers crossed that the F word won’t be mentioned again.
Meanwhile, Eric and Pam are still working with the Japanese Tru Blood executive to find Sarah Newlin, but now their mission is less about revenge-murder and more about synthesizing her cure-laden blood for billions in profit. Proposed name? Nu Blood! Proposed spokesperson? Eric Northman! This business guy is clearly a genius. Like Bill, Eric’s Hep-V infection has progressed to the extent that he’s losing his grip on reality, but fortunately, the Yakuza has connections to the Japanese CIA and have tracked Sarah Newlin via satellite to her old stomping grounds: the abandoned Fellowship of the Sun compound. Again, callback alert: Sarah Newlin’s also losing her mind, which meant she got to relive her encounters with a flag-football-playing Jason (no bathtub hand job yet) as well as get berated by the ghost of her ex-husband Steve Newlin. Such deep season two references are strictly for the fans, but have been working wonders at making the entirety of True Blood seem retroactively coherent and whole. So good.
Speaking of the past: Hoyt’s back! Yep, Jason’s brain-erased former best friend returned to Bon Temps to deal with his mother’s death, and he brought his beautiful girlfriend with him. This led to a surprisingly complicated reunion with Jason, who didn’t quite know how to act around Hoyt and certainly didn’t know how to be not attracted to Hoyt’s new girlfriend. Obviously Jason doesn’t have a great history of keeping his hands off Hoyt’s ladies, so this angle was played for maximum awkwardness, but are we to believe Jason’s fling with Jessica was a one-off physical encounter? I’m not sure I bought his insta-horniness toward Hoyt’s new girlfriend, and it’s probably only a matter of time until someone spills the beans to Hoyt about what had gone down a few years prior, but for now it’s nice just to see the two guys together again.
As it turned out, Violet did not have great intentions when it came to inviting Adilyn and Wade to her sex palace. In my opinion, anybody who tells you to leave your cell phone in a tree house and follow them to an undisclosed location is not to be trusted, and that opinion was very justified by this plotline. Yes, Violet has a very elegant sex room in her fancy mansion complete with a beautiful self-portrait and glass cases full of ancient dildos, but after allowing the young pair to have simple, old-fashioned sex using only their bodies, she suddenly barged in and started threatening them with her sex toy collection. I think we’re to understand that this is all a way for Violet to ensnare Jessica (who continues to have a mental bond with Adilyn), but for now, all it’s doing is stressing out Andy and Holly, who spent the episode driving up to Oklahoma and weeping about the lack of control they have over their lives. Again, some touching pathos on display with these two, but it made me laugh that while they were gazing sadly at a beautiful lake, their children were exploring wooden strap-ons and reading the instruction label on bottle of erotic massage oil. Teens!
One of the more affecting emotional through lines of this season continues to be Arlene’s inner-life. I guess I’d forgotten that she is the actual owner of Bellefleur’s now? No wonder she was so bummed about all the vampire guts staining her hardwood. But there was something so sad about watching her stand around her empty restaurant, thinking about her life. A lovely conversation with Sam led to her admission that although all the people she loved lived in Bon Temps, she constantly had to fake happiness just to endure living there. Fortunately, her potentially creepy new love interest Keith seems to be genuinely sweet, and after a VERY sexy dream sequence that had him ravaging her on the pool table, he showed up and informed her that her sadness was so strong that it registered to him telepathically as danger. But my favorite aspect of this plotline is how age-appropriate it feels compared to the typical vampire saga. I’ve never believed that an ancient being, no matter how youthful in appearance, would willingly want to date or fall in love with a teenager. I can’t imagine even wanting to have a conversation with a teenager, let alone date one; yet here are, Edward Cullen and the Salvatore Brothers: Several hundred-year-old weirdos who just can’t seem to quit teenage girls. So yes, it’s nice to see Keith actually pursue a mature woman rather than a child. It’s frankly refreshing! But also, get it, Arlene.
It’s those kinds of touches that make “May Be the Last Time” and season seven as a whole feel richer and more heartfelt than what we’d come to expect of this show. Again, I’m absolutely sympathetic to viewers who simply want to sit and watch some trashy fun every Summer Sunday night. I have wanted that in the past, also! But why am I coming away moved every week now? The end of this series draws nearer and nearer, and these examinations of the soul definitely aren’t helping the detachment process. What happens when a casual encounter starts sparking conversations from the heart? Is that called “love”? Will that be True Blood’s most enduring achievement? That we finally fell in actual love with a Sunday night fling? Ugh, this is happening.