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Review #3007: True Blood 4.12: “And When I Die”

Posted on the 13 September 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

The third season finale was a bit of a letdown, to say the least, so I was worried that this season would follow in its footsteps, since the show has once again been given a quick fifth season pickup. I am happy to say that “True Blood” not only delivered a solid season, but brought things to a massive conclusion with serious consequences for the future.

Review #3007: True Blood 4.12: “And When I Die”

As anticipated, Marnie’s possession of Lafayette resulted in the eventual dispatch of Jesus. I didn’t see it happening as a means of gaining power, however; that was a very nice touch. It made Marnie even more of a threat in the end. And even when the situation is resolved, Lafayette is in no better position than before: he can be possessed at any time, and his one easy means of restoration is gone. He may have the benefit of being the conduit for dead characters to still have an impact on the events in Bon Temps, but it’s cold comfort, I’m sure.

On the other hand, this was such an interesting twist, with loads of potential problems with resolution, that it would have been nice had this taken place a few episodes earlier. The final solution was just a little too easy, even if tying the overall witch arc into Samhain was a particularly fitting choice. In essence, this season served the purpose of integrating witches into the “True Blood” universe far better than the third season introduced werewolves.

Other plot threads point in ominous new directions. Sheriff Andy reunites with Holly, and things seem to be going fairly well. Of course, that’s if you ignore the fact that he made a pact with a faerie in the previous episode, pretty much just to get laid, and that’s unlikely to end well. If anything, Nan’s little revelation at the end of the episode strongly suggests that a movement to upend the Authority is aware of Sookie’s connection to faerie blood, and Russell’s return points to a plot to take on the faeries anew in the fifth season. (Hopefully they won’t be as horribly lame this time around.)

Things were also looking up for Sam, who is back in the saddle at the bar and in a solid relationship with Luna. Of course, now there is a werewolf stalking him. The easy guess would be one of Marcus’ followers, perhaps itching for revenge, but I’m not so sure. That plot thread served its purpose (killing Tommy), and doesn’t really need to be extended beyond this season. The only possible reason to have one of the pack attack Sam now is to force Alcide to return and take firm control, especially with Sookie newly single and in serious need of a shoulder to cry on.

Just when I thought it was safe to like Arlene again, even a little bit, Rene actually does show up to haunt her and deliver a warning about Terry’s military past. Of course there’s something sinister brewing there. I mean, it’s Scott Foley, and a serial killer came back to warn Arlene about him and his connection to Terry. That cannot possibly mean something good. Sadly, since Arlene/Terry plot threads tend to be horrible, I mean that on behalf of the viewers.

Jason, as usual, has the best of times and worst of times at roughly the same time. A lifelong friendship dies, but who wouldn’t want Jessica showing up for hot sex in a naughty Red Riding Hood costume? It’s good to see that Jason has apparently matured enough to understand what Jessica is saying she wants. Hopefully this little visit from the Reverend won’t end badly. If someone is going to turn Jason, I want it to be Jessica during a truly epic sex marathon. (Go back to the first season, and recognize why this would be appropriate.)

Sookie decides (for the moment) that she’s had a fairly traumatic time since reappearing to the mortal world, and Bill and Eric, while getting better at sharing, are too much drama. This cannot last, since this is “True Blood”, but I foresee a little Alcide action in the fifth season. This will leave Bill and Eric free to get badass against Russell, the Anti-Authority, and anyone else stupid enough to threaten Sookie or generally look at them the wrong way. And the fifth season will be all the better for it.

This review can’t end, of course, without comment on the final scene. I knew Debbie was going to come back into the equation, gunning for Sookie, but I didn’t think it would be a literal “gunning”. If the enormous spray of blood is any indication, Tara is very likely as dead as Debbie. And frankly, that could be a good thing. The writers have struggled to find a direction for Tara, and since they’ve already gone well off the path taken by the source material, this could help clear the decks a bit.

That said, I would have wanted Tara to go down fighting. She’s been a victim so much in the past four seasons that she deserved to have the chance to fight for her life, rather than get taken out by a blindside shotgun blast. That’s the one major lingering problem with “True Blood”: the characters lack a true arc. Stuff just seems to happen to them, and they remain more or less the same. Letting Tara take a stand and die fighting would have, at the very least, given her a reasonable arc in the process.

But, to be fair, I’m actually more excited by the opportunities presented by removing Tara from the show at this point than I am disappointed by the manner in which it happened. In fact, this season finale felt like a solid ending to the season arcs, and set up some potentially better plot threads for the fifth season. Considering how I felt just a season earlier, it’s quite an unexpected turnaround.

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 3/4

Final Rating: 9/10

(Season 4 Final Rating: 7.4)

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