True Blood: Season 6
Since the start of this millennium, the show runner, Alan Ball, has been a mainstay at the premium cable network, HBO. Beginning in 2001 he had the critically acclaimed and popularly successful run with the dark comedy, ‘6 Feet under’. Picking up after that series ended in 2008, Ball scored another solid hit with the paranormal romance, ‘True Blood’. In both cases Ball created six wildly successful series using the theme of death. While this may seem to be a hard choice, thematically, for a career there is no doubt that Alan Ball has managed to achieve this in a wildly successful fashion. He also appears to be a creative writer who respects the fans and wants to bring a favorite series to a reasonable and satisfying conclusion. He did this with a an amazing amount of imagination when his previous series ended, going on to repeating his streak now that ‘True Blood’ is coming to its dénouement. The sixth season under review here is the penultimate was Blu-ray and DVD release heralds the coming of a dénouement. Over the six years we’ve had so far this series has built a tradition a leaving us on a dramatic cliffhanger, when there this seems to be no realistic way for the characters to extricate themselves from the situation. Obviously in the upcoming season this cannot be the case as it certainly promises to lead us to a conclusion that will inevitably do justice to the quality this series has exhibited from the start. In this penultimate season almost everything we have been established over the years has been changed. Villains and heroes have switched sides; favorite characters have been killed off, and, in the tradition of unusual, and predilection for unusual romantic liaisons, continued with plenty of trans-species relationships. Although ostensibly based on the ‘Southern Vampire Mysteries’ by Charlene Harris, many fans have noted that the storylines of the novels were not directly migrated to the television series. This is natural and understandable. What Mr. Bell did was to extract the essence of Ms. Harris’s stories and mold them into the highly visual storytelling media of television.
The last scene of the previous season was one of the most visually intense I have seen in a long time. Vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), having consumed the blood of the vampire goddess Lilith has dissolved into a pool of blood. Before that last episode closing credits received his human form rising from the blood congealing back into his body. After leaving such a vivid impression indelibly etched in the fans minds the six season would have to live up to quite an expectation. It did. It is a tradition that each premiere episode "exactly at the point where the previous season finale left off. Arguably this cliffhanger was the most intense for the series. At the beginning of the series Bill Compton was just a normal vampire returning back to his family home in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Yet been turned into a vampire during the Civil War and spent the last 150 years or so traveling the world. After the invention of True Blood, permitting vampires come out of the corporate he returned to his hometown elect so long ago. There he met a small town waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), is very pretty Southern girl with one notable difference; she could read minds. Had the series concentrated solely on their relationship it would’ve been doomed to be little better than the overly emotional, thanks films supernatural romances that is all the rage in the team set. Instead Alan Ball has taken his audience unremarkably docking complex journey through the world of the supernatural. What differentiates the vampires and werewolves in this series from those in a certain popular romance franchise is that under their human veneer these creatures are still monstrous.
We have always heard references to a formal vampire hierarchy. We are introduced to such officials as a Magister, serving as local judge and jury will vampire offenses brought to their attention by district Sheriff’s. Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgård) originally held such an office. Above them at the peak of power of the vampire royalty including Kings and Queens with jurisdictions typically encompassed the entire State. They were ancient vampires and frequently quite insane. A perfect example would be the king of Louisiana, Russell Edgington (Denis O'Hare). Vampires this ancient are extremely difficult to kill but he was buried alive under tons of concrete. This double realized quite wisely that you have such an eccentric completely evil character portrayed by an immensely talented character actor you don’t outright kill them off, your stash them array for later use. His reappearance in this season is quite dramatic and provided a pivotal plot point determining the direction of the rest of the season. It was always a spark of something deceitful and Bill that was never quite manifested fully. In an earlier season Bill managed, to brilliantly execute a coup. Utilizing political machinations, down home Bill showed he was quite adept at the beat much older and vastly more powerful vampires to achieve the title of king of Louisiana inheriting mansion and power associated with the royal station. Bill’s spawn, Jessica Hamby (Deborah Ann Woll), a teenage girl raised in a very strict Christian household became a bit of a wild child now that she was a vampire Princess. In the course of this season Jessica had to face loss the true death, as vampires call it, and mature into a forceful determine character. Bill’s ambition was still not sated. He was dethroned and became wanted by the ‘Authority’ only to join and eventually control that body.
Meanwhile Sookie has been exploring her own ancestry. Her parents died at an early age leaving her and her brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten), in the care of their grandmother. As the series progressed Sookie discovered her true nature, a fairy, part of a royal line to boot. While the vampires off on their own internal Civil War, Sookie with being exposed to a whole different of existence finding there are many others of what kind and that she also possesses supernatural powers beyond mind reading. One thing about fairy blog; it is highly prized by vampires. Drinking it can commit them to walk in the daylight. At one point in time they had nearly annihilated the fairy race because of this. Part of the investigation of her heritage Sookie is forced to look into the murder of her mother and father. As it turns out it was at the hands of a powerful vampire later discovered to be a vampire fairy hybrid.
Back in the human world a political out roar has swept the nation instigated by the discovery of more supernatural creatures. People now had to contend not just with vampires but now realized werewolves and and other shape shifters have been living among humanity. Some of the human population has reacted by forming vigilante groups hunting for supernatural prey. Caught in the middle of this is Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell), bar owner and shape shifter as well as boss and friend to Sookie. The outing of supernatural entities is a matter of dire concern for yet another friend of Sookie, Alcide Herveaux (Joe Manganiello), a powerful werewolf although unaligned within their society. This makes things extremely difficult for law enforcement agencies particular the local Sherriff, Terry Bellefleur (Todd Lowe), and his new Deputy Jason. Normally small town law enforcement is fairly tame confined to breaking up a few Saturday night fights at the bar with domestic arguments, but for Terry and Jason they have to contend with all the creatures that go bump in the night. On several occasions we get to see television news broadcasts often showcasing political pundits as they provide some context to how the population, the human population that is, is dealing with the upsetting realization that not only are we not alone as sentient species on this planet will be up far from the apex predators we thought we were. A major difference between this series and that lamentable movie franchise is that it does make a concerted effort to consider real-life ramifications of such discoveries. While in that of the franchise a vampire hierarchy was depicted here is a lot of effort goes into explaining the same political infighting and propensity for factions exist with the undead as well as the living.
As part of this vampire Civil War a deadly viruses created that may be carried by humans but only affect vampires. Once infected the vampire is doomed to a slow and painful true death as they dissolve into a pool of blood. At the same time the rebels destroyed the True Blood factories eliminating the source of nonhuman sustenance for the vampire nation. Combined with the deadly virus a premium is placed on certifiably clean human beings as a blood source. This plot line revisits AIDS epidemic of the 80s. In a horrifying glimpse of the worst parts of human nature concentration camps for vampires are established. There they are experimented upon, tortured and turned against each other often for the amusement of their captors. The Authority has always been the definitive vampire governing body. Its cohesiveness has been smashed by recent events turned by a faction of Lilith worshipers now headed by Bill as the modern embodiment of this first all-powerful vampire.
This entire season was brilliantly devoted to setting up the chessboard for the endgame. There are many factions to keep juggle in the air; vampires, fairies, shape shifters, humans and the politicians representing each group. How much you think you can expect what’s coming in the series Alan Ball always manages to surprise you. Not just a little jump cut scene the one that is certain to knock you off your seat. This penultimate season had more than the usual amount of exposition to get through and as such did experience some unevenness in the pacing. Even with that the stories managed to go from episode to episode in such a way that you are compelled to watch what happens next. While it is always sad when a series of this quality faces cancellation at least in this instance the very talented show runner was afforded the opportunity to pull together the loose ends as he saw fit. This home release comes just in time for all of us fans to have a little marathon to refresh our memories not that the images in this season on indelibly etched into our minds. We should go into this final season not saddened at its end who reassured that the story will come to a conclusion and it will free Alan Ball of what we will be an interesting next project.