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True Blood S07E10: "Thank You"


Comedies often end with a wedding, and while I’ve always thought of True Blood as a comedy, it didn't end so much with a wedding as with a pregnancy, and I’m still working through what that means.

The world of vampires on True Blood has often functioned as stand-in for the hidden culture of the LGBT community—it has been used to make other parallels, but from the phrase "coming out of the coffin" on, the show has always referenced this analogy the most. True Blood’s series finale went out of its way to cement vampire acceptance with being a member of/an ally to the LGBT community: Jessica and Hoyt got married even though it’s illegal for vampires to marry, with a strong message of “love is love”/ marital equality. And when Sarah Newlin begged Pam to turn her into a vampire, it was simultaneously a discussion about her offering sex to Pam.


Later, when Sookie asked the Reverend if God meant to make us all as we are, or if some of us are mistakes, the Reverend was emphatic, vis-à-vis: Jesus don’t make no junk. The Lord loves vampires as much as the straights humans. Okay, great message, we're all on board, sure.


So what does it mean that Bill chose to die rather than prevent Sookie from her future of meeting some "normal" dude and having a baby? Why was this anonymous, notional zygote more important than his own daughter, Jessica? Or his undeniable love for Sookie and his independent existence on this Earth? How can Bill’s suicide be seen as anything but a wholesale rejection of himself as a vampire, a morally motivated lifestyle rejection so transformative that he actually physically regained his humanity and Sookie could read this thoughts for the first time? 

Was the show trying to say Bill's suicide was the right choice?

That  idea seriously bothers me. I don't think the show was intentionally trying to seed in some anti-LGBT subtext at all. But Bill regaining his humanity and choosing to die muddied one of the best messages of the show.

It also bothers me that, after following these star-crossed lovers for seven years, this iconic, modern love story concluded with Sookie impaling Bill in a grave.

To a healthy mind, the entire march of humanity—its woes, its triumphs, the centuries-long transition from cave to internet—human accomplishments in sum mean nothing compared to a single, breathy laugh from the person you love. The all-consuming love of one person for another is what makes life worth living. No amount of friendly fun and lit-up mason jars can replace the life of a person you love. Ever.


That’s why Sookie assisting Bill’s suicide was so nihilistic and disturbing and ultimately flat. On the one hand, to anyone considering suicide: Consider how NOT glamorous this was. Really absorb how NOT cool it was for Bill to take this way out and how gross and goopy his remains were and how needlessly stupid his choice was. Think about how NO ONE was sitting there thinking about him four years later; everyone was just rolling on to the next thing.

DO NOT embrace the message that Bill’s death provided this happy ending. IT DID NOT.

The implication that it did is irresponsible and bizarre. Suicide doesn’t clear paths in other people’s lives. Suicide emotionally crucifies everyone it touches. There are those who suffer through excruciating pain every day just to delay the agony of loss for their loved ones. There are people who live in pain because they are grateful for existence. Those people are heroes. Anyone who clings to life is a hero. Those who lay down in a grave and tell the world it's better off without them? No. Not heroic. There is nothing heroic about that.


That's what angers me most about True Blood's finale: the idea that Bill’s suicide provided everybody with a happy ending. If Sookie had a happy ending, it’s because she endeavored to go on despite the soul-killing mindf-ck of Bill exiting this world to clear her weekends for dating. I'm kind of enraged that the show wants us to think anything else, to take anything positive from Bill’s self-hate and  self-immolation.

Do other things bother me? Sure. I'm also frustrated that Eric and Pam apparently filmed all their scenes for "Thank You" in two hours, and mostly appeared for a hot two minutes in an overly smarmy infomercial “one year later,” so distant from Bon Temps that they were probably shot their little epilogue six months after principal shooting in Shreveport wrapped. 


I'm frustrated that there was absolutely no closure for my favorite character, Lafayette. I'm frustrated that Jessica wound up married to Hoyt, the guy who she once couldn’t wait to get away from, the end. Ugh.

However, I'm relieved that Sookie didn't sacrifice her fairy essence to send Bill off in a CGI blaze. The show was ambiguous this way, revealing that Sookie eventually embraced what made her different from what she was expected to be as a precious and integral part of her being—and yet, when all was said and done, the ending of this series was her just laying down some green bean casserole all big an' pregnant during a family-style Thanksgiving. Um. Okay. 

Meanwhile, Sarah Newlin was all chained up and used like a sad whore, haunted by ghosts. Okay, truthfully, I enjoyed that a little bit.


Was some emotional justice served? For Sarah, Pam, and Eric, yes. But not for Sookie, and therefore not for the audience. Perhaps True Blood's writers just didn’t see how Sookie could take Bill back into her life after he’d attempted to rape her—and okay, yeah, there’s no socially responsible way to make that happen. Perhaps they rationalized that Hoyt and Jessica’s vampire/human marriage would do enough to convey True Blood's central message of "empathy for everyone" that they could treat Bill as an individual character and not the symbol of the entire vampire race, which is what he’s been treated as up until now.

But frankly, they thought wrong. There was a miscalculation in the focus of this finale, and the ultimate meaning of these characters has retroactively poisoned my memories of the entire series. Bill’s suicide leaves a nasty taste in my mouth that makes me shudder at the thought of a re-watch. I’ve got no urge to buy DVDs. Don’t even talk to me about the books. I’m so bummed, guys, I might even watch Twilight.


QUESTIONS:

... True Blood has long carried a strong LGBT message. Does Bill’s suicide undermine that message?

... Sookie’s barefoot-and-pregnant ending: feminist, because we don’t know who her dude is and really it doesn’t matter, or very anti-feminist, because WTF kind of ending is that when Sookie loved Bill and he was her choice and he took that choice away from her?

... Eric and Pam: just enough or not enough?

... Are you furious we didn’t get any closing words from Lafayette?

... What are your closing thoughts on True Blood


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 8/24/2014

Season 7 : Episode 10

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