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'True Blood' season finale: A white wedding, a black heart, and a blood-red cliffhanger

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The truly grand finale of True Blood managed to tie up various subplots, pry open new ones, and cram a vast array of moods, jokes, horrors, and surprises into one hour. Beginning with Maryann wearing the white wedding dress of Sookie’s grandmother and ending with Sookie in a purple gown given to her by Bill (with a choice shot of Lafayette in drag as well), True Blood made good on most of the stories it told this season.

SPOILER ALERT! DON’T READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THE DETAILS OF TRUE BLOOD‘S SEASON FINALE.

The cliffhanger egg from two weeks ago was an ostrich egg, a fertility symbol, that completed what Andy would later refer to as the “giant statue of meat” that Maryann had built on Sookie’s lawn. Sam, as many of you thought, was indeed meant to be sacrificed (“the perfect wedding gift”) to Maryann’s god, Dionysus, who was to take the form of a white bull.

Instead of a white wedding, however, Maryann got her black heart gored and pulled out of her by a shape-shifted Sam. I was sorry to see Michelle Forbes go, but what a great performance she gave: her Maryann was scary, funny, and creepy, and the actress was able to go over-the-top and pull her performance back to human-scale. Her character’s death closed out the first half-hour with such finality (“It’s all over now,” said Sookie as Maryann lay in a heap and the townspeople came to their senses) that I thought, “Where do we go from here?”

Turns out, the last half of this True Blood became a beautifully ominous mood-piece. I suspect there might be one character some of you didn’t get enough of this night: Eric was relegated to one significant but early scene, playing Yahtzee with Sophie-Ann. When viewed in the same frame, Alexander Skarsgard’s sly subtlety only made Evan Rachel Wood’s archness seem more like over-acting, and the Yahtzee jokes (“We play to five million”) were strained this time around. Oh, well: More Eric next season, right?

As it was, writer Alexander Woo had his hands full mopping up the aftermath of Maryann’s mess in Bon Temps. Andy got his badge back, Eggs was compelled by guilt to own up to what he’d done under Maryann’s spell and paid for it with his life (Jason may have pulled the trigger, but Eggs in effect committed suicide, achieving the death he wanted), and Tara was left once again alone and in misery. Sam sought the truth about his real parents. And, oh yes: Woo worked a cameo of True Blood book author Charlaine Harris into a bar scene.

I must admit that at first I was bored by the scenes between Hoyt and his mother, but that proved to be a set-up for one of the night’s best moments: the sight of Jessica, set loose and hungry at a truck stop, feeding on a horny trucker to the strains of honky-tonk music by Buddy and Julie Miller.

Our next music cue was none other than the fine Southern boy Jerry Lee Lewis providing the dance soundtrack to Bill and Sookie’s date night. When Bill proposed to Sookie with only a few minutes to go, we kinda knew this was not going to be a fairy-tale ending, didn’t we? The shock-shot of Bill being garroted just as Sookie ran into the room saying, “Yes, Bill Compton!” was a fine way to leave us, and Bill, hanging.

It became clear with this finale that True Blood is a great pulp opera. Its initial use of anti-vampire sentiment as a metaphor for homophobia has combined with Alan Ball’s other ambitions: to take a cold, hard stare at romance; to show how you can make an audience catch its breath between laughter and violence; and to offer a much-needed critique of the entire pop-culture vampire craze, without being self-conscious or coy.

Did you watch? What did you think of the True Blood finale? Who do you think has, er, swept Bill off his feet?