Sookie's plan ends in tragedy while Eric finds a reason to keep on fighting
Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO
True Blood, Anna Paquin, ... | In the season 3 finale, vampire Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) made Bill confess to Sookie — who can't read vampire minds — that he let her…

True Blood‘s final season is a balancing act: How do you keep upping the body count in your two wars (H-vamps vs. humans/healthy vamps and vigilantes vs. the supernatural/those who support them) and still have this feel like the summer guilty pleasure fans know and love? Showrunner Brian Buckner, who wrote this episode, certainly gave it his all in this hour killing off Maxine Fortenberry and Alcide while giving us flashbacks to an ’80s Eric boning a French vintner’s daughter, a Lafayette dance party, and the return of Sarah Newlin. Was it enough? Let’s break it down:

RIP, Alcide: Joe Manganiello told EW he knew the moment he read the script for the season 6 finale and saw Sookie and Alcide together that his days were numbered on the show. Read his postmortem here. If Alcide suggesting he and Sookie just keep driving to save themselves in the previous episode wasn’t enough foreshadowing for fans, this episode’s heart-to-heart between Sookie and Bill as they waited for the H-vamps to come take her as bait should’ve been. As she’s sitting in the woods (near where she and Eric had sex in season 4?) whittling a stake that she ultimately uses to cut her impatient self, she admits to Bill that Alcide wants a family and loves her more than she loves him—and she’s not sure how much longer she can take it. She knows Alcide’s perfect, but she wishes he’d love her less. Bill, who’s perched in a tree like Edward Cullen, tells Sookie she might learn to love Alcide more, but she won’t get the chance.

The H-vamps send a bitten Holly into the moonlit clearing as a distraction. They capture Sookie and snag Bill from the tree. They’re about to kill Bill when Alcide and Sam, who’ve met up in the woods and been spotted by a couple of hillbillies, attack in wolf and canine form and save Bill. Andy, Jason, Violet, and Jessica also arrive, guns drawn. The H-vamps are shot, and after Alcide asks someone (Violet) to take Sookie to the water to clean the blood off her face before she ingests any—perfect boyfriend—he and Bill have words. Just as Alcide is saying he’ll kill Bill himself if he insists again that he knows Sookie better, another shot rings out. Then another. One of those vigilantes lurking in the woods has shot Alcide in the chest and in the head. It’s Lou, the young gun Andy had warned about taking a human life. Andy reminds Lou of that when he sees him—struck by returned fire and begging for an ambulance—and ignores him.

Manganiello is right: There was no place else for Alcide’s story to go once he finally got the girl, and if you’re looking to knock off characters, he’s the perfect choice: It hits Sookie hard and leaves her open to deal with Bill, and other than Sam, he didn’t interact with anyone in town (though couldn’t he have made some friends during the six-month time jump?). Presumably Alcide needed to go now so producers have seven more hours to make us believe Sookie might really end up with Bill.

They have their work cut out for them: Even though she tells him something she hasn’t yet admitted to herself, and he enjoys her drinking from him so he can track her (“I have a boyfriend,” she’d reminded him), that relationship doesn’t feel inevitable. She can’t look at Bill the same after last season and neither can we. Yes, Sookie wanted to have kids with Bill, so she loved him as much as he loved her—we get it. But that was then. And why couldn’t Sookie not want to have kids now with Alcide because the world is being overrun by H-vamps who’ll eat babies (they were counting Nicole and Sam’s unborn child as two)? That would at least temporarily stop your clock.

It’ll be interesting to see how Sookie handles Alcide’s death. Weeping over his body and declining Jessica’s offer to turn him into a vampire because Sookie’s already forced that transition on one friend (Tara) who never would have wanted it was one thing. But will she have time to grieve in the next episode with things moving so fast? And if she doesn’t, will you think less of her? Like, less than you do after she threw out her cell phone in the premiere instead of just turning it off for the night? (Communication, people. It saves lives. Maybe make sure EVERYONE, including Sookie and Alcide, know there’s an armed mob in the woods hunting supes.)

Some fans feel like Alcide didn’t get the death he deserves (and Tara for that matter, too). But what would have been a more satisfying way for Alcide to go out at this point? He died after protecting Sookie, and Bill for that matter. Did you want him to have a deathbed conversation with Sookie? That would have been awkward for the audience after overhearing what she’d just told Bill. The vigilantes had to kill someone we had a connection with (no offense, Matt) to make us see them as a real threat and to raise the moral issue of “good guys” retaliating.

Also, why, hasn’t anyone thought to check if VAMPIRE BAR Fangtasia is where the H-vamps are nesting? Did the vamps glamour Holly into forgetting where they’d kept her in case she got free, or will she lead the rescue Bill was meant to mount if Sookie had been kidnapped and taken there? #FreeArlene. That cellar is getting as boring as flashbacks to Bill taking tintypes with his family before heading off to war.

NEXT: I love the ’80s

RIP, Eric’s lost love: If you were an actress/actor, would having to go full frontal be worth it to have multiple sex scenes with Alexander Skarsgard as a guest star? Regardless, applause to Buckner for figuring out a way to grant us Eric sex scenes even while he’s sick. Pam confronts Eric in France’s Rhone Valley, tells him that she felt Tara meet the true death while she was in Morocco (so that answers that), and learns he started showing symptoms of Hep-V about a month ago in Russia. He’s been on the move because he didn’t want her to find him and try to convince him to fight because he’s Eric F—ing Northman. Is it odd to only hear of Sylvie now? Perhaps. But linking a love we never knew Eric had—one he speaks of in the same breath as Godric and Nora—with Eric’s history with the Authority (hello, Nan Flanagan) made it totally worth it.

In 1986, Eric was in the Rhone Valley rocking Duran Duran hair and heavage and making the moves on Sylvie, a vintner’s daughter. Why was he so enthralled with the art history student? We’re never told, but one would think it has something to do with her easily removable white pajamas, Eric’s previously established penchant for making love outdoors (“It feels better in the moonlight,” he tells Nan after she busts them in the vineyard), and his fondness for brunettes (like Nora). In short, Nan wants Pam and Eric to fall in line—register with their local sheriff, pay taxes—now that the Authority has partnered with Yakanomo Corporation to produce Tru Blood and promote mainstreaming. Pam, who Nan says she may have been friends with under other circumstances—”I can see it. What size shoe do you wear?” Pam quips, making us think of those pumps she ruined in season 2—is willing to play nicely, but Eric tells Nan to go f— herself.

Eric reminds Pam that she falls in line with her maker, who’s never failed to protect her, and she relents. The next time we flash back, Pam is going down on a woman she’s bitten multiple times indoors while Eric has sex with Sylvie outside by a tractor. He’s interrupted by Men in Black, with swords, sent by the corporation. Eric tells Sylvie everything will be fine—they would have already killed them if it wasn’t just a threat. But then the Men in Black say either Sylvie or Pam has to die. Eric can’t bribe them, so he offers to die instead. (Wow, he really loved Sylvie.) But the Authority wants him alive. Even though we obviously know he chooses Pam, the scene is tense. Finally, he says Pam lives, and poor Sylvie, who doesn’t speak English, is stabbed from behind and falls. Eric moves as though he feels the blade, too, and seeing him teary-eyed and on his knees before he and Pam are led away in silver, you know he cared for Sylvie (for some reason). But he has to protect his progeny.

In present day, Eric says he didn’t contract Hep-V on purpose, but he also wasn’t taking precautions. Pam tells him they’re working on a cure and vamps are living longer with the virus, but life holds nothing for him now. Eric tells her to leave, but she turns around and utters two words: Sarah Newlin. Hearing that Jason let her live, Eric finds revenge is a strong motivator. “Well, let’s go find her. Shall we?” he says, standing. Eric F–king Northman is back. Now if we could just have Pam give him highlights again before they leave, that would be fantastic. The dark hair is a downer. Give us something, True Blood.

What’s good about the flashback: It makes you see why Eric was happy to play his part in killing Nan and makes his interest in Sookie more believable. It also explains why Pam always hated Eric’s fascination with Sookie (another human). But it’s odd that the subject of Sookie never came up with Pam when they were discussing his depression. Judging from this, is anyone holding out for an Eric-Sookie-Bill triangle in these final episodes just kidding themselves? Has the stage been set for us to see Eric sacrifice himself to save Pam (or Pam and Sookie)?

Does knowing Sarah Newlin’s returned so Eric can destroy her make you happy she’s back? She’s currently in Los Angeles, eat-pray-loving her way through the Institute for the Unchained Spirit with dark hair and a new name (choosing to believe it’s spelled Nomi, after Showgirls). After Sarah breathes and climaxes in unison with her instructor, she goes to fetch a bottle of wine for them and overhears the Men in Black killing her lover. The corporation must have figured out she killed Ms. Suzuki with her stiletto in Vamp Camp and finally caught up with her. (Side note: Did anyone else get a Pitch Perfect vibe when Sarah blew her bangs out of her face while doing yoga? It felt like when Aubrey found out the Bellas were going to Lincoln Center while working out.)

NEXT: The best of the rest

RIP, Maxine: Even though the vigilante story line technically keeps escalating, it’s already feeling a bit redundant. In this hour, they stake out what must be the one road through town and first stop Sam on his way home from having a serious discussion of faith with the Reverend. Sam tries to talk rationally, but Vince informs him the people have decided he’s their new mayor. Vince ultimately shoots and kills Matt, Sam’s chatty vamp escort, and tells Sam to leave Bon Temps for good. Instead, Sam says he belongs in this town, shifts into a bird, and flies away as everyone fires at him. You can add homophobia to that mob’s list of offenses.

Andy and Jessica free Adilyn and Wade from the jail cell (right as they’re about to kiss now that he’s been reminded that they made out once before Eric glamoured him to forget it). They hear about the mob and go interrupt Violet telling Jason, who wants to adopt a child with her when this is all over, that she doesn’t want a modern man who would let the sight of the mass grave in Saint Alice make him feel or think anything. She wants him to remain a warrior with an iron-forged c–k like the men of her time. Violet informs Jessica that they’ll put aside their differences until after they save Sookie. The four of them stumble onto Sam’s car and the vigilantes swarm. Maxine says she wants to shoot Jessica and Jason, and she’ll start with Jessica for tearing Hoyt’s heart out. She fires and hits Jessica in the arm. Violet earns points for ripping Maxine’s heart out. After she falls, the crowd runs. Violet nabs Rocky for Andy, and Jason notices that Jessica isn’t healing. (We all know why: She isn’t eating.)

Will Hoyt return when he doesn’t hear from his mother, or is there just too much going on for that to happen? Will we miss Maxine? Yes. It was nice to have someone we recognized and were invested in, for better or worse, in that mob. We knew Maxine more than Kenya, but now it falls on her to make us care.

More Lafayette and James, please: Lafayette is still in self-medicating denial—in other words, he’s doing what most of us would be doing in a situation like this, though alcohol would be the drug of choice since we’re not pharmacies. James comes over as Lafayette is having his one-man dance party, and we learn that vampires can’t swallow pills. (Why not, if taken while drinking blood? Or is it more like they can’t digest them?)

James is having a one-man pity party. He needs something stronger than weed as he gives Lafayette the short version of his troubles, which is that he’s not sure Jessica even knows that he’s around. Lafayette suggests it’s James who’s not present in the relationship, but that’s the long version, James says. Lafayette decides he’ll do the swallowing—ha—and digests a combination of pills that he thinks will give James the kind of buzz he had in the ’60s. When we next see them, it’s clear it’s working. Lafayette has bite marks on the side of his neck, and there’s the feeling that we missed what could have been a sexual-tension-filled feeding, which is sad. But producers must be saving it. They want to take this slow because it’s the only will-they-won’t-they couple they’ve got active at the moment.

If Lafayette would have overdosed, which James fears when he can’t wake him, fans would have broken their TVs. But James’ reaction—and the tenderness with which he heals Lafayette’s puncture wounds—is meant to show Lafayette and viewers that James does care about him. In fact, James confirms Lafayette’s not misreading the situation, but he’s with Jessica—for now—so James is being faithful. How soon can they act on that?

Less Lettie Mae, please: Maybe Willa will get interesting again now that the Rev. has kindly kicked her out of his house. After Willa leads a tripping Lettie Mae into the church, the Rev. takes Willa home and feeds her. She must suck slower than a baby because she feeds on him for the duration of his long story about his wife cheating on him after they lost a child and him losing faith and his will to socialize—until one day, he just got dressed and ended up at the boarded-up church in Bon Temps. He found Lettie Mae on the steps, and they saved each other. Nope, still don’t like Lettie Mae, but the Rev. is redeeming himself. Bottom line: He has to protect Lettie Mae, and he knows she’ll continue to trick Willa into giving her blood because that’s what addicts do. So he has to ask Willa to leave. God will keep him and Lettie Mae safe, he says, echoing his conversation with Sam in the church.

Will the Rev. and Lettie Mae be the next to go? Will we go to hell if we say, “Fingers crossed”?

Episode Recaps

True Blood, Anna Paquin, ... | In the season 3 finale, vampire Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) made Bill confess to Sookie — who can't read vampire minds — that he let her…
True Blood

Sookie, Bill, Eric, Lafayette, Sam and the other residents Bon Temps deal with vampires, werewolves, fairies, and shape-shifters—not to mention romance and drama

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