Thursday, August 29, 2013

Review: True Blood "Radiation"

Non Spoiler Review:
Radiation brings the season to a close as Warlow's bargain with Sookie comes to a head, forcing Bill and Jason to act. As the immediate threat of Hep V appears to have been overcome, a new danger presents itself.

This was a mediocre finale, falling victim to the usual cliches the writers have been indulging in for several years. Major villains resolved with little effort, major characters in so-called peril, but not really, and change for the sake of change.

Perhaps the threads started at the close of Radiation will lead into an exciting final act for True Blood, but the last few seasons don't lend much promise to that. I'm not really sure if Alan Ball's departure sealed the show's descent, as it was getting pretty bad while he was still in the driver's seat, but it's definitely not been an improvement. Time to put this tired show out to pasture before it really ruins its beloved characters.

Spoilers Now!
Alcide walks with Sookie after the funeral, but they're interrupted by the daylight appearance of Bill's vampire entourage returning to his mansion. Sookie realizes Bill was right about everything, and spies Jason among them. Sookie assures Alcide she's safe and then joins their revelry. She finds Violet feeding on Jason and interrupts.

Violet leaves them alone to catch up. Jason understands how she used to feel with Bill. Elated Pam gives Sookie a big hug, as does Tara, while Bill watches from his window. Sookie leaves them and rejoins Warlow who has been preparing their wedding ceremony. Sookie warns him a lot has changed since she left him and her friends are no longer in danger. She wants a life of eternity to be based on more of a bargain so instead wants to date him. He slaps her across the face and asks her who she thinks she's talking to.

Back at the mansion, Tara realizes Pam is going to go after Eric. She tells her to take care of Willa and flies off. Meanwhile, Bill finds his telekinetic powers have left him and no longer feels like Lilith. He admits to Jessica that the price they paid for the daylight came at a price for Sookie to be made vampire. Jessica tells him he needs to go after her. Bill explains the situation to Jason to enlist his aid. Only Adeline can get them to the fairy plane to rescue them. Bill then frees the True Blood scientist after glamoring him to forget his ordeal, while Jason goes to see Andy to explain they need Adeline to save Sookie. She agrees to help, as does Andy, who stocks up on firepower.

Warlow has no desire to share Sookie with her friends or community. Sookie summons her light and threatens to throw it away, but he stops her, binds her and begins to feed off her.

Andy, Adeline and Jason meet Bill at the cemetery. Adeline can hear Sookie. Bill manages to tutor her to use her abilities to get them across to the fairy plane. Bill attacks Warlow while Jason frees his sister. Bill tells them to leave and impales Warlow. The others vanish. Warlow frees himself and transports both of them back to the real world, then flies off.

Jason gets Sookie home where Violet gives her her blood. Warlow attacks, stopping everyone, including Bill who is about to stake him. Warlow locks them up in the cubby beneath the house, except for Violet, who remains knocked out. Warlow searches for Sookie who is hiding in the bathroom. A portal opens and Niall comes through to grab him. Jason appears and stakes Warlow. He dies. Jason and Sookie manage to pull Niall back into the real world.

Bill wakes up and suddenly glows fae, as does Jessica and James, and in Sweden, Eric is reading in the mountains in the daylight when the magic leaves him too, and he begins to burn.

Six months later (!)—a mutated Hepatitis V (thanks to the supplies stolen in Honolulu) is now an epidemic. Bill has written a bestselling book which exposed all that happened, including his murder of the governor. The governor dreamed up Hep V that has spread into one eighth of the world vampire population. The intent of the book is to end all the secrets between vampires and humans.

Sookie watches the interview with Alcide, who she's now with. Jason is still with Violet but they've yet to have sex. She tells him it will happen in due time.

Sam is now mayor and warns Andy that no one trusts the government anymore and the church is what's keeping the town together. Sookie and Alcide find Jason inside where blood samples are being taken to see who is a carrier for Hep V. 

Reverend Daniels warns of the roving bands of sick vampires and urges they all work together. Sam takes the pulpit to explain the blood tests. Any human can be a carrier for Hep V. He and Bill Compton have a plan. The Bellefleur Bar and Grille (now owned by Arlene) is hosting a social which will have the results of the blood tests for everyone. He asks every non-infected human enter into a monogamous blood sharing arrangement with an uninfected vampire who will provide them protection. 

At the social Alcide and Sookie are both negative. The decide to endure the event for an hour before leaving. Meanwhile, Tara's mother wants to make peace with her daughter. She wants to apologize for how she handled everything her whole life—for forgetting to feed her—so wants to make it right by letting her feed on her now.

Jessica arrives at Andy and Adeline's, asking why they didn't come to the social. She offers protection for both of them, but he thinks she's got a lot of nerve. The only thing she can give them is some kind of peace of mind that the two of them will be safe. Andy closes the door on her.

Sookie and Alcide are about to leave when Bill asks for a moment alone with her. Alcide says Bill can say anything to him. Bill explains Alcide isn't good enough protection for Sookie so he offers to provide that. He says he's changed and can be trusted again. But she could never really trust him, she replies. Alcide suddenly smells something—a large pack of Hep V vampires are approaching the social.

The Verdict:
Radiation brought a ho-hum ending to a similarly toned season. Like previous finales, the first half resolved everything pretty quickly—Warlow was dispatched ridiculously easy (but then so was Russell Edgington), Bill is conveniently free of Lilith (who shall never be mentioned again), and the daywalking is over (no surprise). Once again we get a time jump to shake up the status quo because not enough time actually passes over the course of a season.

Unfortunately these jumps are now a big plot device for the writers who can't (or aren't willing) to develop characters organically and feel the need to force the audience to catch up with all the neat things they think they've thrown at them. The Hep V epidemic looks sort of interesting with its zombie-like vampires, but it feels very apocalyptic with just the microcosm of BonTemps to play out. Such a dramatic worldwide crisis would bring a giant social upheaval, but we've been spared nothing more than a hint of that. Instead the situation is so dire that humans have to pair up with clean vampire protectors?

This has been a season of poor writing which has thrown away good characters in favor of easy replacements—Luna for Nicole, a new love interest for Jason and Jessica, as well as the waste of the only intriguing addition, Warlow. And after so much teasing, viewers now have a shake and bake Alcide/Sookie pairing without seeing any of the drama of its evolution. I won't even start on Alcide's wasted storyline as I've beaten that to death.

I guess I should make a list right now of characters I should remember to care about when next we rejoin True Blood—Violet, who has been wedged into the storyline out of nowhere, Nicole, who is apparently a fixture in Sam's life now, and the little girl who Sookie says hello to in the church (obviously relevant). And not to forget Alcide's new haircut...

Next year is True Blood's final season, which is appropriate given the series feels exhausted in many respects. I'm hopeful the writers strive to wrap up the storylines of these favorite characters in a satisfying manner. True Blood has gone from an anticipated series in summer, to the one that follows the hangover of Game of Thrones. Time to end things on a good note.

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