The anticipated blood bath of “True Blood’s” fifth season finale didn’t disappoint, but even as we said goodbye to several memorable vampires, the biggest bloody surprise came in the form of a rebirth. In fact, this year’s finale, “Save Yourself,” may be an even bigger cliffhanger than Season Four’s. Then, we didn’t know whether Tara was dead or alive, but now, there’s no telling just what our beloved Bill has morphed into now that he’s downed Lilith’s blood. “She’s a mad god, Bill,” Eric warned. “She’s nothing but destruction.” No amount of protest from him or Sookie could stop Bill — who just might be the reincarnation of Lilith? — and the last line of the season from Eric was a smart one: “Run!” Season Five hit shaky ground with its Lilith fascination (not to mention the Fire Monster story that petered out rather quickly), but ultimately the 12 episodes present a fairly tight tale, one comfortable in its campiness and filled with humor. The season likely will serve as a bridge between Four and Six — a giant transition for the story and characters as alliances and natures shifted to change the game.
I like to think the Merlotte’s margarita viewing party of Lafayette, Arlene and Jane represents the “True Blood” audience — watching something strange unfold with both wonder and amusement and echoing Lafayette’s words of “I did not see that s**t comin.’ ” Viewers just have to shake their heads as the silliness and move on. Maurella’s birth to and quick abandonment of her four half-fae babies wasn’t as surprising, though, as Sam’s clever way of destroying Rosalyn by, as a fly, flying inside her and shifting back to human form. That explosion may be one of the better deaths of the series. And as gratifying as Eric’s vengeance against Russell is, the departure of the 3,000-year-old vampire leaves some crazy shoes to fill. Perhaps the heartbroken Steve will take up his cause? He’s on the loose, having fled the scene of Russell’s death. In fact, he and Nora are the only Authority members to make it out alive, with Nora taking Eric’s side against the Sanguinistas and the two of them providing a bizarre sibling rom-com vibe to the proceedings. Their chemistry works, and assuming she sticks around, she’s a welcome addition to the cast.
Salome wasn’t so lucky, her failing to see Bill’s devious nature before it was too late. He played her and her Lilith love so perfectly that even she had to admit, as the silver Bill slipped her worked through her veins, that she’d met her match: “Lilith chose wisely.” Pam’s words about Bill’s fanaticism may have been the most prescient: “I can totally believe it about Bill; he’s always looking for something to feel guilty about.” Bill actually has found a way to not feel guilt, or fear, anymore, letting the teachings of Lilith justify his behavior toward humans. His about-face doesn’t seem so out of place once you consider the guilt he’s carried for more than a century and his desire to be rid of it. He’s not made like Eric, or Pam, who can shrug off their sins and yet go about their own business and not start holy wars against humans. Refusing Sookie’s help — calling her an abomination — and drinking Lilith’s blood may prove to be actions that can’t be undone.
Still unsettled is the matter of Warlow, the vampire out for Sookie, and just how her destiny as part fairy is intwined with his. She may have tried to rid herself of her powers, and her microwave fingers are a bit on the fritz, but Sookie’s role with the fairies is far from over. It’s good that Claude and the rest of her cousins are around, though. She needs some more creatures on her side. This season found her largely alone with only Jason around to help. Now, he’s busy being goaded by visions of his dead parents into hating vampires, which could put a wedge between him and Sookie. It already has with Jessica; he rejected her declaration of love, saying he could never be with a vampire. Jessica’s had enough heartache, first with glamouring Hoyt to forget about her and then with seeing her maker lose his mind to religion. Still, the baby vamp may be the sweetest character and is surprisingly well adjusted. So is the other newbie, Tara, who matched her own maker’s bravery and determination and rescued her with a kiss. Tara’s transition to vampire could have been a mess, but it instead has saved her as a character.
Sam and Luna’s escapades were probably the most daring of the night, especially considering Luna’s skinwalking as Steve could be the end of her. She found Emma, but we don’t fully know the toll the stunt took on her body. Likewise, Alcide consuming V to take down JD and become packmaster could have negative consequences. He could get addicted to the blood, if not only the power of his new role, and his reunion with his sketchy dad may not be a good thing. A reunion with Rikki, however, would be. He needs someone to keep him in check. Sam needs someone who won’t die on him, and his and Luna’s relationship is one worth keeping around.
Aside from the state of Bill’s madness, the biggest question for next season is the ongoing supernatural war. The public is now probably fairly concerned at having seen Luna skinwalk as Steve and then claim there’s an underground vampire lair where humans are being killed. The footage of Steve and Russell was already making the TV rounds, so the anti-vampire movement isn’t going away anytime soon. Sookie, as always, will find herself in the middle of it, but at least this season has brought her character a sense of calm that has been missing in the past. She’s still unsure of herself and her abilities, but she’s also given in a bit when it comes to her life. It’s crazy; she may as well deal with it. She’s not turning into a defeatist like Jason — “Maybe we wouldn’t keep getting hurt if we just expected the worse,” he told her — but it wouldn’t come as a surprise if she finds herself letting loose again, just as she did earlier in the season when she raided the liquor cabinet and flirted with Alcide. Her loneliness, however, may get the better of her. The series moved away from the love triangle of her, Bill and Eric this season, but now with Bill decidedly on the other side of reason — and, again, perhaps a crazy god reincarnated — the outcome of their relationships in Season Six is anyone’s guess. Season Five has changed everything, and that’s a good thing.
Sarah Carlson is a TV Critic for Pajiba. She lives in San Antonio.