The body count on True Blood has been high throughout the series’ seven-season run, but for its finale, most of the major characters surprisngly lived to see the end of the series — in a sun-drenched, happily ever after sequence many fans probably didn’t expect. Maybe “Thank You” isn’t the ending creator Alan Ball would have written, but it’s the ending viewers needed.
Showrunner Brian Buckner did his best to turn the crazy ship around — let us never forget how far off track the show got with its faeries and werewolf tangents that delivered none of the impact found in the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris. The time jump at the end of Season Six was divisive, and it along with the continuation of the Hep-V storyline painted Buckner and writers into a corner. They found a way out through Sarah Newlin and by smartly upping the Eric-Pam quotient as they hunted her, but mostly, Season Seven proved to be one big therapy session for the characters, who have spent the previous six seasons watching their loved ones die in horrible ways. True Blood could have had a much darker ending, but only if its final seasons had been geared toward one. A brutal end would have been unfair.
Even so, Bill and Sookie’s farewell to each other wasn’t easy to watch, not only because assisted suicide for vampires in this world means blood, guts, and goo everywhere. This season saw the couple brought back together as Bill, infected with Hep-V, faced death and he and Sookie realized they still loved each other. That’s not unbelievable, even if it is a bit convenient. Almost all of relationships were tied neatly with a bow in the final few episodes; good thing the random vampire who saved Arlene’s life turned out to be good for her; good thing the girlfriend Hoyt brought along with him to Bon Temps turned out to be perfect for Jason, etc.
Sookie and Bill’s history can’t be denied, however; it was the lynchpin of the series, the center of the story from the very beginning, even as the storylines strayed throughout the years. Other lovers came and went, but this relationship never really did. We spent this season watching often-awkward flashbacks to Bill’s past designed to flesh out his character and make it clear why he would be ready to meet the true death and hopefully go on to whatever’s next and be with his family. He wanted Sookie to have a happy life, a life filled with children and growing old with a partner. Bill wanted more for Sookie than he could provide, and truly, he wanted to be with Sookie, but as a human. Together, neither could have the future they really wanted.
Thank goodness Sookie didn’t give up her fairy powers to release him. “Show me the true death, and you’ll be setting us both free,” he told her. But Sookie giving up the part of herself that made her unique definitely would have been at odds with one of the main themes of the series — that being different is OK. She didn’t give up her light, even if it would have made her life easier. She didn’t give up on herself. She also didn’t end up with one of the major male characters, which is a change from most shows. She says goodbye to and buries Bill; Alcide was already gone; and Eric is off with Pam becoming incredibly rich by peddling Newlin’s miracle cure blood to save Hep-V-infected vamps. In the final scene, we see that Sookie has settled down with someone else, but we don’t see his face. That’s great - we don’t need to know who he is. She’s pregnant and settled and happy, and the men who fought over her and for whom she often was put in danger are out of the picture.
Newlin’s fate in the face of such happiness feels rather cruel. Perhaps seeing her chained in the basement of Fangtasia would have brought a stronger sense of justice had it come closer to seeing all the destruction she wrought in Season Six. Still, if one of the characters needed to be left to suffer, and at least the writers chose wisely in Sarah, a woman who worked to destroy vampires and who couldn’t fathom a world in which humans and the supernatural lived peacefully together. She didn’t believe in that dream, so down to the dungeon she went. Pam and Eric are far too opportunistic to not take advantage of her as well as the general goodwill they’re seeing in society. A Hep-V cure for vampires is good for the world, so it’s good for business. They end up on top because they aren’t above fake-smiling their way through an infomercial for New Blood. It’s a fitting end for the show’s best characters.
Hoyt and Jessica are taking a shot at vampire-human married happiness, and maybe they’re built for it in a way Sookie and Bill weren’t. The sweetness of their story was much needed, as were all the happy relationships. Just think of the hell most of the characters have been through the past seven seasons. They deserve a break, and most of them found one. They learned how to come together and accept each other, to live this new supernatural-infused life without fear. True Blood, for all its silliness and camp and gore and sex, was always a tale about tolerance and acceptance. And in the end, nearly everyone left came together to break bread at a table together, holding hands and looking toward a brighter future. I hope they find it.
In the meantime, fans will be dreaming of an Eric-Pam spin-off.
Sarah Carlson is Television Editor for Pajiba. She lives in San Antonio. You can find her on Twitter.