True Blood Sex and Violence Meter: Buried and Fairied

It's been clear for the last few weeks, but last night's finale drove it home: The third season of True Blood really should have ended with that episode where Russell makes his literally spine-tingling news appearance and provokes a full-out human/vampire war. Instead, the show's follow-ups have mostly sidestepped that promising development, and all of the season's plotlines either ran out of steam or were hurriedly shuffled away for abrupt character reboots that felt like an overeager jump on season four. The season began strong and laid out a lot of promising ideas, but that finale...well, let's see how it fared via the Sex and Violence Meter, shall we?

· The last episode ended with Eric springing handcuffs on Russell while both were vulnerable in the sun, so you'd expect some fireworks, right? Instead, they're both kinda chilling out on the pavement, resigned to their fates and getting a little toasty-faced. Oh, and Eric's having visions. "Forgive him in the time you have left," Godric implores. "Preserve Denis O'Hare so that he may make Season 4 guest appearances." (Violence: +4)

· After her vivid dream about a chandelier UFO concludes, Sookie runs outside and fairy-blasts the handcuffs tying Eric to Russell, then blasts a back-talking Russell across the parking lot for good measure, warning "Watch your f**king language." You all know how much I love Anna Paquin and profanity, but this show hardly needs more self-parodying lines. (Violence: +2)

· It's morning-after time at Mr. Merlotte's, as Tara and Sam process their intense humping from the night before. Dark Sam is making Tara some pancakes, and I silently brace myself for the moment he stares intently into the pancake batter, triggering a flashback about the long con he once pulled at IHOP. After Tara and Sam have a conversation about bacon grease (and it soon becomes clear that this plotline is the one thing bacon cannot make better), Sam tells her that he's a shape-shifter, and Tara reprises Sookie's "shut the f**k up" reaction, then sighs. "I wish I could reboot," Tara says. Basically, every line of dialogue Tara has in this episode is intensely meta. (Sex: +1, Questionable Finale Inclusion: +5)

· Inside Fangtasia, Bill bites Sookie at her behest, and she feeds Eric her delicious plasma to help him recover. How much blood does this poor girl have now? Eventually, Sookie runs out to the parking lot to pointlessly save crispy cryptkeeper-face Russell, whose right fang falls out. Somehow, the show resists a tooth fairy joke pinned to Sookie's mysterious heritage. (Violence: +5)

· Jason is trying very hard to call off the Hotshot raid, and coming right on the heels of the previous scene where Sookie decided to save her arch-enemy Russell from certain death, there's a little too much of characters suddenly trying to thwart the plot point they themselves had been advancing for episodes. It's so the Lost season five finale where Sawyer, Kate, and Juliet were all "Sure, Jack, we'll help you blow up this bomb, even though we only came here to stop you and, like, we'll probably die because it's a bomb." Call it off! Shut it down! (Questionable Finale Inclusion: +5)

· Hoyt wears his vampire hickey to work, which is notably inconvenient for many reasons, not least of which the presence of his mom and Summer. (Violence: +1, Questionable Finale Inclusion: +5)

· Lafayette is still having a bad trip from all that V he took with Jesus, and hallucinates a vision of Sam with bloody hands. Not as weird as our collective hallucination of Alfre Woodard on this show. (Violence: +2)

· A good scene! Russell is tied up and smoky at Fangtasia, and he tries to convince Sookie to free him. Instead, she maces him with silver spray and sends Talbot's innards down the Fangtasia garbage disposal. These two really should have had more to do with each other this year. (Violence: +7)

· We're in Hotshot. Ugh, Crystal. Her brother shoots her dad, or maybe vice versa. Everyone kinda stands around until Crystal appoints Jason the kind of the rednecks (man, Jason will never get a storyline with any of the other regulars, will he?), and then he has a halfhearted Last of the Mohicans "I will find you" moment. Goodbye, Crystal. Your whole werepanther thing didn't really amount to much, did it? (Violence: +5)

· After being gripped by a series of terrible, violent flashbacks, Tara catches her mom sexing the reverend. The only real sex in the season finale comes from the Tara subplot. Make of that what you will. (Violence: +2, Sex: +2)

MIDWAY POINT: Violence is way out ahead of Sex, 28 points to 3. Also a contender: the sheer frustration that the finale is spending time on filler scenes and plots that just kind of drift to an end, which has accrued 15 points.

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  • I hate this season, Kyle, only because it makes us fight. I didn't mind the finale at all! It was fun, I thought. Which isn't to say that I disagree with your points. While there have tended to be multiple climaxes at different points in each season, the climaxes after the spine-buster just weren't high enough to compete. More than with the other two seasons, too, instead of the last fifteen minutes of the finale being next-season setup, we've had multiple episodes of introducing witches and Hoyt's mom getting guns which might be great for starting out strong next season but isn't so great for this one.
    Still, as much as I love them, I don't really watch True Blood for classically-crafted plots, I watch it for sheer insanity and its lyrical characteristics. I mean, Matrix Vampire Fight? Tara's kicky new haircut? Eye-fucking? Hoyt and Jessica just existing? Tommy can't read? Jesus and Lafayette being really hot? That's enough for me.

  • Linda says:

    Who is Russell? The one that Bill called to kill Pam and then Pam killed? I agree that everything after the spine ripping was anti-climatic, but I also agree that it is still more fun than watching the VMA's or anything else that was on last night. I think they have fallen into a pattern of one great rip-roaring burst of fun (Maryanne's impalement, for example) and then they don't know how to rebuild the momentum. But I forgive them. Anyone who searches for logic is watching the wrong show.

  • Kyle Buchanan says:

    I kind of get the feeling that they had no idea how major Russell's spine moment would be...that maybe it was a 3am rewrite and then suddenly, it became this major moment that the rest of the season couldn't really do justice to.
    I also watch TB for its sheer craziness and Hoyt/Jessica existence...I just wish the finale had more of both.

  • You may be on to something, Kyle. They probably thought the spine-ripping was just another Patented True Blood "WTF?!" Moment and not a cultural phenomenon. Also, I think they realized halfway through the season that there was no frickin' way they couldn't have Denis O'Hare come back, so they rewrote the climax.

  • Bronson says:

    Spot on. Also, Kyle, w/ the Jessica/Hoyt thing...don't forget about the telltale doll left on the floor of their new joint!

  • Al Roberts says:

    I'm pretty sure they had some idea the spine ripping scene was a big deal as the original casting notice was for (I'm paraphrasing) "the most famous national newscaster we can get." Which apparently they could not achieve because I did not recognize the news anchor.

  • rtj125 says:

    I agree this season sucked. Which isn't to say it was without its fun moments, but on the whole, what really happend between episode 1 and episode 12...not a lot. It's like after the pandemonium of season 2 someone thought that true blood was too exciting and so they decided to tone it way back. too far back is what they got.
    I mean Crystal?? really??? she was the worst addition to the show since day 1, every hook-up of Jason's has been way more interesting (lizzy caplan! lynn collins! tara!) and what's with the were-panther thing that happened all of one time and apart from jason telling her to run in this episode was never mentioned again.
    Arlene's having Rene's baby??? ok i know not much time has passed in the world of Bon Temps, but for us watchers Rene, was waaaaay back in Season 1, so it keeps messing with my head that she's pregnant with his kid, because I keep thinking didn't he die years ago.
    Poor Tara had shit day after shit day all season long, but if she's not returning next season I will be PISSED! I've long had a love/hate relationship with this show and that will be the last straw.
    With the exception of the beautifully delicious Alcide, this season was pretty limp compared to its predecessors, and I can only hope that Season 4 makes a miraculous turn-around.
    In other news, I have LOVED reading your recaps for this show and look forward to more from you in the future.

  • TurdBlossom says:

    The show peaked with the spine ripping, since then, everything seemed to be a set up for season 4 (I also think they rewrote Russell's fate so the possibility that he can return is there, as opposed to having him being burnt to a crip in the sun). The highlight of last night was Sookie disposing of what was left of Talbot and laughing, but overall it was a pretty boring S3 finale.

  • kit says:

    as a response to: "So, did season three bite? Or did it start strong and end in dire need of a blood transfusion?" I would really say the latter, if they don't give us Amnesia Eric in Sookie's bed and a proper shower scene next year I will cancel my HBO subscription

  • Wellie says:

    You are 1000% right. What really concerns me is that the big cliffhangers (Hotshot, Sam & Tommy, Arlene & Holly, Jesus & Lafayette) are really lame and not compelling enough to build a season around next year.
    Hoyt & Jessica and the creepy baby doll in their new house are intriguing.

  • Seren says:

    Yes! Agree!

  • snarkymark says:

    Talbot's remains down the drain, with the garbage disposal on no less, made me laugh out loud. I agree with all the posters who say we don't tune in to TB for the writing, but the shirtless sexy time. This also happens with Alan Ball stuff. I watched the whole weekend marathon of Six Feet Under last week and there was a real fall off from season one to the end -- the middle seasons were especially boring. This probably has about two years left, then put a wooden stake in it.

  • It's a shame but it looks like Ricky Hatton's last big fight has ended in a knockout he lost - to cocaine. Not so much the champ is dead as the chump is dead. A sad occasion.

  • let down says:

    I hated the "grand finale". Where is NIALL? Eric found him for sookie--claudine is her fairy "god mother"--that's been left out. And what about Eric , Sooki and Pam? Sam is turnng into a creep--and Hoyts mother is one also. Season three was good in the beginning--but how they ended it was so BAD!

  • I personally think that this jail sentence for Paris Hilton might be the big break she long needed. Hence, by being confined in jail for 45 days, she might start to reflect on her life and realize that she has a bigger role to play in society.