Monday, September 14, 2009

"True Blood" season finale recap: "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'"

Before I get to recapping the second season finale of HBO's "True Blood," a quick apology for my tardiness. I was at a wedding last night and, as a result, didn't actually get to watch the finale until late this afternoon. The nerve of some people, scheduling their nuptials on the night of an important TV event like this! Anyway, I'm here now and ready with my thoughts.
Spoilers below:
I have to say, I didn't expect to like last night's finale, as it focused on my least favorite aspect of this season: the character of Maryann and her transformation of Bon Temps into mindless orgy-land. But I did like it. The resolution of the Maryann plot was very clever, with Sam fooling Maryann into thinking he was "the God that comes" by turning into a bull and goring her. And I just loved that image of Sam, in his true form and covered in Maryann's blood, crushing her black heart, causing the Maenad to crumple like the Wicked Witch of the West during a rainstorm.
And how spooky was Maryann's wedding scenario? Brainwashed attendants, human sacrifice, rotten meat -- having just been to a happy, sweet, non-demon-summoning wedding where the maiden of honor wasn't tied to a chair and used as shifter-bait, I found it all particularly unsettling.
It also was interesting to see the various ways the townspeople reacted to their Maryann experience after the brainwashing clears. Tara is lost and ashamed. Arlene is filled with guilt for unwittingly abandoning her kids. Jason is convinced that he did something heroic during his blackout and tries to convince Andy of the same. Andy, being less delusional than Jason, doesn't quite buy it. Lafayette, interestingly, is kind of at peace. Having been through a trauma that he remembers vividly, he's kind of happy for the gift of not knowing what happened to him (note: it's not made explicitly clear, but I'm imaging the same is true of Terry. Like Lafayette, he doesn't seem all that interested in knowing what happened during his blackouts). Then we have Eggs and his deep desire to know what happened during his blackouts, no matter how bad it was. Be careful what you wish for, Eggs: knowledge of his actions drives Eggs to insanity, leading him to hysterically confess to Andy while wielding the knife he stabbed Miss Jeanette, Daphne and Sam with. Jason, assuming Eggs is attacking Andy, shoots him and Andy willingly shoulders the blame. The irony here: Jason wants to believe that he's a hero, but Andy is the one who really acts heroically.
Though season two was a bit uneven, overall it was vastly entertaining and better than season one. I did like the Dallas vampire/Soldiers of the Sun story a lot better than the Maryann plot, but even that story had enough in it to keep me interested.
I'm looking forward to season three (alas, I'll have to wait until next year), and the many intriguing storylines the season two finale set up. Who kidnapped Bill? What's up with Sam's natural parents? And will Tara ever recover from Eggs's murder?
Anyway, it's been a fun season. Here are a few more thoughts on the season two finale, "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'."
* By the way, the lady in the striped shirt sitting at Merlotte's bar near the end of the episode? That was Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels on which "True Blood" is based.
* OK, I'm kind of torn on the Jason/Andy plot. After all that buildup about them being heroes who will take down Maryann, they end up getting turned almost as soon as they set foot on the Stackhouse property. What a waste. However, that story did nicely set up the whole confrontation with Eggs at the end. And I loved Jason's series of inspirational battle quotes as he tried to psych Andy up. My favorite? "I love the smell of nail polish in the morning." Oh Jason, you lovable dumb bastard.
* Um, how lame is it that that was an ostrich egg? And how pissed is Lafayette going to be that he can't cook it? That sucker could feed the entire dinner crowd at Merlotte's!
* How sad is the Hoyt/Maxine/Jessica plot? Maxine overcomes her Maryann sickness, only to inform Hoyt that the "lie" she told about his father while under the influence was the truth -- he DID kill himself. Hoyt is crushed. Maxine said it's better that he knows the truth. It would have been better if he'd known earlier, Hoyt replies, and he's not wrong. Maxine just let him live a lie so that she could keep him around. Hoyt is upset and, in a fit of anger, tells Maxine that he should have let Jessica kill her! Gasp! But, in a nice touch, the look on Hoyt's face shows that he instantly regrets his words. Good work by actor Jim Parrack, who plays Hoyt. He's done really well with his expanded role this season.
Meanwhile, Jessica tells Bill she's off to reconcile with Hoyt, but ends up feeding on some random dude at a truck stop. Why? Has she given up on Hoyt because she now thinks she's no good for him? Is she embracing her vampiric fate because she's convinced there's nothing else for her? I hope she works through her issues, because I think the Jessica/Hoyt relationship was one of the strongest parts of this season.
* Also wanted to mention the fatherly way that Bill bids Jessica good-bye upon leaving for his date with Sookie. He's really embracing his role as her maker. Too bad he's been kidnapped. And that the fruit of his fangs is acting out in a truly frightening way. Sigh. Parenthood is so hard.
* I was a little upset that this episode had so little Eric, particularly since it set up the intriguing idea that Sophie-Anne is the one providing Eric (and, by extension, Lafayette) with V to sell. That said, there was some really good Sookie/Bill stuff this episode, particularly the scene when Sookie goes to her room to find Bill waiting for her. She asks him how long with will be before sunrise. "41 minutes," he replies. "Hold me for 40?" she implores. Awwww.
* OK, I take back all the stuff I said previously about liking Sophie-Anne. Her comforting words to Eric about Godric's death? "That blows." What a bitch!
* One last note: despite my distaste for the Maryann plot, I did love Michelle Forbes's performance in the role. Now that Maryann's dead, let's get this fine actress her own show, shall we?

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