I'm finding it hard to think about True Blood's sixth season without contemplating the future of the show, without framing the final few scenes in a wider discussion of where the show will go in its seventh (and final) season - and whether or not I can be bothered trying to get excited for it.
(Warning: spoilers from True Blood's sixth season follow.)
When the show does come back for its last hurrah, there is a strong possibility I will not come back for it. I've had enough of Sookie (Anna Paquin) filling the damsel in distress role for the umpteenth time, cunnilingual specialist Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) playing commando, Bill (Stephen Moyer) switching between good guy and bad ... it feels as though I'm watching the same old thing, episode after episode, year after year.
The sixth season didn't throw up much to change my mind, either. After hyping the mystery surrounding the murder of the Stackhouse parents for years, the writers chose to introduce a faerie-vampire named Warlow (Rob Kazinsky) who turned out to be catnip for Sookie's danger-whoring ways.
It's as though the writers decided the best way to improve on two separate villains is to combine them. "You know what's scarier than faeries and vampires? A faerie-vampire!" No, what's scary is that the same logic was applied to the writing of Sharknado. Fortunately the makers of Sharknado realised they were making F-grade trash and embraced it.
Of course, Warlow wasn't the only bad guy. I actually thought there was a lot of promise in the first half of the season, as Truman Burrell (Arliss Howard, a bright spot this year) set himself up as a villain. After Bill ripped Burrell's head off - in one of the season's most surprising scenes - the season seemed to lose a little of its momentum.
Burrell was one of the best villains the show has had, and he did it without any faerie powers or shapeshifting abilities or witchery. I've always felt the best part of the show was the disconnect between humans and vampires, the idea of social rejection in the wake of vamps "coming out of the coffin". The Burrell storyline, and the "vamp camp", was an interesting way to look at it (even if the idea of a vampire holocaust technically breaches Godwin's Law).
The show has gradually moved away from social commentary over the seasons, so I was excited to see it rear its head this year. It was disappointing when the show eventually retreated into its comfort zone halfway through the season.
That disappointment carried through into Friday's finale, a bipolar hour of television that spent two-thirds of its running time putting a full stop on this season - which included dispatching the sole remaining villain with help from what amounted to a ghost on another plane of existence, and exploding poor Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) on top of some mountain in Sweden.
It then switched gears, via a good ole' "six months later" title card, and setting things up in a future where Sam is the mayor, Bill has admitted murdering an elected government official without any repercussion, and Hepatitis-V-infected vampire gangs are eating their way through the countryside. Betcha can't guess which gang just showed up in Bon Temps.
I'm sure I wasn't the only viewer reminded of the zombie horde on The Walking Dead. It actually makes sense that True Blood would shamble down that avenue; not only have zombies supplanted vampires as the monster-du-jour, but they're about the only retro-creature that hasn't featured on the show yet. And, as a bonus, the guttural noises making their way from the zombie-vampires will mask the groans of the audience when the show returns.*
What did you think of the latest season of True Blood? Will you tune in for the final season?
(*) By the way, I have True Blood ranked last among HBO's scripted shows, according to this list. My current ranking: 1. Game Of Thrones, 2. Boardwalk Empire, 3. Girls, 4. The Newsroom, 5. Treme, 6. Eastbound & Down, 7. Veep, 8. True Blood. I've excluded Family Tree (hasn't aired here yet) and Curb Your Enthusiasm (it's not really in production).