True Blood: The Complete Seventh Season
HBO // Unrated // $79.98 // November 11, 2014
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted November 11, 2014
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Graphical Version
The Show:

True Blood, the highly anticipated series that began in 2008, ended in 2014 with a dismal Season Seven. But most people already felt it was headed in that direction based on the previous season.

Caution: Some spoilers ahead. But if you've been a faithful fan and are wondering if you should bother with this season, I say read the below and skip watching/buying it.

At the end of Season Six, Bill had lost his special Lilith powers, so anyone who drank his blood was no longer able to walk in the sun (many might remember the naked Eric sunning on the mountaintops of Sweden before starting to burn). But more importantly, Season Six kicked off the Hepatitis V infection epidemic from the tainted TruBlood product--orchestrated in part by Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp, Pitch Perfect).

When we come back to Bon Temps, Louisiana, for Season Seven, it's six months later, and the vampires infected with Hep-V are attacking Merlotte's Bar and Grill, and the death count mounts quickly. Because humans can carry Hepatitis V but show no signs, it's difficult for uninfected vampires to know who to feed from. Tara (Rutina Wesley, 13 Sins) and her mother Lettie Mae (Adina Porter) are present, and Lettie Mae offers Tara the opportunity to feed from her. Those of you who've watched the show from the start know that this is a big deal. Lettie Mae, recovering alcoholic, didn't do much to raise Tara, so the fact that she can give her something now is quite touching. However, just as the Hep-V vampires descend on Merlotte's, Tara puts herself in harms way, sacrificing herself to protect her mother. Shock! At least they weren't pulling punches, right?

During the attack, Hep-V vampires capture Sam's (Sam Trammell, The Fault in Our Stars) pregnant girlfriend Nicole (Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Friday Night Lights), Arlene (Carrie Preston, The Good Wife), and Holly (Lauren Bowles, Hall Pass) and hold them in the basement of Fangtasia for food--Did I mention that Hep-V makes you hungrier? Or is it thirstier?

Sookie's got a new-old man in Season Seven, and many fans were happy to find out that it was Alcide (Joe Mangianello, Magic Mike), the handsome werewolf. It's clear, however, that Sookie's not completely head-over-heels in love with Alcide, but she does love him. Which makes it all the more difficult when, after Sookie and Bill work together to draw out some Hep-V vampires in the woods, Alcide is killed in the cross-fire of townspeople with guns and the Hep-V vampires. If only Sookie would stay in the house!

Meanwhile, Pam (Kristen Bauer van Straten, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion) starts searching for a missing Eric, who apparently was traveling the globe when at some point he contracted Hep-V. When Pam finds him in the basement of some Spain-like castle, he's accepted death and has the telltale Hep-V dark veins that start in the chest and eventually run throughout a vampire's entire body. Somehow she convinces him to get it together by promising to help him kill Sarah Newlin for starting this huge mess. But of course, a trip to Bon Temps is in order to see Sookie (Anna Paquin, X2) and to pick up his progeny Willa (Amelia Rose Blaire).

Speaking of Sarah Newlin, this is where things get even more absurd. After running from the TruBlood factory at the end of Season Si, Sarah is now living in an ashram with a guru when their home is invaded by ninjas(?) looking to kill her. Apparently, they're part of the Yakuza. Let me tell you that if Charlaine Harris ever put in her Sookie Stackhouse books a mere mention of the Asian mafia, my wife would have thrown it across the room. Fortunately, we like the TV. More on the ... sigh ... Yakuza later.

Much to Pam's chagrin, while Eric is in Bon Temps he agrees to help Sookie and Bill (Stephen Moyer, Quills) and her friends try and save the women held at Fangtasia. I suppose he's feeling generous since he's dying. It's too bad they were slightly too late to save all of them untouched. Arlene is the meal of the afternoon, and she's on the verge of death when the cavalry arrives, kills the lot of them (thank goodness--those dark veins are super unattractive), and helps mend Arlene with vampire blood. I'm glad Arlene didn't die--she's one of the best characters (and actresses) on the show.

Okay, back to the Yakuza. But first a brief stop in Dallas, Texas. Pam and Eric are back to their search for Sarah, and it turns out that Sarah has a vampire sister in Dallas. After first confirming that Sarah's sister, who is also Hep-V infected, is on their side, Pam and Eric leave with instructions of what to do it she sees Sarah. And surprise surprise, Sarah needs a place to hide out, so she shows up at her sister's doorsteps. She's ready to kill her, except that Sarah says that SHE'S the cure for Hep-V. She swallowed the antidote on the way out of Season Six, and now her blood is the real deal. Let's not get into the biology of it, but it works. When Pam and Eric return, Sarah's on the run again but her sister is cured.

Like I said, the Yakuza. They find out at the same time as Pam and Eric that Sarah's blood is the cure. They plan to capture Sarah, synthesize her blood, and sell it (as a kind of supplement) to Hep-V vampires, but they need Eric's help. It's not even worth it to talk about the leader of this particular Yakuza ... branch?

Back at Bon Temps, Sookie and Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll, Ruby Sparks) find out that Bill is infected, and he was exposed to it after drinking Sookie's blood. And, because she's part fairy, the virus works doubly fast on Bill. But no worries, right? Eric and Pam and the Yakuza eventually capture Sarah and they've got the cure. Eric drinks from Sarah and bam! He's cured. So Bill lives too, yes? Well, he starts having these dreams. Lots of old-timey sepia dreams, which is just A LOT of fun. He decides it's time for him to die. Sookie and Jessica think that's just crap. I have to agree.

He asks Sookie to help him die by using her last fairy fireball on him. Despite everything, she initially agrees, but they both get one little last moment of happiness when Jessica "marries" Hoyt (Jim Parrack, Battle: Los Angeles), who comes back to Bon Temps from Alaska after his mother is killed. And oh my gosh, good riddance. Also interesting but never addressed: the virus is taking its toll on Bill, who is in pain and moves around slowly, but somehow Sookie can finally hear Bill's thoughts during the wedding. His thoughts are about her and his hope that she'll have things in her life like the wedding, children, and happiness.

Before we get to the epilogue, Sookie goes to the cemetery, to Bill's human grave, to use her fireball on Bill but decides to save it because it's a part of what makes her, her. Instead she and Bill wrap their hands around a broken shovel handle, and stake him. They stake him together! Oy. How romantic.

It is at this point that I begin to wonder when Sookie is going to become a vampire. I based this on nothing but the cover of the DVD, which shows Sookie's profile with a red tear(?). What else could that mean, I thought. Apparently it meant nothing except that Sookie would have a lot of blood on her face this season. But what else is new.

There's not necessarily a defined epilogue, but through TV magic, we see what things are like at one year later and then three years after that. I was like, okay, Sookie's a vampire...but actually, she's not. She's pregnant and has a husband (who is never shown--I suppose because it doesn't really matter). Jason has married Hoyt's Alaska girlfriend and has three kids, and Sam comes to visit with Nicole and his two kids. Meanwhile, Pam and Eric are making a fortune with their New Blood, courtesy of Sarah Newlin. But I guess I should be happy there was no Yakuza lurking about in the last episode.

Unfortunately, there was little to be happy about this season. In one commentary, someone mentioned that they were out to be "as absurd as possible." And in that, they succeeded. They also succeeded in disappointing all of the True Blood fans (or at least this one) and in continuing the inability to form a cohesive, solid season.

The Blu-ray Discs:
The Video:

Ten episodes spread over four discs, all presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and use the AVC codec for high-definition goodness. Things look good, with ample image detail and no saturation issues on color reproduction. Flesh tones look natural or at least as much as possible on a show with vampires, and black levels look deep and are consistent throughout, with little DNR or image haloing consistent enough to notice. All in all, HBO does right by their shows and this is no exception.

The Sound:

DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround for all episodes, and what was a surprisingly dynamic show, or at least more than I remembered. Dialogue was consistent throughout, and during the occasional vamp stakings there was even a moment or two of low-end fidelity. The show's numerous songs to play over end credits sound solid and the immersion level during listening is surprisingly good. I enjoyed listening to this and compared to the television show is an upgrade technically.

Extras:

Episode commentaries on five of the show's ten discs exist, generally with each writer, director and perhaps a cast member or two. One of the writers, Kate Barnow, discusses how the show allowed for a sense of ‘being as absurd as we wanted,' which kind of explains one of the reasons for the show's quality decline I suppose. Carrie Preston and Lauren Bowles join the cast for the sixth episode and it's the liveliest, with the following commentary on Episode 7 being the dullest. Paquin and Moyer come back for a commentary on the finale, but generally the commentaries are not earth shattering.

The other extras are on the fourth disc. "A Farewell to Bon Temps" (28:12) is a piece where the cast say down shortly before the finale and share their thoughts on the characters, favorite scenes and lines. The fan phenomenon is discussed and thoughts on the sex and violence are recounted, including show creator Alan Ball of Six Feet Under fame. It is a nice look back near the end for all involved. "The Final Days on Set" (14:52) is a piece where the cast were given handheld cameras and the chance to share their thoughts on the last month of shooting, showing some jokes and series wraps on the main characters. Cute stuff. "True Blood Lines" include character biographies from beginning to end, and a code for the season through the Ultraviolet service is included.

Final Thoughts:

The end of the series deserved much more than seemingly random deaths for major characters and extremely random bad guys. The series that I wanted to watch initially set out to be about the magic of the supernatural in a real-world sense, but that magic doesn't mean you can just make things up that serve a particular plot but have no connection to the series as a whole. For sure a well-loved book series-turned TV show, you think it would be important to plot out where you wanted to go from season to season. People may not have liked the ending of Lost, but at least they knew early on where they were going.

The fans that have hung on, imaging the show would turn around, would best be served by missing Season Seven of True Blood. Probably just read the Sookie Stackhouse book series (but be sure to stop when the reviews get bad). Perhaps True Blood was just following in the footsteps of the book series, after all.



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