Monday, September 1, 2014

True Blood: Fangs For The Memories ~ Thoughts On Eternal Sunshine-Happy Days......

It's hard to say goodbye. But now that I've watched the TRUE BLOOD series finale in its entirety not once, but twice, I think I am ready.....to put my thoughts into words. 

First, a word of warning: IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE SERIES FINALE YOU WILL WANT TO COME BACK WHEN YOU HAVE.  There are spoilers galore coming right up. There is also a whole lot of rambling. Don't say I didn't warn you....

There has been a ton of controversy about the final season, let alone the final episode of the campy, over-the-top paranormal horror/fantasy show.  I've had over a week to think about it and have decided I'm okay with the way they ended things.  Some of it was a bit rushed (i.e. Jessica and Hoyt getting married? He barely remembers her!), and some of it was downright ridiculous (giving Sarah Newlin such a prominent chunk of the last season? WTF!?), but I understand why it went the way it did.

 Let's face it, though there are a seemingly endless array of characters parading in and out of Bon Temps, this show at its heart has always been about Sookie and Bill.  Yes, the writers followed the books somewhat (at least in the first four seasons till it kind of took a hard left), but making the characters their own had the writers coming up with some pretty crazy story-lines (can we just throw out the entire Maryann/maenad plot?)  Regardless, it all came back to Sookie and Bill and their romantic yet relentless attempt at a "normal" relationship.

Herein lies the ultimate question on True Blood.  How can darkness and light co-exist without the inevitable, insurmountable laundry list of problems and complications? How would a vampire and a faery (because let's not forget Sookie was part fae) carry on as a traditional couple? It's not like they could jump in the car and take the kids to Chucky Cheese after church, you know?  And though vampires are out of the coffin in the show's premise, it feels more likely that a vampire would want to stick to what he knows, and what he could imagine a life being without the sun, with another of his kind in the best case scenario.

When I first started watching True Blood, I'll be honest... I didn't have HBO.  I missed oh, the first six episodes or so before some of my friends were telling me how crazy and outrageous it is and that I HAD to see it.  My uncle told me to download the theme song - said I'd love its bluesy, dark sound - and I did! Finally one of said friends was even able to pass along a little info about how to watch episodes online.  Normally I don't do that. But I couldn't resist. (Never you fear, I anted up and got HBO before the season even ended.  Because I loved it that much.)  I'd already read several of the Sookie Stackhouse novels (by Charlaine Harris) so I was familiar with the characters.

In watching the first episode, I thought they cast Bill perfectly.  Stephen Moyer is just fantastic as the southern gentleman/Civil War soldier trying to deal with the horrific (supernatural) cards he'd been dealt.  I was a little more skeptical of Anna Paquin as Sookie.  She wasn't what I'd pictured from reading the novel (which is a familiar problem when you've already read source material... I mean, Tom Cruise as Lestat just sent me over the edge, reeling in a sea of woe), but I settled with her eventually, and now can't imagine anyone else in the role.
More about Sookie and Bill later. 

Bon Temps sure is a quirky little hamlet, full of weird-ass people (and I'm not even talking about the supes).  For a long time, I thought Sookie would end up with Sam Merlotte, but as last season ended and this final one began, I kind of shuffled that thought under the rug. The book series end told a different story, (bringing Sam and Sookie together at last). Instead, on the series Sam has made many a foolish choice, but generally has ended up being the stand-up guy that every girl wants in her corner.  Of late, he had mated with a non-supernatural freedom-fighter type who, after being kidnapped and held prisoner in the basement of Fangtasia, decided the entire town of Bon Temps is basically fucked.  She hit the road and left Sam with a choice...follow her and leave the only town he's ever been able to call home, or stay and wonder what kind of semi-normal life he could have had with the woman he loves. We know now that he did exactly what we thought he would do...he followed Nicole to Chicago. So goodbye to that possible happy-Sookie ending. But hey, Sookie has had her fair share of worthy suitors...


With a deluge of sexy men on this show, it's hard to pick just one body that stands above the rest, but I will.  Say it with me folks, ALCIDE.  Damn if Joe Mangangiello is not true perfection.  He's extremely attractive above the neck as well, which doesn't hurt either!  Werewolf Alcide had been chasing Sookie's skirt since season 3, and at the end of last year, he finally struck gold.  But you knew it was the kiss of death when Alcide and Sook finally hooked up.  Packmaster Alcide went completely rogue in trying to save Sookie, sending his pack out of town- basically forcing him to live a solitary life....but with Sookie of course.  But destiny had other plans, striking him down (sans clothes, no less) with a bullet at the beginning of the final season - setting things up for Sookie to finally find the man of her dreams....

Was that man Eric Northman, a thousand year old viking vampire god with a soft spot for the Sookster?  For a few seasons, we had to assume that was where the writers were going.  In the books, Sookie and Eric were a couple for a long time, and once Alexander Skarsgard showed up in season one, fans began to split into two sides:  Team Eric and Team Bill.  Eric was a pretentious, utterly bad-ass beauty that was used to getting his own way, and found it more than just a little irresistible when Sookie would turn on the charm and fight with him a little.  Who can forget their first encounter at Fangtasia, when she was "Bill's" but immediately Eric wanted in on that.  The sparks flew and by season 4, he was bedding Sookie in the woods to the purdy tune, I Wish I was the Moon.  But as we know, things change and that didn't last, as most relationships don't on True Blood.  You either piss someone off or die.  Sometimes both.  Most times both...

So with Sam, Alcide, and Eric out of the way, it was inevitable that Sookie and Bill would be giving it another go. Bringing a couple back together after a shitload of bad mojo and sheer horror is the benchmark of most television shows, and this was no exception. While "Billith" was probably the worst of the worst, it's clear that for a while, they wanted us to believe their was no redemption forthcoming for Bill, and that Sookie would never forgive him.  But at the end of the last season and all through this season, it seemed redemption was the name of the game, with Bill turning a corner and Sookie finally realizing she had never got over her first love.

I was pissed at Bill for a while, and may have even turned over to Team Eric there for a few seasons, but I always knew it would come back to Bill.  So I suppose that is why I was so eager for them to live happily ever after.  After all, all the characters on True Blood were coupling up in these last two seasons - even Arlene found happiness would not elude her after Terry's untimely death, when she surprisingly hooked up with Keith, a vampire who saved her life with his blood.  Jessica and Hoyt found their way back to each other and left Jason and Hoyt's ex, Brigette, to pick up the pieces - with each other! (Like we didn't see that one coming?) Andy and Holly were happily engaged and apparently looking the other way at their children (who are not in fact, blood-related but are in fact, set to be related by marriage) as they fall in love.  Lafayette and James (Jessica's ex) had their happy ending as well (though a little more LaLa in this final season would have made everything better!)

Speaking of making everything better, one of my favorite moments this season is when Ginger got her seven-season wish and finally did the nasty with Eric (which took all of 3 minutes and left her snoring on the floor at his feet!  Kind of regret them never getting to be a couple with the nickname: Gineric. Would that not have been perfect!?)  And Eric and Pam were always meant to be together forever, maybe not as a couple, but as the best and eternally loyal friends they have always been. Pam scored some of the best one-liners in the history of the series, and I was ecstatic that she didn't meet the true death.

So why then, if things were wrapping up so nicely for all the other characters, would the writers decide to kill Bill in the final moments of the show?  Were they just trying to keep the suspense going?  Or were they just going for the shock factor? When Bill first looked in the mirror and he (and all of us watching) discovered he had Hep V - and that it was moving much more rapidly than normal - I guess I always thought (1) there would be a cure.  And there was.  And (2) Bill would get the cure and he and Sookie would realize they were always meant for one another and would live the Happily Ever After they were always meant to.

When the cure (Sarah Fucking Newlin) first presented itself, I was overjoyed (practically orgasmic) when Eric sunk his fangs into her and was saved! Yes!! Surely Bill would be next.  And after a lengthy "would he get the cure or not" delay, Bill is face to face with Sarah and does what?  Refuses the cure.  THAT is when I knew things were going awry.  A true WTF moment for me.  {heavy sigh...}

I kept hoping that at that last minute, he would change his mind.  Couldn't he focus on how happy he was with Sookie?  Remember all those great times?  But no.  He didn't want Sookie to "live in the darkness" and wanted her to have kids and live a normal (sunshine-happy) life.  Which does present a serious truth.... when a vampire settles down with a human, they really only have a short period of time together - and even then, things would get pretty hinky when the human starts aging.  As in, "Hey, is that your grandma?"  Eventually the vampire would be stuck with an 80 year old human, and much as they love them, I'm thinking the arthritis and adult diapers would eventually put a damper on the hot vampire sex. Let alone the whole "kids" thing.  I've heard some say, oh but they could adopt!  Yeah. Sure they could.  But would you want to leave your child alone with daddy vamp?  Wouldn't you always worry?  And wouldn't your kids be pissed that Dad can never come to their soccer games because he is holed up in the basement in a cubby, hiding from the sun?

In that same vein (pun intended), the writers made a bit of a misstep in allowing all the other vampire-human hook ups to end happily.  Wouldn't we have the exact same situation with Jessica and Hoyt? (though the writers made it a big "reveal" that Hoyt never wants kids - and this started the riff between him and Brigette, who fits in perfect with the storyline of Jason dumping Violet because he wants kids and she can't have them)...  Arlene and Keith?  Lafayette and James? I'm confused as to why it is ok for them to all have their HEA but force Sookie and Bill (the couple that basically defined and carried the entire series) to suffer that horrific, tragic ending?  Sure, when they flash-forwarded five years things were peachy and Sookie was knocked up and apparently married to a mystery man...and I suppose that is what Bill wanted for her all along.... but it didn't make it any easier for us as an audience with a vested interest in the main couple to handle. 

During the last few episodes leading up to the finale, Bill was shown to be at his "most human", and the writers even teased us into thinking perhaps Bill is actually turning human.  I mean, Jessica said how warm he was, Sookie could read his thoughts, and Bill himself egged us on by saying he had never felt more emotional and more human.  Who else thought that because Sookie was a faery that her blood wasn't actually killing him, but that it was turning the Hep V into some sort of vampirism cure for Bill?  Boy was I pissed in those last few moments in the graveyard when I realized that was NOT the writers intention at all, that we had been duped and they were just keeping us guessing.

Why then, would Bill ask Sookie to kill him?  Why would this ever be a good idea to assume it is okay to ask the love of your life to assist in your suicide? If you love someone you can't ask them that when there are obviously other solutions that won't make someone feel like a goddamned murderer.  Regardless, when push came to shove and she decided she didn't want to use her faery light on him, why did he still make her kill him in such an awful manner?  Why did she need to drive a stake through his heart?  She LOVED him for pete's sake.  He could have just staked himself.  Alternately, she could have just sat with him until morning and let the sun do its job.  Just because he wanted to meet the true death didn't mean he had to subject her to something so entirely awful.  Though I understand why Bill wanted to die, and even resigned myself into thinking it was ok, I am still not happy that she staked him.  That was over-kill.  (And really ruined her nice little black dress.)

BUT.  Regardless of the poor choice of true deaths for Bill, I am glad that he at least made it to the final moments of the series.  I was always secretly hoping he would change Sookie into a vampire (either that she would want to be changed or that she would be mortally wounded and he would have to change her) but alas, that was not meant to be.  It was however, a TV show, so I really think the writers could have ended it with Bill and Sookie putting the horrors of their past behind them and moving towards a happy future, as unrealistic as it would be - THIS IS A TELEVISION SERIES, FOLKS.  I think we could have suspended our disbelief (as we did for seven seasons) for the rest of eternity, as well. 
At least we have the knowledge that real-life "Sookie and Bill" got their happily ever after with Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer hitched with kids, and sunlight.

After the total mood-downer death of Bill, the series flash forwarded several years to give us the happy ending we were expecting.  First we see Eric and Pam, reaping all the benefits of "New Blood" and still taking the world by the balls.  They were probably two of my favorite characters on the show and made every scene they were in together something special, with great chemistry and outstanding wit. Together, they are my 'scarecrow' - I think I'll miss them most of all!

Ultimately, we are privy to a celebration in Bon Temps, with all the couples still together and everyone getting together for a nice (nighttime, natch!) Thanksgiving dinner (complete with multiple cans of New Blood on the table for the vamps!).  Sam and Nicole and their two children came to visit, and all the regulars (the ones that were left to tell the tale) were accounted for.  Jason & Brigette (& their mighty brood of rugrats), Hoyt & Jess, Arlene & Keith, Lafayette & James, Andy & Holly, Adilyn & Wade...even Lettie Mae & the Reverend and town drunk Jane Bodehouse and her vampire suitor. And for completeness sake, Arlene's kids - even Mikey! - are sitting with Sam's daughter at the kids table. Even Eric's baby vamp progeny Willa is considered family and is present, who should probably hook up with Holly's other son (the only single people at the adult's table).  And finally, a very pregnant Sookie was serving lemonade while her mystery hubby/baby daddy was deep-frying a turkey.  Everybody is happy. Finally. 

So after all this ranting, I just have to say thanks to HBO for such a crazy-ass show that I could just sit down and watch on Sunday nights, throwing all my real-life trials and tribulations to the wind, and just enjoy for the campy, vampy, guilty pleasure it was!

#TrueToTheEnd




Thursday, August 28, 2014

DARK ARTS: Abigail Larson

The Alchemist's wife
If you are a lover of the Victorian England aesthetic than you will fall head over heels for Abigail Larson’s illustrative art.

The Virginian artist’s work has been featured all over the United States as well as in galleries in Paris, London, and Madrid; she has appropriately been featured twice at the Poe Museum in Richmond. She has illustrated various books, comics and posters including Sarah Faire and the House at the End of the World and the covers of such anthologies as Beyond the Pale (edited by Henry Herz), The Mysterious Affair at Styles & The Secret Adversary (Agatha Christie), and The Book of Whispering Spirits (Jeff Ferrell). Prints and other fun items are available for sale here (http://society6.com/abigaillarson)

Abigail, herself, is a lover of Poe, Shelley and the gothic masters of the time, and she recreates these worlds in her artwork. Many of her paintings directly reference Poe—she has many portraits of characters like Ligeia, Madeline Usher and even the master scribe, himself. Her pieces reek of gothic mystery, and peering into them one can almost smell the dusty tomes or the stinging aroma of lilies. Her portraits are of milk-skinned maidens dressed in the gorgeous fashions of the 19th century, or tall, gaunt men in cloaks and waistcoats.

As usual, it was extremely hard for me to select just a few examples of her work, so please continue to view her creations on her deviantART (http://abigaillarson.deviantart.com/), or on her website (http://www.abigaillarson.com/).

Halloween Queen

Spirits of the Dead

Till death do us part

When the last rose of summer is gone