Monday, September 15, 2014

One Hour Photo (2002): Robin Williams At His Creepiest Best

 Since the untimely death of Robin Williams, it seems all we are left with is the plethora of films he made and the never-ending question of why.  How could something like this have happened?  And while I'm not going to get all philosophical about this tragedy I have to admit it has left me with more questions than answers. 

But it has also left me with a great deal of thanks to him for brightening my days with laughter and for making me think a little bit when he turned on the drama.  While films like Dead Poet's Society and Good Will Hunting showed us his vast dramatic acumen, there are other films of his that showcased his complex talent for bringing emotion to life on the screen.  

One of these overlooked gems is One Hour Photo. 

Sy Parrish is a middle-aged photo tech at a big box chain store (think Wal Mart) called Savmart.  On the surface, Sy seems like your ordinary store clerk, just trying to get through his day so he can get home to the wife and kids.  But look deeper.  You soon learn that Sy leads a pretty pathetic life, a solitary existence in which he is more likely to heat up a tv dinner for supper and sit around watching reruns of Barney Miller.  There is no wife. There are no kids.  There's not even a cat.  Unfortunately, Sy is more reclusive and introverted than you think.  He is also one fry short of a happy meal. His job at Savmart is all he lives for.  Well, that and the Yorkin family. 

The Yorkins, Will (Michael Vartan), Nina (Connie Nielsen) and their nine year old son Jake (Dylan Smith) are Sy's favorite customers.  He lets them know this when they come to the Savmart but not in an overly obvious way.  He takes their order and comments on things that happen in their lives, even going as far as to give Jake a "free" throwaway camera for his birthday. 

But Sy takes it a bit further than that.  He lives vicariously through them as he develops all their photographs and secretly makes copies of each picture for himself. 

In one of the creepiest moments in the film, we see just what he is doing with all those photos.  He has wallpapered his entire wall with their lives.  The Yorkins remain unaware of Sy's psychological problems and when Nina and Jake often drop film off they make polite conversation and seem only mildly rattled when Sy seems to remember key elements of their lives, brushing it off by reminding them that he takes great pride in developing their pictures.  Jake even feels empathy for Sy, admitting that "Sy the photo guy" seems very sad and that he doesn't think he has anyone that loves him.

Sy attempts to involve himself matter-of-factly into their lives by doing things like showing up at the mall where Nina shops to run into her and chat, buying Jake a toy he notices him admiring, and happening upon Will in the hardware department of the store to see if he can help him even though it's not his section.   He implants himself gregariously, even imagining scenarios in which he enters their home and is showering, making dinner, and watching television until the Yorkins get home and time stops - and then they laugh and joke with "Uncle Sy".  It's all very unsettling when you realize just how sad and potentially alarming Sy's behavior is. 

When Sy develops some photos which show Will and another woman very obviously having an affair, this sends Sy over the deep end - and that is when things get scary.  Sy begins to envision scenarios in which he confronts Will, and even easily sets it up so that Nina gets her hands on the incriminating photos.  Meanwhile, Sy's work suffers and his boss (played with flavor by Gary Cole) notices the photo count is way off base.  Questioning him about where all the extra photos are, he ends up firing him when Sy denies taking the pictures. 

When Sy finally snaps, it is the same time that the police become involved, leading to a show-down of sorts that goes in unexpected ways you won't see coming.  There is nothing loud or demonstrative about this film, but its quiet doom is malignant.  

Robin Williams was a true talent, and is no different here.  His Sy is so incredibly unnerving - so foreboding, that it almost feels possible to understand how someone could be depressed enough to do something completely out of sorts.  If I'd have seen this film before Williams' suicide, I think I'd have felt the same way, but this is such a clear picture of a desperately lonely man that it almost feels like I took a peek into reality - and what I saw was melancholy, somber, and most of all troubled.  I don't want to say that Robin Williams was able to easily emulate the character of Sy because of his own growing despondency, but in watching One Hour Photo, it is there.  It is just....there.  I would like to choose to believe he's just that good of an actor....but everyone puts a little bit of themselves into a role.   Here, it felt like a lot.  

Regarding the film, whether or not it showcased true emotions peeking through is not for me to say.  What I will say is that this is a great movie about a very lonely individual who let the lines of reality blur, causing him to shatter his existence as he knew it and fade into someone else's life.  It's a portrait of depression, isolation, and heartache whose final act only lays bare these facts:  there are people out there that no matter how kind you are to them, they are not living based in reality - and someday they are going to crack.  We just need to either be aware and try to help, or stay the hell out of their way before they turn into a sociopath. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014

THE ORIGINALS: Missing True Blood? Try This Captivating Vampire Series On For Size!

Disappointed that True Blood has ended?  Looking for some more vampire action?  Then it's possible The Originals will be right up your alley.  A series spin-off from the CW's The Vampire Diaries, The Originals bears some similarities to its relative, but mostly in crossover characters who make the transition to a more,  if I may be so bold, adult series.  Most of the characters here are adults - ancients to be exact.
The Originals are exactly what the name implies:  THE originals.  Ancient vampires who were the first of their kind, created centuries ago by a witch mother anxious to save her children from death.  The Mikaelson family currently consists of five siblings, three of which factor heavily into the plot-lines of The Originals:

Klaus (People's Choice Award Winner for Favorite Actor in a new series, Joseph Morgan) showed up first on TVD, wreaking havoc in Mystic Falls.  He is a very powerful, VERY headstrong hybrid (half vampire, half werewolf) due to an affair his witch mother had with a werewolf.  He returns to New Orleans seeking to reclaim his power and control over the city, all the while trying to protect his unborn child - a product of his own coupling with a werewolf - Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin).  To gain control of the city he will need to thwart the domination his former protégé, the very sexy yet fierce Marcel (Charles Michael Davis) has over all the supernaturals and humans alike in NOLA.

Elijah (Daniel Gillies) also first showed up on TVD, attempting to keep a tight leash on the destructive and murderous plans of his younger brother Klaus.  If a vampire can be amicable and mellow, Elijah is the closet to that that you'll find.  He had a generally peaceful relationship with the Salvatore brothers and especially Elena from TVD.  He still found time to be a vampire though, and when the Mikaelsons trekked to New Orleans to set up shop, Elijah spends much of his time keeping Klaus out of trouble and the rest of his siblings unharmed. He develops a fondness for werewolf Hayley, causing a further rift between the brothers.

Rebekah Mikaelson (Claire Holt) is the only sister of the vampire clan and because of various insecurities, is quite cruel and spiteful.  Nonetheless, she continues to have a soft spot for her brothers and follows them to New Orleans.  This develops into a serious problem when she rekindles an old flame with Marcel.  The two were lovers a few centuries ago, but family ties and loyalties forced them apart.  She is eager to help keep Hayley and her unborn child safe, yet desires the power the family previously had over the city.

When you factor in a coven of witches, more vampires and werewolves than you can shake a (sharp) stick at, and some plain 'ol humans to up the ante, you've got an entertaining show rife with violence, battles between good and evil (and evil & evil, natch!), romance, and of course, a whole lot of bloodshed.  

The Originals: Season One (from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group) was just released on DVD Sept. 2 and awards us with not only the entire 22-episode season, but with some great special features, including 5 new featurettes - one of which details the origins of creating the spin-off series and another which lends more light on the Mikaelson family's complicated back-story. Of course it has commentary, deleted scenes, and also boasts some highlights from the 2014 PaleyFest!  You have just enough time to binge watch the entire series before its Season Two premiere on Monday, October 6.  I really have to say this DVD is an awesome package and you won't be disappointed.

The Originals is the CW's #2 show (after The Vampire Diaries) among adults and it's easy to see why - if you're looking for some escapism from the grueling banality of day-to-day life, and/or you're missing True Blood  like the devil, you owe it to yourself to pick up this DVD (better yet, get the Blu-Ray combo pack and see these guys in the highest definition available!) and settle in for a wild ride.

Just so you know, it's not necessary to have watched The Vampire Diaries to start watching this show.  It stands alone with its own mythology and story-lines. It's super-sexy while still staying true to vicious and savage vampire lore.
I'm psyched for Season Two!  Get sucked in!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Blue Ruin (2013) : Just Take My Word For It, See This Film.

Blue Ruin is one of those films that speaks volumes without saying a word.  I had heard about this movie through word of mouth only.  I don't think it had a huge marketing campaign.  I haven't heard any of the lead actors' names before.  Its various posters were nondescript and didn't really tell you a lot.  I knew it was "some kind of thriller" but read somewhere that it was better if you knew nothing about it going in. 
These are the kinds of films I want to watch - ones I seek out because I don't know a damn thing about them then one day they just pop up on my radar.

I would have to admit it's one of the better films I've seen all year, and it will be tough to beat.

Nothing in the first few minutes of the film screams "WATCH ME!", but perhaps that is for the best.  We are shown a disheveled, unkempt, drifter-type wandering about the beach, squatting in homes when people are away or at work, digging through dumpsters for food, living out of his car and basically looking like the first five minutes of a Criminal Minds episode in which you know something bad is going to happen to this bum.  But on closer inspection, Dwight (Macon Blair) appears lost. His eyes have a sense of personal wreckage in them. Something unspeakable has happened to this man to plunge him into this life of vagrancy. There is such a vibe of utter defeat coming from Dwight, you know he has been emotionally destroyed.  But why? And how?
Macon Blair
Macon Blairappears lost, somehow.  Not in the physical sense, but in the emotional sense.  His eyes show a sense of personal wreckage. Something unspeakable has already happened to Dwight to plunge him into this life of vagrancy. 

When the town cop knocks on his car door one morning and escorts him to the station, we soon realize she is not bringing him downtown to arrest him.  She has brought him in so someone could be with him when he gets the news.  She hands him a newspaper and by the look in Dwight's eyes you know the shit has just hit the fan.  Dwight has just been informed that the man who murdered his parents is being released from prison.

And because we have realized at this point that this is going to be a revenge film, we become anxious if not eager to see Dwight rectify this situation in whichever way he deems appropriate.  But what can a man of little means accomplish?  Well, he attempts to steal a gun without success and ends up procuring a knife. He then waits....outside the prison gates, watching as Wade Cleland walks out of jail and into his family's waiting arms.  Dwight follows them to deadbeat bar and soon makes his way inside, finding Wade in the restroom.  The two struggle but Dwight is able to stab Wade in the neck and then the temple, effectively killing the murderer and leaving one hell of a mess.

Unfortunately in the heat of the moment, Dwight runs out but forgets his car keys inside the bar. Forced to steal the Cleland family's car (which is a limo for whatever reason).  He heads for his estranged sister's house but meets her in the driveway.  The two are soon sharing lunch and Dwight breaks down, admitting he has killed Wade.  Turns out his sister ends up quite happy that the man who killed her parents is dead, which only brings Dwight to the realization that the Cleland's haven't went to the police. She didn't know.  It's not on the news. No one is aware. Meaning they have decided on retribution on their own terms.  He urgently orders his sister and her family out of town, shaves off his scraggly beard, cleans up, and looks like a sixth-grade teacher when all is said and done.  He looks up an old high school pal who obviously has access to a whole pile of guns, and settles in for the long haul, awaiting the Cleland's attempt at revenge.

To call what happens from here a cat and mouse chase would be downplaying the fierce, tension-filled drama that unfolds at a steady pace. There is absolutely nothing unnecessary or gratuitous here.  Everything that is done, is done for a reason that is utterly cohesive with the plot. When watching it, you feel like (as my husband so correctly stated) "this shit could really happen".  It feels real.  It feels like the nightly news. Dumb mistakes are made on both ends by both parties. People forget their keys.  People do stupid things without thinking first. The violence is hard-core at times but completely legit.  Yes, that is what it looks like when you blow part of someone's head off.  Yes, most of the time things are not resolved without violence.  Life is not tied up in a pretty little bow. 

Seeing just how completely the past tragedy in Dwight's life has made him fall into his own ruin is at heart, the most compelling theme in this excellent film. Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier knows just how far to pull the emotional strings here, so that we almost feel a sense of pride in Dwight's choices.  Murder should never be the answer, of course, but when we are forced between the proverbial rock and a hard place, sometimes you just have to actually throw the rock.  Dwight struggles with his choices, and we struggle along with him, all the while hoping things will work out for him in the end.   Revenge is never pretty stuff, and the stark reality of actually killing someone and living with the consequences are never more blatantly clear than within this first-class character study of regret and vengeance.

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 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!