True Blood Season 6
Sunday, June 16
HBO, 8pm ET/PT
(Also, don’t miss the two-part social media event that kicks off 9am ET June 16 when HBO reveals exclusive secrets from the set of True Blood Season 6 via the profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine. Then there’s #TrueBlood: Live From the Set, the interactive pre show on HBO at 8:45pm ET/PT hosted by Parks and Recreation actress Retta. Also, 13 cast members will answer questions from fans, including Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Sam Trammell, Nelsan Ellis, Deborah Ann Woll, Carrie Preston, Todd Low, Chris Bauer, Kristin Bauer van Straten and Joe Manganiello. Fans can submit questions at truebloodlive.com.)
I’ll be honest, I was a little tired of True Blood Season 6 before I even put in the screener DVDs. And I’m not the only one. Even Charlaine Harris, who started all this wonderful mess with her Sookie Stackhouse books, says she’s closing up shop in Bon Temps after the just released Dead Ever After. It feels like maybe True Blood is one of those brightly burning candles destined to go out quickly. Not that six seasons can be called quick.
But after 60-some episodes of vampires, werewolves, Maenads, shapeshifters, witches, faeries … did I leave anything out? Yeah, it can get a little much. Oh right, mediums. Sorry, Lafayette! (It goes to a greater point, though, about how the need to give every single character in this huuuuge cast something different to do really led to fatigue.)
And while the three episodes HBO made available for preview show that True Blood still has plenty of bad habits — I, for one, never have had much patience for all the winking at the camera that seems to be between every other line of dialogue — there’s still some intrigue to be had. The Bill-turning-into-Lillith cliffhanger is dealt with immediately, with Bill trying to figure out just what the hell he has turned into. His powers and limitations seem different, but the main takeaways are that he now can see the future — and it ain’t pretty — and that he sees himself as being responsible for saving all vampire-kind. Oh, and get used to hearing the word “Billith,” not just on oh-so-clever websites but on the show itself. Sigh. See what I mean about winking?
Despite the seemingly new paradigm of Bill (Stephen Moyer) being a godlady and humans developing effective weapons in a growing war on vampires, many of the characters are still doing the same thing. Sookie (Anna Paquin) is still swearing off supernatural beings and failing miserably at it, Sam (Sam Trammell) is still not telling people he’s a shifter, Alcide (Joe Manganiello) is finding his way as leader of his pack (and being kind of a Big Dick Richie about it), and Tara (Rutina Wesley) is still as defiant as ever. Characters with bigger changes are Erik (Alexander Skarsgard), who is finally going back to being a badass. He’s taking point for the vamps in the war against the scheming Louisiana governor (Arliss Howard) who is intent on eliminating all fangers. While when Mr. Northman was introduced he was a dangerous, seductive villain, he was necessarily softened the last couple seasons in order to make him a suitable hero/love interest for Sookie. But now the writers have satisfyingly synthesized those sides of the character to make him both the good guy and someone we matter-of-factly accept as being capable of horrible things.
Jason (Ryan Kwanten) is the same lovable dummy, but he does show some growth as he meets a mysterious stranger, played by Rutger Hauer, who will figure in greatly to the confrontation against Warlo, the powerful vampire who murdered Jason and Sookie’s parents. For those who remember the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer film, Hauer is not dressed all that differently here than he was as his character in that, which I admit threw me just a little. He brings a much-needed grounding to the madness that often takes True Blood from being fun and campy to just being lame. Lame like latter-day John Waters lame.
But it’s not just Hauer who belongs at the grown-up table. Deborah Ann Woll has always managed to inject Jessica with plenty of humanity and genuine pathos to keep things from getting too nonsensical. Her perspective on Bill’s transformation is one of the more fresh ideas True Blood has had in awhile, and it wisely appears as though it will be explored thoroughly this season.
No season of True Blood would be complete without an overarching (ahem, overreaching) metaphor relating to vampires’ struggles for acceptance. This season it’s the Holocaust, not only in the attempted genocide from humans, but also experimentation. Steve Newlin (Michael McMillan) finds himself a captive in a most unfortunate place, where he is being interrogated under the threat of being experimented on. Something tells me they’re going to go ahead and experiment on him anyway. Wouldn’t you?
I didn’t even get to Andy Bellefleur and his four new fairy daughters, did I? Oh well. They’re going to play an important part, too, in addition to potentially make even the most diehard Truebies fans feel like poor Andy: over-freaking-whelmed.