Post-series finale is usually about the time, for some odd reason, that online media becomes crowded with speculation. About the next series. But what about the one we’ve just seen? There’s a weird trend that involves discussing how events could or should happen. What we should be doing is looking at what we’ve just seen.
So, I haven’t done this before, but I’m going to look at some of the key things in Season 5 of True Blood. Mainly because it was awesome, and for those of you who haven’t watched it, you really need to. It’s not just some airy undead romance. This season, more so than the past few, have been riddled with religious, political and downright confusing themes.
For those uninitiated, a bit of backstory. Sookie is a waitress/faerie who can read minds – she met a vampire and became embroiled in the world post True Blood – that is, after the vampires had ‘come out of the coffin’ and were able to subsist on a synthetic blood substitute named Tru Blood (and yes, a multitude of articles have been written about the writer Ball’s allusion to gay rights). There is a vampire authority, and the whole thing is set in the Southern town of Bon Temps, so we have backwards views to help illuminate the fucked-up-ness of everything that’s going on.
Season 5 began with Sookie saving her friend Tara by turning her into a vampire. The whole show is a confusion of werewolves, faeries, shape shifters, but unquestionably, vampires are the main storyline. And vampires aren’t particularly nice. Here, we see Bill and Eric, vampires with a position of authority, being kidnapped and taken to the secret underground lair of the Vampire Authority. They’re wanted because they didn’t kill off a vampire who went against their ‘values’ – ie, wanting to eat everyone, killing people on live TV, etc. (There’s a great video clip here)
They turn up, and they’re greeted by being closely guarded, and given iStakes to wear (even vampires need apps, apparently…):
Anyway….the whole story arc of the series revolves around the goings on at the Vampire Authority, which, surprise surprise, turns out be corrupt. They all get high on the blood of the original vampire, Lilith, and believe they’re ‘god’s children’, with the God in this case being Lilith – she apparently put humans on earth for vampires to eat. Of course. The series is basically showing us a reversal of roles from Season 2 where the Fellowship of the Sun had the humans as the corrupt, violent, religious authority. This time it’s the vamps that are the bad guys. Well, they do find some way of shoeing in the hypocrisy of the fundamentalism human religions too in the form of Reverend Steve Newlin. In Season 2, he was the leader of the Fellowship, and they tortured vampires in the name of God, as well as committing terrorist acts. Wonderful. Well, come season 5, he’s now gay and a vampire.
Ain’t that just peachy?
It’s interesting to see where the series has gone and it’s commendable. The writers have shied away from maintaining Bill as the romantic lead, and focusing the story around a relationship between a human and a vampire. Perhaps it’s because of the negativity surrounding Twilight and its reception. Whatever, well done. Political and religious corruption never goes amiss.
Here, the religious group the vampires have formed is fraught and tense. Members of the authority spend the majority of the time making sure they look behind them in case a member decides to go rogue, believing they are truly the ‘chosen one’. As for how it has affected the humans – well, they blew up the factories of Tru Blood and set the blame elsewhere. A snide comment on political actions being disguised if there ever was one.
The other storylines in season 5 – faeries and werewolves – were eclipsed by the brilliant political mastery of the Vampire Authority possessed by religion. The Authority began the show admitting that the religion of Lilith that they supposedly adhered to was for ‘tradition’ and ended with half of them dead in the name of God. It seems we’ve turned a corner. Vampires are now the bad guys again; perhaps shown best by the transformation of Bill from humane, loving partner of Sookie from season 2 (when all the vampires were being persecuted) to batshit mental/power crazy blood god:
Vampires clearly have a place in popular culture. The precise need, as always, will evolve and change over time. I think we’re beginning to see a change from the saccharine portrayals of late to a more monstrous version imbued with the evils of power, religiosity and wielding the politics of fear.