Film and TV

True Blood Season Finale: Thank God for Stabbing Westward

Alan Ball was known for his masterful use of music in Six Feet Under. He's lost none of his touch when it comes to his current HBO series, True Blood -- which happens to be set in the Louisiana swamps, not terribly far from Houston.

My favorite chapter in Atlas Shrugged is the destruction of the Taggart Tunnel. A combination of incompetence and indifference leads to a massive train wreck that cripples the entire shipping capacity of the nation when it brings the tunnel down with it. As it happens, Rand remarks on the many passengers who through their refusal in one way or another to embrace her Objectivist world brought the disaster on themselves.

This scene was in my mind when I sat down last night to watch the season finale of True Blood, and believe me gentle reader, it met expectations and then some.

First to recap, in the realm of shit that was completely pointless, Russell Edgington (Denis O'Hare) met his true death after eating the oldest of the Bon Temp fairies when Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) tracks Sookie's (Anna Paquin) terror at his approach, thus pretty much negated any impact that Edgington might have had on the plot of the season.

From there, the assorted heroes stage a commando raid on the Vamperitican that is admittedly, bloody and awesome the way John Woo movies are and television shows rarely get to be. Even people not involved in the raid's planning get in on the murder spree when Sam (Sam Trammell) pulls some straight up Shang Tsung shit to take out the last member of the Vampire Authority in a bloody attempt to escape.

In the end, Bill (Stephen Moyer) drinks the entire phial of the vampire Lilith's blood to become a naked, bloody living avatar of the mad god, and the season ends on a cliffhanger as he bares fangs against Eric and Sookie who had come to save him.

Let's be clear on something. Alan Ball is leaving the series. This is the man that gave us maybe the best series finale of all time. I cried after watching that video linked there, and it has literally been years since I first saw it. Ball, the undisputed king of all endings, went out on a note so flat you could build a temple to the sadness of it on it. It's not that it was bad, it just that it was not good, and that in itself seems like a sin.

Who held our hand as we said goodbye to another year of vampire drama? Maybe the last one for you humble chronicler who has been here all along and can't take much more of this crap?

Well, it was Stabbing Westward. Stabbing Fucking Westward, and I have to say it was the best choice musically all season.

Maybe it's because they were one of the bands that was on the radio when I first learned to drive and could control my own destiny, but I've always liked Stabbing Westward. Sure, Chris Hall dressed like he got all his clothes at Trent Reznor's garage sale and he sort of sang that way, too, but they always had a sort of unappreciated lyrical depth that could've made them the Guns N' Roses of my generation's rather terrible musical movement in the '90s.

I've heard fellow fans say that "Save Yourself," the song that shares its name with the episode, is all about Jesus Christ looking down on humanity and saying that since he couldn't get himself off the cross, they should look to themselves for salvation. It's an interpretation that I can get behind, and a message I like.

The only best thing about this last episode of a meandering season was the reuniting of Sookie and Eric in a common cause. Their chemistry remains electric, and a shared loved of life unites them in a way that is absent from other relationships in the show.

In a way, Stabbing Westward's little angst anthem sums that up perfectly. It's a rally to the idea that someone lost to the depths of nihilism, such as Bill in his religious zealotry, must find their own way out of Hell while the live ones run.

That's it for season 5 folks. Next year? I dunno. It might be time to put the fangs away and seek fresh blood.

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner