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True Blood: Season Four - What A Witch

Posted on Thursday May 10, 2012, 17:18 by Helen O'Hara in Small Screen
True Blood: Season Four - What A Witch

So how are we feeling about True Blood these days? I have to admit, season four was something of a letdown for me. I mean, it's still entertaining, particularly when Lafayette was involved in anything, or Jessica. But so few of the rest of the cast seemed to be having fun, and many of them seemed to be forced to play against their strengths, and what with the show hitting DVD so that you can all have a look, let's consider what's been going on. Season Four spoilers, incidentally, follow throughout.

Take, for example, Alexander Skarsgard's Eric, struck with amnesia and rediscovering life alongside Sookie. In the books, it worked rather well for the big fierce manipulator to be suddenly reduced to powerlessness and then to finally get into Sookie's pants by dint of not endlessly contriving at same. Somehow here, however - not helped by Skarsgard's horrendously parted "innocent" hair - he just seemed a bit silly. Which has the knock-on effect of rendering Sookie's inability to resist him a little baffling. GIRL! He was about a thousand times hotter and more interesting when he wasn't trying to look like Just William. At the very least ruffle up that hair; did we learn nothing about the importance of proper coiffage from Zoolander's Meekus?

Then there's Bill, now King of Louisiana and pining for Sookie only when it seems convenient to the plot. His scenes with vamp daughter Jessica generally spark, but he doesn't have much else to do beyond doling out exposition and dithering about witches. Jessica, a character not in the books, is left as the series' most entertaining bloodsucker, trying to balance her good girl morality with her newly vampire nature. And it's a good thing we have someone vamping it up, because with Bill's typical restraint, Eric's sudden idiocy and even Pam losing her good looks to a rotting curse, the undead were kinda living up to the second part of their name rather than the first.

So could the shapeshifters fill the gap? Well, eh. Sam developed a nice little romance with another shifter, only for family problems to get in the way. His brother Tommy develops new human-shifting powers that are not much exploited beyond a one-episode escapade (all ramifications of which have more-or-less vanished within two more shows) and is killed off just as he was getting interesting. And the werewolves, who almost never change form (due to the fact that even HBO has budgetary limits, I suppose) basically hang out and behave like they're on Sons Of Anarchy. The Alcide / Debbie Pelt story develops differently and more slowly than in the books, which is no bad thing, but ends up in the same place. Perhaps Alcide will be given a bit more to do in consequence next season: it's hard to imagine that he'll have much less.

Which leaves the magic users. Fiona Shaw's really terrific as Marnie, all outward meekness and inner steel, as well as her alter-ego Antonia when she's possessed. It feels like the cleverest choices in the season largely concerned her character, a multi-layered and pleasantly complex human being amid a crowd of sometimes one-note leads. Contrast Marnie to Tara, for instance: we see Tara early in the series swearing that she'll never be a victim again, all tough and fired up and determined to defend herself - only for none of that to amount to anything once she's back in Bon Temps. Lamest character development ever. And don't even get me started on the final episode developments for Tara. Marnie, however, got to travel from victim to avenging angel to villain and back again (and again), getting more meat in one season than Tara has managed in four. Lafayette and Jesus also get a little love, even if their entire storyline feels, in retrospect, like set-up for next season rather than this, and the Bellefleurs mostly offer comic relief.

So overall, this felt like treading water to me, setting up more exciting developments for next season. Oh sure, the shagging levels were still high, and there was enough of Alcide's leather jacket / Jessica's Little Red Riding Hood costume to keep those of any sexual inclination titillated, but it wasn't quite vintage for me. It might be time to pull the action out of Bon Temps and explore the vampire world a bit more (aren't we overdue a convention somewhere?) and it's certainly time to pick up the pace to something a little more Vampire Diaries, as this series' final episode did.

But what do you think? Time to step it up a gear, or are you still happy just admiring the pretty bloodsuckers?

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Comments

1 Whistler
Posted on Friday May 11, 2012, 18:15
Season 1 remains the best so far, but I'm still enjoying each of them. S4 got off to a wobbly start (I was really worried about that opening scene in 'fairyland'), but it quickly grounded itself again. And I say "grounded" in the lightest possible sense, considering it added demons and ghosts into the already overloaded mix of the supernatural. When you take a step back and look, it all seems a bit silly, but it's so damn entertaining that I don't care how outrageous it gets.

None of the criticisms you mentioned above really bothered me, apart from maybe the Tommy thing, but he always annoyed me a bit so I was quite glad when he got killed off. Jesus dying, however, was not on.

2 JORGEFC15
Posted on Friday May 11, 2012, 21:38
I agree with most of the criticisms you mentioned above, except Tara's development. She's my favourite character because she's a real human, she's not perfect, she's unstable and always changing. She swears that she'll never be a victim again, but she can't escape from her past/friends/lifestyle. However she's has grown a lot, her alliance with Marnie, her fury agaisnt Sookie for helping Eric... In the end she's still the good person, stronger, but forever in a mad world.

3 carzed_fairy
Posted on Friday May 11, 2012, 21:39
So glad someone else feels the same way about it. This series really dropped the ball compared to the others that have passed. Here's hoping they will pick it up again, or maybe we are all over the whole vampire thing?

4 Truebloody
Posted on Friday May 11, 2012, 21:48
I totally agree with this article. The season is somewhat of a let-down. However, the books do lead away from the vampires and explore witches and shapeshifters more, so i guess that's what the show is trying to do too. Shame really, because i'm always slightly bored when Bill and Eric aren't in a scene.

Fiona Shaw is a great actress but i didn't care much for the storyline.
Sam's brother had outstayed his welcome too, i just hope Season 5 picks things up a a bit...

5 jordieb
Posted on Friday May 11, 2012, 22:01
season 3 with Russell Edgington was the best for me.
I completely agree that this season has been the worst so far, Eric being made dopey and innocent became incredibly boring and when it came to the final episode it felt like there was still a couple more episodes to go, marnie's end sort of fizzled.
Its set up brilliantly for season 5 though, Eric and Bill turning against the authority and Russell Edgington returning.
If its good enough i could definitely see this being the last series with a pregnant Pacquin and what seems to be slowly declining interest.

6 wgfuzzydunlop1
Posted on Saturday May 12, 2012, 03:40
To me, True Blood is going through the motions. This will get worse after the exit of series creator Alan Ball after season five. There's one way I can suggest to shake things up a little; kill off Sookie. She is, by a very wide margin, the most annoying lead character in a TV series since Maddie Hayes (ask your parents). And give Andy Bellefleur his own spin-off series. Can't see that getting boring!

7 Rex
Posted on Saturday May 12, 2012, 11:08
Having read the review and the following comments, i am totally amazed to see not one mention of probably the best character in bon temps, being the entertainer that is jason. His trying to resist his urges for the beautiful jessica was truly funny and always knowingly futile.

8 Whistler
Posted on Saturday May 12, 2012, 12:16
@Rex You're right - Jason is awesome.

@wgfuzzydunlop1 I don't know how many books there are, but (despite what I said in my earlier post) I'd quite like to see it end after Season 5. I'm not sure how much further they can take most of the characters without it getting monotonous and stale. And, if that happens, I get the feeling the writers will just chuck in more unnecessary supernatural shit to compensate, but all it'll do is overload the show with needless sub-plots. That's just me however. It might keep going and become unbelievably awesome; I'll keep watching nonetheless. Sookie does piss me off a bit too. The way she always makes everything about her, and stupidly exaggerated Southern accent nag at me.

9 Big_Pants
Posted on Saturday May 12, 2012, 13:13
I actually lovesd Season Four, far superior to Season Three which only had the glorious Denis O'Hare to just about redeem it.

10 KCanner
Posted on Sunday May 13, 2012, 14:18
Having only recently been introduced to True Blood and then devouring all 4 series in 5 days when I was ill with flu, I can´t say I agree with all the criticisms although I do have a couple of my own.

Firstly, what didn´t I like, I didn´t like the Jason storyline with the were panthers, but his story arc significantly improved once Jessica gave him his blood. I found Marnie irritating at her introduction, but as she grew stronger her character improved.I also thought it was completely superfluous for Bill to have a relationship with Portia, his great great great great grandaughter.

However I thought Alexander Skarsgård was brilliant at showing another side of Eric which had previously only been hinted at when he lost Godric was important and Pam loosing her beauty, which she was so proud of was significant. Alcide definitely needed more to do.

Admittedly I am looking forward to getting bad boy Eric back in the new series as it was seriously lacking his humour. I am also looking forward to the return of Russell, Steve Newall (sp?) as a vampire, and the introduction of the AVL council. Should be a good series :)

11 freyar_88
Posted on Sunday May 13, 2012, 21:57
I agree with pretty much all of this. Season four was just boring. Lafayette is probably the only entertaining character. I can't stand Bill any more, and Eric was pretty funny when drunk-on-fairy, but basically boring for the rest of the time. I was distracted from the fact that the werewolf storyline being lame by the incredible abs of Alcide, but season 4 was seriously weakened by the werewolves and the fairies and the witches... also, the seasons usually end with a bang, but the finale was rubbish. Tara had been so bloody annoying since Eggs died I didn't really care that she got shot/killed by glass - but from the looks of things (i.e. previews), she's not even dead, which makes the ending even rubbisher.
Game of Thrones FTW.

12 frenchy22
Posted on Monday May 14, 2012, 13:34
This season was a bore, and where did all the humour go? Jason used to be hilarious but here just boring.

13 Hairypie
Posted on Wednesday May 16, 2012, 12:28
Have to admit that Season 4 was lame, Bill pining for Sookie, glowering when Eric-lite finally got into Sookie's undies and Tara being as annoying as ever. But I will say that the development of Jessica was long over due and I reckon her character will become even more central in the upcoming season 5 which looks to be awsome as Russel Eddington returns.
Have to agree with wgfuzzydunlop1 though a spin off for Andy Bellefleur would be cool!

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