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After eleven episodes of some of the most confusing, ridiculous and stupid television ever committed to my memory, I had little hope for the close to the fourth season of True Blood. The season began having absolutely no idea what it wanted to do and took us, the viewer, down a path that could have lead anywhere for weeks on end. The season opener introduced us to a world charged with political fallout for the vampires following the events of season three, and although it seemed as if that would come largely into focus as the season progressed, it surprisingly fell by the wayside. Along with the undead remake of The West Wing came faeries, sort of good, sort of evil, but never really clarified. The first ten minutes of the premiere were completely focussed upon them, but they too fell off the screen. They seemed hell bent on getting Sookie to join them in their fake utopia for all of an hour and that was just about that.
Slowly, throughout the course of seven episodes, we were introduced to witches, mediums and crazy evil babies that ultimately shaped up into what the season was about. Desperate, lonely witch Marnie begged for possession just to feel something other than the overwhelming sense of apathy for her own existence and was rewarded with a Spanish woman. To round things out nicely, said Spanish woman just so happened to be a witch herself - albeit 400 years ago - and had serious beef with vampires, something that Bon Temps has never been short of. War commenced (if copious amounts of angry talking with little to no actual fighting can be called war) and with it came the next four episodes of True Blood. With some idea of what it was doing, the show managed to get back on its feet somewhat, but still suffered largely from relying heavily on secondary stories that it was impossible to care about. Those that could be cared for did work for the most part (ignoring cringe worthy special effects) and it all came to a head last week in “Soul of Fire.”
With magic coming left, right and center, Marnie was finally taken down by Bill and Eric and all was set to get back to normal until the very end of the episode, when Marnie’s spirit returned to possess hairstyle mannequin Lafayette. “And When I Die” picked up the following morning and much to my surprise, possession wasn’t quite as stupid as it had been previously this time around. After Jesus figured out that his boyfriend wasn’t his boyfriend, he found himself tied up and at the mercy of a vengeful Marnie. Marnie, wanting more than ever to kill Bill and Eric, offered her terms to Jesus: in exchange for his magic, she wouldn’t harm Lafayette. Agreeing, Jesus worked his mojo before being viciously stabbed in the chest, the final piece of the magic transfer puzzle. With Jesus’ power on board, Marnie headed off to confront Bill and Eric, intending to offer them the same end as Antonia faced - being burnt alive (or dead in their case).
As the witch went after the vampires, the majority of the humans in Bon Temps set about celebrating Halloween or Samhain in the case of wiccans, whilst Sam mourned the death of his brother Tommy. Returning to Merlotte’s to ask Sam for her job back after Tommy had fired her following shifting into his brother’s form, Sookie offered a moment of comfort to her once again boss before getting back to work. The normality of the situation was short-lived however after Tara discovered Jesus’ body at Lafayette’s and somehow discerned that Marnie was back. Gathering up Sookie and Holly, Tara headed to find the witch to try and save Lafayette in the event that Bill and Eric discovered that he was a host for Marnie. Unfortunately for Sookie, the vampires were already more than aware of Marnie’s return, as both Bill and Eric were silvered on a pyre about to be burned. As the pyre was lit Holly worked her inner witch to call forth spirits of the dead to help them fight Marnie and was just a little bit successful.
Calling forth not only Antonia, but Sookie’s grandmother, Marnie was finally done when she accepted her death and joined them in the afterlife. With the witch gone and Bill and Eric saved, Sookie finally had time to make her choice about who she wanted to be with. Completely in love with both Bill and Eric, she for a moment made us believe that she was going to to choose Bill, until she turned to Eric and then rejected both of them. Unable to massively hurt either Bill or Eric by choosing the other, she opted to hurt them both to a lesser extent by leaving them. The scene was a great one and has been long awaited since Sookie and Eric finally hooked up, and although there is little doubt that romance will return between the group, for the time being, the story is settled. More importantly however, it has changed both Bill and Eric in the best possible way. With Sookie no longer causing tension between them, the two appear to have become friends, largely evident in their united stand against Nan Flanagan when she visits them just prior to the episode’s conclusion.
Bringing the news that she has left the AVL and the authority, she attempts to get the two to join with her and a group of like-minded vampires who disagree with the way that the authority is running things. Insulting both their kingdom and their love for Sookie, the two instead opt to quickly and violently kill her and all of her men. Of course, the Sookie-Bill-Eric mess wasn’t the only love story touched upon in the finale; Jessica and Jason as well as Sam and Luna had their moments. Unable to deny that there is something between himself and Jessica any longer, Jason finally tells Hoyt about them. After his beating, Jason is brought back to health by the R-rated version of little red riding hood that is Jessica and the two agree to just have a lot of sex instead of starting a relationship right away. Following Marcus’ death, Sam and Luna seem set for a slightly more serious relationship as both Luna and Emma join Sam at Tommy’s graveside and spend Halloween with him at Merlotte’s.
It wouldn’t be True Blood without some cliffhangers and shocking moments though and with “And When I Die” we got the best. Following his hook-up with Jessica, Jason got a visit from a long missing Steve Newlin, who in his absence has been turned into a vampire, and Arlene got a visit from Renee’s ghost after Holly’s spell, and he implied that Terry might have a dark side. Those were the tiny ones however. The big two came in the form of the ending of the episode and Alcide having some issues at work. Although all we got to see was some broken concrete in a parking garage, it’s safe to say that next year Russell Edgington will be back and pissed with the King and his Sheriff. As exciting as the possibility is, the episode's close is what really stole the show, as Debbie came to take revenge on Sookie for something that wasn’t really her fault. Just as Debbie was about to blow Sookie away, Tara pushed her out of the way catching a shotgun shell in the head for her troubles. Fighting the gun away from Debbie, the season ended with Sookie blowing Debbie’s head off and screaming for help as she held Tara in her arms.
The fourth season of True Blood has largely been a mess, but knowing where it all ends up, I’d be hard pressed to say it wasn’t worth it. The finale was the best episode of the show that I can recall seeing (although that is off the top of my head), with it providing genuine story development, strong character moments, action and serious humor. With the ridiculousness of witches hopefully behind us for the foreseeable future, the fifth season has the best possible set up, with an extremely powerful enemy waiting to strike and the most annoying character of the show dead. The show has more than been redeemed and until it returns next year, I will be eagerly waiting.