True Blood Final Season Primer

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Season seven is the final one for HBO’s “True Blood,” and we’ll be reviewing it episode-by-episode here at Biff Bam Pop!. New to the show, or just need a refresher from last season? Here’s the place to start. Got your fangs in and the top popped from a cool warm bottle of Tru Blood? Then you’re ready. Check out Biff Bam Pop!’s Final Season Primer for “True Blood,” right after the jump.

Southern Vampire Mysteries

Much like HBO’s current ratings blockbuster, “Game of Thrones” that is based on a bestselling series of books, “True Blood” comes from a similar source. Alternately known as the Southern Vampire Mysteries and the Sookie Stackhouse Series, “True Blood” is based on the works of author Charlaine Harris. And it should be noted, unlike “Game,” which only recently started to veer from the source material, “True Blood” the TV series has pretty much been its own entity right out the gate.

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Remember the Superboy comic book comparison to the “Smallville” TV series? Some of the characters have the same names, but they are not the same characters. Keep that in mind, the same thing is going on here. They might do some of the same things, but just consider that a coincidence. Also, while I’m talking about the source material here, I won’t be doing much of that this season. I have only a slight passing knowledge of the books, so no maddening dissection or comparison like I normally do with, say, the Avengers cartoon or “Agents of SHIELD.” Here the books are just a guideline.

Sookie’s World

“True Blood,” and the Southern Vampire Mysteries, revolve for the most part around waitress Sookie Stackhouse, and her family and circle of friends in the Louisiana town of Bon Temps. The first thing you need to know is that Sookie (played by the cinematic X-Men’s Rogue, Oscar-winner Anna Paquin) is telepathic. She can hear the thoughts of others, and over the years since her childhood has learned to control and filter these abilities. It is still an annoyance that sometimes gets out of hand. Later it was explained she could do this because she was part faerie. Stay with me, it gets weirder.

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Bon Temps is where the show happens, but there’s a big difference in the world itself. This is a world in which vampires (and many other supernatural creatures, nicknamed sups) exist, and the vampires have come out of the coffin, to borrow a phrase from the gay community. The vampire civilization has revealed itself to the world with the invention of a beverage that gives the equivalent sustenance of draining a human being. That beverage is called Tru Blood. Now that humans are no longer prey or food, one might think that humans and vampires could now live together in peace.

Sookie’s Friends and Family

The story begins when Sookie falls in love with vampire Bill Compton, played by Stephen Moyer (Paquin’s real life husband), whose presence cannot be detected by her telepathy. This perk forms a bond between the two. There’s also Sookie’s boss, Sam, the owner of Merlotte’s, a central location in the show, who is also a shapeshifter, and holds a torch for her. Fan favorite Lafayette also works there, who later conquers his death in the books to later become a medium for ghosts and other spirits.

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Her best friend Tara later becomes a vampire herself. There’s also Sookie’s womanizing brother Jason, in the books he becomes a werepanther, but on the show, it just seems like he becomes progressively dumber with each season. The boy must be operating with a double-digit IQ at this point. He later joins the police force under Sheriff Andy, comic relief human cast member, who provides lots of fun later on. Fellow waitress Arlene married a serial killer and now thinks their baby is possessed. Another waitress at Merlotte’s, Holly, is a witch.

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Bill has serious competition for Sookie’s heart in the form of hot vampire sheriff (the vamps’ jurisdiction, not human designation) Eric Northman, played by Alexander Skarsgard. He is a vampire from the Viking age just as Bill is from the Civil War. Other vamps in the show include Bill’s spawn, Jessica, the beautiful redhead played by Deborah Ann Woll, and Pam, Eric’s evil second in command. Another competitor for Sookie’s heart is werewolf Alcide, played by heartthrob Joseph Manganiello.

Sex and Violence

Anyone who has read Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” can tell you what vampires are really about, and that’s sex and power. And that’s what a lot of “True Blood” is about. People joke about the amount of nudity and sex on “Game of Thrones,” well, let me assure you, this show opened those gates on HBO. Everybody is having sex on “True Blood,” besides the feeding on blood, that’s what vampires do, they have sex. And so do the werewolves, the shapeshifters, the faeries, etc. Even the humans get in on the act.

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“True Blood” is sex and romance, it is soap opera at its finest and its lowest. One could easily describe the show as “Dark Shadows” on steroids. The horror and gore, the camp and humor, the bold and the beautiful, the pride and the passion – it is all here. And the violence. Speaking of HBO shows, “The Sopranos” has nothing on “True Blood” when it comes to violence. Thankfully most of the time it’s supernatural comic book violence, draped in camp.

Vampire Metaphors

Not all of “True Blood” is that obvious, or as obvious as it may appear. From the beginning, show creator Alan Ball and author Charlaine Harris have dressed these stories in metaphor. The vampires are the gay community. From the previously mentioned ‘coming out of the coffin’ concept to the sign in the opening credits that says “God hates fangs,” it has always been an allegory. Everything that springs from Sookie’s human/vampire relationship and later Jessica and Hoyt’s similar couplings is about gay marriage, and to a sharper point, interracial relationships. The show’s political set-up plays to the treatment of gay rights, equal rights, and most of all civil rights.

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In the last two seasons, show runners have taken the concept of prejudice against vampires to a new height by implementing a Holocaust parallel. Humans, believing a war is coming between them and the vampires, begin building defenses against them, and ultimately corralling them into concentration camps and experimenting on them, and in extreme cases, exterminating them. This results in a genetically engineered virus called Hep-V, which first weakens vampires, and then delivers the ‘true death.’

When Last We Saw Our Heroes…

After Bill becomes a god (just don’t even ask) and frees the vampires from one such camp, things have changed quite a bit. Hep-V is rampant worldwide in the vampire community as a vaccine is being searched for. Bill got better, and became a writer. Eric, who had for a time gained the ability to withstand sunlight, lost it and burned alive on an icy mountaintop in Sweden. Sookie and Alcide are having a life together.

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Sam and Bill have devised a plan to protect Bon Temps from infected vampires that are running amuck. They have paired each human with a non-infected vampire for protection. This agreement provides not only protection, but forced tolerance as well. We’ll see how well that works out when season seven picks up next week, because in the last moments of the last episode, we see a group of infected vamps preparing to attack Bon Temps… to be continued… see you next week!

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