Sometimes, a series wraps itself up in a way that’s fair to both the web it weaves and the fans who’ve remained loyal since the first episode—The Sopranos, Friends, Breaking Bad, etc. And then sometimes, there are shows that have survived nearly a decade that fizzle out with lukewarm plotlines, throw unnecessary monkey wrenches at its characters just for the sake of doing so and self-implode over the course of a few selfish, bad decisions made by sub-par writers, short-sighted directors and a cast that really doesn’t care anymore. (Still mad about the Lost finale? You’re not alone.)
It looks as though True Blood is inching its way towards being the latter, as the first three episodes of its final season have done little more than disappoint and kill off reasons to remain invested in its eminent demise. Losing Tara before the credits rolled in the season premiere was one thing. Losing Alcide, in a moment where he was protecting Sookie and rightfully chewing Bill out, no less, is another. And now we’re left wondering who will beat Eric Northman to be next on the list of casualties. It’s quick, it’s painful and it’s gratuitous, so here’s hoping True Blood gets itself together before the sacrifices are rendered worthless.
Despite the cruel departure of Alcide in “Fire in the Hole”—more on that in a minute—this was the strongest and most productive leg of True Blood’s journey to the end yet. Sookie and Bill head out to set a trap of sorts for the Hep V-infected vampires: Sookie knows she smells delectable—thanks, faerie blood!—and hopes to lure out the bad vamps in order to get a look at where their nest is and sending Bill with a rescue party right behind her. (She’s still unaware of the fact that the majority of Bon Temps is hoisting silver bullet-loaded guns in the hopes of wiping out every kind of non-human in Louisiana, herself included). Andy and Jessica succeed in finding where the crazed townspeople have stashed Adilyn, and join forces with Jason and (the unnecessarily obnoxious) Violet to keep the crazies from shooting anyone and everyone in the near vicinity. Lafayette and James do All Of The Drugs, and we’re treated to 30 seconds of La La dancing like the gem he is, a welcome chuckle in an otherwise tension-wrought hour. Sam winds up at the end of the barrel of a bunch of guns and flies off into the night to save his own ever-changing hide, and Alcide, discovering that Sookie snuck out while he was in the shower, takes off in search of his girlfriend, who’s clearly up to no good.
Far away from the brewing Bon Tempsian chaos, Pam faces a very, very sick Eric. It turns out our resident Viking is now one of the infected, intense, blackened veins and all, and it doesn’t look good. He’s returned to Rhone, where he and Pam had hid from the Authority in the ‘80s, and where Eric had a fling with a hot université coed named Sylvie. In a confusingly open-ended flashback, Nan Flanagan shows up in her Bananarama best to tell Eric and Pam that they need to hightail it home and register with their local sheriff, and that a company, the Yakimoto Corporation, has figured out how to make synthetic blood (the birth of Tru Blood, officially), thus cementing a vampire’s ability to “mainstream” and live their lifestyle out in the open. Eric and Pam dig France and don’t want to leave, and the Yakimoto goons show up and kill Sylvie when they find out that Eric and Pam haven’t booked it home yet. Fast-forward to the present day: Pam is pleading with Eric, trying to get him to budge from his intended resting place in Rhone, where he watched Sylvie die a couple of decades ago, but he’s unmoved. “For a thousand years, the world has been my oyster,” he slurs. “I’ve lost my taste for oysters, Pam.” She then mentions that Jason let Sarah Newlin, that diabolical blonde bitch who let loose with the Hep V-infected Tru Blood from her vampire torture camp, live, and the temptation of revenge is all Eric needs to reconsider his fate and head stateside with Pam.
And where is Sarah, exactly? She’s boning a yoga guru at a retreat in Los Angeles, but not for long: the Yakimoto goons make another appearance, complete with drawn samurai swords, and kill her “Namaste”-chanting boyfriend while she’s picking out an expensive Chateaubriand in his wine cellar. Whether or not the goons were sent by Eric and Pam or the Authority or what remains unclear, but it doesn’t matter: Sarah Newlin’s about to see the swift hand of justice. Or the swift fangs, depending on who gets to her first.
Unfortunately, while justice was at work in LA, it fled the premises back in Bon Temps completely. Sookie’s plan worked: the infected vamps, who brought Holly with her as “trail mix,” descend upon our heroine, only to have Bill rendered helpless with a silver chain for a necklace in their clutches. Alcide and Sam, in canine form, spring upon the vampires, annihilating all of them and spattering infected blood everywhere. Alcide is furious—as he should be, considering his girlfriend nearly wound up killed, and her vamp ex-boyfriend didn’t do a damn thing to stop it—but continues to help Sookie through his rage and concern, instructing her to bend down and wash the infected vampire blood from her eyes and mouth in a (super conveniently located) puddle. It’s then when a shot rings out, and after the second one, Sookie looks up, fearing the worst, and screams. One of the hysterical townspeople had tracked Sam and Alcide in the woods, and they took the non-human down when they had the chance. Sookie’s beside herself, but she declines Jessica’s offer to turn Alcide before it’s too late—Alcide hated vampires, after all, and look how things wound up with Tara—so we’re left with another cold body as Sookie’s group of friends grows smaller by the day.
Sookie articulated the most tragic part of losing Alcide earlier in the episode, when she and Bill were waiting for the infected vamps to sniff her out. Carefully treading the waters of friendship, Sookie and Bill talk Sook and Alcide’s relationship, and she admits to a true, sad thing: she loves Alcide, but she knows that she doesn’t love him as much as he loves her, and that she’s not sure about the future he wants for the both of them, which involves kids and family and a normal life free of the drama and supernatural happenings that’ve become routine for them both. Bill points out that things could change, that Sookie could grow to love Alcide, maybe more than he loves her, but it’s no use. When she later accepts the death of Alcide and grieves it immediately, we know that she was telling the truth, and we’re reminded that Sookie would’ve done pretty much anything to keep from Bill meeting the same fate, despite everything they’ve been through and all the terrible, gruesome carnage that’s cropped up since the day she met that sulking vampire at the bar. We just hope that Alcide and his fiery, full heart died without realizing that same thing.
No Tara, no Alcide—it’s tricky, thinking that the characters we’ve come to love and loathe since that first beer at Merlotte’s have any sort of future ahead of them at all, let alone the increasingly dimmer one True Blood is setting up for us in its final moments. What’s the point in watching if Eric’s blood grows deadlier by the day, if Jason and Andy’s noble pursuits backfire and get them killed by some trigger-happy idiots we’ve never seen before? Why tune in if the thought of Sam getting skewered by a hoard of bloodthirsty townspeople seems less like a long shot and more of a sure thing? Why bother, if Arlene’s left to rot in the basement of Fangtasia? There’s no hope for Bon Temps at the moment. And when the end is nigh, hope’s the one thing True Blood really needs.