Monthly Archives: August 2014

True Blood Finale Wrap Up

Many fans were surprised as Bill returned from his “Billith” power trip to fall for Sookie once more. In fact, this was building all season as he protected the town as one of the last good vamps, then succumbed to illness. Sookie begs Niall for help then commits to protect Bill for the rest of his life, and they find romance once more.

In the books, Sookie makes a great gesture, not for Bill but for Sam. In the books, he’s young and attractive, and Sookie suddenly realizes after spending so long dating Bill and Eric, Sam, the boy next door, is her true love. Alcide has this plot on the show, offering her normality in a world of chaos (In the books, Alcide finds a mate and gets her pregnant in Sam’s place.) Book-Sookie’s final choice came down to Sam and Eric. She finally decided she couldn’t trust the vampire, and Eric accepted power and position…along with a vow to stay away from her. His show ending has a similar feel to his book ending, with his choosing wealth and success, Pam forever by his side.

Book-Bill and Sookie hadn’t had a romantic moment in many volumes. He was generally mentioned in connection with his vampire database, making him sound geekier and geekier. By the late books, he was never a possibility, though he lived on forever. Each book had a mystery, often a murder. The show emphasized big mythology over mystery. True Blood is far more salacious with Violet’s torture-porn, Lilith and her demon women, the vampire prison camp with constant enforced sex. There’s also the heavy gay rights themes. This season got an especially big push as Jessica’s wedding was not sanctioned by the state but beloved in the eyes of God for being filled with love. Hep V and Bill’s slow decline from it parallels AIDS or other incurable STDs.

The Twilight heroine chooses the angst-filled vampire, not the boy next door. Buffy is torn between the similar (in fact nearly identical) Angel and Spike. In the final episode, she chooses neither—she proclaims that she’s not ready for “forever.” Bill says he’s doing it because basically she can’t think for herself and choose to find a normal guy while he’s around, and, disturbingly, she agrees. Sookie reads Bill’s mind (a weak plot point) realizes they’re true loves, knows there’s a cure…and kills him. Admittedly, that was a surprise. One shouldn’t regress to their first love from many years before but should move on, many stories say (though Jessica takes her own first love back and recreates their love in a quick fix, even without his memories). Both stories end with many happy families and a next generation, though there are certainly differences. In the Sookie Stackhouse books, Tara remained human and married a human friend and had kids with him. Jason became a werepanther back when they captured him, and he intermarried with them. There’s no Jessica, Lafayette dies in season one. Many other characters live and die irrespective of their fate in the other series. Sookie ends up with a loving, (reasonably) normal guy. But in this case, it’s unclear why it had to be a stranger, not Alcide.

 

Valerie Estelle Frankel is the author of Bloodsuckers on the Bayou: The Myths, Symbols, and Tales Behind HBO’s True Blood

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Doctor Who Deep Breath: Why are we watching this again?

Season Eight of Doctor Who has just premiered, starring Peter Capaldi and his companion Clara. The plot combined Blink (Don’t breathe!) and The Girl in the Fireplace, two of the most popular Moffat episodes, along with Madame Vastra and Co., plus a special effects dinosaur. What it didn’t offer was extraordinary heroics from the Doctor. Upon regenerating, David Tennant dueled for the planet in his bathrobe, and Matt Smith dangled from the TARDIS, spit Amy’s cooking all over her, and saved the world without TARDIS or screwdriver, just to win our hearts. Peter Capaldi did a brusque, confused, but acceptable job battling the robots. But he (or rather his scriptwriters) didn’t especially win over viewers. He broke his promise to a dinosaur, callously ditched Clara, and mumbled confusedly in a nightgown. In fact, his great moment of proving himself involved Matt Smith sticking up for him to Clara. Smith handed off the role in a way no Doctor has ever done—to a point that it was more cheesy and pushy than sweet. We must like him because Matt Smith told Clara (and us) to, not because of his own endearing qualities.

There were the obligatory fun canon references for fans—the Doctor wants a TARDIS with circles on the walls, and decides the giant scarf looked stupid (aww). He mentions his fierce eyebrows, memorable from the fiftieth anniversary, and the Roman he’s modeled after. He mentions Amy, and when he offers to get chips with no money, he’s replaying the scene with Rose from “The End of the World.” His passing out and Jenny asking Clara who the Doctor is also echoes Rose and her mother in “The Christmas Invasion” after another regeneration. Strax describes Clara’s thorax, as Sontarans did to Sarah Jane and Martha in “The Time Warrior” and “The Sontaran Strategem,” Meanwhile, Strax, Jenny, and Vastra use many skills and conversation points from their previous appearances (the women’s marriage, Strax calling Clara “boy,” acid, Sherlock Holmes, etc.). Sherlock Holmes references abound as well: Vastra mentions the Paternoster Street Irregulars and says she’s having the Camberwell Poisoner “for dinner” She adds “the game’s afoot!” and searches the Agony Column for clues, all Holmes staples.

Their house with Vastra’s garden reappears and she interrogates Clara in it a second time. The Doctor can speak Horse and Dinosaur, like the Eleventh. He mentions his new enormous age after the Christmas special (2000!). Clara’s “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry,” “Geronimo!” and “You’ve redecorated… I don’t like it” are Who taglines. The Doctor mistakes Clara for Handles from the previous episode and says he’s not her boyfriend, though he pretended to be before. Clara is called “The Impossible Girl” and her mistaking him for a helpline on their first meeting is mentioned as an unsolved puzzle.

Missy is another puzzle. Tasha from “The Time of the Doctor” shares something of her personality and may be the same character. Is she River Song? (She shares something of the personality.) Romana? The Rani? The TARDIS/Idris? Slash fans would love her to be the “Mistress”—the Master after a gender-cross. It’s possible she’s the Doctor’s dark side—not just seen in the Valeyard but also the Dream Lord in the episode “Amy’s Choice,” working on behalf of the Doctor and knowing all he knows. One hopes it’s not just an annoying character like Cassandra or a delusional fangirl.

The new title sequence seems pandering to the steampunkers with all the clockwork. Yet it’s also charmingly fresh and “timey-wimey” as well as “spacey-wacey.” It was designed by Billy Hanshaw after Steven Moffat actually saw the fan video credits on Youtube and recruited him in a fannish dream come true.

There are few more interesting nods: The Doctor’s comments about a broom replaced echoes his own life. Vastra describes the Doctor’s looks, explaining that he’s young and handsome to attract people (true on many levels). Clara mentions she had a Marcus Aurelius pinup, suggesting that the Doctor’s change from an attractive young man to a Roman may be another form of flirting. Or as he says, he may be “trying to tell himself something.” Time will tell, on this and on the Doctor himself.

 

Valerie Estelle Frankel is the author of Doctor Who – The What, Where, and How and Doctor Who and the Hero’s Journey, The Doctor and Companions as Chosen Ones.

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