Friday, June 20, 2014

Driving out of Bon Temps with a Note to Kings Landing

If you watch True Blood and Game of Thrones, you'll understand the title of this post.

True Blood, based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by the brilliant Charlaine Harris begins it's last season this Sunday night on HBO.  Since the series has never tracked the plot lines of the books to a great degree, there's no telling what will happen.

Leading up to Sunday, HBO has been airing the other six seasons of TB in order. Plus, they're airing a 30 minute, bittersweet special in which the main cast and production staff wax nostalgic.  For those of us who have followed this series, it's a sad thing to see it go.  But it's probably for the best. 

While waiting for Sunday night's episode, I've been watching the beginning episode of each of the seasons.  They run them in the overnight hours, at least in the Eastern Time Zone.  By the time I get up, walk the dogs, etc, the last episode of that season comes on. I've been watching it with my morning coffee.  And like some programmed automaton, I am still fascinated with the series.

The world of Sookie Stackhouse, be it in the books, or on the television series, is set in a typical small southern town.  The only difference is some of the residents are vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, witches, fairies, and the occasional crossbred individual.  Don't even get me started on the lone Maenad who visited Bon Temps (which by the way for the uninitiated among you means Good Times in French as in "Let the good times roll!")

I think the reason some of us are so drawn to this setting is its familiarity infused with a bizarre, paranormal world. If you're from the South, you'll recognize Bon Temps, its human denizens, its social occasions, deep fat fry cuisine, and tendency to gossip. You can relate very well to the workings of society.

The other attraction is the ironic weirdness of the place filled with non-human types, each particular breed with its own code of conduct and degree of danger to the human population. True Blood, like Harris' novels, has run the gamut of emotions.  It has made me laugh uproariously, cringe in disgust (oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!), and weep buckets - sometimes in the same episode.
It has been a cathartic thrill ride on summer Sunday evenings.

The thing about the series which put me off in the beginning has become my favorite aspect of the show.  Since the plot lines have strayed from the novels, even the most ardent Harris fan can be surprised.  Granted some of the surprises aren't good, but you never know what's going to happen next.  Since Harris published her last Sookie Stackhouse novel last year, I know how that universe ended - who got Sookie, etc.  It will be very interesting to see how the series ends.

In any case, I want to thank HBO for bringing their version of Bon Temps life (and death) to us for seven seasons.  It's been a hell (and I mean that literally) of a ride.

Now on to another HBO series, Game of Thrones, which is still going strong with several seasons to go.  Though not my favorite of the two series, it is still a fascinating show.  In this case I've only read one of the books by author George R.R. Martin, on which the series is based. So it's mostly all new to me, which is probably for the best in this case.

You wouldn't think so but GoT is by far bloodier, gorier, and harder for me to watch than TB.  There have been some scenes that I had to turn away from or frankly turn off.  I'm not much into watching prolonged viscera these days.

Still GoT is a fascinating saga - and believe me saga is the right word.  I won't attempt to outline the convoluted plot lines and character interaction.  I would be writing the post all afternoon, and I've got a novel to finish.

Let's just talk about the season's final episode, which aired last Sunday night. GoT occupies the same Sunday night time slot as TB.

I won't go into the whole episode only the salient parts from my point of view.  First of all, I am firmly in Dany's camp in the battle for the crown.  She is the strongest female character on the show and is the "mother of dragons" which is a clever plot device.  Unfortunately, one of her almost grown dragons (I hate to see how much bigger he'll get) has turned rogue.  He has begun killing humans.  So she had to lure the other two down into the catacombs of her current residence and chain them to prevent them following his example.  It was a sad scene with the dragons crying to follow her and her, resolute but weeping at having to do it. I give her kudos for that decision and remain firmly on her side.

The bigger story of the season finale was the fate of Tyrian Lannister.  Due to be executed primarily to rid the family of what they view as a burden and hindrance, he was freed by his brother.  Tyrian was tried before a tribunal led by his own father and found guilty.  You don't want to know about why he was found guilty  -  HUGE disgusting prolonged viscera scene...But in a bloodthirsty (is there any other kind on GoT) twist, Tyrian got his revenge. 

You see, the prostitute who was originally Tyrian's mistress, testified against him at his trial.  She was the only woman he ever truly loved.  When he was freed and instructed to leave the castle by a certain route, he had to stop at his father's room first.  Where he found his mistress in his father's bed.  He had words with her and ended up killing her when she tried to kill him.  Then I guess the blood lust was really on him.  He walked down the corridor and saw a convenient crossbow with several arrows leaning up against the wall.  That's a medieval castle for you - you can always find a crossbow, a mace, a sword, whenever you need one...

Anyhow he finds his father in and on the privy. After exchanging angry words Tyrian shoots him in the arm.  The father then reveals his true hatred for his "dwarf" son.  And that is when Tyrian fires the kill shot, leaving his father, once a mighty king, dead upon the "throne." (I am told the book went into vivid detail about the particularly gross aspect of the king's death.  One more reason I'm glad I haven't read the books.)

I applauded.  Tyrian, the put-upon brother, is arguably the best in that horribly demented family.  Michael Dinklage who plays him is a wonderful actor and does a great job in the part.

Tyrian makes it to a ship in the harbor inside a packing crate.  The man who arranged the escape boards the ship himself when he hears the bells pealing from the castle. He knows the father has been found.  No sense going back and having to explain where he's been - not with that family.

So we are left with several cliff-hangers on the season finale of GoT...Relax, we've only got to wait another ten and a half months.

Take care everyone.  Happy summer solstice!!!

Until next time...


  1. Wow, Sharon, you are a wonderful reviewer. In truth, I don't watch either of these series, and I haven't read the books. I'm not sure why I didn't watch the True Blood, since I was a huge Buffy Fan and a big fan of the short-lived series, Moonlight, both about vampires. With that said, I feel bad for you Sookie fans, since I know that show has a lot of followers. At least you still have Game of Thrones. For me, I personally like Grimm.

  2. Thank you, Vickie. I watched Buffy, but REALLY liked Moonlight. I've got the whole series on blu-ray and watch it occasionally. I don't watch Grimm, although I know about the plot. I'm going to enlighten you further about Sookie. Be looking for something in your e-mail.