'True Blood' Season Finale Recap: The Rapture

'Save Yourself' brings shocking deaths, broken hearts, a smoldering kiss – and the birth of a new vampire god

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John P. Johnson
Stephen Moyer as Bill Compton in 'True Blood.'
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We knew it would be tough topping Tara getting shot in the head, but the True Blood writers have done it again, with last night's season finale supporting Sam Trammell's claim that this was the best cliffhanger yet. Here's my question though: The old Lilith was pretty boring, her vocabulary limited to little more than the phrase "I choose you." Will this new vampire god at least continue bloviating in that syrupy-sweet Louisiana accent of his, peppering his speech with "Sookeh!"? Because if that version of Bill is gone for good then a big piece of this series has died along with him.

As expected, the death toll was high in "Save Yourself," but this being True Blood, there is little time to mourn the lost – even in the case of Russell, whose campy, playful and utterly maniacal presence will sorely be missed. He was staked in order to make way for what will undeniably be Season Six's villain, the vampire god I can only call "Billith."

True Blood has always ended its seasons with a handful of plot lines either unresolved or newly introduced, but this particular season finale has left almost all the characters knee-deep in conflict, with summer 2013 feeling like a lifetime away. However, for those frustrated by the seemingly forgotten-about plot involving M. Warlow, fear not: HBO GO is offering a sneak peek of Season Six, and it turns out Nora is familiar with the mysterious vampire who cut a deal with Sookie and Jason's ancestor 300 years ago.

Vampires, Humans and Shifters

Now that Russell has devoured the Fairy Elder, Sookie and her brethren are no longer invisible to the still-hungry vampire. Firing on all cylinders, the fairies blast Russell with light power, although Sookie isn't much use to them, with her "microwave fingers" shorting out every few seconds. No matter, because the fairies aren't making a dent in Russell's resistance anyway. But who needs light power when your fear can summon a vampire with an ancient grudge? Before the credits have rolled, Russell Edgington is dead at the hands of Eric, who is almost giddy over avenging his Viking family's murder: "That felt even better than I thought it would." Steve, heartbroken over his lost love, zips away, not to be seen again for the rest of the episode – kind of.

 It's easy to dust yourself off from a light power/staking battle like this one if you're vampire, fairy or part-fairy, but if you're a mere human like Jason, you're going to suffer some side effects. In the case of Sookie's brother, who was caught in the Russell/Fairy Elder crossfire at the end of last week's episode, he's now suffering from some nasty hallucinations – namely, the ghosts of Corbett and Michelle Stackhouse.

Back at Authority headquarters, Sam (who gave the wardrobe department one less person to dress for the final two episodes of the season) has a brief audience with Bill, having volunteered to be his "breakfast," but his attempts to reason with Sookie's now completely cuckoo ex are only met with fangs. It's a good thing Sam can shift into a fly – not only because it allowed him to get away, but because Bill jumping on chandeliers in an effort to catch him was one of the episode's unintentionally comedic high points. After taking a quick loop around Steve and Russell's bedroom, Sam makes it back to Luna in her jail cell, with a crafty plan in hand.

Sookie takes Jason back to her house to decompress, but Corbett and Michelle's near-constant vampire trash-talk is having its intended effect on their son. By the time Eric, Nora and Tara (the vampire sibs made a pit stop at Fangtasia, where Tara brought them up to speed on Pam) burst into the house seeking Sookie's help to break Jessica and Pam out of the Authority – and get Bill to drop his cult-leader behavior – Jason is showing signs of becoming the newest incarnation of an anti-supernatural hatemonger. Despite her brother's protestations, Sookie agrees to help the vampires, because, as Tara reminds her twice, with plenty of hostility in her voice (yeah, she's not ready to reconcile with her best friend just yet), "You. Owe. Pam." That and Eric promises to transfer ownership of the house back to Sookie within 24 hours. Where did that come from? Killing Russell? Eric's gentle demeanor this episode was very Season Four, which of course means it won't last. Sigh.

A power-suited Steve enters the Authority prison area to collect wolf cub Emma for a walk. But he seems twitchy, nervous – and as Chelsea, the young marketing-student vampire receptionist notices, suddenly devoid of his Southern accent. That's because it's a skinwalking Luna, who is about to exit the Authority with her daughter in her arms and her boyfriend (still a fly) on her shoulder when she's stopped by an agitated Rosalyn. That video of Steve and Russell draining 22 frat boys wound up going viral after all and now Rosalyn needs the AVL spokesman to do damage control on a news broadcast. "Steve" is ushered into a small room with a camera, and within seconds Luna has the attention of the entire nation. But the message that comes across is that not only do vampires exist, but shape-shifters as well. Luna-as-Steve, unable to hold her shift any longer, begins vomiting black blood before reverting back to her natural appearance. She also announces to the world that the Authority vampires are keeping humans as food in an underground bunker in New Orleans, which most likely will trigger a human uprising come Season Six. Just as Rosalyn is about to feed on Luna, a fly enters the vampire's mouth, causing her eyes to pop out and blood to spurt from her face before she explodes, leaving nothing but a goo-covered, naked Sam in her wake. Luna, her body ravaged from skinwalking – but Emma safe in her arms – begins passing out, the camera cutting away before we learn if she met the same fate as Tommy Mickens. Will Season Six find Sam a single stepdad?

Eric and Nora gain clearance from Bill back into the Authority, with a bound-and-gagged Jason, Tara and Sookie in the back of Jason's truck posing as their prisoners. Once in the elevator, the five gear up with stakes and guns, with Jason, dressed like a cat burglar and rocking a "Time for tolerance is over" attitude, out for the kill. They jam the surveillance feed, and upon entry, sharpshooter Jason makes a clean sweep of every vampire security guard, with Nora and Eric finishing off the rest by descending Mission: Impossible-style (without wires – remember, they can fly). Their path clear, Sookie and Tara bust Jessica and Pam out of their cells, leading up to the hottest kiss all season – between Tara and Pam! (Sookie's reaction: "Oh, OK." Jessica, who totally called this last week: "I knew it!") But it's not a happy reunion for everyone. When Jess sees Jason in the Authority lobby, she runs into his arms and proclaims her love for him, but he's so far gone in his own extremist beliefs now that he doesn't even reciprocate her hug. "I can't ever love a vampire," he states matter-of-factly. Jess is crushed – and so are we. This girl has to meet someone new next season, please? Maybe a vampire this time? Before she becomes as hardened and bitter as Pam? Once Eric and Nora reappear, the gang is ushered back into the elevator, which is headed up to the safety of the roof. Only Eric and Sookie stay behind, in their last-ditch effort to save Bill.

One of the reasons why everyone has actually managed to escape is because Bill, who petulantly established himself as the "chosen one" last week (beheading Kibwe, smacking Jessica) has been too busy tricking Salomé into thinking that she is the new prophet. Dressed in angelic white, Salomé drinks the entire vial of Lilith's blood, but begins to violently contort on the carpet. Bill, his humanity forever a memory, sits at her side, and calmly and smugly begins to explain how he outsmarted her. Her narcissism allowed her to be both blind to the idea of anyone else being the chosen one, and so impatient for what she believed to be the Rapture that she didn't even smell the blood she drank. It was not Lilith's blood, and furthermore, it was blood laced with silver. Salomé concedes to her rival just before he stakes her, "Lilith chose wisely."

Right before Bill drinks down Lilith's actual blood, Eric and Sookie show up to combat his message of hate with one of love. But it's unlikely the most skilled de-programmer could jolt Bill out of his zealotry. The tirade of venom that Bill unleashes onto Sookie, culminating in his calling her an "abomination," is enough to cause even Eric to wince. (While in their jail cell, Jess mentioned to Pam that the Vampire Bible considers Sookie an abomination. The question is, why? Because she's half-fairy, half-human?) To Bill, this religious fervor is the release from the century-plus of torment and guilt he has carried with him. He believes that Lilith has freed him from an eternity of fear. Sookie, bawling over the loss of the man she loved (again), tries one more time to remind Bill of what they once shared: "If I ever, meant anything to you at all . . ." But Bill cuts her off, destroying any vestiges of their love for good: "I told you, the first night we met, vampires often turn on those they love the most."

Bill swallows Lilith's blood, while Sookie, Eric and the rest of us watch in horror as blood shoots out of his eyes and mouth – and the 175-year-old vampire explodes into a pile of goo. For a handful of seconds, as Eric comforts a shattered Sookie, we're forced to envision a True Blood without Bill Compton (which is just weird). And that's when Eric notices Bill's entrails are still moving. Suddenly, a blood-soaked Bill rises from the puddle, and a new vampire god is born. "Billith" brandishes his fangs, and Eric and Sookie bolt.

I think it's safe to say that we're all on Team Eric now, no?

Favorite Couple: How could it be anyone other than Tara and Pam? They've gone from mortal enemies to unwitting maker and progeny to willing lovers in the span of one week. Let's hope they'll find the time in between the Billith madness to go on some vampire dates next season. In their geisha dresses.

Winning Species: Fairies. Other than their pre-credits cameo, the fairies took a backseat to the action in this episode. Except for Maurella, who popped out four daughters (and sported a completely flat stomach after the deed) while visiting Andy at Merlotte's – and then left them to be raised by their father and ostensibly, Holly, who only had these words for her fairy-humping beau: "You're a dick." Between Andy's fairy babies, Sookie's fading light power and the unresolved M. Warlow story line, these supes aren't going anywhere next season.

Losing Species: Werewolves. Ever since Alcide's thwarted boots-knocking with Sookie, the werewolf plot lines have remained completely disconnected from the rest of the story – unless you're named Emma. In short, to level the playing field with the malicious J.D., Alcide took a shot of V (courtesy of his father, the T-1000-erm, I mean, Jackson), broke J.D.'s neck, and took his rightful place as Shreveport packmaster, ordering all wolves to respect one another and not take advantage of those younger and weaker. Great. What's that got to do with the Bon Temps crew?

Previously: Game Time