DVD Review: 'True Blood: Season 6'

★★★★☆
True Blood first burst onto our screens in 2008, attracting a legion of bloodthirsty vampire fans and curious readers of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse novels on which it was based. As the seasons progressed, however, viewers dropped like flies in the wake of vampire overkill and the birth of inventive HBO fantasy saga Game of Thrones. Suddenly, werewolves, faeries, vampires and shapeshifters had been franchised to near-death, yet the series - amidst a reduction in fanfare - carried on regardless. The forthcoming final season ensures that the end is nigh for the residents of BonTemps and True Blood: Season 6 packs in plenty of blood, guts and thrills in an attempt to win back those lost viewers.

The season continues with the Louisiana community living under the imposed new rules of Governor Truman Burrell (Arliss Howard) who has imposed an explicit human/vampire divide. As conflict presides, vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer) is adapting to his newfound powers after a gory reincarnation. A premonition reveals a violent end to the whole of the town's blood-sucking populace, leaving Bill with great responsibility and in a battle against time, he must work alongside former love rival Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) to save his race. Meanwhile, siblings Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Jason (Ryan Kwanten) meet their long lost grandfather (Rutger Hauer). Unsurprisingly, Grandpa is more than just an aged relative. He's an ancient faerie who's returned to warn the siblings that their parent's killer, the ancient Warlow, is back in town.

The season welcomes newcomers aplenty, with the Governor's daughter, the liberal Willa (Amelia Rose Blaire) who finds herself a pawn in an evil game between her father and the race he's trying to eradicate. Tensions between the shapeshifters are also on the increase as Sam Merlot (Sam Tremmel) and Alcide Herveaux (Joe Manganiello) become arch rivals and a source of motivation for the Vampire Unity Society, a non-violent group dedicated to superhuman rights. Also new to the series is British EastEnders actor Robert Kazinsky who stars as a mysterious halfling with a fondness for Sookie and an ulterior motive that is much worse than his bite. True Blood creator Alan Ball's preoccupation with complex mythology and the tiresome Authority undoubtedly contributed to the show's demise.

However, with the Authority up in flames and the show's creator stepping down (although he's still credited as executive producer and returns for the final episode), True Blood - now with Mark Huddis at the helm - kicks its discrepancies to the curb and comes back, kicking and screaming, from the dead. Although always heavily allegorical, the show's politics take a backseat, returning to their contextual home, whilst thankfully, the characters and their relationships are relied upon to lead us towards the show's anticipated conclusion. Season 6 thrives on the tension created between the human and the vampire race with the good fighting for their lives and the bad becoming almost unbearably despicable. The sanctimonious Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp) is the season's biggest monster. She shifts between moments of lightheartedness and pure abomination as she reaps chaos on all who fail to comply to her extremist Christian ideals.

Quickly paced and carefully maintained, the series adds similar conflict to each of its abundant supernatural subplots reviving interest in the characters that we have come to know, love and despise. Kwanten's Jason Stackhouse, as always, delivers the laughs with his trademark measures of naivety and doltishness and the ever-reliable Deborah Ann Woll thankfully gets to work her chops throughout this season as her character Jessica, following an opportunist feeding, becomes her own worst enemy. True Blood: Season 6 is a nonsensical and deliciously high camp return to form for the show. Full to the gills with witty one liners, a confident self-awareness and more substance over the gratuitous sex it became famous for, there is more than enough for fans and latecomers to sink their teeth into. The penultimate season is a full-on meat feast, an enticing precursor for what promises to be a blood-soaked finale.

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Leigh Clark

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