‘True Blood’: The Troublesome Tale of Tara Thornton [Review]

true blood

It stands to reason that with all of the loose ends True Blood still has to tie up, some things will inevitably be left by the wayside when the show wraps on August 24. The current runners of the seven-year-long HBO guilty pleasure are definitely trying their best and the episode Almost Home, which aired on August 10, did clear away a bit of the rubble in the lives of some characters. However, the final page in the tale of repeated victim Tara Thornton, played by Rutina Wesley, has once again divided fans at a time when the show desperately needs to end things on a good footing with them.

Things were already on a bad path from the Season 7 opener, Jesus Gonna Be Here, when Tara was killed off-screen while protecting her mother, Lettie Mae (Adina Porter). During one moment, Tara had been besting her opponent and in the next, Lettie Mae was covered in her vampire daughter’s blood. The audience would eventually learn that Lettie Mae was able to communicate to Tara through vampire blood-influenced hallucinations. Eventually, Lettie Mae would convince Tara’s cousin, Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and even her own doubtful husband, Reverend Daniels (Gregg Daniel) that it was more than drug-addled dreams that she was having.

Fans were left wondering if they would finally get a resolution in just how Tara was killed, with some believing that Lettie Mae herself could have been the culprit. However, it turns out that Tara had brought Lettie Mae back to her past home, where she was once physically abused by Tara’s alcoholic father, in an effort for closure. What transpired in those early days would begin a destructive journey for Lettie Mae, who would, in turn, become an alcohol abuser just as her husband once was, and end up physically and emotionally abusing her only child. Tara would grow up into an angry young woman and the cycle would repeat.

It was a strong moment for True Blood and rightfully so. It was a great expression of abuse growing differently within their victims. Sometimes, the abused become abusers themselves. On the other hand, the one thing the episode did not offer was a peaceful and more explanatory resolution for Tara’s story line.

A born fighter, as shown through many flashbacks throughout the show’s run, Tara has probably endured the most painful moments as opposed to any other character. She would often come close to finding happiness, only to have it torn away from her in a brutal fashion.

In Season 1, she attempted to help Lettie Mae banish what she believed was a “demon” inside of her body. Although the woman who performed the “exorcism” was found to be a fake, Lettie Mae would turn her life around and give up drinking. However, after Tara was jailed following an encounter with the “big bad” of Season 2, Lettie Mae would turn her back on the daughter who pulled her out of the dark world of alcoholism.

true blood
Tara and her mother, Lettie Mae (Adina Porter) during season one.

Season 2 would see Tara under the influence of a powerful supernatural creature that would control her body and thoughts to commit horrible acts. In the process, she would violently lose the one man she had ever truly loved. Season 3 would not only have her come into contact with her former flame’s killer, who happened to be her long-standing childhood crush, but she would also be kidnapped by a sadistic vampire who would assault her emotionally, physically and sexually.

Following those events, she would run away from her hometown of Bon Temps, change her name and began a relationship with a female wrestler. However, she would ultimately return to help her best friend, main character Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), and end up with a bullet in the back of her head for her trouble. With this, Sookie would call on another vampire to turn Tara into the one thing she never wanted to be.

In another unusual turn, Tara would come to terms with becoming a vampire herself and find a connection with her maker, Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten). But the very next year, she would find herself in danger again as one of the vampires who held hostage in an attempt to kill them all. She would be freed, only to have Pam leave her side in order to find her maker, Eric (Alexander Skarsgard).

When one brings all of those actions into account, it is almost disrespectful that Tara Thornton would last be seen to bring closure to her mother, a woman who gave her the most pain during her life and subsequent afterlife, including a Season 6 moment in which Lettie Mae disowned her daughter for the second time in a number of years. In essence, there was no real closure for Tara herself, which makes the conclusion in her story line all the more hard to swallow. Why bring such a tragic character in and out of harm’s way, only to have no real tranquility in the end?

true blood
Tara (Rutina Wesley) says goodbye in “Almost Home.”

Almost every show has a harrowing hero or heroine to really tug at the heartstrings and not everyone is meant to get a happy ending. However, when you throw in the fact that many characters in Almost Home were either set up to receive or actually did get to a place of content, it feels as if Tara was intentionally left out. She ended her journey on True Blood in the same way it began: completely misunderstood, dealt the harshest of cards and pushed aside in a way without any clear moment of peace. Stronger still, it has happened to her for every single season of the series.

Tara Thornton deserved more than what she got during her seven years of abuse, torment, neglect and all around sorrow. The moment of forgiveness given to Lettie Mae during the episode was done with a great intent, but honestly, True Blood owes a much bigger apology to Tara Thornton herself. May she now rest and find the peace she was never conclusively given.

Opinion by Jonathan Brown

Entertainment Weekly

10 Responses to "‘True Blood’: The Troublesome Tale of Tara Thornton [Review]"