This year’s tagline is that “No one lives forever,” and as you’ll find from my fairly dismissive/bored review over at Slant Magazine, the reason for that is because aging sucks (pun intended). Like any soap, no matter how supernaturally infused, the surface is bound to crack, the characters–leaned on so often–begin to creak, and both the pacing and plotting start sagging. Ironically, the easiest way for True Blood to have handled its overburdened seasons would have been to kill off some of its large cast, and yet they all keep soldiering on, long after they’ve served their purpose on the show, which makes me think that HBO isn’t quite sure which elements of the show are the popular ones. In any case, the former center of the show, Sookie, seems so irrelevant now, and the plight of Alcide’s werewolves, Andy’s fairy children, and Sam’s semi-adopted daughter, all seem like repeated themes from the past. The war that Louisiana’s governor has declared on vampires would be interesting, if it weren’t such a heavy-handed callback to the racism and discrimination we saw in earlier seasons (remember Stephen Root’s Eddie?), and although we haven’t yet met Warlow, is his single-minded pursuit of Sookie any different than Russell Edgington’s? The one entirely new piece of the puzzle is the newly transcendent Bill (Stephen Moyer), but he makes for as dull and dour a god as he did a vampire. At least Sookie’s brother, Jason (Ryan Kwanten), and the fierce former Norseman Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) look as if they’re still having fun, because the rest of the show’s been drained of life.