Eric and Quinn: "A" is for Alpha

November 28, 2009 in Character & Plot Analysis, Eric Northman

One of my favourite things to mull over in the Sookie books is the interaction between Eric, Sookie and Quinn.  In a series of posts over the next week or two I thought it’d be cool to look at this in more detail – Quinn as Eric’s main rival for Sookie, and how the personal and political undercurrents between Quinn and Eric might play out later in the series.

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I know Quinn isn’t a popular suitor, and I count myself in the camp that doesn’t want him near Sookie with a bargepole. Let’s face it, the tiger has issues and his creepy habit of calling strange women “babe” is only the start of them.  Quinn tends to be pigeon holed as just another suitor that doesn’t really have a chance and I know, alot of us wish he’d just disappear.  But he won’t!  Now that Bill has found his place in Sookie’s life and it’s not a romantic one, it’s becoming clearer that Quinn is meant to be Eric’s main threat and Sookie’s alternative love interest for the remainder of the series.

I hear you groan. But bear with me here people, this may not be a bad thing. The dynamic between His Purple Pansyness and Eric is really fascinating.

Quinn has similar status in the shifter hierarchy to Eric’s status amongst the vampires. Both of them hold influence amongst their kind. They are very similar in some respects – both “alpha” males, both charming, good looking, and powerful. And they are both completely accustomed to getting what they want. It’s very clear from the first time they interact in the books that Eric views Quinn as his only real competition for Sookie – and that he considers him a far more serious threat than Bill.  In fact, it’s pretty obvious from the outset that both of these men recognise each other – not Bill, not Alcide and certainly not Sam – as the main rival for Sookie.  Both of them have uncharacteristically big emotional reactions to interference from the other.

The first time we ever see Eric and Quinn interact sparks fly.  In Definitely Dead, Quinn arrives to take Sookie on their first date. Eric is already at the house, already in a foul mood, and he comes about as close to completely losing his shit as we ever see him get. He goes straight for Quinn the second he arrives, demanding to know what he has been telling Sookie about her role at the vampire conference. Sookie says he has “fang showing”, and he is so angry his eyes are “throwing sparks”. She also notes that “something lay underneath this”, and that she is a symptom but not the source of their animosity. It is clear from this scene that Quinn and Eric knew each other before their cockfight on Sookie’s porch – so what’s the backstory with these two?  

In FDTW, Eric is so threatened by Quinn that when the opportunity arises to ban him outright from Area 5, he does it without hesitation after he is satisfied that Sookie is done with him. He has never taken such measures against any of Sookie’s other love interests, even though it is well within the scope of his authority to do so.

Eric asks Sookie multiple times if she loves Quinn, or else confronts her about her feelings after almost every scene involving the three of them.  He never asks her how she feels about anyone else, not even Bill. Eric tells Sookie she is “his lover – not Quinn’s, not Bill’s, not Sam’s” – and it’s no coincidence whose name is mentioned here first. When Quinn ignores Eric’s ban and comes back into Area 5 in DAG, Sookie says “I could feel rage on the wind. It wasn’t my rage.” Eric knows Quinn has defied him and come back to see Sookie, and she feels his rage through the blood bond. Not long afterwards, Eric shows up on her doorstep. Five books pass after DTTW with no Eric sexy time – and all it takes is for Quinn to show Eric he is willing to defy him, and suddenly he can’t get Sookie back in the sack fast enough. When the blood bond is forged in Rhodes, Eric deliberately flaunts his obvious pleasure in the process purely for Quinn’s benefit.  Marking territory takes on a whole new dimension for Eric when Quinn is around. Yet he has never felt the same compulsion to taunt Bill with the details of his physical relationship with Sookie, even though Bill knows damn well that they’re having one.  Why?  Because he didn’t need to assert himself over someone he didn’t consider a true threat.

In one of the few moments I ever liked him, the cocky tiger had the balls to tell Bill to his face that he “isn’t even on the list” where Sookie is concerned in DAG. So it’s clear that Quinn, like Eric, sees this as a two man battle now as well.  Quinn’s emotional responses to Eric are volatile and often show him as emotionally stunted (which he is but he is usually good at hiding).  His tantrums over Eric are too numerous to list – but who could forget him telling Sookie in DAG that “Eric loves his little piece of Louisiana more than he’ll ever love you”.  Hands up if you wanted to stab him in the eye? Oh me.

Quinn has no problem killing for Sookie – he has already killed Andre and freed her from what was, at the time,  a very dangerous threat. He’s also sounded Sookie out about killing Eric much to her horror, and I get the feeling that regardless of her objections he would take out Eric in a heartbeat if the opportunity presented itself.  Eric killed Longshadow in defence of Sookie, as well as a few others along the way – but he won’t kill Quinn unless it’s in self defence. He has certainly had opportunities, and in DAG Quinn gave him a free shot when he defied his orders yet Eric still showed restraint. Aside from knowing that it would hurt Sookie, Eric wants her to choose him because she wants him, not because there’s no one else left. This is what stops him killing or interfering with her other love interests…and just one more reason why Eric is awesome and Quinn is a tool. Quinn went from mildly irritating to the very top of my shit list when he started talking about killing Eric.

Part of Quinn’s function as a romantic interest for Sookie is to give her an opportunity to recognise another Bill – albeit in a slightly different disguise, but that’s for the next post. For Eric, he provides another alpha to square off against – worthy competition if you like.  Quinn forces him to confront how he feels and act on it, and he does it quite successfully.  Quinn is due back in the book after DITF apparently, and I can’t wait. I hate him as a love interest, but I LOVE how he is the only character in the whole series that can send our usually unflappable viking totally off the rails and bring out his insecure streak. When he does show up again, you can bet it’s going to be ugly for all concerned…and not the least for Eric.

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