You Can’t Always Get What You Want…

May 4, 2012 in Blood Ties and Blood Bonds, Character & Plot Analysis, Deadlocked - Book 12, Eric Northman, Sookie & Eric, Sookie Stackhouse

It’s been a huge week! With so much fabulous discussion over the past few days, and so much new stuff to talk about, it’s been tough just trying to decide where to start. So, I figured we’d begin with the elephant in the room – Eric’s betrothal to Freyda. What does Freyda really want, is this union as inevitable as Deadlocked would have us believe, and if we grant the basic premise that Eric genuinely doesn’t want to leave with Freyda – what will it take to send this pushy bitch packing?

It was impossible to miss in Deadlocked – a triumvirate of evil, to borrow from that other guy.   Constant reiteration of the inevitability of this union, reinforcement of Eric’s compatibility with Freyda and the repeated suggestion that Eric has a hard-on for power; an idea that has been actively quashed in earlier books.   After Freyda left Sookie’s house, red flags were waving. By the time I was two thirds through the book, they were at full mast and alarm bells were screaming.  Why are so many characters (Freyda, Bill and his best friend Bubba in particular) trying ever so stoically to convince a clearly distressed Sookie that sometimes love just isn’t enough, and power and self interest will always win? And if this message is being hammered home by two characters who clearly have a vested interest in seeing Eric pack his bags, how much of it should Sookie (or the reader) actually swallow?

Freyda arrives unannounced at Sookie’s home with the intention of sizing her up on multiple fronts – she wants to know what Eric “loves”, but she also wants to know, for obvious reasons, how much of a threat Sookie represents when thoroughly pissed off. Why else would she cross examine Sookie about every hit on her Greatest Murders back catalog, if not to work out how likely she is to end up on it herself?

On the surface, Freyda appeared quite forthright, rational, and above all very sure of herself and her position. She believes, to borrow from Sookie, that “the prospect of power will trump the love” and that even if Eric does love Sookie, he will not “forgo what she has to offer”.

I have one question for you, Miss Cocky As All Get Out Freyda – if you’re so sure of all this, and if Eric has actually just been playing “hard to get” with the intention of “driving up his price” before complying any way – why would you feel the need to spring a surprise visit on your rival, and then make the most transparent attempt ever to psych her out with your preening?

Much of what Freyda tried to drive home to Sookie about the inevitability of this arrangement, and the stupendous compatibility she and Eric share was backed up by Bill, over and over. He told Sookie repeatedly that Eric and Freyda would make a good match, that Eric was possibly only stalling Freyda to drive up his price, that Eric met with Freyda and Felipe without Pam, and that Freyda came to power by having a big pair of balls. Bill knows an awful lot about Freyda; so much, that I was waiting for him to tell us what color underpants she had on and who she ate for breakfast. His argument for Eric and Freyda echoed Freyda’s almost exactly.

Freyda has correctly assessed that she and Eric have many character traits in common. But in her haste, she’s overlooked that they also have some key differences – most notably, their fundamental desire for power and their motivations for exercising it. This is where her misfire becomes clearer. Freyda pursues power aggressively, for her own sake – she admits this to Sookie (“I intend to hold on to my kingdom, Sookie Stackhouse”), and Bill once again reinforces it with his story about how Freyda took her throne. Eric has always only pursued power to the extent that it allowed him, as Freyda put it, “the illusion of independence”. He doesn’t seek to acquire more for the sake of having it or lording it over others; if he did, he would probably already be King or at least made moves in that general direction, as Freyda ironically observed.

What I’m sensing, from both Freyda and Bill, is a whole lot of Sookie-Psyching.

You could read this as Bill and Freyda coincidentally having made the same off kilter assessment of Eric’s goals and aspirations, and reiterating them separately and for their own reasons to a vulnerable and highly suggestable Sookie. Or not. I’m not suggesting here that Sookie is weak, I’m simply saying that she is clearly distressed at the prospect of Eric leaving her, and that makes her (by her own admission during her conversation with Bill) desperate…and therefore very vulnerable.

I’ll leave you to chew over the implications of all of that for a while.

If Eric were as drawn to power as Freyda and Bill seem to believe he is, would Sookie have retained possession of a certain magical object for as long as she did? Niall told Sookie that he informed Eric about the cluviel dor because she “had to know what he (Eric) would do if he knew you had power.

And what did Eric do when he knew Sookie “had power”, exactly?

Nothing, pretty much. He didn’t steal the cluviel dor, he didn’t try to trick it away from her, he didn’t try to obtain it for himself by deceptive or threatening means. These would all be the fairly predictable actions of someone who sought more power for himself – case in point here would be a real power seeker, Claude, who DID do these things.  Eric simply hinted to her that if she loved him, she could use it to help them. Not him – them, since this is Sookie’s problem, too.  Don’t get me wrong. Sookie should never, ever have used the cluviel dor for this. But should Eric swing from a gallows for considering the very same action Sookie considered herself, more than once and at length?   For wanting her to help him get out of a situation that would, from Bill and Freyda’s own mouths, give him more power, not less?

That Eric, he’s such an evil, power grubbing bastard.  Isn’t more power what he wants!?   Thank you so much Niall, for showing Sookie, and Eric’s legion of stupid, dick-obsessed fangirls the honest-to-goodness truth.

Now that’s settled, we can return to Freyda.  It’s curious that Freyda seems to have absolutely no idea that there was a murder at Eric’s house, let alone that he was the prime suspect. Eric may be speaking to Freyda, but he’s not telling her shit.  Her ignorance of this event (assuming we can take it at face value) also tells us that Felipe, too, is only telling Freyda what it suits him to tell her, and not one word more.  Clearly he stands to gain from Eric’s proposed new station in undead life, yet he’s playing all sides…still.

What did become much clearer during Deadlocked, though, is Freyda’s reasons for her pursuit of Eric. Freyda is a woman who knows what she wants, and what she wants is a “strong second”. I think we can take her at her word on this, but I also feel that it might be naive to think that a vampire queen will be a complete open book with a woman she clearly views as a rival and a threat. Freyda knows exactly what qualities she would like in this potential mate and while Eric fits the bill, they aren’t qualities he alone possesses. I’ve never bought the theory that Freyda was using Eric to get to Sookie (it bears too many similarities to QSA and Bill), but I can get on board with a “package deal” – the loyal second is the primary goal, and the blood bonded telepath is just a cherry. It stuck out like a sore thumb in this book that Felipe is not yet aware that the bond is gone. We don’t know if Freyda ever knew about it, though it would be reasonable to assume by the research she has done on Eric that she does know – and it wasn’t exactly a state secret. The vampire marriage between Sookie and Eric can be dissolved, freeing Eric to marry Freyda – while the blood bond still acts to tie Sookie to him. It’s a win/win for Freyda, and plans for their impending cosiness may be another reason she bothered trekking over to Backwoods Louisiana to see Sookie for herself. After all, Sophie Anne undertook a similar excursion in One Word Answer.

If the blood bond was part of the attraction, it remains to be seen how interesting Eric will be to her without it, and how willing she may then be to consider alternatives.

On the other hand, perhaps Freyda could give a stuff about Sookie. In this case, we’re left with the equally strong possibility that she may – to borrow from Bill…again – “be driven to a more amenable match” with (yes this is also pointedly from Bill) “someone like Eric.” In other words, Freyda’s getting married and that is probably inevitable. But who she’ll pair with is most certainly not the done deal it would appear.

So who do we know that’s “like Eric”. Well, I can think of someone who is loyal, whose fighting skills are legendary (and referenced a couple more times in this book, in case you’d forgotten), who is pragmatic, intelligent, happy to play second fiddle, tied to Louisiana, not averse to women, and a firecracker in the sack.

Wasn’t that everything on Freyda’s shopping list?

Pamela Ravenscroft, come on down.

Not only does Pam fit Freyda’s stated requirements, but they are similar in age – I found this surprising; I really expected Freyda to be much older than her hundred and fifty years. Pam has expressed a desire to move on again (Eric even worried in Dead Reckoning that she would leave after Miriam died), and if there was enough in it for her – and it feels like there could be – I think Pam might be willing to do it. She might even be happy about it, and that has to be attractive to Freyda who expressly states that being knifed by a resentful second isn’t on her immediate to do list.

I’ll save what might become of Eric in this scenario for another post, but it seems to me (and to Bill) that Freyda could possibly be convinced – whether by fair means or foul – that there are preferable alternatives to dragging a not entirely willing Eric back to her Oklahoma cave by his long blond locks.

Deadlocked also raises valid questions about the enforceability of a contract involving Appius, who is now dead. While Eric is still insisting the contract is “legally” binding, and Freyda acts as though it is…I feel like there’s something we might be missing here.

Meanwhile, Sookie is powerless in this situation, and naturally she hates it. It’s hard to watch her suffer so badly while she waits for Eric to act. And she waits. And she waits. She waits for the whole book, in fact, and by the end she’s understandably getting pretty fucking fed up with waiting. It appears Eric is dithering and stalling, making excuses instead of plans even, and she tells Sam in the final pages of the book that she “figures he’s (Eric) is going to go with her.”

It would, I think, be a mistake to interpret Sookie’s resignation as a final nail in Eric’s coffin. There are signposts in both Dead Reckoning and Deadlocked to indicate that Eric isn’t rolling over like an obedient dog – we know he has Palomino working in the casino Felipe is staying in, and we also know he’s attending meetings with Freyda and Felipe, sans Pam, to name just a couple. When has Eric ever just rolled over, anyway? When Andre wanted to bond with Sookie? When Sookie was under threat from Nevada? When Victor was goading them into a fight? When Sookie was under threat from the fairies? When Sookie was under consideration by Niall? When has Eric ever just bent over and taken it in the proverbial, even from higher ups, without a Plan B?

“You’ve been though so much with him, and he’s proved over and over that he’ll go the extra mile for you.  He had.  He had!”
Sookie, Deadlocked.

Charlaine’s comments at a book signing earlier this week on the confirmed return of Eric’s other child in the final book, and her cryptic comment about learning some of Pam’s “secrets” at RT recently add some weight to Plan B as well. Harris has been asked about EOC numerous times and has consistently stated she’ll show up only if she’s required to tell the story. I’m pretty sure this means she won’t be hauled into the final book just so that she can don an ugly dress and play bridesmaid alongside Pam at Eric’s Big Fat Vampire Wedding.

Maybe Bubba can croon them down the aisle.

Sookie has laid her expectations out like an open book, and while I’m not entirely convinced the logistics of getting out of this arrangement with everyone in one piece are as black and white as Sookie seems to think, I will be shocked – utterly shocked – if Eric marches off to Oklahoma against his wishes, and leaves a devastated Sookie behind.

You can’t always get what you want, Freyda. But if you try sometimes, you just might find…you get what you need.

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