It’s….Pamalicious

Oh my goodness. Did everyone read the Dead Reckoning excerpt? Kisses – many grateful kisses to the champions who PMed and tweeted me with the link. :-* I’m still internally processing it, and squeeing, plus, I’ve had a case of acute anaemia with much tiredness and dizzy spells. Also, I need all of it. Too many questions, like how does a scene go from grins to kitchen-destroying fights? Favourite line was “Eyes ahead, Eric! Not with the fighting again” lol. You know – at this point, if Sookie breaks up with Eric – Mr. Talkative-as-a-Rock, she should totally date Pam, who respects her enough to tell the truth to her. Who’s Mr. Avoidy now? I will probably deal with some of the other issues in another post, so you don’t need to hash it all out in the comments….yet. 😀 There’s a Victor post in the works too now I’m feeling better.

One of the things I wanted to get out of the way first – and it surprised me – was the idea of Eric beating Pam. In that it kinda didn’t surprise me. It surprised me that it shocked so many people. I think it’s because there seem to be some weird, weird memes going around the community about the relationship Eric and Pam have. I know that the main consensus is that they have a sort of tacit friendship, or a firm friendship. But it’s more than that.  I think it might be part of a bit of deification of Eric – and one that is unwarranted. There has always been an edge to Eric and Pam’s relationship.

Firstly, I suspect we’re going to see a lot of Pam in the next book – because we’re going to see how Pam deals with Miriam’s impending final death. This will be a cause for speculation as to what Eric will do (which will not be meeting the Sun people) at the advent of Sookie’s death, and will naturally bring up discussions of Eric turning Sookie. It’ll all be tied up with the theme of what will Pam do, and that can give nice segues into conversations, and we can see firsthand what happens when a beloved human is dying. I always struggled with this idea in my fics – Eric turning Sookie. CH has said that Sookie will never be turned, so I never made Eric want it, even though I know he does. Mainly because community sentiment is “Turn Sookie! To hell with her feelings!” so I always tried to persuade people that it wasn’t for the best through Eric. In the end I think he’ll abide by Sookie’s wishes, rather than his own, and I don’t think Sookie will be changing her mind any time soon.

So why isn’t it for the best? Let’s look at Eric and Pam’s relationship and the vampire world.

One of the things I find a little bit heinous about Eric, is the very fact that he turned Pam. I know, I know. Pam sees it as a favour. Maybe it is better than being dead. But it has serious downsides. Being a vampire isn’t all up-sides, no matter what. Otherwise everyone would want to be around vampires, or be a vampire, but looking at Ginger, well – does she look like a mental giant choosing the best life? No? Huh. What about all the rich and famous people clamouring to be around vampires….oh wait, they don’t exist either. There are reasons for this.

Being a vampire is a route to power sure, but on the way you have to endure the company of other vampires.  I always found it a little bit counter-intuitive that Eric would bring a woman into a world where he knows vampires like Appius exist. Appius is older, sadistic and ruthless – he’s not some sweet little fluffy bunny who’ll call time out because you’re a child – let alone the idea that women get a pass. Pam is in a world of male vampires who aren’t always reputable types. Like Eric, she has some hygiene rituals. I’ve discussed hygiene rituals in the SVM world before – as an artefact of rape.

There are lots of hints as to why being a female vampire sucks arse – and hey, it’s not so good to be a male vampire, as Eric shows us. It doesn’t make you magically immune from rape – just because you’re a man.  But being a female doesn’t make people who wish to use and hurt you go any easier. One of the things you need to remove in order to understand this sort of mindset is that you need to understand – these vampires talk casually about seeing showering babies. Any ideas as to whether or not they have any artificial reason to treat others with the same consideration is gone. I have to do this in my job – you need to remove any assumption of unspoken rules. They think babies are tasty. Such rules are long gone – stop with the good assumptions already.

No one is going to go easy on you because you’re really feeling poorly this week, or because your wife has just been tortured for a couple of hours. No vampire is going to feel an ounce of sympathy for you. Victor and Felipe didn’t give Sophie Anne time to get better with her legs gone – no – they took her out as soon as they were able. You don’t get time off being a vampire – no one gives you a week off from work. In fact, if a vampire wants what you have, then it is far better for them that you don’t get time to regroup. If you burnout in your job, then the solution is to die, not quit being a vampire.

Of course, True Blood has had its share of fucking up the perception of Pam. More and more these days I’m reading about a Pam that does little more than act like a perpetual teenager with a really rich vamp Daddy who’ll buy her endless shoes. Great fucking job AB – and kudos to those who forget book Pam, you champs. I mean, it’s no surprise – he took scary book Sophie Anne and belittled her and turned her into a spendthrift vain creature tenuously holding onto power, rather than a formidable political adversary who has an unbelievable streak of ruthlessness. He took Bubba, and made him a fucking girl – Jessica. He took Sookie and ruined her completely. It does not surprise me that he ruined Pam too. Mostly, she just seems to stand around behind Eric doing nothing but waiting to spend his money and being his errand girl. Oh, and she’s an ex-whore to boot. Brav-fucking-o.

Pam in the books isn’t like that though. She’s tough, smart, witty and a great fighter. More importantly, Pam is Eric’s second. That’s not the “file your nails and spend my money” second – that’s “you are my second in battle”. The idea of a “second” is inherent in the very word. The idea is that you are the second in a duel – they used it historically – if the first is unable to fight, then you have a second. The second is chosen to be sent into battle first sometimes, to fight on the behalf of the first candidate. Mainly so that injury doesn’t disable the important “first” and if the second dies, well, at least the lead fighter isn’t lost. The second has to be ferocious, but is also expendable. They can’t be a wimp, because they need to fight in the name of the first. They also serve in the vampire world as a sort of Sergeant-at-Arms – standing by as guardian, should the first be disabled – like when Eric is cursed.  Pam might happen to be Eric’s child, but she’s a great fighter, and she didn’t get there through getting to spend Eric’s money on fucking shoes.

But you say, Eric is a good maker – and so he is. But he’s got chicks like Lorena as his direct competition, and guys like Appius. It isn’t actually hard to be kinder than sadists and narcissists. Being a good maker doesn’t result in treating a vampire child as a coddled little Miss. Look at how well it works on True Blood when Sookie stands back and lets Bill deal with it. I spoke a little before about creating assets in the vampire world.  It is essential to create not someone who will leech off you for the rest of your undead existence, but someone who will work well for you and for themselves. Being a good maker doesn’t involve making out that the world is something other than it is, and the vampire world is brutal.

Let’s explore some of that brutality.  There’s the fact that Felicia tells us that Peter Threadgill thought he could exact tribute out of girls, well, I’d say that that is the universal type of treatment female vampires get. The fact that there is a Sheriff somewhere who doesn’t exact such tribute is saying something. The fact that Indira recommends Eric as a good Sheriff just shows how bad stuff gets elsewhere. We see what goes on in Area Five, but Felicia’s chat in Dead as a Doornail makes it clear that not all fiefdoms are like that.

Not to mention, it seems to be quite standard for what vampires do to others. When in Two Blondes, Sookie and Pam are threatened to be taken hostage and ransomed back to Eric, the intentions of the two men who’ve captured them are made clear:

“She won’t be feeling herself again for a couple of hours. In the meantime,
we’ll have fun with you first, Michael and me. Then we’ll have her.”

Two Blondes, p. 29

Considering Sookie working for Eric has gotten her cornered and almost raped, I don’t know why anyone believes that in one hundred years this hasn’t happened to Pam before. As much as it would be nice to believe that Pam has always gotten out of situations like this previously – absolutely not possible, and considering her hygiene rituals, it hasn’t worked out that way. We can see in Dead in the Family that Alexei got the jump on Pam – it’s not like video games, where someone screams “Fight!” Being a vampire, being awake at night means staying forever vigilant to threat – it doesn’t mean lounging around relaxing.

That should reflect on Eric – he knew about guys like Appius many years before he ever made Pam. He brought Pam into this lifestyle…or undead-style. He was fine with doing that to her – bringing her into that world because he was lonely. Part of the break – why Pam doesn’t love Eric is because he did do it. Think about it – that mindset of selfishness and part slavery. Eric has accepted just how bad it can be under Appius, and has no qualms about bringing Pam into that life – some innocent British 19 year old. It’s easy to look at Pam now and see how much she has gained – and boy am I glad she does feel like she’s gained something – but her freedom is had at the price of being in a world with guys like Mickey and Andre. Eric isn’t like that, but Eric isn’t the only vampire in the world – and he knew it when he killed her.

Just because Eric is nicer than Appius doesn’t mean dick – it’s for the value of “nicer” – which is relative to what you think of Appius. So we could say that Al Capone is better than John Wayne Gacy because Capone killed quickly – it doesn’t really make Capone Mr. Nice-guy though. Eric is a good maker, but it’s for the value of “good” maker. They are after all the person who kills you and inducts you into this world full of sweetie pies like Appius. Sure, Eric doesn’t exact sexual tribute from Pam. That’s just about the only thing that he’s given her a pass on. But that doesn’t mean that Eric doesn’t employ heavy handed tactics with Pam, and that Pam and Sookie get treated identically. In fact, Pam probably gets harsher treatment because she’s never had the right to protest it.

As I’ve pointed out before, Eric just doesn’t mind sending Sookie into danger – because he does it consistently. Why he would mind sending Pam into danger, or injuring her is beyond me. Sookie doesn’t heal anywhere near as fast as Pam does. Eric really doesn’t care if humans die – or if vampires die. He’s killed vampires with his own hands. The vampire world is dangerous. Consider, the night of the Las Vegas takeover, Eric was concerned not with “protecting” anyone. That cavalcade of cars followed him there – not Quinn. Victor himself says:

I trail you here thinking to find you with your elite vampires,
and we find you with this odd company.
 
From Dead to Worse,
p. 175

Eric didn’t think he would survive that night – and he used what he had. At the same time he was proud that Pam had taken out quite a few of the vampires surrounding the club – he left her in that situation. He didn’t rush to Pam’s side to coddle her – he went to save his own skin. He did that by sheltering in one of the only houses of a human he could – one who couldn’t be glamoured to give an invitation – and a house wherein the state’s rare telepathic asset was housed, which probably shouldn’t be burnt to the ground.

Eric thinks Sookie would make a decent vampire when she’s getting up from the emotional blow that Bill gave her and talking of killing Lorena. That’s because being a vampire doesn’t mean getting coddled and protected. It means Eric will make sure you don’t die, but getting there is a big effort you have to make all on your own. Fanfic often has the idea that becoming a vampire is a solution to all the violence – but all this violence comes from the vampire world. Longshadow, Charles Twining, Bruno Brassell, Victor Madden, Mickey – all of these things come from the vampire world. Learning how to survive them is what it’s about. If Eric were to turn Sookie, she wouldn’t be protected, she would heal faster. That’s what we see with Pam too.

Pam isn’t shielded from any single nuance of it – and why would she be? Pam getting beaten up outside that club in the excerpt is just what happens to vampires – they get brutalised by other vampires. Pam’s job as second is to take a beating when Eric’s life is at stake. She has no option – so I’m kinda surprised that people seemingly think that Eric owes her, or should apologise or treat his friend better. They’re not friends, and they’re not equals.

There’s this belief that Pam is “insubordinate” to Eric – but she isn’t. She may start trouble, or exacerbate issues between Eric and Sookie – to cause a blow up, but that’s because Pam is a terrible tease. Getting Sookie in trouble over the whole decor on Dracula Night is different to telling Eric to stick his orders – and Pam never does it. To my recollection, she mostly just follows orders. Think she got that way spontaneously? Cause I sure don’t. I see some slightly fearful behaviour from Pam – she might nudge the line of setting Eric off, but he’s not exactly her equal. He’s her Master.

In fact, Pam shows that she knows that their relationship is not equal. There’s no casual discussion between friends – there’s Eric’s way…or Eric’s way. Pam knows when she crosses the line:

“Master,” she said, which was something I’d never heard from Pam.
She went down on one knee on the gravel, which must have been painful.

All Together Dead,
p. 91

Why would it be that Pam is being obviously subservient to Eric over going to talk to Sookie? I don’t think this is the appropriate response to save a pair of fucking shoes, do you? No. It’s obvious to me that Pam has seriously crossed the line here, by going to talk to Sookie, and she’s realised that if she doesn’t immediately show she’s subservient to Eric, there will be trouble for Pam. After all – at this point, Pam’s said all that she has to say on the subject. The conversation is over and finished. If Eric were interested in Pam’s perspective, then why does Pam think this is necessary? This is subservient behaviour, designed to show that Pam obeys Eric in all things. This is a moment when their relationship is clarified.

Pam says again and again that she follows Eric’s orders – because she does as she’s told. If Eric tells her to pose for a calendar, she poses. If Eric tells her to call the telepath, she calls the telepath. If Eric tells her to stop inciting the Fellowship guys in Merlotte’s, Pam stops inciting them. This is the most telling quote from Pam:

“I owe him my loyalty,” Pam said. “I have to obey him, but I do it willingly.
All Together Dead,
p. 90

So Pam never seems to have the bond used on her either. She just goes along with it.  The bond seems to work with vampires by compelling them to do it, but as Eric points out when Sookie asks if it’s a compulsion only, it also happens to be custom. I often wonder if people are reading the books I’m reading when I see Pam (or Sookie when she’s turned) putting things up for debate. There is no debate. You are owned by your maker, and that’s the fucking end of it. There’s no mythology of being “released” either. You are always in sway to your maker, as Sookie tells us. It never, ever ends. If you won’t go along willingly, they can compel you and force you – no one is going to sit around listening to your arguments and persuading you that this is the right way.

I’m not so sure you’d want to have a vampire persuade you at all. They’re not going to use rational argument and logic – not once has Eric laid out scenarios for Sookie on the table with rational argument and logic. How different would Dead Until Dark have been if Eric sat down and tried to track who needed money where and what? If he hadn’t forced the telepath into Fangtasia, and had asked her for help out of kindness, and not menaced her? But it didn’t happen that way – there was much forcing, and the sword of Damocles was over everyone’s heads. Death or torture, and the option of killing your loved ones if you don’t comply. There’s Eric’s way….or Eric’s way. There’s no sitting round the meeting table to nut out who had motive, or who had opportunity. Immediately, Eric pulls out the big guns to ask the waitresses – telepathy or torture at Sookie’s discretion – because they haven’t been even asked any questions before Sookie gets there, and don’t have a clue what it’s about.

So consider for a moment, Eric had no problems torturing his male accountant and his two female waitresses. No problem whatsoever. If it wasn’t absolutely advantageous to him that a telepath was in the area, Eric wouldn’t have just written off that $60,000 as a loss. He would have tortured the information out of his employees – and he says himself that this is what he would do. I don’t believe that he’s lying about it either. Eric often waxes lyrical about torture. In fact, as a maker, he sees it as proper:

He’s hers. She’s his sire. She can do with him what she wishes. He can’t disobey her and go unpunished. He has to go to her when she calls him, and she’s calling.”
“Not on the phone, I take it,” I ventured.
His eyes glinted down at me. “No, she won’t need a phone. He’s trying
to run away, but he’ll go to her eventually. The longer he holds out, the
more severe his torture will be. Of course,” he added, in case
I missed the point, “that’s as it should be.”

Dead as a Doornail,
p. 224

See? Eric sees torturing your wayward child who ignores the compulsion as “as it should be” – a natural consequence for disobedience. I don’t really believe that Pam, who loves to tease, and has her own mind all the rest of the time has never disagreed about what she should and shouldn’t be allowed to do. The natural consequence is to compel the child, and if they continue to resist, one should torture them. Lorena did it to Bill for a week, because he resisted for Sookie’s sake. I can’t think that Pam wouldn’t have given it as good a go. No matter what there is a limit, even for people like Pam.

Of course, one could argue that because Pam is willing to do just about anything she’s never needed to be hurt or tortured. That if Eric tells her to sleep with Amelia to keep watch over Sookie, that’s fine. If Eric tells her to secure Victor’s club, she’s fine with doing it. I don’t believe that Pam’s fear is produced out of nothing though – I think Pam has good reason to obey – perhaps with adequate thanks that it’s not worse (in that Eric doesn’t force her to have sex with him all the time as well) – but I have no doubt that there has been something that Pam didn’t want to do, and she’s been tortured until she says yes. After all, she did go her own way for many years – and it wasn’t because being at Eric’s side was a lark with much store credit.

Believe it or not, though, we do see Pam disobey Eric and go against direct orders. In fact, the only person Pam has broken rules for is Sookie.  She went against Eric’s orders over the whole Bill going to Lorena thing. She goes against Eric’s orders to go and speak to Sookie about Bill and Quinn in All Together Dead. Pam seems to go against Eric’s orders to call Sookie about coming to Dracula Night – because she doesn’t tell Eric who she’s on the phone with when he asks. Pam tries to hide some of her interaction with Sookie. So too is it with the new book – Pam thinks it’s really important to tell Sookie. Eric doesn’t want to. Pam defies her orders and keeps defying them. The natural consequence to that is physical violence – it’s Eric’s way….or Eric’s way.

I gave a bit of thought as to when this started happening – which is at the start of Club Dead. Pam defies orders to keep the stuff about Lorena from Sookie. Now it occurs to me that there are two reasons for this. Like Eric, Bill, Quinn and Sam, Pam enjoys the acceptance she gets from Sookie on a friendship level – and they have a budding friendship by that stage. While Sookie is cautious of Pam, and Pam somewhat disdainful, they still have a friendship that they both progressively invest in.

When Sookie gets shot, it is Pam who sends her flowers with a card saying “Don’t get shot.” and it is Pam who asks to be taught how to shoot a shotgun in the end of Club Dead. It is Pam who hesitates to wipe Sookie out when Chow suggests they should take care of the “threat” at the start of Dead to the World. There is a burgeoning relationship there – one that is based on two women just liking each other and sharing similar senses of humour. Pam being appreciated for her humour and excellent taste, and Sookie who gets a friend who is at least open and honest with her – and let’s face it, Sookie just doesn’t have many friends that she can afford to snub dead ones.

But more importantly, Eric has just given Sookie blood. He’s marked her out as “possible future vampire child of Eric Northman”. Eric himself says that the last woman he gave his blood to was Pam. And Sookie’s the new one. Of course, there’s reason to believe that Pam can feel that connection. Sookie can detect the connection between Eric and Alexei, so I’m sure that Pam can sense the connection between Eric and Sookie in her own blood. The logical conclusion is that Eric has just marked out a woman for turning. I wonder if he did the same routine with Pam – who after all, could be glamoured to forget she’d been given blood, and given Eric an invitation to her house. Sookie cannot be glamoured, so Eric had to openly give her blood, and we all know about it.

It is no mistake that Eric chose Pam so well. Even though she would have only been aware of him the night she died, that doesn’t mean that Eric was happening across Pam and in that second made the best turn of his recent history and picked a new second out of the ether  – oh no, I bet that Eric gave her blood and took her measure before he made himself an eternal companion. As a secretive vampire, he’d never reveal himself – just in case he’s wrong and Pam isn’t worth turning. But I bet she caught his interest a while beforehand, and Eric had been watching her and seeing if Pam was the perfect candidate for turning. Pam had no preparation before her own death. Sookie would have – and I bet Pam has thoughts about what sort of preparation she would like.

What would the former child of Eric Northman hope to convey to the new child of Eric Northman, before she’s even turned? Certainly not to run the fuck away and fast – Vampires First remember? Pam says outright that she wouldn’t have ratted Bill’s role out to Sookie, let alone that she would have stymied Eric’s designs. It seems that Pam wants to bring up Sookie’s education quick smart. She doesn’t want to have to lie to her – she tells her about Lorena, she tells her to fight Bruno Brassell. She wants Eric to tell Sookie about zones. That seems to be the cause of a lot of discord – Pam thinks that Sookie deserves information, and Eric wants to keep her in the dark. Pam thinks that Sookie is worth fostering and giving information to – even if Eric doesn’t.

Since Pam knows what it’s like to be a child of Eric Northman, and how hard the world is going to be on Sookie, she doesn’t shield her from the blow – she just softens the blow by forewarning her and being honest. Pam has more confidence than Eric does on how much Sookie can and is expected to take as a new vampire, and she’s determined to make sure that Sookie has all the information. She can’t save Sookie from becoming a vampire, but in her own bizarre way, Pam’s doing her a bigger favour by not hiding what it’s going to be like. It’s not going to involve endless bodyguards and drinking True Blood, dancing and filing your nails. As Pam knows, being the vampire child of Eric Northman is no lark.

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