There’s this incredibly good looking and intelligent guy in my faculty. Worked in the government for years. I was talking to another faculty member, and he said that from what this guy had mentioned, he thought he was a former spy. I could totally believe it, looking at him. James Bond eat your heart out. He’s extremely charismatic and gorgeous, and knows a lot about politics and high government actions. I think I’d tell him just about anything he wanted to know too. 😀
Of course, if he were a spy, he’d never tell us. Here in Australia, you can’t even tell people you’ve applied for a job with ASIO (which is like the CIA or Mossad etc.) and if you’re working on anything sensitive, you even have to be dodgy with your wife/husband unless they pass security checks. I actually know a couple where the wife is obviously doing work for ASIO, because she is as slippery as hell about some of the stuff she does “liaising for the government”. She doesn’t even tell her husband details – which lets me know, with what she does talk about, she’s probably a spy. I feel fine talking about it on the net, because I wouldn’t reveal her identity for all the money in China.
So I come from a real life where I am experienced with people who don’t tell the truth for bad and good reasons. And I’m acquainted with what it’s like to be in a situation where few people will tell you the truth. It surprises me though how little some fanfic writers seem to understand the trappings of espionage, for what ever reason – youth or stupidity.
There’s this pervasive belief that Eric would be able to sniff out a rat in his Area really easily. That he would be able to see Bill’s intentions in a heartbeat. Not only that, but he’d see that Bill was really there to get Sookie. That’s complete monkey shit. Eric didn’t see it for very good reason. I’m going to set it out for you.
The most fundamental and essential quote is this one:
This was appalling. “How do you trust anyone?”
“I don’t. There are two exceptions. You, and Pam.”
Dead in the Family, p. 156
See that – we all spy on each other – not one vampire, but all of them. Eric thinks that vampires from other states are spying on him. From any of the surrounding states to his own state. It is not a matter of one spy, or one area that the spies are coming from – it is a fact of vampire political life. Spies exist, in the plural form. As a result, you don’t trust anybody. Not even if you think they might not be a spy. Because you might be wrong.
If there are a substantial amount of spies in your Area, then knowing that they are there means nothing. You can’t actually force them to tell you the truth unless you torture them. And what would be the point at all of doing that? When one spy leaves, another one comes in. If Felicia is fired, you think that whoever is paying her (like Stan) is just going to give up and say nothing about it? Leave the Area to lie fallow? No, of course they wouldn’t. They’d send in a new spy.
There is this idea that Charles Twining and Bill Compton could have been easily detected as spies. Yep, sure and Eric does just that. But the fundamental problem is who and why. I mean, if Felicia is sent by Stan to watch on Eric’s Area, then what could possibly be the rush to out her and get rid of her? Particularly since she’ll be replaced quick smart so that Stan can keep up to date on Eric’s Area. There’s a reason a spy was installed in the first place, and that doesn’t change because you torture and kill some vampires.
Not to mention that if there are multiple spies, you have to do them all at once to figure out what to prioritise. There’s no sense in torturing Charles Twining if the actor behind Bill’s actions is going to be the first to move. That’s what we call in the lay world a “complete fucking waste of time”. You’d be forever sifting through and torturing random vampires, and all of a sudden, they stake you in your sleep because they’re sick of the pointless time waste that is torture.
Since they all spy on each other, for various reasons, there’s no real way to guess what that reason is. When Charles Twining came into the Area, of course, Eric probably thought he was a spy. But a spy for who and why makes all the difference. Since Eric has business other than Sookie he’d be a complete idiot to assume that everyone is coming to the Area for her. Since ostensibly he came from Mississippi, then you could quite wrongly assume he’s a spy for Russell – to see if there will be incursions into Mississippi, or to reconnoitre before a takeover.
If Eric had leapt in all gung-ho with the Mississippi theory, he’d be wrong. That’s what political manoeuvring of spies is – it’s not leaping in immediately – it’s giving them some rope until you find out what their purpose is. If perchance, Charles had been there as an advance for Russell, then killing him would just incite war, and Russell would have a reason to start up with Area Five. That would make Eric not the consummate politician – but the complete and total idiot. Politics done well is not a blunt instrument – if it’s done right, it should be so subtle it’s not even noticed.
Bill moving to Bon Temps shows excellent politicking. Sure, he’s got a telepath, but that doesn’t mean dick. Mainly because Bill grew up and died in a house where he was her neighbour. Maybe if Bill recently bought that particular house, Eric would have had a clue. But he inherited it from….himself. The house that he’s in happens to be next door to Sookie – Bill had reason to be there and to know Sookie. It’s perfectly manufactured so it looks normal and so it’s not going to raise a red flag.
The fact that he’s dating a telepath too wouldn’t raise a red flag either. As I’ve discussed before, there’s not so many humans who want to date vampires. They want to stick well clear of them by virtue of the fact that they kill humans. And no vampire in his right mind would turn down acquiring an asset such as Sookie. Eric wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow because he wanted to do the same thing – get a telepath for his own personal use. Bill is essentially no different from Eric, and as we see in Dead Until Dark, her warning to him to be careful about the community agitation served Bill well.
Eric wouldn’t think to judge whether Bill “really liked” Sookie for who she is rather than what she is. For a start, he’s not her Dad, so he doesn’t really mind if some human’s heart gets broken. He kills humans, remember? He’s not concerned with human misery. Or else he’d be down at the local children’s hospital handing out his blood like skittles. He doesn’t even do that in fanfic – he only saves “worthy” children like Sookie as a five year old, and gives his money to waitresses who don’t want it, rather than starving children in the third world. Ain’t nothing altruistic about Eric Northman, and he couldn’t give a toss for human suffering. He causes it.
But even if he finds out the reason a spy was in the Area, spies don’t get all the information for good reason. Your average spy in the field doesn’t know what his bosses will do with the information. Bill wouldn’t have known the Queen’s plan – he might have been able to have a good guess, but that’s it. There’s no reciprocal sharing going on – it goes one way – from the spy to the boss. The boss doesn’t inform the spy of anything they don’t need to know. Just in case they get captured and tortured, only a complete idiot would put all the knowledge with the spy. So no one does it.
If Stan was using Felicia as his spy, you don’t think he’d be silly enough to get her sitting around the war table, right? Of course he wouldn’t. He’d be getting information and keeping her in the dark. After all, she’s no match for Stan, so she’d be no match for Eric. It’d be the equivalent of putting all your money in a water balloon – if she breaks under Stan and spies for him, she’d surely break under Eric and tell him all the information.
But say that Eric finds out that a spy is looking for something in particular, like Sookie. What the hell is he going to do about that? I mean, if Jonathan was killed in Louisiana, does anyone really believe that Felipe would have gone home and just forgotten about Louisiana? No, of course he wouldn’t. In practical terms, it wouldn’t work.
Here’s an example. The weather witch was hired by Felipe to delay the summit in Rhodes. They find the Trouts thanks to Sookie, and maybe find out that some shell of Felipe’s hired the weather witch. Let’s be really generous and say that they traced it back to Felipe. Well what the hell are they going to actually do about it? Send Felipe an angry letter warning him not to come at them? Yeah, that’ll work.
Even if Eric knew that it was Las Vegas behind that, what more could he have done? The best he could hope for is trying to work out who he was dealing with ahead of time, and maybe, just maybe he could predict tactics and who he’d be dealing with. But he had all the time in the world to plan, and on the night of the takeover, he gave the wrong orders to his people – telling them to gather instead of scatter.
But the fact of the matter is that the spy – Jonathan – was a small part of the overall plan. His death or life wouldn’t have stopped Felipe – it would have made Felipe send in someone else. As for the weather witch, his job was done before Louisiana ever knew what hit it. The only appreciable thing Eric could have done was make sure that the spy got incomplete information, and maybe he could have tried to discern where the spy was sent from to prepare.
Looking at Bill, what exactly could Eric have done there? Even when Bill was revealed as a spy, it didn’t stop Sophie Anne from ordering Sookie to New Orleans, and Eric tried to wrest as much control as he could. The only reason he lucked out was due to Quinn (and I bet he’d never thank Quinn for it). If Quinn hadn’t killed Andre, and Felipe hadn’t killed Sophie Anne, Sookie would be down in New Orleans. Eric values his word, his honour and his life far too much to naysay his Queen for a telepath he has feelings for.
Readers of SVM seem to think that the essential step to dealing with spies is just knowing they’re there. Well, Eric already knows that – he doesn’t trust any of them. The most essential thing is wrangling the situation so that you have the advantage. Politics of power is a gentle thing – one cannot force things quite as much as fanfic makes out you can. It is a game of waiting and seeing where your advantage is, and not telegraphing your thoughts to the enemy.
It is not a sport of instant gratification – it’s all about waiting, seeing, keeping on guard – it is truly living right down to the wire and constantly at risk. Most of the time when I see Eric torturing some poor vampire – Bill, Felicia or Charles – he’s being an idiot. I’m pretty sure I could control him….except I wouldn’t want him in my retinue, because he’d be a liability. He’d be better off hanging round the Berts and being my personal bodyguard, because he doesn’t have an ounce of finesse and control.
So, from a real life perspective from someone who knows actual spies, identifying them as spies is the least of your job. Just knowing that doesn’t tell you dick. You need to know why and what they are spying on, for whom, and what will happen with the information when they’re done. Then you need to be able to actually get an advantage. Otherwise, sniffing out a rat is a useless past time.