The Leading Lady

Okay, I have to apologise to one of my anons. I promised a couple of days ago that the next post would be about what’s going on in the Deadlocked Excerpt. Except, as I was writing the post, this bit got away from me right in the middle. It is actually relevant to the post I’m going to continue with, but this is the bit without spoilers. Not everyone wants to be spoilered, and I don’t want to have a post I have to split into two parts. This was getting that way due to hugeness. So I figured that I’d release this bit, so that non-spoilery types can read it, and then continue on with spoiler material. It is going to be relevant to the next post. So I’m really sorry anon – but at least this way, it’s two for the price of one.

This post is about the spectre of Jannalynn. The title is actually a pun on the meaning of the name – which is leader. But it’s also relevant to this particular post, because I think we’re going to see – and have already seen – a tussle for Sam’s heart. Let me just reiterate what I’ve said before. There is no tussle from Sookie’s end. She is his best friend. She has said over and over that that’s what she is. The tussle has little to do with Sookie herself – apart from wanting to be his best friend, and that’s it.

I know it’s a popular theory (why?) that Eric is about to be shunted out so that CH can bring in Sam, but really, that’s just insanity. Apart from the fact that the text doesn’t support it because Sookie is not on board with it, as I’ve discussed before it’s not even CH’s style. She’s had easy guys as a choice in the past – and she doesn’t default to easy guys. Previous suitors in her other series have included a tortured detective and an arms dealer/gun runner – who were two of my favourite characters. The arms dealer/gun runner would give Eric a run for his money, let me tell you – Eric’s life isn’t half as dangerous as that guy’s – and he’s believe it or not less talkative than Eric. He doesn’t even code things for his female counterpart – he just shuts her out, and gives her bodyguards. She has no fucking clue with what goes on in his business life.

In this case, one of the issues that I think will need to be tied up with the new books is Sam’s relationship with Jannalynn. Now, as I’ve previously discussed, even if Sookie were on board with Sam as HEA guy, it is my view that Jannalynn would readily kill Sookie if Sam left for a HEA with Sookie. It would be a HEA for all of about two seconds, until Jannalynn arrived and gutted Sookie for taking her man. Jannalynn wouldn’t play nice with that HEA in any way, shape or form. So I think Jannalynn will need to be ‘solved’ for the books to end – and it’s a problem that needs solving. I don’t think Eric would be so crash hot about it either.

One of the rising sentiments I’ve noticed is that Sookie and Jannalynn just need to sort their shit out, apart from Sam, and then they’ll be best mates. I don’t see where Sookie and Jannalynn have really deep personal issues with each other – they’ll probably never be best mates, but I think they can be civil. And when the chips are down, Jannalynn and Sookie get along okay:

“You can’t change now.” I kept my eyes fixed on hers. I didn’t speak again but made
sure she kept looking at me. “Breathe with me,” I said, and she made the effort.

Dead Reckoning, p. 122

Jannalynn made the effort to calm down – just as she needed to. They’re not really suited for being BFF with each other, but it’s not as if there is unbridled hatred for each other that carries on into grudges. They don’t really need to be on more than friendly acquaintance terms with each other – they’re never going to braid each other’s hair, because they have different interests.

But Sam’s heart is the one point of contention that Jannalynn has. Sookie and Jannalynn can’t sort that one out. Like here, when they tried to sort their shit out:

What could I see in her brain? I saw grief, resentment, and envy. Jannalynn was wondering why Sam couldn’t see that she was just like me. She was brave and pretty and loyal, too.
“I have a boyfriend,” I said. “You know I go with Eric Northman.”
“Doesn’t make any difference,” she said stoically, not meeting my eyes.
“Sure it does. I love Eric. You love Sam.” Already I could tell that saying anything at all had been the mistake I’d thought it would be, that we were compounding the unhappiness.

Small Town Wedding, The Sookie Stackhouse Companion, p. 76

Jannalynn isn’t interested in seeing things Sookie’s way, and she’s not concerned with broaching their gap. Sookie here is trying to be nice and reassure Jannalynn that whatever was going on with her and Sam, Sookie wasn’t interested in Sam. And see my assertion as to why Jannalynn would end up killing Sookie a la Pelt sisters if she thought that Sookie was taking her man. But as you can see here – Jannalynn doesn’t want to take Sookie’s apology.

It doesn’t make a lick of difference if you’re nice to people if they feel like they’ve been wronged by you existing. As Jannalynn says above “It doesn’t make any difference” if Sookie is available or not, or if Sookie is dating (and married) to someone else, or if she loves someone else. The point is that Jannalynn is not the first choice – and that burns. Sookie is the first choice – and that builds resentment and envy. It’s not something that Sookie can fix – it’s something Sam has to fix. Instead of focusing the blame on Sam where it should be, Jannalynn has defaulted to blaming Sookie, when Sookie can’t change how her best friend feels about her.

Consider – if Sookie dropped all association with Sam, do you really think Sam wouldn’t miss her, and still talk about her? Do you really think that if Sookie married Eric in the frothiest white wedding she could manage, that Jannalynn would suddenly notice that Sam never talks about Sookie any more? It doesn’t work like that. Sam would still talk about Sookie, he’d still think about Sookie, and he’d still want Sookie around. He’d probably be even worse because he’d talk to Jannalynn about how much he misses Sookie. On top of that, even if Sam did actually stop talking about Sookie because she was ostentatiously married to Eric, that Jannalynn would conclude he’s turned his friendly feelings about her off like a tap? Please. Jealous and envious women don’t think like that.

This really is between Jannalynn and Sam. As Sookie pointed out, there’s a fatal flaw in Sam’s relationship with Jannalynn:

And I could tell he was thinking that Jannalynn would have worn something really extreme, and his family wouldn’t have liked it. I felt a twinge of irritation with Sam. Why was he dating her, again? I was beginning to feel sorry for the girl. All weekend, Sam had been glad he hadn’t brought her to meet his family. What kind of relationship was that? Not one founded on mutual respect.
Small Town Wedding, The Sookie Stackhouse Companion, p. 49

Sam’s embarrassed to be seen with Jannalynn. That then creates such resentment and envy – Sam will fuck Jannalynn, but she’s not good enough to meet his mother? I’m with Sookie on this one – if you’re embarrassed to be seen with them, stop dating them, and certainly, stop fucking them. Or man up and start respecting the person and introducing them around.

As an aside, say what you like about Sookie, but she has NEVER been embarrassed by any of her boyfriends – not Bill, not Quinn and not Eric. She hasn’t tried to hide that she’s with them because she doesn’t want to be seen with them. She’s never made Eric duck down in the car, and she hasn’t hidden him from Jason or Niall or anyone else. For his part, Book Eric hasn’t been embarrassed to be seen with Sookie – in her Merlotte’s uniform or otherwise – he’s quite proud to be with her. Not so for fanfic Eric. You can find him hurriedly updating her car and buying her clothes because otherwise, he’s not likely to be seen out with her. He even tells her she’s an embarrassment to his magnificence.

Sam may not tell Jannalynn that – but the effect is the same. She is his dirty little secret. He’d rather take Sookie, someone else’s wife to meet his mother, than the woman he actually spends time with. Now, Sookie can’t do much about that. Sure, she says “No” to going to the wedding (for her best friend – and readers would probably shout at the top of their lungs what a bad friend she was then) and that’s supposed to make everything better. Oh, until Jannalynn hears that he was going to take Sookie, but now he’ll go stag instead. And we’re back to the original setting, and Jannalynn is still blaming Sookie for this mess.

Sam’s embarrassment shows up elsewhere too – it just doesn’t have anything to do with Sookie – although again, Jannalynn still doesn’t see it that way:

“Hello, honey,” she said to Sam as she bypassed me without a sideways glance.
She took Sam in a ferocious embrace and kissed him for all she was worth.
He kissed her back, though I could tell from his brain signals that he was a
little embarrassed. No such consideration bothered Jannalynn, of course.

Dead Reckoning, p. 112

Jannalynn here is thinking that she’s “claiming” Sam – and that’s what message she intended to send. Sam is mine, and Sookie is inconsequential. I have a right to kiss him and love on him, wherever I want. But Sam is still embarrassed by that – as Sookie tells us. It can make people feel uncomfortable – and men in particular – to be “claimed” like this publicly. Particularly since the kiss is more about proving a point to Sookie than it is to do with greeting Sam. Some people are just crazy like that – they want to be wanted, not to prove a point to someone else.

It’s really the wrong focus to have – that you should fight off the other woman – and the example here is an object lesson for Sookie (if she didn’t learn first time around with Bill) in why it does no good to fight off Freyda. Because let’s say Jannalynn gets rid of Sookie – she still leaves the original problem alone. Sam still considers her a dirty little secret. Sookie hasn’t done this – persuaded Sam not to take Jannalynn home to meet his family, so getting rid of Sookie doesn’t do jack shit to the original problem. Because Sam still wouldn’t take her home to meet his family, because there is some part of him that doesn’t really want her that much – or doesn’t want the rest of the world to know that he wants her.

As I’ve discussed previously with jealousy – it is an emotion I find a bit bewildering, being that I’ve never really felt it. In many cases, women focus on each other as competition, rather than seeing that the real goal is to go for the person in question – the lover that you want. Eric totally has the right idea about that. While Bill and Quinn are duking it out on Sookie’s lawn in Dead and Gone, he doesn’t front up for a fight with them – because it is Sookie who matters – her opinion and caring for her will win that stupid argument, not fisticuffs. It’s not as if Sookie would have chosen the guy who won the fight, right? No sane person would, unless they needed a severe ego boost.

So Jannalynn is doing it wrong – as so many women do – I suspect for the ego boost. And that’s part of the key to this situation. Sam has made Jannalynn feel unsure of herself. As she mentions above, she believes that she is as brave, loyal and pretty as Sookie, yet Sam chooses Sookie over her to bring home. It is not something that Sookie can do anything about, because it is Sam who gave his girlfriend that impression. She thinks she’s no different from Sookie – as you can see above. Jannalynn has a bit of a rosy view of herself there. She’s tough and ferocious, but she seems to think she’s just like Sookie. While Sookie can be tough, she’s not ferocious. It’s exemplified how dissimilar they are here:

“Fuck,” Jannalynn said pleasantly. “Fuck, fuck, fuckety fuck.”
“Amen,” Sam said.
I burst into tears. Jannalynn looked disgusted.

Dead Reckoning, p. 321

On a side note – boy, Jannalynn would fit in around me. But she’s not at all like Sookie – she’s a lot less worried about killing than Sookie is – she’s blunt and straight to the point. She doesn’t really have any finesse. That’s not a bad thing – because obviously on some levels, Sam must like that. But Jannalynn’s view is all about how she’s able competition for Sookie, rather than being sure of her own attractions, and what those attractions really are.

Personally, I prefer the dignity and pride type attitude that caused Judith to walk the fuck out on Bill for that one. I thought she absolutely rocked that exit – with actual pride and dignity – she knows what she’s worth – and it’s more than what Bill can give her:

I know that you’re not making love to this woman. I know that she’s claimed by another. And I also know that you want her more than you ever wanted me. I will not have sex with a man who pities me. I will not live with a man who doesn’t want me.
I’m worth more than that.

Dead Reckoning, p. 158

Whoo boy – if I liked Judith before that (and I did) I thought that was the most brilliant exit ever. While I wanted Judith to be with Bill for good in Dead in the Family, I don’t want her to be with him now. Because she’s absolutely right – she’s worth more than being with a man who doesn’t want her.

Judith however, has the benefit of a hundred years of respecting herself, liking herself and seeing how men behave when you’re a doormat – it’s not with respect and love – which should not be mutually exclusive. Jannalynn though, is only twenty four, and she’s had her head filled with all kinds of shit that we fill women’s heads with – all about how you’ve got to fight for your man. You can’t just love him and tell him you want him, you must beat other women down in Jerry Springer style – which always looks classy, amirite? And at the end, the winner of the hair pulling fight takes the guy home, right….wait….

Jannalynn trying to compete with Sookie is a young woman thing (and a stupid person thing – you can tell that that’s why Eric doesn’t do it either) – and I think she’d be better off breaking up with Sam than taking the sort of treatment he’s handing out. At the very least, if she doesn’t want to break up with him, she should do what Sookie does – what Pam recommends – not grovel after some guy and try to fight off the other woman but to:

“You need to be looking out for yourself, Sookie.”
Dead Reckoning, p. 250

If Sam won’t reassure Jannalynn, it’s time to protect herself. Sure, Sookie has to protect more than just her heart – she has to protect her freedom and her pride – but still, Jannalynn could do with taking Pam’s advice. Even in the wonderful dream scenario where Sookie dies (Jannalynn’s dream obviously, not Sookie’s) she’ll still always know that if Sookie was alive, Sam would have wanted her instead.

For Sookie’s part, she’s dealt with the spectre of Jannalynn very differently than how she dealt with the jealous Debbie Pelt. Sookie inflamed Debbie – tried to do the competing thing with her. With Jannalynn, she’s trying to reassure her. It’s not going to work, because as I say, the real problem is Sam. Sookie can tell Jannalynn flat out that she thinks Jannalynn is a better choice than her, and it doesn’t matter, because Sam doesn’t think so, and he lets Jannalynn feel it.

For Sam’s part in this whole thing – just because I’ve focused on Jannalynn and her attitude with Sookie. Here’s my thinking as to why he does this. Sam is only just a little more active, and a lot less using than Alcide. He doesn’t have quite the same entitlement issues and passive aggression that Alcide has – so he doesn’t push my buttons. But for many years – five years before the books started, even – Sam didn’t make a move on Sookie at all. It wasn’t until Bill showed up and lit a fire under him that he actually did anything about pursuing Sookie. That’s part of the reason Sam missed the boat with Sookie, and why Alcide did as well.

Sam needs to do something more with his girlfriend than just default to keeping her around for convenience. He needs to show her he wants her – because at the moment, the only message she’s getting is that maybe he prefers Sookie straight up. He needs to show Jannalynn that he wants her, not Sookie – and one of the ways he could do that is by not making sure that she’s always feeling the need to compete with a woman who doesn’t want to date him anyway.

But I’m thinking that Sam’s liking for strong and unusual women – the ones he’ll actually pursue – shows a history of not introducing them to the world as his thing. He kept the Maenad dalliance on the quiet for a long time, just as he’s trying to hide his association with Jannalynn in a general way. Sam cultivates a nice guy image, and he’s seemingly uncomfortable with the women that he likes being considered not to be nice women. I mean – that’s why he took Sookie to the wedding – so she wouldn’t embarrass him like he feared Jannalynn would do. But he can’t have it both ways – he has to take the woman he loves, or the woman who looks good – he can’t have both.

For all of Sam’s copious complaints about Eric – and boy does he bang on about them – I’d like to see Sam stepping up to the plate and dealing with Jannalynn himself. If she’s going to be aggressive to Sookie, then he should man up like Alcide never did, and do something. I really started disliking Alcide’s weakness right about here:

“Bye, bitch,” Debbie said, as I went out the door. I caught a glimpse of Alcide turning to her, his expression appalled, but Pam grabbed me by the arm and hustled me out into the parking lot. Gerald had hold of Eric, which was a good thing, too.
Dead to the World, p. 186

I confess – a bit off topic – but I had to quote the bit where Eric had to be restrained as well. They’re so well matched because they’re both losing their tempers (and calm down around the same time which is kinda cute) and because this is how a person who likes you should react when you’ve been insulted and embarrassed. They shouldn’t be the one to let others judge you and then step back and disassociate with you lest you get your embarrassment cooties on them.

I’m not down with the violence bit, but I think that shows what it’s like when someone actually respects you and likes you – they take an insult to you as an insult to them. There’s no need to leap on them like Eric did, but if you like and respect someone, you shouldn’t be the one to make them feel inadequate, like Sam does to Jannalynn and like Alcide allowed Debbie to do to Sookie here. You should be angry on their behalf, and make out like it matters. Since Alcide brought his non-Pack girlfriend to the witch war meeting, he didn’t care much about what Debbie did to Sookie. I would have left her at home, since she couldn’t control herself.

It will be Sam’s job to deal with this if he wants to stay with Jannalynn. He had his chance to get shot of Sookie altogether if she was too much trouble and he didn’t:

“Maybe you should let me go. I can work somewhere else, you know.”
“Do you want to?”
I couldn’t read the expression on his face, but at least it wasn’t relief.
“No, of course not.”
“Then you have a job. We’re a package deal.”

Dead Reckoning, p. 147

Since he wants to keep Sookie around, it is his job to lower that tension. If he doesn’t do it, Jannalynn will either leave him a la Judith, or she’ll do something to get rid of Sookie, wherein Sam will have a choice if he wants to be weak like Alcide, or strong. If he chooses weak, I don’t think that will be a sustainable situation – it wasn’t for Debbie and Sookie – and it won’t be for another were woman.

I’d just like to point out that this is another wonderful reflection of the Dead Reckoning content being a wonderful mirror image of the Club Dead content – as so many things are similar in setup. This time it’s going to turn out differently because all the characters are making difference choices. Almost like the “What if?” of Club Dead and showing how much Sookie has changed and grown and learnt. She’s not doing the same things she did last time. She’s not antagonising the girlfriend just because she’s with the boyfriend. And I think Sam will step up where Alcide never did – not only because he’ll have to do something since CH has to tie up Sookie’s story, and can’t ignore it; but also because it seems Sam does like Jannalynn a lot – she’s the first woman he’s dated and bought presents for in a while. If he doesn’t do something, he’ll lose this chance with her – when she figures out she’s been played.

Sam really needs to step up to the plate with Jannalynn – or let her go. He needs to tell her how he feels, and show her how he feels, and most importantly that he values her, because killing Sookie won’t help. It’s possible that he’ll be doing that sometime soon – because their relationship is just new – but hopefully he’ll be doing it sometime. He can’t puss out like Alcide, and always see Sookie as his back-up girlfriend to play off the jealousy. Sookie can still be his best friend, but Jannalynn has to be his leading lady if he wants to keep her. To do that, he has to be her leading man.