Phew, real life stands in the way of the important information about Sookie Stackhouse. This has been my longest absence to date – and I can assure you I didn’t die in the intervening time. It’s a long and complicated tale of school holidays, illness and family visitors. After the chicken finger debacle, rest assured I have not resorted to cannibalism. I could have used a cluviel dor to free me up. Or maybe it was used with the word “Live” and the internet didn’t count, so I was kicked off. If you’re sick of patrolling my journal, you can always go to my wordpress site, and sign up for the email list. That way you get an email when I update both places. But onto the good stuff.
I was asked here if I analyse the covers – nope, I do not. Covers are vague, really. Knowing Bill and Eric would be in FDTW does me no good. I mean – important spoiler – Bill and Eric will be in the final book!!! You heard it here first folks. A vague feeling of the sun setting on Sookie is kinda like a visual depiction of what the last book will be. I do far better with text…although I did get my first ever 100% for analysing this picture of Salvador Dali’s for art class. But truly, I don’t think they really shed light on much of anything. There are always alternative meanings. Trust someone who lived with psychics and tarot card readers in her dissolute youth – you can debate this shit forever without ever getting anywhere. Text is much more reliable – but I must say, the final cover is beautiful.
There’s no spoilers in this post (apart from my awesome one above), but as ever, I’m going to speculate on the ending. In particular, this post is going to deal with Sam. I finally got my audiobooks back, and have been listening again, but to the whole book this time – and that means I’ve gotten something I missed with my selective cutting. Bits that I didn’t think were important, and so I didn’t memorise bits of them.
Sam got a sort of mixed reception with the release of the last book – one of jumping on the “Sam is HEA” bandwagon, and then the resulting vitriol aimed at Sam (and Sookie) because Sam commits the terrible sin of not being Eric. He’s evil that way…apparently. Any time any person looks like coming between Sookie and Eric, the very amateurish way of dealing with it in fanfic is making them the villain. This time, it looked like it was Sam. Another factor is that so many people were blindsided by Bill’s betrayal, and they keep trying to find the evil person who’s going to shake Sookie’s world – more evil Bill, evil Quinn, evil Dermot, evil Sam. So if someone doesn’t look too dodgy, conspiracy theories will take root, in ever increasing complexity. So vitriol either way, usually.
One of the pieces of vitriol aimed at Sam was all about the way that he made Sookie partner in the bar, and how that was all evil. I didn’t think it was, and pointed out it’s of more value to have a share of the business than money back. And then I listened to this bit, proving it was approved by Sookie herself:
Instead of repaying me bit by bit as I’d imagined he would, Sam now
regarded me as a part owner. After a long and cautious conversation,
he’d upped my paycheck and added to my responsibilities. I’d never
had something that was kind of my own before.
There was no other word for it but “awesome”.
Deadlocked, p. 40
So, Sam making Sookie partner was approved by Sookie, and she thinks it’s awesome. It’s not the cheap-arse way of doing it, and it wasn’t just a decision made unilaterally without conversation. Like say….a marriage. 😉 Sam was already paying her back, showing appreciation, and probably tried to discern in that conversation if she would like a stake in the bar – he just happened to save it up for her birthday that was just around the corner. That’s the first bit that struck me – despite the opposite narrative in the fandom. Sam isn’t forcing part of the business on her – he’s giving her a far better deal.
And after all, this is job security like Sookie’s never had before. Her life hasn’t exactly been a bunch of roses, and there are times when she doubts Sam’s tolerance because of vampire bullshit:
“Maybe you should let me go. I can work somewhere else, you know.”
“Then you have a job. We’re a package deal.”
Dead Reckoning, p. 147
It’s relatively easy to scoff at Sookie working in a bar, but as I’ve pointed out before, it’s a job she likes. And you know, I’m betting dollars to donuts that even my job – which requires lots of education, is very cerebral and requires lots of hard work (as evidenced by my absence) would not be something everyone would enjoy. I mean, me with vampires – well, a blog can wait – vampires won’t. If I said to Eric – “Yeah, look, it’s not a good week for me to go fetch Bill for you – can you wait until marking is over” I’m kinda doubting he’d just go “Oh, totally okay. Whatever works for you.” Sookie will never be able to have a complex job that can’t be put down at a moment’s notice.
The dreams of Sookie having any other job she can’t put down are just that – dreams. Sookie needs something flexible – and the bar provides that. Moreso when she’s spending all her off time with the silent vampires, the bar gives her practice at keeping her telepathy manageable. Sam gave her job security when he gave her part of the bar – he gave her something sure that should she end up needing time off to go do something dangerous for Eric, she’ll have a job when she comes back. Which I think is a good thing.
I find it sort of striking too that Sookie is seen as having only romantic feelings for anyone. Tara and JB are her great friends, and they’re sort of discarded most of the time. Let me just say – the full range of emotions doesn’t just include romantic and sexual ones. You can be friends with a man without ever wanting to screw him. You can want to be around a man without falling deeply in love with him, or not realising your latent feelings. I have had many male friends over my lifetime – many that I haven’t wanted to screw, but like them as people. So it should be noted – Sookie can and does feel more than just lust or love. Like a regular human. Or like a regular human should if they don’t think constantly with their genitals.
Of course, it’s all the argy-bargy over Jannalynn that makes some readers think that Sookie will be soon confessing her love for Sam, and throwing over every single other man. This specifically gets people knickers in a twist:
But I’m not married. And I don’t have any plans to get that way.”
I started crying. I put my hand over the phone so he couldn’t hear me.
Deadlocked, p. 182
Except that ignores what Sookie explicitly says her motivations are for reacting that way:
The thought of Sam being on his honeymoon with Jannalynn – having fun
while Eric made me miserable – was simply intolerable.
Deadlocked, p. 181
And just in case you wondered what she meant by that – the absolutely laughable meme that goes around this fandom that Sookie “denies” her real feelings, this is what she’s currently dealing with:
I remembered – too vividly – sliding into a dark depression when I
understood that Bill, my first-ever boyfriend and lover, had left me.
This was not quite as bad; that had been the first time, this was the second.
But today was bad enough, and I could think of nothing to look forward to.
Deadlocked, p. 179
This is right after she finds out Eric won’t find a way out of the Freyda situation, he knows about the cluviel dor, hates that she won’t use it to rearrange his life to suit her. Knowing that someone is trying to frame Eric, that Jannalynn will probably try to hurt her, and that the cluviel dor paints a big old target on her back, it’s assumed that she has an epiphany about Sam.
Well that doesn’t make a lick of sense. At all. Not with implied motives, and not with her explicit motives. Sookie is mega stressed out – she says that she doesn’t want Sam engaging in wedded bliss while she’s stuck there being miserable. Truly, that would feel pretty awful. Imagine reading some of my waxing lyrical about Mr. Minty after your own husband/wife asks for a divorce – and hey, I’m not even your best friend, asking you to fill in for me at work. Being depressed as hell that your current honey is going to marry someone else because his Dad said so doesn’t make you happy for others.
Sookie has known for quite a while that the cluviel dor paints a giant target on her back, and she bears the angst of what to do with it alone. Oh, until Eric implies that she’s only worth what she can give him, of course – by giving her a dirty look and implying she doesn’t love him enough to use the cluviel dor on him. And that’s when Sam’s imagined marriage happened – one could imagine that Sookie would feel desperate for something that doesn’t change.
Sam is Sookie’s rock. No matter if Eric is having a regime change (two threats in two years now) or if random makers are turning up and torture is going on, the threat of death over your head, and all the fairy crap you can poke a stick at – Sam rarely does anything drastic in his life. He opens his bar, he stocks his bar. When you want to call over to see him, he’s in his bar or at his trailer. Eric may be steady in other ways, but he’s not readily accessible:
I always knocked at Eric’s door if he didn’t expect me, because I
never knew who would be there or what they’d be talking about…
Dead in the Family, p. 294
It’s not a fatal flaw or anything – but Eric just doesn’t have that same reliability as Sam does. He could be in his house or in his bar, and he might be talking about something dangerous or not-for-Sookie-ears. Eric could be locked in a struggle with a king who’s talking in circles. He could be engaged in a battle with Alexei or his ilk. Eric is not quite as safely reliable as Sam is. Eric is intermittently up to his ears in drama – which is the very opposite of reliable. And his foes usually don’t give you any warning other than after the fact:
“We could have appeared in your bedroom.”
Dead in the Family, p. 164
Eric is the one who does things on the turn of a dime, Eric is the one who gets surprise married, Eric is the one who has dangerous people turn up at random. Not Sam. So when Sam starts not being there for Sookie, when she’s already stressed out by everything else, well that’s an emotional disaster for her. Not true love denied. Sookie is used to being able to come round to Sam’s place whenever she wants to do it. Sookie is used to relying on Sam to keep her grounded and mundane when everything else is drama-drama-drama. This is Sam just after Gran’s death, when Bill may have been burned to death:
We cleaned all day. It rained all day. Sam only spoke to me to direct me to the next task.
Dead Until Dark, p. 178
This is Sam when Jason is missing, Eric in residence and witches after them:
“What was your word for the day?” he asked, standing back.
“I didn’t check this morning. Yesterday was ‘farrago,'” I said.
He raised his brows inquiringly.
“A confused mess,” I said.
“Sookie, we’ll find a way out of this.”
Dead to the World, p. 200
Sam is always like this – he’s boring according to anyone else, but with the shit that goes on in Sookie’s life that’s a drink of water in the desert. Sam is always strong and steady and out of drama. Sam represents the only supernatural with a relatively normal life. Sookie can take her exciting life, but when things come up that are extreme, she always falls back to Sam as her rock. Sam is the one sure thing – she can rely on his affection and love for her to be steady and calming. He’s not going to scorn her because he’s going through painful emotional reawakening from being a cold vampire – he always loves her – and she knows it when things are rough:
While they were having sex, I thought of Sam and how happy it would
make me if I could see him now. I wanted to say the name of someone
who loved me, but my throat was too hoarse from screaming.
Dead and Gone, p. 278
Sookie imagines Sam to be pottering around the bar, living a normal life, not embroiled in some interstate vampire wars. And of course, since the first book, he has been a steady, calm presence who has loved her. He didn’t sell her out to various vampire royalty, and he isn’t thinking of ditching her for them either. Sam’s love is pure because he’ll never be forced into a marriage with someone else, or be found to be making a deal to save his life. Sam has his bar – and that’s all he wants. He doesn’t go seeking power, and there’s just him to worry about.
But lest you think that means she wants a boring life, without drama, Sookie’s made her position quite clear:
“You don’t need to do this, Sookie.”
Wild horses couldn’t have held me back from this experience.
If I Had A Hammer, Home Improvement, p. 57
Sam yet again encouraging Sookie away from the supernatural, and Sookie throwing herself right in. She likes the unusual, she likes to feel useful. She likes the acceptance, and being who she is. It’s just that when things get tough, all she’s got is reliable Sam, not the Sam she’s secretly destined for, but her one sure thing. Ain’t nothing about “I’m engaged to the Queen of Oklahoma” that is sure.
So all the bunkum about secret conspiracies and such – this would remove one of the foundation planks out of Sookie’s life – for Sam to be evil. She can rely on him to maybe not be as forthcoming with her (as she isn’t with him) and to always care about her, rummaging around Merlotte’s. When things are going to shit with Eric, as they will from time to time because he’s up to his neck in vampire shenanigans, then she can go to Sam, and have dinner and indulge in a normal life for once. More importantly, she can do that in the daytime, go to church, go to a restaurant, be all human, have ordinary goals. I just can’t imagine what the fuck Eric would do at Tara and JB’s. Hold the babies? I doubt it. Have a beer with JB? Lol. Do some carpentry? Will Felipe hold the plywood in place or is that Bill’s job? Eric is the Sheriff of Area Five, not the vampire version of a Care Bear. While Sam can actually turn into a bear, who cares.
It remains to be seen what the possible consequence is from the use of the cluviel dor on Sam’s behalf. I can’t think that a love gift would have too much of a kicker, or that it would have a really negative kicker (like life for a life). It’s possible that Sam will be the symbolic embodiment of ordinary life, as he always has been for Sookie. The cluviel dor might inure him enough to be in Sookie’s life without too much of a toll.