No Little Arms Here

So I have designs to update more often…and they are all dashed. Life will not leave me alone, and it’s all terrible. Mr. Minty got a new job with a night time shift, which means I cook two dinners every night and do more housework. He’s off today, so I’m trying to get this post finished before it’s back to the grind. However, this downtime has been good for me, because I’ve been speculating and such – even if I don’t get time to write, I still (occasionally) get time to think. If you want more of my ideas, you’ll have to come along to my house and chat to me while I’m cooking steak at 11.30 at night…or later. Otherwise, we may have to meet up when my husband is off work like an exciting secret rendezvous…but with non-lesbian women (or at least I have no taste for women – lesbians are always welcome to come round and watch me cook steak).

In apologies, I bring you this tangentially related (to this post which will contain potential spoilers) funny picture. And an assurance I’m not dead if I go missing for this long in future – I can say I have hopes, but that just will probably make me a big old liar. Big fat warning here – I have a patchy track record – some wins, some misses. If this is a miss, no problem. If this is a hit, you’re about to spoil yo’self. It can’t be taken back. So consider carefully if you want to read it. As a corollary, I sometimes wonder just how narrow minded other readers are – complaining that Sookie did something in a book other than macking on Eric, and have relationship chats with Eric. They really should be reading Fifty Shades instead of something with substance, and for the rest of you know that the wonderful dissection by Jennifer Armintrout has resumed with Fifty Shades Darker. Best quote:

“But you said you could take some pain! By refusing to let me
beat you with a patio umbrella, you’re betraying me!”

I haven’t (and wouldn’t) read the books, but I do love her dissection of the text. Hell, I didn’t get past the meadow scene in Twilight.

Some readers bitch about how terrible it is that Sookie has a personality and other interests other than sex, and how wonderful men are. There’s not enough sex scenes in the books, or the endless call for life’s most boring and stupid conversation – the chapters long relationship chat where you clarify every single word out of people’s mouths. No, Sookie does something other than all that fucking and chatting, and it’s bad to some readers. You know – bitching about cooking a sweet potato casserole, and the two lines wasted or something – !!valuable time out of your life you’ll never get back, and makes her a full character with interests other than sex?!! What fuckery is this?!!!! There’s also been a bit of bitching about peripheral characters, like Kennedy etc. and what a timewaster they are. If that’s your view….yeah….you should go now. This theory is born of paying attention to not-the-kissing scenes.

Okay, so I’ve been trying to put my brain power into figuring out how Eric is going to get out his contract with Freyda. I don’t agree that CH is going to throw the nearest woman under the bus. I think that’s an easy and obvious answer, and I don’t think Eric would do to his children what Appius did to him – sell them out for his own gain. Nor do I think CH wants to send the message that women are tools to give men what they want. I also don’t envision Pam or his other child wanting to enter a marriage with someone who doesn’t believe in love, and finally, Freyda’s into guys:

“…and I’ve known many men, many…”
Deadlocked, p. 172

Can’t have a vampire marriage if it’s not consummated. Freyda is pursing the strongest man in Area Five, not Thalia, who is a whole bunch older and able to do anything she wants, even to Eric. If she was willing to have a woman, she would have latched onto another Queen. And before you think that vampires are all fluid and will do anything in bed, no matter what, nopenopenope:

“Alabama is lovely,” Sophie Anne said. “But she enjoys some things in bed that I object to.”
All Together Dead, p. 150

Even vampires do things they like and don’t do things they don’t like. Being a vampire is not a pass to do any of the fucked up shit you want to. That concept is a thin veneer to justify porn. I know I’ve seen the theme in fanfic where Eric will do anything in bed. Granted, he’s fluid in his sexual preferences, but one thing he doesn’t do is rape. This is usually a device so that the author can get their kink into the text, not any genuine examination of the character or of the text. So I don’t think Freyda is going to forget the years she’s been pursuing a man and switch that for a woman she’ll have to have sex with every so often. She’s got the upper hand here, not Eric. She gets to make the big decisions, and she’s not just going to shrug it off – she’s gotta have reasons.

I think whatever happens, it’s not going to just be a bit of serendipity, like Felipe killing Freyda, or Eric killing Freyda. That would just destabilise a bigger area than is currently destabilised. It’d be like leaving the books on an epic political cliffhanger. Because already shit is not good for vampires in politics:

Consolidating this big an empire hasn’t been done in
hundreds of years – and the last time it was done,
the population was only a fraction of what it is today.

Dead Reckoning, p. 186

Think about it as a story – Sophie Anne was weakened in All Together Dead. And from then on, politics affected Sookie’s story. Eric had to marry for political motivations, Sookie had to avoid getting trapped by Victor, Pam and Miriam were involved in new-leader power plays. I know it largely gets ignored in favour of the game “Where was Eric’s penis relative to Sookie throughout the series” but it’s been a substantial portion of the books, and some of us don’t read for the romance, but for the politics. CH hasn’t skimped on them.

If Felipe knocked Freyda off or vice versa, that wouldn’t mean political stability – it’d be the opener to more Sookie adventures. So I think that in order to tie up the storyline, and make sure that CH provides us with a scenario that won’t leave readers asking forever after “What did Eric/Freyda do as the new King/Queen of Louisiana?” that will have to be tied off. Felipe will have to make peace with Freyda, and it won’t be a simple thing done with a club. It’ll be nuanced and clever, like good politics. Honestly, when has any of the politics in CH’s books been ended with just killing someone and someone else taking their place? Never. The death of a leader just starts the shenanigans, not finishes them.

Looking at the practical outcomes, it wouldn’t actually change Freyda’s mind if Eric became King of Louisiana. That would be like slathering him in the vampire equivalent of chocolate (blood – how fucking boring is that?). She can then force him into an alliance – and she then gets to own him and his new states. She’s already signed a contract where the terms are outlined – he’s Consort, she’s Queen, she owns everything and if she dies, he has nothing. I have seen fic where he took charge of Louisiana and just gave Freyda the other states to get her off his back – but come on. Freyda would take two states, and Eric keep one instead of Freyda getting three extra states – big enough to rival Texas and Eric? That’s a chump’s deal. Freyda would be a fool to take that on its surface, and I don’t think she’s a fool.

So yet another takeover won’t leave Sookie’s story in a good position. In fact, it’d be the most anti-climactic ending for Sookie because she’d be looking down the barrel of this shit again:

“I’ve worked with my new masters. I’ve shored up
my authority. I can have my own life now.”

Dead and Gone, p. 169

Remember? Back before the takeover, all the time Eric had to go and do things? The surety of knowing what Sophie Anne expected, and having a somewhat predictable leader? Well that’s what Sookie’s life needs now – not a guy who is busy at his job, trying not to get killed. I have no doubt, that like under Sophie Anne, Eric’s life will still be full of drama, but not this sort of in-limbo drama that has been messing shit up so badly for Sookie. It doesn’t mean Eric will become a stately vampire gentleman reading his newspaper with his honey, while thinking about running the dawgs today. It’ll just mean a baseline of drama that is Eric’s generalised life – which, whether they’re together or not (and I think they will be) affects Sookie’s life.

Not only that, but if the past books have taught us anything it’s that vampire political contortions never fucking end. Not every takeover bid is successful. For example, Peter Threadgill trying to overtake Sophie Anne (which was upset by Sookie) in Definitely Dead. Then Jennifer Cater took up the cause with court cases. And we have Eric talking about preventing a war between Louisiana and Mississippi in Club Dead. This stuff doesn’t end, and with Sookie’s intervention, often nothing comes of it. No solution to be had by having another takeover, and not all takeovers are inevitable.

So I don’t think a takeover – knowing what we know about previous takeovers – will be something that happens. It’s not viable. A new boss is not going to make an instant deal where Eric has to do nothing, and Eric isn’t going to quit his job. Even if he did, being a vampire means he’s still in the same system, just with no leverage, and thus no protection. Sookie gave him the option to run away, and he didn’t take it. He’s never going to take it. Eric loves politics, as much as Sookie finds it tiresome.

I do think though, that one of the key things that’s going to be an issue is the public relations issue that Eric is undergoing. This is what I think will give Eric enough leverage to negotiate with Freyda. It’s no good bringing in a strong second to defend your state if he also brings in a whole bunch of Fellowship hatred. I mean, Rhodes, for example, killed a lot of vampires. You don’t want to bring the focus of all that stuff right into your home state. And lest we forget, Freyda had no freaking clue it was all going on:

“Did you have anything to do with the death of Kym Rowe?”
“I don’t even know who that is,” Freyda said. “But I’ll find out.”

Deadlocked, p. 175

Can you imagine the shit that’s going to be following Eric around? What’s he going to do – he’s not a MIB who can neutralise everyone to just forget that people think he killed that girl. And it’s not as if you see newspapers with the headline “Vampire believed to have killed someone, but didn’t”. That’s not the way newspapers work, and it’s not the way people work. The likely Fellowship strategy is to either accuse Eric of covering it up by framing Jannalynn (who will never be publicly arrested or tried because she’s buried in a hole in the woods) or just saying that regardless of the fact he didn’t kill Kym, he’s certainly killed others. And he has.

There has been an ongoing theme of public relations nightmares thanks to who the vampires are – right from the early books. The one quote that comes to mind is this one:

“Don’t let him know you’re a vampire, Bill,” I said hastily, fearing fallout
from the Fangtasia raid. Though most police forces loved having
vampires join them on the job, there was a lot of prejudice against
vampires on the street, especially as part of a mixed couple.

Dead Until Dark, p. 112

It’s been a theme all the way through the books – even for shit they didn’t do, or that they’re doing nothing. Vampires get blamed. It’s even the very reason why they want Sookie, and the theme of the books is about tolerance. Sure, you can torture and kill people, but let’s face it – no bodies and time saved is why they want the PR dream Sookie is. Someone who always knows what the humans are thinking, when they’re coming without having to hide the bodies. Vampires are very careful of their public image – it’s why Eric’s job exists in the first place – to keep the hatches battened down.

I think this is going to be the way that Freyda gets put off. Especially since at this time, Felipe has no reason to rescind his backing of the deal. Many of the themes in Deadlocked were all about how vampires manage their media issues. The Fellowship has their own agenda, and their own media strategy – and that involves telling everyone just how harmful vampires are. We have Harp Powell, and all the other ways media impact on the supernatural world, as well as the prevalent themes about the battle for public opinion in the other stories – even Small Town Wedding. I think it’s going to be an important theme in the next book, and it’s thinking outside the box that leapfrogs ordinary vampire politics and is about integration.

So I think in the face of Felipe’s agenda where he can’t lose, that Eric will have to find a way around it. I think probably Sookie will give him the idea, because Eric is so staid after 1000 years, he rarely thinks outside the box. It’s one of the bad things about someone who has formed habits – they’re not terribly creative. But of course, he’ll have to sell the idea to Freyda, and he’ll have to sell the idea to his solution.

The problem still remained for me – if Eric isn’t going to throw some female character under the bus and enslave her, what possible solution is there? Freyda needs a strong second. She needs someone who is forward thinking. She needs a vampire who’s strong. She’s a mover and shaker, and in order to contrast to Eric, she’ll need someone who is a political dream. Someone who is good public relations, versus Eric and his terrible public relations.

Frankly, outside of his bar – where he earns money – Eric is rather too old and ornery to be great at public relations. He just switches it on when he’s at the bar. Even Sookie realises this. So do other people:

“That Felipe, he’s pretty damn funny, and Horst is okay,” T-Rex hesitated.
“On the other hand, your boyfriend is pretty damn scary.”
“He is,” I agreed.

Deadlocked, p. 138

This is why I always have a little laugh to myself about the idea of Eric having all these friends and admirers in fanfic. He’s not friendly. If he was real and met most of his fangirls, he would probably scare the living shit out of them, just like he scared a huge wrestler who isn’t exactly a piddling lightweight. And having lots of girlfriends he lied to doesn’t actually make him not scary – they’re none too bright.  Eric doesn’t have anyone who is his friend barring Pam and she takes orders. Eric is like a really old dude who wants you to get off his lawn. Just because his face is 23, means nothing. Eric might look young, but he doesn’t act young. And more importantly, he doesn’t feel young:

“I feel very old.”
Dead Reckoning, p. 260

He’s old, feels old, and he’s not good with making nice with people. His accoutrements like his Corvette and wearing jeans mean nothing, nor does his acceptance of some new things. Eric wants to make money, and keep out of trouble, but he’s not so proactive when it comes to going out and fixing his public image. That’s not forward thinking – that’s reactive thinking.

This is the downside to Eric that could discourage Freyda – and she’s currently getting to see it in action over Kym Rowe. Eric isn’t out there dealing with what the public thinks about him – he’s only nice as he needs to be. And that’s not what Freyda is like at all:

She’s not content to sit on her throne and let things hum along.
Deadlocked, p. 192

See, for all the time up until From Dead to Worse, Sophie Anne was sitting on her throne and letting things hum along. She didn’t try to chip away at any of the surrounding states, and the most she did was acquire Arkansas. I’m not sure she would have tried if not for Peter Threadgill trying for Louisiana. After all – it was all set in motion by Peter – he was the one who engineered Hadley disgracing Sophie Anne, the bracelet incident and Jake Purifoy. Sophie Anne didn’t do anything but react to what he did.

Same as Eric, she started all the tourism in her city – but she didn’t create that from her own efforts, she exploited the whole Anne Rice thing. The older vampires tend to be more stagnant. Same with Eric – he just capitalised on the vampire image by making a bar – it is Bill, younger vampire who learns a new skill and decides to create a brand new project. It is the young vampires who do something new, not the older ones. It seems really difficult to transition the older ones to embrace new stuff – including Eric’s reticence to use computers, Appius’ reticence to mainstream.

As I’ve posted before, this is what Freyda wants – an old vampire – but that there are substantial downsides to that. Meaning that if you want a mover and shaker, you want someone who sees new avenues for exploration, rather than someone who only takes the opportunities held out to them. You don’t want someone who is so terribly jaded about everything. You want someone who actually does something. Someone who’s going to give you good ideas.

In fact, I would argue that part of the reason Eric has been so damn successful and powerful over the books is in fact due to the fact that he surrounds himself with younger vampires and younger people. He is constantly surprised by Sookie, and the stuff she pulls, the plans she has going, the way she sees things. It has been her and her ideas that have pulled his arse out of the fire. Freyda will be getting Eric’s loyalty, for sure – because if he goes, he’ll give it everything he’s got – but she won’t get any innovation.

And I’m thinking Freyda hasn’t actually considered that. I think she doesn’t understand what it is she’s buying into. This isn’t Freyda’s words, mind you – they are Bill’s – but they give an insight into why Freyda has done things the way she has:

The only thing slowing her progress is her lack of a strong and loyal
second. If she acquires the strong vampire she needs to serve as
her right hand, she’ll always have to watch her back against that
vampire’s ambition. If she marries this right hand, he can’t succeed her.

Deadlocked, p. 192

See, she’s guarding against Eric’s ambition. Except that Eric doesn’t have any ambition to get more than he has now. When Sophie Anne was injured, he didn’t take over as King. When Felipe was tied up by Sigebert and easily beheaded, he didn’t take over as King. When Victor tried to control the state, all Eric wanted was to be left alone. Part of what seems to appeal to Eric about this opportunity for power is that he can’t go any further up the ladder.

Freyda is envisioning someone – like herself – who is always hungry for more. Except that Eric isn’t hungry for more. He’s hungry for a status quo. He likes his life as Sheriff, and even under the threat of a takeover, he’s not taking hold of more. I mean, this is the man who planted himself up in Shreveport, the less scenic and less profitable area of a poor state. I know people consider Eric to be going for unbridled power, but he’s had ample opportunity and just hasn’t done it. I think in the end, that will lead to taking the shine off him. Freyda will see that as long as he’s not in jail for Kym Rowe’s murder, he’s quite fine if people hate him.

So that still leaves the question of who Freyda will choose. And I have a candidate. Since the whole Bubba thing has blindsided me with Victor, I’ve been trying to think of things CH loves to put in plain sight and then trick the reader by making it relevant. One of the things that she put in very plain sight last book was a character called T-Rex. Now, he had my curiosity piqued with this line:

“T-Rex is quite a fan of yours,” she said.
<snip>
“He called me to see if I’d give up your phone number.”
Deadlocked, p. 274

Now, if you’re stupid, this is the moment when you hearken back to the magic fairy vagina line from the show, and dismiss this as yet another man who is in lust with Sookie. But T-Rex showed no sexual interest in Sookie – who is a telepath and would know – and if he just wanted to date her, then he could ask Felipe for her last name – not go through the cops. Felipe would be totally on board with someone wooing Sookie away from Eric – it was his plan all along – hence his niceness. The fact that T-Rex doesn’t go through Felipe means he’s not just wanting to hide this contact from Eric – but also from Felipe. So I’ve been paying attention to T-Rex on my relistens to see if there’s anything he said to shed light on it.

I tried to think of why T-Rex would want to contact Sookie – now it could be for a number of reasons. Whatever those reasons are, T-Rex isn’t committed loyally to Felipe, that’s for sure. But I do notice that there’s classic CH in plain sight stuff:

Maybe your vampire boyfriend wanted T-Rex to be his friend. Couldn’t hurt to
have a popular guy like a wrestler on your side, in public opinion.

Deadlocked, p. 275

So in contrast to Eric, T-Rex is a popular guy, forward thinking – able to engage in dealing with vampires and also able to engage in great public relations. That gives me Felipe’s motive for having T-Rex around – because like Freyda, Felipe is forward thinking. Yes, it’s great to have a skilled manager like Eric in your arsenal, but it’s also good to have someone like T-Rex to make humans see that the vampires are just like us – good guys. They don’t do things like murder strippers and such – they’re great guys that people love.

Not only that, but what T-Rex represents on the outside is not what T-Rex represents on the inside. At first I thought this particular quote would be an issue to T-Rex turning:

“I can’t keep secrets,” he said. “That’s my biggest confession. Seriously, I’d’ve
told them anything after we were here a couple hours the night it happened.
T-Rex is not one for secrets.”

Deadlocked, p. 138

Now, if it’s not in your nature to keep secrets, well, you’re not going to be a good vampire right out of the gate. Until I cross referenced that with other parts that include T-Rex. After all, you don’t meet someone at a bar and instantly tell them about the part fairy-telepath they’ll be meeting that night, so T-Rex is probably like the ordinary human who thinks Sookie can’t really hear his thoughts – that’s even if someone told him Sookie was a telepath. Because T-Rex is just fine with non-disclosure and keeping secrets:

T-Rex knew what his girlfriend was saying to police. Cherie’s
disclosure didn’t accord with T-Rex’s code of ethics. 

Deadlocked, p. 100

Which would actually make him a good vampire the night he’s turned. He’d tell people what he thinks they want to hear – that he’s simplistic and not complex, that he’s a great guy who doesn’t think very much, and is honest as the night is long. That’s pretty much Vampire Education 101 – how to lie and dissemble to humans. It’s been the modus operandi of every single vampire other than Bubba – swear through your lying teeth that it’s totally the truth and you would never keep anything from anybody. I’m looking at you Eric Northman who totally told Sookie there was nothing to be concerned about when he was fighting Pam on Sookie’s kitchen floor.

Sookie even makes an interesting observation about T-Rex and his pulling power – that public relations stuff that Eric doesn’t have and isn’t interested in:

I wasn’t used to the humans being more interesting that the vampires. 
<snip>
“Yeah, and he does a lot for the community, too. He takes toys to
the kids in the hospital at Christmas and Easter.”

Deadlocked, p. 103

Someone like T-Rex on the vampire side would be a good thing. I wonder myself if that’s what T-Rex is sort of flirting with, and what maybe Felipe has in mind. After all, if he turns someone like T-Rex, it’ll be to his advantage. And T-Rex likes going around having a good time at night with silly girls. It’ll be like a continuation of his current lifestyle. A large contingent of people hang around with vampires because it’s an all-night party – and it certainly seems that T-Rex is already hanging about, making friends with Eric and driving him halfway round the bend:

“T-Rex and his women came into the bar tonight, and he acted as though he were my best friend.”
Deadlocked, p. 199

I mean, one chick that vampires drunk from found on the front lawn of the first vampire house and you haven’t left the state yet? That’s a special kind of stupid or bravery – and possibly a message that someone wants to be turned. Making friends with a guy who is scary is not something you just do – and this is after T-Rex says that he’s scary. Turning T-Rex would be a good gamble on bringing all the positive public image into the vampire realm, and I’m sure vampire life looks attractive to a guy who spends his life fighting, and is “ambivalent” about his hair growth. T-Rex doesn’t seem to have a maker in mind, but he’s shopping around for one.

So we have someone like T-Rex who is great public relations, seems to want to associate with vampires, and be turned. But he’s young, and as I mentioned above, that seems to be the primary reason that Freyda wants someone like Eric. So how the hell would Freyda buy that one – because she wouldn’t just change her mind out of the blue because someone else is willing to be turned, and would love to be a great stand-in for Eric. She needs more reasons than that.

I think Freyda can be persuaded based on the history of a very successful Queen, who turned her own far-stupider version of T-Rex. This is in fact, what made me reconsider the prevalence of T-Rex in the book:

They looked like brothers, but maybe it was just their size and mien, and
the color of their chestnut hair, that sparked the comparison: big as
boulders, bearded, with ponytails that trailed down their backs, the
two looked like prime meat for the pro wrestling circuit.

Definitely Dead, p. 205

My ears perked up at the mention of the fact that the vampires looked like pro-wrestlers. And I figure, they protected Sophie Anne even when they were young – that was their purpose. If you’re looking not to get challenged on your throne, one of the things you need is someone powerful to back you up. And we already know that no matter how powerful Eric is, there is always someone who can kick his arse, even someone young:

“It is very humiliating, that they were able to do that, two fools with a silver net.”
Club Dead, p. 260

A couple of deeply stupid dudes in their twenties. Don’t bother to tell me that no one can defeat him – in the time to struggle with the net, that would give even these guys time to attack Sookie – and they would have if the clerk hadn’t lied. Freyda too would be at the mercy of her enemies in the same amount of time. Sookie was saved by her bravery and the clerk’s incredible bravery, not by Eric. Eric didn’t walk into the showdown with Victor and instantly decapitated Akiro, he didn’t instantly triumph over the vampires in the Queen’s party barn and he got the shit kicked out of him by Alexei. Lately, he’s taken to toting around Thalia as protection from being forcibly taken to Oklahoma – who got her arm cut off by a much younger Akiro. There is nothing that says 1000 years old is a threshold where no one (unless they’re your maker) can threaten you and you beat everyone. It’s all a matter of time – and one day, Eric will get killed in battle, as I’m sure he’s looking forward to as a Viking.

So maybe the fact that T-Rex is young will not be a big impediment to Freyda if she can see that another smart, young vampire took the same route that she did:

My respect for the queen, and maybe my fear of the queen, escalated.
Sophie-Anne, if that was her real name, had been brave, strategic, and
busy in her career as a vampire leader. She’d brought them over and
kept them with her, in a bond that – the one whose name I wasn’t
going to speak even to myself – had explained to me was
stronger than any other emotional tie, for a vampire.

Definitely Dead, p. 208

I think that using Sophie Anne as a template – the Queen everyone was afraid to take down until Felipe volunteered only after he engineered the Rhodes bombing – will maybe encourage Freyda to use what is otherwise a stronger choice than Eric. He already has ties to the community and good PR, where Eric doesn’t, and has bad PR. T-Rex already knows how to fight, and he’s still young and optimistic and forward thinking. Eric is old, he feels old, he acts old – and he is stuck in the ultimate rut and wants nothing to change.

Not only that, but she’d be taking away a potential asset from Felipe, her rival. I mean, Felipe isn’t being friendly to T-Rex because he really likes his party attitude. Remember – the cape and the niceness is camouflagenot the real Felipe. The real Felipe is forward thinking, and devious as hell. If you think he’s not looking to get popular support with his whole casino business, and encourage people to see vampires as harmless creatures who just want to live in harmony, think again. His niceness is undoubtedly tied to making T-Rex a new vampire PR campaign – by making a famous guy a noted friend of vampires, or more likely turning a popular guy and getting his popularity to transfer over to the vampire side of life. If Freyda stole T-Rex out from under Felipe’s nose, she’d still be stealing an asset from a rival – one that is possibly of more value right now than Eric is. One that will hobble Felipe into the future, just like Eric would, but who could also do the job Eric can.

I think that T-Rex can offer an exciting alternative to Eric – a better prospect than someone who has their heart set on staying in Louisiana and doing the same shit for the next hundred years. It wonderfully mirrors another Queen who did well enough to get older than Eric, and was only made vulnerable by human terrorism and a long and circuitous plan by Felipe. I think T-Rex, with his not so little arms would make a great alternative Consort to Queen Freyda of Oklahoma.

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