Team Sookie: True Blood season 4

Gotta talk some True Blood today…

Firstly, Episode 10; The Used’s cover of “Burning Down The House”: BRILLIANT! Nothing’s more awesome than four vamps ready to burn shit down (other than Skarsporn of course).

But what really warrants discussion is Season 4’s interpretation of the whole Sookie-Eric-Bill love triangle. In Charlaine Harris’ novels, Bill is pretty much a nonentity after book three. He fades into the periphery and although there is the haunting sense that Sookie still has feelings for him, being her first love and all, Bill is sort of insignificant. And it works because the relationship between Eric and Sookie is built and developed over the course of many a written word; Sookie has time to process her relationship with Bill and fall in love with Eric. So Bill’s status as ‘forgotten lover’ is justifiable.

The show is different. Sookie is not afforded the luxury of time.

One of the best things about Alan Ball’s True Blood is that it redefines Harris’ novels to suit a television medium. Ball knows exactly how to seduce his audience – with a vitriolic script and relevant characterisations, the satire is sharp and Ball’s tongue is planted so firmly in his cheek that no amount of prudish strength could pry it out.

Season 4 starts with Sookie hanging out in the faery world. When she realises that her faery kin are dangerous sons of bitches, she escapes back to Bon Temps only to discover that time moves differently in the world of the fae; what felt like a half hour sojourn in Faedom was the equivalent of 12 and half months on planet earth. The point: Sookie is still in love with Bill and most certainly has not had time to ‘get over’ his horrendous betrayal or forget her feelings (both anger and adoration).

But then Eric loses his memory and seconds later Sookie has fallen for the villainous Viking who is not so villainous any more.

It all sounds a little too ‘Romeo and Juliet’ – in other words; a total fallacy. In four days Romeo and Juliet; fall in love, get married, have sex and commit suicide in the name of love (sure). I think not. At least Sookie and Eric sort of know each other – Romeo saw Juliet at a party and fell in love, and in the blink of an eye abandoned his self-proclaimed love for poor Rosaline. “Fickle” is the word. And Sookie tempts the very same arbitrary sense of annoying vacillation. Not that realism is the crux of a fantasy series, but viewers need to believe in Sookie and Eric’s love in order to buy into the Ball’s re-imagined world. And Alan Ball has played his cards with poise and ingenuity.

There is no way that Sookie is not still in love with Bill; in the show’s context she’s had no time to get over their relationship. And if Alan Ball had disregarded the brooding vampire, everything that has happened in the last three seasons of True Blood would be rendered pretty much redundant, causing the audience to lose faith in the show and its characters. It would have undermined Sookie as disingenuous, which she isn’t. Instead, Sookie is in love with both Eric and Bill – It’s just too awesome – and Sookie’s love for Eric is truthful precisely because she still loves Bill.

In a dream, Sookie, convalescing after her latest near-death trauma, dreams and envisions a world where there’s room for both Bill and Eric. Sookie claims to be in love with both vamps and tells them that the only way they will ‘have’ her is to share. Sookie’s subconscious is brought to consciousness in Episode 10 (Burning Down the House) when she rescues Bill from certain death by unleashing her faery power. Throughout the season, Sookie’s powers are brought forth in situations of heightened emotion – when she needs them most – and this time is no different. Only through imagining a world without Bill, something subjectively horrific, is Sookie able to manifest the power to save both of her loves – and return Eric’s memory. In a later scene, Sookie admits to Eric that she loves both him and Bill. Season 5 is going to be Juicy with a capital J!

Well played Mr Ball, well played!