Since the release of Deadlocked, I’ve been reading all over the interwebs about how Eric has always been interested in power above everything else, and that the marriage contract with Freyda is a done deal. People have him so gone, they’re expecting Pam to turn up any moment with a bunch of liquor boxes and packing tape. Well, not me. Perhaps I’m in denial, but I’ve always expected Eric to make good on the promises his amnesiac self made back in Dead to the World, and I’m even more convinced now that he will. In fact, I think he’s already done it, in part. Not only are those promises more easily fulfilled than you might think, but they are also mirrored by what Sookie thinks and says in Deadlocked.
There were two big promises that AE made to Sookie in Dead to the World. Let’s give them a look, shall we?
“When this witch is defeated, I would bring you to my side. I will share everything I have with you. Every vampire who owes me fealty will honor you.”
~Eric, Dead to the World
Of course, when Eric makes this promise, he’s not quite himself. Unsurprisingly, Sookie didn’t believe him. At the time, she called it a wonderful fantasy. As any devoted SVM fan knows, Eric wakes after the witch’s curse is lifted with no memory of his time with Sookie, and it is four more books before his memories return and they rekindle their unconventional relationship. But rather than an empty promise, I think Amnesia Eric’s promise was CH’s way of smacking us with the foreshadowing bat.
So, what part of that promise has Eric already delivered? First, he married her, vampire-style. Nothing says “bringing you to my side” quite like passing a ceremonial knife around in front of Victor Madden. I know, I know. “But krtmd,” you say, “the marriage doesn’t mean anything to Sookie.” True, while the marriage offers Sookie some protection and respect in the vampire world, Sookie doesn’t view them as really married, at least as it pertains to her in the human world. But Eric does, so in essence he has brought Sookie to his side. Additionally, he’s willing to share everything he has with her, although in typical Sookie fashion, she’s reluctant to accept it. And that’s as it should be. Until they are settled in a relationship she views as a marriage, it would be out of character for Sookie to accept these things.
Now what about all those vampires honoring her? Well, I can’t speak for them, but it’s actually Freyda who brings to our attention how Eric’s vamps feel about Sookie, when she comes to see what Eric loves. From Deadlocked:
“Pam is fond of you,” [Freyda] said, not answering me directly. “This one, too.” She jerked her head at Bubba. “I don’t know why, and I want to know.”
“She’s kind,” Bubba said immediately. “She smells good. She has good manners. And she’s a good fighter, too.”
I smiled at the addled vampire. “Thank you, Bubba. You’re a good friend to me.”
Freyda eyed the famous face as if she were mining secrets from it. She turned her gaze back to me. “Bill Compton still likes you despite the fact that you’ve rejected him,” Freyda said quietly. “Even Thalia says you’re tolerable. Bill and Eric have both been your lovers. There must be something to you besides the fairy blood. Frankly, I can barely detect your fairy heritage.”
Even Thalia says she’s tolerable? Considering how Thalia feels about humans, I’d call that a ringing endorsement. We can split hairs and say that none of that implies honor, but I’d say that Eric’s vampires have at least a healthy respect for Sookie, and in the case of Bubba, Bill and Pam, outright love and affection.
Promise #1? Check.
“We could go back,” he said. In the dome light of the car, his face looked hard as stone. “We could go back to your house. I can stay with you always. We can know each other’s bodies in every way, night after night. I could love you.” His nostrils flared, and he looked suddenly proud. ”I could work. You would not be poor. I would help you.”
“Sounds like a marriage,” I said, trying to lighten the atmosphere. But my voice was too shaky.
“Yes,” he said. ~Dead to the World
So, this is the big promise, right? The one we’re waiting for? The one where Eric gives up everything to be with Sookie – and chooses the love over the power? Again, I’ve seen readers on all kinds of fan sites and forums, Eric-loving or not, convinced that Eric will, of course, choose the power Freyda offers over the love that Sookie offers.
But does Eric really desire power? Sookie’s observations in From Dead to Worse, while she awaits the coming takeover:
I mined my head for other bits of information. Five, at the top of the state, stretched nearly all the way across. Eric was richer and more powerful than I’d thought. Below him, and fairly even in territory, were Cleo Babbitt’s Area Three and Arla Yvonne’s Area Two. A swoop down to the Gulf from the southwestern most corner of Mississippi marked off the large areas formerly held by Gervaise and the queen, Four and One respectively … I was pondering the undeniable truth that the most powerful vampire in the state of Louisiana, at this very point in time, was Eric Northman, my blood-bonded, once-upon-a-time lover. Eric had said in my hearing that he didn’t want to be king, didn’t want to take over new territory; and since I’d figured out the extent of his territory right now, the size of it made that assertion a little more likely.
I believed I knew Eric a little, maybe as much as a human can know a vampire…I didn’t believe he wanted to take over the state, or he would have done so. I did think his power meant there was a giant target pinned to his back.
I would argue that Eric desires power only for the independence and autonomy it can provide. Although Freyda comments that it’s an “illusion of independence”, she’s also not wrong when she says that Eric has “been content to be sheriff for a long time. He enjoys being a big fish in a small pond.” He respected Queen Sophie-Anne, and she left him alone to run his area as he saw fit. This was a key reason for he and Victor butting heads. While Victor was threatened by what he saw as the biggest obstacle in his quest for power in Louisiana, Eric seemed mostly irritated that Victor was interfering in the business of Area 5 rather than leaving Eric to run his area independently. That, and those nasty attempts on the lives of his wife and second in command.
As for Freyda’s offer, by the end of Deadlocked we see that Eric is already giving up the power for the love. He’s been fighting the marriage contract since Freyda wrote to him in Dead Reckoning. And that test from Niall, where he told Eric about the cluviel dor, so Sookie would know how Eric would act if he knew she had power? If Eric were really mad for power, wouldn’t he have simply taken it or demanded that she give it to him? But instead he hinted to her that she had the power to make the marriage contract go away – “You could stop this if you chose.” In my opinion, this is what Niall means when he says Eric’s only flaw is Sookie. Instead of acting as a perfect vampire would – taking the last cluviel dor on earth for himself – he hints that Sookie could use it to help them both. That rat bastard, wanting her to use the CD so he could stay with his human lover – how could he?
Additionally, Eric choosing to stay with Sookie will be against what turned out to be the final wishes of his maker, Appius Livius “You won’t keep him” Ocella. While some readers have trouble seeing this, it seems clear as day to me why this is a difficult choice for Eric. A vampire has got to mind their maker – even Bill could empathize with how Eric felt about this. It’s hard-wired into their being, and virtually impossible to resist. Remember Mickey? So I can see how it’s a conflict for Eric to resist his maker’s orders, even after his death. That said, I think we will ultimately see Eric refuse Freyda’s offer in DEA, even though I suspect this will complicate matters with Felipe. And thus Eric will give up the trappings of his world in exchange for sharing Sookie’s life with her. Second promise? Check.
So, what about what Sookie wants? Towards the end of Deadlocked, when Sookie is fantasizing about all the things she’d like to have happen, she thinks to herself:
I had a fantasy that when we got to my house, Eric would be sitting on the back steps waiting for me. He would have ditched all his Nevada company. He would be waiting to assure me that he had sent Freyda packing, that he’d told her how much he loved me, that he never wanted to leave me no matter how much power and wealth she offered him. He would be shooting a final bird at his maker, Appius Livius Ocella. All the vampires in his sheriffdom would be happy about his decision because they liked me so much.
That sounds a lot like Promise #1 again, doesn’t it?
The witch Freyda will be defeated, Eric will stay with Sookie, and all the vampires who owe fealty to Eric will be happy about it. Not only that, but how about the offer she makes him the night of her birthday, when he tells her Felipe will punish them if he stays? From Deadlocked:
“Then we’ll leave,” I said quietly. “We’ll go somewhere else. You’ll work for some other king or queen. I’ll find a job.” But even as I spoke the words, I knew he would not opt for this. In fact, I found myself wondering if I would have said it if I’d believed there was any chance he’d say yes. On the whole, I thought I would, though it would have meant leaving everything I found dear.”
That sounds a lot like Promise #2 to me. And much like Sookie felt in Dead to the World that it wouldn’t be right for her to keep Eric from his life, Eric replies that he can’t tear Sookie away from hers. Additionally, Sookie’s reluctance to use the cluviel dor to prevent the marriage and keep Eric with her also mirrors how she felt when Amnesia Eric offered to stay with her – that it would be profoundly wrong to keep someone via magical means. And people think Dead to the World is just a fun little side trip to hot shower scenes and crazy were witches.
Much is also made of Sookie’s desire to come first with someone. While I can understand the sentiment, I don’t think Sookie means that she wants to come first to the exclusion of everything else. Specifically, I don’t think it means she needs Eric to give up his role as Sheriff in order to put her first, no matter that she wished in Dead Reckoning that he was “just an average vampire”. To paraphrase one of my favorite bands, you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes, you get what you need. So just because Sookie wants an Eric who is free of political entanglements, I don’t think she’ll get that – certainly not one who relinquishes all status and responsibility to become a pawn or a loner. And as frustrating as it is for Sookie that Eric has all this bullshit (for lack of a better word) to contend with, she knows deep down that Eric and the Bullshit are a package deal. All relationships require compromise, and Eric and Sookie’s is no exception. And lest you think I’m indicating that only Sookie will have to compromise, I’m not. I don’t think we’ll see Sookie quit Merlotte’s and move to Shreveport to live in Eric’s house, as much as I think this is what Eric would prefer. Sookie is going to keep her life in Bon Temps, and share as much of it as possible with Eric. Ms. Harris has promised us an unconventional HEA, after all.
So, where does this leave us for Dead Ever After? We have two characters, Sookie and Eric, who are in love with each other. They’ve essentially made the same promises to each other, or at a minimum have hoped for the same things – the chance for the outside forces that are conspiring to keep them apart to be defeated in some way and sent packing so that they can be together. I’ve already said that I think we will ultimately see Eric turn down Freyda’s offer. I’m convinced he’s been considering it only because it would be a way to avoid retribution for killing Victor. So of course, when the Freyda door closes for good, the Felipe de Castro door swings wide open.
Rethinking the synopsis we’ve seen for Dead Ever After, it’s entirely possible that the reason for Eric’s silence and Sookie’s devastation isn’t Freyda at all, but rather Eric’s punishment for killing Victor. We know Karin will be coming to town, and I can’t imagine any other reason for that to happen other than political maneuvering. Felipe’s grasp on his territory is weak, so I have a hard time envisioning a scenario where it’s good for him that his strongest Sheriff leaves his state to stand at the side of a powerful rival, no matter what Eric might be whispering in Freyda’s ear. The only gain is that Sookie would be left behind; no longer wed to Eric and under his protection, and therefore free to be relocated to Nevada to read minds for Felipe. That doesn’t sound like a HEA for Sookie, now does it?
Obviously, there are still more questions than answers – and it’s a long wait until May. I’m not sure how the Felipe thing will play out, how Karin will fit in, or how ambitious Pam might be about her own position. I don’t know what Freyda and Felipe have been talking about behind closed doors, but I sure as hell want to.
What do I know? That Eric and Sookie have been through too much together to toss in the towel now, and that I remain more convinced than ever that Sookie’s HEA has tall, blonde and dead written all over it.