This is a guest post by our resident spitfire and long time commenter, Gigi. It was originally posted (in a shorter form) back in January, on the “Who’s your Second for Book Sookie?” post. Together, we have reworked her original comment into post form.
Alcide often suffers for comparisons with other suitors, and in particular a certain big blonde suitor! Gigi’s clear-eyed take on Alcide – minus the usual Eric/Bill/Quinn comparisons – really helped me to see him as a character in his own right for the first time. With the introduction of Alcide on True Blood this week, we thought now would be an opportune time to take a fresh look at how this 6″5′ hunk of furry love fits into Sookie’s world.
Writing this post is somehow difficult for me – I’m not used to “seeing” anyone other than Eric as Sookie’s HEA, to do so requires me to detach a little from my bias. This post isn’t about who I think would be the best partner for Sookie, but about who I think Charlaine Harris might choose if she doesn’t choose Eric. I’m basing everything I’m going to say in favour of Alcide on what Harris has actually written in the books.
A while ago I was studying each character individually, in an attempt to “know” the real personalities behind them. I took the time to carefully study Alcide’s personality and how Harris has developed his character, because I was intrigued by the way Sookie thinks and feels about him. I came to like Alcide a lot. He is a loyal, decent man who came from a poor family that worked hard to have the wealth they achieved. He never flaunted his weath, and he has never acted superiorly towards Sookie – in fact even Alcide’s sister Janice was sincerely kind and lovely with her. He respects Sookie a lot, and has always cared for her safety. Harris has woven in a lot of subtle detail about his character and his relationship with Sookie, and she has masterfully hidden much of it, so that Alcide always manages to keep a “low profile”.
Alcide can be seen as a male version of Sookie in many ways because like Sookie, he is a survivor. Also like Sookie with her telepathy he had a hard time when, as a teen, he discovered he was a werewolf. Even though he loves children (remember him buying toys and waiting for his nephew’s visit) he told Sookie he would never pass “it” to his own children. He also told her he didn’t date weres or shifters for this reason, and only began to date Debbie because she lied to him, telling him that she was sterile. We all know Debbie was a real bitch, and that Alcide was heavily abused and manipulated by her. I think it’s possible that Debbie used a spell on Alcide (her mother was a spellcaster, and we saw how powerful spells can be with Eric’s amnesia experience). Yet even if she didn’t, the fact that Alcide was raised in a Were society that highly appreciates and respects women, and came from a home where his own mother was viewed and treated in the same way, made him much more vulnerable to Debbie’s manipulation. Alcide was also a victim of his father’s gambling addiction (and later, his political ambitions), which ultimately placed him in the position of being forced by Eric to take care of Sookie in Jackson. Yet even when they were both very attracted to each other and he perceived that Eric had an interest in her, Alcide never took advantage of it. In fact, he is the only important man in Sookie’s life who hasn’t had sex with her. And when I say “important”, I don’t mean important in the sense of who I think is the best suitor, but who is important from Sookie’s point of view in the story.
Charlaine Harris never adds meaningless details about Sookie’s suitors and she has said as much on more than one occasion. The first song Alcide and Sookie ever danced to – Sarah McLachlan’s “Good Enough” – wasn’t chosen at random. The lyrics read in part:
“Hey your glass is empty,it’s a hell of a long way home
why don’t you let me take you
it’s no good to go alone
I never would have opened up, but you seemed so real to me
after all the bullshit I’ve heard
it’s refreshing not to see
I don’t have to pretend
she doesn’t expect it from me.
Don’t tell me I haven’t been good to you
don’t tell me I have never been there for you
don’t tell me why
nothing is good enough.
Hey little girl would you like some candy, your momma said that it’s OK
The door is open come on outside
no I can’t come out today
it’s not the wind that cracked your shoulder, and threw you to the ground
who’s there that makes you so afraid
you’re shaken to the bone
and I don’t understand
you deserve so much more than this, so don’t tell me why
he’s never been good to you
don’t tell me why
he’s never been there for you
don’t you know that why
is simply not good enough
so just let me try
and I will be good to you
just let me try
and I will be there for you
I’ll show you why
You’re so much more than good enough…”
Analysing these lyrics, the significance of this song for both of them – not just at that moment, but throughout the whole story – is clear. As a matter of fact, at the end of Club Dead when Sookie thinks about her own situation as Alcide and Debbie fight on the other side of the wall, she has a moment of clarity that marked a turning point for her own relationship with Bill:
“Of course they should separate. They should never be in the same room again. And I had to take this to heart. Look at me. Mangled, drained, staked, battered. Lying in a cold apartment, in a strange city, with a vampire who had betrayed me. A big decision was standing right in front of my face, waiting to be recognized and enacted”.
Bill’s betrayal was the trigger, and it forced Sookie to see him for who he was. But for Alcide, his problems with Debbie were far worse and much more complex – because Debbie Pelt wasn’t “just” an abuser, or a royal pain in the ass. Debbie Pelt was a psychopath. The real deal. She even made Bill one of her victims when she helped with his torture in Jackson. Psychopaths (who are masters in the use of sex, charm, manipulation and violence to control others and to satisfy their own needs without feeling any guilt or remorse) are considered to be not only incurable but also untreatable. So the only possible way to definitely separate Alcide from Debbie was to kill her, him or Sookie.
“Weres are nothing if not loyal,” Alcide said. I took his hand. “I know that.” Alcide’s green eyes regarded me steadily. “Debbie asked me to kill you,” he said. For a moment I felt cold down to my bones. “What did you tell her back?” I asked, through stiff lips. “I told her she could go fuck herself, excuse my language.” “And how do you feel now?” “Numb. Isn’t that stupid? I’m pulling her out of me by the roots, though. I told you I would. I had to do it. It’s like being addicted to crack. She’s awful.” – Club Dead
And then CH decided to kill the bitch herself – to the relief of all concerned.
Sookie’s daydreams about Alcide, and her thoughts about him starting from the first day they met and shared a peculiarly peaceful moment of breakfast in her kitchen are very revealing. She had a glimpse of the kind of life she always wanted to have with a man. Not just in that moment, but also in Dead to the World, while Eric had amnesia and was staying at her home:
“Alcide Herveaux still figured in my daydreams.”
“I glanced over at Alcide and sighed. This man was just about perfect in many respects. I liked the way he looked, I understood the way he thought, and he treated me with great consideration and respect. Sure, he was a werewolf, but I could give up a couple of nights of month. True, according to Alcide it would be difficult for me to carry his baby to term, but it was at least possible. Pregnancy wasn’t part of the picture with a vampire. Whoa. Alcide hadn’t offered to father my babies…”
Alcide invited Sookie to accompany him to Colonel Flood’s funeral and yes, he omitted telling her that he needed her help. I think he had every intention of telling her since he did actually call, and Sookie interrupted him because she (as she always does, even with Eric) presumed to know what he wanted to say to her. I think he also wanted to tell her when he went to her house to ask her to come, and even when he returned to collect her for the funeral the next day. But he didn’t do it, because he could smell Debbie’s scent on her porch, and even after they talked more than once about it and Alcide asked her if she wanted to tell him anything about the night of the Witch War, Sookie never trusted him enough to tell him the truth about Debbie’s death. Many people believe that Alcide “used” Sookie at the funeral. But he wasn’t using her. He was getting even with Sookie for hurting him. The man is a were, but he’s also human… as human as Sookie who lied to him, and also got hurt by his omission.
Make no mistake. The fight between Sookie and Alcide at the funeral didn’t have anything to do with the fact that Sookie killed Debbie (Alcide never judged her for doing that), nor was it because he didn’t ask her outright for help. The real heart of the matter was that both of them were facing each other for the first time not as the idealized, perfect and flawless supe they each thought the other one to be – but as the humans they really are. Both full of flaws and able to lie, make mistakes, and hurt the people they care about. After the funeral Sookie assumed the defensive against Alcide, and went for the “offended lady” approach, fearful of how he might react. But let’s be real. Sookie’s paranoia about killing Debbie in what was clearly self defense was completely irrational. She thought for a long time that she couldn’t tell Eric (Eric!!) about what they’d done, believing he would only take advantage of the information to gain power over her. When she did eventually tell Eric about the circumstances of Debbie’s death – and then only after he blackmailed it out of her – Eric duly kept his mouth shut. He never raised it again, let alone threatened her with it. This incident showed clearly that Sookie’s assessment of how others around her might behave or react is sometimes very wrong. She misjudged Eric in the Debbie Pelt affair, and that is fairly universally acknowledged. The fact that she also misjudged Alcide is usually completely overlooked.
Alcide was there for Sookie after her house caught fire in Book 5, and even asked her to move with him and begin a relationship. Sookie was smart enough to reject his invitation because she knew they were both in the rebound stage of their last relationships, just as they were the first time they met. The “timing” was always wrong for them. Sookie has mentioned their “timing” problem many times since Club Dead:
“I’d love for someone to step in and solve all my problems,” I told him. “But I don’t want to accept your offer because I need a place to live and we’re hot for each other…I’m saying now is not the time to work on a relationship with you.” Though I wouldn’t mind jumping your bones, I added to myself wistfully. But I wasn’t going to do that on a whim, and certainly not with a man like Alcide.
At any rate, she did “do that” later with Quinn, so it seems that even though Quinn too has a double nature, Sookie never saw him as “a man like Alcide”.
When Sookie found out about Alcide’s relationship with Maria Comet in Definitely Dead, (ok… I know she was Maria-Star Cooper, but I can’t help calling her the funny name Eric did) it was obvious she still held feelings for Alcide:
“Well …” She seemed to be unable to spit it out, whatever was stuck in her throat. I was getting a glimpse of the shape of it. Pain flickered through me like a knife, and then I locked it down and pulled my pride around me…With a bright smile that echoed Maria-Star’s own expression, I said, “Alcide and I weren’t ever truly a couple, you know.” I might have had longings and hopes, but they’d never had a chance to ripen. The timing had always been wrong…
Also revealing is Sookie’s conversation with Calvin Norris, during which she herself accepts that she has feelings for Alcide:
“Do other kinds of shape-shifters do the same thing?” I asked this so quietly, I could hardly hear myself. I stared down at my hands, clenched together in my lap, and I could hardly breathe as I waited to hear his answer. Alcide’s green eyes filled my thoughts. “When the pack begins to grow too small, it’s their duty to,” he said slowly. “What’s on your mind, Sookie?”
Of course, Calvin’s community is very small compared to the Shreveport’s city pack; nonetheless Sookie correctly assumed that Alcide would engage in the same practice:
“I’m afraid that what really struck me about Calvin’s confession—or explanation—is what it might reveal to me about Alcide. Alcide had sparked my affection, and my lust. Thinking of him did make me wonder what marriage to him would be like, wonder in a very personal way, as opposed to my impersonal speculation about health insurance that Calvin had inspired. I’d pretty much abandoned the secret hope Alcide had inspired in me, after I’d been forced to shoot his former fiancee; but something in me had clung to the thought, something I’d kept secret even from myself, even after I’d found out he was dating Maria-Star. As recently as this day, I’d been stoutly denying to the Pelts that Alcide had any interest in me. But something lonely inside me had nursed a hope. I got up slowly, feeling about twice my actual age…but I never cooked a meal for myself that night. Instead, I leaned against the refrigerator door and cried.”
And if any more proof were needed of how fucked up Sookie left Alcide with her mixed signals, words and actions (because we all know that Sookie, when confused and wanting to hide from her feelings is worse than a damaged traffic light in the middle of Manhattan); her insight into Alcide’s jealousy in From Dead to Worse seals the deal:
“So you—and Eric—had a leisurely dinner at an expensive restaurant, with another man.” I looked at him incredulously. This was so far off the point. I concentrated. I’d never poked a mental probe into such turmoil. Alcide was feeling grief for Maria-Star, guilt because he hadn’t protected her, anger that I’d been drawn into the conflict, and above all, eagerness to knock some skulls. As the cherry on top of all that, Alcide—irrationally—hated that I’d been out with Eric.”
Alcide has grown through his painful experiences from being a kind of naive man into a strong and mature packmaster – a position he never even aspired to have in the first place. His journey from naivete to maturity has somewhat mirrored Sookie’s own. And now, Sookie admires him much more than before:
“Thank you, and thanks again for your part in that luck. You’re still a friend of the pack,” he said very seriously. His beautiful green eyes lingered on my face. “And you’re one of my favorite women in the world,” he added unexpectedly. “That’s a real nice compliment, Alcide,” I said, and drove away. I was glad I’d talked to him. Alcide had grown up a lot in the past few weeks. All in all, he was changing into a man I admired much more than I had the old one. I’d never forget the blood and the screaming of the horrific night in the abandoned office park in Shreveport, but I began to feel that some good had come out of it.”
After Sookie’s long-awaited admission of love for Eric in Dead in the Family, the Shreveport pack – headed by Alcide – requested Sookie’s assistance once again. This time to solve a murder, which resulted in Sookie playing the part of pack Shaman. The Sookie and Alcide story doesn’t seem to be over just yet.
And this guy, my dear viking sisters is the only man that Charlaine Harris could ever substitute for Eric as Sookie’s HEA. He is the Viking’s only true rival for Sookie’s affections, since Bill took himself out of the running so long ago.
And if Eric is not to be Sookie’s HEA, I refuse to accept less than this huge werewolf with a rabbit shaped birthmark in his right butt cheek.