As most of us have, I’ve often wondered why Alan Ball felt it necessary to change Eric’s backstory with regard to his maker so radically and to a lesser extent, why he gave Bill a child in Jessica. When you think about it, both changes are significant departures from the book series.
It seemed on the surface that changing the identity of Eric’s maker, and bringing him into the story so early was simply to allow the writers licence to show Eric in a more sympathetic light. Similarly, it seemed that giving Bill a child in Jessica was to humanise Bill, make him more sympathetic, and to introduce some comic relief.
But I can’t help thinking there is also a long term plan being enacted here.
In the books, we had the following scenario:
Bill had a maker, Lorena – but no child.
Eric had a child, Pam – but no maker (at least not one involved in the story – yet).
With the addition of Jessica and the changes made to Godric’s character, we have a slightly different scenario on True Blood, in which each vampire now has both a maker – and a child:
It’s noteworthy that the True Blood writers have chosen to even things out as far as direct “family” relationships go. As much as I loved Godric, changing Eric’s back story always bothered me – but noticing how it sets up the mirrored relationships above got me to wondering whether these changes were actually made with a very specific purpose in mind.
These changes have resulted in the creation of two “families” that are being used by the writers to mirror eachother. Both families have identical makeup – a maker, their child, and a “grandchild” (for want of a better word). Yet one family is functional, stable and well-adjusted [and I realise this is absurd language to use in reference to vampires but you get the point I'm trying to make here, right?], and the other is dysfunctional, volatile and unstable.
Lorena - Not big on consultative decision making.
Consider the following:
Godric had been watching Eric fight and chose him to be turned as his companion, after seeing something in him that he admired. He found him dying and gave him a choice. Eric was turned willingly.
Lorena took Bill into her house after he happened upon her at random. She too wanted a companion. But she gave Bill no choice in his turning. Bill was unwilling and had to be tricked.
Godric saved Eric.
Lorena murdered Bill.
Eric then chose Pam as his child, and turned her for companionship**. Pam, like Eric before her, was willing.
Bill did not choose Jessica – she was chosen for him – and he was ordered to turn her as punishment. Jessica, like Bill before her, was unwilling and had to be forced.
Eric has a relationship with Godric based on trust, love, respect and shared experiences that he seems to hold sacred.
Bill has a relationship with Lorena based on mistrust, resentment, and shared experiences that he tries to bury.
Pam’s relationship with Eric is founded on respect, loyalty and a mutual understanding.
Jessica’s relationship with Bill is riddled with misunderstandings, volatile outbursts and mutual resentment.
Eric taught Pam what she needed to know to survive as a vampire. He was also willing to fill this role for Jessica in the short term, even though he is not her maker.
Bill has tried his hardest to avoid teaching Jessica much of anything – first palming her off onto Eric and then being completely preoccupied with Sookie on her return.
Through these two “families”, patterns of behaviour are emerging that repeat themselves through the generations. Just as they do in human families.
We have already seen that Godric, Eric and Pam are in control of their destinies. They make their own decisions, and they own those decisions. They don’t blame anyone else – even when they probably could. Have we seen Eric whining like a bitch yet about the fact that SA has him selling V? Did we see Godric even attempt to shirk any responsibility or blame for the Dallas mess? Do we see Pam moaning about anything she does for Eric? No. Because this side of the fence can suck it up, and deal. They are strong, and they are resilient.
The writers even changed Godfrey’s name to Godric – presumably to connect Eric’s name with that of his maker. A clever way to subtly reinforce their positive relationship and family connection in the minds of the audience, is it not?
Could you be a companion of death? Could you walk with me through the world...through the dark? I'll teach you all I know. I'll be your father, your brother, your child.
The relationship between Lorena, Bill and Jessica could not be more different to that of Godric, Eric and Pam. These three are perpetual victims – always at the mercy of others, always able lay blame with everyone else for their misfortune. Even when that misfortune is a direct result of their own poor decision making or lack of backbone. Lorena is a victim of her vampire nature, to the extent that she uses it to justify the most abhorrent, sadistic behaviour and a lack of desire to evolve. She is also a victim of her obsessive fixation on Bill. Bill blames either Lorena, or Eric (and eventually Sophie Anne I’m willing to bet) for practically every mess he finds himself in. Jessica blames Bill or Maxine Fortenberry or her father for her various issues. This family is passive, weak – and most likely doomed.
If I were Jessica Hamby I would be pretty nervous, right about now. If there is something to the idea that behaviours in these relationships are repeating down the line, she is fucked – not to put too finer point on it. Based on the patterns playing out between Lorena, Bill and Jessica I think it’s likely that Jessica will eventually turn on Bill. And probably end up dead as a result.
There is a very clear dichotomy being set up here that did not exist in the book series, at least not in this form. Charlaine used various methods to contrast Eric and Bill, but for the film medium many of them just would not translate (the frequent hot/cold metaphors, for example). Ball has come up with a different, yet still very effective way of showing us what is really going on with the characters of Eric and Bill. Or more correctly, showing us where the writers are heading with them. When the series is over and can be viewed as a cohesive whole, I suspect the impact of these changes will be much clearer.
So take heart, fellow Viking lovers. Some heinous crimes have been committed against Eric, and the Eric and Sookie pairing on True Blood. But I really am starting to come around to the idea there is going to be a reason for all of this in the end.
Or maybe it’s just the Prozac talking.
**[I realise this hasn't really been covered in TB yet. I'm surmising, based on the nature of their relationship, Pam's turning in the books, and comments made by Kristin Bauer which support the premise that TB Pam was turned voluntarily].