Ah True Blood. We hate that we love you. This week’s roundtable – featuring Amber Jones, Alea Adigweme, Jordan St.John, myself and Kendra Pettis – had quite a bit to say on the usual suspects. Laffyette’s growing Orientalism and our mistrust of Jesus; more speculation about Tara’s boo thang; a few cackles about poor, paranoid Arlene (who, may in fact be right); and the evolving Jessica-Hoyt saga. But what shocked us all is how much time we spent talking about Sookie – who has recently realized her privileged status is in danger after her year long absence.
Latoya: Let’s focus on Sookie for the second. What themes do we see emerging with her, considering the last few seasons, she had at least some autonomy
Alea: I think she’s beginning to realize that her options are few. She’s come back from Faerie Land to find her one refuge gone. She’s fair game now.
Latoya: @Alea – It’s interesting how quickly she fell out of favor.
Jordan:She seems to be fighting for it more than she ever has but now has even less control between the fairies, bill and eric
Alea: @LP: I think people are sick of her shit.
Amber: She also doesn’t completely understand what she is or what could be at stake. It seems as if for the first time she’s coming to terms with the fact that she doesn’t know everything.
Kendra: re ownership: I was thinking about her ‘light’ from last season, which we now know is her blood. But given the southern metaphors that are popping up, the obvious comparison is towards her virtue/white womanhood like we discussed last week.
Alea: Yes! The purity of her blood falls right into that.
Latoya: @Kendra – Oooh. So you think she gave away too much of her “virtue”?
Amber: That also falls right in line with ownership and protection.
Jordan: I find it interesting that for her there is this one drop thing going with her blood… she is a small part fairy but people can tell, it has become the defining thing about her
Latoya: But she’s only as valuable as her blood.
Amber: Which is apparently extremely valuable.
Jordan: That is true… it is her currency.
Kendra: Potentially… she’s given up that virtue, and maybe with that the autonomy. Because now the men are buzzing around her to protect/keep what’s left. (Assuming that Alcide will be playing that white knight role)
Latoya: …Sookie, please realize nobody loves you
Kendra: Sookie’s suddenly realising she’s not as free as she thought and apparently it’s not sitting well on her shoulders…
Alea: Welcome to what everyone else has to deal with, Sook.
Jordan: Sookie seems like she’s finally smartening up although going to one man for help from another…not exactly enlightened.
Latoya: You know, there’s a kept woman analogy to be made here…
Latoya: but I’m distracted by Bill’s sudden [punk era in Britain] flashback.
Amber: @Alea lol. maybe it’s all the power going to his head. He finally feels like he should flaunt it.
Alea: Umm…..Spike, much?
Latoya: Please note – Bill, you are not Spike, and you are not pulling this off.
Jordan: Bill certainly seems to have reclaimed his southern roots in his evil turn.. he seems more modern in the past than he does at the plantation
Latoya: True – he looked almost young for a second
Kendra: re: kept woman… I’m not sure I would completely label her as that yet. She’s always been somewhat self sufficient– always has her man, sure, but she also had a job and a house. I really don’t think she’s going to give up that easily. She’s no Bella.
Latoya: @Kendra – I think she is. Her life is kind of at the whim of other [people's] grace.
Jordan: Eric has become the new Bill… old school paternalistic… I will make the decision and Sookie will come around…
Amber: Making himself right at home.
Latoya: @Jordan – Just like Jacob from Twilight
Amber: @Latoya …and Edward from Twilight. I think they both were pretty paternalistic. Remember when Edward removed Bella’s truck engine? A bit much?
Alea: @Jordan: Exactly.
Latoya: @Amber, yep, same dynamic
Alea: Aaaaaand Tara’s back into caretaking mode.
Latoya: …yep, Sookie is really standing in for the kept woman! Why’d [Pam] have to sell [being possessed by Eric by saying he is] handsome and rich.
Jordan: there is an interesting ownership thread here… curious to see how they resolve it. Will she end up having to be owned to be safe?
Latoya : “He pulls good string?” Did she just infer…
Alea: Yes, she did, LP. Pam, in all her glamorous glory, is almost like a model for what can happen to those Eric takes under his wing.
Kendra: @Jordan/Alea As opposed to Jessica, who seems to be chafing against the housewife/monogamous relationship thread she’s got going with Hoyt
Jordan: indeed… jessica is literally locked in the house all day
Latoya: But back to Sookie…Bill is behaving indifferently, Eric is a bit crueler and more to the point about his manipulations…
Latoya: Could a large part of Sookie’s appeal be the fact that she was with another?
Kendra: Wanting what they couldn’t have? hmm.
Amber: Yes, I think so. It’s not just about protecting Sookie’s virtue. It’s also about owning it and being the only one able to access it.
Jordan: @amber yes. Eric is upfront about that… bill isn’t
Alea: Yeah, they’re both attempting to force Sookie’s submission.
Jordan: bill claims her loves her but Eric is clear about the fact he just wants to possess her
Alea: Even though Sookie isn’t pure faerie, she’s enough to be an exotic Other that men want to own.
Latoya Peterson: @Amber – Which, in some ways, ties into that pedestal white women are put upon. It seems like a privileged position, yet it can be yanked away at any moment. If Sookie loses her Fae side, she’s be a “fallen woman” – with all that entails.
Amber: Exactly and Sookie is beginning to realize that, which is why for the first time she’s realizing that she is running out of options. That conversation she had with Pam was a definitely a wake-up call.
Latoya: That goes back to that other thread I noticed – the kept women thing, which again, was a huge part of the Antebellum south
Kendra: @LP, her exotic/otherness might account for Sam’s initial interest in her and his choice in GFs/hookups once he’s done chasing after her. IE– the generally coded ‘exotic’ women of color.
Amber: But can Sookie lose her Fae side?
Latoya: What I’m inferring is that all the blood draining from Bill is pulling her Fae out.
Kendra: Claudine seemed to indicate that it could be taken.
Latoya: @Kendra – Yes. And Sam’s rage at not being able to possess her or compete in that way with the vamps…
Alea: @LP: Regarding, Sookie’s fall, Welter’s “The Cult of True Womanhood” describes the tenets of white womanhood as being purity, piety, domesticity, and submission. If one replaces piety with fealty, Sookie doesn’t really have anything going for her right now.
Amber: Gotcha. She’s “losing her light.”
Alea: Where she is right now reminds me of the desire that wealthy white men had for octoroons back in, like, 19th[?] century Louisiana. Ah, Wikipedia told me that they were called Quadroon Balls.
Latoya: @Alea – Fascinating – so what does Welter say happens to women seen as untrue? Do they get treated like Tara?
Alea: Sure do.
Alea: The problem with Welter, I think, is that she doesn’t spend any time talking about women of color or working class white women, but, yeah, shitty things happen to women who are not “true.” Usually rape, poverty, and death.
Jordan: interesting… very tara
Kendra: Until now, Tara had been receiving two of the three
Jordan: I wonder what this means about Tara’s choice of a woman?
Latoya: ‘And that’s the thing. Tara represents everything Sookie is not, from the light/dark distinction on…
Amber: Therein lies Sookie’s dilemma–submit to ownership and be “protected” or risk the consequences of being “untrue.”
Jordan: I read a novel set during that time – Island beneath the Sea…couldn’t put that book down
Latoya: @Amber – with Tara being the “unrapeable” embodiment of how that happens.
Amber: @ LP Yes. Tara becomes the tangible manifestation of “the Other,” the unfeminine–not worthy of protection. Really, the only one who consistently protects Tara is Laffy, which happened again tonight.
Latoya: Pam basically gave Sook the “what you need to do is find yourself a good man” speech.
Alea: Yes. Which is her way of trying to do Sookie a favor.
Kendra: And I genuinely tihink that she believes that Eric is that good man– she does care for him.
Alea: Her cold, little eyes just light up.
Latoya: Which, in a southern context, is interesting to me. My mom wasn’t in that school of thought, but lots of my friends got that speech – find a good enough man that will take care of your needs, and that’s the best you can ask for.
Amber: Mmmhmmm…the “take what you can get” spiel. Smh.
Kendra: It certainly fits in with the whole theme of the episode.
Latoya: Which I guess goes back to a central conflict in the series: Can you truly love someone that feeds on you?
Alea: And can they ever really love you if you’re just food?
Amber: @Alea. I think that’s the bigger question. Especially when you think about vampires’ relationships (romantic and otherwise) to humans in the context of possession and ownership.
Alea: I think that vampires have the capacity for something resembling human love.
Kendra: Jessica and Hoyt are the best way to look at that question.
Amber: It’ll be interesting to see how Hoyt reacts to Jessica drinking others’ blood though.
Kendra: Not well, I’m guess. Hoyt has human reactions. Jessica only thinks she can, while new instincts override it all. She’s got that teen puppy love idea still, but it’s at odds with the rest of her.
Alea: I was talking about gay marriage in NY with a few of my cousins today — I’m at my family reunion in St. Vincent — and they quickly got around to “we, as straight people, are failing half the time, but if y’all want it, good luck.” Jessica and Hoyt are having the same types of ish that humans have in traditional relationships. I love that!
Kendra: Apparently Sam has a thing for brown women now that he knows he cant have the blonde.
Latoya: @Kendra – *snort*
Alea: Or because he’s realized that the blonde is not worth the trouble?
Alea: I really like Sam’s relationship with this woman so far. Not just ‘cause she’s ridiculously hottt.
Jordan: yeah… he seems to be playing with a lot of the ladies of color while he pines for sookie… i would like him to have a real relationship with one or I am going to start getting annoyed
Alea: Is he still pining? Alea: I don’t know about that.
Kendra: He spends most of his time pissed off at Sookie these days, and it’s classic ‘acting out because I got rejected hardcore’ behavior.
Jordan: No one is that upset at someone for not calling unless they still care
Latoya: Maybe “dark” Sam is into dark(er) women
Amber: Word. I think Sam has just come to terms with the fact that Sookie’s off limits and resents her for it. If Sookie would give him the time of day, I think he’d come back running.
Alea: @LP: Hmm. Interesting.
Alea: Anyway, I find Luna pretty fascinating. She comes from the tragic background that all brown people in Bon Temps seem to come from, but she seems not too poorly adjusted.
Kendra: Now that we know Luna’s Native I’m going to automatically be sideeyeing her, which I hate to have to do, but… this is television. And the actress apparently isn’t Native as far as google is telling me…
Amber: Yeah…I’m glad to have another woman of color in the mix. I don’t know how I feel about her with Sam though, but I also don’t know how I feel about Sam these days.
Alea: @Kendra: your side-eye is appreciated!
Latoya: @Alea – Yeah, my mind jumped to a bad place when she said she shifted into her mother…thank goodness that was not the case.
Amber: @Kendra @alea ditto on the side-eye.
Latoya: @Kendra – Right? We wanted indigenous representation on TV, but…oh lord.
Kendra: Oh. She’s Indian and Dutch. REALLY, HBO?
Alea: [South Asian]?
Kendra: Pune, India
Alea: I’ve been there. It’s beautiful! But… HBO fail!
[Latoya's note - Gavankar's nationality is American; she was born in Illinois.]
Alea: Because there are no Native actresses looking for work?
Amber: Fail, indeed.
Latoya: Do we need to look up this shapeshifter legend? Or did they explain it correctly?
Kendra: I’m going to read again– the thing is, different tribes have different explanations. I can already tell it’s been boiled down. I guess that’s to be expected because, again… it might be HBO, but it’s still TV.
Alea: I was looking at Wikipedia, not a definitive source, I know, but it seems more complex than the show said.
Kendra: I was wondering if by telling the story, Luna was implying that she was different than the rest of them… not your typical shifter.
Amber: I think so. She’s the only one who was able to turn into another human being. The others in the group didn’t know it was possible.
Alea: @Amber: ditto. And that shifting is something acknowledged by her culture, even if it is acknowledged negatively, makes her distinct from the others. More experienced [for lack of a better word]?
Alea: I wonder if she had encounters with other shifters inside of her family.
Kendra: That would make sense… we know it’s genetic
Amber: Or if she’s told anyone in her family. She spoke of shifting as if it were taboo.
Alea: Yeah. Do you think that parts of it — like turning into people — can be taught?
Kendra: I took away that maybe members of her family blamed her for her mother’s death?
Alea: Yes. And that her mother was also a shifter?
Amber Jones: Hmmm…definitely a possibility. Are you thinking she may teach the others in the group (i.e. Sam) how to shift into another person?
Alea: Yes. I think that part of her “opening up” to Sam will include the sharing of the cultural knowledge that she has about shifting.
Jordan: What do we think about the fact that most of the empowered women vamps don’t do guys? nan, pam, queen…
Alea: Pam wears her scary on her sleeve, but Nan is completely ruthless.
Latoya: (I heart 80s Nan – now, where’s 80s Pam?)
Alea: Interesting point, Jordan.
Kendra: I’d actually assumed all three to be bisexual, but now that I think about it… that’s interesting.
Jordan: i think that they may have been with guys but here, there aren’t a lot of confident, strong women in hetero relationships. i may be forgetting some but it just struck me when I saw nan.
Alea: Yeah, there’s no doubt that they’ve definitely had sexual relations with men at some point in their lives, but the preference for female sexual partners could hint at the fact that men, for those three, are simply thought to be business partners, bosses, or tools to gain power.
Kendra: I would ask if it’s maybe the power-lesbian [butch?] stereotype?
Amber: That is really interesting. Especially when you throw new empowered Tara into the mix (even though she’s human).
Amber: @Kendra, that’s the vibe I’m kind of getting, but I’m still trying to feel it out in Tara’s case.
Kendra: I’m hesitant to say butch, because I feel like aside from Tara they ALL fit the “lipstick lesbian” mold.
Alea: Yes. Super femme.
Amber Jones: Agreed.
Latoya: Tara kinda fits [the lipstick lesbian mold] too…
Kendra: ….I want to talk about this woman once we know more about her…
Latoya: …so, we are gonna continue the slavery metaphor this season…with Sookie? Also, Eric, you’ve been around long enough to know how property ownership works
Alea: Yup. “I could rape you if I wanted to, but I’m going to wait until you’re ready.”
Latoya: @Alea – Yes, which is interesting, because Bon Temps is coded as working class to poor
Kendra: Her blood tastes like freedom and he’s bought her… I think we are
Amber: I think it’s interesting that Eric brings up safety and attaches that to ownership–if he owns Sookie, he can also offer her protection. She’s safer with him, than without him…or so he says.
Latoya: Bill…and his fucking plantation
Jordan: Yeah… i have a problem with the plantation as it was an actual plantation… it’s interesting that he only restored it after he went evil
Kendra: I’ve never thought of it as a plantation– Russell’s really felt more like one. Especially with the way Tara was being kept on it. It might just be because we haven’t seen it in it’s full glory until now. Always looked like a run down dump before.
Latoya: …can we get a Cribs for Bill’s house? “Katerina is part of my security…” Clearly.
Jordan: I may be mixing the books and the tv but he has always had the money but he never seemed to revel in it
Alea: Along with the decor and clothes, it’s almost like going evil made it okay for him to stop living in the past. Or maybe okay for him to embrace his past? And actually use his $$$.
Latoya: @alea – Embracing the CONFEDERATE PAST
Alea: Yes. He’s bringing the confederate past into the 21st century.
Latoya: Wait – Tara you saw Sook before Laffy?
Alea: Lord, Laffy. “Asian pussy?” “Calming influence?”
Latoya: Asian pussy at work? Oh lordy.
Latoya: We all FAIL
Jordan: ohhh… did he say the calming influence of asian pussy…
Amber: Oh goodness, Laffy.
Jordan: I agree… we can’t look at the girlfriend as a character yet but Laffy’s characterization feeds into a lot of stereotypes
Alea: It was definitely problematic. Especially given his outfit in the bedroom scene. Orientalism much?
Jordan: yes… and Laffy’s depiction of the girlfriend seemed glossed over
Kendra: So she didn’t tell him much– or maybe she did. If she did, it makes his characterisation of her that much more problematic, boiling her down to just ‘Asian Pussy’.
Alea: Just that her girl is Asian. I wonder how much she actually knows about this woman.
Kendra: @Alea I still don’t think much. When Tara was on the phone with her I thought the relationship was more than it seemed, but then we find out again that she’s lying about where she is. I just don’t sense that this is real.
Jordan: Yeah there seems to be generalizations all around
Latoya: Let’s hang with the Asian Pussy remark for a sec. maybe it’s just bothering me because I’ve watched Archer and Wilfred recently…but Asian Americans (and attendant sexual stereotypes) are used as joke fodder often…without them being actual characters in the narrative
Alea: That’s one of the reasons why I’m so interested to see if this girlfriend character develops.
Alea: I think it might.
Jordan: i hope she becomes a real character for a number of reasons
Kendra: @LP Asians still seem to be acceptable fodder for whatever reason… just look at Glee as well.
Alea: And it would give the show a chance to actually do Asian-Americans a solid.
Jordan: Tara needs a healthy relationship and I would like her to be more than a soothing stock character
Alea: …who can provide a convenient outlet for anti-Asian racism.
Amber: It is really hard to tell whether or not they are in a meaningful relationship. The fact that she got a phone call while Tara was out of town may be noteworthy. And she did say something about coming “home,” which may indicate that they share some sort of life together beyond just a hook-up status..?
Alea: Maybe, but she seemed to hang up the phone really abruptly.
Latoya: But will they – I mean, they were quick to pimp her for the “Sexy! Hot! Lesbians!” scene, but will she get to the level of a b-character, like Alcide or Eggs?
Kendra: Well, they were in someone’s house/apartment the last time, so there’s that chance. But I still see it as Tara trying to get over a traumatising experience– which is still valid.
Latoya: Though, upon reflection, I don’t remember much characterization for Eggs. (Though I may have been distracted…)
Jordan: i vote for b character status
Amber: I would also really love to see Tara in a healthy, lasting relationship. I agree with you, Alea, and also hope that the show does Asian-Americans a solid.
Alea: @Kendra and Amber: ditto. I think that the girlfriend’s going to get a storyline, but that she’s going to turn out to be evil and Tara will get the shaft again.
Amber: I think for her to become a B-character she would need to come to Bon Temps for an extended period…and that scares me a bit. It scares me a whole lotta bit actually.
Kendra: She’ll end up dead, via Eric, most likely.
Alea: @ Amber: That would only turn out badly.
Amber: Agreed and it would leave Tara in a PLACE and we’ve already been there, done that.
Alea: It’s a place the writers seem to love to go.
Latoya: @Alea – Because she’s the whipping girl. And outside of brown fan spaces, no one is complaining.
Latoya: First, what the fuck is going on with Lafayette? Where is the skeptical side-eye slinging man I know and love? He’s taking lots of this in stride.
Kendra: The draining // using him has most definitely begun.
Amber: Ugggggh….yes. Where did he go?
Jordan: mystical negro… not too pleased about that
Alea: I think that Laffy’s desire to please Jesus and their stealing of his power is making him docile.
Kendra: Is he at magical negro stage yet? He’s not the one wielding the power exactly, and I think that’s normally a steadfast of that trope. That and dealing out sage advice.
Amber: I wonder why he doesn’t speak up more with Jesus about things that make him uncomfortable. What is that about?
Kendra: That could be an affect of the V or how terrified he was of what Jesus showed him last season… that hasn’t been referenced again yet.
Jordan: i think he is doing a 2011 mystical negro…
Amber: Well, after what happened tonight with Eric, I wouldn’t be surprised if Laffy’s interest in the coven intensifies a bit.
Kendra: That would make sense– Eric’s his biggest fear and they decimated him.
Amber: Yes. That had to feel good.
Jordan: The only thing that elevates hi is that he used that power for Tara but I feel like it is more about pleasing jesus against his better judgement
Kendra: I wish in the flashbacks tonight they would have done a bit of explanation of how Jesus got him there after what happened the year before. Because those were not good experiences Laffy had at first.
Amber: Jesus is so good at egging him on too, but it just always seems like they are treading muddy waters.
Latoya: Yeah – how are we feeling about Jesus these days?
Alea: Jesus is, seemingly, one of the best things to ever happen to Laffy, but there’s something shady there.
Latoya: He seemed like a breath of light – until he discovered Laffy’s latent powers.
Amber: Agreed. There is something sketchy about Jesus that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I definitely don’t like.
Jordan: I’m not as sure about Jesus now… which makes me sad
Alea: @Jordan: I know, right?
Kendra: He’s always had a slight upper hand over Laffy, that’s one thing that should be a smoke signal, I think. I mean, he’s had access to the man’s mother for longer than we know… do you think his interest in Laffy wasn’t genuine from the beginning? Maybe he got a clue from Ma about Lafayette’s potential. That same potential might be what caused her diagnosis.
Alea: Can’t black people have anything?
Jordan: indeed. so sad.
Alea: @Kendra: Oooh. Point.
Amber: @Alea Right? especially when there are only two of them that consistently show up.
Alea: That’s why I think that the girlfriend is going to be a part of the Big Bad.
Alea: They will never let Tara and Laffy have anything.
Kendra: I don’t think the GF will be a big bad, but I still don’t think she’s human.
Alea: Definitely not human.
Kendra: Can I say that I’m glad that everyone is pointing out how quickly Laffy’s gotten into the Wiccan thing? It’s all reminding me of those phases that girls go through in middle school after a little too much Buffy and Charmed.
Amber: @ Kendra. Yes! It’s very reminiscent of “The Craft.” Let’s just hope this one ends a little better.
Alea: Her convo with Jessica is much different from the one she had with Pam, if you consider that they’re both protégés of men who were or are after Sookie.
Alea: But, yeah, <
Alea: Given that that’s what introduced me to Paganism, I won’t hate too, too much.
Amber Jones: Excited for panther Jason!
Alea: Pam, swoon swoon swoon, every time. I’m the biggest fangirl. Her clothes are killer. [/geeking out]
Kendra: Ack, we didn’t touch on Lesbian Power Vamps– quick theory: Is Ball saying something about death and female sexuality and reproduction? They (Pam, Queen, Nan) can’t reproduce anymore, thus don’t technically need men for that sexual aspect, thus go for… women? (there is a longer explanation/discussion in there somewhere)
Alea: I think you’re on to something, Kendra.
Amber: Very interesting, Kendra.
Kendra: I’m sure they’ll continue through the season, but with Jessica’s straying as well (Jessica/Pam, maybe?), it makes me wonder.
Latoya: @kendra – Could be. Or perhaps, the women of Bon Temps realized that their best option is a guy with PTSD…and he’s taken.
Alea: Absolutely. Nan, Jessica, and Pam are saying *something* about the relationship between [the death of] fertility and the utility of men.
Alea: @LP: lol!
Alea: Terry <3
Kendra: @LP LOL. Granted, I’d choose Terry anyway
Amber: @LP Bahahaha. Sad truth.
Alea: I wonder if Nan’s maker was a man.
Kendra: Gooood point. All the others have been…
Latoya: @Alea – ooh, good question. Male makers = lesbian vamps?
Alea: Quite possibly.
Amber Jones: Ooooo…great observation.
Kendra: Oh! And let’s think about Tara– her (almost) maker was male…
Alea: Ah ha!
Kendra: And she did ingest a lot of his blood. Who knows.
Amber Jones: Whoa.
Alea: Kendra, you’re an effing genius.
Kendra: Hahaha, ty ty.
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