There's spoilers out about who the HEA is on the net. What a perfect day for it too - it's ANZAC Day in Australia, which meant that I was home to read all about it, and my sons have friends over, so I can post at length. I'm going to talk about them in this post. Linkage and details under the cut. Don't venture under the cut if you don't want to be spoiled.
Now, bare in mind that I haven't actually read the book myself. I really don't put a lot of stock in spoilers unless they are official book bits from reputable sites, particularly hasty spoilers from excited fans. I remember when Dead in the Family came out, and I read about the end, where Eric gets beaten by Alexei. One of the spoilers swore that Eric shed a tear for Bobby's death. Bobby died, sure. But Eric shed a tear? Didn't even happen at all in that scene over anybody. He wasn't even crying. Bad reading comprehension for the win. As well as I've read through successive books that Sookie and Eric broke up at the end - and that didn't happen either. So if I haven't read the book, I don't trust people not to be wrong.
But, let's just get onto the spoiler of who the HEA is. LAST CHANCE TO TURN BACK.
Apparently, according to a reader from Germany, it's Sam. Which is fine with me. If Eric is going to be going to Oklahoma, with Freyda, then he just doesn't care enough as far as I'm concerned. And that's what the spoilers are also saying - that Eric has gone to Oklahoma and wants Sookie to be his mistress. In effect, he wants Sookie to do exactly the same as Hadley did. And thank GOD she turns him down, rather than repeating history. By the way - if those links go down, I have screenshots, so let me know if everything gets bahleeted, and I'll switch it out.
I do give a bit of a wry smile at same readers who have been swearing black and blue they're really into the books for Sookie, and that they support CH, but then when it turns out Eric is not the HEA, it's a different story. That's when it's all wrong and bad, and now is time to do the yearly ritual strip-tearing of CH. That's when the shipping comes out, and you find that they were happy to talk about Sookie as long as she was Eric's girlfriend. Heh. Quelle surprise, ladies! No one would ever be able to see through the whole "I care only about Sookie but talk solely about Eric" smokescreen. Totally just couldn't see through that one (!?!!). But it makes me a little happier when they also add that they won't read a series of hers again. Which means that when I pick up Midnight Pawn, I can be somewhat assured that romance readers won't, and thus won't harsh my buzz.
For that reason, I can't really fault CH at all. If people only care about the boyfriend of the heroine and ignore the book and the messages it contains itself, then that's a big fucking issue. It's kinda ironic that it is CH who is being called contemptuous of her readers, when it was in fact the readers who had contempt for the not-Eric bits, and for Sookie's choices in the face of harsh reality. It would be a good reason to scupper that relationship - so that because it's not a romance, the readers will be forced to concentrate on the not-a-romance bits. As they should - and that's exactly what we're going to do here, away from the wails of a thousand fangirls, all screaming out in pain, and calling Eric a saint. Here's to having dignity, and not just accepting the scraps from Freyda's table.
As for the accusation that it wouldn't be possible to build love up during one single book? Nuts to that. Dead to the World. And they didn't even say they loved one another in the book, and they certainly didn't have twelve books of slow and steady behind them. But, as we all know, I'm not likely to be quantifying love and how it works - only about how the HEA will go, depending on suitors. Which means something different if it's Sam - so we're going to go with that, as if the spoiler is true.
The exciting thing? Finally, some juicy speculation on how it's all going to turn out with Sam. With an end in mind, we've got to get Felipe off Sookie's back. As soon as Eric leaves, then Sookie has to find some way to protect herself from Felipe. Without Eric in the frame, that's when she can use more "burn it down and salt the earth" type techniques to get vampires to stay the hell away from her. Eric being in the picture had to make it all more delicate and political. After all, you can't just threaten vampire existence at random if you're going to keep it delicate enough of a thread to help your boyfriend stay alive.
Threatening to do in the vampires as a whole would really be an empty threat. Because as long as Sookie was with Eric, then that made it a political move, and everyone would know that she wouldn't jeopardise Eric's life to try and get rid of Felipe. There was a passage I really listened to before, and it's as good for Sam speculation as it was for Eric speculation. It's a really clever little bit I mostly missed, because I was concentrating on all the bits Felipe was saying, and silly me, didn't pay attention to Sookie. In trying to figure out Felipe's political machinations, I missed something very clever. Silly PMR.
When Felipe is talking to Sookie, it seems like the conversation quickly amps up in severity. Felipe doesn't seem happy with Sookie, and he lets that show in the conversation, to the point of some angry, hurtful overkill. When I started to really think about the discussion she has about Victor, that's when I started to see it. So I'm going to break it down and then explain what I see. First of all, we have Sookie already angry when she enters the conversation with Felipe. She's pissed off about Eric in the room with Kym Rowe, which sort of lends a complexion to the very tentative way that Eric and Pam approach her.
It all starts with this bit, where you can see that even Eric and Pam aren't sure if they're going to like what's coming in the face of how freaking angry Sookie was to start off with:
"...maybe you haven't considered that Victor was a huge liability
for you, too." I gazed at him. Sadly. Regretfully.
There was a moment of silence. All four vampires
looked at me as if I'd offered them a bucket of
pig guts. I did my best to look simple and sincere.
Deadlocked, p. 79
Now, it was actually the bit about her saying she was trying to look simple that started my thoughts on this one. Sincere, sure, is understandable. But it's the simple bit - I think Sookie wanted Felipe to get his hint over time, and let her say what she wanted to say. I think she wanted to have her comment sink in, so that she could get the full measure of her threat out. To get Felipe really thinking about all that she said. Which is sensible, really, because Pam tells her to look out for herself in Dead in the Family.
And that's exactly what Sookie did.
So, here's the run up to what Sookie is trying to say:
"Cause I've heard from people who serve at Vic's Redneck Roadhouse,
for example, that they were underpaid and overworked, so there's a
big staff turnover. That's never good for business. And some of the
vendors haven't been paid. And Vic's is behind with the distributor."
Deadlocked, p. 79
Now, Felipe responds with asking if Sookie is giving him a lesson in economics, and takes a sip of his TruBlood in lieu of - I think - attacking Sookie. It seems to be a sort of pointed gesture, anyway - and bottled blood is the thing that keeps vampires polite and sociable company. So she's basically telling him that Victor has already made a bit of a bad name for himself with all the humans. Not only business people, but with workers. That impacts on how people are seen - thanks to how corporations treat their employees. That's the sort of thing that travels amongst people - that you could end up with a crappy, dead-end job at a fast food restaurant etc.
And that's when Sookie shows she is just
as masterful as Eric at making 'tone as light as a marshmallow with a sharp blade hidden inside'. So many things were going on in this scene that I completely missed
the threat Sookie then makes when Felipe blows her off:
"No, sir, I would never do such a thing. But I know what's happening on the local
level, because people talk to me, or I hear it in their heads. Of course, observing
all this about Victor doesn't mean I know what happened to him."
I smiled at him gently. You lying sack of shit.
Deadlocked, p. 80
And that's when Felipe brings out the big guns and changes the subject to what a good time Eric is having with Kym Rowe and how good she smelled. I always just leapt ahead to what was happening next, without thinking about why Felipe lost his composure at this point. Why he allows himself to be sidetracked. Of course, then he makes his own thinly veiled threat about Sookie's safety:
"I'm just trying to decide how much of a thorn you are in my side now."
Deadlocked, p. 82
This is pretty much him saying he wonders if he should kill her or not - which is a huge
leap from wanting to bring her to Las Vegas. Felipe has quickly gone from the position of wanting Eric out of the way so he can have at Sookie, wanting her in his state, to thinking about killing her. It may not be a threat that he can actually carry out, but the threat is still there. The fact that he voiced that threat, when it's subtly there anyway is a good thing to ponder. After all, Felipe just
"Horst, don't mistake Miss Stackhouse's
cheerful looks for any mental deficiency."
Sookie is not stupid, and hence his warning to Horst not to just assume. So what's Felipe's reasoning here? What's the threat, then exactly?
What Sookie is threatening Felipe is with is the extensive human
connections she has. With a well placed word in the gossiping human community, you can sure
turn humans against dealing with vampires. And it's such a clever way to say it. To say "I can see in their heads, and they're not afraid of me. I can turn this against you, or I can smooth it over." That's not a threat that survives only in Bon Temps. If Felipe took Sookie to Las Vegas, he'd have to contend with her contact with humans there,
too. You can't both get a telepath working for you, and keep her from humans.
As we've seen with Sookie over the course of the books, she doesn't always get the answers she needs first time out. She sometimes has to ask follow up questions. And from what Felipe has actually seen of her, there's no indication that she's infallible or psychic, as she's often assumed to be. So that means contact with humans. Since he
can't read their thoughts, he really doesn't know whether or not she could be turning humans against him.
What Sookie is doing is making it clear to Felipe that she can see into people's heads, and thus, she can sway their opinions even if they don't
say anything out loud. She can make sure that if something is going badly, she can make sure that people get the sort of spin that she wants them to have. That's not a lighthearted threat either - because Felipe can't actually monitor all the humans Sookie talks to in the day unless he gives her a permanent vampire escort - and even that's not foolproof either, because she can just say things to guide their thoughts - thoughts a vampire can't read.
Considering how Eric reacted to what Sookie and Felipe said, I'm sure he got what Sookie was trying to say too - and watching this little exchange amp up in horror as well:
Eric, by my side, was rigid as a statue.
I'm not sure what would have happened next,
but Bill appeared suddenly from the kitchen.
CH tends to end tense standoff scenes like this - where everything is about to go to hell in a hand-basket - by interjecting something else. That's what stopped Eric raping or killing Sookie - Mickey breaking in. So that you can really think about how badly it all would have gone down if no one interrupted the whole thing. I was too busy on concentrating on the last bit that Felipe said to think about what Sookie was saying.
With that threat, Sookie can
keep Felipe off her back. She plays nice, and lives in Bon Temps. She doesn't
come to Las Vegas and quietly ruin everything for Felipe right under his nose. Like Pam advised her, she's looking out for herself - which is understandable in light of the fact that she took quite a big hit to the solar plexus on walking in on Eric with Kym Rowe. She doesn't necessarily need anyone else to look over her shoulder to make sure that Felipe doesn't take her anywhere she doesn't want to go, if she's already made it clear to Felipe what could happen to him if he takes her - something she can do all by herself that no one else can control or get a heads' up on.
Let me just say, that the threat Sookie made here is just as valid if she's with Eric - it just needs a bit of tweaking to fit it to the situation. How she can keep from going to Las Vegas. If nothing else, that careful threat is one of the advantages she's learnt from being around Eric - how to say something threatening - to get it out before they realise where the conversation is going. If the spoiler is wrong - and it certainly could be - then it's still an interesting passage, and sheds light on what's going on with her future under Felipe.