So this is the week of True Blood, and that means it’s… kind of the week of Nora Gainesborough (Lucy Griffiths). (As I’ve before said, I am in love, and love makes you do the wacky. So roll with it. Or, y’know, come back later if you’d rather. I’m not taking attendance.)
If you’ll remember, last year I was talking about a bunch of little things that made me think Buffy thoughts. There were fewer of those this year, but I fully acknowledge that some of my inherent weakness for Eric/Nora – not necessarily for Nora herself, because there are a thousand other reasons I’ve listed previously why that happened – is because of my feelings about Spike/Dru. So tonight? I present to you a discussion of how things that are so theoretically the same in ways can have drastically different results. With all the spoilers.
First off, aesthetics, namely the blond male/brown-haired British woman vampire thing. (Even though Eric’s [Alexander Skarsgard] really more dirty/dark blond nowadays.) That’s a surface similarity, yes. There’s also the vampire relations thing, though Drusilla (Juliet Landau) had been the one to sire Spike (James Marsters), whereas Eric and Nora were both sired by Godric (Allan Hyde). But Dru and Spike were sexin’ and Eric and Nora are sexin’. So.
Drusilla is really the only Buffyverse vampire who seems to put a whole lot of stock in the family line thing, whereas it seems much more culturally prevalent in the True Blood ‘verse – in addition to makers and children, there’s the issue of siblings, which isn’t even relevant in the Buffyverse (I suppose you could make assumptions about Wishverse Willow and Xander, but even that’s tentative), and family loyalty seems to be definitely more the rule, whereas the Whirlwind was definitely more the exception. In both situations, being vampire-related doesn’t seem to stop folks from the aforementioned sexin’, though, so there’s that.
But here’s the real difference in family presentation. Season two of Buffy was largely dominated by the plot of Angelus (David Boreanaz), made instantly evil by his sex with Buffy, wreaking havoc and eventually deciding to end the world because why not? Dru, made starry-eyed by her sire, was going along with the plan; Spike, still devoted to his sire, felt that Angelus was driving them apart. Besides, ending the world is lame. So once Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) the love of Angel’s undead life is there to fight Angelus, an apocalyptically apathetic Spike knocks an unrepentant Dru out and skedaddles out of there.
Season five of True Blood was largely dominated by the plot of the vampire Authority getting not-good vampire religion and Bill (Stephen Moyer), made slowly evil by his getting of said religion, wreaking havoc and eventually deciding to set in motion the dawn of a new era in the world because the vampire Bible tells him so. Nora, made starry-eyed by vampire religion, was going along with the plan; Eric, still devoted to his (y’know, dead) sire, felt that vampire religion was driving them apart. Besides, massacring humans everywhere is lame. So before anyone else gets dragged into the plan (except dearly departed Molly [Tina Majorino]), a determined Eric knocks an unrepentant Nora out and tries to skedaddle out of there.
Except there were still three more episodes of the season left, so they get caught. And then Eric and Nora do blood-drugs and Eric pretends to convert to crazy vampire religion. And then Nora starts thinking about their (y’know, dead) sire and repents hardcore. And then Eric and Nora fly off into the night, hear that Eric’s progeny is in danger, gather backup forces which includes Sookie (Anna Paquin) the love of Bill’s unlife, and head back into the fray to do some saving and ass-kicking (the latter of which was the plan anyway) their own damn selves. Oh, and Bill takes all of the blood-drugs and in the last minute explodes into a bloody mess and is resurrected all messy and naked and maybe godlike or maybe just demonic. That too.
In short: season two of Buffy ends with my delightful vampire couple being driven apart (not to reconcile), season five of True Blood ends with my delightful vampire couple being driven closer together. Spike and Dru head off by themselves, Eric and Nora join up with the rest of the created family (ugh and I love created families). And I understand these differences, and I’m not taking sides, but it’s an interesting contrast of arcs: Spike/Dru is the first we know of Spike, and the breakup with Dru eventually facilitates Spike’s feelings for Buffy, whereas Eric/Nora happens once Eric/Sookie has already happened many times. In 5×14 of Buffy, “Crush,” Drusilla is presented as a direct adversary to the Spike/Buffy relationship, someone that Spike once cared about and now cannot, whereas in 5×12 of True Blood, “Save Yourself,” Nora is presented as someone that Eric cares about and Sookie is presented as someone that Eric also cares about and it’s not a competition. This could well be to do with the timing of the vampire couples in regards to the overall arc, but.
Despite the fact that Dru sired Spike, Spike does a lot of taking care of Dru in the first part of the season, because she’s infirm. To be fair, Dru then takes care of Spike when he’s infirm, though not quite as attentively as per Angelus. The issue of who sired who is only really prevalent in flashbacks, and that’s mostly just Dru prouding on her darling deadly boy ‘cause she likes being a mommy. Even though vampire mommies and their children can and do still sex. Spike also takes care of Dru because she’s crazy. He acknowledges that she’s crazy, more than once and very openly, but he’s fine with it. He loves her no matter what, at least for those first hundred-some years.
There is never an issue of infirmity regarding the Eric/Nora relationship, but there is one of crazy: crazy Nora is still more clear-headed than crazy Dru, though both of them float around wearing pretty dresses and are totally more evil than they let on. Eric doesn’t do a whole lot of taking care of crazy Nora, though, and since the crazy is more self-inflicted and behavior-patterny than actual psychological damagey he’s not exactly all “pat, pat, I’ll go along with it.” Eric always loves Nora, in their weird messed-up siblings/f-buddies that are actually totally kosher to coexist way, but he doesn’t really like her a lot when she’s crazy. He’s hopeful that she’ll snap out of it, which she eventually does, not because of him exactly but because she just does.
The difference in the presentation of Spike/Dru and Eric/Nora is that the former were presented from their entrance as antagonists, whereas the latter were presented as… morally gray who-knows-whats. Spike and Dru’s relationship, despite being delightful and still one of my favorites in the canon, was clearly based in wickedness and bad deeds, and bad characters don’t get to stay bad for more than a season in the Buffyverse, not really. That’s just how it’s structured to work. So one or the other of them had to turn good, or at least morally gray that led to eventually good, and that one was Spike. Which is a pretty interesting arc of itself, so.
Eric’s arc started long before Nora was probably even an idea in the writers’ minds; he was morally gray and he’s… slightly less morally gray now, and in his way I think he is a good guy, but he’s not a Good Guy. I don’t think he would personally sit for that, in all honesty. Eric and Nora’s relationship was a thing that had been on-off for hundreds of years but was only introduced to us once Eric was already having his moral journey of sorts, and it was clearly based in… well, they were vampire siblings who had been on-off together for hundreds of years. There is no discussion of them going on merry slaughtering rampages with Godric, though I’m sure at least one merry slaughtering rampage probably took place over time.
Nora herself was presented as morally gray in the extreme from day one, and as evidenced by the fact that she was playing for at least three different teams throughout twelve episodes, this is valid. Eric played for a couple of teams too, but we and he both knew it was faking; he makes it very clear that the old, pre-evil god Bill was more of a mainstreamer than he would ever be, but at the same time he doesn’t condone the senseless massacring of all humans. Nora, in her crazy period, did condone that, but late in the game, she undertook a redemption mission of her own alongside Eric. (Wow, in this way these two are more like Buffy and Faith, and I literally just realized that. Weird.)
In short, Spike/Dru was a wonderful moment in time that I still love with all my heart. I adore it. It is my favorite kind of evilcrazywrongbad love. Appreciate Spike’s redemption arc as much as I do, evil Spike is still my favorite Spike, and I actually love that Dru was the one that stayed pretty much evil forever. I never really rooted for them in their overall mission as characters, because ending the world is lame, but I love them together in that moment. Eric/Nora is a wonderful moment in time that I will choose to believe is going to at least on-off continue, at least unless the hypothetical Eric/Sookie endgame comes to pass. I appreciate Eric’s overall arc, I appreciate Nora’s smaller arc, I appreciate them. I would have loved Nora even if she had stayed evil, but I love her redemption too (mostly because I’m pretty sure that evil Nora would have met the true death, and I really, really want her to stay around forever). And I root for both of them together and separately and just in general.
–your fangirl heroine.