(That is also somewhat of an argument in defense of her, more than usual.)
I can get to wondering if I’m watching shows wrong on account of who I get attached to, as I before have said. Also, I am aware that (not even including fanmixing and styling) I have already written approximately 3,000 words of Nora (Lucy Griffiths) meta. But the whole reason I wrote my very first characters-I’m-attached-to essay, the Bennett one, was because I saw that someone had called her a c-bomb on a reblogged gif on tumblr and I was just so furious about it that I had to write an essay. The whole reason I wrote the Tara essay was that a person I knew IRL had proclaimed their dislike for her. The whole reason I wrote the Kaylee essay was someone mislabeling her in a tumblr graphic. Weird things make me cranky, and I react with lots of words when I’m cranky.
(Also, I figure I will eventually pull these proper essays out for all of my headerwomen, so that doesn’t hurt.)
Really, the internet is both a blessing and a curse regarding my women. Sure, I find the few people who also have the feelings and make pretty gifs and enjoy things, but I also find people who do not in the extreme. And I just cannot get into blind criticisms. Maybe if there were essays of someone’s reasoning behind disliking fictional characters, I’d shrug it off; that’s rarely the case. (I did see a pretty well-reasoned essay about the Dany/Doreah situation, and I could try to accept their viewpoint because they presented evidence. Granted, it made me sad, but that is because, uhm, nothing makes me sadder than that situation, at least of late.) On one hand, it’s silly. These are fictional people, what does it matter? On the other hand, whether or not you think about it, someone who is willing to dismiss a character full-stop simply because is probably someone who’s willing at least to some extent to make such rash judgments about real life situations, too. And you should never do that. Just going along with things without thinking is definitely bad.
And actually, this brings me to my complete defense of my Nora. Because while I had a lot of emotional reactions in real time, and I recounted them, it’s better to take a few months to contemplate proper arguments in defense of things. (Which is why I waited until September to edit and post that Dany/Doreah meta, for example. Get some – probably not enough – emotional distance.) Discussing why it is bad to go along with things is actually really relevant to the Nora situation, as per “going along with things,” to some extent, is the crux of Nora’s entire season five arc. And maybe more. (Insert requisite yes I am so glad she theoretically has more seasons to arc comment here.)
But, as I mentioned before, in Nora’s case, it wasn’t “just going along with things,” it was “going along with things because.” It was being presented with evidence, considering said evidence, then going along with what it led to. Then being presented with more evidence, considering said evidence, and using it to counteract the bad that the original evidence led to no matter how difficult this would be. Yes, okay, she was seduced by bad bad vampire religion, because Salome (Valentina Cervi) presented her with evidence. (And the presenting of said evidence, uhm. Well, I have my theories about how that went down. But more on those in a minute.) Then she was presented with more evidence in the form of a hallucination of her maker Godric (Allan Hyde) and that made her realize, nope okay gotta fix this now. And she re-joined up with Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and set about doing that. Because in effect, “making Father proud” is her way of saying “doing the responsible and/or right thing.”
It’s occasionally ridiculous to derive lessons in morality from fictional television shows about fictional vampires, but hey. I think that learning lessons about using one’s own mental capabilities to reconsider evidence one has been given about things and act accordingly, even when it means admitting one is wrong, is an incredibly powerful, mature, and good thing to do.
This brings me to the first point I’ve seen online, an attack on her character in general, one that was basically equivalent to “she was evil and crazy.” Which… no. For one, how many times to I (and other people online) have to explain that evil and crazy and other things that are bad in regards to real life people do not make bad characters. A character does not have to be good to be a good character. And sometimes evil and crazy can be quite compelling. But really, it’s what I just said above: yes, Nora made some bad choices over the course of the season and prior to the plot’s proper beginning, but they were choices she made and oh yeah, she unmade them. Plenty of characters make bad choices over the course of their canon and people just go with it; to use another example about the internet, Loki for chrissakes. Way eviler, way crazier, way unrepentier. But oh, poor baby is just misunderstood. I wonder if a lot of the antipathy I’ve seen toward Nora’s choices has/had to do with the fact that she was never presented as a big bad (at least in my read, I dunno). She played like three different sides, so her moral choices were therefore more subjective to judgment or something, whereas big bads are allowed to be big and bad and nobody hates on them for it despite their lack of repentance and their evilness. For goodness’ sake, even evil crazy Nora was on a team of multiple evil crazy vampires. She wasn’t doing it alone. Also, as I keep saying, she repented hardcore. A character does not have to be good to be a good character, but by the same token, it seems unfair to hate on characters for being bad when it’s only done selectively.
Now onto my next point, one that I hadn’t even considered until I Googled “Eric and Nora” to find things to draw a while back. For some reason, the idea of vampire brother and sister sent some people into a tailspin. “Is it incest???” multiple links on the first page of searches asked. I wasn’t even looking for it, and there it was. And it just made me want to shake people. For one, this is the internet, where all sorts of actual incest is shipped without shame. (I don’t go there myself, but I’ve seen it: the brothers on Supernatural, any combination of Weasleys [“oh, but I thought ‘twincest’ meant twin princesses,” a classmate once said in my presence circa junior high, after a discussion of Harry Potter fanfiction], the canon Lannisters. The list could go on.) For another, as evidenced by my repeated mentions of adoration for the vampire family construct, they aren’t really siblings though. Nobody bats an eyelash when it’s makers and children having relations; granted, maker/children relationships can be sexual or not or some weird in-between in True Blood canon (Pam/Tara and Bill/Lorena, Bill and Jessica, Eric and Pam) and it’s not quite as much of a given as it is in, say, Buffy canon, but still. I have never seen anyone online being like “whoa, whoa, Pam is Tara’s vampire mom, they can’t have all the sex.” Because that isn’t how vampire families work. It honestly surprised me that people were asking about that, because I just took it for granted that it wasn’t weird.
And speaking of who Nora is having sex with, let’s talk about Salome a little more. “The kiss with Salome was just titillation,” I’ve seen people say. And again, I didn’t even think about that. There’s a lot of sex and romance on True Blood, but I’ve never actually found it particularly gratuitous. It usually serves the purpose of some plot or another, and in my (starry-eyed) read of it, the Nora/Salome kiss did that wholly. It was a little bit of a triumph, honestly, because remember last week when I lamented the lack of actual canon bisexuals in things, well, that was one kiss, but it confirmed for me something that I had suspected all along. Sure, Salome was sexing Bill (Stephen Moyer) for a while in season, and had been sexing Roman (Christopher Meloni) until he met the true death, but I fully believed that Nora and Salome either were or had from the interrogation scenes in the first episodes of the season. The way that Salome talked about her relationship with Nora – sure, it could have just been “hey, we’re close lady friends,” but come on. I definitely shipped it, even if it was a bad idea that contributed to Nora’s above-discussed evil and crazy; Salome was not a good influence okay, Salome was never with the repenting, even as she died. But I just cannot believe that they didn’t have a thing, and sure maybe there’s a part of me that’s all do want bisexual lady vampires and does not give a damn, but that kiss of theirs confirmed things for me. It was an “I knew it” for me and a farewell for my Nora; it started with a forehead kiss, not unlike Buffy/Faith forehead kisses actually, because Salome was just being affectionate or what have you, but then it had to be a proper kiss (like Buffy/Faith forehead kisses really should have been) because there’s this split second where you can read in Nora’s eyes something like “no, no, this can’t just be a forehead kiss because I am not a little girl, which you know but also you don’t, this is goodbye and I can’t say that. I love you, but no, this cannot happen.” It wasn’t a relationship of titillation, it was a relationship that pertained directly to my Nora’s arc even if it was largely implicit.
Nora, as I have mentioned over and over, checks a lot of my character boxes. The blue eyes/dark hair/cute nose thing, for physicality; the British thing; the vampire thing, to an extent; the overachiever thing; the for-a-while crazy thing; the bisexual thing; the techie goddess thing; the obviously pretty brilliant in general thing. But even just beyond the box checking, I love her maybe even more than I could have suspected I would when I fell for the British vampire wearing black leather cutout gloves while she banged against the wall of a storage trailer. Not every part of her season five journey was equally morally good, but I love every part equally, for how it contributed to her character. And you know what? I think she succeeded in her titularly mentioned goal; sure, the line comes from her and Eric bantering about the past, but the basis of her revelation is using Godric as an example of why not to do what she had been doing. And while she and Eric don’t go meet the sun like Godric did in self-loathing that’s discussed many times over in the True Blood and Philosophy book, I think they do both ultimately do things that redeem themselves as vampires somewhat and would have made Godric proud, and sure, it’s good that Eric did the right thing the whole time, in his way, but I think that Nora consciously overrode some undetermined amount of time’s conditioning basically by herself to do the right thing would have impressed him a lot.
–your fangirl heroine.