I Wrote an Article for Rewriting Mary Sue!

Want to know more about my favorite author of Speculative Fiction? Check out the article here: http://www.rewritingmarysue.com/rms/the-greatest-author-youve-never-read

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A Subtle Form of Sexism

I’m a fan of the Green Arrow comic book from way back. So is my husband. Consequently, we’re also fans of the current television series based on it, The CW Network’s Arrow. Yeah, it took a while to get started, and yeah, there are flaws and problems with it. But overall, it’s well done and offers a fresh take on many familiar characters from the DC Comics universe. (BTW, if anyone from the network happens to be reading this, Felicity and Ollie NEED to be together! She and Ray have NO chemistry!)

Anyway. *clears throat*

In a recent episode, the action split between the goings on in Starling City and a rescue mission headed by two of the supporting characters, John “Dig” Diggle and Lyla Holland. Diggle is one of my favorite characters in the show. He’s a genuinely good guy who has grown devoted to Oliver and his cause since they first came together as a traumatized and self-absorbed rich boy-man and his implacable bodyguard. I love Dig and Lyla as a couple both because they’re an outstanding example of a mixed race relationship on a popular television show and because they operate as partners. There’s little or no power inequity between them. Both are bad ass, with Army backgrounds and secret military connections. Both care for their daughter. They have their difficulties and differences, as every couple does. But for the most part, they resolve them through communication and compromise.

And yet.

Ain't they cute?
Ain’t they cute?

In the episode in question, “Suicidal Tendencies,” John and Lyla got married (for the second time). Unfortunately for them, as they were about to depart on their honeymoon, Lyla’s boss summoned her for a covert mission leading members of the Suicide Squad into a fictional Middle Eastern country to resolve a hostage crisis. I’d like to reiterate: Lyla was the official Team Leader for this operation. Diggle, who had accompanied Lyla to ARGUS headquarters when she got the summons, decided to tag along and lend his (not inconsiderable) support. Well, to make a long story short, everything went kablooie when the hostage crisis turned out to be a con set up by the very senator the team was sent to rescue. And here’s the rub: when things blew up and the team got trapped in a hospital rigged to explode, Diggle automatically assumed command. EVEN THOUGH LYLA WAS THE OFFICIAL TEAM LEADER. He didn’t ask. He didn’t consult with her in any way. He just did it.

True partners. Except for that one time.
True partners. Except for that one time.

Now, you might offer several justifications for this. You might say since the mission turned out other than they thought, the original command structure didn’t hold. Or you might say Diggle was better suited to lead the changed operation because his experience on Team Arrow better suited him to situations that don’t go as planned and made him better able to improvise than someone with a strict military position. You might even say that Diggle is more of a major player than Lyla, so putting him in charge makes sense from a narrative standpoint.

Or you might say that Diggle–and the episode’s writers–took it for granted that when things go to hell, a man should be in control.

I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t notice this at the time. It wasn’t until the next morning, when my husband said, “They did it again,” that I got it, and even then, he had to explain to me what he was talking about. (Ten points to Ravenclaw!) Since then, I’ve had a hard time not thinking about it. The thing is, Diggle KNOWS Lyla is competent–MORE than competent. She’s trained to handle doubtful situations. They’ve had each other’s backs over and over again. He knows what she can do. And he didn’t ask.

Qt8baQh

I mean, one line would have done it. “Hey, this mission has gone south; maybe I should take the lead.”  That’s all he had to say. But he didn’t. Or he could have said, “Well, Lyla, you’re in charge. What do you want to do?” In which case, she might have replied with, “You’re better at improvising.” Or ANYTHING. Just acknowledge it!

It reminded me how insidious most sexism is. It goes on all the time, all around us, and we’re so inculcated in our sexist culture that we don’t notice. Sometimes I don’t notice even when it’s directed at me. It’s not until later, when I’m upset for no reason, or when I start to cry out of the blue, that I remember. Or my husband points it out, like he did the Arrow episode. Which is ironic, because I’m talking about the way our culture assumes men know better, think better, see better than women in almost every situation, and here’s a case where it’s true. My husband CAN see this shit better than I can, because it doesn’t endanger him. The microagressions of everyday sexism aren’t meant to reinforce a power structure where he’s inferior. If I had to acknowledge every single one in the moment, if every woman had to do that, I don’t know if it would be possible to go on living in this culture or on this planet. So mostly I, like many other women, don’t acknowledge the bulk of them. Not until later.

What does it look like in my life? Here’s a few examples culled from the many.

I used to be a DJ for the local community radio station. I developed an original Celtic Music show, “Whiskey in the Jar,” and both produced and hosted it for fifteen years, every Thursday night unless an illness totally incapacitated me. Sometimes I went in when I was sick, because I had a more difficult than average time persuading one of the other DJs to cover my slot. This is actually relevant. The usual excuse other DJs gave was that they weren’t familiar with the music. Which was pretty much a bullshit excuse, because any competent DJ could go in and pull music from the Celtic wall and come up with a decent two and a half hours by flinging random CDs at the players. They did it for shows in other genres, like Jazz and Bluegrass and New Age. Be that as it may, the other DJs acknowledged my expertise in the Celtic field in this weird way. They conceded that I knew what I was doing.

My show ran during the dinner hour, a shift from 6 – 9 PM. My husband was in the habit of coming to the station with me to bring me dinner and keep me company. THAT’S ALL HE DID. He’d been a DJ for a time as well, but during my show, I ran the board, I took calls, I chose the music and arranged the playlists. Yet, when we were out in public, even at some of the radio station functions, people inevitably referred to “Whiskey in the Jar” as “Your guys’s show.” They assumed my husband played more of a role than he did, sometimes to the point of engaging him in a discussion of the last show while I stood by with my jaw hanging open. I have a framed certificate on my wall that the station gave to me when I decided fifteen years was enough. It says the station proudly recognizes “Kele and Michael” for our outstanding contributions hosting “Whiskey in the Jar.” I was really glad to have my husband’s company on that journey, but I hardly consider his contribution to the show “outstanding.”

During my show’s run, the station engaged a nationally-known professional (male) photographer to shoot all the DJs for a series of photographs to be hung in the studio offices. I suggested to Michael that we pose in costume, and we had a great time. When the proofs came out, however, the photographer and I had a problem. He’d picked a particular shot as “The One” that represented the show best. I disagreed with him. We went back and forth for several emails, and finally he agreed to print and hang my choice in the show. At which he gave an interesting speech about how people need to trust an artist’s judgment and vision even if they don’t understand it. And his choice was the one that ended up in the show catalogue. Curious how that worked.

My choice.
My choice.
The artist's choice.
The artist’s choice.

Do you see the difference here? It’s not that I dislike the artist’s choice. In fact, I love it. I have a framed copy hanging in my dining room, and we gave another to Michael’s parents.  But in the photograph on the left, it’s clear that Michael is the dominant figure while I lean on him for support. He’s running the show. In the one on the right, I’m the dominant figure with Michael as a background presence. Which one better represents MY radio show? I think it’s pretty clear.

This isn’t a singular incident. Not long ago, I walked into the local print shop to get an estimate on bookmarks to use as promotional materials. I started talking to the woman behind the counter (one of the owners, someone we’ve known since we’ve lived in this town). She began showing me what they could do, how many bookmarks would fit on a page, explaining how their process worked. And then, Michael came in from parking the car. IMMEDIATELY, the printshop owner’s attention turned toward him, the man. She stopped talking to me in favor of talking to him, even though moments before she had assumed me competent to grasp her explanations. Even though I was the one who started the conversation, about materials I wanted to promote books I wrote, and my husband had simply driven the car.

Another time, shortly after I published my book of fairy tales, an acquaintance (a woman) purchased a copy from me. I asked her if she wanted me to sign it. She hesitated a minute, then said, “Can I get Michael to sign it?” Remember, I wrote every word of the book. I had arranged its publication, from the interior design to the cover art. And yet, this woman wanted my husband to autograph it. I asked her why and she said, “He’s really cute!” At the time, I laughed. The incident became a funny anecdote I won an “awful publishing stories” contest with at the next conference I attended. Looking back, though, it’s another in a long, long line of similar incidents. Times when my husband has been given credit for my successes, in which he only peripherally participated, if he participated at all.

I’m not angry at Michael for this. He does nothing to detract from me and nothing to claim the spotlight. Nothing except be a big, imposing, confident, reasonably attractive white man. Exactly the kind of man one would like to put in a position of authority, particularly as I’m extremely introverted and not at all confident in groups of people. Usually he catches the problem before I do, just as he did with that Arrow episode. If I could ask him to do one thing differently, it would be to address the situation when he sees it. Mostly he doesn’t because he doesn’t want to be rude. But at least he can see it.

Sexism isn’t always blatant. It’s not always the catcalls, the come-ons, the boss who asks the one woman in the office to pick up his dry cleaning and make his coffee, even when her qualifications are equal or better to those of the men. In fact, as damaging as those things are, they are less so than the little things that slip by us every day. The person who asks the man about his career and the woman about the pets or the kids. The tendency of certain fields to promote the work of men over that of women and People of Colour, even when the quality of the work and the subject matter is the same. It’s in the way we define normal and average to look like a white guy in a suit. And the fact is, women perpetuate it as much as men. Because we’ve learned that it’s the way things work, and because it seems rude to make a fuss. Because it’s really hard to confront nice people who honestly didn’t mean any harm, and because it’s really easy to think, “But maybe the quality of the work really IS different. Maybe men are simply better at these things.”

Like the writers of that Arrow episode, we remain unaware. And like them, we could solve many instances of it with a single line.

“Excuse me. She’s in charge.”

 

They’re Not Your Friends

A couple months ago, my celebrity crush got a new girlfriend and his (female) fans LOST IT.

I have, for the most part, sat on the sidelines watching the situation escalate. But it occurred to me this morning, with the latest series of nasty Facebook rants on a particular fan page, that what’s happening here is representational of both gender inequality in popular culture and the false sense of intimacy we get when our idols are accessible through social media. Hence this blog, which I am writing simultaneously to drinking my morning coffee, so please bear with any incoherency.

Celebrity Crush–yes, we all know who he is, and if you don’t you can go check out a couple past blogs where I mention him by name. But for the sake of at least paying lip service to the principals’ right to privacy, I’m going to pretend no one knows. Please humor me and play along. Celebrity Crush is a big, buff guy known for playing über-masculine roles and speaking out about what it means to be a man in the modern age. If you’re familiar with the concept of Alpha Male, both in real life and in fiction, he’s it. New Girlfriend is an interesting choice for someone like him, or at least for the person his fans assume him to be. She’s an attractive actress who violates all expectations because she’s 1. Older than he is by a few years, 2. More successful and well-known than he is by a HUGE margin and 3. Not a red, white, and blue-blooded American or native English speaker, but was born in another country.

I’m going to come right out and say that I like them together and I think Celebrity Crush shows massive brass balls by defying expectations and dating a woman with more status. In fact, he seems truly smitten. I can’t know this, of course, but it looks that way to me. He’s admitted several places to having had a crush on this woman for years. So he’s living the dream, and more power to him.

To hear many fans talk, though, he’s lost whatever attraction he once had by falling for this woman. Plus, they claim, he’s on the fast track to major disappointment. When the story of their relationship first broke, people refused to believe it. Many still don’t. They insist it must be a PR stunt, because obviously two attractive people could never have real feelings for each other when the woman has more power. They minutely examine photos for evidence that they’re posed. They point to minor details of expression and body language as proof that the two have no real attachment and that Celebrity Crush is unhappy.

New Girlfriend is routinely subject to both sexist and racist calumny. She’s a hag, she’s fat, she’s ancient. A while ago a rumor started the rounds that she and Celebrity Crush have talked children. My gods, you’d think they planned the destruction of the world as we know it. How dare she?! She has an adult son! She’s MUCH TOO OLD AND DECREPIT to have kids and has no right even to consider it–this despite the fact that she seems healthy, she had ova frozen because she KNEW she wanted to have another child later in life, and she’s an adult perfectly capable of making decisions for herself. She “barely speaks English,” no one “can understand a word she says,” and her family “are all drug dealers.” Another fan of Celebrity Crush who called people out on their racism was bluntly informed “you know what those people are like” and besides, “they joke about that themselves, so it’s not wrong.”

Elrond-Facepalm

Celebrity Crush, meanwhile, has been photographed buying roses and holding hands with New Girlfriend, and “Sources Close To The Couple” say he’s truly in love and intends to study New Girlfriend’s native language so he can communicate with her family better. Recently, he tweeted a picture of a “Share a Coke” can with his name in New Girlfriend’s language. Now, I personally think this is sweet. But other fans saw this as a sign of impending holocaust, at the very least. Because Celebrity Crush pays attention to New Girlfriend, he’s “Not an Alpha any more.” Because he wants to learn her language, he’s “pussy-whipped.”

What better example do you need of the dangers to men in our society in ACTING LIKE FUCKING HUMAN BEINGS? When people you don’t even know can take away your “man card” because you’re nice to your girlfriend, it takes an exceptionally strong man to stand up to that shit and do what he knows is right.

Oh, but “she obviously doesn’t care as much about him as he does about her.” He waits on her hand and foot and calls her the perfect woman. She says “what’s not to like about him?” and “my mother approves.” Surely if she had real feelings she’d say more! For gods’ sake, people! Have you stopped to consider that 1. English isn’t her native language and she might not have the words you want or even the cultural context to apply them? and 2. It’s NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS? What if the genders were reversed? If Celebrity Crush shared few words about his relationship and put a lot of energy into his career while New Girlfriend gushed and waited on him, what then? I suspect you’d think this normal, and a confirmation of his Alpha Male status.

In the last couple of weeks, fans have actually been tweeting at Celebrity Crush to tell him the error of his ways. In case this isn’t enough “I Can’t EVEN” for you, these same people are bitching and moaning when Celebrity Crush reacts in the obvious fashion and blocks the fuck out of them. Now he’s “grown an ego he didn’t have before” and “isn’t treating his fans right” and is “alienating the people who made him what he is.” I’ve got news for you: He isn’t your friend. He doesn’t owe you anything because you went to his movie and bought his t-shirt. It’s not your right to say mean and hurtful things virtually to his face under the thin veil of being concerned. I’d question your right to do it even if he were your real life best friend. Celebrity Crush and New Girlfriend are public figures, true. They’re also adults who are perfectly capable of making decisions for themselves that don’t involve you. A social media presence may create a sense of intimacy with stars that the days before Facebook and Twitter lacked. But you need to keep in mind that it isn’t real. Okay, I have many close friends I’ve met through the Internet. None of them are celebrities. All of them interact with me on a personal level on a daily basis. Celebrity Crush has re-tweeted me fairly often, and once he even addressed me. And I get heart palpitations every time. But I have no illusions that this gives me any right to comment on his personal life.

If you have nothing better to do with your life than whine and complain because a guy you once liked has taken his personal life in a direction you don’t like, I have a few words of advice for you: GROW A PAIR. You need them more than he does.

Ain’t No Fire in This Hole: Deconstructing True Blood Season 7, Episode 3

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!! If you have not yet seen True Blood Season 7, Episode 3 and you don’t want to know, STOP HERE!

 

Today I was supposed to post my installment of the “10 Things You Don’t Know About Me” Blog Tour. In fact, I did start writing that post yesterday. And then I watched last night’s True Blood, and all bets were off.

I came late to the whole Sookie Stackhouse experience, books and TV show both. In truth, vampire fiction is a big yawn to me, and a lot of the standard tropes of the genre give me hives. I can’t even get through a lot of it. But last year, I developed a huge crush on Joe Manganiello, who plays the Were, Alcide. I resisted as long as I could, but in the end I gave in to my fangirl instincts and got the DVDs of the first five seasons of True Blood out of the library. I also read the entire book series last summer, because I write Paranormal fiction and I figured I should.

This is my disclaimer: I only ever watched True Blood for Alcide. I enjoy some of the other characters and the occasional witty bit of dialog. But Sookie is at best annoying and at worst downright moronic. Love interest #1, Bill, is a drag. And I have never, never understood the fan obsession with Eric. So you might understand my distress at the rumours I started hearing around the first of April, of Alcide’s impending death. Well, it happened last night (in episode 3 of season 7, “Fire in the Hole”). I knew in advance of watching, because I live in Mountain Time Zone, and after about eight o’clock here there it was impossible to be on the Internet without being spoiled. What with the speculation and the plain fact that Mr. Manganiello has been everywhere EXCEPT  on the True Blood set this year, it’s not like I didn’t see it coming. So I’m not actually TOO upset that the writers decided to kill off my main reason for watching. The main source of my irritation is the way in which it was done, the rationalizations given for it, and the unmistakable truth that episode–the whole season so far, really–was just badly written. Boring, even.

So. Deconstructing “Fire in the Hole.”

We start off in a Los Angeles ashram, where a previously-unheard-of yoga teacher is conducting a class. After some New Age Speak with focus shifting back and forth between the teacher and various students, we get the big reveal: Here’s Sara Newlin, her hair darker than we’ve seen it, evidently having turned her back on her Christian faith, but with the same ardent Seeker’s smile on her face as ever! Well, that’s okay. Jason let her go at the end of last season. She was a loose end that needed tying up, and I can accept the writers wanting to do something about that.

Cut to main titles, THEN:

Pam confronts Eric in some manor on the Rhône, a place where, according to Pam “he’d never go.” I wondered about that when it first came up, but I figured it had something to do with Eric’s pre-vampiric past and let it go. Turns out Eric–who was revealed in episode 2 as having contracted Hep V–had a love affair with a French vintner’s daughter back in 1986, and, according to Pam, he’s punishing himself for what went down with that. Now we’re treated to a LONG flashback about Eric and Sylvie. As the two of them make sweet love in the vineyard, up pops Nan Flanagan. You remember Nan, the spokes-vamp for the Authority? She has an issue with Eric and Pam being in France without having notified the local sheriff, and living openly as vamps when the secrecy laws are still in effect. Fine. Then there’s some garbled nonsense about an alliance between the Authority and the Japanese Corporation that has begun to manufacture True Blood, and WHAT? I totally did not understand this whole purported conflict, and this is when I started to have major issues with the writing in this episode.

Despite earlier assertions that the writers planned to scale back, they still have a distressing tendency to invent unnecessary new characters instead of letting the stories revolve around the perfectly good characters they already have. In season 6 they took it to extremes with the wacky kids of the Supernatural Rights movement (or whatever they were called), a subplot that brought us the forgettable Nicole, a woman who managed to get discernibly pregnant about five minutes after sleeping with Sam. Oh, and Violet. I’ll have more to say about her later. In season seven, the writers continued the trend with Vince, who apparently ran against Sam for Mayor of Bon Temps, and who is now fulfilling the clichéd Angry Redneck Agitator role. Because there aren’t enough problems in Bon Temps without stirring up the already frightened townspeople. Good one.

Now we get Sylvie, who, to all appearances, was the actual true love of Eric’s life. I suppose it’s not impossible that he had a lot of lovers over the course of 1000 years, but it seems unlikely, given the apparent depth of their attachment, that we would never have heard of her before this. Why do we need to hear about her now, and in a subplot that took up about a quarter of the screen time of the episode? I’m guessing that they may go somewhere with the subplot. But it mostly seems, as my husband put it, “They had to invent Sylvie because no one else was fucking in this episode.” Knowing HBO, I can actually hear that being said at a plotting conference.

Nan leaves Eric and Pam with an ultimatum: Straighten up and fly right or the evil Corporation WILL GET YOU (Again, WHY? Is Eric the only straying vampire on their radar?) Pam suggests that she and Eric get the hell out of Dodge. He refuses because Sylvie wants to finish University. Because that makes so much sense for Eric to say.

Cut to: Alcide has finished the shower he started last week. You remember, when Sookie, like the complete idiot she is, left him without any explanation to go off and hatch a moronic scheme with Bill. So, Alcide finishes his shower, discovers Sookie had flown the coop, and tracks her to Bill’s house. Not finding her there either, he shifts to wolf shape and runs off to hunt her.

Alcides buttt
We do, however, get some nice footage of the ass the gods spoke of.

 

MEANWHILE: Bill and Sookie are driving somewhere to put Sookie’s moronic plan into motion. Sookie wonders if Alcide will be able to track her. He assures her he took care of all their scent traces. Yeah, that worked. Bill also tells Sookie that he can no longer sense her because he was totally drained when he gave the Lilith blood to the imprisoned vamps last season, so the “Vampire Bill you knew no longer exists.” This declaration caused me to give my computer the finger. Bill goes on to say that he’ll always remember and pay for the abuse he put Sookie through. Sookie says, “Good,” and then sucks some more Bill juice, declaring “I have a boyfriend!” So don’t get any ideas, Bill.

NEXT we see Adilynn and Wade sharing a tender moment in a jail cell. Just as they start to kiss, Jessica appears, along with a justifiably pissed-off Andy. Adilynn explains about the mob of angry townspeople, and the four of them take off to get reinforcements.

SAM and the Reverend are having a heavy discussion about matters of faith in the church. When Sam asks what good it does to have faith, the Reverend asks him what good it does NOT to have it, and adds, “Death is a dark and blinding motherfucker, whether you see if coming or not.” This is actually a great line, and the Reverend is one of the newer characters I like. But I half-expected a giant, pointing finger labeled FORESHADOWING to descend from the ceiling at that moment. At that moment, a tripping Lettie Mae bursts into the church, along with a remarkably ineffective Willa. Girl, you’re a vampire. Couldn’t you have restrained the crazy woman, or glamoured her, or something? Anyway, the Rev asks everyone to leave. Sam and his vamp escort head off, only to be met by the aforementioned crowd of angry villagers townspeople. After the requisite gloating, during which rival Vince announces that he’s the mayor now, someone splatters Sam’s escort on the pavement. Sam turns into an owl and flies away.

Technically, the Angry Mob should have torches and pitchforks, but whatever.
Technically, the Angry Mob should have torches and pitchforks, but whatever.

BACK AT JASON’S PLACE, Jason tells Violet he wants to have kids, because “a man is nothing without a family.” Because Andy said the exact same thing last episode, and Jason has never had an original thought. Violet launches into an angry tirade about how “in her day” men were goddam MEN, and warriors trampled the dismembered bodies of their fallen enemies without feeling. Because, in case you missed it, REAL MEN DON’T HAVE FEELINGS. This was another moment when I flipped the bird at the screen. I freaking hate Violet. Not quite as much as I hate Sookie, but she’s a close second. I hated her when she showed up last season, because WHY? Then it turned out that she was denying sex to Jason because she wanted him to prove his macho by raping her on the hood of a car, an action she evidently found a turn on. And now this Real Men (TM) bullshit. Honestly, this little speech pissed me off more than about anything in the episode. I guess Violet’s been around 600-odd years and the entire Women’s Rights movement completely bypassed her. Someone stake that bitch, please. Fortunately, before the argument takes off, Andy and Company show up. They leave the kids at Jason’s place, and the two law officers and the two vamps run to rescue Sookie, whom the believe to be in danger from the angry mob. Because we MUST RESCUE SOOKIE. It’s the Law!

TIME to check in with Lafayette! He’s dancing around and shit, when James shows up, trying to score some weed because Jessica doesn’t know he’s alive. Or undead. Or whatever. Anyway, it makes sense that she doesn’t, because they haven’t has a scene together since he changed bodies, so maybe she doesn’t recognize him anymore. Lafayette only has pills, which he kindly takes so that James can get off by drinking his blood. The two of them trip off into Happy Land, but when Lafayette assumes James is coming on to him, James declares that he’s with Jessica. Because that’s believable.

They're really cute together. Pity.
They’re really cute together. Pity.

AFTER a brief check-in with the Hep V-infected Vamps at Fangtasia (remember them?), during which they decide to go hunting and take Holly along for munchies, it’s back to Bill and Sookie. They’re filling the time waiting for the infected vamps, whom Sookie hopes to lure with her glittery fairy blood, with reminiscence. For Bill, this includes a long and COMPLETELY POINTLESS flashback about getting photographs of his family takes before he goes off to The War. Because it totally made sense to waste our time on that.

ANDY and company find Sam’s abandoned truck, as well as the angry villagers. There’s a confrontation. Maxine shoots at Jessica, and Violet rips Maxine’s heart out, which was admittedly gratifying. I guess Violet’s good for something. The mob scatters, and the good guys continue to search for Sookie.

INSERT over-long, pointless scene of the Rev tossing Willa out on her ear because Lettie Mae is a drug addict.

NOW, without warning, we’re back in 1986, where a group of Japanese businessmen force Eric to choose between Sylvie and Pam for no apparent reason. Eric, also for no apparent reason, chooses Pam, and Sylvie is unceremoniously killed. To which my husband said, “They invented her for nudity value, so they had to invent a reason to get rid of her. Thus the Japanese assassins without apparent purpose.” EXCEPT! Pam manages to get Eric to rise from his bed of pain with the mention of one name: Sara Newlin. Finding out she’s alive is just the tonic he needs. The two of them leave to hunt down Sara and give her what for. Meanwhile, Sara and her guru are finishing up some spiritual practice when the SAME Japanese assassins arrive. With Sara conveniently hiding in the wine cellar, they kill the guru and proceed to search the ashram. Guess they aren’t too chuffed about the Hep V thing.

Just leave me here to die, please.
Just leave me here to die, please.

AND NOW the climactic scene: The Hep V Vamps back in Bon Temps FINALLY locate Sookie. Before they can make off with her, however, Alcide and Sam, in animal form, attack. At the same moment, Andy and company show up to splatter the Vamps all over the scenery. Alcide morphs back into human form, makes sure Sookie is okay, and starts to read Bil the riot act for not being able to protect the girl. Before he can get going, one of the stray angry townspeople shoots Alcide through the head.

THE END

I can understand killing Alcide, I really can. But the justifications for doing it in the way they did at the moment they did don’t fly with me. It may be, from a story point of view, that “the fairy has to end up with the vampire.” I can play that either way. As a writer, I can see the appeal to wrapping everything up into a neat package. However, as a writer, I also kn0w that no story HAS to do anything. My personal preference would have been to have Sookie grow a brain and backbone and discover she can be an independent person. Since I recently saw a tweet from Anna Paquin stating that “part of Sookie’s character is that she doesn’t learn from her mistakes,” I doubt this is ever going to happen.

As far as Alcide being an outsider and thus the character the series can do without: You know, that didn’t have to be. The WRITERS MADE THAT. They made it by separating the vampire and were storylines so far in season 6, and they continued it by asking the audience to swallow the absurd notion that Alcide is still an outsider after living with Sookie for six months that we never saw. Now, I never bought the whole Sookie/Alcide romance in the first place. It didn’t sell in the books, and it didn’t sell in the show. It seemed to me as if Alcide fell for Sookie for no other reason than that every male character has to fall for Sookie at some point. If I try really hard, I can believe that he might have become infatuated with her because he was on the rebound from Debbie–whom Sookie killed. Great basis for love, that. But Alcide was no dummy. I think it would have been far more realistic for him to become disenchanted with Sookie on closer inspection, and for him to leave her. But, you know, that would have taken an effort.

But it’s the final justification that sticks in my craw the most. Alcide had to die because if Sookie dumped the good guy everyone would hate her. I MEAN, REALLY? Because we’re totally going to love her now that her stupidity and refusal to communicate honestly GOT HIM KILLED! Granted, I run in a particular circle of fans–Alcide Fans, that is. But from what I saw last night, it looked to me as if this brilliant move might have lost True Blood two-thirds of its viewers. At the very least, I would have liked to see Alcide continue a couple more episodes and go down in a blaze of glory. The random shot in the dark from an irate hick wasn’t dramatic. It was lame, lame, lame.

You know, I did get one thing out of this poor excuse for an episode. I never understood the brou-ha-ha over the end of the book series, or why people were so upset that it didn’t turn out the way they wanted. Mostly because I’ve never shipped Eric. So the rants I read about it didn’t make any sense to me. When I read the books, I thought the way Harris ended the series made perfect sense.

Now I understand where those people were coming from.

I expected all along that Alcide wouldn’t make it through all ten episodes. And I fully intended to keep watching after his death, because I don’t like leaving things and I like knowing what happens. But after last night’s travesty, I have no desire to continue. I might pick up the series at some later date if I have nothing to do. But I won’t be waiting for it to air every Sunday night.

#NOTTrueToTheEnd