So, carrying on with a very piecemeal and Eric-centric look back at season 5, I’m on episode 4 — We’ll Meet Again. I’ve already given some thought to where Sookie and Tara find themselves as the episode begins, so… back to the Viking and his ignoble sidekick.
Bill and Eric are finally released from the Authority, Rigged up with the iStakes, they get dropped off by the side of the road with a set of car keys, and Eric’s first words are giving Bill credit for a great escape ploy, and Bill replies by all but accusing Pam of breaking Russell out. Eric grimly acknowledges that only four of them knew where Russell was, and neither of them appears to believe Alcide had anything to do with it. Bill tells Eric he’ll drive.
Real time in my brain: Does it make anyone else furious when Bill is in charge? GOD I LOATHE HIM.
Anyway, they head off to Fangtasia to confront Pam, who has just returned from saving her young progeny from frying in a tanning bed. She’s furious that the bar isn’t open and threatening to kill Ginger until Eric tells her he sent them all home, from his throne. Pam’s first thought is that Sookie came through for her — but that’s not it. She’s very apprehensive, and seems to decide that submissiveness is not the way to approach him — instead suggesting they just forget it all in a swaggery, bitchy kind of way. Perhaps she hopes to charm him with her lack of sentimentality. Eric does not smile, and Pam’s seemingly cavalier announcement that Tara is his granddaughter doesn’t please him either.
I say seemingly cavalier, because I think we all know that Pam is anything but. She’s afraid and miserable at being out of his favor. I love that she doesn’t even notice Bill until she is level with him, and that her reaction is a displeased “Oh.” followed by an obligatory “Hi.” She has no respect for him whatsoever. Eric needs to talk to Pam alone — and he dismisses Bill, who takes Tara with them. As soon as they’re gone, Pam steps forward more certain of her bond with Eric and her tone changes completely. “What’s wrong?” She asks him, without a hint of bravado, “What’s happened?”
Eric’s pain really shows in the scene where he questions Pam, as does the fact that he is adrift in so many ways. I think it’s easy to forget what he’s been through in the last week or so. He’s really had no time to process what’s happened to him, and suddenly everyone he loves and everything he cares about is suddenly rejecting him, or suspect somehow. Pam tells Eric she would gladly die for him a thousand times before she would ever betray him, and his answer is particularly sad: “Then you’d be a fool. I trust no one.”
He’s trying to be hard and cold, but he’s lying to himself as much as he’s lying to her — that part of his circuitry is fried, and we can see how cold he isn’t when Pam demands that he release her if he can’t trust her more than Bill Compton or werewolf. Poor Eric. He’s really on the ropes. He’s lost Sookie, his heart is broken, Nora is being tortured, he’s got that iStake thing happening, Russell is on the loose, and this rift between him and Pam is an open wound. He loves her and he trusts her, and I’m sure he even understands her actions at Moongoddess. He can also see that she is not lying. Back to square one.
His defeated return to his office, and Tara’s silent acknowledgment of his authority is one of my favourite scenes in the episode. Eric sits at his desk, Bill sits facing away from him on the edge of his desk, waiting, and Eric simply says “Not Pam.”
Going off topic for a moment, there is something to notice in this scene, and that is a very intentionally lit and highlighted picture of a Viking ship directly above Eric’s head — in fact, it’s the brightest thing in the room — even brighter than Eric’s face, and it’s meant to draw our eye.
I got to thinking about the significance of the boat as an archetype in Jungian psychology as a symbol of the self, afloat on the deep, dark waters of the unconscious, and about what Jung called “the night sea journey”. A classic version of this narrative is the story of Jonah and the whale, but really it’s a part and parcel of nearly every hero narrative — in which the hero experiences a kind of descent into hell or a perilous journey — and it can also be represented by imprisonment or abduction; also called “the dark night of the soul” by the Christain mystics.
The myths of the night sea journey, Jung thought, derive from the perceived journey of the sun — it “sails over the sea like an immortal god who every evening is immersed in maternal waters and is born anew in the morning.” The sun going down into the sea is analogous to the loss of energy in a depression or loss of connection to the world, and is a necessary prelude to a rebirth. The water (the unconscious) cleanses and renews, and allows the sun, which symbolizes the ego-consciousness, to live again.
What Eric undergoes during season 5 is unquestionably a kind of night sea journey — he is swallowed up by the authority, and he is systematically stripped of everything that connects him to his persona and the life he leads while he deploys it. For Jung, the “persona” is “…a functional complex that comes into existence for reasons of adaptation or personal convenience,” or “that which in reality one is not, but which oneself as well as others think one is.”
Eric has long been living with the notion that he IS his persona, but his loss of memory and experiences of himself as an innocent, and of love have shown him that he is not only this — that there is more that he has forgotten. Remembering himself in that way and experiencing his own ability to love and be loved is a kind of heaven for him, but it’s one he hasn’t yet earned through a true integration of these warring parts of who he is, and he is thrown out of it at the end of season 4. Eric’s initial reaction to this is anger and defense (“fuck Sookie”), and trying to go back to the easier path of just being Eric Northman, vampire sheriff, but he can’t — that persona no longer fits him. When Eric says “I trust no one” we know he’s lying — he trusts Pam, Sookie, and even people he shouldn’t like Bill and Nora. He trusts too much, and feels too much.
It makes me think back to Salome telling him he’s cold because he’s been hurt and the wound is fresh. She’s wrong about him. He was cold before that wound, and now he’s trying to struggle back into that persona, but he can’t — emotion is burning in him — he’s all warmth, and he’s trying like hell to shut it down.
Anyway — back to the episode.
Bill has no idea what kinds of cataclysms are taking place in Eric’s heart, and he presses the case that it’s Nora who freed Russell as part of her agenda to take over the Authority, and he presses Eric to confess that he told her about Russell, but Eric didn’t. Bill ends the scene with that scheming look in his eyes and says “There has to be a leak somewhere.”
Indeed. I wonder where.
Eric, it strikes me, is an open book here. He’s willing to give Bill the credit for getting them out, willing to accuse Pam, and he’s really told Bill everything he knows about this Russell Edgington situation — but what Eric doesn’t know about Bill is a lot. Like, how he came to be king, than he was working for Nan and was a double agent, and on and on.
Bill is as shady as ever…
Part 2 Later tonight… it was just gettting too damned long!!