Wednesday, July 13, 2011

True Blood: Is Bill Compton the new Eric Northman?

Alexander Skarsgard's Eric taking orders from Stephen Moyer's Bill, now the King of Louisiana. Photo courtesy of bestfantasystories.com.

After watching the most recent episode of True Blood, "If you love me, why am I dyin'?" I started to rethink my previous appraisal of the show. I didn't drastically rethink it - I still think that the many plots are probably never going to converge, and I still intensely dislike anything having to do with fairies - but I think that there is definitely some interesting character development going on, particularly as pertains to Alexander Skarsgard's Eric Northman and Stephen Moyer's Bill Compton.

Eric has always been my favorite True Blood character, and not just because he is a flawless slab of Nordic beauty (although that certainly helps). The character's appeal always stemmed, at least to me, from his supreme confidence, sharp wit, and the sense of danger that was always palpable in his presence. While I'm not hating amnesiac Eric as much as I thought - "I know I'm a vampire Snooki" was one of the funniest lines I've heard in a while, delivered with the kind of superb inflection only Skarsgard can muster - I suspect that stripping the show's most appealing character of his personality is going to get really old, really fast.

Bill's transformation, however, has brought nothing but good things to the character. The power with which he commands his subordinates is thrilling, as is his new playboy persona. In the last episode, when telling Portia Bellefleur that he could never love her, he veered dangerously close to old, mopey Bill, but he more than made up for that in the scene when he coldly and calmly ordered the execution of a vampire who had the misfortune to be caught feeding on camera. Bill's unruffled exterior when passing this judgement, and the icy detachment with which he proclaimed himself the Authority, was fantastic. It lent his character a dangerous edge that carried through to the next scene, when he sweetly advised Jessica to tell Hoyt about her infidelity.

The character arcs here are interesting, because Bill has essentially become Eric and vice versa. Bill now has the sauve exterior (although let's be real here, there's no comparison), the dangerous side just waiting to be unleashed, and a sweet maker-progeny relationship with Jessica, similar to the one Eric has with Pam (with the caveat that, as much as I love Jessica, she will never be as awesome as Pam). Eric, meanwhile, has all the sweet guilelessness and honesty that (Sookie thought) Bill had when he first arrived on the scene, as well as a willingness to do anything, including turn on a fellow vampire, to protect Sookie even as his very presence puts her in danger. Now all he needs to really embrace the role is a bad haircut, a generally mopey demeanor, and a bizarre pronunciation of "Sookie." (It should also be noted here that, while Bill is certainly not as attractive as Eric, his hair is drastically better this season.)

I'm interested to hear what you think. Do you agree with my observations, or do you think I'm completely misinterpreting the character arcs? Can Bill ever be as awesome as Eric? (He can't, in case you were wondering.) And how many episodes can this innocent-Eric thing last before it stopbs being cute and becomes incredibly irritating?

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