Bill's Humanity

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Bill's Humanity

Post  Aslinn Dhan on Wed Nov 02, 2011 5:20 pm

Bill’s Humanity

One of the things that we see throughout the series id the struggle Vampires have trying to sort out their place in the world of humans. Bill Compton is a prime example of this.

The final scene in Season One, when Bill and Sookie are reunited after his attempt to save her, he says something, or at least begins to say something. One of the things that he says is “If I had….” I always wondered how he might have finished this sentence. If he had been what?

1. A little sooner? Being that it was day time, whether he had been a little sooner would have made little or no difference to Bill as sunlight is his destroyer.
2. A little stronger? Again, there is no use in wishing this because he is a Vampire and usually very strong, but there is the fact that he was weakened by the sun.

But what if he had finished his sentence: If I had been Human.

That is something to think about and it is something to think about because that is the underlying theme of the Vampire tale, a creature who looks like a human, acts for the most part like a human but is not a human. They have incredible strengths and powers but at the same time the smallest things defeat them: Silver, the sun.
I think that Bill loves and hates his Vampirism. It gives him the advantages of being strong and immortal and with supernatural powers but at the same time, he is alone. All he has known and loved has died. All that he will ever know will die. And there are other limitations.

One of the things that Sookie really wants is a family, children and husband. Bill may be an excellent husband but he will never be able to give her what she wants and that is a family, a normal family, with all that entails.
Conversely, Bill craves the same thing. He is attracted to the notion of recreating a family he lost, but he can never have children. For him to have “off-spring” he must be a maker (something he finds abhorrent) and it is really not the same thing. Even if he and Sookie play “parent “ to the young Jessica, she will eventually seek to be released from her maker’s hold and the Vampire/progeny relationship is really not the same thing as family.

We have also seen Bill being less than human when he was with his maker, Lorena. Lorena hates the idea of being alone but she also likes the idea of corruption of someone who is “pure” a good man who she can make into a monster and Bill was that, in anger he threw away his remaining humanity to indulge in the Vampiric life. But his loathing of himself and his actions in this life torments Bill. Somewhere in that journey, however, Bill rediscovers some of his humanity and this is where we find him.

So, now that we have seen Bill both as a more human Vampire and a vicious Vampire, what will happen to him now that he is presumably back in the clutches of his maker and has loved and, as far as he knows, lost?

I suspect that on some levels, he feels though that can be no forgiveness for what he has done and this is a part of his self loathing. On the other hand, I think he is trying hard to be a better person but he is still very much a Vampire. One of the interesting things that Alan Ball brought up was that Bill killed the name number of people as Rene did in season one, so you had to ask the question was Bill just as savage as Rene and can we excuse Bill because he seemed to have an altruistic reason for his murders whereas Rene didn't

Bill's reaction and his violence was as much a reaction to being made as it was anything else. Bill resented having been made because he lost everything. He made up his mind to recreate what he had to the best of his ability and the only way he could do that was to turn to Lorena and in order for him to connect with her and make her happy he had to be and do and act as she acted. But he gave up. He found his existence nothing but blood and death and because he remembered another time when he was something else, he began to wonder, can I get back to that place, maybe not be as I was as a human but be something other than I am.

Uncle Bartlett's murder was necessary to me, child molesters are never reformed. So, this act of vengence was something I would never hold against him. Molesting a child is the act of a monster. Bill and any other man would have done the same thing. Godric murdered Gabe for just trying to rape her. I hear no critical judgment about what he did.

One of the things that fascinates me about Bill and his struggle to find his place with humans after all this time, and fight with his self loathing and his regret is how he seems to be out of step. The little nuances that still mark him as other, though he is behaving human, well as human as he gets, even Bill has his limits.

One of the things is that he knows the steps to being human, but he goes about it clumsily. Like when Bud and Andy come to visit. He offers them frescas, but they are warm. He is reminded by Sookie that he must offer appropriate sentiments, even if he doesn't mean it because it is the polite thing to do.


So I was looking at the show down between Bill and Lorena when he finally gets her to release him. He says to her: You have stolen my humanity and you have forgotten yours. I think that is what Bill resents the most, that what he has become was as a result of his being forced to be Vampire.

One of the other things I was thinking about when I watched this scene was Lorena tells him: You will be all alone! and he replies: You were the one who was always afraid of that. I think that is the key to his search for humanity and I think that he at first sought only to stop being a monster, not necessarily become a more human Vampire. I think he just wanted to stop killing people for the hell of it, to please his maker who liked to play with her food.

While we can only speculate, Bill seems to have been alone much of the time. In the books he told Sookie that he had traveled for years, as I imagine all the Vampires did so they would get trapped in one spot until the great Revelation. He did fraternize with other Vampires, as they were really the ones with whom he could relax and be himself. But as far as connecting to another person and having a companion, that was something he was never interested in. Until Sookie.

Whether it was her excitement and surprise over her willingness to accept him, and even put herself in harms way to protect him or her simple beauty or her otherness and supernatural lineage or a combination of all those things, Bill begins to rethink his strategy.

His mission (as it is written in the books) not withstanding, he never intended to get emotionally involved and I don't think he ever really meant to assimilate so deeply into human society as he did. He may have wanted to settle down and be back in his ancestral home and mainstream, but I think he was also interested in being private, as all Vampires had always been.

What think ye?


He tells Sookie that his humanity is quite fragile, and I imagine it is. He may not have been as he was with Lorena, but as you pointed out, he still had dealings with Diane, and by the way Diane acted, she wasn't much better.

I think making Jessica was a real test on his humanity. I think he was the verge of losing it and think that is what made Bill mad as much as seeing Sookie kissing Sam. I always wondered about why he came back to his old home place. I mean, even if he was carrying out the orders of the queen, did he think it was simply easier to reclaim his home place? It was more isolated and more private. Or do you think he went back to his old home to try and see if he could delve more into his humanity?

Bill told Sookie that he really wanted a home and that was why he came back. And then, after the big bad secret is let out and Sookie knows about the Mission, he tells her he intended to merely go and see who she was and make a report back to the queen, but then everything happened and he fell in love with her and he decided it was fate.

Do you think sometimes he left Sookie out of the loop to protect her from other Vampires, or do you think he was just practicing his old secretive Vampire ways, ways that had kept him and the rest of the Vampires alive all this time?

So I have taken some time to hash over the last season and I am going to hit the other Vampires as well.

So we saw a lot of extremes this season in all of our Vampires. Some of it were extreme examples of humanity and others were extreme examples of Vampire.

In the case of Bill, as Barrister noted, we see things Bill does that we consider typical Bill behavior. His broodiness, his slavish love for Sookie, his willingness to do whatever he must to protect Sookie, either from other Vampires or from a truth so devastating it makes him treacherous to both kings and queens and other Vampires.

Bill is a pawn of the more powerful Vampires in his world. We find out Bill was a procurer, a Vampire who goes out to gather humans for food or pleasure or both as his queen desires. He carefully selects humans who will not be missed. Case in point, the stripper he procures as a blood meal for Lorena and Edgington and unwittingly for himself as they sort of force him to feed with them. They do this because they know Bill has been mainstreaming and except for love nips from Sookie and the occasional blood meal from a "baddie" trying to harm Sookie, Bill has turned over a new leaf. They cannot trust him so they have to make him "prove" his loyalty. He has to be a regular Vampire with them.

And this bothers Bill. After the stripper tells him "I know the truth about life....you won't get out alive" he says she's right about that. Except if you are a Vampire....maybe...because by the time Bill lunches down on the inner thigh of the doomed stripper, he thinks he is lost for all time. But let me back up a piece....because a lot happens between the time Bill is kidnapped to the time he is kicked out of Sookie's house in the finale.

Bill is immediately faced with dilemma. Does he fight and struggle to get away and get to Sookie and protect her or does he stay close and keep them away from her. He knows very well what he must do. He has to break his ties to her and he has to break off his budding humanity. He has to be Vampire.

His first act as Vampire? Renouncing his loyalty to Queen Sophie Anne. This effectively, in Bill's mind, makes it permissible to do whatever he must to ensure Sookie's freedom. He wants assurances from Edgington that he will be able to overthrow Sophie Anne.

Now, you can make a legitimate argument that if Edgington overthrows Sophie Anne would never know about the mission...and you would be right. But Bill is trying to keep Sookie alive. A dead Sookie is an ignorant Sookie...if he did not care for her, he would not care whether she lived or died. If she was just an object the queen sent him to procure then he decided to keep her for himself, he would have no compunction whatsoever to leave her in harm's way.

Bill then dreams of his other family, the family he had when he was human. It is heart breaking to watch Bill not only mourn his son but to see Caroline's dawning realization that Bill is no longer human. Her fear of him and his reaction to her is something that shows us the dividing line between Bill the human and Bill the Vampire. He is barely three years old as Vampire and very much in Lorena's sway. He must do as she says. She is teaching him something, that the human world and the their world are unviverses apart and I suspect that though Bill hates the lesson, he knows that on many levels this is true. He knows that he can no longer be in the home he lived in and be with the wife he cherished and the children he made with her. He is a slave, not only to his Vampire instincts but to his maker. Bill is still "clinging " to his humanity...pining for what was his life.

In response to this, the second thing he does to reclaim his Vampire self and ensure Sookie's safety is to ravish Lorena...and then tell Sookie about it...The attempt Bill makes to break up with Sookie is savage and his voice is as cool and careless as any other Vampire. But at the time, you can see Bill's torment. In the midst of his rage and anger you can also see the terror...as he told Lorena he was killing the last of his love for Sookie by being brutal and by being Vampire and by betraying her. But he is also taking a road he has always feared he could not come back from, he may not be able to. He told Sookie in Season Two he has fought very hard to reclaim his bit of humanity. If this is true, then his journey to return to a more human self is quite recent. As recent as his arrival in Bon Temps.

But then, Bill reverses gears. And it happens just as he is about to get back into the limo with the blood meal for Lorena and Edgington. He feels Sookie's fear and there is a part of him for a split second that is both happy and terrified for her. He knows she is near and he knows she is in danger. But there is nothing he can do about it without tipping his hand and the appearance of Tara and Franklin and the file Franklin found in Bill's house shows him his time is short and his rouse has been uncovered. He goes to Sookie to scare her away to send her out of the city. But he is too late.

When Lorena is ordered to kill Bill, we see him having the same old argument with his maker. The issue is his inability to be what she wanted him to be. He both pities and taunts her, comparing her to his makers maker, a vile cruel Vampire who made Lorena use her physical allure to trap men in her maker's clutches and use them in unspeakable ways...he says she will discard him once he meets the true death and find another good man to twist to her designs as she tried to twist him. As her maker twisted her.

For a brief moment, we see Bill ready to accept and embrace the true death. He tells Lorena that he is glad to die because finally he is rid of her...which is echoed by Tara when she is confronted by Franklin. She tells him to go ahead and kill her because that way she will escape from him forever. What is interesting is that it is both Stackhouses that save people they care about by killing Vampires: Lorena by Sookie and Franklin by Jason.

One of the heart breaking things that happen to Sookie and Bill, which hurts Bill deeply is the fact that he does nearly drain her to death. Bill would have had to have been truly out of his mind to do this. He does love Sookie. This also reminds Bill further that he is Vampire and there are things in being Vampire he would never be able to deny or promise it would never happen again. And this is the savage overpowering need for blood. He will always have to have blood, artificial or otherwise. No matter how human he tries to be, he will be Vampire til he meets the true death.

His observations: I want you to lie in the sun, grow old with someone, have children...all the things he could never do for her or with her...it is a sad moment, a moment of no turning back for him. In the books it is always Sookie that makes these observations. But in the show, so much of this uncertainty is transferred to Bill.

The there is the Wish sequence...Sookie and Bill make the most profound wish for the future: Bill would be a teacher, they would live between the Compton house and the Stackhouse house, they would grow a garden, Bill would go fishing, they would double date with Arlene and Terry, Sookie would sell real estate and everything would be perfect.

Until she finds out Bill was sent to Bon Temps to procure her for Queen Sophie Anne.

This is pretty bad news. I have to admit I would be so pissed off at Bill. Then we have the whammy delivered on us...He let the Rattrays beat her nearly to death to get his blood in her. Bill, all of your lies caught up with you.

But..in Bill's defense...this was a calculated plan on the part of a Vampire who had been sent on the orders of his queen to get Sookie Stackhouse for her own use, based on the babbling of her dimwitted cousin who told the queen all about her during a session of pillowtalk. Bill had no built in love for humans, separated though he was from his maker by this time for around 70 years, he was sufficiently Vampire enough to have shed most of his feelings for humans. He was there to do the job he was sent to do...he never counted on falling in love with Sookie.

It could be argued this is because in the course of feeding Sookie his blood, he got a taste of and for Sookie's blood. The blood bond works both ways. And again you would be right. Perhaps they glamoured one another with their blood...Sookie with Bill's and Bill with Sookie's. But I think too that as awful as his reasons for being there are, Bill did fall in love with her. I think her courage and her acceptance of him was something he had never felt...Bill tells her during their moonlight walk in season one: You aren't like other humans and Sookie simply says Who am I to judge something that is unusual. Her acceptance of him, her appreciation of him, her forcing him feel human, just a guy walking with a girl on a starry night, holding hands and kissing...of course he is reminded of his being Vampire, but I think too he is reminded how it was to be a human man.

And in retrospect, I think that is the reason Bill does not school her in the ins and outs of the Vampire world...yeah yeah, I know, he doesn't do that because he doesn't want her to find out about the mission...but I think he does it too so that she will not see him so much as Vampire and so he will see himself as more human. She even tells him in season three...As much as you want to be Human, I think I am meeting you half way to Vampire. His expression is so bizarre, because there is a part of him that finds it amusing, even a great idea, but I think there is a part of him that finds it a little sad. In season two, when Sookie sits down and asks Jessica to give her the evening with Bill he says "It's almost as though you glamoured her" Bill sees Sookie as something peculiar, human but not...

So what does this say about Bill's Humanity you ask, after slogging your way through my exploration. I think it says we all struggle with our notion of good and evil, humanity and inhumanity. Bill is a microcosm of these conflicts we see in the world around us. Is Bill far away from his humanity? No, I don't think so...he is very disturbed by his acts of inhumanity but he is not far off from his Vampire self either, that ruthlessness he had to have to survive. But I think this season especially, he has felt the burden of his humanity and I think that now he "has nothing to lose" Bill will be a very different person in the next season...and whether or not he recapture his bit of humanity is the I will be interested in the most...

So now we are so close to the new season, just some 73 days or so. And I have reread all the Sookie books and I have finished the second season and am champing at the bit for the encore of the last season, priming us for the new season. So now I take time to write on this topic again...don't worry I will speak of Eric as well as we prepare for his abrupt change.

One of the things that apparently happens according to the spoilers is that Bill takes on some mantle of responsibility in the Vampire community, something he has been reticent to do in both the books and the show. One of the things that Stephen has brought up about his character is Bill's willingness to become Vampire for Sookie to protect her. And on some levels to take some responsibility for Jessica, which apparently shores up the relationship between the two Vampires which before had been fractured, uneven and unfair to both characters. Jessica has been a fangy latch key kid and has had to learn to be a Vampire on her own and with the dubious help of Pam.

But I wonder if this indicates he is pretty much done with the whole trying to be human thing and being just a mainstreaming Vampire, because it seems to me that though he has accepted being a Vampire, he does not like it like that much and resents it like hell (With a maker like Lorena, who could blame it) and tried to be more human which leads to some unintentional funny moments with Bill, making him seem nerdy and powerless.

What we discovered however is Bill is capable of doing whatever is necessary to survive.He can kow tow and kiss ass with the best of them to protect his hide and protect those he is concerned about. But will that negate his desire to recapture what humanity he can salvage to survive in both the human world and the Vampire world? It sets up a real conundrum...

So, just as we have seen an entirely new Eric this season, we have seen an entirely new Bill.

Bill is now in a position of authority. In fact he is the King of Louisiana, such a far cry from what he was when he strolled into Merlotte's that night. But he does not wear the crown easily and I think Bill has allowed himself to be made a puppet of the Authority again in a desperate gamble to keep Sookie safe. As he told her in the end of Season three, he would do anything to keep her safe, even if that meant he could not be in her life.

There are naysayers to this. And to an extent I do agree. Bill has had a problem with honesty since we and Sookie have known him and he is still having a problem with it. I think that is because Vampires are never completely honest with one another, and they are never completely honest with humans. We are also dealing with a man whose soul purpose in life is to protect Sookie.

But even that is coming at odds with what he must do to be King and thus have the power to keep her safe and be able to deceive the Vampire hierarchy. He does not want it to be common knowledge that Sookie has powers that can be exploited by Vampires. He will do whatever he must to do that.

His conflict with Eric is multi faceted. The main one of course is as a potential romantic rival. It galls Bill to no end that Eric may take his place in Sookie's heart and he of course would do whatever he can to prevent that. The others include the fact Eric knows what Sookie is when he is in his right mind. Then there the fact Sookie has no control over him and he may even unintentionally do her harm. Then he has the Authority to deal with.

Now, as much as we would like, Bill and Eric will never be friends. They will join forces to protect Sookie, but they will never be friends. Bill has no love for Eric and the same can honestly be said for Eric. Both Vampires have betrayed their monarchs and both Vampires hold other Vampires under suspicion, and of all the things I think is the hardest for the Vampires out of the coffin, I think that the hardest thing for them, to get a long with one another and follow the rules the Authority wants all mainstreaming Vampires to follow.

And Bill is chafing under the weight of his crown. Further in he goes into the world of Vampire, a descent he began when he made his deal with Russell Edgington, it is testing his grip on his humanity. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, as Bill meets the thing he wants and weighs it against what he sees before him and his humanity and empathy and understanding peeks out and betrays a reality. Bill is caught between the human world and the Vampire world and in the words of the immortal Mayagi : If you stand on right side of road..okay...you stand on left side of road...okay...you stand in middle of road...you get a-squish like grape...



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Re: Bill's Humanity

Post  Aslinn Dhan on Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:31 am

I’m Only Human

I guess we can take Bill’s walk on the dark side one of two ways: We can see him as irredeemably lost or we can decide this is the most human thing that has happened to him. I say that because Bill’s dark night of the soul has been a long time coming and while I don’t like what is happening to Bill, I sort of understand why it is happening to Bill.

In the world of Vampires, there is always a Louie. The tormented Vampire with the yearning for his lost humanity, to have the things he lost when he became a Vampire. He told Sookie in season two he had to travel from far off in his Vampire personality to get to his humanity. He was a savage and if you don’t believe that, go back to the flashbacks he has had when he was with Lorena. That was a terrible time for him because Lorena never had a dark night of soul as far as I can tell.

Bill is committed to mainstreaming. Eric equates devotion to mainstreaming to being defanged and denutted, as opposed to being what he is: barely tolerant and barely house broken, mainstreaming at the barest minimum to make money and move as effortlessly as he can while he does it. Bill believes in peaceful coexistence between humans and Vampire.

At least we thought he did.

But before I throw in the towel and write Bill off, I will be the devil’s advocate and say we have to look at Bill’s situation. Call me an apologist, call me a deluded Bill Girl, call me whatever so long as you call me for dinner. I don’t believe there is any such thing as being completely lost. There are few misanthropes I have actually written off. I have hope for the devil himself. So why wouldn’t I have hope for Bill?

If True Blood is a microcosm of real society, then we have to look at fanaticism, fundamentalism and bigotry in all social structures. We live in a world that is aflame with all those things since 9-11 and we are in the middle of the most divisive election year ever and we have seen in recent days the shooting of innocent Sikhs as they gathered for prayer by a hardcore Neo-Nazi with more ammunition than brain cells in agreement.

When people embrace a theology, social doctrine, a religion or philosophy, the epiphany of finally being in the presence of “god” or truth can blow your mind. And he is not just hearing about “god” he is seeing “god”. Sort of like when people do mushrooms and LSD to expand their consciousness. Whatever was in that vial of blood, whatever is in Salome’s blood, it has blown Bill’s mind. Not only can he have the communion of the “god” he can be with the “god” and what we know is drug induced illusion is actually the most heinous of counterfeits of all. Disillusionment will follow and redemption is going to be hard to come by. When Bill wakes up, he will not be out of hot water.

In Wake the Dead, I had a scene in the story where Aolani and I were explaining to Bill what the human Vampires would do if Dracula is resurrected. It would be tantamount to seeing god. When Bill doesn’t get it, we further say: What if Anolani conjured Isis or I could get the Virgin Mary to appear? People have been sent into religious euphoria for less than that.

The saving angel in this story will be Eric, the skeptic. He is sober and he sees the evil of the new authority and the danger of the space cadet glow over Nora and Bill’s face. But Eric has never been a believer in anything but himself. From the moment he woke from his first Vampire sleep the only god he has believed in is the god of his own self. Self deification can be dangerous, megalomania does set in, but Eric sees it terms of what is in it for me. Since he is immortal, the only religion he has is the religion of being himself, being a Vampire. He has no need of an external religion or philosophy. The only thing that speaks to him is Godric, his father, and that is pretty much enough.

Bill despises the Vampire he was made. He has this delicious guilt and he wants to be a good man. He went to procure Sookie for Queen Sophie Ann and he fell in love instead. He wanted to mainstream and have an afterlife with her. But then he lost her. It is his own fault because he lied to her and hid things from her and cheated on her and hurt her. As he told Sophie Ann when he sees her in his parlor: I have nothing left to lose.

Imagine that for a moment. You have nothing left to lose. Even as king, he has very little, he is still under the control of others. He has to answer to someone else for his kingdom. Killing Nan Flanagan did not change that. He and Eric were going on the run and they were captured and now he has lost his kingdom. Eric too, at least for the time being. Eric will be okay, I have no doubt about it. Bill was damaged when he went in. If you have nothing left to lose, then being the consort of a “god” sounds pretty damned good.

The line between believers and fanatics is a thin one. The difference between believers and non-believers is the believers are still looking around. Odin died for Eric when he became Vampire and Eric never felt the need to replace him. Bill still desperately wants to believe and if he can’t believe in humanity, his own or humans in general, he will have only one alternative and that is to turn to “god”. Marry this to the influence Salome has had on Bill, and you have Armageddon in a pretty crystal bottle, air planes flying onto buildings, freedom in the barrel of a gun.

I won’t be all flowers and light about Bill, what he is doing is reprehensible. He knows better and when he is sober and there will be a reckoning, but if you care about the characters and Bill is one of the characters, you have to look deeper and dispel the hobgoblins of small minds that would simply throw a perfectly good character away. Try and see the bigger picture of Bill as us. If you don’t think becoming a fanatic slavishly devoted to philosophy, even to detriment of others, then you have not been paying attention. And remember, one man’s demon may well be another man’s god. And Bill is in between the two of them.

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Re: Bill's Humanity

Post  Barrister on Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:59 am

You sound like a barrister m'love

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Re: Bill's Humanity

Post  Aslinn Dhan on Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:20 pm

One of the things I was really happy about this season is we got our Bill back. I don't think he is the self loathing Vampire he once was but I think he is on a new path. I think he has seen the extreme and what it does to people, fangy or not. He has things he regrets and he has things he has to make up for, definitely and I I am not sure he can make up for everything....some things my be insurmountable. But I do believe that Bill has the chance to be the kind of man we Bill fans fell in love with from the beginning.

In a lot of ways, I think the show does a more fair treatment than CH. Of course, I think the show is more fair than the books period to the characters. I think Bill has redeemed himself in some ways and in some ways he has further yet to go. I think what will be interesting is how he attempts that. I think he has come to realize that whatever he is does is worth something to the return of his soul. I think Bill is ready to pay the piper in order to earn back the trust of many of his human friends and allies. I think there will be a reckoning, but I think it will ultimately put Bill where he wants to be.


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