Archive for December, 2012

Vampyr Consequences: True Blood vs. The Vampire Diaries

When I think of vampires in the (visual) media I tend to think of three things: Twilight, The Vampire Diaries and True Blood. I’ve always dismissed the Twilight vampires as not being much of any kind of vampire and the True Blood vampire as the closest to being a classical vampire. In watching recent episodes of The Vampire Diaries, I’ve wondered if I’ve given them too much credit for being vampire-like, especially in light of this whole sire bond stuff which I still can’t decide is a good or a bad thing. So only thing to do: compare the vampires of True Blood against those of the Vampire Diaries in five main areas: their reaction to daylight, the food the consume, their powers, their weaknesses and how additional vampires are created. This gets wordy, but what else is new?

Characteristic True Blood Vampire Diaries
Reaction to the Sun True Blood vampires are classical beings of the night. They rise after sunset and go to ground with the dawn. It takes will power to stay up past sunrise, and it weakens them to do so, as manifested by “The Bleeds” of the eyes, ears and nose.

 

Day Walking remains largely a myth to these vampires, so much so that Eric was able to negotiate with a much older and more powerful vampire by promising him access to blood that would let him do so. It will likely remain a myth too: it was thought that fae blood will let you day walk, and it does, but that’s only if you drain a full fae completely and even then it’s only for a few hours at best.

These vampires are diurnal, just like humans. To my knowledge there has never been a vampire on this show that has kept a truly nocturnal schedule on this show. Those without daylight rings have been shown to be up and about repeatedly, so much so that we’ve learned that windows with good UV filters will let them enjoy a peek out into the sun with no ill effects.

 

As for day walking, it’s been my joke since Season 1 that you can tell how important they are by whether or not they have a ring that lets them day walk. Although it’s implied that the rings are rare, they’re pretty readily available for the main characters on the show.

Eating Habits True Blood vampires have two main choices: human blood or, if mainstreaming, Tru Blood (or other synthetic blood alternative). That’s it. These vampires drinking animal blood is a lot like humans practicing cannibalism: barely acceptable in times of desperation, but even then you’re going to get stared at. At least they can dress up the blood by turning it into a delightful sorbet! Drinking animal is a-ok, and as long as they have a healthy amount of any kind of blood in their system they can consume food and drink like a human. And somehow, alcohol staves off the blood cravings. I think someone just wanted an excuse to day-drink.
Powers Abilities do vary from vampire to vampire, but everyone has the ability to glamour/super strong/super fast. With age can come the ability to fly. The usual stuff. One area where the Vampire Diaries vampires are really actually vampires. They can do pretty much everything the True Blood vampires can do, as well as shape-shift into ravens, though the show would rather us forget that little trait. The ability for some vampires to glamour (or at least read the minds of) other vampires is unique and worth noting.
Weaknesses Not surprisingly, their major weakness (sun aside) is pretty traditional: silver. It’s very common (perhaps too common) in the universe as well: chains, colloidal sprays even pure silver suspensions. And to really make sure you cause a vampire to turn into a pile of goo, you can always put a silver core into your wooden bullet. Vervain. A weakness in theory: touching it will burn a vampire and it can prevent humans and vampires alike from being glamoured. That said, most people have never heard of it, for most of the series it’s been incredibly difficult to find and now it’s officially impossible to obtain in Mystic Falls. Because of that it’s really not much a weakness at all.

 

The only thing more ridiculous is the Original Vampire weakness to White Oak ash and how it has to be from one specific tree.  And to be honest, this has been a problem to the writers: they clearly wrote themselves into a corner with the Original Vampire storyline in S3 and as a result they had that truly awful turning Alaric into a hunter storyline to get themselves out of it.

Siring the Next Generation One of the more intricate processes out there, even when you go into the wider literature. Although it may not always be the Maker’s choice to do so (see Bill and Jessica)  there are certain steps that must be followed:

  1. Drain the human to point of death.
  2. Feed the human your blood.
  3. Go to ground with them, for anywhere from 1 (Season 5) to 3 (Season 1-4) days.

 

There is no accidentally turning a human. It’s the contact between the Maker and the human that actually turns them. Personally I like that. It makes it a deliberate act.

 

While technically there is nothing in place to make a Maker take care of his/her new progeny (as seen in Season 5 – those baby vamps didn’t know a thing about their new “lives”), generally speaking we see that there are long-standing relationships of some kind between Maker and Childe. Even the short relationships – such as Bill and Lorena can last for decades. It reflects the reality of vampires: the lifestyle can be lonely and like anyone else who was human, they want a partner to pass time with, be it platonic (Eric and Pam), romantic (Russell and Talbot) or parental (Bill and Jessica) in nature.

 

Finally we have the bond between Maker and Childe. It’s a limited form of control that allows the Maker to stop their progeny from being extra-stupid (such as Pam ordering Tara not to fry herself in a tanning bed again) but doesn’t make them into zombies or slaves.

 

In some ways that bond is almost a testament to the relationship itself, and the  ifs, whens and circumstances around released are incredibly personal. It’s one of my favorite aspects of this kind of vampire, actually.

You’re more likely to become a vampire on accident, then actually being coming one on purpose.  Just ask Caroline and Elena.

 

Is this a surprise given that it only takes dying with vampire blood in your system – and only a few mouthfuls at that – to be turned?

 

There is a theoretical out by refusing to feed, outside of Bill Forbes it probably isn’t an option that’s utilized that often just because the desire to drink is so strong and so instinctual that it takes tremendous willpower to resist it.

 

Likewise, there seems to be absolutely no mechanisms in place that would encourage the new Maker to care for their progeny. The vampires of True Blood can go “As your Maker” on them, but these can’t. They also aren’t organized into any kind of society that keeps tabs on who has turned another (unlike The Authority on True Blood) nor might put some kind of pressure to make sure that your progeny doesn’t embarrass or endanger you.

 

As a result, there seems to be a lot of absentee Maker-ism in this universe with vampires seeking out those other than their Sire for help getting through this. Stefan found Lexi and is aiding Caroline. Caroline is aiding Bonnie’s mother (whom as far as we can tell hasn’t even spoken to Damon since he turned her to break the Bennett Witch line).

 

There is so little weight put on this that you can’t even begin to guess how many Damon has turned through the years – remember how easily he turned Vicki Donovan because he was bored? That said you can count the number he actually try and help on one hand: Elena. And that’s because he loves her. Which brings me to my final gripe:

 

The notion of Sire bonding in this show and what a freaking mess it is. On the one hand, it allows the Sire to control the vampire like a puppet, but only on a physical level. It supposedly doesn’t impact the feelings of the vampire at all. On the other hand, the bond only seems to be created when the newly turned vampire had feelings for their Maker as a human. But if that’s the case than why is it a “one in a million” occurrence? Surely not every vampire is a dick like Damon and surely at least a few vampires were turned because a vampire had fallen for a human. And if the bond doesn’t impact how you feel why is the way to end the bond to cruelly send them away?

 

None of this makes ANY sense at all. It’s so clear that the writers are making it up as they go along and are only doing so because they don’t want make it too easy for Delena to happen and it’s quite frankly more than a little annoying

 

The verdict:

I have given the vampires on Vampire Diaries way too much credit. Sure, they don’t sparkle, but they are much closer to the sparklepires than the more classical True Blood vampires. Most of this can surely go back to the source material and the fact that this was a YA series like Twlight was intended to be. This isn’t to say that I hate the vampires on Vampire Diaries – I do think there are some good characters, they’re just underwhelming if you actually consider them to be, well, vampires.

 

Drabble: The Bible With Fangs

The book had come in the post. There was no return address on it and no letter to indicate where it had come from, just a note that said “This will help.” He’d been tempted to throw it in the trash, but something stopped him. Maybe it was the heft of the book; or the gold leaf – real gold leaf – that decorated the embossed symbol.

No, he couldn’t throw it out because it looked like a Bible gone wrong, and the thought amused him. Why would anyone send him a Bible? He might be more moral than Damon, but still Stefan did not consider himself a good person, much less a religious one. But then he knew this couldn’t be the Bible.

The Bible didn’t have fangs.

And so, despite himself, he began to read. It only took reading through the first book to be disgusted. Humans as cattle? And this was supposed to bring him peace? With a huff of disgust he tossed the book onto a side table and headed out to the woods.

He needed to feed.

***

The air was brisk. Winter was approaching, but fall hadn’t been ready to give up quite yet. It was taking longer and longer to hunt, soon it would be time to turn to blood bags to see him through the spring.

The buck stood before him, alert, searching. He would have to make his move soon.

“Why do you disparage me?” a woman’s voice asked.

The buck bolted and he quickly spun around to see who had interrupted his hunt.

“Why do you disparage me? Why do I disgust you so?” the woman asked once more.

The woman had olive skin and sleek black hair that covered nothing. Yet there seemed to be nothing lurid about her display. It was as if this was her natural environmental. Only his rational mind knew that no one in their right mind would travel the woods this way.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“You know who I am, Stephan,” she replied. “Though diluted by the witches that brought forth your kind, My blood flows through your veins.”

He took a weary step closer, even though every instinct in him told him to take a step back.

“I’m a simpleton,” he said with the smile often used to try and belittle Damon. “So enlighten me.”

The mysterious woman smiled and began to walk, leading them away from the clearing they were in, and instead towards town.

“You are no fool,” she replied. “A child might be the better analogy.” Her voice echoed loudly in the woods and yet somehow didn’t disturb seem to disturb the other creatures that he could smell were nearby.

“You are a child pretending to be a big boy and yet shunning his very purpose on this planet. The little man afraid to grow up like he was meant to.”

He came to a dead stop.

“If you want me to follow you; you should really stop insulting me,” he said tightly, bristling as her words echoed in his head.

“You will follow,” she replied. Only now her voice seemed to embed itself in his body, tugging on his limbs like a puppeteer might the strings of a marionette.

His feet began to move despite the protest of his brain.

“You will follow because you must. You must accept your purpose in this world. As animals were put on the earth to be devoured by humans, so humans were put on the earth to be devoured by vampyr. Feeding on these lessor creatures is an insult to our very existence.”

“Humans don’t always eat meat. Why should I always eat humans?”

He could hear a car in the distance. They must be heading towards the road, but to what effect?

“Because they give us life as they destroy life around them.”

They made it to the edge of the clearing. He could spot a man fixing a broken flat.

“That man there. What purpose does he serve? He is not needed to continue the species. He does not contribute to its betterment in any way shape or form. What purpose does he serve here other than to be our meal?”

He opened his mouth to provide a rebuttal, but nothing would come out. The few answers he might have had never made it past his lips, because he knew they were weak.

“Precisely,” she said crisply. “They are here only to sustain us, God’s true children. And the sooner you accept that, the sooner you will be at peace. The sooner you will be able to feed without rending your dinner limb from limb in your childish temper tantrum of guilt. And you will feed.”

He scoffed. He was in no mood to feed from humans. “No.”

A smile played on her lips.

“Suit yourself.”

He tried to turn himself around, but found himself frozen in place, although no longer moving it seemed they still refused his control.

Then he began to burn.

Smoke rose from his skin and then the pain began. He bit his lip before it became too much and he screamed in pain.

“I have tolerated the trinkets of your kind because ultimately those that wear them honor the purpose that God laid out for us. You do not. You are not worthy of it. Therefore you will no longer benefit it from it.”

A cruel smile played her lips.

“Feed. Feed by your choice, by that precious free will that you claim is so dear and your ring will work once more.”

The pain grew in its intensity and his screams filled the air. The human heard him, turned to him, ran towards him yelling in a panicked voice, “Oh God! Drop to the ground. Do something! Do anything!” as he approached.

And in a second he knew.

His fangs slipped into the man’s throat and in an instant the pain vanished, gone as quickly as it had come. He didn’t need to inspect his skin to know it was intact, healed faster than human blood would allow. He kept feeling. He fed until that last heart beat before a sip too far. He let go, he let go far easier than he had ever let go before. He let go when he could still easily glamor the man into forgetting the whole affair. This time it had been as natural to him as breathing was to a living creature.

“Satisfied?” he demanded.

“Satisfied about what?” Damon asked confused.

“Damon?” Stephan was even more confused as he was no longer by the road, but instead in the library, the book resting in his lap, an empty glass of blood at his side, a glass he did not remember drinking.

“Are you okay there little bro?” Damon sounded concerned as he picked up his bloodied glass and studied it. “Good for you. You’re a messy drinker though. Go clean yourself up,” he said as he set the glass back down. “And then we’re going for a drink and you’re going to tell me alllll about it.”

Damon left the room, presumably to allow him some privacy to clean up.

He set the book on the side table, next to the glass and stood. He stared at it for a long minute, debating what to do and trying to decipher what had happened. Feeling the dried blood upon his skin, he licked the blood off his the corner of his mouth instinct.

It was his.