Though the global death rate from tuberculosis (TB) dropped more than 40 percent in in the years between 1990 and 2011, there are still crucial gaps in coverage and severe shortcomings when it comes to diagnostics and care options. Furthermore, we are currently seeing an alarming rise in cases of drug-resistant and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB and MDR-TB) that do not respond to the customary first-line drugs. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been fighting TB for over 30 years and provides treatment for the disease in many different contexts, from chronic conflict situations, such as Sudan, to vulnerable patients in stable settings such as Uzbekistan and the Russian Federation. Go to doctorswithoutborders.org to learn more.

No, I’m not okay, but I’ll convince you to the contrary. You won’t even suspect it. I will smile, laugh, and joke around. You’ll think I’m doing great, but I am not.
—  How I Live My Life, Basically

I thought I was done crying over you.

But then my heart tripped on your memory. It fell on a puddle of your voice, tasted the blood of your love on its lips and, long story short, I miss you and I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving you.

Lasts are weird. You see, most of us are always looking forward to firsts. The first time we drive a car. The first time we buy a pack of cigarettes. The first time we drink. The first time we kiss someone. The first time we make love to someone. The first time we fuck someone. The first time we say I love you to someone. We are always looking forward to the first of everything with so much anticipation and, in some cases, a great deal of anxiety. But lasts? No one cares about the last of anything, at least not until after they happen. And yet, they are what we remember the most. We remember the last time we hung out with a friend that went away. We remember the last time we hugged someone. We remember the last time we kissed someone. We remember the last time we made love to someone. We remember the last time we held their hand. We remember the last time we looked at them and smiled. We remember the last time you said you loved them, and the last time they said they loved you, too. In the end, the lasts will haunt you, and, yet, when they happened, they were not last. They were just “another.” 

I still remember what your lips tasted like that afternoon when I walked you to your car. I remember the cold drizzle falling on me as I stood outside your car and waited for you to pick something on your iPad for the drive home. I remember grabbing the back of your neck to turn your head towards me. I remember kissing you. I remember your warm breath filling my mouth. I remember the texture of your lips. I remember the feeling of your tongue. I remember the kiss so well. I remember it tasted like lemonade. That was the last time I kissed you, and I didn’t know it. It was just another kiss.

I refuse to have lemonade now. I feel like one sip could tear me apart. I miss your lemonade kisses. 

2

Godric versus Bill

I apologise in advance if a lot of this has already been discussed-as I was away I could only catch up occasionally with T comments and thoughts on TB finale etc. I was finally back home and able to watch the last 2 episodes and I became aware of Buckner’s interview where he mentioned Bill’s fate paralleling Godric’s. Well, the audacity of such an attempt is another topic altogether but the attempt to source certain parallels to S2 Godric is undeniable, however it fails miserably because it is nothing but pushing a square peg into a round hole. On the surface of it, the writers made sure that similarities were easily identified: world weariness, determination to end the current existence, refusal to take the blood (for food or for a cure), Sookie’s presence. This is the most superficial level of recognition and frankly it smacks of unoriginality and more so of a certain hubris in thinking that something as awesome as IWRU episode and the scene of Godric’s death could be replicated at all and with a morally corrupt character such as Bill Compton whose past deeds, so graphic and detailed, were chosen not to be addressed. As such his final scene was never going to match the one that has consistently been singled out as the highlight of True Blood.

It is my opinion that the writers at least understood that Bill’s death was a conditio sine qua non of the show, teasing in the process a possibility that Bill may just become a human and especially with a focus on characters having children, that he could have a family with Sookie; however if we do take into account Bill’s S7 flashbacks and analyse the dialogue as well as the writers’ tendency to obsess with cycles and parallels, it became clear that Bill was going to meet the true death. These are the frames within which the writers had to find the way to make a meaningful and reasonable arc but it seems that they only managed to draw ridicule and anger. It was a rather fanciful idea to reach this goal in one season since Bill was very elaborately deconstructed (by AB) through a course of time and to tick the boxes both academically and artistically in making such a significant U-turn from Billith; in choosing one of the most memorable arcs to source the comparison for S7 Bill’s story the writers acted boldly indeed, yet the writing itself has never been poorer. In the end the audience was presented with a veritable mess.

The seed of this decision to pursue a Godric comparison could have been a conversation that Sookie and Bill had in Dallas-with Bill trying to prevent Sookie from going to the hotel roof and being there for Godric (Sookie: You of all people should understand how he feels. What if it were you, Bill? What if in 1800 years, you were Godric?…Bill: But, Sookie, in all honesty, what can you do for him?) The writers latched to it and it was the beginning of a disaster.

Why does Bill compare so unfavourably with Godric even within these frames set out by the narrative?

-Godric’s symbolism is altogether a more universal one. Even though we were not privy to Godric’s personal turning point, his character exuded authority of his years and wisdom, his words carried a strong message concerning not only an individual’s place in the world and individual’s journey of enlightenment but also a message of a peaceful coexistence between the different races as an ideal to strive towards and a reminder that in such a battle to achieve this ideal many a personal cost must be paid but it is not in vain. It is possibly the most successfully interpreted philosophical view on the show, back in the day when the show was progressive and pioneering. I have already written about the way the writing followed a very precise path in terms of soteriology, an essential condition if the redemption was going to be successfully achieved. In comparison, Bill’s own peripeteia was clumsily executed, somewhere between shooing off the Sirens (an impeding death) and losing his Lilith godlike powers, raking in the money from some awful literary garbage that he sold as truth about vampires and his divine past, concocting a feeding programme as an answer to a pandemic, 2 seasons of hallucinations and visions, him spending the rest of the time reminiscing nostalgically about his human years, we were asked to just believe that there was a starting point of a redemption arc which in the end would throw an adequately powerful punch as we witnessed Bill’s final moments. I have tried desperately to identify this arc; I recognise the attempts but I do not accept the substance. Since the writers chose not to revisit truthfully the darker past of Bill, the final moment does not bring satisfaction, a logical end of a journey. This final moment is certainly something of the writers’ appeal to the audience’s emotions (pathos) but I found it dreadfully superficial and narrow-because as usual it served Bill’s purposes and it was all about one character. Whereas Godric’s character easily reached each and one of us no matter where we came from through his overarching symbolism, Bill’s character remained limited, bounded by its own story (a victim of circumstances wishing he could reverse the time) and nothing more. Bill did not have a deserved authority yet he orchestrated other characters’ futures all in ‘memory of him’-his final self-important act. Bill could not get over himself as Eric asked him to do as one such giant ego could never magically deflate, it is a limitless destructive force, in Bill’s case looming over even beyond his grave. Godric’s weltschmerz was truly a ‘world pain’, Bill’s weltschmerz was not much more than his own perpetual inability to find a meaning, his own self-aggrandising world view in which his destiny, his pain and his circumstances reigned supreme over anybody else’s. 

-“Bill Compton is not Godric”. Truer words were never spoken on the show. Godric’s strength radiates from his little body; through his demeanour, gestures, intellect and emotional depth. He sets the bar very high, he is the measure, a golden ratio. His choice to die and his reasoning echoes his standard; it is to be remembered by a generation of his peers and further. There is a feeling that Godric thought deep and much about his existence and how he wanted it to end. It was a decision not lightly taken, it concluded a soul-and God-searching journey and a profound enlightenment and this gravity was reflected in the every minute detail; we were witnessing something extraordinary. Bill’s mutable nature and easily changed beliefs and opinions contributed largely to my personal feeling of watching yet another Bill’s bold change of heart and pursuit of a certain goal at any cost, from vampire Sanguinist, terrorist and Lilith’s prophet with no remorse for human life to a man paralysed by his own nostalgia in a mere 3-4 episodes time is something to behold; for sheer audacity and stupidity. Jumping from one extreme to another when it comes to Bill is something I grew accustomed to.

It may be the case too that Bill dangled his suicide many years ago when he sought to be released from Lorena and his nihilism, moods and questionable and disturbing psychological setting were all explored several times through the show. In the end it cheapened the intended effect. We all knew that Bill was a slave to his sentiment and this seemed just like a deja vu of patched-up Nu-Bill. The writers focused on the emotional side of him, however this is also the character whose cruelty and manipulation have been far too much and perpetually exposed through the show; some of the most memorable scenes surely include Bill’s despicable behaviour, not just of physical abuse inflicted on others but of a shocking immoral and dark man. Some of the most important issues that Bill did admit towards the end were lost amidst the fans focusing on Bill’s ultimate fate: would he become human, would he have children with Sookie…Example: (7.08: “Bill: Sophie­‐Anne knew that Queen Mab was intent on collecting all the fairies and all the halflings in the world and bringing them back to her realm and then closing all the portals for good. My instructions were meet you, determine whether you were fae, and if you were as she suspected, to bring you back to Sophie­‐Anne’s so that she could start…breeding you.” However, in 3.12 “Eric: Did you tell her you were originally sent by the Queen of Louisiana to procure her because of what she might be? Sookie: What? Bill: I did not know why she wanted you.” ) Those files on Sookie that he blamed Eric for are of course his own thorough work. His mission for Sophie-Anne was a part of a very elaborate, dark scheme which he was privy to. Another moment to remember is in 7.09: “Bill: I have lied to her, threatened her, almost raped her.” Acknowledgement of a century but lost in the writers’ race to persuade Sookie one more time that Bill was a good guy, just awfully misunderstood and she should understand because God knows she wasn’t understanding enough (sarcasm). His reasoning had to be hammered into her, just in case she thought she might have an independent opinion.

-Ineffectiveness of Bill’s arc versus Godric. Godric was a supporting character and we met him for an unfortunately short period of time. Perhaps AB had a good reason to make this character’s arc as short and as effective as possible. Godric was seen afterwards either in a flashback or in spirit but always as a guide, a mentor and one to pay particular attention to. When Godric speaks, those listening better heed his words. As such, there was nothing superfluous about Godric, when he met the sun the audience was distraught, always wishing for more of him. Of course he is an ultimate example that if the writing is superb and the actor is extraordinary, the most significant stories can be told even in a very condensed time and space. In comparison Bill’s arc seems bloated, aggressively contrived, reaching the ridiculous instead of a tragic level. For many episodes of ‘will he-won’t he, why would he, why didn’t he, what if..’ I was just happy that HE DID in the end and for eternity splatted in that coffin, in his own mind a rightful place for him to be. The whole process of getting there was dragged beyond reason and coupled with overall poor writing it was unbearable. I have never heard so many cliches and character wasting time explaining the cliches more (and it pains me that somebody somewhere really wished for Bill to ‘become’ human and have babies with Sookie. It is an ultimate cliche and for a show that turned the cliches and stereotypes upside down for several years it would have been by far the worst ending. I am grateful that this did not happen). I understand that Bill is a protagonist and as such a ‘driving force’ of the story-therein lies the season’s tragic waste, a nostalgic (lost in his memories) and ‘paralysed’ protagonist is setting the pace and hogging the precious time. In simple terms: Godric v Bill is quality v quantity.

-Sookie’s presence. Sookie and Godric met while they were captives of FOTS and Godric saved her from Gabe who was going to rape her. Later he stopped Lorena from threatening Sookie and held her as a loyal friend of his kind. His last moments on earth were with Sookie and she came to represent forgiveness that Godric sought, he saw God in her tears for him. It wasn’t possible to write a more beautiful friendship between 2 characters who so briefly interacted yet connected immediately. Sookie never forgot Eric’s maker and it was Eric’s and Godric’s love for each other that opened Sookie’s eyes as to the possibility that there could be a lot of love hidden underneath Eric’s cool facade. Bill’s relationship with Sookie had far too many toxic moments which alienated a very large proportion of the audience. It should be a separate post altogether but in this instance it is sufficient to say that beauty of Godric/Sookie friendship makes Bill/Sookie relationship even darker and more unpalatable in comparison. As such, when we watch Godric’s final moments with Sookie, their beauty and their compassion shine; with Bill (who also acknowledges to Eric the element of addiction which permeates S/B relationship) there is something unhealthy, obsessive, addictive and ultimately the only remedy is such a severe action; a relief in its own right.

I do have a small praise for the writers when it comes to this particular parallel. They haven’t failed completely. If we just look at the visuals of the scenes they could not be more different and it gives me hope that some reason and logic have been kept. Godric meets the sun and in the most unique way in the show (the only vampire ever shown) becomes one with the light (engulfed by the special purple flame), arms stretched to greet the new day, heart full of joy. Godric moved on to a new level of consciousness. Not all the vampires are full of darkness and not all the vampires are pursuing Sookie because of her light. Bill made yet another blanket statement when in fact he was describing himself and his own nature and draw to Sookie. Bill’s death is the usual vampire death and in a stark contrast with Godric’s death. A hole in the ground (dirt, darkness) with his old coffin open to greet him and a sharp stake to execute the death. Body turns into a messy goo, drenching Sookie all over. A scene that reflected visually this relationship; the decay of the grave, the mess, the blood that coloured every aspect of S/B love and finally Bill ending under the ground for eternity. Another positive moment is that Sookie refused to part with her supernova ball of light for Bill’s sake and become entirely human. She did not allow Bill to take away that important part of her and I was very happy to see that. She defied his arrogant wish and she walked away much better for it.

*A quick side note: Bill’s role in destruction of the TB factories (a terrorist act) was conveniently glossed over in favour of his Nu-Bill ‘humanity’ while Sarah, the international mass murderer was convicted to an eternity of punishment, perhaps echoing something of a Prometheus myth. I will write more in a separate post.

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