Supes 101 – Love, free will, and supes

My, what big fangs you have Eric! (TM KJewls) Source

Vampire boy meets human girl. Boy likes girl. Boy shows girl how big his fangs are. Girl has fairy blood that is like crack for boy. Boy tries to glamour girl. Girl is impervious to his compulsion but not to his preternatural hotness. More supernatural hijinks ensue. Boy and girl try their hardest to live happily ever after, never mind the difficulties inherent in the boy’s ever after being eternity and his inhuman nature.

Ahh, supes and the emoteens and emoadults who love them. Not exactly the stuff fairytales are made of.

Unless of course the fairytale begins with “Once upon a time there was a telepathic barmaid and Viking vampire…”


Or “Once upon a time there was a high school girl with an identical vampire doppelganger and a vampire with mad dancing skills…”

And even then there are snapped necks in the heat of the moment and betrayals for your own good to vampire kings to contend with.

Seriously though, the term “it’s complicated” takes on a whole other meaning when it comes to love in supernatural worlds. I didn’t make up a single aspect of the “boy meets girl” breakdown above, from True Blood, and this is one of the simpler love dynamics on supernatural shows that I’ve come across.

The interplay between free will, love and supes is particularly fascinating, and enough to send an agony aunt nearly delirious with delight.

Forget flowers, candy and the simple words “I love you”, relationships involving supes include blood bonds, love spells, imprinting, glamour/compulsion and fairy blood in the Twilight, Sookieverse, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Vampire Diaries mythologies.

So apparently not everything is about hot supe sex.


Elena, Stefan, and Damon

Shocking, I know!

Most of us take free will and choice for granted in our relationships. So let’s take a look at how thinks can play out a little differently in the supernatural genre.

Blood bonds in Sookieverse create a particularly complex set of rules of attraction. In the Sookie Stackhouse novels, when a human and vampire exchange blood three times in a short period of time, they become bonded to one another; they’re able to feel what the other is feeling. Sookie and Eric Northman forged this bond in the seventh book, All Together Dead, when Eric stepped in as the lesser of two evils when Sookie was about to be forced to bond with another powerful vampire, Andre.

Until the tenth book, Dead In The Family, clarified how the bond worked, there was much confusion about whether it was an emotional conduit or capable of generating feelings that didn’t already exist. However, it became evident that while this bond can accentuate sexual and physical attraction, it cannot create it altogether. So if you found a vampire repulsive in the real sense of the word, rather than the doth do protest too much way…


…you won’t suddenly develop an insatiable lust for them.

There were several instances in Dead In The Family where Sookie identified feelings of her own separate to those of Eric, for example, which highlights that a vamp can’t control the mind or feelings of the human they are blood bonded to. However, both the vampire and the human they are bonded to can try to influence the feelings of one another.

For example, in the recently released first chapter of the upcoming Dead Reckoning…

 Click picture to read first chapter of DEAD RECKONING.

…which you can download from author Charlaine Harris’ website, Sookie actively tried to calm Eric, who was “volcanically angry” about her being in trouble, when being questioned by the local police after witnessing the bombing of the bar she works in: “I was trying, not so subtly, to send Eric a message. He finally calmed down enough to get my subtext.” You might even argue that sharing this bond gives Sookie a heightened insight into her lover’s feelings and thus makes their connection even more authentic.

Alan Ball’s television adaptation of the Sookieverse novels, True Blood, has reinvented how the blood bond works significantly. In the series, even if no prior feelings or sexual inclinations exist for a vampire, if a human has their blood direct from the source, even just once, they become sexually attracted to the vampire. Bill Compton saved Sam Merlotte’s life in the season two finale with a large “donation” of his blood, resulting in him having an erotic dream about Bill in Bad Blood (S03E01) in which he discovers the water is hard in Arkansas.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the beginnings of hot, sweaty mansex between the pair, and was disappointed when the camera cut away before they could discover just how hard the water could get. But it alters human-vamp relationships in the Sookie Stackhouse world in a way that cheapens Sookie’s connection to Eric, bringing into question whether her feelings for him have been manipulated – though I think anyone would have to be crazy not to feel at least SOME attraction to him. Kinda puts a damper on the sexy dreams…

(via losemydignity)



… she has of Eric after he tricks her into taking in a drop of his blood by feigning he needed her help to suck bullets out of his chest in I Will Rise Up (S02E09)…


Ok, just a tiny, itty, bitty damper, but a damper nonetheless 😉 After all, how will Sookie ever realise she was already attracted to Eric on some level? How will she trust the feelings she has started developing if the bond is supposedly the reason for them existing? At least Bill recognises that it “is more than that” when confronting Sookie about Eric in Fresh Blood (S03E11).

Speaking of Bill when it comes to the blood bond, well. Sookie drank Bill’s blood the night the Rattrays beat her up, and we later discover he had WATCHED while this happened so that he could force a bond that would make exploiting her easier.

Because our Sookie has something that makes vamps want her in more ways than one: fairy blood.


You know how we have natural pheromones that attract the opposite sex? Fairy blood is the Chanel No.5 of pheromones for vamps.

Bella Swan, she of the freesia and lavender scented human blood, is a special snowflake who has a similar effect on vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight Saga.


As Aro puts it to Edward in New Moon, she is “La Tua Cantante” (your singer); her blood “sings” for him. This is a rather poetic way of saying what Edward admits in Twilight, her blood is his own personal brand of heroin. So even though supes have free will, it appears that they are not exempt from factors that can predispose them to falling in love with someone too. I must admit I get a great deal of glee out of this fact. Plus pure bloodlust goes a long way to explaining Edward’s love for Bella, when she is really a cipher of a character with little to recommend her apart from being an adoraklutz. I think her doubts in Eclipse that he won’t love her if she turns into a vampire and is no longer warm and smells tasty are actually quite reasonable, despite Edwards denials to the contrary.

Not that Bella’s obsession for Edward is any less disturbing than his for her. I haven’t *HEAD DESK DESK DESKED* in my life as hard as I did with what Bella told werewolf suitor Jacob at the end of Eclipse:

“The worst part is that I saw the whole thing – our whole life. And I want it bad, Jake, I want it all. I want to stay here and never move. I want to love you and make you happy. And I can’t and it’s killing me. It’s like Sam and Emily, Jake – I never had a choice. I always knew nothing would change. Maybe that’s why I was fighting against you so hard.”

To give a bit of context for the three people left in the world who don’t know the basic storyline of Twilight, Bella falls in love with sparkly vampire Edward…


…who leaves her for her “own good”, leaving Jacob enough time to establish a relationship with her, before Edward swoops back into her life to claim her as his again.

What drove me crazy is that, as author Stephenie Meyer claims herself, the Twilight Saga is meant to be about free will. And in many ways, choice really is a powerful force in the series. Bella decides to leave her mother and live in a new town with her father because it will allow her mother to pursue a relationship with a man whose career means he is constantly on the move, and thus pursue happiness. Edward tries his hardest to choose to keep his distance from Bella. When they are coupled up, PAGES AND PAGES are dedicated to choices about the level of physical affection to share, such as whether or not to have sex because Edward might accidentally crush Bella, or in the early days whether they should even kiss because he isn’t sure that he can control his bloodlust.


In fact, Edward constantly has to make the choice not to harm Bella in her presence and drink the blood that sings to him. Because unlike other vampire mythologies, where vamps can drink a victim’s blood and leave them alive and well, once a vamp has broken the skin of a human in Twilightverse their venom infects the human’s bloodstream and will turn them unless it is sucked out like snake poison. So for Bella to say she had no choice with Edward, and that their love was an inevitable force she couldn’t fight, seems incongruous to the rest of the story.

Meyer contradicts the notion of free will in terms of love in an even more horrific way: imprinting. Even now, the word provokes this reaction in me:

How to describe imprinting to newbies? Well, it is kind of like love at first sight for werewolves, but an even more powerful force than that, which the werewolf has no control over. When werewolves see their imprintee or “soul mate” for the first time, that person becomes their centre of gravity.

Naturally, it is one of the most controversial aspects of the Twilight mythology, because aside from the werewolf having no control over who they imprint on, the person who gets imprinted on has no choice in the matter either. Jacob says “it’s hard to resist that kind of love and devotion”, but what this basically amounts to is, “bad luck, imprintee, you are stuck with some werewolf stalker for life”. As in the passage above, Sam had imprinted on Emily, despite being in love with another character Leah at the time, who would later have her werewolf gene activated too.

The even more squicky aspect is that imprinting on underage imprintees is rampant in the Twilight series. Jacob’s friend, Quil, for example, imprints on a toddler in Eclipse. Here is how Jacob rationalises this:

“It’s not like that, you’ve got it all wrong,” Jacob defended his friend, suddenly vehement. “I’ve seen what it’s like, though his eyes. There’s nothing romantic about it at all, not for Quil, not now.” He took a deep breath, frustrated. “It’s so hard to describe. It’s not like love at first sight, really. It’s more like… gravity moves. When you see her, suddenly it’s not the earth holding you her anymore. She does. And nothing matters more than her. And you would do anything for her, be anything for her. You become whatever she needs you to be, whether that’s a protector, or a lover, or a friend, or a brother.”

But even Jacob can see some of the detrimental aspects of imprinting. As he says to Leah in Breaking Dawn:

“You really want to imprint, or be imprinted on, or whichever?… What’s wrong with going out and falling in love like a normal person, Leah? Imprinting is just another way of getting your choices taken away from you.”

Which is all fine and dandy to say until JACOB IMPRINTS ON BELLA’S HALFLING VAMP BABY!


I mean, seriously. ACK! I like the Twilight series despite my snarkage, but even I can’t handwave the creepiness of it all.

By imprinting on Renesmee, this basically means that Jacob wasn’t really in love with Bella all that time, but really her ovaries and what they would later become. Or it is possible that it was Edward’s sperm he was joansing after – I mean, they fight for much of the series, but as Katherine Pierce would say, there is a thin line between love and hate.

Also controversial is vamps’ ability to control humans like puppets in certain mythologies, such as through glamouring in the Sookieverse world and compulsion in the Vampire Diaries mythology. Although I don’t recall a single instance of a vampire compelling someone to fall in love with them in either series’ canon, it would be interesting to know whether this feeling can be entirely fabricated through these forces. What we do know, however, is that a vamp can force someone to be attracted to them or engage in sexual acts with them in the absence of armour like telepathy or vervain. Some would even argue that sex under compulsion is rape, and the ultimate removal of free will.

Stefan’s present of a vervained necklace to Elena in Vampire Diaries episode Friday Night Bites (S01E03) is a symbol of his deep respect for her free agency, which his crazy vamp ex didn’t give him back when he was human.

Things get a little bit muddier with vamp brother Damon, particular when it comes to his relationship with Caroline back when she was human. When Caroline sets eyes on him, it is clear she is willing to sleep with him, but right when she is in the throes of sleeping with him for the first time, he reveals his true vampiric self, terrifying her. The morning after, she tries to escape, but he stops her and compels her to be fine with what happened and continues to compel her for some time after.

So in this case the actual act of sex is consensual, but there is a disturbing element of brainwashing that even a huge Damon fan like me has to acknowledge. But part of what makes Damon so interesting is that he is always teetering on the brink of the moral abyss, and now on the path to redemption.

Twilight vamps can’t compel, though as Bella repeatedly bleats like the vampire groupie she is, Edward dazzles those around him. No joke, one quote from the first book in the series about Edward is “He was both dazzling and dazzled”. It is more than just the seraphic good looks Meyer fixates on, Edward emits a supernatural allure that ordinary humans find attractive.

Sometimes though, as Damon says, it is just impossible for women and men alike to resist the good looks, charm and wit of certain vampires.

(via melchiorgabor)


Check out the kickass new Damon vs Eric post from KJewls over at TV Recappers Anonymous for more evidence of this.

Finally, we come to humans channelling supernatural forces in ways of the heart and hormones. Witches are capable of conjuring love spells in most mythologies that I have come across, with the most attention paid in Buffyverse. For example, Buffy’s friend Xander tries to cast a love spell on Cordelia after she breaks up with him on Valentine’s Day in Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered (S02E16), only to have it backfire spectacularly in his face when every woman in Sunnydale EXCEPT Cordelia is affected by the spell.

willow xander almost kiss

I'm still peeved at this vamp who broke up this almost kiss between Willow and Xander, just in case you were wondering!

The commonalities with love spells I have seen depicted is that they not only take away free will but are highly dangerous – uncontrolled obsession can lead to things like the angry female mob that goes after Xander’s blood when he rejects them.

A person’s free will to make choices can also be affected by supernatural spells that take advantage of pre-existing love. In Becoming Part II, vampire Drusilla puts Buffy’s watcher Giles under a trance where he thinks she is his lost love Jenny Calendar, using what is in his heart to get him to confess the key to a spell that has the potential to bring forth the apocalypse.

drusilla trance

Long before there was Kat, Drusilla was bringing crazy back

All things considered, love in the human world is suddenly looking much simpler.

So what do you guys think?

Would you sacrifice free will for a chance at the EXTREMELY hot vampires that populate these tales? I’m still on the fence on this one.

Are there other ways free will can be compromised in the supernatural genre that I didn’t mention?

Does Alan Ball’s screw up of the blood bond bring you to boiling point?

What is ickier: compulsion or imprinting?

About Cherie

My name is Cherie, and I’m an Australian Occupational Therapy Student who hopes to help people with any condition that inhibits their ability to participate in valued occupations, tasks, activities, as I believe they’re an essential part of identity, happiness and health. My favourite occupation is hiking, which enables me to move past through the forest literally and metaphorically! View all posts by Cherie

9 responses to “Supes 101 – Love, free will, and supes

  • kjewls

    I ADORE your analytical posts, Cherie. You always have this unique ability to make me actually feel smarter, for watching Vampire TV! 🙂

    Ugghhhh! I HATED when Jacob imprinted on Renesmee! That part of the story killed me! For one thing, the whole imprinting concept, as used in the Stephenie Meyer series, disturbs me greatly. Here’s why: From a biological standpoint, imprinting has a purely familial function. Basically, it’s a natural bond that animal children form with animal parents, shortly after exiting the womb. Biologically, it makes sense. But ROMANTICALLY? SEXUALLY? Yuck!

    In addition to the obviously gross implications of Jacob eventually becoming romantically involved with his former love Bella’s BABY, who he first met when she was still a . . . BABY . . . *pukes in mouth a little bit* I also felt like Meyer took the easy way out, in solving the Bella-Edward-Jacob love triangle, by having Jacob INSTANTLY fall for someone else. Personally, I feel like it would have been nice for Mrs. Meyer to have Jacob and LEAH ultimately develop a romantic relationship . . . slowly . . . and organically.

    It would have been a nice contrast to all the other whirlwind relationships in the series. Jacob could have ultimately realized that, while his adoration of Bella was perhaps, more immediate and lusty, the mostly unrequited “puppy love” he felt for her was nothing compared to the strong, genuine, and hard fought mutual LOVE he ultimately developed with Leah. The inevitable sexual tension buildup from the love-hate relationship Leah and Jacob seemed to establish with one another early on would have also been fun to watch. (Very Damon / Elena, Sookie / Eric esque ;)) For me, a major opportunity plot-wise was missed, in this instance.

    I also tend to agree with you about blood bonding. If initial feelings of attraction existed between a couple, before the blood bond was created, and the blood bond merely strengthened that which was already there (by simply increasing the biological and emotional connection between the pair) what’s really the harm in that? How significantly does a blood bond differ from a natural “chemistry,” or emotional connection, that some people share and others don’t? Regardless of the source, when a couple is blood bonded, the feelings they have for one another are REAL, in every sense of the word.

    This is definitely not the case with compulsion, which regardless of what romantic feelings may have existed at the forefront, completely removes free will from the equation. The use of compulsion is definitely immoral. And yet, I hate to say it, but of all the methods of “magical bonding” listed here, it is probably the sexiest. When it is being used for “good” (kissing, hugging, screwing) etc., as opposed to evil (murder, self-harm, violence, theft, etc), there is just something erotically freeing about the concept of being able to completely relinquish control to a sexy undead vampire. Am I wrong? 😉

    • Spidey Sense

      Aww thanks! It’s really too bad that PhDs in fangirlism aren’t possible, because I think you, Amy and I could definitely become experts in the field if given the chance!

      You have to feel sorry for Renesmee and her lack of autonomy. Her love life is predetermined and she doesn’t get to go out and fall in and out of love before finally meeting the right person. Surely Meyer sees how imprinting contradicts her stance on the importance of free will?!

      I agree with you about the Leah thing. If Meyer had introduced the concept of imprinting for the purpose of having Jacob fight it, especially after he had indicated he didn’t like the idea of having choices taken away from him, I could have maybe accepted it as part of his character growth. Then him falling in love with someone like Leah would feel more powerful and like a statement of his independence. This is particularly true because Meyer took great pains to explain how important it was that Jacob accepted his position as Alpha wolf and make the decision to break away from the pack and no longer be subject to the control of Sam, who up until then could literally force him to fall in line whenever he wanted him to.

      I honestly thought Meyer was going to take the Leah-Jacob path after the conversation he had with her about imprinting – while reading I though, “God, that was anvilicious”. So I was taken aback with the Renesmee imprinting development, and not in the good way.

      I LOLed at puppy love though! Such a cute expression for a werewolf that should have been OBVIOUS to me but I haven’t heard in relation to werewolf tales yet. Love it!

      Blood bonding in the Sookie novels is a really nice, intimate connection between a human and vampire. Sookie resents it at first when she doesn’t understand how it works, but eventually she comes to realise how useful it is in communicating with Eric without words, and also to see whether the words coming out of his mouth match the way he is feeling. It’s even better than a manual on understanding the innerworkings of the male mind! Too bad that it is so manipulative of emotions in True Blood.

      Ha! When you put compulsion like that, I guess I don’t mind the idea of relinquishing control to a sexy vamp ;). Actually, I wonder if when it comes to feelings and not non-feelings related directions, if compulsion only works if some pre-existing feelings are there. For example, Jeremy said that even though his suffering had been compelled away, there was a part of him that still felt hollow and empty inside, he just didn’t know why. This suggests that feelings are easily removed, so it is reasonable to think that feelings aren’t easy to create from scratch either. I like to think that is the case in the Elena slaps Damon scene, because she really looked like she wanted to kiss him before that! Plus maybe part of her wonders why she feels a deep sense of longing for Damon, after the “I love you” compulsion scene.

  • imaginarymen

    This? *HEAD DESK DESK DESKED* is my fave new expression!!!

    In fact I HEAD DESK DESK DESKED the entire time I read Twilight – all 4 of those f*ckers! Also – that puking rainbow is Made of Win! (and it’s how I feel when I see the damn movies! GET OUT OF MY HEAD STEPHANIE MEYER!!)

    I have nothing insightful to say about this great post bc you and Julie think way more about this, and are far more intellectual about it than I am! My process is basically “BIll is an ass, I choose Eric” or “Edward bugs me, I choose Jacob” ;-0

    • Spidey Sense

      It’s kind of hilarious that all of my favourite puking pics have been used in other people’s posts about how much they hate certain aspects of Twilight!

      I’ll always be what Cleolinda calls a LOLfan though – someone who loves snarking the series so much that I can’t say I have pure, unadulterated hatred for it. At least, not when taking the mickey out of it brings so much joy into my blogger heart!

      It’s such a shame about Bill, because I really do like Stephen Moyer, and did you see the Details cover he was on? Mmm, sexy, sexy man! But his character is just such a betraying fink that it cancels out his hotness on the show for me.

  • JamieWrites

    Hmm, I’m going to have to have a bit more a think about this.

    But right now I’ll take the opportunity to say that the scene where Eric convinces Sookie to suck the silver shrapnel out of him is easily may favourite out of the three seasons so far. I nearly ruptured something laughing at the look on his face.

    • Spidey Sense

      Hey Jamie!

      I loved the bullet sucking scene so much too. It was absolutely golden how Eric said Sookie was “superb” to Bill afterwards, basically implying that she had given him a sexual favour, which for a vampire I guess she had!

      And him saying “yes, Bill, I do believe I can feel her emotions” when she calls him “a big, lying a-hole” is just fantastic 🙂

      Can’t wait to hear your in-depth thoughts!

  • JamieWrites

    While I like how they deal with free will in True Blood, A part of me wishes there’d been some kind of underlying nefarious explanation for why Sookie was attracted to Bill, ’cause it’s something I’ve never been happy about. And, given that everyone I’ve ever spoken to on the issue has been proudly Team Eric, I’m not alone.

    But, as you’ve noted, it pales into comparison to Twilight, since why either Bella or Edward is able to find the other attractive is a situation far beyond the plotting and writing skills of Stephenie Meyer.

    Oh, and I think the best-ever use of a love spell in fiction is the one in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; how Ron Weasley acts under its influence is just hilarious.

    • Spidey Sense

      Well, I guess the underlying nefarious explanation for Sookie’s attraction in the True Blood series is that Bill allowed her to beaten within an inch of her life so that she would be forced to consume large quantities of his blood and feel sexually attracted to him. Of course, this differs from the book interpretation in the sense that people even feel attraction to vampires they hate if they take in the vamp’s blood, whereas in the books the blood bond only heightened pre-existing attraction.

      So, really, on True Blood this makes aftereffects of the Eric bullet-sucking scene slightly icky, no matter how awesome this scene undoubtedly was. It’s a shame that Ball couldn’t think of a way to present the complexities of blood bonds as presented in the books – it would have been hard to do, but I think it’s made a significant different to how you can interpret characters’ actions and motivations, and not always in a good way.

      Haha! When it comes to Twilight, I’m sticking to your theory of Bella simply smelling good to Edward as the reason for their twu wuv. Meyer really is the luckiest gal in the world, having her (admittedly addictive) fan fiction become so popular!

      Oh, I love both the book and film versions of Ron Weasley under the influence of a love spell :). Rupert Grint’s dopey grin next to Dan Radcliffe’s baffled straight man had me in stitches. Imagining dealing with someone irrationally obsessed with love! It truly is the most dangerous force of all…

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