True Blood is notorious for toeing the frenemy line. Everyone, including righteous Bill Compton, has at one point been shown to have a little of the dark side in his or her veins. And Eric, who started out as the series’ bad boy, came around and wound up being gentle as a lamb (when he wanted to be) by Season 4. Hell, even perfect little pixie (okay, faerie, you sticklers) Sookie is blowing off a lady wolf’s head in last season’s finale. If there’s anything we should know by now, it’s that good isn’t always good. Evil isn’t always evil. And nothing is ever as it seems. And that’s exactly what we need to take away from Christopher Meloni’s new character.
Roman, Guardian of the Authority (or in layman’s terms: The Boss), is a complicated vampyr, and one who’s clearly got more to show us as the season progresses. But what do we know about this mystery man after his first showing? Is he all bad? Roman is shrouded in darkness and his scenes have all the lightness of a box of silver bullets, plus he’s holding our two heroes hostage just hours after they’ve both had their hearts (metaphorically) ripped out of their chests by a wee sprite of a blonde girl. Is it even possible to see him as anything but evil?
Luckily for fans of feeling conflicted, Roman’s not totally on the wrong side of the fence here. In fact, this fence is not some simple two-sided contraption; it’s got a dimensionally impossible number of sides, leaving us no choice but to really consider each character’s point of view. (It asks a lot of the viewer, but perhaps that’s why the nakedness and sexual encounters are at a minimum this week.
) Roman, as the leader of the Authority, is concerned greatly obsessed
with squashing a movement based on the notion that humans were created as nothing more than food for vampires. He decrees peaceful coexistence with humans absolutely vital. The issue is that he utters all his perfectly reasonable beliefs in a menacing timbre and his methods for keeping said peace can be a bit archaic. Okay, a lot archaic. He’s also weighing the decision to kill Bill and Eric for maybe, possibly
having gotten in the way of his movement. Despite his severe lack of bedside manner, he’s clearly on the same page as both Bill and Eric, who obviously don’t share the Sanguinista notion that fraternizing between humans and vampires is blasphemous. (Sookie is technically a faerie, but she’s only half and at least one of them was unaware of that when his interest began.) Of course, the roadblock is convincing Roman of that truth.
And that’s not going to be easy considering how blunt his methods tend to be. While Bill and Eric are aware of the subtleties available in the realm of punishments (see: burying Russell alive because the True Death was too good for him) and the importance of determining guilt, Roman’s command seems to have three notes: Freedom, excruciating torture, or a stake in the heart. While his take on mainstreaming isn’t exactly in conflict with our heroes’ own viewpoints (although, to be fair, Eric does “try to stay out of politics”), the movement is so greatly threatened that Roman is clearly cloistered in fear of the unknown. And as of now, Bill and Eric are classified in the realm of the unknown. The Guardian has no idea whether these two renegade vampires are actually good, and to some extent, we’re never quite sure either. We believe them to be good; we want them to be good. But we’ve been burned before… and so has Roman.
His violent peace-keeping methods are questionable at best, and severely old-fashioned. They’re also what makes us ponder what is shaping up to be this season’s deeper question: Is a righteous movement worth protecting if it must be maintained by sinister means? It’s one of the great political and theological questions of the last 2,000 years, and here we have it, served up in the form of Mr. Meloni, with a side of pointy white teeth.
Do you think Roman is a villain? Or can you see the merit to his thought process?