Sam Merlotte: Where Will This Nice Guy Finish?

June 12, 2009 by  

true-blood-sam-merlotteNice guys always finish last, right?  Well, Sam Merlotte is going to test that theory in season two of HBO’s runaway hit True Blood, as his character is bound to be challenged from all sides.   Sam owns Merlotte‘s,the local bar & grill, and while he is not a Bon Temps native, he fits right in with both the locals and the recent influx of supernatural patrons of he bar.

Sam employs a diverse group of waitresses who share  at least a few traits: they are strong willed and sexy, and they won’t be bossed around, thank you very much.   Arlene, Tara, and Sookie all dish out ample servings of sass while they work, and the clientele seem to eat up the lively exchanges that occur frequently between the help and the patrons.

Sam‘s strong affection for Sookie is occasionally refueled by her erratic flirtations.  But once Bill enters Merlotte’s bar, Sookie’s attention focuses instantly on the pale, brooding vampire.   The chemistry between Bill and Sookie is obvious, as is the danger to both Sookie and Sam‘s romantic prospects. Sam objects to Sookie‘s obvious infatuation with Bon Temp’s first mainstreaming vampire.  But Sookie’s independent nature hardens her resolve against Sam‘s logical and heartfelt concerns. Unswayed by the many doubters within Bon Temps, who feel strongly that she is committing an egregious sin, Sookie‘s attraction to Bill may cost her her reputation, her job or even her life.

Sookie is young and impressionable, and as such, Bill’s “bad boy” vampire image clearly appeals to her more than Sam’s predictability and loyalty.  Sam regrettably finds himself where many nice guys do when they court young women: on the outside looking in.  Yet, with persistence, he penetrates Sookie‘s emotional barriers, and despite being her boss at Merlotte‘s, Sam finally breaks through Sookie‘s resistance and she kisses him.  Seconds later, Sam is rejected by an overwhelmed Sookie who, Sam is appalled to discover, has been kissing BillSam angrily refers to Vampire Bill as “that thing” while protesting, “they are not like us, they can turn on you.”

Sam’s background is a complete mystery to all in Bon Temps, including Sookie.  When Sookie probes him about his past, Sam dismisses her, saying that he essentially raised himself and that he doesn’t care for people much.   Indeed, even the local sheriff, Andy, has queried Sam about this subject, charging that Sam has no record, no income tax filings, and no former addresses.   This is clearly a subject that will be revisited next season, and it will be very interesting to discover Sam’s secrets from his life prior to Bon Temps.

One secret that is out: our friend Sam is a shape-shifterSookie discovers this one night when Sam, guarding her as a collie dog, reverts to his human form while spending the night sleeping at her feet on Bill‘s expansive bed.  No wonder Sookie can only hears individual words and sounds when reading Sam, instead of the babbling thought streams she gets from everyone else.

Sam, rejected by a dismayed Sookie, gravitates to Tara who has been virtually ignored by her childhood crush, Jason. The two love-lost friends find themselves engaging in a second heated bout of sex borne largely out of frustration and loneliness.   After the disappointment of discovering her exorcism has been a sham,Tara aggressively drags Sam away from Arlene and Rene‘s engagement party for a late night “booty call”.  Feeling sorely misused, Sam spurns her telling her he won’t be used as a prop whenever she feels bad.  Drunk and nonplussed, Tara bolts, getting into a drunken car accident caused by a mysterious naked woman, Maryann, and her pig, who later turns up to bail her out of jail.  Thus Maryann lures Tara to her mansion for purposes unknown but undoubtedly having to do with the hapless Sam whom she apparently knows from a previous time and place.  At one point, Maryann mocks Sam saying, “Did you think I wasn’t going to find you?  You silly, silly dog.”   Her taunts suggests that she has unfinished business with Sam, who should have a full plate next season.  Not only will he have to reconcile his business with the new alpha female in Bon Temps, but he will also find himself battling to stay in Sookie’s romantic world, as a new contender, Eric, emerges with an agenda all his own regarding Bon Temp’s most desired waitress.

Even though Sam can be jealous and clingy with Sookie, and a bit prejudiced against the bloodsuckers who occasionally visit his bar, his positives far outweigh any perceived negatives.  He has been very protective and loyal to Sookie despite her erratic and immature behavior and even magnanimously buries a gravely sunburned Bill in the finale, saving him from true death.   He is a sweet, honest, brave, sensitive guy just looking for true love and a good ear scratchin’.  His love for Sookie is unrequited for now, but in Alan Ball‘s world of True Blood, things can change faster than a shape-shifter at the vets.

What will happen to Sam in season two?   Why is Maryann dogging him?  Will Tara ever realize how fetching Sam really is?  In pursuing Sookie is Sam just barking up the wrong tree?  Will Sam thrive in the dog eat dog atmosphere that’s come to Bon Temps? And in the race for romance, where will this nice guy finish, or will he survive to finish at all?

By Kevin Carlin recently has the opportunity to speak with Sam Trammell regarding his role as Sam Merlotte on Alan Ball’s hit TV series True Blood.  To read our wonderful interview with the charismatic Sam Trammell click here to read the interview.

(Photo credit: John P. Johnson / HBO Inc.)

  • Nia

    We all tend to spend to much time on Bill and Eric and forget to talk about the handsome and sexy Sam. I think Sam is a wonderful character and played here much better than in the books. I love his story line and always hope that Sam will get the love he deserves. He needs a good woman. I also have said before that I hope at some point Bill will thank Sam for helping to save his life at the end of season 1, and perhaps they can form some kind of freindship. I am so looking forward to Alan Ball’s insight into the shows character and plot development. Love you Alan and thanks again for bringing us this wonderful show. It makes our humdrum lives a little better!

  • mizmode

    I loved reading this! You should do this more often with other characters. 🙂 Good stuff!