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Nick's First Epiphany
by Amy R.
March 5, 1997
Last Modified October 11, 1999 / Comment on LiveJournal
In 1892, Nick decided to reject his vampiric instincts and cease killing entirely. The story of this resolution unfolds before the viewer as before the character Janette in the fantasy program Forever Knight's (FK) first-season finale, "Love You To Death" (LYTD), after first surfacing in "Cherry Blossoms" (CB) with Janette's assertion that Nick has not killed "in a hundred years." The profound moral epiphany following Sylvaine's murder in LYTD, however, is not the first on Nick's road to humanity. Before he decides "to give up killing altogether" consequent to his understanding that it his not his place to judge guilt and innocence, Nick goes through a period in which he does impose that judgment, a period following an earlier epiphany about good, evil and vampiric hungers.
We never see that earlier epiphany.
In fact, perhaps ironically, the only documentation of its date besides Janette's rough "hundred years" in CB comes in LYTD (1889-1892) when Lacroix taunts Nick with having killed "only the guilty" for the "past three" centuries. All FK flashbacks support this vague chronology.
Only one flashback presents problems: "Hunted" (1850). Given, the man killed was a poacher, breaking the laws of the land. Given, Nick's aristocratic background and attitude would have magnified that petty crime within the story out of all proportion with how the audience perceives it at this end of history. Even so, it is fairly galling to see him bite that man so close to drinking animal blood for the first documented time ("Blind Faith" c. 1880), so close to the pivotal death of Sylvaine (LYTD). In fact, these three episodes may link together in a progressive pattern of Lacroix mistakenly driving Nick toward abstention by forcing him to confront a morality he had been meticulously stepping around and quietly pacifying for three centuries. Lacroix wanted Nick to abandon the vestiges of that morality; instead, Nick took it up wholeheartedly.
In "Hunted," Nick rationalizes the kill, aloud, to the poacher, before biting him. Would Lacroix or Janette have bothered with that? If it amused them, yes. Cat and mouse. But Nick's tone of self-justification points to a different psychological framework. Nick would not have bitten without the rationalization. I like to think that, on reflection, this was what drove him away from Lacroix to the situation of "Blind Faith," with its contemplative isolation and sustaining deer blood. And I like to see what Lacroix caused to happen to Nick's dog, Ralegh, as a small foreshadowing of what he would cause to happen to Sylvaine.
The flashbacks of "Let No Man Tear Asunder" (c. 1830s) pointedly display Nick finding a criminal to kill, in accordance with his first code, following his first epiphany. Chronologically much closer to his Sylvaine-decision than his original insight, the vivid depiction of his hunt in "Let No Man Tear Asunder" (LNMTA) comes in the context of a reluctant Nick being driven to kill by Hans, who flogs the former Crusader with that to which Nick is most vulnerable: guilt.
Given Lacroix's reference in LYTD, we can date that first epiphany to approximately 1592, give or take half a century. Interestingly, that is the least documented period in Nick's biography. The series left almost that entire century completely untouched.
When Episode Flashback Where 1528 "Dead of Night" (DoN) Linz, Austria c. 1490-1540 "Dead Issue" (DI) Hertogenbosch, Holland 1578 "Sons of Belial" (SoB) Spain c. 1640-1690 "Dying To Know You" (DTKY) American Colonies 1660 "Fever" London
Somewhere in this sequence, somewhere after Nick's wife's death (DoN), somewhere after Nick met a man whose faith endured the Inquisition (SoB), somewhere after he watched a girl kill herself for another's crime (DI), but before he went to the American colonies and lived with Matthew (DTKY), Nick changed his life.
SoB is probably close before whatever inspired Nick to change his ways.
"Fever," to lessen the number of hops across the Atlantic and consolidate time with and without Lacroix, probably occurs before DTKY. But it still comes decades after the proper placement of Nick's epiphany, according to Lacroix's remark. Admittedly, his comment was casual, but Nick did not correct him, so it must be close enough for canonical chronology.
It is startling that this period is so rarely addressed. For me, the most significant aspect of this gap lies in the structure by which Nick's first realization is the first of the three necessary moves toward humanity/salvation for Nick. The third will be humanity; the second was deciding not to kill at all (LYTD); the first remains, as described here, a blank slate.
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