One of the reasons I love Forever Knight is the fact that it can bear up to endless analysis; to a large extent, I feel, it is impossible to read too much into the show. And in its portrayal of female characters, it has created (perhaps accidentally, perhaps not) perfect examples of three classic female archetypes.
It has long been my belief that there is a fundamental difference in how men and women are portrayed in those stories that demonstrate sexuality to be a function of sex and danger. The difference is this: men are shown to be sexy because they are dangerous, and women are shown to be dangerous because they are sexy.
The idea of the woman who is dangerous because she is sexy (see any film noir for an example) comes out of an age-old fear of the power of a woman's sexuality, or, the Eve syndrome. The paradigm tells of the basically good man who meets an immoral/amoral sexual woman and, blinded by lust, throws his good judgment out the window. The logical extension of this paradigm is that women's sexuality must be controlled, that women are less morally developed than men, and that women are more emotional than men.
In Forever Knight, I believe we have a perfect example of the paradigm. Our basically good man, is, of course, Nick -- a male character who is sexy because he is dangerous.
Sure, Geraint Wyn Davies is an attractive man, and would be considered so danger or no danger. But what are some of the fans' favourite episodes? Feeding the Beast, The Fix, Sons of Belial. Why these particular ones? Why does a faction like the Dark Knighties exist? I believe it's because when Nick is walking that edge, we see the danger in him, and that is very attractive. Sexy because he is dangerous.
Now let's look at Janette. No question, she's dangerous. She's a vampire, she has almost unlimited power. But is the vampirism, the danger, what makes her sexy? I don't think so. Almost every time we see Janette at all, she's with Nick. But Janette poses no threat to Nick, at least physically. Where is the "danger" that we sense coming from, then? It's coming from her sexuality -- Janette is portrayed as a threat not because she could kill, but because she could tempt. Because she could lure Nick into losing his head, losing control. Because she is sexy. Dangerous because she is sexy.
Now let's look at Janette's actions. Not once, in all of Forever Knight, has she ever disobeyed Lacroix. Not once, in all of Forever Knight, has she made a moral choice. And by moral choice, I mean she has never been confronted with a dilemma between "right" and "wrong" and gone on to make a decision based on her beliefs. No, when Janette is confronted with dilemmas, for her the choices come not as moral issues, as they do for both Nick and Lacroix, but as emotional issues -- Nick chooses between right and wrong, but Janette chooses between her emotional attachment to Nick and her loyalty to Lacroix. This, too, is part of the Eve paradigm -- a woman who has a less-developed sense of morality than men, a woman who makes decisions based on emotion.
The general Forever Knight situation works like this: Nick needs Janette's help, and goes to her to ask for it. Janette agrees to help, not because she believes that Nick is right, but because he is in need -- she responds to the emotional plea. Then (in some episodes) Lacroix interferes and demands that Janette betray Nick in some way. She agrees, not because she believes that Lacroix is right, but because of her loyalty or fear (or, as I think, her desire for Lacroix's affection). Once again, the decision is based on emotion, not a moral sense.
It may seem odd to claim that Lacroix is a moral figure, but I believe that he is, so long as "morality" is defined a an internally consistent code of standards for behaviour. His morals are not human ones, certainly, but his constant instructions to Nick as well as his own actions reveal his sense of right and wrong (Blood Money, Ashes to Ashes). He and Nick are, therefore, on opposite sides of a moral struggle.
Not so Janette. Janette is the perfect daughter -- she's obedient, even when she disagrees with her father. When in the presence of Lacroix, she's quiet, unobtrusive, and would never dare to contradict him, even when he is forcing her to do something terrible to Nick (Father's Day, Bad Blood).
Janette, therefore, is the direct descendent of the biblical Eve. It is her attractiveness, her "darkness," after all, that persuaded Nick to become a vampire in the first place. She tempts her man to do things he knows are wrong, and, interestingly, like the Eve of Genesis, her curse is obedience. What does God say to Eve as punishment, after all? "Your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you." The first face: Janette is Eve after the Fall.
The second face can be found in Lacroix's other daughter, Divia. Divia is dangerous, but not because she is sexy -- she is not a temptress. We fear her, partially because she can and will kill. But I think the real danger Divia poses is in her rejection of the roles first Qa'Ra, and then Lacroix, try to force her to play. Divia will not stay in the box her fathers try to put her in. She is a threat in her rebelliousness, in her desperate refusal to be anyone else's image. She crosses the line by becoming a sexual aggressor, not through coy temptation, but through demand. "I will choose my own way," she says. And then she speaks one of my favourite lines in all of Forever Knight: "Daughter. Mother. Lover. Why can't I be all three?" It is the cry of all women who have found themselves trapped by society's conflicting demands: Why can't I pick my own role? Why can't I combine the elements? Why must I be either madonna or whore, mother or child, wife or lover?
Divia is, in many ways, a representation of a twisted, fearful view of feminism. She will not stand for the current hierarchy, she's vicious, she's independent and powerful, and she has unnatural/voracious sexual appetites. Seen in this context, her statement about wanting to bathe in mortal flesh and blood appears to be a deliberate addition by the writers, intended to present a moral lesson on the pitfalls of such impudence.
Divia may be misguided. She may make some bad choices. But she's trying. She's making the attempt to overcome the expectations of others. Divia rejects the rules; Janette internalizes them.
Divia, therefore, is the descendent of Lilith. According to rabbinical tradition, Lilith was Adam's first wife. God banished her from the Garden of Eden because of her rebellious ways. Lilith insisted on taking the "dominant" position during sex with Adam, and for this, she was cast out. Eventually she became the "mother" of all of the demons, all of the monsters, all of the creatures of the night. She became associated with evil, with sexuality. The second face, then: Lilith, in the form of a child.
For the third face, we are left with Natalie. Natalie is a fascinating character, as I believe she is caught between Divia and Janette. She talks like a rebel; she argues with Nick, she challenges him, she gives the appearance of being a feminist, modern, independent woman. But in actual behaviour, she is actually rather deferential. She has spent the show chastely worshiping a man from afar, and has continued to work to help him, despite his numerous betrayals. Once, early on, she stuck one tiny toe out towards developing a sexuality of her own (Only the Lonely), but got punished so badly that she never tried anything like that again. She has even been rewarded for her lack of promiscuity: in Dance by the Light of the Moon, Nick gives her a gift of perfume as if to honor her for being unlike Janette and Anne -- unlike them, in the sense that she does not tempt a man to have sex. She allowed Nick to completely take over her life, until there was nothing for her but him. And ultimately, she asked him to kill her, rather than live without him.
Who does Natalie resemble? She is like Adam's second wife, after Lilith but before Eve, a character from the Midrash. Adam watched as his second wife was constructed from the inside-out, but was so repelled by the sight of her innards that he couldn't bear to consummate their relationship. Adam's second wife remained a virgin, loving purely and without sexuality, rejected for her all-too-obvious mortality.
Three wives for Adam. Three faces of womanhood.
Daughter. Mother. Lover.