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Scattershot thoughts on Supernatural

 So, in light of 'The Rapture', here are some random thoughts. I won't have a coherent response to a lot of things until we've reached the end of this roller coaster ride that is season 4. But in the meantime ...



First up, let me say that I really enjoyed this one. I know some folk are disappointed at the lack of direct Winchester involvement, but for me -- unlike 'Family Remains' -- I felt there was direct relevance to the ongoing storyline. Plus, I love Castiel and I liked seeing his vessel's story. The family in 'Family Remains' really were one-off characters, and I wasn't invested. I am invested in Castiel and now Jimmy.  Especially since I think Jimmy's story is absolutely a foreshadowing of what we can expect to see happening to the boys. Most likely Dean, I think. Anyhow.

Gathering some bits and bobs that have happened up till now, I'm wondering if there isn't a pattern. In 'Metamorphosis', Dean told Sam, 'If I didn't know you, I would want to hunt you.' I think it's the use of 'want' that's significant.  Just prior, we learned that Dean isn't only a hunter because his father taught him hunting. We learned it's in his blood. That he's descended from a family of hunters, the Campbells. I think that's huge, and I think it ties into the fact that Jimmy -- and his daughter, Claire -- belong to a bloodline that makes them suitable as angelic vessels. Going back to Dean, Zachariah said to him -- you'll find your way to hunting in the dark every time. And that's tied up with destiny, fate. Dean was destined to do this. He was born a hunter, with the instinct to seek out the monsters. Tie that in with the comment from Castiel as seen in the trailer for next week -- your brother will become something you're compelled to kill. And look at that word -- compelled. No choosing there. The urge is inbuilt. You see evil, you kill it. Pure instinct. Dean has to kill evil, because the urge is in his blood. It's what he was born to do. For Sam, the blood connection is a corruption. He wasn't born to go bad, his blood was tainted as an infant. I think his course was charted then, and if Dean was fated to be the man who started and then stops Lucifer rising, then Sam is the dark flipside of that coin.

Another thought. Go back to season 3, 'Dream A Little Dream.' Confronting himself, dragging harsh truths into the light, Dean realised he'd been raised as his father's blunt instrument. A soldier. A weapon. Jump forward to 'On the Head of  a Pin' -- what does Anna say to Castiel? 'Why are you letting Dean do this? You could ruin the only weapon you have.'

So is that Dean's ultimate purpose? Was he born not only a hunter, but a weapon? To be used first by John in his drive for revenge and to find the  YED, but ultimately and more importantly by God, by the angels, in the fight against Lucifer? And does that explain Castiel's shocking about face? Consider the previews again. Castiel asks Dean, are you ready to surrender yourself and serve God and his angels?  And Dean, with nowhere else to turn, says yes. Consider the last thing Castiel said to Dean in "The Rapture.' I serve heaven, I don't serve man. I certainly don't serve you. The second time we met Castiel he described himself as God's warrior. Like  Dean, he's a soldier.

The soldier does not serve the weapon. The soldier uses the weapon, as harshly and as brutally as he needs to, until the job is done. And if, in getting the job done, the weapon is destroyed? So be it.

And there's the problem. Because Castiel had reached the point where he was prepared to put the welfare of the weapon above the purpose of the mission. He stood on the line in 'Monster'. He bent the rules, he didn't break them. But in the opening of 'The Rapture', it seems he was about to cross over that line.  There's speculation it has something to do with what Chuck saw, which was so big Zachariah stepped in and warned him to keep his mouth shut or else.  So maybe that's what Castiel has learned and was preparing to tell Dean -- because, like Chuck, he was horrified by it and wanted to keep Dean safe from it.  Whatever it was, it was significant. It has Castiel freaked out because he has broken a cardinal rule -- he's let himself get too close. And that's when heaven stepped in. Yanked him home and gave him a serious wake up call about where his priorities lie. And they're not with keeping Dean safe. They're in making sure he's ready to use when they need him.

Jump back to Jimmy. I think it was significant that he said to the boys, Being used by an angel is like being chained to a comet. I think Dean is about to get chained to that same comet. And I think he's about to experience what Jimmy has experienced. Loss of self-determination. Subordination of everything, of self, to the service of God, of the angels, in the quest to avert the apocalypse. Now what that means for Dean long term, I don't know. Remembering what Tessa said to him in Holiday -- probably nothing good. Look what happened to Jimmy. He kept his family safe, at the cost of his old life. He has nothing to look forward to now but pain, as Castiel uses him to the bitter end. That's the price of selfless service to God, in this war. Jimmy's not a weapon -- he's a cavalry horse. He'll be ridden until it's over.

At this point I don't know if they're going to break Castiel down, so that despite his and heaven's best efforts, he finds himself dropping his barriers again. Dramatically it would certainly up the ante -- and I'm all for that. And I don't know that they'd have spent so much time showing that growing friendship only to abandon it completely. I really don't want them to, I love that relationship. But this twist is certainly fascinating -- if Dean does indeed agree to serve God and his angels then that means he's serving Castiel. And Dean has never subordinated himself to anyone except John.  Was his desperate prayer in Monster the beginning of that journey? Jump to Castiel's comment to Dean in Holiday -- every time I ask you to do something, you seem to do the exact opposite. So that'll have to change. Castiel, it seems, is about to become Dean's superior.

As for Sam's journey, I don't know where to start. If Dean is heaven's weapon then it seems Sam is hell's pawn, used and abused and manipulated and twisted to suit an evil purpose.  Of course, both brothers are being used. But just as a demon takes a human host and rides it to destruction, never bothering to heal any wounds, letting the injured host die once the demon departs -- so it seems that hell is riding Sam, and will abandon him broken when it's done.  And while being used by heaven isn't kind either -- as Jimmy attests -- the sacrifice is made willingly and a choice is offered and at the end, there is peace for heaven's pawn. And even though Castiel is implacable, there is also compassion and pity and affection -- Castiel in Claire clearly feels for Jimmy -- which ties back to Castiel's comment to Dean in Head of a Pin, where he says -- there's a concern I'm getting too close to the humans in my charge. Of course at that moment, Castiel didn't believe it.  Or at least, didn't think it was so important. Believed he could handle his growing attachment to Dean. And now we don't know if he actually believes he was in error,  or if he's just reeling from what Anna implies was painful punishment for his lapse in judgement. Or maybe it's both and that's the heart of his journey.  How to balance what must be done with how he feels.

I love the fact that the show is giving us a heaven that is just as ruthless in its pursuit of victory as is hell. God never promised the ride would be easy. Just ask Job, or any number of saints and prophets who came to grisly ends for their faith and service. And this is war, the ultimate war, and there are always casualties in war. The question is, which soldiers are suffering and dying for a good cause, to serve the light, to save the innocent ... and which are being used  -- or are using themselves -- to bring about darkness and despair?

As I said, I think the point of focusing on Jimmy and his family in this episode was a means to foreshadow the cost to the Winchesters, and to highlight the sacifices they're going to make. Dean has been shown up close and personal what it costs to serve heaven. He's going into the deal with his eyes wide open, no illusions. In meeting Jimmy, in witnessing Jimmy's fate, he's been given a preview of what he can expect if he surrenders himself to his destiny as heaven's weapon. Which only makes him more heroic. When Jimmy first agreed to host Castiel, he didn't really understand what that meant. He had some kind of idealised, romantic notion about serving God. There was even a part of him that was proud of being chosen. There was some ego involved. It became about him, as much as about his faith and serving God. And then, like Castiel, he got seriously schooled on what being in service to heaven  really means. So his choice the second time, to take Castiel back, to become a vessel again, was made with true knowledge, true understanding. No more illusions, no more ego. It was a selfless act this time, the decision made knowing the terrible cost. And I think his sacrifice serves to make sure that Dean will also have no more illusions. When he gives himself in service to Castiel -- as the preview suggests he will -- he does it with a profound understanding of the consequences -- because of Jimmy. And that, I think, was the ultimate purpose of this episode. Or at least, one of them.

Whew! Sorry this was a bit grasshoppery. So much stuff going on. But those thoughts have been pinging, and I had to get them out!


( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 3rd, 2009 08:42 am (UTC)
Live journal cuts.

Put this where you want it to start:

and this where you want it to end:

You can add text="your text here" inside the first set of brackets is you want.

May. 3rd, 2009 08:44 am (UTC)
Humph the instructions don't show up. Let me try again.

To start a lj cut use (lj-cut) but use < (less than in maths) and this > (more than in maths) instead of ( and )

To end (/lj-cut) except with the less than, more than maths signs.
(no subject) - karenmiller - May. 3rd, 2009 09:04 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 3rd, 2009 09:29 am (UTC)
How you do an LJ-cut depends on which format you use when posting something.

- If you open a new post, you'll see two tabs in the upper right corner, one says HTML the other says RICH TEXT. Rich text means you'll get editor functions like in Word so you can format your text easily instead of needing to use html codes directly.

- HTML: If you use the HTML option you'll add a lj-cut easily. It looks like this

blah blah blah blah <--- your text that appears before the cut

<*lj-cut text="this is a lj-cut"> <--- tells LJ to open a cut

blah blah blah blah <--- your text that appears behind the cut

<*/lj-cut> <--- tells LJ to close a cut

In both lines that define the lj-cut you need to leave the * away. I just added them so LJ doesn't recognise them as a HTML code in this post. :)

- RICH TEXT: If you use the Rich Text option, there is a little button (looks a bit like small text) that will do the lj-cut automtically for you. When you want the text you are about to write in a cut, you simply press the button and a small window will open and into that window you'll type a short line you want to have as your cut. Like in my example 'This is a LJ-cut'. It's the line that will be visible for your flist and signals the cut. After that you write your text and LJ will simply put everything you write automatically into the cut.

Personally I prefer HTML and I've been told that RICH TEXT doesn't always work properly. But you'll see what you are more comfortable with. :)

Excellent post, btw. :)

Edited at 2009-05-03 09:38 am (UTC)
May. 3rd, 2009 09:40 am (UTC)
Sigh. Just tried again and still no joy. See my comment above re my inability to process written instructions. Seriously? It's the way my brain is wired. You should see me trying to read a map!

Glad you liked the mindfart. I know the ep bothers you. I still hold out hope that once it's seen across the spread of what I think is the 3-act finale, it'll work. *g* But only because I know how awful it is to be disappointed.
(no subject) - galathea_snb - May. 3rd, 2009 09:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karenmiller - May. 3rd, 2009 10:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - galathea_snb - May. 3rd, 2009 10:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karenmiller - May. 3rd, 2009 10:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - galathea_snb - May. 3rd, 2009 11:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karenmiller - May. 3rd, 2009 11:47 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - galathea_snb - May. 3rd, 2009 12:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karenmiller - May. 4th, 2009 12:38 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 3rd, 2009 10:04 am (UTC)
Thanks for the heads up. This was very interesting and it even made me think there might be a point to the epi after all. It makes me sad that Dean is so willing to sacrifice himself for everything even when the cost is incredibly high.
May. 3rd, 2009 10:11 am (UTC)
Yeah. But isn't that the essence of the hero's journey? Isn't that the centrepiece of the Christian message? Christ destroyed himself to save the world. He walked into the fire knowing how badly he'd get burned, because that was his purpose. I don't know if I'd go so far as to say they're paralleling Dean and Christ *g* but there are echoes of the hero's journey there, I think.

And you're welcome! *g*
May. 3rd, 2009 12:01 pm (UTC)
Hi there!

Here's a simple way to keep spoilery stuff undercover, without understanding HTML! I use it myself sometimes, when LJ is being stubborn. In your main post, just put a few non-spoilery sentences. Then, comment to yourself and put the spoilery stuff in the comment. Mention in your main post that the comments will be spoilery, including the promos. How's that sound?

This is a very interesting analysis. I've seen a LOT of people complaining that the episode was boring, didn't have enough Winchesters, didn't mean anything, had no connection to the storyline, etc. etc. But I completely agree with you - both "Family Remains" and "Cris Angel" focused *very* much on one-shot guest characters. Yes, there was thematic connection to the Winchesters, but their stories were nowhere near as connected to the main plotline as was Jimmy's.

I also like your suggestion that Sam has to save *himself* in order to become an adult. We've become so invested in the idea that Dean has to save him (since that was the mission handed to him by John) that I think we do completely overlook what that rescue would mean to Sam.

Thank you for this - I'm generally really terrible at meta, and it's a treat for me to find a nice analysis of what's going on, what it means to the characters, and where the story might be headed in the future. I'll look forward to reading your thoughts on the next two episodes.
May. 4th, 2009 12:43 am (UTC)
Thanks for the tip! I've got a fallback, yay!*g*

Glad I'm making a little bit of sense! *g* I don't think this was a perfect episode. I think structurally it's a bit clunky, but thematically and dramatically and emotionally, it worked very well for me. But I know there are fans who are invested/interested only in the brothers, who don't like the opening out of the story. I love it, I think it's brilliant, and I'm sorry for the folk for whom the story shifting hasn't pleased. I'm just relieved it's working for me!

I think there's an emotional romanticism attached to the notion that 'someone' will come and save us when we're in peril of some kind. But the harsh truth is, while a helping hand is good, unless we learn how to save ourselves we've not achieved true adulthood. I think. And I think this is especially true when we're in trouble of our own making. It's the tough love school. If you keep on bailing someone out, instead of making them bail themselves out, they never learn, they never grow, they never move past the rut they're stuck in. And that's not healthy.
May. 3rd, 2009 04:58 pm (UTC)
Your meta got me thinking about why Dean would suddenly decide to serve God, which got me to thinking about Sam and his belief in God. And suddenly I realized I'd written a BOOK as a comment, so instead of splattering it all over your journal (it probably wouldn't have fit in one comment box), I polluted my own journal. So my longish response can be found here:


Thanks for the interesting discussion! I love when meta inspires more thoughts. :)
May. 4th, 2009 12:37 am (UTC)
I seriously have no problem with anyone smart, interesting and insightful romping all over my LJ. Seriously.

Once we've got to the end of this season, if I can squeeze in the time I'm going to do a great big meta on faith in seasons 1-4. So much to say!
(no subject) - bowtrunckle - May. 5th, 2009 06:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karenmiller - May. 9th, 2009 11:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 4th, 2009 02:20 am (UTC)
Ack. Now you've gone & done it. I'm a Supernatural Virgin (I know, I know). It started at a point in my life that commitment to a series was not happening *lol*, then it was, oooh, that could look interesting *damn be that timeslot*. (Was one of the joys of previously watching ridiculously late showings ie post 10.30pm series).

Now I go and read this post....by the end I'm trying to work out when I can go hire out the previous seasons, start from the beginning and work my way up. Alas, a m/s is more pressing & I can't see it happening as soon I'd like.

So.......yay on the spoiler-be-seen-ness of it all! Damn, my need for sleep.
May. 4th, 2009 08:59 am (UTC)
LOL! The show's changed a lot since season 1, it's become far more dense and layered and complex. A lot of people feel it kicked into gear with the season 1 ep Home. And while I like Home, I didn't really fall until Faith, which is quite late in season 1. Now I like all of it, but it was Faith that got its hooks into me.

Once you do get a chance to sit down and watch the show, it'll be an interesting experience because you'll be able to watch it sequentially, without interruption, and that makes a big difference. Watching it 'live' is like reading one chapter of a book each week, with sometimes long breaks between chapters. And that impacts the way the story is experienced, often to its detriment, I think. I much prefer being able to 'read' it whole.

I'll be interested to see what you think, once you do get a chance to sit down with it.
(no subject) - gloripebbles - May. 4th, 2009 10:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - etoile444 - May. 4th, 2009 10:13 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 4th, 2009 05:48 am (UTC)
I couldn't agree with you more - and there is one more thing I want to add that makes my skin crawl just a bit. In one of the out takes for the season Castiel tells Uriel that Heaven has said they can't kill Sam or Ruby. Seeing this episode and knowing that Chuck knows about the blood drinking which in turn Heaven knows, then that niggling icky worm of a thought suggests that perhaps the reason Heaven had Sam and Ruby left alone is because they needed a lever and that lever was Sam's addiction to Demon blood. We know Dean will do anything to save Sam and perhaps and perhaps the promise to save Sam is how Dean is brought to the point where he willing agrees to submit to heaven, just as Jimmy did to save Claire. I just hate thinking that Heaven knowingly left Ruby alive to corrupt Sam to get to Dean though

May. 4th, 2009 08:55 am (UTC)
Hmm. I must confess to something -- I don't consider cut scenes to be part of the story. Which makes me a pedantic pain in the arse, I know ... but unless it's in an episode, it never happened, in my brain. And that kind of pretzels me when they include the cut scenes on the dvds ... then I have to give them some weight. But if they never appear? Then they didn't happen, for me.

But that's just me!
May. 4th, 2009 10:15 am (UTC)
Just thinking....so if it's in Dean's blood to hunt. Then wouldn't it be in Sam's too? And didn't Sam prove that in "Terrible Life" and even say it? (Though I think that line was met for laughs).

So will Sam want to hunt himself? OK, so that was goofy....but is his dual blood a conflict? I say yes, and likely why he never really blossomed as a psychic kid.
May. 4th, 2009 10:30 am (UTC)
Oh see, now I've gone all funny Goofy visual hunting & Sam on that.....*LOL*!
May. 4th, 2009 11:35 am (UTC)
This is such a great post! Thanks for putting it together and giving meaning and order to the thoughts I had after the episode.

I think Dean is about to get chained to that same comet.
It is such a scaring thought, but yes, I agree.

In the ending scene with Jimmy and Castiel, when Jimmy was accepting to go back to being Castiel's vessel, in his motivations for doing so, I was so seeing a glaring parallel between Dean and Jimmy. A parallel that for me was highlited by the many times Jimmy said I'm done and it's over during the episodes and how it reflected with the point where Dean is, of being so tired and done with everything.

For the entire lenght of the season, Dean's resisted the angels'call. He's reisted doing what they ask of him, trying to find a third way, sticking by Sam in his own unique way, but sticking by him nonetheless. I see what he's doing now - locking Sam in the panic room - as the last, desperate attempt of finding that third way. Perhaps, this is the last expression of his free will, given what we've seen in the preview and that scene you point out.

Also, I found interesting comparing the scene when Jimmy screams at Castiel, calling him on his promise about protecting his family, with what Castiel told Jimmy later when he was possessing Claire: that, of course they would keep their promises. It struck me as very important and now I'm wondering if that promise, of protecting Sam, will be what make Dean give himself over to God's will to be their weapon as Anna called him. Another deal, so to speak.

As for where Sam stands in all of this, I guess it depends on his actions in the next episodes. He's such a wild card at the moment, riding the high of the powers and his addiction to the blood that it's hard seeing what he'll do. But I do agree that Sam needs to save himself. Sure, there's no shame in being helped, but at this point in the story, Sam needs to be the at least in control of that.
May. 4th, 2009 02:03 pm (UTC)
We learned it's in his blood. That he's descended from a family of hunters, the Campbells. I think that's huge, and I think it ties into the fact that Jimmy

See, I find this somewhat disappointing. Obviously the show can develop its mythology however it likes, but I think many Star Wars fans were disappointed with the midi-chlorians explanation of the Force, and it seems to me Kripke is going the same route here (albeit vaguer) with the blood explanation (not to mention Sam's "destined to change the force" storyline). Although, speaking of SW it does make me wonder if in Sam's case, the YED chose potential angelic vessels not just to corrupt them for angelic use, but because demon blood added to that bloodline amplified power?

It also seems to me that the purpose of the last episode as well as this one was to show Dean that he should never allow himself to be used in the purpose of others again (as he did in Pin). In JtS, he realized that John was not compelled to make the choices he did, it was just one possibility, and that perhaps his outlook on things isn't the same. In Rapture, he saw what it meant to become a tool of angels. Jimmy went from making that choice for his own ego, as you put it, to doing it to save his child from a fate he now understood. I think Dean used to once put a lot of stock in his own role as a hero, something he aimed to be because that's how he saw his father. I think in JtS he realized that being a hero to others means very little when it comes at the cost of those closest to you.
May. 4th, 2009 03:09 pm (UTC)
Very very good -- I agree with your comments on Dean as a weapon - to be used to the very end - in whatever shape as long as it is functional.

Dean's eyes are very wide open, yet wasn't there a part in the spoiler where he is rebelling against what Zach wants him to do? I've only seen the promo once and it went by so fast. Is Zach wanting Sam to use his demon power -- wanting Dean to give him demon blood or something and Dean is saying no - he won't stand by and see him being turned into a monster? I truly am not sure now what the promo said.

We know God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son -- only to "take it back" when it appeared that Abraham was truly ready to make this sacrifice. Is Dean going to have to go that far as well -- to the brink of killing Sam -- but with God stepping in to stop it - last minute?

Amazing that we still don't know for sure what direction Kripke is going to take this. Most shows don't have so many options -- it's great.

Thanks for your review, although my comment doesn't really make sense, the jist is that I felt it was insightful and I gained some knowledge from it.
May. 6th, 2009 10:08 am (UTC)
Wow, I really liked your summary on blood and then your thoughts on Dean being used as a weapon. And word on Jimmy just being a cavalry horse - so sad but true.

Totally agree with you that all illusions and blinders are off and as of now, all important secrets have been revealed which probably means that now the action aka the war will finally begin.
( 33 comments — Leave a comment )

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