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Trying to do at least two/week of these.

Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox

Canada! Emerson Manitoba is... most likely not that wooded.

But the actual important bit about this opening is the fact that it's 1980 and Mary is hunting - which means that she was hunting even after she got married. But the key here is that she says "a werewolf that I've been tracking for a long time" and "just tying up a few loose ends" - which means that this wasn't a "oh, hey, kinda got a hunting itch here, I think I'll pick up a case" and more of a "oh crap, that's that werewolf that got away from us in '69. I should probably go kill that thing, I know it best. THEN I'll be done." Which is a very different mentality. So, it's not so much a "Mary never stopped hunting" - but a "Mary tried really really hard to stop hunting."

And I've talked about that before - probably when I was rewatching S6, in the context of Dean, and how nearly it impossible it is for hunters to ever stop. You basically can ONLY stop if you die, and the Winchesters, it seems, can't even do that unless they both go out and the angels don't need 'em.

Oh, yeah, Jody is in this episode. Which, I've seen in the most recent press is actually Jodi? 

Dean: "Since the last time we saw you - I killed Hitler."
Jody: "Thank you?"

- Hehehe, I just love the delivery of this.

Sam: "We never go to hunter gatherings, outside of ours - Dad always said they were trouble, so you know."
- I love this thread, and I have my own headcanon that's never been disproven... that John kept them away from other hunters not because he was a "loner" or that he accidentally pissed everyone he knew off, but that he KNEW Sam was different from an early age and that some hunters would target him. So, the boys complete isolation in childhood was purposeful/unavoidable. (They couldn't be part of mainstream society because they knew about the supernatural and their dad was a hunter, and they couldn't be part of hunter's society because it wasn't safe for Sam.)

I love the domesticity of a few lines here in the beginning - Sam telling Jody about Dean's preference for erotica, and then saying "be proud of your hobbies, they make you who you are." and Jodi, before they leave, saying that they're going to have to get cleaned up before she spends 5 hours in the car with them. It's just, homey stuff, you know.

Sam commenting on the size of the house - listen guys, houses in Manitoba are SUPER CHEAP. Especially in small towns. I mean, I know it's Asa's families house, but still.

Hunter funeral! I love this, because it's something we've never seen it. Mainly though, I love it because we get a lot of outsider POV on Sam and Dean, which is a particular favourite of mine.

And we meet the witch twins! I'm still pissed about how these two ended up later in the season, but we'll talk about that when we get to it.

I love this moment between Elvis Katz and Sam, where he asks him about being possessed by Lucifer (having heard the story from someone who heard the story from Garth), and the twins are like "whoa! You do not just ask somebody about something that messed up" and Sam is polite as possible and then quickly leaves. I like it because (post S7) the show so RARELY acknowledges Sam's trauma. And I'm not saying that I want woobie!Sam, because I don't, but it'd be nice if they gave Sam's experience a little bit more weight - and yes, I'm bitter about it being ignored (except for by Jared) in later S11, and again, basically S12, though I'll be keeping my eye out to see if it's there more than I think it is. But, once again, if it is, I bet it's just going to be Jared and not the writing.

Dean: "Died on the job. No better way to go."
Sam: "You really believe that?"
Dean: "Yeah, what? you don't? Come on, Sam, it's not like we're in the live 'til you're 90 die in your sleep business. This? This only ends one way."

- Ah, and we circle back to the question of whether retirement is possible. Dean's tried it before. Sam too. In both cases, the other brother showed back up and dragged them back into Hunter. Sam's stated that he's happy hunting, as long as Dean's with him - and I think that's true. I think the only way Sam retires is with Dean dead...or Dean also retired; aye, there's the rub - if Dean's the type that never plans to retire, then that means Sam can never retire either. I'm not saying that hunting with Dean is trapping Sam in a misery - Sam LIKES his life with his brother, but the thing is, Sam knows he would like just as much to be retired with his brother. Dean, not so much. And that's fair.

And then the murders begin.

And also Mary arrives!

Jody and Mary hug!! Then Jody senses the awkwardness and leaves. Good buddy.

Jody really is a good buddy.

Jody: "...if I could have my son and my husband back, I mean really back - I would give anything, absolutely anything to have that. And it would scare the hell out of me... because what if I'd changed, what if they've changed, what if it just didn't turn out the way that I wanted. If you want to talk about anything, absolutely anything, I'm here."
- Seriously, Jody is a REALLY good friend, and also basically calls the entire Mary emotional plot right there.

And Asa's mother blames Mary for her son's wasted life and death. OUCH. Had forgotten that bit.

Sam: "No, obviously, mom, he made his own decisions - and he helped a lot of people, you know."..."We just got you back and he's just scared we're going to lose you again, that because we're hunters, you're going to walk away. But I know that's not true...[...] you saved Asa in 1980 [...] seems like you couldn't stop then, and I'm guessing you can't stop now either. This job, this life, it's crazy and insane, but it's in our blood."
- And Sam's a good son - and basically calls the other side of emotional Mary plot. Well, sort of... he's right in that Mary won't walk away because they're hunters. And he's right in the fact that Asa becoming a hunter isn't her fault, and Sam and Dean becoming hunters isn't her fault. BUT... and this might be my personal interpretation, I think he's wrong about the fact that she couldn't stop hunting. I think she could, and she did (a few loose ends, not withstanding.) And I also think that Sam doesn't realize that Mary isn't going to honour other people's choices. I think the whole reason the BMoL are able to seduce her is because she sees not an efficient hunting team that she can hunt with, but rather a method to rid America of monsters, leaving her boys without any other option BUT to retire. And I think she takes on that role because she feels, as Dean did when he was brought back in S2, that her second chance at life needs to be worth something.

I love the shot of blood falling on Asa's forehead and Sam and Mary looking up to a body roped to the ceiling.

Billy! Billie! Man, I forget how to spell everyone's name.

But Billie warns Dean about what's going on inside. And she uses it to taunt him, but she wouldn't even have appeared if she actually wanted them to die here... which supports my personal (S13-spoilers ahead btw) headcanon that Billie has known she was Death since the first time we saw her, and not only that, but she's the same Death, just in a different costume, because Death KNOWS the Winchesters WELL. So, Billie is always playing the long-game, just like Death always does. Death, in my mind, is a God equivalent. He let Dean kill him. But then she put the fear of Death back into Sam and Dean immediately so that they wouldn't get any ideas - and now she's carefully helping them again without making it seem like they can take her help for granted. Mainly, this headcanon is based on the fact that YOU CAN'T KILL DEATH, RAR! 

I'd forgotten that Sam has to stop Mary from killing Jody, because Mary doesn't know her significance to them.

And the punishment for accidentally killing your BFF and then framing a demon is a good old fasioned social shunning. I have a softspot for that type of punishment. Boycotts and social shunning.

Mary: "Sorry."
Jody: "Oh, I've had worse. I don't know what's going on between you and your boys - but I gotta tell you, Mom to Mom - they're good men, best I've ever met."
Mary: "I know, they're not the problem."

- But, what IS the problem? Mary not being able to live up to their ideal. The fact that her good men are Hunters, that monsters exist. Or is Billie right and it's just that Mary feels like she's wrong.

Death offering Mary a way out - she was a gift from Amara, who is not God, so technically COULD be outside the natural order.

But Mary refuses her offer - which to me, means that the problem isn't that Mary feels wrong in the world - I mean, of COURSE she feels wrong in the world - but I don't think that's the main problem. I think it's a combination of the other two mostly, and only a little bit of the third.

No rewrites on this episode. It's a good one. :) 

As usual, let me know your own thoughts in comments!

This entry was originally posted at https://hells-half-acre.dreamwidth.org/548252.html.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
borgmama1of5
Dec. 16th, 2017 09:16 pm (UTC)
I think the whole reason the BMoL are able to seduce her is because she sees not an efficient hunting team that she can hunt with, but rather a method to rid America of monsters, leaving her boys without any other option BUT to retire. And I think she takes on that role because she feels, as Dean did when he was brought back in S2, that her second chance at life needs to be worth something.

You saw this, and I saw this as the Mary arc for the season, and I thought her behavior made sense throughout if viewed through this lens. Unlike a lot of fans, I never had a problem with Mary's part of the season...

I did have a little bit of a ??? reaction to the whole idea that all along hunters having been hanging out together and Sam and Dean never joined in...your explanation certainly makes sense, and the writer specifically had Sam allude to John steering away from gatherings...it just still seemed a little odd to me that for 12 years they managed to never meet up with a group of other hunters even though they clearly know and have worked with others.
hells_half_acre
Dec. 16th, 2017 10:36 pm (UTC)
After years of being in several fandoms, I think it's mainly just that a lot of fans have a hard time keeping a bead on the emotional character arcs - they get wedded to their own interpretation of a character that remains stagnate, and then either don't like, or can't recognize, when the character has or is changing due to experience.

Or, for instance, they'll marry themselves to one POV and believe ONLY that POV...usually, Dean's, since his is the strongest POV on the show. So, if Dean is annoyed with and doesn't understand another character, then that fan is annoyed with and doesn't understand that other character. I guess it's a problem of empathy - which then could lead me into a rant about the state of political discourse in the world today, so I'll just shut-up now.

I think that Hunter gatherings, outside of just hunter-owned bars like the Roadhouse was, are actually quite rare. Probably only reserved for funerals. But Dean and Sam - having been raised to ONLY interact with other hunters on specific hunts, and also given that at least a subset of the hunting community actively dislikes Sam (and therefore Dean) - are rarely invited to such events.

Think of it like you having a work acquaintance who NEVER comes to the company Christmas party or joins in a social drink after work, or comes to Bill's retirement party... they'll send a card or something, but they just never do the social thing. Eventually, if you're organizing your own birthday party or whatever, and you think "Oh, maybe I'll invite some of my work friends" you'll probably invite Sally, who has the office next to yours and you chat to quite often, but you won't think to invite Bill, who you only work with on a few projects and has made it quite clear through behaviour that he probably wouldn't be interested.

I think it's telling that Sam and Dean CRASH this wake. They didn't know Asa. But anyway, this is why I'm always fascinated by how other hunters talk about Sam and Dean - because it's either people they've worked with before, who know that Sam and Dean are really only interested in the case, or it's people who wouldn't invite them to things because they're becoming legends (Elvis) or people who hate them because of how they interpret those legends (Roy and Walt, Tim and whathisface from S5 who jumped Sam.)

Like, I was raised not to show any physical affection. When I make new friends, they're often super huggy people - at the beginning of our friendship - but eventually, my social signaling eventually trains them NOT to be physically affectionate with me... and that's my UNCONSCIOUS social signalling because I was raised that way. In reality, I quite enjoy hugs and am perfectly happy being hugged all the time - but my body language doesn't know how to say that. I'm like the most awkward person when it comes to cuddling and such, even though I enjoy it. So, unless I'm using my voice and constantly making conscious choices with my bodylanguage, people don't get that. So, I think that's really what's going on with Sam and Dean - they were raised to avoid other hunters. The most we see them interacting with other hunters is sharing info over the phone, but not being in the same room or interacting in physical space - and I think it's because that's how Dean and Sam unconsciously know how to be. CONSCIOUSLY, they can make a decision like "let's go check out this wake" and go against their programming, but it has to be super conscious (and in this case, I think was mostly in part to wanting to be there for Jody, and using their curiosity as an excuse rather than make Jody feel like they were concerned about her having a support-system.)
borgmama1of5
Dec. 16th, 2017 11:37 pm (UTC)
Love your thinky thoughts and they totally make sense now!
supernutjapan
Dec. 17th, 2017 05:48 am (UTC)
I think Mary says later on that the reason she is staying away from the boys is because she blames herself for making a deal with the demon which in turn turned the boys into hunters. She blames herself for everything. (And Dean obviously has his own feelings about that too) I also think that Mary feels 'wrong' though too. Just like Dean felt wrong when he was brought back. That's cannon for me - every time a person is brought back from the dead they feel 'wrong.'
hells_half_acre
Dec. 17th, 2017 07:45 am (UTC)
Yeah, I think that's what a lot of this episode was about - establishing Mary's motivations for what comes later - the guilt, and the wish to make up for it, being chief among them - but also factoring the wrongness, in that, like Dean, she values her own life less because she feels she is not supposed to have it.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )