So, let's talk about the first of our final three episodes.
All in the Family
So, we begin where we left off...
Dean: "We're not going anywhere with you. How do we even know that you're really Chuck? And not some-"
*Chuck snaps his fingers and returns them to the Bunker*
Dean: "-crazy spell or manifesta-tion."
-It is a pretty effective way to prove he's a powerful being.
Kevin: "Guys! You're looking stressed - especially you - it's cool, trust Chuck. Whatever it is he needs you to do, he must think you can handle it."
- So, on the one hand, I'm happy to see Kevin again and get some closure on this story-line - on the other hand, I hate that they did this in the first two minutes of an unrelated episode. To me, Kevin and his mother deserved a much better send-off than that. Like, we didn't even see Linda's reaction to her son being sent to heaven and now being gone.
- On a complete sidenote: I REALLY hate that saying/platitude about how "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." I see it written all the time in the women's health community that I moderate and it REALLY grates on the nerves... mainly because YES HE DOES! If he never gave anyone anything more than that could handle, then people wouldn't DIE. If you posit that God exists in this universe, then by definition ANYTHING that proves fatal - severe depression, cancer, etc, everyone would survive them. Oh, but Alix, maybe God means that you can handle dying. Okay great, fine... but then you reveal this saying for what it really is - which is whenever someone expresses fear for the future (I see this especially when it comes to anti-choice/pro-life people) they're basically shutting down the complaint with "It is God's Will that you should suffer." Only they're shaping it up like if you DON'T handle it, then it must be a personal failing on your part, because God TOTALLY THOUGHT YOU COULD HANDLE IT. Only, God is never wrong, so therefore he KNEW you couldn't handle it and did it anyway...so, yup, basically "Shut-up, it is God's Will that you should suffer." Great, thanks for the help. Holding that belief is really going to make the world a better place. What? Someone needs my help? Well, it's God's will that they should suffer, so I'm not going to do anything. RAR. Okay, sorry, side-rant over.
Kevin: "I always trusted you."
Dean: "Yeah, that ended well."
Sam: "How did you, are you okay?"
Kevin: "Yeah, I mean, given the circumstances-"
Chuck: "I don't mean to interrupt, kind of a plateful here. And Kevin, you've been in the veil long enough, it's time you had an upgrade."
*turns Kevin's ghost into his soul and sends it to heaven*
- See! Even that is interrupted. Like, the Winchesters could have gotten BETTER CLOSURE. Or something, or felt like they actually helped. But nope - we get that Dean is still beating himself up over getting Kevin killed, and Sam doesn't really get to say anything. And Kevin doesn't get to say anything, and then it's back to business and Kevin is gone forever.
- I mean, part of my anger is the fact that I kind of hate the fact that they killed Kevin to begin with, even though I know they kill everyone. But sigh. The good news is that I wrote a fix-it crossover where Kevin ended up living in London with a queerplatonic couple, so I kind of just pretend that's what really happened now.
Dean: "Holy crap."
- I do love that line before the jump though.
Sam: "Okay, so, Chuck, or I guess we don't call you that, huh?"
Chuck: "I prefer it."
Sam: "Okay, sorry, you're just going to have to give Dean and me a moment to process. We didn't know you were around - well, we knew about Chuck, we just didn't know about Chuck - I mean, I was HOPING you were around, I prayed - and I don't know if they got lost in the spam or-"
- So, ever since S2, I've sort of used the same measure for quality of writing - and that's "Do the writers remember that the other Winchester brother exists and also has an inner life." The reason is that in S2, Kripke basically admitted that he forgot Sam existed and was also grieving his father, because Kripke, personally, was way more fascinated with the story of Dean's grief. Now, I'm, of course, not claiming that we never addressed it at all or that ALL writers ignored Sam's inner life - but ever since Kripke said that, I've sort of had it in my mind when critiquing a show, and also when writing, that GOOD writing remembers that ALL characters have a complex inner life. In this season, I think the writers forgot about Sam... or rather, they decided to use Sam as a tension relief, rather than as a character.
- I think this COULD have been an even more fascinating conversation if the writers had remembered that Sam is our resident believer. He's the Winchester who has faith. Dean is an atheist. Even when confronted with God, Dean doesn't believe in God.
- It's actually a really fascinating thing about the Winchesters. Because Dean believed in DAD, but not in God, and Sam believed in God, but not in dad. After John's death, Dean had to come to grips with the reality of dad as a flawed (sometimes harmful) individual and not a diety to be obeyed. Meanwhile, Sam had to do the same with God/Heave. He had to come to terms with the fact that despite his faith, Heaven was activily against him... Heaven was flawed and the angels were mostly harmful. I think, what I'm saying, is almost that this conversation that is about to take place between Chuck and Dean, maybe SHOULD have taken place between Chuck and SAM. It's not Dean that replaced John with God, that's Sam's game. Dean replaced God with John, and has long since come to terms with the fact that he was wrong to do so.
Dean: "Here's the thing, Chuck. And I mean no disrespect - I'm guessing you came back to help with the Darkness, and that's great, that's fantastic, um, but you've been gone a long long time. And there's so much crap, that has gone down on the earth for thousands of years - plagues and wars, slaughters, and you were, I don't know - writing books, going to fan conventions. Were you even aware or did you just tune it out?"
- So, this is the part of the conversation that DOES fit with Dean's personality. Because Dean is responsible to a fault... to Dean, if there is suffering in the world that he can alleviate, then he feels he is morally responsible to do so. To do nothing would be a source of shame. It's why, fundamentally, he couldn't be entirely happy retiring with Lisa and Ben, and it's part of the reason why he gave Sam such a hard time when Sam tried to retire in S8. I'm not saying that Dean is 100% right of course, because everything within reason, but he's not 100% wrong either. If you pass someone getting beaten on the street and you don't even call the cops, you're a terrible person... but, that being said, you also shouldn't be expected to become batman. Dean takes it to the batman level. Anyway, my point is, Dean is disappointed in God, because if he were in God's shoes, he'd be disappointed with himself.
Dean: "People pray to you. People build churches to you and fight wars in your name, and you did nothing."
- I like the distinction of "people" here, where Dean does not include himself. Dean IS my favourite canonical atheist on TV.
-BUT, I feel like this line SHOULD have been a "we" and SHOULD have been a Sam line. You can take the bumbling as a starting point - "I prayed - I don't know if they got lost in the spam-" and the follow-up question of "Why didn't you answer?" Dean got to have the same conversation with John back in S1, and it was powerful "Call you? Like I called you from Lawrence, like Sam called you when I was dying?" That was when Dean started confronting the fact that John was an imperfect father, and not someone they could rely on (had NEVER been someone they could rely on) it was when Dean started letting go of the denial. And it'd be nice if Sam could have a similar moment with the diety/father that HE believed in.
Chuck: "...I was so sure if I kept stepping in - teaching, punishing - these beautiful creatures that I created would grow up. But it only stayed the same, and I saw that I needed to step away and let my baby find its way. Being overinvolved is no longer parenting, it's enabling."
Dean: "It didn't get better."
Chuck: "I've been mulling it over, and from where I sit, I think it has."
Dean: "Well, from where I sit, I think you left it and you're trying to justify it."
Chuck: "I know you had a complicated upbringing, Dean, but don't confuse me with your dad."
-See, wouldn't those lines make so much sense if they were with SAM. God never abandoned Dean, he abandoned SAM. Dean never had God to begin with - you can't be abandoned by someone who was never in your life to begin with. Sam, meanwhile, mr. silent in this conversation, DID have God, PRAYED to God, hoped for salvation FROM GOD...it was SAM that God abandoned, or may have seemed to. (The fact that God saved Sam in 5x01, and rebuilt Cas at least twice for Sam and Dean's benefit, are all signs that God WASN'T actually hands off at all, despite his words here.)
Before we move on from this scene - I do want to mention that both Jensen and Rob knocked it out of the park and did a fantastic job with what was written. I really do think that the actors on this show elevate the writing to a level that it could never reach on it's own.
Now we move on to Amara torturing Lucifer.
Lucifer: "I'm no fan of pops, but he did make all of, you know, everything. That's something you could never do - because all you ever wanted was nothing. It's not too inspiring is it. You're strong, Amara, you may defeat him, but you will never be him."
- I think by nature, she can't be. But I wish they had gone with the consumption metaphor rather than the nothing metaphor, as I found consumption far more interesting.
- Also, I know some people don't like Misha's Lucifer - but I think he does an absolutely amazing job. He even has a certain cadence to his words that Pellegrino uses too.
Sam: "Must have been great being her brother, huh?"
Chuck: "It was the worst. Always telling me what to do, making me do what she wanted. You guys know how that works."
- Do they though? I think Sam and Dean are like... the most loving sibling pair in the world. I think they understand "always telling me what to do" and "making me do what she wanted" but they don't see that as a "the worst" they see that as... uh, well, the same way married people do, to put it bluntly. It goes both ways and it's a CHOICE they've made. Once you have adult siblings still being bestfriends, you have siblings who are relating to each other on a level OTHER than childhood sibling relationships... you basically just have friends, who happen to share a blood relation. I think where people (and God) fall down in comparing their own sibling relationships to Sam and Dean's is that they are comparing a sibling relationship to a friendship, that just so happened to grow out of a sibling relationship. Like, the sibling is still a component of the relationship, but it is by far the smallest component. I'm just thinking of my own relationship with my little sister (the Sam to my Dean)...at this point in our lives, the only time the sibling relationship comes to the surface is if she gets hurt or something, and I get like, uncontrollably protective and a little bit too mothering for both of our likings... all the rest of the time, we're just friends. She's just like any of my other friends, only we have a longer history.
Dean: "Zip, and we've been at it for months."
Chuck: "Well, matter of time. *to Sam:* I've always had faith in you. *to Dean:* even if you didn't return the favour. Where's the quest room? I could use a shower."
- YAY DEAN! Whahahaha... never give up, never surrender.
- Nice of Chuck to say that to Sam though, it probably actually means something to him... though, again, I'd prefer if we got an explanation of what Sam's thinking of given that God's never seemed to try to help him with his terrible lot in life.
Sam: "Um, it's just down the hallway, fourth door on the left."
Dean: "Hey Chuck, you know that she's got Lucifer, right?"
Sam: "The way we heard it, last time when you bottled up the Darkness, it took more than just you - I mean, we heard that Lucifer was involved."
Chuck: "Lucifer was perhaps my greatest hope and my bitterest disappointment. If you think I could have trusted him for a moment, I would have put him in the cage? And I wasn't going to mention this, but thank you so much for springing him."
Sam: "That really wasn't the plan, um-"
Chuck: "Now, as bad as he was, after all this time in prison - he's probably worse. And by now he could have formed an alliance with Amara, not walking into that trap guys - so no! Thus spake the Lord."
- Again, we see Sam used as a more comedic element with no intention of exploring the impact of Chuck's words on his psyche. Sam is a man of faith (or was, at one point in his life for a while) and God just yelled at him. Yes, Jared does a good job of shrinking down with it - and I think Jared does his best in these episodes to try to physically show how Sam is feeling, since he's never given lines that do so... but yeah, I guess this is just me complaining that I wanted more. I feel like this moment was more about putting the seed of thought about alliance into our heads than it was about anything else.
- Rob, and J2, do a great job once again of having Chuck be an intimidating all powerful being, despite being psychically smaller and more adorable-faced than our heroes.
Amara gives a whole recap of the relationship between her and God at the beginning of the next scene. Why? Did we not just HAVE that? Did we not have that in the THEN? Have we not had that all season? Could you not think of something more substantial to use this time for than needless exposition?
I do wonder about the imagery of Lucifer on a cross. I'm not intelligent enough about the subject to comment on it.
Amara: "I've missed you, Dean. It's been a while since we've spoken...[...] he should know this: Lucifer, his favourite, isn't doing so well. To say nothing of the vessel, your friend, Castiel - by choosing to ignore me, my brother is allowing this to happen. These and other things. I thought you should know."
-So, just...on a possibly shipping front, or a possibly queerplatonic front - I find it interesting that Amara sends this message to Dean right after she steps up to Lucifer and holds a hand over his chest. I think the default here is to assume she's using her connection to Dean to find him, but I actually think that she's using CASTIEL'S connection to Dean to find him... and that her own connection to Dean is a compulsion that only works in her presence, and not something strong enough to form a link over great distances. It also would give an explanation to the weight of Amara's gaze to Dean in the 11x18, when Dean calls out to Cas as she absconds with Lucifer.
Oh yeah...the next prophet! I forgot about this dude!
Dean: "Where's Chuck?"
Sam: "Sleeping in?"
Dean: "Does God sleep?"
Sam: "I know he takes really long showers."
Dean: "Right! And sings too, like crappy old folk songs - I had to tell him to cool it three times."
Sam: "You told God to cool it?"
Dean: "Yeah, *I* sleep."
- I love Dean, I really do. I love that he told God to cool it...that's so quintessentially Dean.
Sam: "You know, I know this is a really strange situation and all, but it's also amazing - like, it's God. There's so many things I want to ask him, you know? Like uh, the planets, why are they round? Or ears? I always thought they were strange-"
Dean: "Okay, fanboy, calm down, stay focused..."
- See, this is the thing, YES, you could argue that Sam's just in the honeymoon stage of having his faith confirmed - but that only works if Sam's faith had never been shaken up to this point. Like, in S1, when Dean is all like "woo, Dad's back! And then he's like, WAIT A MINUTE, Dad's a jerkface!" Here, we get Sam in the "woo! God's back!" stage, but he NEVER moves on to the "WAIT A MINUTE-" realization... and in S1, Dean even had a whole season of John disappointing him (not to mention the 22 years we didn't see.) Sam's had 11 seasons of God disappointing him, and yet there's no wait a minute.
- Also, someone as intelligent as Sam knows PERFECTLY WELL why the planets are round. If you're going to have Sam be full of questions, have him be full of questions that aren't stupid - like "are we alone in the universe?" or some such.
- I'll give him ears though. Human ears are pretty weird looking. I guess monkey/ape ears must be weird looking too? I've never really noticed.
Dean: "Amara is - she's in my head - I didn't ask for it, but she just showed up. She's showing me visions of Lucifer, and by Lucifer I mean Cas, and he looks like crap - like she's really doing a number on him."
- Poor Dean, I couldn't imagine how horrible it must be to see your BFF getting tortured and not being able to do anything about it.
Chuck: "...it's too much drama. Do you have any bacon?"
Dean: "You eat bacon?"
- Jewish-influenced Dean headcanon reconfirmed! Yay! See, there ARE awesome nuggets in this episode. I still stand by the idea that Dean spent a formative period of his teenage years in a Jewish community. Dean's just way too Jewish for an atheist from a protestant family.
Dean: "How'd you miss that one?"
Chuck: "She's baiting me. I can't respond every time. I won't be manipulated."
Dean: "Thousands of people are dead."
Chuck: "Unfortunately. So find her."
- Again, Dean can't fathom standing by and doing nothing, when you are the only one that can do something.
And then we see Metatron finding out that Sam and Dean have come into contact with Chuck.
Donatello! He dies, right? I can't remember. I love his name. And the actor does a good job.
Sam: "...would you look at this, try and read it a little?"
Donatello: "What? I can't, I don't know anything about it- Behold the face of God. That came right to me, who speaks this language?"
- I love that reveal. Also, why is Sam walking around with Behold the Face of God written in enochian in his notebook?
And Amara's trying to get Dean alone (who isn't?)
Donatello: "I can't be a prophet, I'm an atheist! And a chemist! I believe in molecules not God!"
Dean: "We're pretty sure that prophets don't even know that they're in the game until they're touched by God."
Donatello: "I was touched by God?"
Dean: "Or possibly his sister Amara."
Donatello: "He has family?"
Sam: "Yup, she wants him gone so that she can annihilate the universe - that's the headline."
Dean: "And since you might have a hotline to her, we're hoping you'll help us find her."
Donatello: "Why would you want to find her?"
Sam: "We've gotta rescue this guy she's holding."
Donatello: "Who is?"
Sam: "Her nephew."
Dean: "Whose possessing an angel at the moment."
- Oh Winchesters, always breaking the news gentle.
*Donatello tries to open the doors*
Sam: "It's locked! That too"
Dean: "Sometimes we keep monsters in the back."
- Guys, you don't exactly have a police screen. You shouldn't be keeping monsters in the back. But, nice to know that the Impala has a rigged version of child-locks.
Donatello: "I guess you know that I was an atheist - until ten minutes ago. Is that an issue?"
Chuck: "Not for me. I believe in me, but your skepticism is to be expected - I did include free will in the kit. Welcome aboard."
- I do like the fact that Chuck honestly doesn't care if people believe in him or not. It's nice. I wonder completely scandalized a christian friend of mine, because she asked "Do you believe in God?" and I said, "Well, yes and no." And she asked what I meant, and I said, "No, I don't believe in God - but, if I die and find out I was wrong, well, then I'd be willing to believe in him." She was like "that's not how it works!!" And she's right, that's not how Christianity works at all. So, I kind of like the fact that this is another thing that differentiates the SPN God from "IRL" Christian God.
Metatron: "Ignore the typos, but read it, it's in his own words."
- So, can I also just say that I love that fact that God makes typos. Like, I love exploring the short-comings of SPN's God... because this is what SPN does well with monsters (and the reason I was initially drawn to it) it humanizes everything and everyone, and in so doing, makes the fantastical real. Everything is imperfect and in being so, you have an easier time believing that it actually exists.
Metatron: "It's not an autobiography. It's a suicide note."
- Words given to the the look Metatron gives God at the end of the last episode - while God really said it all, and confirmed it, with his choice of song. Man, that ending was so great.
Chuck: "Look at him, endlessly optimistic. The wind knocks over his tower - he rebuilds. Always gets me."
- I love this scene of Chuck watching the kids in the park, because we've seen Cas do this too on occasion...and it basically just makes a statement that Castiel is actually, when it comes down to it, the closest angel to God that we've seen. Like... the angel that is most like his creator, or at least, values the same things as his creator.
Dean: "If that's so, why're you bailing? When you see Amara, you thowing in the towel?"
Chuck: "Metatron. Loose lips. But you think I'm a dick, why do you care?"
- Again, wouldn't this conversation have more weight if it was SAM confronting Chuck. Sam who DOES believe in God - who has HIGHER EXPECTATIONS for God. Why use Dean for this?
Dean: "Because before you went MIA, you did a lot."
- What does this even mean? Does Dean mean the whole creation of the universe thing? Is he worried about Amara destroying the universe or destorying God? It sounds like he's concerned about God's life - and yet, what IS God's life to Dean? I mean, I can see it from a purely lawful-good vantage point - because Dean isn't a fan of sacrificing people - so, I could see it from a "I wouldn't let a human sacrifice themselves to Amara, I won't let God do it either." But beyond that, I don't see a reason why Dean would care. Sam on the other hand, would care a lot.
Chuck: "Thank you. And what you call throwing in the towel, I call strategy."
Dean: "How is death by your sister a strategy?"
Chuck: "I know her. Her beef is with me."
Dean: "But I still don't understand how you dying is a blueprint for success."
- Okay, so this makes a little more sense - as perhaps Dean's not sure how God's death guarantees the safety of the universe. And, fairpoint.
Chuck: "I won't be dying, I'll be caged. I trade myself for everything I created - it goes on."
Dean: "Okay, but the Amara that I know - is a mountain of pissed off. I mean, she spent a gazillion years in solitary, the only thing she's thinking is that it's her turn."
Chuck: "And I'll give it to her, as long as she accepts the deal."
Dean: "The deal? She's going to eliminate you and then she's going to destory everything that you've created. She's told me this personally."
- So, the interesting thing here is that earlier, Chuck did that big speech about how Lucifer's years in the cage have probably made him worse... and yet he doesn't seem to realize that the same may have happened to his sister. Dean does, because Dean's the one that has actually spoken to her - but Chuck seems to be baseing his stragety on a concept of someone that doesn't exist anymore.
Dean: "You know where not some toys you throw away. I think you owe us more than that."
Chuck: "If my plan doesn't work, then humans will step up - you, Sam, others that are the chosen will have to find a way - that's why I saved you years ago. Your the firewall between light and darkness."
Dean: "No - give me a vampire and I'm good, but this? God's sister? That is way above my paygrade. Bottom line is that it's you that has to take her out, and after that get a condo in cancun, I don't care."
- I like this too. Things I like 1)The idea of Sam and Dean as 'chosen' (though, I kind of hate it too, more on that in a moment), 2)the fact that humanity can triumph where God failed - it drives home the humanism/activism that's always been at the core of SPN's message.) 3)That humanity is a firewall between light and dark - not that humanity is LIGHT, but that they're BETWEEN them, that they keep balance... or at least, that's how I interpret it. 4)That Dean, true to Dean fashion, does not believe in his own power and abilities, and does not believe that he could be more powerful than God, while simultaneously being very much less powerful than God.
- So, the one thing that doesn't jive about the 'chosen' comment, is that it DOES single Dean and Sam out as being "special" in some way (as all "chosen one" narratives do) And that can counter the "individual non-special humans can save the world" message that SPN frequently tries to set forth. BUT, at the same time, we've had that conflicting narrative for the entire run of Supernatural - with Sam being fed demon-blood and the Winchesters being descendants of a long lineage of archangel vessels/supernatural hunters....and all that jazz. So, we get the "they've always been special" at the same time we get the "you don't have to be special to save the world" message... and it's amusing in it's contradiction.
Donatello: "Wow, I so miss being an atheist."
- So does Dean, Donatello... well, he still is one. But, what you miss is the ability to live in a Godless universe with your innocense about the existence of the supernatural intact.
And plan commences... Dean distracts Amara, Sam goes in to rescue the dude who raped and tortured him for who knows how many years.... and we don't get any reaction to how he feels about that.
Amara: "This place, this world, hasn't been especially easy for you - why not, at least, consider my offer?"
Dean: "This world is flawed. I'll give you that, but I am not ready to say goodbye to it just yet."
Amara: "But one way or the other you will. It's inevitable. My brother won't stop me again - because he can't. Dean, give up your smallness - your humanity and become boundless within me."
- So, we parallel God's suicide decision with a temptation to the same with Dean... both would give up their lives, God - to solitary nothingness (and/or death) and Dean to companionship with only Amara for eternity. I mean, neither is appealing in my opinion - but Dean IS mindwhammied by Amara to dig her, so who knows, maybe it feels appealing when he's standing in front of her.
Dean: "You're right, I am drawn to you - and it bothers the hell out of me, because I can't control it."
Amara: "Then why fight it, what you're feeling is that I am the end of your struggle - something stops you, keeps you from having it all."
- So, Amara's appeal is that she IS death for Dean. She's the end of suffering. Okay, I suppose that makes sense. Still, life is pain, anyone who says differently is selling something. Seriously though, an eternity of guilt-free safety would become pretty boring pretty fast for Dean... also, actually, it'd be an eternity of guilt-leaden safety, as unless she mindwiped him, he'd know that he abandoned Sam and the world to their destruction. So, yeah, endless torment, in actuality. I'd also choose to suffer as a free man.
Amara: "Where are your thoughts? Something's different."
- his thoughts are with Cas... (heheh)
And Metatron makes the sacrifice play. He was miserable as a human anyway, and this way he can go out believing that he's helping God.
You rarely see Sam speed driving the Impala.
My question is why does Sam stop and throw it into reverse? Just plow into her! Though, maybe that'd be like hitting a moose - in which case DON'T DO IT! Sam's in the right, I apologize for doubting him.
I love the Impala being teleported into the bunker.
Chuck: "Occasionally I do answer a prayer."
And Lucifer and God meet up, not much to say about it.
Dean: "She wants me to be a part of her. Not metaphorically - I'm talking literally, forever. So, in other words, adios."
- Dean's basically talking about being 'taken' against his will, and that's nothing to make jokes about - but this continues the long Supernatural tradition of our heroes being threatened with (or actually having inflicted) metaphorical (or literal) rape.
So, that's that. It wasn't so bad! Some good stuff in there!
I'm crossposting this from Dreamwidth as an experiment. I have fewer icons on DW, which sucks... but you know what DW DOES have?!?! SPELLCHECK! Wow, I haven't had spell check on LJ in years. I'm thinking either it just doesn't work with chrome or I accidentally turned it off somehow. Either way, it's nice to be able to spellcheck my entries before I post them... and I'd like to apologize right now for all the errors that are probably everywhere in my old LJ entries, because there were a lot of them in this one.
As per usual, let me know what you thought in comments! Only two more episodes to go, and then I can start getting S11's clothing catalog up! Yay!