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Supernatural

This episode was entirely made of awesome.



Things I completely loved about this episode:

1. BOBBY! I can't decide which part I loved the most: all his hilarious-but-true advice to Sam and Dean (my favorite line had to be "If you're going to shoot, shoot, don't talk", but I also loved him calling them chuckleheads when they were having the theological debate); the fact that we got to see precisely how networked into the hunting community he actually is (And oh, Olivia, I knew you were a goner the moment we saw you being a kickass female hunter in the teaser); the fact that we got another snippet of his past with the creepy little girls; or the fact that he has a ghost-proof panic room. I loved it all.

2. Sam! I loved the character continuity that he actually doesn't have a problem believing in God and angels, even if he is perhaps calling on demonic powers to fight demons himself. And is it weird that I loved that he forgot the pie?

3. Dean!!! I love that Dean has his priorities so in order (Don't forget the pie!) that he's overcome the bad associations of sending Sam out alone for pie. More seriously, though, all his theological questioning was so in keeping with his whole attitude toward life from Houses of the Holy on forward, and he is asking the basic questions of theodicy, so it's not like there are any easy answers. I also really liked the fact that he doesn't actually think of himself as a hero, just an ordinary guy whose saving people is balanced, morally, by his stealing and ditching girls.

4. The plot: I really liked how the witnesses themselves underscore the theodicy question: how can a God of love exist and yet allow a world so full of evil? Because really, Meg and the little girls and Henriksen and, um, Nightshifter dude whose name I don't remember all really did get extremely bad breaks in their lives. And hearing Meg and Henriksen in particular talk about their torture by demons, and why does Dean get another chance when they didn't--OUCH. That resonates so well with the survivor guilt Dean is feeling right now.

Oh, Henriksen. I SO wish they had found a way to bring you back that didn't involve your actual death.

5. Ruby. I think it's really interesting what we found out from her and about her in this episode. From her: angels are badasses who kill first and ask questions later, and they probably don't think demons can be helpful, by definition. (Sam, you'd better watch out! Some angels may think a little demon blood + a little demonic power=someone asking to be smitten by an angel of the Lord, and not in that good Dean/Castiel way, either.) And about her: she's been going through hosts "for fun," and I think Sam must feel some guilt about associating with her because of that, because the witnesses seemed to focus their accusations on actual guilty feelings of the person they were talking to.

6. APOCALYPSE! But we can't follow Revelation as a map, because the version that's circulating is "the tourists version." Ok, not only is that explanation fun and in keeping with the "true apocalyptic texts are full of hidden secrets" kind of way, but it also gives the SPN writing crew license to do whatever the hell they want--which should be fun to watch. I mean, 66 seals instead of 7? That seems like an auspicious beginning of a plot arc to me.

oh yeah, and

7. LUCIFER will be unleashed. (Someone, I'm sure, is already writing the story where Lucifer is in fact "caged" somehow inside of Sam, right?) I love the continuity from last season--Dean asking wasn't Lucifer just a story in demon Sunday school--but I also loved Castiel's response.

And speaking of which,

8. CASTIEL being all badass and "we're fighting a war against demons with limited resources, so boohoo so sorry I can't hold your hand, and you better be a little more respectful, motherfucker, or I'll toss your disrespectful ass back in the pit" was pretty damn awesome, I thought.

My only complaint was that by mentioning angels hadn't been on earth for 2000 years, the show was leaning a LEETLE too close to specific Christian mythology for my comfort zone. At least if they just stick to God and angels you've got Judaism, Islam and Zoroastrianism still in play.

And OMG

9. THE PREVIEW FOR NEXT WEEK! SQUEE TIMES A BILLION! I'M SO EXCITED!!!!!!!

Comments

( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
enderwiggin24
Sep. 26th, 2008 12:00 pm (UTC)
ohh, please spoil me fo rthe preview!
I cant get youtube working on my job!!!



also, LOL, I was totally reading your "Zoroastrianism" into Zorroastrianism ..?!?!?
and was already typing to ask, what Zorro had to do with God... yup, my brain is a special place!
good thing, I looked up this time!
norwich36
Sep. 26th, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC)
Re: ohh, please spoil me fo rthe preview!
Castiel takes Dean on a time-travelling adventure into his family's past.

A religion centered on Zorro would certainly be interesting!
enderwiggin24
Sep. 26th, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC)
aha, thanks!
thats the convenient thing with angels&demons: you dont have to bother with the plausibility of technology, you just ziiiiiiiiip, plop, and voila, you are in the past & or future XD

you SHALL NOT HAVE ANY GOD BEYOND CLEX :DDDD
I am sure, the clex bible and the ten clex commandments are telling us that!
ciaan
Sep. 26th, 2008 01:48 pm (UTC)
More seriously, though, all his theological questioning was so in keeping with his whole attitude toward life from Houses of the Holy on forward, and he is asking the basic questions of theodicy, so it's not like there are any easy answers.

Even more than that, because we saw it first explicitly as far back as Hookman and implicitly even in the pilot, and I appreciate the fact that the five page essay I wrote on Faith and Dean and faith in S1 is still true in every word. My love for Dean was full of love last night. Stay strong, Dean!

I also really liked the fact that he doesn't actually think of himself as a hero, just an ordinary guy whose saving people is balanced, morally, by his stealing and ditching girls.

Ha, for some reason I heard "dishing" and thought it was a funny use of the term, though I got what it was aiming at. Ditching is even more comprehensible and perfect.

And Sam, Sam, Sam, he might indeed want to be a bit more worried here.
norwich36
Sep. 26th, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC)
I wasn't sure myself, so I went back and watched it with the closed captioning on, and it said "ditching."

One thing you have to say about SPN, they are *very* good with the continuity, especially when it comes to core character traits like Dean's attitude toward faith.
rsadelle
Sep. 26th, 2008 03:55 pm (UTC)
I loved it that Castiel tells Dean that angels have been dying. Because that means a) there are more of them wandering around and b) they can die.

So is it just my perception, or has this show become way more about Dean than Sam?
norwich36
Sep. 26th, 2008 04:20 pm (UTC)
The fact that angels can actually die clearly shows that they're not just going with standard Judeo-Christian mythology, that's for sure.

A lot of people are complaining that we're not seeing enough Sam this season, and not getting his POV. I'm suspecting it's a deliberate writing choice and they're setting something up. Even Meg's accusations to Sam, about him consorting with Ruby and not caring how she's misusing hosts, sounds like a suspiciously Dean-like accusation. I think maybe we don't know everything Sam actually did while Dean was gone and they're setting the audience up to be in Dean's POV of being terribly suspicious/worried about Sam's demonic powers.
rsadelle
Sep. 26th, 2008 06:57 pm (UTC)
Well, if demons can die (rather than just be sent back to hell), then it stands to reason that angels can also die. Big, unanswered question: What happens to demons when they die?

Maybe Dean never got out and this whole thing is happening in hell. I actually thought there was a real shift toward being more about Dean in S3, but I can't tell if that's true or just because I was kind of in love with him in S3.
norwich36
Sep. 26th, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
Well, kroki_refur's review this week addresses the lack of Sam-focus in some detail. (Her review this week is less funny and more ranty than normal, but still enjoyable). I'm not sure I entirely agree--there were several episodes that seemed pretty focused on Sam to me, especially Mystery Spot and Fresh Blood--but it's true that while the central dilemma of S2 was Sam's mysterious fate as a special child, the central dilemma of S3 was Dean's deal, so that's definitely a shift. I'm still seeing the past few eps as the aftermath of Dean's deal, though--I expect once the angel v. demon war gets going we'll see more Sam.

I wondered what happened to the demons, too--and also their HOST BODIES. Because if the Colt and the magic knife kills a demon out of existence, wouldn't it do the same thing to the poor human meatsuit?
rsadelle
Sep. 26th, 2008 11:26 pm (UTC)
Huh. Maybe it was just that I fell in love with Dean somewhere in S2/S3 and started calling him baby instead of Sam, and that affected how I saw the whole show. Maybe it's: S1 is about Sam adjusting to the life of a hunter. S2 is about Sam and Dean dealing with John's death and then a shift to dealing with Sam's powers/destiny. S3 is about Dean finding out that he wants to live (you'll have to watch Kripke's mini commentary about "Dream a Little Dream" when I give your DVDs back to you). S4 so far (okay, so it's only 2 episodes) is about Dean's faith. My bunny of the moment (totally sparked by you saying that the writers are leaving Sam out on purpose) is this: Dean is still in hell. We already know that demons get off on Dean's emotional pain. So why leave him hooked and screaming with physical pain (or the metaphysical equivalent thereof) when they can manipulate his reality, give him back his life, get him to believe in God, and then tear it out from under him with Sam's betrayal (by working with Ruby and lying about it, and possibly more of an explicit betrayal) and the reveal that he's still in hell, God doesn't exist as far as the demons know, and no one's coming for him?

Huh. Interesting question about the host bodies. I never thought about the Colt and the knife taking their souls, just their mortal lives.
norwich36
Sep. 26th, 2008 11:45 pm (UTC)
I would completely LOVE it if it turned out Dean was still in hell and all of this is a false dream. (And I sincerely hope that Dean's faith isn't the only major theme of S4, though I am enjoying the exploration of it so far).

I never thought about the Colt and the knife taking their souls, just their mortal lives.

Well, I guess I had always just assumed that something kills demon souls, it will kill human souls too. On the other hand, the knife didn't kill Castiel, so maybe those weapons are specific to demon souls. (Which just leads to the question, how are demonic souls *different*? Is it something like was implied in Buffy about soulless demons (at least in seasons 1-3, before Joss complicated the mythology) that past a certain point demons no longer have free will, so they're necessarily evil, and the weapon can actually distinguish that? It makes an actual difference in soul composition?) A Catholic explanation might be that damned souls lack the grace of God (grace being literally defined as the divine light within a soul), so perhaps the weapons can't work on a soul with divine light? Or something else?

We need Kripke to come to a fan con so we can grill him on these important questions!


rsadelle
Sep. 27th, 2008 12:53 am (UTC)
They could do a whole season as if it were an ordinary season and then only do the reveal in the season finale. That would sure stir up the fangirls!

The other theme of S4 should be Sam struggling with good and evil in his own abilities. I'd also like to see Sam and/or Dean finding out exactly what the history behind the demon and their mother is, although I get the sense they're going to drag that out until the show ends to give it a sense that they're pulling a common thread through the whole thing.

Well, if demons were originally human (if we assume that wasn't a lie), then demon souls are in their essence the same stuff as human souls, so you're probably right that something that kills demon souls will also kill human souls. On the subject of grace: I totally want you to read Lyda Morehouse's series because I don't want to spoil you for it with what I want to say. Alternatively, have you ever read James Morrow's Only Begotten Daughter? In it, everyone is in hell (I think it's the idea that if some group thinks you're going to hell then you are, and since pretty much every group thinks every group that's not them is going to hell, then everyone ends up there). Jesus is the only person who can get into heaven, but he's Jesus so instead of chillin' in heaven, he's in hell trying to provide comfort to the souls there (although since it's hell, he can't provide them with any real comfort, just doles out endless dippers of water).
norwich36
Sep. 28th, 2008 07:43 am (UTC)
I know I've read some story where Jesus was feeding water to souls in hell, but I don't think it was Morrow's book. And I haven't read Lyda Morehouse either.
roxymissrose
Sep. 26th, 2008 04:04 pm (UTC)
It worries me that Sam is so cavalier about the whole issue. He really thinks what he's doing is good and right, so heey, angels are no big deal and Ruby...I don't get that he trusts her that much.

I like the angel getting in Dean's face. It was interesting, and definitely made it clear that these angels were not the Hallmark variety.

Dean is so--I don't know the right word--naive? Innocent? He's very simple in his world view, in a way. I think it would be wrong for him to be accepting of his situation, especially as it's been driven home to them time after time that for everything you think you're getting there's some price you have to pay.
norwich36
Sep. 26th, 2008 04:16 pm (UTC)
I don't think Dean is just going to accept what Castiel is telling him, though--his faith issues are way too deep-seated for that.

I think it's an interesting writing choice that we're mostly learning about Sam's choices from the outside. I wonder if that's deliberate, if the writers have something up their sleeve.
roxymissrose
Sep. 26th, 2008 04:37 pm (UTC)
So far, we don't really know what's going on with there at all. They're dropping hints but no solid fact. Also, if Sam is sleeping with Ruby like they imply, than this is a *way* different Sam than of previous seasons. At least, he didn't become that robot from Mystery Spot. Now, we just have to find out what he did become.

I also think Castiel is in for a bumpy ride as far as Dean's concerned. He's not going to roll over that easily. I think he kind of shocked Dean a little but it's not going to last. So far as Dean's concerned there's only one real higher power.
norwich36
Sep. 26th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
I am really in denial of the idea that Sam is sleeping with Ruby. (I hope they eventually confirm that one way or the other, though--there's been so much discussion of this question in the past week and people have really good arguments on both sides, so I really just can't decide.)

Is Dean's higher power John Winchester, or Sam Winchester?
roxymissrose
Sep. 26th, 2008 09:51 pm (UTC)
Definitely John--taking care of Sam is Dean's job but he doesn't turn to him for direction, or need his approval.
mamadeb
Sep. 26th, 2008 04:22 pm (UTC)

My only complaint was that by mentioning angels hadn't been on earth for 2000 years, the show was leaning a LEETLE too close to specific Christian mythology for my comfort zone. At least if they just stick to God and angels you've got Judaism, Islam and Zoroastrianism still in play.


It's based on the book of Revelations. It involves an evil counterpart to Gd named Lucifer. It is Christian mythology. There's no place for any othe religion in at all.

This is, btw, as it should be.
norwich36
Sep. 26th, 2008 06:00 pm (UTC)
You're correct, they're using multiple Christian references to build their apocalypse.

I think my larger point is that Judaism, Islam and Zoroastrianism also have a tradition of apocalypticism (frankly most of what is written about angels in major world religions is somehow connected either specifically to apocalypticism or some sort of cosmic struggle between good and evil), and I personally would prefer the SPN-verse not to endorse a specific religious worldview as the true one. YMMV.

I recognize that they were already working out of a secularized Christian framework, like a lot of American pop culture (especially the horror genre), but they've also in the past explicitly drawn on non-Christian religions as well: the Vanir, the Trickster, the pagan Gods from "A Very Supernatural Christmas." This plotline does feel a little too explicitly Christian to me.
mamadeb
Sep. 26th, 2008 06:31 pm (UTC)
There is a strain of apocalyptic (in terms of battles between Good and Evil and possibly an end-of-times blow out) in Judaism, which survives in the Book of Daniel and in kabbalah, but it's not really part of the main tradition of the religion. It's been played down in recent millenia, unless times are REALLY bad. So it's something I suspect only scholars of the subject would know about. And I don't see the producers of SPN as any sort of scholars. (Although I'm sure that's the origin of the Christian beliefs.)

I avoided watching the Christmas episode, but from the posts I read, I gathered that the non-Christian gods were presented in a very bad light, as they have done in the past.

I have to say, I regard most horror universes as essentially Christian in nature - other than the Golem (itself originating in an early 19th/late 18th C fantasy story), there are few horror tropes in Judaism.
ladydreamer
Sep. 26th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
Huh. I'm an eclectic pagan, and I really enjoyed the Christmas episode and the Trickter episodes very much. Though, I'm sure that since dealing with pagans is like herding cats, there are likely a variety of reactions. The only episode that really bothered me was the one where the "witches" had sold their souls to a demon, because it was so stereotypical, and imho, misogynist.
mamadeb
Sep. 26th, 2008 07:57 pm (UTC)
I try to avoid Christmas episodes and Christmas issues of comics, unless I can't for plot/arc issues, or they spring it on me in February (I'm looking at you, House.)

But the witches episode is a case in point - they're not straying from mainstream (ie, Christian) views of the universe. That would really alienate their viewership.
norwich36
Sep. 26th, 2008 08:24 pm (UTC)
I'm aware that most apocalypticism in the Jewish tradition dates from 200 B.C.E.--100 C.E. or so, and that it was really most prevalent in Jewish communities that died out (there's some interesting recent scholarship on Enochian Judaism , for example, but I agree with you that that is definitely beyond the purview of the SPN writers). And you are correct, early Christians borrowed the whole idea of apocalypticism from Judaism, just as (at least some scholars think, though it is disputed) a lot of ideas expressed in ancient apocalyptic Judaism were probably influenced by Zoroastrianism. But even without being scholars, I think the SPN writers could, in theory, have drawn on the shared idea of angels as heavenly warriors without necessarily using an explicitly Christian framework; that was my point.

Not all the non-Christian gods in SPN have been presented in an exclusively negative light; the Trickster clearly was trying to teach Sam something, for example. But the fact that there are other gods in this universe at all de-stabilized the Christian paradigm a little bit, and I liked that aspect of the show.

I already acknowledged the dominance of Christian themes in horror in the comment above, but even though I wouldn't say horror is a major theme in Jewish literature, considering that there is a lot of speculation that Mary Shelley was influenced by stories about golems, that's a fairly substantial line of influence. (Wasn't there a golem in some X-files episode, or am I misremembering?) And there are also stories about dybbuks, though I don't know how influential they are. (I seem to recall watching a Yiddish horror called "The Dybbuk" a while back when a friend of mine was doing a project on Yiddish films, though I realize this is not really a story that has had much influence in Hollywood.)
mamadeb
Sep. 26th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
They probably *could* have used a less explicitly Christian framework, but then they'd have to do angels very differently (Angels have no free will in Judaism, for example, which doesn't fit with the plot needs of this arc.)

The Golem is...*sigh*.

Most evidence for the Golem is that it originated in a late 18th C fantasy story - there is no mention of such a being earlier.

(And if you want a bunch of religious Jewish fans to start laughing hysterically, bring up the XF Golem episode. There wasn't much they got right. My husband is especially amused by the book used in the episode. We have several copies, including one in translation. None of them have ever caught fire...)

Dybbuks - possession. Yes. There are Yiddish stories about them, and there's even rumors of exorcisms taking place in Israel. We do have demons, after all, but they're just NOT in the same position as those in Christianity. After all, they're NOT fallen angels, since beings without free will can't revolt.

ladydreamer
Sep. 26th, 2008 07:51 pm (UTC)
God, I loved the hell out of Trickster. I want him back. :D
norwich36
Sep. 26th, 2008 08:24 pm (UTC)
Well, he's already been in 2 episodes, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if he turns up again.
ladydreamer
Sep. 26th, 2008 07:58 pm (UTC)
I'm really loving this season so far. I was pretty chill with last season, until they killed my girl Bela (I still haven't watched that episode), but there's definitely been a rise in the squee here. I like the added depth of the theological questioning, even if I don't believe, mostly, in the paradigm they're using, since it's drawing "lore" from a miriad of sources.

3, 4. Yes yes yes. Pie and Dean. *wants to write crossover fic with Clark and Dean and pie*

7. *brain drifts to mpreg...*
*tries to lasso it back*

8. I don't think Castiel would REALLY throw him back into hell, because if his boss told him to take Dean out, he'd better STAY out, lest Castiel get smote! I did like him getting badass on Dean, though, and that their interpretation of angels (assuming they aren't going to pull a switcheroo and have Castiel be a fallen angel) is more in their warrior aspect and less fluffy dudes in white.
norwich36
Sep. 26th, 2008 08:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, I doubt very much that Castiel would send Dean to hell, either--but I liked the threat. For one thing, angels pretty much have to be a little menacing to play in the SPN-verse, don't they?

I was annoyed that they killed Bela too, though I did love the fact that she ended up having sold her soul. (Maybe some angel can raise her from perdition too?)
ladydreamer
Sep. 26th, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC)
Heheh. It's true. They really do.

I was actually thinking about ficcing that. I don't think it'll ever happen on the show, because it was my impression that they got rid of her because some fan groups were quite vocal about how much they hated her. It's fun to think about, though. :D
rsadelle
Oct. 2nd, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)
I'm rewatching
I love how one of the things Dean thinks of when he thinks "apocalypse" is five-dollar-a-gallon gas.
norwich36
Oct. 2nd, 2008 09:15 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm rewatching
Well, considering the Impala probably gets what, 12 mpg? I can see why he might think that.

Hey, I have a work thing that's going to keep me from watching SPN live tonight. I don't know if you tend to save things you've taped or tape over them, but would you mind hanging on to your tape for a little while in case my VCR malfunctions? (I'll let you know tonight one way or another. Probably my VCR *won't* malfunction, but I am always paranoid.)
rsadelle
Oct. 3rd, 2008 04:41 am (UTC)
Re: I'm rewatching
SPN is the only thing I'm taping these days, so yeah, I'll hang onto it.
norwich36
Oct. 3rd, 2008 08:40 am (UTC)
Re: I'm rewatching
My VCR worked. Which is good, since I'm only planning on rewatching this episode about 5 times this weekend!
rsadelle
Oct. 3rd, 2008 03:41 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm rewatching
Uh, yeah, I might be rewatching a bunch too. But I'll go flail in the appropriate entry.
( 35 comments — Leave a comment )

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