Category Archives: Rambles

All the serious stuff

Parallels: Sam and Castiel

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Castiel: I mean I can relate now to how you feel…The only person who has screwed things up more consistently than you is me. And now I know what guilt feels like. And I know that it means to feel sorry Sam.

This dialogue between Sam and Castiel highlights a trend that many of the fans have voiced over the years. But it’s not the kind of parallels that is apparent or deliberate ones like Dean and Cain are. This is an underlying trend that has been going on for some time but now it is finally out there for everyone to see and ramble on.

These two have been doing their own thing but there have been times where they have been almost mirroring each other.  The best commonality between them is their sense of purpose. Both have to finish what they started. Cas needs to get his house in order by shutting the gates of heaven or restore some sort of order. This leads him to trusting Metatron and going through trials and leads him to become a cast out, and he is forced to leave as a human. Sam also has a mission to close the doors to hell which he opened. He goes through trials and ends up on the cusp of

death. They have both almost managed to destroy their respective habitats.

Their parallel journey follows the same trajectory: rebellion – fight – losing the war – redemption.

Loss (read losing the battle) is a recurring theme in supernatural but it’s never been truer with these two. Castiel has lost almost everyone in his family with people he liked, Balthazar, Anna, Gabriel to people he hated Zachariah, Uriel, Raphael and Michael. Sam on the other hand has lost his brother both physically and mentally (at the end of season 4 Dean moves away from Sam and throughout season 5), Jessica his love, both his parents and friends. The story of loss just does not stop here, instead it leads to both losing their minds and souls. In season 6 Sam is resurrected but has no soul. By the end of the same season, Castiel loses his soul when he swallows the souls from purgatory. Again in season 7 we see that Sam loses his mind completely and ends up in an asylum. By the time we come halfway through the season Cas takes over Sam’s trouble and thus having a mental breakdown himself.

Redemption is another similar theme between these two. Sam does the trials in season 8 as form of redemption towards Dean and towards the world in general.

Sam: You want to know what I confessed in there? What my greatest sin was? It was how many time I let you down. I can’t do that again

Castiel’s redemption has begun from season 7 when he takes over Sam’s devil and then moves on to season 8 when he refuses to get out of purgatory with Dean.

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Castiel: The weight of all my mistakes, all those lives and souls lost, I… I couldn’t take it, either. I was… I was lost until I took on your pain. It’s strange to think that that helped

A very important aspect common to both is rebellion. They refuse any sort of blind faith in authority even if it means going against their family. Both are raised soldiers but both cannot blindly accept orders. This leads them to becoming rebellious. Sam breaks away from John in order to become normal and then leaves Dean cos he think Dean is weak. Castiel rebels against heaven for his beliefs. Their rebellion whether wrong or right proves one thing to us, that they’re rational and will not do anything which they do not think is right. They also seem to have trouble with authority as well.

Finally the most important common factor for these two is Dean. Dean is a very reason that these two are together under one roof. Dean in a way keeps both of them human. Sam and Castiel most of the time are quite calculating and prefer choosing the benefits of the many over the few. This is completely against Dean´s thinking. However, Dean has been let down by both of them. Cas abandoned him in the pursuit of power. Then, Sam moved away from Dean in order to win, cos he thought Dean had become too weak and he could deal with Lilith by himself. The interesting similarity between the two is that both have always cited that they were trying to help Dean. All of this being said, they’ve both been instrumental for teaching Dean to look at the other side of the story. They are better in understanding the dark side of supernatural. For example Sam understands vampires, Amy who is a Kitsune. On the other hand Castiel understands demons and humans. They help Dean to realize the fact that everything that isn’t human doesn´t necessarily have to be dangerous. Sam is willing to waste the virgin, but then when Dean insists that no one is taking the virgin, Sam comes up with other ideas.

In a nutshell, Castiel and Sam: consideration, intellectual approach, understanding of the other side, but also the fact that both are realists, and the understanding that when logic runs out there is no hope.  In the last episode we see that they realize that being human is taking stock and trying to rectify your mistakes and in a strange way they both are doing that. It seems that these two characters have reached a point where they can be very truthful to each other, Sam and Cas – and it will be interesting how Dean fits into this new bond??

Whose Is a Democracy Anyways? by Pracherine

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Crowley: I’m not talking to you. I´m talking to them. The average Demon. Because I feel their pain. It must have been difficult, with their loving King so cruelly taken from you. I imagine you felt all itsy. and then along came – The Brute. She´s strong, and a Knight, and immortal. At the moment. So I’m not surprised that some of my more idiotic subjects bought her line…..It´s a Campaign. Hearts and minds, that´s what´s important. So the Demons have a choice. Take orders from The World’s Angriest Ginger, and that’s saying something. Or join my team, where everyone gets a say, a virgin and all the entrails they can eat. So – think on this, lads, spread the word.
VOTE CROWLEY!
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This speech delivered by the former ‘king of hell’ Crowley not just marks a beginning of the first ever election campaign in Hell but also got me to look at both heaven and hell in a political way. One cannot help but draw important real world parallels in supernatural and today’s politics. Looking at both heaven and hell we come to look at some amazing conclusions about the kind of political systems in place in these very important locations in the show.
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So let’s look at heaven shall we? Heaven functions more or less like an autocracy (i.e. a dictatorship). God, here can be seen as an autocrat around whom the entire country of heaven runs. He decided the laws and he is the one who decides the punishments. God has a handful of advisers/sons whom we all know as the ‘archangels’.
These guys are responsible of carrying out all of God’s orders. Like any autocracy the whim of the ruler is the rule/law of the land. This is held scared by everyone and anyone who questions the authority is either sent to prison or cast out (for example: Lucifer).
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But like any classic autocracy it has a classic machinery of bureaucrats that makes these systems work. The advisers/sons are run this bureaucracy.  These bureaucrats are ordered as per hierarchy. Most of the time the bureaucracy is organized in a military form and here we can see that heaven’s angels are referred to as soldiers of God and the entire bureaucracy is referred as the garrison. The angels are given certain functions which come down as a word of God. (Hmmm what does this remind us of ….ooh yes the monarchy….most kings wanted their subjects to believe that the kings were ordained by God to rule them). The angels are expected to show undying respect for authority and never question their given orders.

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All of this goes well until one day God just decides to get up and leave his kingdom. This is when the s***t hits the fan and the entire kingdom of heaven falls into utter chaos. This descent into chaos does not happen overnight. At first the advisers/sons try to run the show on God’s given orders but then that does not hold strong when Castiel (let’s just say he is your rebel) rises up and questions the authority of the written word of god.

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Now since god is not here to explain his own word there is chaos. That’s when there descend into complete chaos of heaven begins. I think it is completely achieved when Michael the second in command is captured and thrown in with his brother/ruler of hell Lucifer in the cage. After this many warlords or warring factions try to take over. These include prominently Raphael and Castiel (which both tried to become God in their own ways) Naomi and many others.
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This is very similar to what happened to China between 1916 and 1928, this was right after the last emperor Pai abdicated his throne, or France is also a similar example (except for the beheading part). France was thrown into anarchy after the Monarchy came to a bloody end. In a similar to French scene with Napoleon who was another dictator that rose after chaos after the revolution, Metatron takes over to try and instill some order. But similar napoleon, he is trying to take over power and kill his enemies and tries to take over with brute force.
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Now let’s move on to the other location or country HELL. What can is say? One can expect that since the place is called hell will be well like hell. But what if I told you that surprise surprise!! That hell actually seems closer to a democracy than heaven. In fact it is very similar to modern day America, Lucifer creates his own country hell. He becomes the ruler of heaven after going against his father / former ruler God. He questions God’s authority or the word of God. Then we have this Hell’s leader leads the revolution but captured by the opposite faction (aka heaven).
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But then there’s no chaos or anything in hell in fact it continues to function perfectly well without its leader. Yellow eyes (Demon) takes over and tries to release their captive leader.
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Then after his demise Lilith takes over and manages to free the leader.
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The leader or Satan after his release takes over and tries to fight a war with the forces of heaven. He loses the battle again and is captured or thrown into the same cage as the leader of opposition (Michael). Then after the leader untimely demise or recapture hell is taken over by Crowley who titles himself as ‘King of hell’.
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After Crowley is captured by the Winchester brothers, Abbadon, a dictatorial servant of the earlier leader takes over.
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However it is quite impressive by the way in which the business in hell is never interrupted. There is no chaos as such. The transfer of power is in hell most of the time is done with minimal bloodshed.
And now they’ve election their first official election. I say first election cos I believe that heaven has seen an almost peaceful change of power many time.
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We Keep Each Other Human

 

“We keep each other human”

 

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“It doesn’t matter — whatever we do. I mean, it turns out that you and me, we’re the, uh – the fire and the oil of the Armageddon. You know, on that basis alone, we should just pick a hemisphere. Stay away from each other for good. Because whatever we have between us — love, family, whatever it is — They are always gonna use it against us. The point is, maybe we are each others’ Achille’s heel. Maybe they’ll find a way to use us against each other, I don’t know.

I just know we’re all we got.

More than that, we keep each other human.

So, what do we do now? We make our own future.”

(3×01)

Being Human In The Supernatural World

 (Dean Winchester)

 

It may sound strange to call HUMANITY the core theme of a TV show named „Supernatural“. And yes, you´re right, the show IS about two brothers fighting monsters, ghosts, demons, angels,  and every other non-human being you could possibly think of (well, the Devil comes to mind, and the Voice Of God, but they are only the big players in the before mentioned pool of entities). But aside from the hunters´ actual hand-to-hand combat against physical materializations of Evil, there is a deeper layer to their struggle to keep the world running for the rest of us.

Humanity fighting against the representations of its worst fears: the most disturbing being that of loosing what makes us human. Of being bitten, kissed, touched, gripped, turned, or eaten and erased alltogether, nothing left of us but soulless robots, or infectious „monsters“ dangerous to others who still have a beating heart.

It´s this beating, kicking, bleeding, hurting heart that stands in the way of our favorite hunters so many times…

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There he is…

Dean. The heart of the show, so to speak, with his overwhelming emotions, his tears, and silly jokes, and heart wringing struggle to save the ones he loves. Falling, and getting up again. Failing, and trying anew. Losing everyone, and everything, and still clinging to a straw of hope.  Raised and trained to be a good soldier, and so not being one at heart. (Just look at his difficulty to accept authority outside the small circle of people he trusts).

If you don´t agree…look at this version of Dean…

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In „The End“ we are confronted with a Dean almost totally deprived of emotions. Finally, he´s the soldier Sam accused him of being (in a different sense, I know…). Focused, and cold, and shooting a friend directly in the face without a second thought. He´s not second guessed by his troops, and he´s not second guessing himself any more. The perfect hunter…like Gordon. But human?

When Dean meets his own future self in 2014, I don´t know what scares him more – what the world has become, or what he himself has turned into. In my understanding, it was Zacharia´s plan to show Dean the outfall of his decisions, it´s effect on the world Dean is doomed to save time and again. I don´t think Zacharia was aware he gave Dean even  more reason to say NO to his „offer“ to become Michael´s sword: Because future Dean IS a sword. The perfect weapon, not slowed down by doubt and emotions.

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Of course, even 2014 future Dean still has something tying him to his „old“ self…and of course, this something – or someone – is Sam. He is perfectly ready to sacrifice his future friends – and his own life, I´m sure –  to beat Lucifer and save the world. But  at the same time, he has still his one purpose in mind, the task that makes him crawl up, pull together his shattered pieces, and carry on so many times…

His one job.

„Watch out for Sammy!“

Even if Sammy has turned into this….and doesn´t hesitate to kill Dean´s future self.

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In Dean´s understanding, it is his JOB to prevent Sam from turning into Lucifer.

„Old“ Dean, the one with the intact heart, is correspondingly devastated to see his failure right in front of his eyes – and with a hell of a collateral damage around them.

And here we go…

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Zacharia wanted to show Dean the inevitability of a final Lucifer/Michael showdown – to make him say YES to being Michael´s vessel AKA sword. (He´s not above playing Dean´s weak spot, Sammy, the manipulating b….. . Let´s just hate him a little more for that.)

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But Dean is human. So much so that he is absolutely capable of wiping out logical consideration (heck, they made him LIVE the effect of  his decision!) by his emotional needs, setting his priorities straight again.

And choosing the one other solution for the problem that Zachariah would never even have thought of.

He chooses his humanity: he reconnects.

Dean has hope, and he has purpose.

And he has love.

I guess that´s what makes us human, after all.

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Aside from this very touching  – and much longed for by an angsty fandom – reconciliation of the brothers (and a cute pair of vintage cars), there´s even more „humanity factors“ hidden in the outcome of this episode.

When Dean meets Zachariah ( a friend of mine baptized him „Jerkeriah“, which fits just perfectly, right?), he makes his decision – alone.

But he has backup when it comes to kissing Zach good bye. Because there is Cas, having his back.

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What Dean realizes with alarming clarity is the fact that we can´t be human without relationships. Family and friends are the anchors of our tossed souls, and by cutting them loose, for what noble or understandable purposes ever, we cut ourselves from a lifeline. I like the quotation that makes our title so much, because it shows this fact in striking simplicity:  It´s not „I keep you human“, or „You keep me human“. It´s „We keep each other human“, and that´s just about the core of human relationships I guess.

This means Dean has to learn – or re-learn – to trust again. Without trust, our relationships won´t work, period. Trust means an effort for both parts though. And I think that´s what our favorite brothers have to learn the hard way here.

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So Dean has hope, and purpose, and love. And he has family and friends, who are the reason he has all three. The reason he NEEDS all three. And the reason he fails, and falls, and looses one of them sometimes…

Even Dean, the untiring Carry-On-My–Wayward-Son, has his dark places. He admits to being tired of his life, of his job, of the unbearable responsibility loaded on his shoulders  more than once. But he comes to his feet again, and tries, and fails, and tries better…

Keeping his beloved ones safe is his purpose. It gives him the hope he needs to not give up. Even when his family and friends fail him : Sam, and Cas, with their habit of putting Dean into a roller coaster of ups and downs.

There are a few rocks in his life, and the most outstanding one sure is Bobby, the surrogate-father/criticizing friend/wise Yedi master figure of his life. Ellen, the mother figure, tough but with a big heart, and Jo, the fearless huntress, whose sacrifice adds to Dean´s guilt but equally to his motivation to carry on as well.

He even seems keep connected to people long dead and gone…like his mother…

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There is Cas, of course, and then Benny, his non-human friends (Benny gets the humanity thing better I guess), whom Dean tends to treat like fully blown humans, giving especially Castiel some trouble…

They represent the strange places Dean gets to know throughout the seasons – Heaven, and Hell, and Purgatory. Dean lives through them all, and he does so as a human being. What´s more, he manages to let his humanity rub off on those who he´s dealing with, or at least makes them want to understand humanity.

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Both of his non-human friends mirror essential parts of Dean´s character. Cas in his struggle to do the right thing, in his attempt to righten his failures, in his trying again and again. Benny in the vehemence he shows in fighting for the humanity buried inside the monster he doesn´t want to be any more, and in his understanding of family.

For Dean, every real friend gets incorporated into his idea of Family sooner or later anyway. It´s a chosen family for the Winchesters, in lack of a real one, and even that one keeps loosing  members constantly.

Until there is only Dean left in 9×9, when he is on the floor, Kevin´s lifeless body in front of his eyes, Sam taken away and gone, everyone else dead. And this is where you´d say: OK, that´s it. Now he´s broken for real.

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And still…he´s scrambling to his feet. Looking for a way to repair the damage. Sure, it´s guilt mostly that guides him. But guilt alone would probably only end in suicide. Guilt smashes you, it paralyses. So I dare say there is still some hope left in Dean, even in this darkest in a long line of pitch dark hours. You can let it weigh you down. Or you can use it as a motor, something to drive you.

Dean chooses the latter. Which contradicts Famine´s observation, to my mind. Dean´s not dead inside. He may be hurt, and broken, and torn, and frayed, and heck, damaged in many ways.

But he feels. His heart is still bleeding. He has it all in him: loss, and guilt, and fear, and rage, and ache, and pain, and hate, and bond.

And hope. And love.

He´s a hero. And he´s human.

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PS:

If you don´t already know it, watch the fantastic vid by Loki (and all her other ones if you´re already at it):

„Four letter words“

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jket3HH8lSQ&list=FLAryLWK50q9kpXieivow0jA

Breaking the Stereoypes

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The series supernatural is often criticised as being anti-feminist. I personally partially agree with these arguments like most of the female characters are either Demons or sacrificial lambs for slaughter.

Even though, that might be the case in some places, but that supernatural according to me is a classical re-defining of gender roles. Sam and Dean are often portrayed epitome of masculinity with their gruff voices, very often a cocky attitude (mostly coming from Dean) and false bravado. As we move from season to season we begin to scratch the surface and see that these guys are not some Alpha males but actual human beings with emotions. I have always seen supernatural as that, a redefining of the male roles.

Let’s begin with Sam Winchester. Sam who starts of as the more civilised (one with his fancy education and Stanford friends and a general dislike for the hunter lifestyle) is like your average guy who wants to live a ‘normal’ life. However, as the series progresses we see him breakout of this image into this super-hero hunter not just through his acting but also through his physical appearance. We see that he starts as tall and lanky fellow who later develops into this beefed up badass kind of guy. And then in Season 8 and 9 we see the general deconstruction of Sam of who he really is. He is that younger brother who always wanted to be just ‘normal’, who somewhere always blamed himself for Dean’s life. He believes that in the arrogance of his youth he has made many mistakes and the fact that Dean has to clean up his mistakes.

When we see Dean we see that he is the alpha male, the big brother and the quintessential play boy of the group. He is fully aware of his good looks and time and time again he en-cashes that part.  He likes his food greasy, his women frisky and his loves his car. I mean one would think could you BE any more alpha. But let’s scratch see again, is he all that he shows out to be?? Not really he is boy who is a son looking for his father’s approval, a self-sacrificing brother and a good soldier. We see that as the seasons progress we see that he is much more than rough and tough guy. He is scared of death (when the contract comes to an end), he is broken (when he comes back from hell) and afraid (when Cas tells him about the angels plan).

So the next time if you are a feminist or a woman watching this show don’t be offended when they show stereotypical or more often over compensating female characters give them A BREAK!  Cos these guys are busy breaking down traditional male stereotypes