“The Woman”/“Heroine” Recap - The A.V. Club
“The Woman”/“Heroine” Recap - The A.V. Club
in a media landscape where men pressuring women and violating their boundaries is portrayed as natural in many ~innocent and romantic~ relationships and pretty much obligatory in ~edgy dangerous~ dynamics, I still love this to ABSOLUTE PIECES(via mswyrr)
HOW DOES POPCORN EVEN DO THAT THING
HERE I SHOW YOU THE THING
So if Sam was the one who turned Crowley human, and the first one around when Crowley started feeling feelings and stuff, does that mean that Crowley’s now imprinted on Sam like a baby duck?
no. baby moose
quick someone draw crowley as a bby moose
HERE YOU GO!
Goddamn, the hiatus is getting to me. @_@
THIS IS MY FAVORITE THING TO COME OUT OF ANY HIATUS
what did we do as a species to deserve elementary existing and can we please do it again
The season finale had oh so much going on in it, and I barely know where to start. We have the trials, and the things that looked like trials but weren’t, and the breaking down of characters, and the letting go. Now that is a whole new meta on its own, which I won’t delve in to right now, because it would span much more than this episode alone or even this season. What I would instead like to focus on, is Team Free Will and the glorious pain presented between these three men.
The beauty lies in the subtext here (and no I don’t mean the gay subtext…which is there too). I mean, the subtext between this tumultuous and rather dangerous lifeboat that these three men have found themselves on repeatedly through the years.
When I first watched the episode, I was honestly a little bit thrown off with all the parts that involved Dean/Sam/Cas or when Sam even mentioned Cas in his breakdown at the end of the episode. I wasn’t really sure where it came from; this jealousy of Dean’s relationships outside his relationship to Sam. I was left confused; wondering, how did Sam get to this moment?
Well let’s begin at the scene when Castiel shows up, catching Dean alone…Dean who has apparently, sometime between 8.22 and 8.23, given up on his silent treatment and anger towards Castiel. Castiel’s first words are “Dean, I need your help.”
Ah, the infamous word that is so key to every relationship this season: need. Dean at first is skeptical, reluctant, until he hears the task that Castiel has taken on, and more importantly, how Castiel feels about it.
“I can’t fail Dean, not on this one. I need your help.”
Having watched the episode again, I’m not entirely clear on how Cas needed Dean’s help….particularly since they spent a chunk of their time sipping free beers in a bar while they watched a couple of manly gay men hook up. I digress; Castiel believes he needs Dean’s help, or maybe just Dean’s emotional support. But Dean is reluctant, not because he doesn’t want to help Cas or because he wants to help Sam more…no.
“You’re asking me to leave Sam, and we’ve got Crowley in there tied and dressed. Now if anybody needs a chaperone while doing the heavy lifting, it’s Sam”.
Cue Sam’s moment to walk up and hear how Dean doesn’t believe in him. Not only that, but Dean is telling this to Cas! He’s not saying “I can’t go with you, I promised I’d be here for my brother”. Dean is saying, “I would go with you but I can’t trust my brother to do this right on his own.” These are two very completely different sentiments, and with Sam feeling the weight of the trials on his shoulders, as well as this past pain brought up…to Cas no less! It was just the LAST episode where Dean told Cas, “even banged up, Sammy comes through” but here we are again with Dean saying that he can’t rely on Sam to do things right. Sam’s breakdown is starting to become a little bit more understandable now.
Back to the present moment in 8.23, because the first thing Sam says is, “you should go…seriously”. Dean starts to describe how he would like to lock the angels away because “they’re dicks” but locking up the demons, “this is on us”. Okay, I get it, the us means Sam and Dean…but wait, why is Dean saying “If I’m not back in 8 hours, finish it”.
The cinematography of the scene is powerful, with Dean and Cas on one side, Sam alone on the other. Castiel’s hand hangs above Dean’s shoulder for a moment before it lands they fly away. Dean chooses to leave with Cas, on a mission that isn’t really his to begin with. In fact, when you view the episode at the end, you realize that there was absolutely nothing that Castiel really needed Dean’s help with. Emotional support maybe, as he faced Naomi, or talked the cupid into giving him her bow. None of this was anything an angel of the lord (cries*) wouldn’t be able to handle alone. None of it really involves “fighting” period, and even with Kevin…Castiel takes the lead to convince Kevin to transcribe the angel tablet.
I’m still left questioning this and almost pitying Sam, because while he was fighting Abbadon and performing the last trial…Dean was off having a beer with Castiel. Luckily, Sam doesn’t know this. I am not bashing Dean either, because what I’m trying to point out is the meaning behind the actions and how it is not entirely logical. Wait, didn’t Crowley say that in this episode too?
“You always put emotion in front of good old-fashioned common sense”.
Well damn, isn’t that true for Dean’s actions here and if we’re being honest, Castiel’s as well (so human already). From all logic standpoints, Dean should have stayed with Sam. I also don’t believe Sam truly wanted Dean to leave him either. I think Sam expected Dean to say “this is on us…I’m gonna stay and help you finish this”, but he didn’t. He left to help Castiel with one of his angel problems that really didn’t concern either of the boys (in fact Naomi DID help with sending Bobby to heaven). The angels can be dicks but they also haven’t been an issue since S5, or you know…four years! But Dean leaves, and Sam is left on his own to complete this trial. (oh destiel shippers, this is why the ship is not sunk btw, all of this)
So let’s skip to Dean returning back to Sam to stop him from completing the trial. Dean seems to have complete faith now in Sam doing this on his own (what happened earlier in the episode? Guess Sam didn’t need a chaperone after all). Cas drops Dean off before returning his own mission, saying “Dean, I’m not wrong, I’m going to fix my home”. Dean busts in and yells at Sam to stop. And then we get one of the saddest parts of this, because it harkens back to what this has all been about: love and need. As a sidenote here; this is indeed what Crowley admits to as well (and let us not forget the parallels of the angels/demons with Dean/Sam).
Dean: “If you finish this trial, you’re dead.”
Well I was confused at first, because I thought Sam had a reason for this, a “light at the end of the tunnel”? But here comes the explanation, and it is why this is so haunting and beautiful and real. Sam doesn’t feel needed by Dean, he feels like a failure, and that he will be replaced. Now this dialogue is just too interesting to not pick apart.
“What happens when you’ve decided I can’t be trusted again? I mean, who are you going to turn to next time instead of me? Another angel? Another vampire? Do you have any idea what it feels like to watch your brother-“
Oh this is a goldmine of manly angst and brotherly pain. This dichotomy of what love is; between Sam the brother and whoever else Dean may harbor love for (friendship, romantic?). This is Sam being jealous, playing the younger brother (can we talk Lucifer parallels?), but with all their baggage, it is so painful and this admission is packed full of the weight of their past mistakes and choices. Dean chose to go with Cas in this episode when JUST the prior episode he told Cas that he wasn’t to be counted on.
What I find particularly interesting is that Sam doesn’t say it outright either, because he treads a fine line with putting a label on that particularly relationship. He says “another angel?”, well come on Sam, you know you mean Castiel. The angel you’ve known for years now. This isn’t like Benny, who Sam never really knew. This is about Dean dividing his love between Sam and Cas, and not defining the differences in that love. And Sam calls him on it, on choosing to rely on others before him, and that it hurts like hell to feel like he is not needed. If Castiel is another “brother”, a “better” one maybe, then Dean doesn’t need Sam.
Harkening back to the idea of jealousy as well, Dean does have these others to turn to, but Sam has had to consistently give that up. He had to choose between Dean and Amelia, and when he made his choice, he not once stepped backwards. When you compare that to Castiel, well it’s entirely unfair. Castiel is the only one besides Sam that Dean makes such allowances for, and Sam not once asks him to give that up. I guess now we can start to see why Sam is upset here. Why he doesn’t care if he dies or not, because he isn’t needed by Dean, because Dean has Cas or maybe he will make another vampire friend like Benny, or the thousands of others who won’t let him down like Sam did. Or you know, Cas let Dean down too (in ways just as big as Sam’s screw-ups too), but Dean chose Cas here too when Cas asked him. And when Sam asked what he should confess about, Dean was ready with a long list of the terrible things Sam had done.
So here, I am wondering what Sam meant to say, before getting cut off by Dean.
“Do you have any idea what it feels like to watch your brother-replace you?”
Do you have any idea what it feels like to watch your brother-trust supernatural beings over you?”
Do you have any idea what it feels like to watch your brother-choose everyone over you?”
Do you have any idea what it feels like to watch your brother-stop believing in you?”
“Do you have any idea what it feels like to watch your brother-fall in love with an angel?”
Man, that is a loaded line, and I would pay a hefty price to see what the completion would have been. But we don’t see it, and we can be left to speculate the thousands of things that break Sam’s heart because he doesn’t feel needed by his brother any more. But of course, Dean tells him that it isn’t like that. Sammy comes first, Sammy will always come first. Dean refutes Sam’s outburst by telling him how he killed Benny for him (nice gloss over the Cas part though). This is true, Dean would do anything for Sam, but I think by now it’s established that he would also do anything for Cas. Because as honest as Dean is being right now, the audience also knows that Dean spent his time in purgatory looking for Castiel…while for all he knew, Sam was eaten by leviathans or was drowning in his own grief.
I titled this “the dichotomy of love” because this was all about love. The boys both let go of their own need for revenge and Sam actually chose to live. But the dichotomy lies in the relationship between Team Free Will, which should be very interesting in season 9. As the show has yet to really clearly define the relationship between Dean and Castiel, I think this poses a very interesting divide between the brothers and Sam/Castiel. There is jealousy and pain, and for the first time, Sam has voiced it. He’s voiced his frustration at being replaced first by an angel, and then by a vampire. But, the vampire is gone…
And well our angel isn’t so much an angel anymore…so where does that leave them?
I found it important to delve into Sam’s character here, because I consistently find him hard to get a grasp on. His motivations aren’t always entirely clear, and as I said, I was confused during his “confession” to Dean about why he didn’t care if he died. As I rewatched the episode, looked over lines and quotes, looks and scene set-up, I began to understand where Sam was coming from. He’s the little brother still, not wanting to be left behind, and while this may have subverted some of his character development from this season, I think it was something that had needed to be addressed for the entire season and probably longer. While our characters grew exponentially this season, there is still a long way to go.
As the show has alluded to before, the boys have a hard time distinguishing between certain kinds of love and much of that stems from the parental role Dean was placed in for Sam, as well as a brother and a friend. I look forward to season 9 and to the boys defining love, and the differences between familial love, friendship, and romantic love.
(I apologize for the length)