Oh, these boys. There's a song by Augustana called, "Either Way, I'll Break Your Heart Someday," and I'm pretty sure that is their ballad to us.
But first, a PSA. As you may recall, I started a 2nd role in January. Recently, I was asked to take on a 3rd role and thus work is eating me alive, the end. Seriously, though, it's more or less temporary as I get things aligned for someone else to, hopefully, step in.
Why should you care about that, you ask? Well, I'll tell you.
Because of Job Number 3 and Job Number 2, I have to do a bit of traveling in the coming weeks. I'll be in Chicago the week of May 4th and in London the week of May 18th, which means the Rambles for episode 21 and (*gulp*) 23 will be late. I'll have to wait until I can download the epi on my Kindle (usually two days after), so you'll see the Ramble on the weekend, probably. More than likely, I'll also be late replying to your comments -- BUT! I don't want you to NOT comment just because I'll be late. I love to hear from you and as you've seen, others who read the Ramble also read what you have to say.
So, please be patient with me, come back, read, chat, angst, pass tissues, spill the popcorn salt, whatever we must to survive the ending of our beloved Show's 10th season together. Okay, enough of that. Let's Ramble On, shall we?
It intrigues me how episodes are named. When writing my SPN fanfic stories, I often take a page out of Kripke's journal and find a song title or lyric that connects with the story I want to tell (or just sounds cool, e.g., anything by Led Zeppelin). But when I see a title that doesn't immediately strike up a familiar lyrical connection, I have to investigate. It turns out (and apologies to all of you who already knew this) that the "Werther effect" is a real phenomenon. According to wikipedia, the Werther effect "is a term coined by American sociologist Dave Phillips in 1974 to describe the phenomenon that behaviors, whether self-preservative or destructive, are copied between humans by ideas manifested in language (ex: literature, music), in addition to genetics. Named after the protagonist in The Sorrows of Young Werther, this observation is closely associated with “contagious human behaviors”, including multiple personality disorder, pathological homesickness and suicide."
Knowing about Jared's recent loss of a friend to suicide and his T-shirt campaign of #AlwaysKeepFighting, this realization made the episode title -- and likewise, the almost maniaclal naming of Magnus' box -- especially poignant and offered a layer of realism to the supernatural elements of the episode.
So, once more I'm going to do a bit of jumping around. Think little sleep, lots of coffee and you'll be able to hang with me. There were a few ways this story came together that left me feeling a bit 'fooled' -- like the fact that we never saw the yellow smoke spirit go into Sam. The camera cut away from him and followed the smoke up to Suzie and Dean and so we were focused on and worried about them, letting us believe (or maybe just me) that Rowena was actually there and not a twisted element of Sam's subconscious goading him to bleed himself dry.
Looking at it one way, it could be seen as clever how they did that so that we could say, "Ooooh, I did not see that coming!" when Dean didn't so much as glance Rowena's direction and she poofed out when the box was opened. But personally it just left me clicking my tongue against my teeth and shaking my head because, huh. I didn't realize I needed to be worried about Sam until it was almost too late.
It was also curious to me that the yellow smoke spirit thing would have risked the box opening before Sam died by pushing him in that direction, but then I remembered how in the recording from the '60's, Magnus' parting words were that the one MoL who was found dead with his wrists cut was on the right track and the rest of the MoLs were, "...welcome to die trying." So, clearly, the man was evil enough in his own right to not only protect the codex using a suicide-themed spirit spell against the average man, but knew his fellow MoLs would fall for it as well.
The Gaelic was fooled by the Sixth Sense effect moments aside, this episode was truly heartbreaking on so many levels. First, the innocent victims of Magnus' ego. I cannot fathom how Suzie managed to survive after finding (and in two cases at least, watching) her family had committed suicide. Then following that by her Aunt who came to care for her. What nightmares she must have had, what guilt that she didn't/couldn't stop any one of them or that she survived. The end when the "spirits" of her family were crowded around her, blaming her, pushing her to take her own life as the spell was meant to do almost had me in tears on her behalf. That actress was really good. I went from admiring her as a tough lady to feeling her pain so acutely I was rubbing my heart.
I have no direct, personal experience with suicide. The instances where it's touched my life have (thankfully) been slightly removed -- a kid at school, close to my age, but not an aquaintance; the child of an in-law; a beloved actor -- and because of that I've struggled with how I've defined the act itself. When I was young and naive and knew very little of the world and the pain that life can bring (and, admittedly, formed many of my opinions based on my very Conservative, Baptist upbringing) I thought it a cowardly act. A selfish act. Something that a person who was "stronger" or who was thinking about how the people they'd leave behind might feel would never do.
It wasn't until I'd gotten dirt on me from living a bit and surviving some fairly tough situations that I realized what I honestly felt for suicide victims was a deep sadness and sympathy. How low someone has to be to feel death is the right answer...how despondent. I realized, too, that in so many cases those who contemplate suicide are thinking of those people they'd leave behind and feeling this to be the better choice for them. That's why when both brothers were faced with suicide as a viable option -- while I knew they wouldn't die -- it made me tense with anticipation. I'll start with Sam since he was the one to fool me.
I was confused at first that Sam could even see Suzie's "ghost" because I didn't think he'd been spirit smoked, but then hand-waved because he'd been the one to do the spell, so I figured it probably had residual effects. The fact that these images weren't truly spirits but elements from a person's psyche twisted and bent on destruction made the words spoken that much more painful. Sam and his survivor's guilt, man. The fact that he can't prevent deaths of innocents -- and in some cases, inadvertently causes them -- eats at him so much. The mocking tone Suzie used about Sam thinking Dean was the wild card when Sam was the one running around making deals with witches is clearly something that he's having angst about, as is the fact that he is willing to do anything to keep Dean with him when that travesty was the same sin he accused Dean of last year.
Sam's ability to throw himself so fully into his quest -- always, not just this time, but every time -- is more worrisome than Dean's alcoholism and tendency toward violence. We saw Robo-Sam when he thought Dean was dead, dedicating his whole self to the hunt. We saw him do the same thing with the trials, despite the fact that it was killing him. And we're seeing it now with his quest to save Dean from the Mark. He was obviously not thinking clearly, being willing to drain himself dry just to open the box and give Rowena access to the codex -- I mean, he was just trusting that after he had given his life for this book she would follow through and save Dean. That was his justification for his action: I do this and Dean can live. His brotherly sacrifice wasn't even noble in this moment, but he was so blinded by the spell, the words she was using, the idea that he had to save Dean...he jumped in, blindly.
Juxtaposed to Dean, who we saw impacted by the spirit smoke thing. He's caught up in the one place that he's actually felt...peace...in the last who knows how many years. The place he felt a purity, a way to exorcise is personal demons by killing bad guys without consequence (long before he was doing so via demonic permission). Everything that not!Benny was saying to him actually made sense to him on some level. Dean confessed at the start of the episode that the only way to "take the edge off" was to go out and kill some baddie. Happened to be a nest of vamps this time around, but basically, he has to exact violence upon something -- and lucky for us his moral compass is still turned toward his true north -- or the pressure of the Mark becomes unbearable.
The idea that in Purgatory he didn't have to go looking for a fight, he just had to stand in one place long enough and it came to him, was not only enticing but felt like salvation. He said he was tired of fighting and there was "no honor" in suicide, but at the same time the Mark is wearing on him, haunting him, pushing him and he sees no possibility of escape. Not!Benny pointing out that his Plan B to have Cas and Sam kill him when the Mark takes over (which...how, exactly??) burdening two of the people he cares most about in the world with the weight of having had to take his life and, essentially, destroying them was a pretty good catalyst for Dean to throw "honor" out the window. That and the dangling carrot of, "You won't ever hurt anyone ever again." I mean, GUH. What a way to hit him where he lives.
I love, love, love that Dean didn't even give the Mark a chance to stop him from dying. I love the way his "thanks, pal, but no thanks" answer was simply just...him. He doesn't know how to not fight. He's going to go down swinging. It's interesting to me because for so long, I wondered on some level if Dean really was suicidal. The way he willingly stayed with Sam in Croatoa, the way he throws himself into each and every fight as if it's his last, the way he drinks, the way he's fatalistic about loving anyone (platonically or otherwise) outside of his brother, the way he's so certain that the world is going to end bloody.... It all just felt very "death wish" to me.
But as it turns out, Sam was the one to (almost) fall victim to the Werther effect, listening to the smoke spirit thing's words, believing them, trusting them somehow. And Dean was able to fight back, claw his way out, resist. Personally, I don't think it has anything to do with the Mark. I think it's the epitome of their personalities: Sam's instinct is to sacrifice, Dean's is to fight. Their partnership and brotherhood is their only chance of surviving. As Dean said, "The Universe is trying to tell us something we both should already know: we are stronger together than apart."
Overall, I was kind of relieved to not have any Metatron, Cas, Crowley, and very little (necessary, as it turns out) Rowena. The episodes that focus on the brothers are the best ones. But I have to say, Sam's hole is getting so deep his voice is starting to echo. I was pleased when Dean just dropped into the passenger seat of Sam's stolen/borrowed car with a Hiya, Sammy and a knowing grin because I had literally just been asking myself, how the heck is Sam getting away with being gone so much. He didn't think his frequent disappearances would go unnoticed by his nightmare-riddled, sleep-lacking, hyper-vigilant older brother?!? Dean already mentioned that he couldn't "always wait" on Sam to go on a hunt, so clearly he knew something was afoot.
Dean thinking that what Sam was doing was a tit for tat, you go rogue I'll go rogue, see how it feels lesson is logical, but it also means that when the truth comes out it's going to hurt him so much more. I am hoping that when he finds out that Sam didn't burn the book after Dean begged him to, colluded with Rowena, and helped Cas break Metatron out of Heaven Jail he'll realize that it was all done to save him, much like his own actions with Gadreel to save Sam, and he'll accept it and forgive Sam. I hope, because otherwise, can you say endless cycle? But I think that even if he does acknowledge that, the fact that Dean's been so honest all this time with Sam and then finds out that Sam has been lying to him is going to crush him. And if he still has the Mark...I don't know how he'll react.
Last comment before I go to the lists...I don't know how I feel about Sam agreeing to kill Crowley. I know it makes complete sense -- I mean, Sam didn't spend time palling around with Crowley and he has always been in the "kill Crowley" camp, only agreeing to not kill him because the demon became useful. And if it were Season 8, I would have been like, yes! it's about time! when he agreed with no qualms. But...oddly enough? I feel like killing Crowley wouldn't be ridding the world of a bad guy as much as it would be opening a space for a worse guy. With Crowley in charge of Hell, demonkind is relatively harmless. Because of his affection for the Winchesters (well, for Dean and Sam as a by-product) the boys have had shockingly little to deal with from demon involvement. It's been mostly your average MotW and the angels wreaking havoc.
My appreciation for the wit and banter that Mark Sheppard's portrayal of Crowley aside, I think killing Crowley in general will ultimately cause more harm than good. What do you guys think?
- Dean, blood-smeared and weary, grinning as he finds a beer in the fridge after cleaning out the vamp nest.
- Sam's exasperation that Dean didn't wait for him before taking out six vamps by himself. Love that arms out from the sides, eyebrows up to hairline move of his.
- "Stop looking at me like I'm some sort of diseased killer puppy." What a visual...and a totally accurate description.
- "I want to get my buzz on and pass out watching Speed 2: Cruise Control." Oh, Dean. The first Speed was so much better.
- Seeing the old MoLs while Sam listened to the recording, including the evil snarkiness of "Cuthbert Sinclair" or Magnus
- Magnus having none of the MoL's smug sh*t (even though he's also an evil bastard). "Let me tell you what you can do with your leniency, Malcom."
- Rowena sleeping all sprawled out, arms above the head, and her "bit early isn't it" comment when she finally finds her phone.
- "You've got three choices: get arrested, get your bits blown off, or get bent." Loved strong, sassy Suzie (before the spell destroys her completely).
- Dean dropping into the passenger seat with that look on his face -- that look that erases 10 years and says I totally know you, little brother -- saying, "How's the case?"
- Dean showing his detective skills by doing the rubbing on the notepad and googling the St. Louis Suicide House.
- Sam's frantic mental tapdance as he figures out how to explain what he's doing there -- and telling Dean something that is almost the truth.
- "If you say this is a case, I'm in. If you'll have me."
- Everything about Dean getting access to Suzie's house -- from that little gasp as Suzie points the gun at him to the squeak around the word 'time' as he slips through the doorway. That? Was awesome.
- Sam being described as a "tall, white fellow with pretty hair."
- Suzie's gun being named 'Gus.'
- Dean running interference for Sam, then switching to showing genuine concern for Suzie.
- The way Dean says 'Sammy'. I will always love that.
- Sam's genuine startle when Suzie's "ghost" was suddenly blocking his path.
- The way Dean is just...not there when Sam finds him. That would be hard to do as an actor, I think.
- Benny. Even though he was not!Benny, still...Benny. I really liked that character and his connection to Dean.
- "Need and want are two different things, ain't they?"
- "What happens in Purgatory stays in Purgatory." Ain't that the truth...Sam still knows only a fraction of what Dean went through there.
- "I'd do it, if I really had to. I would. But the real Benny would never let me."
- Dean killing not!Benny to break free of his Purgatory -- having the strength to do that. Again.
- Dean saving Sam. I mean, really. That will never not be awesome.
- Dean using his blood to open the door, trusting Sam that they had to get what was inside and protect it.
- Sam (pale, weak and shaky) looking guilty when Dean apologizes to him for going rogue.
- "The universe is trying to tell us something we both should already know: we are stronger together than apart."
- Sam tricking Rowena into shackles.
- "We had an agreement, giant!"
- "You want out? Hurry up."
- Sam being so desperate to save Dean that he's not seeing how specifically desperate Rowena is to get her hands on that codex or thinking (at least as far as we can see) that she has an ulterior motive for getting the book is leaving a bad taste of history repeating itself in my mouth.
- The MoLs being so self-righteous and smug in their ways of doing things, they ended up turning Magnus away and he managed to collect all sorts of magical/supernatural tchotchkes. He was much easier to control when he was one of them.
- There's a knot in my stomach labeled "Winchester lies" and this time it's filled with Sam's lies to Dean.
- Sam somehow knowing exactly where the basement door was located in the house and that the box/codex would be located in the basement. I know he'd discovered that it was 'buried' there but that could have meant any number of things -- it's MO, there could have been a storm cellar out back, or it could have been actually buried. His thinking basement and heading right for it was a bit of a hand-wave for me.
- Not seeing the yellow smoke stuff seep into Sam's eyes.
- Tying Dean up to what was apparently the ricketiest chair in the whole house. Tying him up on the ground, hands behind his back, would have been loads safer.
Just your basic ahh! what are they going to do to us and with all these story lines questions we all have when there are only four episodes left in the season:
- What of mortal Metatron and the Demon tablet?
- Will Cas be an asset in the Metatron fight or the Mark fight now that he's got his Grace back? That has to make more of a difference than just him not dying.
- Will Rowena be able to translate the book?
- What price will the spell to remove the curse of the Mark exact?
- Will Sam kill Crowley and if so what will that do to the balance of things?
- Will Dean be saved and will it be at the expense of someone else -- Cas, Sam?
- What will Dean do/how will he react when he finds out the truth?
- Exactly how crushed will our hearts be in the finale? Are talking boot prints or total annihilation?