Haven’t been around on tumblr much at all this week, but had some thoughts about SPN 8.04 and a kind of scary theory about Dean’s story this season.
While there were lines of dialogue or moments that seemed to draw lines to one character or another, I don’t think there’s a neat or direct map between Sam, Dean, and Castiel to the 3 college students and the professor. But SPN for 8 seasons has been very fond of mirroring and parallels and shoutbacks and purposeful echoes. It wasn’t just about Sam and Dean and Castiel, but a few of the general themes SPN frequently returns to over and over were noisily at work.
Two stood out to me most, a) What do you do when a loved one starts going off the rails in frightening ways and starts becoming something they usually aren’t and b) is everyone who transforms lost to making choices, are all monsters beyond being worth given a chance.
The first college student didn’t change by choice, he was attacked and bitten. He subsequently gave into his darkest impulses and regretted it. The second student wanted it, tired of feeling powerless. The third didn’t change by choice, but having changed, she made certain choices. The transformed college professor we know tried to keep himself from giving into his darkest impulses and we know he succeeded for a long while but then gave in.
We don’t know if the third student is going to be able to keep to her intention to avoid giving in but it’s really interesting that Sam and Dean agree she should be given a chance to try.
Sam made choices about drinking demon blood and using his powers. Castiel made choices about swallowing the Purgatory souls. Dean and Sam make choices about whether to use torture or not, whether to sacrifice the host to save the demon, and Sam’s not cleaner than Dean on this—but let’s talk about Dean, who thinks he’s only good for killing, and has come back from Purgatory ready to use torture, and with a laser focus on hunt-kill, even if it means sacrificing the host to kill the demon. Also where he was the only human surrounded by monsters, with his best friend who is an angel (someone who has screwed up but also proven himself worthy of trust again and again), and a comrade in arms who is a vampire (someone who is a question mark but did act as an ally in Purgatory as far as we know, and who gained some degree of trust from Dean).
Dean has a line in this ep where he jokes about how the monster’s hungry and pats his stomach and I don’t know if SPN is telegraphing because the monster within theme for Dean isn’t really going to be the big theme and it’s smokescreening, or telegraphing because it telegraphs and that line is meant to be a clue.
I’m not sure if the “monster within” is going to wind up being literal (monstrous influences inside Dean), but it definitely seems to be a theme this season with Dean, and Dean’s self-perception about being a killer and that he’s not that different than the monsters he hunts and kills, and Dean’s darker impulses.
My scary thought about Dean: first the show had “save Sam or kill him,” and for a long time had the question could Dean kill Sam (what do you do when a loved one starts becoming something they’re not), then it had Castiel swallowing monster souls and turning into Godstiel, and the decision to take out Godstiel (and I think Dean thought Castiel was already dead and lost, Dean had lost hope, I don’t think it was Castiel Dean thought he was killing). The show has done Something Wrong With Sam and Something Wrong with Castiel. It hasn’t often gone there with Dean yet (it does go there emotionally but not to the same overt degree it has with Sam or Cas) and so I’m wondering if season 8 is the Something Wrong With Dean season, and Dean going off the rails, and Sam and Cas the ones trying to figure out how to bring him back and save him. Ultimately, as with Sam and Cas, it’ll be Dean’s choice to step back from the edge.
A reminder that Jeremy Carver is the showrunner, and Jeremy Carver wrote Point of No Return, which is maybe the only (or at least one of the only) times where the show took Dean right to the edge of a cliff, took him very very closes to willingly changing his nature in a way that was loss of his sense of self. Even if Dean thought it would save the world—but Sam thought he was saving the world and Cas thought he was saving the world.
A note on Benny: I’m sure he’s in the mix but I’m not sure how yet. I think Benny’s a question mark, and based on the information we have so far, it seems possible Benny’s in the redeemable monster camp, but it’s also possible he’s not. A good deal of the Benny meta I’ve seen has it as inevitable that he turn out to be untrustworthy. I just don’t agree that’s the only conclusion that works for the themes the season’s playing with, or to allow some emotional dirty laundry to be aired among Sam and Dean and Castiel with Benny as an ignition point. Also I don’t think Castiel should be the only supernatural being found worthy of redemption on SPN, and so far he’s not but he’s the only steady recurring who is. But it makes Castiel’s story richer to me if he’s not the one and only exception. It’s not “woobiefication” or disregarding Castiel’s worth, by the canon or by fandom meta, to explore Benny as a morally gray character and have the chance of redemption. I also think Benny’s a good way to broaden Sam and Dean’s world. Season 8 has Castiel, it has Kevin and his mom, and Benny might be a villain character, but I would like to see him stay gray for a lot of reasons.