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but what does it all MEEEEEEN

Just to note, I hate how busy my Fridays and Saturdays tend to be. I miss all the SPN flurries around here. *sadface*

BUT I've finallly perused the few ep reactions on my flist, and rather than leave ridiculously long comments on their pages (blacklid and fannishliss, I'm looking at you. AND your comment replies, b. Why you stir up these thinky-thoughts, whyyy?), I thought I'd exercise judgement and actually make an entry of my own.

On the subject of angelpowers, dimensions and pocket realities:

I'm interested in all the theories on how this all works floating around out there (and it all becomes pretty curly in my own head), but with much respect for all the thinkythoughting and flailing going on, I think it's worth noting that that's all they are: theories. Show does not give us enough information to determine what's empirically "real" and what's "not" in Show. Speaking as an artist, I can tell you, that line is a whole lot blurrier than we tend to be comfortable with; seriously, try defining that in our own world sometime. Yesterday I had a very interesting argument with a coworker about whether the sky was blue. He was trying to be smartass and say it only appears blue, and it ended when I put it to him, "So go ahead and explain the difference between what blue IS and what blue LOOKS LIKE." (Piece of advice: don't get into a smartass argument with an artist about colours. Or at least not *this* artist, cos I am mean to boot.)

On that, though, I am far from convinced that angels have enough juice to just go around willy-nilly creating realities. Anna's whole grace was ripped out and exploded and made a TREE. Not even a Magic Faraway Tree. Just a big ol' tree. Granted, I'm doing the same thing as everyone else, and hand-picking details in favour of my own theory, and who knows what measure of creation goes into a 100 year-old oak, and how much goes into a pocket reality, anyway? What does "pure creation" mean, even supposing it's an accurate description of what happened and not just the closest the writer/character could get to expressing it at the time? Keeping in mind that the oak did not come out of "nowhere"; it blossomed in a pre-existing world, with pre-existing materials and DNA blue-prints for oaks. Maybe the grace bullseyed an acorn. Who knows? So we're back to the same problem: insufficient data.

My own feeling is more that angels are able to access and manipulate already-existing (ie, "real"...ish) dimensions. It makes sense to me that the creator creates; the created (including angels) only interact with it, which is in turn limited by what their created states allow them to access, legitimately or not. (This is an entire meta that I've never got around to writing; one day, I hope.)


On the subject of real!bizarroworld vs real!world:

Meanwhile, I'm a little dismayed there's a suggestion that Show's real!world is meant to be a 1:1 correlation with OUR real!world. Really? I mean, really? There are some of us in fandom who still can't tell, at this point, when Show is just letting loose and having some fun? Because I think that's one of their favourite things. And Ben especially obviously loves playing around with us, with them, with the whole construct.

But if it isn't clear so far, I should confess that I have a fairly simple view of Show, in that I don't expect its internal logic to always hold in the face of them just doing what the hell they really want to do. One of the things that make it so compelling, and so strong, in my opinion anyway, is that it is an excellently balanced construct, rather like a body. Its stability and structure comes from a very solid, very simple thematic endoskeleton, rather than a rigid exoskeleton of detailed system logic or philosophy, and the flesh of the story is lean and flexible and able to take full advantage of the skeleton's articulation, and the music it's listening to is wild and loose and driving and intoxicating. Show can put its body-structure in the way of harm, take a few hits, heal, and dance on better than ever. With a great ass.

... Look, just ... all I'm saying is SHOW IS NOT A BEETLE, people. Okay?


On the purposes of the boys' roadtrip through heaven:

(fannishliss, leaning more toward the angel instaworld notion, mentions: "the cruelty and coldness of the Memorex heaven.  It makes it almost certain that Zack did manipulate the memories that Sam re-experienced in Dark Side of the Moon in order to alienate Dean....")

I wanted to weigh in on this point particularly, and couldn't decide where to put it, but I'm here now and so:

I don't know what authority Zach has to manipulate heaven, any more than I would begin to know how to measure what angels can and cannot create, so it is possible he was orchestrating the trip to drive a wedge between them. But if anyone was manipulating what they ultimately saw and did in heaven, it was God. While I don't personally subscribe to the idea that Zach was manipulating rather than chasing them, I also don't think the two are mutually exclusive; Zach manipulates in the way he was inclined/allowed to, without ever being the wiser.

That trip was not for Dean at all; it was for Sam. For as long as they were together, in both their "scenes", Sam saw exactly what he needed to see to finally understand who Dean is and what he needs. Watching the penny drop was a little bit like watching his dawning realization in Route 666 of something he'd never witnessed in his brother before, only much, much deeper. This was God's answer to Dean's prayer at the end of Valentine. By my tally, Dean has prayed to God twice: once in Monster at the End of this Book, and in Valentine. The rest of the time, he was consciously attempting to communicate with angels.

The first time, in Monster, Dean assumed that praying automatically meant praying to God (and in that instance, Castiel answered and gave Dean what he needed, although you could also argue, and I do, that God superintended that); the second being when he couldn't turn to the angels or anyone else. And I say that God answered him both times, giving him exactly what he needed each time, just not what he expected. In this case, it was a Sammy who truly, finally understood his brother, and was thus primed and committed to help him exactly the way he needed help. Help being, of course, the exact thing Dean had prayed for. Other than giving up on the idea of getting God to fix the apocalypse (which, again, was likely God's intention), the episode did not change Dean in any way, but it changed Sam in a subtle, fundamental way. It was the last step in making him a full peer in the relationship.

This ... I can't even start to get into the details of creator/creation relationship here (again, that elusive meta, one day), but whatever scheming and scrabbling the agents of heaven and humanity were doing in Dark Side, I will contend to the end of Show that this was the purpose of this episode – conscious, plotted purpose, in Show, of God. (This also ties to something blacklid said: "I also like how they assumed that God doesn't traverse universes. Oh. Sam. Assume that he does... that's clue number one that we should be looking harder!")

NEWAY.


On my opinion of the episode generally:

I liked it. It was fun and cracky and more self-poke-y than meta-y and Ben is probably my favourite writer on Show. It gave us all a break from soulessness, soulflambéness, and general wtfness. It's one more layer in some fic ideas that have been quietly maturing in the background and are unlikely to ever amount to anything much, but are fun to tinker with.

... That said, can we PLEASE get ON with things, now?

... I'm going to regret I said that, aren't I?

Comments

( 14 speakses — have a speak )
blacklid
Feb. 28th, 2011 03:06 am (UTC)
Uhhhmmm. Are you saying that God = Story = Construct = Multiple Realities... wherein all characters, including angels, manipulate it as they see fit? Because yeah, I'd agree with that. Otherwise, I might have to read this a few more times.


I love the Brothers Bloom, too! *waves flag proudly*

themonkeytwin
Feb. 28th, 2011 03:20 am (UTC)
Roughly speaking, yeah, that's at least in shouting distance of what I'm saying. This meta, it eatses my brain and I never can find the time to do it justice....

And, oops. Wrong tag. Brothers Winchester, self! *facepalm* (fixed nao) Although, yep, LOVE that movie. What is it with brothers like that?

AND now I need an icon for them, too.

Edited at 2011-02-28 03:27 am (UTC)
borgmama1of5
Feb. 28th, 2011 03:11 am (UTC)
Your analysis of the trip to Heaven in DSotM is pretty compelling and I am certainly going to mull it over for a while!
themonkeytwin
Feb. 28th, 2011 03:25 am (UTC)
Mm, I like it a lot. It's Dean's story on display, really, so we're watching Dean most of the time, but watch Sam watch Dean's story and there's a whole new layer to it.

... I LOVE this Show....
bitterlimetwist
Feb. 28th, 2011 09:37 pm (UTC)
*nodnodnod* Yes to all of this.

Soulflambé. To quote fakeMisha - rotflmao.
themonkeytwin
Mar. 1st, 2011 07:37 pm (UTC)
:)

While I did enjoy this, I confess I'm impatient about that. Waiting for that wall to come down (although it'll be ... interesting ... if they choose not to do that) is an anxious thing. Forget these guys' livers; how is it they don't have about a zillion ulcers?

FakeMisha – lol. Is it bad that I'm peversely glad they killed him? *shifty eyes*
bitterlimetwist
Mar. 2nd, 2011 01:09 am (UTC)
"Waiting for that wall to come down"

Yeah, that's why I was disappointed with the earlier episode. I was expecting something more about the wall, or the cage, or just....something. But it was okaythenmovingon. What? That's it? Such a tease.

"although it'll be ... interesting ... if they choose not to do that"

Do you really think they'd do that? I'd feel a bit let down.

I love me some Edlund crack, but after the buzz wore off I realised that nothing has happened in the last 2 episodes, so yeah, get crackin' with the story already.

"Is it bad that I'm perversely glad they killed him?"

If it is I'm not one to judge since I enjoyed that too. FakeMisha was hilarious.

I can't resist chiming in on Dark Side. I love season 5, but one of the things I found clunky was how Sam goes through these stations of the cross - 6.13 Here Sam makes peace with his father, 6.14 Here Sam faces his desire for blood, etc - and by the time we got to 6.20 Sam faces his anger and 6.21 Sam is humble, I was just about ready to punch someone. My point, and I'm getting to it, is that 6.16 is Here Sam Finally Gets Dean's POV, and it's important because it sets up Sam saving Dean in 5.18 and the change in their relationship to one of equals. The writers have Sam say a variation of "I didn't see it like that" in every memory, and even Zachariah states the perception-is-everything theme with his I-have-six-wings-in-heaven speech. It's all about Sam seeing Dean's pov, and realizing how oblivious he was to Dean's feelings. Reading it as Zachariah manipulating Dean so that Dean is all sadface just seems to me to be missing the whole point. And how then would the rest of the season be read? How would Sam's behaviour be explained? Unless it's only Dean that counts, but even then it doesn't make much sense. Dude, you'd think people would be all over Sam-learns-he-was-mean-to-Dean. Maybe it's because the episodes were aired out of order, because Dean praying to God followed by the two of them in heaven seems pretty much like an ask/answer set-up. God answered Dean by opening Sam's eyes.

Or, I could just go with Show isn't trying to be Lost. It isn't trying to be a mystery wrapped in an enigma. It's pretty up-front about its ideas, and there's nothing to indicate the angels are manipulating anything beyond what we've been shown.
themonkeytwin
Mar. 2nd, 2011 03:22 am (UTC)
I'd feel a bit let down.

Me too, and I don't think it's that likely. They haven't made a habit of laying in dire fates which they're not intending to use and explore (although I automatically assumed that Dean would be going to Hell as soon as the deal was made, and was a little surprised to learn that that was not originally the plan). But with this season, I really don't know what they will or will not do. I can't figure out what they think the story is, not yet anyway.

And they seem to be ramping up the War in Heaven thing. Which is (as far as we know at this point, anyway) a completely unrelated conflict. So far the seasons have all had a single conflict/goal, and I don't know if they're planning to focus on one and drop the other (in either way), or try to balance both, and if any of it will really ... work. Look, I'm happy to give them a season to find their feet and figure out what they're doing, if that's what this is. So, still reserving judgement, I guess. And curious if they're really going to do a seventh season. I'm not complaining at all, but aren't THEY getting a little sick of all this? Or maybe they all recognise what an unusually good thing they've got going on and are loathe to let it go.

by the time we got to 6.20 Sam faces his anger and 6.21 Sam is humble, I was just about ready to punch someone.

Whoa. :) You go girl!

I didn't track Sam's progress quite so precisely, although now that you point it out, I can see the clockwork nature of it would be irritating. It was clear that S5 had to be him climbing back from his own personal nadir, which HAD to include the healing of the brother relationship from the slow breaking apart of S4, and I was mostly just happy that he was finally GETTING THERE. S5 was most definitely Sammy's season. That boy is so strong, it makes me so proud of him.

The timing of the prayer is an important inference in deciding the purpose of them going to Heaven, but it does also derive so much from how hands-on you consider the SPN God to be. Me, I've always had the sense that he was closer than he was ever going to let on. But then, I have a bias toward an intimate, personal God, and reading things that way. Damnit, I neeeeed to do this meta at some point. Grrr! Why does life not just let me sit around and do whatever I want to do as much as I want to do it? SNOTFAIR!
bitterlimetwist
Mar. 2nd, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
Apparently I have some sort of inability to distinguish between the numbers 5 and 6. *is embarrassed*

It wasn't so much that I was paying particular attention to Sam's story, but it just smacked me in the face at a certain point, and after that I couldn't *not* see what they were doing, and it got kind of annoying. Although I don't know how subtle they could really be with something like that.

Does it make me a bad person if I WANT the wall to come down? *laughs diabolically*

I read an interview with JA before the season started and he said the writers were working on a 3 year arc. So lots and lots of story to set up. I think they definitely recognise what a good thing they've got going. Yay for us.

Why does life not just let me sit around and do whatever I want to do as much as I want to do it? SNOTFAIR!

INORITE?!
themonkeytwin
Mar. 3rd, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC)
Ha, I must, too, because it read right to me. O.o

And I think we ALL want the wall to come down. Partly because we know he'll survive it somehow (with much angsting and brotherly stuff), and partly because the threat of it hanging over us is just plain painful, since we know there's no way it's NOT coming down. I'd rather get on with getting hit than endlessly be bracing for impact. But mostly, we just want to know WHAT HAPPENED. We're as bad as Sammy in that respect. :)

Three year arc, huh? Hm. *iz cautiously optimistic*
fannishliss
Feb. 28th, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC)
okay, i've had some time now to mull and am ready to reply! :)

*whether angels have enough juice* -- it seems pretty important for an angel not to be cut off from the power of the Host in order to still have enough power to Do Stuff... look at how Castiel slowly lost his powers... with Balthazar, I think he explicitly states that he's gathering souls for power?

*what authority Zach has to manipulate heaven* -- unfortunately, he has the power of a middle manager. We have Joshua's authority that God has done all he meant to do... I mean he restored Castiel twice, he saved samndean from Lucifer... but I don't think he's the one manipulating Heaven. Another commenter reminded me how Zack shows up with the horrible perversion of Mary... so it's clear to me that Zack has the power to manipulate Heaven... and likely he was doing so with Sam. It could have been God like you say, but it feels so hurtful. Although I really do like how you point out that Sam finally gets how his perceptions are just really from Dean's.

*God doesn't traverse universes* another meta writer made a really interesting point about low-medium Mana realities (the one Samndean normally inhabit), low Mana realities (for example ours -- lots of rumors of magic, ghosts and whatnot, but very difficult to lay hands on), and near-zero Mana realities -- the one Sam and Dean ended up on -- where an Angel has Zero power to zap, but he can still make a bloodcall (ugh). I'm not saying God can't be everywhere, but there might be realities where God just doesn't check in -- not from a religious but from a storytelling standpoint. Virgil's own comment to fake!Misha, that he is merely a bag of strings and pulleys, might be taken to indicate his perception of the place and its inhabitants as hollow simulacra -- or maybe just his low opinion of mudmonkeys in general. :P As you say, not quite enough information!


Still, all very interesting to speculate about!

themonkeytwin
Mar. 1st, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)
important for an angel not to be cut off from the power of the Host

That seems likely, although doesn't explain Gabriel. Maybe it's different for archangels? And there are clearly illegitimate ways to access additional power (and not just by angels), which usually seems to involve blood. As far as Balti goes, I more got the impression that souls are currency, not angeljuice. He seems more wiley, more interested in trafficking and influence than raw power; kind of an angelic version of Bela.

Zack shows up with the horrible perversion of Mary... so it's clear to me that Zack has the power to manipulate Heaven... and likely he was doing so with Sam.

There's no question that he is capable of twisting things up there. My reservation is about how much (although that question is more tied to my question of how much an angel can "create"). He can change night to day and he can appropriate an actiondoll!Mary and reprogram her (keeping in mind also that the actiondoll!Mary already existed in Dean's heaven; he didn't have to create her). I'd accept that he could even nudge their "jumps" to particular memories, and he clearly was able to set a trap and catch them coming out of Ash's. But heaven isn't his.

As for God, while it WAS hurtful to see all those things, there was no other way for Sam to understand, from an adult perspective, what he'd put Dean through and the source of some of Dean's fears and doubts. It enabled him to initiate things in No Return that allowed their real, full reconciliation. God hasn't shown much inclination to spare them pain just for sparing pain's sake, so it wasn't out of character for God to do this, especially assuming that the brothers were how God had always intended to deal with the apocalypse. And, yeah, Joshua said God had done all he was intending to – but that can be taken in sooo many ways, not just the one the boys assumed. I'm pretty sure that God wanted Dean to stop trying to get him to fix everything, to take and own the fight himself, so of course he wasn't going to leave Dean ANY hope that he would just swoop in and save the day. I guess it all just depends on your read of the SPN God, who he is and what his aims are.

More braining obviously required. This will probably become another post. Sigh....

:)
fannishliss
Mar. 1st, 2011 08:56 pm (UTC)
As for Gabriel, i really enjoyed the retcon of the trickster... but I like to think that he wasn't "pretending" to be a Trickster -- but actually *inhabiting* a Trickster like he would a vessel - and I guess the specific trickster turned out to be Loki -- and no way the other Norse Gods would have let their relative be impersonated, right? So I think Loki and Gabriel may have merged somewhat. That's my little head fanon. :) --see my Cas icon, since he was the one who first recognized that a "mere Trickster" shouldn't be so powerful, but was instead most probably an Angel, before he recognized that Angel to be Gabriel.

There's also no telling how deep these realities go. I mean, in the djinn-verse, the whole thing was literally playing out in Dean's head... Heaven may not be much more than a computer program with human souls as components if Ash is right, so not very difficult to create or manipulate. With the most recent verse, it was especially interesting in that the boys seemed to physically go there, Virgil followed them, and the rules of magic were different there. But that still doesn't mean the universe was all that deep. A movie we liked was the Thirteenth Floor in which the universe is no bigger than Los Angeles... or our super favorite Dark City where the universe isn't very big AT ALL. :P I guess this is why I saw a few references to Inception (though that particular movie didn't flip my flipper).

Man this ep has been the best meta generator EVER.
themonkeytwin
Mar. 1st, 2011 09:50 pm (UTC)
I liked the retcon too. I guess it all depends on when you think Gabe left heaven; my own fanon on how that came about was that he went and found a young, burgeoning pantheon (Norse, in this case) and just included himself. The idea that gods are also vulnerable to possession is kind of a scary one. !

Depth of reality is definitely a key idea. But I always bottom out at the same question: how do you define reality, in that case? *brainhurt* Heaven is programmable? Clearly. "Reality" isn't?... Uh. Hmm. Reality is just a programmable construct with a physical interface for spiritual-entity user-members (souls et al)...? Death is the great unplugging? Angels are admin and God is owner?

Ditto on Dark City, btw. Never got around to seeing Inception. I haven't really been in the mood for it. Sometime, probably....
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