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So, yes, I did recently rewatch Nightshifter. Can you blame me? It's not especially relevant, I promise, apart from I can't stop using the quotes as post titles apparently because I JUST LOVE RONALD OKAY. I REGRET NOTHING.

... Other than, see, the trouble with wordvomit is you come back later and notice all the things and ideas and examples that got you there and are TOTES AWESOME but really, in the end, probably don't need to be listed at obsessive length...? Probably. Except apparently the entire internet thinks Dean's a [You Know], which I ... question, at the least. And the reason I question it is pretty firmly based on all the reasons put forward in le wordvomit post, so, addendum! Which I might not have made except for a completely unrelated note that only just struck me about the full-S6 Soulless!Sam point, Cas, and Find Dad from S1 and makes my point even stronger, so you gotta know I'm going there. (If you didn't know, hail and well met, newcomer. I also have issues with Joss Whedon.)

I didn't spell it out completely in the post, but I sooooo missed the mark with everyone else on the Dean's A Demon! thing. (I was actually literally cut off from the internet for a few weeks during when the finale aired, and haven't gone looking for anything since, so this impression is being formed by chats with several different flisters who've been treating it as read, and it's surprised me at its apparent ubiquitousness each time.) Is it just that black eyes leaps immediately to A Demon for everyone? Because, as we saw in the S4 finale with Sam, that's ... demonstrably not the case. There's at least room for nuance, is what I'm saying.

I'm not saying they absolutely won't go there; they might go all the way with it, but to me, it doesn't ... feel right. The explicit echoing of Sam's black eyes makes a compelling argument on its own, I think – about the only way it would make thematic sense for Dean to be A Demon was if you argued for the abstract vs concrete contrasts, where they've been making things manifest for Dean, where they were fears or doubts for Sam – except that the black eyes specifically were the manifestation of the full looming dangers of Sam's path. In that moment Sam was channelling (embodying) huge amounts of demonic power, but he wasn't A Demon. It's just too reductive, especially for this show that delights itself in the inner struggle between humanity and monster; A Demon by definition slams the slider to the top of the range and locks it there, not a lot of play in that.

Counterpoint: we saw A Cure For Demon-being; that unlocks the slider, lets them play around with it. Sam could cure Dean, detox/cure echoes, possible Gadreel/consent theme repeat (they don't really do repeats like that, though), Brother Saving! They've got options, and I'm sure they could sell me on it, especially if they staged the detox/cure early. Because if they do it, it shouldn't be the ~thing. Again: it's the inner struggle. Dean needs to find his own way back, just as Sam did, or it's – again, by definition – not his. Similarly, I'm kind of expecting his detox to be the flip of Sam's – not something done to him (which was seriously on-point for Sam), but something he has to achieve himself, which is where the abstract vs concrete feels like it rings much more true.

Also to say, Sam's demonic power was working through him (ingested, inside you all the time, summoned up and channelled, etc); Dean's demonic power was establishing a hold over him (external mark inflicted, making me into something else, etc). A strong demonic hold on him – rather than A Demon – is more in line with their themes/foreshadowing, and Crowley's gloating suggested it too, without saying anything more than that, and he was monologuing to dead ears (though, *Crowley*, so). I do mostly think that the writers were aiming for the mass freakout of Dean's A Demon!, but, then, they also had Crowley warn us off going with the obvious expectations.

Speaking of Crowley, and speculations, I'm leaning toward him being the one to make the grab for the God Crown for S10. He's been made a regular, right? Soon time to kill him For Real, then, surely?... Facetiousness aside, Metatron was delightfully schlubby and all, but him coming back again for another go ... ehh. I mean, could happen, but. And Cas is unlikely for previously-stated-don't-repeat tendencies, also, character development, which really go hand in hand. Crowley's been powermongering from the jump, and he was in league with the S6 GodCas thing. Granted, it was Azazel, not Lucifer, who put in the yards for S1, but he was directly serving Lucifer. Plus, Lucifer. You really don't need to do a lot to build him up as a formidable enemy, and they still introduced him a season before they went head to head. They could introduce someone new now, but barring that, the only one still on the board who fits and is five-year-arc-concluding-formidable is God-King Crowley.

SPEAKING OF the S6 thing. So, I was tootling around thinking about how they'd get Sam's soul back if not for Death etc (which was, also, pretty damn random and connected very little with the thematic through-lines they were establishing, other than The Wall being about compartmentalization, which, well done, thematic problem-solving gnomes!... Unless that was also part of the original plan, just bumped up, which is frankly pretty likely), and the so so obvious choice is superjuiced!Cas. This is not a new thought for me. What is new is the conjunction of that element specifically with the S1 Find Dad quest, which is making me facepalm because how come I didn't spot that before?!

Yes, the (Winchester-specific) reason he was staying away from the brothers, other than being on a quest, was guilt over fucking up bringing Sam back. Narratively, make him the one responsible for bringing *Sam* back, and you've got the (Winchester-specific) reason for that quest – to get the power/means to save Sam. SUDDENLY HELLO JOHN WINCHESTER. Also setting up HELLO DEAN WINCHESTER BEING CONFRONTED/CONFLICTED WITH THE ENORMOUS COST/ETHICS OF SAVING SAM. (Death's "learn the cost" replacement pantomime was so bloodless and goes-nowhere it was a little embarrassing, although him being able to stroll in and out of the Cage kind of made up for it in the badass stakes, also, let them cutely ding it again later with Reaper coyotes.) Without the Winchester-specific side, the Heaven Civil War justification for his actions also becomes a lot more bloodless in terms of arc/story stakes. It also lessens his "like brothers!" bond with the boys, that family trait of justifying any lengths to save the other(s).

For the record, don't take any of that to mean I wasn't so damn glad they brought Sam back sooner. (Hi. Welcome. I also have issues with Joss Whedon.) I can see what they were trying to do, theme-wise, and I can even accept that they couldn't think of a better way to set that up. But half a season was moooore than enough. (The only thing I think might have worked better with RoboSam in the back half of S6 was the consent-themed issue of sleeping with Genevieve Padalecki, which is straight-up rape by fraud. RoboSam can do that with as little gravity as the show assigned the action, but holy shit RealSam. The reason it does work, with that little gravity, is because the episode is so riddled with meta that you can't evaluate anything in in-story isolation. It's Jared Padalecki playing Sam Winchester impersonating Jared Padalecki, and on that crucial (and consentual) basis it flies. Well, limps over the bar, at least. But even with the meta framing, as an in-character note, it's uncomfortably telling. And very deliberately so, I'd wager; literally nothing else in that episode thematically fits with RoboSam – "We're not even brothers here, man." Ben Edlund, everybody. Plus: "No Hell below us, above us only sky?" There is a plan, I promise you.)


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January 2016
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