Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology



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Whenever we see Sam going "dark", it's more a slightly heightened version of the hardening that the hunting life would have caused in him anyway than it is anything "demonic". I think the writers have made it clear that Sam has something demonic in him, but I also think he's still Sam and still basically good.
Dean is a practical hard case who learns compassion and tolerance via experience. Sam is an idealist who becomes embittered and disillusioned by the same thing. It doesn't take a demonic Sam to explain his killing Gordon. And even though he's made some cold statements, he really hesitated over killing that girl. It was Dean who finally did it--and after clearly stating, "We don't have a choice." It was true, and Sam knew it, but check out his grimace when we heard the "shwack!" of the machete.
Sam is pretty clearly a Hero with a Destiny, whereas Dean is following the Pinocchio/Wooden Soldier story of seeking to become a "real boy". When you miss parts of your childhood, you often have to recreate them. And what with Dean pushing thirty, it's way past time (loved it when the vamp girl told them, "He was real old--like, thirty!" and they both got this Brigadoon look).
From what I've been seeing this season, I think that Sam will come into his own, become a full-grown adult. He's becoming increasingly desperate to save Dean, but he's also noticing that Dean is slipping, and is stepping up to the plate to take on the extra responsibility.
Dean seems headed for a full-out breakdown. As annoyed as the Bela stuff makes me, I've noticed that it does seem to follow a deliberate pattern by the writers. When a character acts dumb, it could just be bad writing. When another character remarks on the first character's acting dumb, the writers are telling you something. When Dean gave Bela his cell number, that might have been him thinking with the wrong body part--except that when Gordon called him on the new cell phone later in the ep, Sam asked him, "You've had that phone two hours, Dean! Who'd you give the cell phone number to?" And when Dean complained in RSAM about Bela outsmarting them, Sam snarkily pointed out that she'd outsmarted Dean, not Sam. But this episode, he seemed more worried and exasperated than snarky.
That, along with Dean going off kamikaze-like, not once but twice (the second time after Gordon), his conversation with Dixon, and the rather creepy image of him absent-mindedly sharpening his machete all wrong (Daddy's sharp instrument blunting himself?), plus cutting his arm to catch a vamp, and you've got some really unhealthy psychology going on there.
Sam did manage to talk Dean down this time, and even got Dean to come up with a reason to stick around for a while longer (teaching Sam how to fix the car). But it's going to be an increasingly uphill battle. I can't see Sam turning on Dean at this point. But I can see Sam turning on pretty much anybody else to save Dean, especially once Dean starts really coming undone and Sam himself gets increasingly stressed. I think Sam is going to have a chance to shine on behalf of his brother, but it's also going to be a limbo game of how far is he willing to go, how low is he willing to sink, to save Dean? And how badly will his efforts just screw up Dean worse?

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Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by MaySN (Sun Nov 18 2007 00:39:41)

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That post above me, snowleopard ....WOW just...WOW!!!! No one could have explained this current scenario between the brothers in any better way than that.


DEAN: I am going to stop the BIG BAD WOLF... which is the weirdest thing I've ever said
Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by BlueEyedDemonLiz (Sun Nov 18 2007 01:38:25)

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Wonder if there is a yin and yang comparison going on too - okay so I'm not capable of discussing this in great detail with my shallow pool of knowledge but with yin and yang they can't exist without each-other and it seems like neither brother would survive long without the other.


Yin is often symbolised by water and earth (Sam) while yang is symbolised by fire and air. Yin (dark) and yang (light) are complementary opposites rather than absolutes.
Not my own but here’s someone else’s thoughts on the concept of good/evil and brotherhood...
Big Brother, Little Brother

"There is no battle between good and evil, positive and negative; there is only the care given by the big brother to the little brother." From "True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart" by Thich Nhat Hanh-


I interpret this as the 'good' as the big brother helping the 'bad', who is the little brother. The little brother doesn't lead the big brother, but wants to follow him around all the time, everywhere. Some times he is a welcomed guest that helps usher in growth and much needed change. And other times, he is unwelcomed and causes a feeling of stagnation and some times more harm than good.
Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by thesnowleopard (Sun Nov 18 2007 01:43:29)

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Thanks May!


I can definitely see Dean doing a swan dive into Hell to prevent Sam from endangering his own soul. Those boys are going to be working at cross purposes all season.
Sam had better keep Dean well away from any medical authorities. Dean's a walking poster child for an involuntary psych eval.

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Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by BlueEyedDemonLiz (Sun Nov 18 2007 01:52:20)

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I have a theory that Sam will fulfil his destiny as demon king by sacrificing himself to the darkside in order to save Dean from hell. The way I see it is that if Sam is king then he'll be the one making all the rules, he can save Dean without dropping dead in the process. I think he'll become that desperate that he'll feel like he has no other option. Ruby will probably be the one who finally pushes him in that direction.


It feels like we've been waiting for this to happen and it would be kinda disappointing if it didn't - of course, he'll be saved by Dean in the end. I wouldn't want Sam to be lost to the darkside for long.

Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by WinchesterFanForever (Sun Nov 18 2007 01:57:01)

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UPDATED Sun Nov 18 2007 02:01:29

Yeah, that's the direction I think it's going too. Sam's going to be so desperate that he chooses to go darkside to save Dean. I think you're right about Ruby too. She's a demon, she has to be up to no good. It's been leading up to Sam going darkside for a long time, I don't think they're going to back out of that now.


Sam had better keep Dean well away from any medical authorities. Dean's a walking poster child for an involuntary psych eval.

Yeah, he's in need of one. He's got some serious self-esteem issues.

If they were dogs Jensen would be Rin Tin Tin and Jared would be Pluto. - Kim Manners [[laugh]]
Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by thesnowleopard (Sun Nov 18 2007 02:53:01)

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Interesting, especially the Big Brother, Little Brother anecdote (which I had not seen).


Dean is definitely fire and air and Sam is earth (Hell?) and water. Ironically, I think is a lot more grounded than Dean. Strange as that may sound.

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Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by thesnowleopard (Sun Nov 18 2007 03:01:11)

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Yeah, that's the direction I think it's going too. Sam's going to be so desperate that he chooses to go darkside to save Dean. I think you're right about Ruby too. She's a demon, she has to be up to no good. It's been leading up to Sam going darkside for a long time, I don't think they're going to back out of that now.


Anybody else think that Sam dragging Gordon off an unconscious Dean and wrapping razor wire around his neck was a wee bit of foreshadowing for just how far Sam is willing to go to save his brother from that deal?


Yeah, he's in need of one. He's got some serious self-esteem issues.


Well, they've already had the "dream fantasy/trap" episode and the asylum ep was a lot more about Sam getting possessed than dealing with Dean's issues.


So, a little "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" action might be in the cards for Dean this season. Dean's certainly well placed for it.
Could you imagine the conversation with the shrink? "My brother needs help. He made a deal with the Devil to save my life and it's really stressing him out. He's acting out all over the place and I'm worried he's gonna hurt himself. No...no, not that kind of help. He's not delusional or anything. He really did make a deal--uh, never mind. See ya."

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Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by WinchesterFanForever (Sun Nov 18 2007 03:12:18)

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UPDATED Sun Nov 18 2007 03:13:02

Yeah I'd say Sam's taking Gordon's head off with razor wire was a little bit more than foreshadowing. It was a step towards embracing the darkness. I'll say he's got one foot over the edge already. One more major misstep and he's there.
If they were dogs Jensen would be Rin Tin Tin and Jared would be Pluto. - Kim Manners [[laugh]]
Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by BlueEyedDemonLiz (Sun Nov 18 2007 04:02:03)

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I agree WinchesterFanForever. People can argue that Gordon was a vamp and that he did it to save Dean but I thought it was pretty bloodthirsty (loved that scene - talk about wow factor). After all Sam readily agreed to kill Gordon earlier in the episode when he was still human - and that just isn't Sam as shown by Dean's reaction.


There have been loads of hints towards a darkside Sam, I mean they can't prod us anymore in that direction...every episode seems to hint at it.
Perhaps Sam going darkside to save Dean from hell will push Dean towards a little Jack Nicholson in OFOTCN as Dean might believe he's lost his brother forever...take a look at how hopeless and lost he was in AHBL part 1.
Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by rainbow_sex (Sun Nov 18 2007 04:09:14)

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wait, all those points you made about sam and dean

did cain and abel have them too?

Why drink and drive when you can smoke and flyyyyyyyyyyy


Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by thesnowleopard (Mon Nov 19 2007 00:30:13)

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Could be Dean could do a little Jack in OFOTCN--even Jack in The Shining. Or Dean's going a bit like Ophelia in Hamlet beforehand could push Sam over the edge like Laertes. I can see Sam having to bring in Bobby and/or Ellen at some point to help with Dean if Dean keeps going off the rails.


Either way, I think we'd be disappointed if Dean didn't go to Hell for a little while, and Sam didn't go darkside, at this point. I just don't want to see it go really cheesy. Do what the show's done so far; make it implied from the way the brothers act rather than doing something stupid with colored contact lenses or horns or God knows what.
I think that Sam, whatever he is, is still Sam. By that, I mean that, for better or worse, however mixed with a little demon, this is still all of the real Sam. There is no "real" Sam trapped in Hell while a "fake" Sam goes through the motions aboveground killing Gordon and swearing to save Dean. I would really hate to find out that we've been watching a demon Sam shine Dean on since AHBL2. That's a little *too* cruel.
I don't really think that the boys will be finished off, either, because that would be the end of the show. Whatever happens to them, they will eventually drag themselves (and each other) out of. I'm just hoping for a good ride along the way.

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Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by thesnowleopard (Mon Nov 19 2007 00:35:20)

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Cain and Abel is just one of the stories I was talking about. So, not all of the points would come from that story. Also, Kripke would probably mix and match a bit. Kind of like, which one is the Prodigal Son of the parable, Sam or Dean?

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Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by thesnowleopard (Sun Nov 25 2007 01:00:23)

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Found some info (it looks reasonably solid) about Dean's amulet that's related to this discussion. Photos included, so you can actually see what the thing looks like:

http://www.supernaturalwiki.com/index.php?title=Dean's_Amulet

I also found a book on an early saint that kind of reminds me of where they might be going with Dean as a "holy fool". I have to admit, St. Symeon's always kinda been one of my favorite saints because he obviously had a wicked sense of humor (so to speak). The whole book is available for free here:

http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft6k4007sx/

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Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by donilou2 (Sun Nov 25 2007 07:09:28)

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The interesting thing about the amulet is that at the Chicago convention,Jensen admitted that he chose the amulet as something Dean would wear.I read this in someone's live-journal account of Jensen's Q&A.

I doubt I can find a link now, but apparently he spoke with Kripke and said he thought Dean would be the type to wear charms of some sort, so he and a props person dug through a box of stuff, and came up with the amulet, the bracelets (elephant hair) and the ring (the ring is a replica of one Jensen owns himself).He told Kripke what he'd chosen and Kripke agreed and said he'd come up with some reason for Dean to have them eventually.

So at the end of the day, those were all Jensen's choices, not Kripkes,and were never a part of Dean's original persona.

I have the interview on VHS where Jensen says its an Egyptian safety amulet,and I'm hoping it does have a really interesting history. At least we don't have much longer to wait.
Illegitimati non carborundum

Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by thesnowleopard (Mon Nov 26 2007 01:52:29)

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Cool. So, did he say anything about what the bracelets and the ring represent?
Interesting that Jensen was the one who chose that symbol, even before episode three (where he has said that he really started to get a handle on Dean for the first time). Especially interesting, since he apparently self-identifies as Christian. That was not a flame of his beliefs or Christianity, in general, btw. He is fully entitled to self-identify as anything he wants. It's just that in using that symbol, he clearly identified Dean as a pagan, or at least a crypto-pagan, from the moment we first saw the character. The horned god is a very ancient pagan symbol. It became distorted into a popular shape of the Devil in 17th century drawings of witches' sabbats and 19th century esoteric lore (specifically, the demon Baphomet). Kripke and the other writers even mention the horned god in connection with "Tall Tales" in one of the season two documentaries and also mention the cave paintings that date back over 30,000 years in France and Italy that depict horned shamans turning into animals (shapeshifting). Shamans were the original ghost hunters.
It's a wonder that the same folks who screamed about Buffy going Wiccan and everything Harry Potter have not pounced on the charms that Dean, particularly, wears. I'd think those charms would be like red flags in front of a bull in some quarters.
The SuperWiki article is critical of Jensen's theory that the amulet is an Egyptian safety amulet. However, I'd like to hear his reasoning first. While it's true that Old and New Kingdom Egyptian jewelry and iconography do not look like that at all, things get a lot more jumbled after Alexander's conquest of Egypt, and especially after the Roman conquest. There's a huge Greek influence and some Zoroastrian influence from the third century B.C. onward in Egypt, and especially in Roman and early Christian times.
I'm wondering if, with the angels and demons, the writers are trying to do something with "daimones". These were GrecoRoman minor gods and spirits that lived in the aether between Heaven and Earth. Some were good, some evil, a lot in between. Eventually, under early Christianity, the daimones were separated out into "angels" and "demons". They were immortal and could take any shape they chose. They might also possess a person (now demonic possession), but they also liked to "adopt" people whom they specially favored (now guardian angels). Julius Caesar, for example, felt that the goddess Fortuna and a special "genius" (in Roman times, personal gods--later christianized into guardian angels--who represented a person's destiny or luck) watched over him. So I'm wondering if they are setting Dean, who has been technically an atheist ("It's all chaos and violence. There's no higher power", he says in HOTH) for having a good daemon or angel in charge of his destiny. That would really tie into the amulet.

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Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by donilou2 (Mon Nov 26 2007 06:07:47)

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Apart from the remark Jensen made about the Egyptian safety amulet (and that was way back during the filming of "Dead in the Water") nothing more has been said about the significance of Dean's jewellery. The elephant hair bracelets I always understood, but those are gone now, replaced by beads. Mostly its been fan speculsation that has elevated their significance to the status of relics.


I'm not sure how much significance we can ascribe to Jensens religious interests in the choosing of the amulet; he may have thought that since it was so butt ugly, it would be very Dean-like. All we do know is that Bobby gave it to Sam to give to John. Dean got it by default.
I'd really like to believe Kripke & Co are thinking as deeply as you are about the "daimones"- heck I'd like to believe that Dean is literally a guardian angel who's chosen to spend this lifetime earthbound in order to protect Sam, but with Kripke,who knows?
Illegitimati non carborundum
Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by thesnowleopard (Mon Nov 26 2007 22:43:36)

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Apart from the remark Jensen made about the Egyptian safety amulet (and that was way back during the filming of "Dead in the Water") nothing more has been said about the significance of Dean's jewellery. The elephant hair bracelets I always understood, but those are gone now, replaced by beads. Mostly its been fan speculsation that has elevated their significance to the status of relics.


Okay, there will be some spoilers for the Christmas ep later on in this post...


In film, like any visual art, visual symbols are significant. What I found interesting was that this was a suggestion made by the actor very early on and then inducted into the "bible" of the show by head writer for future use. So, it's canon; it's just not canon that's been fully explained yet.
The amulet is like the Impala--the characters don't talk about it directly, but it has critical significance. The Metallicar is obviously Dean's trusty horse and horses, in mythology, elevate a guy from your average mook to a mounted warrior, a knight. Famous horses, like Alexander's Bucephalus, Bellerophon's Pegasus, and Odin's Sleipnir appear throughout mythology.
I'm not sure how much significance we can ascribe to Jensens religious interests in the choosing of the amulet; he may have thought that since it was so butt ugly, it would be very Dean-like. All we do know is that Bobby gave it to Sam to give to John. Dean got it by default.

Well, what I mean is that a Christian would immediately recognize a horned head as a sign of the Devil (and Jensen did star in "Devour", which has a lot of Satanic symbolism in it, so he'd be aware), whereas a neopagan would call it the Horned God. Either way, the image has a lot of meaning.


Dean's wearing it also breaks with the usual cliché of using only Christian images on heroes to ward off evil in fiction involving demons: Buffy, for example, wears a cross. Satanic rituals in occult stories involve inversions of Christian imagery by the villains. Jensen could as easily have chosen a cross or a somewhat more ambiguous (but still with strong Christian connotations) symbol like the fish. But he chose talismans that were much more ambiguous. And the fact that he had some idea of where it came from (erroneous or not) indicates that he thought about the choice that he made.
If Dean had worn the amulet a few times, or worn it initially but then dropped it, and there was no known writer reaction on whether or not it would be addressed, then we could assume that Jensen had just picked it out because it looked cool. But Jensen appears to have been very specific about his initial request and about what the boys should wear--to the point where Kripke promised Jensen that he would go with whatever Jensen chose and later write a story about it. That implies that the amulet is an intentional visual metaphor for some part of Dean's life. Just like Dean's car.
As far as Dean getting it by default, I think that the writers may be setting up something new for Dean. Bobby originally picked it for John to receive from Sam. So, Bobby had some idea of the meaning, and some kind of intent behind it. The fact that Sam eventually gave it to Dean says something significant about the boys. All along, Dean has been "randomly" placed in situations that involved him playing a specific hero type that exists on the border between Christian and pagan.
I've already mentioned the Wounded Hero trope. The sacred object that chooses its owner, or is given to a chosen one by an innocent (out of the mouths of babes) is essentially the Grail story, and we've already seen echoes of it twice with Dean--first, the Colt chooses Dean (after having been traded away for his life) at the Hellmouth. Dean literally pulls it out of the door like Excalibur from the stone, just before slaying the Big Bad. Now, we're about to find out that the talisman chose him when he was a child. The Grail story was popular in France and Anglo-Norman circles, but was originally a Briton-Celtic story. And the Horned God is also a Celtic deity. We seem to be heading toward another quest story (saving Dean). And one of the major quest stories is the Grail story.
I don't think we're meant to see the amulet as a hand-me-down. I think we're meant to see the story as an example that Dean has been "chosen" for a special purpose, just like Sam, and very early in life. The exchange of the amulet cements the brother's relationship. Also, if Dean had been given the amulet outright, he probably would have turned it down, feeling unworthy of it. This way, he accepts it and values it and his relationship with Sam (there seems to have been resentment there, previously) is permanently improved.
It also links Dean and Sam in a cosmic sense--brother and brother, dark and light, "chosen protector" and "special child". I don't think that the next episode will be the last we hear about the amulet. I think it may be only the first part of a major storyline.

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