Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology



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I'd really like to believe Kripke & Co are thinking as deeply as you are about the "daimones"-

Try looking at the Devil's Roadmap section in the season two DVDs. The writers and cast go into stories, legends and mythology behind specific episodes of the show. The section about the Horned God and cave paintings in the Trickster section ("Tall Tales") makes it pretty clear that they were aware of what symbolism they were using and why. Granted, they aren't academic experts in the field, and they rely pretty heavily on Joseph Campbell's interpretation of the myths, but their grasp of the basic thoughts behind these legends seem pretty solid. Thinking deeply? I don't know. But they do seem to be playing with these ideas and they do seem to be aware of what they're doing. This stuff doesn't look random.


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?

I thought about the guardian angel possibility. It seems kind of cheesy to make Dean any direct cosmic deity, to be honest. The big attraction of the character is his humanity and underdog status. But I like the idea of him being watched over. I do have an image of an angel in human shape sitting in a chair in a motel in the dark, watching over the Wee!chesters when they were very young and showing up in present, asking Dean, "Why are you so angry at me? Don't you remember...?" I think that the repetition in the show of Mary's line that angels were watching over her boys is significant. You say it once: it's cute. You keep saying it, it's foreshadowing.

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

by donilou2 (Tue Nov 27 2007 06:30:52)

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Snowleopard, you ARE Kripke, aren't you? [[biggrin]]

Everything you say makes perfect sense and if true, gives me a lot of hope for the future direction of the show. VERY cool analogy about the Metallicar BTW!
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.

ITA here, I only meant that it was originally intended for John, but John failed the test and thus was not given the amulet. If it had been a worthless trinket, Sam would have thrown it away and stolen a chocolate bar instead.


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.

I'm fairly certain that Kripke's omission of Christian symbols is deliberate in as much as he doesn't want any backlash from conservative Christian organizations. This is also a reason why there are very few specific references to any organized religions in the show except for the latin exorcisms, which are safe enough because of their general familiarity to the viewers.


I thought about the guardian angel possibility. It seems kind of cheesy to make Dean any direct cosmic deity, to be honest. The big attraction of the character is his humanity and underdog status. But I like the idea of him being watched over. I do have an image of an angel in human shape sitting in a chair in a motel in the dark, watching over the Wee!chesters when they were very young and showing up in present, asking Dean, "Why are you so angry at me? Don't you remember...?" I think that the repetition in the show of Mary's line that angels were watching over her boys is significant. You say it once: it's cute. You keep saying it, it's foreshadowing.

I like to think it's Mary herself, especially after her return in "Home", and you're right, the thing I love most about Dean is his everyman status, his struggle to do what's right in spite of everything he's seen. I just hope he catches another glimpse of the helping hand he seems to need at the moment.

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

by MercFighter (Tue Nov 27 2007 06:52:48)

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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?

That being said I have a distinct feeling that their mother was an earth bound angel (Nephalim of sorts) that's why she had a connection with the YED.


BTW Snow Leopard's awesome.

[ b]I get money...money is got![/b]


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

by thesnowleopard (Wed Nov 28 2007 04:38:05)

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Snowleopard, you ARE Kripke, aren't you? [ [[biggrin]] ]

Everything you say makes perfect sense and if true, gives me a lot of hope for the future direction of the show.

LOL! I wish! Seriously, though, I've been having a look at the commentaries on the DVDs (my personal favorite so far is Jensen's talking about spotting the first mention of Dean's plane phobia in the scripts and thinking, "Oh, this'll be a field day."), so I'm taking a lot of this from what Kripke & Co. have been flat-out saying about where they want the show to go, but also from my own experience writing fiction (I guess since what I write sells, I must be doing something right). Sure, you can experiment and play around (in fact, you should, or it gets dull), but certain stories really need to go in certain directions. So, while this is definitely fun-fanwanking to the max, if the show survives the Strike and Dawn O., I also think that these are also pretty likely directions in which the show might go.


VERY cool analogy about the Metallicar BTW!

Thanks! Kripke has said that they're basically doing a western with supernatural elements here. So, when Sam tells Bobby in IMTOD that they have to rebuild the Impala for Dean's sake, even if there's only one usable part left, it's significant. A mounted warrior (like a knight or a cowboy) is not a warrior without his mount. In fact, he might as well be dead. Horse or car--it's an integral part of his identity. Sam is essentially trying to keep Dean alive by resurrecting his car.

ITA here, I only meant that it was originally intended for John, but John failed the test and thus was not given the amulet. If it had been a worthless trinket, Sam would have thrown it away and stolen a chocolate bar instead.

Ahh, yup. I see where you're coming from now. Yeah, John did fail the test. My theory is that John had to trade his soul for Dean's life and go to Hell temporarily as penance for what he did to his sons, especially Dean. I think that someone upstairs was willing to see the door to Hell opened briefly to let John out (better that a hundred guilty men go free than one innocent man be punished), but felt that he needed to go to Hell for a year to make at least some of that damage right.


But another interesting thing is that the amulet is not the only thing that John "lost". He also lost his most precious possession--the Colt--to his worst enemy. And who redeemed it? Dean, the neglected son (an unknown Galahad to John's famous and lauded Launcelot). In fact, who has so far been able to use it to most devastating effect, killing both YED and one of YED's demon sons? Again, Dean. I'm beginning to wonder if there is a connection between Dean and the Colt's original owner. What do we really know about him, anyway? Maybe Dean was the one fated to become the Colt's keeper all along.
Kind of interesting, isn't it, that YED spent so much time gloating over Dean in the graveyard while Hell's door was opening in AHBL2? Why? He'd taken the Colt back and smacked Dean into a tombstone. He could very easily have snapped Dean's neck with a wave of the hand and gone on to dispatch Bobby and Ellen. Why was his very first order of business to kill Dean very, very slowly? Why use the gun on him? Why waste that bullet on a mortal when he could have spared it to use on a rival? And how did Dean get hold of it when he was pinned against the tombstone? It wasn't within reach.
Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

I'm fairly certain that Kripke's omission of Christian symbols is deliberate in as much as he doesn't want any backlash from conservative Christian organizations. This is also a reason why there are very few specific references to any organized religions in the show except for the latin exorcisms, which are safe enough because of their general familiarity to the viewers.


Well, yes, I agree that he was probably trying to keep out of trouble, though there are a few caveats there. First, Kripke, when he has mentioned Christianity, has been fairly negative about it. We got the blind healer in "Faith" who was a good guy, but whose wife was an evil hypocrite. And then we got Gordon's fanatical Jesus-Freak buddy (though he did get a good exit in the end). And then there's the tortured young priest spirit in HOTH. And there's Dean's general unease with churches (love that hysterical Magic Fingers moment in HOTH).


It's true that there are some positive images, like the priest who lays his young colleague's soul to rest, also in HOTH. Also, the discussion where Sam tells Dean that he prays every day is very well done. But these moments are rather ambiguous and don't exactly balance out the negative stuff.
Sam, for example, is not the one who sees the "holy spirit" in HOTH, for all his religious devotion. Dean does. On the other hand, the early Church, especially, focused heavily on the redemption of lost souls rather than patting on the back those who were already being "holy" (this being one reason why Pride is considered the root of all evil in Christianity). So, Jesus' parables and beatitudes focus on redeeming and comforting those who are lost, in darkness and in pain, rather than lambasting sinners for not being plaster saints. And that's really more Dean's journey than Sam's.
Second, occult thrillers are really obsessed with clear lines between good and evil, which usually means lots of Christian (specifically, Catholic) symbology. If you're doing something hinky with a Communion wafer, for example, you're bad. BadbadbadbadBAD. You even see that use of symbology in Buffy, because it's now so tied in with modern vampire lore. But you don't get that in Supernatural. The symbolism there is really pretty subtle, and the overall image of the Supernatural universe is one of Dean's "darkness and violence" comment in HOTH.
I've noticed on other boards (not IMDB, thank God) a lot of complaints about Dean supposedly having to play second fiddle to Sam. This has always puzzled me a bit because a large part of what I love about the series is the balance between the two brothers' stories. Yes, Sam's story gets a lot of obvious play. But that's because Sam's story is supposed to get obvious play (he's Luke Skywalker. He's supposed to find out early that he's been chosen since birth), whereas Dean's story won't work if you make it the A story too soon.
Look, for example, at the end of Heart. If Dean really were just the dumb, happy-go-lucky sidekick brother, we wouldn't get that scene where he nails the guy werewolf who's killing prostitutes and then shows regret as the guy dies human and in bewildered agony, not remembering any of his crimes. And the very end would be in the room with Sam and the werewolf girl. Instead, the episode ends in the hallway, looking straight at Dean as he starts to cry on Sam's behalf and we see him jerk in reaction to the shot. Yes, the story is about Sam's loneliness and the really hard decision that he has to make. But it's just as much about Dean's taking a small step closer to his own humanity and being forced to feel compassion for what the brothers hunt. The closing scene of a story is quite possibly the most important because it is the last chance for the writer to make the point that he or she wants to leave for the reader. A good writer (and you know, Kripke's a pretty decent writer) would not throw it away on a sidekick.
A large part of the "problem" that some fans have, I suspect, is that a large part of Dean's story is a slowburner (okay, yeah, the Pinocchio part is even slower). It's basically the Reluctant Hero story of King Arthur. If you've ever read the Chronicles of Prydain series (which is loosely based on Welsh myth related to Arthur), you'll notice that the climactic scene where an isolated and desperate Taran is forced to pull the sword Dyrnwyn out of a stone and use it on the Cauldron-Born is remarkably similar to the scene in AHBL2 where Dean pulls the Colt out of the Hell gate, and is immediately separated from his friends and brother for a desperate final battle alone with YED. It takes you seven books of watching poor Taran struggle and get kicked around and talked down to before you get to the really satisfying part where somebody finally tells him that he was destined to be the High King of Prydain all along. It may well take us seven seasons to find out what the heck is going on with Dean's karma.
For these stories to work, the reveal of the Reluctant Hero's ultimate destiny has to be as late as you possibly can make it. You have to let the other characters pile on the derision and contempt and get your audience really mad at you on the hero's behalf so as to build up to a great sense of vindication ("I knew it! I knew he was the real Hero all along!") later on. And of course, the only appropriate reaction from the Hero to the reveal has to be the humble and level-headed, "But I don't want to be King, dammit!"

I like to think it's Mary herself, especially after her return in "Home", and you're right, the thing I love most about Dean is his everyman status, his struggle to do what's right in spite of everything he's seen. I just hope he catches another glimpse of the helping hand he seems to need at the moment.


Yeah, Dean needs a little more inspiration, even if it's just of the Magic Fingers variety. I understand that saints get the crap beaten out of them and get seriously abused by demons, that the more holy you are, the tougher the going gets, but sheesh...cut the guy some kind of break. Somebody needs to get in there and tell him he's doing good instead of getting angry at him because they're scared of losing him. And I do like the idea of Mary's ghost coming back. WIAWSNB really shows how much Dean misses her. Sam doesn't remember her, but Dean is just about old enough to be badly damaged by her loss.


That being said I have a distinct feeling that their mother was an earth bound angel (Nephalim of sorts) that's why she had a connection with the YED.
BTW Snow Leopard's awesome.

Thanks MercFighter! I aim to please.


The Nephalim idea is an interesting thought. I mean, I don't really think that Mary was annihilated in "Home", and come to think of it, who's to say that she was bound to the house in the first place? She could have chosen to go there to kick out the spirit. It had to get in at some point in her absence, right? So, maybe she is some kind of higher spirit. Of course, that begs the question of what she was doing messing around with YED. I keep smelling some kind of longterm con being played on YED himself. Who says that higher powers can't be devious?
A possible way to make Dean some kind of earthbound "angel" being sent to clean up Hell (God, I can already hear Kripke firing up Alan O'Day's "Undercover Angel". Oy) and not make it cheesy is to do the Seabiscuit approach. Seabiscuit was the most handicapped racehorse in history for the simple reason that nobody would have bet against him if he won every time. And the Sport of Kings, alas, turns on the gambling racket.
So if the Higher Powers sent down an angel (or one of the Elect) to be born into a human, then it would be most logical to first completely strip away any supernatural powers from that being. This person would have no special talents whatsoever. He or she would be a completely ordinary human. Otherwise, it wouldn't be fair. One of the metaphysical reasons why theologians feel that humans have no special powers like demons and angels, for example, is that we already possess the two big guns--Free Will and Grace. To give us more just wouldn't be fair.
As such, the Devil has to offer special powers to his followers to be able to compete against the being that is as much his creator as everyone else's. God doesn't have to do that. God is the creator. God doesn't need human sacrifices in the apple orchard. God doesn't need to give God's agents special powers. They will prevail through sheer force of will (or, in less high-falutin' language, a sheer pig-headed refusal to give up and die when the going gets really tough). And you know, that explains Sam and Dean's respective talents rather well.

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

by donilou2 (Wed Nov 28 2007 15:05:19)

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Snowleopard, talk about food for thought- you've laid out a whole banquet here, and I hardly know where to start!


I've noticed on other boards (not IMDB, thank God) a lot of complaints about Dean supposedly having to play second fiddle to Sam. This has always puzzled me a bit because a large part of what I love about the series is the balance between the two brothers' stories. Yes, Sam's story gets a lot of obvious play. But that's because Sam's story is supposed to get obvious play (he's Luke Skywalker. He's supposed to find out early that he's been chosen since birth), whereas Dean's story won't work if you make it the A story too soon.

You can count me as one of these.If there is a very slow- moving storyline with a spectacular ending for Dean, I'm alright with that, but in the meantime, I'd like to see him doing something this season that is his own.

Right now Sam has the deal to nullify, his never ending destiny to come to grips with as well as Mary's history,and Dean has...sex and cheeseburgers while he waits to die? Remember how "Croatoan" felt like the one that got away to him?

Nothing along the lines of cosmic destiny, just a nice on-going mystery for him to put his mind to for the rest of the season would keep me happy.


Somebody needs to get in there and tell him he's doing good instead of getting angry at him because they're scared of losing him.

This is why I love Bobby so much.Even when he's scolding them -look after yer brother ya idjit there is so much love there. I'm so glad Kripke didn't kill him off, because he provides that bit of level-headed maturity the brothers (especially Dean)need.


A good writer (and you know, Kripke's a pretty decent writer) would not throw it away on a sidekick

Do you believe Kripke always had a substantial plan for Dean?

I've read the original script and Dean was pretty unlikeable.I've wondered if Dean did in fact start out as a rather oafish boor who was there merely to do the grunt work, but Kripke discovered a real gem in Ackles and realised Dean could be so much more with Ackles playing the part, so he wrote to those strengths.I often watch Dean and think that he would be unlikable in certain scenes if Ackles didn't play him with a twinkle in his eye instead of a leer. Ackles was originally supposed to play Sam,but found Dean more interesting and jumped at the part when he was offered it instead.

Illegitimati non carborundum


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

by thesnowleopard (Sat Dec 1 2007 05:37:19)

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Snowleopard, talk about food for thought- you've laid out a whole banquet here, and I hardly know where to start!


LOL! Well, that's good to hear. That was a long post!


Sorry about the lateness in reply. I just finished 50,000 words of a rough draft for a novel for NaNoWriMo. I just spent the past few days, when I was home, listening to Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida nonstop to get myself into the appropriate mood for the last ten thousand words. I love that song, but I'm not going to be listening to it again for awhile. I had a catalogue of unexpected minidisasters, small triumphs and time-wasters that set me way back. But I got it done. Yay me.
Anyway, back to the show...

You can count me as one of these.If there is a very slow- moving storyline with a spectacular ending for Dean, I'm alright with that, but in the meantime, I'd like to see him doing something this season that is his own.

Right now Sam has the deal to nullify, his never ending destiny to come to grips with as well as Mary's history,and Dean has...sex and cheeseburgers while he waits to die? Remember how "Croatoan" felt like the one that got away to him?

Nothing along the lines of cosmic destiny, just a nice on-going mystery for him to put his mind to for the rest of the season would keep me happy.


I hear what you're saying, but looking at the previous seasons, I don't think that the general pattern of Dean's storylines is especially different this year. The main difference is that the writers have finished the Big Story that they started off with and they've taken the next step. So, that's gonna be awkward.


I may not be Kripke, but I do write fiction for money and I've been a speculative fiction fan as far back as I can remember. I've seen a lot of shows and read a lot of book and story series in their first runs. Things that look weird on a first run can look brilliant much later, while things that worked really well on first viewing don't wear well in the long run. And you really cannot predict what will or won't work. I've written stories that I thought were fun, but were really just a lark to write, not a big thing to me, and I've had people react really violently to them. Either loved them to distraction or thought I was a completely sick puppy.
I can watch the show and see that these early stumbles in the season are simply due to the writers feeling things out (I think Jared and Jensen are already pretty on top of their end of the deal). Some of the stuff will work out and some of it won't...so much. On the other hand, when you play around with the format, that's when you come up with the great stuff that still sets people's hair on fire thirty years later. Ya gotta take risks. I don't like Bela and the girl who plays Ruby can't act (or fight) her way out of a wet paper bag with a hole in it and an eight-foot-tall neon-pink arrow sign that says, "Exit Here". However, I can see that the writers are experimenting and as a fellow writer, I respect that. And I'm willing to wait.
Case in point--you said that Dean doesn't have anything but sex and cheeseburgers. I see what you're getting at, but I think that they've actually started a new storyline for him. It's funny that you mention Croatoan, because what they're doing with Dean follows up on that ongoing thing where he is being humanized and forced to identify more with the creatures (and people) that he kills. I agree that it's been unfortunately clouded by the rather clumsy antics in the foreground with Bela and Ruby and this whole "Boy King" crap, but did you notice that conversation Dean has with the trapped demon woman in "Sin City"? First, she tells him some rather interesting back story about demon culture and society (a direct steal from Milton, but that's okay. The first part of Paradise Lost is his best work), but then she actually tells Dean that she kinda likes him, even though other demons don't.
But here's the critical part--when her priest lover breaks in first, the female demon tries to plead for Dean's life. And when Sam bursts in and wastes the priest (who is choking Dean), Dean tries to plead for her life, too. It doesn't work for either of them, but at least Dean lives to tell the tale. For just a little while, we have an absolute first in the Supernatural universe--a demon who is not completely evil. And even more stunning, it was Dean who turned her!

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