Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology



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Well, all that hurt/comfort stuff is kind of tied up in the whole Christian ideal that suffering is good for the soul. When we see somebody get smacked down like Dean does and get right back up, we call that person a saint. When that person drinks, swears, cracks jokes and enjoys sex like the rest of us, we breathe a sigh of relief and think, "Oh, good. So, he's not a complete jerk." W also start to root for him to get an even break. Saints make us kinda nervous. We admire them, but we don't like them. They make the rest of us feel bad. When we see an ordinary person with ordinary vices who refuses to lay down and die in the face of abuse, we like that person a whole lot more.


Dean reminds me a lot of Grace Hanadarko in TNT's Saving Grace. Like Grace, Dean is an apparently "lost" soul who suddenly finds himself targeted by something or somebody "up there" for redemption and doesn't like it one bit. Also like Grace, Dean at first thinks he's been targeted because he's an especially bad person. But as the series progresses, you realize that the opposite is the case--he's been chosen for a special purpose.
In Faith, the preacher tells him flat out that he chose Dean to heal because "I looked into your heart and you stood out from all the rest." Dean doesn't realize that of everyone in that tent, he is the only selfless one. He did not choose to come there, let alone to be healed. He had reconciled himself to death and was neither bitter nor angry about it. He's also probably the one closest to death (I doubt any of the others had only weeks to live). Even so, he tries to refuse the gift of healing twice, first trying to turn down the offer and later trying to let the Reaper kill him so that Layla can be healed (his life is saved partly because his "death" is much more agonizing and prolonged than for the Reaper's other victims, as if it goes against some kind of divine plan).
Dean feels that Layla is more deserving of life than him. But no matter what he does, Dean is eventually forced to accept his life back and accept that he can't save Layla. It's as if his choice to give his life for her has been taken away by something above him that has other purposes for him. Dean ends that episode confused, but still an unbeliever. By the end of HOTH, however, he feels that he's seen something that he can't explain, some huge non-demonic power. By Sin City, he's willing to admit that he doesn't know if there is a higher power or not, but he'd like to believe in one. Which is a huge step from HOTH, let alone Faith.

and they do seem to fear him more...perhaps justifiably?

since he has "come back from the dead" at least twice that we know of,

and so far seems "spiritually untouchable" i.e. has not been possessed yet,

like maybe he has some kind of special spiritual status that prevents his soul from being corrupted by evil?

Yeah, he's never been possessed. John was possessed; Sam was possessed. Dean was very close to being exposed several times in Croatoan to the demonic virus. Nada. I suppose the writers could make him possessed at some point in the future, but right now, he appears to be uniquely immune.


And frankly, my money's on the spiritual purity of anybody that demons go into overtime mocking. I mean, they just don't spend that kind of time abusing the souls they already have a good shot at getting. They seduce those souls. With Dean, it's almost like when somebody has some kind of talent that you can't ever have, so you talk it down. The demons seem to find Dean a lost cause in terms of actually corrupting him, so they're really sharpening the knives down in Hell in anticipation of his arrival. Finally, a good soul to torture for aeons.

(the shapeshifter does NOT count)


No, the shapeshifter does not count. I think that what the 'shifter enjoyed so much about Dean was being inside the skin of someone who was genuinely good--and being able to tolerate it because Dean was even crazier, lonelier and more outcast than any 'shifter. And also a killer, to boot. I think, in a weird way, the 'shifter really got off on being inside the skin of a Hero who was a complete whackjob. But Dean was certainly not the 'Shifter and I thought Jensen did an excellent job of showing two very different personalities with the same face.

and yeah, it'd be a SHAME if kripke didn't get to finish telling dean's story

(i mean, sam's story LOL) due to the writers' strike...


It would be a shame. I do think that Sam has a major arc this season, though, in that he is finally being forced to grow up a little and deal with his brother on Dean's terms, rather than imposing some politically correct sensitivity crap on Dean. After his survivalist upbringing, Dean simply does not operate that way and finds the Sammy-the-Shrink routine more than a little bewildering. Like the bit in Route 66 where Sam is slowly finding out that Dean actually got dumped (and not the other way around) and Dean, freaked out by Sam's refusal to let an obviously hurtful topic drop, tells him to stop staring at him and at least blink. I don't think that Sam quite realizes how much his desperate need to hold onto Dean makes him try to control Dean and curtail Dean's freedom.


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

by sesmarue (Mon Dec 3 2007 07:10:36)

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LOL! You know, before I sold anything, I was sure that doing interviews and conferences and stuff would be so much fun.

i'm sure that by this point...jensen thinks of conventions and such as necessary evils (and part of promoting the show)

but jared still seems to be having the time of his life at these things

(hey! he gets to feel like one of the "beatles" for a day! LOL)


(btw snowleopard, congratulations on your literary achievements!!)
Obviously, if Jared and Jensen hated each other's guts, that antipathy would show, and not in a good way.

the chemistry between these two guys is insane!!

you can tell all the bitch/jerk moments, while written by others, genuinely comes from jensen and jared [[yes]]
YED never quite looks at Dean straight. He always looks a bit sideways past him, like a Velociraptor or some bird of prey.

at first i thought i was the only one thinking this...

but then i heard other fans remark on it at the convention:

fred lehne's real life eyes are pretty scary too (in a good way LOL)

and they probably would have done just as well without the contacts!
Well, all that hurt/comfort stuff is kind of tied up in the whole Christian ideal that suffering is good for the soul.

hey! i like your explanation better!!

the next time someone tells me i have a blood fetish for dean,

i'll just say "no, in fact, i am honoring the Christian tradition that suffering is good for the soul" *nods solemnly*


I think, in a weird way, the 'shifter really got off on being inside the skin of a Hero who was a complete whackjob.

it was kind of nuts how the shapeshifter totally identified with dean! [[yes]]


Dean, freaked out by Sam's refusal to let an obviously hurtful topic drop, tells him to stop staring at him and at least blink.

heehee...sometimes sammy is just a HUGE dork!! [[laugh]]

(it's just a part of his "little brother" DNA lol)
The deadline for all complaints was yesterday.
Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by blumoodeanie (Mon Dec 3 2007 11:52:56)

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UPDATED Mon Dec 3 2007 11:53:44

Wow, I love reading all your posts thesnowleopard.
________________________________
Dean, for whatever reason, actually appears to be more hated and feared "way down south" than any other hunter that we know of, including John. Why isn't entirely clear yet (as recent events have shown, not everyone in Hell agreed with, or even liked, YED), but we'll probably find out more as this season progresses. Assuming, of course, the strike doesn't cut it dead.
_________________________________
I really want to find out about why Dean is so hated and feared by the demons. He has to be really powerful to generate such fear. Dean is the dark knight riding the black horse into battle, hee. Could he be the reincarnation of the Archangel, defender of the weak?
Ain't Karma a bitch?
[[jump1]]
Re: Cain versus Abel and the show's mythology (spoilers for past episode

by gunznammo2 (Mon Dec 3 2007 14:22:55)

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I've often thought of St. Michael the Archangel and Sam and Dean's work

as being very much the same. Although one is an immortal,

totally spiritual being and Sam and Dean are very human with

many weaknesses, they are doing battle with the same evil forces.

St. Michael would be their perfect patron

saint. Ah, the battles they could win together.
Sam: 'What'd you call me a bitch for?'

Devoted SaltGunner 4 Life

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

by thesnowleopard (Wed Dec 5 2007 05:57:33)

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i'm sure that by this point...jensen thinks of conventions and such as necessary evils (and part of promoting the show)

but jared still seems to be having the time of his life at these things

(hey! he gets to feel like one of the "beatles" for a day! LOL)


Well, Jensen's older and a more experienced actor in the scifi genre, and yeah, I don't think Jared's hit saturation point, yet. Also, Jensen comes across as much quieter and more reserved than Jared. When you're doing as much promotion as they are, on top of their shooting schedules, it can get pretty tiring unless you're a total extrovert.


In Jensen's defense, how he feels about conventions probably has little to do with how he feels about fans. It's possible to separate the aggressive wingnuts who try to get in your face from the quieter majority who hang back and don't get inside your space. Setting healthy boundaries can actually help with that. If Jensen honestly didn't like the fans, he never would have made that comment about Wincest. He'd know, as Dean put it in Fresh Blood, that it would just be "chum in the water" for some.

(btw snowleopard, congratulations on your literary achievements!!)


Thanks! I'm certainly not as famous as any of the Supernatural folks, but I'm doing okay these days.

the chemistry between these two guys is insane!!

you can tell all the bitch/jerk moments, while written by others, genuinely comes from jensen and jared


The behind-the-scenes extras make that clear, too. Those two genuinely seem to be good friends, and have even said so on camera. It's part of what makes the show cool, and no doubt a huge part of what makes their punishing schedule bearable. As they both said in their commentary on Phantom Traveler, it's basically them and the crew as a work constant. Everybody else comes and goes too fast. Likely, the writers play off that chemistry as much as Jared and Jensen put it into their scripts. A smart writer would. It certainly contributes to both the good side and the sense of isolation that is the dark side of Sam and Dean's relationship.

at first i thought i was the only one thinking this...

but then i heard other fans remark on it at the convention:

fred lehne's real life eyes are pretty scary too (in a good way LOL)

and they probably would have done just as well without the contacts!


LOL! I'm sure he could have, but I think that ultimately, the yellow contacts were intended to give the audience a quick signal that, hey, this is a very different kind of demon than your usual black-eyed kind.

hey! i like your explanation better!!

the next time someone tells me i have a blood fetish for dean,

i'll just say "no, in fact, i am honoring the Christian tradition that suffering is good for the soul" *nods solemnly*

The BDSM crowd have tried to claim blood sacrifice as some sort of sexual fetish and the old American puritan conflation of sex and death hasn't helped. It's certainly true that you can downgrade it to hurt/comfort (but only if you haven't been seriously hurt or seen people get hurt or killed; real-life pain kinda kills that fantasy). But in reality, blood sacrifice is probably as old as human ritual, which is at least eighty thousand years old. And Christianity directly connected it to religious ecstasy early on for a reason. Ever see that statue of the passion of St. Theresa? They don't use the word "passion" for nothing.


But really, the whole snickering over Sam and Dean getting beat up all the time is likely some of the male fans making fun of the female fans for thinking the two leads are cute (personally, I think you'd have to be comatose not to notice that they're good-looking, because they both are by any objective standards). But of course, Supernatural is a western, and if you look at the really macho entries in the genre, those heroes always get the crap beaten out of them. Look at some of Clint Eastwood's stuff like A Fist Full of Dollars or Pale Rider, which are both about as macho as you can get.
The truth is that we respect someone who endures a ton of abuse to get to his or her goal and makes it anyway. We're culturally, and probably biologically, geared to identify a hero by how many obstacles he or she overcomes, and then to identify intensely with him or her. If you see a character crawl through broken glass to help his brother, then you know outright two things about him--he's worth watching and he *really* loves his brother. And if you see him do the same thing for other people, you can immediately see that he's also a hero. Because if you were in trouble, he'd probably help you, too. It's a very easy way to establish the audience's respect and sympathy for the character. Nothing sexual about that. I loved Xena when it was on, and I enjoyed the same tropes there as you see on Supernatural, and it wasn't because I had any crush on Lucy Lawless.

it was kind of nuts how the shapeshifter totally identified with dean!


Wasn't it, though? I thought it was pretty gutsy of the writers to do that, especially so early on in the series. They were going against that usual cliché of the crazy bad guy being bad because he's crazy. Crazy the shapeshifter certainly was--but he wasn't as crazy as the hero whose identity he was stealing. I think that was really the first time they came right out and said, "Dean's nuts. But he's still a good guy."

heehee...sometimes sammy is just a HUGE dork!! [ [[laugh]] ]

(it's just a part of his "little brother" DNA lol)


LOL! Yeah, Sammy sure does love to push Dean's buttons. I don't agree that Dean is being unreasonable this season. Irrational? Definitely. But with reason. Sam needs to back off and put himself into Dean's head in that shack in AHBL2. I suspect that Sam is so utterly terrified of Dean dying that he can't even contemplate Dean's state of mind just before he made the deal, because it will be very similar to Sam's state of mind if Dean really does go to Hell for him. But backing Dean into a corner is just going to make Dean more irrational. He's enjoying a bit of denial right now. Let him. It will end all too soon and what comes next won't be pretty.

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

by thesnowleopard (Wed Dec 5 2007 06:08:15)

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Wow, I love reading all your posts thesnowleopard.


Always good to hear!

really want to find out about why Dean is so hated and feared by the demons. He has to be really powerful to generate such fear. Dean is the dark knight riding the black horse into battle, hee. Could he be the reincarnation of the Archangel, defender of the weak?

I don't think we're ever going to see Dean with wings and a harp. If we ever do see angels in the Supernaturalverse, they're liable to be the scary, powerful, vengeful angels of the Middle Ages and ancient world, instead of the nice, fluffy, compassionate ones we think about today. Angels in the Middle Ages were long on destructive anger and short on compassion.


That said, did you know that the terms "knight in shining armor" and "knight on a white horse" were originally terms of derision? A knight whose armor still shone was not a knight who had ever been in battle. Maybe to a tournament or two, but not in battle. Successful medieval knights were pretty violent and pretty battered-looking. An historian on a History Channel doc I reviewed recently compared them to Tony Soprano, which I don't think is too far off. So, Dean as a modern version of a Wild West gunslinger, which is a version of the medieval knights, is likely accurate.

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

by thesnowleopard (Wed Dec 5 2007 06:20:06)

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I was watching Devil's Trap again and YED definitely had it in for Dean personally. I think that we may find out at some point that Dean was fated to kill YED, and that he's got a few dates with destiny still ahead of him (no special powers, just a special fate), which may explain just why the denizens of Hell hate and fear him so much.


Greek myth is loaded to the gills with stories of people who are born fated to kill according the Delphic Oracle. The people whom they're fated to kill (usually a father or grandfather) try all sorts of ways to off them at birth, but these always backfire as to actually set up the circumstances that end in their own deaths. It could be that YED had somehow discovered that Dean was destined to kill him and was trying to change that fate. That would also explain his boasts of, "I could have killed you at any time." It's a denial of the truth, both to Dean and to himself, because if it's fate, there's nothing he can do. And under no circumstances would he allow Dean to find this out because it's the *only* real advantage that he has over Dean, for all of the superpowers that he has and all the superpowers that Dean lacks.
Come to think of it, episode 12, from the sounds of the main plot, may uncover some of this.


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

by donilou2 (Wed Dec 5 2007 06:24:43)

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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!

I'm having a small problem with this...I want my evil to be well, EVIL. Unrepentant and proud of it. Eager to dole out misery to mankind. I don't want to find out there is a whole faction of Hell that's just misguided and waiting for a messiah to show them the true way back to heaven.

This is supposed to be a war against evil, not ambiguity.

I can understand hunters developing a little compassion for those things they lay to rest that were once human (Claire the death omen, Molly, Father Gregory) but please, not demons. I don't even like the possiblity being bandied about that demons once werehuman and can be redeemed.


So, into something else.Snowleopard, you've mentioned you're not too fond of the "demon king" story arc. I'm not either, I thought we were done with all that crap last season.

Any thoughts as to what will happen to Sam this season? We've analyzed Dean to death, but what about Sam?


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

by thesnowleopard (Wed Dec 5 2007 07:19:58)

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So, into something else.Snowleopard, you've mentioned you're not too fond of the "demon king" story arc. I'm not either, I thought we were done with all that crap last season.

Any thoughts as to what will happen to Sam this season? We've analyzed Dean to death, but what about Sam?

It's funny you should mention that because I think your two things tie into each other. And yeah, the "demon king" story arc did nothing for me. The psykids were annoying brats and I thought the whole thing bordered on being a little too magical. The show has always prided itself on its emotional realism, and the psykids always felt a bit shallow and false to me. Their "destiny" was too easy an excuse for evil that could simply have come out of their own hearts. They say that absolute power corrupts absolutely and really, that was all the reason we needed for the actions of the psykids. YED's manipulations were not necessary. Most people will end up much the way that they were raised. There are very few Deans in this world.


I don't see that the fact that a very few demons can see the light, however dimly, contradicts the fact that they are overall very evil. It's Christian canon that demons are fallen angels, so even they were once good. Satan can't create (remember YED telling Dean that demons can't resurrect anyone unless a deal is made?). So Supernatural must be a monotheistic universe where there is only creator--and that's God. So, even demons come from God and like all of God's creations, must have the potential for good somewhere deep down inside, and their redemption must be as much God's ultimate goal as is the redemption of humankind.
But let's face it, that potential is buried pretty deep. The main characteristic of demons in the Supernaturalverse is that they are selfish. Yes, the priest and his lover loved each other, but neither had any qualms about hurting others, either for fun or to save each other. When Dean confessed to Sam in Devil's Trap that he feared how easily he would do terrible things for Sam and John, he was showing something that demons very rarely seem able to feel, or even want to feel--guilt. YED talked about loving his children, but mostly he just saw them as a means to beat on the Winchesters. Meg had absolutely no problem with completely screwing up her daddy's plan in BUABS. I foresee that introducing shades of grey into demons will mainly result in more chaos and therefore, more interestingly unpredictable interactions with the boys (like Ruby, who is annoying, but at least a change from YED and his brood).
So how does this apply to Sam? Well, Sam has been told all of his life that he is the golden boy, the gifted child and that conversely, the brother that he loves almost as a father figure, is stupid and talentless. So, Sam has developed this weird worship-denigration pattern with Dean, where he will completely look up to Dean while at the same time cutting him down. There are equal parts devotion and resentment in him for his brother. I think that he loves Dean more than anyone else in the world and always has. But that makes him a bit clingy and resentful at the same time. He doesn't know what he wants yet, and he covers it up by rationalizing everything.
Sam has also always been the "civilized" one and Dean has always been the "wild" one. I don't think that it's a coincidence that Sam's turn toward evil scares us more than Dean at his darkest (and you gotta admit, that has been pretty dark). Sam's sometimes cold approach to killing reminds us that it was civilized folk who invented nukes. And so, even when he kills for justified reasons (which so far, he has), we don't trust him, because civilized people always find excellent justifications for murder whenever they find it necessary.

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