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Supernatural 30 Day Challenge 
20th-Sep-2013 08:29 pm
He's not dead
Day Eight: Least Favourite Character

This was always going to controversial because disliking a character others love is not easy. I've picked two - but I hope to give sound reasons for choosing them.



For those who know me well, these choices will come as no surprise - I've often voiced my opinions on them. I've taken this opportunity to clarify a few things (mostly for myself).

Disclaimer: We can still be friends if we disagree on this!!!

I have always struggled with Crowley as a character. I think a lot has to do with the way he was introduced and the way he played Dean (and, my reading of it, the way he made Dean look incompetent - which always gets my back up). I like Crowley best when he's being sneaky and clever, but more and more he's been played as a thug. I get that that could be exactly why he's the King of Hell (and why some demons go behind his back), but the characterisation annoys me much of the time. Mark Sheppard is essentially Mark Sheppard (having seen other performances of his) and it's a little disappointing that he hasn't been really stretched.

Having said that though, I think his performance in Sacrifice was excellent and I might actually start liking this character in Season 9. It depends how it pans out, but a little more light and shade and a lot less thuggery could be interesting to see (and Mark can . The biggest problem I have is - why the hell doesn't he just kill Sam and Dean?! They are a constant thorn in his side and I get incredibly frustrated when, with a flick of his wrist, he could just kill them off. Of course he can't, but I want reasons (from the show!) why he doesn't. Personally I think he likes the Winchesters and, underneath it all, has respect for them. I'd love to see more of that played out in the future (I think they've touched on that and I suppose that will have to be enough for me).

And as much as I know this will upset some I do have to admit to Castiel being one of my least favourite characters.

I have two reasons. One (rather big) reason, is that the character represents a rather nasty divide that has appeared in fandom since his arrival. He has become so divisive that I find him hard to enjoy any more. This is no ones fault of course - it's just the way it is. I don't want to get into that discussion as it's absolutely fraught we controversy - but the fact that there is so much nastiness and fans being pitted against each other in polls etc it makes me sometimes wish that a) he never arrived and b) they'd kill him off once and for all. (Which of course would cause even MORE division so I don't actually want that to happen). I would rather fans just accept that it's ok to love Cas or love Dean/Cas or Sam/Dean and get over themselves. Instead it's become a battlefield, which sometimes takes the shine off of fandom.

The second reason is more character based. I loved Castiel's arrival. I thought it was powerful and it was great television. I really enjoyed BAMF!Cas and even didn't mind him becoming an angel who questioned his father (lovely mirroring of Sam and John and also Dean and John). I love the notion of Team Free Will and I even don't mind the occasional moment when Cas was there to lighten things up a bit (drinking a whole bottle shop and the comment when he was on the cell phone for example).

But then it got decidedly messy. He became a character that was hard to pin down - he was either weak willed, crazy, loopy, stupid or a a megalomanic. I get that all those variations were part of his character and necessary for the story telling but because of that I've never been able to connect with him. I essentially don't understand this character. I also feel very little sympathy toward him. I suppose that's very personal but I also suspect it's part of his character development - he, like Sam and Dean, have flaws and they are being worked through during the series.

I think I just want to see Cas actually be a good friend to Dean (much the way Benny was). We are always told about this epic friendship but rarely see it in action. And staring at each other doesn't count as friendship to me. I think there might still be some wariness between them, as Cas has been hard to trust, so that might count for that distance between them. I don't know. I admit to finding it really hard these days to watch any scenes with Dean and Cas in it without thinking about fan service. I know that's not fair!! I know it's not - but that's the truth of the matter. I don't want it to be like that and I actively work hard to get passed it because as much as I think the writers do have fans in mind, I think they also write stories without shipping issues in their heads.

I also get annoyed when they use Cas as comic relief when it's not necessary. At times it fits - but when it just makes him look stupid (hello ancient angel here - with some world knowledge!) it makes me cross. He would know what a god damn egg is for example. (ouch...still a sore topic it seems....)

Having said ALL THAT..I am actually looking forward to S9 Cas as I think there might be an opportunity to really develop his character and shape it into something really interesting. I love Cas best when he's clear minded, has a purpose and shows some spine. If they have him bumbling around the world because he's suddenly human I will just have to take a deep breath and tolerate him. I hope they give him some credit for being on the earth for a while now.

And I know I keep saying it, but I'd love to see them explore the connections between Cas and Sam more. They are definitely there and I see no reason why they can't broaden his friendships to include Sam - not taking away his "profound bond" with Dean, but rather solidifying the friendship by acknowledging the similarities they share.

I will never hate on a character though. Crowley and Cas being my least favourite characters does not mean they completely take away my enjoyment of the show. They are there in a huge way so in order for me to keep enjoying my show to the level I do I will constantly look for things I can love about them. I desperately want to like them so I will be working hard to remain positive about them throughout S9 (and in my episode reactions/reviews).

Hmmm...seems like I had some things to get off my chest. Hope I haven't lost any friends over it. TV characters are great to chat and debate about. But not to fight over. <333
Comments 
20th-Sep-2013 12:51 pm (UTC)
You know I've quietly been reading so many if these entries on my flist and the one thing I love about this fandom is that even with different opinions and on something like "least favorite" the love of this show has come through on each and every post.
20th-Sep-2013 12:59 pm (UTC)
"least favourite" is a difficult one because it's automatically negative. It asks you to chose something you don't like about your favourite show - which, for an avid fan like myself, it's a difficult thing to chose. But I also acknowledge that you can love something but there are some parts of it that aren't your favourite.

It's a good chance to nut things out. :))

20th-Sep-2013 12:56 pm (UTC)
I have to say that I agree with everything you say here about Cas, from the divided fandom affecting how I see the character through the 'messiness' of the characterization to the fan service thing (glad I'm not the only one who's thought that!). I found the Dean/Benny friendship far easier to understand and believe than Dean/Cas.
20th-Sep-2013 03:04 pm (UTC)
It took quite a bit to admit that part of my problem with Cas is the problems he seems to have caused. I wish I could divorce myself from all that, but it's constantly something I struggle with.

And yeah - I think seeing the chemistry between Dean and Benny shows up what's we've been needing to see between Dean and Cas (though Dean and Cas's relationship is probably more complex then Dean and Benny's).

20th-Sep-2013 01:01 pm (UTC)
I've been watching some S6-8 episodes recently, just kind of random-like. Castiel has slowly (and I do mean slowly) grown on me over the years, but that's mostly thanks to fic, vids, and personal fanwanking of the character—and I find myself thinking that at this point, there's no way the show can do the character justice the way fandom does. Since they use him so much for comic relief (and plot complications), his actions/personality/abilities/motivationsintelligence level etc. change from minute to minute to fit whatever the show needs him to be. Kind of the same problem with Crowley, I think. They both serve as "plot complicators" more than characters. I'm watching Cas with Metatron and thinking, why in the HELL does he trust this guy? And I just watched "Born Again Identity" again, and wow, there's a lot of WTF in that episode.

The parts of Castiel's characterization that are consistent also trouble me. He is very eager to smite things at someone else's command. (God, Uriel, Metatron, Meg in a pinch...) and that part I like—at least it's something I can latch on to as defining the character. Also, smiting is hot. But not exactly endearing or confidence-building.

I do like Cas as a mirror of Sam and Dean, but I wish that I felt like the show's writers trusted their audience enough to use that more. And yeah, I want him to interact with characters other than Dean. Castiel and Benny were interesting together! Likewise Cas and Kevin would be. (I kind of hate Benny because of the actor's ATROCIOUS SOUTHERN ACCENT OMG but he was an interesting foil for Cas in Purgatory.)
20th-Sep-2013 11:48 pm (UTC)
I think this is why I often describe my relationship with Castiel as messy. There are times when I really enjoy him and other times I seriously just want to yell at the screen. The scene with Metatron made absolutely no sense considering what Cas had actually already been through - he was given no good reason to trust that angel (and it makes it worse when the audience knows Metatron can't be trusted and yet Cas can't see it).

And man, don't even get me started on Born Again Identity. Cas had a wife and what?...just left her and that's that? So, so messy...

I think him smiting as ordered was interesting when he first arrived - I felt like that was the journey he had to make (much like Dean I think...), but nothing really came of it - especially when he was smiting as ordered by Metatron in S8.

I have a little bit of hope that Cas will be much more rounded this coming season and be used in more interesting ways. I think the fact that he's now human give them a clean slate. Up until now they have sort of been forced to keep him in and they have to make up stories to fit him. I think now they've had plenty of time to work out exactly what to do with him. I hope.
20th-Sep-2013 01:02 pm (UTC)
Great post.

The only Cas I like is BAMF!Cas, but I like that one well enough to make up for the others. (Sunday's topic, I believe!) I totally agree with what you say about his inconsistent and often not credible characterisation.
21st-Sep-2013 07:31 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I am looking forward to the favourite Misha one...:)

xx
20th-Sep-2013 01:34 pm (UTC)
I have often written about my problems with Castiel, so I don't want to go into it again in your journal. You know we agree in our assessment of the character. I have to say though, in past seasons I always made an effort to understand him and give him some leeway and work past my problems with him, but S8 has taken that away. It's the season that made me actively dislike the character.

I also agree on Crowley! I loved him when he was first introduced and he provided welcomed snark and clever schemes for a long time, but again, S8 somehow reduced him to a one-dimensional villain with little or no comprehensible agenda. I wouldn't say he is my least favourite character, but he sure isn't high on my list either.

My least favourite character by a mile, though, is Becky Rosen. I find it hard to even sit through a single scene with the character.
21st-Sep-2013 08:05 am (UTC)
Ah yes Becky...I have mixed feelings about her. I feel that underneath the caricature there is a real person - one that I would love to see on the show someday. Her treatment has been puzzling at best - no clue what they were thinking when they made her a card board cut out rather than a real person.

And season 8 does seem to have a few things to answer for - that's for sure.
20th-Sep-2013 01:56 pm (UTC)
I really liked Crowley up until last season. I think using him as an outright villain was a terrible mistake – his character is completely unsuited to the role, and they clearly had no idea what to do with him in it. He never did develop a coherent motive for his actions and, as you say, once his uneasy alliance with the Winchesters was broken there was no reason for him to let them live.

I very much hope the events of Sacrifice were a recognition of that, because they have the potential to shift Crowley back into a less thuggish and more thoughtful role. A morally troubled Crowley, after all, might have a reason to spare his enemies. :)

That said, given that I liked the stuff in Sacrifice, I find it quite sad that they've been tweaking his history to suggest he's a much older and more powerful being than we originally thought. Crowley was one of those rare demons for whom we have some backstory. We know he wasn't a monster, just a poor fool who fell victim to a demon deal. We know he had a troubled relationship with his son, and never managed to reconcile.

There's a lot there to play with. I think I'd have liked to meet Fergus MacLeod, even partway reformed.
21st-Sep-2013 02:27 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure why I never connected to Crowley. I think I've always just had trouble believing he's the King of Hell. But I agree making him the outright villain in the last season was a mistake. They never gave us reasons for him to keep the Winchesters alive.

A morally troubled Crowley, after all, might have a reason to spare his enemies.

Oh yeah, good thought. It'll certainly make more sense if he's around throughout S9 if he's morally troubled.

I find it quite sad that they've been tweaking his history to suggest he's a much older and more powerful being than we originally thought.

Yeah, I wonder what that was about. I actually think they just didn't check the backstory he already had. (I think I read somewhere that they did make a mistake re his connection with Naomi)

It'll be interesting to see what they do with him now.
20th-Sep-2013 02:09 pm (UTC)
I really like Mark Sheppard so it makes me feel disloyal for agreeing with you about Crowley, but I have never found him that menacing. Perhaps because like you have pointed out, he's never taken the boys out, even though he seriously could've (and probably should've) many times. Since Lucifer's second imprisonment, there is no reason to keep the Winchesters alive, and they are not being protected by Heaven any more so why aren't they dead many times over by now? (Well apart from the obvious reason that there would be no show without them!)

And I also agree with you about Cas. I think the writers have been struggling to find various weird and not so wonderful plot devices to keep Misha on, simply because they know Misha has a crazy loud fan base. And I have absolutely nothing against Misha, I think he is marvellous and has done some wonderful things (both with Castiel and in real life). I really hope that they have a coherent and season-long plan for all the characters this season - and the few spoilers I have seen are actually making me quite hopeful. Fingers crossed hey?
21st-Sep-2013 02:33 pm (UTC)
I think they've look for ways to keep Crowley around (a bit like Cas), and haven't been entirely sure what to do with him.

And I have nothing against Misha either. I admire the work he does for charity and given all the variations they've thrown at him, he's done an admirable job with Cas. It must be hard for him because Cas doesn't seem to have had a definite character trait. He was mysterious and kick ass when he arrived, but then he became a bit like a child. Misha has had to work with all sort of variations.
20th-Sep-2013 03:04 pm (UTC)
The biggest problem I have is - why the hell doesn't he just kill Sam and Dean?!

Hehe I find this interesting as when I'm watching I actually find myself thinking the opposite 'Why hasn't Sam and Dean killed Crowley yet?". I used to like the character, but at this point I feel the character has outstayed his welcome and his continued presence does not make sense in the narrative. I suppose ironically it is how many feel about Castiel lol.

I would understand Crowley's continued existence if like Castiel he were a friend of the brothers whose past actions while wrong were misguided and done with good intentions. The brothers have always been extremely loyal to those who they are close to even when they have done them wrong (each other, Castiel, Bobby, John). However, Crowley's relationship with the brothers has been for the most part that of enemies or at best reluctant allies with everyone knowing the other would stab them in the back the moment their common foe was taken care of. So without a foundation of friendship or other reason why the brothers should feel loyal to Crowley I find it hard to buy them letting him live especially now after his murder of Sarah and other saved innocents of theirs in Clip Show.

As for Castiel as someone you could say is apart of the other side of the 'battle'. There are a few things I'd like to offer a different perspective on based on my experiences of being around 'the enemy'. This isn't about me trying to be 'I am right and you are wrong', just like I said offering a different perspective which you are free to ignore completely.

One (rather big) reason, is that the character represents a rather nasty divide that has appeared in fandom since his arrival. He has become so divisive that I find him hard to enjoy any more.

I can understand why you would feel that way as due to the popularity of the character and the time period he joined the show Castiel has become a symbol of sorts for one side of the fandom.

However, I don't really think it is fair to resent the character for the divide as in my opinion it goes so far beyond Castiel.

First off for me the divide in fandom is a natural consequence of the decision to change the shows narrative in season four by introducing large scale myth-arc points (the apocalypse S4-5 or the war in heaven S6). That is why in my experience most of the Team Free Will fans generally prefer large scale plots they love the major scale of story-lines such as the apocalypse whilst bi-bro fans generally prefer smaller scale mytharcs that are more personal to the live of the brothers like the psychic kid arc or Dean going to hell.

Likewise the two sides have different ideas on structure the bi-bro fans usually love stand alones more than mytharc episodes because by their very nature the stand alones allow more time for indepth character exploration. Whereas the new guard Team Free Will fans can often be impatient with them and prefer the mytharc episodes especially those that do character exploration within them.

On top of that the two sides views on the brothers relationship are completely different. While the bi-bro fans may love it in its present fans there are many fans (myself included) who wish the writers would allow their relationship to mature into something more healthy and find certain aspects of it rather uncomfortable to watch. I'm not going to start listing those reasons because I know you love the brothers bond as it is and this post certainly isn't about bashing their bonds.

But anyways basically for the reasons I list above while I think Castiel is certainly a symbol for one side of the fandom. I sincerely believe even had they stuck to the supposed original plan which is said to be killing Castiel off in Heaven and Hell the fandom gap would still exist.
20th-Sep-2013 03:05 pm (UTC)
But then it got decidedly messy. He became a character that was hard to pin down - he was either weak willed, crazy, loopy, stupid or a a megalomanic.

Again I don't blame you for feeling this way and indeed one of my biggest issues with the Sera Gamble seasons is I feel she did not properly handle Cas in the slightest. I know of many fans whose issues with the character stem from season six and I'll never forgive Gamble for that.

He had a great arc in seasons 4-5 which is where my love was born, but it was clear Gamble had no regard for the character and just wanted to kill him off. I mean seriously making a character much loved by many fans (not all of course) turn into a villain and then actually thinking dumping him in a lake never to be seen again (which Misha has stated at conventions was the original plan). And then when she was forced to take him back she goes and makes him crazy instead of allowing him a proper redemption story-line.

So yeah I can't blame you at all for feeling that way the writing was crappy.

I also get annoyed when they use Cas as comic relief when it's not necessary. At times it fits - but when it just makes him look stupid (hello ancient angel here - with some world knowledge!) it makes me cross. He would know what a god damn egg is for example. (ouch...still a sore topic it seems....)

LMAO that scene was indeed ridiculous! Believe me there are plenty of us Cas lovers who resent the ridiculous comic relief :)

And I know I keep saying it, but I'd love to see them explore the connections between Cas and Sam more. They are definitely there and I see no reason why they can't broaden his friendships to include Sam - not taking away his "profound bond" with Dean, but rather solidifying the friendship by acknowledging the similarities they share.

Another thing we agree on :) I mean it when I say I'm a team free will fan and for me that includes Sam and Cas interaction. See where not all crazies who want to get rid of Sam ;)
20th-Sep-2013 05:10 pm (UTC)
Just going to nod and point at What You Said, and for pretty much the same reasons.

Mark Sheppard has been around for a while--I like to call him the Michael Caine of the 21st Century, for his ubiquity--and everything I hear about his behavior in several fandoms only makes me respect him more. And I couldn't admire Misha more for the galvanic influence for good he's been on fandom. So it is definitely their characters and the inconsistent and ineffective ways they're written that I dislike, and not the actors.

21st-Sep-2013 04:07 pm (UTC)
Haha..Michael Caine of the 21st Century! I don't know much about Mark I have to say. I've seen a few pics and he seems like a nice guy. And Misha..well! I likve the way he's used his notoriety to raise money and awareness. He's also extremely funny. I actually think he's done a pretty good job with Cas, considering the variety of material he's been given.
20th-Sep-2013 05:36 pm (UTC)
"And...ack! *runs away*....avoid my next post sweetie!"

You know those words are the best way to make me come and check this out, right?! ;D

I love Castiel but unfortunately have to agree with a lot that you are saying. I just love him anyway. lol. I think his character is so messy because he wasn't meant to stay that long originally. So they use him how it fits in. Sometimes great I think and sometimes just plain embarrasing.
And you have to admit, there is ONE very consistent thing about him: His coat!! LOL :D
21st-Sep-2013 03:21 pm (UTC)
"there is ONE very consistent thing about him: His coat!!"
Is it a spoiler to say - maybe not in Season 9??!
20th-Sep-2013 06:49 pm (UTC)
Hmmm...seems like I had some things to get off my chest. Hope I haven't lost any friends over it. TV characters are great to chat and debate about. But not to fight over. <333

Never, bb, never. I understand your points re Crowley, though I myself like him a great deal. And I'm with you 100% on everything you said about Castiel. Some of fandom seem to forget is that a character can be your "least favorite" without actively hating on them. Castiel no longer thrills me. Doesn't mean I hate him.

. . . but yeah. Try to explain that to the more passionate members of fandom.
22nd-Sep-2013 02:08 am (UTC)
Thank you honey. <3 And I have a bit of a feeling we might be seeing a different side of Crowley this season so I am looking forward to that. :)

And nope...no hating. Actually, most annoyance. There are times I actually really like him. I suppose it depends on what context he's being used at the time. I'm definitely curious about the Cas we will be seeing this coming season.
20th-Sep-2013 08:31 pm (UTC)
I too have problems with Crowley the Thug. I far preferred Crowley the King who got rid of torture and instituted long, boring lines in Hell and the Crowley who worked with the boys out of self interest and who healed Bobby even though Bobby forgot to ask for that. Crowley the Thug just seems like a different creature.

I'm not a Castiel fan for many of the reasons you state. If the show can finally stop with Castiel the comic relief and give him some meaty stories, especially if they deal with his interactions with his fallen family, I will would find it easier to like Castiel. Castiel the only angel who can't figure out human idioms when Balthazar, Uriel and Zachariah all could was annoying to me.
22nd-Sep-2013 02:11 am (UTC)
The long boring lines! They were perfect! I adored that image of Hell. Last season he took to yelling a lot and...eek - a lot of torturing.

Cas interacting with his fallen family could be very interesting indeed. And there's a lot of parallels that can be drawn still between him and the Winchesters.
20th-Sep-2013 10:19 pm (UTC)
He certainly is divisive, which is sad. I chalk it up to the fact that I think he's gotten so much fanon built up about him that I simply don't recognize some versions people are talking about.
The more I stick my head in the sand and just watch the show, the less I dislike Castiel - so there is that. :) It's hard, sometimes, to separate the two though.
22nd-Sep-2013 02:13 am (UTC)
I NEED TO STICK MY HEAD IN THE SAND MORE!! I do. All this stuff gets me down. I am sure much of what I feel is because of what' going on in fandom. I think I'm going to try and block it out.

*nods*

(though the look on my face is one of doubt...;D)
21st-Sep-2013 01:53 am (UTC)
Kudos on being ballsy enough to not crumble under fandom pressure on your choices and for explaining said choices so eloquently. I agree with the reasons you give for disliking both Crowley and Cas. Strangely enough, I still like both characters. I have no problem with others disliking them though (especially if said dislike isn't presented as extreme bashing/wank), because I can understand. It's disappointing how at times the ball has been dropped in all the characters storylines and about how fandom can get crazy. Still this is the best damn show and fandom, and I'll be around til the end. /teamfreewillin'
22nd-Sep-2013 02:31 am (UTC)
Kudos on being ballsy enough to not crumble under fandom pressure on your choices and for explaining said choices so eloquently

Hee..thank you. I like discussing this stuff because it helps me have a clearer picture for myself.

And I agree the ball has been dropped on all the characters in some ways over the years. I suppose that's what you get for having a show with no clear end in sight - they keep having to change things about the characters to keep the stories going. But we still love 'em! :)
21st-Sep-2013 04:25 am (UTC)
Yes to both.  I think they are both interesting characters that have been very poorly utilized since S5.  Crowley was great for being a slimy salesman who could work a deal to his advantage.  The Crowley who won S7, game, set, match was interesting to me.  I hated the whole thug line and that was going on in S6 with the Alphas as well as this season, big time.  

I jokingly figure that Crowley doesn't kill the boys because he harbors an epic crush on Sam.  All the nicknames and he's always making some crack about how big Sam is.  He's just plain afraid of Dean.  Dead Dean would still find a way to make him pay.  He better hope Sam and Dean find him useful this season or Abaddon is going to squash him like a bug. Heh heh, rubs hands together and chortles evilly.

I wish they'd quit using Cas for comic relief by making him look like a fool like they did this last season and make up their minds about what version of Cas they want.  I don't think he is a fool.  I hated the grocery store scene.  I know Cas and Dean are supposed to have some kind of profound bond but there has been so much broken trust with this pair.   I did like end verse Cas and some of Cas becoming independent of Heaven in S4 and 5.  I'm willing to give them a couple of episodes to get him on a decent track but not too long, especially if he's going to be more than a guest star.
22nd-Sep-2013 03:51 am (UTC)
Yeah - slimy salesman Crowley was certainly more interesting than the yelling, torturing one. Though even early one he didn't grab me that much.

I jokingly figure that Crowley doesn't kill the boys because he harbors an epic crush on Sam.

HA! omg I love this! *new head canon* (and I don't know if you've seen the deleted scene from sacrifice - but there's a rather lovely moment between Sam and Crowley). I SO WANT ABADDON TO CRUSH HIM LIKE A BUG! She could, potentially, be the most evil of the evils were seen yet. *rubs hands*

I see S9 as a chance for them to make their minds up about him. I suspect that there will still be the comic elements (I think because Misha himself seems l like quite the comic), but I hope it's genuine, rather than there just for some laughs. By stripping out his angelness, we might be able to see him grow and become a solid character before they return his grace (I suspect getting his grace back will be one of the driving arcs for season) .
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