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curled around these images
just enough to make us dangerous
Learning that little bit more... 
9th-May-2014 07:20 pm
Sam I Am (not)
I've been thinking more about what Sam said to Cas about his possession and I think it adds another, rather terrifying, layer to his experience.



Sam felt a presence - felt that he wasn't alone. Knowing what Sam had been through with Lucifer it must have been absolutely terrifying to feel like someone else what sharing your "housing". Added to that, Sam wasn't able to talk to Dean about it. Whenever it was brought up Dean diverted his attention. Dean had his reasons of course, but Sam didn't know that. He must have felt like he was going a little crazy - losing time, feeling like he's not alone in his own body. The fact that he's been "crazy" before meant that he's had experience with ignoring it. Which he obviously did.

I wonder why it's taken them until episode 21 to give us that bit of information. I realise that that scene existed mostly for us to start to see that Gadreel could be persuaded to double cross Metatron (and if it was purely for that then I will want to join the indignation some have felt in that scene), but I would truly like to believe they were giving us more insight into what Sam experienced, which might hopefully play out later in the season (shut up! I can hope!).


ETA: Flisties are right! It was retcon so...BOO - ignore that stuff above. :(( *sobs quietly*
ETA ETA: After bouncing back and forth between thoughts offered in the comments I'm back to trusting my first instinct. Mostly, it's canon now so we can take from it what we want (or need). :)

There's also another factor in play I think.



We're seeing the battle between what's considered "good" with what is "right". Dean said he felt calm with the Blade in his hand. A good feeling no doubt. Gadreel possessed Sam with good intentions - heal Sam and begin his journey to be understood. Dean agreed to the possession with good intentions - save Sam. Sam has known what it's like to become powerful, with the good intention of revenging Dean. Cas definitely knows what it's like to want power for the "good" of Heaven. Even way back to Mary agreeing to barter one of her children for John's life - it was a good intention.

We might be left to question if something is considered "good" does it make it right? Even if Gadreel turns out to be misunderstood, an angel seeking redemption with good intention does that make what he did to Sam, Dean and Kevin right? Does Dean allowing Sam to be possessed without consent make it right because it was done with good intent? Does Dean holding the Blade to seek calm make it right? My answer is no to all those things, but maybe it's not as easy as that. Can I dare hope that maybe there's a lesson here in the Winchester world after all? That Carver might indeed have a (cunning) plan in mind when he opened this massive can of worms in 9.01?

I've said to a few that I will reserve my overall judgement of this season after the final frame of S9. I don't expect we'll have all the answers but I am hoping we'll at least see why Carver opened this season with such a divisive, shocking and thought provoking scenario.
Comments 
9th-May-2014 01:17 pm (UTC)
Honestly, this felt like retconning to me. Sam never gave any indication he felt someone was "rooming with him." When he realized something was wrong, it was purely based on external forces (ie, supernatural creatures pointing it out). So now all of a sudden we're supposed to believe that Sam, who has experience being a vessel, and who fears it, would suspect it and not do or say anything? Nope.
9th-May-2014 01:55 pm (UTC)
Honestly, this felt like retconning to me.

Yeah. It probably was. *sigh* I think if they had thought of it earlier we would have been given a bit of a hint. As it was, we only got his confusion over what others had said to him and the time lapses, not that he felt like there was someone else there. BOO!! It would have been so damn interesting if they had actually considered some of this. :(((((
9th-May-2014 02:17 pm (UTC)
I have to agree with this. As much as I enjoyed this ep, and even this scene, it just didn't make sense that Sam in first half S8 suspected anything. The only thing I can think is that as Sam re-examined the experience much later perhaps he connected some dots. But as you say here, given Sam's history would that even make sense? Or maybe Gadreel hid it all from Sam and once Gadreel was gone, Sam could remember. While that last bit *might* be plausible, I kinda doubt that much thought went into it in terms of the writing.

9th-May-2014 02:42 pm (UTC)
The only thing I can think is that as Sam re-examined the experience much later perhaps he connected some dots.

Yeah, a couple of peeps on twitter said it's in retrospect that he remembers it. I suppose we can make up our own reasons for that to work. I'm going to go with what you said! Or that Sam didn't realise it at the time (he was feeling very unwell after all), but looking back he can see it more clearly for what it was. *NODS*!!

*less sobbing, but still sobbing a bit. The post sobbing hick-ups now*
9th-May-2014 03:08 pm (UTC)
That's what I thought. That Gadreel could suppress the memory of Sam being aware of some presence as soon as it happened, but that from 9.10 Sam could go back and remember.

And Sam did say in 9.9 that he had been experiencing things like losing time repeatedly. He may only have been spurred to talk to Dean in 9.8 by the external commentary, but that doesn't mean he hadn't been having misgivings before. Being cagey about that kind of thing has been part of Sam's character from season 1, so it's not something I find it that hard to believe, especially at a time when he had a lot invested in seeming to be OK.

Also, let me say this: in some ways fandom has a really weird relationship to texts. It really doesn't matter in a lot of ways whether things are deliberate or not. It doesn't matter that this is new information: it's now part of Sam's canon experience. Even if Sam's entire history of mind/body/self fuckery is total accident and the writers have no idea that this theme has appeared multiple times for him, it's still there in the text. This was something I realized when I stepped back from fandom a bit and spent more time with things medieval. I really don't need Albert von Stadt to realize he had a creepy thing about Amazon breasts in order to discuss the significance of the way his work fixates on Amazon breasts, the things that go on surrounding them.

And, most of all, the idea that the seriousness of the issues depends on whether the writers thought "we will write a serious issue now" is pretty debatable. We don't have to back away from significant, horrific, interesting elements of the text because we're afraid they got there by accident. That's not dependent on texts being Major Literary Works or By Dead Authors or whatever. Discussing how the self is treated on Spn isn't something you need Adam Glass or whoever's permission to do.
9th-May-2014 03:21 pm (UTC)
Awesome! That's awesome. Whether the writers have deliberately set up all this stuff up or not doesn't mean it's not there - or that we can't mull over it. Sam feeling a presence is now canon and I suppose we can make of that what we will. I also think that we have been given enough repeated themes to see them there - even if the writers haven't connected those dots. We have more time (and probably a better perspective) to be able to make all those connections.

This is going to help me be more relaxed going into the next 2 episodes. Thank you. <3
9th-May-2014 04:05 pm (UTC)
On the other topic, I think we have to ask what we mean by good intentions. Just having a goal that is not inherently a bad thing? Is everything that isn't done with the express purpose of evil, like causing pain for pain's sake, something done with good intentions? WHOSE intention is it? If you do something to someone else for YOUR (maybe) good goal, do you have a right to do that? If your intentions don't include the intention of respecting the rights and personhood of others, can you really call them good? How do motivations and intentions relate? If Sam's intention in powering up to go after Lilith was to stop the apocalypse but he was also motivated in part by a need to feel powerful, do his motivations color his intentions? If the need to feel powerful after a lifetime of denial of agency is not in itself a bad thing, does that make Sam's motivations as well as his intentions good?

tl;dr I'm not sure "good intentions" is a very useful category.
10th-May-2014 12:48 am (UTC)
(tl;dr) no - I think it's an interesting topic and why I find the notions of "good" and "evil" and "right" and "wrong" fascinating in the SPN 'verse. It's murky and I like the way it's opened up discussions on what's (particularly) happened this season. The "grey area" that is explored as a theme in the show comes into that also.

For me, being told that what Dean did or what Gadreel did was because of their "good intentions" has made me particularly think along those lines. I know there's much more going on than that - their motivations do colour their intentions, which is the interesting part of their story lines.
9th-May-2014 04:54 pm (UTC)
Yes! I totally agree! This is how I read Sam, too. He's a thinker. He mulls things over and everything about his experience with Gadreel is being reviewed in retrospect. And, you are right, he has always been cagey about those things that make him different since the very first season, even before he learned the true significance of how he was different. Plus, due to his past experience with possession, which was anything but subtle, it would have been difficult to put the pieces together with this one. But I do think he had become aware that something was amiss, and we do see evidence of that.

And, most of all, the idea that the seriousness of the issues depends on whether the writers thought "we will write a serious issue now" is pretty debatable.

Authorial intent has really entered the discussion of late and I just don't get it. (Maybe it was always there and I just never noticed it before.) Why does it seem to matter so much in SPN fandom? We can't possibly know in detail everything the writer(s) were thinking when they wrote it so why would I need to know it now to enjoy it now. It hasn't affected my enjoyment of books/TV/Movies in the past. And judging from the way fan reviews have colored my perception and enjoyment of SPN, thankfully after the fact as I do avoid spoilers, I would go as far to say that I definitely don't want to know authorial intent, what with the subsequent wank that would catalyze.

I gather I'm in the minority but I really enjoyed this episode from start to finish. (I do admit to LOL-ing at Dean's battling Abaddon's wind with his frowny, I'm gonna get you, sucka face. But the chilling way in which he tore into Abaddon's corpse after she was dead totally made up for it!) I did not see retcon in the scene between Cas and Sam. I enjoyed the bit of Sam POV we got and neither Cas's ulterior motives nor what it means for Gadreel's arc negate the impact of said POV, at least for me. It is possible for the scene to encompass all three without diminishing the importance of what Sam experienced.
10th-May-2014 12:57 am (UTC)
I gather I'm in the minority but I really enjoyed this episode from start to finish.

I enjoyed it too! Very much actually. My initial reading on the Sam and Cas scene wasn't one of retcon and I did get excited that we were getting Sam's POV. And now, even after all the comments and going back and forth on my feeling about it, I am comfortable with my first reading of it. Particularly after thinking about what it matters about author intent. It was there, it's open to interpretation, it's canon and it's information we haven't had before.

And I have to add that the reviews (and thoughts etcs) can indeed dampen or spoil the enjoyment of the show (I am no doubt guilty of that in my reviews at times). But I've also learned to trust my initial instincts and reactions on an episode and try not to let the negativity swamp me too much (which can be hard at times, because it seems much of my flist aren't really enjoying the show this season)..


Edited at 2014-05-10 03:37 am (UTC)
10th-May-2014 03:33 pm (UTC)
It was there, it's open to interpretation, it's canon and it's information we haven't had before.

Yes! And I love that we can all look at it differently and discuss it. I mean, if the show was always completely cut and dried, what on earth would we have to talk about?

And I have to add that the reviews (and thoughts etcs) can indeed dampen or spoil the enjoyment of the show (I am no doubt guilty of that in my reviews at times). But I've also learned to trust my initial instincts and reactions on an episode and try not to let the negativity swamp me too much

It can be hard. And I have always thought your reviews were fair and insightful, even when you weren't keen on something. And a discussion about what works, what didn't work, and what this or that means is always fun, even when fans don't quite see it the same way. What really brings me down, aside from character bashing, is the constant attack on the writers/showrunner. I've never particularly enjoyed seeing that, even back when it was directed at Gamble (which is when I started my online foray into fandom). What it seems to be is a whole lot of nitpicking. Honestly, I could find *something* wrong with every season in the entire run of this series if I really wanted to. The same goes for any show I have loved, really. I enjoy a good analysis but I don't want to be so hypercritical that my love and enjoyment is lost. So, I can accept the "duds," as I perceive them, season to season. If I go into it with the sole purpose of finding something wrong, you can rest assured that I will find what I am looking for.

When I was mainlining this series via Netflix, I never paid any attention to who wrote what. And, yeah, going back now I can see that this particular writing team has penned their fair share of duds. They aren't the only ones. Even Edlund wrote "Reading is Fundamental" which was a boring mess in my book and one that I always skip on a rewatch. Same goes for Gamble's "Fresh Blood." And these aren't their only "duds". But Edlund also penned "Bad Day at Black Rock" which still makes me laugh, even on the umpteenth rewatch and Gamble is responsible for "When the Levee Breaks," an episode that gutted me like no other! Sure, "King of the Damned" wasn't up to the standards of the ones I list as "the greats" but it was loads better than the ones I list as "the tedious."

because it seems much of my flist aren't really enjoying the show this season)

Well, you can certainly count me as one who is enjoying the season, painful though it may be. I feel it has been pretty solid despite me feeling that there has been way too many episodes on this back half that didn't address the "juicy parts" nearly enough. But I can't really trust my judgement on this because once I ended my marathon watching of the show on Netflix and started watching in real time, it has always seemed to move too slowly for me, LOL. For what its worth, I have been known to jump forward to the ending when reading a book on more than one occasion. I even skipped SPN episodes in my Netflix watch based solely on the episode description in my rush to find out what happens next. (My friend dragonfly_sg1, who introduced me to the series, made me promise to stop doing that.) So, obviously, I can't be wholly trusted where pacing issues are concerned. ;-)

And this got really long. Sorry!
10th-May-2014 02:48 am (UTC)
So much yes!!!
9th-May-2014 02:59 pm (UTC)
The only thing I can think is that as Sam re-examined the experience much later perhaps he connected some dots. But as you say here, given Sam's history would that even make sense? Or maybe Gadreel hid it all from Sam and once Gadreel was gone, Sam could remember.

Yes, there are ways they could have made it work. Sam could have said he realized it later, after he connected the dots or regained his memories when Gadreel left. But to say he knew someone else was there is just... not right. I agree with you, I liked this scene anyway, but like many other things this season, it could have been so much better with just a little thought.
9th-May-2014 03:14 pm (UTC)
Agreed. Considering the abject HELL he went through with Lucifer, Sam would "sense" another presence inside him and not say anything about it? No way would he feel he was merely "sharing space" or that this unknown presence wasn't threatening. Sam was way OOC there, and the whole scene merely the foundation to make Gadreel seem all soft and fluffy in preparation for his redemption scene.
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