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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 02:50 pm (UTC)
I would really dispute the assertion that this is a Doylist retcon, actually. For the first half of S9 Sam clearly knew something was up but didn't know what. Now that he knows what it was, he can understand and describe his experience better. That's not bad writing. It is bad writing when characters do not behave like normal human beings, which includes reinterpreting past events in light of subsequent revelations.

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?

I think these later seasons have been really good about just letting things be a mixed bag. I don't think Gadreel is shown as being right or wrong, I think he's shown as being desperate. I don't think the narrative needs there to be a normative good or bad on making a deal with the acting devil vis-a-vis Crowley, it's just a pragmatic choice in light of Abaddon. And so forth. The Blade is interesting in that it's one of the very few things in the 'verse that might be inherently bad, given its original purpose and mind-sucking capabilities, but even that we don't really know yet.
9th-May-2014 03:08 pm (UTC)
I would really dispute the assertion that this is a Doylist retcon, actually.

Ack! *runs off to find out what Doyist retcon means* Ok..um..I think I've got it. and ok. I like your thinking. In fact, I've had a few (on twitter) suggest the same thing and I can run with it because it can work. It would have been helpful if we had a little more of a hint about that - but I think the way Jared played it, it was as though he was only just now really thinking about it. It's how I'm going to accept it, because it's a lot less painful than thinking it was purely so Cas could find out more about Gad. There's enough evidence to suggest he could only be thinking about it now (Gad had some sort of hold over him while possessed and now he's not he can see it for what it was etc.)

I don't think Gadreel is shown as being right or wrong

True. But I've been wondering about how we tend to refer to characters. "The big bad" etc. I think Gadreel's ambiguity is interesting and I think we do tend to think of a character as inherently "good" or "bad". It's much more interesting when it's mixed up and there's no clarity about it. I am interested in the notion of the characters doing things because they feel them to be "good", when in fact they end up having dire consequences. (I suppose I'm also reacting to comments about Dean doing what he did with good intentions, so it makes it ok).


9th-May-2014 04:00 pm (UTC)
In the interests of taking another few whacks at the horse that just refuses to die, what Sam's doing here rings very true as part of the process of recovering from gaslighting. Gaslighting is all about convincing a person not to trust their own perceptions, and so there's a lot of cognitive dissonance and trying not to probe too deeply and so forth. And afterward there is a process of "okay, here is what I was trying not to think about, now it's time to fill in the blanks with the information I was deprived of at the time." Sam was an honest character as of the first half of S9, but he was not a reliable narrator, as per Dean and Gadreel's design. So...yeah, my take on continuity issues generally aside, playing "gotcha!" with his recovery process in this back half of the season (whether at Sam or ~~the writers) is, at best, beside the point.

I am interested in the notion of the characters doing things because they feel them to be "good", when in fact they end up having dire consequences.

It's doing something very neat along those lines with Metatron, who's trying to convince himself he's The Hero and carving out a pretty cut-and-dried Big Bad place for himself in the process. And it's an interesting aspect to the character, because you'd think Big Bad status would placate his ego (surely he must know that the villain drives the story and everyone loves a good bad guy) but there's something a little bit more that can't be fulfilled with the ego trip alone.

Edited at 2014-05-09 04:00 pm (UTC)
9th-May-2014 10:37 pm (UTC)
In the interests of taking another few whacks at the horse that just refuses to die, what Sam's doing here rings very true as part of the process of recovering from gaslighting. Gaslighting is all about convincing a person not to trust their own perceptions, and so there's a lot of cognitive dissonance and trying not to probe too deeply and so forth. And afterward there is a process of "okay, here is what I was trying not to think about, now it's time to fill in the blanks with the information I was deprived of at the time." Sam was an honest character as of the first half of S9, but he was not a reliable narrator, as per Dean and Gadreel's design. So...yeah, my take on continuity issues generally aside, playing "gotcha!" with his recovery process in this back half of the season (whether at Sam or ~~the writers) is, at best, beside the point.

Yes, but then it gets to a point where we're writing the script, you know? I mean, if something comes completely out of left field, makes no sense given 8 years of history, and isn't explained at all, why is it our responsibility to think of a context in which it makes sense?
9th-May-2014 11:36 pm (UTC)
What in that passage sounded as if I was adding to the story, rather than describing how this episode fit in the pattern that was very deliberately happening throughout the season? Because that is the opposite of what I meant, so I would like to clarify if I can.
10th-May-2014 12:17 am (UTC)
In this case, it's not so much that it's impossible or implausible to fit into the story, just that it came out of nowhere. Yes, it makes sense that having been gaslighted (gaslit?), Sam's recovery might follow a certain pattern. But it hasn't. We've been given absolutely no evidence that Sam has been working through his experience in this way. It's sloppy and/or lazy, IMHO, if this is what the writers are doing.
10th-May-2014 06:33 am (UTC)
But we have gotten evidence of that, because it is what happened in this episode. And I don't think it rises anywhere close to being a continuity error for it not to come up often, given that (a) this is kind of an internal process for anyone, but (b) especially for Sam, who in any event (c) has kind of a lot going on right now. Letting something like this come up once in a while, and while it's being dragged out of him for the war effort, is character-consistent and unobtrusive.
10th-May-2014 01:09 am (UTC)
I've been interested in the gaslighting idea, and I think that scene could easily be scene as reinforcing that. And even if there was no actual intention of setting up a gaslighting scenario for Sam (as in the writers making a conscious choice about that), I think there's enough evidence that it can be interpreted that way. Sam was certainly denied the opportunity to discuss what was happening to him. We did actually see that happen. Adding that he also remembers feeling a presence now works well for me.

(and I like and have now fully adopted de-nugis's comment (above) about author intent).
10th-May-2014 06:36 am (UTC)
Yeah, I lean heavily toward the author-is-dead school of thought, so all that matters to me is that there is a consistent pattern in the text, which there very much is. I mean, I'd be shocked if it wasn't intentional, there have been so many big and small signposts pointing in that direction, but that's irrelevant to the story.
9th-May-2014 07:43 pm (UTC)
Oh I like this --> I don't think Gadreel is shown as being right or wrong, I think he's shown as being desperate.
10th-May-2014 06:38 am (UTC)
Poor thing, he's just running scared. And I think the show has done a really great job around that? Gadreel's terror is sympathetic AND the wrongs done to Kevin, Sam, and Bartender are very real. Everyone's the subject of their own story.
10th-May-2014 04:17 am (UTC)
As I make my way through this fascinating conversation, may I just pause here to thank you for introducing me to the concept of Doylist vs Watsonian interpretations? I've always sensed that these two approaches existed, but this is the first time I've had them codified, and now I have a new weapon to whack at tool to help me think about SPN (and other properties).

Awesome! Thank you.
10th-May-2014 06:39 am (UTC)
It's very useful terminology, for sure. (And kind of especially meta and fun in S9 discussions, I think.)
10th-May-2014 04:12 pm (UTC)
Ditto on the thanks for introducing these concepts. I read about them and went "Oh!" and then "Aha!"

Clearly, I wear a Watsonian hat more often than not.

Gosh, I do love it when my fangirl pursuits result in me learning something new!
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