April 18th, 2019

free fall

14x18 "Absence"

I just finished 14x18 and man, watching this show just makes me happy. <333 It's just like meh meh meh meh meh meh meh and then I hit play and it's possible to feel things that aren't just meh meh and more meh. It's bedtime so I'm going to try hard for concision, here:

- Rowena! I've been thinking about this since the mid-season finale, but I really wonder whether she's struck by the fact that even though she's a witch with a reputation for black magic, people are always coming to her for help--sometimes because she's legitimately positioned to have some authority on the matter at hand (Dean's memory spell, necromancy) but just as often, for things where she's equally as unqualified as anyone else in the room. When people are hurt, or dying. When they have brain injuries or organ failure. Human and corporeal failings.

And it's not just Sam. She's seen many a plague and famine, and it's always the same way. Hundreds of years and thousands of iterations, and it's always the same. They never seem to realize they're doing it, or that it should be odd. She's a born witch, and she's always fancied that had a lot to do with why--they can feel it, if only at the level of elements and humors.

You know, if she were in a town that didn't know her, didn't know her as the black witch, covenless Rowena, she'd help. She's never stayed any plagues, but she wasn't lying to Jack about dispositions. She'd end up in streets full of the dying, full of sewage and pox, and she'd care too much. The magic would bend.

She tried to train herself out of it--and largely succeeded; to care is not the same as having a bleeding heart--but she has never stayed any plagues. Exile is a powerful thing, as is its loneliness.

- Sam! I think this was reflex more than meditated decision, but the way he approached this question of like, whether they should have seen Jack's trouble brewing. <33 Because Dean's helpless at that point, and it's already translated to fury, and he's already half-banished Castiel because he needed to lash out and Castiel just happened to be the first thing in his sights. (Because it really didn't have anything to do with the snake, and Dean knew it, and Sam knew it, and maybe Castiel knew it, too.) And after Dean spent his anger at Castiel, the next item on the list would be to turn inward. But before Dean ever gets there, Sam says, "You know, it was me, too." Not in any aggressively self-loathing or dangerously all-encompassing way, though clearly he feels awful--but maybe he's already done that, already sat with that. There are already ghosts in the bunker and he has found his way to manage them.

I dunno. There was just something about the way Sam opened that door that made it so Dean couldn't spiral further without taking Sam with him, blaming Sam in the same way, and Dean's not going to do that. Not now. Dean could only join Sam in misery shared--a misery that can't be gathered and shouldered alone, in the hopes of sparing someone else. I know it sounds weird to say that that's comforting, and maybe it's a cold comfort, but it's not often what happens with either of them (even when they are both miserable simultaneously, lol). They were just super on the same page, emotionally. Which, again, EVEN IF THAT EMOTION WAS ACUTE AND TERRIBLE MISERY, it let them manage. Managing doesn't always mean you feel good; it just means you're still there. (The opposite of "absence" isn't joy.)

- Dean! I probably can't even put it into words, but I love Dean's misdirected anger. Or just like, watching him respond to things. The tight barometric pressure that builds around him. The way both Castiel and Sam (and Dean) manage that. That late scene, where he stands in the door way the entire time, is perfect. And when Sam stops Castiel from going to speak with him at Mary's pyre. Ah!! askjfa;kjkajs

- Jack! Poor Jack. <333 This whole fiasco felt really grounded in human truths rather than big mythic consequences, as counterintuitive as it sounds; and I always appreciate SPN's human truths. Because like, okay. On some level this is a story about a morally unstable Nephilim paired with nigh limitless celestial power, zapping around the world and dabbling in unadvised necromancy, blah blah. But what it really felt like to me was, here's this kid who misunderstood his responsibilities, or the impact he might have on a situation, and really fucked up. It felt like a kit who went drinking and driving, and killed someone. Or a kid who got into the family gunsafe, and it resulted in a fatal mistake. And then it felt like a kid, thinking that meant everything was over, everything was fucked, tried to fix it somehow but really just made things worse. (Perhaps in the orbits, or in reaction to, people who, imperfect, also stood to make things worse. Because let's face it. Maybe Jack's subconscious!Lucifer wasn't right. But he also wasn't wrong. Classic Lucifer. And I think the likelihood of Sam and Dean confronting this in 100% the most effective way in 14x19 and 14x20 is basically 0. I think it will be interesting to see how Sam and Dean interpret their circumstances wrt Jack--as a purely supernatural problem, or as an interpersonal/human one. It'd be smarter to do the latter, but I also don't know that they'll be able to, given that taking that perspective the rest of the season seems like it's what's led to this crossroads in the first place. Because if they allow themselves to see it that way, how many times have they encountered similar crises? Let's not forget technically once kidnapped a nurse, stuffed her in the back of his car, drove her out to the middle of nowhere, and nearly tortured her in an attempt to get at Lilith. And Dean killed entire roomfuls of people multiple times across S9/10. Sure--demon blood, Mark of Cain. We could call those foreign influences. But I think what really made them powerful was they both snared that line between what was and wasn't separate, what was and wasn't "you." I wouldn't say it's so far removed from Nephilim Grace. I don't think Sam and Dean will approach it that way, though. Or if they do, it won't have been their first or second inclination. XP)

Anyway, that's how Jack killing Mary felt. Not like "oh, Jack's gone dark side" but "wow, this kid really fucked up," in ways that desperately require both help and punitive action. If Jack and been high and hit Mary with his car (which, reaping unintended consequences with your Nephilim powers seems like that), that action would be unconscionable. The loss of life, unforgivable. The guilt, all-consuming. Life, ever-altered. But it still presents a more complicated moral/emotional landscape than killing a Wendigo. It's only further complicated by the fact that this would be a second offense (see: Tombstone). (Committed vehicular manslaughter. Went to juvie [in Cone World]. Got probation. Kept an even keel for a while. Then got mixed up in uncontrollable things again.) So what can you do, then? What do you do when it feels like getting out of this hole, foreclosing future disasters, feels impossible? What do you do when it feels like there's no way to stop the spiral? That feels real to me. It feels real and urgent and messy and awful and I love it.

...Pfft, "concision." Apparently that word doesn't mean "short," just means "I will only elaborate to the extent that I need in this conversation with myself, utterly disregarding any additional explication other audiences might require." OH WELL.