Kalliel (kalliel) wrote,

14x01 "Stranger in a Strange Land"

- Obviously we don’t know Jamil’s story, but he appears, at the very least, to be a Syrian refugee of some stripe, and Michael is a dick. Fuck you for telling Jamil that if he cared about peace or Syria, then he wouldn’t have left. I think that says a lot about Michael’s lack of understanding of humanity, and of the world, especially given that even as he purports to be seeking answers and humbly polling the masses, he can’t help but pass judgment. Because he’s Michael, Archangel, Sword.

- It’s so deeply weird hearing the buzz of human activity in the bunker, even though that’s what it was built to sound like, and these are the numbers it was meant to house.

- I also love that this weirdo got bit by a rawhide “outside Phoenix” and waited until he got back to the bunker to get medical treatment. I’ll bet in Apocalypse world, if you get bit like that you would have simply been left for dead—I can’t imagine there was much in the way of sterile supplies out there. So it probably didn’t even occur to him (or his partner) that they should do something. Having a bunker to return to is already luxury enough. Sitting there, with Maggie tending to him—that’s a strange, new moment for him.

- It occurred to finchandsparrow and I to ask what all these folks in the bunker have been eating the last three weeks, and I think my working theory is that the bunker has in its large industrial kitchen massive, fifty-year-old stores of C-rations. It’s a bunker, after all. So they’ve all just been eating that and compared to the stuff back in Apocalypse world, it’s really not that bad. That soup that dude made? C-ration stock, C-ration blocks.(This is the main reason Rowena left. The food. “Or lack thereof,” she sniffed.)

- SAAAAAAM. Sam, who doesn’t want to talk about Atlanta. Detail it for Mary. Aims for the sort of rapport he might have with Dean but doesn’t quite hit it. And also SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM.

- “Maggie? Can you hack the traffic cams on the freeway?” / “Um? No?” is going to be the best line of the entire season, MARK ME. It’s so random and so perfect and so wonderful. XDDDDDD It’s just one of those lines that almost serves genuine narrative purpose but it doesn’t, really, and is made all the more perfect for that fact. Because like, on some level it’s a nod to the fact that these people are still newcomers to this world and how hunting works in this world; and on some level, it’s a way of keeping Sam from his bed and his soup; but it’s also just like some entirely organic random piece of conversation in the bunker’s medley, and I love it so, so much. Omg. XDDDDD

- I keep thinking about the episode with the grief counselor shapeshifter and the loss Sam felt in never being able to have a relationship with Mary, either as a child or in her current genesis. And then here she is, unfiltered, outside the triangulation that he and she and Dean had formed, and that relationship is still not there. I feel like Mary has this sense that it’s sort of her job to offer comfort to this man who is sort of her son, because that relationship isn’t there, the comfort falls flat. Not that Sam would be comforted by anything short of being reunited with Dean, but what Mary’s offering—there’s nothing there for Sam. It doesn’t feel like anything. It’s so painful and it’s so good. There’s like 50 people in the bunker and all it feels is claustrophobic, muddled, and loud. Sam’s still alone.

- “Was that Gandhi?” LOL. WHAT.

- I feel like even as Hell has been in various states of tumult, unrest, and chaos for the last decade or so, they’ve actually managed to put together some pretty serious plays. Like all those demons in the Motown BBQ? Castiel should have been able to sense them, but clearly he didn’t. Humans have been using hex bags and charms to ward themselves again demons for centuries, but demons have always seemed to trend a bit more presentist. Unleashed on the world like bulls in a china shop, as it were. But as they’ve acclimated and trips (or resettlement) topside have become more common, more prolonged, it seems as though demons in general—not just the upper crust of power players—have become a lot more savvy and figured out how to ward themselves from even angels. It’s a defensive move, and the sort of thing that used to be frowned on in Hell because, well. Defense. But given the success of rebel outliers/defense-minded savants like Ruby and Crowley, why not?

- Fic prompt: Sister Jo/demon Bela. Please and thank you!

- I’m so interested in the fact that Michael is apparently interested enough in Dean’s thoughts to go through them (or to register them) yet still has such a poor grasp of humanity and this world that he’s literally been talking the earth conducting a global consumer product review for the last three weeks. XP Also, Dean’s mental notes on Sister Jo being “rebel angel”—rather, Michael’s interpretation of Dean’s idea of Sister Jo being “rebel angel.” Given that they discovered Jo was working with Lucifer, I feel like there are a lot more apt descriptions Dean might have filed her away under.

Which begs an interesting question about possession—how easy is it to access and interpret the memories of the host? I feel like a lot of the time the assumption is that memory is mutually intelligible. That it works like Harry Potter’s Pensieve, or like memories play out like movie scenes, perfectly remembered (as in Heaven). But of course it wouldn’t be like that, because even in accessing one’s own memories, they don’t usually work like that. And for memories that are not your own—particularly those of a species (e.g. humanity) you don’t understand, they’d be borderline gibberish. Like looking at someone else’s notes, but worse—because in writing something down, there’s at least adherence to a shared grammar, a shared verbal logic. Memory is a step away from that; memory is personal.

I’ll bet not everyone is as good at drawing meaning from their host’s minds as others. Shapeshifters are the best at it; they’re phylogenetically and culturally closest to human, so they have that advantage. And they’re empathic. Demons can be good at it, depending on how smart you are, how much practice you’ve had. How much interest.

Angels are the worst, outside of maybe ghosts (and ghost possession is a cruder art). Once a millennia someone like Hannah will come along, but usually not. For all Michael’s power, Dean might actually have made more sense to him when he wasn’t in Dean’s head. So off Michael goes on his consumer reporting.

Though! Another interesting thing. You know how memories change each time they’re accessed? I wonder if possession doesn’t leave its deepest marks (aside from those associated with the trauma of non-consent, invasion) because when the possessor tries to access the host’s memories, those memories change. The memory’s colors are dyed by the fingers of the angel, the demon, the whatever. Which leaves things jagged in places the mind is ill-equipped to expect and adapt for.

It’d be interesting if that were one of the reasons Nick is apparently fine. Lucifer didn’t give a shit about Nick’s memories, and so didn’t touch them, didn’t do damage. Maybe even though Nick’s body went through hell and the devil rode him for almost a decade, maybe his soul was kept intact because Lucifer couldn’t even be bothered with it. Maybe it turns out Lucifer was merciful by accident. XD

- I’m really into Nick existing? Like, I don’t care about Nick as an individual, lol, and the last time I did was probably 4x01. And I don’t care about Mark P. But I feel like all conceivable facets of the lore would suggest that Nick really, really should not still be alive, and I dunno, I like that instead of getting hemmed in by that, SPN was just like, “But what if he was?” Because following the rules would be boring, and presenting Nick as an aberration is actually sort of fascinating to me. I’m into it.

- And like, at this point, I wouldn’t be opposed to arguing that there is as much disconnect between Michael and Dean as there is between Sam and Mary. Mary didn’t bother talking to Nick and confesses she can barely look at him, but she expects Sam to? And to do it alone, no less? MARY. GOODNESS. GRACIOUS. It does feel like how that should go between them, but ohhh myyyyy godddd Mary!!

- To me it felt less like Sam was expressing genuine care for Nick than Sam making perfunctory rounds. Like, we’ve seen Sam feel connected to others Lucifer has tortured (Rowena, Gabriel), but I didn’t really get that sense of connection from him here. I don’t think Sam can feel that right now, because Dean is gone and at the most basic level Sam also hasn’t slept in roughly 500 years, but I think even if neither of those were the case, Sam’s relationship with Nick would be more about disconnect and disjuncture. (What I see as a major theme in 14x01.)

I want to imagine—Sam clearly understands that Nick’s wholeness is a distinct aberration from the usual pattern of Archangel possessions, especially one so prolonged. Nothing they learned during S5 would have pointed to this. Not even Jimmy Novak made it. But here Nick is. So I want to imagine Sam thinking like, okay, well, if Nick’s in one piece, maybe I can get Dean back in one, too. Maybe Michael won’t “burn him out.”

Maybe Sam can look at Nick and think, here’s my kernel of hope. It’s not in Mary’s useless assurances, but it’s right here, in the mind bending continued existence of the face of my abuser (because I’m Sam Winchester and of course it is?????).

If he has to look at Nick, maybe Sam tells himself he can look at Nick and see a shot at getting Dean back like that, too.

Just like that.

- Every single one of Sam’s breaths and faces and everything in the entire episode is my favorite thing.

- Also, Castiel’s exasperated face when Kip suggests that Castiel’s entire reason for existing is to be used as bait in negotiations with the Winchesters. XDDD This poor guy.

- I loved Sam’s “Stop saying that, please,” when Mary offers once again one of her baseless, from-the-wrong-person “it’s going to be fine”s.

I also loved Mary’s “I have to think about the good, Sam. Because if I don’t, I will drown in the bad.” Because I can’t watch Sam hear her say that and not imagine him thinking, Is that why you left [us]? Sam played on her team as well as he could for almost all of S12, but now that Dean’s not there to be angry at her, or to write her off as dead, I see some of Sam’s own frustrations and lowered expectations coming out.

- I love that at the end of the episode Sam was basically like, man, if that Kip guy had had actual intel on Dean, that would have turned out very differently. Whereas the way it really played out, the moment Sam realized Kip wasn’t putting info about Dean’s whereabouts on the table, he also realized that Kip had nothing Sam wanted. And with that, any respect for or wariness of Kip Sam had went completely out the window.

No spoilers and no negativity, please!
Tags: fandom: spn, i can't watch tv like a normal person, sam!kinks, spn x

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