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dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Tue, May. 16th, 2006 11:55 pm
SPN Meta: Sammy's Choice ... Triumph or Failure?

19CommentReply

adelheide
adelheide
Queen of the Monkey People
Wed, May. 17th, 2006 03:05 pm (UTC)

Which makes me wonder about secondary effects. Yes, Sam did not pull the trigger, killing John (and therefore, The Demon) at Dean’s request. Succumbing to his fatal flaw. But I think it has the secondary effect of not destroying the family. As you noted, had Sam killed John, Dean would not have forgiven him. Dean has expressed that killing The Demon is not worth their lives. Dean has also expressed that his family is all he has and to lose that would have catastrophic ramifications. And while John’s blind vengeance made him willing to sacrifice himself to destroy The Demon, Sam’s vengeance is relatively new. He has experienced the same loss as John but in a completely different context. And he hasn’t had it stewing for over 20 years.

Now, The Demon possessed John, which is so many kinds of ironic I can’t even count them. Tormenting his pursuer in such an intimate, personal way shows the depths of evil The Demon is capable of. By tormenting John’s sons using John’s body, it furthers the pain The Demon inflicts. Was it that pain or John’s love that broke the hold of The Demon, if only for a few seconds? And after Sam was free and had the Colt, The Demon took over again quickly enough. It would have been no trouble to telekinetically grip Sam again, making him incapable of moving. But The Demon didn’t do that. Instead, it taunted Sam and left him free. Knowing that Sam was sharing John’s willingness to sacrifice himself if it meant the death of The Demon, this seems like a foolhardy move on The Demon’s part. Or was it calculated? Was The Demon hoping to taunt Sam into shooting John, thus finishing the destruction of the Winchester family? A final coup?

Or, perhaps, Sam’s latent TK abilities manifested themselves in a passive form, allowing Sam to break and stay free?

In the car, after John lambastes Sam for not destroying The Demon when Sam had the chance, John perfectly expresses how much his need for revenge has twisted and stunted him. “Killing this demon comes first. Before me, before everything.” (Had I been in the car, this would have been the point where I would have smacked John upside the head.) Sam looks in the rearview mirror and sees Dean, bloody and hurt, slumped in the backseat, and says, “No sir. Not before everything.” Which to me spoke not just of Sam’s concern for Dean but the fact that perhaps Sam had an epiphany while sighting John with the Colt. Killing The Demon isn’t worth it if the action ends up destroying their family. Which speaks to your last point (the one you didn’t like as well). Sam has spent his life trying to separate himself from his family and family history. In fact, he was estranged from his father and brother for 4 years. But when Dean gave Sam a moment of emotional truth—that their family was all he had—perhaps this started the gears turning in Sam’s head. Yes, this makes him succumb to his fatal flaw to appease Dean. But it also shows him that the destruction of The Demon at the expense of his family would mean an ultimate victory for The Demon.

And it also says that Sam is willing to put aside his own vengeance to protect his family. In DMB, Sam would not have hesitated to shoot. But after the revelation in “Salvation” and the events of DT, he has a change of heart. A pretty rapid one, but I also think it’s been building over the course of the season. It just took the final push of John’s life on the life for Sam to make his choice.

And I’m not nearly caffeinated enough to be thinking this deeply, so I need to go sit down in a quiet corner with more coffee and let all of this digest.


ReplyThread
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Wed, May. 17th, 2006 06:37 pm (UTC)
pt one: Demon!John

Now, The Demon possessed John, which is so many kinds of ironic I can’t even count them.

I think it would have been a more unpredictable and better choice to possess Dean instead. It would have forced John to really choose between vengeance and his child ... especially the child who worships at his feet. I would have loved to see their answer to this.

But like you, I totally loved what they did with Demon!John, too. How much pain he could inflict in John's meat suit was impressively impressive. And fun to watch, too.

Was it that pain or John’s love that broke the hold of The Demon, if only for a few seconds?

I have this crack theory that John could have broken the hold earlier, but didn't because he needed Sam to be willing to kill the Demon, which he would be if the Demon had offed (or appeared to off, or appeared to be in imminent danger of offing) Dean. But I think that's mostly just me being a pessimist.

I tend to go with the notion that, given the way the terminal damage fractured out from the point of impact when John whacked hip!vampire, I tend to think, while the mystical bullet in his leg did only minimal biological damage to John, it likely did far more significant paranormal damage to the Demon, that damage fracturingg out from the point of impact enough that it 1) compromised its ability to maintain control over the Winchesters, especially with all 3 of them fighting him, and Sam assumably doing it telekinetically and 2) required that he vacate the meat suit in order to regroup and regenerate.


ReplyThread Parent
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Wed, May. 17th, 2006 06:38 pm (UTC)
pt 2: sacrifice and religious connotations

Yes, this makes him succumb to his fatal flaw to appease Dean. But it also shows him that the destruction of The Demon at the expense of his family would mean an ultimate victory for The Demon.

I like this idea much better than simply a personal evolution, and can see how that sacrifice could be viewed as the Demon's ultimate victory of sorts. That makes the Sam's choice is a triumph a much easier pill to swallow, and the shit happens ending almost something I can wrap around, given that all the profound content would be in derailing the Demon's intent being thwarted inthat it's all about the Winchester clan in general (and their destruction), not only Sam.

Unfortunately, however, I don't think I, personally, can go with it as more than an almost-buy in the "justify wrong choice as right" department, probably mostly because of the was I see the series as a whole in terms of literary theme and alegory. A very elegant explanation, but one that doesn't ultimately work when you view the dynamic in play the way I do: That Sam's journey is the hero's journey inthat he is the savior of the world and must get to a place where he is willing to sacrifice that which is most dear to him for the sake of the world. Anything less won't do.

I really was trying not to go here (*grins* I knew you would make me though), but some of my overall thoughts on the series have to do with religious alegory ... something a lot of good writers use to incredibly effective result without ever giving up the base for what they are doing as anything religious in nature at all.

But for me, I suppose, if you see John as the father (which I obviously do, although not God the father to anyone other than Dean), and Sam as the Savior, that makes Dean the children, aka us, which is why we all relate to him so strongly. And I find that intentional. I also think the Demon is evil incarnate and his immolation of the mothers of children he views as potential threat to be intended as a parallel to Ramses murder of all first born sons in an effort to destroy the savior/prophet who would be his undoing.

So while I don't necessarily thing the writers are drawing strict parallels between theological concepts and specific players, I do think they are tapping that mythology in a number of intentional ways, and drafting off the concept of the trilogy aspects of Christianity to the end of setting Sam up as a savior of sorts, held to a different standard of sacrifice for the sake of his people than a normal man would be.

So for me, I see the sacrifice of Sam's family (his life, so to speak) to be equatable to Christ's required sacrifice of His life in order to wash the sins of man away. And in that context, I can't see the Demon's ultimate victory as achieving that end, but rather, its ever act as an effort to derail that event, up to an including, immolting every child born that he feels might be the savior foretold as its undoing.

But I could be wrong. :D


ReplyThread Parent
adelheide
adelheide
Queen of the Monkey People
Wed, May. 17th, 2006 08:16 pm (UTC)
Re: pt 2: sacrifice and religious connotations

Oh, I agree. I think Kripke (that magnificent bastard) is shooting for far more cosmic themes. And many, as you eloquently pointed out, are probably all so interconnected to the main theme that they can’t be extricated.

I think I was viewing this on a more intimate, human level. While it’s all well and good to talk of heroes and saviors, it’s the very human-ness of SN that captures me so. Sam may be the savior, but he can also be a whiny bitch. Dean may be the hero, but he’s a smartass and a skirt chaser. John may be the grand poobah of beastie hunting, but he is so twisted and deformed by his crusade that he’s barely human any more. And while this all functions in a more operatic scheme, it also serves as a little morality tale. Especially John. He’s the walking embodiment of, “Kids, don’t let this happen to you.”

But, in human terms, how much are we willing to sacrifice to get what we want? Are we willing to divorce spouses, ignore friends, estrange family? Are we willing to kill, even if we believe it’s for the better good? And what does that make us in the end, if we are willing to do all those things? How are we differentiated from the “enemy” when good and evil is very often a matter of perspective? And, if we are to take a Nietzschian stance and do “whatever it takes”, what does that make us in the end? How are we different from our enemy? Are we different from our enemy?

Sam said it himself. They had the gun (albeit with only one bullet left). They would just have to start over. And before that semi came along, they were all alive and together. Sure, the ultimate goal hadn’t been achieved but they had faced the darkness together and come out the other side. Not whole, but alive and united. And wouldn’t that be the ultimate goal?

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ve sprained my brain. I need to go elevate it and put some ice on it.


ReplyThread Parent
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Wed, May. 17th, 2006 09:01 pm (UTC)
Re: pt 2: sacrifice and religious connotations

LOL. You have an icon for every post, don't you. That is too funny.

I think Kripke (that magnificent bastard) is shooting for far more cosmic themes.

Exactly. Magnificent bastard ... I like that. Well suited, too.

think I was viewing this on a more intimate, human level. While it’s all well and good to talk of heroes and saviors, it’s the very human-ness of SN that captures me so. Sam may be the savior, but he can also be a whiny bitch. Dean may be the hero, but he’s a smartass and a skirt chaser. John may be the grand poobah of beastie hunting, but he is so twisted and deformed by his crusade that he’s barely human any more. And while this all functions in a more operatic scheme, it also serves as a little morality tale.

Couldn't agree more with everything you said. I just like to view it on both levels at the same time. And this goes to my point of being more willing to take the message as relevant to our lives if we recognize, in the heroes, ourselves. So while Dean is wittier and John more obsessed and Sammy nobler than anyone we would really know; it is equally Sam's capacity to whine and Dean's slick womanizing and John's tortured deformities that make them recognizable to us as real people, and thus make their themes something we are willing to consider relevant to us, rather than merely the pontificating of the religious establishment.

So absolutely, it is their very Humanity that makes the show. But that doesn't mean what drives them, or the messages we are supposed to take from their struggles, are not far more grand and far reaching than merely the tale of the Winchesters out there fighting the good fight for no reasons other than their own.

Sure, the ultimate goal hadn’t been achieved but they had faced the darkness together and come out the other side. Not whole, but alive and united. And wouldn’t that be the ultimate goal?

But they didn't come out the other side together and alive and united. Rather, they just made it to the car before realizing the light at the end of the tunnel was an oncoming semi.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ve sprained my brain. I need to go elevate it and put some ice on it.

Owww. I have some Advil if you need it.


ReplyThread Parent
adelheide
adelheide
Queen of the Monkey People
Wed, May. 17th, 2006 09:33 pm (UTC)
Re: pt 2: sacrifice and religious connotations

Icons are my crack.

*brain limps in, on crutches* Damn you, making me think and stuff...

What I probably didn't express (ow) very well was that oft times, (ow) the human goal cannot be the cosmic goal. (ow ow) Sometimes, to preserver our humanity, (ow) we have to step away from the big picture and make the small gestures.

Ow.

Okay, that time, I pulled a synapse.


ReplyThread Parent
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Wed, May. 17th, 2006 09:55 pm (UTC)
Re: pt 2: sacrifice and religious connotations

And sometimes, in order to destroy something as big picture as an eternal evil, one must sacrifice something as big picture as their soul.

I'm jes sayin ...

:D


ReplyThread Parent
adelheide
adelheide
Queen of the Monkey People
Wed, May. 17th, 2006 10:23 pm (UTC)
Re: pt 2: sacrifice and religious connotations

Well, now you're just bein' contrary...


ReplyThread Parent
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Wed, May. 17th, 2006 11:20 pm (UTC)
Re: pt 2: sacrifice and religious connotations

I'm always contrary. It's just that now you're seeing it ...

:D

Seriously though, I do get what you're saying. In the greater horror of war, the small gesture of a single mercy can become the definition of what it is to be Human.

See? I'm contrary, but that don't mean I'm not getting it. Kinda like Dean ... LOL


ReplyThread Parent