Supernatural meta, reviews & fic recs

“What’s Dead Should Stay Dead”

Remember when dying on Supernatural meant something? Mary’s death? It set the entire show in motion. Jess’s death? It brought the boys back together. John’s death? It solidified their relationship and put the responsibility for finding the YED on them. Part of what made those deaths significant was that they were permanent. Sure, we saw John and Mary briefly as ghosts, but we knew that they weren’t really coming back and more importantly so did the Sam and Dean.

Even “lesser” deaths held significance. I remember the shock at finding the roadhouse burnt and the guilt the boys felt over Pamela’s death. Many fans feel that Jo and Ellen being brought back only to be killed in Abandon All Hope was an insulting use of the characters as a plot device, but we felt it. They were gone and they weren’t coming back. It was a reminder that Sam and Dean lose everyone they love. Sam and Dean may come back from the dead, but others don’t.

Fast forward to Death’s Door (7.10), which was probably one of the  best episodes of the series. Beautifully written by Sera Gamble and heartbreaking. Gamble as showrunner had said that the boys were going to lose everyone close to them and find themselves completely alone. They’d already lost Castiel, and then Bobby dies. For me and a lot of fans, Bobby’s death was far harder to take than John’s because Bobby was in some ways a better father to them, especially to Dean. I’m not one of those “on the floor crying” fans, but yeah, I got teary over Bobby’s death. It had emotional significance.

It meant a great deal until he returned a few episodes later as a ghost. That undermined it to some extent. Of course at the end of S7, Sam and Dean burn the flask to finally vanquish Bobby’s spirit. It was a little rushed but they’d finally put Bobby to rest having learned a lesson about how people inevitably become vengeful spirits if left to roam the earth. Unfortunately, Jeremy Carver couldn’t let Bobby rest and brought him back in Taxi Driver (8.19) an ill-conceived, canon wrecking, rushed fiasco written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming (who is coincidentally Robert Singer’s wife).

[Some minor spoilers for S9 start here.]

So now we learn from Carver in a Dailymotion preview that Bobby will return in S9 as will Alaina Huffman as Abbadon. Now, I love both of these actors and their characters, but I think that bringing secondary characters back this way — in Bobby’s case repeatedly and for no good reason — makes their deaths as individual characters meaningless and death as a state of being insignificant, and oh yeah, Death is going to return this season. Maybe, it’s because he’s pissed off that no one stays dead anymore.

I mean look, one of the things that separated Sam and Dean from everyone else is that they came back from the dead. Then, it started happening to Castiel. Now, secondary characters may not actually come back to life, but they aren’t “gone” either. They return as ghosts not as Mary and John did to help the boys out briefly, but for a number of episodes and repeatedly. Why?

Bobby’s death was perhaps the most perfectly rendered and meaningful in the entire series, but the impact of it for viewers and for Sam and Dean themselves probably, has been undermined by his repeated appearances since then. I can’t help but believe that Castiel and Bobby were both brought back in S7 because they are popular characters, with both fans and producers, not because it was good storytelling. In the case of both, their deaths would have had far more significance if they’d never been seen again. It was clearly Gamble’s intention to bring Bobby back as ghost even when she killed him, but Carver has no good excuse for bringing Bobby back in S8 or 9 other than ratings. Yeah, I’m cynical.

And Abbadon? I love Alaina Huffman and I’m glad to have her back, but why kill her and then have to tromp on canon to bring her back? Are we to believe that she is so powerful she can recreate vessels? Whatever. Carver has no respect for canon, and that may be his undoing. And does this mean we can have Rachel Miner back as Meg? Please? Because there’s a story arc that was cut brutally short. Meg was in her way as important a character as Bobby. She’d been on the show longer! The only long-term female character! But that’s another rant altogether.




8 responses

  1. Iluvkinkythings

    I agree about Bobby. I didn’t know he’d be back because I haven’t watched the preview (it might kill my want to watch) and it’s a very bad idea. Now for Abaddon I don’t know. She’s not a regular demon, she’s a Knight of Hell if I recall correctly so maybe they have greater powers than we know. Though why bother healing the vessel instead of changing it? Maybe they’re a bit like angels and have to ask the host before? I guess we’ll know soon.

    September 10, 2013 at 7:59 am

    • Yeah, I’m not that upset about Abbadon being on. Like I said, I like Alaina Huffman a lot. My only problem with it is that Carver ran roughshod over canon last season, and that is problematic for fans. A universe has to have rules, and when rules keep getting thrown out the window, then fans never know what the significance of an event has. In the past, Castiel is the only one who returned in the same vessel. That seemed to be because God brought him back. Now we have demons coming back in the same vessel. I suspect that it may have to do with Sam’s failure to shut the gates of hell and no one in charge there. We also have the gates of heaven closed and the angels falling. Carver indicated that these events change all the rules — conveniently enough for him. 😉

      September 10, 2013 at 8:23 am

  2. grean

    I think the constant return of dead characters is bad for the show and simply lazy writing.
    Sam and Deans return was something that set them apart. It is harder to see them as special or different if they aren’t. Some sense can be made in Abbadons case, she is supposed to be some super Demon but not Bobby. Unless Bobby is not really human but some supernatural being himself. Which will ruin the character for me. It is why I have never warmed up to Castiel, he is not human he really can’t comprehend what it is to be human. Seems they have decided to have him really be one of the boys this season. It is still not his natural state, he is still an angel. One without his grace but an angel non the less.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:34 am

    • I hope they do have a good explanation of why Abbadon is able to return in the same vessel. As for Bobby, no doubt there will be some supernatural explanation for why he’s still around, but that doesn’t change the fact that his return first as a ghost and then in hell and now as whatever diminishes the impact of his death for the boys and the fans. It’s hard to feel his loss when he turns up every so often.

      I agree on Castiel not being able to relate to what it is to be human. For me, the perfect example is that he broke Sam’s wall after calling him a friend. He clearly has no idea what Sam really means on an emotional and psychological level to Dean and he couldn’t comprehend the torture he was condemning Sam to despite warning Dean not to get Sam’s soul back. It’s the greatest argument against Castiel having any idea what it is to be human. It makes me recall the scene in Clap Your Hands If You Believe where Soulless!Sam concludes after a discussion with Dean that having a soul means suffering. We know that Castiel doesn’t have a soul, so perhaps he is incapable of emotional suffering as humans experience it. Yes, he can experience guilt and regret, but maybe he’s a little like Soulless!Sam. I don’t know. I admit to finding Castiel less than compelling because his characterization has been so poorly handled the past couple of seasons.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:51 pm

  3. Yeah as much as Abbadon rocks, I really hope we see her fleshed out more. I hope we get a sense of motivation from her character outside of “Muahaha I am a knight of hell here to fuck shit up”. What’s her goal through all of this? Destruction? Becoming queen of Hell? I’m not saying I want her turned sympathetic (like that sad excuse for “character development” with Crowley shoved in), but just explored more.

    Re: death — Yeah, coming back from the dead used to be significant, Dean’s resurrection in s4 was a really big deal. But with Castiel, they don’t even bother to explain it anymore. Why on earth is he still alive, much less still possessing Jimmy? (I’ve given up hope of the show remembering that angel vessels are a thing.) Bobby, they’ve found excuses for, but they don’t try to explain Cas.

    September 10, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    • I can only infer from the scenes with Naomi in S8 is that God designed Castiel to be different. He’s the fly in the ointment, made to resist the rest of the angels and protect the humanity. It’s the only explanation I can think of to keep bringing him back.

      I agree on Abbadon. There seemed to be a hint that there was more to her, and I hope we get to find that out. Maybe she is out to be the ruler of hell. Who knows the boys may end up trying to put Crowley back in place just to stop her. Better the Devil you know kind of thing.

      September 10, 2013 at 3:08 pm

      • Yeah, Naomi had that line about him always being broken, which I get but am not fond of. It goes against what Anna said about him previously always being a good little soldier, and I can’t help but feel his rebellion is a little less special if it was something that was always ~destined to happen. Ah, well.

        September 10, 2013 at 3:17 pm

        • Yeah, that is a contradiction. There was far to much trouncing of canon in S8. I hope they get their facts straight in S9.

          September 10, 2013 at 3:32 pm

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