since I've been tempted to get into it three times in the past 24 hours

May 26, 2014 19:45

I really dislike feeling like this is necessary because (a) it is tedious as fuck and (b) I am a strong proponent of the idea that authorial intent is of little to no value in discussing a text. (It’s kind of surreal having this conversation around a narrative which went out of its way to challenge the idea that the voice of the author should count at all, but okay.) I seem to be in the minority on this point, which is okay, but I think that if we are going to make the mistake of making authorial intent so important, we should probably at least put a token effort toward accurately identifying authorial intent concerning the issue in question.

So to that end, I’ve gone through S9 in order to build a case that it is far more likely than not that the majority of the writers understood exactly what it is they were doing this season wrt possession. The first section of the post consists of lines taken from the transcripts where characters directly address the possession itself, and the second section of the post is about the episodes where the problem inherent to the issue is addressed in metaphors or indirect allusions too close to be ignored.


DEAN: [I]t’s Sam’s call. There’s no way in hell he’d say yes to being possessed by anything.


The first character to overtly acknowledge that the possession is a violation of Sam’s autonomy is Dean himself.

GADREEL-AS-DEAN: It’s not his time.

DEATH: That’s for Sam to decide.


Emphasizes Sam’s right to autonomy.

GADREEL: Sam can eject me at any time, especially with me so weak.


Emphasizes the importance of consent, and that any pretense of consent to this particular possession is tenuous at best. Gadreel says this to Dean, and Dean does not dispute it.

DEAN: I let an angel in.


DEAN: In you. He said he could heal you and he is.

GADREEL-AS-SAM: He’s still in me? Wait. That’s impossible, Dean. That couldn’t happen. I never invited him in.

DEAN: I tricked you into saying yes. It seemed like the only way.

GADREEL-AS-SAM: So… Again. You thought I couldn’t handle something, so you took over!

DEAN: No, I did what I had to do! You would’ve never agreed to it, and you would’ve died.

GADREEL-AS-SAM: Well, maybe I would’ve liked the choice, at least.


I cannot wrap my brain around the idea that someone could write these words - and probably several other someones could sit and look at and edit these words - without realizing what happened here.

SAM What you do want me to say - that I’m pissed? Okay. I am. I’m pissed. You lied to me. Again.

DEAN I didn’t have a choice.

SAM I was ready to die, Dean!

DEAN I know. But I wouldn’t let you, because that’s not in me.

SAM So, what? You decide to trick me into being possessed by some… psycho angel?

DEAN He saved your life.

SAM So what? I was willing to die.


Lied. Tricked. I’d rather have died.

CASTIEL Sam, the trials. You chose not to go through with them for a reason, didn’t you? You chose to live rather than to sacrifice yourself. You and Dean… You chose each other.

SAM Yeah, I did. We did. And then… Dean made a choice for me.


SAM Okay. Just once, be honest with me. You didn’t save me for me. You did it for you.

DEAN What are you talkin’ about?

SAM I was ready to die. I was ready. I should have died, but you… You didn’t want to be alone, and that’s what all this boils down to. You can’t stand the thought of being alone.

DEAN All right.

SAM I’ll give you this much. You are certainly willing to do the sacrificing as long as you’re not the one being hurt.


SAM: You tricked me, Dean. And now I’m the one who wakes up in the middle of the night seeing my hands killing Kevin, not you. So, please, when you say you don’t want to explain anything to me, don’t. I get it.


I’ve left out Dean’s equally unambiguous gaslighting of Sam throughout the possession, because while that is in and of itself a violation which enabled the violation of the possession, it is a discrete pattern of behavior.


ABADDON Oh. Well… you know, I’ve loved this body since the moment I first saw it. You’re the perfect vessel, Dean. You give a girl all sorts of nasty ideas. So go ahead and play hard to get, and I’ll peel off this “no demons allowed” tattoo and blow smoke up your ass.
DEAN Oh, well, I gotta tell you, between you and me, it is a horror show up there.
ABADDON It can get worse. Trust me. ‘Cause once I’m on top, I’ll make you watch. And I’ll use your body. Have you ever felt an infant’s blood drip down your chin? Or listened to a girl scream as you rip her guts out? Because you will. You and me, lover. We’ll have a grand old time.


HEY DID YOU FORGET THAT POSSESSION IS ABSOLUTELY FUCKING AWFUL? Because this episode went out of its way to make sure that Dean couldn’t!

SAM Angels can’t possess a human without permission, right?
SAM So, what, they’re using this guy to find vessels?
DEAN It’s a willing audience. They’re all religious types like our pharmacist here. Buddy Boyle was telling them to let the angels take them over.
SAM Like body snatchers.


This episode unambiguously shows deceptive vessel acquisition practices as a dangerous violation.

SUZY [face falls in resignation] So, you’ve seen my…work. Listen, I don’t blame you if you want to be assigned a new counselor. I-I get it.

DEAN No. No, no. Are you - are you kidding me? I mean, you’re - you’re a freaking legend.

SUZY [in a panic] No! I-I am - I’m not that girl anymore. I moved here. I changed my name. That girl was - was horrible.

DEAN [interrupting her] Listen, uh, Suzy, I’ve seen a lot of awful things, stuff of nightmares, okay? But you - you’re the good dreams.


I find it remarkable that this episode is cited as evidence that the possession thing happened by the writers not thinking about it. Look at what Dean does to Suzy here: he believes that seeing her as an object counts as admiration for her, he pushes her boundaries way past her comfort zone, and then he closes his eyes to how upset she is afterward. That is exactly what he does to Sam.

SAM Look, there are things you can forgive, and there are things you can’t.

HARRY So, which one is this?

SAM That’s something you got to figure out for yourself.


DEAN So she’s a blood slave. We’ve seen it before - vampires keeping people as pets, human feedbags. Sometimes these slaves…

SAM Stay loyal to their captors.

DEAN Yeah.

SAM Right.

JODY So…This girl’s not talking ‘cause she’s got a case of…what? Vampiric Stockholm syndrome?


AAAA was an extremely strong episode for a lot of reasons, but the one that stands out most to me is how unafraid it was to allow Ann to be a Bad Victim, whose bond with her vampire family was extremely complex. Ann let them off the hook a lot of times, she was afraid to fight them, she didn’t want to leave them - and none of that made what they did to her any less wrong. This applies to Sam. There are legitimate reasons, rooted in well-established psychological phenomena, for Sam to struggle in establishing and keeping boundaries.

So yeah. Aside from the fact that trying to play mind-reader about several people none of us know tends to be a derail from conversation about what actually happened this season, and that I do think patterns which happen unconsciously are fair game for examination, I’d say it’s extremely unlikely for this to have been something THE RITURRZZZZ unwittingly stumbled into a couple dozen times. Blithely claiming that this was ~~an accident~~ implies that the pattern was significantly less consistent and pervasive than it was.

That isn’t to say there’s nothing for us to question here. The question of how much it succeeded in execution is a valid one. I happen to think it was pretty solid - at some points uncomfortably so - but reasonable people can disagree. It is unambiguous that fandom has some very gross reactions to it. It is unambiguous that the actors as individuals have been gross about it, and I think (though reasonable people can disagree) that the PTBs have been shockingly negligent in reining in the actors and the gross opinions they express in public. But pretending the narrative is in any way ambiguous about what happened here is not a harmless assertion. All it does is give cover to the people who choose to be gross about it.
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supernatural, the author is boxed, spn: season 9, abuse

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