Season 9. Finale.
Dean ends up taking on/in Cas’ grace through a series of unfortunate events.
It makes him superpowered and awesome, but not quite himself (like TARDIS!Rose, but with wings!).
Cas has to kiss Dean to get his grace back, because if he doesn’t the raw power of it will burn Dean up from the inside.
Or we go into Season 10 with angel!Dean on the loose, trying a variation of what Levi!Cas did at the start of S07, only not on such a global scale. Like, Dean is just teleporting from hunt to hunt or something - saving people, hunting things - until eventually he starts to take it too far, starts killing the hunters, then random bystanders who are in the way. Maybe he almost kills SAM. Which is what shakes him out of it, of course, and makes him realise he has to give up the power.
Oh oh, he could go to Cas, tearing up and scared - ‘Cas, what’s happening to me? I can’t - I can’t control it anymore - I’m hurting people - I - What do I do?’ And Cas just rests a hand on his cheek, holding Dean’s gaze all calm and soft and tells him ‘you have to let it go.’
I just have a SERIOUS desire for angel!Dean right now, okay??
The difference in how Supernatural treats male and female characters pt. 1: Dean and Meg
Alright so, when I was doing my rewatch of “It’s A Terrible Life”, Dean’s line of “angel or not, I will stab you in the face” made me inwardly chuckle because, you know, he does stab Zachariah in the face a season later. But it also reminded me of Meg’s line in ‘Goodbye Stranger’. Dean asks her what’s up with her hair. Meg tells him that it’s just another reason she wants to “stab [Crowley] in the face”. But unlike Dean, who is able to exact vengeance on Zachariah by completing his desires, Meg is stabbed and dispatched almost as an afterthought. Within the same episode.
Now, I don’t think that the similarities between Dean and Meg’s lines were done on purpose. Most likely, it was a coincidence. But the stark contrasts between these two scenes still portrays the difference in which Supernatural’s narrative treats its male and female characters in the face of their oppressors. “But Dean’s a main character!” you tell me. “And Meg’s a demon!”
Dean and Meg are also foil characters. They have been from the very beginning. Meg’s character has almost constantly given a darker reflection of the Winchesters’ storyline, particularly Dean’s. I’ve heard people say that Meg is essentially who Dean would be had he become a demon, and you know what, I agree. Both are ‘Daddy’s little soldiers’, both follow(ed) their fathers’ orders out of ‘loyalty and love’. Both need a cause to ‘get up in the morning’, or, in other words, they feel as if they need a clear-cut purpose in order to give themselves a reason to exist. And just as Meg found pleasure and purpose in being a malevolent creature, Dean (and Sam) often blows off steam through hunting. (slightly more coherent posts here and here)
But this isn’t just about Dean and Meg’s similarities. This is about how Supernatural has different rules for its men and women characters, and I thought that the comparing of these two different outcomes showed that pretty well. In this particular gifset, we’ve got Meg and Dean with two different oppressors, Zachariah and Crowley. Both were tortured and fucked with mercilessly by their oppressors, and both Dean and Meg expressed similar lines centering around how they wanted to kill them. But most importantly, both Dean and Meg had some sort of agency and autonomy taken away by Zachariah/Crowley. Zachariah was a manipulative little shit, as we all know, and his plan to gain Dean’s consent rarely ever involved any actual consent. He manipulated Dean’s sense of reality multiple times, and even messed with his and Sam’s heaven in order to try to pit them against each other (the moment Mary started becoming aggressive towards Dean is the moment in which one realizes that there’s a good chance Zachariah was manipulating the particular memories each one of them experienced). When Dean stabbed Zachariah in the face, he was, essentially reclaiming that agency and autonomy that he had lost. The shot with Dean’s eyes reflecting Zachariah’s grace is, I think, one of the most important shots in the entire episode, because it is a visible representation of not only Dean regaining his motivation, but also of his empowerment through the killing of Zachariah. He grows through this experience. And he lives.
Meg does not. Meg is not given the same sort of closure that Dean (and other male characters like Sam, Castiel, and even to a certain extent Bobby) was able to attain. Her mission of killing Crowley is taken away from her. She is overpowered by her oppressor and tormentor, and her agency is once again taken away. Some people have argued that Meg’s death was actually a result of her reclaiming autonomy, but if that’s the case, I have to ask- why did she have to die in order to regain it? What did she die for? What was the point of her death? I’m pretty much in love with Meg and Castiel’s relationship, but it irritates me to no end that at the end, the narrative decided to limit Meg’s entire existence around that one relationship. She died for a male character (Cas), and her death was largely used to emphasize the already established antagonism of another male character (Crowley). The light in Meg’s eyes is not her empowerment. It’s her defeat.
“But she redeemed herself through her death”
What I have to ask is…why couldn’t she redeem herself through her life? Why is it that in Supernatural in order for a female character to become likable in some way or another, 9 times out of ten she needs to die? Why does the narrative stop short of letting a woman live out her character development, and instead uses her death in order to add onto the characterization and/or storylines of male characters? Inevitably, someone is going to tell me that “everyone dies on Supernatural”, but let me say this: a lot of people die, yeah, but the only characters to come back (and actually stay) have been white men. All of them. Whenever the women ‘come back’, its to provide mangst for a man (re: Ghost!Jo, Ellen in season 6, Mary, etc).
Even Gabriel’s death was a suitable closing for his arc, and was effective to the overall storyline of season 5, not just for the characterization of Lucifer or Sam or Dean or Cas or whomever.
Meg’s a character that’s been around since Sam had bangs. She was one of the last ties to the first few seasons of Supernatural, and was beginning to experience a lot character growth and development. Her relationship with Castiel had the potential of being one of the most interesting dynamics on the show (whether platonic or romantic), but it by no means should have defined her. Meg was her own character, and had the chance of having her own experiences and story arcs.
Instead, she died almost as an afterthought, and was never mentioned again.
Sad to say, but it’s a fate that is shared by many women on Supernatural.
omg Robbie sidenote: I don’t like that articlemostly because it makes the assumption that either Frodo or Aragorn is the protagonist of LOTRand Sam is a supporting character and he’s not??? he’s a supportive character but he’s the hero of the story there’s a reason why LOTR ends with /him/ rather than Frodo or with Aragorn because at some point the narrative shifted away from Frodo’s journey and began to focus on Sam’s which is exactly what spn did with Sam and Dean
Yeah, that’s exactly I thought the LotR comparison was so apt for SPN. Supportive character =/= supporting character.
I remember attending a slash convention after the first few seasons of Supernatural — before Castiel appeared — and after a SPN panel, someone I met in passing mentioned that she thought the show felt like it was Dean’s story, and that story happened to be about Sam. And what she meant by that was that SPN felt like it was Dean’s story to tell — the audience often gets his PoV through his feelings. And it felt to her like a memoir about Sam that Dean had written and was telling. And it was a totally different interpretation of the narrative frame because I felt like this was Sam’s story, and Dean was along to be equal parts comic relief and motivator. But on rewatching S1, I can more clearly see what she meant about Dean’s feelings being more prominent.
The point of this is that I’ve often said that I don’t really care for giving Dean a myth arc because I don’t devalue the emotional arcs that the show likes to give Dean. Both mytharcs and emotional arcs are story arcs and I have been fascinated with Dean’s emotional arc ever since “Dream a Little Dream” (3x10) aired when I first noticed the show beginning to very deliberately deconstruct Dean’s hypermasculine identity and, to me, it’s been a very rewarding story as it has progressed up to the end of S8.
And in to tie-in the idea of supporting character vs supportive character, I would love if Dean’s story arc — everything to do with his self-identity and family — would shift from the b-plot to either the a-plot or have equal weight with the a-plot, whatever S9’s a-lot will be. What would be more fascinating that finding a way to reconcile Dean the ultimate hunter vs. Dean the ultimate caregiver?
I feel the same way about Dean and mytharcs. I find Dean’s actual arc, as it stands, to be basically the most rewarding kind of arc on the show, so I’m kinda leery of the idea of trading it for something that I likely wouldn’t find half as engaging to watch.
#i get why people want him to have a mytharc #if that’s the kind of storyline they enjoy #but i basically just see mytharc-type stories as an excuse so that i can watch the emotional-arc stories I actually care about
at the start of next season, I’m actually expecting Dean’s attitude towards Cas to initially tend towards frustrated and wary.
Because Dean was hurt when Cas left in 8x17 - and every other time. But then he accepted it - though maybe not without some bitterness - that flying off is something that Cas just does. And then he was going to go away forever, and Dean accepted it.
But now… Cas is going to stick around. Forever. Because he’s stuck.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Dean had some confusing feelings about that. Like he’s the fallback plan. Like he just can’t get a handle on things. And then the confusion fades as he and Cas build their relationship on anew basis, more grounded (literally), relying on each other on a daily basis, being real partners.
That’s how I’d write it, anyways. But so long as it’s clear that the writers put some real thought into Dean and Castiel’s interactions I’ll be happy.
You did a lot of damage up there, man. You think they’re just gonna let that slide?
Supernatural’s Dean Winchester dismantled his own machismo, and that’s why we love him.