Supernatural: “Goodbye Stranger” Episode Discussion
It’s Winchester Wednesday, and around these parts that means one thing: novelty t-shirts, pajama bottoms, burgers, pie, and three fangirls lounging around on couches and the floor, recreationally arguing every new episode of Supernatural to air. I guess that’s just what happens when you put a Dean!Girl, a Cas!Girl (guilty as charged) and a Sam!Girl in one room. It’s all in good fun . . . though we think our Sam!Girl is a little afraid of us sometimes.
Coming into tonight’s episode we rewatched Torn and Frayed, which brought us closure on the brother versus brother angst, the completely unsurprising reveal of an angel tablet (seriously, was anyone surprised?) and our last glimpse of Castiel. Torn and Frayed ended with the brothers warding Rufus’s cabin against Castiel listening in as they discussed the possibility that someone is pulling Cas’s strings. We’ve got some classic dramatic irony going, building tension that carries into tonight’s ep, as the viewers know about Naomi and the CIAngels and our boys remain unaware.
So, what’re we expecting to see tonight? Unfortunately, our SamGirl was unable to attend, though she’s liveblogging via text to me to make up for it, which leaves the rabid Dean and Cas girls to argue with each other before and after the episode. Here’s the truncated (we had an hour to kill!) general preshow.
@ExorcisingEmily: So, what are you expecting tonight?
@Mrstserc: I am expecting Cas to boldface lie to the boys, Sam to be sickly, and Dean and Cas to have to go off and work on something themselves and come across Meg. I don’t know whether or not the possibility of Meg and Castiel ever having a thing will ever be brought up, but I expect Cas will kill her because she knows stuff about the angel tablets that Naomi doesn’t want Dean to know. I also expect Naomi to tell Cas to kill Dean.
@ExorcisingEmily: I’m with you about Naomi telling Cas to kill Dean. I think that works into the Manchurian Candidate homage they seem to be playing to: the last thing she needs to do to really break Castiel would be to kill Dean.
@Mrstserc: Is she trying to break him? I mean, is Naomi actually a badguy badguy, or just a badguy in terms of Dean and Sam not playing on Heaven’s team? But you know, if neither heaven nor hell are the good guys, that’s really kind of fucked up.
@ExorcisingEmily: How do you mean?
@Mrstserc: I realize this show has messed with everyone’s concepts of angels and heaven for years, okay, but if Naomi is a badguy, not just trying to do what’s best for Heaven and therefore for everyone and God’s will, then there are no redeeming qualities and everything in the Christian myth or lore is bullshit. And I think that’s pushing it a little far.
@ExorcisingEmily: Don’t you think we already crossed that line with Zachariah and Raphael? I mean, face it. . . we’re . . .
@Mrstserc: I think that’s part of the problem with Season 8. They were supposed to be the heroes. I think that the ambiguity of the first part of this season, and actually going back to Season 6 with Soulless Sam. . . they have become ambiguous heroes, and I think that’s a problem for the show. Because Sam and Dean were meant to be together as heroes saving people and hunting the bad things. I know they’ve done the reluctant hero thing with Sam more than once, and they’re doing it again this season. But when push comes to shove, the Winchester brothers have saved us. . . we didn’t have an Apocalypse, we got rid of the Leviathan, they’re supposed to be the heroes.
@ExorcisingEmily: The thing is, though, that our most emotional moments in the show have been when they’re not necessarily the clear heroes. Dean’s time torturing in Hell and everything that came afterwards, Castiel’s stint as God and the Leviathan, Soulless Sam, everything Sam and Dean are willing to do (immoral or not) to save each other, every demon deal and bad decision, even the End!verse where Dean is torturing and Castiel is a drugged up hippie. . . those are because they’re ambiguous heroes. So saying that’s a problem in Season 8. . . I don’t see it. I think the problem in Season 8 is that so much of this is rehashed material: the boys not trusting each other, Cas not being trustworthy, Crowley’s a dick and they’re listening to a tablet again. . . it’s been done. I would like to see more development than that, and moving on past that. It’s not that they’re ambiguous heroes, it’s that they’re painful to see on screen together when it’s all angst and mistrust. I miss the dynamic.
@Mrstserc: But that’s part of it. The ambiguity is also in the relationship. All those other times you bring up, you can always say they’re acting out of love for the other.
@ExorcisingEmily: So what you’re saying is “show me the love?”
@Mrstserc: Show me the love! You may cast me as a Dean Girl but I’m kind of. . . Dean and Sam! Team Winchester! I just think Dean’s cuter (but now I’m going to get in trouble . . . don’t write that! That’s not nice of me to say, we’re in San Antonio). [Editor’s Note: Nope. That’s totally staying in there. Because I’m cruel and great at dictation as we talk]
@ExorcisingEmily: I’m Team Free Will. I like all three of them.
@Mrstserc: Yeah, but is Castiel even capable of being a member of that at this point? I think a lot of the problem is having an angel in there, that’s deus ex machina every time you turn around, healing them. Though I guess they’d be a lot more scarred without him. Lucky them. And lucky us!
@ExorcisingEmily: I think Castiel’s earned his place there, the same way Bobby did – I think he’s family, and I think that they need that. I think as much fun as it can be to watch the Brothers Winchester, it stagnates when it’s just them. Especially when they’re barely talking to each other.
@Mrstserc: I think Cas is potential family. But because I kind of ship Destiel, I wouldn’t put him as a brother, because I’m not into incest. But they can’t have a full power angel on their side all the time.
@ExorcisingEmily: I’m completely to blame for your ship, so I can accept that. And I agree on that last part: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again until someone on the show listens to me. I think Cas needs to fall, and I think it would be not only an interesting way to develop the concept of Free Will (by giving it to Cas, in full, for the first time) but also to get a different take on humanity too. Putting fresh eyes on their lives, I think would be interesting.
@Mrstserc: What do you mean by that?
@ExorcisingEmily: I think Dean and Sam, a lot of their problem is they don’t take the time to relish what they have even if it’s not normal. I like that they’re showing the boys as having a home. . .
@Mrstserc: No, you saw Dean the housemaid.
@ExorcisingEmily: No, what I’m saying isn’t just the nesting thing (which I liked more than you did, clearly) it’s home as a concept. I think it’s just as important as the concept of family that they’ve been neglecting, and has been since Chuck’s speech about the Impala. Home as a concept was pivotal to saving the world.
@Mrstserc: I’m absolutely onboard with the concept of home if they can do it without turning Dean into some kind of raving idiot, or the housekeeper. (High mocking voice) “Oh, my memory foam, it remembers me!” I’m afraid that’s the kind of crap they put across as humor that’s just. . . not funny.
@ExorcisingEmily: . . . Hey, Arrow’s ending. Aaand, pause the ranting.
Well, that was exciting. We may or may not have yelled at the screen a few times and spewed expletives you’re going to miss out on because we didn’t liveblog. Shame on us. Five seconds ago my SamGirl also just exclaimed “I totally wish I was there for tonight’s debate on this episode.” We miss you too, SamGirl!
Let’s get this show started though.
@Mrstserc: Well, I was wrong. Crowley killed Meg instead of Castiel, but she’s still dead. Which makes you wonder if Demons are alive anyway, because they gotta be dead to become a demon.
@ExorcisingEmily: But we both saw it that Meg was going to die. I mean, the moment they start going into a romantic thing. . .
@Mrstserc: The moment they go into a romantic thing, someone’s gotta die?
@ExorcisingEmily: You’re not wrong there. However, the pizza man. . .
@Mrstserc: Ick! Ick! Ick! Another reason after tonight I don’t think Dean should get with Castiel.
@ExorcisingEmily: During the episode, you declared your abandonment of the good ship Destiel. . .
@Mrstserc: Yes, I did.
@ExorcisingEmily: Because of abuse issues.
@Mrstserc: Yes. And because Dean already has low self-esteem. He does not need to put himself with someone who has beaten him so badly twice now. And. . . psh. Why he would believe a word that would come out of Sammy’s mouth right now would be another symptom of low self-esteem.
@ExorcisingEmily: Going by that though, Sammy has beaten the crap out of Dean more than once now. I equate this to the confrontation with Lucifer in Sammy’s body. It was Naomi calling the shots, not Cas, and Cas (like Sam before him) broke that control because he was beating the crap out of Dean against his will.
@Mrstserc: And I wouldn’t recommend Dean be in a romantic relationship with Sam either, because Sam lies to him besides formerly beating him. Not just when Lucifer was in his body, but when he was blood-drinking.
@ExorcisingEmily: And yet, you’re “Team Winchester.”
@Mrstserc: After tonight I may be team Dean. The supporting character! And they admitted it!
@ExorcisingEmily: I know your supporting character argument. Our readers don’t. . . .Why don’t I just link them, though?
@Mrstserc: Season 8. He’s a supporting character. Samwise Gamgee. What can I say?
@ExorcisingEmily: Okay, Dean has punched Sam in the mouth more than once. . .
@Mrstserc: And he gives him the warning that he’s going to punch him in the mouth, and then he punches him in the mouth. That’s brothers. That’s different than beating him unconscious and then walking out, like he did when he was blood drinking. And that’s not even going into the lying thing! “You gotta tell me the truth from now on!” “Oh, but I will tell you the truth” [at this point, @Mrstserc’s fictional mocking dialogue became hard to follow for this poor typist, but suffice to say she doesn’t believe Sam].
(In reading it back)
@Mrstserc: I don’t. Are you saying I talk too fast?
@ExorcisingEmily: I think I just said you talk too much. But I don’t disagree, Sam’s still gonna lie.
@Mrstserc: I have one last thing to say. I would be okay with Cas staying on that bus and never coming back.
@ExorcisingEmily: So makes no difference to you that he fought beating Dean, that he healed Dean, that he stayed to explain, and that he wasn’t in control.
@Mrstserc: It’s not the first time he’s hurt the one he loves. How many women have stayed around getting beaten because “Oh, he didn’t mean to. It was the drugs, it was the drinking, it was something else controlling them.”
@ExorcisingEmily: Okay. So you’re saying this more as a relationship counselor.
@Mrstserc: Yes. In a relationship counselor role, I say once it’s possibly a mistake, twice you go back to him you deserve him to beat you a third time.
@ExorcisingEmily: You realize every relationship on this show. . . ever. . .
@Mrstserc: You mean relationship as in romantic.
@ExorcisingEmily: No, I mean relationship. . . is unhealthy.
@Mrstserc: Bobby and Dean.
@ExorcisingEmily: We saw a demon jump into Bobby’s body and beat on Dean, until Bobby turned the knife on himself and ended up in a wheelchair. We’ve seen them pour each other drinks, knowing they’re both alcoholics, with acknowledgement on both their parts that they’re alcoholics.
@Mrstserc: Every abuser in a relationship has an excuse why it’s not their fault.
@ExorcisingEmily: Pretty sure they don’t have demonic possession as a valid reason. . .
@Mrstserc: She’s not a demon.
@ExorcisingEmily: She sure is possessing him like one.
@Mrstserc: She’s not possessing him. It’s not possession.
@ExorcisingEmily: It’s as much possession as Lucifer, also an angel, was. She is calling the shots. She is making the decisions.
@Mrstserc: She’s not occupying Jimmy’s vessel! Lucifer was occupying Sam’s vessel.
@ExorcisingEmily: Sam was still in there. Castiel is still in there.
@Mrstserc: The fact that the show isn’t giving you any happy, healthy relationships doesn’t mean that I need to cheer for one that I consider damaging. If there’s ever going to be a happy ending, I don’t think that Dean should be with Cas for it.
@ExorcisingEmily: Take romance out of it . . .
@Mrstserc: And make it a brotherly relationship? And I look at Dean punching Sam and Sam punching Dean, and say “eh, siblings!” I’ve punched a few of mine. Perhaps the boys need to grow up, though.
@ExorcisingEmily: But if you take out the romance. You acknowledge . . .
@Mrstserc: Yeah, that it would be a brotherly relationship just like the one he has with Sam, where they can beat each other up and lie to each other, and then Dean can go get drunk and remain unhealthy.
@ExorcisingEmily: We can’t fix these characters any more than we can ‘fix’ people. People have their character flaws.
@ExorcisingEmily: And Supernatural is very good about giving us people.
@Mrstserc: I still want the boys to be heroes. And what you’ve got is not hero material in either one right now, even though only one of them is the protagonist at the moment.
@ExorcisingEmily: No, they’re both protagonists, just one of them is the lead character. In your opinion.
@Mrstserc: And the other is supporting. “I’ll carry you.”
@ExorcisingEmily: I think, that Cas’s redemption arc is pretty much at a low point here, but it did shine a light on the fact that he’s at least trying to fix this. The whole concept of free will. . . that’s foreign to Cas. He’s only had that since he’s known them, and it’s something that the writers continually take away from him.
@Mrstserc: Four years. Four years he has known about the concept of free will.
@ExorcisingEmily: It’s different knowing about the concept and having it for yourself. I’m interested to see where they take that. And I still think he needs to fall.