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Mallena's Supernatural Musings: 10.05 "Fan Fiction"

Supernatural Con First Timer - Vancouver Part 3

Fan Video of the Week: Supernatural Reflections "The British Invasion”

Supernatural Bits & Pieces September 17, 2017

Supernatural Con First Timer - Vancouver Part 2

Mallena's Supernatural Musings: 3.11 "Mystery Spot"

Check out all our San Diego Comic Con coverage, including on scene reports from Nightsky!  

 

Latest Supernatural News and Spoilers

Sep 21 2017

We have an extended version of the trailer!

Sep 18 2017

Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Hillary Burton showed off her baby bump at last night's Emmy Awards ceremony

Sep 18 2017

The actor, who once played Gordon Walker, won an Emmy last night for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Dra

Sep 17 2017

We have a copy of the EW preview for Supernatural and BTS pictures of episode 6.

Sep 13 2017

We're getting close. The CW released a short promo.

Sep 12 2017

EW just published a big spoiler for season 13. TVLine Spoilers added!

Sep 12 2017

September 13 is Supernatural Day!

Sep 08 2017

TVLine released it's fall preview and had this to say about Supernatural

Sep 06 2017

With the DVD for season 12 hitting the shelves yesterday, several oulets have posted deleted scenes

Sep 04 2017

Misha Collins made the announcement today.

Sep 01 2017

Stories continue to come out on Jensen Ackles fundraiser to help Texas after the devastation of Hurr

Aug 31 2017

The Supernatural Family's work to aid in disaster rescue and recovery efforts has even been noticed

Aug 30 2017

Buddy TV posted a new deleted scene from last season.

Aug 28 2017

Jensen and Danneel Ackles are spearheading an effort to help victims of Hurricane Harvey

Aug 24 2017

We have titles for episodes through 12.

Aug 23 2017

TV Line has some spoilers for this season.

Aug 23 2017

There are a lot of Behing-The-Scenes shots from episodes 3 of Supernatural season 13!

Aug 20 2017

The cast is wishing Misha a Happy Birthday!

Aug 18 2017

Christine Kilmer's latest vlog is up and it's seems rather timely given the latest events.  In

Aug 12 2017

Spoiler TV posted the titles for the first nine episodes and episode 16

Aug 12 2017

Recently, I had to shut down the site because of horrible, negative, disrespectful fighting in our c

Aug 09 2017

We have casting news for season 13.

Jul 24 2017

Nightsky posted her video of the Kansas performance at Comic Con.

Jul 23 2017

We may be getting several of these today.

Jul 23 2017

The cast for Wayward Sisters has been announced.

Jul 23 2017

The 2017 San Diego Comic Con "Supernatural" panel was one for the ages.  A surprise concert, a

Jul 23 2017

Today was a very special panel involving one of our prominent #SPNFAMILY members, Genevieve Padaleck

Jul 22 2017

The photos from Nightsky have been coming in slowly and we are keeping an archive of everything take

Jul 22 2017

The Tick has had a big presence at Comic Con.

Jul 22 2017

EW sat down with Jared, Jensen and Misha at Comic Con.

Jul 21 2017

The Facebook Live chat with Jared, Jensen and Misha is now available.

Jul 21 2017

Catching up with Supernatural Alumni at Comic Con.

Jul 21 2017

Today was the big Timeless panel at San Diego Comic Con.  Our master Eric Kripke was there to t

Jul 20 2017

The cast will appear live tomorrow, July 21, 2017 and will be seen on the Supernatural Facebook page

Jul 20 2017

The first clip from Jared and Jensen's appearance on Conan O'Brien

Jul 20 2017

The WB has released the poster for next season.

Jul 19 2017

The Conan O'Brien show has put out a teaser for tonight's appearance.

Jul 16 2017

Mark Pellegrino is in the running for a Tean Choice Award

Jul 16 2017

We have the first spoilers from this year's TV Guide article covering Comic Con.

Jul 15 2017

Warner Brothers is having a Gift Pack Giveaway.

Jul 14 2017

We have the images on the Comic Con bags for this year's Comic Con.

Jul 12 2017

Conan O'Brien is going to Comic Con and he's going to have Jared and Jensen on his show.

Jul 12 2017

Jensen and others are posting on social media from Vancouver. No Spoilers.

Jul 12 2017

San Diego Comic Con must be just around the corner!  Each year at this time we get some awesome

Jul 08 2017

Rogue Events, the company that hosted the Asylum conventions, is going out of business.

Jun 29 2017

IMDB has posted casting for episode 13.01

Jun 29 2017

It's official, Supernatural is coming to Comic Con this year.

WFB Feature Articles

Sep 21 2017 | Mallena

It’s Rob Benedict’s birthday on Sept 21 and it wasn’t easy picking the story to review that fe

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Sep 20 2017 | LK

 Welcome to Part 3 of my tale of attending my very first Supernatural convention! You'll want t

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Sep 18 2017 | LK

 

" I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about

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Sep 17 2017 | Percysowner

Supernatural around the web this week.

Read more...
Sep 15 2017 | LK

Welcome to part 2 of my tale of attending my first Supernatural convention! If you missed Part 1, it

Read more...
Sep 14 2017 | Mallena

Richard Speight, Jr.’s birthday was on September 4th and in his honor, I’m writing a review of o

Read more...
Sep 13 2017 | Karen

Supernatural Match Game

Match Game #4

Welcome to Match Game - The Supernatural Way. It's a qu

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Sep 12 2017 | LK

Introduction

 

Boy, this will be a long one! That is probably the sentence I will hear

Read more...
Sep 11 2017 | Karen

Welcome back to the "Memorable Moments" series for episode 12.17 "The British Invasion". Once again

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Sep 10 2017 | Percysowner

Supernatural in the news this week

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Sep 09 2017 | LK

 

" For there is no friend like a sister in calm or stormy weather; To cheer one on the tediou

Read more...
Sep 08 2017 | Elle

One of the last Supernatural episodes of season 12 that was more formulaic and standard MOTW than bi

Read more...
Sep 07 2017 | Mallena

 

Who loves the idea of time travel? I do!  The possibilities are endless as I contemplat

Read more...
Sep 06 2017 | LK

 

"Don't call the world dirty because you forgot to clean your glasses.” — Joseph Addi

Read more...
Sep 04 2017 | Karen

Welcome back to the "Memorable Moments" series for episode 12.16 "Ladies Drink Free". Once again I h

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Sep 03 2017 | Percysowner

Supernatural and Family in the news this week!

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Sep 01 2017 | Karen

Supernatural Match Game

Match Game #3

Welcome to Match Game - The Supernatural Way! It's a qu

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Aug 30 2017 | Percysowner

What are Supernatural fans up to? Here's the latest scoop as of August, 2017!

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Aug 30 2017 | Alice

My choices for part one were revealed, so without further delay, here are the Supernatural Season Tw

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Aug 28 2017 | Karen

Welcome back to the "Memorable Moments" series for Supernatural! For 12.15, "Somewhere Between Heave

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Aug 27 2017 | Percysowner

Supernatural in the news this week.

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Aug 26 2017 | Nightsky

One of the unique attractions of San Diego Comic-Con is wandering the vendor floor looking at the am

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Aug 25 2017 | Karen

Supernatural Match Game

Match Game #2

Welcome to Match Game - The Supernatural Way! It's a quick a

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Aug 24 2017 | Mallena

This week, I’ve been musing about family dramas.  There are many great examples of the genre

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Aug 21 2017 | Alice

Today I was utterly dismayed to hear about the closure of a long time fan site which the Wincheste

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Aug 19 2017 | Percysowner

Supernatural in the news this week.

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Aug 18 2017 | Alice

Just like every year, The WFB doesn't stop with just the fan choice awards!  Your friendly neig

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WFB Motivational Posters

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Nightsky's New Book!

Grotesque Rules of Engagement: The Ethics of the Hunt on "Supernatural," Part Two


In the first section of this essay (Read it here!), I wrote about Sam’s “monstrous” nature (neither good nor bad) as being an essential part of understanding the ethics of hunting on Supernatural because he, as one of the key agents in the story, re-enacts the problem of who deserves to hunt and who deserves to be hunted. I place quotations around the word “monstrous” for a reason. I don’t want any reader to misconstrue this word as saying that I believe Sam is bad or evil. Rather my interest is in the ambiguous place Sam has in the “middle” of the narrative.

In this section, I want to discuss Dean and what his habits, nature, and decisions reveal about the importance of brotherhood in the show and what impact his own creed has on the ethics of hunting, but moreso, how his ethics are informed by a deep-seeded monstrosity that only comes to light in the presence of the dilemma that is the vampire. After the season seven finale and the first episodes of season eight, the ethics of hunting are even more important for Dean, as he has been dropped in the middle of monsterland, aka Purgatory, and he is the one most likely to be hunted, and his relationship with Benny, the humane vampire, reveals the boundaries of Dean’s previous rules of engagement.

Brotherhood, Brother Good?

 

As a fan of Supernatural, I’ve always been intrigued by Dean Winchester and especially his adherence to the rules of hunting that very much mirror that of a soldier at war. A long time ago, well perhaps only two years ago when I started watching the show, my first reading was that Dean was the “field” general and Sam the “armchair” general in the war on demons. I was reminded of my father’s distinction between Eisenhower’s and Patton’s roles in the second World War, roles that my father characterized as the difference between the thought and action of war. Now, my father had a Patton bias since he fought in the North Africa and Italy campaigns, but his definitions of how he, as a soldier, perceived the two generals has always stayed with me. And it was rather startling that it was the first connection I made when watching Supernatural. Since then I’ve had many readings, both posted here and discussed elsewhere, but for Dean and the ethics question, I tend to go back to my original impression about him being a field soldier.  

And while Sam has often intellectualized the fight with demons and the devil, an approach that has at times led to his “good intentions” and subsequent bad decisions, Dean has often followed his gut and acted sometimes with forethought and sometimes without. For my reading, which I must note is always up for question and dispute, I’d like to bring the discussion back to one key action that distinguishes ethical and moral action from basic instinct, and that’s the decision-making process. How does Dean decide?

From season one onward, we are introduced to a variety of Deans. But the first Dean we meet is the soldier, the one who is used to the rules of engagement, the strategies of war. This metaphor, the soldier at war, follows Dean throughout the series, even being invoked by Jensen Ackles in a host of interviews, such as recently when he mentioned the film "The Hurt Locker" as a way of understanding Dean in season 8. While Sam has seen the soldier’s creed to be an inheritance (and sometimes a weakness), especially in the first season, Dean’s absolute sense of justice, his black and white vision, helps to establish what world we are in and why these monsters need to be hunted. Dean’s absolutism also sets up the emotional dilemma that emerges when he and the audience realize that the brother he’d pledged to protect had the potential to become the creature he was bound to hunt.

No Mistakes, No Accidents, Just Choices

 
Dean Winchester has an almost religious dedication to the idea of choice. There are very few mistakes or accidents in Dean’s world; rather, people make choices that have consequences. Even in a recent episode, “Southern Comfort,” the deeply embedded anger that Dean feels is manifest as a criticism of Sam’s choices. Choice, free will, decisions. These terms are placeholders for a need to control, a need to be in control. And such a need informs Dean’s approach to hunting; he is a strategist who also he goes with his gut instincts, but sometimes that gut instinct is based on experience rather than thought, which is why monsters that are made (werewolves, vampires) complicate his set of ethics. You can’t choose what you are; you only choose what you become. This axiom is why Sam’s betrayals are so hurtful to Dean. Sam chose to drink demon blood. Sam chose to leave. Sam chose to not look for him. Now, on the other hand, Dean himself chooses not to see the complicated nature surrounding these choices; he can’t. To do so would unravel his definitions of monstrosity. To do so would unravel his sense of self.

Dean adheres to choice as an operating metaphor, and that restricts what he can see about others, which explains why the monster that is made becomes an ethical dilemma for Dean. The ability to choose assumes options, assumes avenues of escape, but for someone like Sam, whose rage eclipsed his ability to see those choices, revenge in Season 4 seemed like the only choice. But as the seasons progress and Dean somewhat evolves as a character, he is continually challenged to change his vision of the world, to adapt and see things differently, especially when it comes to Sam, who his father charges him to save (or kill) in the second season premiere, “In My Time of Dying.” The audience sees that Dean’s commitment to choice, to decision making, increasingly becomes an abomination as the second season progresses, from his willingness to stay and die with Sam in “Croatoan” to the selling of his soul in “All Hell Breaks Loose.” The second season, in fact, clearly explicates Dean’s idealization of choice, in a way that no other season can. So when in the sixth season premiere we see Dean living the life that Sam made him promise to pursue, it is not a surprise. In fact, it is the ultimate abomination of Dean’s choice – he chooses the life Sam should’ve had as an act of repentance, of self-flagellation, of atonement, because choice demands acknowledgement, demands recompense, demands reciprocity. And that is the cornerstone of Dean’s sense of right and wrong: choice and atonement.   But throughout the series, Dean’s sense of justice comes quickly under fire when confronted with the monster that has plagued the show since its first season: the vampire.   

Vampires Create Ethical Dilemmas

 
In seasons one, two, three, six and now eight, we are faced with the dilemma of the vampire. Vampires, more than any other monster on this show, highlight the problem of hunting monsters. And Dean, more than Sam, seems to be the most troubled and touched by the grey moral area in which vampires reside.

Besides general demons and angels, the vampire is the most consistent creature in Supernatural. Part of the reason, I’m almost sure, is the popularity of "Twilight" and "The Vampire Diaries." Vampires are in the cultural zeitgeist and represent a variety of cultural critiques that deserves an article (or a library of books) on its own. But for this show, the vampire perhaps occupies a marginal space, one where the hunt always is a question. From the first season episode “Dead Man’s Blood” through the appearance of Benny, it seems that the vampire is the dark mirror through which Dean must examine himself and his rules of engagement. In fact, I would argue that the show intuitively understands how closely linked vampires are to Dean’s sense of identity when, in season six, Dean became one.

 
Unlike Sam’s possession by Meg and more like Sam’s addiction to demon blood, Dean’s transformation into a vampire showcased his own vulnerability in the face of monstrosity. Unfortunately the episode, “Live Free or Twihard,” was more noted for its revelations about the coldness of Sam’s character, and little has been made of the fact that the vampire family emerged simultaneously with the Campbells and that it remains the only family beyond the Winchesters hunting circle and the angels/demons cadre to maintain a consistent presence on the show, from Lenore to the Alpha Vamp and now Benny. And I would further argue that it is fitting that vampires trouble this landscape, that Dean Winchester finds himself confronted again and again with the vampire as ally or as prey, because Dean’s own sense of morality is offset by his emotional reality, both of which are vampiric. And his emotional vampirism has finally been recognized by his own brother, Sam.

The vampire resides in the space between life and death and subsists on the lifeblood of humans. A lot of scholarship has been dedicated to the metaphorical importance of the vampire, from cultural commentary on sexuality to the hyperliteral fear of being buried alive. For this show, the vampire appears as a disruption of the normal rules of hunting. One of the two most popular monsters that can be made (werewolves being the other), Supernatural’s vampires began as an ethical dilemma and simultaneously appeared with the reappearance of the father, John. This simultaneity is important because I would argue that John created the emotional vampirism in Dean. The impression we are left with of John Winchester is one of entry and exit. He comes and goes, nipping at the emotional necks of his sons, feeding off of them before leaving again, abandoning his sons with a psychological anemia. And both sons enact his habit, but in extremes.

When we again encounter vampires in “Bloodlust,” we also meet Gordon, who at first appears as a paternal replacement for Dean, which was even noted by Sam, and then we meet Lenore, the first humane vampire we see in the show, who subsists on non-human blood. Later, when we see the vampire Gordon, Sam and Dean are pursuing him not for his vampirism but out of self-defense. And the hunter turned vampire is crueler than any vampire we had met previously. Perhaps Gordon serves as an incidental foreshadowing to the Dean who re-emerges from Hell and later, from Purgatory.

As the fourth season fades into the fifth, we see the vampire again but only briefly in “Free to Be You and Me.” It is in the sixth season that we find vampires once again at the heart of the narrative, and in a few specific ways. First, the Alpha Vamp appears as a central figure, and coincidentally, this father of all vampires appears when Samuel Campbell reappears. Again, it is hard not to read the vampire as closely tied to the Winchesters, and in my reading, the vampire is designed (intuitively, of course) as a balance and mirror to Dean. Second, Dean is turned into a vampire, and as such, is provided an intimate knowledge of how the vampire family not only looks but how it feels and what it knows. Dean’s turn as a vampire also marks the conclusion of his relationship with a human family, Lisa and Ben, a family that he felt as if he was endangering and one that he was siphoning support from. So it is appropriate that at the moment Dean becomes a bloodsucker that he confronts this other family, the family that was both his and not his. Finally, in the sixth season, the vampire provides the avenue to find Eve, through Lenore. And the centrality of the vampire figure is reinforced when Sam and Dean use the Alpha Vamp’s blood for the murder of Dick Roman.

 


Now, in season eight, the character of Benny fully manifests the ethical dilemma of the vampire, especially for Dean. While it may seem to be a hypocrisy that Dean befriends Benny or even a thinly veiled brothers-in-arms tale, the slow and gradual insertion of the vampire in the narrative makes sense, and it especially makes sense for that relationship to be connected to Dean. Benny is a mirror of Dean. Dean’s own vampirism is emotional in nature. To a degree, a great degree, he siphons off his relationships with others, including (and particularly) Sam, as demonstrated by his willingness to sacrifice himself as an act of defiance of that dependence. And as Kate (@Ardeospina) mentioned during our conversation about this theory, Dean stopped the circle of vampirism with Sam by making him independent; but at the same time, Dean is always subject to the cost of that independence, always resentful of Sam’s ability to walk away and his own inability to not be the one left behind. It’s also interesting to note that as Dean is the most evident point of view character, the increasing presence of vampires has an external reading as well, but that’s another essay altogether.

The connection between Dean and vampires provides another reading of his character’s hypersensitivity to Sam’s abandonment. If Sam is an integral part of Dean’s life, his lifeblood per se, then any long-term absence threatens his own existence. Because Sam chooses to always leave, or if given a chance to choose a demon over his brother or a mission over his family, then Dean’s sense of justice is also disrupted. Every aspect of this brotherhood pushes Dean’s limits, which is good for conflict but horrible to stand witness to. Now that Benny has entered the picture (and yes, I know there is a Castiel argument here, but that will be for a future section), we can see that Dean is evolving (or devolving). Where this road leads, I suspect I know, and I hope I’m wrong.

But now we turn our attention to the extended brotherhood of hunters and the cadre of demons that always threaten the end of the world…

The Next Part: Addressing Apocalypses and Purging in Purgatory