WFBBabyBanner

Follow Us

Text Size

More Supernatural Interviews From Comic Con 2017 - Misha Collins

More Supernatural Interviews From Comic Con 2017 - Jensen Ackles

More Supernatural Interviews From Comic Con 2017 - Jared Padalecki

Supernatural Interviews Comic Con 2017 - Andrew Dabb

Interview With Executive Producer Robert Singer - Comic Con 2017

Interview With Jensen Ackles - Comic Con 2017

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

 

Latest Supernatural News and Spoilers

24 Jul 2017 14:25

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

23 Jul 2017 20:11

We may be getting several of these today.

23 Jul 2017 14:56

The cast for Wayward Sisters has been announced.

23 Jul 2017 14:01

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

23 Jul 2017 00:16

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

22 Jul 2017 22:37

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

22 Jul 2017 21:41

The Tick has had a big presence at Comic Con.

22 Jul 2017 13:54

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

21 Jul 2017 22:30

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

21 Jul 2017 14:27

Catching up with Supernatural Alumni at Comic Con.

21 Jul 2017 00:09

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

20 Jul 2017 14:59

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

20 Jul 2017 11:52

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

20 Jul 2017 06:45

The WB has released the poster for next season.

19 Jul 2017 17:35

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

16 Jul 2017 14:44

Mark Pellegrino is in the running for a Tean Choice Award

16 Jul 2017 01:45

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

15 Jul 2017 12:23

Warner Brothers is having a Gift Pack Giveaway.

14 Jul 2017 15:27

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

12 Jul 2017 16:28

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

12 Jul 2017 13:22

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

12 Jul 2017 10:20

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

08 Jul 2017 19:22

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

29 Jun 2017 14:55

IMDB has posted casting for episode 13.01

29 Jun 2017 14:08

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

27 Jun 2017 21:32

As your Winchester Family Business Editor-in-Chief, I have an exciting announcement to share.  

20 Jun 2017 14:00

Reportedly, Wayward Sisters (not Daughters) will be given a backdoor pilot in season 13.

20 Jun 2017 08:33

The Teen Choice Awards announced the first round of their nominations yesterday and Supernatural is

08 Jun 2017 15:20

We have a date for the end of Hellatus!

06 Jun 2017 21:28

Ty Olsson (Benny Lafitte) just won a Leo Award.

03 Jun 2017 14:53

Jared has announced the final phase of the relaunch of his AKF campaign.

01 Jun 2017 23:33

Oh yeah, we had a LOT to discuss!  This is a supersized TV Fanatic Roundtable this time, design

01 Jun 2017 15:30

Jared and Jensen have both spoken about their daughters recently.

01 Jun 2017 10:22

Jared has relaunched part five of his Always Keep Fighting campaign.

31 May 2017 08:44

We have the first information on the season 12 DVD.

26 May 2017 14:18

Jared and Gen Padalecki both spoke in support of David's Law, a Texas law which targets cyber bullyi

26 May 2017 09:14

Jared started part four of his relaunch.

24 May 2017 15:07

Editor's Note: This article chronologically presents the reports and tweets on Mark Sheppard's statu

24 May 2017 09:41

 Now that season 12 is over, our stars are working for charity.

21 May 2017 09:14

Jared has launched part two of his AKF campaign.

20 May 2017 16:46

We have a few spoilers that came out of the Jus In Bello Convention this weekend.

19 May 2017 11:25

Here are the ratings for last night's finale episodes.

18 May 2017 21:38

Well, we were uninamous, but that's not necessarily good.  All four of us at the TV Fanatic Rou

18 May 2017 15:34

Jared talks about the season finale, season 13 spoilers and relaunching his Always Keep Fighting Cam

18 May 2017 12:05

We are getting our first spoilers for next season at the CW upfront presentation.

18 May 2017 08:52

The CW has released its schedule for next season.

WFB Feature Articles

Jul 31 2017 | Percysowner

The final actor is Misha Collins.

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Percysowner

Jensen spoke to different outlets at Comic Con this year.

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Percysowner

We return to the actors who were interviewed at Comic Con. This time Jared Padalecki.

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Percysowner

Press Room Interviews with Andrew Dabb.

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Nightsky

 Last interview up and it's with the man who holds it all together, Robert Singer.  He giv

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Nightsky

An interview with Jensen is always a pleasure!  The interview started out casually - talk about

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Nightsky

It's Misha's turn!  In our roundtable interview in the San Diego Comic Con press room today, he

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Nightsky

Today was a pretty awesome day!  Here's the WFB roundtable interview with Jared Padalecki. &nbs

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Percysowner

Supernatural in the news this week.

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Karen

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

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Mallena

This episode introduces us to Anna Milton.  She isn’t a normal girl, like she appears, but is

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Alice

The nominations were collected, the votes have been cast, the results have been tabulated, and the w

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Percysowner

San Diego Comic Con 2017 is this week! The most anticipated comic book, superhero, scifi/fantasy gen

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Percysowner

Supernatural in the news this week

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Elle

12 Years of Big Boss Battles: Supernatural Villainy for the Ages

“I'm glad, honestly. I'm not s

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | LK

 

"The gleam in their eyes telegraphs only too clearly that they are hoping for a headline,

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Percysowner

Here's what we know about this year's event!

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Mallena

I was underwhelmed with season ten for most of its run, so it was wonderful to watch an episode as t

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Percysowner

Supernatural on the web this week!

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Karen

Welcome back to the "Memorable Moments" series! For Supernatural 12.13 "Family Feud", I put tog

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Alice

The moment is finally here!  The nominations have been tabulated, now it's time to vote.  

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | LK

 

"The unreal is more powerful than the real, because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine

Read more...
Jul 31 2017 | Percysowner

Supernatural in the news this week.

Read more...
Jun 30 2017 | Karen

Welcome back to "Memorable Moments" of Supernatural! This edition focuses on episode 12.12 "Stuck In

Read more...
Jun 30 2017 | Mallena

There has been a lot of talk lately about Jody and the women of Supernatural.  In honor of the

Read more...
Jun 30 2017 | Elle

Rich, riveting, complex and so full of story details and character threads that it's impossible to m

Read more...
Jun 30 2017 | LK

 "Yesterday is but today's memory, and tomorrow is today's dream." — Khalil Gibran

Loosing

Read more...

WFB Motivational Posters - Comic Con

ComicCon.jpg

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