“Maybe Angels Don’t Need to Breathe?”
Mental Replays from “Meet The New Boss”
I don’t know if it’s just me, but sometimes I feel like there’s a PVR or TIVO hard-wired into my brain. I can be washing dishes when I’ll start thinking of a moment from a favourite movie. A particularly poignant paragraph from a treasured book can pop into my mind, while I’m driving the kids to school. These days though, I seem to have entire loops of Supernatural running on my mental screen. There are just some scenes that stick in my brain.
For instance, I spent most of my summer travelling and camping. But there I’d be, hiking up a mountain, and I don’t know what would trigger it, but I’d be replaying the final hospital scene from “Let It Bleed”. I’d see Dean apologize to Ben, Castiel healing Lisa, and then Dean reaching for the wall, in an attempt to keep himself together when he realizes the Braedens really don’t remember him. Almost made me cry every time!
For me (and I suspect for many of us) every episode of Supernatural leaves behind a few lasting impressions ““ maybe it’s an image or camera angle; maybe it’s a quote; maybe it’s a moment that rings true to my own life (of course, that’s probably why the scene has such resonance for me!).
That’s what happened to me with this Season 7 premiere. We all know Supernatural is a show about family ““ the family you’re born into, and the family that don’t end with blood. For whatever reason “Meet The New Boss” made me think about how families interact. And now those scenes are playing again and again in my mind.
My brain has fixated on Sam’s attempts to convince Dean that he’s “fine, just fine… All good, really… Never better!” I found it so realistic. Sam doesn’t want to worry Dean, because he thinks Dean has enough concerns on his plate already. That is so true of so many couples, and so many families. Put your hand up if you’ve tried to pretend you’re not sick or injured, because you didn’t want to worry the people you love. Keep your hand up if, at least some of those times, it’s turned out to be fairly serious. And stretch your hand way up if your loved ones got angry with you at that point, and said they really wished you’d spoken up sooner! They know you’re hurting. They’re listening to your body language, which is saying all the words you won’t.
Another scene that’s sticking with me is Dean’s refusal to call Cas, and Sam’s belief that their former angel ally can still be reached.
I totally get why it was Sam who tried to bridge the gap. Even though Cas hurt Sam severely by breaking the wall, Sam still had a bit of emotional distance from Cas. It was Dean who begged, pleaded and ultimately drew the line in the sand for Cas about absorbing all the Purgatory souls. Dean still feels more of the pain of that rejection and betrayal. In part, it’s because he had always had the more profound bond with Cas, and had been his staunchest ally, and strongest defender. I think they still share a profound bond. There’s a saying about saving a person’s life means you’re responsible for them forever. Dean and Cas have saved each other many times. Sam and Dean have also saved each other many times and just look at the strength of their bond!
Dean’s pride and wounded feelings wouldn’t let him try to get through to Cas in this episode. But I think it’s more than that. I think he was also scared of trying to reach out to Cas, and not getting any reply. The absence of a reply could mean Cas was truly gone, or just that he had no desire to mend fences with Dean. Either scenario is going to hurt Dean badly. Plus, his reservoir of resilience is running too low to deal with either outcome. So, in this case, even in his wounded state, I think it was easier for Sam to reach out. Both boys can be obstinate, but both can be forgiving. And each can sense when he must make a move because the other is simply unable to do so.
I think this scene is replaying in my mind because it’s so familiar. I see it constantly in my interactions with my daughters. It could be we’ve all had a fight. Or, maybe it’s just the two of them who’ve been fighting. Someone is always more upset, more aggrieved by the situation. Somebody (often Mommy) must chose to be the peacemaker who will come in and start the negotiations. In the end, taking that position lets everyone save face, but allows them to kiss and make up too.
That leads me to the whole apology scene between Dean and Cas. It’s also getting plenty of mental airtime. From my experience, that dialogue could have been lifted from almost any parent/child conflict.
Cas tries to apologize, but it comes off sounding forced.
Cas: Is it working?
Dean: Does it make you feel better?
Cas: No. You?
Dean: Not a bit.”
I’ve had that conversation with my children. Maybe not the exact words, but the sentiment has been the same. An apology isn’t worth much if it’s not sincere. And, it should make both parties feel better, or at least relieved, and optimistic about improving the relationship.
Like I said, I think all these scenes keep playing in my mind because they strike an emotional chord with me. I definitely know that’s true for the final scene that keeps looping in my head.
Cas appears dead after his attempt to return the souls to Purgatory. He’s cold and doesn’t seem to be breathing. I believe Dean has totally forgiven him by this point, and it’s all in the way he plaintively suggests to Bobby that “Maybe angels don’t need to breathe”. There is so much love and concern and regret in that question.
Like a tongue to the spot where a tooth used to be, my brain keeps coming back to this scene. And I know exactly why. I’ve asked almost that identical question myself.
This may be oversharing, but I’m one of the millions of women who’ve had a miscarriage. However, in my case, I didn’t know anything was wrong. I was having what was supposed to be a routine ultrasound. But it wasn’t. Where once there had been a strong heartbeat, now there was only silence. I remember asking the ultrasound technician “Maybe it’s just sleeping. Maybe the heart doesn’t beat when the baby is sleeping?” Just like Dean, my brain knew the truth. It knew the reality of that moment. But my desperately hopeful heart still had to ask the question.
I think I’m drawn to Supernatural precisely because it evokes such powerful memories, and such strong reactions in me. I am sure most of the moments on the highlight reel are there exactly because they triggered an emotional response in me. That’s the goal of good storytelling.
But thankfully, not all those emotions are sad, dark or despairing. There are also the more optimistic, light-hearted and lusty instant replays too. Dare I mention Dean with longer hair, in blue coveralls, with some grease on his face and hands? Anyone, anyone?
There. Now that’s a picture I don’t mind closing my eyes to see over, and over again.