Supernatural returned from another three week break with a simple hunting story, “The Chitters”. Admittedly, this episode was slow-paced, but that isn’t bad once in a while. I enjoyed meeting two new hunters who were given enough back story to make them interesting and believable. The show’s hour didn’t race by, leaving me emotionally shell-shocked or trying to catch up to rapid-fire plot developments. “The Chitters” followed the standard Monster of the Week formula: the brothers discover a new supernatural creature that attacked humans, they research lore, go to the town disguised as FBI, battle the monster and win the day. There were a few unexplained story choices (such as Jesse not having the chance to avenge his brother’s killers himself) and I enjoyed the episode more on first watch than rewatch (which I’ll explain in a bit). As with most hunting plots, though, there was an underlying message about the brothers’ lives, and perhaps some foreshadowing of the outcome of the larger mythical threat they face, so let’s look at the threads that were woven into “The Chitters”!
This season has continually revisited the theme of babies. The opening two episodes took place in a maternity ward of a hospital. The primary character for the season, Amara, was introduced to us as an infant. Both my reviews and Wednesday’s analyses of the symbolism of the early episodes uncovered the unmistakable presence of images and references to seeds, reproduction, a woman’s biological life cycle and babies. I previously pointed out that even the names of two of the episodes, “The Bad Seed” and “Baby”, referred to reproduction. I can now add “The Vessel” to that list as pregnant women are indeed vessels for their unborn children. Many readers were skeptical of this interpretation of the imagery and underlying meanings in these episodes but “The Chitters” again brings this theme to the forefront of the season’s threads by introducing a new monster whose primary purpose is reproduction. The dialog was full of specific references to impregnation. (I’m worried about Google x-rating this article, so I will have to purposely misspell key words.)
Corey: The thing that took Libby was naked and pale….It was shaped like a man, or was it a woman…It didn’t have a ….
Dean: a p*nis?
Corey: It didn’t have anything.
Dean: What? You’re saying it was junkless?
Sam: Uh, nothing on Junkless or the green-eyed shaker.
Dean: So we think Junkless turned Libby?
Sam: Hold up. We’re not actually gonna go with Junkless on this, are we?
A joke is one thing, but they could have referred to the mysterious monster as green-eyes, hairless, shaker or a number of other names. The anatomy nickname was specific and the sexual references continued:
Etta: Right before he disappeared, people saw Pete diddlng two different women in public, separate occasions.
Dean: You mean they actually saw him in the act?
Etta: What does “diddlng” mean to you? … when Pete went missing, and we found out about the women, my grandma said that he “got the chitters.” According to her, once a generation around the spring equinox, people in town start going nuts, having orgi, copulating in the woods… that was the word Gran used to describe the sound coming from the woods when the orgi were happening…. Gran said that if you got the chitters, you get so revved up with lust that your eyes would shine like emeralds.
Dean: Uh… So we got spring equinox… Orgi, buzzing green-eyed freaks.
Then there was another attack and witness statement:
Dean: Did you by chance recognize the couple?
Cliff’s girlfriend: I couldn’t see their faces, but I’m pretty sure there was more of them down the alley, past the couple.
Dean: The, uh, the couple that — that was…going at it, would you say this was a… orgi-like situation?
Girlfriend: I’ve…never seen an orgi.
Dean: Now they’re all having s*x with each other.
Sheriff: Putting aside the fact that Rob the fireman is screwing the librarian, and I am friends with his pregnant wife, now I’ve got two witnesses claiming they saw…what?
Dean: so we have confirmed orgi-ish behavior.
Jesse: Every 27 years, they come up from underground, they mate like crazy for a few days. That generation dies off, and the whole cycle goes on repeat.
Sam: So they’re reproducing?
Jesse: Bisaan can’t reproduce on their own, so they take over a human body to do the deed. They enter through the mouth.
Dean: Well, that explains Junkless. What about the buzzing?
Jesse: It’s how they communicate. It’s a mating call.
It would literally take another full page of this article to transcribe all the references to s*x, mating, couples, reproduction, reproductive organs, maternity wards and s*x slang . Any more references to ‘the’ act would upgrade the mature rating of the show. I won’t even start recording the dialog that mentioned eggs, hatching and other animal reproductive terminology. We get the message! The unborn were referred to as “eggs”, but we weren’t shown eggs in a nest.
In being compared to cicada, one could assume the monsters were insects, but their unborn were not shown as larvae. Instead, the spawn were shown inside women, presented exactly as babies in a womb. Maybe the script was trying for the horror element, and I will admit that the special effects of moving, green ‘somethings’ in women’s bulging, dead bodies was rather replusive. To be honest, though, on rewatch, I found this to be more a B-movie horror tactic than something I would expect on Supernatural. In capturing the above dialog, I also realized the degree to which key words were unnecessarily repeated by each member of a conversation as if the audience couldn’t hear them the first several times they were used. There are very few epsiodes in the history of Supernatural where the script and imagery become less appealing upon close examination, but I’m afraid Chitters makes that list. So instead of dwelling on the disgusting presentation of this monster, I’m going to look at the intended messages.
At this point in the season, as we get close to the climax of Amara’s story, we are still “in the dark” as to why babies are a theme of season 11! The chitters’ gestation period is 27 years. By introducing such an extended time frame, I have to wonder if even longer periods, say eons, are subtly being suggested. Are either Earth or humanity the child being fought over by two deities? Humans are frequently referred to as “God’s creation” or “God’s children” so maybe creation is the baby, but that analogy seems a bit weak to carry through the entire season. In an earlier episode, little Amara saw adult Amara in a mirror. That dangling thread really bothers me. Did that scene present two stages of the same timeline for Amara? Maybe that was a deity’s omnipresent awareness of her limitless self. Why was Amara introduced as a baby, though? What was the point of watching her grow up from that child into an adult?
Traumatized Children and their Families
Just as the early episode titles referred to infancy, later titles began referring to the growth of a baby into a child. 11.07 “Plush” refers to a common childhood toy and “Just My Imagination” (that was recently nominated for a Hugo Award!) centered on the idea of children’s imaginary friends. Those episodes and “Thin Lizzie” all looked at the pain that traumatized children carry into adulthood. “The Chitters” continued the study of childhood trauma shaping the lives of its victims.
Jesse couldn’t let go of the loss he suffered when he was 12, nor people not believing his story of his brother’s abduction.
Jesse: “They didn’t believe me 27 years ago. They’re not going to start now.”
His partner confirmed the impact of Jessie’s loss:
Dean: We’ll smoke those SOBs
Cesar: It’ll eat him alive if we don’t.
I’ve theorized that the childhood trauma thread refers to Amara’s trauma at being betrayed and locked up for eons. Since so much time has passed, her younger self could be considered a child, thus holding her grudge against God for her “childhood” trauma. Still, that doesn’t seem like a complete answer. There’s more to this story. For the babies, maternity, childhood and childhood trauma threads to make sense, there’s got to be another shocking revelation about Amara – at least I hope so because the themes have been blatant within all of the season 11 episodes but their meanings and implications are, as of yet, obscure. Am I missing something? Do you have theories that pull this all together?
Sacrifice and Search
I’ve been tracking the “Sacrifice and Search” theme since 11.12 “Don’t You Forget about Me”. Dialog such as Sam’s “I should have looked for you” and Dean’s “we’re together, that’s all that’s important”, put together with Billie’s threats to leave the brothers in the void for eternity, led me to propose that somebody is going to end up in the void and the other is going to have to look for him. This theory is supported by the seaon’s later episode titles, where a theme of being lost, experiencing a loss, and searching are obvious:
11.09 “O Brother Where Art Thou?”
11.11 “Into the Mystic” which I believe is a play on words for “Into the Mist”
11.12 “Don’t You Forget About Me”
11.13 “Love Hurts”
To further the foreshadowing, “The Chitters” took another long, hard look at the sacrifice and search theme.
Jesse: One of them took my brother 27 years ago. I’ve been waiting years to come back and have this shot at them.
Jesse told Sam about how he searched for Matty but that Matty was no longer human when Jesse found him.
Jesse shared further painful memories of how everyone thought “I should’ve done something. Save him.” and how Matty “was a great brother.” One could assume that was a rather heavy-handed reference to Sam not looking for Dean when Dean was in Purgatory. Lucifer just brought that up to Sam again in their walk down memory lane. What’s with all the talk of looking for a lost brother? Are they really teeing up another separation/search scenario? Jesse was four years younger than Matty, which deepened the parallel with Sam and Dean. The foreshadowing that Sam is going to lose Dean got more blatant with:
Jesse: I never got over what I lost that day, the one person in the whole world I loved the most.
The emphasis on the brothers being together this year makes it hard to believe they will be separated again. This dialog along with a few other recent plot references seem to be pointing in that direction, though. Dean’s attraction to Amara, and the final showdown being up to Sam because Dean will come under Amara’s spell are two additional hints for this kind of heartbreak – I just really don’t think it will happen again. Maybe Cas is the one who gets separated from the brothers and they have to look for him? Possibly, but the clues are very precise in pointing to Dean and Sam’s separation. What do you think?
Let’s look at the rest of Dean and Cesar’s conversation of loss:
Dean: It’s hard to watch someone go through that, isn’t it?
Cesar: Yeah. I never had a brother or a sister, but I’ve seen it over and over, when someone loses someone when they’re young. It never heals over.
Dean: No, it doesn’t.
Cesar: And the insane thing is, how many hunters have you seen over the years get their revenge?
Dean: A few.
Cesar: Yeah. Me, too. And they are never fixed, are they?
Dean: No, I guess not. But you gotta help him get that revenge anyway.
Beyond Jesse’s loss, at first I thought the underlying reference had to be to Dean helping Sam get his revenge for losing Jessica. I didn’t get the impression Dean was talking about himself, but why couldn’t the implication be to both Sam and Dean? Dean was only four when Mary was killed. He wanted revenge for his mom; Sam wanted revenge for both Mary and Jessica. Obviously Dean knows that both his and Sam’s lives were shaped completely by that event, and getting their revenge didn’t “fix” either of them.
Just interpreting that conversaton as establishing a parallel between Jesse/Cesar’s and Sam/Dean’s past didn’t carry any further meaning for this season’s myth arc, though. A second, underlying message could of course be that one of the brothers is going to lose the other brother and then have to seek revenge. That’s so obvious, I’m not sure if it’s true or if it’s a misdirect.
Immediately after all this talk about losing a sibling as “the one person in the whole world I loved the most”, the conversation with the old sheriff took an unexpected turn. He lost the person he loved the most – his child. He searched for her and, like Jesse, also found she had turned into a monster. Then Cesar’s words hit me:
Cesar: I never had a brother or a sister
What if the secondary, more important, parallel is to Amara!
Cesar:… when someone loses someone when they’re young. It never heals over.
What did Amara lose when she was young? Pulling in the other dominant threads of the season, what if Amara lost “a baby” or “a child” just like the sheriff? That could have corrupted her and filled her with darkness.
Cesar: And the insane thing is, how many hunters have you seen over the years get their revenge?
Amara is hunting down God for revenge. She blames God for betraying her and locking her away, but WHY did he lock her away? Was the Earth, humanity, supposed to be her baby and God saw the terrible plans she had for it/us? This brings us back to interpreting Earth/creation as the baby. The monsters in this episode were trying to procreate but they destroyed life to do so. Did Amara’s plan for Earth require destroying its inhabitants to use the Earth as her reproductive vessel? That would tie in the episode title “Our Little World”.
The chittered women, i.e. the vessels, were all dead by the time they were found. They were nothing more than incubators for eggs to be hatched. Their lives had to be sacrificed to make room for the new creature that was stronger than them. Doesn’t that sound a bit like the vision Amara has for Earth – remaking it in her image?
The Chitters were serial killers, with mass casualties. We discussed the serial killer theme when it was introduced in “Thin Lizzie”. It seems Amara is being compared to, or rather categorized as, a serial killer. She said God created the Earth to feed his ego but what if she was jealous because she had other plans for this space. Does this sociopathic mass murderer want to wipe out humans and start over becasue she wanted Earth to be her child? All those puzzle pieces fit together nicely.
Alternately, the sheriff had to kill his child when she became a monster. Could they be saying that Amara is God’s child, not sister, and he locked her away, i.e. erased her existence, when she became a monster? I really hope the show does NOT go there, but it is a possible interpretation of the direction these stories have gone.
Love or Lore
After 11.12, we also explored how the love of family is the most powerful weapon in the brothers’ battles, more than knowing from lore how to defeat their enemies. Even in the cage, Sam said he had faith in his friends and family to save him and to figure out a way to defeat Lucifer and Amara. The brothers’ bond has helped them survive as hunters. This was obviously true of Jesse and Cesar as well. Cesar’s strength helped Jesse persevere to find peace.
“The Chitters” also presented another example of being able to defeat an enemy the brothers had not fought before, and for which there was no lore to guide their strategy.
In talking to the sheriff, Dean said,
Dean: Well, I can honestly say this is a new one for us.
Then when talking to Jesse and Cesar, Sam said,
Sam: We couldn’t find any lore on ’em.
The brothers learned how to defeat this monster from a previously unknown source that miraculously appeared to save their lives – a source that also had all the answers not previously recorded in lore.
That’s a very hopeful sign that Amara will also be defeated in the end, using information provided by another helpful resource that will miraculously appear out of the blue just in the nick of time.
The other bright note of the episode came at the end:
Sam: Two hunters who make it to the finish line?
Dean: Yeah, you leave that alone.
There haven’t been many times when the show has hinted at a happy ending for the brothers. Taken the other way, this could have been a warning about how rare it is for hunters make it out alive, together.
I’ll choose to believe in the happy ending.
How about you?
I might be unhappy about how “The Chitters” story was presented, but there is no doubt it had reiterated the season’s themes yet again as we get closer to the big showdown. What are your interpretations of its messages? I want to hear your opinions and theories! What do you think of my ideas, especially the new one of Amara wanting to procreate in her image?
Screencaps courtesy of http://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view-screencap.php?tv-show=supernatural-2005&image=s11e19_230
Transcript assistance from http://transcripts.foreverdreaming.org/viewtopic.php?f=105&t=26909