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Guess who’s back? Back again?
Three months with Sam and I bet Ruby somehow got the word. Alistair had done his job and the first seal was broken. Bet she had a fit of damn giggles over that news. With the first seal broken, it meant that the timetable had really started. Lilith would begin breaking the others and soon it would be Sam’s time to shine.
It was probably the most secure Ruby had felt since starting her mission. She and Sam were on the same page, kill Lilith. They were sharing a bed, sharing a purpose, fighting together and spending a whole lot of time together. Sure, Sam wasn’t fully hooked on the blood yet, but he liked it, even if he wouldn’t admit it. Ruby must have felt like she had a comparatively smooth road ahead of her.
Then a month later, a quick turn of events. The demons they were tracking suddenly headed for Illinois. Ten to one, Ruby found a way to slip away for a minute and ferret out the latest gossip. Or maybe she checked on the gravesite herself. Or perhaps opening the motel room door really was the first she knew of Dean’s return. No matter the circumstances, I bet it came as an ice cold, infuriating shock to find Dean Winchester standing on her doorstep. (And note, she made a last ditch effort to chuck him before Sam saw him. She was closing the door in the moment before Sam appeared.)
All of her work, all of her planning, all of her time and access to Sam, was in danger of ruin. A cloud passed between her ability to bask in her Sam sun. And that cloud was Dean. (Hugs Dean.)
Betcha she was screaming in frustration inside that poor dead girl’s body. Not only had Dean, somehow, made it out of hell alive, but he had already tracked Sam down. Not fair! Not fair!
So Ruby played the only card she had, she set the example of lying to Dean. Get Sam to lie, cover up their relationship, and her claws would still be deeply embedded.
“So are you two like, together?”
Ha ha, you think you’re sooooo clever don’t you?
An obedient little bitch
Ruby was exiled to the perimeter again, out in the cold, the dark, and back to the sneak attacks. For months, it had been she and Sam who had walked together in lockstep! Now she was alone again.
Since Dean was back, would Sam even be as driven for revenge? That was their connection. Revenge on Lilith. Would he, out of relief and shame and a desire to cover up his activities, dump her? Everything depended on Sam’s next move. Then he gave her the call to meet him at the diner. She was being invited back into Sam’s orbit.
But she still needed to move carefully. Dean would have no forgiveness toward her. Not after spending decades in hell. She needed Sam to lead the deception against Dean. And he did. He took her subtle prodding and made that decision. “Look, I just need time. That’s all.” But she didn’t give him the opportunity to ask her to stay away. She volunteered.
Ruby wouldn’t have wanted their relationship to morph back into what it had been before Dean’s death. Then she had been a sort of beggar, acting in control but really just looking for a way to spend time with him. Now she wanted it to be a mutual clandestine pursuit. If she started off as the reluctant one, it put him in the seat of courting her and calming her anxieties. She batted her eyes, flirted her tail, left her scent. “Chase me Sam.” Not that she gave up the tactic letting him see and feel her presence. But now she was welcome and anticipated.
Other annoying complications, Dean’s voice was back in the mix. So she had to be very careful that her words and actions weren’t overly discordant with the moral certainty of Sam’s older brother. And, just to make things more difficult, there were now angels mucking things up.
Not only had the winged bastards brought Dean back from where she had believed him stashed (painfully) for eternity, but they had the nerve to cue him in on her and Sam’s relationship. That was a power card that she had wanted to control. And now that they were poking their halos around, I don’t think that Ruby and Lilith dared communicate anymore. Things were just too hot to risk having the angels stumble across their conniving. The upside of the angels? Ruby could really work the fearful damsel act. “I’m scared of them Sam. Can’t you see they’ll hurt me?”
But having Dean around was pretty much all downside. Sure, there were some beautiful stressors and cracks in their relationship, but it was still Dean. Hated, interfering Dean. So she became his advocate. Well, not exactly his advocate, but she certainly played up the brother’s relationship. “I see how important he is to you Sam. And whatever is important to you is important to me.” She put Sam in the role of finding fault with Dean. I believe there only one time that she came close to again indulging her hatred and frustration with Dean, and that is when he tried to kill her with the knife in “Metamorphosis.”
Actually, when looking at it from her point of view, she exercised some major control. Her enemy had reappeared from the dead, trampled over her hard earned place by Sam’s side, and then had the impudence to walk in on her and Sam during one of their training sessions. And then to top it all off, he tried to kill her! With her knife! The nerve! But she stopped herself. Think of the difference between that scene and the barn scene in “No Rest for the Wicked”. Then, Dean punched her and she tackled him. Sam tried to physically stop her and she smacked him around. This time, Dean took the knife to her and she ceased at one word from Sam.
Anyway, supporting the brothers’ relationship must have been a hard plan of action as Sam began to slip further away from her control and began making choices that would not lead him to that chapel. He quit drinking the blood, he quit (mostly quit) yanking the demons. She finally had to take a dangerous initiative and dangle the job of Anna Milton in front of him.
Here I feel torn. One the one hand, I think that Lilith and Ruby were keeping their distance, but on the other hand the ripeness of the Milton case, the demons knowing what Anna was, the perfect but insanely dangerous nature of the job all speaks of collusion with Lilith. Maybe I’m just completely off in assuming that the two of them were no longer communicating. Ruby having the dumb luck to stumble across the info just doesn’t seem likely. But then the suicidality of willingly and knowingly putting herself in the path of an angel’s wrath seems risky beyond reason. It’s not important except for keeping my mind unsettled on what to believe. Hm, or maybe Lilith did know what Anna was and simply didn’t inform Ruby. This bugs me more than it should. Moving on.
Anyway, during that job, she went all chips in. Ruby did everything in her power to prove her loyalty, yet again, to Sam, and to Dean. While she did tempt him with the blood, she backed off when he said no. Ruby put Sam in danger, Dean in danger, herself in incredible danger, even to giving herself over to Alistair and exposing herself to the presence of angels.
And her risk paid off again! Dean, DEAN, of all people, looked at her without revulsion and thanked her, twice. She was a part of the crew, blessed by Dean, invited to Bobby’s house, asked to guard their charge, ride in the Impala, welcomed on a job, saved from certain death by Dean and given his hand for help up. And Sam was eating it up. Ruby must have known it couldn’t last, but while it did, it was good, because Sam got to see how willing Ruby was to work with Dean. She obviously wasn’t the one who would keep their little unit apart. She was a team player. And she believed in Sam’s strength and ability to stop Lilith.
But that didn’t change the fact that seals were breaking and Sam wasn’t getting ready. He needed to start drinking blood again, and fast. So she approached him while he was off on some random job chasing down a magician. It was a shot in the dark, but she had to try. Ruby once more gave him her scent, reminded him of all the fun involved with opening her veins, stroked his ego, teased him with Lilith, and rebuked him for not trying harder to stave off Lucifer’s coming. Sam wasn’t difficult to push over the edge. He wanted it, she just had to remind him.
So he finally gave her another call. He left his brother in a bar and joined her. The collar was around his neck, the leash was snapped on and this time she wasn’t going to let him wander off.
I feel certain that upon Sam’s return he was rewarded in rather lavish ways. Ruby had to get him seriously hooked, and fast. That meant a lot of play to get him to drink a lot of blood. Plus, now that he was using with Dean so present, she could put the pressure of time on him. “Hurry, drink more, faster so you can get back to Dean without him missing you. Don’t sip, gulp, who knows when the next time is that we’ll see each other?”
The clock for the Apocalypse was ticking, she could no longer afford to coddle Sam, and he was brought to heel. That must have felt so damn good, to feel her power over him. Nothing was set in stone, not yet, but he trusted her, he was lying to Dean, and he didn’t really have a problem with it. Sure, there was some hand wringing, but overall Sam believed he was in the right. Laugh it up Ruby, I know you are.
The best of those sons of bitches
It didn’t take long to get Sam hooked now that he’d decided to go all in. And once he was addicted, Ruby was calling the shots. Sam had chained himself to her and the blinders were on. Sure, she still acted the sympathetic girl friend, but now she could leave him to rot, beg for her attention, let him suffer a little for all the crap he’d put her through. Her sun was orbiting her and everything was candy.
Now, I do think that in her own limited way, Ruby came to love Sam. He was her every hope, the center of her every action and thought, the only possible path to fulfill her dreams, he was the living embodiment of her belief system. Sam was her Messiah, the savior of her people, he was the lost and misguided son of hell. She believed in him, trusted in his abilities and felt conviction for his Hellish purpose. In the beginning, she may have only seen him as a tool, by the end, she saw him as her darling. Surely, surely Lucifer would allow them each other? After everything she had sacrificed and done, Sam could be her reward. Of course that was in the future. It didn’t mean that she couldn’t take some pleasure in Sam’s suffering, not after all he’d put her through.
Ruby now needed to separate the brothers. Dean was still the weak spot in her strategy. Threaten Dean, and Sam still might be lost. (I’m reminded of Lucifer’s words. “No one dicks with Michael, but me.”) But she needed Sam to make that break. It had to be under his own initiative. And putting Sam through the pain of withdrawal was a good method to get him to make that break. It was a perfect way to get him to expose himself and cause a rift between them.
Addiction really is ugly. When a person is far gone and completely owned by a chemical, they no longer seek that drug for pleasure. They seek it to avoid pain. Using becomes the only moments in life that are free of suffering. Everything else becomes secondary. Even the pure source of their drug is no longer important. Anything that might dull the anguish is consumed. Life becomes about using, seeking the next source of use, worrying about where the next hit will come from…every thought, action and effort is about the drug of choice.
I am not excusing Sam’s actions. Just as I don’t excuse anyone who is chemically dependent from the ugly things they may have done. What I see is Sam’s actions as being, well, normal. Every blind, stupid decision he made is reflective of all the blind, stupid decisions that thousands of other souls have made. Nothing Sam did was new except for his drug of choice.
Ruby. Even her name reflects the color of blood.
She had become his life, his love, his existence. Anything that threatened her and his access to her became a threat. Even Dean. His need suborned his intellect and moral compass. She was the living, breathing, thinking embodiment of his drug, his monster.
Yes, still thinking. Dean tried to kill her. Again! Hated Dean tried to take the knife to her. Every ounce of her self-preservation must have screamed to try to take him out. But she didn’t, she only defended. If she had, Sam’s blinders would crack. Instead she ran, obeying Sam as he had become accustomed to her doing. After all, Sam had tasted the blood of another demon and it had satisfied the craving. Sure, she was still number one, his dealer and his confidant. She did more than satisfy, she satiated, but she could now, perhaps, be thought of as disposable. And Lilith wasn’t dead yet.
So she left Sam and Dean alone in that room together. She had enough faith in Sam that he wouldn’t leave her. And she had enough knowledge of Dean that he wouldn’t back down. She was right.
Soon after, Sam joined her, sad and heartbroken, but hers all the same. Nothing was completely secure, Sam’s sweet and gentle nature, his love for his brother and the heavy hopelessness that lay on him were all dangers to Ruby. But when things got really dicey, a miracle somehow happened and a voicemail from Dean brought Sam back to her heel.
Ruby did the dirty work. She did everything she could to keep things easy for him. She slit the nurse’s throat. She let Sam keep the blood off of his physical hands, and she kept the role as his dealer. Besides, Ruby would have enjoyed the kill.
Next it was to the chapel where Sam mowed through Lilith’s guard and where Lilith awaited him, the last seal, the last obstacle between Ruby and her unknown father. And then, just because it was a good and beautiful night, Dean somehow showed up and she got to see the look of horror and panic on his loathed face at the moment of her triumph. She was winning and she got to have witnesses.
And it was still a close call. Despite all her suffering and hard work, Sam merely hearing the voice of Dean just about derailed everything. Luckily, Lilith was a genius at pushing the right buttons. Sam rededicated, refocused, aimed and fired.
She won. Ruby won.
For a second time we got to see Ruby being purely herself. The first time she was angry. This time she was ecstatic. It was her moment of glory. She really was “the best of those sons of bitches”. And I mean that. No other demon sacrificed as she had. Not even Lilith had had to give up her pleasures. And Lilith had wavered. Lilith had sincerely, though briefly, looked for an out to save her own hide. But Ruby had stayed true.
Ruby completed her mission. Have Sam use his ‘psychic whatever’ to kill Lilith and free Lucifer. Sure, she didn’t act alone, but she won. Yes, the boys ganked her, but dying for this cause was something she had always been willing to do.
“You’re too late.”
“I don’t care.”
Ruby was so confident, so certain in her success that her guard was down. She turned her back on Sam, she faced Dean, not with a wary fighters stance, but as a conquering and confidant hero. It was perhaps the only time she really let her guard down and a moment later, she was dead.
When I think about the story of Ruby, subtract my love of the Winchesters, the fact of good and evil, and how much I dislike her, it’s a tragic story. I doubt her human life had held much happiness. Then she spent who knows how long enduring the horrors and agonies of hell. After that came the mission and all the sacrifices and constant fear it entailed. That moment in the chapel after Sam killed Lilith was probably the only time in her entire existence that she was genuinely happy. And it was such a short moment! She rejoiced, turned to Sam, her messiah, her student, her lover, to share the joy and he tried to kill her with the weapon she had taught him to use! In Ruby’s moment of jubilation, she dropped to her knees, begging Sam to join her in celebration. It almost, almost, makes me feel a little bit of pity for her.
Ruby lived a razor edge of danger for two years. She was threatened, tortured several times, beaten, risked death on countless occasions, hated by her own kind, chased by those she served, suppressed her own desires and willingly sacrificed everything to bring that moment to pass. Perhaps what is so despicable about Ruby is how she really did have some damn fine qualities, but all those qualities she perverted for evil. Ruby was intelligent, courageous, loyal, dedicated, obedient, self-sacrificing, she even had a sense of humor.
The horror of Ruby was that she had so much potential, and it was all employed toward something horrible. She rejoiced in evil by using qualities I recognize as good.
As much as I hate her, as happy as I am that Dean rammed the knife in and killed her for good, there is a piece of me that is curious as to what would have happened if she had lived. Her faith in her lord was so absolute, so pure and unadulterated that it was almost innocent. If she had lived, would she have come to recognize his distaste for demons? Would she have been distressed over Lucifer’s true plans for Sam? If she had lived, would her dreams have shattered against reality?
In some ways I wish she had lived to feel the disappointment that Lucifer would have brought her. All of her suffering had been to free a being that hated her? Or maybe not, maybe she would have kept her own blinders in place and fallen into Meg’s category of blind worship. Who knows? It’s best that she died. I cheered her death and still do every time I see it.
Now I must make a confession. While Ruby lived, all I wanted was for her to die. But now, in looking back and recognizing her talents, I can’t help but ponder the possibilities. What if she actually had thrown in with the boys? The danger to herself wouldn’t have changed. Everyone else would have still been after her, but she would have been fighting with the Winchesters for real. Had the thought ever crossed her mind? Can you imagine the ally she would have made? Really would have made if she had cast aside her loyalty to an ideal and entrenched herself beside Sam and Dean?
But I doubt she ever thought of it. I doubt it was ever the smallest of temptations. See, I think I finally figured out why I hated Ruby so much. Her certainty, her loyalty, obstinacy, courage and all those other traits, are prominently featured in Dean. Out of all the monsters and horrors this show has given us, Ruby is the closest resemblance to a dark Dean we’ve seen. Now I’m not talking about the role she played to tempt Sam down his road, I’m talking about the person behind the act.
Now don’t go running for the pitch forks and torches yet. I’m not, NOT, calling Ruby Dean’s opposite equal. She wasn’t even close, not on her best day. Dean does things by being true, while Ruby had to struggle along with manipulation. Dean doesn’t know how not to be Dean, while Ruby constantly had to pretend to be someone else. Dean is solidly Dean, while Ruby…well getting a handle on her is like trying to eat jello with a slinky.
I guess in the end, my point is that even hell’s best only meant a twisting and perversion of good. The very best that hell had to offer was only the palest of reflections, a wanna-be facsimile, of ‘a righteous man’. Out of all the enemies that the Winchester’s have faced (so far) only Ruby is the one who actually beat them in the end. (I simply will not include Castiel on that enemy list! Besides, Cas returned to Team Free Will, the boys won him back over. Win in the Winchester column.) She didn’t beat them by herself. No, she had millennia of planning backing her, Lilith’s aid, and Azazel’s ground work. But she was the point of the spear.
And she won using qualities of goodness. Maybe this is the reason I’ve bothered to write about Ruby. Evil doesn’t stand a chance without trying to copy that which is good. Evil can’t attempt victory without begging after the crumbs dropped from the tables of the virtuous.
Maybe I’m reading too much into a freaking TV show. Yeah, I know am. But so what? It’s hella fun to do.
Thanks for reading.
(I hope this comment utilizes html!LOL)
Off to look for a time machine
Hope you'll understand my poor english langage...
Thanks for reading
You know, this article will make my re-watching of season four much more enjoyable, and since it is my least favourite season (hated the schism between the boys), that is all to the good!
I hated her and actually yelled in delight when Dean jammed the knife into her. My favourite moment of season four!
By the way, I think all actresses did a great job portraying her in all her complications.
Thanks for a great article.
And we agree, all the actresses did so well. My one regret? That 'maidRuby' didn't get a little more screen time. She was awesome.
Thanks for reading
And yes, the actresses definately deserve our thanks for bringing so much life to such a hated character. Is there such a thing as a "Thanks for being so good at being so bad" award?
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I like that, Dean like proximities. Nicely put.
It would have been something else if she had decided to ally with the Winchesters. What an interesting journey that would have been to watch, to see someone tempted on the road to being good. The mind boggles.
Thanks for reading
Great part two! Lots of thinkie thoughts to consider.
I'm glad you brought up the issue of sex between Ruby & Sam. I think it was crucial she successfully get him in bed with her. Sex makes you naked - emotionally and physically - and creates a vulnerability and intimacy that almost nothing else does, assuming it's not a one-night stand. And we're lead to believe that Sam & Ruby spent many, many nights together.
We know that Sam is an... ahem... ardent lover (drool, drool.. that scene.. you know the one!) I think it was probably during a frisky afternoon romp that Sam took his first sip, direct from the veins. (Oh dear lord. I am discussing Winchester sex as a storytelling device. We lead bizarre lives!) He could convince himself it was all just foreplay, nothing wrong with it. And as long as he linked it with sex he could convince himself it was just something they did in bed. He was probably pretty comfortable with it. But pretty soon he was hooked, and it didn't matter how he got the blood, he just needed it.
It's interesting that every time Sam is shown drinking from Ruby's veins, there is a sort of sexual ecstasy about it.
I agree with you about Dean & Ruby sharing some of the same proximities. (Great word Sylvie. Using qualities makes it sound like a compliment!) I think it was very intentional and all part of her master manipulation plan. If she really wanted Sam to trust her, she had to remind him of the one person he trusted most, but was no longer available to him, and that was Dean.
In fact, in IKWYDLS, Dean asks Sam why he trusts Ruby so much, and eventually Sam answers "Whatever you have to say, she saved me. More than that, she got through to me. What she said to me... It's what you would've said. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be here."
There's the whole truth of Ruby's success right there. She was a form of Dean-lite (actually, as you more properly say, Dean-dark!) when Sam so desperately needed him.
It is neat to ponder the storytelling possibilities had Ruby turned good, and helped out the boys. But that would be kind of like having a girlfriend (she is female after all) or a Lisa-equivalent and that doesn't seem to go over well.
On the subject of important Demons, I think it would be cool to meet Ruby and Alistair again. I think there is just so much storytelling still to be done with those two. Perhaps some flashbacks, or maybe they're just incapacitated not really dead? (I think Dean is still haunted by Big Al, and I think Ruby lingers in Sam's mind too, for many reasons.)
Oops. I've been lengthy again. See, your article gave me lots of thinkie thoughts too!
Happy holidays! & check out the Holiday Bonanza. They're all delicious!
Best wishes for 2012!
I've sometimes wondered if sex with Ruby, which became a part of his using, has caused sex to be a trigger for Sam. RoboSam obviously had no problem with it, but the real Sam...well. If it did, it's just another reason to think bad things toward Ruby.
Yes, to wriggle through Sam's armor, Ruby did have to remind Sam of Dean in some ways. Similarity breeds familiarity and all that. Here though, my opinion was to actually acknowledge that Ruby herself held some of those proximities (thanks Sylvie!). I think that Ruby acted Dean-like sometimes to lure Sam, but hid her true Dean-like proximities since those were the ones that kept her so loyal to Hell. Am I making myself clear as mud?
I'm not certain how happy I would be to again see Ruby...though Alistair gave me pleasant creepy, heebee jeebees. Maybe if it helped enlighten some of the mystery around the myth arc, but overall, I really didn't like Ruby. I appreciated the importance of her role, but appreciate even more her death.
Yes, it is fun to ponder Ruby going good. While I know fandom would have exploded (Sam with a girl friend?! Burn Kripke burn! *insert eye roll*) I like to sometimes ignore what fandom (myself included) would feel and just consider the possibilities as if the Winchester world were real. And frankly, I'd like to see them happy. For themselves. Which would make the show much more boring or course.
Thanks for reading