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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

Comments  

st50
# st50 2012-11-13 12:04
Had to go back and read your Part 1, since I had missed it.

Both really, really fascinating articles. Incredibly insightful analysis, and very well presented.

Thank you for both, Bookdal, and I'm looking forward to Part 3.

Just a point, if I'm reading your "Where this road leads, I suspect I know, and I hope I'm wrong." statement correctly, I really, really hope you're wrong.
Bookdal
# Bookdal 2012-11-13 17:45
Thank you, st50! I am excited to do the third part! Thanks for commenting.
-Linda
wunderpat
# wunderpat 2012-11-13 12:38
I was waiting a long time for your take on Dean as a soldier. I enjoyed this for the most part and certainly see your reasoning. However, I am absolutely flummoxed that big Takeaway from Livefree and Twihard is that something is wrong with Sam, especially considering the focus of the article - vampirism. No mention that Dean's humanity, family loyalty and sense of responsibility; as well as his supernaturally strong free will, enabled him to resist the urge to drink blood. He also took out the nest by himself. I am also flummoxed by the need to label Dean a monster (emotional vampire). He equates Sam with home and yes he was seriously damaged as a child; but he is not sucking Sam dry. In fact I find Dean extremely giving to sam. And Dean is the brother that manages to create close mutually respecting relationships with others. Sam has never had a real relationship because he has never been honest. In fact, I think Sam was drawn to Amelia because she is like Dean; much like Ruby had to channel Dean to seduce Sam. In contrast I think Dean is drawn to people that are nothing like Sam in the points that matter. Castiel made mistakes but his actions were motivated by a desire to protect Dean and keep him happy. Benny did seek out his nest, but his motivation was not revenge - I think like Dean he needed to protect humanity and his nest killed the symbol of that for him.
Well I hope that this does not come off too negative. I have really enjoyed your previous work.
Bookdal
# Bookdal 2012-11-13 17:51
Hi wunderpat,

Not negative at all. I appreciate your addressing the essay and I knew that once I made the comparison that it would be up for discussion. I was thinking about your comment on the way home from work and I realized that part of my reading assumed something that I had not really stated. I think Sam has always understood how much Dean loves him. It's both a blessing and a curse, to a degree. Imagine the responsibility of such an affection? It's beautiful to experience but oh so tragic to lose. As a result, I agree that Sam does look for replacements, or for those who remind him of Dean. I think Dean has a strong core that allowed him to resist the vampirism in "Live Free or Twihard," most definitely. I think there are times when that aspect becomes more pronounced in Dean's relationships -- the danger to love too much so that it starves rather than feeds the relationship. I'm not saying that's all that's there, but just a subtextual nod to the danger that it might arise. If that makes sense?

Thanks for commenting and I appreciate your measured criticism.

-Linda
eilf
# eilf 2012-11-13 22:51
Linda, I read this article last night and am too tired to do it justice this evening. But I thought it was a very interesting interpretation of Dean, while being rather hard on him.

Dean is an emotional vampire only in much the same way as a child is. A child is very self centered when it comes to its protectors and considers itself the center of the world. He has just never grown out of it because he hasn't allowed himself to.

He equates being independent and alone with being abandoned because he won't allow himself to see what it would be like to be alone. It isn't actually the worst thing Dean, like Sam tried to tell you, you get to make decisions that are just for your benefit.

Dean has done things in the name of his love for Sam which are deeply selfish, and it has even been suggested to Sam that he would be better off without 'needy Dean' . It is to his credit that Sam has never entertained these suggestions, and even when he pointed out how selfish Dean had been it was without bitterness, just some frustration with Deans behavior. And that is because Sam knows it is just Dean acting out, not a fundamental weakness - Sam believes he will 'grow out of it'.
SPN Fan
# SPN Fan 2012-11-14 01:14
Quote:
Linda, I read this article last night and am too tired to do it justice this evening. But I thought it was a very interesting interpretation of Dean, while being rather hard on him.

Dean is an emotional vampire only in much the same way as a child is. A child is very self centered when it comes to its protectors and considers itself the center of the world. He has just never grown out of it because he hasn't allowed himself to.

He equates being independent and alone with being abandoned because he won't allow himself to see what it would be like to be alone. It isn't actually the worst thing Dean, like Sam tried to tell you, you get to make decisions that are just for your benefit.

Dean has done things in the name of his love for Sam which are deeply selfish, and it has even been suggested to Sam that he would be better off without 'needy Dean' . It is to his credit that Sam has never entertained these suggestions, and even when he pointed out how selfish Dean had been it was without bitterness, just some frustration with Deans behavior. And that is because Sam knows it is just Dean acting out, not a fundamental weakness - Sam believes he will 'grow out of it'.
Linda - I would like to know if you think Elif above is right in her interpretation of you article. If that is so then am sorry I even read it. Cos I cannot appreciate anyone calling any of the leads (Dean or Sam) as selfish or needy. I would like to know ur take before I comment cos I dont want to jump to conclusions.
U say Dean is an emotional vampire just becos he wants to protect his brother & becos he doesnt want to be alone??? Then I guess a lot of us are vampires. Is Sam being close to Amelia a sign of him siphoning her? I hope that is not what am reading.
In fact when I 1st read the article I thought u were highly appreciate of Dean and his character traits (u also highlighted the obvious flaws). But Elif comments got me thinking otherwise.

On a separate note to Elif - what do u think Sam was doing in Mystery Spot or at the end of Season 6 or in 7 when he tried his best to bring back his brother. That he wouldnt just let his brother die. Its pretty much the same thing Dean did. I dont see u calling Sam needy or selfish. How would u describe whatever Sam did in season 4 after losing Dean? His whole demon blood addiction was a result of Dean's loss. He has been as codependant on Dean as Dean has been on Sam. This is the 1st time since season 1 it is being shown differently and is infact causing problems with fans on Sam being OOC. I dont think either of the brothers are selfish but if at all I had to analyse their traits Sam is mostly concerned about his independence, his life, his happiness etc. Dean is concerned about hunting and being with his broter. Nothing there to suggest that one is selfish and the other is mother teresa.
Contrary to your thinking Dean has been shown to have very good relationships. If he was just a child I dont think that would have been possible. No one would be willing to to do anything for a selfish or needy person. Benny and Cas will do anything for Dean cos he is a loyal and caring friend. In fact its been shown that Dean has done quite well in Sam's absence (though he was sad) but not Sam in Dean's absence. It shows to me Sam loves Dean as much as Dean loves Sam and that they were codependent on each other till season 8.
This is not a Sam Vs Dean argument. I like both brothers. My comments are ONLY about Dean and hence I do not wish to engage in comparisons or arguments. I replied only becos I cannot let a derogatory comment on Dean go without protest. This will be my last post on this subject. Thanks.
Linda-Bookdal
# Linda-Bookdal 2012-11-14 08:07
SPN Fan,

First, thank you for commenting and let me clarify my position on Dean. I think that Dean is a loyal friend, but I think that there are moments when Dean demonstrates a fear of losing that eclipses his reason and at that moment (AHBL, for example) the emotion is so great that it has the "potential" to become vampiric. Again, I'm not saying that this is all of the Dean character, but I do think that (on a very deep level) the story nods to that possibility. Of course, since both brothers are heroes, then they both end up defeating that possibility. They don't lose the battle, in other words. But the show, to me at least, is not only about fighting external demons but also those internal demons and I thought that the vampire offered a great metaphor and analogy for some aspects of Dean's personality, which I think is complex and interesting. I don't see either brother as one dimensional or without flaws, which is one of the reasons I think the show is much better than it is given credit for in the media.

As for Sam, I think he has other issues which I addressed in the first essay and in other essays. He doesn't get a free pass at all; however, this was my focus on Dean as character.

Hope that clarified my take,
Linda
SPN Fan
# SPN Fan 2012-11-14 09:53
Thanks Linda for the clarification. It didnt address all my issues but did help in understanding ur post a bit better. I think saying that Dean is vampiric in his need for people is probably not the best analogy. A vampire feeds off of other people and uses them up. Dean is very giving and someone who loves and cares deeply. More than him needing people I think he wants to be there for them (like a protector). He defines himself through others. He does not see value in himself and feels he is important only when protecting someone else. Even in AHBL the main reason he sells his soul is not becos he will be alone but becos (in his own words) he screwed up the one job he was meant to do (ie. to protect his brother). If his issue was only not being alone then he could have had a happy life with Lisa. His problem even then was in not being able to save Sam and therefore in his eyes he failed yet again.
I think people confuse his self worth issues with abandonment and not wanting to be alone. If we look at the situation from the self worth angle the vampiric comparison may not be entirely right. I agree that Dean has abondonment issues too. But why he wanted to be with Sam (in the first 5 seasons atleast) is not part of it IMO. It had more to do with saving Sam and in the process defining his self worth.

Apart from the above point, I liked ur article. It was a very interesting read. Both Sam & Dean are complex characters and it makes the show all the more entertaining. Thanks for the effort in writing this article and as well as for taking the time to reply to my comment. Appreciate it.

Btw... am not into Sam vs Dean at all so it does not bother me if Sam gets a free pass or not. I love both brothers so am not too affected by that. The reason I brought up the comparison was to say that Sam has done pretty much the same things when Dean died. He was obsessive in bringing Dean back cos he too couldnt stand the thought of losing his brother. So my point was why is it that only Dean is defined as being needy by Eilf. That comment was not aimed at ur article at all. Sorry for clubbing it into one msg.

I didnt realise how long this reply has gone on. Really sorry. Sometimes I just go on and on. This show does this to me :)
eilf
# eilf 2012-11-14 10:37
Hi SPN fan, I swore I wasn't going to post about this and I failed, apologies ... Ok my take on this is that Dean brought Sam back from the dead when he had every reason to believe he was in Heaven and safe (like Buffy was after she died) for the reason you listed - because he felt he had failed at the one job he had in life. He then guilt-tripped Sam for some time about the fact that he was going to hell as a result. Chalk it up to a mistake instead of selfishness if you like but it was the wrong decision.
Sam KNEW Dean was in hell, he felt responsible - love and guilt will do that for you. Hence his pathological need to rescue Dean. And everything else that followed was directly as a result of this incident. Not sure what you mean about the end of season 6 and 7? Sam put himself back together at the end of season 6 because he couldn't leave his brother alone out there, and at the end of season 7 ... well isn't that the argument that has been all over the boards this past few weeks?

I love both of these characters too, I do, and as I said on another thread I don't think they should really be blamed for the things they had to do while unable to make rational decisions. But because Dean has the POV Sam does tend to get short shrift for the major sacrifices he too has made.

EDIT: Of course it is entirely possible that I have misinterpreted what Bookdal's article means and am being 'overly literal' :D
Leah
# Leah 2012-11-14 18:02
Hi eilf, when you say" guilt-tripped"a re you referring to the times Dean said "I'm going to hell" to justify his indulgences. If so, I think he was just rationalizing his hedonistic behavior in a joking manner. I don't think he was trying to lay any guilt on Sam. Even though Dean didn't regret his deal until later, I do think he realized what Sam was going through. Maybe you are referring to other events??
eilf
# eilf 2012-11-14 10:54
Tell you what, since I realize that 'selfish' and 'vampire' are really emotive words I take them back and replace them with 'complex'. It was kind of my original point anyway along with the idea that Dean would be emotionally happier if he allowed himself to let go of people (not reject, or lose, or abandon) though I may not have explained myself that well.

I would point out that I didn't call him 'needy', one of the crossroads demons (I think) did. That is why I had quotes. Not that demons are good with relationship advice but they are good at getting to the heart of the matter in the nastiest way possible.
SPN Fan
# SPN Fan 2012-11-14 01:20
In my prev response I misspelt your name as Elif (instead of Eilf). Sorry about that :-|
eilf
# eilf 2012-11-14 10:39
No worries :D
SPN Fan
# SPN Fan 2012-11-14 11:46
Quote:
Hi SPN fan, I swore I wasn't going to post about this and I failed, apologies ... Ok my take on this is that Dean brought Sam back from the dead when he had every reason to believe he was in Heaven and safe


How do u say this? From the time Sam was a child he had demon blood in him (though Dean didnt actually know this till much later) and their dad pretty much told Dean that Sam could go dark side as he was part of Azazel's plan. There was no way for Dean to know for sure that Sam would go to heaven based on what John had told him even if he didnt know about the blood. In any case if Sam died of old age or natural causes what u say is right. Its better to leave someone in a better place (heaven). But not when they are fighting the supernatural and Sam died ahead of time as a direct result of YED's plans. I think it would have been selfish if Dean said oh ok Sam died let me move on.

Anyway lets leave this discussion. A lot of fans feel Sam is selfish cos he always wants things for himself, some fans feel Dean is selfish cos he wants Sam to hunt with him. I dont find either brother selfish. They are different. No one can take the higher moral ground on this show IMO. I just feel sad that this discussion never stops. I apologize for adding to it. I too did not want to take this discussion further. Both of us like both brothers and both of us like the show. So lets leave it at that. I appreciate ur response and feel I get what u're saying. Peace out :-)
Sylvie
# Sylvie 2012-11-13 13:00
Thank you Linda for that insightful essay. I love vampire lore, have ever since I saw my first Dracula movie when I was 5. They frighten me and fascinate me at the same time. The vampires we see in movies and tv and read about in books nowadays are quite different than the monsters of the past. Some are the bloodthirsty creatures of the night we know and love, but so many are torn with what they are and what they want to be. Buffy, Being Human, True Blood, Twilight and so many others show us that not all vampires want or care to kill and drink human blood. And that's what Dean has learned through 8 seasons. Even more than Sam, he has been confronted to that reality, and I'm hoping that Sam learns that Benny will not harm humans and is it fact an valuable ally to both brothers.

I'll stop myself now because I can go on and on about vampires. :P I'll be looking forward to your essay on Purgatory.
Bookdal
# Bookdal 2012-11-13 17:53
Thanks, Silvie! I love vampires as well. In fact I have taught Polidori's The Vampyre twice and Anne Rice. I'm somewhat of a fan of that creature :). I think you're right. The vampire has allowed Dean to see that not all monsters are necessarily monstrous.

Thanks!
Linda
Bevie
# Bevie 2012-11-13 15:16
Your essays are fascinating and a great read.

Thanks, and keep them coming! ;-)
Bookdal
# Bookdal 2012-11-13 17:54
Thank you very much for that comment, Bevie. I'm glad you enjoyed it and I hope to get the third part out sooner than I did the second part.

Thanks,
Linda
Bunyip
# Bunyip 2012-11-13 22:41
Your essays are like the substantial meaty filling you long for between the buns of fanwank :) Thankyou!
wunderpat
# wunderpat 2012-11-15 09:50
Glad you are fine with discussion. I still don't buy it. I fully buy that Dean is associated with monsters. He enters the show as a foreboding figure in the dark in the pilot and more so in this season's premiere. Dean as the shifter; Dean and vampires; Dean as master torturer; Dean as professional killer. His nature is to nurture and protect. We see him as a small child mothering mary when john left. He was the only mother Sam knew and for all practical purposes the only father that he had (for the record . I see Sam as an eternal teenager rebelling to establish independence, with a serious oedipal complex directed at john in 1 and now Dean. He also is only motivated to hunt by primal emotions- revenge, rage, fear. Sam resents family, resents Dean because family is the reason he has never had normal.

For Dean, family represents the happiness and innocence he lost and the love he felt with mary. He will do everything to maintain the scraps of family he has left and he fetishizes them: impala, John's coat, Bobby's flask, castiel's trench (unique because Dean did not use it), the drama free hunt like Heartache (hunts such as that are the best things got with Sam and Dean and john) and most of all Sam. The family tragedy left him with this overwhelming need to protect. I think the Family Business is really DEAN'S purpose and mantra: saving people, hunting things... he can never put his family back together nut he can prevent more harm and he can make sure that no other families have to suffer. To me his desire to close the gates if hell is not a revenge quest- (Dean is not motivated by revenge- he rarely speaks in anger) it is protecting families , saving people on a global scale.
Dean may not be able to save everyone (as castiel said) but he feels the guilt anyway. This is what motivates him in my opinion.

As for the monster motif tied to Dean - his dark impulses frighten him and are a source of conflict since he understands that enjoying torture and killing is monstrous. Purgatory seems to have helped him assimilate this part of his personality and accept it; hence his friendship with Benny. They share blood and Dean bears and births him much as Zeus did for Dionysus.
He still needs to find a balance between work and family. He is at one extreme and Sam at the other. Ad goofy as Garth is, he has found that sweet spot and is a Bodhisattva of sorts for Dean.
For the record I think both brothers have been reset to extreme versions of season 1; the point of which is for both to meet at the middle and accept their differences. As the French say, viva la difference!
Lynx
# Lynx 2013-07-26 02:35
Hi Bookdal, I have been reading some of the older articles to pass the hellatus and I can't find the third part of this article: Adressing Apocalypses and Purging in Purgatory. Did I miss something or did it not get posted?