I want to talk about "Rock And A Hard Place." Specifically, I want to talk about the things I found hugely problematic. But before I do that, I want to make it clear that these are my opinions and my interpretations of what we were presented on the show. If you don't agree with my interpretation, that's fine. If you enjoyed the episode, that's fine. We are all entitled to our own opinions and interpretations of the material the show presents to us.
I was extremely disappointed with this episode. There are some horribly shady things Dean does, some consent issues, and lazy stereotyping of women. It's even more disappointing coming from a female writer, someone you would think could be more nuanced in her treatment of women in the episode. Even the villain, Vesta, who was grossly misrepresented historically in this episode, was a woman-hater.
The treatment of the chastity group
Chastity isn't for everyone. Hell, it isn't for me. But you know what? It is a perfectly valid choice for many people. The show had a chance to treat this topic with dignity and respect. Instead, they reverted to stereotypes. There was the shrew, the bitch, the fat girl, and the hottie. They displayed cartoonish behavior: the shrew has no sense of humor; the fat girl steals cookies; the bitch is, well, a bitch. These women aren't presented as people. They're presented as things to laugh at, there for our amusement. No nuance. No subtlety. And as soon as some hot guy starts talking about sex, they're all hot and bothered. The show was basically saying that if you choose not to have sex, you're wrong. If you choose not to have sex, we are free to ridicule you. That's boring and predictable. That's insulting to people who do choose chastity. That's also lazy writing.
Dean and Suzy
This is the big one for me and the area where the show really dropped the ball as far as I am concerned. From basically the minute Dean saw Suzy, he decided that he wanted to sleep with her, to make her break her vow. That's sleezy. She's in a chastity group, the leader of said group, actually. But she's hot, so that HAS to be a mistake, right? Surely she should be having sex because she's hot!
But okay, whatever, Dean likes sex, so if he sees a pretty woman, he wants to have sex with her. Fine. I can handle that. I won't begrudge Dean finding comfort where he can because he lives a hard life, even if I do think he's being sleezy and not respecting Suzy's choice.
So he wants to have sex with her. Harmless as long as he doesn't, oh, lie to her about his intentions so she allows him to come home with her. Oops, my bad. That's exactly what he does! Dean says he wants more reading material about chastity, wants to protect Suzy from whatever is making virgins disappear. And the protection thing is a valid concern. Virgins are disappearing. Notice that no one seems worried about the fat girl or the bitch getting home safely, though. No, Suzy is the one most worthy of Dean's attention because she is the most fuckable to Dean. So what the show is basically saying is that your worth as a woman is based on how fuckable you are to men. Just look at the camerawork. Suzy is made to look extra attractive compared to the rest of the women in the group.
Whatever, so Dean has a legitimate reason to head home with Suzy. Except then he goes and ruins that legitimacy by basically telling Sam the only reason he's going home with her is to sleep with her. He's all wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more with Sam, and that is so slimy. He’s treating her like an object. Remember that Suzy has no idea that this is why Dean wants to accompany her home. As far as she's concerned, he wants more information on the group and to protect her.
They head to Suzy's place, and Dean ends up alone, so he starts snooping around. Sleezy! She isn't a suspect in the case, and at this point in the episode they know all they need to know about her in relation to the monster, so there is no reason for Dean to be rifling through her drawers. So of course he finds the porns and realizes that's where he recognizes Suzy from and now he's really excited about the prospect of sleeping with her. Okay, fine. Lots of people have fantasies about sleeping with porn stars. And as show has repeatedly shown us, Dean is really into porn.
Now Suzy comes back and sees that Dean has found the movies she starred in, and she tells Dean off for snooping around her house. Ha ha, of course she doesn't. Now, some of you may be questioning why she kept copies of the movies in the first place. Well, to serve the plot. But really, sometimes people keep mementos to remind themselves of what they left behind, to remind themselves of what they don't want to fall back into, or to remind themselves of how far they've come. I think that's what these are for Suzy. She keeps them hidden away in a drawer, there to remind herself of what she's trying to leave behind.
Suzy then tells Dean off and kicks him out of her apartment for snooping around. PSYCH! What she does do is tell him she is embarrassed by the movies, that she's trying to start a new life for herself and leave the porn star behind. So then Dean tells her he understands, because if anyone knows about people wanting to start over, start a new life and try to better themselves, it's Dean. I mean, just the episode before this, we learned that Dean thrived at the boys home when he was given a chance to step out of the hunting life and live a normal one. So he totally gets it and respects her choice.
Ahahahahahahahaha, no he doesn't! No, what Dean does is tell Suzy he's a big fan (creepy) and that she was one of the good dreams (point to Dean for trying to tell her, albeit awkwardly, that she doesn't have to be ashamed of her past). Suzy is still unsure. Can't imagine why! So what does Dean do to convince her to have sex with him? Start quoting one of her Casa Erotica porns. That doesn't even make sense. Someone tells you they are ashamed of a movie and you then quote that movie at them? Then he goes further and starts role playing the porn. At which point Suzy FINALLY tells Dean he is being disrespectful at best and totally creepy at worst and kicks him out of her apartment since he now has the reading materials he came for and she is safely home.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, no she doesn't! Dean's brutally awkward and horrible porn pick-up lines somehow WORK, and Suzy does a 180 and starts playing along and then sexy times happen. Set to cringeworthy mariachi music. So Dean gets his wish and has sex with Suzy.
Let's stop here for a minute because I want to really focus on how disgusting I find this setup. Let's take Dean out of the equation. Let's just take a look at this scenario without the benefit of knowing who Dean is and knowing that he is a good guy at heart.
Let's say you have a friend who used to be a sex worker. Let's say she worked in porn. Now said friend has decided to quit porn and start over, and as part of this she has decided to be chaste. As part of this new life, she becomes the leader of a chastity group. Some members of the group go missing, which is weird, but your friend isn't too worried about it. She meets a guy at her chastity group who is good-looking, seems nice. It's his first meeting and your friend is the group leader, so when he says he wants more materials about the group, your friend lets him come home with her and invites him in. At this point in the story, I'm asking my friend why she let him in. She could have easily told him to wait in the lobby of the building while she went to get the stuff he wanted. And if he was concerned about about her protection, well, she had made it home safely. He should have been satisfied. But she let him in because he was there and he seemed trustworthy. Then she tells you that she caught him snooping through her drawers and he found the porns she used to star in. She tells him that's not who she is anymore, and he talks about what a big fan he is and uses that information to try and get her to sleep with him.
What would you want your friend to do in this situation? Strange man in her apartment, he's bigger and stronger than her, and now he's found out her biggest secret, has confessed he's a fan, and is trying to use the knowledge to get your friend to sleep with him. Your friend has told this stranger that she isn't in porn anymore, that she wants to leave that life behind her. But he doesn't listen. At this point, I am hoping that my friend tries one more time to get rid of this person and if she can't then she gets out of the room and calls the police!
Really think about how you would react if this happened to a friend or happened to you. I would be horrified if this happened to someone I know.
Now, in the end, Suzy did say yes to sex. She consented. But did she really? Dean worked and worked and persuaded her. Is persuaded consent really full consent? Dean just found out Suzy's deepest secret, one that she had been trying to hide, and he used it to get Suzy to sleep with him. That's reprehensible. That isn't the Dean I know. This show has a history with consent issues going all the way back to season 1 and demonic possession against one's will. This season is all about consent issues, what with Ezekiel inhabiting Sam's body by dubious consent, Castiel sleeping with April under false pretenses, and now Suzy and Dean. So far their track record hasn't been good with these issues. Castiel's encounter is laughed off, Suzy is never heard from again. Time will tell as to what happens when Sam finds out about Ezekiel.
After the fact, Suzy said she missed sex. But then later in the episode, she says she wasn't as strong as she thought she was and seemed to regret her decision. I'm really glad we got more focus on Suzy later in the episode so we know how that situation was resolved, so Suzy wasn't just some conquest for Dean and she had some depth. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, nope, we never heard from her again after her line about not being strong enough.
Am I mad that Dean had sex? No. He's allowed to have sex and to want to have sex. Am I livid about how said sex was presented? Absolutely. Apart from making Dean look like a complete and utter asshole, it was extremely disrespectful to Suzy and her character. This setup was lazy writing and COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY! You want to get Dean into a sex scene with a former porn star? Fine. I'll show you exactly how to do that, show, as I rewrite the whole setup. Ready? Here we go.
Dean approaches Sam after the group meeting.
Dean: Find out anything?
Sam: Nothing we don't already know.
Dean: All right, I'm gonna see if I can't get a list of the group's members from Suzy. I'd like to know how many people we need to worry about.
Sam: That's a good idea. I'll go meet back up with Jody and do some more research.
Dean: Okay. Man, it really is a shame about Suzy.
Sam: What do you mean?
*Dean waggles his eyebrows and gives his brother a look.* She's hot, dude!
Sam: *bitchface* Dean, she's off limits. Besides, we're in the middle of a case.
Dean: Yeah, yeah. I get it. Don't get your panties in a bunch. I'll behave.
Sam: Whatever. I'll see you back at the motel.
Dean goes back to Suzy's house, doesn't act like a dick. He still snoops around when she's out of the room and finds the porns.
Suzy: What are you doing?
Dean: Um, nothing? I'm sorry, but, uh, this is you, right? Man, I am a huge fan!
Suzy: Yeah, that was me, but I don't do that anymore. I moved, changed my name, got a new job. I'm starting over. I don't want to talk about it.
Dean: Yeah, no, I get that. I do. *chuckles to himself*
Dean: It's just...man, you in these movies. It was one of the few good things in my life sometimes, you know? I mean, you were something special. To a lot of people, not just me. Seems like a shame to run away from that.
Dean smiles at Suzy, she starts to warm up to him. She comes closer.
Suzy: I do miss it sometimes. Not the porn. But sex. The connection with another person, even just for a night.
Dean: Yeah? I mean, yeah. Yeah, I know what you mean.
They both step closer, and now they're in each other's space.
Suzy: You know what I miss most of all?
Suzy leans in to whisper her next line into Dean's ear.
Suzy: Someone's hands everywhere, tracing every inch of my body. Think you can help me with that, Dean?
Dean: Hell yeah.
They kiss and then sex scene.
That took me 20 minutes. And I’m an amateur, as you can clearly see. But look! I'm not pissed at Dean for being a sleezy asshole! Dean gave Suzy an out instead of pushing until she gave in! She's the one who took it to the next level! Dean still got to sleep with his porn star and I don't feel like I need a Silkwood shower from watching this on my TV screen!
Again, I want to reiterate that this is my interpretation for the events in this episode. But the fact that we even have to have this discussion means that this was a poorly written setup and scene. The fact that it was written by one of the staff's female writers makes it even more disappointing. At this point, I wish I could pretend I had never seen this episode that's how angry I am about it. "Supernatural" is better than this. Now they need to prove it to me.