The Story…and the Truth
This episode, and in retrospect, most of season 10, has been about people’s stories. To be more precise, it has been about the stories that people tell themselves to understand or justify their feelings and their actions. The year started by showing us the story that Demon!Dean created to make sense out of what he had become. He lost himself in bar songs, bar fights, bar women and alcohol yet something kept him human enough to cause Crowley to scream in a frustrated rage to “pick a damn side!” We then revisited the story of Kate, a restrained and ethical “monster”. We knew the beginning of Kate’s tragic transformation from a self-narrated video the brothers found, but that was where the story ended for us. Now we learned that Kate found a way to live with her inner beast, but she unintentionally doomed her sister, whose story took a tragic and unrecoverable turn toward darkness. Then “Fan Fiction” literally paraded the story of the Winchester brothers across a stage for all to see and judge. That version of their story was skewed, though, because it was interpreted and altered to fit the perspective of a biased, or at least uninformed, narrator. Last week, the story that Olivia created for herself was slowly revealed, as she acted on her twisted belief that her life’s choices were made for her in childhood. Which brings us to this week’s episode. “Girls, Girls, Girls” was a complex hour that examined the stories of several characters, including Cole, Hannah, Caroline, Rowena and Dean.
Cole’s story began when he dedicated his life to killing the “monster” he believed cruelly murdered his father. He trained and tracked and obsessed about the version of truth he created. In the climactic confrontation between Cole and Dean, though, Dean’s revelation of the truth about Cole’s father’s death utterly shattered the story that Cole had been telling himself to make sense of the trauma he experienced as a child. Within the span of just a few minutes, Cole came to recognize that his life had been built upon a delusion he had fabricated to explain the unexplainable.
In that moment, though, Dean recognized so much of himself in Cole. Like Cole, the horrific loss of a parent fated Dean to a life of violence as he sought justice, or revenge, for his pain. He was forged into a soldier, but he accepted and fortified that image of himself because he told himself he was the last line of defense for the innocent. Yet Dean’s recent rescue from the brink of total darkness helped him understand the danger of being the narrator of your own story.
Cole: My whole life, I’ve been...
Dean: I get it. That was your story. Look man I got one of those too, k, but those stories that we tell that keep us going, sometimes they blind us. They take us to dark places, the kind of place where I might beat the crap out of a good man just for the fun of it. The people who love me - they pulled me back from that edge. But once you touch that darkness, it never goes away. Now the truth is that I’m past saving. I know how my story ends. It’s at the edge of a blade or the barrel of a gun. So the question is, is that going to be today? Is it gonna be that gun?
In the first episode of this season, when Cas denied his obviously failing health, he explained his viewpoint to Hannah, saying “It’s my truth”. Cole’s truth was that his father had been an innocent victim and Dean Winchester was a monster. His life’s story had been dictated by his father’s murder, but Dean’s empathetic understanding of Cole’s pain allowed him to free Cole from a life of spiraling isolation and darkness. Dean confessed that he believes his life is beyond saving, that his story’s ending is already written. Sam heard his brother’s pain, though.
He alone understands what Dean has been through. Did Dean’s rescue of Cole foreshadow that Sam will be able to open Dean’s eyes to a new truth and rescue him from a doomed tragic end? This would be a worthy and enjoyable path to explore throughout the remainder of this season!
Castiel and Hannah’s quest to save humanity also focused on their individual stories. Hannah’s host, Caroline, had her own life story – a story that was interrupted for a year by an angelic war that she neither understood nor was a part of. When confronted with the pain that hijacking that life story had caused Caroline’s husband, Hannah realized that she had been avoiding the truth in order to justify her actions. In a pivotal moment of self-understanding, Hannah admitted “It’s hard, letting go of the story, the mission”. Her story was supposed to be protecting humans but it had gotten side-tracked and was in danger of being completely rewritten to accommodate the temptations of sensations and emotions. In a single act of brutal honesty, Hannah saw through her fabricated narrative. There was a dignity befitting a higher being in Hannah’s speech. She recognized who she was and that “these feelings aren’t for me, for us [angels]. They belong to her. I know it’s time to step aside.”
An angel wasn’t meant to be human and she honored the angels’ mission by returning Caroline’s body and life to her. Hannah faced the truth and put her, Caroline’s and Joe’s stories back on track.
“Girls, Girls, Girls” also spent a great deal of time introducing us to Rowena’s story. Sam’ research uncovered a “Bind and Purge” spell, which he explained “hasn’t been used in over 300 years and it was only ever known by one person, the witch who created it…Rowena”.
Given her greeting to Raul, Rowena confirmed that she doesn’t like demons: “No offense to your girls, but I would sooner die than do business of any kind with filth like you.” Then later she said, “Killing demons always makes me hungry”, so she had obviously killed demons before. So Rowena is a very powerful, very old witch who specializes in destroying demons.
She then narrated more details of her story:
“According to the Grand Coven, there are 3 recognized kinds of witch in the world:
· the most common are the borrowers – those who harness the powers of a demon in order to practice the art
· secondly, and the rarest of all, are the naturals – those who are born with the gift [Rowena’s category]
· third, the students – those with no natural ability, who, with enough practice and training and a Grand Coven approved mentor to show them the path, can eke out a modicum of witchly power.
I am about as far from Grand Coven approved as can be. They threw me out many years ago. Disapproved of my methods. Said my magic was too extreme. I was forbidden from using magic, from taking students, from forming a coven. I’ve been on the run from those utter fannies ever since….Stick with me and you can have anything, do anything you want whenever you want.”
She specifically sought out the brothel to free the girls from the demons. She could have found vulnerable, desperate protégées anywhere on the streets, yet she specifically walked into a demon’s den. She also seems to be ostracized from her own kind, so she’s looking to build a coven, probably for protection and power.
What is tantalizing rich, is if Rowena has specialized in the art of killing demons because she hates them so much, how happy will she be about her son being king of all the demons?! Rowena’s and Crowley’s stories started out together and have now been suddenly reunited. I suspect in learning more about Rowena, we will learn more about Crowley. This should be interesting!
Hannah and Cole’s redemption was enabled by them letting go of their fabricated stories and embracing the truth, yet Hannah’s decision was deeply impacted by a husband’s determination to not let go of a loved one. She told Castiel about Joe: “He wouldn’t let me go”, then later she applied this exact phrase to herself when she said “It’s hard, letting go.” Dean also acknowledged that Sam’s love “pulled him back from the edge.” Sam didn’t obey the plea, or the order, that Dean left in his note to “let me go”. Dean stopped short of saying, or believing, that this saved him, but perhaps that is because Dean hasn’t yet let go of his own story of an undeserving soul, a doomed life and a violent death.
Both of the brothers have repeatedly witnessed how letting go of pain, anger and guilt frees a soul, but they haven’t yet reached the point where they can practice what they preach. I’m fairly sure there will be much more of this thread throughout the rest of the season.
In “Ask Jeeves”, Dean over zealously killed the shape-shifter. His rigid focus on the kill ignited fears that the Mark of Cain was again influencing his behavior. Earlier in the season, I theorized that the MoC had four attributes based on similarities between Demon!Dean and Cain:
1. Drives the bearer to kill.
2. Corrupts the soul, making the bearer lose all their humanity until they are a demon
3. Strengthens fighting skills superior to all other demons;
4. Grants immortality through instant physical healing
Dean’s first kill (of the maid) after regaining his humanity seemed to validate the first attribute, and possibly the second. The fight with Cole, however, appears to negate the third and fourth. Dean did not have a super-human advantage in their fight, nor did he heal instantly. These two effects do not seem to manifest until the bearer is a demon. Dean killed the two “Alpha team” demons in the hotel hallway in this episode, but nothing about those kills seemed ruthless or undeserved (in relative terms!).
Dean also refrained from killing Cole when he had the chance, instead exhibiting a great deal of compassion and self-restraint. Still, if the MoC drives the bearer to violence, Dean must be battling its influence. This would be consistent with the parallel of Sam telling Elle (the girl acting like a dog) to fight what the spell was doing to her.
This season is also exploring the definition of a monster. In the premiere, Cole told Sam “Now I’m the monster.” In “Girls, Girls, Girls”, when Cole saw that Dean was not a demon and accepted that Dean was not a demon when he killed Cole’s father, Cole fell back on a familiar and simple delineation and told Dean “Then you’re still a monster”. Ironically, while Dean probably accepts this vision of himself, he explained the difference between monsters and good men. He and Sam together saved Cole from actually becoming the monster he had proclaimed himself to be.
Curiously, Cole’s father was a new species of monster, unfamiliar to Sam or Dean. Is it possible that Cole’s father inherited his monstrous nature and that the curse is in Cole’s blood? Might he have to revisit his own identity in the future? I find it odd that his character was developed so well only to be used in three episodes.
Earlier in the season (and repeated in the “then” montage), Castiel opened the hotel room door with his robe unfastened, making Hannah uncomfortable about his exposure. Now she was clearly comfortable with nudity and Castiel was awkwardly averting his eyes from her naked body.
Was this a reminder of her angelic nature and his acceptance of human standards or was it a metaphor for the ambiguity of their angelic vs human journeys? In contrast, Hannah, who previously felt that every single angel needed to be returned to Heaven, suddenly felt that they had caught enough of them? Cas, who really wanted to let the two hippie angels (Daniel and Adina) go said that the mission is paramount and they must find every angel?
Hannah: There are still some angels down here, but the higher profile rogues are back.
Cas: “We find them all. That’s the mission.”, then when talking about taking Jimmy Novak, Cas said “the mission comes first, always.”
Were Castiel and Hannah’s viewpoints being reversed by their prolonged time together? As Hannah became more human, was Castiel remembering what it meant to be an angel? In recent years, he had spent the majority of his time interacting with humans (specifically Sam and Dean). Hannah abruptly stopped her exploration of humanity and returned to heaven. Was this foreshadowing that Castiel must reconcile his angelic nature with his adopted human tendencies? The matter of his stolen/borrowed/failing grace is still unresolved. Since he has chosen to not return to Heaven to resume his angelic form, does the contrast between him and Hannah suggest that he might choose to remain with the humans permanently? With Hannah’s sudden departure, her insertion into Castiel’s story was obviously meant to highlight the difference between them and the choices that Castiel has made and will continue to make about humanity. What lessons did Castiel learn from Hannah, though, and what did her presence foreshadow for Cas?
I am still somewhat concerned with the pacing of the season’s episodes. We seem to be getting several stand-alone, light episodes that contain only a few minutes of plot advancement, followed by episodes that are crammed full of critical developments along multiple plot lines. I was also somewhat jarred by the abrupt end to Hannah and Cole’s storylines. I am not convinced that we have seen the last of them, though, so I withhold judgment on that point. I prefer more Sam and Dean broments with a lot more honest insights into their thoughts, but I am happy that they are together, they are actually listening to each other
and there is hope that they will have more heart to heart talks. I like Cas (when he expresses himself intelligently) and Crowley (when he isn’t a whining, misunderstood figurehead sitting on a cheesy throne), and I like that the fandom is happy. I’m extremely curious about the possibilities introduced by this episode, so like Sam, I’ll wait and watch to see what happens next.
What are your thoughts on the directions these threads are headed? Did you see anything that I missed?
Photos courtesy of www.screencapped.net
Factual references confirmed with www.supernaturalwiki.com.