Thin Lizzie offered some of the richest character information about Amara to date – specifically about her impact on everyone around her. So, sorting through the plot of the week, let’s see what we can see.
Thin Lizzie was enjoyably odd and disturbing at turns, though admittedly the big bad was nothing spectacular to blanch at by the time the reveal came. Ultimately, the babysitter was nothing truly spectacular – but somehow I got the overall sense she was secondary in the grand scheme. This episode tottered more on the balance of funny rather than horror for the first half, though somehow it wasn’t one of the classic comedy episodes either. Instead, it offered a mockery of horror without trying too hard there either.
Horror Movie Mockery?
Was this meant to poke fun at horror movies? It wouldn’t really be the first time (though, truly Monster Movie achieved this at an incredible level) and so much says “mmmm…maybe, yes.” The Red Shirt kids went looking for a thrill in an urban legend inspired tourist trap that reeked of ridiculousness and then bit the dust the only way they could have – by axe murderer.
And naturally, the proverbial hero was cast as our damsel, screeching uselessly in the corner and wholly incapable of much. Honestly, who didn’t think the boy deserved to die just a little? He was so dumbfounded and ineffective watching an axe wielded at his girlfriend and subsequently incapable of unchaining the door – he might as well have just laid down to die.
Of course, as we will later discover, he is a blood descendant of Lizzie Borden herself. Hello, irony.
Next up, our entrepreneurial inn keepers. Squabbling, as family who work together are wont to do, but always eager in the face of opportunity. And naturally, these two are also victims of their own manufactured horror story (okay, mom more than son, technically – though he did grieve).
In each case, it was so outlandish and sardonic in construction, by all appearances there was undoubtedly a thread of horror-story mocking throughout Thin Lizzie. And it was well achieved, if by nothing else than by the B&B’s physical presence alone.
The Lizzie Borden B&B was one of among some of the most ridiculous places the boys have stayed and I’m so glad they visited. In it’s time, Supernatural has accomplished an incredibly long list of memorable sets, and certainly the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, with it’s eye gouging wallpaper, disturbing dolls and creepy staff wardrobes. (Note to self – avoid thematic inns in century towns.)
The big bad Sydney missed the mark as a villain and certainly as a surprise reveal, at least by the very end. Here is my problem with it: once we knew Amara was in town, the state of things was easily deducible; particularly having seen Jenna’s reaction to soullessness only a few short weeks ago. Tight shots of the babysitter detailing affair details over the phone seemed to clearly indicate her as our killer. Having said that – I’m not 100% on whether or not that was deliberately done to make her guilt obvious, in which case it still leaves me with one more question. The execution of the babysitter-baddie left me wanting in one other big way, apart from the lack of surprise. The ease with which she got the jump on both Sam and Dean was incredible. In fact, she herself seemed amused by this.
Truly, on a broader level the entire operation seemed particularly sloppy for Sam and Dean, which is unlike them. They appeared to do limited (if any) research after body three dropped to determine how it was connected to the hotelier and the Borden boy. If they had, perhaps the common denominator may have been clearer and the kidnapping would have been avoided. Overall, it was uncommonly careless – at least in my opinion.
So, those are my points on the messy bits of the episodes, but I did actually like Thin Lizzie. It was amusing and ultimately, I believe the plot of the week was a vehicle to communicate about Amara more than anything else.
The comedy was light, easy and clever. As always, Jared and Jensen play beautifully off of one another in a scene. I laughed out loud when Sam explained he wanted to know if the “squeezer thing” worked and that’s why he was spraying “toilet water” around the room. As we discussed, the visuals were excellent and neither of our boys let them go to waste.
As far as our weekly additions go, there weren’t much to them this week – with the exception of Len. He was sweet even without a soul. Poor Len lost a lot this week, and even without a soul ended up a hero not only in saving Sam and Dean but in taking the blame for the murders. Hopefully, it wasn’t the last we see of Len.
Throughout the episode there was a lot of talk about “bliss.” Our murderer relayed what was described as an ecstasy-like moment of “bliss” when Amara touched her and then took her soul, “freeing” her. And, before Sam knew about the soul-suck, Len used the phrase “follow your bliss” to describe his lifestyle and passionate pursuit of all things Lizzie Borden to Sam. Both of these people encountered Amara, both lost their souls and both had frighteningly different reactions to the experience. Why?
In the case of our murdering babysitter, she lived a tragic life and was grossly unhappy overall. Though she functioned on a socially acceptable level, internally she was struggling to cope and was certainly not what one could describe as a “blissful” person. She also seemed to resent a number of people around her or feel wronged by them.
Alternately, Len was a social outcast but had become so primarily due to the pursuit of his true passions. He still maintained relationships (including online friends he indicated to Sam), was happy with his collections, had a moral code that he felt satisfied with and – as he stated – followed his bliss.
So – what point am I making? Well, Sydney had some uncorked rage that, once expressed, could allow her to be happy (apparently) and/or satisfied. Len had no such unsatisfied outlets to be opened. Sydney wanted, ultimately, to finish her goals, sacrifice to Amara and then take care of Jordie and be better to him than anyone was to her. Len simply remembered what right behaviour was and sought to tow that line.
Perhaps Amara is more than the loss of the soul, but the complete loss of inhibition in pursuit of achieve a state of complete “bliss” such as it were. Almost like Bacchus from mythology, if you will. But for those who have this already, it doesn’t have the prescribed effect. Thoughts keep circling back to the patient with Sam in the hospital gorging on pudding. Yes, he was infected, not soulless – maybe it’s a similar effect – but the “want, take, have” that overcomes both breeds of Amara-touched is similar; with different types of ecstasy-like frenzies.
Speculation and Spies
Roadside talks on the Impala – definitely a sign of getting in touch with the early days, that’s for sure. It wasn’t their most emotional talk or the most revealing but it was something. Sam definitely isn’t in the dark (forgive the pun) about Dean’s dream encounter with Amara, and Sam has informed Dean about his visions. So the no-secrets pact holds, for the time being.
Dean also revealed he wouldn’t describe his encounter with Amara as “blissful” just quiet. Somehow, this is comforting to know. It makes me think if and when she finally hits adulthood, any relationship she has with Dean will be less about seduction/rehashing the days of Ruby. Maybe that’s a wishful thinking on my part. Weigh in on that one below.
The boys finally drive away, certain they’ll be seeing Amara soon and, naturally, she creepily steps out of the bushes and smiles knowingly and let’s us know they’re not wrong.
So, children are spine-chilling, no argument. But I’m ready for her to grow up soon I think. Pre-teen is different that child and somehow the in-between of it all doesn’t work the same for the extended length of time.
Light on text, rich on subtext – if you’re so inclined. I really enjoyed this episode, truth be told. It was funny and the first half, without the tortured girl and Amara was like an episode of yore. The parts that did focus on the Darkness offered some vivid pictures of her relationship with humanity to interpret, so it’s easier to overlook some of the other…bumps along the way.
If nothing else, Sam and Dean’s time in the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast makes it a worthwhile episode.
What did you think? Please, speculate and criticism my theorizing below!
I agree we did learn more about her. There was a lot of foreshadowing in regard to her role as a Goddess who is out to re-establish the "natural order" as FAE pointed out and she does seem to be the destructress of family. More death of family members. So far Amara is responsible for the death of mothers and would be mothers. The mother of the baby she became; the Sheriff who was going to mother baby Amara, the Sheriff's grandma, the mother of the inn keeper, the mother of the boy in this episode and the babysitter who killed the parents of the boy because she thought she could be a better mother. I think she is the mother of all darkness. Of course she does not mind dropping men too- two fathers. Perhaps Crowley wanting to play Daddy to Amara is in for a surprise. I guess since Cas had a pathetic go at it last season it is Crowley's turn. Sam better watch out too. Dean has called Sam Mom twice so far this season so I suspect Sammy is on Amara's hit list. I know Amara is supposed to be amoral and seems to take issue with suffering and can spread her heroin bliss but I do not see her as amoral. If the definition of amoral is someone who does not care if his/her actions are right or wrong, or actions that show a lack of care about what is morally right, she does not fit the bill. I think she has her own sense of right and wrong and just wants to, re-arrange God's creation (the natural order) a bit- her way. The big question in this episode for me was why did Amara take Len's soul? I know he was the character that juxtaposed the babysitters soul taking reaction but what did taking Len's soul do for Amara? An experiment? Just because she can? I do not think we were shown why and would be interested to open that question for discussion.
As far as the keeping a lid on anger, repressed feelings or what have you until the cork is pulled and then bliss? That fits Dean. Which doesn't bode well for him if that's the case. The Len parallel I see could be more of a fit for Sam.
Interesting observations as usual. Thanks for your article.