Page 1 of 2Mouth hanging open, heart pounding, out of breath. That was my reaction at the end of 11.09 “O Brother, Where Art Thou”!
“What in the name of *&^%@ [insert your own deity, swear word or local colloquialism here] just happened??”
Sam is trapped back in the cage with Lucifer?? That single man tear tore out my heart. NOOO. Sammy!
…and What is happening with Dean? He seems to be lucid and sane (he at least tried to stab Amara) but he is so drawn to her.
…and What is Amara up to?
…and Why don’t they trust Crowley? Has he ever double crossed them?
…and What is Rowena up to? She surely betrayed them!
….and Where on earth is Castiel???
Based on fans’ reactions afterward, I have come to believe that there were two ways to watch, “O Brother, Where Art Thou”. Some watched it with an analytical viewing, meaning it had to make sense. It needed to be logical, consistent with canon and believable, well, as believable as a show about visiting Hell can be. The other way to watch it was to let its emotion and impact wash over you. Embrace its dramatic tension. Soak in the immensely powerful visual story that was presented and go where it took you.
That’s the way I watched Supernatural’s mid-season finale. It blew me away. I was on the edge of my seat throughout most of the hour (with a few exceptions that I’ll discuss below). My whole body ached at the end of the episode from the tension. Dean’s near hypnotism with Amara’s sultry, calm seduction and innocent, self-assured justifications mesmerized me. Then I literally held my breath when it looked like Sam was considering saying “Yes” (my poor husband is bruised from me hitting his arm in Sam’s momentary, dramatic pause before saying No). I worried constantly about what might happen next. In my viewing, the Dean/Amara and Sam/Lucifer/Crowley scenes were spectacular.
One might ask why a fan can’t have both exciting, dramatic suspense and a plot that is tightly written and consistent with canon? Actually, that is what I saw. Everything I saw was plausible with the right explanations and theories. There is no doubt, though, that this episode raised huge, troubling questions, only some of which I stated above, so where should we begin to unravel its puzzles?
“Girl, you’ll be a woman soon. Soon, you’ll need a man”
Amara grew up. She is now the age she was when Dean first met her in a swirl of exploding Darkness. Her physical maturity was specifically referenced but then questioned:
Dean: You grew up.
Dean: So this is you now.
Amara: At least for today.
What does that mean? She expects to change more? That was a tantalizing tease. I don’t know what to think about that at all yet. Do you? Regardless of what she may become, her current identity and motivation is enough of an enigma to deserve our attention.
Amara is obviously enamored with Dean. She’s told him several times that he set her free and they share a bond. She is very protective of him, first spiriting him out of the Impala when she was set free, then saving his life in Crowley’s lair, a fact that did not go unnoticed by the King of all schemers:
Crowley to Dean: Why did she insist on sparing you? What is she to you?
Dean evades that question, largely because he doesn’t have any idea how to answer it. He is as confused by Amara’s actions as he is by his reactions to her. Her seduction of Dean was foreshadowed a few weeks ago in the closing song, but the time had come for Amara to make her move. When she had the opportunity to consume Dean’s soul, she hesitated and instead kissed him...a kiss he seemed to return.
She obviously sees their relationship developing even further:
I am the original Mark. You and I will be together. It’s so simple, Dean. We will become one. Why wouldn’t you want that?
Dean is either denying, afraid of or totally confused by what is happening with Amara. Crowley spilled the beans now though, and the stakes just got raised, so maybe Dean will begin to discuss the unmistakable role his relationship with Amara has to their current crisis.
The Neglected Child
Despite her seductive charms and obvious physical maturity (a fact that was flaunted quite prominently by her low cut dress), Amara’s actions to a great extent were those of a child throwing a tantrum to get attention.
References to children acting up because they feel neglected were laced throughout the entire episode. For example, Crowley hinted at the idea of toddler’s tantrums when describing limbo:
Crowley: We’re in the furthest reaches of Hell – limbo – where I send unruly souls for time-outs.Amara herself confessed to needing attention when she explained her quest and defended her violent outbursts:
Amara: You misunderstand my purpose on earth.
Dean: Well, do I misunderstand the people you butchered in that park? Or in that church?
Amara: I had to get his attention.
Amara: God. I tried praying, calling out in need. He ignored me. He forced my hand. I had no other reason to harm his chosen. My issue is with my brother, not his creation.
It is also a child’s nature to rebel against rules. To their way of thinking, rules stifle their ‘freedom’ to do whatever they want. Amara admitted to dreaming of a world without rules:
Dean: It is his universe, his rules.
Amara: What if there were no rules? Just Bliss.
Lucifer reiterated Amara’s wild, rebellious nature then specifically referred to tantrums:
She's quite a force. Determined to take over everything even back then. Prone to tantrums. I can see why Pop is laying low.He also later referenced discipline issues:
Am I up for parole? Time off for bad behavior? [a clever twist on the expected phrase of time off for good behavior]
Time-outs are associated with confining children to a particular space when they break rules or exhibit bad behavior. Is that what happened to Amara? Is that why she was exiled?
Lucifer’s memories further implied a younger, less mature child-like Amara:
Lucifer: Now that sis is here, God's not the only circus in town. [reminder of the clown/fear/elevator episode?]
Sam: Is she equal to him in power?
Lucifer: Raw power? Sure. But she's got none of the... Experience. God is a master strategist.
The season’s primary theme of abused and neglected children should not be forgotten just because Amara is grown up. Sydney and Reese were also adults when they became violent over childhood traumas. It is very possible that the ‘children’ theme is still a major hint to Amara’s identity, or possibly her motivation. What if we have a child who was put in a very long time out because of her bad behavior? Is that consistent with the rest of the clues to who she is and what she wants?
Besides Amara’s reference above to God’s creation as the chosen, there were numerous other mentions of being “chosen”:
Park Preacher: Only the chosen will be raised to heaven.
Amara: Do you see what’s happening? All your favorites, all your chosen, they are suffering. Show yourself!
In all these instances, the “chosen” refers to humanity, using the Biblical depiction of “God’s Chosen People”. Amara claims to not have any reason to harm God’s chosen, but the word’s repetition in the dialog makes it interesting. Predating Lucifer’s jealousy, was she jealous because God “chose” the safety of his creation over loyalty to her? That would explain why Lucifer suddenly started resenting humanity and acting like the rebellious youngest sibling when he took on the Mark. It transferred to him the jealousy of she whom it imprisoned. That would also take the Mark’s sibling rivalry and resentment of creation back one generation further than Cain and Abel.
Alternately, this could be pure sibling rivalry and she resents that God was “chosen” over her, but by whom? She was adamant that she didn’t have Daddy issues and there was no daddy. Right now I’m leaning toward the theory of the attention deprived, unruly deity being jealous of God's vision of humanity being the center of the universe. It just fits so well with Lucifer, the Mark, Cain and Abel, her wanting to do things differently…and God’s favoritism towards his chosen. What do you think?
A completely different interpretation could be that Dean is the chosen one. Maybe the continual emphasis on babies this season (rabbits dying, “The Bad Seed”, “Baby”, visual cues, etc.) intersects with the abused child theme and we have an Amara who is all grown up and wants to procreate, with Dean, creating her own “chosen”. That way she can do things differently in the universe, as she promised in an earlier episode.
With all the descriptions we have been given on Amara, we still don’t have the full picture of who she is or what she wants. Amara’s description of herself was ominous and cryptic if not helpful:
Amara: I was the beginning, and I will be the end. I will be all that there is.
Dean: So you’re it. That would make you God.
Amara: No. God was the light. I am the dark. That’s all you need to know for now.
Amara believes she deserves “everything”, which was corroborated by Lucifer when he remembered her determination the first time around (quote above). All we know for sure is that she wants her universe back, and she wants it to be “dark”.
…In the Dark
So much of this episode was dark – the nighttime meeting with Crowley, the Bunker Dungeon, Limbo, Hell – yet all of the background around Amara was light, beautiful and scenic – an angel fountain in a park, and mountains in an open expanse. The characters each took turns reminding us of darkness:
Priest: God is the light. And it is the light that vanquishes the Darkness.
Rowena: The original dark prince?
Sam: I don’t know Crowley. I’d say it suits you. Dark. Empty.
Lucifer: I gotta say, I’m a little in the dark about this meeting.
Even Amara defined herself as dark. Curious then that she was always depicted in light (e.g. she was introduced in the season 11 premiere as coming “Out of Darkness”). Maybe not all is what it seems with Amara. That would ring true with this season’s theme of the truth being hidden behind deception, or incorrect assumptions. Season 11’s episodes portrayed uncertain guilt, killers’ identities being hidden behind masks and costumes, people having no control over their actions (darkness disease, ghost possession), and imaginary friends that help children escape reality. All these plots point to not being able to trust what we’re seeing. Dean is certainly in the dark about what is happening between him and Amara. Crowley was in the dark about Rowena’s plan (more on that later), and Sam was in the dark about the source of his visions. Are we being told and shown one thing when the truth is something else altogether? I certainly believe that we only know part of the truth about Amara. Similarly, I also believe that we can’t trust what we were shown on the flip side of the coin…