The Supernatural episode “Don't You Forget About Me” is aptly named. Taken from the closing song from the 1980s movie The Breakfast Club, we can take the closing letter of that movie and apply the same concept to the story presented here. In it, we see a group of misfits or outsiders defined by others. They are labeled, classified, and targeted by the monster of the week. Those labels, however, do not truly define them. Instead, rather, it is through the defiance of each character that allows the truth to emerge and the strength of their bonds to be forged. After all, Claire may seem like a basket-case, Alex may have transformed into the princess, Jody may be the “hanging on by my finger tips” mom, but go beneath these presentations and we find them to be stronger and so much more complex. Sam and Dean, too, are beyond such labeling---as mere hunters. They transcend and truly become part of the family that Jody, Claire, and Alex are making---and in the end that's the real label that matters.
First, how do we see them labeled by those around them? How do we see those labels shape each character? How does it hide who they really are and what they're really becoming? How do they go from those labels and definitions to the true one: that of family?
Let's start with Claire. In the beginning of the episode, we see a typical opening with two teenagers in a truck. They're preparing to have sex---the girl nervous, the guy eager. It's classic horror movie set up---and as the door opens and the boy is grabbed, instead of seeing a monster killing him, we see Claire holding a sword to his throat, furious that he's about to kill this girl and accusing him of being a monster. In this moment, Claire is the one prescribing the labels without knowing the true facts or nature of this young man. She sees what she wants to see in him. She has defined him and there is no convincing her otherwise.
Outwardly, others have already labeled Claire as a basket-case. She is seeing monsters everywhere. She is desperately trying to find any hunts, track any monster down, and kill it. Claire has chosen to escape into it rather than attend school. She doesn't want to be normal. Claire finds the reality out there---the supernatural reality---far more alluring. In a way, she is simply trying to cope with the fact that her family has forever been destroyed by a supernatural intrusion. Rather than try and bury herself in a normality, she has chosen to instead embrace the supernatural world in order to perhaps make a difference or do something that matters in the aftermath of her traumatic childhood.
Unfortunately, due to her lack of skills or ability to prove that her claims about a supernatural attack, Claire has been labeled as a “menace to innocent people.” The boy she held a sword on wanted to press charges. She embarrassed Jody. Jody states, “And before that was the vampire. Council woman into erotic cosplay. I didn't know what cospaly was before that, super embarrassing for the force.” Claire has shut herself off from the world around her---or at least the non supernatural one---and in so doing she has allowed the label assigned to her become her identity.
In reality, that cannot be further from the truth. Claire is not a basket-case. She is not a menace. She is not the problem child. Instead, she is hiding from facing her own past, her own future, and her present by escaping into the world of hunting. It matters not that she's eventually proven right that those missing have been taken by a vampire---including herself, Jody, and Alex. Hunting relentlessly as she does means she need not ever actually face the fact that she feels left out---that she doesn't fit into the family she already sees formed between Jody and Alex. She's a third wheel and so she's decided to fill her time with something else. In so doing, that label of basket-case hurts her more than she realizes.
Her actions, therefore, are a cry for help---a plea for attention. She wants Jody to see her the way she sees Alex. She wants Jody to accept her as a trainee as a hunter, to help her know how to work a case, and see her as smart and skilled and important. Rather than trying to push her into college, Claire wishes that Jody would see her as a capable young woman who is telling the truth about the situation. She doesn't want her fixation on hunting to be seen as an idiosyncrasy or a problem.
Most of all, Claire seems to want to see her role in their strange living situation more clearly defined. She has a nice room, she has great meals prepared for her, she has opportunities being handed to her---but those aren't as fulfilling as what she seeks. Claire wants to change her label from being a basket-case or menace to a daughter and sister. She wants to be considered part of this family. It may never replace the one that she lost, but both Jody and Alex can understand this notion. They, too, were touched by the supernatural. They, too, lost their families to its grip. Here, Claire knows that she should be understood and she seeks that throughout.
She tells Sam, “Sometimes I feel like I'm a little late to the Jody and Alex show.” It's a truth that reveals everything about her placement---and the weight of the label she bears.
Enduring the vicious attacks from Richard and Henry, however, allows Claire to forge a new bond. She can see how Alex's past has tormented her and that she is taking blame upon herself that isn't her own. By telling Alex that, she sheds the label of basket-case. By helping her prepare breakfast for Jody, Claire is accepting her new label as a Wayward Daughter. She's no longer on the outside of their family. Instead, she's become one of them, too. It is a bond she can now rely upon for the rest of her life---a connection that Claire will be able to build from and grow.
Jody, too, is struggling. She's trying to find her own label, to define where she belongs with these young women. Jody isn't sure how she should see herself. She's not sure how they see her. To connect with them, she must find a way to understand how they all fit together. This isn't an easy transition, nor is it clean cut or neat. Jody didn't simply take these young girls into her home and have everything turn out perfectly. Instead, it has been a fight every step of the way to align the dynamics and their place within it. None of it has come easily.
But that doesn't mean Jody will give up easily.
She hasn't had a family of her own in her house since hers were killed at the height of the Apocalypse. To top it all off, the new family she's brought into her home are already in their teens. She tells Dean, “I'm not Alex's mom. I'm not Claire's mom. I didn't raise them. I don't have that kind of history with them.”
Instead, her label is that of law enforcement, of the stand in parent they seem to defy, and the victim the vampire will vent his frustrations upon.
Unlike Claire or Alex, however, she is not hiding from anything. She knows that this is a tough and sticky situation. She confesses to Dean, “Don't get me wrong, I love those girls, but I'm hanging on by my fingertips.” Instead, Jody isn't trying so much to buck a label assigned to her as much as she's trying to define one she's taking on herself. She very much wants to be their mother---someone they can trust and turn to and rely upon whenever it gets to be challenging.
Jody is prepared to face on both the supernatural and the “normal.” She can tell that Alex is getting in over her head with her boyfriend---the birth control pills in her book bag are a dead giveaway. When Claire brings that aspect out at the dinner table, she jumps on it right away. She states, “If we can't talk about it we shouldn't be doing it.” Jody's floundering, yes, but she's putting in an extreme effort to wear the label mom and she hopes that these two girls will clearly see her defined as such. She's also not willing to let Claire simply flounder or escape into hunting. She refuses to back down when Claire tries to wiggle out of going to the college to re-enroll.
And when they're brutally attacked by the vampire that kidnaps them, it is Jody that fights hard to keep most of the violence and brutality from striking Claire. She will take the greatest injuries if need be all in order to keep one of her girls safe. In that moment, Jody goes from trying to put on the label of mother to becoming the mother---she is by all rights then and there their mom in all ways. Jody also begs and screams at the vampire not to hurt Alex. She is driven by her desire to protect and nurture them.
Even so, the label of mother doesn't have to be the stereotypical or cardboard cut out society paints it as. She is just as defensive of these two girls---but her transformation into their mother is anything but standard. Jody is fully aware that there will be more bumps in the road---of either the “normal” or supernatural variety---and that the familial relationships they're forging here will not be easily maintained. It will take a lot of hard work, patience, and and unconventionality that will make them truly mother and wayward daughters. It is Jody's insistence and diligence to taking upon that mantle that will allow the role of mother to be redefined, too. It need not be so strict or rigidly defined as caretaker. It may be someone who listens, who works through things, and fights alongside her daughters so that they may be stronger and better equipped women as they eventually go out into the greater world.
By Jody doing so, she's creating a much better meaning for the term mother---all in her strong and capable way. She's also teaching her girls that they need not accept the labels assigned---but that they should define themselves.
How does Alex capture the bucking of labels? She has transformed greatly since being taken in by Jody Mills after being rescued from the nest she served as lure for eight years. She has settled in, is doing well in school, and is part of the soccer team. She tells Jody, “Chem-lab, I fell asleep in a pool of my own drool. Oh, and coach is calling double practice. Mid-field needs serious tightening.” Her friend is giddy that she may be looking at royalty as Alex and Henry, the most popular boy in school, walk hand in hand. Prom is coming up and they are the shoo-in for the vote. This is a great contrast to the cold and calculating lure and the frightened little girl that we met in “Alex Annie Alexis Ann.”
Since high school plays such a factor within the construct of the episode, Alex has certainly put herself into the princess mode. She's allowed that definition to become her, gladly becoming a social butterfly, eager to please in school, and to be considered a top the school hierarchy. It is safer. But it isn't any less constricting or dangerous than being a lure for a vampire nest. Instead, it has become like a gilded cage---all without Alex being aware of it. She's hiding from that awful past---objecting anytime hunting is mentioned and butting heads with Claire over the issue at every turn. Alex wants to flee into this high school world to save herself from being pulled back into a dark and supernatural nightmare that could and would consume her wholly.
But it puts a label on her, makes her less than herself, and opens herself to vulnerabilities from the monster that lurks in the dark, waiting to exact revenge.
Alex struggles to cope with her past, too, after her favorite teacher has been brutally murdered. His body has been run up the flag pole for all to see. It jars her from the fantasy she's willingly created for herself. She talks with her boyfriend, Henry, about how she regrets her past. She tells him, “There are awful things out there. Henry, I wasn't always this girl. Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and I'm like that's me? You should know I've done some really bad things. Hurt people. I should have told you before.”
It's too hard to think about where she's been and what she's done. She's afraid if he should ever learn the truth that he'll see her in a different way---redefining her in a new role with a new label that isn't any better than the ones she's worn before. The darker reality that lurks on the edges of her idyllic high school life make her face that past in a new and frightening way that makes her want to save him and anyone else from its evil.
While with Henry, later, she is warned not to go off by herself. She's stunned by the revelation that it's a vampire that's been taking people in Sioux Falls. Her instant reaction is to tell Henry to get away. He can't get caught up in this mess and she won't allow him to get hurt. Her other self---the one labeled a monster in its own way---has come back to haunt her and she fears that he'll be dragged down right with her. Unfortunately, it's already too late. Henry is a vampire and he kidnaps her, taking her to the school to confront her past head on.
There, the vampire behind all of these attacks is holding Claire and Jody hostage. He demands to know if she remembers him. Alex is oblivious. She doesn't recognize this man, nor does she know what he's after. It isn't until he says, “You don't remember? You took my life and you don't remember. Three years ago. Nebraska. Some sleazebag was taking you home outside of a bar and I chased him off. You were so young and I could see that you didn't want anything to do with the guy, I mean I thought some pimp was working you,” that Alex has any idea as to why this man would be after her. She only knows that he is a vampire and he's after all of them.
To drive it home further, he tells her, “I went home to tell my wife what happened, but see I was covered in blood---my own blood---which made me crazy, starving. I lost control. I gutted her and my boy.”
As it dawns on her and she remembers the dark thing she did to him, she pleads not for her life but for Jody and Claire's. Alex knows that she has earned the label he's given her: monster. She has indeed been that to him as his tragic story unfolds. Instead of watching her new family die, instead of watching them suffer, Alex will give herself up willingly. She'll become a lure for Richard and the nest they will build. She is shattered by the revelation that she is the reason his family has been destroyed. That was then. Alex was under the control of the vampire nest run by Mama. It was the only way she could survive and while it doesn't make it right it doesn't make her the vicious monster this vampire now tries to label her as. He is defining her as he wants to see her---the person that he has dreamed of getting revenge on for years.
Not only did Richard want to kill Alex, he wanted her to suffer. So, he gave her a shot at the princess position---turning Henry, the school's most popular boy, and allowing Alex to get a taste of normal, of happiness, of security before he'd rip it away and bring her down low. The second label Alex may have accepted willingly, but it does not define her anymore than the label of monster. Instead, it confines her. It doesn't allow her true nature or self to emerge---the one that we see willingly to give up herself in order to save others.
In the aftermath, once is over and they are back in Jody's kitchen, Alex willingly and humbly teams up with Claire to make it up to both of them. She carries the guilt that she brought this down on them. Jody brushes that off and tells her gently, “Hey, we're fine. We're in three whole pieces, more or less.” Claire backs her up, stating, “It was those vamps. You were kid. You had to do what they said.” Both of them are eager to forgive her and cast aside the labels Richard the vampire assigned to her in his tragic need to exact revenge. They see Alex as so much more. They see her as valuable and as a whole person with a past that they can relate to and understand.
In the end, Alex truly learned to buck those labels, and rather than allowing them to define her, she has opened her eyes to her new reality. She may not be able to be around those who hunt---as she confesses to Sam---but she can't ever truly be totally boxed into a normal life. Instead, she may have to rely on the new role she has, the new definition she's earned now more than ever: a sister and daughter.
That's indeed what Alex has become and while she may break away on her own at some point, Alex is truly a wayward daughter to Jody and a sister to Claire. She will always wear those labels---and they will not define or confine her but rather exemplify the truth of who she really is. It will show her “goodness” and her ability to love. It is her family that she can turn to in any need or crisis---and she has proven that she, too, will be there for them as they are for her.
After all, “family don't end with blood,” and that's a tradition she's learned well from the Winchesters indeed.
What labels have been given to the Winchesters? Who give these labels? How do they defy them to become who they really are? How does it change their viewpoints about themselves---and help them prepare for the fight they have yet to endure? How do Sam and Dean become wayward sons in the scheme of things?
The Winchesters. They are seen as law enforcement---the FBI---as they assist Jody with the growing case. Sam and Dean are seen as hunters. These labels are accurate. Sam and Dean are those things---but that is all surface and unimportant in the reality of who they really are. These labels are not what totally defines them. They are, in reality, a mask that Sam and Dean willingly put on to hide their true identities. It serves their purposes well, allowing them to do their jobs and commit to the task of “saving people, hunting things, family business.”
The label that the Winchesters must defy, then, is one that they've assigned to themselves. That label is outsider. Claire may have called them in distress---and they answered without hesitation, but Sam and Dean know they are still outside the situation. Each of them---Alex, Claire, and Jody---all have their own unique ties to Sam and Dean, and yet the brothers are not part of their daily lives. They are outside it and therefore see themselves as removed from what is happening here.
In many ways, this is due to the distances between them and Sioux Falls as they traverse the United States after other hunts or targets such as Amara. In others, it is because Sam and Dean have not had the chance to tie each bond together in a clear manner. It is obvious, as they see the three interact, that there is a fresh and new dynamic that does not necessarily include them. From the very start, Alex and Claire are shouting at each other. Alex accuses Claire of sleeping too late. Claire accuses Alex of taking too long in the bathroom. Jody tries to rein in the situation by reminding them that the Winchesters aren't here to “see you kill each other.”
This situation seems foreign to them in that regard. They're watching a family unit clash all without knowing what is driving it entirely or how those changes in each woman has shaped that dynamic. Sam and Dean, then, must find a way to connect with each of them in their own ways and tie it all together so they will feel less outside and included as wayward sons. That foreign feeling only continues as the brothers are confronted by a much more awkward conversation: that of birth control.
It is clear, even in the humor and hilarity of Sam and Dean's attempted escapes at dinner, that they see themselves as outsiders. Sam remarks, “This sounds like family business,” only to be shushed and told to “sit and stay.” This outsider label is one that they must cast aside to truly take these women into their own family and remember what family truly means to them. In their own ways, Sam and Dean are also guiding all three to arrive to the conclusions that they are part of a family---an unconventional Winchester style family not defined by blood but by deed and sacrifice and turmoil.
Dean is uncomfortable with all the talk about birth control---and yet he has no problem assessing the situation at hand. He can tell that Claire is being most ungrateful. He sympathizes with her seeing monsters lurking in the shadows, but he will not allow her to be so angry or to lash out at Jody. It is Jody's role that he hopes to build up and help define. He understands how it might be difficult for the Sheriff to reach this young woman and she does not need Claire to buck every rule or demand put to her.
He tells her, “And you know what you were right, okay? There is something unnatural going on here---but you can't just walk up in front of a bunch of officers and demand that the sheriff give you details on a murder investigation. You need to show Jody a little respect. She did you a huge solid by taking you in. She got you set up at school. No one wants to school, Claire. It's school! My point is, she's been busting her ass to get you set you up with a life. She's feeding you. Hell, you have a nicer room than I have now. She's kept you out of jail. You need to act like you give a crap.”
It may not have a lot of finesse, but it allows him to go from being outside the situation to inside. It allows him to reach out to her and perhaps make her realize that her behavior isn't at all helpful. It allows Dean to reforge the bond he built with her after the case surrounding Clarie's mother. Dean, as an outsider, can make points that Jody might not be able to make. His opinion may hold far more weight because he's not necessarily entrenched in the daily routine. Assessing the situation the outside, however, allows him to see what is really going on and bring her back into line---and as a member of the Winchester's most unconventional family. After all, Jody did most of these things for Claire without being asked---something that family can and does for one another. Dean is simply reminding her of that fact.
With Alex, Dean sees Jody's concern about how “normal” life may be threatening her future. He may not have been comfortable discussing birth control, but he can see what Henry is---even if he doesn't realize he's a vampire just yet. The young man is after Alex only as a conquest. It's why he stares down the boy, knowing that “hanging out” may not be so simple. He also wants Alex to be safe and able to live that normal life she's carving out with Jody's help.
Meanwhile, Sam, too, also tries to reach out to Claire and establish himself within this new unconventional family. He's been where she is---teetering between hunting life and school. Sam's had to struggle to find his place within the world, so he relates completely with her dilemma. In that way, he can go from being an outsider to an insider---a wayward son. By taking her under his own wing, Sam's able to mentor her and give Claire food for thought so she can decide her future for herself---rather than strong arming her into what she must do or must not do.
Sam is gentle and patient with Claire as he sits with her in her room. He isn't overbearing. He's not malicious in any way. He is kind. He asks her questions about what is going on and tries to understand where she is coming from. He tells her, “I know how it can be. The hunter life consumes you. There's no nine to five. You start seeing monsters at every quick mart in town---you wouldn't be the first hunter who's trying to escape something.”
Sam gets it. Claire's life has not been easy, nor has it been normal in any regard. It's hard for her to conceive the notion of regular life. He also can see that she's trying to hide in hunting from her pain about not being included in the family Alex and Jody have created. Hunting gives her an outlet. Claire, much like the Winchesters, are outsiders trying to become insiders. She just doesn't have the tools or the means to break through---feeling like she's shown up far too late to make a difference on the dynamics. School, jobs, and everyday life has no appeal for her then---mainly because Claire can see them as so transitory and isn't certain that her place here will last.
So, Sam reminds her gently of what she must choose between. He tells her, “Claire, I absolutely understand the need to hunt---believe me, I do---but the monsters are always going to be there on and on forever. But a chance at a family, home, school? That won't be.”
By the same token, it also allows Sam to connect with Alex. He understands her frustrations with hunting taking over everything. It's on his face as she shouts, “Can we stop talking about monsters and hunting? What about real life?” When Henry is fighting him, as he gets the upper hand, he makes the choice to not kill the vampire. Instead, he will let Alex decide his fate. In so doing, Sam is giving her a chance to exorcise some of her past and to undo some of its evil. He's giving her a choice in a situation where she's had so little and in so doing he's given Alex a gift.
He also understands her reasoning in the end when she expresses that she may decide to move on---to get away from the hunting world. Sam empathizes with her cold reality that she will always have to be ready to face another vampire as she did here---one that may be connected to her time with Mama's nest. It is that past that will track her forever. Sam doesn't have to say anything here. His quiet presence says it all. Here, too, he becomes a kindred spirit and no longer an outsider.
In the end, Sam and Dean had to witness the forging of this new family, the shedding of the labels prescribed to them, and the ones they define for themselves. They had to do this in order to be ready to do the same in their own fights. After all, Lucifer and Amara will only see them the way they want to see them.
Sam and Dean have two choices: let those enemies define them or to define themselves. The only way they can win is to choose the latter.
I really WISH I could write and think like your mind works. It is a gift. :)
I'm so glad you enjoyed this take. Truthfully, it all came from listening to the song. I've always loved the Breakfast Club, so it just kinda came to me to funnel the episode that way. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. I don't know about ever writing an episode or anything like that, but I am humbled that you like my writing so much. I'm no screenwriter. I work in prose, which is a whole nother ball of wax. I wouldn't even know where to really begin on scripts!
I did enjoy the episode, but I don't really quite know how to write a review with the thumbs up or down approach, and I'm glad you like that more neutral take on things. I blame my college training, I guess.
The way I see it, both girls come from troubled pasts and we are getting to see two possible outcomes of having that kind of a childhood. We have Alex, on the one hand that is eager to keep it in the past and just forget about it - sweep it under the rug almost. And then we have Claire who wants to look it in the face everyday and spit and make it her future. Alex cannot forgive herself but she's trying to forget. Claire has forgiven Cas, (*removed "Sam and Dean"*) but does not want to forget all that happened.
In that sense alone, I see (at the very least) potential for the whole concept of Wayward Daughters.
You feel sorry for Alex, but I feel sorry for Claire, who said yes to Castiel and was his vessel enabling him to continue to save lives; who was willing to give up her life even then at such a young age to save her family; who watched her mother die and her father walk out on her when she was just a kid. She's had her entire normal life taken from her too. I can't fault her for picking up the pieces of what happened and trying to move on.
And I don't think the only reason she's happy now is because Jodi is going to give her what she wants - hunting lessons. She's happy because now, after this incident, she's finally found a place and people she can call family. I think Claire wants more than anything to have a family. When her's was taken from her she was stuck with her grandmother. She started stealing because those people made her feel like family. She was desperate to be a part of something. Claire doesn't do well without a family. Alex is far less complex. She, I think, is definitely strong enough to make it on her own, but doesn't necessarily want to. So yeah, she's happy with it being just Jodi as a mom and her as a daughter. But, Claire needs more than that to be happy. She needs to be in the action.
I guess I see both girls for their strengths and weaknesses. And I'm eager to see them together as a true team one day.
Which is why I don't think she's strong enough to be without family. She's got an incredibly strong will, just like Dean, but needs family to keep going or things will just go bad for her. And Alex, much like Sam, has incredible strength of character, and is strong enough to be on her own. I am, of course, referring to inner strength.
Regardless, I should have just said Cas in my original comment, and not included Dean and Sam. Like I say, I sometimes just mindlessly clump them together when I really shouldn't.
Having said that, a female character, with a dark past, forced to be in a world she doesn't want to be in would actually make for an interesting spin-off but it almost looks as though if they were going to do that they were planning to have her be alone and not include Claire (since she is suggesting she will strike out on her own), and the online Wayward Daughters fandom really wants Claire so I don't know how they can make this work. I do think that the WD looks like it might spell doom for Jody....
I wonder could they do it 'Eureka' style - have Jody and her two have to move because Jody gets a job in, say, Erie, Indiana (to quote another TV series) where there are a lot of weird creatures and it interferes with school and is all close to home? Like Vampire Diaries. It all suffers from the same Deus ex machina that Supernatural suffers from (as long as Castiel is around) though - where are the life and death stakes if the trainee-hunters can call in the uber-hunters whenever there is a big-bad to contend with?
As for Jodi, again, it's good that she's there and brings a certain familiarity when you compare her to Bobby's role with the boys. But who knows what direction they could take her in. She may not become their "home base of operations" like Bobby was. Maybe she'll not get involved with the hunting at all, or maybe she'll play a different role in the story. Either way, it means more development for her, but maybe not *necessarily* certain doom.
If and I do stress IF this does become its own show, then traditionally Sam and Dean would be in the pilot episode and there could potentially be crossovers if both shows air at the same time, but beyond that, I fully expect their stories to be isolated from the Winchesters. I actually had a similar thought as you, regarding Arrow and The Flash. When the show first started, I couldn't help but think "why won't the Flash just constantly call on Arrow for help and vice versa, etc etc.
But then it turned out they hardly call on each other and the way the stories are told, it just works. So for me, I have faith in the writers. Especially with the strong team of writers that we know Supernatural has, I have faith they will get it right. At the very least, I have enough faith to support the potential for it at this stage of the game. :)
Pilots and spin-offs have a huge failure rate so yes they need a strong start and then they need to go off on their own and fail or succeed on their own merits. It is an unpopular opinion I know but everyone was determined to hate Bloodlines before they knew anything about it. It was unanimous, it never had a chance. I mean, yeah, ok, issues like: first of all it wasn't an original enough idea with a hook, and secondly SPN's internal logic is fundamentally not strong enough to support a universe that isn't about Sam and Dean (which is totally the writers fault for ignoring their own canon when it suits them) oh yeah, and it turned out it was actually pretty bad... But it could have been the best idea in the world and it still would have been up against a fandom that was against it.
Here, there is a segment of the fandom who really wants this idea to work, and they are loud but I don't believe they are legion. They would like us to think that they are but ... And the show can get as much positive buzz and kudoes for 'representation ' as it likes, if the viewership isn't there it won't work. And believe me I am a huge fan of the women that have been on Supernatural, especially the hunters - Ellen is my favorite, Jody, Jo, Bela, Ruby, Mary, Anna, Rowena (*cries* I miss Rowena) .... it is the later seasons that I am less fond of the characters - the ones that are now considered predominantly as 'representation ' instead of coherent characters in the show. It gets more insulting than less. A storyline where two women fail the Bechdel test because diuscussion they are having about a man is along the lines of how best to kick his ass (assuming he deserves it of course) is fine with me
What MIGHT work is if The Vampire Diaries comes to a close and the writers from that show take over but I don't think anyone in the current SPN writer's stable really can come up with an original (hah, TVD joke!) enough idea to carry a spin-off.
I miss the writers who understood these characters I must say - Erik Kripke and Sera Gamble and Ben Edlund and Raelle Hunter and and and .... I haven't seen anyone reliable as a character writer in a long time, sadly. And they all seem to be writing their own show. IMO obviously.
ETA (hah):67 revisions of this post later - apologies to anyone trying to keep up. I think i am done now
I agree with this eilf. And I would have been much more receptive to a spin-off involving some of those earlier female characters. But Claire in particular seems like such a stock character, and an annoying one at that. The issue for me isn't whether there is ample reason for her to be so screwed up and rebellious and rude, because of course she's had it tough. The question is whether the typical troubled, sarcastic, nasty teen who has emerged from that trauma makes for an interesting and likable character. And my opinion on that is a resounding no.
And I know I'm probably going to really get on some peoples bedsides here, but....... I actually like her character a little more than Alex right now. Alex was sweet and respectful and trying to do the mature right thing in that episode - BORING. There was no dynamic to her character. I like that she's nice and respectful, but she's had a life with Vampires. She should have been on top of her shit with this. Instead, she's so focused on herself and trying to live her own normal life, and swept up with her perfect boyfriend and whatnot, that other people, like Jodi, are almost getting killed. We have seen time and time again, 11 seasons of it, where people try to walk away from the hunters life and it never works out. Claire has the insight to know that. Yeah, she's very rough around the edges, and can be a bitch, but at least she isn't fooling around or busy daydreaming. I love that Alex was willing to sacrifice her life at the end of the episode, but it was the only useful thing she did! In my opinion, she can try to step away if she wants to, but she shouldn't be so damn naive about what's really out there. She can't just act like it doesn't exist which is what it seemed like she was trying to do. Claire just didn't want to be forced into a normal 9-5 life and was feeling the pressure from Jodi to be more like Alex, i.e. go to college and not worry about hunting.
So yeah, I know few will agree with me, but I liked Claire in this episode more than Alex. I don't blame Alex for the vampire and it being her past - it's not her fault. But I do wish she was more aware of her surroundings. She lived with vampires all her life and she couldn't tell when she was kissing one or making out with one?! It's clearly not good that she stepped thaT far away from the Hunter's world. So, I think both girls have a lot to learn about the choices they make. I like them both and want to see them as a team. Claire's attitude annoyed me and Alex's blindness annoyed me.
Quote: Well why do you think she could not call them family before the incident and Jodi promised to help her with hunting? Does it have something to do with Claire proving she was right, getting her way or that Jodi and Alex had to prove to Claire they would die for her?
As for Claire seeing them as her family, I think it has everything to do with Claire's perceptions. Up until she met Jodi, she's been a runaway. I don't think she planned on stayin with Jodi or Alex much longer, so therefore never opened up to either of them or allowed herself to get attached in any way. And it was obvious that Claire and Alex didn't get along too well. They seemed to bicker and fight the way sisters can, that sibling rivalry was definitely there (one getting the other in trouble, but not SERIOUS trouble, just blurting about sex), but the girls had not bonded at all. Claire wants to acknowledge the truth of their world and Alex wants to live a life away from it. So they really did not have a lot to build on.
But now that this incident had happened, I think Claire realizes she doesn't need to run anymore. She can be happy where she is and make a family with the people around her rather than runaway and try to find another like she's always done. Claire clearly has authority issues and a smartass attitude. She has a lot of growing to do. I understand why people find her annoying, I just personally don't. I get where she's coming from. I guess because I deal with rebellious teenagers everyday lol (I'm a NYC high school science teacher).
I see your points about Claire's troubled past, but I also think that Alex fits some of the same bill. She chose to be so good a lure for them in some ways---and she knew enough about what she was doing to feel guilt after the fact. Her "princess" label here is mostly surface. She's trying to be that typical high school girl when she really isn't and that's just as risky or a mistake as Claire hunting recklessly and without any real guidance.
I guess, for me, I feel bad for both girls because in many ways their entire childhoods have been spent dealing with the aftermath of a supernatural intrusion in their lives. I think that they're most certainly going to have to figure things out for themselves, and I think that's exactly what Jody will teach them to do. No matter what they decide to pursue in their lives, I think Jody wants them to know that it's okay and that she's there for them. Their coming together in the end to thank Jody with breakfast and the way that Jody accepts them as her family---that something to lose---shows us that she'll be there for them no matter how they need her to be.
I don't know if this will ever lead to a spin off. If they should pursue it, I think they have a lot of potential to explore so much about all three characters and open the world around them. It'll be intriguing to see if they ever do go through with another spinoff attempt and what form it will take.
I would like to think that a theme of rejecting labels (both good and bad) but also at looking at who you are, and what you have done, and why, would mean something going forward regarding the storyline this season, though previous experience has shown that episodes showing some potential growth for characters don't usually come to much. (which I seem to remember is how the Breakfast Club ended also? With them agreeing that things likely wouldn't be all that different come Monday)
Maybe this time things will be different :)!
I'm glad you liked the look at this one. I'd like to hope that it's not necessarily going to lead to the "nothing happened, we can go on as we did before" type situation for these girls. It's hard to say when we'll see them again in story or if this will be the spin off story chosen or not. I'd like to think that they truly learned something from this, bonded, and will emerge stronger on the other side. I think, if it hadn't been for the supernatural crashing their lives, none of these characters would have ever met, and now that they have it's interesting to see where they could go with it and how they could interact. It also allows them to become much more fleshed out as characters, which can provide great story.
A couple of observations in keeping with what you wrote:
1) Sam pointed out that Claire had Sam's 'decorating style'. Going back to 'Slumber Party', I think this means Claire hadn't really moved in yet. She was "there" but it was just a location for her. She was seriously considering moving on. Both Sam and Dean basically said to take value in what she had and fortunately, that IS the lesson she took from their ordeal.
2) I think seeing Alex's dark past come out also helped her to related better to her. Claire felt like the oddball. And she isn't. Both Alex and Jodi have their own PTSD they are working through. This isn't something that Alex let Claire see before. I think it helped both girls to acknowledge that just because their pasts are full of scar tissue doesn't mean they can't connect with each other. And Jodi models such outstanding behavior ALL THE TIME. Honest, brave, fun, and competent. Jody is someone both girls can agree on looking up to (and for good reason).
3) For me, Jodi finding some middle ground for Claire was a good thing. I think if she HELPS Claire while also encouraging her to go to college, this will keep Claire from constantly being the contrarian. But this also requires Jodi to accept that Claire is going to take some risks on Jodi's "watch". That's a bitter pill for Jodi and yet it's probably the right answer, given Claire's desires. Claire is going to hunt eventually, better to get her trained right than to keep telling her "no".
And speaking of hunting.... what a testament to how far Claire has come along. She had started a bit by hunting for her mother, but I honestly believe it was the respect she gained from watching Sam and Dean hunt that gave her purpose in life. Her life was already pretty screwed up. And then she witnesses what it is like for these guys to, for no pay at all, come in a HELP people. Claire admires them and wants to help other. That's freakin' awesome. She's not on some revenge mission. She gets the mission statement (saving people, hunting things). She's gone from resenting the impact of Team Free Will to emulating them.
I also was left more worried about Alex than Claire. I certainly get WHY she wants to be away from monsters and maybe what she's thinking is healthy.... but I also feel like the #Supernatural message is that family is the reason. Yes, by creating family you risk losing them (as Jodi said), but it's worth it anyway. So, Alex stepping away from the family after she gets her "act together" feels isolating, not strong.
Finally, I think Nancy Won did a fantastic job of showing us the boys strengths and sorrows with this episode. Having Sam or Dean say they missed having a normal family life is one thing. Seeing the boys so out of their comfort spot with an actual chicken-shaped chicken? PAINFUL. The episode really struck home how much they loss and how much of a gift Jodi is to those two girls. Yes, the boys will be fine but seeing them dip their toe into a version of normal was very illuminating for me.
Thanks again for your review. I really enjoyed your analysis, as always.
I absolutely think Claire took what Sam and Dean said to heart, even if she did roll her eyes and act flippant at times. It's clear that when things started to get tough, she was willing to stand with her new adopted family and then realize just how fortunate she is. I think she's totally taking on hunting for the right reasons. She may be a bit brash and reckless and over-eager in her approach sometimes---see the crime scene crash---but I feel that her heart is in the right place. I hope we can see that growth continue if we see her again and what she's doing in that world. I also hope she commits to college and educating herself and what Sam said about that aspect of her life not necessarily always being an option. It'd be a great transition and growth for Claire.
I agree. On one hand, I think Alex is certainly healthy to consider removing herself from the situation. On the other, I think she's risking not realizing that while there will be other vampires from the nest or related to the nest that will come after her and not having the back up she had here. I'm hoping, if we see these three again at some point, that Alex will come to this conclusion when not enmeshed in the emotional aftermath.
And yes. The giggles I had while watching the chicken dinner scene (the boys made the BEST faces) and the awkward hilarity about birth control is totally set off by the tragedy that this is the first real chicken dinner they've had where it looked LIKE chicken and that a normal home cooked meal is something they go into with gusto because it's something they never ever have generally. It was a great way to convey both the humor and the sadness, and I commend Nancy Won for doing that so well.
I saw a lot of strong-headedne ss with Claire and she is very stubborn, but I really didn't see any of this rage you keep mentioning. She's HAD that...in the past...full of anger and hatred and making stupid rash decisions. She's moved on, but I'm thinking you kinda fail to see it. There's a HUGE difference between being "a brat" and having "all this rage" you keep talking about. Claire knew there was a killer but didn't have what it took to solve the case. I give her tons of credit for recognizing that! How many times have we seen Sam or Dean not admit when they were wrong about something or couldn't handle something? Well, Claire did admit to it. That takes a lot. I seriously don't see any of this rage evident in this passed, most recent, episode. She didn't have rage when she called Sam and Dean, she had gumption. She didn't have rage at the dinner table, she had a smartass attitude. She didn't have rage at the crime scene investigation, she had impatience. Rage is something completely different. It's screaming and yelling and unconditional anger and fury. Like, what the hell, seriously? She has truly grown as a character. She's no where near perfect, but she is on a track. Both her and Alex have a lot to learn.
is both patronizing, and IMO also incorrect. She has most certainly NOT moved on. She is letting her previous traumatic experiences entirely dictate the course of her life, as evidenced by her resolve to be a hunter. Moreover, I disagree strongly with this assertion:
Rage can be expressed in a variety of ways, and I see it in many of Claire's words and actions. Moreover, I stated that she is CHANNELING her rage from the things that have befallen her, a rage that she clearly evinced in her previous episodes, into this determination to hunt and kill monsters. By "channeling" I mean that she is expressing her rage through another means, i.e. hunting.
Finally, the main point of my comment was that not a single thing that Claire said or did in this episode indicates that she is concerned about the "saving people" aspect of hunting. Again, case in point, she didn't give a crap about the teen boy she assaulted. She seems to relish "hunting things" as an end unto
I'm honestly puzzled that you seem so personally offended by my opinions about Claire that you would reply in a somewhat obnoxious and personal fashion. You seem to feel that you have categorically established Claire's character development and worthiness, when these are purely matters of opinion. Clearly, our opinions differ greatly in this regard.
I do, however, strongly disagree with your views, which is fine, but I never meant to be patronizing either. It was just my opinion based on your views of Claire. For what it's worth, I 100% disagree about the rage. Not that it matters I'm sure, but to me it's simply blind ambition and over eagerness that Claire has to prove herself to be a hunter. It just boggles me that her calling in Sam and Dean and wanting to eagerly hint things can be considered rage. We saw her cuddling the Grumpy Cat stuffed animal that Cas got her when she was lying on her bed. I can't bring myself to believe she still had rage that either she is channeling or harboring in some way from Cas or losing her parents if this is how she's currently behaving with the things Cas got her.
Claire hasn't had a home since Jimmy said yes and her mom left her to go find him. She sees hunting as the *one* place in the world where she can finally fit in. And she's trying to do it right, but she's screwing it up. I don't know, I recall in earlier seasons of the show Sam getting mad at Dean for not showing remorse after the kills they made or after some of the things they had to do. I'm talking way before the apocalypse and the soulless Sam stuff and the Demon Dean stuff. Like, early on I remember Dean always being willing to make the tough choices and moving on from them and Sam showing more remorse. But not Dean so much. (Please don't get me wrong. I love Sam. I love Dean. This is just what I remember.) my point is, I see a lot of Dean in Claire. That same "butch, tougher than nails" mentality which is really just a showy exterior. So, that's where I'm coming from with Claire. Again, sorry I misread you and sorry it seems I snapped.
As far as her asking Cas anything, Cas wasn't in this episode. And the last time, there was a huge preoccupation with her mother and such. But we did see her eager to learn from Sam and Dean, which is why she called them in - to help. And when Sam approached her in her bedroom, we could see that she already had a book with notes that she wanted to show Sam. It was him that shut her down. So yeah, for an over-eager bratty teenager, she's doing the best she can to learn. No, she's not always going to ask the right questions, but we see her trying to do research. Of course she's gonna make mistakes. Almost everyone in that episode did.
Towards the end of the episode, we saw her say some very kind words to Alex. She's finally on a better, less selfish track. So there's the indication that she cares. Claire wants a family. Desperately. It's why she hooked up with Randy, because he "treated" her like family. Or so he made her believe. She was prepared to move on and run away until she found one. Now, she believes she has and is showing that she does care.
Quote:Sam and Dean have both shown a keen interest in saving humans over the past 10 years. Sam and Dean's reaction to a dead body is that of seasoned hunters and in regard to their role of FBI. Claire is not a seasoned hunter and one would expect her to react to the death of a teacher with some type of empathy. But she is being presented as a hardened hunter already which is just ludicrous. Any comparison to Dean at this point is a joke.
You are also correct that she is not a seasoned hunter. Absolutely right. Her reaction probably shouldn't be what Dean & Sam's are, but she is clearly trying to prove herself with her stubborn, headstrong attitude. So, a lot of the way she behaved was to kind of rub it in the face of others that she was actually right all along that there was a monster. It's a very teenage thing to do. Not so ludicrous from my point of view. It shows that she still has a lot to learn and is still very green about a lot of things. And after the whole case, she spoke to both Sam and Dean about how she's going to continue to pursue hunting better.
As for comparing her to Dean, well I see tons of parallels. None of them are a joke to me, though. But my experience with things like this is that everyone is going to see what they want to see, relate to the characters they want to relate to, and like who they want to like. Nothing I say is going to get you to like Claire. And nothing you say will get me to dislike her. She not my favorite character, she's far from it in fact, but I'm simply not bothered or annoyed by her in the least.
Quote:Again in the scene with the teacher killed .... A very cocky, sarcastic, disrespectful response to Jody and Dean. Again, a one dimensional character who is an angry teen.