Supernatural - Kids Are Alright
“I am not your rolling wheels, I am the highway.”
One of my favorite issues of Shade, the Changing Man was the one in which he becomes depressed. Becomes the road. Like that episode of Voyager. One of the few that I liked. There is the road coming in. There is the road going out. The book of the past. The magazine of the future. The game. The scarecrow.
We've all been the scarecrow.
Been Jack the Pumpkin King.
It's that time of year again. Time to set the car stereo on auto replay of Nightmare Before Christmas. The first time I saw it I was mesmerized. I remember talking about it with the a friend of mine's mother. I was living in their house in the months between college and the grand adventure. She thought it was a horrible movie because it said that you couldn't be anyone/anything that you wanted to be.
I thought it was wonderful, because it said no matter what, you are yourself. And yet in the stark weary moments, it is by exploring the edges of the opposite that leads to spiritual refreshment. Sure Christmas trees may get eaten and a few children will be chased by wooden vampires, and that one image. My favorite from the film. Jack momentarily singed in an angel's arms. Until he decides what the heck and retakes his identity. Puts his jaw back on. Rips aside burnt velvet and is the Pumpkin King. That's right, he was and is the Pumpkin King.
And so and too, it's October. The clock spins round to the season. The Disney Haunted mansion is all turned over and I now own Jack jammies and that is good.
The world may melt.
Wait, it already is melting. Tell Gore. Tell Hamlet. Tell Metallica as they sing where the wild things are. (My Nightmare soundtrack is in the car.). Toy soldier’s off to war.
I keep thinking about last week's Supernatural. Were I one sort of fan I'd wonder why Ben was so aboslutely this and that. At first, I thought he was evil. So perfectly min-Dean, how could he be aught else. But no.
I keep thinking about Twins. I watched “Legion of Superheroes” where it certainly seemed Lightening Lad had a dopple, dissolved into a cloud. Actually a pretty good episode. Krypto-Superman was hilarious. I may need a Krypto-Supes socially embarrassed moment icon. And Shrinking Violet was awesome and intelligent and tiny. Because strength isn't always about becoming immense. Sometimes it is just about knowing where to exert pressure. About getting inside to do it.
I've been thinking of going with the Hero Twins for Nanowrimo. I've been thinking about Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca. Destroying each other's worlds. But when Quetzalcoatl longed for music, Tezcatlipoca tricked the sun into yielding its musicians that music would fall into the hands of the wind.
Heroes with its killer-savior brother and sister.
When the feathered serpent looks in a smoking mirror, what does it see?
In SPNs "the kids are alright", when Dean looked at Ben (Benjamin, the youngest son of Israel - like a wolf), what reflection did he see. The more I think on it, the more I think that as Dean turned outward, meeting Ben was about turning inward and seeing himself. Caricature essential. Bouncing castles and taking off his jacket to help brush glass aside.
I've been thinking about the dichotomy of words. I wandered onto someone's journal, in the Jacob’s ladder way that one does, and fell into a discussion of the word bitch. The writer was thrown out of the SPN narrative when the boy, Benjamin, the youngest beloved son, said the word. And in the resulting thinking of discussion, it seems so strange to me that one word means to me diametrically opposite things. Referring both to the monstrous feminine assumption of power and to the complete loss of power.
And in the way of things, I've been reading about goddesses. (Well, when isn't that true. Far simpler to ask when I'm not drowsing into a far dimpled pool). And as so often happens, I think of Persephone. The powerless maiden and the queen of the underworld. Which leads to thoughts of Hel. Pulled from her mother and cast down, becoming a ruler in some twilight realm. No rainbow bridges. Only dead men's nails and hair. Woven into some edas tapestry.
Music. A song.
All these varied hidden knowledge questions have me thinking of singing. Of going to see Sufi dancing, my first real exposure to Islam, at a co-workers invitation. Or my roommate in college who wanted to be a cantor. Such a tiny woman to have such a voice, and such a CD collection. The DBA with the Bollywood collection. We'd all gather, IT that is, and they'd explain what was going on to the one person in the room who didn't know what they were dancing about. And then with the lights of the City sparkling across the Bay, and ant cars busy roving through bridges lines line in darkness dowel below the curve of the Berkeley hills, there in the semi dark of the flickering television, we might give in to the spinning of the music and dance like Bolly, like dervishes, like magicians. One hand raised to pull down the moon, one hand lowered to brace with the earth.
Not twins or doppelgangers, but island chains, drifting up from the volcanic bed sea.
In all those edges, trying to figure out where we fit. What lands we rule as Pumpkin Kings and Bitch Queens. What fallen fingers point to a loss of power and smoldering fabric. Spinning. Dizzy tea cups and the nervous rabbit pulling his watch, worried about time. Drop. While the caterpillar doesn't care if and when he becomes a butterfly. Doesn't think it strange at all to grow large or tiny. Cake and ambrosia. Flying pigs and unicorns.
“I am not the autumn moon, I am the night.”
Last season flirted with opening into a wider world, and yet, ultimately for Sam and Dean, everything was about their family drama. Constantly compacting in and in and in, until they expanded ice hard and broken. To be remelted into the new season.
“No more turning away. Light into shadow.”
How fascinating then to finally see Dean, after so many years, and years of inward focus turn outward. That desperately joyous celebration of sexual connection, which is the only connection he allows himself and one which (cesters aside) will not involve Sam.
To die for someone is so often celebrated. A far, far better thing than he has ever done. Better is seems when the person being sacrificed is not loved, rather than merely someone who loves. Selfish.
Count me among the few that loved the physical chasm between the brothers this episode.
Its mere physics.
Dean is a constant presence in all of Sam's scenes. Frantically researching how to save his brother. Digging into their mother's secrets into yet another Winchester making a deal with a devil. Demon dark eyes can help him save his brother. Not I think at the wholesale price of Sam’s soul, but bit by bit.
The YED had his plans and pride. How then not for an opportunistic demonic young thing to curl and trail clues like dust. Like red mud that looks and smears like blood. Trailing not power. Not glory, but salvation of another kind.
This season, it's Sam with the secret. Not hermetic closed. That shocking moment when he says, “My Mother.” Because framed as it was, I thought he was going to talk to Dean. Not Dean at all. Turn, turn, turn to everything there is a season. A time to make deals and a time to let deals lie. Lying. Lies.
Spinning even into demon diner conversation. She eats his fries. Like deep fried crack. Red ketchup. Red mud.
Last year was the season of the father (really the last 2 years). Absent and yet present throughout. Loss and grief and paying debts.
This year the fathers are gotten out of the way changeling quick with saw and tooth and fall. This year we seek to understand what mothers know. Mother Mary has been an icon. A hagiography of perfect innocence. What did she know?
The demon that Blondie slew said, "You." As Mary went to her YED death, she said, "You." Recognition and surprise and what did she know. What did uncles (that were brothers once too) and doctors and friends might perhaps know once upon a time.
Children that devour their parents. Not-children. The reflection shows the maw. The wound on the neck. Devoured not in a moment, but slow. Weeks of that gradual horror of this small and defenseless and love is not your wee, your precious, the future.
What Dean does not have. Has always felt himself not to have. And now has given way. A choice in a moment of panic (even in long moments of a drive) is in its way easy. But the long slow slide down a cliff, knowing the tiger lies below. Knowing that even as brush slides past, all that can be done is pluck berries and eat, because they are sweet, because that's the horror of the choice. Not ten years, a decade (at Dean's age a 1/3 of a life time away), but a year. Long enough to be so far away and yet close. It's tomorrow. It's almost yesterday and he can't hold on.
I'm inclined to think he keeps mentioning it because it is a scab. He picks at it to keep the wound fresh. Remember don't hold on. Let go. Hold the palms wide and slide. Pluck berries as you go.
Looking for that constant human connection, sex. So much about life, that which creates life. It would mean that Dean isn't the end of creation, but some part of him would go on into the future, he merely being a link in a chain. Not damaged falling but bound to the rest of the world.
Last year, I'm inclined to think that Dean forgot in the deadened frantic wearying toil, about what it really meant when he helps people. Save them.
All he could see was the ever loom of failure. Instead all those people's children (as we all are) live and go on and Dean seems to be relearning that this season.
In the slow slide, relearning the world. Reopening to it. He can't right now with Sam. Because there's a sign over Sam's head, it flashes on and off about the sacrifice that Dean must keep making.
But to be faced not with Sam, but with himself. Young and vulnerable in a dangerous world. Not just bullies. Appropriate response or no, the dangers are the creature that takes your shape (like Dean's shape was taken by a different sort of dopple) and consumes your mother when you are too to fight. Back before a mother was even really a person with friends (that she giggled with over lost lovers - best night of her life - and shared secrets with), doesn't even have a name yet except mom. That comes later in life (although I still have to remind myself not introduce mom as mom.) Back when mother is the giver and denier of ice cream, and the arbiter of when sleep must come. Slayer of monsters under the bed.
Except now the coat isn't turned inside out, but outside in. Dean is the (perhaps) parent. The almost father. Without even really the right to be there. Knocking on the door and offering stolen credit. Can only offer running away.
That horrifyingly horrible twist on the mother / woman in white. That poor mother, who knew her child was not... quite... evil. Tired and groggy. Horrible things happen in houses and cars. Drive into the lake and there's the tell-tale child, dripping for ice cream. Water versus fire. Knowledge versus ignorance.
The choice at the end. It felt like something momentous in that moment, when Dean offered Lisa her choice of ignorance (it's innocence too, but it doesn't make one any less vulnerable) and knowledge. Bitter as it is and she says yes. One more thing to slide on past.
"I know if I go things would be a lot better for her... Better leave her behind with the kids, they're alright. The kids are alright."
And poor Sam. Psychic child. Adult now. There are no more boy-kings. Boys are men and older brother is slipping away. Slide. The Kingmaker is dead. Yellow eyes have faded into black. It's all about Sam. His mother died, only an icon, and Dean is dying, and Dad died and it's all about him. Revolving around poor seeking scrabbling struggling him.
And yet for once, it’s not all about him. Looking not inward but down.
Reaching over the cliff edge in the mud that looks like blood.