Supernatural - Long Distance Call
"Do you want a poem?"
Yes, I do. I want the tangential riffs. The loops of logic. The beat, beat, beat of words as they clang against the theme. I want the widening gyre, where the center cannot hold. I want riding westward. I want poets who are mad, bad, and dangerous to know. I want "On the Road," but a Dean more Watson than Moriarty. Sal (Sam) entangled in Paradise / Hell concerns.
I want a story where “Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing...” And where conversely, the Monster of the Week used love to lure hearts longing for the partial to pass away and view the perfect.
Not the most sensical of introductions, so I'll begin again.
"Long Distance Call"
Coming together. Moving apart. Centers not holding and that’s about as sensical as it gets.
This was an episode where even “the Before” was incredibly evocative. It's been awhile since we've been reminded of Dean's anger at his father's death. At the hell bound deal that his father made to save him. Down to violently smashing at that representation of himself, the Impala.
The same deal Dean made. Because the Winchesters are nothing if not martyrdom elliptic.
Quite a few other people have noted that the brothers Winchester spent a great deal of time apart in this episode. Pot calling kettle black and secrets. So too others have noted the sheer number of times they meet up and then part. Sam renting a separate car. It makes sense to cover distance so, and certainly more subtle than the Impala, but it’s something I don’t recall seeing them do before.
Let’s repeat that.
Sam left the symbol of his brother, the Impala, behind and he rented a generic car to drive away to do this thing they do.
They talked to each other on the phone, but the conversations were unsatisfying. Inconclusive.
They kept repeating the same physical motions. Dean was at the computer. Sam came in. Sam was at the computer. Dean came in. In the fight scene, the choreography deliberately had their moves not just mimicking each other, but one brother’s forward motion corresponding to the other brother’s fall.
As the Crocotta would say, they’ve never been more connected. Sharing one slender thread life that they trade back and forth like a life raft in the storm.
Never more apart.
Ah, the Crocotta. What a wonderful delicious Monster of the Week. An inversion of our Very Special Christmas episode where the old gods mourned that once thousands a year were sacrificed to them, and now they are reduced to one or two a year. The Crocottas’ a different sort of supernatural.
Where those gods were like Lions or Bears or some snappish Tiger, too large for humans not to notice, and thus dwindled, the Crocotta seems more of a Wile E. Coyote. A raccoon. A scavenger of our disconnect, and all the more successful as our garbage bins pile high.
Once upon a time, the Crocotta was lucky to get one or two people a year, but now… hmm… now he’s read up on his “Sister Carrie”, his “Hard Times”, his books of the crowded multitude city and isolating suburb.
It’s not a new concept that modern society is simultaneously connective and dividing. Although, as the Crocotta was talking, I was reminded of a Sherlock Holmes speech about how he’d take the worst slum over the countryside. In the City (my the City), there are a thousand eyes even on the quietest day, but in the countryside witnesses are few and far between.
After all, when all is said and done, the Crocotta made Sam and Dean as hunters as soon as they arrived, but they arrived because someone, Bobby, was watching for patterns and had them arrive.
I’m inclined to think that it was no accident that Lanie was IMing someone just before her “mother” contacted her. That she has a camera too that then showed some captured images of her mother. Ghostly. Hand on shoulder. Come to me.
Even Stewie’s porn takes on some disconnected distance that is all about Platinum accounts and objectified.com, and where all human connection has been removed from that most basic of connective acts. Without even the pages of a magazine. It all becomes electricity.
Positive and negative. Zero and One.
Stewie’s desk made me first think of Homer Simpson, but then nothing so much as a former job. 40 feet below the ground. No sunlight. The air was full of positive energy like a man-made Santa Anna or Mistral wind and a rumble of mighty machines. There was this little monitor room with someone always on watch, just in case an alarm went off. Except the alarms had been set too close and constantly gave off false negatives. So when the alarm went, you’d hardly look at it. Just hit the off button, and go back to playing solitaire (or whatever else you got up to).
An isolated environment utterly disconnected and passively hostile.
I thought of that space as our characters, in a rare moment together, went down the cement corridors, into the pit of monitors and the circuits that imply ultimate connection between people.
Reach out and touch someone.
Ghostly hand on Lanie’s shoulder. Come to me.
Why, when mom’s already there? The implication being that it’s not for the beloved (crocotta) to see you, but for you to once more see the beloved. The old woman who talked to her husband, new form necrophilia, long dead from a hardly remembered war. The little boy, who must hardly remember his mother, given that she died three years ago. Surely a significant portion of his life. The successful banker weeping for a high school girlfriend. A lifetime ago.
“For now we see things in a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now my knowledge is in part; then it will be complete.”
Looking in the mirror, Dean sees not only his own “improved” face, but that of his brother. Both reversed, because that’s how mirrors work.
I love the idea that the same forces that connect us - phones, computers - can make us vulnerable. That where the Crocotta once crouched in the woods and called travelers from the path - “Come to me” – now he can safely croon down the line and distance becomes no object, because we are all so very connected.
So, very apart.
After all, Lanie bitterly told us that she could not confide in her father. After all, Ben Walters did not confide in his wife. After all, she did not tell him that she listened to his static call with Linda. A name that his wife didn’t recognize, that had no meaning to her. Teenage sweetheart and long dead, except in the heart of the one listening.
So much of ourselves left out there in the electronic ether. Vulnerable in floating.
Identity theft, but on a supernatural scale. Theft not of credit, but of first hearts and then souls.
Come to me.
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
Dean so longed for his father to return from the beyond and make everything right. To give him a magic bullet. Where he could not believe in Ruby, a lifetime of experience told him that his father could do anything. Even fight his way out of the pit.
With so much longing and need and anger, remember he struck the Impala once in that rage, he got the call and was a child again. So, longing to be saved.
Asks Sam what to say and got only “Hello.”
Dean was mirrored then in the pain of that father, whose child called saying that her killer was in their home. Holy water washing down the stairs. Devil’s cross staining the floor. Dean’s anger exploding against some physical thing that could be attacked. Finally. After so much fear. Then to that horrible realization of not even knowing why he’s there. His father cannot save him. That little girl’s killer will never be found.
The previous week, Sam was tied to a chair and Dean burst big brother in, blast the shotgun salt. But the dark is waiting, and Sam may well have to untie his own hands. This week, did untied his own hands. The shot gun was held by another in this episode and it blasted lead, not salt. The salt was in a father’s tears. A son’s confusion. A daughter fearing her own mother who was not her mother.
Both weeks, a civilian died. Corbett longed for connection. Stewie was cut off from it.
And the brothers… Together, but they’re apart. At the beginning of the episode, Dean gave Sam a drink, which Sam threw away. Refreshment. At the end, Sam accepted the beer that Dean offered, but even though he said, “And me”, they were sitting apart.
The moment was there and uncomfortable gone and they turned to watch t.v. Like at Christmas. There was no poem, except in between the lines.
The center not holding. They kept pushing away at each other all episode. Talking at cross purposes. Cross cases.
Red herrings. Edison. Spirit phones and air quotes. Light bulbs and AC / DC.
Personally, I think it would be a hyena sort of trick if the Crocotta, old as he seemed to be, old as Ruby, perhaps older, told them what they needed to know. That the exorcism really does work the way “John” said. If not against whom. That there really has been a series of electrical disturbances following them. That for something that can ride the electrical current to mine any information, the information you need/don’t need is what you get.