The Morning After
I am intrigued by “Family Feud”. A lot happened, maybe too much too quickly, but while there’s a lot to say about ship wrecks, true love, bringing Gavin back only to kill him, the commonplace use of time travel, and yet another human trusting a demon who spins a great story, I find myself pondering the characters. These family reunions were deeply complex with competing motivations and mistrust all around. Let’s take a look!
Crowley and Lucifer
Why in HELL would Crowley not put Lucifer back in his cage? Pay back? Rowena reminded her son that revenge is a dish best served cold, but it was shocking that Crowley would take such a risk. Even Lucifer challenged Crowley’s logic:
Crowley: You have nothing to say?Lucifer: Thanks? I mean, all that effort. So you could’ve had me back in the cage, but no, you needed your sad, little revenge. How do you think this is going to end?
Lucifer provided us with an obvious reason for Crowley’s play but I would have thought Crowley is too strategic, too smart, to not put Lucifer back in that impenetrable box! Crowley has screamed at Sam and Dean every time they thought of going near Lucifer’s cage, but when a chance comes to slam the door, Crowley shows Lucifer the escape tunnel, straight down a motel air vent? I KNEW that darn air vent meant Lucifer didn’t go back into his cage! That wasn’t just a special effects slip up. It was a specific plot clue. Why would Crowley spare his greatest enemy, though? Chains of the same material as the cage? His demons were able to analyze the composition that God himself made? I call foul.
I get it. Pellegrino is just too good of an actor and his Lucifer is perfection. I love the character dearly. He’s part of the nuclear core of #Supernatural casting and myth arcs. Was Crowley’s humiliation enough to keep the rival King in the Kingdom though? It would have been so easy to say Rowena’s spell wasn’t strong enough, Lucifer resisted, the BMOL magic egg was only a copy of the original key so it couldn’t truly open the prison like the four rings of the horsemen, or some other reason that would make more sense. So why was it done this way?
That’s the intriguing part. Season 12’s signature (besides the unmistakable void of emotional hugs) is complex character studies. At this point, it looks like Crowley is so desperate for respect that he’ll risk everything to belittle his enemy. Building yourself up by putting others down is a strategy used by desperate people. It’s curious that Crowley went this route. I’m not going to claim it’s out of character. Remember his season 8 “I deserve to be loved” revelation in a moment of vulnerability? He seeks respect, and maybe love, more than even power. He knows he is loathed by his mother (and she by him in return) and he’s loathed by the people to whom he is the closest even when he helps them. Despite their lack of respect, in “Stuck in the Middle (with you)”, Crowley did some truly altruistic things, like saving Castiel and pleading for the lives of Sam and Dean, yet even that didn’t get him so much as a courteous thank you. Mary wouldn’t even shake his hand in greeting (more on that later). Ironically, he finally is thanked for helping someone, but it is a sarcastic thank you from Lucifer, who he knows will kill him the second he gets free. Sadly, both Crowley and Rowena continually seek love and continually help each other and the Winchesters, but their efforts are always met with cynicism and scorn. I felt sorry for Rowena in “Regarding Dean”. Now I’m feeling sorry for Crowley. The MacLeod family cannot learn to love each other, and their dysfunction keeps them in misery.
Poor Gavin. He was minding his own business when his family’s heritage caught up to him. Is he happy in eternity with his true love? Here’s an interesting question:
He was reunited with his former life and his former love. What’s to say he didn’t live out his life in peace?
If they didn’t have any children, would history’s timeline be more or less intact? By the way, how would Sam or Dean know if history had been changed? They weren’t in the Timeless mother ship, the Legends Waverunner or the Tardis when time changed so they shouldn’t have any memory of the deaths that never happened in the restored timeline. Let’s brush that under the rug and presume that Gavin didn’t disrupt world events as Sam and Dean know them.
Gavin was the unfortunate offspring of a supernatural being locked in a power struggle for Hell. Abaddon plucked Gavin out of time because he was Crowley’s kid, but in doing so she actually prolonged his life, giving him years he would never have had. Grandmamma Rowena wouldn’t protect him because she harbored a grudge for when Crowley used her to rid the world of the Mark of Cain.
Crowley: What you did – a low ever for you. Wasn’t right.Rowena: And you would know what’s right?Crowley: I know there’s an ugly, rancid, spiteful reason why you sent my son, your grandson, to his death. I wanna know what it is.Rowena: he was a lovely boy and in your own lizard [animal reference] way I know you cared for him… just as I cared for Oskar. Oskar, the child I loved more than you. The boy you made me kill in order to remove the Mark of Cain.Crowley: So that was all drivel you were spewing about Gavin doing the right thing.Rowena: It was the right thing. Maybe for Gavin, certainly for me. It allowed me to watch you suffer the loss of a child.
Gavin was a goodness in Crowley’s life that he wanted to protect, yet Gavin was stolen from him by Crowley’s long history of demon warfare. It all started with Rowena, though. Her quest to defend herself from abuse and neglect and never be powerless again started the entire cycle of events that led Crowley to become a demon, Gavin to become a neglected, doomed child and Fiona to become a ghost. The only difference between Rowena and Mary, whose actions dictated Sam and Dean’s lives, is their motivation. The Winchester’s reunion might have been difficult as they struggle with looking at the world differently, but at least it was better than the MacLeods.
Mothers, Fathers and Sons
... and The Winchesters
Unlike Rowena, Mary’s situation wasn’t random. Mary wasn’t one of millions of sad, poor peasants who was used by the powerful and cast aside. Instead, Mary was specifically targeted, manipulated by a scheming Prince of Hell because she was born into the bloodline of the apocalypse. Both women turned to the dark arts to fix their tragedies, but Mary’s original deal with Azazel, a yellow-eyed demon, was motivated by love and her desire to protect her family. It could be argued that she was thinking of herself and didn’t want to live without John, but she didn’t knowingly sacrifice her children for her deliverance. Azazel only said that he would require something of her one day. Rowena, on the other hand, abandoned her child to pursue a better life for herself.
In “Family Feud” when Mary was specifically given the choice to make herself more powerful by turning on her family, she chose family.
Mr. Ketch: Your sons – I’m sure they’re fine lads and all but it might be best if you were to disengage from them a bit. This work – it’s demanding and it must come first. The Men of Letters is my family.Mary: I’m sorry. Nothing comes before my family, not with me.Mr. Ketch: Really? Or is that just what you want to believe? You’re different when you talk to them. Softer. Weaker. Not an insult, just an observation. But when you hunt Mary, you’re one of the best I’ve ever seen. Now you might play at being the good mummy but when you’re in the thick of it, nothing but a blade in your hand and blood in the air, that’s the real you, the best you. And I think you know it – and I think that scares the hell out of you.
Mary’s fighting for her family not for herself, though. Rather than pull further from her family and deeper into the ranks of the rich and powerful, Mary chose to share her new power with her family. She told her sons the truth, knowing it wouldn’t’ be welcome or supported. Rowena also told her son the truth, but again their motivations were vastly different. Rowena hoped the truth would hurt her son; Mary hopes the truth will bring her family closer together. She’s still a hardline hunter, much the same as John, and Dean too before Sam and hard lessons softened him.
Right now Mary’s perspective is closer to that of the BMoL’s than to her sons. She is seeing the world as black and white. She wouldn’t shake Crowley’s hand because he is a demon, one of the disgusting monsters she is sworn to kill. Even given her instincts, she wasn’t fooled by Mr. Ketch’s propaganda speech, though. In fact, it pushed her to reconnect with her family. She is torn between her upbringing and her sons. This conflict will continue until she reaches a moment when she’ll have to decide between hate and revenge, and love. Unlike Rowena, I think Mary will be more like the sons - Gavin, Sam and Dean - who all chose love.
Even Crowley tried to protect his family.
Crowley: Just ‘cause Dim and Dimmer her can’t keep their own family all in the same dimension, doesn’t mean they can mess with mine!Gavin: Father, I want to do this.Crowley: What you want I a gym membership, happy hour at Hooters and Cubs tickets – none of which are available anywhere else but here. [No, this line is not evidence of a Thread. It is priceless though to this life-long Cub fan!]Rowena: Fergus, he’s not like us. He believes in things. Let him do what he believe is right.
Gavin’s choice was another example of a person willing to sacrifice themself for the greater good. Mary offered to kill herself to pay the boys’ debt to Billie, and Castiel has offered himself a few times to save the Winchesters. In a way, even Crowley put himself between Ramiel and his frenemies in “Stuck in the Middle”. We haven’t tracked a “sacrifice” thread but it is clearly present.
Crowley’s role as a dad was a large part of this story. Gavin’s presence created the opportunity for a son to sacrifice himself to save innocent people, something Sam and Dean do in every hunt, but it also strengthened the parallel between Crowley and Lucifer.
Crowley: You and Bullwinkle fix this mess before it hatches. Then, maybe then, we’ll talk about my son.Lucifer: Oh my. Dad. I love that. You and I both single fathers. I could use a little Dad advice right about now.
Lucifer’s child’s mother, Kelly, is also choosing love. In a very nice call back to earlier events, Azazel’s “sister”, another yellow eyed demon named Dagon, is ingratiating herself to Kelly. The Princes of Hell were supposed to be Lucifer’s generals but they are more like his elite guard. Azazel contacted Mary because he thought her child might be Lucifer’s one true vessel, while Dagon is interested in Kelly to protect Lucifer’s progeny. Either way, the YED’s are key to Lucifer’s new family and line of royalty.
Saving People, Hunting Things
Dagon knew exactly what to say in her first conversation with the woman who is carrying Lucifer’s child:
Kelly: You made those people explode.Dagon: again, not people, and they were attacking you.Kelly: and you said you were a demon.Dagon: Titles, labels. I’m a demon, you’re Rosemary complete with baby. Please. You humans. …Look what I’m saying is it ain’t all black and white, good versus evil. Those people who were trying to kill you? Angels. Yeah, that’s right. … No one is born good or bad. It’s all in the upbringing. This child, your child. He could save us all…. Kelly, the angels, the Winchesters, the good guys? They want you dead. But I can protect you. I can protect your son.
By the way, I’m just as impressed with Dagon as I was with Ramiel. Very powerful actors and characters. She gave a convincing performance to Kelly, already starting to brainwash the destitute, frightened, young mother.
Dagon’s “not people” reference to the angels who found Kelly categorizes them as monsters and the enemy versus people. Has anyone else thought that if angels found the Nephilim, Castiel would know from his angel radio? Yet he and the brothers have no idea where Kelly is? I hope this encounter gets mentioned the next time Castiel has a phone call with Sam and Dean.
Dagon’s speech not only echoed the Saving People, Hunting Things thread but also the good vs. evil thread. Other conversations switched to the right vs. wrong phrasing. All this talk of good and right sounds like the con job Ruby used on Sam, and the BMoL’s are using on Mary now.
Dean: Mom! Hey It has been a while. A long, long, long, long, long, long while…. What you been up to?Mary: There’s no easy way to say it so I’m just gonna say it. I have sort of been working with the BMoL’s.Sam: Mom we, um, have a history with them.Mary: I know Sam and it was a hard decision but they’re doing good work. I have helped them save people, a lot of people.Dean: So where does that leave us?Mary: Same as always. Family.
I think that says it all. I trust Mary. I trust Mary’s instincts and her loyalties. Sometimes family members disagree on the way to get things done, especially when the stakes are so high, but Sam, Dean, Mary… and Castiel, are family. They love each other. I think that will win in the end. I know this opinion isn’t shared by everyone, though. In the end, which do you think will be more important to Mary – her family or her mission?
A tweeter asked me why the BMoL’s came to the United States. “Why do they care? They have their own country to worry about.” I answered her without really thinking about it. “Power”, I said. The truth of my quick reply hit me then. So many of these characters are positioning themselves to have power, a theme that Wednesday and I have both been tracking. Mary is partnering with the BMoL’s to be able to wield their powerful knowledge and weapons. Each week we see her mount a more powerful assault on monsters. After her rugaru training exercise, Mr. Ketch said of her newest weapon,
Get’s the job done.
Why do the BMoL’s care about the rest of the world? Altruistic reasons? I doubt it. I am more convinced that the Yellow Eyed brother is at the top of their hierarchy and is spreading out to solidify his power over the world. Meanwhile, Dagon is cozying up to the next most powerful being in the universe, Lucifer’s Nephilim.
Maybe the hidden reason behind Crowley’s imprisonment of Lucifer is to symbolize the shift in power in the demonic world. Crowley wants to be respected, but keeping Lucifer in the throne room as his “pet” is a display of dominance:
Crowley: You’ll resist at first but the humiliation will eat at you until finally you’re worn down by your utter helplessness and you call me “master.” You brag of your superior power. Well, genius trumps brute force.
Yet Crowley’s not parading Lucifer’s entrapment to Hell’s court as Lucifer did to Crowley so there’s another motive at play here, maybe something we don’t know yet.
Even Rowena said she’d never be powerless again, but her spell to immobilize her son was a display of her power over him. We need a scorecard to keep track of who’s at the top of the food chain at any given moment! Only those who are acting out of love - Gavin, Kelly, Sam and Dean, Castiel, and Mary when she’s “softer” with them - aren’t trying to gain or abuse power.
The Passage of Time
Rowena: Hello, Gavin, You look just like my father when he was young.Sam: Gavin, meet Rowena, your grandmother.Gavin: My grandmother?
The new or young versus the old, including ancestors and grandparents, has been not only an undercurrent in the dialog but the basis of many stories. “Family Feud” again used both time travel and grandparents to emphasize the passage of time, not in a flashback but as the actual solution to the case.
Dean: Ready to do this, Gavin?Gavin: You’re positive this will work?Dean: Never done it before but our grandad did.Sam: You’re a good guy, Gavin.
Dean: So the teachers at the girls’ school are all back to work. It’s like nothing ever happened…Sam: Looks like history is back on track.
I don’t honestly think time travel will be the ultimate solution to the season’s biggest threat (What is that again? The BMoL’s? The “consequences for killing Billie? The Nephilim? All three?). Rather I think it’s being used to create the atmosphere of Mary’s return and old versus new ideas. I also think it’s foreshadowing the ancient Prince we have yet to meet, but I could be wrong here. What are your theories on this thread?
Rowena prevented Crowley from saving his son because she wanted Fergus to know the pain of losing a child. It’s heartbreaking that she loved Oskar more than her own son who is begging for her acceptance. Crowley’s loss is the second example this season of a father losing his child (the father in “Foundry” was driven insane by losing his little girl). Have there been others this year?
Of course, we’ve also seen a long line of mothers who have expressed grief over losing their children: Mary (losing her toddlers in heaven), Lucas’ mother, Lorraine (Asa’s mother), Jody, Lily and probably one or two more that I’m forgetting. All these stories are building the viewers’ empathy for both a mother’s and father’s pain of losing a child. The Morningstar family is sympathetically being introduced to us so that, when the time comes, we, and maybe Sam, Dean, Cas and Mary, will think of Lucifer as a dad and Kelly as a mom protecting an innocent baby.
Each week the season’s plot and characters get more complex. We aren’t tracking just one story – we’re tracking several. Sadly, we haven't needed to talk about Sam and Dean this week because their story was rather routine. Find a case, find a solution, save the day. Hopefully, we'll get more of them in the future? For one week though, it was interesting to focus on the characters who surround them. Crowley, Rowena, Lucifer, Dagon, a Nephillim on one side; Mary, Sam, Dean and Castiel on the other, with Kelly caught in the middle. I think the BMoL's are also in the middle, they just don't know it yet. That's a lot of characters to track. How these all fit together is yet to be seen, but let’s see if we can figure it all out together, shall we? Go!
Dialog confirmed with http://transcripts.foreverdreaming.org/
Screencaps courtesy of http://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/