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23 February 2008 @ 09:56 pm
3.12 Jus in Bello: If That’s How You Win Wars, Then I Don’t Wanna Win  

3.12 Jus in Bello: If That’s How You Win Wars, Then I Don’t Wanna Win

 

What price victory?

When demons target the boys,

Allies pay the price. 

 

Episode Summary

 

Tracking Bela and the Colt to the small town of Monument, Colorado, the Winchester brothers found that Bela had laid a trap for them, alerting the FBI to their whereabouts. FBI Special Agent Victor Henriksen took great delight in arresting them, and took over the local jail to hold them until he could arrange secure transport to the SuperMax prison in Nevada. Henriksen’s boss, FBI Deputy Director Steven Groves, was so eager to see them caught that he flew out himself with a chopper to transport them. But when Groves arrived to inspect his catch, the brothers learned that he had been possessed by a demon; visiting them alone, he pulled a silenced pistol and shot Dean, then escaped Sam’s half-finished exorcism, abandoning Groves’ dead body to flee through an air vent. Not believing the brother’s tale that Groves had been possessed, Henriksen decided to take the chopper and move them immediately, but when the pilot didn’t respond to a radio call, Henriksen’s partner Reidy went outside to check, only to discover that the pilot and all four of the local cops who had been on guard were dead, their throats cut. No sooner had he reported in than the chopper exploded, and one of the dead cops, with demon black eyes, confronted and killed him. Inside the police station, the power went out and the phones died, and Henriksen realized that they were under siege.

 

Stuck in a cell, realizing that the demons were apparently coming for them and could enter the station in the guise of anyone, the brothers had few resources. Sam persuaded the devout young secretary, Nancy, to bring a towel to help stanch Dean’s bleeding shoulder, and grabbed her when she approached the bars, managing to get her rosary as well as the towel before the one remaining deputy, Amici, responded to her screams and warned them not to try anything further. A little while later, when Sheriff Dodd opened the cell, saying that he meant to take the boys and make a run for Boulder, Henriksen shot him. Instantly understanding that Henriksen had been possessed, Dean and Sam overpowered Henriksen and got his gun. Dean held Amici at bay while Sam proceeded to dunk Henriksen’s head in the toilet, which they’d blessed into holy water with the help of the rosary, and to race through an exorcism to expel the demon. Even as it was being dismissed, the demon gloated that it was too late, that it had already summoned the others; then Sam completed the exorcism, and the demon was driven out.

 

Finally understanding first-hand that everything the Winchesters had said was true, Henriksen lost no time in freeing the brothers and asking them for help. Road salt served to secure the windows and doors, and the brothers spray-painted devil’s traps on the floors inside the doors and windows. Dean dared a trip outside to ransack the Impala’s trunk for weapons and protective amulets, and raced back inside even as a cloud of demons descended on the station. Unable to enter, the demons instead possessed townspeople. Amici, peering out through a window, inadvertently broke the salt line protecting it, and Ruby, having fought her way through the other demons, broke through the glass and landed in one of the traps. Released by Sam, who re-secured the window salt, she demanded the Colt. When she learned it had been stolen, she announced that the only other way she knew to get them out alive would be to do a witchcraft spell that would vaporize all demons within a mile, herself included. Learning that the spell would require cutting out the heart of virginal Nancy, Dean and Henriksen flatly refused, even though Nancy was willing to die to save her possessed friends and Sam was listening to Ruby. Dean proposed an alternative plan, a desperate gambit to sucker the demons into the station, keep them occupied with fighting, trap them inside with salt, and broadcast a recorded exorcism through the public address system to send all of them back to Hell. Protesting that it would never work, and that she was disappointed in Sam, Ruby left them to their own devices – and Dean’s plan worked, although one demon escaped.

 

Afterward, Henriksen told the boys that he would report them officially dead, and let them go. Shortly after they left, while Nancy, Amici, and Henriksen were still cleaning up the shambles of the police station, a little girl turned up, asking after the Winchesters, and announced that she was Lilith – the name Ruby had revealed as the rising new leader of the demons. Lilith destroyed the police station and the people inside. Ruby turned up at the boys’ motel and told them to turn on the news. Watching their shock and grief at the news report of the purported gas main explosion, she castigated them for not having used her plan, taunting that for all their talk of humanity in war, Dean’s plan was the one that had produced the real body count. She gave them spell bags she said would throw Lilith off their trail for a little while, and then left, saying that next time, they would do things her way.

 

Commentary and Meta Analysis

 

Ruby was wrong. Dean was right. Morality is not a numbers game. Humanity matters. There are always choices, and some of them are always wrong. And some of them are right.

 

The moment I learned the name of this episode, I feared it, because I’ve studied history and international law. Jus in bello means justice in war, and names the theory defining the ethical principles of discrimination and proportionality governing moral human behavior in wartime. Discrimination concerns determining who are appropriate targets in war, while proportionality concerns how much force is morally appropriate to use. What scared me most of all was the realization that jus in bello describes human conflicts, where the parties on both sides are human. Even in human conflicts, those principles can and do fail; just witness the atrocities of terrorism and war visible in the world all around us. How much more likely would it be for humans, facing ruthless non-human opponents definitely not bound by human moral codes, to be tempted to abandon those codes themselves? If your opponents care nothing for discrimination and proportionality, considering any innocent fair game and no amount of force or viciousness excessive, how could you hope to fight or win unless you did the same? That was Ruby’s argument.

 

And I submit that Ruby’s argument was wrong.

 

Before I even get into the philosophical part of the discussion, let me address the factual one. Ruby accused the boys of having been responsible for the destruction that Lilith wreaked at the police station, blaming the murderous outcome on the boys’ choice to follow Dean’s plan rather than hers. Evidently referring to the one demon who had escaped, Ruby asserted that the boys didn’t know how to fight a battle, saying that in war you strike fast, kill all your opponents, and leave no one able to run back and report. Her implication was that, but for that one demon having escaped, the incident with Lilith wouldn’t have happened, and Amici, Henriksen, and others in the police station wouldn’t have died.

 

To which I say, hogwash. The outcome with Lilith would have been the same no matter which plan they had followed. Just think about it.

 

The very first demon to arrive at the police station, the one in Henriksen’s boss Groves, confirmed the presence of the boys. It abandoned its host voluntarily before Sam finished the exorcism, taunting them and then fleeing as smoke, and obviously summoned others. One suspects it had summoned them even before laying eyes on the boys, given the speed with which the first part of the response – the deaths of the four guard cops and the chopper pilot outside – took place. I suspect that this was the very same demon that later possessed Henriksen, who told Sam during that exorcism that it was already too late: that he had called the others to come. Ergo, Lilith already knew where the boys were; all the demons did. Lilith didn’t need any demon to escape the fight in order to tell her where to go. So that one demon managing to escape the mass exorcism would have had no impact at all on what happened afterward.

 

Nor would executing Ruby’s spell have caused anything to be different. Again, Lilith already knew where the boys were. The only way in which Ruby’s spell might have changed things – assuming it worked as advertised and wasn’t simply a ruse to get Sam to destroy himself by abandoning his humanity and acceding to the murder of an absolute innocent – would have been if Lilith herself had been within the one mile range of the spell, and we have absolutely no reason to believe she was that close. Nothing short of her own prior destruction would have prevented Lilith from doing what she did at the police station. Thus, Lilith’s body count wasn’t a result of the boys having followed Dean’s plan.

 

And what was Lilith’s body count, anyway? Yes, she killed Henriksen, Nancy, and Amici, no question. But every other person mentioned in the news broadcast as having died in the police station explosion had actually died before Lilith arrived, or was a fabricated death. According to the news announcer, the total was at least six police officers and personnel, including Sheriff Dodd and Nancy, three FBI agents, and two fugitives in custody – and we know that those two “fugitives in custody” were listed as dead only because Henriksen had already reported they were. The police officer total would have been made up by the guard officers whose throats were cut at the very beginning of the attack, along with Amici and Dodd; one assumes that all their bodies would still have been on the scene. None of the possessed civilians who had invaded the station evidently died: Henriksen and the boys were using holy water and non-fatal rock salt shot in the shotguns during the fight, and after the mass exorcism, the people who’d collapsed on the floor all stirred and got up. Most of them were gone even before the boys left. None of them were there when Lilith arrived.

 

I hope that, once they get over their first shock at what Lilith did, Dean and Sam think about everything they heard and saw, and realize that the guilt Ruby tried to put on them flat-out doesn’t fit. Unfortunately, all of the Winchesters have a tendency to blame themselves for things that aren’t their fault whenever innocent people are hurt, and their rational minds were already swamped by self-flagellating emotion when Ruby slammed them with the accusation of guilt. Even when those shoes don’t fit, the boys insist on wearing them.

 

And that brings me to Ruby. We still don’t know what her game is. We still don’t know her goal. She told Dean that, unlike most demons, she remembers how it felt to be human – but she’s still a demon. We know she professes to want Sam to be tough and ruthless, to be able to fight the war on his own, without Dean – but we don’t know what she wants  him to fight for, what she wants the outcome of the war to be. Not really. She said she’s been betting on Sam as her horse in the race – shades of the Yellow-Eyed Demon in that attitude – but we don’t know the prize she’s trying to win by riding him. She said she was willing to die in order to save his life, but since it never came to that, we don’t know it for the truth. I would submit, however, that everything we’ve seen suggests that following her lead would be a bad idea, especially for Sam.

 

Even when Ruby was human, her moral compass was obviously unreliable. All that we know about her is that she became a witch of the old school, black magic variety, who traded her soul to a demon for power. Maybe there was a noble reason for her to have done it, something similar to Dean having sold his soul for his brother’s life, but we don’t know that and have no reason to assume it. And now, there’s no disputing that she’s a demon. As such, she’s in no position to offer moral or ethical advice. Demons may have been human once, but they aren’t any more. Following a demon’s advice seems a fast road to becoming a demon yourself. It’s certainly not going to make you a better human.

 

Ruby seems bound and determined to force Sam to become a ruthless warrior, and to consider that a good thing. I don’t, Dean doesn’t, and neither should Sam. All last season, after having learned that the Demon had plans for him, Sam was afraid of his purported “destiny,” of possibly becoming something evil, something other than himself. With the Demon dead, he seems to be assuming that his “destiny” is moot, trusting that his psychic abilities are gone and that the Demon’s plans have been negated. At the same time, his determination to save Dean from his soul-selling deal has led him to justify becoming harder and colder, becoming faster to judge and act, and we’ve seen him sliding by inches down the slippery slope toward Ruby’s ruthless, lonely vision. That frightens me. In last week’s episode, Mystery Spot, we and Sam saw where that could lead – to Sam becoming a mechanical terminator as ruthless and inhuman as any demon.

 

And Ruby seems to want that. More, Ruby seems dead-set on achieving it. The depth and heat of her rage at his refusal to follow her lead makes me wonder. What would Ruby do, to take him there? How much of what happened at that police station, happened by Ruby’s design? Who slit the throats of the cops who were outside on guard, who all died so swiftly that none of them were able to raise the alarm, and who all died before the big demon army arrived? Who do we know, who carries a knife and uses it without hesitation? Was all of that a setup, intended to force Sam to take a decisive step away from his humanity by putting him in the way of overwhelming odds, and prompting him to accept a mathematical argument in favor of an immoral, soul-destroying choice? If they’d had the Colt, that easy demon-killer, how many innocent, possessed people would Ruby have convinced Sam to kill in the battle, without looking for alternative strategies? When it came down to the spell idea, killing one willing person in cold blood to save thirty more innocent souls sounded almost like a reasonable balance. The needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few, or the one. Serving the greater good. Making the hard choice.

 

And ceasing to be human, and true to themselves.

 

And this is where the philosophical holes in Ruby’s argument come in. She professed an accountant’s view of morality, of ethics – that the determinant of moral choice is how many lives you save, and that how you save them doesn’t matter, if you’re saving more than you take. Further, she professed that no moral code matters in war – that the only thing to do is to fight no-holds-barred until your enemies are dead and you win.

 

I would submit that all of that is wrong.

 

Moral and ethical choice lie with each of us. That our enemies may have no moral code does not absolve us of the need and duty to remain true to our own. If we abandon our code because it is inconvenient, because it is painful, or because it is costly, then we abandon ourselves. And it can’t be reduced to a simple numbers game, to some arbitrary ledger and balance sheet of lives saved and lives lost. What we choose to do, and how and why we do it, matter. Between them, Dean and Henriksen both said it: We do have choices. We don’t sacrifice people. We do that, we’re no better than them. Your choice is not a choice. That doesn’t mean that we throw away the rulebook and stop acting like humans! If that’s how you win wars, then I don’t wanna win. There are times when the price of physical survival is spiritual suicide, and that price is too high to pay; just ask Dean. Yet that’s exactly the price I see Ruby demanding from Sam.

 

The unacceptability of the equation wasn’t offset by Nancy’s willingness to be sacrificed, either. Yes, soldiers in wartime may choose to sacrifice themselves in an attempt to take out a stronghold of the other side, and in so doing save others of their comrades, and we call that noble. I would submit, however, that it’s something entirely different to agree to the deliberate murder of one of your own, and someone who’s an innocent, not a soldier for the cause, in order to use her death to kill your foes. The choice to kill your own for tactical advantage is abhorrent.

 

Dean’s alternative plan, desperate as it was, also was brilliant, and it worked. The boys accounted for thirty demons returned to Hell, all without killing anyone themselves. They saved thirty innocent hosts from possession – and, hopefully, from a possession short enough to have done no permanent damage. Clearly, they had a morally defensible choice that was also tactically and strategically sound. That was a masterstroke, and what Lilith did afterward does not detract from it in the least, no matter what Ruby claimed. It was a victory, and it was real. And I hate both Lilith and Ruby for devaluing it.

 

My parting thought on this concept is that this series has always been about choice, and that it is the choices the boys have made, not the things that have happened to them, that have always mattered the most. Choice isn’t easy, and the right choice isn’t always clear, but Sam and Dean, working together, have so far managed to take turns compensating for each other’s occasional weaknesses and make more ethical choices than wrong ones. Either one without the other can be prone to choosing badly, to making mistakes, but as long as they’re together, they can argue themselves into seeing the light.

 

Production Notes

 

I always trust Sera Gamble to open philosophical and emotional doors and then twist them off their hinges, and she definitely delivered again. I do wish she didn’t take such positive glee in killing off good characters, though; what hurt the most was losing Henriksen right on the heels of watching him learn the truth and unexpectedly bond with Dean. Please, Sera: can’t you occasionally leave someone alive?

 

Phil Sgriccia is one of the best go-to directors for action in Supernatural’s stable – just look at Nightmare and Nightshifter for other examples – and he never disappoints. He laid out the police station so carefully in his set-ups that you understood the relationship of all the rooms before the crazy action began and could follow the climactic fight through all of its phases. He used a lot of quick-cut, hand-held camera work to give real immediacy to the action. My only unfulfilled wish, knowing from interviews that he’s responsible for some of the great music cuts, was that we didn’t have any classic rock in the soundtrack, although we did get the hilarious shout-out to Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff.”

 

The guest stars were superb. I will truly miss Charles Malik Whitfield as Victor Henriksen; he made a potent adversary, and an even better and more nuanced friend. The scenes between Henriksen and Dean sparkled, from Henriksen needling Dean and Sam in the cell (Truth is, your Daddy brainwashed you with all that devil talk and no doubt touched you in the bad place.) to unexpectedly bonding with Dean as they loaded weapons (I’m right where you are. …  Imagine that.)  His silent guilt over his actions while possessed, revealed in his long look at the dead sheriff’s nameplate, felt very real. The single saddest thing about this episode is that Victor died just when he was ready to join the hunter world and be a true friend to the Winchesters. Aimee Garcia totally rocked virgin Nancy Fitzgerald, who managed to make even Dean respect a virgin’s choice to be one. And it was a treat to see Peter DeLuise in front of the cameras again as Steven Groves, after so much time behind them (see Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis), even if he did pretty much just shoot Dean and die. And having new super-bad Lilith possessing a sweet-looking little girl? Yep – kids are scary. Just ask Eric Kripke! What’s going to happen when Sam and Dean discover that the super-demon who wants Sam dead is possessing an innocent little girl, and they have to choose what action to take against her? The situation won’t be pretty, I can guarantee that.

 

Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki did their now-customary beautiful jobs. What could I say about them that I haven't already?

 

Delightful touches were scattered throughout the episode. The Dean and Sam mugshots (“Blue Steel,” anyone?) from Folsom Prison Blues were posted on Groves’s wall. The new tattoos the boys were sporting echoed things many of us said after Devil’s Trap, and again after Born Under a Bad Sign. And was the woman in that “Wanted” poster of Molly Baker in the police station the same woman who held Lilith’s hand on her way into the station at the end?

 

Bela’s non-answer to Dean’s assumption that she would sell the Colt to the highest bidder pretty well indicated that she stole the Colt for some other purpose of her own, probably related to her as-yet-undisclosed tragic past. I still don’t care. After all the things she’s done to the boys, I have no interest in her redemption. Forgiveness may be divine, but I don’t aspire to it.

 

The flip in airing order of this episode with Mystery Spot didn’t bother me at all. I’ll be curious to see what they do on the DVD release. Had this episode aired first, I might have seen Mystery Spot as a deliberate attempt on Ruby’s part to use the Trickster to force Sam to toughen up. In the current strike-dictated order, I could as easily see Sam’s hesitation to fully espouse Ruby’s position and really argue with Dean as the outcome of Sam having seen how harsh, non-human, and demonically mechanical he had become after Dean’s death. It can work either way.

 

All I really aspire to is seeing more episodes of Supernatural. Having to wait until the end of April will be killer!

 

 

 
 
Current Mood: quixoticquixotic
Current Music: "Renegade" by Styx
 
 
 
Laurenblackjedii on February 24th, 2008 03:15 am (UTC)
Who slit the throats of the cops who were outside on guard, who all died so swiftly that none of them were able to raise the alarm, and who all died before the big demon army arrived?

ohgods I totally did not think of this!
THANK YOU!! <3 <3 Here's hoping she was behind it because yes, Ruby is not playing for the Good Guys. (Or if she is, I will be honestly SHOCKED.)
bardicvoice: Sam Laughing by <lj user=inthe_sunshine>bardicvoice on February 24th, 2008 04:21 am (UTC)
I have an evil mind ... I must admit, though, that I really can appreciate ambivalent characters!
(no subject) - fannishliss on February 25th, 2008 11:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
jdsgirlbevjdsgirlbev on February 24th, 2008 03:50 am (UTC)
That was a post of beauty! Thank you.
bardicvoice: Daddy by <lj user=oh_mcgee>bardicvoice on February 24th, 2008 04:23 am (UTC)
Thank you! Always happy when new readers enjoy my stuff!
(no subject) - jdsgirlbev on February 24th, 2008 04:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bardicvoice on February 24th, 2008 01:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Diagonally Parked in a Parallel Universe: BrotherHugsriverbella on February 24th, 2008 04:01 am (UTC)
I love the moral complexity of this show and this episode was definitely rife with it. I really appreciate your analysis because it helped to clarify some things I was having difficulty articulating. I felt after a couple of viewings that Ruby's take on the outcome of Dean's plan was exaggerated. As you mentioned, the possessed townspeople survived just as they would have under Ruby's scenario. Dean and Sam's guilt and distress were easy for her to solicit, because it was based on the deaths of people they had come to like and admire, Nancy and Henrickson, certainly, and even the deputy to some extent. I can't bring myself to believe that Ruby cared one way or another about their lives. She was pissed off because she failed in her attempt to control both the situation and Sam in the furtherance of her own agenda, whatever that may be. I have come to like the character and the dimension she adds, but I most certainly don't trust her!

There is a received opinion common to Dean, the Trickster, and, I suspect, Ruby as well about Dean being Sam's weakness, and the bad guys knowing and prepared to use it against Sam. In one sense that is certainly true. What Dean said, and later proved, about how far he was willing to go to save Sam is just as hazardously true, now, for Sam. But in another sense, Dean is also Sam's strength, and vice versa. They ground and balance each other, as you noted, and make better choices together than either of them do on their own.

Re Bela, I'm with you there. If the intention is to redeem her at some point through backstory or future actions, it may already be too late. I feel a little sorry for Lauren Cohan, having to play such an unregenerately unlikeable character!

I really will miss Henrickson. He turned out to be a real stand-up guy and would have been a superb hunter. I suppose it is all part of the "isolate the boys and make things as hard on them as possible" trope that led to killing off such a valuable potential ally.

Must just throw in a fangirly reaction or two. One is, of course, the brother tattoos. I just love that. Made me wonder if someone's been reading a little fanfic along the way--or if it was just Sera, who is as much a fangirl as she is a writer! Also, one of my favorite moments was when Henrickson was taunting Dean about Dad and Sam shot up out of his slump, not to glare at Henrickson or react on his own account, but just to put himself shoulder to shoulder with Dean in support. I may be reading in something that wasn't there, but that was how it struck me. :D
bardicvoice: BrotherLove by <lj user=crystalchain>bardicvoice on February 24th, 2008 04:28 am (UTC)
Also, one of my favorite moments was when Henrickson was taunting Dean about Dad and Sam shot up out of his slump, not to glare at Henrickson or react on his own account, but just to put himself shoulder to shoulder with Dean in support. I may be reading in something that wasn't there, but that was how it struck me.

You're definitely not alone on that one - I had exactly the same response! It was almost a tossup between Sam just instantly being there for support, knowing that an allegation of abuse by Dad would move Dean dangerously close to action, and being ready to move right along with Dean so he wouldn't get tripped up by the chains if he actually wanted to try something!

Oh, and I LOVE your icon! Pairing both the Dean hug and the Sam hug ... perfection!
(no subject) - fannishliss on February 25th, 2008 12:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bardicvoice on February 26th, 2008 01:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
Dani: fixing the Impalapinkphoenix1985 on February 24th, 2008 05:10 am (UTC)
brilliant! I totally agree!! the haitus is going to kill me!
bardicvoice: BardicImpala by <lj user=janglyjewels>bardicvoice on February 24th, 2008 12:48 pm (UTC)
All I can say is, thank heaven for DVDs and DVRs! I'm planning my own reruns, since the CW isn't inclined to give us any. I'm also giving thanks for the philosophical and psychological complexity of Show, since that gives us plenty of grist for the mill to prompt meta discussions!

I'm also planning on sending a regular series of gentle emails to the CW, saying that I miss my Supernatural, that the ratings for the most recent episode were deservingly wonderful, that I'm really looking forward to seeing it again ... yadda, yadda, yadda ...
(no subject) - pinkphoenix1985 on February 24th, 2008 02:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bardicvoice on February 26th, 2008 01:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
Virtual Strumpet: SPN-Sam Hell & Highwaterglendaglamazon on February 24th, 2008 06:23 am (UTC)
Excellent post, and I agree with all that you had to say. Someone else on my friends list, merryish, posted her (completely unspoiled) ruminations on how saving Dean and what Sam has to do to do it might play out, and it pretty much all rests on this battle between Dean and Ruby for Sam's soul, and points up all that you say about the slippery moral slope Ruby wants Sam to take.

I hope you don't mind if I friend you and go digging for your other meta-tastic episode discussions!
bardicvoice: SU brothers by <lj user=Cakehole_Cat>bardicvoice on February 24th, 2008 12:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you, and I don't mind in the least!I hope you find things lying around here that you enjoy. In addition to the episode commentaries, I do a little thing called Supernatural University for pure meta discussions - and I'm planning on keeping SU in session during the hiatus!
Sarahgrrli on February 24th, 2008 06:38 am (UTC)
There is no justice in war. War means failure in a lot of different areas.
Even in a war between humanity and demons(forces of evil) something failed in order for it to happen in the first place. That's what I figure.
Dean is so right, that's the Dean I've always seen him evolving into. Rather, the Dean that was hiding under the other stuff.
Ruby is just a demon. She may know how to win a war but she doesn't know how to be decent. I'm not convinced that this is a conspiracy on Sam, I just think that Ruby has power, knowledge, a crappy moral compass, and is about as lost as they are.

Technically, Ruby is correct in certain aspects. I agree that Lilith would have killed everyone there, plus the people who were housing demons when she got there to find Sam and Dean gone. If Ruby had stood by them, that last demon wouldn't have gotten away to tattle, so maybe the station would have been spared.

Ruby is flawed as a demon and not really very humane, either.
Sort of like Bela. And I agree with that, too. I could give a rat's ass why she stole the colt. She did things so monumentally wrong in attaining it that she really isn't going to gain any sort of redemption anytime soon. Snobby, posh spice wannabe. She can manipulate them, so if she wasn't going to sell the gun, why not enlist them as help? She doesn't seem to mind using the Winchesters for other tasks.

I'm so sad Hendrickson is dead. And that virgin chick. *L* Sera Gamble is mean!

With all their potential allies being wiped out or sucky or just not enough... I really need to see them find some hope, some hint of faith to get them through. wanting to fight through to the end for their own honor is okay, but wanting to protect the innocence left in the world is really the base motivator for them, anymore.
bardicvoice: Formybrother by <lj user=Cakehole_Cat>bardicvoice on February 24th, 2008 01:01 pm (UTC)
War is always a failure of other forms of dispute resolution, but sometimes - especially when it's prosecuted by a greedy bully - your only acceptable survival choice is to fight back.

Had Ruby stood by them at the station, she would have been exorcised like the rest, unless she was far enough away not to have heard the broadcast. And for all that she professed a willingness to die her way, on her own terms, she wasn't ready to give it up unless she was calling the shots. There's a bit of selfishness to that.

I share your hope that the brothers will be able to find some hope and support one of these days. It just seems to be getting darker all the time ...
Extra Onionsextraonions on February 24th, 2008 07:07 am (UTC)
Well said.

.Her implication was that, but for that one demon having escaped, the incident with Lilith wouldn’t have happened, and Amici, Henriksen, and others in the police station wouldn’t have died.

I also submit, if Dean's plan 'failed' on the basis of a single demon escaping (Ruby's position), then the fault is Ruby's, because she left them to it. A third person on the outside could have spread the salt that much quicker (I'm assuming a demon can hold a bag of salt, just not cross a line of it)... or killed the demon that escaped, had it come to that.

It really bothers me, the guilt tripping this season, from Magnificent Seven on when Tamara and Isaac blame Sam and Dean for letting the demons out of hell.
bardicvoice: darkinside by <lj user=Cakehole_Cat>bardicvoice on February 24th, 2008 01:12 pm (UTC)
Hmm ... I'm betting that a demon would have a general problem with salt all around, purity being pain for them - but then again, Ruby had no trouble eating Sam's French fries, so who knows? *grin* I wonder from just how far away (out of broadcast exorcism range!) she stood and watched to see what would happen? Somehow, I just don't see her having left outright - and if she was there, out of range and concealed, then yeah: why didn't she kill messenger boy? Just to say "I told you so?"

Yipes - I'm more vexed at her than even I realized!

The blame game seems endemic among humans. It's become almost a norm for people to assert that nothing just happens, nothing's an accident, and nothing was unavoidable; that it's always somebody's fault. And most people always claim that it's someone else's fault. Frosts my jets. I do hope that the boys stop blaming themselves for things not their fault, but it seems in their natures to accept more responsibility than is their due. *smishes boys*
grand_sophygrand_sophy on February 24th, 2008 07:31 am (UTC)
Well argued. I agree about Ruby as the metaphorical or literal devil's advocate (maybe both!). She really is the devil on Sam's shoulder whispering temptation into his ear. Interesting idea about her working with Lilith; I'd assumed it was Groves with his demonic powers and the element of surprise that accounted for the dead pilot and police officers, but you may be right. Thanks for sharing your review.
bardicvoice: Tats by <lj user=inthe_sunshine>bardicvoice on February 24th, 2008 01:17 pm (UTC)
Could have been Groves, but I didn't see any evidence of a knife or any blood-spatter, which is why I suddenly started wondering.

I don't think that Ruby is working with Lilith - I suspect that Lilith would slap her down even faster than Tammi did! - but taking advantage of the situation to swing things her way? Now that, I could see ...

Thanks for coming!
Imperialistenbrausetrinker: taste funnysatanael on February 24th, 2008 10:42 am (UTC)
Actually the last scene didn't work for me at all and I blamed it on bad writing since I don't get it why the brothers should feel responsible for what Lilith did. Shocked yes, but no self-blaming. Why didn't they talk back to Ruby? Ruby mostly talked crap anyway and maybe it was how the actress delived it that ruined it for me and didn't turn it into a highly moral conflict. Strangely enough Dean turns out to be a great leader while Sam just stands around and doesn't even open his mouth. He practically disappeared in this episode so why should any demon be interested in him living or dying anyway? Shouldn't the demons be afraid of Dean's humanity? Geez, I'm rambling again ... o.O Sorry.
bardicvoicebardicvoice on February 24th, 2008 01:21 pm (UTC)
The boys always blame themselves when people get hurt, whether it's their fault or not. They've been brought up to see saving people as their mission, and when people die, it means they failed. Ruby knows that, and she played on it - she knew they'd be devastated by the news, and she took that moment, while their rational faculties were impaired, to hit below the belt and plant another seed of guilt. I'm just hoping that after she stalked out, they managed to process the sorrow and the loss and then reject the fallacy of her argument!

Thanks for coming!
Chellealtyronsmaker on February 24th, 2008 12:16 pm (UTC)
Nicely done! I agree with Dean's statement that if that's the way Sam is gonna win wars, then he doesn't want to win. Everything in this post is EXACTLY what I wanted to say. Even the bit about the girl on the wanted poster. I KNEW they focused on her for that brief second for a reason. KNEW IT. And now, I'll have to look and see if it is the same girl.

So yes, cheers, to everything mentioned here. Definitely.
bardicvoice: Sam Laughing by <lj user=inthe_sunshine>bardicvoice on February 24th, 2008 01:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I don't know whether that wanted poster will pay off or not - red herrings abound - but seeing it multiple times really didn't feel accidental, did it? *grin*
The Rogue Bitch.: the hugroguebitch on February 24th, 2008 12:33 pm (UTC)

I liked this analysis, and it brought me to a realization: there are two wars here. The war between demons and human beings. And the war between a/the demon and *humanity*. Because we know, and Ruby knows, and Dean knows that the minute Sam sacrifices an innocent in this war, he's lost that humanity. And for some reason, it is vitally important that Sam keep that.

This is all very Nietzschean! I wonder how this will be explicated and/or resolved.
bardicvoice: BrotherLove by <lj user=crystalchain>bardicvoice on February 24th, 2008 01:37 pm (UTC)
Oooh - lovely point on the two wars! Yes, I do think you're right. I suspect that humanity may be the key.

Sam has already had to sacrifice innocents, in the form of people possessed by demons; consider Casey and the priest from Sin City. But so far, he's grieved for them and punished himself for his actions in his own thoughts, and done it only in response to immediately perceived threats when he had no leisure to think and plan. The scary part for me would come if he hardened himself to accepting losses and collateral damage before the fact and chose to take deliberate action knowing the consequences, without searching desperately for alternatives first. I think that's one reason the Colt has always troubled me. It offered a sure and certain way to kill demons, making it a weapon to reach for without thought - the only problem being that it would kill an innocent possessed host right along with the demon. Having the Colt made everything falsely seem easy; not having it here meant that the boys had to search for other alternatives, which might not have occurred to them if the Colt had been ready to hand.

I can't wait to see where Kripke and Company will take all of this, and I do trust that it will be a satisfying ride!
(no subject) - roguebitch on February 24th, 2008 01:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bardicvoice on February 26th, 2008 01:20 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - andromakhe001 on March 1st, 2008 05:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
Erikaeken95 on February 24th, 2008 12:47 pm (UTC)
Really, I hope this is one of the comms Kripke reads because that was just wonderful.

'The outcome with Lilith would have been the same no matter which plan they had followed. Just think about it'

Lilith had no need to kill those people other than to send a message to Sam and Dean that this isn't over. She would have done that no matter which plan was used.

'Either one without the other can be prone to choosing badly, to making mistakes, but as long as they’re together, they can argue themselves into seeing the light.'

It might appear that given how much help Dean needs to avoid the crossroads deal that it's Dean that needs Sam at the moment. But as we've seen it's Sam who would be totally lost without Dean and this weeks ep proved that again. Sam certainly can't use Ruby as his moral compass. Whatever percentage of Sam that came back human really needs Dean to keep it that way. I'm just worried that at some stage they will be driven apart, no real theory on this just a pre exam nerves butterflies feeling.

'Phil Sgriccia is one of the best go-to directors for action in Supernatural’s stable – just look at Nightmare and Nightshifter for other examples – and he never disappoints.'

I adored the direction and the writing and the acting in this ep. In the daddy touched you scene Sam has no dialogue and in fact lies down and withdraws, yet at the daddy remark he sits up next to his brother and mirrors Dean's body language absolutely. I loved that, it was a real quiet but together against the world 'fuck you, you know nothing about our dad' moment that made me go all fangirly.

As to Bela I so hope they don't try and redeem her in some way because seriously I'd need to be hypnotised to wipe her from my memory first. And she is just such an annoying character I want to hate her(which I do) but I don't want to be irritated while I'm hating Any one of those many deaths Dean suffered would suit me fine for Bela. A freak lawn mower accident, a slip on a banana skin, anything. But given Kripke's remarks on how wonderful the acttress is i suspect she is in for the long haul.

Is April yet? My only consolation is that in the UK we are only on the early eps of season 3.


bardicvoice: All need is love by <lj user=chal>bardicvoice on February 24th, 2008 01:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you! *blushes* Actually, my most sneaking hope is that Kripke maybe possibly has seen some of my stuff, because although he's never mentioned LJ, my episode commentaries are also published on www.supernatural.tv, which he has mentioned. Maybe I'll get the chance to ask, since he's going to be at the LA con ... *Squee!*

One of the things I've most loved about this show is the way that the boys have always needed and supported each other. They've handed that baton back and forth throughout the series, exchanging who at any time is particularly in need and who supplies strength, and it's been a delightful balance. Each of them saves the other over and over again, and it's never a one-sided deal. I adore that.

And I had the same reaction to the "daddy touched you" cellblock scene! Brothers together, brothers united - sends good shivers down my spine.

As far as the hiatus is concerned, well - I'm glad that Show has so many levels and such complexity, because there's still plenty of fuel for the fire of meta discussion while we wait for new eps!
jennk528jennk528 on February 24th, 2008 02:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks for another insightful recap - I think I found myself nodding in agreement with all of your points! It's good to step back after the ep and look at it with a clearer head....*g* And not screaming at Ruby. Or Bela.

Though they both completely deserve it, of course.

It was nice to see Dean as the Big Damn Hero he is, as if we had any doubts. I shall miss Henrickson terribly! Who woulda thought?

*waiting not so patiently for April*...

bardicvoice: bardicvoice by <lj user=Cakehole_Cat>bardicvoice on February 26th, 2008 01:22 am (UTC)
Thank you!

Is it at least the end of March, and the LA con?
Dawnie: SPN - hold medawnie1970 on February 24th, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC)
Ruby was wrong. Dean was right. Morality is not a numbers game. Humanity matters. There are always choices, and some of them are always wrong. And some of them are right.

Hear, hear! Excellent meta.
bardicvoice: BrotherLove by <lj user=crystalchain>bardicvoice on February 26th, 2008 01:23 am (UTC)
Thank you!
redrikkiredrikki on February 24th, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much for this intelligent and insightful analysis of the moral issues in this episode. Dean's plan worked. Dean's plan maintained the moral high ground. Clearly, Lilith already knew where they were if she was sending a demon army after them, so the argument that she only does what she does because the demon escaped is perposterous. Moreover, if she came because she knew her army had been destroyed, presumably she would have come if they had destroyed it Ruby's way too. I understand from a character perspective why they let the boys just wallow in their grief and misplaced guilt rather than lay the verbal smack-down on Ruby's stupidity, but I really wish they would have not let the amoral demon have the last word about how to behave in a good vs evil war.
bardicvoice: FaceBlend Brothers by <lj user=clubinthebardicvoice on February 26th, 2008 01:29 am (UTC)
Thank you for the compliment!

I do wish that their triumph hadn't been so thoroughly diminished by Lilith's evil and Ruby's viciousness. Alas for the Winchesters, literally too good for their own good ...