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SPN Heaven

SPN 11.23 Alpha and Omega

Posted on 2016.06.06 at 19:42
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SPN 11.23 Alpha and Omega



It occurs to me that the peculiarity of most things we think of as fragile
is how tough they truly are. There were tricks we did with eggs, as
children, to show how they were, in reality, tiny load-bearing marble
halls; while the beat of the wings of a butterfly in the right place, we are
told, can create a hurricane across an ocean. Hearts may break, but
hearts are the toughest of muscles, able to pump for a lifetime, seventy
times a minute, and scarcely falter along the way. Even dreams, the
most delicate and intangible of things, can prove remarkable difficult to
kill.

Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds' eggs and human
hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger
or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation
marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas -
abstract, invisible, gone once they've been spoken - and what could be
more frail than that? But some stories, small, simple ones about setting
out on adventures or people doing wonders, tales of miracles and
monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of
them have outlasted the lands in which they were created.
-- Neil Gaiman




Fragile things. Humans squaring off against the "biggest evil in the universe"... that qualifies. Well, evil might be the wrong description, Lucifer, but thanks for playing anyway.

Chuck: You have to understand this about the Darkness -- she's relentless, a force beyond human comprehension. It's the only reason I came off the sidelines. (11.21)

It's time to revisit the question of who -- and what -- Amara, the Darkness, is.

Death: Before there was light, before there was God and the archangels there wasn't nothing, there was the Darkness. A horribly destructive amoral force that was beaten back by God and his archangels in a terrible war. (10.23)

Amara: I like it here, with you. I haven't this peaceful in a long, long time.
Dean: Let's get something straight, I'm not here to bring you peace. I know what you are.
Amara: Really? I've been gone so long, I didn't think anyone remembered.
Dean: Well, Death painted a hell of a picture.
Amara: I don't know this Death, and he doesn't know me. (11.01)


Relentless. Amoral. Destructive. Words typically associated with the idea of evil. And yet, from the beginning, there was the question of what she was, and what that meant. Darkness, yet. Powerful, yet. Not compatible with the creations of Light, yes. But she has proven to be far more complex than a simple evil entity.

Crowley: You and I together? Well, we can shape things to our own world view. A place where, like the dinosaur, virtue is extinct, where the very air that we breathe is pure evil. Would you like that?
Young Amara: Would you? You'd really be happy if everyone... was evil?
Crowley: Well... Actually, now I come to think of it, if everyone was dark and damned, wouldn't be much of a challenge. Watching a human reject the light and embrace depravity... Yes, well, that's where the gratification really is. Never gets old. This bemuses you?
Young Amara: Good, evil, heaven, hell, people… It all seems so unimportant.
Crowley: Well, I don't know that I'd say that.
Young Amara: I don't think you're seeing the big picture. (11.03)


She herself did not self-identify as evil. Her identity, as we slowly learned, was the polar opposite of God. The balancing primal force in the universe.

Amara: We were equals. We weren't great or powerful, because we stood only in relation to each other. (11.22)

Power was not a question, because the bigger picture was about balance.

Until the balance of power shifted. The Light locked away the Darkness to make room for pure unfettered creation, and all that came with it.

Grown Darkness: You look confused. Troubled.
Young Amara: God did all of this after he locked me away. I didn't know it was so much.
Grown Darkness: All for his own ego. And no matter what he made, that doesn't excuse what he did to us.
Young Amara: I know.
Grown Darkness: Amara, you must stay fixed on our purpose. Even we cannot undo what has already been done. But as you grow and become stronger, your true destiny will be clear to you. I am what you are becoming, and we are mightier than God. (11.03)


If Chuck and Amara were equals in power because of where they stood in relation to each other, then the power imbalance that sprang to life between them wasn't about the new kid on the block, creation - it was about the shifted dynamics between the two of them.

Regret and resentment. Love and hate.

Dean: You may be an all-powerful being, but I think you're human where it counts. You simply need your brother.
Amara: Just stop.
Dean: You don't want to be alone, not really.


As big as the story has gotten, God and his sister, Light and Darkness, the very existence of the universe at stake, at its heart the story proved to be about the same thing it's always been about: Family.

We've been following the Winchesters' story for 11 years. For Dean and Sam, it's been even longer. They have even outlasted their own story countless times, coming back from the dead enough times that Reapers are determined to show them how fragile their position after death truly is.

Dean: See you around.
Billie: Yeah, you will.


Chuck too has his own story. Words he wrote down, a goodbye song he sang, anticipating his own ending.

Chuck: This isn't her story. It's mine.

Metatron: I'm thinking what's missing -- maybe less about detail and more about balance.... Hold up a mirror and show us who you are.

Chuck: I am not hiding. I am just done watching my experiments' failures.

Metatron: No, look. I know I'm a disappointment, but you're wrong about humanity. They are your greatest creation because they're better than you are. Yeah, sure, they're weak and they cheat and steal and... destroy and disappoint. But they also give and create and they sing and dance and love. And above all, they never give up. But you do. (11.20)


Running away. Looking in a mirror and seeing the truth. Balance can be such a frail thing, truth and honesty and disappointment and hope and pain and love.

Chuck had maybe given up on his creation. Or maybe he was a coward unwilling to face his sister and admit what he had really done to her. Or maybe he was writing a story that had holes in it, pieces missing that left the words written less than complete, a story that was not going to outlast the audience it was written for.

There was some foreshadowing of where the season was heading in a smaller story told earlier this year.

Sully: Ever think... about running away anymore?
Sam: I did. Um, I mean, I have. But not in a while. Not anymore.

Sully: Will killing me make you feel better?
Sam: No, Sully, that’s not the answer.
Sully: This is what I do. Whatever’s best for the kid. Reesy – if this is what you need, I’m okay with it.
Reese: I’m still mad. I can’t stop it. I’m just still so MAD!
Dean: Reese. Trust me. Revenge? Ain’t gonna make you feel better. Listen, I’ve seen more than my share of monsters. And I mean REAL monsters, bad. These guys? These are Sesame Street mother Teresas. But when I wasn’t there for my little brother, Sully was. Now, look, I’m not saying that he didn’t make a mistake, but you know that there is not a monstrous bone in his body.
Sully: I’m so, SO sorry. (11.08)


Remembering back on this earlier tale of revenge and redemption of sorts... Reese was our Amara avatar, and Sully was Chuck. The one wronged and seeking revenge, and the one running for years from facing his failure. It took words long overdue finally spoken to lance the pain and hate and rage, to allow for a different outcome. Broken hearts could begin healing with the right words spoken in the air, placing the possibility of something more fragile than revenge and rage proving strong enough to change the story from one of pain to one of healing. Love proved stronger than the hurricane of hate.

But it took words spoken face to face, Revenge ain't gonna make you feel better.... I'm so SO sorry to alter the ending of the story Reese had planned. The mirror being held up showed her that her path wouldn't make her pain go away. And that there was true regret from the one who had hurt her. It still came down her choice.

Free will. Maybe one of the most fragile things of all.

Dean: Couldn't you just compel them?
Chuck: I invented free will for a reason. (11.22)


Choices can be so hard to see clearly when overwhelmed by the details.

Chuck: We don't really have a choice. I mean, look. You've got darkness and light. You take one side away and --
Castiel: It upsets the scales -- the whole balance of the universe.
Sam: Exactly. But you take both away, and now both sides of the scale are empty, so...
Castiel: Of course. It's balanced.


Balance - the missing piece of the story.

But there's one small hitch.

Dean: What you're doing to the sun --
Amara: That's not me. With my brother getting weaker, the scales are tipping away from light.
Dean: And into darkness.
Amara: Into nothing. When God's gone, the universe -- everything will cease to exist. Including me.


Amara's interpretation of what was happening was the opposite of what Sam and Castiel assumed. Chuck gave them just enough information to let them infer their conclusion... but Amara posits a different outcome based on the same facts: They were all trapped in a no-win situation that had one hopeless outcome, no matter whether Dean successfully destroyed her or not.

Dean had to be the one having this conversation with Amara for several reasons. The most obvious wasn't the biggest reason, either. Sure, he had that connection to Amara. But he also was the most open to hearing the other words being spoken.

Dean: Wait, so now you want to kill the Darkness? You're cool with this?

Chuck: The Darkness might -- might -- have a weakness -- Light.
Crowley: He tells us now.
Chuck: What? I just wanted to trap her. I didn't want to murder her.


One weakness: Light. Well, from a certain perspective Chuck might have been talking about the power of the suns and souls, I guess. But I think he was speaking more literally than that. Darkness and Light. Sister and Brother. Family.

Chuck's real plan wasn't what Sam, Dean, Crowley and Rowena were planning. It rested on something far more fragile. He had already made the gesture of sacrifice, resting his hope on Dean's ability to stop Amara.

Dean: You cool with this?
Chuck: No. I -- Even after everything she's done, Amara's still my sister. She's my family. I can't -- I don't want to see her dead, but...
Dean: Yeah?
Chuck: I understand.


Chuck understands not just Amara, but what makes Dean tick too.

Sam and Dean were running with the assumption that Amara had to be killed to be stopped. But everything Chuck was actually saying was telling a different story, a butterfly flapping its wings and hoping the reaction set into motion would lead to an outcome that could outlive the tale of revenge and destruction currently in play.

They could have been words lost in the air as soon as spoken - but they proved more powerful than that. Dean heard Chuck's words of family. The one person who had the best chance of reasoning with Amara because he understands both the side of revenge and the love of family, and which can prove stronger.

John: Killing this demon comes first – before me, before everything.
Sam: [Looks in the rear view mirror at Dean] No, sir. Not before everything. (1.22)


Sam learned about the value of family and where it stacked up against the need for revenge from Dean. Now Dean had to share with Amara his mirror, his concept of the truth of family bonds, and how it compared against all other needs.

Deputy Harris: It's not an infection. She says it's a mirror. She's showing us all the truth.
Dean: Darkness.
Deputy Harris: The light was just a lie. It will all be over soon. He's not gonna save them. It's all going away... forever. But not you Dean. (11.20)


Chuck had already faced his mirror when Metatron had challenged him to be honest with his story instead of just playing a part and writing his story as he wanted to be seen.

Now it's Amara's turn.

Amara: My brother betrayed me. He locked me up for billions of years. He sent you to execute me.
Dean: No, no. No. He zapped me here, yes. But He didn't want this. This wasn't His idea, you're family. He doesn't want you dead, He doesn't want any of this!


Free will in place to the end.

Amara couldn't be compelled to change the outcome of what was set in motion... but she could be convinced. Her conviction had to come from what was already in her heart, the beat that still carried on despite her denials.

Dean: Is this what you wanted?
Amara: No! I just wanted to hurt Him. I wanted to make Him pay.
Dean: Yeah, that's revenge. It'll get you out of bed in the morning, and when you get it it'll make you feel great, for about five minutes. I've been there. Me and Sam, we have had our fair share of fights. More than our share. But no matter how bad it got, we always made it right, because we're family. I need him. He needs me, because when everything goes to crap that's all you got, family.


Amara's purpose ever since her release was a conversation with her brother, to confront him about why he had locked her away for so long. Payback for the "millions of years crammed in that cage... alone and afraid, wishing -- begging for death".

Certainly, she had her reasons, reasons that had little to do with good or evil, but were about the oldest motivation that got the story rolling in the first place: Revenge.

But that's not the whole bumper sticker, is it?

Dean leapfrogged past the question of unreliable narrator in trying to roll the dice to complete the plan he had come prepared to execute. This time he didn't have to be the witness watching an unstoppable tragedy play out, hoping that sacrifice would win a future for the rest of the world. He could effect the change himself, not by being the bomb but by being the catalyst for a different outcome... if Amara would listen to him.

Dean: Maybe I can kill you, or maybe I can't. Maybe if I pull this trigger, we all live happily ever after, or maybe we all die bloody, or maybe it doesn't matter. Because maybe there's a different way. So I'm gonna ask you again, put aside the rage, put aside the hate and you tell me. What do you want?

What do you want? What was her real wish, or dream, beyond the momentary pain and rage. What was the hope that could give her something to live for? Something to hold onto? Something stronger than a suicidal apathy for what comes next, because yes, everything had gone to crap, but it was not too late to fix the one thing that matters most: her family. She could have Nothing, become nothing, or she could forgive.

In the beginning and the end...

Amara: I know that we can't go back to the way things were. I don't want to. But I wish... I wish that we could just be family again.
Chuck: I do too.


Amara voiced her wish - and was met with the only answer that matters most on this show: Family love proved stronger than the hubris that almost killed it.

The Darkness wasn't evil, or good. She just didn't belong in a world that needs light to live and thrive.

Kudos to Supernatural for bringing on the first great character of power who ultimately ended up defined outside the ranks of villian or friend. And who didn't have to die because she didn't have a place in the world. Her story is larger than that, and she and Chuck are meant to outlast the lands they created and finally found an agreement in balance for.

As for what comes next, well... Dean and Sam's tale of miracles and monsters have not come to a close yet.

Sam's cliffhanger face-off with Toni, a new introduction to what remains of the Men of Letters, is setting the groundwork for what the next major myth-arc is going to be: after dealing with God and his sister and the fate of the world, the picture is being shrunk down to a smaller, more human scale: Sam and Dean being judged by humans for all they have played a part it. That's an exciting premise to reset the stakes for, because frankly, there is a case to be made for how dangerous to the world's well-being the Winchester brothers are.

And their world just changed forever, again, with Amara's parting gift to Dean.

Amara: Dean, you gave me what I needed most. I want to do the same for you.

Dreams, that most delicate and intangible of things, words and ideas unspoken revealing what lies deepest in the heart...

But Dean had spoke the words, championing family, and Amara took it one step further.

Dean: It was just a wish. I wished for Mom to live. (2.20)

Amara read him true, and now Dean and Sam's world just changed forever.

Mom?

This is the part where my head explodes with excitement, because it's putting something new on the table for Sam and Dean, expanding their world but also coming with the weight of all their past -- including Mary Winchester's. I am sure we are all diving for our DVD's to indulge in a summer rewatch to revisit every single moment Mary Winchester appeared on screen, or was talked about or shown to be a part of the puzzle, and speculating until ... well, September comes. And man, it cannot come soon enough. For the first time in ... ever, I am not traumatized by the season finale, needing a recovery period to process before the new season starts. I am READY. TO. GO. NOW!


Comments:


borgmama1of5
borgmama1of5 at 2016-06-07 03:55 (UTC) (Link)
Reese was our Amara avatar, and Sully was Chuck.

What a brilliant catch!

I, too, loved that Amara was not the 'evil' and that Dean was able to show her an alternative with his words and his heart. And truly, only Dean could have done that.

I felt satisfied with how Amara's mytharc played out...and want to know what happens next, especially since Sam will start the season not knowing Dean is still alive.

I've enjoyed your insights all season and look forward to them again in October!
blackcat333_99
blackcat333_99 at 2016-06-15 00:10 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for your comments - they are truly appreciated. It's nice to share thoughts with those who are still enjoying the show, and you turn up every week. I always look forward to it. :) Bring it on, new season! I am ready for you. Seriously, I can't believe how ... upbeat ... of a cliffie we got this year, I was totally expecting to be Jossed somehow.
ferlonda
ferlonda at 2016-06-09 01:12 (UTC) (Link)
Fascinating take on this whole story...

I have one quibble: light without dark is exhausting and ultimately fatal just as dark without light would be. Balance is all.
blackcat333_99
blackcat333_99 at 2016-06-15 00:14 (UTC) (Link)
Sorry for the belated response. I appreciate your comment, and I do agree. I probably could have been a little more clear in indicating that balance is absolutely necessary. Amara's existence/darkness balances the light this world needs in the SPN-verse... just better from a distance, not directly touching/infecting things. Just like the sun is a certain distance from the earth, and how it thrives and lives out its days and nights. Maybe one of the un-intended messages from this season is answering Dean's question about Chuck's hands-off approach to the world.... because it is better off for a little distance, but still there if there was a critical need for a balancing intervention. Hmm. I'll enjoy thinking about this some more, thanks!
ferlonda
ferlonda at 2016-06-19 20:57 (UTC) (Link)
There's a lot to think about here, for sure!
enaiowen
enaiowen at 2016-06-14 13:31 (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful, thoughtful review as always and well worth waiting for.
Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts with us.
blackcat333_99
blackcat333_99 at 2016-06-15 00:15 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! Always enjoy your comments too. :)
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