The Super Sleepy Dispatch
Review of Supernatural 11:1 “Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire”
By P.S. Griffin
I found Jeremy Carver’s premiere episode to be intriguing and thought provoking. In addition to giving us the first installment of a two part horror movie, it manages to introduce the personal arcs of the four main characters, sets the tone for the rest of the season and introduces the new mytharc elements with a big bang. Let’s just say that we’re not in Kansas anymore.
This of course is a line from the classic fantasy movie The Wizard of Oz in which a merry band of four unlikely friends take a road trip to find a powerful figure that they believe can help them. However by the end of the story, the journey itself and their relationships with each other prove to be everything that they need. of course Dorothy gets home via magic using her fabulous ruby slippers.
Why bring up The Wizard of Oz you ask? Well the opening sequence and the personal arcs for each character immediately reminded me of this masterpiece. First we have the maelstrom of smoke, the son et lumiere that accompanies the release of the Darkness. The familiar landscape of “Supernatural” will certainly be transformed by the powerful supernatural entity of the Darkness.
Then there is the fact that Dean is flung asunder to a field of unusual flowers (I bet there’s a story there) where Sam finds him dozing and talking about being saved by her, the Darkness. Ah heck! For now let’s just call her Amara.
There’s the fact that we just know that all four characters will be searching individually for something that they’re missing and will come together in the search for someone that can help, God perhaps, but I somehow suspect he will be bells and whistles without substance.
Who doesn’t love a good story of perils and transformations on the open road?! It’s a return to the show’s roots, however I suspect the season will be more reboot than redux. I am sensing retcons in the air. We are not in Kansas anymore.
The opening sequence was also reminiscent of another famous film, Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon. Rashomon shows an event from the perspectives of three main characters who each perceive things differently, therefore the audience doesn’t know the truth. In the premiere we see the release of the Darkness three times, from Dean’s perspective, Sam’s perspective and from that of the Darkness itself. I think this is a hint that Dean and Sam are going to experience events differently. They probably won’t be on the same page for long. And since our narrators will be saying different things as the story unfolds we will start to question what we knew to be true. I expect there to be twists aplenty. And major retcons.
For instance, I already sense that Amara may not be the malevolent force that we were warned about by Death; a fact seemingly believed by angels and demons alike. I love the image of half of Hell freaking out because the inhabitants of the cage won’t shut up about the horrors of the Darkness.
Amara seems to be otherworldly, calm and wise. She is happy to be free but exhibits no negativity, hellfire or brimstone. She has none of the ego we have seen with the majority of angels and pagan deities. She is gentle with Dean, tender even, and he seems to completely lack fear. She discusses a bond between them based on the Mark which she now bears; however her words suggest there is another reason, a reason that is integral to Dean himself.
Dean Winchester was the Righteous Man refusing to play the angels’ game and the Michael Sword that refers to serve as the archangel’s vessel. The only heavenly role that Dean fulfilled was Servant of Heaven, and that was because he simply was the character carrying out God’s will rather than the angels’ heavenly plan. So I wonder if the bond Amara and the Darkness share is much more than the Mark of Cain. Was Amara waiting for eternity for the servant of heaven to task for the Mark no questions, asked.
There is interesting speculation on IMBD by Snowleopard that asks whether the Darkness, Amara, is God who has been missing for longer than anyone can remember (http://m.imdb.com/title/tt0460681/board/thread/249078968?d=249276845#249276845.) Obviously this idea stuck with me and I think the story will lead us to this truth.. I am certainly interested to see Snowleopard ‘s forthcoming review to see her expand on her idea (Paula L. Stiles’ God’s and Monsters Column, Innsmouth Free Press).
In addition to the expanded mytharc role for Dean, some of which I have outlined above, this revelation would tie the series together in a novel way and explain the consistent shortcomings in heaven and their frequent disinterest in the well being of God’s favorite creations. Angels by and large have been no more than another flavor of monster, who have provided little to no connection to a benevolent creator. As the Dude would say, it ties the story together.
This would be a major retcon and would turn what we know about Supernatural’s world building upside-down and sideways. However, we have been warned in the opening sequence that we really don’t know, Amara’s story because she hasn’t had the chance to tell it. The maelstrom has blown us into new and uncharted territory. For the sake of structure… This isn’t Kansas anymore.
Seriously, does Amara sound like the ultimate big bad to you:
Dean: If you’re as bad as they say you are, why haven’t you hurt me?
Darkness: For the same reason that you’ll never hurt me. (She pulls aside her dress to show the Mark of Cain on her collarbone) We’re bound, Dean. We’ll always be bound. You helped me. I helped you. No matter where I am, who I am . . . We will always help each other.
Yep. I am still getting an eternal vibe about their relationship, as if it goes beyond the fact of the Mark. This dialogue also indicates that Dean is destined to save the infant Amara in the here and now, and saving her from the onslaught of rampaging rabid rowdies.
And it does appear that those rabid rowdies are rampaging and killing with a goal. They want that baby too, and if Dean is Amara’s chosen protector, then the prowling rabid folk are working against her. They have congregated at the hospital, waiting outside en masse in a sinister mob scene worthy of John Carpenter (Assault on Precinct 13 or Prince of Darkness). Sam watches a rabid man banging repeatedly on the closet door where the newborn infant is cradled by her father.
From this I surmise that the twelve funnels of smoke that emanated from the lightning blasts from heaven, which followed after the Mark was removed and after the spelled lightning lit the heavens, are a failsafe mechanism to stop Amara’s newborn vessel from surviving. Amara currently seems to be encircled in smoke, perhaps a holding cell until her vessel can receive her; or perhaps she will be free once the effects from the smoke funnels have dissipated. It is unclear whether all of the funnels created rabid zombies or if each funnel creates a different phenomenon much like the ten plagues of Egypt. It’s an Old Testament response and an affliction to humanity regardless of the intended target.
Let’s leave the metaphysical speculation and focus on our characters. Dean wakes up in a field of flowers like Dorothy before returning to his constant companion Baby with Sam at his side. Dean will be the protagonist and the main mytharc hero for the season. His story won’t lead him back home to Kansas. There’s only bad memories there and a tombstone over an empty grave. Instead I suspect that Dean will be pivotal in restoring balance to the universe. Something Metatron understood when he sent Dean on a journey that began after their meeting in the end of season 8. I think Metatron has been manipulating the Winchesters and Castiel since he started rewriting the story, and we know that he was loyal to the God that dictated those tablets to benefit Humanity. And he told Castiel that he wanted to fix things in “Clip Show”. It’s worth noting that in “Sacrifice” after Castiel asks what God is like, Metatron answers without giving the Deity’s gender: “Who? Oh. God? Mm, pretty much like you’d expect. (Sighs) Larger-than-life, gruff, bit of a sexist”.
Last year in my review of the season ten premiere, “Black”, I speculated that Metatron’s manipulations were pushing both events and characters towards his endgame. In season 8 he destroyed the angel’s seat of power. In season 9 he removed Dean’s deus ex machina causing Dean to trust a different angel to heal Sam, engineered a rift between the brothers by having Gadreel kill Kevin, involved Cas in a war designed to make Dean his enemy and killed Dean knowing that he would be resurrected as a demon. In season 10 he fanned the fires of Sam’s panic and made sure he knew that Dean maintaining control was hopeless, and he lead Castiel to his grace escaping with the demon tablet.
Back then I theorized that Metatron’s real endgame was bringing God back into the mix. Now I am sure of it. Metatron was God’s ace in the hole hiding out on earth as a recluse until the Servant of Heaven came knocking on his door, lead there by his resonating brother (“The Great Escapist”). I even think that all of the book reading was to find the exact story that would identify the identity of the Servant of Heaven. This even explains Metatron’s strange focus on Dean when it was Sam that was doing the trials. Metatron even saves Kevin when Dean chastises him for leaving the Prophet of the Word hanging. Having met the Winchesters he read the books, learned Team Free Will’s modus operandi and began the string pulling.
Dean would not have met Metatron without Sam. If you want to control Dean Winchester you have got control what happens to Sam. Metatron did, the story unfolded and by the end of season 10 Sam was primed to do the unthinkable again. He put his need to save Dean before the safety of the world, and he sanctioned human sacrifice to do it. As noted in my reviews for season ten, Sam’s storyline has been a reworking of his reluctant hero/tragic hero storylines except that he was fully human and the overall seasonal storylines focused on the brothers’ dysfunctional relationship. The focus on the Winchesters’ bond for three seasons was a bold move that didn’t quite pan out because of the relative inertia of the active storylines featuring demons, angels and the Mark of Cain. It is clear now that Carver, like Metatron, was moving the players and rewriting the story like Metatron.
So what’s in store for Sam? Obviously the character needs redemption after the choices he has made in seasons 8-10. He and Dean need to restore their bond and rebuild trust. However the most important thing for Sam will be to redeem himself, not only to fix the world but by becoming a better man, a man that is heroic because he puts the needs of others first. This journey will take great COURAGE to complete.
Sam starts this journey immediately after the maelstrom. He immediately takes responsibility for removing the Mark and releasing the smoke that they believe to be the evil Darkness. Later as he scans the aftermath of the slaughter of a family on the highway and in the deserted hospital filled with rabid zombies and corpses, his countenance is filled with pain and remorse. He immediately wants to save anyone he can and he wants him and Dean to change because lately they have lost their way. They haven’t been focusing on the saving people mantra in their family business; Dean especially has found value in what he kills of late rather than who he saves. Once again Sam takes responsibility for the situation and recognizes that Dean told him not to use the Book of the Damned to remove the Mark because very bad things would come to bite them in the ass.
Sam’s speech is long and windy and emotional and probably not the right approach when trying to escape a building surrounded by rabid zombies. Somehow Dean acquiesces. He is so focused on saving baby Amara that he agrees to Sam running a veritable suicide mission. Dean is also using some old-fashioned words like “tenable”. It’s unclear how much is Dean Winchester and how much is the Servant of Heaven helping Amara’s vessel survive. However I think Dean Winchester would be the one to risk his life. Sam would never be allowed to on Dean’s watch.
Dean, the Sheriff and Amara escape to safety whereas Sam is immediately infected when he has to kill a rabid woman hiding in a closet. The baby is shown to have the Mark of Cain in the same location as the woman Dean thinks is the Darkness. As he waits for the Sheriff to finish changing the baby he remembers that the Darkness told him that she would always save him and he would always save her no matter what her form. They are always bound.
Crowley has smoked out before Castiel stabs him because of Rowena’s Impetus Bestiarum spell. He travels through the sewers looking for a host and finds a middle-aged birthday girl just shy of her first orgy. The still humanized Crowley decides that sex comes before, multiple homicide and phoning home for help. His minions mystified by the King’s behavior escort Her Majesty and her favorite meatsuit home. Upon returning to his magically cleansed meatsuit he learns that one of the Cage inhabitants has started keening like a wounded animal. Hell is freaked over rumors that the Darkness is released. Crowley initially scoffs at the news and then muses that it if it’s true he and the Darkness are natural allies. When he finally understands that the crying archangel is scared, Crowley begins to look worried.
Despite his warning to Sam last season that his assassination attempt reminded him of who he really was, a powerful demon and the bloody King of Hell, his subsequent sparing of Sam’s life showed mercy and betrayed his still present humanity (“The Prisoner”). As Team Free Will works together again I predict that frenemies especially will become friends and the King of Hell will find his HEART beside the Servant of Heaven, his beloved Dean. Yes! Crowley will choose humanity over Hell in the long run.
As for Castiel, he’s between a rock and a hard place. He’s a wild beast on the verge of killing humans when he phones home for help, expecting to be taken to Heaven and expecting punishment for betraying heaven breaking Metatron out of heaven’s jail at Sam’s behest. Once again Cas did it all for Dean behind Dean’s back leading to death and mayhem. Some angels, like some brothers, are slow to learn. Now angels aren’t equipped with a BRAIN however, my hope is that Castiel finally masters the art of free will, something he’s been struggling with since he met Dean Winchester, the Righteous Man that she’d blood in Hell, after gripping him tight and raising him from Perdition.
There’s a lovely parallel between Dean and his two heavenly saviors. Both claim to have saved him. Both saved him from Death. Both valued him for his position in the mytharc. However, Castiel left Dean to dig himself out of his makeshift grave. Amara leaves Dean in a Garden. Is Dean’s role to return humanity to God’s graces and help them return to the proverbial garden. I told you there was a story in that garden.
And so the story would come full circle.
Thanks to Jeremy Carver for making me believe, Robert Singer for creating a horror movie out of a richly subtextual script, and Snowleopard for suggesting that Amara was the absent God. I think I would have gotten there eventually but I sure do appreciate the headstart.
Amara is a name common to many languages and is associated with various meanings including eternal, immortal and paradise; in Latin it means the same thing as the name Mary (http://www.thenamemeaning.com/amara/#ixzz3oP7cTUuK). Amara is also an alternative spelling for Hêmera the Greek Goddess of the Day, the daughter of the God Erebos, the Darkness and the Goddess Nyx, Night (http://www.theoi.com/Protogenos/Hemera.html).
Frankly, I don’t think a pagan deity is worth all of this fuss, even if we’re not in Kansas anymore.