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Dean and Season 9

I’ve finally managed to just about catch up with SPN S9, although I forgot to record episode 2. Overall, I’m enjoying it. Loved the Wizard of Oz episode. Liked Sonny, and the young bloke who played Dean was outstanding. It’s reasonably strong so far.

But I got thinking about where I am with Supernatural these days, and it struck me that probably the major difference between my level of involvement and that of the earlier seasons is that Dean has become so familiar to me that he is predictable. In this way it’s very like a marriage; after nine years there’s a nice familiarity and appreciation, but there are no more surprises. The blazing passion has gone. Or, to put it another way; if the character of Dean *did* surprise me these days, he would have to be so out of character as to render the whole marriage over, like finding my warm and supportive spouse was secretly an adulterous dope fiend. To surprise me, they would have to destroy Dean.

It means that though I like him – indeed, have great affection for him – I am no longer fascinated by him. There’s nothing that I can think of that could be revealed that would challenge my apprehension of the character. What is the most extreme thing he could do whilst still being true to who he is? Sacrifice Sam for a greater cause? He’s done it. Torture to gain information? Ditto. Prove to be capable of manipulative, lying behaviour? Yep, done that. I can accommodate a wealth of failings and actually resist others that some folk have saddled him with because I understand him holistically to be a courageous, self-sacrificing, flawed but noble human being.

Yes, they’d surprise me if Dean was revealed as, say, a child molester, but then that would radically alter my understanding of so many other fundamental aspects of his character that it would destroy the relationship (that is, the way I engage with this fictional creation).

I think this level of familiarity and predictability means that I no longer rush to watch the show, waiting for revelations. At heart, I am fascinated by characters. The plot will do whatever it does but its main purpose for me is to reveal character. I find ‘The Walking Dead’ to be rather mesmerising for this reason. I am not thrilled by zombies or apocalyptic visions per se, but I am intrigued by how characters gradually unravel or become tempered to strength by the challenge. And I don’t think Dean has much left to show me in this regard – it is all variations upon a well-known theme now. Of course, I may well be completely wrong.

I can’t help but compare my current level of interest in Dean with my current level of interest in Tim Gutterson of ‘Justified’. Tim remains largely unknown to me, and so I am drawn to him. What I *think* I have garnered about his character is extremely likeable, but there is so much that remains open to interpretation or speculation that I find myself working over the scant evidence again and again. I had a great discussion about this with freshouttaink, who took a scene in S4 (when Art bellows at Tim) one way, and I a completely different one. She saw (if I am not misrepresenting her) Tim as being a little dismayed or upset that he’d earned Art’s disappointment; I saw his look as one of borderline contempt, a ‘Seriously? I’ve been yelled at by experts.’ In cricketing parlance, Art delivered a bouncer and Tim just gave it a flat-bat swat straight back over his head. And the gorgeous thing is that one of us or neither of us could be right. Jacob Pitts himself gave a wonderful quote the other day that he thinks he has misjudged Tim – that he, JP, was not decent enough to appreciate Tim’s courage. It’s a typically self-deprecating JP quote, but it’s interesting in that the actor is still trying to find the character too, so it’s no wonder that I’m engaged in that screen/self dyad of creation.

When I look back at those characters for whom I’ve felt a kind of love, some have become exes whom I’d cross the street to avoid; some remain old lovers who can still re-ignite a burst of passion when we meet again before gently returning to near-oblivion; and some have settled into a kind of easy companionship. I think Dean is there at that last stage for me now, and I hope that the PTB do nothing to change that. I may no longer have all those butterflies and heart pounds that come with the first blush of romance, but I do have fondness and appreciation and respect. That’ll do.

Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
liliaeth
Nov. 29th, 2013 12:44 pm (UTC)
Hmm, I think that's a problem I have with Sam and Cas. I don't dislike them, hell I like them well enough, but I'm just not that interested in fics about them, while Dean still fascinates me, and I just want to see more about him.
corbyinoz
Nov. 30th, 2013 01:33 am (UTC)
I'm glad Dean still fascinates you. I don't think there are rules about these kinds of things! There's enough of the classic flawed hero about him to sustain many more stories.

And yes, I agree completely re Sam and Cas. Not dislike, and interested enough in what they bring to the table, but no, not enough to spend extra-curricula time with them!
etoile444
Nov. 29th, 2013 02:15 pm (UTC)
The marriage analogy is a good one. Weve known Dean for a long time, and he is the constant. But thats getting a little dull. I find myself enjoying the episode, but not needing the rewatch. These episodes arent going to be classics.

Honestly, I think Dean needs to be the variable. He was in season 5 when we and he waivered with the Michael thing. And strangely, as I was typing: "Dean needs to be......" the suggested word from my phone was Michael! That might shake things up for us all.
corbyinoz
Nov. 30th, 2013 01:38 am (UTC)
Oooh. I do like your mind. Yes - I think we need something that would shake up what and who Dean is, but it needs to be something that is supportable in terms of the character's known and potential parameters. I mean, sudden Serial Killer Dean would be shitty. I need to be able to sympathise and follow the journey, in the way that I could with the will he/won't he Michael question.
arabia764
Nov. 29th, 2013 02:15 pm (UTC)
I may no longer have all those butterflies and heart pounds that come with the first blush of romance, but I do have fondness and appreciation and respect.

This is very much how I feel. I'm awfully fond of Dean (and the show) but the passion has gone. I'm rather sad about that.
corbyinoz
Nov. 30th, 2013 01:40 am (UTC)
Yes, me too. But I do think there's an inevitability about this, and the best we can hope for (in my experience) is a gentle fading away into fondness and reminiscence rather than a violent dislike due to PTB decisions.
arabia764
Dec. 1st, 2013 10:32 am (UTC)
You're so right. I don't want poor writing or plot developments to ruin my love for the show or characters.
matchboximpala
Nov. 30th, 2013 12:08 am (UTC)
Nicely said.
corbyinoz
Nov. 30th, 2013 01:42 am (UTC)
Thank you. A fond memory is better than a hate session to justify discarding a show or character.
a_phoenixdragon
Nov. 30th, 2013 01:25 am (UTC)
That sounds about what I feel...of course, I put it down to the showrunners making it so impossible to broaden the character of Dean -

That's a whole nother rant and it can get ugly...

*Headdesk*
corbyinoz
Nov. 30th, 2013 01:45 am (UTC)
In fairness, he's a rich character, with many aspects - but I don't see where he can go that would surprise without trashing him horribly. I think the Jensen RPS AU has sustained my interest longer than it otherwise would have.
freshouttaink
Dec. 2nd, 2013 12:35 am (UTC)
vive la difference
People are so wonderfully complex - real people of course - but we real people can put so much complexity into our fictional people too. I love the different fan interpretations of characters and their onscreen actions, and it *is* fun to discuss them when there's no need to bend another to our view. :D

I don't know Dean very well, but after nine seasons I imagine he's been well plumped out (especially since he's a lead character). I think it's Tim Gutterson's thin descriptions that attract me. There's so much to imagine, so many routes to take.

The PTSD possibility has completely engrossed me. I was speaking to a man who fought in Vietnam who said that many veterans have trouble with authority figures when they try to reintegrate into civilian life and consequently have trouble holding down jobs (for more than just that reason, obviously, but I'm picking on the one here). I imagine Art having earned some kind of respect with Tim, more akin to what a Private might have for his senior NCO, to keep him willing to toe the line like he does in the show. But for the very same reasons your contempt interpretation works too! And there, *there*, is the draw to the character. It's hard to get tired of him when you can paint him a thousand ways.

I wonder how we'd feel if Justified were to last for nine seasons like Supernatural? Hard to say. Though Tim will likely never get the same kind of airtime as Dean. (At least, I hope not!) ;D

(Family is tying me up currently. Hopefully the New Year will allow some more discussion time.)
corbyinoz
Dec. 9th, 2013 02:10 am (UTC)
Re: vive la difference
I think we'd be ready to strangle Raylan by S9 - I think you are about there already, yes?

I'm reading a fic by Leslielol which is full of superb snarky dialogue from Tim. I'm enjoying it, but the relationship she writes between Raylan and Tim seems too combative, too relentlessly confrontational to me. And yet, when I tried to frame my thoughts into something defensible, I struggled. How do you describe Tim and Raylan's relationship? There are undoubtedly some moments where Tim has nothing but disdain for him. At other times, he seems to register Raylan's procedural sloppiness (4:3) with cynical amusement. But he can also note with approval Raylan's kindness, and perhaps envy him his charm? He trusts Raylan's call in the field. He likes pushing his buttons, riling him up, but he will always, always back him in any kind of attack from those outside their unit. It's so very much an organic, dynamic, moment to moment and incident to incident thing. And that's why I find the character so fascinating. Because Leslielol's version is supportable, given the evidence, even if I instinctively don't *quite* buy it.

And yes, it's always lovely to discuss such things with folk who can meet and match your level of interpretive effort and who find a different result when they do so!
freshouttaink
Dec. 13th, 2013 05:23 pm (UTC)
Re: vive la difference
Nine seasons of Raylan? Shoot me now, cowboy! ;)

I guess all relationships beyond mere acquaintance are complex and certainly two Marshals working together would form some kind of close relationship. Combative is definitely part of it, but the way Tim and Raylan are portrayed on the show makes you assume that they have an understanding that runs as deeply as the antagonism - both central US boys (we can assume from the eye-brow-raising mixed-up accents) with the common culture that goes with that, both have killed (a game-changer for a human, for sure), both come from less-than-ideal family backgrounds (at least it's hinted at with Tim). I can't imagine Tim not disapproving of Raylan's loner mentality, not keeping the others in the loop half the time, and I can't imagine Raylan not looking at Tim like he's a stick-in-the-mud. The writers have scripted them very different experiences after high school and it would shape them accordingly.

And envy? For sure - two cocks in the barnyard! :) What man wouldn't envy Raylan the swagger, charm and hat? On the other hand, maybe the reason Tim can get under Raylan's skin so easily is because Raylan feels a little uncomfortable around a man who is likely more jaded and definitely has seen more violence than he. I don't know many men who haven't itched at some point in their lives to measure themselves against war, and Tim has.

When it comes down to it, both characters are written as competent, they both get the job done, and I'd think that alone would command respect between them, if nothing else.

As for defending your twitching at the "relentlessly confrontational" dynamic - it's just tiring, isn't it? Whether it's continuous mush or continuous sarcasm or continuous humour, it gets to you. Well, it does me. Give me variety please... But I understand why you like it too. Tim snarking on Raylan is some of the best fun to be had on the show. :D (At least for us Gutterson fans.)
corbyinoz
Dec. 15th, 2013 10:32 pm (UTC)
Re: vive la difference
I think there's definitely trust in each other's competence at an operational level, and with that must come some kind of unconscious appreciation. It always seems to me as though they skirt a friendship, but whenever they start to get closer they bounce off each other - magnetic poles. There are moments of ease, of comradeship if not quite camaraderie, due to their similarities, as you've said, and their shared job - but then those fundamental differences rear their heads. Tim, who appreciates and lives by the strict adherence to battle protocol, and Raylan, who follows the dictates of his own needs. Often his actions are for the greater good, but one suspects they are ultimately rooted in a reasonably complex set of impulses, not all of them laudable.

Tim snarking at Raylan - and the sheer beauty of its delivery, so, so bone dry... sigh. Happy place.
freshouttaink
Jan. 22nd, 2014 03:43 pm (UTC)
Re: vive la difference
I know, it's kind of late to be picking up this thread, but I liked your description: "Often his actions are for the greater good, but one suspects they are ultimately rooted in a reasonably complex set of impulses, not all of them laudable." So true. Most fans would beat me for saying this but I'd love to see the show end with Raylan in the bottom of a hole, losing what he's gained. It would suit the characteristics the show writers have given him and would be a completion of the Arlo parallels and influences. It would, though, be a far-cry from the personality that Elmore Leonard painted, so...

When are you getting back to your story? (Not a dig, just a question.) Is life keeping you busy or are you having too much fun reading Tim snark? Careful - it's addictive! ;) I'm having trouble juggling it all and finding some things slipping by the wayside. Writing is a good distraction in my spare time. PM on fanfic if you want to take this indoors.
corbyinoz
Jan. 25th, 2014 11:49 am (UTC)
Re: vive la difference
Hello! Lovely to hear from you again. I'll be honest - it's been insanely hot here (groups of five+ days of 40 or more degrees) and the computer is in the hottest room in the house so.... I've barely been online for several weeks. I hate January. It's my worst month. So stinking, ugly hot. Sheets on the bed hot/ no sleep for days hot. I bet that sounds incomprehensible to you right now!

I have not given up on my story, but end of year demands meant so much got put aside. I have yet to see any s5, as my computer will not allow me to download anything so I'm waiting for my friend in Sydney to burn and send the eps. She's downloaded three of them... I suspect that new Justified will give me the impetus I need.the damn story's been plotted out from the start, but I admit, I have hit a tricky chapter and because I stupidly decided to try and write it all in order, I am stuck. Grrrrr.

I don't know if I want Raylan irreparably sunk. There's a Teflon like quality to him that has a fairy tale kind of charm; there is, I think, an appeal in the character that relentlessly just about gets away with it all. But then, they persist in showing enough of the detritus he leaves in his wake or collects about his shoulders that you just know at some point it should all come crashing down on him. The gods of justice can only be waved away so often before they come demanding an ugly pound of flesh. I think your vision is probably the right one, in every sense.
freshouttaink
Jan. 26th, 2014 09:13 pm (UTC)
Re: vive la difference
Sorry for the heat. I'd send you some cold but it would probably get lost in transit... ;)

Well, you can always sit back and write your story blissfully out of order from here on, at your leisure, and post when you're good and ready. Some of my most entertaining plot lines have come trying to unpaint myself from a corner because I've already posted something, some serious creative problem-solving as a result! You can get away with it in fanfiction, I think. The audience is more forgiving than if you're trying to get short-listed for the Man-Booker.

I understand the Teflon allure of Raylan (good metaphor btw), but it slides right over me, I confess. Whoosh! Slippery is a perfect image and I can't find anything in his character anymore to hang myself on for the remainder of the ride (only one more season after this, I've heard). It's going to be a sad 2014 for Tim and Rachel fans, but Darryl Crowe is already promising some entertainment, so...

Hannibal starts up again at the end of February and True Detective has my attention. And writing fills the void and them some. :D

There's a good BBC miniseries called 'Case Histories' based on the books by Kate Atkinson. One day when you have time, or your laid up sick, look them up.
freshouttaink
Dec. 14th, 2013 04:43 pm (UTC)
Raylan and Tim
Wanted to add...

I always imagine Raylan as kid-like, trying to run away from his childhood; Tim as an old man, trying to get his back.
corbyinoz
Dec. 15th, 2013 10:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Raylan and Tim
That is genius. Yes. Perfectly captures them. And there's so much sadness in that; Tim with his anachronistic YA books, Raylan ducking and weaving to avoid attaching himself to any one place or person.
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