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14 December 2007 @ 09:52 am
Supernatural 3x08: Brother Can You Spare Some Squee?  
Sometimes I feel like I'm living on a slightly different fandom planet, given everyone else's reaction to this ep last night.


So, I DID like this episode overall, and there were a lot of really great moments in it. But damn if it didn't put me in a complete funk for the boys, and that doesn't seem to match the way most of you felt about it.

The hardest part, honestly? It's that this episode confirmed all of my negative feelings about John, and if I were just an isolated viewer who was never exposed to what the rest of fandom thought, I'd be okay with that. It's knowing that there are those of you that think John's a good father that just makes this hard. Because my god, I really, really don't.

Being a good man and a good father are not the same thing, by a long shot. LOVING your children does not make you a good father— it's hard to be a good one if you don't, but that's only the first step, and they have to know unequivocally that they're loved. Sam doesn't know that, and you can sure see why.

Now, there are parents who spoil their kids by bending over backwards for them, and that's not good. But ultimately, a child's life to some degree needs to be about him or her. And Sam and Dean's lives were rarely about them. They were about what John wanted or needed to do, at the expense of his children's emotional needs, and that happened over and over again.

Do you know what kind of message that sends to a child? It's, You don't matter and You're not important enough, and what they hear in addition to that is You never will be.

It doesn't change anything knowing that an adult might look at some of the situations Sam and Dean faced growing up and see them differently than the boys did as kids. It's not the message that was sent, it's the message you heard.

Dean seems to have had the biggest hero-worship pair of blinders on that any child ever could have, and it hurt to listen to him talk up John's behavior to Sam. But if Dean gave up on John, what would he have left? Sam had Dean— and will always have Dean, to love and protect him and provide that stable force. Dean had nothing but John and himself, and 'yourself' isn't squat when you're four and eight and ten.

Leaving your children to fend for themselves for days on end— never knowing when you'll be back— is a form of neglect. Doing it over Christmas when the holiday/sentiment matters to your kids is just being an ass It's cruel, and it's pretty much inexcusable. You can't save all of the world all of the time, or even most of it. And if you're letting your kids raise themselves, you need to re-evaluate.

*sigh* Sorry for the ranting. I really have strong feelings on this issue, both as a parent and as a child. My dad wasn't perfect, and he made several choices during his life that were entirely about him and cost a little bit of his children's well-being. But compared to John? Hardly a blip on the radar. When I look at John, the only things I can say in his favor as a parent are that he loved his kids. I can't say that he tried to keep them safe— because though he gave them some tools to protect themselves, he also left them alone at points where kids of ANY family could burn down the apartment, let alone be susceptible to dangers from other human beings. And by hunting as he did, he increased their exposure to danger.

Canon doesn't support that John knew way-back-when that something was threatening Sam— and if he had, I doubt he'd have let Sam out of his sight. Ever. Canon shows instead that he dragged them all around the country, left them alone at times when they were much too young to be alone, and put more responsibility on Dean to parent both kids than you should ever ask unless you're absolutely desperate. The man wasn't desperate— he chose to be desperate, or to be obsessed. Not the same thing as actual need.

Okay. I've probably alienated about 50% of my f-list by now, and I'm sorry. Feel free to continue loving John and thinking he's the bestest Daddy ever. I just really, really can't. Good man? Yes. Good father? Absolutely not.

More and more, I think those boys would have been better off being raised by Bobby. His love for them is obvious and certain— in a way their father's wasn't (to them). That matters. Plus, he had an actual clue about the things that matter to kids.

~*~

As to the rest of the episode (OMG, other stuff happened in this episode?), there was a lot of The Good:
+ Soulless Santa Village— wow. Angry Santa, dispirited/muddy everything, commercialization out the whazoo. That entire idea was a total win.
+ The Anti-Santa lore and visuals. Fantastic!
+ Deadly Ward And June Cleaver, who have "What's that word, dear?" "Assimilated." Just yes. They remind me of BtVS' wholesomely homicidal mayor \o/
+ Suspense and horror— a little too much almost for me, but damn if it wasn't really, vividly there.
+ The boys get it very, very wrong and are forced to carol their way out of a bad moment. I love that the show addresses the idea of them getting it wrong sometimes, because it's got to happen.
+ Kid!Sammy here looks like he could be Sammy (including the nose). As opposed to Kid!Dean, who really doesn't look like Dean.
+ Kid!Dean tried to rescue a crappy Christmas for Sammy, even though he stole the presents and they totally sucked. But it's the thought that counts.
+ Thank you Sammy for coming through on Dean's last Christmas, awkward as that scene was.
+ Emo!Porn in spades, though it personally left me more depressed than uplifted.
+ Present-day motel room of decorating horror. Or should that be on the "bad" list?

Also a little of The Bad:
- Seriously, gods are supposed to be immortal and invulnerable. That's why they're gods.
- Not that big on Kid!Dean in this episode. Freckles do not a Dean make. A father who can't be home for Christmas isn't going to shell out for plastic surgery to pin back a pair of ears like that later, either.
- Fingernail scene. Glagh, but that was excruciating. Why, Kripke, why?

And The Depressing:
:{ John.
:{ That filthy, broken-down motel room in Nebraska.
:{ Grandpa-Santa gets it, while his grandson is watching. It's that last part that really bothers me.
:{ Child-molester porn-watching Bad!Santa. But not funny, like Billy Bob Thornton's Bad!Santa.
:{ Blood-suit instead of Santa Suit. Effective, really worked with the story, but damned depressing.
:{ Kid!Dean lets Sammy cry himself to sleep, even though he tries to make up for it later.
:{ OMG Sam, you'd skip Dean's last Christmas? Broke my heart. Glad you changed your mind.
:{ Watching B&W football on Xmas with your brother from way over there. :(
:{ Teetering on my seat for crumbs of love and affection between the boys, when I want so much more for them. They're all the other has! I know this is Kripke's mantra, but at the same time it hurts me to watch.

Now with Fanon-Killers!:
! Sammy hates Christmas.
! Dean loves it?!? Or something?
! SAM gave Dean the amulet, way back when? Which was from Bobby? There goes my fic.


Okay. That was a lot of blathering. Now, the question is whether I'll be able to write any of my SPN Xmas fic assignments after watching that episode. Man, but that put me in a funk. :\


 
 
 
The Good, The Bad and The Lanathelana on December 14th, 2007 08:52 pm (UTC)
I'm no expert on Supernatural by any means, but I wonder if one factor isn't that John is dead and we can no longer see whether he ever truly regretted it.

Not that regret makes much of a difference, the boys will probably have to live with the fact that they had a crappy father (even if they might never see it that way). But it would still be interesting to see John's take on it.

(again, comparing it to Lincoln in my mind, who undoubtedly was a crappy father too; we have seen some indication that he tried tomake up for it (tales of him having LJ on weekends after all). He obviously seemed to care that LJ knew he was loved back when he thought he was dying and he obviously has to struggle now with the whole, do I abandon him for his own safety or not deal too; and of course guys like Aldo who I'm guessing never seriously regretted it all that much that he abandoned them; or at least probably thought the ends totally justified the means here, no matter what he might say)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 14th, 2007 10:51 pm (UTC)
But it would still be interesting to see John's take on it.
Oh, I agree. Canon didn't offer us that. I can't help but think that it wouldn't have made much difference-- he never seemed to step back and take the long view of what he was doing, and he still wasn't speaking to Sam since Sam ran off to college. That choice right there was so harsh and stupid and so "my way or the highway" that it says a lot about his character. And conveniently sets up the show's Pilot episode. ;)

He obviously seemed to care that LJ knew he was loved back when he thought he was dying and he obviously has to struggle now with the whole, do I abandon him for his own safety or not deal too;
Lincoln, at least in recent parts of Prison Break (because he fell off the drug-wagon in other parts) seems a loving if totally inept father. Now Aldo, on the other hand, just didn't give much of a damn about his kids. He chose his job over them, willingly, and clearly didn't regret it. His day-late-dollar-short finale on that show does nothing to change that (though it does make me want to kick the producers). ;)
The Good, The Bad and The Lanathelana on December 14th, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
Yeah, at least Lincoln has the whole "Was too young to have a kid/kid wasn't planned/probably didn't have much of a relationship with the mom/was generally fucked up/had a fucked up childhood himself" thing going on. Plus, he probably knows that he wasn't much of a father. And he left LJ in the stable life while supposedly still trying to keep some contact with him.

I don't know much about John, but I'm guessing he had a reasonably normal childhood, was reasonably educated, was mature enough to have a wife and a house, probably had his kids intentionally... So one think that he would have had the maturity to do at least some considering, even if he was hit hard by Mary's death.

Hahaha! Never thought of it this way, but you have a point. Darn you for bringing logic into the larger fandom!

I always look at it from the POV, would I like living in this kind of world? If I liked in SPN world, yeah, it's all nice and stuff if there is a secret hunter organization, but if there are things outside threatening my family THEN I WOULD PLEASE LIKE TO KNOW. After all, the hunters can't be everywhere at the same time.

Wouldn't the life of a person in SPN world be much easier if there was just a government hotline they could call if they saw something suspicious? And they had daily self defense shows on daytime about how to best ward off different types of monsters. I think at least some people in SPN world would have to rethink their policy on religion and weapons in the home if they knew that monsters were real.

I'm sure the Watchers were similar, but they strike me as much more organized and sophisticated in detecting threats and such. Plus, the watchers were always shady and I always suspected that the reason they were so secretive was probably because they were secretly harnessing power of their own and were unwilling to give it up. So, selfserving and sinister, but at least well organized.

At least Mulder and Scully always tried to tell the public what was going on and couldn't because of lack of evidence and because they were being suppressed.

And as much as I deeply hate the conspiracy on PB SO MUCH:
1.) At least Michael and Lincoln tried to tell the public
2.) At least they personally have personal issues that make it reasonable for them to feel like they have nothing to expect from authorities or the public
3.) At least the only people they really know are afflicted are themselves and the ones they know (meanwhile John and co know there are constantly monsters out there threatening families; and they know plenty of people who also believe in what they believe)

Again, deeply hate the PB conspiracy and find it deeply illogical, but as a writing tool it makes a lot more sense in regards to the PB characters having limited options.

The hunters not sharing their knowledge of the threat with the public is....why exactly? Are they afraid that if people actually knew there was a devil more people would try to make a deal with him and that would outweigh any benefits? Though if there was actually something to gain for the dark side by outing themselves I'm sure they would have done it themselves already.

At least some mythologies like the Russian Nightwatch series have carefully calculated plot reasons why no outing can happen. SPN? Errr. Not so much.