In the sixth episode of the fifth season of Supernatural, I seriously thought that by naming the pattern in my predictions that I wouldn’t ever fall for a funny episode of this show turning sad, but WHAT THE FUCK, I DID ANYWAY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.
Trigger Warning: For talk of rape, consent, and child death.
OHHHHHH MY GODS, WHAT HAS THIS SHOW JUST DONE TO ME. Ruined me, and given me Gattlin Griffith’s haunting performance, and then also gave me Dean’s ham obsession? AND PLENTY OF SAM WINCHESTER EYE-ROLLS.
Like the last episode, “I Believe the Children Are Our Future” opens with a red herring. The first two deaths that Sam and Dean investigate seem to suggest that all practical jokes in the town of Alliance, Nebraska are coming true. It’s an interesting idea, one that felt a little meta to me, since Supernatural as a whole posits that lots of cultural myths and tales are true within its own universe. I even entertained the idea that this was going to be a Trickster episode! (I would totally be down to have another episode with him.) That would have been fun. It would have been a good time, full of laughs and smiles and rainbows and puppies.
No. Nope. No such thing on Supernatural.
It was during this episode that I realized that every single episode is tied in to the apocalypse. It’s an unavoidable part of this season’s mythology at this point. It’s the reason the Lashii claimed to be so active, and it’s why Jesse Turner has so suddenly discovered his powers. Well, “discovered” might not be the right word here. Until the demon within Jesse’s birth mother reveals the truth to him, he has no idea that he possesses any sort of power. That’s played humorously at first, and it’s brilliant to see how the writers completely obey the trope of a powerful child, and then they launch us all straight into a stratosphere of SERIOUSLY NOT OKAY.
For what it’s worth, I think that this episode addresses many of the more uncomfortable aspects of Jesse’s situation a lot better than the show has in the past. I think this season has addressed the concept of consent and a meatsuit way more openly than before, though it took both Ruby’s second “body” and the angels to bring it so undeniably into the context of the plot. There are intersecting themes of consent and agency present in both Jesse and Julia’s stories, though they’re not always dealt with ideally. I think that Julia’s heartbreaking story is presented sympathetically, but I thought the writers sort of went out of their way to not call it rape whenâ€¦ that’s pretty much exactly what happened. I have a personal interest in seeing it named as such, I understand that. But her violation at the hands of the unnamed demon worried me for a while because I was worried about what sort of message the episode was trying to get across. There’s an unfortunate stigma around children born of rape, and having a child be a literal half-demon could have turned this episode into a disaster.
But! Julia was THANKFULLY not killed during this episode, despite that I was seriously concerned the show would fridge her. On top of that, the entire conflict that comes about when Cas gets involved is all about choice versus destiny, which I thought was key in understanding the problem with portraying the product of rape as a negative entity. Jesse’s powers are not his choice, and the show makes that very clear when Sam and Dean first meet. (I am never going to get over Dean’s proud smirk after he hears Jesse mouth off to Sam. That is one of the most beautiful things this show has ever done.) The very thing that’s protecting him from other demons or the angels has a devastating side effect: it makes his beliefs real by altering reality. And the power falls in line with what we’ve seen of other demons and the angels. It’s just that Jesse isn’t exercising any agency when his power isâ€¦ well, ruining/ending lives.
Cas only complicates the problem by admitting that this specific child is the anti-christ, which isn’t what we normally think it is. (This is one of the first times the show has openly stated that the Bible is wrong about reality!) He’s a tool that Lucifer can use to destroy “the host of heaven,” which is why Castiel is so quick to try and murder a child. But is that fair to the kid? No, of course not, and we’re meant to be utterly horrified by what Cas does. So when Dean is certain that the best way to get Jesse out of that house before the demons find him is to lie to him, we see how this doesn’t work because it’s disrespectful of Jesse’s agency. Sam was right; giving someone the truth, no matter how difficult it might be to hear, is better than deceiving them. Let’s not forget that Sam was the victim of a YEAR-LONG CON, so he knows how betrayed one can feel when they’re continually lied to.
And shit, they nearly lose Jesse to the demons because of their lives. That being said, it’s not like the show gives Jesse a triumphant end just because he knows the truth. This episode has a viciously sad ending, since Jesse knows that he’ll never be able to see his family again. He has to leave his adoptive parents and his birth mother behind. FOREVER. The sadness of it all is driven home by the fact that he’s still a kid, and he’s off in the world all by himself. Of course, when Dean and Sam reflect on what just happened, they’re left pondering how their own lives were just as messed up as Jesse’s. Neither of them ever got a choice about being pulled into the world of demons and hunting. And yet? Here they are, without any of their family aside from each other.
Lord, what a brutal ending.
The video for “I Believe the Children Are Our Future” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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