In the eighth episode of the seventh season of Supernatural, Dean and Sam’s annual trek to Vegas ends very, very strangely. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent, rape, and nonconsensual drugging.
That was not what I expected, and that’s actually a good thing.
This particular trope is, almost universally, treated terribly. Even within the Supernatural canon itself, nonconsensual acts have been treated with humor, so you can definitely see that horror dawning on me for the first third or so of “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!” It was basically me waiting for this to get worse and worse. It was me believing that Sam’s consent would be treated like fodder for jokes. And then… holy shit, this does not go where I thought it would go.
I’m sensitive to the issue because the second time I was raped, I was drugged, so I’m particularly not all that enthused with the love potion trope, nor the jokes that often come with it. And for a good portion of this episode, this felt like it was going to be a meta trip through a whimsical tale, with the butt of the joke being both Sam not consenting to any of this and obsessive fangirls in online communities. I’ll deal with the meta stuff at the end of this, because even I am not sure what this episode is trying to say. But I did find that the show’s treatment of a very common trope did wonders in portraying it negatively, which it should do.
So, first things first: BECKY. AND SAM. MARRIED. There’s a clever commentary on the lengths shows will go to in order to keep things dramatic for the audience. Like a wedding! But on the face of it, it’s just plain shocking. It made no sense, there was no way it was possible that Sam would fall for Becky in just a few days, and NO. NO. So I started cycling through the possibilities: parallel universe. Some weird angel thing. A spell? Something new? WHAT COULD POSSIBLY EXPLAIN THIS? Initially, too, this is all absurdist humor, which is certainly one reason why I was so worried that this wouldn’t respect Sam’s agency. Interestingly, though, the show reveals the cause fairly early on. That’s rare for Supernatural, and that means SOMETHING ELSE IS AT WORK HERE. And that something else is… competing witches? Or maybe one really good wiccan and then an actual witch of some sort?
More on that in a bit. As Becky’s honeymoon continues to go awry and I was left increasingly horrified by her Misery-style obsession with Sam, Dean does his gosh darn best to solve the case in town while coping with the ridiculousness of his brother. I actually thought it was kind of sweet that for a moment, he chose to support his brother. Yes, that “moment” lasted all of a few minutes because how the fuck is any of this happening. But even through this, Dean genuinely has his brother’s best interests in mind, which is reflected in that conversation at the end of the episode.
Becky, on the other hand, clearly has her own interests in mind, and everything she does here reflects that. What’s interesting to me is that so much of what we see here had never truly been planned out. Oh, Becky had definitely plotted and schemed with Guy to a point, but the execution of this dream of hers was incredibly sloppy. Nothing about it was longterm! Notice the dinner they have on the day after getting married; it’s clearly from a grocery store or gas station, picked up on the way to the cabin. Becky also didn’t plan on the eventual drain on her store of love potion, either. She panics immediately the first time it wears off, and she’s downright terrified when she runs out the second time. She never consulted any of her friends or her family. She didn’t consider where she’d live or what she’d do once Dean got involved. That’s not to say that this is the additional evidence I needed to show that Becky wasn’t ready for marriage. Drugging someone into loving you is all that you need to demonstrate that.
I was pleasantly surprised, then, that the text itself was so critical of Becky Rosen. This is done by literally giving Sam a voice, and he uses it to consistently and brutally condemn her for what she’s done. Every time she tries to justify it, to paint it as some romantic behavior, Sam calls her out on her terrible logic. I know it’s weird to say that’s refreshing, but it’s honestly so rare. Few – if any! – of the genre shows or books I’ve read that use this fantastical trope ever address the consent issues so plainly. One of my favorite moments was when Sam spelled it out for Becky: if she truly believed that Sam loved her “deep down,” then she should untie him. It’s a demonstration of trust, a very basic need for a relationship to function. So what does she do?
And then the show goes even further. I was worried that Becky was going to get off kind of easy, and as soon as she started talking about being a loser and unpopular, I was furious. This is not how you rectify the problem! THEN, LO AND BEHOLD, LIKE AN (non-jerk) ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, SAM DESTROYS HER ENTIRE ARGUMENT BY TELLING HER OUTRIGHT THAT YOU CANNOT GET SOMEONE TO LOVE YOU THROUGH DRUGGING. Thank you, Supernatural, for completely dismantling this so simply and directly, I DID NOT EXPECT THIS, AND I AM THANKFUL THAT THIS ISN’T A SUBTEXT. IT’S RIGHT THERE. I’m just so glad the show avoided having Sam raped for this story, because I thought that’s where it would go. He couldn’t consent to sex under that love potion, so it would have been rape.
I imagine, then, that Sam had to have pointed out that if the only way she could have gained Sam as a partner was through drugging, then it wasn’t an option to start with. I totally fell for it and thought Becky had honestly given in to the crossroads demon, and even after the big confrontation between Guy, Jackson, Sam, Dean, and Garth, I thought this would be, more or less, a one-off episode. But Crowley shows up and Guy is terrified and then I just had to go an loudly observe that, HEY ISN’T IT WEIRD THAT THEY HAVEN’T SEEN A DEMON IN A WHILE AND WHAT THE FUCK THAT’S BECAUSE OF CROWLEY. In yet another bizarre turn, the Winchesters are almost default allies with Crowley, since he wants nothing more than all of the Levithans eradicated. Christ, he told them about Dick Roman. Are they going to seek him out??? OH, THIS IS GETTING SO GOOD, Y’ALL.
I like the end of “Season Seven, Time for A Wedding” beyond the Crowley reveal, though. Becky isn’t rewarded for her behavior, though Sam – bless his heart – does try to reassure Becky that she’ll find a husband someday. Well, he painfully admits this. The show doesn’t give her Garth, either, as if he’s some incidental consolation prize. Becky’s behavior is terrifying, y’all. And that makes me wonder, like I did with her before, just how close to home she might have hit with the fandom. I’m thrilled that her actions were portrayed negatively, but Becky as a character is a constant meta reference to fandom and fangirls, and I’m worried about where that line blurs. I think shitty and creepy behavior should be called out, but I’m also protective of fandom and portrayals of it. But ultimately I’m not a woman in this fandom, so I’m gonna ask how this felt to y’all who are more qualified to talk about it. Weird? Funny? Creepy? Unsettling? A giant pile of NOPE?
And then there’s that final scene. The Winchesters, talking about problems openly, being honest, acknowledging growth and progress… holy shit, it’s really happening. Then Sam makes a comment about Dean now being able to care for himself, and everything crumbles because Sam got to real. Oh god, does Dean even know how to take care of himself??? DOES HE EVEN VALUE HIMSELF ENOUGH TO DO SO? It’s hurting, everyone, SOUND THE ALARMS.
The video for “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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