“I remember what it was like to do the right thing. I’m going through the motions, for as long as I can.”
When Sam lost his soul, way back in Supernatural Season 6, it turned him from an empathetic, deeply caring human being into a cold, calculating killer. He wasn’t a bad guy, per se; he still wanted to kill monsters, and he still wanted to stop evil. But without his humanity, he was willing to sacrifice any and all to achieve his goals.
It’s interesting to contrast Soulless!Sam versus the people who have lost their souls this season. You would think that there would be a consistent pattern; when you lose your soul, you do this, and that. Sure, tiny variations would make sense, but everyone who has lost their soul has acted completely different.
The biggest thing to take away about losing your soul is that being soulless does not necessarily mean evil. Sydney was a murderer who killed four people, but her ultimate goal in killing Jordy’s mother and father was to give him a better life with her as his mother. Sam killed monsters so that he could protect people; he just took that cause to its logical extreme. Other times, though, that’s not the case. Jenna turned into a evil, murderous psychopath, who gutted her only family and then broke their things as she bled out on the linoleum floor.
And then you have Len.
All of the people who lost their souls before immediately turned to whatever they were going to be. But Len didn’t. Len actually tried to be better; he tried to continue to be who he was before he lost his soul. What does that say about him, and what does that say about everybody else? How can you lose your innate sense of goodness and still try to remain good?
Maybe it’s because the soul has nothing to do with being good. Maybe it’s because, deep down, Sam is an expertly trained killer with a history of abuse and trauma; maybe it’s because Sydney had been tortured and abused and neglected; maybe it’s because Jenna’s home life wasn’t so great, either. Maybe these people were so deeply broken and disturbed by life dropping boulders on them every time they peeked their heads out that they had no innate goodness left.
Sam, Sydney, and Jenna all made the choice to do good when the world had given them license to be bad. Len still had his heart AND his soul, and because of that he was able to hold on a little bit longer. He made the only choice that he could, and it was a wonderful, terrible, impossible choice. But the bigger thing to take away from here is that a soul is a buffer, not the engine. Sam, Sydney, and Jenna all chose to be good.
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What does that say about Dean?
Len’s journey was presented mostly through Dean; Dean had more interactions with him and was there in the most pivotal character moments. So when Len says the quote at the head of this review, and he says it directly to Dean’s face, one starts to wonder what it means for Dean.
Is Dean going through the motions? Is that what’s going on inside him? Or is that what has always been going on inside of him, and it’s just coming to a head now?
The Darkness being tied to Dean, and almost being a part of him, is no coincidence. It’s also no coincidence that one of the main focuses of the season is Sam and Dean’s difference of opinions on how to do things now. Sam wants to stop being so trigger-happy, while Dean sees it as the cost of doing business. Sydney, as she lay on the floor dying, said that The Darkness was coming, and that it was peaceful. There is truth in this. Sydney had survived a horrible childhood, wracked with moral guilt and yet holding steady, and Amara took away that pain and suffering and gave her no pain at all. The Darkness gives her no pain, and no suffering; in its place is just a hole where it all used to be.
That might sound awful, to most. To feel nothing seems like a hell. But if you were being tortured, and maimed, and possibly even worse considering that she was a little girl left in the parking lot of a sky bar, and someone told you that she could took take all of that away, wouldn’t you take it? If someone was sticking bamboo shoots under your finger nails and putting cigarettes out on you, wouldn’t wish to stop feeling anything at all?
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While this episode of Supernatural wasn’t as dynamic as last week’s all-time great hour, this was still one of the better episodes of a really good season. There hasn’t been a bad episode so far, and I think that, a fourth of the way of the season through, that we can reasonable expect that this could continue.
The writing has been better, the directing has been superb, and the music choices have been fantastic. I think we’re building to something great, and I am really, really excited to see how the rest of Supernatural Season 11 goes.
[Photo credit: Katie Yu/The CW]