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Supernatural Fodder

Supernatural: Djinn!

Season 2 is nearly complete. How far into the story arc are we?

Many myth-based stories told in film or TV follow what's called "The Hero's Journey". There are variations, of course, but you find many of the same plot points in every series or movie. I thought it might be interesting to look at the series so far in those terms.

The journey is usually broken down into several major parts: I'll list those according to Wikipedia (though I learned them somewhat differently, and remember them imperfectly).

1. a call to adventure, which the hero has to accept or decline
2. a road of trials, regarding which the hero succeeds or fails
3. achieving the goal or "boon," which often results in important self-knowledge
4. a return to the ordinary world, again as to which the hero can succeed or fail
5. application of the boon in which what the hero has gained can be used to improve the world.

I think it's safe to say we're past the call to adventure. That happened in the Pilot episode, when Dean convinced Sam to go hunting for the first time. I actually learned this as "Change of circumstance." The story starts with a static condition, and something causes a cataclysmic change that the protagonist must adapt to.

We're clearly in the second stage. The Wikipedia article, though, leaves out a lot of common milestones. I don't recall the exact names in the Hero structure, but basically, there is a stage where the protagonist must come face to face with evil, and be defeated. There is the reversal stage, where the protagonist achieves his original goal, and then finds that it is either useless, or not what he thought.

And then, of course, there is the search for a mentor, and his loss.

I think you can see those stages from Season 1. The brothers were in search of a mentor - John. They found him, and then achieved their goal of finding the occultic Colt. They came face to face with evil, and were defeated, in the season finale last year. That led directly to the first few episodes of this season, when they lose their mentor, and the goal from the first season, the Colt, is rendered useless to them by John's bargain with the YED.

If I recall correctly, there is another stage that often is used, and also is left out of the Wikipedia article. That's the hidden quest. The protagonist begins a quest in mind. It seems straighforward, though not easy. However, once the protagonist approaches the end of the quest, they find that the quest is larger, and more complicated and difficult, than originally thought. The stakes are usually greatly increased. While the original quest may have had serious, even deadly, personal consequences to the protagonist, the new quest will have tremendous consequences for many others, sometimes even the entire war..

I think that's where we are right now. It's been hinted that this coming "war" will involve people like Sam from around the world. I think the finales will confirm that, and expose the exact nature of the world.

That much seems obvious. What I don't think is obvious is what I think will not be revealed. I don't think the finales will reveal the course of action the brothers will need to take to stop this war (and though they may delay it, they will not stop it).

Personally speaking

The Hero's Journey has another aspect in the personal. The protagonist must undergo a change. They become stronger, physically and/or mentally. They become kinder, wiser, or more decisive. Or they can fail, of course, and become lesser in some way. But the character cannot remain static.

The brothers have come a long way. Their characters are becoming more rounded, though the process is not complete. Sam has learned to balance his desire for revenge with his compassion. Dean, though he struggles, is starting to feel more empathy with some of the creatures they hunt. They both are starting to come to terms with the consequences their work has on them and the world (well illustrated by "What Is, and What Should Never Be"). They have learned that, as painful as it was, they are both stronger people due to Mary's murder. They have an exceptional sense of honor, duty and sacrifice.

So where do they go from here? You can fit their progress into the Hero's Journey somewhat. The brothers still have not learned how they can fit themselves into everyday life (more hints from "What Is..."), or even if they can. If the series continues, I would expect the final few episodes will help to flesh that out.

We still don't know what Sam can do with his gift. Can it even be used? How can he learn to use it? Will Sam's gift have any implications for Dean? Will it pit Dean against Sam, as has been hinted at several times this year? Will the brothers face a choice between honor and duty, say, for example, deceiving an innocent in order to fulfill their duty to mankind? Is this what John did with Jo's father?

These are answers that we may get direction on from the finales. Or maybe they'll bridge some of them into next year, assuming the series is renewed.

We have a few hints as to other things the finale may bring out.

Back in January, Eric Kripke gave a major hint to Kristen at E! Online. Seems one thing the finale will deal with is the reason Sam is "gifted" and Dean is not. Will we also get the answer to why Dean's eyes bled in Season 1's "Bloody Mary"? Only those who feel guilt from causing a death had their eyes bleed. Sam is understandable, he felt guilty for Jess's death (probably why he saw a vision of her at the end of the episode). But Dean, so far, has had a big secret. Will it continue into the new season, like the story of Dean's amulet apparently will?

Dean's third strike?

I mentioned a few posts back that Dean may have another brush with death, to complete the "Rule of 3s". Looks like that happened. While I think we'll continue to see the brothers face death, sometimes near-certain death, I think we're probably done seeing Dean so far gone that he has to be literally pulled back from the other side. But Sam, on the other hand.....

Posted by Miller on May 4, 2007 9:54 AM
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