Jan. 29th, 2012

partly: (Don't)
I was having a conversation with [livejournal.com profile] kitap on episode 5.14, "My Bloody Valentine" that was getting too long to continue on fb chat, so I thought I'd move it over here.  Besides it deals with one of my favorite tropes from Supernatural and it's worth putting it up here.  

We were talking about the conversation the Famine had with Dean where the Horseman says that the "hunger" that is affecting everyone comes from the soul and that's why the people can't be sated. When Dean points out that it isn't affecting him, this conversation takes place --

FAMINE: (Famine moves closer to Dean and touches him) Yes. I see. That's one deep, dark nothing you got there, Dean. Can't fill it, can you? Not with food or drink. Not even with sex.
DEAN: Oh, you're so full of crap.
FAMINE: Oh, you can smirk and joke and lie to your brother, lie to yourself, but not to me! I can see inside you, Dean. I can see how broken you are, how defeated. You can't win, and you know it. But you just keep fighting. Just... keep going through the motions. You're not hungry, Dean, because inside, you're already...dead.
The question we were on was this:  What does this really mean?  Dean isn't soulless - and the show clearly links having a soul to the ability to feel emotions. So he's not "empty" in that way.  Famine says that Dean "dead" inside.  The Horseman turns this into a "hope" thing, he says that Dean is broken, defeated, beyond hope.  That Dean has given up because he knows there is no winning against "Destiny".

The big questions is: is this true?

The quick answer: No, of course not.  Demons LIE -- and the Horsemen are demons, after a fashion (we're leaving Death out of the equation). Lying is what they do. You're safe if you assume that any conclusions or character statements that they make are going to be lies. So, no, it's not true.

The long answer: No, of course not.  Demons LIE -- however, the very best demons know the most powerful lie is built on truths.  They take a truth from here, a truth from there, mix liberally with fear and doubt and PRESTO they  create a really powerful lie.  It's a lie that is believed because the person it's directed at is so afraid that it's true, that even by denying it, they give more power to it. It's a sad fact that people are much more likely to believe a lie if it's negative than if it's positive - this is probably even more true when the lie is about themselves.

So let's say that the conclusion that Famine gives is wrong, but that there is an underlying truth to what he says: Dean isn't dead inside, but he does have a lack of hunger, a  deep, dark nothing.  That leaves us with the question: what is that nothingness, if it's not a lack of hope, if it's not deadness?

I think that it's actually a result of Famine's power -- Dean hungers for "nothing" in the way that Cas craves red meat and Sam craves demon blood.  Way back in 4.08, "Wishful Thinking", Dean had this conversation with Sam:

Dean: How I feel... This... inside me... I wish I couldn't feel anything, Sammy I wish I couldn't feel a damn thing.
Dean's  deep, dark nothing is a result of that desire: Dean wants to want nothing, he wants to feel nothing... And there is no way to physically  manifest that desire as a hunger because it is the opposite of a hunger.  Dean can face Famine because the very thing that Dean hungers for makes him immune to the Horseman's power. In many ways, Dean, like Sam, is the exception that proves the rule.

Of course, the Horseman can't tell tell Dean that, so instead he takes the truth you have no hunger and twists it into a lie you are dead inside, defeated.  And Dean believes (or somewhat believes) because he knows that he has no hunger and he fears that he could be dead inside.  

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