itsnotmymind: (sam and ruby)
[personal profile] itsnotmymind
I just finished re-watching Repo Man. I've always thought it a strong episode, one that really takes a harsh look at how Sam and Dean treat possessed people. But nonetheless, I've always felt the making Jeffrey turn out to be so evil undermined that harsh look. It makes it harder for us to care, to empathize with Jeffrey, to fully feel the effects of Sam and Dean's actions.

Yet somehow, I never noticed how the exorcism of the demon Nora's son completely undermines any argument for the Winchester brothers' near-constant murders of countless possession victims. Some fans have argues that demons should be killed rather the exorcised because otherwise the demons will return to kill others. Well, here is a demon who is especially dangerous - he not only kills, he possesses people planning to teach them how to be serial killers, so they can kill on their own after he leaves. Yet, because they have sympathy towards the victim's mother, Sam and Dean choose to exorcise him.

Dean even kills Jeffrey to keep him from killing the demon. Don't get me wrong - the Winchester brothers had no feelings of mercy towards Jeffrey at this point, nor should they have. There's a reason Dean shot him instead of making an attempt to disarm him. Nonetheless, I don't think Dean would have killed him directly accept to save another person - even if saving another person means saving the demon inhabiting that person. So much for the "No matter what meat suit he's in, I should have knifed him," argument that he gave a season later, after trying to kill Linda Tran.

(Also, so much for the fanon I've encountered that Sam cares about people he knows more than people he doesn't know, but Dean has no such prejudice...)

If killing Nora's son would have been wrong, why is it okay to kill so many nameless people who had the misfortune to have demons shoved inside them?

Date: 2017-04-11 06:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Good point, and thought-provoking. It's true they sacrifice a lot of lives for "the common good." In the case of Nora's son, maybe they also felt it was their fault that her son was tortured by Jeffery and possessed by the demon, and were saving him not just for Nora's sake but because they thought it was their responsibility to save him.

Date: 2017-04-11 12:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
But then that raises the question: Why is their guilt over possibly having contributed to a situation more important than the lives of people who could be killed by serial-killer-training-demon, but their desire to not torture and murder innocent people in general not so? It seems to come down to that they had empathy for Nora, and a connection to her. But her won is undoubtedly not the only possession victim with family who are desperate and terrified and will do anything to get them back. But since Sam and Dean don't have to look that family in the eye, they don't count.

Date: 2017-04-11 12:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think they'd argue it's not that they don't count, but that they just can't save everyone. They can't start thinking about every single victim and their families because they are fighting a war. Dean probably feels bad about every single death anyway but he drowns it all in whiskey.

Date: 2017-04-11 12:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, but - it's sort of like the politicians who choose to wage war, and then make sure their children don't have to fight in it. At the end of the day, Sam and Dean have power, and with great power comes great responsibility. If it's necessary to kill demons to protect the world, why doesn't that apply when they have to look the mother of the demon-possessed person in the eye? Because it makes them emotionally uncomfortable. It brings home what they are actually doing. If you're only willing to drop the bomb if you don't know the names of the kids who will die, maybe you shouldn't be dropping the bomb at all.

Does Dean feel bad about all the people who died? Yes and no. Dean's guilt is excessive to the point of being self-serving - and yet, he frequently makes the choice to not actually make the hard choices. Don't get me wrong, Dean can be very self-sacrificing, but in this episode, when faced with the possibility of killing a young man in front of his mother, he choose to shoot the boo-hiss serial killer instead, and feel like less of the bad guy. Dean makes himself feel guilty so that he feels less like a bad guy. Dean's guilt isn't about doing the best thing - Lisa and Ben are proof of that - it's about making Dean feeling like a good person (by, paradoxically, feeling like a bad person). Dean does "the hard thing" only to the extent that it makes him feel the like a noble man who punishes himself by doing bad things so over people don't have to. He draws the line at too hard - even if that means his choices make things worse, rather than better.

ETA: Oh, and IF killing possessed people is the right thing to do, then they are saying Nora's son is not only more important than other possession victims - he's more important that all the people who will be killed by the demons and tortured to death by the demon's protégés. Basically, other people should die to prevent theoretically deaths. But they met this guy's mother a few times, so it's okay to run the risk of letting people get tortured to death horrifically. Because Sam and Dean don't know those people, they don't seem to spend two thoughts on it. Which makes you wonder why, really, they kill other possessed victims - if this isn't something they really think about.
Edited Date: 2017-04-11 01:00 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-04-11 01:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
For me, that analogy does not fit the situation at all. It's maybe more like a troop leader who has to lead soldiers in raids that kills innocents along with the enemy because they do not have the time to interrogate everyone to see if they are bystanders or working for the enemy, and then has the opportunity to save one who was tortured by the enemy because his mother assisted them.

The demon they sent back was sent back once already previously after they interrogated him and got names from him of important demons. He would not have been able to come back if Nora hadn't found the powerful spell to do it with. So, them sending the demon back would not have endangered any humans for a very long time if ever. But... are you saying then that they should have killed the demon here for the common good? What do you think they should have done?

Date: 2017-04-11 11:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My main point here is simply one of double standard. In fact, demon-possessed people are as likely to be working for the enemy as you or I am to be working with terrorists. You can count on one hand the number of possessed people who are working with their demons - Jeffrey's about it. In demon/possessed person "relationship", the demon has absolute power (barring rare circumstances where a possessed person breaks free). Nora's son was no different from any other - except they sympathized with his mother. If killing him was wrong, then so is killing many of the other people they kill, and vice versa.

As for what I think they should have done? I think they should fight to save possession victims. Nora's son. That poor kid Linda Tran stabbed in Captives. Linda's friend Eunice. The demons Dean tortured and killed to find Lisa and Ben. Cindy the nurse Sam bled, and the two people who Sam and Dean bled in Swan Song. The woman Ruby 1.0 possessed, who Bobby shot for no reason. If you don't like the idea of killing an innocent person when you've seen their mother's pain - don't kill innocent people.

Date: 2017-04-12 12:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I used that analogy not because the possessed people might be evil as well, although there is also a possibility of that - I´m sure there are other demons that work the same way. This is not the exception. But, there is a very real possibility that the people are already dead or dying, so that killing them quickly is better than freeing them.

In all the examples you mentioned, if they had let the demons go back, they would have warned Crowley or Lucifer what Sam and Dean were up to and put both other innocents and the mission in jeapardy.

Bobby killing the girl possessed by Ruby -how do you know she wasn't already fatally wounded and how could he have sent Ruby to hell in that situation with no devil´s trap out in the woods, at a disadvantage? I do think he acted out of survival instinct, without thought for the actual possessed victim, but people don't always have time to think through their actions in those situations.

There are obviously those they could have saved and not killed. I´m not saying they are morally perfect, but no one is, and they are sure better than some other alternatives.

Edited Date: 2017-04-12 12:23 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-04-12 12:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
But, there is a very real possibility that the people are already dead or dying, so that killing them quickly is better than freeing them.

But this gets back to my original point: Why do Sam and Dean rarely have this attitude when the possessed person is someone they have a reason to care about?

I also think this is a pretty questionable statement given the huge numbers of examples we have of possession victims who survive their possession. Of our reoccurring characters, Sam, Bobby, John, Lisa, Linda Tran (and if we're counting angel possessions, Claire Novak) were all possessed at least once in the first ten seasons, and survived. Bobby was seriously injured, but he still survived and lived a life.

"Well, they might had died anyway," is an excuse, and it's one that's been be used in the real world, too. It never ends pretty.

When Bobby shot Ruby, they were having a completely non-violent conversation, and she was standing with her arms stretched egging him to shoot. Ruby was evil. What was Bobby's excuse?


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