Previous Supernatural episodes with children in them were pretty brilliant. One in particular that I really loved (and, from what I read on fan discussion boards, so did many other fans out there) is season three's "The Kids Are Alright." Seriously, who could forget the adorable little guy who made many hope he was Dean’s son?
Oh wow, how fantastic that episode was. And I still think that child is Dean’s, but that’s just me.
The episode opens up to a sight many parents must see on Thursday nights: a young girl, Amber, is sitting late at night in a dark living room, engrossed in what she is watching on the screen. She hears a noise, gets up to investigate, while everyone is screaming at her not to open it, and while the sight is horrific — a child with blood on his head — Amber just sighs.
Her babysitting charge is playing yet another trick on her, and she isn’t fooled by it, sending him quickly up to bed. Then a dog outside starts barking, and the last we see of Amber (alive) is when she draws the curtains closed after peering out in the hopes of figuring out why.
The parents come home, and the TV isn’t working anymore. Amber is sleeping on the couch – then again, perhaps not, as the horrified father touches blood on her head, of which a whole side is gone. Eww.
I know I don’t usually go in depth into the actual events in each episode, but there was something about this opening scene that I really liked. The overall ambiance, perhaps? The lighting? The filming? The acting? The relative simplicity of it? I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I figured it deserved some space.
It seemed pretty obvious early on in the episode that the main discussion here was going to be about children and choices. Most people would agree that children grow up a lot faster nowadays than they used to. Adults are extremely uncomfortable with the idea, treating it as if it were a bad thing, and doing everything they can to delay adulthood and the era of responsibilities. Which probably explains why so many young people in their 20s act like they are still teenagers.
In any case, those of us who live in North America and Europe often forget that most children in the world have huge responsibilities at a very young age. Even more interestingly, we forget that a mere 100 years ago, children right here were given huge responsibilities at a very young age.
Which begs the question: why has growing up slowly become a good thing?
It seems that growing up has been correlated with less fun; consequently, less fun is also correlated with responsibilities. This doesn’t make sense. Children can be extremely responsible at a very young age and still have a lot of fun. Similarly, adults can have fun fulfilling their day to day responsibilities. I mean, it’s not like any of us had to shoulder the responsibilities of being the Antichrist at a young age, or of fighting off Lucifer so as not to become his vessel and bring about the Apocalypse, no?
Children are just not given the credit that they deserve. They sometimes are pushed to stay innocent, even if their maturity makes them see through the lies their parents tell them.
Father: I’ll just slip this tooth under your pillow and while you’re asleep the tooth fairy will float down and swap it out for a quarter.
Daughter: So some freak is going to come in my room while I’m sleeping and take my tooth. Sounds scary. No, thank you.
My parents never told me about the tooth fairy because they knew I wouldn’t believe them. My father watched me once, as a child, destroy the entire idea of the existence of a tooth fairy his friend was trying to convince me existed. And let me tell you something — even without having the tooth fairy to look forward too, losing a tooth was still a really cool experience (wiggling it and freaking the faint of heart out? Awesome.)
Again, this seems to stem from a nonexistent dichotomy: that immaturity and innocence go hand in hand. But because of this nearly universally accepted dichotomy in our society, adults tend to treat children as cute little things that need protection from everything, even work.
As No Doubt would say: "I'm just a girl in the world, That's all that you'll let me be!"
This is quite unfortunate, since children have amazing capacities to contribute to their own advancement, as well as that of their families and their communities. Now I know Jesse was the Antichrist, but how many people underestimated him just because he’s a child?
Being taught at a young age to be responsible doesn’t mean that children have to forgo their innocence. Quite the contrary, a child’s joy and innocence should be cherished, but not at the price of his capacity to contribute to the advancement of humanity. Even Jesse; while he is going to have demons to fight and I’m sure it’s not the last we see of him, it’s pretty clear that he went to a place where he can surf and he is going to be quite happy – relatively speaking, since he does carry the burden of being the Antichrist.
I wonder how Sam felt, seeing a child that young carry a burden far heavier than the one he had, and not succumbing to temptation – at least, not yet.
Will an overarching plotline become that of Sam seeking redemption through Jesse, but keeping him from going dark? Will Sam and Jesse develop a strong bond that will help both of them, Sam from cleansing himself from what he did, and Jesse from denying his dark side? Of course, that’s a big gamble, considering who Jesse is and what he is capable of.
Sam: He might make the right choice.
Castiel: You didn’t.
Harsh, Castiel. Harsh.
And what about Dean in all this? Sometimes I wonder if him being Michael’s chosen vessel means that even if he doesn’t accept, he has amazing capacities to fight the Apocalypse. Okay, fine, we know that Dean is a great hunter… but what if he, too, had some sort of internal something or other, a supernatural strength or paranormal force which would be the reason why he was chosen in the first place?
Then again, we never got a hint of it anytime in the last four seasons, so or I’m totally off the track, or that special ability is very, very well hidden.
Perhaps in the form of Dean’s massive appetite.
The conversation at the end of the episode was also interesting and a little heartbreaking.
Dean: I’m starting to see why parents lie to their kids. I mean, you want them to believe that the worse thing out there is mixing pop rocks and coke. Protect them from the real evil. You want them to go to bed feeling safe. If that takes lying, then so be it. The more I think about it, the more I wish Dad had lied to us.
Sam: Me, too.
I’ll give it to them; Dean and Sam did have it pretty hard, especially Dean, thrust in the role of parent at an extremely young age. I don’t know if John lying to them would have been the best of alternatives though, especially given their family history of being hunters. Even medically, a child has to be exposed to viruses and bacteria from a young age, to allow his bowels to be colonized adequately (still, yuck) and his immune system to slowly build up. Were we to protect a child from every single such organism until his maturity, be it at 15, 18 or 21, then expose him to the real world with all its filthiness, that child’s immune system would become overwhelmed and he’d die.
Who is to say that wouldn’t have happened had Dean and Sam be lied to all along, only to find themselves the target of demons and Lucifer?
Which brings back, yet again, the concept of moderation. As many authors specializing in child-rearing would tell you, a child will tell you when they have heard enough about a given topic. Parents shouldn’t lie to their children, but neither should they overwhelm them with information they are not ready to process. Jesse asked the questions he needed to have answered, and while he got answers, he didn’t get all the information Dean and Sam had. He stopped asking questions when he had had enough — a nifty self-preservation technique most people still have when they are adults.
I don’t think many adults get this concept of telling the truth to their children as much as they can process it. It makes me wonder at the depth of the issues Dean and Sam have, exposed since childhood to things even adults shouldn’t know about. And before we go John-hating, let’s remember that most parents have the very best of intentions at heart, and I think while John made bad decisions and was blinded by his quest for revenge, he did try to be as good a father as he could, considering.
And some parents, trying to be the best they can be, lie to their children to protect them from the dark side of life. But (ironically enough, perhaps) this itself is the real reason why parents shouldn’t lie to their children: for when they discover that their parents, the people they looked up all their lives, the people who made them feel safe and secure, lied to them, that very sense of security becomes shattered.
Seen in this light, I don’t think we can blame teenagers for being moody.
The main question I’m sure many Supernatural fans have on their lips is about Jesse’s potential to go dark versus his ability to remain good, and what the role of the Winchester brothers and Castiel should be. Did Castiel have a right to kill the child? Surely even the most tenderhearted viewer can agree that Jesse being the Antichrist, a demon spawn who is going to be one of the devil’s greatest weapon in the war against heaven, isn’t a good thing to have during an Apocalypse – kind of like flying a kite during a severe thunderstorm. Sam and Dean tried to appeal to his human side, but can Jesse even be defined as human, and even if he is half human, is that side strong enough to withstand the darkness within him?
Julia: Have you seen my son? Is he human?
And, dang it all, Jesse is so adorable that not even for a second was I rooting for him to be killed. I especially loved it when he asked the boys for their badges.
Jesse [taking the badge from Dean’s hands]: Let me see that.
Castiel wanting to kill Jesse could be related to John’s instructions to Dean to kill Sam if need be. And, had Dean complied, this entire Apocalypse might not have happened, and we would all be talking about what a fantastic show Supernatural was during its short three to four season run.
I don’t think its right to get rid of someone just because they are showing signs or have the potential to go to the dark side. The end doesn’t justify the means, and killing the person that has potential to go dark shows that the killer himself has darkness inside him. So what do we do, go around killing everyone?
Let’s admit it: while it would take care of many problems the world is plagued with, but wouldn’t be very constructive to the advancement of human civilization.
I’m quite disappointed that Jesse didn’t get to meet Bobby; I would have loved to see how that would go, an adorable, tender-hearted child meeting a gruff old man. I also loved the X-Men nod.
Dean: He’s also in a wheelchair!
Let’s hope that the education given to Jesse by his adoptive parents, who seem to be kind and tender towards their son and instilled him with good manners, will be strong enough that, with help, Jesse will be able to keep his dark side at bay. After all, he would make the boys a pretty nifty sidekick in a couple of years.
One last thought: how in the world did Jensen, Jared and Mischa not die of laughter while filming the scene where Castiel sit on the whoopee cushion?
Some great moments:
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Sam: Whoever is doing this […] has the powers of a god… [or] of a trickster.
Dean: And the sense of humour of a nine-year-old.
Sam: Or you.
Sam: Dude. Seriously. Still with the ham?
Dean: We don’t have a fridge!
Sam: Hey, you’re not using my razor!
Castiel, sitting on the whoopee cushion: That wasn’t me.