While Supernatural is a male-centric show, generally speaking (Rowena being a massive exception), what they lack in quantity of female characters, they make up for in quality of the women who show up in returning roles. A few weeks ago, we got to spend quality fun time with Sheriff Donna in “Plush.” This week is a bit of an estrogen bonanza in that we get not only Sheriff Jody, but her two foster-teens, Claire and Alex. I won’t even try to hide how much I love Kim Rhodes’ Jody. One of the somewhat annoying things about Supernatural is how little real life intrudes on the day-to-day existence of the Winchesters. Little things like money: we know that they supposedly use forged credit cards to stay afloat, but this is a quickly-stated-never-actually-shown bit of their lives. Why? Because actually living like that would be complicated and dangerous. Or the fact that they somehow always have perfectly pressed suits somewhere in a car where all the available storage we’ve ever seen is taken up with weapons or a cooler for beer. It’s like these male hunters live in a space protected from the little frustrations of daily life. Jody, on the other hand, is a hunter firmly grounded in the real. In addition to holding down a job that by definition is never 9-to-5, she fights the things that go bump in the night, often without back-up, all while trying to raise two teenage girls, both of whom who have already had life-experiences that no one should ever have to cope with. And “Don’t You Forget About Me,” penned by new Supernatural writer Nancy Won and focusing on Jody’s world, is all about the ordinary with a vampiric twist. Alex has been living with Jody for a few years now after the brothers Winchester saved her from being forced to serve as vampire bait by a nest of the bloodsuckers. Last we heard, the girl was still struggling to try to have a normal life, but when we see her in this week’s episode, she seems to have it dialed, especially in comparison to Claire who sees monsters everywhere. Alex is doing well in school, has friends and even a boyfriend now, which results in one of the most real, uncomfortable, and funny moments we’ve ever had in the series: Jody giving Alex the sex talk over a meal of chicken in from of Claire and the Winchesters. The expressions of the three adults are priceless throughout: Jody earnestly plowing through while trying to get the brothers to engage; Dean made speechless, partly by the subject and partly by the wonder of a normal meal; and Sam vacillating, feeling obligated to participate but totally unsure what to add. They all get through it, the relief on Jody’s face obvious when Alex reassures her that she and her boyfriend haven’t gotten that far. But the overwhelming nature of Jody’s life is clear when she later tells Dean, “Man, I am hanging on by my fingertips.” As a woman with a child, a job, a home, and a hobby that takes a lot of hours, I identify. I think a lot of us do. The rest of the episode is reminiscent of the first season of Buffy, where the devoted boyfriend turns out not to be what he appears to be, and in Alex giving her heart to him, chaos is unleashed. The boyfriend is a vampire turned by one of Alex’s former victims, a guy who tried to save her from one man and ended up falling prey to the nest that controlled her. Turns out that he escaped, went home and, in his vampiric hunger, killed his family. Now he holds Alex responsible not only for his state but their deaths, and has set her up—making sure she has achieved the level of happiness and feeling of belonging she has, for the sole purpose of him destroying it. Together, the Winchesters and Jody and the girls defeat the baddies, but the real battle—the one for familial peace and personal realization for the teens and Jody—is also won. Rather than resisting Claire’s desire to hunt (and dealing the misadventures resulting from her hunting attempts), Jody has agreed to teach her the ropes. And Alex realizes that the normalcy that her stalker created for her is something she truly wants for herself and that she’ll need to eventually get away from hunters—including her foster-mom and sister—to make that happen. As with Buffy, these are the kinds of conflicts that we face in real life, but viewed through a metaphorical (Supernatural) filter: the child who wants to follow the parent into a dangerous profession against the parent’s wishes, and the child who realizes that she can never be who she wants to be in the dysfunction of her family’s influence. Like I said, Jody, one way or another, always brings the real. “Love Hurts” is also metaphorical but is twisted wish fulfillment rather than reality. In last week’s episode, a curse creates an entity which comes to life to rip the heart out of those who cheat on their partners. While this sounds like not-entirely-a-bad-thing, once the cheaters are dead, it then returns to off the wronged partner as well. Seems that a witch who has created such curses in the past—that did not return to the source—and got fed up with the fact that such women would rid themselves of one unfaithful man only to hook up with another cheater. As a result, she decided she needed to thin the herd by taking out the women she sees as making such destructive choices in the first place. There’s a lot of death and deceit in this episode, as well as hearts ripped out of chest (there’s your metaphor), making it decently (or indecently) entertaining, but I have to admit I’m more than a little uncomfortable with the parallel that this metaphor sets up on several levels. First, there’s the fact that when the witch, Sonya, explains that she’s created the curse to kill cheaters because, if there’s one thing worse than a cheater, it’s one that gets away with it, Sam responds, “You’re practically a feminist.” Now I dearly want to believe that writing team Eric C. Charmelo and Nicole Snyder, long-time fixtures in the Supernatural family, meant that line to be delivered sarcastically. But if so, neither director Philip Sgriccia nor Jared Padalecki got that particular note. So instead, it comes across as an indictment of feminism as bitter and possibly murderous. Not okay. Second, the episode comes dangerously close to victim-blaming. Yes, it is the bad guy, Sonya, who argues that there’s something wrong with the women who pick these cheating men and they too deserve to die, so it might be easy to dismiss it as the writers condmen this idea. But at no time, really, do the boys, or even the text itself, suggest that such an attitude is anything other than acceptable. Oh, sure, her reaction is over-the-top, it is suggested, but it seems totally okay to imply that the women that these men cheat on are somehow responsible for facilitating the cheating in the first place. And that’s dangerous ground. From there, it’s only a quick hop, skip, and jump to a similar argument about victims of physical and sexual abuse. And third, there’s the way this whole things plays into the Amara myth-arc. At the end of the episode, Sam confronts Dean about who appeared to him in the basement as his “deepest, darkest desire.” He argues to Dean, who has been hiding not only who it was but his constant struggle the hold Amara has on him, that he cannot possibly be attracted to her because that would make him “complicit? weak? evil?” as Sam fills in for him. Seems like we are on the right track so far with Sam questioning the idea that Dean is to blame for who he wants. We can’t help who we’re drawn to, right? Thus, Sam rightly rejects that reading of the situation, but goes on to ask his brother “Do you honestly think you ever had a choice in the matter? And this is where things go sideways. Because if there was any chance that the writers were trying to fix the perception that they might be blaming the victims of infidelity for that infidelity by tying the Sonya and Amara storylines together, this is where their metaphor—intentionally or accidently—breaks down. When Sam assures his brother, “If you think I’m gonna blame you or judge you,” and follows it up with the kind of understanding words that every victim of infidelity or domestic violence needs to hear—the validation that what is being done to them is the fault of the perpetrator alone—his early words have excluded those other victims from his benediction because, unlike Dean, they, arguably chose. After all, there is literally no argument that Dean had no choice in being bound to the Darkness. That was the result of Sam’s choice, not his. But the one accusation hurled at victims of infidelity and domestic abuse alike is “why did she choose it?” Why did she choose to ignore it? To put up with it? To stay? To go back? One of the things that I have always loved about Supernatural is the way it does sometimes take on larger societal issues and deal with them in a thought-provoking and sensitive way. “Love Hurts” was not an example of that. And that’s deeply disappointing. 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