So I always wondered why Mary named her first kid Dean. I mean, if you want to name your children after your parents, and your firstborn is a boy, wouldn’t you name him after your dad?
It irritates me a bit in In the Beginning when Samuel is all cranky and Deanna all welcoming. It’s such a cliché. I’m sure there are homes, families, with that dynamic, but not nearly as many as you see on TV.
Still, a possibility occurs to me: Maybe Mary didn’t even know if she’d have more than one child. Maybe it was most important to her to have a child named after her mother. Maybe she just wanted a baby named for her mother first, even knowing she would have other children.
I don't really don’t get the Mary thing. It’s not that she’s a terrible character. I ultimately find her mother more interesting. Although also more pointless - it would have been better if she hadn’t cried out when her husband was killed and stayed professional. She still could have died. I did like that sort of quiet partnership she had with Samuel, at least I found it intriguing.
Mary is...all right. Her major characterization is wanting to have a family and be normal and have her kids raised hunter. Problem is, we don’t really know WHY she hates hunting. It's never spelled out.
(Also, the actor who plays John is not that good. I think the actress who played Mary did a good job, but John was just…wasn’t John. And yes, people can change over time. Tragedy changes people. But it was kinda hard to see even a hint of S1 John in this John, and that defeats the purpose for me.)
Mary’s big decision is to kiss her possessed father in order to save her husband-to-be. That didn't feel explained, either. That is, I could buy that she would do that. But when John made a deal for Dean, that was specific to his character. The guy who gives out no information to his sons and doesn’t let on how highly he thinks of them, but gives up everything just so his boy can be safe. When Dean made the deal for Sam, it said something about Dean, how desperate he was to protect Sam, how he had formed his identity so completely around his little brother. When Sam tried to make a deal for Dean, it was a reflection of his personality, the young man who owes his brother more than he can handle and never does things by halves. I had no sense of how Mary's decision was a reflection of her character. It seemed just a generic sense that Mary wanted to save something she loved.
Yeah, it was one episode, and it was cramped. Samuel is ultimately just as important a character as Mary, if not more so. It is with him that Dean has a more honest relationship.
The sexualization of Mary was also icky. Dean observing that his mother was “a babe”* was just a touch more skeevy than funny. The YED finding Mary physically attractive was pointless. The level of sexuality in the demon’s interactions with Mary once he was in her father’s body was also absolutely gross and pointless. YED!Samuel was a little sexual with Dean, but it was far, far less, and Dean and Samuel did not know each other. The sexualization between YED and Mary was 100% gross and 100% pointless. The kiss made sense for show mythology, but the incest could have been toned waaaaaaaay down without getting rid of the kiss.
And why does the YED like Mary? He says she has "spunk", a highly gendered compliment. But why does he like her? Because she's pretty and knows how to fight? That doesn't seem like enough.
The YED's arguments for Mary to take the deal are also gendered. He says, "Or you can spend the rest of your life, desperate and alone." "Desperate" is a very loaded word where unmarried women are concerned. He’s basically telling her that if she loses this guy, she’ll never have one again. In fact, at no point does the YED appeal to her love for John, or John as a person. Just her dreams of being normal and married. The idea that John is the only person who could take Mary "away", that without him she would be “desperate and alone”, read as an appeal to an insecurity that doesn't mesh with the rest of Mary's characterization. If only the demon had gone for the line of her being the one to get John killed…well, that would make her a classic Winchester, wouldn’t it?
I wonder what would have happen if Mary had tried to bargain and turn the tables, and maybe gotten what she thought was a better deal only to actually be getting herself screwed? Almost Sam-like. Or maybe be Dean-like and try to deal but have the YED call her bluff?
Also: between this episode and As Time Goes By, it makes me sad that both John and Mary appear to be only children. Didn’t some episode in an earlier season mention an uncle? It’s sad that even in a show focused on a sibling relationship, the writers made Mary and John only children for convenience
*We know John and Mary had photos. Sam even took one to Stanford. I could sorta see Dean not recognizing John right away what with the disorientation and not having experienced time travel before…but it takes him way too long to recognize Mary, and he seems oddly surprised by what she looks like.
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