For a show like Supernatural, with its vast mythology and willingness to bend the rules, the creative possibilities are endless. Over the course of ten seasons, viewers have witnessed the story evolve from Sam and Dean Winchester’s secularized skirmishes with folkloric ghouls, goblins and ghosts to a cosmic battle of good and evil, with the brothers caught in the crossfire between the forces of Heaven and Hell. In the process, the writers have taken their characters through a gauntlet across time and space, throwing them into the past, future and even alternate universes, all for the purpose of giving the series something new to explore.
Nevertheless, amidst all of this inventiveness and innovation, the show has experienced its fair share of recycled story-lines. One of the most basic of the series is this: Brother A is in trouble and Brother B must save him, at any cost. Not even the side characters are immune to this. Castiel, the brothers’ angel ally, has gone from human to angel and then back to human again so many times that it starts to give the viewer whiplash. That’s not to say that the writers don’t add a fresh spin on these story-lines; they have, many times, often to the delight of viewers across the board. However, that doesn’t change the fact that recycled story-lines have become just as prominent a fixture of Supernatural as pushing the envelope has.
With its eleventh season well under way, it seemed at first that Supernatural had finally escaped this trend. Instead of one of the brothers in peril with the other fighting to save him, the brothers were finally on the same page again, working together to defeat a vast evil. It wasn’t until the mid-season finale that I realized that the show hadn’t abandoned its habit of recycling story-lines entirely. Upon witnessing the interactions between Amara and Dean, I was struck with a sudden case of deja-vu. The dialogue between them was so similar to that of Sam and Lucifer in season 5 that I began to wonder: would the Dean/Amara story-line end the same way that the Sam/Lucifer story-line did in the heart-wrenching season 5 finale “Swan Song”? In the sections below, I’ve outlined the ways in which the Dean/Amara story-line mirrors that of the Sam/Lucifer one in season five. From there, you can concoct your own theories!
1. “You’re the One Who Set Me Free”
When Sam first encounters Lucifer in the season 5 episode “Free to Be You and Me,” Lucifer tells him a lot of things in an attempt to persuade him to become his vessel. One such thing is that since Sam is the one who set him free, Lucifer wants to express his gratitude by giving Sam everything that he desires. Moreover, he also makes it clear that it was Sam’s destiny to not only set him free but also be his vessel.
Now, fast forward six seasons to Dean and Amara’s exchange in “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” In much the same way, Amara emphasizes that Dean is the one who set her free. She tells him that their kiss was “the inevitable result of [their] first meeting” and that everything from Dean freeing her to their being together was destiny. Sound familiar?
2. “Sympathy for the Darkness” Vs. “Sympathy for the Devil”
This is one of the most obvious similarities between the two story-lines. In both cases, Lucifer and Amara attempt to convince Dean that they are the wronged party, that they’ve been misjudged and that God is the true villain of their respective stories. We see this with Lucifer in the season five episode “The End,” in which Dean confronts a Lucifer-possessed Sam in the future. Lucifer tries to convince Dean to see his point-of-view and understand that everything Lucifer did was out of love for God. Luckily, Dean didn’t buy it.
Let’s hope that he has the same sense of judgement with Amara. In “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”, Amara tells Dean that she was unjustly imprisoned because God was jealous of her. She also asserts that humanity will flourish best once free from God’s rules. Given that Dean has seen the result of her version of “freeing” humanity, I sincerely hope that he takes everything that she says with a barrel-load of salt.
3. “Two Halves Made Whole”
This was one of the more interesting parallels between the story-lines that I noticed and is also the one that is most up for debate, since Amara’s words to Dean could be interpreted differently. In the mid-season finale, she tells Dean that they will “become one,” hinting at the possibility that she will need Dean as a vessel, or that they will join together, at some point. She also describes the feeling that Dean experiences when he’s with her as “bliss.”
Now, let’s rewind back to season five. In the episode “Swan Song,” after Sam has already been possessed by Lucifer, Lucifer tells Sam that they were made for each other (MFEO, literally) and that the feeling of exhilaration that Sam is experiencing is due to the fact that they are now “two halves made whole.” In other words, Lucifer describes the feeling that results from them becoming one as similar to that of bliss.
4. An Issue of Consent
In season five, viewers witnessed Lucifer on several occasions trying to convince Sam to become his vessel. In the process, he tells Sam the following: that he will a) never hurt him; b) never lie to him; and c) never trick him, giving Sam the illusion that the ball was in Sam’s court regarding him becoming Lucifer’s vessel. Nevertheless, Lucifer also makes it clear that Sam becoming his vessel was predestined and that he wouldn’t take no for an answer. In his mind, Sam was already his vessel; Sam just had to realize it.
Going forward to Dean and Amara, we see a lot of the same language used in their exchanges. In season 11, Amara tells Dean that they will always help each other and that they will never hurt each other, giving the impression that their relationship is not only reciprocal but also one in which both parties are on an equal playing field. However, she then makes it clear to Dean that they will be together, regardless of what Dean wants. Like Lucifer with Sam, she already sees Dean as hers; it’s just a matter of him acknowledging it.
One could argue that with Dean and Amara, the issue of consent is much more prominent, since it appears that Dean has even less power over Amara than Sam had over Lucifer in season five. That’s why it is so significant, in my opinion, that the writers chose to bring Lucifer back in the same episode in which Amara and Dean’s most noteworthy interaction occurs. In the mid-season finale of season 11, Lucifer isn’t as accepting of Sam’s viewpoint as he was in season five; when Sam tells him no, he seizes the first opportunity to take Sam anyway, disregarding his refusal to give his consent.
5. Epic Sibling Rivalry
Last but not least, we have the fact that both Lucifer and Amara suffer from an extreme case of epic sibling rivalry. Lucifer held a grudge against his brother Michael, who was the one that threw Lucifer into the Cage under God’s orders, and the two of them were determined to go head-to-head with each other in a battle destined to scorch the Earth and kill everything on it in “Swan Song”. Likewise, Amara holds a grudge against her brother God, who imprisoned her in order to complete his creation, and she is determined to entice him out of hiding so that she can exact her vengeance on him, regardless of the inevitable casualties that it’ll cause.
It could be that these parallels are merely a coincidence, but it could also be that the writers are using these parallels to give viewers a clue as to what’s coming next. Is Dean destined to become Amara’s vessel, like Sam was destined to be Lucifer’s? Or does Amara merely want Dean as an ally? Is there an epic showdown on the horizon, in which both Sam and Dean will play a crucial role? At this point, anything is possible, but my gut feeling is that Dean will prove to be the key to defeating Amara in the same way that Sam was the key to defeating Lucifer.