MISHA COLLINS MAKES HIS DIRECTING DEBUT — Dean (Jensen Ackles) struggles with the after effects of the Mark of Cain. Meanwhile, Sam (Jared Padalecki) hears about a case where straight-laced people are turning into violent murderers. Sam suspects possession and suggests to Dean that they investigate, but Dean tells him to go without him. While interviewing the local townsfolk, Sam meets an elderly woman named Julia (guest star Jenny O’Hara), who tells him the Men of Letters came to town in 1958. Julia tells Sam the story of a young man named Henry Winchester (guest star Gil McKinney) and his female companion, Josie Sands (guest star Alaina Huffman). While Sam is away, Crowley (Mark Sheppard) tests Dean. Misha Collins directed the episode written by Adam Glass (#917)
Unashamed to say I have enjoyed this episode.
DISCLAIMER because it’s necessary in this fandom: in this post, I am NOT excusing, rationalizing, etc, any of Dean’s actions or choices this season! This is about how fandom discusses those actions and the way they’re widely understood as a result of “codependency” and some of the problems I am having with that as a framework.
I’ve written before about finding the word “codependency” to have lost all meaning in this fandom. It’s not just because I regularly see people seriously suggesting there can be “good codependency” (MOAR LOVE) and “bad codependency” without interrogating why they think those “positive” sides are positives and for whom. It’s not just because the word has become a shipwar football (IT HAS, JFC WINCESTERS AND DESTIELERS SHUT. THE FUCK. UP. BOTH OF YOU). This post is about why I think talking about Dean’s character, his choices and actions in s9 as “codependent” is at best deeply flawed, at worst erasing of what’s actually going on.
To start off: my growing discomfort with “codependency” in general is rooted in the fact that it’s a widely misunderstood/misused pop psychology term that even before it hit fandom and got massively warped out of recognition has some deep flaws. Its popular use tends to be framed as an inherent personality trait (the “codependent personality”) rather than a set of coping mechanisms formed in an abusive environment, and there are feminist critiques that would take another post to dig into but can be boiled down to despite the “co-” in “codependent” only one of the typical behavior patterns within the “codependent relationship” has widely been given a label, and this is the behavior pattern most often associated with women. In my experience, the origins of behavior labeled “codependent” in abuse are minimized and erased at best and immersed in subtle or overt victim-blaming at worst.
So these are my preliminary thoughts…