As Supernatural nears the end of season 12, the bodies are starting to pile up. Lucifer is loose once again, the British Men of Letters are hunting the American hunters and that is not to mention all the normal threats that Supernatural characters face. It’s a hard time to be a hunter on Supernatural but it is an even worse time to be a female hunter and recognizable character. In back-to-back episodes Supernatural killed off two prominent female characters and both deaths were not exactly inspiring or heroic sacrifices. Fans aren’t happy and while this isn’t the first time Supernatural has come under fire for how it has dealt with its female characters, it is still troubling.
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The Fine Line Between Tragedy and Sadism
It is true that one of the prominent female characters to meet an untimely end could come back. Alicia died in “Twigs and Twins and Tasha Banes” but she was “resurrected” by the end of the episode by her brother Max as a twig doll. Alicia’s death and the way she was brought back was no different than the countless times that Sam or Dean have died only to be brought back by the surviving brother. If Sam and Dean can defy the odds Alicia and Max should be given a second chance. It’s a parallel that will almost certainly be brought up again whenever Max and “Alicia” return.
Alone, Alicia’s death wouldn’t have been that egregious. It could have been ignored and moved on from if Supernatural hadn’t followed up “Twigs and Twins and Tasha Banes” with “There’s Something About Mary,” an episode which opened with unceremonious death of fan-favorite character Eileen. At least Eileen died as a part of the main storyline with the British Men of Letters, unlike Alicia, who died from a random witch. There are plenty of characters that Supernatural could have had Ketch kill that would have concerned Sam and Dean but Eileen’s death hits pretty hard, which is the point. The issue with Eileen and Alicia’s deaths aren’t really that they happened, it is the disrespectful and needlessly cruel ways they occurred.
Eileen died in the cold open running for her life with her face partially obscured. Eileen wasn’t a long-running Supernatural character but she was still a very well-liked, capable and strong character. Eileen went out like any of the countless victims that open a standard Supernatural episode. In her death scene it wasn’t even clear that Eileen was the one being killed. It isn’t quite as awful as Charlie dying off-screen but it is nearly as bad. This is not even to mention that the show had Eileen write a letter to Sam and Dean where she used the slightly misogynistic phrase “acting like a girl” to describe being afraid. Alicia, meanwhile, died as an afterthought in a standalone episode about a conflict that meant nothing and a story that didn’t need to be told. Alicia also died in the most anticlimactic fashion after the main action of “Twigs and Twins and Tasha Banes” ended. It was tragic, yes, but unnecessarily depressing so it was more aggravating than emotional.
Fool Me Once, Twice, Thrice, Too Many Times to Count
The easy argument to make against these deaths is that Supernatural is a dangerous show and characters die. The fact that are so many interesting female characters on the show just means that more of them will die because that is the way the show works. It can even be said Eileen’s death isn’t that different from how Crowley also “died” in “There’s Something About Mary.” This second argument is a pretty flimsy though because it is painfully obvious that Crowley didn’t actually die in the episode.
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Crowley surviving where Eileen didn’t brings up one of the big issues with Supernatural. The show does kill a lot of characters, male and female alike, but they bring back the male characters much more than the female ones. Sam and Dean can die nearly every season and they will be back, but there has been no talk of Charlie making her way back from her untimely grave. The female characters who came back to life can be counted on one hand but you are going to need several people’s hands and feet to count how many times Sam, Dean and Castiel have returned to life.
Mary Winchester is one the big female characters to return but that doesn’t really balance out the scales. As Supernatural season 12 approaches their endgame Mary has become nothing but a pawn in the British Men of Letters game. There is a chance, however slim, that Mary is faking the severity of her brainwashing. This doesn’t change Supernatural‘s pattern of using female characters to further the plot and turning them into less of characters and more of props that cause the male characters to feel sad. With Eileen’s death every major Winchester love interest, with the exception of Lisa and Amelia, has died, and that’s a serious pattern and problem. Alicia was the more dominant and interesting twin between Max and herself and now she is a literal thing.
But what do you think? Is there a problem with the way Supernatural has treated its female characters lately? Were Eileen and Alicia’s deaths necessary? Were you shocked or saddened by Eileen’s death? Should Supernatural have had Ketch kill someone else? Do you think the real Alicia could ever come back?
The season 12 finale of Supernatural airs Thursday, May 18 at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Supernatural Facebook page!
(Image courtesy of The CW)