Wow, I haven’t posted a Supernatural response in a long time. So here’s one. Considering Episode 12 just aired, this is not exactly timely. But what can I say? I’m playing catch up.
I started drafting this response right after “Heaven Can’t Wait” aired (before putting it on a virtual shelf and allowing it to accumulate virtual dust), so the bulk of it was written without any knowledge of what comes to pass in the subsequent episodes.
“Heaven Can’t Wait” was directed by Rob Spera and written by Robert Berens.
Season 9. Episode 6 of Supernatural has four speaking roles played by women in it. Five if you count the disembodied voice on the suicide hotline. And six if you count the wailing infant. (All playing human or human-like parts, and not just voicing non-human animals.) Actually, I think this is a female-representation record for the season! [E/N: Until “Rock and a Hard Place,” anyway. I will share my … opinions … on that episode later.] Confetti and cookies for all!
Are they all roles that in some way feed into stereotypes about women? Yes, yes they are. Except for the infant. But infants get a pass for being dependent and vulnerable. What the hey, I’m still pleased. Because women! They exist!
Castiel’s New Job
Much like “I’m No Angel,” this is really Castiel’s episode.
When Cas first shows up, he is doing the most humiliating thing the showrunners could think of: working at the Gas N’ Sip. (Cue lightning and dissonant chords played on a pipe organ.) I wonder how many fans of this show work at gas stations, and how many of them threw things at the screen when this episode aired.
And this is … a pretty idealized version of working retail, actually. I mean, Castiel’s boss seems appreciative (at first anyway), the delivery guy is polite and we don’t see Cas encounter any whiny, invasive or verbally abusive customers. And the place is very clean. (Though that may just be because Cas himself is so good at cleaning it.) A customer service job without annoying customers? I don’t think any other “sales associate” in the world has experienced that.
Dean’s Reaction to Castiel’s New Job
As it turns out, Dean is kind of an elitist, which is weird considering how self-conscious he’s always been about his own relative lack of education (compared to Sam). When Dean first sees Cas at his new job, he’s all, “You’re too good for this.” Shut up, Dean. Some people work for a living. Also, for most of your life, your finances have come from pool hustling and credit card fraud. And since we never saw you set Cas up with sweet, sweet fake IDs or fraudulent credit cards or cash or even a short-term loan, I’d say he’s doing pretty well for a homeless dude with no ID, money, references or personal history. Just saying.
Also–in this episode and in earlier ones in the season–Sam keeps asking Dean about how Cas is doing (and I love that Sam is thoughtful like that), but he never brings up the money angle. Right now, I’m assuming that Sam is assuming that Dean has already thought of how Cas will need money to survive now that he’s human.
Yeah, Sam really should know better.
No, Wait, It’s Actually Babysitting That is the Most Humiliating Thing the Showrunners Can Think Of
While on the job, Castiel thinks he is being asked out by his attractive supervisor, Nora. Apparently, however, she just wants him to come to her house and babysit her small child, while she goes out bowling with someone else. The whole sequence–and most of the episode, really–seems intended to embarrass Cas, or to make us feel embarrassed for Cas, and Cas ending up having to care for a baby when he thought he was going to get sex (or at least stuff that would lead up to sex) is just oh-so-emasculating that we must all feel sorry for Cas and Cas’s sexual frustration. And I do feel sorry for Cas. Mostly because his boss is clearly taking advantage of him.
I’m a little annoyed with how the episode handles the miscommunication between Nora and Castiel. It would have been really easy to have Cas misunderstand Nora’s intentions simply because he’s still only newly human and he has a hard time picking up on social cues. Castiel’s boss could have asked him to babysit in such a way that the audience would understand what she meant, but Cas would not. Instead, Nora “delicately” phrases her request as follows:
NORA: I’ve been afraid to ask. I don’t wanna take advantage of you as my employee, and I certainly don’t wanna jeopardize our working relationship. But as a working, single mom, it’s hard enough to get a date, let alone meet a really great guy, and–Tomorrow’s my night off, and I know you’re off, too, and I was just wondering if there’s any chance you’re free tomorrow night?
CASTIEL: Um … yes? Yes.
NORA: [kisses him] You’re the best.
Yeah, the thing missing from this request for babysitting services is the actual request itself.
This means that it really, really seems like she’s asking Cas out. Which, in turn, makes it seem like she’s leading him on. And even though she doesn’t seem to realize that she’s leading Cas on, the whole thing still reads like a bait-and-switch in which Nora lures Castiel to her home with her feminine wiles, only to drop the (horribly emasculating) chore of babysitting in his lap.
Cas himself certainly seems to think babysitting is emasculating. When he learns of his night’s true occupation, he sighs out the word “babysitting” with an air of utter resignation. As if he associates some stigma with the task of caring for another person’s child. Where would he have even picked up on that? Did the topic of babysitting come up a lot in his garrison?
It just kind of irks me that the thing the show tells us is even more humiliating than the (presumed to be humiliating) occupation of customer service is the female-coded occupation of caring for a child.
And to add insult to, well, insult, Castiel’s supervisor never offers to pay him for his night of babysitting, even though, as his boss, she surely has some idea of how much he needs the money. Babysitting can be very difficult work, and even when it is not exceptionally difficult, it can still be stressful. It is something you ask family and maybe close friends to do for free. In the right circumstances. Everybody else, you reimburse for their time.
Also, getting your employees to do stuff for you, for free, outside of working hours? Yeah, that’s just tacky.
And the rest of the post is under the cut:
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