I'm for wine and the embrace of questionable women (missyjack) wrote,
I'm for wine and the embrace of questionable women
missyjack

Better The Devil You Know - Part Two

Click here for Part One - Ruby in Season Three.

We don't know what happened to Ruby between when we last see her at the end of S3, and when she finds Sam again, a month or two after Dean's death. If Lilith was on board with things (ie knowing her own and Sam's role in the apocalypse) at the end of S3, then maybe Ruby was just biding her time, waiting for Dean to break, and Sam to be broken enough for her purposes. Alternatively, Lilith was torturing her in Hell. Maybe she told Lilith about the plan then, or maybe, as she tells Sam, she bargained with Lilith for release if she promised to kill Sam.

I don't think it really matters.

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Ruby's mission has two distinct parts, and for each she uses the methods appropriate to achieve her ends. First she needs Sam to get to the point where he will be prepared to use his powers. Dean's impending death provides part of the motivation for this in S3 - but alone it isn't enough as the prohibition for Sam and Dean have put down about using the powers is strong. So in S3 Ruby needs to change Sam's mindset - she needs to reform his approach to things from one of questioning, from examining the ethics of his actions, to a more pragmatic one. With the demon activity increasing, she frames it as a 'war' and arguments about "the good of the many" become persuasive. This is a tried and true approach - please see our own "war on drugs" or "war on terror" which are constructed to allow a framework within which things, like taking away certain civil liberties, or pursing other courses of action previously unacceptable to many people, become allowable. See Sam in Jus in Bello, Malleus Malificarum and No Rest for the Wicked:

DEAN: Then what? Give a "columbian necktie" to a ten year old girl, come on!
SAM: Look, Dean, I know it's awful.
DEAN: You think?
SAM: This isn't just about saving you, Dean. This is about saving everybody.

Ruby helps engineer a shift from a point where how he acts in a situation is important to him (think Croatoan - 'we're meant to struggle with this stuff"), to something where he feels the ends justifies the means. This is not to say Sam has lost his morality, more that his compass has swung around to a different direction.

So the work in S3 was to prime the pump so to speak; in S4 the job is to get Sam developing and using his powers. Let's start when they meet again.

I Know What You Did Last Summer
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Ruby finds Sam lost and full of self-loathing and guilt and grief. At first Ruby is pretty breezy and snarky and upfront - and Sam chucks her out of the car. So Ruby changes tack -she finds a more acceptable vessel, and returns to him in a less confrontational mode. She knows his failure to save Dean, or bring him back, has broken him, so she offers him a way to redeem himself - to kill Lilith. But Ruby also needs to build a different connection with Sam. She offers him some facsimile of what he's lost - someone who believes in him and who has his back.

Ruby gives him a purpose (kill Lilith) and, while I don't think he's at all conscious she is part of this, he starts to get some meaning in his life as he feels like he is becoming the capable man he wants to be.

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Part of Ruby's challenge is just keeping Sam alive. When she meets him, he basically doesn't care if he lives. He certainly wants to stop feeling - hence the pills and booze. But Ruby needs him alive and I think she knows that he needs to reconnect emotionally with living, with feeling. I think this is why Ruby fucks Sam. She knows it will make him feel...something.

I n times of grief, sex is oftenaway of affirming life, but I don't think that's precisely what's happening for Sam here. For Sam, fucking Ruby is a form of abasement, an expression of his self-hatred. As Sera Gamble so bluntly put it :

We were asking ourselves, "Where's the lowest place Sam can go in a state of despair?" That's why calling it a love scene strikes me as hilarious. It's kind of like self-mutilating and calling it getting dressed for the prom.
Source

Ruby, I think, gets off on the power of it.

Lazarus Rising
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Ruby: You two are like..together?

How intriguing this first glimpse of Ruby is. In some ways, she has taken Dean's place - she and Sam are hunting together, sharing hotel rooms having very wrong sex. And of course this first encounter is so important, because Sam lies to Dean. There are a dozen reasons why its just not the right time to tell Dean about Ruby and what they are doing, but basically Sam doesn't tell Dean because 1) he's ashamed 2) he does want to keep what he's for just himself. I think he fears if Dean knows, he'll make him stop, take away the thing that has given Sam's life meaning.

The important thing to remember is that everything Sam has gone through, everything he's felt over the past four months, doesn't go away because Dean's back- anymore than Dean's experiences in Hell are wiped clean when he returns.

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A lovely mirror of Ruby and Sam's first diner scene from The Kids Are Alright. But in contrast to S3, Ruby now is very much aware that she must consider Dean if her plan is to succeed. She chooses the right approach, giving Sam space with Dean, but she mustve been very concerned about whether everything was shot to hell (pardon the pun) now Dean is back.

Dear God, Are You there? It's Me Dean Winchester

ruby

We saw in the previous episode that Ruby was unaware of the angels involvement in Dean's release and I wonder if she's been out of contact with demons since her return topside. The fact that she doesn't immediately think it may be angels also emphasise that this is a big change in the scheme of things. And let's face it - Ruby must've been shitting herself with angels entering the game. Things just got a lot harder.

In The Beginning
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Sam leaves a sleeping Dean to go demon hunting with Ruby. Ruby must be so relieved - smug even - that Sam hasn't blown her off since Dean got back.

Metamorphosis
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Dean discovers Ruby and Sam exorcising a demon - and it's on! In s3 though, there there would've been more snark at both the boys, but as we as the season goes on, and the stakes get higher, so does Ruby's focus and commitment.

Its in this episode that Sam makes a decision, apparently, to stop drinking Ruby's blood. Sam tells Dean hes going to stop using his powers for himself, not for Dean or the angels. This I think is true throughtout the year, its not Ruby or Dean that pushes Sam - in the end they are decisions he is making for himsle.f

I know what you did last Summer and Heaven and Hell

It's Ruby who alerts the boys to Anna's plight and of course the question is why? I'm assuming Ruby doesn't know Anna's true identity - maybe Ruby just thought this was something where she could again show Sam she was on his side and not the demons. And then it spirals into something bigger.

ruby

I love this moment between Ruby and Uriel, because looking back it tells us so much more about what was going on in the greater mythology. They both want Lucifer free, but i am sure neither knows of the other's plans. Uriel's contempt for Ruby - "abomination", "stain" - for demons, is clear. Interesting, the idea that Lucifer is seen by one group as an angel and the other as a demon.

ruby

Dean: It's just an angel and a demon riding in the backseat. It's like the setup to a bad joke... Or a penthouse forum letter.

and impressive that Ruby also manages to convince Anna, an angel, that she's on their side.

We also see Ruby trying to convince Sam to return to the blood drinking, but he again rejects this route - despite the stakes here.

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This, and the proceeding scene, are one of the few scenes where we see Ruby without the boys present. We see exactly how far Ruby is prepared to go - she's prepared to endure torture in order to keep Sam safe. Of course at this point we don't know her end game, but this is a clear indication it is something she is wholly committed to. It seems unlikely that she's just a demon with grudge against Lilith or a crush on Sam. She is also brilliantly successful at deceiving Alistair - the Grand Inquisitor. This is seriously awesome stuff.

There is also a purpose to us seeing Ruby tortured. It means we have picture of what does happen in Hell, the reality of the brutality and horror, so that this image is still with us when Dean reveals at the end of the episode that this is what he did.

Criss Angel Is A Douchebag

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Looking back, it's clear what a clever game Ruby was running, how she was developing her relationship with Sam so he would trust her. But what is also clear is that no matter what persuasion she uses, as in this scene, the decision to proceed with the demon killing, and everything associated with it - the people killing, the blood drinking, is something Sam decides to do for his own reasons. In this instance, it's the conversation with Dean about their destiny (sad or bloody) that motivates him to recommence his quest to kill Lilith. I think Dean and his wellbeing is a big factor in the decision, but its notable that Sam says "I don't want to be doing this when I'm old".

Again i'm struck by the almost surgical skill Ruby needs as she works Sam. She needs to push him, get him back to developing his powers, but push too hard and he may reject her all together. She really is the mistress of manipulation.

On The Head of A Pin
At the beginning of this intense episode, Dean and Sam are on their way to meet Ruby, who has told them she has a lead on Lilith, showing that at this point Dean is going along with Sam, and Ruby's, plans, although i think it's less that he's supprting it, and mroe that he's just withdrawing from things.

ruby

Ruby shows up when Sam needs her, helps him locate Dean. Again she's playing a high stakes game - its exactly this type of situation that is driving Sam to develop his powers, to buy her lies, but there is also a risk to his life.

There is no doubt though, the satisfaction she is getting out of Sam's increasing dependence on her. If you think she really has retained some of her hiumanity, may you could say there's an attachment she's developed and affection even. Personally i think its just the thrill of power, of manipulating him, and seeing her plan come together.

This doesn't of course preclude that Ruby may well get a sexual thrill out of Sam Winchester's mouth on her.

The question of whether Sam and Ruby have continued fucking is never directly addressed. There is obviously a physical intimacy, but it seems more to be Ruby "copping a feel" when she can. Sam never behaves towards her with any affection or fondness or desire, even as his trust and reliance on gher grows.,

The Rapture
Ruby disappears for weeks, leaving Sam desperate. This is deliberate I think, amping up his need, his psychological addiction (plus i think there probably is an addictive quality in her blood too).

When The Levee Breaks

And so it comes to pass, that Sam leaves Dean, and a battered Bobby, and seeks out Ruby and the confrontation with Lilith.

The scene with Ruby is a dark parody of everything Sam was when we met in him the Pilot - a guy attempting normal, about to wed his girlfriend, who he loves adn desires. Now, Sam has booked the honeymoon suite in order to meet a demon.

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He approaches her with lust - not for her body but for her blood.

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And only her, briefly, is there a sense that Sam is struck by the wrongness of this almost domestic scene.

The Dean arrives. I wonder, if Sam hadn't walked away from dean, whether Ruby herself may have had to take drastic steps to neutralize Dean's influence at this crucial stage? But she mustve felt pretty conveinced that Dean was now out of the picture, that he could no longer influence Sam.

Oh Ruby.

Lucifer Rising
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This then is the end game as Ruby pulls Sam towards killing Lilith. We see with horror how far Sam has gone, that he will kill a possessed woman, even when reminded forcefully of humanity, AND DRINK HER BLOOD.

Can you imagine the height of Ruby's excitement as the breaking of the final seal draws so near, seemingly unstoppable. Achievement of all she has worked for, the rewards and favours she must expect from Lucifer?

ruby

We see it, as she urges Sam to finish Lilith and thgen her triumph. And its not onyl at having freed Lucifer - its triumph at having deceived Alistair adn the other demons, and having used Sam. She rubs it in, the fact that the demon blood was a ruse. In that moment she must feel so powerful. And we see her cruelty and I think disdain for Sam, for humanity.

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But Ruby was I think, conceited, arrogant about her own abilities, and that blinded her ultimately to the very thing that would defeat her - the bond between Dean and Sam.

Of course, ultimately Ruby did acheive her goal - Lucifer has risen.

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