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companionenvy

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  1. Within the context of the episode, it makes sense they didn't clarify this, but I'm wondering if Sam didn't find some sort of compromise. Since the son had the tattoo, we can presume he at least knew something about the hunting life, and Sam doesn't name his kid "Dean" if he is committed to running away from who he was (had Dean stayed in purgatory for good and Sam wound up with Amelia, I can't imagine him having done so).
  2. I agree with this, though I think the story would have had to start setting this up a long time ago for your proposed kind of ending to work. I always thought that the season with the British MOL was an important pivot point where the show had an opportunity to go back to something somewhat more human in the wake of the resolution of the God/Amara conflict, and then instead doubled down on celestial drama. In my version of the show, that season would have involved Sam and Dean organizing the American hunters into a more cohesive group, forming relationships and ties (possibly, including romantic ones) within the hunter community, and setting up a possible soft exit in which they realized that they could transition into a different kind of role within a larger hunter community. Maybe a version of the Buffy ending, where while she isn't retiring, now that she's one of many slayers, as opposed to the chosen one, she gets a lot more agency in the path her life takes going forward, and has probably upped her life expectancy by at least a couple of decades, if not precisely to "normal life" levels. Again, I didn't think this ending was terrible, but it was about the least interesting one they could have chosen. Dean dies young while hunting and Sam lives a more or less normal family life is probably the ending everyone--including Sam and Dean themselves--would have predicted for them by the time Sam left home at 18. While I don't think plots always need to defy expectations to be good, in this case, I think having the boys make different choices that the ones they probably would have made at the beginning of the series would have been a much better conclusion for their journey. Working within the restrictions that the rest of the season had left us with, I would have liked an ending in which Sam kept hunting--though maybe on a somewhat reduced scale that would accommodate things like going back to school, a relationship, etc-- and Dean decided he was done, at least for now, and set out alone (or with Miracle!) in Baby on a long, non-hunting related road trip across America. It wouldn't have been as conclusive, but I think it would have been more satisfying.
  3. I guess for me, those two things are in conflict. Maybe I can imagine a scenario in which multiple versions of a person can live out multiple desirable outcomes, without having to choose. So there can be both a version of Sam with Dean, and a version hanging out with his wife, and a version hanging out with Jess or Amelia or whoever, all at the same time and with some property that allows all of the individual Sams to feel that they are experiencing all of the various things they want. But if Becky the Samfan gets her own personal Sam to spend eternity with, just because that is what some part of her wants, that's no longer Sam she's interacting with, it is a puppet. Maybe a puppet that otherwise acts very realistic, but one that isn't much different, in terms of authenticity or free will, from the Sam that married Becky only because he was under a spell. Can you and others who want to discuss an overall bias against Dean please take it to B/J where it belongs? I stopped posting on the SPN boards because of B/J migrating to other threads, but would like to discuss the finale in peace.
  4. That's definitely possible, but I just assumed that the joke was that Rufus and Aretha Franklin met in heaven, and that she, improbably, fell for him. My interpretation was that you did have a default, personal heaven, in terms of appearance, but that any people within it were real, either because they were visiting you from another heaven, or because portions of their heaven coincided with yours. So, the Roadhouse could be part of the heaven of a number of people, and because of the magic of heaven, if you stop in the roadhouse in your heaven, anyone whose heaven includes it might be there. But even if the architecture of two people's heavens are completely different, you can choose to visit the heaven of another. So I think the personal heaven concept still exists, but without Memorex people.
  5. I get that even a better version of the finale wouldn't have had time to address this, but that is one of the central questions about how any version of heaven really works. Like, even if you eradicate disease and death and material want, one of the things that stops us from being totally happy on Earth is the fact that people who are not-us have desires and can exercise those desires in ways that we might not like. So if you want total happiness, you are stuck with Chuck's original-recipe memorex heaven, where all of the other "people" are actually manifestations of your own ego, but you are apparently anesthetized enough not to really notice or mind. If you instead want free will and some variety of authentic experience, on the other hand, you no longer have total happiness precisely for the reason Gonzogirl articulated: if the neighbor wants to live next to you, and you don't want to live next to the neighbor--or, to use a weightier example, if Jessica came over wanting to live with Sam, but Sam is no longer in love with her after his years with maybe!Eileen--, someone gets hurt.
  6. I didn't hate it, but it felt very paint by numbers. Some good: -Confirmation that heaven is fixed, and that Cas isn't consigned to the Empty forever! Yay! -The impala in heaven with the original plates, especially juxtaposed with Sam on Earth with the version with the newer plates. -The use of Brothers in Arms. How did I never think of how perfect that would be for this show? -Dean's "I love that song," and the placement of "Carry on My Wayward Son" more generally. -Sam's son having the tattoo, which also leaves a little bit of ambiguity about how far Sam distanced himself from hunting. -Dean's joy in the pies, and the pie in the face gag. Just nice to see them having some fun. -Miracle! Some bad: -Dean telling Sam he looked up to him, and that Sam is stronger. The latter was just unnecessary--I don't think it is true, and neither should Dean at this point--and the former was downright silly. Dean is four years older than Sam. He may have, even in their younger days, respected him on some level for his resistance to John, but he definitely wasn't "looking up to him" for most of their lives, and his anger at him for breaking with the family business wasn't all a defence mechanism. -The fact that Dean seems to have died so quickly after the events of last week. I have no problem with him dying on a random hunt, and don't think it takes anything away from his legacy; they aren't immortal and even their cake runs are extremely dangerous. But I'd really like to have had some sense that they had at least a semi-extended period of enjoyment before that happened. - The old age makeup. And the meh: I find "and they all lived happily ever after in heaven" endings kind of cheap and hollow. Not bad, per se, especially on a show with an established, developed concept of heaven, but given that I have to live in the ordinary world where the best most of us can do is hope that there's something good after we die, it isn't that satisfying to me on a human level to get an ending that rests so heavily on the afterlife. It kind of begs the question of why, in that case, we should care so much about what's going on in Earth. Like, if the vast majority of your existence is taking place in heaven, why does it even matter so much if you get twenty or thirty years more or less on Earth? I suppose Sam couldn't have had a kid if he'd died with Dean, but I'm not seeing anything that would have stopped him from finding a romantic partner (new or old!) in heaven. Or taking up a new hobby, or travelling, or doing any of the many other things that make life meaningful on Earth. I guess there are a number of high-stakes things you can't replicate in heaven: you don't need doctors or scientists, for instance, and since you presumably can't die again, that makes a lot of things less urgent--but again, if death means that you go to heaven, death on Earth is a lot less urgent, too. In the world of this show, I think it still could have largely worked if the mythology of the show had ever included TFW, in any of its configurations, mounting a sustained rebellion against Memorex Heaven. As it is, what Dean and Sam did over the course of the show still mattered a lot, because the result of all of their various encounters with angels and demons and gods is what enabled Heaven 2.0. But even though that's true, without specific, proximate investment in reforming heaven, it isn't that dramatically satisfying. Logically, I can say "Wow. The Winchesters were key players in all of these apocalyptic events that ended in the replacement of Guck with a better god, who reformed heaven." But emotionally, it just doesn't feel all that weighty, since the issue of heaven sucking hadn't really been one the show had deal with for a while. It was all, understandably, about saving the human world. But then you can't have it both ways, and expect us to be delighted with an ending that is so heaven-directed. So again: was it terrible? No. I'm basically OK with this as the end for Sam and Dean. But it doesn't feel like an especially organic end to their journeys. A reasonable enough conclusion, sure, but not one where you feel that all the narrative and emotional dots have slotted into place.
  7. I mean, I did feel bad for Lily, because she was obviously a troubled kid. That doesn't mean Emma had anything to feel guilty about. Which is precisely the problem, isn't it? Everyone's bad/evil/downright genocidal behavior gets a pass, unless you're a Charming or partnered with one, in which case even sane and normal reactions like "yes I am angry at this person who murdered my loved ones" are punished and pathologized.
  8. This is where I think the sense that the show but off more than it can chew comes from. Because iin theory, I think that is what they wanted to suggest - but they were still more or less depicting the characters as they always had, which made it hard to see them as these beings who had evolved past desire to the point where choosing total loss of self over a continued pleasant existence, let alone pursuing other possiblities (as Tahani did in becoming an architect) seems to make sense.
  9. Whatever they became, though, they didn't know that it was anything other than the end of their existences-in fact, given that they themselves had set the door up under the logic that life needed to be finite to be meaningful, they had plenty of reason to believe it was going to be some kind of annihilation. Which, I'd argue, it was - the bit of light wasn't, to me, any meaningful continuation the individual known as Eleanor Shellstrop.
  10. Not everyone is driven to help others, but I'd say by the time they reached TGP, all of our four - except maybe Jason -- were. I mean, they'd just offered to submit themselves to eternal torment if it meant saving the rest of humanity. It doesn't get much more selfless than that. In any case, the idea that the most important thing, or at least among the most important things, is figuring out what our moral obligations are to others is one of the guiding principles of the show. And even if helping others isn't your goal, that doesn't mean choosing eternal nothingness makes sense for any reason but as sense of torment. Maybe I'd buy it for now-actual monk Jason, since the idea of one-ness with the universe and total self-transcendence might be consistent with what I understand of Buddhist philosophy. But otherwise, it didn't track for me.
  11. They didn't say they were bored, but that would be a reasonable interpretation of, for instance, Chidi noting that he had read all the great literature, and had moved onto trash, or even Tahani finishing her list. The flip side of "I've done everything I wanted to do" is "And now there's nothing left to satisfy me." Having said that, I agree that they played it as completion and contentment, but that's precisely what doesn't make sense to me (and some others). It isn't clear why non-existence would be preferable to pleasant if now vaguely purposeless existence. And even if they had filled all of their personal goals, it seems to me more in the spirit of this show to then propose continuing to help others as an unending source of purpose, rather than to suggest that once you've achieved personal fulfillment, you're done.
  12. Yeah, I think that's a great point, and ties into what I was saying earlier about the difficulty of representing something that might theoretically be true. Yes, conceivably, if people could live eternally, they'd evolve into something so detached from our current state of being that they would no longer have ordinary desires or a conventional sense of self at all, in which case choosing to turn into ineffable sparks of light might not seem like that much of a jump. But by definition, you can't show something beyond human comprehension on screen, which means we got characters who still seemed too human for that kind of choice to make sense as a positive rather than negative thing. I still find the idea that it is presented as open to interpretation kind of a cop out on the part of the showrunners. It isn't like some higher power came down and told them that they had a choice between staying in TGP and moving on to an unknown outcome. Team cockroach itself created the doorway as a form of extinction. You don't get to do a "death is the next great adventure" ending when your characters are literally the creators of this new cosmic order. If the light is a metaphor for the influence we leave after us, then fine, but the idea that there's literal existence of any kind afterwards seems to me like a cheat. Even Chidi's wave speech seems to make less sense in a context in which everyone's physical bodies are long gone and returned to the Earth.
  13. I just read an interesting Slate interview with the two primary philosophers who worked on the show - and who disagreed about the finale on philosophical grounds! One believes that mortality is indeed necessary to give human life meaning; the other thinks that helping others would be enough, and sees Tahani's decision to become an architect as most in the spirit of the show. So, we're in pretty good company. Link here: https://slate.com/culture/2020/02/the-good-place-finale-ending-explained-philosopher-cameos-analysis.html To move on from the fundamental, and fundamentally irresolvable philosophical issue, I agree with Hieronymi (the second of the two philosophers) that the idea of 3/4 ending their existences (or at least their conscious, individual existences) is less in keeping with the themes of the show as a whole than an ending in which it turned out that the job of helping others, if not of personal self-improvement, was endless. Yes, there was a call-back to the one (wonderful) episode in which Michael had an existential crisis and Eleanor told him that coping with mortality was part of being human. But even within that episode, I would argue that "life without mortality is therefore meaningless" wouldn't be a necessary corollary to that conclusion, and outside of it, the show's overwhelming focus was rather on a)the endless potential of humans to grow and change and b)the need to become less self-directed and fulfill one's moral obligations to others. Now, I'm not saying that the ending we get negates these ideas, because one could logically believe that these things are true on any kind of human or quasi-human time-scale, but would break down after however-many millenia. But in terms of narrative satisfaction, it seems odd to have a show that is so concerned with humans' perpetual capacity for moral improvement, expressed in our behavior toward others, end with an emphasis on completing one's personal journey toward fulfillment. My own personal idea for an ending would be one in which everyone made it to The Good Place - but with the understanding that whether that place were a hell or a heaven to any individual person would depend on the person him or herself. Let's pretend our four actually had gotten to TGP immediately after they died. Would they have been happy? In the long run, I'd say no -- unless they underwent some serious personal improvement. Eleanor would have continued to be stand-offish and resistant to making real emotional connections as a defense mechanism. She would have enjoyed trivial comforts like endless shrimp and alcohol, but she wouldn't have been any less lonely than she was during her life--unless she had done the hard work of breaking through her barriers and seeking legitimate connection. Chidi, we actually know wouldn't have been able to take full advantage of paradise until he worked out crippling anxieties. Sure, Michael's and then Elinor's neighborhood created actual tortures for him, namely the ethical torment of having to either keep a secret or betray a friend, but even without this, he plainly hadn't gotten past his hang-ups - he was afraid to do even something as innocuous as going to a lakehouse, let alone anything really adventurous. And even if Michael hadn't created an artificial moral dilemma, at a certain point, I do think Chidi's stomach-aches would have returned anyway. A real version of an afterlife neighborhood would be populated by other people who still possess the essential characteristics of living people - denizens of the afterlife can still desire, feel disappointment, fall in love, etc. As such, there are still going to be moral dilemmas over what constitutes ethical behavior to other people - and hence, stomachaches. Tahani, in life, was beautiful and successful, and it still wasn't enough to satisfy her pathological desire for approval. As long as she thought anyone might be in any way better than she was, she couldn't be happy. This would have held as true in the actual good place as it did in Michael's version. As for Jason - well, I think for a long time he would have been quite happy with TGP, but he actually would have gotten bored unless he learned to want and pursue things more than the simplest and most trivial pleasures. There might be ways of avoiding burnout even in an eternal realm - but not through endless games of Madden, jalapeno poppers, and EDM. So basically, in order to enjoy the Good Place, you'd have to become a better, more compassionate person living a less self-oriented life.
  14. Though, as I've expressed, I wasn't at all happy with the ending, I don't think the fact that TGP couldn't satisfy them is problematic, because TGP isn't actually heaven. Yes, if this were a heaven created by the Judeo-Christian omnipotent, all-powerful Creator it could presumably ensure that no one ever got bored or felt unfulfilled. But TGP isn't that. It is a reward for good people operated by very, very powerful, but fundamentally imperfect beings. They can supply any number of physical needs, and perhaps could do a reasonable job of anticipating and addressing emotional needs, but there's no reason, within the show's world, that TGP must be by definition perfect. As for the ongoing suicide discussion, I really think the disconnect comes from what I mentioned earlier: the choice isn't presented in a way that would make it comparable to human suicide, but the idea of permanently annihilating yourself if you don't feel great despair doesn't compute for a lot of us. And I do think that there's at least a risk of someone taking it as a glorification of suicide, even though I think its a distortion of what the writers were actually doing.
  15. Maybe you do end up in the same place; logically, you would. But since we don't see that, and instead see Chidi, at least, going through the door seemingly not having tried anything really off-brand or outside-the-box for him, it just makes the decision kind of baffling. Sure, you might have come to the same place in another 10 lifetimes, but...then why not wait the ten lifetimes? Why not become an architect, like Tahani? I still have the sense that the creators wanted to have their cake and eat it to. They believe that eternal life would actually become a curse, which is legitimate. But they're not willing to actually show these characters suffering under the "curse," which in turn makes their decision to end it all bizarre. I mean, yes, the residents know they have the option of the door now, which we are theoretically supposed to assume would stop them from the kind of despair we saw last week--but if they don't suffer, why go through the door at all? It isn't like they can't just decide to go to the door if and when they get to the point that they really are suffering. I also echo the sentiment from earlier in the thread that Jason calling out to a Chidi who had already stepped through the door was disturbing to me, since it would imply he didn't really understand the consequences of what he was doing.
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