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Amelia! Sam/Amelia! One of my very favorite aspects of S8; de_nugis knows which way my heart lies. Of course, there was no way this was going to be a short post...

Amelia is like no other female character we've gotten on this show. She is (one fervently hopes) far better with animals than with people. She's crusty, a grieving widow, quite possibly a burgeoning alcoholic. She has baggage. She has zero interest in providing emotional support to anyone. She is no one's nurse maid (and thank goodness for that, because her bedside manner would be terrible). She's running away from home, family, and whatever emotional support she might have found there.

She is, in her own words, a mess. She may be the messiest female character we've ever had on the show; certainly she's the one whose issues have received the longest sustained focus.

And you see, she comes into the picture just in time to meet Sam, who is also a mess, also running and grieving and barely functional by any definition of the word. But she doesn't immediately like him. She is entirely unimpressed by his charms, his arms, his wardrobe, and even his plumbing skills. Despite all that, she and Sam manage to find comfort in each other that they haven't been able to (or perhaps haven't dared try to) find in anyone else. They are two broken people guarding themselves very carefully, even from each other, but that equity between them is a lot of what makes them work. They both need the same things: physical comfort, another body bumping around the house to keep them from being alone, someone to give a damn but not ask too many questions, someone who's experienced deep grief.

They meet as equals, which Winchesters rarely ever do with other characters, particularly female civilians. Amelia does not need rescuing from some supernatural baddie, nor is she shown up by Sam's hunting expertise. And yet, even as a female civilian, she is given development and complexity of her own; narratively, Amelia is still serving Sam's story (via, it must be said, the most horrid soft focus known to network TV), but the show doesn't use that as an excuse to refrain from giving her her own complex development. She is not Jess, alive for one episode and serving forever after as a symbol of Sam's grief. She is not Lisa, an extremely generous and warm-hearted woman who welcomed into her home and her life a man she'd met only a handful of times, very conveniently for both him and the narrative; who somehow remained a cipher despite appearing on the show (alive!) in eleven different episodes. Amelia is the Lisa antithesis: she is supremely inconvenient.

(Interestingly, I think the only other civilian girlfriend character who comes close to receiving Amelia's complexity of motivation and relationship with the Winchesters is Cassie Robinson, although with only one episode to work with, we can only begin to glimpse all her layers.)

What's more, unlike all the other civilian girlfriend characters, the Sam/Amelia relationship is developed on screen. IMO the single biggest flaw in the execution of Dean/Lisa is the fact that all the key aspects of their development happen offscreen. Either that, or there were no other developments, which would be even worse. It drives me batty the way canon just seems to assume that of course Lisa would take him in, of course they would settle into a comfortable if bittersweet romantic/sexual relationship in that year Sam was gone. THERE IS NO OF COURSE HERE. Ahem. But Sam/Amelia gets all its key moments on screen, and that makes a world of difference. And they're tentative, halting moments, two steps forward and one step back, and that pleases me, too; I will always prefer complicated to simple, and messy to instalove.

This is not to say the execution is perfect. The soft-focus filming of all their scenes is peculiar at best, their arc goes from heartfelt to silly with Don's soap operatic resurrection, and their last flashback ep together is full of trite, ridiculous dialogue and overwrought melodrama that's completely out of place given the kind of relationship they had prior. I can wank explanations, them clinging to a false idea of their relationship as security in lives that turning upside down yet again, but I can't quite sell myself on it, and I can't like it.

Still. I adore them, and I adore her. In purely superficial terms, I love that Amelia dresses so casually, in peasant blouses and oversized button downs, that she has curly hair, that she hasn't been pressed and shined to look like every other female character on the CW. (If you ever want to send me into instarage, whine about how much better she'd look if she straightened her hair. Just try it.) Also, Liane Baliban is gorgeous. In emotional terms, Amelia breaks my heart, alone and with Sam, and she is a character type I rarely seen, filling a hole I didn't realize I needed filled.

I love them. I love her. The end.

Note: If you want to comment to this post solely to tell me that you don't like Amelia or Sam/Amelia, please refrain. I'm often happy to hear about why people dislike things I like, but this is not one of those posts.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comment here or there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
de_nugis
Jan. 9th, 2014 04:45 am (UTC)
YES YES YES YES YES.

There were some genuine bugs there, but mostly my constant reaction to much of the Sam/Amelia criticism is FEATURE, NOT BUG; FEATURE, NOT BUG. There were so many complaints about their lack of chemistry, but their chemistry was exactly right to me in the pre-Don scenes (and even a bit afterward; I hated some of the dialogue in Torn and Frayed, but the post-sex scene with them separate and covered and wary worked in its body language). This wasn't a point in either of their lives when a relationship with wall-slamming sexual fizz (or dubcon Sam/Ruby style sexual fizz) or true love romance would ever have happened, I think. I even like some of the things that I suspect come from fanwanking continuity errors: I like that Sam was fixated on "we had a house" when in fact he must have lived in the house with Amelia for at most a few weeks, given the timing. I love that the liminal, motel-life backdrop in which their relationship took place almost to the end was as much Amelia's territory as Sam's. Paradoxically, not having her own ground gives Amelia her own ground: she doesn't have a 'normal life' for the hero to move into and rest and recover in. The brief, sketchy semblance of normal they reach was something they both had to construct together from the ground up.

I also liked that Amelia's father repeated the outside POV, my god, these are psychopaths pattern that Amelia had. In a way that, too, was a nice reversal of the Lisa and Ben thing. Dean's insta-bonding with Ben in 3.1 (which was more than a little creepy, very unusually so, given that Dean's relationships with children are usually natural and moving and believable) was another too-convenient thing, I think, and the accuracy of Amelia's father's diagnosis of Sam gave a realism and depth to their interactions that broke out of the girlfriend's father doesn't like boyfriend cliché. And I love that we got to see conversation between Amelia and her father about Sam in which Sam wasn't involved -- I never felt that we got a sense of Lisa and Ben as having a relationship of their own of a particular shape, with its own tensions that could also be tensions about Dean, and that added to the insta-family gloss that the Lisa storyline had.

I had no idea that people criticized her hair. That makes me very angry. New information: it is possible for Spn to have hair!wank that does not amuse the hell out of me.
snickfic
Jan. 12th, 2014 05:19 pm (UTC)
YES to all you say!

I even like some of the things that I suspect come from fanwanking continuity errors: I like that Sam was fixated on "we had a house" when in fact he must have lived in the house with Amelia for at most a few weeks, given the timing.

YES. It just yanks at the heartstrings, doesn't it?

I love that the liminal, motel-life backdrop in which their relationship took place almost to the end was as much Amelia's territory as Sam's. Paradoxically, not having her own ground gives Amelia her own ground: she doesn't have a 'normal life' for the hero to move into and rest and recover in.

An excellent point. As I think comes through in the post, there a number of ways where equality in a relationship is really important to me, and the sense of living space as belong to both parties is one of them. (Another strike against Dean/Lisa; it looks like they get to the point as a couple where the house belongs to them both, but the show never lets me get that sense.)

The brief, sketchy semblance of normal they reach was something they both had to construct together from the ground up.

YEEEES.

I had no idea that people criticized her hair.

It happened on meme, actually, early last year. You must have missed it. I was QUITE annoyed (not least because I also have naturally curly hair that I refuse to straighten, so the remark hit pretty close to home).
quickreaver
Jan. 9th, 2014 05:13 am (UTC)
Where's the 'like' button here??
snickfic
Jan. 12th, 2014 05:19 pm (UTC)
You've been on Facebook too long, m'dear. :D
kalliel
Jan. 9th, 2014 06:36 am (UTC)
AMELIA IS THE WORST EVER. SAM/AMELIA IS THE WORST EVER. WANK WANK.

AMELIA IS THE WORST EVER BECAUSE SHE IS SO WONDERFUL I REFUSE TO EVER LET HER GO AND NOW I WILL JUST HAVE TO LIVE OUT THE REST OF MY LIFE PIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINING. Because man. XD Every year or so I ask myself if I have any really strong fandom opinons where like, I should avoid getting into an argument about them because I will concede no ground whatsoever, the rest of the world can go fuck off. "Dean is terrible" is my second-place strongly held conviction, but the only thing I will really go to war for is Amelia, and the time Sam spent with Amelia. It is just Brilliant. Badly soft focus'd, but brilliant nonetheless. Every time I scan through S8 episodes and land on an Amelia scene, I think, "this is my favorite Amelia scene" but then I find another one, and THAT one is my favorite Amelia scene, and so on... Just god. Amelia RIchardson. Come to me.

And I say this with all the love in my heart for Lisa, and also Jess. The distinction there, though is my Lisa and my Jess are exactly that--mine. I made them. And there's a very specific pattern of headcanon that I love about them. Amelia, on the other hand, I've never written. I don't have a 'my' Amelia elaborated from the Amelia we got, and I still love love love her.

She is my favorite thing about S8 (well, sometimes it's 8x20 and sometimes it's the concept of angels in exile, but always it's Amelia).
snickfic
Jan. 12th, 2014 05:22 pm (UTC)
YOU ARE TERRIBLE. GO AWAY NOW.

The distinction there, though is my Lisa and my Jess are exactly that--mine. I made them. And there's a very specific pattern of headcanon that I love about them. Amelia, on the other hand, I've never written.

Exactly. We the viewers have to create Lisa and Jess in our heads, because there's no there there. (And I say this as someone who is extremely fond of fanon Jess, especially fanon Jess who lives through the pilot and becomes a hunter, too.) I am less enamored of filling in gaps than you are anyway, so to have all that gloriousness right on the screen where I can appreciate it is just, well. Glorious.

(Fact: if you hadn't agreed to Dean/Jo/Cas mpreg wingfic, the actually non-silly prompt I was going to give you was 8k of Sam/Amelia "Amelia finds out" fic.)
kalliel
Jan. 12th, 2014 05:24 pm (UTC)
Heeee. <3 I may end up writing that one, too, anyway. XD One of the other fandomaid prompts I have is Sam/Amelia related, and I'm trying to figure out what belongs and does not belong in that one 3k fic. I HAVE TOO MANY AMELIA FEELINGS.
snickfic
Jan. 12th, 2014 05:31 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to figure out what belongs and does not belong in that one 3k fic.

HA HA. It is a problem! I have it with Yuletide. I'm like, "I have to write a single 1k+ fic that says everything I need to say about this fandom I've never written before." Which is clearly silly and does no one any good, but I have to keep reminding myself of it.
harrigan
Jan. 9th, 2014 02:17 pm (UTC)
Brilliant! This should go on one of those SPN meta comms, or Wiki, or something. Every word is golden.
snickfic
Jan. 12th, 2014 05:26 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you! The fact that I ask people not to comment if they disagree with me probably makes this an unsuitable post for a meta comm, but I did enjoy writing out all my feelings, and I'm glad you enjoyed reading them. :)
grasshopr_molly
Jan. 9th, 2014 10:25 pm (UTC)
Everyone who likes Sam/Amelia has read this, right?
snickfic
Jan. 12th, 2014 05:27 pm (UTC)
If they have not, they really, really should. Man, I adore that fic.
(Deleted comment)
snickfic
Jan. 12th, 2014 05:30 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, that's very cool.

I confess, I pretty much took Sam at face value when he said he had a hard time after Dean disappeared. He was coming off of several seasons of terrible emotional trauma, and in the flashback scenes he's clearly a mess who's barely holding himself together. While I think the writing could have been a lot smoother there, it was clear to me that the intention was not for Sam to actively choose not to look for Dean, but for Sam to be in a very bad way and also believe that Dean was dead/irretrievable.
de_nugis
Feb. 6th, 2014 03:05 am (UTC)
I have come back to reread this because it is soothing and true.

/bad fandom day
snickfic
Feb. 6th, 2014 03:22 am (UTC)
Oh dear. On one hand I am quite tickled that this is a post you came back to to be soothed, but OTOH I am sorry you were in need of soothing. *hugs*

(Have anonymous people been saying nasty things? I've seen a lot of unproductive-looking threads lately.)
de_nugis
Feb. 6th, 2014 12:26 pm (UTC)
Anon spaces aren't much worse than usual. Namespace people mixing in a bit of Amelia-bashing with their Sam-bashing I guess is also normal, but I hadn't happened to run across it before.

snickfic
Feb. 6th, 2014 03:38 pm (UTC)
Yuck. :\
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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