Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Look at Lisa

I'm one of those who likes to stay spoiler-free, so this post only involves eps already aired and my own speculation (in other words, I haven't gone looking online to see if and when Cindy Sampson will be in more episodes).

It felt to me like last week's "Live Free or TwiHard" may have been Dean and Lisa's swan song (or, at the very least, the beginning of the end). The episode began with Dean very happy on the phone with her, saying that he and Sam were nearby and that he could come visit. Plans went awry when he got (temporarily) changed into a vampire. There was a funny/tense/sad scene when he showed up in her bedroom (watching her sleep, after he'd been mocking that exact scenario on the cover of a vampire novel) and told her thank you for all she'd done but that he couldn't keep bringing his dangerous life (and the monsters therein) home to her. This was not exactly a new conversation for them--but the fact that he then shoved her son in the hallway (in an attempt not to attack him) may spell doom for Lisa and Dean even if he does reconsider and want to reconnect. (Do you think his fruitless phone messages for her at the end were for another chance or just an apology and to make sure she/Ben are okay? Think we'll be seeing her again?)

Anyway, since I feel like the Lisa/Dean subplot is winding down, I wanted to take a look at their relationship and at Cindy Sampson's work on the show (not to mention get y'all's opinions ). We first met "bendy" Lisa in Season 3's "The Kids Are All Right" and maybe I'm biased toward her because I thought that episode was really well done (even if it does make me afraid of my own kids!). I loved the scenes with Dean and Lisa's son Ben--we saw very clearly how Dean wished Ben was actually his--and I thought Jensen and Cindy had pretty good chemistry (way better, IMO, than his and Cassie's in Season 1's Route 666). But while Dean seemed wistful about leaving Lisa and her son (due in part to the fact that he was headed for hell and realized he'd never have a wife and son), I didn't expect to ever see Lisa and Ben again.

But the writers reference the character again in "Dream a Little Dream of Me," when she appears in a dream sequence where she and Dean are a couple. Then we don't see her again until the impending apocalypse, toward the end of Season 5 (when Dean is contemplating making a deal to be Michael's vessel, he plans to secure some kind of protection for her and Ben.) Of course, it ends up being not Dean but Sam who sacrifices himself in "Swan Song," and Sam makes Dean promise that, rather than spend the next year trying to bust his brother out of hell, he'll settle down, have a life (with Lisa). And the last few seconds of season 5 show Dean doing just that.

The very construction of the show would seem to prevent either brother being in a healthy, happy relationship (they're on the road all the time and something tries to kill them at least once an episode), plus fans in the past have reacted negatively to some recurring female roles/perceived love interests. So putting Dean in a relationship is a somewhat risky move on the part of the writers. On the one hand, I think that it's organic to Dean's character--he's always wanted family, so in that regard, it makes sense. On the other, it was somewhat jarring after not seeing Lisa for all of Season 4 and most of Season 5 to ask us to believe she's the great love of his life. (Although, given Dean's career, how many people has he really had the chance to get close to? Here's a woman who already knows what he does, so he can actually talk to her, gave him some of the best sex of his life, and has a child that he can see being his, fulfilling his life long wish for family.)

So I came in to the sixth season with mixed feelings about this supposed relationship. I've always liked Cindy Sampson's portrayal of Lisa, but I wasn't sure how I felt about having she and Dean thrust on us almost out of the blue. Yet I have to say, she's won me over. I love her obvious care for Dean and acceptance of who he is and what he's done. I like her realistic attitude about his issues (because, let's face it, he would be SO screwed up). Of course, while all those are positives, watching Dean beat himself up about all the possible ways he could get Ben and Lisa killed is slightly less enjoyable (as the last episode demonstrated vividly, he's not just paranoid. It's a valid concern). While I never expected them to last together into their old age, I'm a little sad to think they're hitting goodbye. Especially since Dean's trust in Sam is fractured, taking away the person he was closest to.

What do you guys think? Did you buy her as Dean's true love? Will you miss her when she's gone, or be glad when the writers put this particular storyline to bed? So to speak.


Unknown said...

While I do like Lisa, Cindy Sampson has some great chemistry with Jensen,I'm not keen on the whole having a relationship/love of a lifetime thing. There are several reasons why.

First, to me, the show is not designed for family drama of that nature. Sam's love,Jessica, was slain in the very first ep, setting up a single man lifestyle. It's about two brothers and their fight against monsters, spooks and other baddies. The central drama is between the two brothers and should remain that way,there's plenty of issues between both of them. Adding in another central relationship would really muddy the waters and lose the focus of the show.

Second reason, while I do love to see other sides of Dean and Sam, I don't buy Lisa as the love of Dean's life. I think she's more of the closest thing yet. She's one of the first people outside of the hunters to know exactly what Dean does, but he's still keeping stuff from her. In the first ep of this season, she knows something bad is coming, but she still flutters around. Props to her for moving when told, but she really had no clue what exactly was coming for them.

Third, in this last ep, she proved to me with her silence that she is not strong enough to handle Dean's life, not really. She loved helping him get out of it, to move on from it. Though she did appear cool with the idea when she sent him back out with Sam, to me it seemed more of a finish up some nasty business and then come home thing. She's not prepared to live with the ongoing lifestyle. And that's okay, she has Ben to worry about.

Lisa was/is a nice fantasy for Dean and their relationship helped him heal. However, Dean is going to ultimately need someone a lot stronger, someone who maybe doesn't have a kid to worry about. I think this someone will have to be guns and knives capable and when he says djinn, she knows what he's talking about. Not another hunter, but someone more along the lines of Bobby's sheriff. He needs a balance with someone a little more normal. The life is never going to go away and that's ultimately what Lisa wants. She wants to eventually grow old with someone and she'll never have that with Dean. Evil monster creeps are not going away.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Great topic, Tanya!

But who the heck ever said Lisa was the love of Dean's life?!

I don't know why we have to go to extremes. I'd blame it on being romance writers, but I see non-writer fans saying the same thing.

Lisa represented something good to Dean, potential, possibility. When Sam told Dean to go have a life with Lisa, it was because he wanted Dean to have a life and Lisa was the only thing touching his life that gave him a chance to try to have one. He couldn't tell Dean to go have a life by himself, away from hunting. Dean didn't KNOW anything but hunting. It was a non-starter.

But Lisa knew how to live outside hunting, so she could teach Dean. She could be a companion and show him what it was like to be in one place, steady, comfortable.

No one on the show has EVER said the word love! :)

I like the way they portrayed Lisa's character, her strength and her support and her willingness to compromise. I didn't see anything from her in the last episode that would indicate she can't live with it--she really didn't get a chance to do anything at all. It was all about Dean. Which is as it should be, as Melissa said. :)

I've really enjoyed seeing the domestic side of Dean. I'm not saying I want it all season, but nor do I think it has no place. It adds complexity to the characters and the show, but hasn't deviated from the core characterization. So I guess I'd like Lisa to fade to the background but be there when Dean's "done" so he can try again to be happy. He deserves the trying, at the very least.

jellyhead said...

I agree with Natalie. Lisa is not the love of Dean's life, and the show has never claimed that she is either.

She represents an ideal of the kind of normal that he yearns for, as well as being someone he likes, respects and cares about. And that's enough for him because he's never known anything else. I actually think that Dean is not capable of falling head over heels in love, which is one of the reasons why i think the character is so tragic.

He's never going to be able to fall in love with someone completely. It has everything to do with the circumstances he grew up in, the way John raised him, and everything he's been through in the last couple of years. He's too messed up, too overburdened, too everything. He will never find the love of his life because his family(Sam, John, Mary) is the love of his life(and i don't mean that in an incestuous kind of way). What he feels for Lisa is going to be the closest he ever comes to it.

So i don't think Lisa is the love of Dean's life. But he doesn't need to fall in love to care deeply. It doesn't make her and Ben less important to him. He'd still do anything to keep them safe.

That's why i can't help but root for them even though i don't think it will last. I just hope that Lisa and Ben will return for at least one more episode to give the relationship some closure.

Anonymous said...

I really like Lisa and I think Dean loves her in the best way he can, but it always struck me that he never said I love you. I think maybe he could find true love with another hunter, someone who'd understand him at the deepest level. I'd like to think so anyhow. she'd have to love sam too.