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Bela ? the Anti-Winchester. A retrospective.

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  • Bela ? the Anti-Winchester. A retrospective.

    After a re-watch of Season 3 I've been thinking about how Bela was portrayed. I know there are a lot of complaints regarding how she was pushed into episodes where she wasn't really needed for the plot, but really the only episode that's the case is "Fresh Blood". Admittedly, it is unecessary for Gordon to ask/threaten her for information on Sam and Dean's whereabouts, but I think that we learn a little bit about her in this episode that adds to her arc ? it's subtle and you'd only get it from knowing what happens to her at the end of the season, but it's there.

    She stares Gordon down when she's got a gun to her head.

    GORDON: Okay. (lowers the gun) How about... (raises the gun) you tell me where they are, or I kill you right now?
    BELA: Kill me. Good luck finding Sam and Dean.

    Is this bravado? Stupidity? Super confidence? All unlikely. No matter how good a theif you are you'd still be scared of the psycho with a gun. I believe that there's more to it than that. She showed fear on her face when she registered who Gordon was, but when he holds a gun to her it's as if she wasn't afraid. Is this because she knew that her time was coming due anyway? Maybe, just acting tough - the same way that Dean did in the earlier part of the season.

    So this got me thinking about the other times she was brought into the story. How do her experiences tally with Dean's? After all she was basically going through the exact same thing - trying to get through her last year any way she could and to try and save herself in the process. On their first meeting Bela implied that she knew about Dean's deal, and reading between the lines she almost told him about hers:-

    BELA: We're all going to Hell, Dean. Might as well enjoy the ride.
    DEAN: I actually agree with you there.

    At this point of the season Dean was also in the frame of mind that he might as well enjoy his last year and damn the consequences. As the season went on and we saw Dean become more desperate to save himself. We didn't see this with Bela, but it's obvious that it was there. Whilst she helped them out in Red Sky In The Morning only to save her neck, by the time we got to Dream A Little Dream Of Me she helped only to get hold of the colt - in order to use it to try and save herself. I also think that she sicked the cops onto them in Jus In Bello to point the way for the demons to find them ? hoping perhaps that they would kill Lilith and save both of them in one fail swoop?

    As always, it wasn't enough. The colt went to Lilith as a bargaining tool and Bela had to "sweeten the pot" by killing Sam, to which she obviously agreed. This last ditch attempt to save herself was a reckless and thoughtless act - a complete Winchester trait, and very much the way Sam would've behaved if Dean wasn't there to stop him (chasing Doc Benton's immortality and killing the Crossroads Demon come to mind). To save herself, the things she was willing to do or kill, it probably scared her too at times.

    This show loves to mirror things going on with the brothers in the form of demons and situations, and to me it seems that Bela was one of those devices. The shortened season probably caused her arc to seem jumpy and irrelevant at times, and with more episodes I do think that Bela would've been a worthwhile addition to the season arc for Sam and Dean. A kinda black to their white. How they could behave without a strong moral compass.

    So do you agree? Am I crazy, or just thinking too deeply about this?

    Peter Capaldi is the 12th Doctor

  • #2
    No, you aren't crazy. Bela's is another of those stories that makes so much more sense when you have the complete picture. Hindsight does an awful lot for this show - but it would be nice at times to understand a little more as we go along! The show has had a lot of recurring characters that were antagonists for the Winchester brothers, but with characters such as Gordon or Henriksen we were able to understand from the start why they behaved the way they did, why they were so opposed to the brothers. With Bela we never had that. She was just randomly selfish, immoral and evil, and it wasn't until her very last episode that we were allowed to understand how she became that person and why she behaved the way she did. For a character to really work as someone the audience can love to hate, we really need to understand what makes them tick.

    It is Bela's role in Dream a Little Dream of Me that I have a problem with, rather than Fresh Blood, and even then it isn't so much the role she plays but the way the main characters have to behave out of character in order to bring her into the story. In the brothers' previous encounters with Bela she has stolen from them, shot Sam, lied to them, sold them out to a psychopath - why, in their wildest dreams, would they ever even consider asking her for help of any kind? I simply do not believe that they would do that; it is a basic structural flaw with the episode, and one that does Bela's character a disservice. I wasn't fond of her before then, mostly because I wasn't overly impressed by the actress and because I was growing a little frustrated of her always being the villain without being allowed to understand her motivation. But having her jammed into that storyline on such a weak premise did her no favours at all - there surely must have been a better way of writing her theft of the Colt than that.

    Really, looking back on Bela's arc as a whole, the concept of the character does work well as a contrasting figure to Dean, but it could easily have been accomplished in just three appearances - one to introduce her, one to steal the Colt, and one to seal her fate. Having her overused without any clear plan for what to do with her, and without her presence being tied strongly to the storyline of the episodes, did her no favours at all, on the whole.