The End was wonderful. There were many things that have the fangirl inside of me just beside herself, waiting to see what comes of this. I couldn't wait to figure out what to meta about - because something about this just screamed for meta. I'm going with color and side of a rose.

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Current!Dean wears blue. This isn't terribly unusual. We've seen both Sam and Dean in blue before. What makes a difference here is, first, Dean wears blue for the entire drama of the main arc of the episode and, secondly, no one else wears blue. Dean's shirt is a rich blue and considerably more saturated than the colors worn by the other characters.

Blue has got a hefty background, but I'll stick to traditional Western and Christian symbolism. In Catholicism, interestingly enough, blue is Mary's color. It's also the color for heaven and, occasionally, the Holy Spirit (although red is far more traditional for the latter). In art - when it's not depression and the ilk - blue, especially in Christian religious art, stands in for purity, truth, and and clarity of spirit. More generally, blue is considered a "spiritual" color, for whatever weight you give that word. On a "the more you know!" level, I also learned that dark blue is an acceptable color for Advent - or the season wherein Christian await the coming of Christ. Biblicly, blue is also a color for holy places (this should be obvious: Dean ought to be holy, having been raised from the dead as a house for an angel).

Lucifer-Sam, of course, wears white. He not only wears white, but it's a shining white suit that appears to give off an almost immaculate glow against the ruin around him. The pure white of Lucifer's suit is only suitable against the saturated blue of Dean's shirt. Neither Lucifer's suit and Dean's shirt share hue, family, or texture with their surroundings, but they do appear to compliment each other in these areas.

White, in Western symbolism, is purity. It is the color of innocence, light, holiness, and perfection. Along with blue, white is the color of heaven. Red, white, and blue are the traditional colors of the Virgin Mary in art - white for her purity (in Catholicism, she is also free from sin), red for her suffering, and blue for heaven. White is also the color of Easter, the celebration of the rising of Christ (opposite Advent, the coming of Christ) and of Christmas, the birth of Christ (what Advent leads to). Biblicly, white is also associated with righteousness, an interesting choice for Lucifer.

Lucifer toys with a rose as he speaks to Dean. It is a beautiful rose, flowering amid the ruin of the human and demon-wreaked terrain. To quote the University of Michigan website, a red rose "is beauty and perfection, happiness and grace, yet it is also sensuality and seduction," which is an apt description of Supernatural's Lucifer . In very early Christian iconography, the rose symbolises both Christ and Heaven. In Dante's Divine Comedy, the red rose is the symbol of the "army" of the saints. The red rose is the sign of martyrdom - of both saints and Jesus - or the willingness to suffer, even unto death, for God.

Hearkening back to Christian art, the rose is a Marian symbol - or symbol of Mary. To quote a website on Renaissance art symbolism, "In reference to this legend the Virgin Mary is called a “rose without thorns” because she was free from original sin." If you check out the screenshots in this post, Lucifer's rose appears to be, quite literally, a rose without thorns. (In Paradise Lost, Milton writes of a rose without thorns as well. For Milton, before the fall of man, roses did not have thorns. (There were no troubles.))

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So the dominant colors of the episode center on current!Dean and Lucifer!Sam. Quite literally, the other characters blend into the background. (And for good reason - only Lucifer and current!Dean don't have reason to be fighting for survival.) The heart of the actions centers on them as well - and their colors are blue, white, and a red rose. Heaven, purity, and suffering, if you will. Or the Marian colors. I find it somewhat intriguing that Dean, who has suffered in hell, wears heaven while Lucifer, who is also the Rebel and First Sinner, wears purity and, despite the fact that Sam and Dean suffer impossibly in this series, suffering is outside of them - but also, that the suffering - the red rose - is thornless, or sinless and worthy of heaven.

Superficially, neither Dean nor Lucifer should have either of these colors. Dean is actively rejecting heaven and Lucifer is the epitome of the fallen and, beyond that, tempts others into falling. Neither is sinless as the thornless rose indicates, even if everyone in the Supernatural world suffers. Sam and Dean are martyrs for each other, but not for God - lest, as the man outside Dean's motel room suggests, God is love. If God is, literally, love (rather than love is God manifest or symbolically or something), then, indeed, Sam and Dean are martyrs - for love of each other. And Lucifer, too, is a martyr, if he suffers for loving too much and wrongly, not having enough love for humanity.

Still, even if that explains the red thornless rose, Lucifer's immaculate suit and Dean's blue shirt - colors of Mary's clothing in the Catholic Church - remains at a loss. They are unlike each other, yet they are the stand-out colors of the episode. Together they are Marian colors, but Dean is about as unlike the Virgin Mary as one could get and my mind quavers at the thought of equating Lucifer and Mary, though Mary possibly loved God as much as this Lucifer claims to do. Perhaps, though, that's it - both Dean and Lucifer have an intense purity of love. It is what cast them into Hell - Dean's love for Sam and Lucifer's love for God - and perhaps what could also be their redemption?

*

If you are curious, Zachariah wore black and (current) Castiel wore brown in this episode. Black, generalising here, can be seen as a negative color - death, Hell, destruction. Brown is earthy, ordinary, and more comforting than black. Everyone in the encampment wore browns and olives reminisce of camouflage and I suspect were supposed to be reminisce of soldiers more than comfort, as Castiel's brown may be.


Because I can't resist here's a huge page on why the Virgin Mary is a rose and blahblahblah stuff only [livejournal.com profile] chasingtides finds interesting. Also, coming soon: Queering of Lucifer As Christ and A Supernatural Road Trip through American Masculinities.
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From: [identity profile] house-of-lantis.livejournal.com


Hi! Thanks for sharing such an interesting use of color in the episode. You know, I only watched it biting my nails at what would happen and didn't even make a connection to these iconic colors - good eye, you! :) But since I download each episode off iTunes, it'll give me plenty of chances to watch it over and over and over again. I think I'm pretty obsessed with this episode. :) But I really liked learning about the colors and what they represent in Christianity.

Regards,

HoL

From: [identity profile] wellowned.livejournal.com


i did notice that current!dean was wearing bright blue and that was very out of the monochromatic feel of the episode. nice that it could have this much deeper meaning.
ext_29986: (Angel of the Lord is puzzled?)

From: [identity profile] fannishliss.livejournal.com


In CW iconography, Blue shirt equals -- superman! before Clark reveals himself, he is almost always wearing iconic royal blue or red.

White = the luxury of richness, ie, that your underlings do all the dirt for you.

With the rose, I think the idea of seduction is beautiful and perfect here.

Castiel'14 wears the most delicious washed out gray smock, gray pants and brown sandals. I also love the wardrobe for the orgy girls. They are out of toilet paper, but they have plenty of Anthropologie stores to loot!

I'm always leery of doing this kind of christian color analysis, since Kripke only vaguely adheres to the Christian mythology, but you've done a very good job here. To run with your Marian connection, perhaps Dean and Sam being perfect angelic vessels makes that Marian connection for you. Dean's beautiful sword in the previous episode definitely moves him along that Michael track.

One thing i notice about Lucifer is how VERY often he says "I'm sorry." ALL THE TIME. TO EVERYONE HE MEETS. That white suit, to me, bespeaks of his desperation to be seen as sinless -- while at the same time, we know very well that he is manipulating events to his advantage as much as the Angels are -- and letting his underlings (or in this case, the Croatoan virus, do the work).

ext_21906: (brunette)

From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


Where are you picking up this color symbolism? It reads to me as Smallville-specific and it would seem to me to be highly problematic to consider the two shows to be the same when they simply share the network. (Do Melrose Place and Gossip Girl and the Vampire Diaries share this iconography?)

I was wary of doing a specifically Christian color analysis, but, barring the rose bit, the idea of blue as heaven and white as purity seems to be entrenched in Western secular color thought as well. And the idea of suffering rose has roots in other mythologies as well, not just Christian, but they all come together in Mary. Mary unites it all, helps it to make sense.
ext_29986: (motel beer eat)

From: [identity profile] fannishliss.livejournal.com


well, i am a very poor witness because I don't watch those other shows at all, but I did watch Smallville a long time ago and the way they used that royal blue color was far from subtle. I just mean to suggest that it is used in a similar way, it derives from the old color printing process of comic books, and it paints Dean as whole in a stripped out world, where everything else is leached to black and white. Dean09 is a hero in a way that Dean14 no longer is, and that vivid blue is one sign of that.

In terms of Sam, again, Lucifer has been wearing the white suit for a while in comics.... but I also think the villain appearing in white is fairly prevalent in pop iconography -- the other figure I think of right away is Bucho from Robert Rodriguez's Desperado (they took a song from the Desperado soundtrack for the first Vampire episode, 1.20 Dead Man's Blood) (and it is probably just coincidence that Bucho is revealed to be the Mariachi's brother).

As I said before, you did a great job lining up the symbolism with the colors of Mary... but I think spn has a pretty long track record of using christian iconography not exactly how it has long been used. I am always in favor of folks pointing these things out! I've been esp. interested in how the figures of Mary, Christ, or the Sacred Heart have been deliberately inserted into Show's visual iconography -- but I still haven't figured it out.

There's a lot of resonance that might still play out -- not least is the demand that the Angels make for consent (and as Mary said, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it to me according to your word."). Lucifer toying with the rose made me think of the way show has been using flower imagery for a long time to indicate that what we're seeing on the surface conceals a more troubling depth.

Certainly your argument here about Marian imagery is tight and interesting, and I'll be looking forward to how it plays out within the rest of the show's iconography (or as much of it as I can catch, anyways).

ext_21906: (Default)

From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


If we're taking in greater comic usage of color... It is an interesting discussion.

Blue would not show heaven, but it would reinforce a number of symbols I mentioend above. Purity, truth, clarity of spirit - these are the things that, generally, Superman stands for. Even when no one seems to know what to do, if Superman is there in his blues (or Clark is running off to strip), Superman does - trust and clarity of spirit.

White for Lucifer I've seen both in Sandman and Lucifer, as well as in Hellblazer, thought I've read significantly less of that. However, I would argue that the Lucifer of Sandman and Lucifer is both sympathetic and significantly more innocent than a "traditional" Lucifer. Indeed, in Lucifer, he enters into Heaven itself. (And, yes, a huge amount of the discussion of heaven in Supernatural appears to be a direct echo of heaven in Lucifer.) However, in Sandman, Lucifer was entrusted with Hell by God - as far as I remember he did not fall as such and thus, would be deserving of white (relatively speaking). Lucifer-as-Sam, as far as I can tell, could have walked directly out of Sandman/Lucifer and really, I do think that character wears white for the very reasons I mentioned above. Even though no one else really believes him, he knows he is a servant of "the Triune Godhead" and believes he behaves as such, even though God is missing/has abandoned the angels (who have gone corrupt) and the world (which is going to hell in a handbasket).

From: [identity profile] lady-ganesh.livejournal.com


And yeah, the purity and clear-headedness of the blue is what I think we're supposed to be following.

IIRC, in Sandman, Lucifer did fall, and we're led to believe it was in much the same way his successor did.

(Followed you back from the metafandom discussion of canon couples, etc.)
ext_21906: (Default)

From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


Well, Lucifer has specifically called himself a servant of the Triune God in Lucifer and referenced that he was doing what he did (ruling Hell, etc) because that was the job that God gave him - giving him more of the Jewish role of Satan than the Zoroastrian-flavored devil of Christianity.

From: [identity profile] queenofhell.livejournal.com

stumbled in via delicious


Lex has also worn the Ironic White Suit of Evil during a vision of his future (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysU2FFqvLN8&feature=related) from season one of Smallville.

From: [identity profile] ma2keep.livejournal.com


Such an awesome analisys of the colors used in this great episode.
The way it all fits just makes me awe.

A really good post ^^

From: [identity profile] monicawoe.livejournal.com


This was a fascinating read.

I can't wait to rewatch this scene in all it's glory, and look for the details you pointed out- like the thornless rose.
ext_21906: (Default)

From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


I rewatched that last scene a couple of times while I wrote this meta.

If you're interested, current-Sam wears a jacket not dissimilar to future!Dean's - possibly marking him as a frightened soldier, just as Dean was? I had a whole bit on that until I realised I couldn't see any thorns on the rose and oh god, MaryMaryMaryMary, they're sons of Mary, oh my god symbolism.


From: [identity profile] monicawoe.livejournal.com


I appreciate any and all visual symbolism!
I tend to do much better myself at analyzing dialogue than imagery, so these types of observations are a total treasure to me.

Yeah, you know I've fixated on the whole 'sons of Mary' thing a few times now and everytime I thought I had it puzzled out I was either wrong, or still left wondering.

I was certain for a while that she'd end up being Nephilim or descended from Nephilim or something of that nature.
I'd also still like to know if what Missouri (who I miss possibly more than any other one-time character) said about Mary was true. If I remember correctly it was something along the lines of: your mother sacrificed her own soul to kill that spirit.

Did you happen to catch this? (I know I didn't!)

http://community.livejournal.com/supernatural_tv/2004417.html
ext_21906: (Default)

From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


I noticed it, but I admit I only thought, "Oh, they're reusing the location." I much prefer this interpretation!

From: [identity profile] isaacsapphire.livejournal.com


I think at least part of Lucifer!Sam fondling a rose while monologueing is simply symbolic of him being a villain, as that's a traditionally villainous thing to do, for whatever reason.

PS: I'm looking forward to Queering of Lucifer As Christ and A Supernatural Road Trip through American Masculinities. Have you ever checked out the Gnostic and Mormon beliefs about the relation between Lucifer and Christ? It's very interesting in light of recent revelations.
ext_21906: (Default)

From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


I'm somewhat familiar with some gnostic beliefs about Lucifer and Christ, but I'd be flying blind on the Mormon ones. Is there a good place to find that information?

From: [identity profile] isaacsapphire.livejournal.com


Honestly, I've been intending on searching for it myself, but I haven't gotten around to it. a quick Google search for "Mormonism Christ Lucifer" mostly pulled Protestant sites bashing Mormonism, and in all fairness that's probably not the best place to reference.

I'm really surprised that there isn't a single Mormon fan of Supernatural who's done a meta or something. I've been the only one bringing this one up that I've ever seen. (Not to say that someone somewhere isn't. There is a lot of fandom I avoid.)
ext_21906: (Default)

From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


This might be the time to chase down my Mormon friends, then. I generally hesitate to question friends about their religious beliefs (I am one of those people who feels that someone's religious beliefs are their own and none of my damn business) but they could probably point me in the right direction for some research.

From: [identity profile] isaacsapphire.livejournal.com


Your friends would probably be a good place to start. Just word it honestly and respectfully.
ext_21906: (Default)

From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


I'm going to have to, I think, because, wow, those are some angry webpages bashing Mormon beliefs.

From: [identity profile] morgentau.livejournal.com


Your metas are so very brilliant! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

From: [identity profile] siyahsaclikiz.livejournal.com


Other than the association of white with purity, I did not know any of this information.Thank you for writing this and making realize the symbolism I otherwise never would have.
ext_2955: black and white photo of flying birds and a lamp-post (Default)

From: [identity profile] azdaja-dafema.livejournal.com


I saw that rose and wanted to meta like woah too so I love you for doing this. Particularly linking the Rose to Mary. When studying the Early Renaissance I stumbled on this interesting link between Mary as an enclosed garden with specific plants inside (particularly roses, although also palms, as one I remember offhand). The garden was fecundity while the wall/fence/large gaping void between us/other charas and the Mary was her purity/chastity.

Fitting, perhaps, that Dean's blue, slightly offtone for the classical ultramarine but close enough, was the only strong colour fit to be near the white purity of the rose and Lucifer's clothing.

From: [identity profile] izhilzha.livejournal.com


Thank you for this!

I was wondering if, perhaps, the white of Lucifer's suit had less to do with its traditional associations with purity and righteousness and more to do with him being the Morning Star (Lucifer = Light-Bringer), the name he acquired from the Book of Isaiah. The glow of the suit didn't hurt this interpretation. :)

From: [identity profile] love-jackianto.livejournal.com


I stumbled on this meta because you mentioned on a fanficrant post that you wrote Lucifer/Castiel/Nick/Jimmy fic and I wanted to check your journal out. Great meta! I loved the use of color in that episode.
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From: [identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com


Here, I can conveniently link you to the fics in question: Seek and its sequel, In Latter Days.

(I'm also working on a final, extra creepy finish to the trilogy that's not up yet.)
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