The season 11 finale of Supernatural. Love it or hate it? I frequent a Facebook group run by the lovely people at Supernatural Fans Online. Recently a discussion began about the finale. There sprung a conversation about Amara. In response to a comment there, which bemoaned the sudden turnaround of Amara from scary godlike killing machine to, and I quote, “I talked to Dean and an old lady, now I’m fine.”, I analyzed Amara’s character arc. Because it wasn’t an arc of a single episode and when viewed as a whole, it becomes one of the most developed arcs for a villain in the history of the show.
Beginning from the point we discovered she was God’s sister (episode 6, “Our Little World”), and especially once she became an adult (specifically ep 9, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”), her destructive motivation was revealed. This, of course, being she needs her brother to notice her. Her leaning towards needing love is also revealed in that episode (though it’s hinted at in ep 1 “Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire”), when she speaks with and kisses Dean. This episode alone sets up much of the rest of her arc: she needs to be accepted. She yearns for love and places her belief in Dean for this acceptance.
As he resists her, she becomes increasingly despondent. Her brother will not even acknowledge her presence, even after serving as judge, jury, and jailer. Even Dean, mortal though he is, tries to kill her. This is such a pivotal episode. Not only does Dean turn on her, it’s the first time we really see someone try to blow her to kingdom come. All the power of heaven rains down on her and she’s, meh, a little scratched.
Bringing it back a bit, and maybe more concrete, is her interaction with Rowena in episode 18, “Hell’s Angel”. Obviously she shouldn’t trust Rowena, but her childlike innocence as well as her inability to interact socially are both on display when she mentions “Uncle Crowley”, and flinches from Rowena’s hand. Her desire to be part of a family is overshadowed by her inability to connect. This brings up another fascinating aspect of her character. She needs to be loved but she doesn’t know how. And you see again her yearning for love and acceptance if you catch her meaningful look at Dean when she comes to steal Lucifer.
When Dean uses her feelings to simultaneously trick and reject her in episode 21, “All in the Family”, and God still refuses to speak to her, that is her final straw. Scorned, rejected, and alone (she’s discovered both Rowena and Uncle Crowley working against her as well), she goes on the warpath. But again, this anger is motivated by hurt. By a broken heart. By being cast aside by everyone she ever tried to love.
As they throw the collected power of heaven, hell, and earth at her in episode 22, “We Happy Few”, she finally confronts her brother. At this point, she is furious. She’s been jailed, beaten, rejected, and then He tried to kill her. All because she wanted Him to love her. In the heat of this battle and the complex emotions, emotions she has no means to deal with, she tries to kill Him back.
Then, the finale.
She’s accomplished her goal: He talked to her, acknowledged her. Then they tried to kill each other. As she watches His creations die, knowing it’s because He is dying, the fear and anger she’d been feeling turn to remorse.
The one person she truly cared about in her entire existence was dying. And it was her fault. It was her doing. All the rejection she’d experienced she turned around and blasted at Him. And it hurt far worse than she could have imagined. Having no frame of reference for these feelings and therefore no way to really process them, she waits for the end.
But then she meets someone who does have a frame of reference. Wisdom to share. She begins to realize there might be a different way. And finally, finally after the whole season, she’s ready to listen to what Dean has to say. He tells her, using his own well documented experience, to let go of her anger. As a bonus journey, we watch the elder Winchester grow as well, seeing it illustrated right in front of him that anger just causes more, and it escalates until it destroys everything.
Once she lets go of her anger, her fear, her hurt, she can face her brother again. And begin to heal. As they fade away, she gifts Dean with love the best way she knows how. From scary god-monster to loving sister, Amara’s arc is subtle and drawn out. But it is the most satisfying arc of any villain the Winchesters have faced.