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Why Abaddon Has Every Strategic Advantage

So last night I went to finish another meta, but this came out instead.  My brain was Abaddon-jacked.  Oops. ;)

Abaddon is a worthy opponent.  She’s charismatic, gleefully sinister, driven, ambitious, dangerous, bloodthirsty, forward thinking, and has amazing hair.  Unlike Dick Roman and Crowley, she’s a proven warrior, and unlike Lilith, hopefully we’ll actually see her menace develop on screen.  But I think the closest comparable Big Bad is Azazel.  Like old Yellow Eyes and his secret knowledge of Lucifer’s endgame, which allowed him to manipulate the pawns, Abaddon has strategic intelligence and potential, juicy ammunition that could give her an emotional and psychological advantage.  Because, like Azazel, Abaddon could wage a very personal war with Sam and Dean, one, like Azazel, that spans generations.  And I think all of these potential aces in Abaddon’s pocket are due to one subsidiary but not insignificant person, Josie Sands, the soul in her meat suit.

What’s interesting about Abaddon is her host, Josie Sands, a Women of Letters so to speak.  She was about to be accepted into the Men of Letters with Henry Winchester, so it would be likely she knew as much as Henry knew about spells, rituals, and the supernatural, and, like Henry, she probably wasn’t the dullest knife in the drawer.  We also saw her shooting film of the demon purification ritual in “Clip Show” (8x22), working in tandem with priests, affiliates of the Men of Letters, so it’s possible she had a network of personal contacts to draw information from.  But what I find most fascinating is Josie’s personal connection to the history of the Winchesters.  From her and Henry’s interactions in “TGB” (8x12), it was clear they knew each other, liked each other (the first time I saw the episode I was convinced that Henry was having an affair with Josie).  It’s not out of the question that Josie may have known things about Henry’s personal life, his other job, his family (more on this later).

The point is: Josie Sands knew stuff.  We know demons can access their host’s memories as corroborated by Meg in “Goodbye Stranger” (8x17).  Therefore, it’s not a stretch to assume that Abaddon very well knows everything that Josie Sands knew about the supernatural, the Men of Letters, the network of Men of Letters affiliates like, but not limited to, hunters and priests, and the family Winchester.  These facts in and of themselves could provide huge munitions for Abaddon and her growing war machine.

But what I find even more interesting are the things Josie Sands knew that Sam and Dean or any present-day hunter would have no way of knowing.  She’s a direct link to the possible Golden Era of Supernatural Study where a secret society of scholars and teachers not only worked with, disseminated information to, and had knowledge about hunters but other anti-supernatural collectives like the Juda Initiative “Everybody Hates Hitler” (8x13).  Furthermore, the Men of Letters seemed to have their pulse on supernatural phenomena not just in the conterminous U.S. but all over the world as evidenced by the maps and war tables in the bunker, and such a large area to draw data no doubt pales in comparison to the body of knowledge Sam and Dean have amassed in the last 8 years driving from town to town in the U.S and what’s written in John’s journal.  And as we’ve seen, the bunker is vast with a large library, a shooting range, storage rooms with what look to be case files, as well as secret rooms (like the demon cell now holding Crowley); who knows what else is in there or what other secret rooms could be hiding?  Based on “Clip Show” (8x22), we know there are rituals like the demon purification that have since been lost and yet to be rediscovered by the Winchesters (how much and how fast can Sam read?).  Such a vest network and the collective merging of supernatural scholarly endeavors have apparently never been seen since.

We all know that knowledge is more than just what’s written on paper or cataloged in a dusty cabinet; it’s the collective working body of knowledge of the where, when, why, how, who.  And it’s the combination of all that contextual information that make what are disparate facts operational, powerful, and relevant pieces of information that can be assembled into Knowledge.  What Josie Sands had in her head is far beyond just what’s documented in the Men of Letter’s bunker or written in a dusty book, things that any literate person could access.  She could have a fundamental understanding of how that secret society worked, their methodologies.  Abaddon has access to Josie Sands life experience not only to give her possible advantages but also to show Abaddon exactly what not to do, what supernatural booby traps, defenses, weapons, and perhaps some rituals the Men of Letters knew and were researching (as we saw in “Clip Show” (8x22)).  This gives Abaddon the unique advantage of potentially being two steps ahead of Sam and Dean not only in her offensive strategies but also in her own defense, which isn’t significant being that Sam and Dean seem to rely on the element of surprise and ingenuity to battle demons.  And we’ve seen what a quick, adaptable learner she is evidenced by the Kevlar vest she wore in “Devil May Care” (9x02) that repelled bullets presumably inscribed with Devil’s Traps, which were her downfall in “As Time Goes By” (8x12).

Sure, it’s obvious Josie Sands didn’t (thankfully) know everything about the Men of Letters being that she had yet to be a fully appointed member; for example, she didn’t know where the bunker is located (but she did know it existed and that entrance was gain with a single key).  But Abaddon had earmarked Josie from the start (her work with Father Thompson and his failed attempt at curing a demon in “Clip Show” (8x22)) and not another, so it’s a safe bet that Josie was a strategic advantage in some way.  For example, Henry knew how to harness the power of his soul in order to time jump out of a closet 55 years in the future.  And not only did he time travel, but he did so linked to his own bloodline.  It’s possible that Josie could’ve also carried such knowledge around in her walnut.  That’s not insignificant when the role of blood magic so to speak is examined in the broader context of SPN’s canon: we’ve seen the power of blood in terms of angelic possession and bloodlines, the power imbued in drinking demon blood and using human blood for a variety of dark rituals (like curing a demon) as well as demonic communication.  It may be unlikely, but it would be interesting to see a resurfacing and merging of some of these established canon “facts” incorporated into this season’s story in a fresh way.  After all, reinvention seems to be a trend this season as many of the thematic threads in terms Sam and Dean’s story are retreads of previous seasons repacked in what we’re being told are new ways.  Why not apply this to other areas of the story, too?

But I think the most compelling and surprising things for Sam and Dean that Josie Sands could know, especially from an emotional storytelling perspective, would be about Henry Winchester and his family, in particular his son John.  Just like Josie is a treasure trove of lost information about the Men of Letters and whatever spell, incantation, ritual work they possessed, she is a direct link to the Winchester family that Sam and Dean weren’t a part of (being that John lost his father at such a young age and apparently knew nothing himself of Henry’s involvement with the supernatural).  It’s one thing to have an intelligence advantage or to attack your enemies with unknown weapons or employ guerrilla tactics, but it’s something else entirely to wage emotional warfare.  With Josie Sands in her pocket, Abaddon could make credible and devastating claims about the Winchester family, ones that Sam and Dean may not be able to refute—if the claims are true or not is something else entirely.  But truth isn’t the point when war becomes intensely personal.  It’s about making sure your enemies acknowledge that you’ve won, it’s about breaking them, going that extra step to twist the knife.  Personal warfare isn’t cold and calculating and exclusively about winning the endgame (in some cases that’s not even the point), it’s about inflicting as much emotional and psychological damage as possible, breaking your enemy, and making each and every battle count.  A personal war is fueled by emotion and less so by rational thinking.

And the wonderful thing about good stories and fully rounded characters is that they’re driven by emotion.  Their wants/needs/desires propel the story, and it’s the clash of those wants/needs/desires in opposition that creates juicy conflict.  Furthermore, when characters have a personal stake in an outcome they predictably begin to act unpredictably, and that’s when stories become the most interesting and riveting.

Abaddon, being a demon and a Knight of Hell, apparently hand-picked by Lucifer, is a formidable and worthy adversary: smart, cunning, and aggressive.  But combined with Josie Sands’ mind and all the knowledge therein, Abaddon has the potential of being the perfect Big Bad not only in a strategic sense but in a personal way that has roots in the Winchester history, the likes we haven’t seen since Azazel and his past with the Campbells.  The characters populating the chessboard this season are interesting with a lot of potential.  However, it stands to be seen what’s done with them.  Hopefully we’ll get something worth watching and a big, fat, complicated, personal war rooted in SPN’s history that pays tribute to established canon facts.  And some surprises and kickass fight scenes.  \o/\o/\o/

Other questions and points to consider:

1. How long has Abaddon been possessing Josie Sands?  Presumably sometime after Josie’s work with Father Thompson, but how much time passed between then and her attack on the Men of Letters?  How much and what aspects of the Men of Letters organization did Abaddon personally witness?

2. Is Josie Sands still (remarkably) in her body or was her soul separated at the end of “Time Goes By” (8x12) when her body was beheaded or at the end of “Sacrifice” (8x23) when Sam burned her body with holy fire?  It probably doesn’t really matter as Abaddon has likely had enough time to get whatever information she needs from Josie, but it’s something worth considering if nothing more than a canon detail surrounding demon possession and their meat suits.  We know, for example, from “Devil’s Trap” (1x22) that Meg was keeping her meat suit alive after the multi-story fall in Chicago in “Shadow” (1x16), so demon possession is relevant to the survival of the human soul and could be considered essential if the possessing demon needed ongoing intelligence from their host.  However, we know from Ruby in “IKWYDLS” (4x) that demons can possess empty/dead bodies.

3. It’s interesting that Abaddon has been established to be a powerful demon who can be trapped by a Devil’s Trap but whom Ruby’s knife or the exorcism ritual doesn’t affect.  She’s can be burned by angel holy fire, is affected by holy water (which is interesting because Azazel was impervious to it), and can blind people and cause their eyes to bleed, something eerily similar to what angels can do to humans.  She can also send a demon back to Hell with her touch; not completely dissimilar to what Sam did in S4 and S5 while amped up on demon blood.

This is a long shot (but fandom is for pontification, right?), but I wonder if it’s possible Abaddon is a hybrid demon-angel.  After all, Lucifer was (is?) an archangel who created demons and Abaddon was originally one of the first demons to fall.  Is it possible that when Lucifer knighted demons, he was able to impart some angelic powers to them?  Wouldn’t that just be the ultimate slap in God’s face to remake demons with angelic grace (not to mention the ultimate supernatural fighting machine)?  Arguably there’s a reason some demons were chosen as Knights while others weren’t, there’s obviously a hierarchy (something we’ve known since S2 and the emergence of REDs, BEDs, and the YED) that’s partially demonstrated by the fact Abaddon has powers that other demons don’t.

And finally, it’s not a kickass day without a little Abaddon.

From fiercelynormal.


Oct. 20th, 2013 09:57 pm (UTC)
Reading this gave me an explanation for how Abaddon reanimated Josie's corpse--what if it was a ritual the Men of Letters had put under lock and key that Josie had seen? It fits perfectly with your meta.
Oct. 20th, 2013 11:02 pm (UTC)
I liked the similarity between how Abaddon's body was reanimated and the way Dean reanimated Benny.

Oct. 21st, 2013 01:41 am (UTC)
See? Blood "magic"! It's like the ultimate ingredient. ;) I was always struck how similar Dean's arm containing Benny's soul looked to Sam's glowing arm during the trials.

Honestly, though, I'm surprised that we're not seeing more mytharc tied to blood and the power of human souls considering how both keep popping up repeatedly.
Oct. 21st, 2013 01:38 am (UTC)
Oh cool! That does sound plausible. :)

If the writing team decides to take advantage of Abaddon knowing what Josie Sands knew, it could open the door to a lot of twists and turns in favor of Abaddon and her style of warfare. It does, however, run the risk of becoming the easy answer/easy fix and require ways to keep her from becoming too powerful as we've seen happen with Castiel and his angelic powers becoming easy back-up/miracle fixes for the Winchesters.


Billie Bowtrunckle

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