Supernatural Retrospective – Part 6 (about Ruby)

Part 5 (flawless victory)

I was going to put this after the S4 retrospective, but then that would have left S5 as the only Kripke season that didn’t match up with its part number and that would have just bugged me.  So now we’re going to have a brief examination of the character of Ruby and establish a grading standard that will be used later on.

When judging a villain, there’s principally 1 scale to use, I call it the “what if” scale and it involves 2 parts:

1) You imagine the villain succeeding or failing in another way.  The clearer these possibilities are, the better a villain he/she is.

2) You imagine the villain in various scenarios.  The more scenarios you can fit the villain into, the better a villain he/she is.

Note that this is not a scale of complexity, a very simple villain can be a very good villain on this scale.  It also does not always have to be serious.  Example: 1) “What if Darth Vader had shot down Luke Skywalker?” Then the rebel base would be blown up and the Empire would have gone on to rule the galaxy indefinitely.  2) “What if Darth Vader had to go to the DMV?” He’d force choke everyone in line, then force choke the clerk who denied him his tie-fighter tags.

This is why I find the Joker in The Dark Knight to be the far better villain than the Emperor from the Star Wars prequels.  The “what if X/Y/Z happened?” works out for Joker 90% of the film (there are a few points that events are almost too perfect for him).  Meanwhile if you think through “what if X/Y/Z happened?” in the prequels, the Emperor’s plans almost all fall apart (side note: when writers have to give the villain perfect, prophetic foresight for a plot to work, it’s a bad plot).

This also proves that not every villain has to perfectly sync on the 2 guides.  For example the Emperor from Star Wars (even the prequels) is one that excels at the second scale while falling apart on the first (go on, imagine the Emperor at the DMV).

Ruby unfortunately… failed at both.  On the second scale it’s hard to imagine her doing anything not Sam or Lucifer related because we the audience never saw her doing much apart from those two.  Compare her to Meg which also benefited from the audience actually seeing her do non story-related actions.

But by far Ruby’s biggest failing is on scale 1.  What was her end-game goal?  To get Sam to use demonic powers to kill Lilith.  So what does she do in her first appearance?  Kill several demons with a knife.  What does she do in her fourth appearance?  Show Bobby how to fix the Colt so now the boys can shoot demons.  Apparently she never considers that Sam (or Dean) might just take that knife or Colt and go kill Lilith, which they very nearly did at the end of season 3.  Usually being a villainous mastermind means not helping your opponents obtain the means to thwart you.  What if the boys had gone with her plan in Jus in Bello and killed Ruby?  But this is one instance that’s a bit more understandable since a reasonable knowledge of Sam & Dean means one could bet safely on them not going with the “cut out a virgin’s heart” plan.

Repeatedly many of Ruby’s actions make little sense when considering her end-goal if not outright work against it.  It would have made far more sense for her to convince the boys that there was no way to kill Lilith but by Sam’s mojo than to keep providing them with alternatives for murdering her.  She wasn’t an awful character in any sense, but one can’t help but wonder what might have been had she been written stronger and more in keeping with her goals.

Part 7 (S6 and Castiel)


6 thoughts on “Supernatural Retrospective – Part 6 (about Ruby)

  1. Ruby, Lilith, and their grand plan is one of my favorite topics to read about. It does feel like the writers were stretching episodes out with things like the colt and Lilith trying to seduce Sam. She was teasing him? Trying to seem scared? Was scared of her ultimate fate? Who knows? Ruby wanted Sam to drink all that demon blood, and then said he didn’t need it “to fly, dumbo”. He did need it for the Lucifer possession. I can make myself dizzy trying to figure out Ruby’s methods. I did like Genevieve’s take on her, though. Katie Cassidy was too snarky and unlikable. Genevieve might not be the world’s greatest actress, but she did have a charisma on screen that I liked. Jus in Belo was a good episode, but all that was just another smokescreen? Lilith was trying to be scary again, I guess. You wrote something about killing Ruby in that ep. I think you mean Nancy the virgin.

    • Nothing against either actress, but the Ruby comparison between the two is a great example of how even the best can only do so much with the material given and I think Genevieve was just given far better material than Cassidy.

      You wrote something about killing Ruby in that ep. I think you mean Nancy the virgin.

      Sorry, I may have been unclear. Going by the “What if” rule, the question is, “What if the boys went with Ruby’s plan in Jus in Bello?” She said it would kill her along with the other demons (in addition to killing Nancy). How would that work out in her grand scheme? Heck if I know.

      Though it could be defended as a Batman Gambit (i.e. she knew the boys never would do it).

      • I guess I never thought that Ruby would allow herself to die with the other demons, that she would have had an escape route planned. I just don’t like Katie Cassidy’s acting that much. She plays my least favorite character on Arrow. Also, her Ruby was the wrong approach to get to Sam. He responds better to a calmer personality than to bluster. Katie’s Ruby was kind of a bully.

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