It is often said that mainstream media has ruined our mental faculties. Often the comparison is made that those of us who watch too much TV may as well stick our head in a microwave for all the good it’s doing us. And while I won’t argue with the concept as a whole, I think it is important to make a distinction between what kind of media you watch and the direct impact it has on one’s ability to function as an adult. Sure, if all you do is watch Survivor (or as I like to call it, “Let’s Reward the Biggest Lying Twat”) or if you are a devout follower of the Kardashian clan which has more in common with a pack of rabid dogs attempting to escape a grease fire than it does with an actual family, then yeah, you may need to take a step back from the television and re-evaluate a few life choices. However, those programs are vastly different than say, Game of Thrones or Westworld, or the ever depressing and all too real, Mr. Robot. The point is I just spend the better part of a weekend reading and doing research due to something I saw while watching Supernatural and that would not have happened had I not been watching TV so HA! That ought to show those smug bastards.
In the last few seasons we have seen a small number of spell books introduced into the Supernatural mythos: The Book of the Damned and The Black Grimoire. Prior to this, the only book about supernatural beings that is referred to by name is the Key of Solomon, a book Bobby procured back in the Season 1 finale, “Devil’s Trap” which of course detailed how to make an amazing omelet. Oh yeah, and how to trap demons. Since witches received an overhaul in power and importance (undoubtedly thanks to one fiery redhead) powerful tomes have begun to show their leather-bound faces once again. While the Book of the Damned was a large part of Season 10, The Black Grimoire may have been a simple plot device introduced to make the Loughlin’s more threatening. I was okay with this as it lead me down an interesting “What if” scenario that could lead to something far more threatening than anything the Winchesters have encountered before. That thought was what if Supernatural introduced the Necronomicon?
It may seem like I am pulling this concept completely out of my shapely buttocks, but in fact the groundwork for this concept has already been laid, making this a very real possibility. For the uninitiated, H.P. Lovecraft was an American horror fiction author who lived during the early part of the 20th century who holds a significant amount of prestige as his work is not simply considered fiction, but is often regarded as literature in the modern world; an achievement held by only himself and Edgar Allen Poe. This was not always the case as his work was widely unknown and published only in pulp magazines during his life and he failed to make a reliable living off his work. His writing style never focused on the gore or physical violence unlike most low brow horror these days. Instead, Lovecraft’s work focused on dread and existential terror, often questioning mankind’s importance in the universe. The first Lovecraft story I read, “The Beast in the Cave” had very little violence in fact. Instead, the fear is built on being lost in a pitch black cave with something that can very clearly see you, but you are unable to see it. Shuffling sounds and breathing coming from the darkness just beyond your reach. Footsteps speeding up, then suddenly stopping, only to be heard again but this time from behind you. It effectively evokes that primal fear of the dark without an ounce of bloodshed. He is most well-known for his cosmic horror and the creation of the Cthulhu mythos, that squid headed winged monster you have undoubtedly seen somewhere either in pop culture or as a meme in the recent election.
The Necronomicon is a fictional book (or grimoire, see what I did there?) created by Lovecraft that is featured in a number of his stories. In it, the book contains the history and descriptions of the “Old Ones,” ancient deities from the darkest corners of the universe that once ruled both the Earth and the stars beyond such as Cthulhu, Shub-Niggurath, Yog-Sothoth and more. All of these beings have since been asleep or locked away in another place of existence. The Necronomicon however, details how one might summon them back to Earth. How does this relate to Supernatural? Well I’m getting to it!
Outside of the Kripke Golden Era, Season 6 holds a special place in the black mire that was once my heart. So many ideas and concepts were introduce in Gambles first season that really don’t get the day in the sun that they deserve. Alpha monsters, Eve, the weapons of Heaven, dragons, Lisa and Ben and their dynamic with Dean, and so much more. One of my personal favorites was introduced in the second to last episode of the season, “Let It Bleed” where we are introduced to horror author Howard Philips Lovecraft and his attempt to open a door to another dimension. The Lovecraft story plays second fiddle to Dean and Sam’s rescue of Ben and Lisa from Crowley, but as that storyline sadly ends in the same episode, I always felt that Lovecraft lore got the raw end of the deal. Bobby discovers a correspondence between an elder Campbell and Lovecraft himself detailing an event that occurred five days before his death. Here we discover that Lovecraft was personally involved with the supernatural, that he and a group of other believers actually opened a portal to Purgatory and then unwittingly drew an unknown monster from its depths into our world. Best of all, that monster ends up being a character that we had previously thought to be an ally, Dr. Elanor Visyak. Ultimately she ends up becoming simply a plot device for opening another portal to Purgatory and dies in the very next episode like so many great ideas since Kripke’s departure.
From these few interactions there are several bit of information that we can extrapolate. Perhaps some of Lovecraft’s work was based on more than pure imagination. In this universe he was clearly involved enough to take the time to put together and enact a spell that opened the doors between dimensions, and in his own arrogance, unwittingly lets something out that comes back to kill him and all those involved. This is a concept that is straight out of his own work. But how would he come about this knowledge? If he knew that the supernatural is in fact very real, could he have been studying it for years? He would certainly need a wide breadth of knowledge in order to pull that off, and we know angels and demons were not nearly as abundant in the 30’s as they are during Sam and Dean’s modern day. He couldn’t get reliable information from monsters since that would be like asking the average person for reliable information on Chuck. So where does someone who is book smart, secretive, and obsessed with the supernatural go for lore and research? Last I checked, there was an organization that excelled at this kind of thing called the Men of Letters. If the events of this season have shown us anything, it is that the Men of Letters know quite a lot about all supernatural occurrences in the United States despite their British place of origin. Wouldn’t opening a portal to another, previously unknown dimension pop up on their radar? Could a member have been there that night? If the Necronomicon was used to open the portal, that certainly seems like something the BMOL would be interested in and want to hold on to for “safe keeping.”
I can hear the rebuttals now. For if the Necronomicon is for summoning the Old Ones, why did it open Purgatory? Maybe that was just one of many ways to summon an old one. Interestingly enough, Eleanor’s name may in fact be a clue that helps support this idea. Visyak is a creature that overtook the body of a beautiful human woman who is ostensibly immortal as she has stopped aging. The only person who she reveals the truth to is Bobby, someone she used to have a romantic relationship with. This is quite similar to the creature Yidhra, a shapeshifting Outer God who usually appears as a youthful, attractive earthly female, is immortal, and only reveals her true form to those in her cult that she favors. While Yidhra was not created by Lovecraft, she is a part of the expanded mythos. Need more evidence? Fair enough. In the season 7 premiere Death calls the Leviathans and other beasts in Purgatory “the Old Ones.” If the Necronomicon is designed to summon the old ones, then it would certainly be capable of opening a door into Purgatory where some of them lied in wait. That doesn’t mean that greater deities could not reside somewhere in the void of space. After all, we know Death has visited other planets as he has made numerous references to “better planets” with other forms of life. So what else is out there?
The most interesting part of this entire subplot is the one thing that seems to have been glossed over. When Bobby finally confronts Eleanor about her true nature and claims that she killed Lovecraft, she denies it. If she is to be believed, and we are given no reason not to, then that means something else killed him and all the others that were involved in the ritual. But the only survivor was the original Eleanor’s son, who we know spent his life in “the same place he’s been ever since the big night” according to Bobby. So if it wasn’t the son and it wasn’t Eleanor, the only people who were there that fateful night and survived, then who killed all those people?
While mainstream media has metaphorically taken the fangs out of Cthulhu by making him the hero in video games, a plush toy and even a presidential candidate, the original concept behind Cthulhu and the other “Old Ones” is far darker. The term “Lovecraftian” is also thrown around causally but rarely is it ever used correctly. Often people mistakenly believe it to be a fear of the unknown when in truth it is a fear of the unknowable. The horrors that lurk in my toilet’s s-bend are certainly unknown, but I very much doubt they will drive me to madness, unless I check after Taco Tuesday. The unknowable is the fear of something that can never be understood by our human mind; the fear that we are insignificant in the universe. It is existential terror. The discovery of something so beyond our realm of understanding, so beyond our control, so beyond our ability to even process the information, that to even attempt to do so is to condemn ourselves to madness. It’s like an ant trying to understand that it is an ant in comparison to humans, and even that doesn’t do the concept justice. One of the driving principles is that we are powerless against the threat and the crushing despair that comes from our own impotence by comparison. Hell, even an ant can bite you back and that alone is more than you can do against the idea of Cthulhu and the rest of the “Old Ones.” So why do I bring this up? If the very concept alone cannot be properly done within the realm of a story where the heroes usually win, then why even talk about it? Well, because they already did back in seasons 6 and 7. And if it’s already introduced, shouldn’t we do it justice and flush it out completely? It certainly would make great end of series material.
Again, this entire concept was a “What If?” scenario. However it is interesting to see how many breadcrumbs we can find that could one day support the idea. That is not to say they could do the entire concept justice without getting a massive budget increase. But then again, if any show could pull off this concept in a believable way, it would be Supernatural. Real or not, the possibility is still out there that the Necronomicon exists in the world of Supernatural and there is more than enough to lead to its reveal. And there are so many questions that this one episode raises. Could the Necronomicon be real? Do the British Men of Letters have it in their possession? What really killed H.P. Lovecraft and the others involved that night? Is it still out there? And what other horrors lie in wait, peering at us from the darkness just beyond what our mortal eyes can see?