but, like, also, claire and alex aren’t just mirrors–they’re representations of opposing ways of life. claire and alex embody the conflict that will define for both dean and sam where they end up at the end of the end of the road.
sam has said before, multiple times, that hunting is a part of him, that it makes him happy; most recently, in fact, was just last episode, when sam admitted that getting back out into the field did make him feel better about lucifer (lucifer! i mean if anything should be a standard of how healthy something is for you) and to eileen that the picture in his head of what he once wanted, a life totally purged of the supernatural, isn’t right for him anymore. but at the same time, he wants, longs for something approaching normal–a girlfriend, a family, maybe school. “someone who understands the life,” he says for dean but also for himself.
the conflict is less blatant with dean, but since his whole character arc is about accepting someone into his life…in fact, hunting v. romance has been the big slapfight in his romantic life. you guys know. i’ve made this post like twelve times now, probably.
so claire is the ideal of hunting. but if she’s an ideal, she’s not a particularly healthy. claire is isolated, paranoid (as old hunters get to be–claire is in the tradition of marvin, frank, rufus when we were first introduced to him). jody offers to train her because she “thinks she’ll get herself killed.” meanwhile, alex is the ideal of the apple pie kind of life: the dog, the girlfriend (jess, carmen, lisa, amelia, and on, and on, and on), “perfect landing, son.” but alex’s life is just as precarious, just as untenable, as claire’s. because they are both running–jody specifically calls what claire’s doing “running away,” and even alex has to face up to that charge, even though neither jody nor the winchesters framed her life that way, at the end of the episode.
it’s easier for jody to suspect claire–which i think is a comment on us, how it’s easy for us to see that sam and dean expecting to die before retirement and not having any living friends is problematic, but it’s harder for us to understand sam and amelia’s relationship, or dean and lisa’s, as equally repressive, equally soul-sucking, because the life expectancy is longer–but alex’s happy social life is built on never speaking of, never even thinking about, the darkness in her past. when she does to her pomade kid vamp boyfriend, she nearly breaks down. and this, of course, is unsustainable, and would be even if the darkness didn’t have real fangs and real bodies reaching out for her. even if the darkness weren’t outside of her, it’s in her, and she can’t run from that.
claire and alex’s fervors have been tempered a little by the end of the episode–claire agrees not to rush in headlong (aka, with no regard for her life), alex promises to be ready for monsters instead of trying to forget they exist. and, of course, either of these could be the model that dean or sam follow to find peace with themselves at last. but i think that they might–they might both–meet somewhere more in the middle than either alex or claire. both alex and claire, after all, only want one thing; dean and sam want both, but they just can’t figure out how to choose one without completely rejecting the other. meanwhile, alex and claire reach an accord with each other after all–peace, not war. love, not death.