Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ruby: Love Her or Hate Her?

During Season 3 of Supernatural, two new characters strolled onto the Winchester scene, and they were – gasp! – girls. Many fans soon made it known that they didn’t like having these female interlopers into Winchester World. Perhaps they wanted the show to stay focused solely on the brothers, which is understandable and about which Kripke was quick to reassure them. Some just didn’t like the characters. While I could have taken or left Bela, I actually liked Ruby right from the start. She was the next in a line of kick-ass female characters I’ve enjoyed watching (Buffy, Faith, Sarah Connor, etc.). When she killed that demon with the knife in “The Magnificent Seven” (3-1), I was like, “Whoa! Who is this chick?” When she revealed herself to be a demon in the next episode, “The Kids are Alright,” but one who seemed to be on Sam’s side, I uttered another “Whoa.” Interesting twist that showed again that perhaps things aren’t all black and white in this war on evil. I don’t think anything illustrates this better than when she helps Bobby restore the Colt in “Sin City.” You can just tell that a demon offering to help and meaning it is just totally rocking his understanding of the world.

I loved Katie Cassidy’s sassy, tough, bad-girl portrayal of Ruby. And when budgetary constraints led to the demise of both her and Bela, I was bummed. I hated that Ruby had bit it. And I doubt she was welcomed back to Hell with open arms. Traitors usually aren’t.

Though Ruby works mostly with Sam, her snark is oh-so-Dean-like. A sampling:

Ruby: “It’s called witchcraft, shortbus.”

Dean: “But you’re a demon.”
Ruby: “Don’t be such a racist.”

Bobby (after he shoots Ruby): “What do you want?”
Ruby: “Peace on earth, a new shirt...”

Ruby: “Anyone got a breath mint? Some guts splashed in my mouth while I was killing my way in here.”

But Ruby is one tough, determined gal. She somehow convinces Lilith to give her another chance, and she’s let free from Hell with the task of killing Sam. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think some of the things she’s done to Sam lately have been killing him. But you’ve got to admire a girl who can totally trick Lilith.

Sure, she’s come back in a different body, and the feel of the character isn’t quite the same, but at least she’s back. I find her character really interesting, even though in my mind Katie Cassidy will always be Ruby. That’s not knocking Genevieve Cortese’s acting; it’s just that I’m never a fan of changing the actor when a role was established by another. I think it would be hard for any replacement actor to live up to the original. I do think that Genevieve has been creating more of an edge to Ruby lately. And even back when she was talking Sam into having sex, she’s going after what she wants like Katie often did in her portrayal – though Katie’s “Ruby” never got it on with Sam. (Her loss, btw. ) Here, see for yourself.

Sera Gamble has said that we’ll see and understand more about the changes in Ruby at some point. That should be interesting. I wonder if her punishment by Lilith has changed her somehow, or if the differences in hosts somehow effect the demons who possess them. We already know that there’s something different about Ruby because she’s helping the boys and she actually remembers being human when other demons don’t. She’s retained some of her humanity despite everything she’s been through. And I’m really curious why.

We’ve seen that Ruby can manipulate situations to her benefit. After all, she’s not pure as the driven snow, and she wouldn’t be half as interesting if she was. Even she says, in “No Rest for the Wicked” (3-16), “Uh, demon? Manipulative is kind of in the job description.” I suspect there’s debate about Ruby’s motives for getting Sam to use his powers to exorcise demons, but for now I’m going to believe that she truly is on Sam’s side and wants to defeat the baddies. But we all know that the writers have quite the ability to surprise us.

So, what’s your opinion of Ruby? Love her or hate her? And what do you think of Katie’s and Genevieve’s portrayals of the character?