Lilith (Supernatural)

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Lilith
Supernatural character
First appearance "Jus in Bello"
Last appearance "Lucifer Rising"
Portrayed by Rachel Pattee (Season 3)
Sierra McCormick (Season 3/4)
Katie Cassidy (Season 3)
Katherine Boecher (Season 4)
Information
Species Demon
Gender Female
Abilities Demonic pacts
Demonic possession
Energy rays
Invulnerability
Occult knowledge
Superhuman strength
Telekinesis
Teleportation

Lilith is a fictional character on The CW Television Network's drama and horror television series Supernatural. The series' writers conceptualized her as a dangerous new adversary for series protagonists Sam and Dean Winchester to face, introducing her to stabilize the story arc in the third season by giving demons a new leader in the wake of the death of the villainous Azazel; Lilith serves as the primary antagonist until the conclusion of the fourth season. During the third season, she tries to kill Sam and Dean, ordering for their deaths at the hands of her minions. Early in the fourth season it is revealed that her goal is to free her beloved maker, the fallen angel Lucifer, from his imprisonment in Hell. The protagonists' attempts to thwart her plan is the main plot of the season. As a "destroyer of children and seducer of men", the character initially possesses little girls but is later depicted as possessing young women in attempt by the writers to avoid showing violence towards children on-screen. The character received generally favorable reviews from critics, particularly for her role in the third season finale.

Plot[edit]

According to series creator Eric Kripke, the archangel Lucifer "twisted and mutilated" the human Lilith's soul into the first demon "to prove a point to God...that human souls were...inferior to God and the angels".[1] Having been freed from Hell in the second season finale "All Hell Breaks Loose: Part Two",[2] Lilith (Rachel Pattee) debuts in the final moments of the third season episode "Jus in Bello" as the current leader of an army of demons also unleashed from Hell; the first half of the season had established that after the death of the army general[3] and previous series antagonist Azazel created a power vacuum, leading to power struggles between demonic factions,[4] which is resolved when Lilith ultimately emerges as the victor. In her "Jus in Bello" appearance, she searches a police station for the series protagonists Sam and Dean Winchester, brothers who hunt supernatural creatures.[5] Having just missed them, she proceeds to torture everyone in the station for nearly an hour[6] after destroying the station in a massive explosion. The Winchesters' demonic ally Ruby explains that Lilith sees Sam as a rival, as he has demonic abilities and was intended—but unwilling—to lead Azazel's demon army.[5] Lilith orders Sam's death in order to secure her position as the army's general,[5][7] even tricking the thief Bela Talbot into making a failed attempt on Sam's life with the promise of releasing Bela from her Faustian deal, only to go back on her word and let Bela get dragged into Hell.[8]

With Dean having also sold his soul as part of a Faustian deal—one he made to save Sam's life[2]—the brothers spend part of the season searching for the entity that holds the contract to Dean's soul and eventually learn from Bela that the demon in question is Lilith, who holds the contracts to all deals.[8] In the third season finale "No Rest for the Wicked", the Winchesters track her down in New Harmony, Indiana, where she is holding a family hostage in the guise of their daughter (Sierra McCormick). Before Sam and Dean can attack her, Lilith secretly takes over Ruby's host body (Katie Cassidy) in order to catch the brothers off-guard.[9] She has a hellhound kill Dean and bring his soul to Hell to be tortured by Hell's chief torturer Alastair as part of her plan to begin breaking the 66 mystical seals keeping Lucifer imprisoned in Hell.[10] Lilith then tries to kill Sam as well by blasting him with destructive white energy, only to find that she is powerless against him. Horrified, she escapes before he can retaliate with Ruby's demon-killing knife.[9]

Throughout the fourth season, Lilith orchestrates the attacks by the forces of Hell on the 66 seals.[6][11] They are opposed by angels, who resurrect Dean to assist them.[6][12] Lilith eventually finds out that her death is the final seal that needs to be broken to free Lucifer.[13][14] Reluctant to sacrifice herself, Lilith (Katherine Boecher) proposes a deal to Sam in "The Monster at the End of This Book": she will stop breaking the seals in exchange for his and Dean's lives. He rejects the deal and tries to kill her instead. She quickly overpowers him, but is forced to flee before she can do anymore when Dean tricks an archangel into coming to the location.[13] In the season finale "Lucifer Rising", Sam kills Lilith under the impression that her death will prevent the final seal from breaking, and in doing so inadvertently breaks the final seal, releasing Lucifer.[14]

Characterization[edit]

"I see Lilith...and a lot of the characters who play our most powerful roles as a little cult of demonic true believers. Lilith really believes that the purpose of all of their work, the way the universe should be, is for Lucifer to be in control. Ultimately she's a true Satanist."
 — Co-executive producer Ben Edlund[15]

Series creator Eric Kripke noted that Lilith is "a combination of all myths concerning Lilith", and posited that the show would in particular explore her two main mythological roles of "destroyer of children and seducer of men".[16] The former characteristic is demonstrated through her possession of children in her early appearances, which writer Sera Gamble considered "creepy and kind of molesty".[17] Actress Katherine Boecher supposes that aspect to be "part of the mischievous side of her", feeling that "maybe there are a lot of demons out there that wouldn't go that far to take over a child".[18] Kripke revealed that another legend about Lilith influencing their portrayal of the show's character was the traditional story of her origins, explaining that "she is generally esteemed as one of the first demons, certainly the first female demon, so we're kind of holding to that; we keep in our heads that that's really what she is, that she very well might have been Adam's first wife and was banished to become a demon."[19]

Nicholas Knight, author of various Supernatural supplementary books, acknowledged that Lilith is evil but also revealed that she is capable of feeling love, stating that she "loves her creator (Lucifer) so completely that she willingly sacrifices herself, allowing Sam to kill her [to free Lucifer]".[20] The show's writers set out to make Lilith's motivations "as logical as possible", with Kripke explaining that "everyone sets out thinking they're doing the right thing". He noted that in "Lucifer Rising", "There's a private moment with Lilith when she says to her minion, 'Don't be afraid... we're going to save the world,'" and he believes in her sincerity.[21] Boecher, too, thinks that the character is "super-confident in what she's doing" and feels that "she really believes that she's going to fix things in her own way and that she has to take it into her own hands to do so".[18]

Knight labeled the character a demonic chief of staff in Hell's hierarchy and named her the "Queen of the Crossroads" for whom "all Crossroads Demons make deals, which is why she ultimately holds sway over Dean Winchester's soul."[20] As such, Lilith holds higher status than the yellow-eyed demon Azazel,[19] on which Kripke commented, "You don't get much higher than her until you start digging into Lucifer territory."[16] He further described her as being "older and more powerful than Yellow Eyes", to which Knight added that she "might be much more powerful than Sam and Dean can even imagine. For along with having Crossroads Demons and witches under her rule, Lilith is rumored to be the Queen of Vampires. There are also whispers that she slept with Lucifer, and that their offspring are none other than the demonic djinn."[19]

Development[edit]

A nude woman in a forest with a snake wrapped around her.
The demon Lilith is based on the mythological being of the same name.

The writing team for Supernatural's third season had "always" planned to introduce a new demon antagonist at some point in the season for that character to fulfill Azazel's role in the series as the lead villain.[22] When Kripke felt that the season's initial format—that of the Winchesters fighting small, independent groups of demons, an attempt by the writers to reflect terrorist cells[23]—was not successful,[23][24] the writers chose to introduce this antagonist as the demons' new leader halfway through the season in order to stabilize the demon storyline.[25][22] Although the character had the working title of Zarqawi during the planning stages, Gamble insisted that the demon be female.[26] She eventually suggested the mythological Lilith,[26] who the writers had previously learned was in part the basis for the Bloody Mary legend in conducting their research for the first season episode "Bloody Mary".[1]

Writer Jeremy Carver said that the debate about what form Lilith would take quickly ended when the writers realized that a little girl "would be the most powerful representation of evil",[1] which Kripke supported, saying, "I think it's just something about the innocence of a child saying truly awful, horror [sic] things."[1] Much of Lilith's actions in "No Rest for the Wicked" served as a homage to the Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life", in which a powerful child terrorizes his town.[27] Kripke enjoyed writing Lilith's scenes in the episode and found them to be among the easiest of the season finale to write,[27][28] stating his view that she was "a really effective villain."[17] Gamble, too, liked the way that Lilith was used that season; she found the decision to have the character be "a demon that likes to possess little girls" to be "interesting", and called Lilith "a cool demon to do."[17] When Lilith temporarily takes over Ruby's host, executive producer Kim Manners was impressed by the performance that Ruby's actress Katie Cassidy gave, describing Cassidy's transition between the characters as "just astounding".[17] Upon realizing that they could not depict Sam killing a child, the writers decided to have Lilith possess adult hosts in future appearances.[29]

The writers initially intended for Sam to develop his demonic abilities in order to use them against Lilith in the third season. How the confrontation would have ended at that stage was uncertain, with Kripke stating that "when they (the Winchesters) went up against Lilith, maybe they would've survived and maybe they wouldn't have."[30] However, the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike prevented them from fleshing out Sam's abilities until the fourth season, and so Lilith and Sam's battle was pushed back.[31] Lilith is "very active behind the scenes" for much of the fourth season, with the writers planning for her to make her on-screen return later on.[32][33] Boecher received the part of Lilith for "The Monster at the End of This Book", with Kripke feeling that she fulfilled Lilith's myth of being a "seducer of men" by bringing a "a sexuality and a menace to the role".[29] Boecher still attempted to maintain some childlike quality for the character to "bring out more sides of Lilith".[34] Although demons typically rotate through their hosts, production asked her to return for "Lucifer Rising". Kripke admitted the benefit of having a familiar face return for the finale, but furthermore said that the production team "really liked what [Boecher] did, and [...] thought she had such a fascinating look. She's beautiful, but there's something really menacing in her performance as well, and the camera just loves her."[35] The opportunity to reprise the role both surprised and excited Boecher.[34]

Lilith is the first demon in Supernatural to be depicted with all-white eyes. When creating the character, it was decided that her demonic eye color should set her apart from previous demons in the series in order to illustrate her power. Inspired by his viewing of the horror film I Walked with a Zombie the previous year, Kripke was excited by the opportunity Lilith presented to introduce white-eyed demons into the show's mythos because he had found a white-eyed creature shown in I Walked with a Zombie to be "really disturbing".[19] Unlike actors portraying Azazel in previous seasons who had had to wear contact lenses, Boecher's eyes were colored white using visual effects.[18]

Reception[edit]

BuddyTV's senior writer John Kubieck was shocked by Lilith's debut in "Jus in Bello", specifically by the revelation that she appears as a little girl.[36] Tina Charles of TV Guide opined that the decision to portray Lilith as a child played to the show's strength of "creating kids that are freakin' scary", but was surprised by the departure from the normal demonic eye color in Lilith's white eyes, wondering at its implications for the character. Overall, she deemed Lilith's introduction one of the highlights of the episode.[37] Despite the change in actresses between Rachel Pattee and Sierra McCormick from "Jus in Bello" to "No Rest for the Wicked", Charles felt that "the results were still as creepy".[38] Sandrine Sahakians, Editor-in-Chief for TV Equals, agreed, writing that, "the scene where she comes out with her dress all full of blood...was one of the freakiest scenes ever."[39] In her review of "The Monster at the End of the Book", Sahakians was very surprised by how frightened Lilith seemed to be of her fate, musing that the character was "not as invincible as we once thought." She also found it "interesting" that, while Lilith was immune to Sam's powers, Sam was in turn immune to Lilith's.[40]

Regarding Lilith's depiction in "No Rest for the Wicked", Don Williams of BuddyTV deemed her "one extremely scary little girl".[41] He wrote, "As sad as I was to see [Ruby] taken over by Lilith, it was yet another chilling demonstration of how powerful the new demon leader is. Watching the little girl snap her grandpa's neck just for kicks was creepy enough, but seeing her take over Ruby's body was truly frightening. It's one of the many disturbing moments in 'No Rest for the Wicked' that helps to make it so unforgettable", concluding that, "By the end of the episode, it's obvious that the Winchesters have never faced any demon as powerful as adorable little Lilith."[42] Karla Peterson of the San Diego Union-Tribune also remarked on Lilith's possession of Ruby's host, when she noted that Cassidy did a "terrific job of acting like a completely different character is inside her body".[43] Likewise, Diana Steenbergen of IGN found it "nice to see Katie Cassidy have a chance to act so differently", and believed that "Lilith and her little girl mannerisms in Ruby's body were far more chilling, and interesting, than Ruby's tough chick persona ever has been".[44] On McCormick's reprisal of her role as Lilith in "Yellow Fever", Steenbergen was similarly positive towards Lilith's characterization, writing that, "Lillith [sic] as a little girl in a cute pink dress being the embodiment of evil is still creepy."[45]

Brett Love of TV Squad gave a mixed review on how the character was used in "No Rest for the Wicked". He enjoyed Lilith's storyline and that she "served as the catalyst for some great Ruby bits" throughout the season, but felt that the shortened season did not allow the proper build up for her character. He also did not like the change in Lilith's host, explaining, "each [body jump] takes away a little bit from the character...Especially if the demon in question keeps jumping into cute little girls". Although McCormick impressed him, he posited that "when it comes to menacing and scary, she's no Fredric Lehne" (Azazel). Overall, he felt "a little disappointed".[46]

Fans have responded positively to Lilith. In 2009, she was voted the third-greatest Supernatural villain in an online poll conducted by BuddyTV, ranking her below only fellow demons Azazel (the winner of the poll) and Alastair.[47]

References[edit]

General
  1. Knight, Nicholas (2010). Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 4. Titan Books. ISBN 1-84856-738-3. 
  2. Nicholas Knight (2009). Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 3. Titan Books. ISBN 1-84856-103-2. 
Specific
  1. ^ a b c d Eric Kripke, Jeremy Carver (September 1, 2009). Supernatural season 4 DVD featurette "The Mythologies of Supernatural: From Heaven to Hell" (DVD). Warner Brothers Video. 
  2. ^ a b Writer: Eric Kripke, Director: Kim Manners (May 17, 2007). "All Hell Breaks Loose (Part 2)". Supernatural. Season 2. Episode 22. CW.
  3. ^ Knight, Nicholas (2012). The Essential Supernatural: On the Road with Sam and Dean Winchester. Insight Editions. p. 55. ISBN 1-60887-145-2. 
  4. ^ Writer: Jeremy Carver & Robert Singer, Director: Charles Beeson (October 25, 2007). "Sin City". Supernatural. Season 3. Episode 4. CW.
  5. ^ a b c Writer: Sera Gamble, Director: Kim Manners (February 21, 2008). "Jus in Bello". Supernatural. Season 3. Episode 12. CW.
  6. ^ a b c Writer: Sera Gamble, Director: Phil Sgriccia (September 25, 2008). "Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean Winchester". Supernatural. Season 4. Episode 2. CW.
  7. ^ Writer: Ben Edlund, Director: Robert Singer (January 31, 2008). "Malleus Maleficarum". Supernatural. Season 3. Episode 9. CW.
  8. ^ a b Writer: Sera Gamble, Director: Charles Beeson (May 8, 2008). "Time Is on My Side". Supernatural. Season 3. Episode 15. CW.
  9. ^ a b Writer: Eric Kripke, Director: Kim Manners (May 15, 2008). "No Rest For The Wicked". Supernatural. Season 3. Episode 16. CW.
  10. ^ Writer: Ben Edlund, Director: Mike Rohl (March 19, 2009). "On the Head of a Pin". Supernatural. Season 4. Episode 16. CW.
  11. ^ Writer: Julie Siege, Director: Robert Singer (January 22, 2009). "Criss Angel Is a Douchebag". Supernatural. Season 4. Episode 12. CW.
  12. ^ Writer: Eric Kripke, Director: Kim Manners (September 18, 2008). "Lazarus Rising". Supernatural. Season 4. Episode 1. CW.
  13. ^ a b Writer: Julie Siege, Director: Mike Rohl (April 2, 2009). "The Monster at the End of This Book". Supernatural. Season 4. Episode 18. CW.
  14. ^ a b Writer: Eric Kripke, Director: Eric Kripke (May 14, 2009). "Lucifer Rising". Supernatural. Season 4. Episode 22. CW.
  15. ^ Knight, Season 4, p.121
  16. ^ a b Bekakos, Liana (April 26, 2008). "Supernatural Creator Eric Kripke Answers Fan's Questions – Part III". Eclipse Magazine. Retrieved May 25, 2008. 
  17. ^ a b c d Knight, Season 3, p.99
  18. ^ a b c Knight, Season 4, p. 135
  19. ^ a b c d Knight, Season 3, pp.105
  20. ^ a b Knight, Nicholas (2012). The Essential Supernatural: On the Road with Sam and Dean Winchester. Insight Editions. p. 53. ISBN 1-60887-145-2. 
  21. ^ Knight, Nicholas (October–November 2009). "Shout at the Devil". Supernatural Magazine (Titan Magazines) (12): 6. 
  22. ^ a b Knight, Season 3, p.14
  23. ^ a b Knight, Season 3, p.11
  24. ^ Knight, Season 3, pp.12
  25. ^ Knight, Season 3, pp.13
  26. ^ a b Sera Gamble (September 2, 2008). Supernatural season 3 DVD featurette "Scene Specifics: Jus in Bello" (DVD). Warner Brothers Video. 
  27. ^ a b Knight, Season 3, pp. 97
  28. ^ Knight, Season 3, pp. 98
  29. ^ a b Kripke, Season 4, pp.96-97
  30. ^ Knight, Season 3, p.17
  31. ^ Knight, Nicholas (February–March 2009). "Habeus Supernatural". Supernatural Magazine (Titan Magazines) (8): 46. 
  32. ^ http://www.tvguide.com/News/Supernatural-Questions-Answered-1001976.aspx
  33. ^ http://www.tvguide.com/News/Supernatural-Questions-Answered-1002240.aspx
  34. ^ a b Knight, Nicholas (December 2009 – January 2010). "Lilith Incarnate". Supernatural Magazine (Titan Magazines) (13): 20. 
  35. ^ Knight, Season 4, p.120
  36. ^ http://www.buddytv.com/articles/supernatural/supernatural-episode-312-jus-i-16839.aspx
  37. ^ http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/supernatural/episode-12-season-3/192272
  38. ^ Charles, Tina (May 16, 2008). "Episode Recap of Season 3 Finale: "No Rest for the Wicked"". TV Guide. Archived from the original on August 23, 2010. Retrieved August 22, 2010. 
  39. ^ http://www.tvequals.com/2008/05/17/review-supernatural-no-rest-for-wicked/
  40. ^ http://www.tvequals.com/2009/04/03/supernatural-the-monster-at-the-end-of-this-book-review/
  41. ^ http://www.buddytv.com/articles/supernatural/supernatural-casts-a-powerful-23757.aspx
  42. ^ Williams, Don (September 1, 2008). "Top 10 'Supernatural' Episodes of All Time: #10 "No Rest for the Wicked"". BuddyTV. Archived from the original on August 23, 2010. Retrieved August 22, 2010. 
  43. ^ Peterson, Karla (May 16, 2008). "Supernatural: No Rest for the Wicked". San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on August 23, 2010. Retrieved August 22, 2010. 
  44. ^ Steenbergen, Diana (May 16, 2008). "Supernatural: "No Rest for the Wicked" Review". IGN. Archived from the original on August 23, 2010. Retrieved August 22, 2010. 
  45. ^ http://www.ign.com/articles/2008/10/24/supernatural-yellow-fever
  46. ^ Love, Brett. "Supernatural: No Rest For The Wicked (season finale)". TV Squad. Archived from the original on August 23, 2010. Retrieved August 22, 2010. 
  47. ^ http://www.buddytv.com/articles/supernatural/supernatural-fans-name-azazel-27831.aspx