I fell in love with Supernatural almost nine years ago, and discovered the incredible world of Supernatural fandom shortly thereafter. It was, if you’ll forgive the obviously intentional use of the word, a transformative experience. We started writing books about the Show and the fandom because we encountered so much shame surrounding what we knew was a wonderful and positive place – a place that, when discovered for the first time, felt like coming home. A place of understanding and acceptance and validation, where we could let our creativity flow unfettered, expressing what we really thought and felt. What we feared and fantasized about. Why, we wondered, was there then so much shame about being a fan – especially being a fangirl? Why was there so much wank, in the midst of so much acceptance and support?
That’s why we wrote Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls, and its academic book cousin Fandom at the Crossroads. To peel back that layer of shaming-from-the-outside as well as internalized shame coming from the inside. To tell the “real” story of being a fan – a Supernatural fan. To challenge all that shame (and the wank that happened as a result of it), we sought validation, even if we didn’t at first realize that’s what we were doing. We spoke to all kinds of fans about why they loved the Show and how they expressed their passion. Fanfiction writers and readers, fan artists, fan vidders, bloggers, enthusiastic readers and fans who just loved to watch the show. Then we spoke to the ‘other side’ – the people who made the Show we’d fallen for. Eric Kripe. Sera Gamble. Serge Ladouceur. Jensen, Jared, Misha, and every other actor willing to sit down with us and talk about how they felt about the Show and the fans and their place in this crazy wonderful little ‘family’.
What we heard again and again was not shaming and censure, but curiosity and appreciation and much more about commonalities than differences. While TPTB may not have liked our determination to tell the ‘real story of fandom’, the people we were actually talking to liked it just fine. So much so that they read our books and made us (okay, me) cry by asking me to autograph their copies. As the cast and crew got to know the fans, we watched as the relationship between the Show and its fans became increasingly reciprocal. We tried to ‘get’ them, and in return they tried to ‘get’ us. Fans kept the Show alive, again and again, and in return, the Show started finding ways to express its appreciation and affection (even as it simultaneously infuriated us and left us sobbing in pools of our own tears repeatedly…) We were on set when they were filming “Monster At The End of This Book,” and a PA casually commented that “This is all your fault, you know.” Meaning that one-way mirror was shattered already, if in fact it had ever really worked at all. “We see you,” Show was saying, “And we appreciate you.”
The 200th episode of Supernatural carried the same message, but this time it was shouted from the rooftops and broadcast from every mountaintop. We see you, in all your infinite diversity and variety, with all your amazing and shocking and inspiring creativity. In all your boundless loyalty, in the depth and breadth of your passion for this Show that we’ve created. We may not all be the same – the script that we write and the words that we say and the direction that we perform may not be the same as the story you hear, or the story you tell – but both interpretations are important. You do you, and we’ll be behind you all the way, cheering.
This, then, is my interpretation of ‘Fan Fiction’. Your mileage may vary.
The episode literally left me speechless for a long time, capable only of capslocked inarticulate exclamations of squee and sobbing that required almost all of the 200 boxes of tissues that writer Robbie Thompson warned me I would need (okay, that might be an exaggeration, but seriously, the floor was a mess}. I laughed, I cried, I jumped around a lot. Because this episode was all about what we’ve been writing about for the past nine years. It was billed as a “love letter to the fans” and that’s exactly what it was – and exactly what Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls is as well.
I had drinks with Robbie and most of the other Supernatural writers last year during the Burbank convention. Robbie had read our books, and we spent a lot of time talking about some of the themes in our books. About canon and fanon (there’s a handy dandy glossary of fannish terms in Fangasm, fyi) and interpretation. About passion and fannish support, and shame and fannish infighting. It’s no surprise, then, that I loved what the episode had to say about some of those same themes. What was surprising is just how powerfully Thompson managed to say it.
So, this is not really a review. Usually I start an episode review with what didn’t quite work for me, but honestly, I have nothing to say. This episode worked for me on a level I’ve never encountered before with any television show, and probably never will again. So instead of nitpicking, here’s what I loved. Beware, the list is long.
There are a million little gems throughout the episode, including comments on the real life popularity of the Show itself – “It’s not like the Supernatural books are tearing up the New YorkTimes bestseller list,” Dean reminds Sam. There’s a dig at authors inserting themselves into the narrative (haha) and a dig at the meta episodes themselves. There’s the Winchesters staying in Room 200 of the Route 200 Motel. But let’s start at the beginning.
The entire THEN consisted of an homage to Kripke, taking us all the way back to the beginning and setting the stage for everything that comes next. This was especially poignant to me after just seeing Eric in the videos at the 200th Episode Parties, laughing and smiling and hugging the boys and beaming with pride as everyone celebrated this special little Show that he created so long ago.
From the typewritten page, the curtain opens to frame the story within the story, the Winchesters’ life spooling out onstage. In song, no less. I think I sat there gaping, even though I knew that “There’s no singing on Supernatural” was not how the night was going to go. The music, from that first song, was utterly incredible. Kudos, Jay Gruska and Christopher Lennertz and Robbie Thompson. I can’t be the only one who has those songs stuck in my head. I think I might have started humming “The Road So Far” during our faculty meeting today. Oops. And I’ve already decided that this is my new Rocky Horror Picture Show. Another 50 viewings and I’ll be able to recite every word.
Not even five minutes in, Thompson starts checking off all the things that are important to fans and makes sure they’re included in the episode. “Where’s the Samulet?” Marie asks, aghast, and I gasped louder than she did. Not only have we been clamoring for the return of the amulet for literally years, but Thompson calls it by its fannish name, an insider reference that made me warm all over. Marie speaks for me when she identifies it as “the symbol of the Winchesters’ brotherly love.”
It may seem like a small thing, but there’s power in language, and in who uses it. When canon takes up fannish language and wields it deftly, both accurately and respectfully, that is tremendously validating. Yes, Show is saying, we know how you feel. We get it.
Already at this point I felt like Show was carrying out a sort of therapy session, one that would wring all sorts of genuine emotion from me, but would also (hopefully) leave me feeling validated and okay with being me. That’s what I hope for when I’m the therapist, and I felt like Thompson was turning the tables on me. It’s a scary, vulnerable feeling – but the payoff is potentially worth it.
There were so many little things that Thompson got right – moments that fans recognize as important that the casual viewer wouldn’t. At the very start of the play, Marie (the awesome Katie Sarife) shoves one of her actors, overcome by the intensity of her emotions about the characters, and we remember Dean shoving Sam in the same way in the pilot, grabbing him by the front of his jacket, overcome by emotion. Oh yes, I think, here we go. I’m so with you.
And there are all sorts of insider jokes. The actress who’s playing Dean has fanfiction blonde hair (and did that actress also have fanfiction emerald eyes??). And speaking of the actresses, they were amazing! Katie Sarife and Joy Regullano as Marie and Maeve were incredible – they captured the smarts and the sass, the passion and the emotional depth of the fangirls they portrayed. It’s always a risk to create a character out of a show’s fans (see Becky in Season Seven Time for a Wedding), but in this episode, Thompson struck all the right chords. The young women are portrayed as smart and capable and brave, instead of condescended to. They burst into laughter when Sam and Dean claim that they’re actually Sam and Dean, acknoweldging the boundary between real and not real and making it clear they’re far from the stereotype of the ‘delusional fangirl’.
Some of the messages in the episode were subtle, and up for interpretation. (See what I did there?) But let me take a stab at it, and offer my own interpretation. That is, after all, the message of ‘Fan Fiction.’ You do you. I’ll do me.
The borderline alcoholic teacher who rejects the fans’ interpretation as unrealistic uses the problematic word “skanks” to describe the young women, for example. This can be read as an acknowledgement of the words that the Show has used in the past that fandom has taken to task – putting that word in the mouth of someone who we don’t identify with or respect comments on its problematic nature.
“Where’s the truth in Supernatural?” the teacher laments, but we as fans can answer that easily. She – perhaps the personification of the often-clueless Powers That Be or the equally clueless ‘rest of the world’ – misses the important truths in the Show, but the fans don’t. Not the ones on the screen putting on a play or the ones at home all over the world watching.
The truth in Supernatural is so much more than the things that go bump in the night. The truth in Supernatural is about the way in which this Show has brought people together, on both sides of the creative fence. The fans who will tell you that Supernatural helped them get sober, or conquer agoraphobia, or dare to start a new profession, or reconnect with their sibling – or literally saved their lives. The cast and crew who will tell you that being on this Show changed not just their career trajectories but made them best friends or changed their points of view – or literally saved their lives. Just ask Rob Benedict. That’s what Fan Phenomena: Supernatural is all about, with chapters by fans and academics and by Misha Collins and Richard Speight and Serge Ladouceur. We know what the truth in Supernatural is, and it’s not about vampires and werewolves and ghosts. The rest of the episode continues to answer that question, exploring the truth in Supernatural. And it does so in the most entertaining and amusing and moving way possible.
Okay, moving on. The title card montage! Kudos to editor Nicole Baer for compiling them so perfectly. I literally screamed, it was so perfect. And then, before I’d even recovered from that perfection, suddenly I was treated to visually stunning Impala porn, as the camera lovingly cruised along a sleek and gleaming Baby while the song lyrics “I can see her lying back in her satin dress” crooned in the background. And then, holy hell, there was Dean Winchester – in single layers!!! (A nod, of course, to the constant complaint of Winchesters wrapped in multiple layers of clothing).
Kim Rhodes (live tweeting): sorry, I’m out. I’m rewinding @JensenAckles take over and over and over and over and over.
Tumblr: That moment when we are all Kim Rhodes.
I mean, we got perky nipples, people. Sam and Dean perky nipples. And bowlegs. Just saying.
And the emotional beats just kept on hitting. No sooner did I start to recover from single layers and Impala porn then we got a shot of the Winchesters tossing their shotguns in the trunk and closing it with the iconic refrain “We got work to do.” Oh, my heart.
It’s not just that the scene intentionally recalls the two other pivotal scenes when Sam or Dean stood in that same position and said that same thing. It’s also that the phrase has been adopted by the fandom and expanded in meaning. One of the fan-penned essays in Fan Phenomena Supernatural explores how fans have taken that saying and used it as a rallying cry to make change in the world; Misha Collins, in his chapter of Fan Phenomena, writes about how he became aware of the power of fandom and its tremendous potential to help others. Including it here made me reach for the tissues and smile simultaneously, which probably looked a little weird.
Sam immediately identifies more with the “theater kids” than Dean, and who doesn’t love the thought of Sam as a techie geek in high school? Mmm. Hot. And then the Winchesters are confronted for the first time with what’s really going on – their lives, as written by Chuck, being acted out on a high school stage by the theater group of a girls’ school. The looks on their faces as they realize? Priceless.
Immediately the theme of the episode starts to become clear, as Dean bristles, “There’s no singing in Supernatural” and Maeve counters that “This is Marie’s interpretation.”
Oh, I think, and start smiling like a fool. Here we go!
Later the girls respond to Dean’s complaint that some of what is in the play didn’t happen in the books.
“Well, not canonically no, but this is transformative fiction.”
“You mean fan fiction,” Dean corrects, and the girls agree. “It’s inspired by canon….with a few embellishments”. A pretty good description of fanfic, don’t you think? Oh, embellishments. Love me some embellishments…
Marie alludes to one of the reasons why fans write fanfiction or make fanart or fanvids – to “fix” canon in some way. “Dean was with Lisa, Sam was back from hell, but not with Dean…” she explains, as though it’s obvious why some fix-it fic was needed. There are eventually robots (a Thompson favorite, canon or no) and then…. Dean becomes a woman.
I might have fallen over laughing at that point. Not only was Ackles’ face priceless, but I was joyous over the recognition of how fandom often plays with and subverts gender norms. It’s one of the things I love about fandom and the creativity of fannish writers and artists – how it makes you question your own expectations and roles and values, and opens your eyes to new ways of seeing the world. I love seeing that reflected here.
When Dean tries to assert the priority of canon by reciting what really happened to the Winchesters over the past four seasons (which apparently Ackles did in one fabulous single take!), Marie laughs at him, calling the story “some of the worst fanfiction I’ve ever heard.”
There’s a comment here on the drunk teacher’s contention that there’s no truth in Supernatural, that it isn’t “real”. Here it’s canon – the fictional reality – that is called into question as unrealistic. Not the girls’ fanfiction. I also saw this as a push back against one of the ways in which fandom and fanfiction is shamed – oh, that’s so unrealistic. Oh, you’re caught up in fantasy. Grow up. Live in the real world.
“A bunch of adults told me I have an over active imagination,” Marie laments later. All those admonitions ignore the healthy, appropriate role of fantasy in dealing with life and in expressing creative impulses. It enriches us, makes us better. It’s important, not frivolous.
“I’ll send you some fic links later,” Marie promises. I’m reminded of the first time Kathy and I interviewed Eric Kripke for Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls. We spent a fair amount of time talking about fandom and fanfiction, and Eric eventually figured out that there was some in which he appeared. There followed heartfelt requests for us to send him some.
Kripke: “Is it porn? OMG you have to send that to me!”
There were so many laugh-out-loud moments in the midst of all the feels – like Dean’s incredulous reaction to the “BM scene” – “bowel movement?”
Boy melodrama isn’t a term I’ve actually heard in fandom, so I thought it stood for “brother moment” at first, but I like it regardless. (Apparently that came from Thompson’s real life confusion when the other writers kept referring to BM scenes…) And Marie’s description invests the ‘BM’ with all the emotion that fandom feels for those important scenes.
“The two of them, alone but together,” she says, and I’m nodding vehemently.
“Why are they standing so close together?” Dean asks, though he clearly already knows the answer, having encountered the fandom before through Becky.
“Reasons,” Marie explains. Which, in fannish parlance, means a lot more than that.
“They do know we’re brothers, right?” Dean persists.
“Well, duh,” Marie answers, “But, subtext.”
Subtext indeed. At this point, I was grinning so widely that it was starting to hurt.
Dean admonishes them to “take a sub step back, ladies” – but, importantly, this attitude will change by the end of the episode.
So, shout out to Wincest? Check. There is no other Show as gutsy as this one. I’m like a proud mum sometimes, I swear.
Next Dean notices the girl playing Dean and the girl playing Cas hugging and holding hands.
“Is that in the show?” he asks.
Marie: “No, they’re a couple in real life. Though we do explore the nature of Destiel in Act 2.”
Shout out to Destiel? Check.
Ackles breaks the fourth wall here (which wasn’t scripted) to look pointedly at the camera and to the fans. I see you. I know what you’re doing.
At this point Dean’s not exactly on board – but this too will change.
Quite a few fans tweeted Thompson to thank him for the recognition of queer fans in canon. Here a “real life” queer couple portray Dean and Cas, just as couple Demian and Barnes portrayed Sam and Dean in ‘the Real Ghostbusters,’ in recognition of both slash ships. One of my favorite scenes in the episode follows, as Sam teases Dean.
“Shouldn’t it be Dee-stiel?” he asks, as Dean tries to shut him up. This little exchange made me choke on my pie, because the correct pronunciation was one of the topics of conversation at that discussion over drinks with the writers last year.
“How about Sastiel?” Sam persists, and I may have yelled “Sassy!” at my television – Sastiel is indeed the correct ship name, but Sassy is fandom’s nickname for that particular pairing. Sam suggesting his own ship – and Jared saying the lines with such good humor – was mind-boggling.
Of course this wouldn’t be Supernatural if something wasn’t scary, and the scarecrow definitely filled that slot. I don’t like scarecrows as it is, and this one? SCARY. Even that lame prop made me uneasy – I agreed with Marie.
The scarecrow is introduced after the shout outs to various fandom subgroups, and what happens next returns to a commentary on real life.
Marie argues with another girl who takes issue with her interpretation of the story.
Maggie: “If it’s not canon, it shouldn’t be in the show!”
The two fans argue and it gets heated, with Maggie storming off and threatening to flounce. Um, I mean to shut the production down. The parallel with real world fandom wank was striking – fan policing for all sorts of perceived infractions (often amounting to some version of ‘you’re doing fandom wrong’) occurs far too often. We wrote about it in Fandom At The Crossroads and Fangasm, and every time it rears its ugly head, it’s upsetting. In ‘Fan Fiction’, attempts to shut down fannish creativity aren’t very successful – in fact, they have dire consequences. Yay, fannish creativity!
By the time we’re into the last act, the Winchesters – even Dean – have changed their tune. Dean gives the fangirls the pep talk himself, telling them that “the Show must go on” and assuring them that it’s not dumb.
Marie: I thought you didn’t believe in this interpretation.
Dean: I don’t. Not at all. But you do. And I need you to believe in it with all you’ve got.
Marie believes him, and takes inspiration from her favorite fictional characters, the way so many of us do.
Marie: If Sam and Dean were real, they wouldn’t back down from a fight.
No, they wouldn’t. It’s one of the things we love about them.
Then Dean rallies the rest of the fangirl troops, assuring them that their interpretation of Supernatural is just as valid as his (ie, canon), or anyone else’s.
Dean: I know I’ve expressed some differences of opinion, but this is Marie’s Supernatural. I want you to stand as close as she wants you to (nod to Wincest). You put as much sub into that text as you can (nod to Destiel). You get out there and kick it in the ass! (nod to canon and real life and the Show’s history that we all share, referencing beloved Kim Manners).
He even fixes fangirl Castiel’s tie, turning it backwards in a fond gesture toward the ‘real’ Cas.
Maeve: It’s showtime.
Marie: Everybody just sit back, relax, and enjoy the Show.
(And wouldn’t it be nice if we could always watch Show that way? Lol)
Of course it’s not that easy, not in the episode or in real real life. Calliope nabs Sam and tosses Dean around on the stage like a (very attractive) ragdoll as the girls carry on and keep going. Calliope gets some of the best lines of the night, complaining about how far from canon the show has gone.
Calliope: There’s robots in space. And tentacles. I can’t even.
I burst into laughter at that, both because of the inside references to certain fan favorites and the Tumblrspeak of “I can’t even.”
She also gives the best description of Show ever.
“Supernatural has everything. Life, death. Resurrection, redemption. But above all, family. It isn’t some meandering piece of genre drek. It’s epic.”
Now that’s a smart MOtW!
The play itself is a masterpiece within a masterpiece. “On the Road So Far” is still stuck in my head 24 hours later, along with Castiel’s touching ballad “I’ll Just Wait Here Then”. And when ‘Sammy’ starts singing ‘A Single Man Tear’ I might have needed to grab the tissues myself. “I wish he could see the way I see him,” she sings, and the real Dean [you know what I mean…] listens, perhaps learning something about how his brother feels about him.
Btw, a single man tear isn’t how I’ve heard it referred to in fandom – instead, it’s the OPT (One Perfect Tear, TM), perfected by none other than Jensen Ackles. Perhaps the fact that OPT was already fake-trademarked discouraged Thompson from using it.
In the end, the fandom comes together to defeat the outside forces of repression and evil. Maggie comes through and whacks Calliope with a book and Sam saves the day by stabbing her. At the same time, Marie (as Sam) does the same to the Scarecrow, yelling out “No chick flick moments!” as she attacks.
The blue goo that rained down on the audience when the Scarecrow exploded left them staring open-mouthed, and me rolling on the floor with laughter. And oh, the guy who was smart enough to put on the poncho helpfully left under his chair? I want to see more of that guy.
“Take a bow, Sammy,” Dean says to Marie, and she does. It’s another acknowledgement, an indication of Dean’s respect.
Also, Dean’s awkward onstage bow that was an Ackles adlib? I can’t watch it without laughing.
After the curtain closes, Dean sums up the episode’s message.
Dean: This has been educational, seeing the story from your perspective. Keep writing, Shakespeare.
Marie: Even if it doesn’t match yours?
Dean: I have my version, you have yours.
There’s canon and there’s fanon, and then there’s my fanon and your fanon. There are shippers of every possible persuasion and there are non-shippers. And you know what? That’s okay.
I thought we were at the end and I could finally stop being emotionally overloaded, but no. Marie (Sam in the play) gives Dean the prop Samulet, telling him he should never have thrown it away. Dean protests that it didn’t work, and besides, he doesn’t need anything to remind him how he feels about his brother.
Marie: Just take it, jerk.
Dean: (automatically) Bitch.
There’s a moment there where he pauses, as she cocks her eyebrows at him to say, did you really just call a woman a bitch? Dean’s awkward fumbling look tells us that’s not what he intended – something discussed in fandom quite often. Then there’s a moment of understanding, and Dean steps away as the closing act of the play begins.
“We need to get back on the road, Dean,” says fake Sam, as the actors climb into the car.
Sam’s trying to tell Dean the same thing, but Dean shushes him. “Listen, Sam.”
Fake!Sam: “Just the two of us, against the world.”
The fake Winchesters exchange a meaningful look, full of affection.
Sam to Dean: “What she said.”
And then the most hauntingly beautiful rendition of Carry On Wayward Son begins, as the important characters take the stage and sing along (including Adam, usually forgotten in canon but always remembered by fandom).
Dean and Sam watch and listen, their eyes watering. (At least I think their eyes were watering – mine were overflowing at that point).
It could have been Dean and Sam hearing that empathic perspective on their own lives. Or it could have been Jared and Jensen, thinking about the past ten years and what the support of their fans has brought them. Either way, I sobbed – Jensen, Jared and Misha all tweeted that they did the same.
And then we get a ‘BM’ moment for real. As the boys drive off, Dean reaches into his pocket and pulls out the prop Samulet. He looks at it, then hangs it on the mirror. There are no words exchanged between the brothers, because they aren’t necessary. Sam looks at Dean; Dean looks at Sam. With that simple gesture, Dean tells Sam all the things he can’t say out loud. I’m sorry. I’m glad you’re here beside me. We’re home.
And I realize that the fans have given that to them – with their love and support and passion, they’ve given their beloved characters that symbol of their brotherly bond. The thing that was missing is restored, and how fitting that it was the fans who helped them realize its importance. Their importance to each other.
The traditional ending of the first few seasons of the Show was the Impala driving off into the sunset, and that’s how the scene ends. I wipe the tears from my cheeks and blow my nose.
And then we’re back at the play. The publisher that Marie invited has shown up, and she’s ecstatic.
“Go fangirl!” says Maeve, which is pretty much the theme of the entire episode.
Marie runs up the aisle, excitedly asking the publisher “What did you think?”
And then we see who it is. It’s Chuck, of course it is. Symbolically, it’s Kripke himself, Supernatural’s version of God. And what does the creator think of the fannish creation?
“Not bad,” he smiles.
The creator of canon blesses the interpretation — the fanfiction, and the fans.
The entire Supernatural fandom at that moment: OH MY CHUCK!
What an amazing episode. I don’t think I’ll ever see anything like it again. And while I was caught up in the fourth wall shattering messages to fans, I almost missed the plot progression that was going on right under my nose. The Winchesters learned from this. Learned from the fans. They gained a new perspective on their life and their relationship. The fans helped them re-discover what’s important to them – saving people, hunting things. And each other.
Are there any more tissues?
As the episode progressed, Sam and Dean began to behave differently. The brothers are bantering, teasing each other again – acting like brothers.
“Say it again, Sam,” Dean wheedles. “Say it like Arnold – it’s not a Tulpa!”
I have no doubt we’ll be hearing “Jerk” and “Bitch” the way we’re really supposed to very soon. Sam and Dean feel like Sam and Dean again. They’re back on the road, together.
And the reciprocal relationship that we wrote so much about in Fangasm? Alive and well. Jensen, Jared, Misha and a dozen other actors live tweeted the episode – including William Shatner!
Katie Sarife: I like the Sam and Dean subtext. Yea? 😉 @jarpad @JensenAckles
Misha: I feel like I’m in a Transformative media graduate seminar. This canonical diatribe is a lot to chew on.
Me: You can take my class any time, Mr. Collins.
Alaina Huffman: #winscest did I spell that right?
Osric Chau: This episode is so mesmerizing. It’s like Robbie Thompson dipped himself in a pool of fandom before writing it.
Me: Truth. Or he re-read Fangasm.
Jake Abel: #Adam #stillinhell
Ryan Curtis: I like what Dean says here. You do you.
Also I think Jensen slashed Rufus and Bobby and flirted with Misha over subtext. Or something.
All the actors thanked the fans profusely, both on twitter and at the 200th episode parties thrown by the studio. Jensen left a heartfelt message for the fans on his facebook page: I want to give a sincere and special thanks to all of those who helped “Supernatural” reach 200 episodes. Your love, support, and contribution (however big or small) to this show has been inspirational to a magnitude I could have only dreamed of. I am deeply thankful.
I don’t think any other Show has taken the time to get to know its fans the way Supernatural has – to not just say we see you, but we value you. We appreciate you.
Writer Robert Berens noticed something I hadn’t – no one died in this episode, other than the MOtW. That’s the first time that’s happened in a long time. And that, says Berens, is no coincidence.
Robert Berens: This was a celebration of the show and its fans, and the brief respite from onscreen (human!) bloodshed is a metaphor for the episode itself as an occasion for peace and celebration across the fandom(s) itself.
You know what? That’s pretty much what Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls is all about too.
I’m headed to Burbank Con tomorrow morning at an ungodly hour. Come find me in the vendor’s room and grab a copy of Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls or Fan Phenomena Supernatural for yourself and celebrate this Show that’s like no other.
To check out our books, click the links at
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39 thoughts on “Now That’s How You Do a 200th Episode! Supernatural’s Fan Fiction”
I’ll leave a comment when I finish crying – again! lol! I always watch for your reviews after Tuesday nights, and I always enjoy the read. You see us. You get us. Thank you. 😉
This. All of this. You have hit everything in this episode that made it so great. Just when I think I couldn’t love this show or this family any more, it sneaks up and surprises me. The love that is shared between cast, crew, and fans is amazing. I’m so glad to be part of the SPNFamily.
Yes, yes yes! All the feels! I’m in awe of how you can compose such a coherent post while probably still dancing around the living room.
I think the reason why it’s “A Single Man Tear” instead of the OPT is because if we look at it from Marie’s reality of Supernatural being a book “A Single Man Tear” actually describes Dean’s crying better than One Perfect Tear. OPT is something we as fans and the cast and crew have ascribed to Jensen’s crying upon actually seeing it, whereas A Single Man Tear is something you could imagine Chuck actually writing or alluding to in trying to describe how Dean cries while still maintaining what is a traditional interpretation of masculinity. OPT fits because we’ve actually seen it. Single Man Tear works because it’s something Chuck had to suggest with words.
I have no real explanation for the choice of “boy melodrama” over what even Charlie called the “broment”.
Well, that was… something. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fun ride. I felt the disturbance in the Force caused by a million fangirls squeeing simultaneously. And the good outweighed the bad by a lot. But honestly, if it wasn’t for the hype around it being the 200th episode, for me this it would’ve been such a weird stretch of an episode I’m not sure how I would’ve ranked it. But then again I’m not one of those fans clamoring for a musical. It was an interesting enough idea to bring in a muse. (So… does this mean that creativity is going to suffer now for… forever, I guess? I’d have a better way of phrasing that but, you know, dead muse.)
I like weird, and this was fun, but something felt off. Even after I realized what bothered me, the good certainly outweighed the bad. And any ill will I had toward the episode melted away with the following exchange:
“Who’s that guy?”
“John Winchester’s other son. He’s still in Hell.”
[Brothers pull awkward faces]
The way it allowed the actors to bring in quotable lines years later and reference fan favorites was brilliant. But the high school aspect was really difficult to overcome. While the cast of musical performers was fantastic and incredibly talented, their youth was a little disturbing for me.
In fact my biggest – honestly, what’s really my only – problem with the entire thing was that it was set in a high school. I (along with I’m guessing a majority of fandom) guessed right that it was going to be a musical adaptation of one or more of Chuck’s books. That part makes sense. But I was hoping for off-Broadway (way the hell off Broadway) or something in LA like the theater that staged Point Break as a play. That would at least be adults. But by making it a high school show it felt like the producers were patting fans on the head and saying, “There, there children. See what we did for you?” Granted some of that might be my internalized fan-shame looking for the mockery, but something about making the writer/director/producer/star/fan someone without any real life experience or, for lack of a better term, ‘anything better to do,’ makes it feel a little patronizing.
But, as I said, I still have issues with the shame of being really into a TV show instead of something important like saving whales or killing weeds.
Now that said, there was a whole lot of awesome. Let’s focus on that.
The title card! OMG the title card. You know you nerd hard for something when a title card montage makes you grin ear to ear.
As Lynn stated, the reference to the Samulet by that name and the brothers’ look of confusion at that was endearing. Dean’s earnest, “I don’t need an amulet to remind of how much I care about my brother.” should put that whole how-could-you-throw-that-away thing to rest. It probably won’t, but that was the perfect line to address that. The last minute addition of the fake samulet to the mirror while Sam watched was appropriately moving.
That was a nice touch. I almost got misty, and I’m not a get misty kinda gal.
A tribute to the Single Man Tear was long overdue.
And “I’ll just wait here” simply cannot be overused.
The seasons 6-9 recap was amazing. Are we now up to 4 references to “Sam hit a dog” for the start of season 8? For whatever reason, I’m kind of loving that. That’s going to come down to one of two things: a running joke saying “Yep, that plot was weak” or it will somehow lead into something this season. Is it too much to hope that Amelia will be revealed as a member of a powerful coven? That would explain away so much.
I couldn’t stop laughing at the perfect phrase “Robots. In space. And tentacles…” It was a great bookend to the ‘good fanfiction’ angle of the samulet and casefic. It’s also just fun to say, and it could be used as shorthand for “and then it fell to crap in every way possible.” Such as, “Hey Susie how was work today?” “The first meeting was good, but by the end of the second one… robots. In space. And tentacles.”
Not to get too caught up in the excitement, but I’m sure lots of people can think of a scene they wish was included. (Many of those people are probably writing their fan fiction right now.) But I absolutely would have loved seeing the following:
[The Brothers watch as ‘Sam’ and ‘Ruby’ stand by a car. ‘Sam’ is freaking out after listening to something on his phone. JaredSam starts to look like he’s going to cry and/or throw up. Dean stares at the scene confused.] Dean: What’s Sam doing? Marie: He’s listening to the voicemail Zachariah altered. Sam and Dean: It was altered?
The ending, well, if the reference to Adam in Hell wasn’t enough, the ending was exactly right. Not since poor Kevin died have I yelled at the screen. But this time instead of my chant of “no nononononono…” I was gasping, “C’mon be Chuck! Bechuckbechuckbechuckbechuck!!!!!” Hooray for Chuck! Glad you’re back you possible deity, you.
All in all, the episode was a nice stand alone that looks like it will jump start the rest of the season. The brothers back on track, back on the road, and ready to carry on.
I don’t have words for this episode. I laughed, I cried, I screamed, i was wrung out at the end. It’s so rare to experience that. Thanks to you and reading your book, I let the emotions flow. I didn’t try to hold anything back. I’m not ashamed to be a fan girl. Carry on my fan girls.
Me neither. I’m proud to be part of this fandom and doesn’t bug me at all being portrayed as a high school theater girl -which I actually once was-. I guess that’s a perk of having left my teenage years behind so long ago. Barely anything bugs me anymore =D. I enjoyed this episode from the beginning to the end, just like you, I laughed, I cried and I fell in love with Sam and Dean one more time. Mesmerized. That’s the first word that came to my mouth when I had to describe how this episode had left me feeling.
All I can say is that for me this episode was PERFECT. I think it’s pushed The French Mistake out of the number one spot – for my personal favourites – and I’m going to re-watch it again right now.
I didn’t think it was humanly possible for me to love this little show anymore than I already did, but, honestly, I do. And it’s because of what you said: “I don’t think any other Show has taken the time to get to know its fans the way Supernatural has – to not just say we see you, but we value you. We appreciate you.”
The Supernatural cast, crew & writers are the BEST… as are the fans 😉
Thanks for putting into words so much of what I was thinking 🙂
Hi! I agree with you! This episode beat out The French Mistake in my book too. And I love The French Mistake! The 200th got me thinking that what makes The French Mistake so good is how clever it is. This episode is also clever but what it really does is take us all to a new level of love.
A new level of love. I like the sound of that.
Reblogged this on jaiwhirl.
I need to write about this episode and about what it is for me, I hope you don’t mind if I will be long. And I hope I can make myself clear enough, because I’m Italian, English is not my mother language, and it’s difficult for me to get the right words to explain myself.
I don’t think that exists such thing as “the Truth”, not even in real life. Everyone has its own truth, and I find this really inspiring and challenging. One of my favorite quotes comes from Philip Roth’s novel The Counter Life, and says “The kind of stories that people turn life into, the kind of lives that people turn stories into”. This is, for me, what a good novel, movie or tv-show is: a place which tells a good story and in doing this allows me to imagine my own.
I’ve seen exactly this in Fan Fiction: the entire crew of Supernatural acknowledging that there is their story and our stories, and that it is theirs that makes ours possible.
Jensen and Jared acting in this episode is soft and on tiptoes, almost whispered: they talk with glances more than ever. I’ve seen them as proud parents that watch their kids (the musical and the girls playing it, but also the whole show) growing up and take their own road. A road quite different from the one that they have imagined for them, but who cares, if this is the one which suits their kids, which makes them happy? And maybe this is “the Truth”: we all have our own truth and understanding this, acknowledging the differences, is what makes life interesting and challenging.
I like to think that we love the characters this show and these actors have created, so much, that we’ve made them our own. We’ve created new stories and new adventures for them because we can’t get enough of them. We need to continue to watch them and imagine them beyond the one day a week we get to see them on screen. We take them along with us wherever we go and they’ve become a part of our lives, just as we’ve put something of ourselves into them.
Beautifully done article. However, I would like to point out one more tiny detail that will have you in tears all over again. The finale song was not sung by the “important” characters but by the family members Sam and Dean have lost beginning with Mary, then John, then Adam and finally Bobby. Add on top of that the words to the song. “Carry on my wayward son … there’ll be peace when you are done [dead].” A small but heartbreaking detail beautifully executed by RobbieT.
Oh yes, the altered voicemail, and also Ellen and Jo. Their inclusion would have made it even more perfect. But it was nearly perfect, and I laughed with delight all the way through it. It was charming and lovely and terrific to the very last moment.
Expectations were so ratcheted up for this ep it was going to be equally challenging to meet those lofty levels and/or satisfy the fan base. I just got done watching this for probably the tenth time now and will admit my initial slight disappointment has morphed over viewings into appreciative approval. There were indeed a bunch of love letters signed sealed and delivered to the fandom throughout as you noted and they are greatly appreciated. The setting of the show, a musical as the centerpiece, was a bit jarring to me initially. After repeated viewings I’ve come to appreciate what they set out to accomplish and within the environment created they did do a solid job. It’s so hard to say what an ideal milestone episode of this show would be for me. I will say this. They took a big swing…outside-the-box…and I admire the fact they had the courage to do so. My favorite moment was Chuck’s approval. I’m now, over time, inclined to agree.
This. Show. The whole hour felt like a big hug and a few pokes from our Show. And you as always helped me notice a few things I may have missed as I wiped my eyes and looked for tissues! Thanks for bringing a voice to our Fandom and Family. As a “theatre geek” myself (BA and MA in Theatre), having an episode like this added extra squee to my night. Even the scoring of the songs was totally Broadway sound and I loved it!! And yep, I’ve already got “Road So Far” memorized and humming on repeat!!
Thank you for all you do, thank you Show for all they give and thank you Fandom for all the great reads, acceptance and fun I’ve experienced over these past 10 years!! ♥ ♥
I can’t stop crying! The 200th was so full of love all around. I agree that there might not ever to be another tv experience like this. Certainly the SPN story is epic, like Calliope articulates. I expected the episode to celebrate 10 years of incredible storytelling. But what I hadn’t anticipated (I didn’t read any spoilers) was that the writers would engage so deeply in fandom. The Show decided to represent this groundbreaking achievement with plenty of commentary on the epic nature of SPN but more so about the epic and probably unparalleled relationship between fans and show. It was so celebratory and respectful of fan creativity—a canon-marking affirmation that SPN is ultimately about the entire family. The Castiel song and the final rendition of Carry On were hauntingly beautiful. I cried to see that Sam and Dean were also so deeply moved by the song.
I agree that the guy with the poncho was a laugh out loud. But did you also notice that there were repeated shots of the audience’s reaction? What I really liked about this was that the audience isn’t grouped in with rest-of-the-world characters, the two who make snide remarks about the production, about fannish love being strange, or about how they don’t “get” the story. Instead, it was heart tugging to see that the audience is transfixed as they watch the story for the first time. I think it reinforces the masterpiece interpretation of fans, and credits fanwork with bringing the love in a way that can be mesmerizing to new viewers.
I wholeheartedly agree with the inclusion of the audience! It was a wonderful nod to the variety of viewers: snarky types, proud parents, emotional watchers, etc. Very clever, Show.
Did anyone tweet/talk about about the audience? We’re those all extras or did they round up crew members and family members? I think either would’ve been fitting choices.
“It may seem like a small thing, but there’s power in language, and in who uses it.” – YES! This is where Robbie did such a brilliant job, inserting US – the fans – into this episode. Using “our” language gives us an ownership and “insider-ness”. According to Albus Dumbledore (movie version), “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it. ” – We have seen the injury and remedy words can do in the fandom – but Robbie showed the magic of words – through the power of language in “Fan Fiction”. He paid attention and crafted an episode that was true to the show, true to the fans, and true to what we all mean by #SPNFamily.
And, I may have had the “Supernatural Musical” album playing softly in the background while I did my advising sessions yesterday :). I love academic life.
Thank you – you always do a great job.
First comment after months of following your blog (I stumbled onto Show 2 years back and now have caught up, was looking for a voice somewhere that could explain why it appealed so much to me – I don’t watch much TV – and knew I hit the jackpot when I found your site, the perfect mix of fan and reviewer – that’s a lot of sub-phrases sorry!)!
Did anyone catch Tara’s scream when Maeve was showing Sam the sounds in the tech room? I couldn’t identify the other two sounds.
Loved the episode. It managed to be sweet, scary and funny at the same time and I almost gave myself a seizure trying to follow the plot and catch all the throwbacks and references at the same time.
It became better – is that even possible?? – upon second viewing.
Also, thanks for your con reports and interviews! Attending a con will probably never happen for me – I live in Malaysia – but with your reports and the con videos on YouTube, I’ve managed to feel like I still fit in in the fandom! Keep up the good work!
It definitely became more charming after a second viewing. I really liked “production values” of the stage show exorcism effects, too. Watching someone else react to the “that’s Adam” and Chuck showing up also added a little something. Solidly entertaining, just not my absolute favorite.
Ever since the announcement that there would be a musical episode I’d been incredibly excited and it did not disappoint one bit. Why? Because it had everything I could have asked for and more! There was the Samulet, shipping, shout outs to numerous characters, a Monster of the Week, songs (and really good songs at that), love for the fans and most of all, there was an excellent message.
The Cast & Crew basically told us that it’s fine for us to interpret Supernatural in our own ways. They were telling us that they’re OK with fans shipping and writing fanfiction, if that’s what we’re in to. Some fans could learn from this. Respect your fellow fans and their interpretation of the show. We all see it differently and that’s fine. Thank you Supernatural for this.
With regards to the shipping topic… I personally don’t ship any of the characters in Supernatural, but I’m totally supportive of those who do. I loved that shippers got this… respect from the show. And Sam’s… um… enthusiasm(?) about shipping made me crack up with laughter.
As for the songs..The songs were amazing and really, really catchy. You are certainly not the only one that’s been singing ‘Road so Far’ all day. I cannot get this song out of my head. And you know what, I don’t care! They were truly wonderful, every single one! I actually wish we got to see the entire musical! 🙂 The ‘Carry on my Wayward Son’ cover was performed beautifully and definitely had me shedding tear (not that the others hadn’t already done that!) My thought on ‘Single Man Tear’, maybe ‘One Perfect Tear’ just didn’t sound right in the song so they changed it. Or… I guess, it’s called the OPT because Jensen just manages to produce this one tear – that’s a Jensen thing, not a Dean thing. For Dean it wouldn’t be a perfect tear because he’s usually trying not to cry, hence it’s a Man Tear.
It made me all warm and fuzzy inside that the Samulet was included in this episode.This may not be the original Samulet, but it is a version of it and just as symbolic. That scene at the end where Dean hangs the Samulet up on the mirror and then looks across at Sam. That’s when I lost all control of my tears and started bawling! It was a perfect scene and one of my favourites from the entire series. Then comes Chuck. Who I was kind of hoping to see, but wasn’t really expecting. Yeah, I cried then too.
All in all, this episode was… EPIC (to quote the guys on twitter). It really was a love letter to the fans! New favourite episode? Yeah, I think so! 🙂
Thanks to TPTB that randoms were represented lovingly! So much to enjoy with this episode (and thanks, as always, for the review/recap/feels). You know what I really appreciated? The nod to other randoms, as many of us are multiple fans. Marie in her Gryffindor colored robes? Principal Salazar in her green suit? Yeah, HP Fandom! The one woman Tatiana Maslany show? Shout out Orphan Black! “I want to believe” showing some X-files love!
My favorite moment was definitely Adam showing up. On long days at work I text a “still in hell” GIF to my family to let them know if I’ll be late. And JA breaking the 4th wall…I broke out laughing. New favorite episode for sure!
Haha…must be late. DAC got me…FANDOMS, not RANDOMS. Cause there’s nothing random about loving Supernatural. 🙂
Loved the episode! I thought the creative team did a nice job of tying things together from the past to the present and for some laugh out loud comedy. I have not laughed that much in I don’t know how long. The serious moments were great as well, very touching. Here’s my take on the BM (still laughing) moments, I think that from a HS girls perspective “boy melodrama” is probably a more likely term used by them than “bromance” or “brother moment” just a thought.
I loved the levity between Sam and Dean especially the commentary regarding “Destiel” vs. “Sastiel” I love that this show can push it’s own boundaries so much. The blend of serious monster hunt, comedy and heartfelt moments was really great.
I still marvel at how well written this show is. I started watching the show from day one and what keeps me watching 10 years later is the creative and intelligent writing, and of course the scenery (wink,wink) is pretty awesome too! The songs in this 200th episode were very well done and to the point and the rendition of “Carry On” at the end was magnificent!
I have said this before but it is very obvious to me that the writers, cast and crew of this show get along and respect each other off the set as well as on the set. It comes through with each episode and each season! I think with this episode, the writers, cast and crew did a great job of showing that love and respect back to the Fans. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings!!
It was better than I thought if you take the episode in the spirit it was made . I have not taken it anymore than that people are getting the brothers relationship they want and even got the amulet back all be it fake . The episode has not made any difference to my feelings towards the brothers relationship a nice 200th episode does not negate last season and the treatment of Sam for me.
But the episode was a genuine attempt to give the show a memorable 200th and there were some nice touches and the girls were a find so it was a nice episode .
Wow! Still haven’t managed to make a comment. I’ve rewatched every night since Tuesday and just can’t get enough of it. When I first heard they were doing a musical I just couldn’t wrap my head around that. How on earth were they gonna put up a Supernatural musical without breaking up with all what the show is supposed to be? Besides I’m not much of a musical fan myself, but I decided to trust them show runners once again, because I’ve always trusted them and they haven’t let me down so far. And they certainly didn’t. I am a non-teenage fan – like not at all ;o) – and I’m totally Ok with being portrayed as one, why? Because when it comes to SPN I am a teenager again. This show has taken me back to my younger years, made me enjoy what is simple and yet important about life. Makes me leave behind the seriousness of adult life responsibilities and laugh out loud, sob and cry and scream and squee and share all this wonderful journey with these characters I have come to care about so much, and with you guys. So yes, I am a fangirl! And proud of it! I don’t know if there will be a convention in my future, I’d love it, cause I follow you around to all of them and it looks amazing, but if there isn’t, it’s fine. I’m still part of it in here, from my little corner of the world and that’s what #SPNFamily means. Incredible job from the cast & crew, from the show AND from the play 😀 especially my beloved J&J. I still close my eyes and see Jensen’s eyes staring right at me… a couple more things just came to my mind but I gotta work, so I’ll come back later and say them, Ok?
Thank you so much for this lovely review of a lovely, amazing episode. I cried (and laughed, and flailed) while watching, and did the same all over again reading your words. Damn, how I love Show, and the people who make her, and the people who love her! There is *no* other show out there right now that does what Show does – acknowledges the fans, and lets them in, and treats them with respect.
Oh and! One (other) teeny detail – shout out to S.E. Hinton, who is a huge fan and friend of Show, with Maggie saying they ‘should have done The Outsiders’ – hope she got a kick out of that!
The more I think about it, the more I realize that the ending with Chuck doesn’t work with “adults.” They have to be younger and more, well, innocent, I suppose. It still irks me that they’re kids, which might speak as much to my absolute disdain for my high school as anything else. I’m going to end up watching this again tonight with someone who hasn’t seen it yet. I suspect I’ll appreciate the dialogue more knowing what to expect. Let’s see if I can over analyze some more tomorrow. 😉
It’s been a week now and I’m only just beginning to come down from the high of that episode. It was 5 am and it had taken ages to download (please don’t judge me – I’m in the UK and how else can I get to watch SPN?). Hubby was still in bed upstairs and I sat, alone, in the cold living room (the heating doesn’t come on until 7) and wept with joy all the way through. Even though it was only 6 degrees in the room, I was wrapped up in the great big warm cuddle that was the 200th ep which validated all the love I have for this show I always think that I’m too old to be a squeeing fangirl but at times like that, I really don’t care.
Right there with you. SPN doesn’t air in my country either -disgruntled- and there is NO way I am going to miss it, so what choice do we have?
And the two things I missed from my post. One: I love Cas. I really do. But I understand why he couldn’t be in this episode. At least not himself, cause he is in the play, but it needed to be a Sam and Dean thing. And two: I loved the songs. I haven’t been able to stop humming them around all day. Since I am a Dean girl, the one that gets most to me is A Single Man Tear, but I would have liked it even more if, instead of talking about being the man daddy wanted, Dean’s part talked more about Sam through Dean’s eyes. I don’t know if this is my all-time favorite episode. After 10 years, there are so many favorites to me, but it goes definitely to the top 10 of the ones that’ve touched my heart.
Worst episode ever. For me it does not exist. It was an episode for teenage fans of slash and not for normal fans of Supernatural. Something nasty.
All kidding aside, by men making the effort to make the first move it shows effort and interest.
Favor Hamilton began working for the Las Vegas escort service, Haley Heston’s Private Collection, in December 2011
under the alias “Kelly Lundy. Therefore, it cannot be what it is called, a “construction boss”.
Reading this review was almost as much fun as watching this *amazing* episode. I am excited to watch it again after reading your review. I was late to BtVS, and I am super late to Supernatural, but I am loving every episode as I catch up on all the fun. What a ride! I am careful about what I read online until I finish the series, but I look forward to much more reading soon. Thanks for your insights!