Are These Twenty Things Wrong with Sam and Dean?

 

There’s an article over on ScreenRant  provocatively titled “20 Things Wrong with Sam and Dean Everyone Chooses to Ignore” which has a lot of people talking today. I rarely weigh in on other people’s articles because everyone has a right to their own opinion when it comes to this fictional show and these fictional characters – your interpretation, my interpretation, YMMV. And considering its provocative title, the controversy is probably exactly what the author was going for. A number of people have weighed in in the comments and made some very good points, so I also don’t want to belabor those points, but I will admit that when I got to the No. 1 thing I started shaking my head so fast I nearly gave myself whiplash. Then a few people asked me to weigh in with my psychologist hat on, so I thought, why not. However, my fangirl hat is definitely on as well, so I look sort of funny right now balancing two hats at once.

Anyway, let’s touch on these one at a time. I don’t disagree with everything in the article, but I do have a different viewpoint on some of the assertions.

20. They always come back to life. More a criticism of the writers than Sam and Dean, who even if they were real and had any agency, most likely wouldn’t be the ones to blame for this. Yes, it dilutes the emotional power of death scenes somewhat, but it also keeps a show on the air for 14 seasons. (Also I still sobbed like a baby when Sam died in the tunnels last season and Dean couldn’t save him, both while I watched it be filmed and when I saw it onscreen. I as a viewer may know that Sam will be back, but Dean the character does not know any such thing, and it was in empathy for him that I sobbed. Like a lot.)

19. Dean’s history with women. Is it problematic? Sure. Not in all the ways asserted here, I don’t think. But what I quibble with here most is the assertion that “it’s an aspect of Dean that fans try to ignore.” Not in my fannish circles, that’s for sure! I have a new book coming out all about the evolution of female characters on Supernatural, so my perspective may be a bit skewed, but we’ve all been talking about this since Season 1, way back on Live Journal meta commentary communities.

18. Sam always gets knocked out. Okay, I kinda agree with this one. My reviews often contain rants about Sam or Dean not being the smart and capable hunters we know they are. It’s a contrivance that keeps the story going, but it can create some head scratching.

17. Dean idolizes their abusive father. I think that was true at one time, but not any more. That’s been part of Dean’s evolution as a character, coming to terms with his idolization of both John and Mary. The thing is, it’s not unrealistic. I’ve worked with many children whose parents were a lot more overtly abusive than John, but the children still love the parents. We’re wired that way; we’ll do whatever mental gymnastics we have to do in order to maintain our view of our parents as people who love us and will take care of us. The alternative is just too terrifying. The way Dean was raised, he had to step up early on and push things like anger and disappointment and longing for love out of the way in order to survive, and to ensure that Sam survived. A defensive blanket acceptance of everything John Winchester told him was the perfect way to do that. However, Dean hasn’t been frozen there; he sees both his parents now more as flawed humans whose motives and behavior can be questioned instead of blindly accepted.

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Catching Up With Supernatural alum Sera Gamble and company – The Magicians at Comic Con 2018!

 

The Magicians returned to San Diego Comic Con to celebrate the upcoming Season 4, and I couldn’t wait to chat with the cast and producers again. It’s one of my favorite shows – I love the creativity of it, the imagination, the willingness to go wherever the story takes them even when that is sometimes the last place you expect it to go! Not to mention the amazing actors and writers who bring the sometimes surprising story to life, based on Lev Grossman’s fascinating books.

The press room for the show was first, so I headed to the Hilton Bayfront and grabbed a table.  First to our table were showrunners Sera Gamble and John McNamara. I was ecstatic to see Sera again – she’s the former showrunner and writer for Supernatural, and was literally the first person from Supernatural who took the time to talk with me when I started researching fandom and writing books about the show, and she contributed some valuable insights to my first few books. I will be forever grateful for her generosity in answering my questions, facilitating my research, and always encouraging my writing over the many years since.

Sera and John summed up where we ended the last season, which was with everyone in quite a dilemma.

John: No one knows who they are.

Sera: Alice does, but she’s locked in a prison in the library. So it’s a very interesting first episode because our characters have no fucking clue who they are.

Not to mention Eliot is now the monster…

Me (with my psychologist hat firmly on): Are you treating this like the characters have amnesia and it’s almost like a trauma for them?

John: It’s more like you are that person, an entirely different human being.

Sera: They even look different.

John: When they look in the mirror, they see someone different.

Sera: We’ll explain why in the first episode, but we’ve actually got two sets of actors. It required a lot of explaining when we were producing the first episode, but it makes sense when you watch it.

Me: Oooh that’s intriguing…

John and Sera: (cagey grins)

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Things Get Serious with Supernatural ‘Funeralia’

The ominously titled “Funeralia,” written by Steve Yockey and directed by (one of my favorite directors) Nina Lopez-Corrado, kept the momentum going as Supernatural nears the end of Season 13. I had a few quibbles with this episode, but there was quite a bit that I loved a lot.

This episode had only two story lines going, which made the back and forth feel less overwhelming than it sometimes does, and I appreciated that. It let the emotional impact of both story arcs come through much more clearly, and honestly, that’s usually my favorite thing about an episode of this show. Adventure is good, but I watch for the emotional resonance, for the characters who are so real that they feel things – and I can feel with them.

Story line number one was Castiel and the fate of Heaven and the Angels. I am not always very adept at following the angelic story lines because they seem to shift from time to time when I’m not paying enough attention (or maybe that’s why I don’t pay enough attention). In this episode, Naomi reminds Cas (who apparently already knew) that Heaven is powered by angels, and without angels, all the souls housed there will fall to earth as ghosts. Huh? Weren’t there whole seasons when no one – Cas included – was at all concerned about the angel population and everyone seemed very willing to lead armies against other angel factions and kill lots of angels? Was nobody worried about Heaven being out of power as a result?? There was a time when Metatron ejected all the angels from Heaven, so I’m not sure how it kept being powered up then (or maybe he left a few dozen up there?) I also didn’t think it was powered by angels in the first place – wasn’t it powered by souls? And that’s why everyone wanted them from Purgatory? And then there was also the reapers are actually angels thing, which nobody mentioned this time, but I think that went away rather quickly which is probably for the best.

At any rate, I was a bit confused by all that new information about Heaven. Angel and Heaven canon in this Show tend to be a bit flexible, which is not my favorite thing. I was also confused about why no one told Cas that Lucifer was actually in Heaven – and where is he, for that matter? Or Jo?

Those quibbles aside, Misha Collins and Amanda Tapping made the Heaven story line compelling anyway, because they were both so damn good.
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What Is Happening?? Lynn and Nightsky Live on Supernatural ‘Devil’s Bargain’

Last week Lynn and Nightsky (from the Winchester Family Business) were at an academic conference on Popular Culture, giving carefully prepared papers on (what else?) Supernatural and moderating panels and generally working our butts off. So Thursday night was a welcome break to watch the new Supernatural episode with a room full of fellow acafans (academics who are also passionate fans). Oh, and pie. Lots of pie.  Being the resourceful women we are, we loaded up some plates with free conference food and then crowded into our friends Susan and Mandy’s room. Balancing overloaded plates precariously, we settled in to watch. Come along with us, if you will, to see what happens next…

The THEN came on and the room fell silent. For a minute anyway.

Lynn: KEVIN! Is Osric in this episode? Please let Osric be in this episode! (Alas, Osric was in fact NOT in this episode…)

The NOW begins, which repeats the scene we saw last week of Castiel and Lucifer having a tussle, and Lucifer full on lunging at Castiel and stabbing him in the stomach. Wait, what? Is that what we saw last week?

Nightsky: Hold on, when did that happen??

Lynn: He stabbed him last week but not like THAT, am I right?

Susan and Mandy (who remember things much better than the two of us) He did stab him last week, but he swiped high, it was a high slice not a gut stab!

Cas staggers through the woods, clearly way more injured than he seemed to be last week when he prevailed and stabbed Lucifer instead. He falls to the ground – to be found by the shocked teenagers of the week who of course do what? Poke him with a stick.

Everyone in the room: WHAT IS HAPPENING??

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Five Things To Love about Supernatural ‘Breakdown’ (Okay, maybe 6…)

 

I have to teach on Thursday nights this semester, which means I can’t watch Supernatural live. This makes me very cranky, which should surprise no one. But this week, I think it might have been a blessing in disguise. I came home and jumped on twitter to ask the SPNFamily whether I needed tissues at the ready to watch this episode. What came back was a barrage of suggestions, and not just for tissues:

Tissues and a security blanket….Tissues and a teddy bear… Tissues and a stiff drink….Tissues and a heart rate monitor…

Wait, a what? It was clear this episode was not going to be easy to watch. But because I’m a long time Supernatural fan, all that did was ramp up my excitement! Sure, I gathered my tissues and blankie and a glass of wine, hoping my heart would hold out without the monitor, but I was jumping with anticipation more than dread. It’s been 13 seasons of Supernatural scaring me and disturbing me and breaking my heart and I’m still watching, after all. (It makes those rare times we get affection and triumph and saving the day all the sweeter).

Breakdown did not disappoint. So instead of a recap, here’s what I loved about this episode. In no particular order other than I’m saving the one I really want to go on and on about until last. Read more