Supernatural Brings Some Laughs with ‘Peace of Mind’

 

I watched this episode of Supernatural from an unusual perspective (for me, at least). I wasn’t able to watch Peace of Mind live, nor was I able to watch it for almost an entire week thanks to being on family vacation. (Despite what most people would probably assume, I actually do prioritize the kids over my favorite show. Okay, maybe I did sneak off and try to watch a bit of the episode on the CW app on Sunday, but that lasted about five minutes, so I gave up after only a single attempt. Pretty respectable, I think.)  This meant that I was partially spoiled for the episode, but more importantly, that I already knew what most of my social media timelines thought of it. I intentionally have a wide range of friends and acquaintances on various platforms, and they have a wide range of reasons why they love Supernatural, so it’s not surprising that some people loved the episode and some people hated it.

If you really needed a break from the angst and a good laugh, you probably loved it. If you watch for quality Misha Collins content, you were pretty pleased. If you ship Sastiel or are amused by Misha Collins and Jared Padalecki’s real life (adorable) teasing friendship, you got way more than you ever dreamt you would and were probably over the moon. If you watch for Sam and Dean and expect them to be interacting alot, maybe you weren’t. In other words, as in most things fandom, your mileage may vary.

When I tweeted that I hadn’t been able to watch and had no clue whether I’d like it or not, I had a lot of predictions from people in all those contingents about how I’d feel when I finally sat down to watch, which was also really interesting to hear. That watching thing finally happened last night, and guess what? Even I didn’t predict my reaction very accurately!

I didn’t have a strong emotional reaction in either direction, perhaps because I was already prepared for what the episode would contain. That allowed me to look at it with two different lenses, which is not the way I would usually do a review, but I think it’s helpful here. As a 42 minute piece of episodic television, I think Peace Of Mind was well done – and very enjoyable. Collins and Padalecki together in Charming Acres were comedy gold, both of them hitting just the right notes, and Meghan Fitzmartin’s teleplay giving them all the right dialogue to play with. They looked like they were having the time of their lives and that enthusiasm carried right over onto the screen. That story line – let’s call it the A story line – was particularly well done.

Misha shared at the Nashville Supernatural convention last weekend that there had been a scene where Sam lands on top of Castiel, and that Jared had way too much fun with that, including making “an impact”. That little tease primed me for the scene, and when it actually happened I laughed out loud, imagining all the fun Padalecki must have had with a trapped Collins who’s trying to stay in character. I’m crossing all my fingers and toes for lots of gag reel content from that one, because Phil Sgriccia was directing and he definitely knows when to let the cameras keep rolling!

I loved the set dec and locations that transformed a part of Vancouver into the idyllic and picturesque (according to Cas) Charming Acres, and the campy music and back-in-time costumes. Supernatural never cuts corners and it shows.

The B story line, as Dean tries to figure out if Jack is in the angel or devil camp (at times with a Twinkie choice test), worked less well for me, but perhaps that’s inevitably colored by having expectations for how these characters would be feeling after recent canon events. There was humor there too, but it didn’t work as well for me in the B story line. That may be because there just wasn’t as good a reason for the departure from the Show’s usual angst and darkness, like there was in the A story line. Alex Calvert and Keith Szarabajka (Donatello) had some lovely scenes together, but I think the back and forth between what was happening in Charming Acres to Cas and Sam and then to what was happening with Jack and Dean kept jarring me. I was more invested in the Sam and Cas story and didn’t want to keep being yanked away, which is a recurring problem with me and Supernatural when they have two separate story lines running.

From purely the perspective of an episode of television, the bookended brief Winchester brothers moments at the start and end were a separate thing too. They worked for me, and I was glad they were there, but perhaps that’s largely because I was waiting for them as a Supernatural fan.

So that’s the first perspective. Congrats to Meghan for her first episode as a writer and to Steve Yockey for his co-writing, especially for the entire Charming Acres story line. I literally laughed out loud – more than once!

The second perspective is of someone who has watched Supernatural since the beginning and is emotionally invested in this season’s story line as well as in the individual characters. From that perspective, I wasn’t quite as happy with the episode. Did we need a break from the angst? I know some people did, but I was in my happy place after the emotion-drenched episodes we had in the middle of the season and craving nothing more than a continuation of that angsty Winchestery goodness. I do enjoy the “funny” episodes, and I did enjoy this one, but I was also a little frustrated that it popped into the middle of a pretty serious overarching story arc.

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Jared and Gen Padalecki and Dream Big Team Up to Help Dreams Come True!

All of us here at Fangasm are especially proud to be pitching in with a charity auction to help Jared and Gen Padalecki raise money through #RunPadsRun for Dream Big, an organization that provides girls from low income households with the equipment and program fees that are necessary to participate in sports and physical activities. Many young women want to participate, but their economic situations prevent it. Uniforms and equipment are expensive, and so are the soccer and volleyball camps, dance classes, sports clinics and gymnastics classes that allow young women to excel in their sport of choice.

Why is this so important that the Padaleckis are running the Boston Marathon to raise money for the cause? With my psychologist hat on, I decided to find out – and it turns out the research is pretty compelling.

Multiple large-scale studies over the past decade have found a gender gap in youth sports, with girls from urban and low income environments the most impacted. Historically, sports have been an area in which women’s participation is sometimes limited, including access for racial minorities, GLBT+ persons, and women and girls. Girls have faced resistance to their participation, and women’s sports have often been devalued.

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Rowena is Back, Eyeballs Ewww and Other Thoughts on Supernatural ‘Ouroboros’

 

Supernatural was back from its mini-hiatus last week finally. I absolutely loved the last few episodes, so “Ouroboros” had a tough act to follow. It turned out to be an episode with some excellent moments and it definitely held my interest throughout, but there were a bunch of head scratching moments and we all know I don’t like those. On the other hand, I was thrilled to have Rowena back on my screen, so that combined with some great emotional scenes left me at least intermittently happy.

The episode, written by Steve Yockey and directed by cast favorite Amyn Kaderali, starts with a memorable scene (perhaps not for my preferred reasons, but…), a mostly shirtless barefoot dude cooking with some good music playing. I love the way it’s filmed and directed, almost like a sorta sexy version of a cable tv cooking show. Except, because this is Supernatural, it turns out barefoot dude is cooking a recently murdered man and slicing and breading and frying his organs and popping out his eyeballs for a snack. I literally said “ewwww” out loud. A new high for Supernatural’s enjoyment of making its fans have to stop eating their traditional pie slices. It was a well done opening, though, and I’d sort of like Noah (very well played by Phillippe Bowgen) if he wasn’t so busy eating people.

The CW/WB

Team Free Will Plus (TFW+) arrive too late and are understandably frustrated. Rowena gives Cas a flirty “Hello, Castiel”, and gets a puzzled look in return, which was sort of adorable. Then we unfortunately get our first head scratching moment. Rowena is the only one who notices that the corpse (and apparently the other similar corpses they’ve found) has black around his lips and really, the Winchesters didn’t notice that??? Too busy focusing on the cannibalism to, what? Be hunters??

Head scratch. Grrrr.

Rowena dispenses some wisdom to Jack when he asks if the black around the lips means something.

Rowena: Dear boy, everything means something.

She’s right, and Sam and Dean and Castiel know that, Show. We ALL know that!

There’s an overt (maybe too overt) theme running through the episode of “I’m fine, everyone’s fine” which starts with Rowena and Sam in the next scene as they research who this monster might be and why he always knows they’re coming. As they work, Rowena questions how Jack is okay and what kind of magic they used, and Sam just says ‘he’s fine’. She also wonders how Dean is managing to keep an Archangel locked up in his head.

Sam: Because he’s Dean. And Dean is…. Dean. He’s fine.

Of course he isn’t, but that’s sort of the point.

Meanwhile, Dean and Castiel have a diner chit chat while Jack is in the bathroom coughing up blood ominously. Cas is empathic with Dean, saying he can’t imagine the willpower it’s taking to keep Michael locked up, but Dean insists he’s fine.

Dean: That’s what I’m supposed to say, right?

Me: In this episode, yes, definitely.

Dean insists that it’s on him to keep it up, even if it means no sleep, but Cas protests.

Dean: It’s on me.

Cas: No, it’s on us. We’re here to help you.

Gif justjensenanddean

It’s a nice gesture, but Sam and Cas actually can’t do a damn thing to help Dean other than let him keep hunting to stay distracted. But as Castiel rightly notes, it’s not sustainable.

Jack uses up some more of his soul in the bathroom to heal himself and returns to the table, also insisting he’s fine.

Dean: See? Everyone’s fine.

Me: Everyone is so not fine.

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Happy 4th Anniversary, Always Keep Fighting!

Today is the fourth anniversary of Supernatural actor Jared Padalecki’s ‘Always Keep Fighting’ campaign, which has been life changing — and life saving — for so many people.  It took tremendous courage for Jared to not only launch a charity campaign to fight the stigma surrounding depression and anxiety so people can get the help they need, but to open up himself and share his own struggles. The campaign itself was important, spreading the message that is a theme of Supernatural, but nothing is more powerful and more validating than knowing that someone you admire has also faced depression and anxiety, and come close to giving up. That’s what Jared had the courage to share.

Jared began to talk about his own mental health struggles in a few interviews, and then he decided to do something unprecedented — share his story in detail, written in his own words, in a book. I’m honored that he trusted me to edit and publish Family Don’t End With Blood. If I had admired him before (and I did), the experience of working alongside him to tell his story made me admire him a million times more. It is not an easy story to tell, intensely personal and not the kind of story that a “celebrity” often shares so candidly. But Jared knew that the only way for his story to make a difference and truly inspire someone else was if he told it exactly how it happened – even when that was difficult. He was anxious the whole time, wanting the chapter to be perfect and simultaneously questioning how it would be received. All I could do was validate his anxiety and provide a metaphorical shoulder to lean on when the task was almost overwhelming for him.

The chapter that he eventually wrote, after two long years of working on it and struggling with it, is more than thirty pages long. In it, Jared writes about his lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression, starting the AKF campaign, and about his own darkest, most hopeless times. It’s a struggle that many of us can relate to.

Throughout the campaign, I still knew I wasn’t yet okay. I was able to function at a high level: I finished the filming of season 10, fulfilled my day-to-day duties as a husband and father, even did another AKF campaign with Jensen, but I still didn’t feel 100 percent. Something was still eating at me and beating on me. I could sense that, though my head was above water, I was sinking.

Those of us who have encountered bouts of depression and anxiety know that the demons can remain at a lull for months (or years) on end, and then reach a boiling point inside of a day.

That is what happened to me.

On top of the weeks, and months, and years of feeling the need to break down, but not feeling that I had permission to.

I broke.

Plain and simple.

I. Broke.

I sat in a park in Geneva, surrounded by thousands of people, young and old, celebrating their beautiful day off, and I felt more alone than I ever had in my life. All my pain, all my self-doubt, all my insecurities, came to a head. I hated myself.

The next part of his chapter is heartbreaking, a moment by moment account of just how bad it got and how he managed to eventually crawl his way out of that darkness and hopelessness. By the time he managed to get on  a plane and head for home, he was barely holding it together.

I had god-awful anxiety the entire time, and no one to turn to for help. I found myself LITERALLY mumbling “Always Keep Fighting” to myself and even grabbed a pen from my bag and did something I hadn’t done since high school: I wrote on my arm. “AKF” up and down my left arm, over and over and over again. It seemed to calm me down better than listening to music or reading, so I did it, and I didn’t stop until I ran out of space.

Just like so many others, it was the mantra of “Always Keep Fighting” that got Jared through that difficult day. I know countless fans who now have those words on their own arms in a tattoo that they can touch and see to remind themselves to keep going.

None of us can do it all alone. We all need someone to have our back sometimes, to support us when we’re struggling, to carry us when we need it. Jared found the courage to speak up so he was able to connect with people to lean on that day. With his encouragement, many others have found the strength to share what they’re going through and ask for help — leaning on his words and inspiration so they too can always keep fighting.

Fandom wanted to give back to Jared and let him know just how big a difference AKF had made in many people’s lives. At San Diego Comic Con that year, fans held candles and the entire gigantic Hall H chanted ‘Always Keep Fighting’ over and over to let him know what he’d accomplished. Jared writes about that moment in Family Don’t End With Blood — his awe when he realized what was happening, his gratitude for all that the fandom has taught him and given him.

The light that was given to me that day still sits in my office (as does the note that was handed to me on the stage explaining what was going on). It always will. It is more valuable to me than any award or accolade ever will be. It helps put to rest one of my greatest fears: that I’ve let the fans down. Sometimes, when I still feel like I’ve failed somebody, or let somebody down, I’ll walk into my office, and see it, and remember that I have an entire family out there that wants me to know that “just” me is “just” fine.

 

Graphic Dr. SPN PHD

It’s the same message that Jared sends to all of us in the chapter he wrote. I have heard from thousands of people that when they were at their lowest, feeling like they truly could not go on, reading Jared’s words and knowing his personal story gave them the strength to keep living. I’ve heard from many who found the courage to reach out and get help because of Jared’s example. That’s what he wanted to accomplish, both with the chapter and with “Always Keep Fighting”, and I hope he knows just what a big difference he’s made in so many lives.

Reach out for help if you need it – and Always Keep Fighting!

National Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-8255

To Write Love On Her Arms – https://twloha.com/find-help/

Crisis Support Network – https://www.randomacts.org/crisis-support-network/

IAmAlive Text Chat – https://www.imalive.org/chat.php

— Lynn

You can find Family Don’t End With

Blood at the links on the home page

and on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Happy Birthday Jensen Ackles!

 

Most Supernatural fans would agree that there are plenty of reasons to adore Jensen Ackles – and his birthday seems like the perfect time to reflect on what some of those reasons are. I’m sure everyone’s list is a little bit different, so this is my own personal collection of reasons why I’ve admired Mr. Ackles for well over a decade and why I still do today.

I feel like somebody out there is going to call BS on what I’m going to say next, but it’s true – the first thing I noticed about Jensen was his acting. I casually watched the whole first season of Supernatural (and the Jensen season of Smallville) without saying OMG this guy is smokin’ hot! (That admittedly came later). Instead, I noticed him because his performance as Dean Winchester suddenly and unexpectedly made me fall head over heels in love with the show and the character. It happened as Dean and Sam were having a heart to heart, leaning up against the Impala on top of a panoramic cliff sometime in Season 2, Dean breaking down and finally sharing his guilt and pain with his brother.  Somehow I had missed the nuances of the character in the first season, perhaps because I was only watching to placate a friend who had fallen for the show, but Dean’s (Jensen’s) tears and palpable anguish in that scene just flew off the screen and right into my heart. I literally let the pile of papers I was grading slide off my lap and fall to the floor as I stared open mouthed and asked out loud “How did I not realize this is the most incredible television show ever?”

There was no going back after that realization, and it was due to that performance (and Jared’s performance, because something magic happens with they’re onscreen together and I’ve never been able to separate the Winchester brothers anyway). Since that initial revelation, I’ve been blown away by Jensen’s acting again and again and again. He has broken my heart and made me sob my way through countless boxes of tissues. He has made me laugh until I was crying all over again. He’s made my heart sing with joy in those rare moments when Dean allows himself some measure of happiness and contentment (or just plain relief that someone he loves has come back from the dead….again…)  I’ve never loved a fictional character the way I love Dean Winchester, and that is largely due to Jensen Ackles.

That’s reason number one. Honest it is.

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