Happy 300th Episode Supernatural! Five Reasons ‘Lebanon’ Brought The Tears

 

I watched the milestone 300th episode of my favorite show of all time, Supernatural, with a horrendous case of the flu and no voice at all. I couldn’t live tweet and I didn’t have the stamina to read what anyone else thought of the episode, on twitter or anywhere else, so I missed a bit of the ‘we’re all in this together’ feeling that I relish when the Show has a special episode like this. I watched it on DVR later that night, curled up under a blanket with lots of tissues (for multiple purposes) and a cup of hot tea with honey instead of the wine and cherry pie I’d been planning. It’s taken me almost a week to finally find the strength to sit down at a keyboard and write out my thoughts. But you know what? I was as emotional as I’ve ever been about an episode of this Show that consistently makes me VERY emotional. And that’s really saying something.

Now that I can think a little more clearly, I’ve come up with five reasons why this episode worked so well for me (and I think for most people), but to do the episode justice, let’s start at the beginning. I also note a few things that shouldn’t have worked so well, but those mostly got lost in the shuffle of OMG FEEEEEELINGS that characterized my viewing experience.

The emotional hooks start immediately – we’re vaulted right back to the start, the boys (babies!) uttering the iconic lines “Dad’s on a hunting trip” and “We got work to do.”  For someone like me who has been watching from the start, it meant everything that the ‘Then’ went all the way back to the beginning and reminded me of just how long this Show has been a big part of my life.

Then we’re rolling, and instead of guest stars of the week, we get to follow the Winchesters right away, so color me happy. Sam and Dean in a pawn shop searching for something specific, buying their way into the secret back room where the occult items are shelved. Sam surprised me by being the one to mess with an ominous looking teddy bear (it’s usually Dean who can’t keep his hands off things like that and Sam doing the eyeroll, though Dean does get his chance later with the dragon’s breath thingy).

Gif abordelimpala

And then with a twist, it turns out the boys are tracking down the shop owner who killed a hunter and stole all this dangerous stuff. He makes the mistake of attacking Sam with a giant scimitar and threatening him, with a speech that ends with “You’re a big boy…” so of course Dean kills him.

Dean: They always talk too much…

I laughed out loud – or I would have if I was capable of making any actual sound. So this is going to follow the Show’s tradition of being a little self referential and a wee bit meta then, and that makes me very happy indeed. The Robbie Thompson-penned 200th episode, Fan Fiction, one of my favorites of the series, was more than a wee bit meta and I loved every minute of it. It seems fitting that the Show should give both its fans and its cast some wink wink nudge nudges in a milestone episode, and that’s Reason No. 1 that this episode worked for me. There were numerous call backs to previous iconic scenes, plus a whole bunch of Easter eggs scattered throughout, from items we’ve seen in past episodes to Family Business Beer signs. I loved every one of them! Thanks, Meredith Glynn and Andrew Dabb, for working so hard to get them all in, and so organically.

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Happy 300th Episode, Supernatural!

 

The past several days have been a whirlwind of articles and videos and spoilers and lots and lots of excitement about the little show that, for much of its existence, few people had ever heard of. And yet, despite those years of flying under the radar, sometimes happily, Supernatural is about to air its 300th episode – and going into its 15th season!  As I scan through article after article in mainstream publications from Variety to USA Today to EW to TVGuide and everything in between, I’m astounded by what a wild ride this has been and how far this little show – and its fandom – have come.

I remember being similarly astounded when the 100th episode was about to air, feeling so proud of the show and its cast and crew and fans for hanging in there and achieving such a milestone. I remember being over the moon when the 200th episode aired, blown away by both the number of episodes I’d watched over the years and by the episode itself thanks to Robbie Thompson’s genius. I cried a lot as the beautiful haunting version of ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ played and the Winchesters looked on (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles just as emotional as the rest of us). I didn’t think at either of those times that there was much chance of making it to episode 300 – but Supernatural has surprised everyone from day one.

For those of us who have been watching in ‘real time’ since the start, the longevity of the show has made it more than just a favorite television series. If you love Supernatural and are part of the SPNFamily like I have been for many years, the show becomes a touchstone for all the important milestones in your personal life as well. I discovered the show thanks to a few close friends, and made more lifelong friends through online fandom and conventions; I’ve traveled the world with these people, collaborated on creative projects, squeed over favorite episodes. More importantly, these people have been there at the times when I wasn’t squeeful; they were there when I was sad and hurt and angry and scared. The friends I’ve made through this show and this fandom are the people I know I can turn to no matter what.

I write a lot about that benefit of fandom, the community that we all find in fandom and how important and life changing that can be. What’s also impactful about this show is that when you love fictional characters with all your heart and soul, they become very real to you. (Not in the delusional way, my psychologist self is yelling in my ear, but in a healthy and adaptive and helpful way). When you love them, they’re an inspiration and a validation and a comfort to you when times are tough. This show itself is a comfort, and a reminder to many of us to “Always Keep Fighting” even when it’s difficult.

I’ve had a lot of tough times in the past fourteen years, as we all undoubtedly have. My love of this show and its fandom community helped get me through those times when my children were struggling and my heart was breaking not knowing how to help. Through the stress (and frankly terror) of changing jobs and daring to do things I’d always wanted to do, like writing books and actually trying to get them published. Through the insanity of the tenure track rat race and the unrelenting stress of constantly having to prove yourself that is still part of it. Sometimes it was enough just to have the escape of watching a new episode, or revisiting a favorite old one that feels like a warm blanket and never fails to soothe me. Sometimes it was reaching out to fandom friends or just sharing my feelings or reading fic for three hours to de-stress – or maybe writing it myself. Supernatural has always been there for me, in so many ways I can no longer count them.

One of my toughest losses in these past fourteen years was losing my dad. My mom died long ago, and my dad was my rock. He was my biggest cheerleader while I put myself through grad school with three jobs and later when I said I wanted to write books – on a television show he’d never seen. It didn’t matter; he was behind me all the way. I got the call that my dad had unexpectedly passed away when I was at a Supernatural convention. I put down the phone and literally stepped off the airport shuttle and into the con hotel, numb and in shock. It seemed like the worst timing possible; in fact, it was the best. I walked into the arms (literally) of the most supportive group of people on the planet. Friends took my hand and helped me stay calm. Creation staff brought me ibuprofen and literally walked me to my seat and kept checking on me to be sure I was okay. The actors who play the characters I adore heard the news even though I didn’t tell them, and one by one they came over to tell me how sorry they were and to give me a hug. One of the worst days of my life is wrapped in memories of feeling loved and taken care of, because I happened to be immersed in the Supernatural family.

I’m grateful. Grateful for everything this show has given me over these many many years. Grateful that the actors and the fans trusted me enough to help them write a book that told their stories of how the show and the fandom had changed their lives too. Writing Family Don’t End With Blood was a labor of love, and I know somewhere my dad is smiling that it’s dedicated to him and that its sales benefit the work of Random Acts and Attitudes in Reverse. Grateful for the amazing friends I’ve made and the stories I’ve been privileged to hear and learn from and the fictional characters who will forever be as real to me as you can get – and as cherished.

I wish I could thank every single person who has kept this show going for 300 episodes – the most dedicated and talented crew in the business, the most eloquent writers, the hard-working producers and staff behind the scenes, the CW and WB and everyone else who didn’t give up, the most passionate fandom in the universe (with all the good that brings and sometimes a bit of the not-so-good too) and the Best. Cast. Ever. For never phoning it in, for never giving up, for never not caring. Someone said early on that this Show is lightning in a bottle – and they were so right.

There have been so many moments over the years – these are just a few that the most fabulous con photographer ever happened to snap. Thanks Chris Schmelke.

 

Happy 300th episode, Supernatural. And many many MANY more.

–Lynn

You can read Jared, Jensen, Misha and ten

more of the Supernatural actors’ chapters in

Family Don’t End With Blood – links here on

the home page!

Three In A Row for Supernatural with Prophet and Loss – and Yay for Season 15!

 

I said I was overwhelmed last week when there had been two excellent and emotional Supernatural episodes in a row, so I don’t know what adjective to use to describe where I’m at this week – because it’s now THREE episodes in a row that have been truly amazing!  Last week’s “Prophet And Loss,” penned by Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner, who are not always my favorite writers, continued the show’s string of wins. I guess I have to amend my opinion and say that the duo sometimes do write a favorite episode, in fact. Thank you Brad and Eugenie! And thanks to Tom Wright for some beautiful direction too.

There was a great deal of anticipation going into this episode. First, it’s the episode before the 300th and the return of John Winchester. Second, at the last Supernatural convention I tweeted something ominous that Jensen Ackles said:

That tweet made the rounds yesterday since the episode he was referring to was finally about to be shown, and that meant we all knew that there was a heart-wrenching scene during which Jensen got emotional for real. That’s not an unusual thing, since both Ackles and Padalecki have often talked about the fact that they don’t need to think about something sad to bring the emotion to a scene – they just let themselves feel what the character they know so well is feeling, and the emotion happens organically. That’s what makes it so real, and why it’s impossible for me not to empathize when it happens. However, it’s not usually so intense that the seasoned crew is actually tearful! (If anyone can do that, though, it’s Ackles).

Third, we were all already feeling emotional after the last two episodes – at this point, most of us were traumatized in advance just thinking about Dean being locked in a sinking and slowly disintegrating box at the bottom of the ocean, trying desperately to stay in contact with Sam and knowing he’s trapped there with Michael. So when the episode began with that infernal box at the bottom of the ocean and Dean freaking out inside it, most of us freaked out too.

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Back to Happily Squeeing – over Supernatural ‘Nihilism’!

 

I spent Supernatural’s mid season hiatus guardedly optimistic about the second half of Season 14 after feeling less than elated about the end of the first half. Then I was out of the country last Thursday when my favorite show returned and couldn’t watch until now – so imagine my absolute joy when I finally sat down to watch ‘Nihilism’ and sat there riveted the entire time. I might have yelled “YES!” and “That’s my Show!” more than once, and I might have had a big grin on my face at times that probably weren’t even appropriate for big grins, but I was just so happy to have my Show back! Thank you, Steve Yockey, for that beautiful story, and Amanda Tapping for that beautiful direction.

It’s already Thursday again so this is less a review or recap and more a few emotional reactions and thoughts as we gear up for tonight’s new episode and get closer to the 300th episode that I’m so anticipating.

‘Nihilism’ had some nostalgic touches, which almost always puts a smile on my face. I’ve been watching this Show for 14 years, and it feels good when the Show remembers its own history and acknowledges its own fandom. Dean’s fantasy world in his own head where Michael has trapped him is full of those touches – it’s Rocky’s Bar, complete with a stuffed squirrel wrapped around a Margiekugel’s beer bottle, a tap from “FB Beer Company” and references to “an IPA from Austin”.  The little in-group nods to Dean’s nickname of ‘Squirrel’, a Scoobynatural nod with ‘Daphne Loves Fred’ carved into the bar, and Jensen’s real life (Family Business Beer Company) brewery in Austin were happy making.

Although that taxidermied squirrel kinda brought back some unusual con memories….you know what? Never mind.

And who’s Dean’s partner in his dreamt up ideal world? None other than Pamela Barnes, the woman who unapologetically appreciated both Winchesters’ assets and always told it like it is (threesome, anyone?). I can see Dean appreciating a woman like that, and I have always appreciated her too.  I also love Traci Dinwiddie, who was a guest at some of the first Supernatural cons, and was so happy to see her back on the show.

The fact that Dean’s fantasy world has him being a badass brawling bar owner (who’s famous…) repeatedly beheading attacking monsters was so perfect – so very very Dean.  Of course he’d still be hunting monsters and saving people, even in a dream world! Also that gives us interesting shots like this…

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Love, Passion, Fandom and Lighting the Way for Each Other

 

Holding onto the light.

When I was asked to write an entry for the #HoldOntoTheLight campaign, I thought a lot about that phrase and what it means. It seems appropriate for my own experience with the ups and downs that life throws at all of us, but for me the words also have multiple associations. And the first day of a new year seemed like an appropriate time to write about holding onto the light and what that means to me. It is, after all, what we’re all trying to do this year.

The first thing I thought of when I read the hashtag #HoldOntoTheLight was less a thought and more a picture – a streaming video of the many clients I’ve worked with over the years as a psychologist. Images of people – all sorts of people – breaking down, falling apart, reaching out. Getting up, getting through, getting past. Lots of tears, but lots of smiles too. Sometimes the journey, which it was always a privilege to share, was all about not just holding onto the light, but finding it in the first place. When you’ve been in the dark a long time, that’s not an easy thing to do. Sometimes that’s where I came in, a co-traveler in the search for whatever would light the way and warm the heart. The images are full of heartbreak and pain, but they are also full of amazing courage and persistence and sometimes – the best times – of finding that warmth and light. Every single person taught me something, and I’m forever grateful. I don’t talk alot about my work outside of writing, but I love what I do and am continually inspired by the amazing human beings I’ve met along the way.

The second thing I thought of was my own experience of holding onto the light at the times in my life that were the darkest. (And yes, it’s probably significant that I didn’t think of my own experience first – you can analyze me later). It’s an image too; me on my knees, feeling unable to get up. Terrified of being alone and ready to give up. At the worst of those times, it was only the awareness that there were two little children depending on me that got me off my knees and forced me to put one foot in front of the other.  People often refer to me as an “upbeat” person. I’ve been called a relentless optimist, someone for whom things “roll off my back”. Some of the time, that’s even true. But probably not as often as it seems. I was the oldest child in my family, and I understood from a young age that I was the one who was expected to take care of everyone else. Sometimes that included my mother, on the days that were the worst. That’s a hard lesson to un-learn, and one I still struggle with every day. When you grow up with uncertainty about being taken care of, the fear of being abandoned never really lets go; when it actually happens, one way or another, that’s when you end up on your knees.

Eventually, I got up. I got help. I found therapy long before I became a therapist myself, astounded that maybe I didn’t have to “do it alone”. It felt utterly foreign to be the helpee instead of the helper, and I fear I wasn’t the most proficient client at allowing help, but I had some persistent therapists who didn’t give up on me. I thought of them when I walked across the stage myself years later and the doctoral hood was slipped over my head; that PhD was as much a testament to their relentless insistence that I was neither helpless nor hopeless as it was to hitting the books so goddamn hard. It was dark for a long time, but eventually – with help — the light came back, and I’m still holding on.

The third thing I thought about was also an image. San Diego Comic Con, 2015. The gigantic cavernous Hall H packed full of people, all fans of my favorite television show Supernatural. As the stars of the show took the stage, the lights went low and the room suddenly lit up. Thousands of points of light illuminated the room, held by the fans. In my hand, I held one too, on the verge of tears because of the message it conveyed. As Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins and Jared Padalecki looked out over the spectacle, not understanding, we all began to chant: Always keep fighting. Always keep fighting.  Jared Padalecki understood suddenly; his eyes grew moist, and he picked up the little plastic candle that he too had been given, hand over his heart, clearly overwhelmed. Always keep fighting is the slogan that Jared coined for his Represent campaign to bring awareness to suicide prevention. He also bravely acknowledged that he too had struggled with depression and had to fight to keep going. That day we all held onto the light – for Jared, and for ourselves.

Tweet, William Shatner

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