The Emotional, the Rational, and the In Between: Episode 8.12
Know what’s great about fandom? We all do it differently. That’s never so obvious as on the morning after a new episode of Supernatural has aired, and we’re all scouring the internet for reviews and recaps, and weighing in with our own (wildly divergent but always passionate) opinions. If you read widely enough, you can find someone who loves every little thing about an episode and is practically expiring from the squee – and then you can find someone who loathes the exact same little things and is on the verge of self-combusting with rage. “It was awesome, Dean and Sam were themselves again, OMG!” “How could they slaughter the characters like that, WTF?” Reading review after review can give you a bit of whiplash after a while.
Alarmingly often, Kathy and Lynn are on the opposite ends of that spectrum, which has made our eight year roadtrip through SPN fandom together a lot more interesting. And a lot more like a rollercoaster. Kathy’s a damn talented critic – hey, it’s what she does. Isn’t it what all our English professors did?? All those years of literary criticism have given her a keen eye for anything that’s out of place or not entirely based on logic, and she may be shy about some things, but pointing those out? Not so much. Lynn’s a psychologist, a profession more focused on making people feel better than pointing out their glaring deficiencies. Maybe this explains why we tend to see Show differently – and why we expect that the rest of fandom will disagree too. Never a dull moment in fandom – and isn’t that part of the point?
Here are the things that made Lynn love this episode: Sam and Dean were in it. No really, that’s her first and most important criteria. And if Sam and Dean were in it A LOT, like in practically every scene, her love meter jumps up even higher. Not only were Sam and Dean onscreen a lot in this episode (sorry Jared and Jensen, but Lynn is happiest when you’re working your pretty little butts off…) but the story revolved around the Winchesters again, for what seemed like the first time in a long time. And that means I cared again. Saving the world is all well and good, but when it comes to ramping up my emotional investment to off the charts, give me the Winchesters’ personal story over a global one any day. It’s not that continuity isn’t important to Lynn – the familiar strains of the Winchesters-have-an-emotional-moment theme song were playing at the appropriate times, and Dean ate a burger while Sam ate a salad. Continuity, guys! Even more important, Dean expressed the sentiment that made Lynn fall in love with him in the first place – there ain’t nothin’ more important than saving Sammy. There ain’t nothin’ more important to Lynn than hearing those words come out of Dean Winchester’s lovely mouth.
Here’s what made Kathy go “Huh? Really? They did/didn’t do what????” They bring in a character – the boys’ lost grandfather – who they believe abandoned their father – and the emotional reaction to this is that Dean gets pissy for a little bit and then gets over it? And then that grandfather *dies* in their arms – literally – and they get over it????? This episode had so much angst potential! Squandered!! Absolutely squandered!! If they just wanted this to be an information dump – “Hey boys, guess what? Your family tree has hunters hanging from every branch!!” – then why present them with their grandfather in the flesh? Of course all was not griping at Kathy’s house. Like Lynn, she was happy that the boys weren’t being pissy with each other for a change, and that they were back on the same “Family is everything” page. What’s not to like about that after all?
Eight seasons and multiple showrunners in, so there are plot holes scattered around that make you turn your ankle and stumble from time to time, and we’ve each had to endure storylines that made us cringe (cough Amelia cough), but having Sam and Dean back on the same page and at the center of the Show makes up for a helluva lot in our book. So does having the boys in single layer tee shirts sprawled out on their widdle beds and Dean stealing Sam’s pillow in the middle of the night, which ensures plenty of fanfic to distract from any possible retconning. We’re easily distracted, so what?
It’s also nice that a theme of the recent episodes seems to be that geeks rule. Sam and Dean have a geeky nerdy brainy legacy on their father’s side – Henry was a smart nerdy guy who was also a hero. We liked that Abbadon was played by a great actress who really sold the scary. We loved the beautiful 1950s sets and the way Serge Ladouceur directed. We’re big Serge fans – if you haven’t already read it, check out our interview with him earlier on this blog. He shares some fascinating insights about filming SPN: http://fangasmthebook.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/a-warm-winter-evening-with-serge-ladouceur-2/
Bob Singer’s recent Huff Post interview had some vague spoilers that made us squee for an alarmingly long time (the boys get a place to do their bromance thing? Bring it!) And yay for Cas being an integral part of the story and Benny and Charlie popping up again. But there were some cringe-worthy moments in it too, and we don’t deny that we’ve got a wishlist of places we wish Show would go, and an OMGpleasenoooo list of places we wish it wouldn’t. Inevitably we’ll all get some of both as the season goes on, and sometimes we’ll have to assume that John Winchester’s stepfather was a mechanic and Castiel lost a few feathers in the backseat of the Impala once upon a time (fanfic time again…). And inevitably Lynn and Kathy will hash it out just the like the rest of fandom. Can’t wait!