Previously on Supernatural: Demon!Dean is dispatched as quickly as he arrived, Sam ruins all my fun by being so quintessentially Sam, Crowley gets dumped and doesn’t care for it, and Cas has the world’s most boring romance. Also: a wonderful, fantastic, awesome musical.
S10 E2: Reichenbach
Cole, the kid of a monster Dean killed before John Winchester went on a hunting trip and hadn’t been home in a while, has Sam as a hostage. Dean punishes Cole by letting him live as the boy who failed to avenge his father, but Crowley, ever the bitter ex, hand delivers Dean into his brother’s clutches. Dean reminds Sam that they’re both monsters—Sam tortured a crossroad demon and bartered with a man’s soul to track down Dean, while Dean just beat up a bunch of misogynistic jerks and killed a douchecanoe who hired a Knight of Hell to murder his wife and her lover—but Sam still holds him prisoner. Cas and Ms. Boring Angel visit Metatron only to turn down his generous offer of helping them in exchange for his freedom.
S10 E3: Soul Survivor
Sam handcuffs Dean to a chair in the demon trap in the Men of Letters dungeon while pumping him full of human blood, just like what they did when they tried to cure Crowley last season. Eventually Dean gets sick of Sam’s maudlin speeches and escapes. He hunts Sam down like they’re in a teen slasher movie. Crowley intervenes again, this time topping up Castiel’s dwindling stolen grace after killing a rogue angel trying to kill Cas and Whatshername. Cas turns up just in the nick of time to recapture Dean so Sam can complete the ritual. So long, Demon!Dean. You will be missed.
S10 E4: Paper Moon
Werewolf Kate returns, this time with a vicious wolfy sister in tow. Tasha’s new pack kills people right and left, despite Kate’s increasingly desperate attempts to bring her to heel. She turned her sister to save her life, but also because she didn’t want to be lonely anymore. After the boys are kidnapped by the weres, Kate is forced to kill her sister and go on the run again. Basically, the whole thing is a mirror of Sam and Dean’s tumultuous relationship, except when Tasha dies, she actually stays dead.
S10 E5: Fan Fiction
People go missing from the set of a high school musical of Chuck’s Supernatural books. Sam and Dean are all kinds of weirded out by seeing the semi-fictionalized version of their lives get the slashy fanfic treatment with a musical twist (including a lovely rendition of “Carry on My Wayward Son”). The goddess Calliope uses an evil scarecrow to ensure the author’s vision makes it to curtain call. The writers make peace with their fans through Dean and fan-fic’er Marie, but all that really matters is CHUCK!
Oh SPN. You gave me such hope with Demon!Dean, and then you smashed it all away. And then with your 200th episode, you made me love you all over again. Between episodes 2 through 5 I laughed, cried, rolled my eyes so hard I almost went blind, developed an all-consuming attraction to bowlegged men with hammers, and came this close to throwing my cup of tea at the TV when Sam exorcised Dean. But this last episode reminded me why I still tune in religiously every week, why I own every season on DVD, and why I’ll never give up on SPN, no matter how frustrating it gets.
This season, the writers went back to the beginning. The boys haven’t worn uniform costumes in ages, not since the writers stopped doing silly Monster of the Week episodes on a regular basis. The writers brought back old enemies (werewolves, gods), old costumes (the Samulet), old lines, old stories, even old characters (hi Chuck!). I’ll admit that while MotW aren’t especially deep or moving television, I enjoy the hell out of them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen “The French Mistake,” “Clap Your Hands if You Believe,” “Mystery Spot,” “Changing Channels,” and “Wishful Thinking,” and I’m thrilled to add “Fan Fiction” to that list. While they need to be careful about relying too heavily on nostalgia, I hope this signals a return to better plots.
On the other hand, I was really digging the new direction for Dean. He wasn’t really evil, but an uber concentrated version of Dean with less impulse control and more invincibility. He was the truest form of himself, a man untainted by oppressive guilt and fully satisfied with who he was. He was also a total badass. Dean has never been hotter than when wandering around the Men of Letters bunker looking to smash Sammy’s head in. (Wow, what does that say about me, eh?) Every opportunity the boys get to shed their self-loathing and mutual agreed upon destruction is welcome. Whether that comes as the boys being season 1 playful or season 10 estranged, I don’t so much care. As long as it isn’t the turgid, unnecessarily complicated emo-ness of seasons 6-9 I’m happy.
The downside to the 200th episode happening so early in season 10 is that it cut the Demon!Dean line short. In order for “Fan Fiction” to work, the boys had to be comfortable with each other. That means they needed at least one episode to cure Dean (“Soul Survivor”) and one where they worked out their issues (“Paper Moon”). Choosing between the musical or more Demon!Dean is an impossible choice, but man I miss ol’ black eyes karaoke singer. Like, really miss him. Dean hasn’t been this enjoyable in years. He finally got to shake off the mopes and be a real person instead of a plot device for Sam. And he was so good at being bad. Oh so good. I am a diehard Dean fanatic, so I’m in heaven anytime Jensen Ackles gets to stretch his acting chops.
Those behind Supernatural have traditionally had a rocky relationship with the show’s fans. They’ve made snarky comments about fanfic and shipping, while the fans have shot back with accusations of queerbaiting. The fans haven’t been all that great, either. Though many lament the untimely death of Jo, the writers made it very clear that they killed her off because so many fans were so vitriolic in hating her. I strongly disagree with the subset of fans who think Jensen Ackles or the producers are homophobic just because they won’t make Destiel canon or refuse to take any more questions about it at cons, but the producers and writers in particular have done a terrible job of handling the issue. Personally, I look at Destiel the same way I do McWilliams, Sterek, Stucky, and Allison/Lydia, that is, I accept the canon version, but recognize the fanon interpretation is vastly more interesting, complex, and appealing. In other words, I’ll watch the canon show then read the fanon fic and be perfectly content with both options.
Which is what made “Fan Fiction” such a great episode. At first I was worried it was going to be like The Big Bang Theory, where the audience laughs at geeks like me rather than with us. But it became clear early on that Dean and Sam—and, by extension, the stars, producers, and writers—didn’t care about fanfic. What I mean is that they recognize and accept that there are many versions of the same story and that while theirs is “official” it doesn’t mean the fans’ versions are any less valid or worthy. It’s Marie’s vision that the Winchesters support. They may not care for it for personal reasons but they never once say or even intone that her interpretation is bad or wrong. Those who do are punished by Calliope for rejecting Marie’s vision.
The boys and the show have grown up since “The Real Ghostbusters” in season 5. They don’t disdain or mock their fans anymore but accept them as valuable participants in the experience (and those who can’t get with the program are shut down accordingly). I don’t always care for the show’s direction, and I’m still disappointed by their constant failed potential, but I love knowing that we’re all in this fan boat together.
As Chuck would say, not bad, Supernatural. Not bad at all.
- “It’s just a car.”—[ugly crying intensifies]
- “He was a douche, now he’s a dead douche.”
- “Why can’t you people just sit on clouds and play harps like you’re supposed to?”
- “There are robots and tentacles. In space. I can’t even.”
- So many title cards…
- Here’s hoping they bring back the priest costumes.
- Jensen Ackles directed “Soul Survivor,” and there are quite a few influences borrowed from a horror movie Ackles starred in a few years back: My Bloody Valentine. The movie is nonsense, but he is damn awesome in it. Given how talented he is (far more than Jared Padalecki), I remain ever surpised at how little the writers let him really act.
- Who’s that? WHO’S THAT?! He’s your freaking brother, assbutt. Can someone please try to rescue Adam now?
- I’m holding out hope that this whole thing is a massive long con, that Demon!Dean isn’t gone but is simply biding his time until he can conquer Hell and proclaim himself king, all the while Cas ends up ruling Heaven because if your choice is some random boring angel, psycho Metatron, or the master or poor decisions, it’s no contest. Then next season Crowley and Sam team up to defeat Dean and Cas, and Chuck shows up at the last minute and smacks them all upside the head for forgetting their brother was trapped in a cage with Lucifer this whole time.
Alex Brown is an archivist, research librarian, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.