This is an attempt to explain (justify?) the position I've taken since episode 6.13 to put positive energy out in the universe when it comes to our show despite plot holes, character development gaps, or what have you. I love this show. I've never had an obsession such as this one. But I recognize that for everyone, show-love isn't unconditional.
And I just want to say that this -- as with all of my rambles -- is just my opinion, point-of-view, etc. All opinions and thoughts are, as always, welcome and I don't expect anyone to agree with me.
(*And I hope that's not truly FINAL Final Four...just final for Season 6....)
So, some very honest thoughts/replies -- both to the ramble and posted by other reviewers on their LJs -- in reaction to an episode I was a bit over-the-top giddy about got me wondering about spinning the positive midst an experimental season. Made me wonder if I handwaved too much and wasn't honest enough about the storytelling this season.
The question boiled down to this: have I lowered my standards too much when it comes to enjoying our Show?
And the answer I came up with was yes. And no.
Yes, I think that overall this season I've lowered my standards as to what the show will offer us because Sera isn't the same as Kripke and while that's okay, it has me realizing how much I had come to depend on a certain type of storytelling when I first set those standards.
No, I don't think it's too much because who wants to be consistently disappointed each week? I am too invested in these characters to quit them. And I want to be entertained -- specifically by THESE characters.
So, I do what is necessary to achieve that. Like not expect certain character behaviors simply because we've had them behave a certain way before. Or basically, not expect anything. There's a great line from the movie The Untouchables that James Malone says to Elliott Ness: "Don't wait for it to happen. Don't even want it to happen. Just watch was does happen."
That's the outlook I've tried really hard to take since the moment we learned Sam had no soul. I know that to some it probably seems like I'm settling on something less when our Show could be (and has been) so much more, but.... Well, I don't know that I see it that way. I see that I'm invested in something after so many years of watching these guys and riding this ride and so if this is the way that it is -- even if it might not be as gut-wrenching or earth-shattering or well-told as it's been in the past -- then this is the way that it is.
Let me back up a smidge and see if I can make myself make sense. Last week while traveling, I downloaded some books on my Kindle -- a couple in a detective-oriented series by John Locke. They were entertaining. A very quick read because there wasn't much to them. Several smirk-worthy and a few laugh-out-loud-funny one-liners peppered the dialog, but there wasn't a lot of heart. I didn't really feel for the characters' plights. And there were mistakes, too. Easy-to-spot plot holes that I couldn't believe a publisher let slip through.
But, all-told, I enjoyed them. Then, I shifted to Stephen King's latest collection of short stories, Full Dark, No Stars. And it was as if I just took a deep, cleansing breath. Those of you who don't like Stephen King's writing, just insert your favorite author in this example and you'll get what I mean. Even the characters who were up to reprehensible activities in those stories were easy to relate to and the pacing, dialog, and connections between the characters simply resonated.
The point being -- I didn't realize that the other writer was basically mediocre until I compared him to a writer I considered exceptional.
Now, with our Show, for me, it's reversed. Only...I didn't truly realize it was reversed until we got further into this season. I know that there are a myriad of opinions about the journey of the story and characters through Seasons 4 and 5 (and perhaps even back to 3), but taken as a whole, I feel that what we're getting with this experimental season from Sera isn't of a comparable standard to what I'd come to expect from the five seasons preceding her control.
This is NOT to say that I think she's doing a poor job. I have been entertained, confused, horrified, heartbroken, amused, intrigued and completely enchanted over the course of the last 18 episodes.
But what I realized after replying to comments from Frontierland is that what's been lessened for me this season in the wake of a number of 'gimmicky' episodes is the kick-to-the-gut, heart-wrenching moments that twisted me up time and again over the last five years. I could list those moments, but...I don't think I need to. There has been so much that has occurred between these brothers that if you've been along for the ride, you probably have your own list. [ETA: Just want to say that 'gimmicky' isn't bad...it is just not the usual way of furthering a storyline, that's all. I've been thoroughly entertained by these 'gimmicks.']
For some people, the "lessening" may be the loosely threaded plot (beginning a bit like a film noir and progressing into...well...I'm not entirely sure yet). For others it could be character balance and clear storyline paths. For others still, there might not be a problem at all! They may be loving this season, and good for them!
But for me, it's been the emotional connection between the two brothers -- and therefore from me to the brothers -- that has just been...less...this season. And I'm sure it has a great deal to do with the fact that we started out without our Sam and then got him back so swiftly and controversially in one big bang of light and now it's been a bit like the Show is saying, all that stuff that came in the first 12 episodes? yeah, forget that...we're going to reunite the brothers and it's all good. Which...leaves me feeling a little like we skipped a step.
I started Season 6 with as open a mind as I feel I'm capable of when it comes to these characters -- my hero in particular. And I think there have been some rather spectacular moments and completely intriguing plot introductions and possibilities. As we've journeyed forward, though, it feels like something's been lost along the way when it comes to these characters.
But, rather than lamenting that loss, I decided I'd have more fun if I just enjoyed what they give us. Not blindly, mind you. I mean there are still times when I'm like where did that come from? And How does this makes sense now if that made sense before? And Where are they going with this? All of that.
And, yes, there have been some changes to my hero that I didn't see coming. The writers have...harnessed him in some ways. But then again, after six years of watching these characters learn, grow, and survive, there are destined to be some changes and some mellowing here and there.
I mean, if Dean, for instance, had allowed the horrors he's experienced in his life -- from Hell, to betrayal, to dealing with the ramifications of Sam without a soul -- to continue to affect him the way I'd personally like to see it all still affecting him, he wouldn't be able to function as he needs to in order to do the job he feels he's been put on the Earth to do. He was as close to complete despair as a person can get toward the end of Season 5, and we didn't see him during that year with Lisa, so for him to return to hunting from trying to fit in where he never planned on fitting just to face RoboSam...well, it changed him a bit.
I can understand the writers thinking that this character has been through so much, it's either the 'blanket apology' approach, or it's writing a souled version of RoboDean.
Not to say this position of acceptance satisfies me on all fronts, but I can go with it and adjust what trips my trigger in order to keep seeing where the writers are having the characters come from. For example, I suspect that the 'blanket apology' that Dean issued at the end of 6.16 will become a back door of sorts for the writers in the final four episodes when having to deal with the pain that they placed in the path of our two favorite brothers at the beginning of the season.
With that graveside sentiment, the writers don't have to write Dean dealing with any of the heartache visited up on him through a soulless brother (which would be disappointing for me because I would hate for them to drop it entirely -- that just makes for a loose story). But they could still approach it from Sam's POV -- his reaction to memories of what he said and did to Dean when he was still "him"...only not "himself," and that could lead to some of those kick-in-the-gut, heart-wrenching moments I've been missing (which would mean I could still see a recourse story-wise as I'd like...just not necessarily in the way I'd like to see it...if that makes sense).
Anyway, that's how it works for me. It may not be unfolding the way I would've like to have seen with my particular favorite character, but it's still happening to him and around him and affects his continuing story (should there be a continuing story) and so, I go with it just to see more of them. Him.
Yet, even with the loss of umph that I've felt with this season, I personally think that the journey of our heroes has been worth the investment of time. I still hold out hope that within the last four episodes of the season, the majority of loose ends -- Angelic Civil War, missing God, Castiel's "regrettable things, currency of human souls, Alpha monsters, Purgatory, Mother of All, Death's role in all of this -- will be woven together to make sense of what right now feels a bit like a precarious Jenga tower.
I think that despite the myriad of question marks, there has still been so much to enjoy this season. I am, as always, completely intrigued watching our boys' follow the path the writers lead them down, even if it's not a path I would've wanted them to travel (or thought they'd choose to travel based on what I've observed of them through the years). I'm entertained by their connections and their interaction, even if those interactions aren't as full of feeling/angst as they have been in the past.
The history is there--between them and for us. We've been on this road with them all this time. And we've connected to each of them based on our different preferences or internal filters. We can't control what the writers decide is their destiny; we can choose to lament the character layers that had been built up over five seasons sloughing off from lack of attention. But no matter what, I think that there's still something in each episode for us to latch onto. Something for us to be entertained by.
And so that's where the attitude of enjoyment in the face of potential disappointment stems from.
I'm holding on tighter to the investment in our boys and and letting go a little bit of my investment in our Show so that I can continue to enjoy without being let down. I can roll with the fact that it's not my story and continue to hope that the pieces form a complete picture and not a hole-filled puzzle. Even if, at the end of the day, this Season as a whole is in any way 'less' in comparison to Seasons past, I will still have been entertained.
Maybe some of you think I'm nuts for even thinking about this. Maybe it sounds like I'm searching for ways to make passable storytelling acceptable. Maybe I'm not drawing a hard line when it comes to being true to the characters. Maybe I'm...settling. If that's the case...I'm okay with that. Because I get to see Dean and Sam and be entertained each week they're on.
And lowering my expectations for the chance of *squee* doesn't really feel like settling when we get something as fun as last week's episode. *smiles*
Thanks for listening to another ramble. If you're so inclined, I'd love your thoughts (even as I prepare to duck behind the couch if anyone decides to throw rotten tomatoes at me).