I hope there are still some of ya’ll out there wanting to chat about this epi. Better late than never, yeah? This may be a shorter Ramble, but it's not a direct reflection of enjoyment, merely substance, time, and (quite honestly) exhaustion. These work trips with multiple all-day meetings get harder and harder.
I’m going to flip the order of this ramble and share with you my thoughts before my lists – for my likes? They are many.
So, back in 2001, one of my favorite shows decided to have a musical episode. I approached the episode with trepidation, but ended up loving it. And by loving it, I mean I immediately bought the CD (you guys remember CDs, right? *wink*) and could still sing some of the songs to this day. That show was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, that episode was Once More with Feeling, and I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy a TV show musical episode quite as much again.
I was completely delighted by this episode. I laughed (a lot), I teared up a bit (that dang cover of ‘Wayward Son’), I covered my face from second-hand embarrassment (subtext, OMG), I totally enjoyed myself. As a fan who has been there from the first day, back in 2005, I felt…appreciated.
There were so many different routes they could have taken to celebrate 200 episodes of our show. The “trapped in a cave while wounded and forced to be honest with themselves and each other” trope I mentioned last Ramble is one such idea – I mean, think about the flashback clips! *grins* …aaannnddd now I kinda want to write that story. *ponders*
However, our show is rather notorious for…let’s just say playing outside of the box. It’s unique and we love them for that. Right?
Now, like the boys, I’m not a fan of the ‘meta’ episodes (though, apparently that’s not an opinion shared by the actors or most of Entertainment Weekly readers/staff as The French Mistake hit the top 10 list of favs several times over). I like my TV to be an escape; I don’t like to be reminded that there is a 4th wall or to connect the world of the Winchesters with the world of…my mother. But this felt less ‘meta’ and more…quirky.
The cast and crew of SPN have often lauded the fan base for this show as the primary reason for their endurance. And the number of conventions these guys attend is, in my opinion, phenomenal. They have made themselves available to their fans on a level I’ve not really seen. And because of that, they are rather intimately aware of fan-based thinking and activities and addressed this awareness in a clever homage.
For me, this episode far surpassed any other ‘meta’ episode. As I’ve already mentioned, The French Mistake, really not one of my favs. Learning about Chuck writing the books as a way to deal with his prophet-ness, that worked for me. But Becky and the cons and the boys learning about slash and Wincest…eh (understand I'm not saying those ideas are bad or wrong, they're simply not my taste and so I don't look forward to seeing them captured in the Show). This approach, however, fit more within the idea of Chuck writing the stories (since the play was, in fact, based on his books).
Now, did I think it was a perfect episode? Nah. But, where’s the fun in perfection? Still there was some definite hand-waving going on. I mean, first of all, how did Marie know that the author of the books, Carver Edlund, actually went by ‘Chuck’ as in Chuck Shirley? And, much like the demon ‘Sweets’ in the Buffy episode, there wasn’t really a plausible explanation as to why ‘Calliope’ was even attached to this particular play. She hadn’t been summoned, as far as I could tell. Only thing I could figure was either:
- she was draw to the “epic-ness” of the story and the intense emotions the playwright , Marie, had attached to Supernatural (in which case, we fanfic writers should check our six once in a while), or
- she was purposely placed by Chuck.
With Fan Fiction, we didn’t really learn something new but we did further the storyline a bit. When we first saw the boys in the (seemingly abandoned) parking lot of the motel, Dean was basically chomping at the bit to take a new job, despite Sam's trepedation and reluctance. So much so, he argued that they take the case not because there was indication that there was a case, but because there wasn’t any indication that there wasn’t a case. He needed a sense of ‘normal’ and his only ground and balance is hunting.
The thing that made think, though, is that it was basically the definition of insanity: doing the same thing and expecting different results. Dean is lost. More so now than he’s been for a very long time. And their life is not exactly one that behooves healing. Hunting brings physical and often times emotional pain, killing, and a basically an unbalanced life. The only consistent thing is inconsistency.
When I watched that scene, aside from wallowing happily in a grease-covered Dean wearing a grey T-shirt, I had the thought that if Sam really wanted a chance to reconnect and to help Dean heal from being a demon, he should work to create some environment where Dean has something new to focus on, a different kind of normal. I’m not sure how he would do that, it was more of a fleeting thought than anything else, but that’s where my mind was at the onset of the episode.
However, by the time we reached the end, after they saw some random high school girl’s interpretation of their lives, as told by Carver Edlund in his book series, and their brotherly connection and the journey they’d traveled together and their destinies and their tragedies and their joys and suffering and accomplishments and failures were all captured and laid out before them, set to music no less, it suddenly became very clear that hunting wasn’t just something they did because they’d always done it or because they knew no other way.
Hunting -- or more accurately, hunting together -- was something they were meant to do. It meant something to the world. It was more their destiny than being angelic vessels. It didn’t matter that they’d been set on this path due to circumstances beyond their control; they have been doing this so long, it had defined who they are. Dean saying that he needed “normal” and having that mean “finding a hunt” was really the only answer for them.
So, what I took away from this episode – aside from an appreciation of the ever-creative talents of the writing team – is that if there is any chance for Dean to find himself again, to grasp his true North and re-establish a sense of balance and ‘normal’, he has to take some kind of action; he can't relax or have 'me/we' time. He has to be doing something. He alos has to find his way back to a middle ground with Sam, and, really? The only way he’s going to do any of that is through what he knows: hunting.
And Sam? Sam is just as lost as Dean, if you think about it. Not for the same reasons, not in the same way, but he needs something settled, something he can count on. He needs his own true North and for so long in his life, that’s been his brother. When Dean lost his way, Sam spiraled into his own miasma of confusion and has been searching for ground ever since. And I’m talking about longer than since Dean went the way of the demon. I’m talking about…the Campbells. I’m talking about Lucifer. I’m talking post-Hell.
The looks on their faces while those high school girls sang that goose bump-inducing cover of “Carry on Wayward Son” was a confirmation that they both recognized what it is they had to do. Not because their father ordered them to, or because they were out to avenge their mother, or because they were compelled by an angelic destiny, but because it is who they are. I loved those close-ups. It was just very affirming of the characters’ purpose in this decade-old show.
Not only that, but I felt like they were listening. That they wanted to believe there would be peace when they were done...whatever 'done' means.
Just a couple of other things to discuss here in the rambling portion of the Ramble and then I’ll get to my lists. First, I have to say that I love when the boys show up initially in a hunt all suited up and FBI-like, then as soon as they get the general lay of the land, they return in their flannel shirts and canvas jackets and no one questions it. Can you imagine if Fox Mulder suddenly returned to a crime scene in jeans and flannel?! Ha!
Also? Chuck. So, here I’d been worried for several seasons that when they declared that the prophets were like slayers and for another prophet – like Kevin – to be called up, the existing one had to die…meaning that for Kevin to exist, Chuck had to be dead. BUT! The theory that Chuck may be God (which would be, IMO, frikkin’ awesome) holds a ton more water now as he is not only very much alive, but he was there!
Which made me wonder if, perhaps, Calliope might have been summoned by Chuck to draw the boys to this place at this time and see their lives played out before their eyes and see how much they mean to the world and each other...just when they are stretched to their limits. Just when they aren’t sure if they should hang out and stare at motel room walls in an effort to relax and lay low…or scour the web and the newspapers for a case just to have something to give their lives meaning, they are drawn to Flint, MI, and an obscure high school where for whatever reason, their lives are on display.
I mean, if Chuck is God, it would certainly be a God-like thing to subtly show them they are important. The best outcome of this entertaining episode would be if the brothers both have a renewed sense of purpose. And that purpose leads them to an avenue that offers them a way to combat whatever is going to come out of Dean still having the Mark of Cain.
Suppose we’ll find out, yeah? Anyway. Lists. Let’s have at it, shall we? There were so many nods our way, not just from a fanfiction area (and they left very few stones unturned there, up to and including Destiel and tentacles) and I loved seeing each one of them.
- Dean. In a grey T-shirt. Grease smeared on his arms and face. Staring at the Impala’s engine. I mean, c’mon. That shot was absolute perfection.
- Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown”
- Sam walking out of room 200
- Seeing the inside of the Impala’s trunk, within the hidden weapons cache – it’s been a while
- Dean using the shotgun to prop up the hidden compartment
- The “we’ve got work to do” line, with the camera shot up from the trunk and Dean tossing the shotgun inside, ala All Hell Breaks Loose II
- Sam in a V-neck T-shirt…holy crap
- The sound of the Impala roaring down the road…I may have an unhealthy love for that damn car
- The title card mash-up; I want to see that again!
- “There’s too much drama in the drama department.”
- The return of the amulet as a ‘symbol of their brotherly love’
- The looks on the boys’ faces when they walk into the auditorium and see “Bobby” and “Cas” and slowly realize what it is that’s happening
- Dean’s inability to process while Sam smoothly steps in and controls the questioning
- “What in the holy….” “This is a case. Prolly has something to do with all this.” “Ya think?!”
- “I’m Special Agent Smith. This is Special Agent…Smith. No relation.” Ala Die Hard’s Agents Johnson and Johnson, no relation
- “There is no singing in Supernatural! If there was singing, it would be classic rock, not this…Andrew Floyd Webber crap!”
- The Boy Melodrama, or “BM” scene
- Dean learning about subtext
- Sam playing with the lights in the control booth
- Dean telling Marie what happened after the end of Season 5 and Marie saying that was the worst fanfic she’d ever heard
- Dean’s dead-panned look directly at the camera (which I understand was a bit of unscripted brilliance on the part of Jensen)
- “I want to believe.”
- The shout-out to S.E. Hinton as a big-time fan by having one of the disgruntled students mention they should have just done The Outsiders
- Dean setting aside his discomfort and squeamishness to share a rallying speech with Marie, encouraging her to move forward with the show (so that they can finish the hunt and kill Calliope) –“ Put as much sub into tht text as you can.”
- Dean bopping his head to the music of “The Road So Far”
- Dean desperately trying to get Sam to turn around before the Calliope-controlled Scarecrow grabs him
- Me not being able to decide between “I’ll Just Wait Here Then” and “A Single Man Tear” (leaning toward ‘Man Tear’ if only for the lyrics that apply to Dean)
- Dean fighting the Scarecrow on stage while the audience covers up with the plastic ponchos
- The choreographed fights btwn Dean and the Scarecrow/ Sam and Calliope
- The audience, covered in purple goo, giving the play a standing ovation
- Dean’s little bow. OMG
- “I have my version, you have yours.” Best definition of fanfic pretty much ever.
- Marie calling Dean ‘Dean’ and giving him the amulet, telling him he never should have thrown it away, followed closely by Dean saying that he doesn’t need a symbol to remind him how he feels about his brother. *rubs heart*
- The cover of “Carry On Wayward Son” (that one I will be looking up on iTunes) and the close-ups of the boys faces as they listened and registered the words like they were hearing them for the first time, feeling them beyond just the song and the moment
- The real “BM” scene, Dean putting the amulet on the rear view mirror
- CHUCK! “Not too bad” indeed!!
- Eh, anything I put here would just sound like whining at this point. I mean, I could have done w/out the Destiel reference but that's simply because I’m not one who feels that applies to these characters. My opinion only, not saying the idea is right or wrong. I recognize that’s a popular lean in fandom and fans of that pairing have been vocal enough the cast and crew has heard. I loved how they had Dean handle that inference, though.
- Not having Dean or Sam sing at least a little bit. But only because I loved how all the actors in that Buffy episode sang.
- Let’s just say all my story arc and character-impacting burning questions from last time still stand as this was a bit outside the lines
- CHUCK – God or no? Will he come back again? Will he let the boys know he’s alive? Did he bring them there to see that play? And did he conjure Calliope? Was Rob Benedict just uber-free that day? I want to know more about Chuck being not dead!!!
I’m ready to see what’s next! Thanks for reading.