Thursday, January 29, 2009

After School Special Recap

Major spoilers if you haven't already seen the 'sode. BTW, on a personal note, this is the third episode in a row where I felt sad by the end credits. And if you've seen Sera Gamble's interview for TV Guide, you'll understand why I think circumstances will get worse (and apparently way more intense [is that even possible?]) for our boys before they get better.

If they get better. Throw me a rope, Kripke and Co!

We open with a cafeteria scene of teens being hateful to each other that would probably work on at least two or three other CW shows--but then one of the recipients of hateful words loses her mind and kills someone in the girls' bathroom. After which, black ooze seeps from her eyes. So, definitely Supernatural.

Next we see the girl who did the killing--in what looks like some kind of asylum--answering questions for Sam. She's surprised (but we are not) when he believes her claims of demonic posession. However, he is befuddled that she noticed neither black smoke nor a sulphur smell, the usual tells of a demon in residence. The Winchester bros. talk over the situation in the Impala and agree to check out the high school.

Which turns out to be a school the boys once attended, briefly, during their nomadic past.

I gotta say, I thought the guest actors did a pretty good job giving us the younger Winchesters in flashback (older than they were in A Very Supernatural Christmas flashbacks, but good continuity in the casting of Sam). The guy portraying High School senior Dean did such a good job that I actually wonder if Jensen did a voiceover or two. Sam, as a ninth grader, was a "midget." (I grinned over this, thinking of my dad. He was a short freshman and graduated at 6'4".) Back in the day, we see the Impala roll up to the school where, presumably, Papa Winchester is dropping them off for their first day (again) at a new school (again). Sam being introduced to his class is juxtaposed against Dean being introduced to his. Dean handles his first day with smirking insolence and flirting with a blonde, while Sam looks far less comfortable and befriends a "nerd" being picked on by the bully who sits behind him. (Sam, of course, tells the bully to knock it off and is warned that if sticks his nose in, he'll take the victim's place.)

When we flash to present day, Sam has come up with their covers to get them into the high school. (Dean, ever the pop culture guru, later refers to this as his being 21 Jump Street.) Sam dons custodian coveralls that I guarantee have never looked that good on anyone else before while Dean shows up in white knee socks and red athletic shorts, undercover as Coach Roth (heh). He is introducing some poor unsuspecting kids to the bloodsport of Dodge Ball when Sam interrupts to explain that the case is seeming not demonic after all.

Au contraire. Flash to the home ec lab where we close in on a Cuisinart. Tanya, being no fool, slaps both hands over her eyes and keeps them there for the duration of the scene. But here's what I heard: jock bullying a nerd into giving him his Algebra homework, nerd resisting, jock threatening to ram his fist down nerd's throat, nerd asking, "this fist here?" and then whhhhrrrrrrr followed by a lot of screaming. Kids run out of home ec, Sam runs in and finds the attacker with blood on his arms...and black ectoplasm leaking out his ear. So at this point, it would seem that there's a spirit who's been bullied striking out at all the current bullies.

In the parallel flashback storyline, we see that Sam really does take his new friend Barry's place with the bully and gets slugged (meanwhile big brother Dean is happily making out with a blonde in the janitorial closet. Later, big brother Dean threatens to rip out the bully's lungs and asks why the heck Sam didn't defend himself since he could have destroyed the other guy, their differences in size notwithstanding.) Sam chose not to fight the bully, even though Papa Winchester probably started drilling him on combat techniques from the time he could toddle, because he wanted to fit in. He's sick of being a freak, but you can see how resigned he is because for a What I Did Last Summer nonfiction essay, he writes about how he, his dad, and his bro killed a werewolf. When the teacher calls him on it, Sam says it doesn't really matter if he flunks, he'll be gone soon anyway. But the teacher praises his writing skills and seems to be the person who helps put him on the eventual path to college (which made me think of an important teacher in my own past, Mrs. Pearson, best High School English Teacher ever). Sam tells the teacher sadly that he's destined for the family biz, and the teacher says he doesn't have to be. Kind words--completely untrue in Sam's case, since demons came after him and incinerated his girlfriend anyway, but kind words.

Present Day--when the brothers learn that there's only been one death in the school, erstwhile nerd Barry killing himself, it seems we've found our angry spirit. Sam, of course, feels like maybe if they'd actually stuck around (for a change) he and barry could have grown to be friends, maybe the kid wouldn't have had such a crappy adolescence. Dean says that at least Barry will be at peace now, as they salt and burn the bones, which should be the end of it. Although there's like 20 minutes left in the show, so I'm guessing not.

Sam wants to go back to the school to say goodbye to the English teacher who previously inspired him, but he's stopped by a girl asking directions. She calls him by name and, even though it makes no sense, for a milisecond, I thought she might turn out to be Lilith, but then realized that she's just another possessed teen at this high school (put this HS and Sunnydale on my list of where not to send my kids! sheesh). Sam knocks the spirit out of her--he put something in her mouth, which I'm pretty sure was salt but could've been holy water--and Dean later realizes that all three kids possessed ride the same bus, so maybe the spirit isn't haunting the school after all, but a bus. (Note to self: carpool.) The new bus driver, who started about the same time as the attacks, is Dirk Sr--Dirk being the bully who once picked on Barry and later decked Sam.

In flashbacks, we see Dirk once again picking on Sam and I will admit that I watched young Sam, shorter than his peers and emotionally vulnerable, and I advised the kid on screen to kick the bully's ass. Which Sam pretty much did before telling the bully that he was Dirk the jerk and walking away as other kids picked up the taunt. The show totally made me regret my outburst a few minutes later, but not as much as Sam regretted what he'd done.

When the brothers visit Dirk Sr, they find out the bus driver is a widower who also lost his son because Dirk, who tended toward juvenile deliquience, got mixed up with alcohol and drugs. The father paints a poignant picture of Dirk having a difficult time because, when he was thirteen, he was the primary caretaker of his mother, who died slowly of cancer. That changed him, made him angry and caused him to act out at school where, according to the dad, he had trouble making friends and other kids verbally abused him, pointing out that he was poor and eventually labeling him Dirk the Jerk. Oh, the look on Jared Padelecki's face is just painful to watch. And I myself am doing a lot of wincing at home. Dean brings us back to the present problem by asking if they can pay their respects at Dirk's grave (all the better to burn and salt him), but Dirk's father says he had his son cremated. To which Dean insensitively and rather hilariously asks, "All of him?"

No, as it turns out. The dad keeps a lock of his son's hair in a Bible in the bus's glove compartment. Flash to bus, full of athletes going somewhere at night, driven by a burly man with black ooze coming out his nose which, we know, is never a good sign. The brothers arrive in time to avert serious disaster, running the bus off the road and burning the lock of hair while Sam is getting whaled on by a possessed athlete. It could just be me, but I think guilt was still riding Sam hard, because he didn't appear to be fighting back all that much.

So apparently the moral of this episode was that no one ever fits in. The nerd who was bullied killed himself. The kid doing most of the bullying was a once bright, sweet boy who lost his mother and eventually became the victim of bullying himself. Sam finally made a friend and was praised for academic progress--but was yanked out of school when Papa Winchester slew whatever needed slaying and dragged them off elsewhere. And there was a really sad moment in flashback when the blonde caught Dean in the closet with a brunette and told him that she felt sorry for him. He ended up in the halls yelling that he didn't need people's pity, that he was a badass with a much cooler life. Yeah, on the run with your quasi-psychotic driven father and the little brother who just wanted it all to go away. Sign me up for that! We end with Sam finally getting to visit that English teacher, who remembers him and asks if Sam managed to avoid the family business.

Yeah, Sam says...for a little while, but now he's in it. (All the way up to those lovely eyes, if not completely in over his head.) The teacher, not sure what to say, offers that the important thing is just to be happy, whatever you're doing. "Are you happy?"

Another shot of Padalecki looking heartbreakingly woeful and equal parts resigned. Credits.

Wow. I know they're fictional characters but I'm angry anew at John for the childhood (or rather, nonchildhood) he put them through, even though I'm not sure what a great alternative would have been. MJ argued that perhaps he was trying to keep them safe by not dropping them with people who know nothing of the nondemonic world. But, really? He was gone for an entire two weeks, once again leaving Dean to fend for Sam, between Dean's makeout sessions in the closet. So how is that really John protecing them? And once again we see the cracks in Dean's veneer. He adopts the smart-ass "I don't care" persona because he knows caring is pointless; he won't be anywhere long enough for anyone to care about him. And even if they start to, he'll just be back on the road or, you know, in hell, anyway. And I'm reminded of how tired Sam looked after the last episode, when he told Ruby he doesn't want to be doing this when he's old? This episode was a strong reminder of just how tired the boy is, that he's been doing this far longer than the few years we've known him in the series but, essentially, since boyhood.

Whenever, however, this show ultimately ends, I hope there's some kind of payoff or at least satisfaction for what they've accomplished. The teacher was right--they DO deserve happiness! I'd wish peace for them, but I'm scared that might be the "Rest In..." kind.

What do you think the future holds for the Winchesters? And what do you think about these episodes that show us deeper glimpses of their past?

Fantasizing In Fiction

Whether you’re a Dean fan or a Sammy girl, there’s one thing we can all agree on…the Winchesters are first rate heroes. They’re gorgeous, courageous, funny, sensitive, damaged, loyal and they kick ass. They’re fuel for fantasies and when you’re a writer sometimes that fantasy takes place right in your fiction. I’m not talking fanfic here, that’s a whole other creature. I’m talking about visualizing the boys as the heroes in our own books.

In my first YA book, SLEEPLESS, I referenced Jensen Ackles and the Winchester Boys. It was a nod to my fave show, an inside joke to my fam and friends. Then I went a step further. My newest YA book HOLLYWEIRD, which is coming out with Flux in the Spring of 2010 under the name Tess Clark, was inspired by my daydreaming about visiting the set of Supernatural. Seriously, how freakin’ cool would that be? But what if I learned that things were just as paranormal on set, in real life, as the stories they tell on the show? It was that little bit of fantasizing that led to my new book. HOLLYWEIRD is about two girls who win a trip to L.A. to meet the star of their favorite show, Supernatural Seekers, only to learn the show’s hunky hero is actually the son of Satan and the only person who can save them is a fallen angel working undercover as the actor’s personal assistant. (Side note: weirdly I sold this before season 4 and the whole angel arc.) BTW, I know Supernatural is filmed in Canada, but Hollywood was more commercial and suited my purposes better.

Here’s how Jensen and Jared came into play. This is where the girls first encounter Jameson Dagon, fallen angel:

My vision narrowed to a bubble of focus on his gorgeous, stubbled face, sound faded away to a buzzing hum and my cheeks grew prickly hot, while my tummy did the Macarena.

He had trim light brown hair with sideburns and just a tease of spikes on top. His chiseled cheek bones and piercing olive eyes made my hands tremble, but it was his voluptuous lips and adorable cleft chin that made my body turn to molten lava.

Suddenly his gaze caught mine. He tilted his head and gave me an appraising look. Still I couldn’t move. When his lips lifted in the barest of smiles, I heard myself give a soft sigh.

And this introduces Dakota Danvers, the son of Satan:

Dakota Danvers had the kind of charisma that made skirts hit the floor and machismo men question their sexuality. Brown curls swept the back of his neck and he had this endearing way of flicking his head to the side to get his wave of bangs out of his eyes. And those eyes…mocha brown and deeply soulful. He was known as the brooding, sensitive brother on the show and he did most of his acting with those incredible eyes. But on the rare occasion when his character was allowed to crack a smile it was if Heaven opened up and shone its every ray of sunshine. Hokey sounding, sure, but his boyish grin would actually elicit a matching smile from anyone watching.

Hopefully, you can figure out which character was inspired by Jensen and which was Jared. Admittedly I played up Dakota’s charms so it’s quickly understood that while he’s sexy as hell, and has the disarming charm of the boy next door, he’s really the antithesis of both.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to finish this book and pour all my Supernatural geek love into it. But I KNOW I’m not the only one who’s used the Winchesters as models.

Trish has already said that Jared was the inspiration for her hero in her 2007 YA Golden Heart winner, Coven, and Kathryn Smith (another Supernatural fan and writer) made Jensen a vampire in her short story 'The Wedding Knight' in the Weddings From Hell anthology with Maggie Shayne, Jeaniene Frost and Terri Garey. She’s also working on a YA project tentatively titled, Harming Prince Charming, with Jared as the hero.

With inspiration like J2, we can fantasize and reinvent all we want. What about you? Have you fictionalized the Winchesters?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dean humor vs. Sam humor

Last week, I talked about the differences between the Winchester brothers with regard to their physical attributes and personalities, and how female fans reacted to those differences. This week, I'd like to delve into their different senses of humor.

It's no secret that Dean is snarky and has the best lines in the series. Here’s where I see another parallel with Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Even though I was an Angel fan, I have to admit Spike had the best lines. Same with Dean. His quips reveal a lot about his character. He often uses jokes to keep distance between himself and others, as when Sam tries to apologize for his earlier comments about their parents in the Pilot and Dean holds up his hand and says, “No chick flick moments.” Cassie calls him on this defense mechanism in “Route 666” (1-13) by pointing out that every time Dean gets close to emotional vulnerability, he backs off, makes a joke. He even uses this distancing mechanism with the people with whom they come into contact on their jobs, sometimes with comedic effect. In “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things” (2-4), when he and Sam return to Neil’s house, he says, “Neil. It’s your grief counselors. We’ve come to hug.”

The Pilot is filled with lots of wonderful Dean snark, some of which reveals his affection for pop culture, particularly the horror genre, that will be revealed in many episodes throughout the series. For instance, when he and Sam pass the real FBI guys on the bridge, Dean, in a shout-out to the X-Files, says, “Agent Mulder, Agent Scully.” He references Ghost in “In My Time of Dying” (2-1) when his out-of-body self knocks over a glass of water and he says, “Dude, I full-on Swayzed that mother.” In “Folsom Prison Blues” (2-19), Dean even jokes while getting his police mugshot taken, even though deliberately getting thrown into jail to work a haunting inside the jail is the riskiest thing they’ve done so far considering they’re wanted by the feds. He looks at the man taking the mugshot and says, “I call this one blue steel,” and makes the famous face from Zoolander.

Another slice of personality that has become synonymous with Dean is his frequent use of the word “dude.” Since I too tend to use the word “dude” a lot, this makes me smile every time. A sampling:

Sam: “Dad let you go on a hunting trip by yourself.”
Dean: “I’m 26, dude.” (Pilot)

Dean: “Dude, I earned that money.”
Sam: "You won it in a poker game.” (“Bloody Mary”, 1-5)

Dean: “Dude, sorority girls. Think we’ll see a naked pillow fight?” (“Hook Man”, 1-7)

Dean: “Dude, you’re fugly.” (“Scarecrow”, 1-11)

Sam: (gesturing to pumpkin on porch) "Hey, check that out."
Dean: "Yeah? It's close to Halloween."
Sam: "You remember Cinderella? The pumpkin that turns into a coach and the mice that become horses?"
Dean: "Dude! Could you be more gay? Don't answer that."
("Bedtime Stories", 3-5)

Sam’s sense of humor is a bit more understated, so when he does say something funny, it’s notable. Such an exchange in “Croatoan” (2-9) not only reveals Sam’s sense of humor but also the contrast between him and Dean in regards to school. Sam was always a straight-A student despite their crazy childhood and got a full ride to Stanford, while we get the impression that Dean barely skated by in school. When Sam notices the word “Croatoan” carved into a utility pole in River Grove, Oregon, he points it out to Dean.

Dean: “Croatoan?”
Sam: “Yeah. Roanoke. Lost Colony. Ring a bell? Dean, did you pay any attention to history class?”
Dean: “Yeah. Shot heard round the world, how bills become laws.”
Sam: “That’s not school. That’s Schoolhouse Rock.”

In “Provenance” (1-19), Sam uses a little humor with Sarah as he and Dean are digging up a grave so they can salt and burn the bones.

Sarah: “You guys are uncomfortably comfortable with this.”
Sam: “It’s not exactly the first grave we’ve dug. Still think I’m a catch?”

Humor and practical jokes between the brothers play a big part in “Hell House” (1-17). I still chuckle thinking about Sam sitting at the restaurant squirming because Dean put the itching powder in his underwear. Sam gets in another understated but funny dig at Dean in this exchange:

Dean: “People believe in Santa Claus. How come I’m not getting hooked up every Christmas?”
Sam: “Because you’re a bad person.”

What are your favorite parts of Sam and Dean humor?

And because I'm a big fan of YouTube and fan vids, here are a couple for your viewing pleasure. I can't embed the videos because embedding is turned off on these, but just click on the links below.

Funny Sam and Dean moments

Dean does "Eye of the Tiger"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Winchester: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


When I told my husband I was writing a post about John Winchester, he asked, “Can’t you just write that in your sleep?” Yes, I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and may be more forgiving on John Winchester because of it. But as I wrote on, I found little to love about John.


Now we know John was a normal guy who loved his wife Mary above all, and whose life was turned upside down by forces he didn’t understand when she died. We get most of our clues from the boys’ relationship with him-Dean’s immediate obedience and Sam’s rebellion.

We presume he drank to dull the pain. Sam talks about it on more than one occasion. At first, in the pilot when he tells Jessica that his dad is hanging out with Jack, Jim and Jose, I thought he might be covering up, but he’s mentioned it again. (Of course, I can’t think of any off hand, and no time to go through the DVDs, drat it.)

We know he searched everywhere for answers of why his wife died PINNED TO THE CEILING. We know he took his sons and left Lawrence in search of those answers. I’m not sure why he kept the boys with him. At first, I argued that he did it to keep them safe, but then he left them defenseless in motel rooms time and again. Why didn’t he leave them with family? So I started to wonder how long he knew about Sam. He told the Yellow-Eyed Demon in In My Time of Dying that he knew about it for awhile. How long is awhile? Did he keep Sam with him to protect him or to keep an eye on him?


Another question…did he keep the boys with him because Mary’s family and friends were being killed? Again, if this was the case, why did he leave the boys alone again and again?

He did teach the boys how to fight when they were old enough. I wonder how he felt about that. He believed it was necessary, but he had to know what he was doing would scar them forever. He had to know that asking Sam to shoot him when he was possessed by the YED would tear up his son. In trying to protect his sons, he lost the chance to love them the way he wanted.


What did John think would happen once the YED was dead? Surely he didn’t think his sons would return to a normal life, knowing what they knew. He might have hoped it, but he couldn’t have believed it.

Even his last act, giving up his revenge on the demon, had heartbreaking consequences. Dean, who already had the self-esteem of a beaten dog, blamed himself for his father’s sacrifice (which made his bartering his soul for Sam’s life less believable for me.)


Wow, as I wrote this, I came up with more questions than answers. What are your feelings about John?

Monday, January 26, 2009

RIP Kim Manners

Kim Manners, the Executive Producer for Supernatural, passed away yesterday due to complications from lung cancer.

Eric Kripke released this statement: "Everyone at Supernatural is walking around in a daze, shocked and absolutely devastated. Kim was a brilliant director; more than that, he was a mentor and friend. He was one of the patriarchs of the family, and we miss him desperately. He gave so much to Supernatural, and everything we do on the show, now and forever, is in memory of him."

For more information check out this article from BuddyTV.

Review: My Bloody Valentine 3D

I'm not a horror movie fan. I watched them slightly more often when I was younger than I do now, but skipped most of the biggies. In the last decade, it's taken something extraordinary to get me to see one. Something like, say, Jensen Ackles as the movie's star.

I went to see My Bloody Valentine 3D last week, and enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. I'm going to keep my review spoiler-free in the beginning. If you don't want to know all the details, don't read past the horizontal lines. You've been warned!

I think Jensen Ackles is a tremendous actor, so I expected him to be the best thing about this movie. He almost was, even though it didn't really test his range. Character development was minimal due to the concentrated storyline, and what we got was focused elsewhere, but it was still a treat any time he was on screen. I had a hard time not comparing him to Dean, of course. You'll be sorry to hear that most of the time he's in layers again. He does have one scene that starts with him in a tank top. One of the characters says "Put your shirt on," and the entire audience yelled, "No, don't!" There were physical differences, though. When Tom was climbing up through the woods at one point, he was tentative and shaky, and I thought, "He doesn't move at all like Dean."

I say Jensen was almost the best thing about the movie. If it had been a normal, even digital, film (Jensen in digital is pure beauty!), he would have topped the list. But the 3D was pretty amazing, and took the movie to a whole new level. Some people have said they didn't feel it was much better than the old 3D, but I did.

First, we looked much cooler than we would have with the old paper goggles:

Second, the entire movie is in 3D, not just the stuff that jumps out at you. Now, the last movie I saw in 3D was that kid movie with Sly Stallone as a bad guy (maybe Spy Kids?) and it just gave me a headache. This was like being in a diorama. Plus, my friend who says 3D doesn't work for her got the full effects. Our group was in unanimous agreement.

Speaking of groups, it's definitely more fun seeing this movie in one, so you can laugh at their reactions and they can laugh at yours.

The story held together fairly decently. There were a few moments of eye-rolling dialogue and some holes that couldn't be explained away, but far fewer of them than you'd expect in a movie whose sole purpose is to shock the audience. Most of the staples of the genre were present, but it was kind of comforting to have them there. That could be my nostalgia talking, though (what little I have).

Overall, I'd call it more horrible than scary (no nightmares here), with lots and lots of gore, and well worth seeing for either horror fans or Ackles fans.

Oh, and Tanya? It's easy to close your eyes to avoid the gore. It's well telegraphed. :) Anticipation is, after all, half the fun.

Please note I have no control over the spoilers in the comments!


The basic plot of the story (complete with "twist"! So be warned! Again!):

Ten years ago, Tom Hanniger (Ackles) forgot to bleed the lines in tunnel 5. Some miners got trapped, and most died. The police determined that Harry, one of the trapped miners, killed the others to conserve air. He lived, but went into a coma. A year later (or so I'm told, I missed that notification) he woke up from the coma and killed 23 people--people in the hospital and some kids partying at the mine.

Tom, his girlfriend Sarah, and her friends are at the party and manage to survive, but they leave Tom behind. He almost gets killed, but the sheriff and a deputy show up and kill Harry.

Ten years later, Tom, who left town immediately and never came back, returns to town around the anniversary of the massacre, planning to sell his stake in the mine since his father died. The town's not too happy about that. Sarah is now married to Axel, the town sheriff (and the guy who got her and one other girl away from the mine massacre), but clearly still carries a torch for Tom, who seeks her out repeatedly and enjoys goading Axel about her.

When the murders start happening, Tom is an immediate suspect. He was at the motel where the first two occurred, and is visible through the window on a sex tape found at the murder scene. He's also at the mine when the next one occurs, and the guy who gets killed tried to punch Tom in a bar fight the night before. But he was jammed into a cage, struggling to get out when the murder occurred.

As the movie progresses, though, most of the murders have a connection to Tom. Axel finds out he was in a mental institution for the last seven years and warns his wife off, but while being chased by the killer, she finds evidence that Axel is actually the one. It comes to a showdown between the three--in the mine, of course--and we learn it was Tom all along, kind of in a split-personality thing. They fight, the tunnel collapses, and when a rescuer locates Tom, Tom kills him and escapes, thereby making a sequel a possibility.

The Killers

Even though I was spoiled by a review that mentioned "Crazy!Jensen" and Tom taking off the mask, and even though it was pretty obvious to the discretionary viewer that the body in the miner coveralls was Jensen's (or a really, really good body double), and even though the music and camera angles and clues all pointed to Tom, they managed near the end to make me think it could be Axel. Probably, that was partly because I wanted it to be the lying, cheating jerk instead of the lost, tragic, heartbreaker.

Motivation was the biggest point of discussion for us when it was over. I thought it was funny that they kept questioning why Tom would go after, say, the housekeeper or the chippy that Axel had gotten pregnant. To me, it was as simple as...he's broken. He got attacked, and left behind, and he was already harboring guilt for the mining accident. Then he had to shoulder the deaths of two dozen people. Coming home, seeing those people from the past, triggered his psychosis.

But no one really questioned Harry's motivation. Why he killed the miners was clear, but why all the hospital people? Why the kids at the mine? Why did he suddenly turn into something he wasn't, especially after being in a coma for a year?

Speaking of which.

But What About...

Harry was in a coma for a year, but was hugely muscled and capable of ripping people in half? He didn't have a pickax in the hospital, so how did he tear through ribcages and rip out hearts?

The key scene to keep us guessing about Tom was the third modern death, in the mine. He's watching the murder from inside the cage. Very metaphorical. But later, when he's revealed, they show him putting himself in the cage and taking off the miner suit and mask. Where was that stuff when the others came in? I'm not certain if he disrobed in the cage or outside it, but either way, why wouldn't the police have found the gear and the pickax? There weren't any good places to hide them.

One of the pieces pointing to Axel is his father's old house in the woods, where he shtuped his girlfriend and where she gave him a Valentine's card and told him she was pregnant. Tom found the house, so when the words in the card appear in blood on the wall over dead Megan's head, we're to think it had to be one of the two of them, since they're the only ones who knew about the card. Later, Sarah finds a cabinet full of Valentine hearts (the kind candy comes in) and the card. Since the killer was putting his victims' hearts in candy boxes, she thinks he's her husband.

But the problem with that misdirection is that it indicates premeditation. When we get flashbacks to show how things really happened, Tom seems to be completely unaware of his "Harry" personality, and certain things trigger it to come out. He's fully convinced in the mine that the killer is a separate entity. But he's shown discovering where Harry had been buried, and recovering his old mask and pickax. So those things don't quite jive.

But they were still minor compared to some other horror movies I've seen, and the final shot of the movie, on Tom's expression shifting as Harry takes over and escapes, is chilling enough to make me forgive the little issues. Scary? Gory? Hot guy in a tank top? Eyeballs poking out of the screen on the end of the pickax? Those are enough for me.

Did you see the movie? Agree, disagree, think I'm completely nuts? Tell us what you thought, and please correct anything you think I got wrong, because there were a few places I had to close my eyes. :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What to look forward to this week

First, we'd like to thank everyone who has been coming by and making our new blog a way fun place to hang out and chat about Supernatural. I'm having a ball, and I'd lay money down that the other Sisters are too. So what's up this week?

Monday -- Natalie has braved the scare-fest of My Bloody Valentine 3-D to see Jensen Ackles on the big screen, and she's going to share her review. Since I'm a weenie and haven't seen it, I'll be glad to just read her recap. I suspect the movie is doing okay though since when I went to see Underworld: Rise of the Lycans on Friday, everyone in front of me was going to see My Bloody Valentine.

Tuesday -- MJ (aka She Who Adores Jeffrey Dean Morgan ) will be blogging about Papa Winchester: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Wednesday -- I'll continue my comparison of the Winchester brothers by comparing Dean's and Sam's senses of humor.

Thursday -- Terri will explore the topic of fantasizing in fiction.

Friday -- The recap of Thursday night's episode, "After-School Special," by Tanya. I know I'm really looking forward to this episode and Tanya's observations.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Criss Angel Is A Douche Bag


According to Sera Gamble, the episode’s brilliant title, Criss Angel is a Douche Bag, was originally conceived as a joke among the writers, but ended up sticking. And it wasn’t the only dig they took at him. The story opens on Iowa’s Magic Week, where magicians have gathered to wow audiences, but three seniors, Jay (Barry Bostwick), Vernon (Richard Libertini) and Charlie (John Rubenstein), mourn the loss of their youth. As they watch a Criss clone named Jeb Dexter posture and preen his way through an act, Jay complains that they’re “sad, old and dying.” Desperate to recapture his golden years he decides to perform the Table of Death. Charlie tries to talk him out of it, but after being heckled by another magician and feeling crusty and obsolete next to Jeb, the Incredible Jay insists he’d rather go out on a headline than the way he is now. That night he’s shackled to a table, a curtain silhouettes his struggle against the bonds, and as a horrified audience watches the burning rope snaps and a bed of blood red spikes fall and skewer his body. Gasps. Screams. The curtain whips back and an unharmed Jay takes his bow while the magician who previously heckled him drops dead on the street of puncture wounds even though his shirt has no holes.

Enter the Winchesters. They watch as Jeb mesmerizes a group of women with magic. From his leather and eyeliner to his melodramatic breathing and narcissism, the mimicry of Angel is Mindfreakin’ hilarious. And of course, everyone has to call him a douche bag. ‘Cause really, it’s too funny not to. However, despite finding a common dislike for the douche, the old men aren’t so willing to help "Federal Agent Ulrich.” When Dean explains that a tarot card was found on the dead magician and asks if they know anything about it he’s directed to 426 Bleeker St. where he should ask for Chief.

Dean arrives at the skeevy address and Chief, sporting skin tight leather and a cat-o-nine whip, greets him with a flirty, “You are really going to get it tonight, big boy.” Dean blanches and says he thinks he’s been had to which the cheeky Chief retorts, “Oh, you ain’t been had ‘til you’ve been had by the Chief. Oh, and before we get started what’s your safe word?”

Meanwhile, Sam finds Ruby at his door and she wants him to quit dicking around with stupid cases. Thirty-four seals have been broken, more than half, and the angels are losing the war. If Sam doesn’t want an ocean of people to die then he needs to cut the head off the snake, stop things at their source. Kill. Lillith. Ruby says it’s time he uses his power and she knows he likes it. When Sam disagrees, she storms out.

Being around the old guys has Sam and Dean pondering their own futures. Dean wants to die before he gets old. He thinks things just get bloody or sad if you go on too long. Sam wonders if they could have a normal life if they could just put an end to it all.

The douche dies and then--shocker--Charlie. However, the boys have figured out Jay isn’t planting the killer cards so suspicion shifts to Vernon. While Jay diverts his attention the boys investigate Vernon’s room. There they find an old, very old, poster of Charlie, known as the Great Dessertini (WTH?). Turns out Charlie is back and young again. Thanks to an immortality spell in a grimmoire he got from Barnum he can live forever and he’s inviting his two friends to join him. Sam and Dean get there in the nick of time, but Charlie aims his hoodoo at them and Dean is strung up by a noose while Sam is strapped onto the Table of Death. Yet it’s Charlie who bites it when Jay stabs himself and Charlie finds the Magician card in his own pocket.

The next day the boys go to thank Jay for choosing them over his friend. He’s despondent, “old and alone” and he gives up on magic. Gives up on life. His defeat wears on the Winchesters. Dean copes by getting a beer. Sam copes by telling Ruby “I’m in.” When she asks why he says, “I don’t want to be doing this when I’m old.”

And that’s the rub, isn’t it? Can these two really have any kind of future? The answer remains to be seen, but I think we’re working our way there. Last week’s episode was a departure for this season because it went old school and while at first glance this week’s epi also appears to step away from the Armageddon arc it actually seems more like a bridge than a detour. Each boy is being driven forward by desperation. Dean is hell bent (pun intended) on redemption and Sammy wants desperately to know there’s a reason to hope, to hang on, to move forward to something more than just a sad or bloody ending. They’re both working for the greater good, but I have this horrible suspicion they’re headed in opposite directions. I confess I missed the humor in this episode, the best line being, “I’m not Guttenberg and this ain’t Cocoon,” but it would’ve been ill placed as these two contemplated what, if any kind, of future they might have.

So what do you think? Do they have a future? Will they rid the world of bad? Will things get bloody and sad? Tell us what you think.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dean Girls vs. Sammy Girls

The fangirl phenomena has likely been around as long as moving pictures, but it has exploded in the years since the Internet has been commonplace in homes. Now, female fans can not only dream of their favorite TV or movie hero, she also can create a fanlisting or Web site devoted to him. She can design banners and icons showcasing him to accompany her online forum posts. She can purchase a T-shirt from an online store like CafePress that proclaims her devotion. I admit it - I have Supernatural T-shirts and a pin proclaiming me to be a Sammy Girl. What is this Sammy Girl proclamation, you ask.

Perhaps as old as fangirldom is the debate over which guy in a show deserves all that adoration. And the division usually comes down to one’s preference for the bad boy versus the good boy. Spike or Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Captain Jack Sparrow or Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Henry Fitzroy or Mike Celucci in Blood Ties.

In other words, are you a Dean Girl or a Sammy Girl?

What makes a female fan gravitate toward Dean or Sam? Both have good qualities, and both have bad. I don’t think anyone will argue with the fact that they’re both smokin’ hot. It’s actually a mixture of things - physical attributes, their personalities, how they interact with those around them and each other - that cause fans to line up in their corners.

Today, let's just examine the physical attributes and personalities.

Physical Attributes

We know right from the Pilot episode which Winchester brother is going to be the bad boy and which is going to be the good boy. Visual clues tell us this as much as what the characters say. Dean has the bad-boy leather jacket, boots, and close-cropped hair that might have been inspired by his dad’s time in the Marines. Plus, who has time to mess with hair when he’s hunting things that go bump in the night?

Sam is the All-American college boy who wears newer jeans than Dean, sneakers, and loose shirts and jackets. Unlike his older brother, he has longer hair that takes a little more effort. Dean is a few inches shorter and a bit more compactly built. Sam is tall and rangy, though we find out in episodes like “Hell House” (1-17) and “Heart” (2-17) that Sammy is hiding a lot of muscles under those baggy clothes of his. (Hmm, I think my new favorite number is 17.)


For two brothers who have the same, often lonely, mission in life, these two certainly have different personalities. And fangirls love them for those differences.

Dean is cocky and likes to have fun drinking, playing poker, shooting pool, throwing darts, and putting quarters in the Magic Fingers machine. He loves women, particularly of the “hot chick” variety. We see this early on in Season 1. In the Pilot, he gives Sam’s girlfriend, Jessica, that look of male appreciation when she comes into the living room in her sleepwear, including a revealing shirt sporting a Smurf. Dean says, “I love the Smurfs” and you know he really means he likes what’s in the Smurf shirt. Even when the brothers head to St. Louis to help out one of Sam’s college friends in “Skin” (1-6), Dean can’t turn off his strong pull toward women. When Becky says to Sam, “What do you think this is, Hooters?” Dean replies under his breath, “I wish.” Even faced with his imminent demise, Dean makes a hot-chick comment: “I’m not going to die in a hospital when the nurses aren’t even hot.” (”Faith,” 1-12)

But even though Dean always comes across as the ladies’ man, he’s fun and attractive. And in “Route 666″ (1-13), we find out that Dean can indeed fall hard for a woman when he meets back up with Cassie, an old love. In fact, Cassie’s past rejection of him when he told her the truth about himself and his hunting may have contributed to him not wanting anything more than a superficial relationship with a woman now.

Sam’s relationship with women is much different. He loved Jessica a lot and it’s eventually revealed that he was going to ask her to marry him. But when he lost her, it was a long time before he could even admit an attraction toward another woman. In “Hook Man” (1-7), Lori kisses Sam but he pulls away. He’s not over Jess yet. It’s not until “Provenance” (1-19) that Sam lets go enough to admit a new attraction and kiss Sarah at the end. But because of their job, he has to leave her and anything that might have developed between them behind.

While we figure Dean is having plenty of sex and enjoying every minute of it (as his partners likely are too), Sam doesn’t have sex after Jessica until he meets Madison in “Heart” (2-17). Because this is the first time since Jessica, it’s especially heart wrenching at the end when he has to admit that there’s no cure for Madison’s lycanthropy and he has to kill her. The anguish on his face just before he walks into the room, portrayed so well by Jared Padalecki, shows that when Sam begins to give his heart to someone, he doesn’t do it by half measures. That’s very attractive to women, to be loved like that. And it makes Sam’s female fans ache for him, that once again a woman he cares a great deal about has been taken from him.

So, based on physical and personality characteristics, are you a Dean Girl or a Sammy Girl? Why?

Be sure to come back next Wednesday when I'll discuss the differences between Dean's humor and Sammy's humor.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pay No Attention to the Fandom Behind the Curtain

So yesterday, Natalie talked about Supernatural's passionate fandom. Isn't that the dream of every writer/creator/showrunner--to build a base of fans who care so much about the characters that they never miss an episode, dissect every plotpoint, perhaps even set up a blog to discuss it? *g* Now, please understand, I am part of that passionate fandom, very much a fangirl. Yet, as a writer, I cannot imagine the creative pressure such a fanbase might put on you. Is it tempting to second-guess yourself mid-stream if hundreds of people go on line to hate on a character? Do your own ideas get muddled in the bombardment of input?

I think that the Internet has revolutionized the way people watch TV and the interaction between viewers and writers. Ten-fifteen years ago, was there even any mainstream interaction? For most of the shows I watched in high school and college, I could barely name any of the writers. But then mentions cropped up more and more in chat forums, on-line reviews and website interviews; you didn't just hear about Buffy and Angel, people were throwing around the name "Joss" like we know him personally; people didn't just argue whether they thought Rory should be with Jess or Dean (of course Dean! *g*), they would actually say stuff like "what is ASP thinking?" ASP being Amy Sherman-Palladino). Now I realize that with television series, there's often a team of writers and maybe even some freelance scripts, but there's usually one name that you recognize as being in charge of the whole thing and where it's going--Shonda, Sorkin, Team Darlton, Kripke. In rare instances, the writers become stars themselves; a lot of BSG fans would be as excited about going to hear Ronald Moore and David Eick talk as they would Edward James Olmos (esp. if Moore and Eick were to spill where the frack the colonists go from here...)

At the best of times, it's a two-way street. Writers not only reach out through their shows, but directly, personally, to the audience--they blog, they go to events like ComicCon and DragonCon, they do interviews with sites like Television Without Pity. They show their appreciation for the passionate fans and sometimes give us gifts like inside jokes in an episode or shout outs, making the show feel almost like a collaborative process.

Except, it's not. Is it? More importantly, should it be?

Fans start to feel proprietary about "their" show. To the extent where they have very strong feelings about where plotlines should or should not be going. And oh boy do they make their feelings known! (Natalie, you're excused from this rant since yesterday's blog proved you to be more forgiving than hypercritical *g)

Before I sold my first book, I worked with a critique group--I was writing mostly comedies at the time and met each week with four wonderful women. Who happened to have different senses of humor. Two might smile at a joke, one would laugh uproariously, the other would strike the entire paragraph with a red pen because she found it politically incorrect. I learned quickly that if I left in only the stuff that the majority of people smiled at, eliminating anything "risky" that could offend, I watered down my stories. I shudder to think what we'd be left with if showrunners tried to accomodate all the "advice" hurled at them from fans. (Who can write a story with a critique group of hundreds second-guessing them? Besides, not even all the fans agree on what they want to happen or which episode they like/dislikes.) Exacerbating the issue is that TV series unfold one episode at a time, unlike a book you can sit down and read straight through. TV Guide critic Matt Roush has noted before audiences' tendency to pounce on a show they claim to love after one episode they hated; he'll get all kinds of mail demanding to know if he thought the show "jumped the shark." I for one prefer to see how a storyline plays out. Sometimes people react negatively before something even airs!

I never really understood why, whenever a rumor surfaced of a possible love interest for Sam or Dean, a large number of SPN fans came unglued. Okay, wait, I take that back. It's because the dynamic between the brothers is so crucial and we don't want that to take a backseat to something else. Still, we don't want that dynamic to stagnate either, do we? So far, the boys have only been allowed hasty one nighters--a little Impala action just before the girl goes all nuclear angel, falling for a girl in one episode and having to kill her werewolf butt in the same forty seven minute time span. It might be fun to watch Dean try to have an actual relationship. (Can't you just hear the sensitive advice Sammy would try to give? And Dean's subsequent mocking of said advice?) Not that I'm saying they both need girlfriends, but I trust the writers. If writers I like think they can bring a story, I'm willing to wait and see where it's going. (And, if where a show is going is that four episodes later a neurotic surgical resident is still trying to sleep with the ghost of her deceased boyfriend/patient, I change the channel--no matter how much I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan!)

There has always been entertainment reporting, of course, but I think another area where the Internet has changed the television viewing dynamic is in the amount of spoilers we recieve. Some of my fellow fans come unglued after a hint of something that might happen, decrying it as terrible months in advance. (Which in my humble opinion is a lot like my seven year old insisting he doesn't like a food before he's even tried it.) Obviously, this wouldn't be the fans Natalie discussed yesterday, but different, less rational ones. If WE do nothing but bash our show, how can we expect to win over new fans?

Which isn't to say that I don't enjoy good discussion and heated debate and that sometimes I think the angry fandom is right--why, yes, perhaps a certain episode of Heroes was a muddled mess, perhaps the addition of a certain pair on Lost was not only flat but unnecessary. But so far, Kripke & Co. have not committed, IMO, any unforgivable errors, so I'm willing to gripe to friends about an episode I didn't like but hope that, when it's time to sit down and plot the next story arc, those writers ignore me completely and just go about doing what they do best!

The Expectations of Truly Passionate Fans

Note: I made an effort to keep big spoilers out of this post in deference to overseas fans who are behind a season. I do have some mild references, however.

Another note: When I say "we," I know I'm not speaking for every fan, and even for the ones "like me," nothing is universal. But I think there's enough commonality to justify use of the plural.

I've never been a fan of a television show like I'm a fan of Supernatural. Two came close: Firefly and Lost. The former was too short-lived to sustain forever, and the latter subsided after the novelty wore off.

But somehow, my passion for SPN has endured, and even grown. I've spent the last two summers gathering with friends every week to watch the entire series over again, beginning to end. I save each season on the DVR until the DVDs come out so I can watch them anytime I want.

I love this show beyond any other show I've ever watched. And that creates unique expectations. Expectations that non-fans just can't understand, and that manifest in two ways.

(photos Sergei Bachlakov/The CW ©2008)

1. Every episode should be better than the one before.

We all love the show because of Sam and Dean and their chemistry. On top of that, it's been fairly well written, with interesting mythology, excellent guest stars, and a superb blend of drama, humor, suspense, and action. Each season has improved, but as season 4 started, we didn't expect it to get even better. We were wrong, and episodes like "In the Beginning" and "Monster Movie" have us anticipating the deepest emotions and cacklingest humor every week.

When a show gets analyzed ad nauseum, it's got to be difficult to come up with twists that surprise us. The truth about Mary did that, big time. Dean's description of what happened in hell wasn't surprising, but the purity of emotion ensured that the impact of watching him reveal it was still strong.

So now, every Thursday, we're giddy with eagerness. We can't wait to see what they'll come up with that beats existential teddy bears. How much we'll laugh at Dean and want to cuddle Sam (or vice versa!). Kripke and Co. know how to bring it. They've set us up, so they had damned well better make sure they deliver, every time.

Of course, such overwhelmingly high expectations have a flip side. Or do they?

2. If an episode doesn't live up to the ones before it, it's okay.

You'd think high expectations would mean easy disappointment. After all, no one and nothing can deliver every time. SPN isn't unique in that regard. There's occasional clumsy blocking or weak/stiff/hollow acting or even (gasp!) illogical or convenient writing. Nothing's perfect.

But somehow, SPN never disappoints, even when it does. I mean, for how many other shows will we say, "I didn't like that one" and then watch it again? And maybe even again?

I have shows that aren't my favorites ("Metamorphosis" from this season, for example). But SPN has so much going for it that a slip in one area is shored up by something great in another. There are always brotherly moments, funny lines, scary scenes, cool special effects, fun guest stars, intriguing camera work, and meaningful music. Even when an episode is weak by comparison, it gives us stuff to talk about.

Which brings me to Entertainment Weekly and the review for last week's show.

SPN doesn't get enough media/promotion love, so I was delighted to see a full review in the "What to Watch" column. The reviewer is either a casual watcher or a non-watcher who meant well, but really shouldn't speak for us fans. She said:

"Sometimes a show just feels like a rerun...Superfans deserve more from the series than rewarmed horror-trope leftovers."

Let us decide what we deserve. "Family Remains" wasn't season-changing. It didn't advance the mythology, or deal with angels or demons or brother-versus-brother. It was a classic episode that brought us to back to the show's roots, to what made us fall in love with it in the first place. We need episodes like this, that make us sleep with the lights on and go up the stairs with our backs to the wall. And maybe we need an episode, once in a while, that isn't as intense with the awesomeness. Maybe it makes us appreciate the best ones more.

Every Thursday night after the show airs on the East Coast, I chat online with a bunch of friends about the episode. This week, most of them used the word "disappointed" and referenced the things they didn't like. But when I said, "so you all agree with that Entertainment Weekly reviewer," they all shouted "NO!"

Megan Hart put it most eloquently when she said, "Even when they dip below the surface, they're still heads and shoulders above everyone else."

That's everything a passionate fan can ask for.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Winchesters on the Big Screen

Our boys have been busy lately, though frankly I think Jensen and Jared need Jeffrey’s agent. Horror movies? After doing Supernatural all year?

Oh, well, hopefully it will get them good exposure and bring more fans to the show, right?

First up is My Bloody Valentine 3D, Jensen’s movie, which came out this past weekend. Do NOT go to Wikipedia to see what it’s about, because dang, the whole movie is laid out. I hate being spoiled. Jensen plays Tom, the son of the mine owner, who may or may not be responsible for the mine incident that killed 5 miners and left one in a coma, on Valentine’s Day. The scene we’ve seen over and over (if we’ve been Tivoing Jensen on Jimmy Kimmel and Bonnie Hunt) is when the characters are still in high school. Tom (Jensen) is injured, but the bulk of the story takes place after that scene. I thought Jensen’s comment to Bonnie Hunt that his parents might not be able to see this movie was cute, made me want to see it even more.

Okay, after watching the preview, I want to see it. I admit it.

Next is Friday the 13th, Jared’s movie. Jared plays Clay (apparently no last name) who travels to the legendary Crystal Lake to find his missing sister. He meets up with other young people there (fodder, no doubt) and Jason appears. Again, Jared is the lead character, which is cool, but Friday the 13th? Oh well. The comment I heard Jared make is that he really worked out to get big for the role (I’m thinking this is why he looks so, um, good this season) because the actor who plays Jason is even bigger than Jared. It was filmed near Austin last summer, which kills me, because Jared said he’d drive down to San Antonio (where I am, where he’s from) almost every weekend. GAH!

The movie I’m definitely seeing is Watchmen, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan. As soon as I heard about it, I read the comic, and Jeffrey’s character is Not A Nice Man, even though he’s a “hero.” Since then, I’ve been soaking up everything I can about it, and even my son is getting excited about it. He’s read the comic several times, and got the motion comics from iTunes for Christmas.

Anyway, the plot: The year is 1984 and Nixon is still president. The Cold War is at its peak, we’ve won VietNam (thanks to Dr. Manhattan, the big blue guy) and costumed heroes have been outlawed.

The movie starts with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, as Edward Blake, the Comedian, being thrown out the window. Yes. He DIES IN THE FIRST SCENE. Yeesh. Maybe he needs a new agent, too. Anyway, this sparks an investigation by another costumed hero who used to work with Blake, Rorschach (the guy with the black and white mask, played by Jackie Earle Haley). Rorschach goes to Nite Owl (played by Patrick Wilson) and suggests someone is targeting costumed heroes. It takes a bit more than that to convince Nite Owl to squeeze back into his costume and fight for justice.

The plot is twisted, as are the characters. We get backstory fed in, like how Dr. Manhattan came to be, and we learn what the responsibility of being a hero can do to a character.

Since Zach Snyder directed it, I’m super excited (did you know he’s my age? To be so successful…awesome.) Also, in the comic there’s a sub-story, a kid reading a comic book at a news stand called “Tales of the Black Freighter.” Zach has made an animated version of this, voiced by Gerard Butler, which will release on DVD and rated R. Trust me, again not a cheery story.

Also from Jeffrey Dean Morgan, The Accidental Husband. It’s supposed to come out at the end of March, but it’s been pushed 3 times already. It’s a romantic comedy, which relies on pratfalls by Uma Thurman for laughs. Jeffrey Dean plays Patrick, a firefighter (guh) about to marry a woman he’d rescued, only she calls in to Uma’s radio show to ask if it’s really love. Uma tells her know, and Patrick’s fiancĂ©e breaks up with him. He decides to get revenge on Uma by getting his friend to do some hacking and “marrying” her on paper, so she can’t marry Colin Firth, completely wasted in this role.

I felt like a lot of stuff was cut out that would make the movie flow better. There are some scenes worth watching for…the last scene was my favorite, and the bar scene was good too, and it is much more cheerful than any of these other movies.

JDM has three more movies in post-production, set to come out in 2009 as well: All Good Things, with Kirsten Dunst, where he plays a cop with bad hair, Taking Woodstock, where he plays a closeted gay man in the 1960s (who wants to bet he has some serious sideburns?), and Shanghai, with John Cusack, where he plays a man who gets killed in Shanghai (STOP KILLING JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN!!!) before World War II and Cusack has to investigate.

So tell me, will you go see our Winchesters on the big screen? And who will you go with?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

This week on Supernatural Sisters...

First off, thanks to everyone who commented on our first two days of existence. We're so happy to be sharing our love for Supernatural with so many cool fans of the show.

So, what's up for our first full week?

Monday -- MJ previews upcoming movies starring the actors who play all the Winchester men. Knowing her like I do, I'm pretty sure there's going to be some love for Jeffrey Dean Morgan and The Watchmen. :)

Tuesday -- Natalie will be talking about the expectations of the show's most passionate fans.

Wednesday -- Tanya will continue exploring the fandom, but from the writers' perspective.

Thursday -- I (Trish) will talk about Dean Girls vs. Sammy Girls and why fangirls feel an affinity for one or the other. (Sneak peek: While I think Dean is hysterical, I'm a Sammy girl.)

Friday -- Terri dishes up our second weekly episode recap and observations of "Criss Angel is a Douche Bag," which I think is a hysterical episode title.

So be sure to check in each day and share your thoughts. And please share our Web address with everyone you know who loves Supernatural.

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Family Remains"

ATTENTION: The following review contains spoilers in the manner that I tell you everything that happens. Anyone who hasn't seen last night's episode yet and doesn't want to know all the good stuff, please stop reading! :)

When Kripke conceived Supernatural and they first started working on the show, they intended it to be "a horror movie every week." In the last couple of seasons, there's been a bit of a departure from that.

Until last night. "Family Remains" returned to the horror movie format, in all ways.

Creep Factor Dialed to 11

First we have the old guy watching TV. Lights go out, door creeps open, standard freaky-looking female with messy hair and tattered clothes approaches. Camera pans to a cross-stitch on the wall, the "home sweet home"-style message splattering with blood.

Then we have the Impala. Moment of joy, right? Except it's sitting in the middle of nowhere, in front of a gate (blocking what?), surrounded by bramble and fog and dark. Dead silence. Dean sits in the front seat, perusing a newspaper. It feels like a million other tense moments, the kind just before something attacks and makes us jump. This sets the tone for the entire episode, which is full of such moments:

*The ball rolling out of the closet (reminiscent of the ball coming down the stairs in the 1980 George C. Scott film The Changeling--scariest movie I've ever seen in my life).

*The dog disappearing.

*The girl stepping over the salt.

*Dean and Ted sneaking through the walls.

While I don't consider this episode the best of the season overall, it gets the "Creepiest" label without a fight.

Bringing the Funny

We all love Supernatural's one-liners, right? Again, this episode isn't full of them, but it gives us a few gems:

Dean, going down a hole into a dark sub-basement, after the murderous chick: "Please no one grab my leg. Please no one grab my leg."

Dean to Sam, who just said old houses all had dumbwaiters: "Know-it-all."
Sam: "What?"
Dean: "What."
Sam: "You just said--" *shakes his head, walks away*
Dean: *smirks*

Dean, shouting, upon finding the Impala's tires flat: "What kind of a ghost messes with a guy's WHEELS?"

Horror Movie 101

"Family Remains" had a lot of the tropes of old-school horror movies. A nice family looking for a change moves into a big old house surrounded by open land, not knowing there was a murder there. And, it turns out, not just a murder. A suicide, as well, by the daughter of the guy who was murdered in scene one. The ghost connects with the young son, the most vulnerable family member. Mysterious words appear on the walls. The family dog disappears when no one is looking (and we get some gore with that, too, though the limitations of prime-time TV keep that minimal). Dean turns and jumps, we jump with him, as he comes face to face with...something gross, but not threatening. Which primes us for a short time later when the expendable guy turns and comes face to face with...the creepy killer, and we learn why the sarcastic uncle is helping his sister's family move. Did I say he was expendable?

Twisting it Up, and Leaving it Open

While this episode can be labeled "Classic" as it goes into the Supernatural archives, it's not as neatly wrapped as such things usually are. I say that's okay.

First, we have the twists. We've had lots of ghost episodes. We've explored the complexity of "evil" versus "supernatural," and we've even done the "Dude. They're just people!" thing. (Ref. "The Benders," episode 1.15) But they trick us here. They give us the ghost things:

*flickering lights (but they actually go out)
*inexplicably locked doors
*a female ghost that mimics (or mocks?) the recent trend of dark-haired, sloppy, sunken-eyed horror movie monsters
*things happening so fast a human couldn't possibly do them (emptying the trunk of the Impala, slicing the tires, killing the dog)

But then the ghost doesn't flicker in that horrible way. It doesn't skip across the floor as it approaches Dean and the family safe in the salt circle. It approaches slowly. And it crosses the salt. The iron poker doesn't dissipate her. Dean fights her off, and declares her human.

If you were like me, you were skeptical. I mean, in "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things" (episode 2.4), we had a solid, strong, fast-moving zombie. Why couldn't she be that? But no, they held on to the human thing, and that always changes our heroes' position. Stopping supernatural evil is easy. Stopping evil humans is a whole 'nother mess. But they have to save the family, right?

The other twist comes to light when Dean rescues the young boy, Danny, who's been dragged down to the girl's hidey-hole. Danny yells that the BROTHER is coming back! Oooh, that explains a lot! When they killed the lights (and then the man who appears to be their father/grandfather EW!), the door wasn't inexplicably locked--the brother was holding it closed. The chick wasn't flitting around with the boys' weapons. She was distracting them inside while brother dear stole the stuff and slashed the tires. It's all explained now.

Well, not everything. We don't always get neat answers. Sam found a diary in the attic that tells us the man impregnated his daughter and told her he was going to lock up the baby away from her. So she killed herself. Obviously, anything they think they know from that point until now is speculation. If Sam and Dean can't possibly know it, we can't possibly know it. So it feels like holes. Fortunately, I am annoyingly able to fill them in with hypotheses. :)

How did they learn to speak and write, if they were locked up in the walls? Why did the father even keep them around? Why did they wait so long to kill him?

We kind of assume they've been locked up in the walls for close to two decades, but we don't know that's the case. They have clothes, and have been fed more than rats, for sure. I think the father/grandfather kept them in the house the way he'd have kept the daughter. Probably in secret, because of the (ick) incest thing, of course, so no one else would have known about them. Why did he keep them? He was a sicko who needed power, as evidenced by what he did to his daughter. Her suicide removed her from his influence, so of course he kept the kids so he could keep his power. With TV around, they would have learned a little reading and writing and the ability to communicate. He probably locked them in the walls as they got bigger, maybe harder to control. I think he boarded up the dumbwaiter recently, and that caused them to break out and kill him (hence the delay).

For a show that's usually written quite neatly with few gaps, open questions such as these feel like a flaw. But I don't mind having a reason to keep thinking about and talking about the show, and I find the lack of spoon-fed detail refreshing. Also, being as in the dark as Sam and Dean about those things makes me feel closer to them.

Speaking of Sam and Dean...

Brotherly Moments

At the end of the last episode before the break, Dean revealed what happened in hell. That he'd resisted for 30 years, but in the last 10, he gave in, climbed off the torture rack, and started dishing the torture himself.

At the beginning of this one, Sam wakes from a deep sleep (scrunched into the back of the Impala) to find Dean looking for a job. But they just finished one bare hours ago, and Sam knows what's going on. Dean's running, either from what he told Sam, or the fact that he told it. We get Sam's knowing look and Dean's silent acknowledgment of it, with a few beautifully framed, beautifully lit shots. (Okay, maybe it's just the boys who are beautiful.)

Late in the episode, we see some of what's driving Dean. He blames himself for Ted being killed, and is absolutely determined to save the young boy. You can see the fervor in his eyes, feel it when the father asks, "Why do you care so much?" He's clearly trying to make up for what he did to the souls in hell.

But can he? That's the other big brotherly moment. He's tried. Over the last month, he's attempted to distance himself from his admission and atone for it. But he knows, and finally admits, that he can't. It's not just what he did. He liked it. It makes him sick now, but the torture eased the pain of his humanity, turned around what he'd endured for three decades, and he was glad to do it. When I watched him say that, I cracked inside. He's broken, so broken, perhaps unhealable.

But that's a topic for another post.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Welcome, Supernatural fans!

If you're a fan of things that go bump in the night -- as long as there's a hunky Winchester brother to make it go bye-bye -- then you've come to the right place. We're very excited to launch the Supernatural Sisters blog on the day when Sam and Dean return for the second half of the season. We're all waiting anxiously to see what's in store for the boys around the next curve in the road.

So you've found our site, noticed that we've identified ourselves as fangirls and writers. Now you may be wondering, just who are these fangirls? We're all published fiction authors. What do we write? Romance, young adult fiction, women's fiction, romantic adventure and whatever other kinds of stories demand to be told. So expect to see at least some posts on this blog from a writer's point of view. And if you're curious to know more, check out the links to our personal Web sites in the sidebar.

But we're not just writers. During the past few years, we've discovered that we share other things -- like our fangirldom for Supernatural. We often e-mailed each other about the episodes, about what we liked and didn't like, about our speculation of where the big story arc is going, the deeper meaning behind certain story aspects, etc. Gradually, the idea of a blog where we could share these thoughts with even more fans popped into being. We want to have a dynamic, fun online community in which to talk about all things Supernatural.

Since there are five of us, we will be posting new blog posts Monday-Friday. One day you might read about mythology in the show; the next it might be an oh-so-philosophical discussion about which brother is hotter and why. :) There will be character studies, dissections of storylines, thoughts about casting, hopefully some interviews and so much more we haven't even thought up yet. Each Friday, we will be discussing the previous night's episode while it's fresh in everyone's minds. And if two days over the weekend is just too long to wait for new content, be sure to check in on Sundays when we'll post what Winchester goodness is coming up the next week.

So, to get the discussion going, what are some of the topics you think it'd be fun to discuss here? We'll keep a running list in our idea pool.