Thursday, November 12, 2009

Breaking Down "The Real Ghostbusters"

Unless you were 100% capable of avoiding spoilers of any type, you knew tonight's episode was going to take place at a Supernatural convention. I thought it was super-cool that rotation put me in charge of the recap for this ep, since I've been to a Supernatural convention! So I can honestly say...this was nothing like the real thing.

I could feel much of fandom (i.e. the people who love the show) holding their collective breath at how Kripke and Co. were going to handle this. I caught a glimpse, via Google alert, of a question posed on a blog, about whether Kripke knows that not all fans are super crazy. Well, yeah, of course he does, but we're not very good TV fodder. And come on. Honestly, who doesn't have an inner Becky?

The show opens with the Impala racing...somewhere. Screeching up to an old-fashioned hotel a la "Playthings." Sam and Dean hurry out of the car and go charging across the parking lot, except Dean is brought up short by...three more Impalas! They find Chuck pacing in front of the hotel, all nervous and stuff, and surprised to see them even though Sam says he texted them an emergency call and they drove all night. Without actually talking to Chuck to find out what was wrong. Hm. That's pretty strong loyalty, boys.

Turns out Becky borrowed Chuck's phone. From his pants. I don't know why she thought it was so important to get the guys there, since she doesn't rush to out them or anything, but...oh, wait. Super-mega-crush on Sam. Delusions fed when he remembers her name and she believes she's been in his every waking thought, the way he's been in hers. Okay, that's pretty powerful motivation.

Sam and Dean follow Chuck and Becky into the building, and we see more signs (after the Impalas) that this convention is really patterned more on the general sci-fi/fan conventions than the Supernatural-centric ones. There were no Impalas in New Jersey. Besides the guests, there were maybe 5 men in attendance, but on the show, it was mostly men. In real life, a few people dress up, some amazingly well, but on the show, everyone was someone. I think poor Fritz-the-hookman was my favorite. He questioned details of the show, and Becky scolded him with the real-life wank-builder, "If you don't like it, don't read the books!"

Sam and Dean watch for a few minutes, long enough for me to wonder why they bother, but I guess there's a car-crash quality to lingering. They're ready to bail when the real ghosts show up, and I have to say, I think most of the mystery was handled well.

Instead of coincidence, there's logic built into what happens. The convention people want authenticity, so they pick a hotel that is rumored to be haunted. Because Supernatural is real, the haunting is, too. (Did anyone else have moments of surreality during all this? Fake under fake real under real real and I lost track of what made sense and what didn't!) The haunting is pretty basic, with a couple of twists. Crazy woman killed kids, now they all haunt the place, they salt and burn the crazy woman's bones, but it turns out the kids were the real problem, so they have to dig them up, too. You always know there's going to be a twist when they're burning skeletons at 9:27 p.m.

The kids were creepy/scary, the mother/orphanage director wild/scary, the ghost effects gave the willies. But threaded through it was a lot of poignancy. We've got Barnes and Demian, Sam and Dean wannabes, comical with their lowered voices and struggles to stay in character (did anyone else imagine the actors going "Score! Conventions, here we come!" when they got the parts?). Dean at first disdains them, Sam feels sorry for them, and they irritate Dean so much, acting out his real life, that he kind of blows up at them. Sam and Dean's lives suck, he tells them, and they're nuts for glamorizing or romanticizing it. Later, Demian points out to Dean that he gets to wake up every day knowing he makes a difference. It's a reminder Dean needs every so often, because his life does suck, but he has a brother who'd die for him, and that's more than a lot of people have.

Dean and Sam also discover that these regular people, these dorks with sad lives, have a lot more to them. They're brave. Even after faced with deadly reality, they're willing to help because all those people are in danger, and they end up saving the boys' asses. That perspective is valuable when facing the apocalypse, too. Dean's able to stand so firm against accepting Michael into him because he's on humanity's side, but it's got to be easy to lose sight of what that means when you're surrounded by a) angels and demons who disdain humanity, and b) examples worthy of that disdain. Barnes and Demian and the Hooters waitress and even crazy Becky help ground the boys in their purpose.

The humor in this episode wound up being a lot more subtle, I thought, than it could have been. They made Barnes and Demian partners, tweaking the whole Wincest thing in a new, sweet way. They gave Chuck a crush on Becky, and when Chuck went all manly and swept the (iron?) microphone stand (or was it a hat rack?) through the ghost, he caught Becky's attention. Sam's response to her "easy" let-down was probably a lot nicer than Jared would like to be to some real-life fans.

And then, as the episode closes, it launches us back toward the apocalypse. Becky, avid reader that she is, knows what Bella did with the Colt back in "Time is on my Side." The boys must not have read that far into the series, and Chuck didn't remember. But now they have a lead, a true lead on the one weapon they think can kill Lucifer.

Next week, we get Mark Sheppard, aka Badger from Firefly! Lucifer is back, and it looks like so is the darkness in which we dwelled in the beginning of the season. Given that we're going to be just shy of halfway through, I'm guessing the Colt's not gonna work. Thoughts?

Photo credits The CW. I wish they'd stop teasing us with rehearsal footage. Sam in a T-shirt...mmmmmmm.

Recap written without the influence of much-needed cold meds, aka fuzzy brain, so please don't hesitate to comment with corrections or clarifications or additional thoughts that I feel are swimming elusively somewhere in my head but didn't make it out.


MJFredrick said...

My first thought was that there would be more women ;) I wished for the publisher woman to be there. I liked her.

I thought Sam bought into the possibility of a real haunting too quickly. Loved Chuck riding to the rescue. At my old school, the base of the microphone stand was iron, so I didn't think twice about that. Except it was also really heavy.

I liked the twist, and that the two men were partners. Loved "Sam's" reaction to finding the map in the back of the painting. Also, Hooter girl's reaction to being picked up by Dean.

I wrote a ghost hunting novella and the hotel was JUST like that one. JUST. Creeped me out a bit.

Trish Milburn said...

I enjoyed this episode. Found the whole premise chuckle-inducing. All the Deans and Sams running around were funny.

But aside from the chuckling, I think you make some excellent points about how Barnes and Demian make Dean realize that while his life might suck, it also doesn't suck in other respects. I think when Demian says, "He sells stereo equipment, and I fix copiers. Our lives suck," it tapped into something a great many people feel. They want their lives to be bigger and more exciting than they are.

AuthorM said...

As soon as I saw the hotel I said PLAYTHINGS!!! My favorite episode of all time. ;) Same place. BIG IS JARED in that second shot? Wow.WOW!

And I said much the same about the convention: way more women in real life, and I'd like to *think* a bit less...serious? More light-hearted?

I'm not sure if I were to LARP whether I would want to *be* Dean or be rescued by *Dean* who wasn't Dean.

I think I would like to LARP a ghost.


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I was hoping to see the publisher, too, Mary! I also agree that Sam accepted the idea too easily, but I reminded myself that that's their life--of COURSE there's a real haunting! That's part of the surreal/real/unreal thing, because the convention is "real" but still in the context of their world...well, you get the idea. LOL

Exactly, Trish. They want their lives to mean something bigger than they do, and Sam and Dean's lives DO mean that.

M, I don't ever want to LARP. I just want it to be real! LOL

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the episode a lot, but got bothered because we only saw the faux Sam and Dean open two graves. When the two boys poofed I kept waiting for the third to attack. And the poor scalped boy...was he released to go wherever his mom was or just left to haunt the hotel? LOL. Okay, I'm sure the general assumption was that they did all four graves, but still!

And like all of you, I really did like that Dean was given a new perspective on his life.

Unknown said...

I had the same thought, Terri. It didn't seem like they got all of the ghosts. I kept expecting a final attack or something. I guess they just ran out of time for the episode.
Otherwise a good comic relief, since I get the feeling we have some dark ones coming up!

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I figured it was more that it was boring to show duplicated effort, and a glance made it look like enough skeletons in the pile. :)

Pamela, I'm sure you're right--this week's is bound to leave us on a horrible cliffhanger of darkness and despair. :(