Friday, February 27, 2009

Wishful Thinking

If I could have a wish right now, one that wouldn't backfire, it would be to squash this stupid bug I have. I'm blogging with a clogged head and fever. Thankfully, tonight's repeat at least cheered me up. The dialogue in Wishing Thinking is so freakin' funny I think I'll let it do most the work.

Sam and Dean are in a TGIF contemplating their next assignment. The waiter, with his flashing buttons and nauseating cheerfulness, is getting on Dean's nerves almost as much as Sam asking him why Uriel said he remembered hell. Dean insists he doesn't, but the three shots he downs in quick succession seem to say different.

Sam backs off and rattles some possible cases. One in Concrete, Washington has Dean throwing bills down and ready to hit the road.

Dean: "Women. Showers. We gotta save these people."

Turns out a Mrs. Candace Armstrong was accosted in the shower by a ghost. At least that's what she tells Sam when he questions her for the book he's writing. The title? Supernatural.

After his meeting with her at the Lucky Chin's restaurant, Sam decides she's just a little loony. The boys plan to leave and Dean is bummed because he didn't get to save any naked women. Before they can get to the Metallicar they bump into a man claiming he saw big foot. Some big freakin' prints lead them to a store where they find broken liquor bottles, missing porn mags and a hunk of fur.

Dean: "He's a girl drink drunk."

The scene outside the story has the boys seriously flummoxed and seeing them mentally suggest and dismiss possible explanations is just priceless.

Dean: "Or it's a big foot. You know, he's like some kind of alco-holer-porno addict. Kinda like a deep woods Duchovny."

They follow a trail of Busty Asian Beauties to a house.

Dean: "What is this? Like a Harry and the Henderson's deal?"

There they meet Audrey, a young girl who went to the wishing well and asked for a teddy that was "big, real and talked." Sam and Dean convince her they're teddy bear doctors and when she lets them into her room they find a gargantuan Gund with a depressive disorder.

Sam: "Are we gonna kill this damn bear?"
Dean: "How? We shoot it? Burn it?
Sam: "I don't know. Both."
Dean: "How do we even know that's gonna work. I don't want some giant flaming pissed off teddy on our hands."

After assuring Audrey she should go stay with a neighbor while they treat her bear for Lollipop disease, Dean and Sam head for Lucky Chin's and the wishing well.

Dean tests the well by ordering a foot-long italian sandwich with jalapenos. It shows up seconds later. While he chows down they discuss what they should do.

Dean: "What're we supposed to do? Stop people's wishes from coming true? That sounds like kind of a douchey thing to do."

Sam tells him things like this always come with a price, often a deadly one.

Claiming to be health inspectors they shut the restaurant down due to rats.

Dean asks Sam if he's tempted to make a wish? Maybe go back to before everything started where he'd most likely be a yuppy lawyer with a nice car and white picket fence. Sam says he's not that guy anymore and if he were to wish for anything it would be for Lillith's head on a plate. Bloody.

They find an old, unbudgeable, coin in the well. Dean is assigned to figure out what it is while Sam decides maybe the "ghost" needs a closer look. He captures the Peeping Tom and makes the kid swear he won't do any more invisible stalking. When Sam returns to the hotel Dean is hurling his jalapenos. Between breaths he tells Sam that the wishes turn bad, real bad, and that the coin is Babylonian. It comes from Tiamet, the God of primordial chaos and the only way they can stop things is to find the first wisher. Only that person will be able to remove the coin from the well.

Meanwhile, Teddy has shot his stuffing out, but lived to sob about it and Dean's sleep is plagued by hellish nightmares. When Sam confronts him about his bad dreams and drinking, Dean brushes it off. "Can we stow the couples therapy?"

They come to realize a beauty and her geek may be where the wishing started. They confront Wes, a nerd who inexplicably has a gorgeous fiancee who loves him more than anything, and learn that his grandfather found the wishing coin in North Africa. Wes used the coin because he could never get Hope's attention, but he has noticed that her desperate love is not healthy. Still he's unconvinced that things in town are really that bad until he sees Tiny Todd terrorizing a group of boys who'd previously bullied him. When Todd overturns a SUV, Wes thinks maybe things are out of hand. Dean stays behind to deal with the kid while Sam rushes Wes to Lucky Chin's only to be struck right out of his shoes by a bolt of lightning that Hope wished upon him. She didn't want anyone to take away her love for Wes. Scared, but seeing just how insane things are getting, Wes pulls the coin from the well. Hope doesn't remember him, Sam lives, Dean is saved from his pint-sized tormentor and everything else reverses. The brothers melt the coin down to make sure it can never again create chaos.

As they're about to leave town, Dean tells Sam he doesn't want to lie anymore. He does remember. Everything.

"The things that I saw. There aren't words. There is no forgetting. There's no making it better. Because it is right here. Forever. You wouldn't understand. And I could never make you understand."

And there, amidst a hugely funny episode, is something heart wrenchingly raw and real. The juxtaposition is brilliantly played out. We laugh. We cry. And we careful what you wish for.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Adjunct Interests

I know, stupid title. But...

One night a couple of weeks ago, I kept waking up with memories of odd dreams. I dreamed of this blogging and of my fellow SPN Sisters, and of some woman who wanted to blog here but I had to figure out how because we weren't going to make her a permanent member.

At one point--I think it was at 4:48 a.m. when I carried the door-scratching cat down to the bathroom--I thought, "Adjunct interests. I've got to blog about that!"

And guess what? When I went to log it on the schedule, I found I'd somehow skipped a week, and had no topic for today! How fortuitous!

I just love when things fall into place like that.

Okay. Adjunct interests. Like I said, weird title, but I felt I had to be true to the dream inspiration.

When fans are passionate about something like a TV show, they create a demand for more. Smart powers-that-be seek to fulfill that demand through tie-in products and events. Supernatural is no different.

Some official products include:

Supernatural Magazine

Each month, either in your mailbox or on the newsstand, you can find this big, glossy magazine full of interviews, articles, analysis, and reminders of past episodes. Lots of insider information. Lots of typos, too, but we won't mention that.

Tie-in novels

When you can't get enough of Sam and Dean's adventures, you can turn to these novels that describe some of the "episodes" that never make it to screen.

Official Season Companions

These are kind of like extended versions of the magazine. They break down each episode in a full season, talking about the legends that inspired the story, and interviewing all of the players--big and small--who build the Supernatural world. The Season 3 companion goes on sale next week.

John's Journal

This book is modeled after John Winchester's "real" journal (real in the context of the show) and has exorcisms, notes about jobs and monsters and the boys' childhoods. Talk about diving into the meaty details...

We've already talked about some of the other stuff spawned by Supernatural:

With a bit of investment, you can travel around the country to see our favorite stars and guest stars speak on stage, and get personal autographs and photos with them. Some conventions are specific to the show, some are more genre-oriented, with several fandoms intermingling, and some are gigantic fests, like Comic-Con.

There are two sets of comic book prequels so far: "Origins" and "Rising Son." Ask your local comic book store to order them, or find them online.

And, as discussed in yesterday's review, you can find fan-centric essays combined in such volumes as In the Hunt: Unauthorized Essays on Supernatural.

Then, of course, there's actual merchandise. Some official, like mugs and calendars you can obtain via The WB, or posters, patches, and T-shirts offered by places like Creation Entertainment. Some unofficial, like you'll find at Zazzle and Café Press. There's some pretty clever stuff out there, and you can find everything from bumper stickers to thongs.

Sometimes, this demand for more leads fans to broader interests. My favorite, most personal example is Jason Manns. I don't spend a lot of time surfing for new stuff on the show and its people. But a while back, a friend linked me to a video that shows Jensen Ackles singing "Crazy Love" at a friend's wedding. The video was posted on the accompaniest's MySpace. Wondering how I knew the song, I went to iTunes to see who had also recorded it (turns out it's like, eleventy-hundred people) and saw that Jason Manns had an album. I listened, loved, and bought, and he quickly became my favorite singer/musician.

I'm not the only one. His popularity has grown since that video got passed around, and he's been asked to do concerts at Supernatural conventions (including the one I'm going to next week!). Steve Carlson is another singer/musician who has gained the same benefit of being friends with Jensen Ackles.

Trivia note: In the episode "Lazarus Rising," when Dean gets into the Impala and there's an iPod hooked up, the music playing is one of Jason's songs.

Another ripple in the pool of entertainment comes from the "six degrees" phenomenon. Casual watchers of any particular show might have a vague feeling that some guest star looks familiar, but passionate fans will recognize them right away:

"Hey, the son was Michael in 'Something Wicked,' season one! And his dad was in 'A Very Supernatural Christmas'!" (The Mentalist, 1.12)

"I'm so watching Leverage. The computer guru thief is played by Jake! You know, the guy who knifed Sam in the back!"

"I don't care if Kristin at E! Online can't recommend Harper's Island. Can you believe it's got Jim Beaver (Bobby) and Katie Cassidy (Ruby season 3) and Gina Holden (That Haley Girl, "Wendigo") and Chris Gauthier (Ronald Reznick, "we're not working for the Mandroid!") and Amber Borycki (Sophie Carlton, "Dead in the Water") and Julia Anderson (hooker at bar in "Sin City") and Ben Cotton (some Businessman in "The Magnificent Seven" I don't know) and Anna Mae Routledge ("we're walking, we're walking, and we're not touching that" in "Long-Distance Call") and Sean Rogerson (maybe fileted by a hooker from God in "Houses of the Holy," and can you believe I just looked all that up?"

Some upstart TV shows get a bigger percentage of their following than they know from people like us, who love a show so much we'll follow its stars and guest stars and even extras just to see what they're doing now.

It works for movies, too, as we've attested to before. How many of us would have seen Friday the 13th last week without the draw of Jared Padalecki, or even known about Ten Inch Hero (starring Jensen Ackles, now available for rent at Blockbuster and to preorder for purchase here)?

Because of my love of Supernatural, I wound up here!

So what "adjunct interests" have you developed due to your love of the show?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

You Guys Gotta Read This...

Even though the 5 of us who contribute to this blog are published writers, we don’t use this as a forum to pimp our books. While it might be tacky of me, just for random example, to rave about my April romantic comedy getting an 4 1/2 star Top Pick review— ahem —I think you guys will allow me to make an exception that’s directly related to Supernatural. So today I am tooting a collective horn—on behalf of myself, MJ and some familiar names that have popped up in the blog comments—to tell you about In The Hunt: Unauthorized Essays on Supernatural.

This is a collection of essays from BenBella Smart Pop, who previously gave us anthologies pertaining to Firefly, Halo games, the Matrix movies, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels, superheroes, Grey’s Anatomy, the Psychology of Harry Potter and about 200 other pop-culture topics. In the Hunt was written for and by Supernatural fans, whether those fans also happen to be published authors, licensed psychotherapists, or one of the three winners of an on-line fan essay contests. (Speaking of fans, there’s a Kripke quote on the back of the book which describes Supernatural as having “the smartest, most passionate, most intelligent fans of any show on television.”)

If you like Supernatural, if you have opinions about Supernatural, if you know more trivia about Sam and Dean’s upbringing than you do about, say, your own family members, if you get antsy during hiatus or whenever the show is up for renewal (I hear it was just picked up for next season—yay!), this book is for you! It goes on sale Mar 1 and you should be able to find it at most bookstores and/or on line. It’s a smart, affectionate, sometimes critical, occasionally funny, often educational look at our Show.

Some of the pieces are “forest” essays, looking at overarching thematic elements of the show across the first three seasons (this book was compiled and edited before season four aired), class systems in the show, some of the anthropological roots of the lore used in different episodes, and even the nature of good versus evil. Other essays are more “tree” focused, analyzing individual episodes, addressing specific concerns such as how to hunt demons on a budget, or secondary characters such as John Winchester, Gordon, the Trickster, Jo, and the Impala/aka Metallicar (who got two essays devoted to her, one written by our own MJ, both bringing up excellent points and complementing each other nicely). I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve had time to read so far, including one whimsical but clever contribution by Heather Swain. Hers isn’t actually an essay but more a short story written as a series of emails and other communications detailing how one die-hard Supernatural fan eventually converts a naysaying skeptic to see the value and depth of the show. At the other end of the writing spectrum were more academic essays on the gender undertones and overtones of the show; one of these was written by Jacob Clifton, whose name I recognized from his BSG recaps on TWoP. His In the Hunt essay was exactly the kind of insightful, densely written, thought-provoking piece I would expect after reading (and occasionally having to re-read) his episode summaries of other shows.

And of course, no book about Supernatural would be complete without essays focused on the brothers themselves such as Dodger Winslow’s “The Burden of Being Sammy,” my own “Dean Winchester: Bad-Ass…or Soccer Mom?” and Amy Garvey’s “We’ve Got Work to Do.”

I love the range of tones and subjects. I even love some of the titles (ie "Who Threw Momma on the Ceiling?") There seems to be a little something for every Supernatural fan in this book…except, I’m forced to note, one obvious lacking gift to us fans. Note to BenBella (apologizing in advance for sounding like my kindergartener when she's frustrated with a big book): There are no pictures!

Perhaps if they do follow up anthologies for seasons 4 and 5, they can include a pictorial essay! Until then....

Winchesters and Women

I am writing this after a hellacious day, so forgive my lack of insight. I started this weekend with a different format, and then duh, came up with this more cohesive one.

The Winchester men have complex relationships with the women they encounter as they do their job. I find it interesting that Sam seems to have more relationships than Dean, despite having lost Jessica and Dean so clearly longs for a family. Why, I wonder?

First we have John and Mary. John clearly adored his wife, still wearing his wedding ring 22 years after her death, was so driven to find her killer that he took his boys on the world’s longest road trip, stripping them of their home. Did he look at his children and see his wife, knowing he had to protect them as he hadn’t protected her?

No doubt he had encounters with other women later, as apparently the episode “Jump the Shark” will reveal. But Mary was his be-all and end-all love. I wonder if he ever discovered she didn’t trust him enough to tell him the truth about who she was.

Sam had a normal life for a few years, something he always longed for. He had a beautiful girlfriend who supported him in a way his family never did, who encouraged his strengths. Losing Jessica in the way he’d lost his mother crushed him. He knew he couldn’t have a normal life until the Yellow-Eyed Demon was destroyed, and so he went on the hunt.

He had an almost kiss with Lori in “Hookman,” and shared things with Meg as he hadn’t with anyone since Jessica’s death in “Scarecrow.” In “Provenance,” he met beautiful, smart, charming Sarah. When he tried to give her the whole, “People around me get hurt,” she essentially told him to snap out of it.

One of my favorite exchanges in the whole series is between Sam and Sarah.

Sarah Blake: [watching Sam and Dean dig up a grave] You guys seem to be uncomfortably comfortable with this.
Sam Winchester: Well, this isn't exactly the first grave we've dug. Still think I'm a catch?

(Funny, I just realized that every one of those episodes is on my iPod.)

Sarah is the first girl he kisses after Jessica dies, months later, remaining faithful to his dead love all that time. I loved Sarah, and would love to see her return, though I know things would be way different between her and this grown-up Sam.

We don’t see Sam in relationships in season 2, until Madison. Ya know, the werewolf chick. He babysits her and resists her efforts at flirtation, not knowing if she’s a monster or not. And when they are successful (they think), he’s more than willing to celebrate by pinning her to the wall, and….guh. The arms make their first appearance.


And then he realizes she isn’t cured. She’s still a monster and he hunts monsters. When she asks him to end her suffering, he mans up. And it knocks him back into himself, more unwilling to risk himself than ever.

I think that’s why he chooses to continue his sexual relationship with Ruby. She knows what the stakes are. She knows what she risks. She can protect herself. In Sam’s eyes, she’s safe. Still, I don’t think he lets himself care for her. That she’s a demon has a lot to do with that, of course, but I think he’s just already given too much of himself. He knows there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, that there will be no happily-ever-after. He’s resigned he can’t go back to a normal life, and so he settles with a relationship with Ruby.

For all that Dean wants a family, he doesn’t let himself get involved with women the way Sam does. Yes, he charms them, but his more meaningful relationships were in the past-Gumby Girl (okay, that was mostly sex, but he did think he had a kid) and Cassie. With Cassie, Dean broke the Golden Rule of the Winchesters, don’t tell ANYBODY the truth. Dean, who never went against what his father said, told Cassie the truth and she freaked. Showed him. You see he doesn’t have any real relationships with women now. Heck, how can he?

She believed him easily enough when she needed him, though, right?

I’ve heard some people call her whiny, but I liked her enough. And that love scene was Smokin’. I ended up buying the Bad Company CD for that song.

I don’t even want to talk about Jo, because that was just such an unnatural pairing, so forced. I liked Alona Tal in Veronica Mars, but loathed the Roadhouse women. Yeah, don’t want to talk about that.


I’m not sure if Carmen, from “What Is and What Should Never Be,” counts. After all, she was a product of Dean’s imagination. She was a down-to-earth girl, though. Wouldn’t it be lovely if Dean did get a girl like that, who understood him and kept him on an even keel?

And then there’s Anna, the Angel. Again, I felt this relationship was a bit forced, though I liked the conversation they had on the hood of the Impala, when she talks to Dean about following the orders of a father she didn’t know and couldn’t understand. What kind of relationship do you think the two of them might have when she returns?

I know I didn’t do justice to Dean’s relationships, and I’m sorry. Maybe you could help me flesh that out?

Which relationship do you think met each boys’ needs best? What kind of woman do you think each boy needs? Why do you suppose Sam gets more love than Dean?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Winchester Family Relationships

I think it goes without saying that the Winchesters are not your normal family, but that doesn't mean that they don't experience the normal ups and downs all families experiences. There are disagreements, some nasty fights, some misunderstandings, and at the core of it all, love for each other.

Sam and Dean have had very different relationships with their father, something with which most of us can identify. For those of us with close relationships with our fathers, or even those who don’t but wish they did, Dean’s unquestioning loyalty to John is understandable. But for viewers who may have had strained relationships with their dads and not seen eye to eye, it’s easy to identify with Sam. He feels John never understood him, and Sam resents how the hunting took over every aspect of his life as he grew up. That’s why he’s so resistant to being pulled back into that life in the Pilot, at least until Jessica is killed by the same demon who killed his mother and set his family on the hunting path.

The brothers seem to switch viewpoints after their dad’s death, and the reasons are also easily understandable. Dean grows angry with his dad because he sacrificed his soul so Dean could live, and John weighs Dean down with an even heavier and more horrible responsibility — the knowledge that he might have to kill Sam if he turns evil. Sam, on the other hand, feels guilty that he fought so often with his dad, his only living parent. That during their last conversation, he tried to pick a fight with John. That guilt (which we all agree Sam is really good at taking on himself) leads to the need to hunt more because there is one less hunter to fight the fight. Part of him also wants to honor his father’s memory, to finish what John started. The switch is shown in “Hunted” (2-10).

Dean: “Screw the job.”
Sam: “You can’t run from this.”

While Sam and Dean also often argue over their views of their dad and how to deal with particular hunts, they are undoubtedly devoted to each other. Each would willingly die for the other. Dean is Mr. Keep Everyone at Arm’s Length, but his family is everything to him. After his father’s death, Sam is his only family. He’s been watching after Sammy his entire life, and he’s not going to stop now. We see the depth of that devotion over and over, as in “Born Under a Bad Sign” (2-14) when Sam asks Dean to kill him. Dean says, “I can’t. I’d rather die.” Sam was possessed by a demon at the time, but Dean didn’t know that. Even thinking Sam was starting to give in to evil, he couldn’t kill his little brother.

This not being able to let go of Sam is pushed to the extreme when Sam dies at the hand of Jake in “All Hell Breaks Loose, Parts 1 and 2” (2-21 and 2-22). In ironic contrast to what he condemns Evan for in “Crossroads Blues” (1-8), and the action for which he’s angry at his dad, Dean makes a deal with the Crossroads Demon to bring Sammy back to life in exchange for his own soul. Even when the demon only gives Dean one year to live versus the customary ten, Dean makes the deal. And he makes no apology for it when Bobby figures out what he’s done and confronts him about it.

Dean: “I couldn’t let him die, Bobby. I couldn’t. He’s my brother.”
Bobby: “How’s your brother going to feel when he knows you’re going to hell? How’d you feel when you knew your dad went for you?”

Sam shows that same unwillingness to let go of Dean in “In My Time of Dying” (2-1). When he and Bobby are looking at the demolished Impala, this exchange shows that Sam is not about to give up on Dean.

Sam: “Oh man, Dean is gonna be pissed.”
Bobby: “Look, Sam...This just ain’t worth a tow. I say we empty the trunk and sell the rest for scrap.”
Sam: “No. Dean’d kill me if I did that. When he gets better he’s gonna want to fix this.”
Bobby: “There’s nothing to fix. The frame’s a pretzel, the engine’s ruined. There’s barely any parts worth salvaging.”
Sam: “Listen to me, Bobby. If there’s just one working part, that’s enough. We’re not just gonna give up on...” (voice trails off)
Bobby: “Okay. You got it.”

When he finds out about the deal Dean made with the Crossroads Demon to save him, Sam makes it his mission to find a way to save Dean. Even when Dean is seemingly accepting his fate by living a hedonistic lifestyle of women, beer and loaded cheeseburgers, Sam is searching every nook and cranny of the lore to find a way to get Dean out of his deal. And when he can't save him, what does he do? He tries to make the same deal with a demon to bring back Dean as Dean made for him. Sigh. These Winchester men just don't learn, do they?

The type of dedication Sam and Dean show each other is powerful, the Supernatural world's equivalent to what many of us would do for a loved one -- anything possible to save them from certain harm or death.

So, what's your favorite Supernatural moment that shows this intense family dedication?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Coming This Week!

Condolences go out to all the fans attending the "Salute to Supernatural" in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, since Jared canceled. As one of those despondent fans, I know what we offer here can't come close to healing that disappointment. But maybe it can be a bit of a balm, at least...

Monday: Trish explores Sam and Dean's relationships with John and each other.

Tuesday: MJ follows suit with an exploration of the relationships--and relations--Sam and Dean have with women.

Wednesday: Tanya departs from the trend by reviewing In the Hunt: Unauthorized Essays on Supernatural.

Thursday: Natalie explores how fans' relationships with the show lead them to exploring and developing other interests.

Friday: Terri reviews this week's episode!

So be sure to come back each day, see what we have to say, and weigh in with your own thoughts and perspectives!

Friday, February 20, 2009

"It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester"

From the title--a reference to a Peanuts television special--we know this episode will be Halloween based. It starts with an "urban legend" that those of us of a certain age will well remember--razor blades in the candy. I think I was in second grade when they first started x-raying candy. But I never knew of it actually happening.

They use it to great effect in this opener, with a really cool inside-the-mouth shot. Cool and cringe-worthy. After the birds/scream/title flash, Sam and Dean are investigating, and Dean finds a mojo bag. Sam infuriates the widow with his implications as he tries to determine who might have murdered her husband.

Now we have Sam in research mode, while Dean stuffs his face with candy. He cringes when Sam describes the charred baby bone and other ancient ingredients in the bag. Um, Sam, exactly how do you know that bone is more than 100 years old?

Sam: Find anything on the victim?
Dean: This Luke Wallace? He was so vanilla that he made vanilla seem spicy.

Now here's the requisite silly teens costume party with all the skanky chicks in revealing outfits. (Crossover Alert: Justin is played by Jean-Luc Bilodeau, who plays Josh Trager on Kyle XY). The more wholesome of the scantily clad chicks--of course--bites it in a boiling apple-bobbing tub.

Don't know how Sam and Dean found out about this one (police scanner would be a good explanation, but they don't have one), but they arrive at the party while the police are questioning the guests.

Dean, spotting the cheerleader: I've got this one.
Sam: Two words. Jailbait.
Dean (indignant): I would
never. *makes a face that clearly says, "Of course I would.*

Cheerleader claims to not know the previous victim.

Dean can't find anything but squeaky cleanness on the victims, but Sam finds a Celtic ritual to summon a demon, Samhain. He immediately incurs the wrath of thousands of people when he pronounces it wrong. :) The ritual can only be performed every 600 years, and if the demon is raised, he'll raise...

Dean: ...ghosts.
Sam: Yeah.
Dean: Zombies?
Sam: Mm-hm.
Dean: Leprechauns?
Sam: Dean.
Dean: Those little dudes are scary. Small hands.

Exposition, exposition, dire predictions, extreme close-ups...gosh, those boys are pretty.

Dean logs another shot in the archives of junk food (piles and piles of candy wrappers) on stakeout. He's gotten nothing in hours, but hey, here comes that cheerleader who claimed she didn't know the Wallaces. She's walking up the Wallace's steps--she's the babysitter. Sam and Dean immediately deduce she's the 600-year-old witch in disguise.

Sam's looked her up--she has a violent history, so they go to talk to the teacher she fought. Dean sees some weird masks in the hall, and they invoke screams and who knows what other memories. Justin is in the background, unable to fit his clay bong into the kiln.

"Agents Getty and Lee" (earlier Sam was Agent Seger, I think) talk to the teacher, who casts plenty of suspicion on the cheerleader because of inappropriate and disturbing artwork with portrayals of herself doing rituals, and because she lives alone with no parents.

A cute little fat kid trick-or-treats the guys outside their motel. Dean doesn't want to give up any of his stash. the kid has no manners, Dean tells him he's had enough candy, and the kid's glare threatens retribution.

Sam draws down on a guy who's in their hotel room. But it's...mmmmmmm...Castiel, and Dean stops his brother. Second best moment of the episode as Sam gets introduced:

Castiel: Hello, Sam.
Sam: Oh, my God. Er, ah...I didn't mean to...sorry. It's an honor.

Sam acts exactly as I expect I will when I meet Jared Padalecki in two weeks, all starstruck. Castiel hesitates, and I tense, waiting for Sam's heart to be broken, but Cas warms up and shakes his hand. Very nice. We like Castiel and his propensity to give everyone a chance.

But now we meet Uriel, badass warrior for God. Castiel asks about Samhain, shows a mojo bag he found that would have killed the boys. He reveals that Samhain's raising is one of the 66 seals and must be stopped. Uriel is ready to smite the whole town, because they can't discern the witch's whereabouts. Cas wants the boys to leave so they won't be caught in the angelic napalm.

Poor Sam. He's completely disillusioned at what the angels are willing to do. Dean argues and refuses to leave, banking on his own raising being too important to waste. He asks Castiel if he's never questioned orders, if they're both just a couple of hammers. Interesting coming from him, who spent his life until recently blindly obeying his father, good little soldier (which Castiel points out--it hits home, but Dean ignores it; he's not that guy anymore). Castiel assumes the plan is just (as in morally) because it comes from heaven.

We learn a little about angel hierarchy when Castiel hushes Uriel. He tells Dean to work quickly.

Sam expresses his disappointment in the angels, even questions his faith. Dean likens them to all other religious extremists and encourages Sam not to give up over a couple of bad apples. "Babe Ruth was a dick but baseball's still a beautiful game." This loving, supportive mini-speech is followed with "Well, you gonna figure out a way to find this witch or you just gonna sit there fingering your bone?"

Sam's pondering the charred baby bone and thinking about what could burn hot enough to do that. They go back to the school--remember the kiln?--and find that Tracy's teacher has suspicious stuff in his desk.

We see Castiel and Uriel talking in a park. Uriel is clearly disdainful of humanity, calling the kids walking by "mud monkeys" and "plumbing on two legs." He wants to drag Dean out of town and blow the "insignificant pinprick" of a town off the map. Castiel references their true orders, implying they have a different goal than just stopping the rising of Samhain.

Costumed families avoid a spooky house, in which the teacher is chanting with the cheerleader tied up behind him. He's about to kill her when Dean and Sam blast holes in him. Dean cuts the girl down, but her rant goes quickly from how he was going to sacrifice her to how sloppy his incantations were. Now her brother will be the final sacrifice instead of her. She sends the boys to the floor, writhing in pain, as she mumbles about their history and plans, collects some blood from her brother, and finishes the ritual.

Unable to summon the strength to fight her, Sam rubs the teacher's blood on his and Dean's faces. They play dead as the floor cracks and torrents of demon smoke rise up and then enter the teacher. He immediately kills Tracy, but his vision is kind of wonky and he leaves the boys alone. His awkward movements remind me of the bug guy in Men in Black. When Dean asks what happened, Sam says people used to wear masks to hide from Samhain, so he gave it a shot. Dean is appalled, but hey, it worked!

The boys follow Samhain to the cemetery. Sam suggests he use his demon weapon to pull him from the body, but Dean says no. They argue, but Sam gives in when Dean says please. He'll just use Ruby's knife. In this case, the body is already dead, so it's just a question of getting close enough to this extremely powerful demon to use it.

Samhain locks the kids in a crypt, apparently as food for the zombies he raises. There goes Justin, yanked into a tomb! Dean breaks the kids out, Sam goes after Samhain. Oooh, Dean's going to battle zombies all by himself! He looks grim at first, but has these cool silver stakes and faces them down... "Bring it on, Stinky."

Sam finds the demon. "Yeah. That demon ray gun stuff? It doesn't work on me." They fight, Sam gets throttled. Ah, good times. Flash to Dean finishing the job with the zombies and now facing a ghost. "Zombie-Ghost orgy, huh? Well that's it. I'm torching everybody."

And here's the best bit of the show. Sam fights, loses the knife, Samhain comes at him, and he throws up his hand. Smoke seeps out of the bullet holes in the body. The demon battles to get to Sam, who is working hard and painfully to vacuum him out. He sees Dean in the background, and you can see the torment on Sam's face as he finishes the job, blood dripping from his nose. Dean stares in sadness and resignation.

Many viewers criticize Dean for just standing there. I pleaded for him to help Sam, not to let this break them, to understand, but I don't think it was innoble of him to not jump in there. He could have broken Sam's concentration. He didn't know what interrupting the process would do to his brother. And though to us it was a drawn-out moment, to Dean, there was too much to process and act on before Sam finished.

So Sam has disappointed his brother, but acted to save over a thousand people, and maybe millions in the long run. Dean's got to understand, right?

But we're robbed of seeing how the aftermath plays out. We jump to the next day. Sam is confronted by Uriel about using his demon powers on the eve of his mother's and girlfriend's deaths by a demon. Sam dares to call the angels dicks. Interestingly, Uriel still considers Sam useful and only blows his hair around a little at this insult. Uriel tells Sam to be careful, and also says that Dean should climb off his high horse. Now we know what that means, since we've had the revelation of Dean's time in hell.

In the meantime, Dean is meeting outside with Castiel, who reveals that their orders were to do what Dean told them to do. He doesn't know how Dean fared in this test, and admits his faith sometimes wavers. He loves humanity and was praying for Dean to save the town. For his part, Dean says he would do the same thing all over again, to save the lives they saved. Castiel also alludes to Dean's time in hell, saying he of all people knows what "hell on earth" means, and they are one step closer to Lucifer being released.

Castiel ends by saying he doesn't envy Dean the weight that's on his shoulders, the decisions he will have to make. So far, we haven't really been shown what those decisions are. He's faced existential giant teddy bears, kids in walls, douchebag magicians, and a gender-neutral succubus. The only big thing he had to make a decision about was keeping the angels from killing Anna, a fallen angel, and that didn't require a lot of soul-searching.

So what is he still facing?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Something About Mary

Major spoilers for 4.3 "In the Beginning"

So, knowing what I now do, I'm guessing that Mary's apology to Sam in Season 1's "Home" (which I took to be a simple sorry I didn't get to watch you grow up and a very maternal, sorry I wasn't able to protect you better) was nowhere near as straightforward as I thought.

But then, what on SPN is?

In retrospect I owe some people apologies. I've always been a harsh critic of John's, for dragging his boys into the Hunting Way of Life. Now, I'm still not prepared to nominate him Father of the Year, but after this season's revelations I see that he himself sort of married into this mess. (Point of debate: how much are we to assume Mary actually told her young fiance about all of this? She was trying to the night he proposed, but they were interrupted by his untimely death. How much did she reveal afterward?)

I owe Mary an apology for my moment during the pilot when I assumed she was TSTL. Here's the scene: you're a skinny blond woman in the middle of the night who just realized that the guy in the nursery can't be your husband because you're looking at your (sleeping) husband. It bugged me that she acted on that horror movie cliche of running off to face the big, bad danger with no back up. I was willing to cut her some slack because she'd gone into Mama Bear mode and wanted to haul ass to protect her child, but still, you can't throw something at the sleeping husband on the way? Yell out, "JOHN! DANGER! WAKE THE HECK UP!" But now I realize she was actually more likely to kick butt than even her ex-Marine husband. So she gets a pass for charging into the demonic fray solo-slayer style.

However, now I have a new gripe for her...

I haven't been able to get my hands on issues of Supernatural: Origins (how many of you have read the series pre-quel comic?) It's my understanding that John found someone to train him after Mary's death and I don't see anything in the show that led me to believe she was giving her hubby advice on how to avoid and defeat demons. I empathize with her wanting to get away from the Hunting life--it's a painful irony that it's the lifestyle her death inflicted on her orphaned sons--but there's making a fresh start (which is what she wanted) and then there's just unproductive denial. SHE MADE A DEAL WITH A DEMON. Desperate circumstances, granted, so I'm not judging, but really, how did she think it was going to turn out? With rainbows and butterflies? I'm just a little surprised that we don't get hints of more evidence of her being cautious or forewarning (thus forearming) the family.

(In an interesting parallel, Sam really is his mother's child. His attempt to deny his dark heritage and go off and have a normal life and normal relationship--not that I blame him--led to the person closest to him being killed by association.)

What I love most about this show is probably a three way tie between Jensen/Jared/and the writing (because, let's face it, Jensen and Jared could only carry things so far if the dialogue and storylines sucked). It's impressive that four years into a show, the writers can turn the mythology you think you know on its ear and force you to reexamine the family dynamics and the backstory (which we get through intriguing but frustratingly limited drips and drabs). I, along with much of the SPN viewing audience, assumed that the boys were shaped and molded by their father...having no inkling of just how much their long-dead mother informed their lives (hunting aside, he kicked off a Winchester cycle of making deals with demons that haunts the boys to this day).

Do you think we'll be seeing more of Mary's character in some way or form? Do you think there's more to Azazel statement that Mary's his "favorite"? What was your reaction to her hunting past and the boys' inherited legacy?

How Sam and Dean Approach Hunting

While the Winchester brothers have spent most of their lives either training to be hunters or doing the hunting themselves, the two often have differing approaches to hunting down evil. I'm not talking about Dean with a salt-filled gun and Sam with holy water; I'm talking about how their approaches differ as a reflection of their personalities. The lens through which they see the world colors how they view the beasties they're after and those people whose lives are affected by said beasties. And each approach is attractive, just in different ways.

Dean is an action guy, often impulsive, the more raw brawn of the duo. He knows the weaponry inside and out, and we often see him sitting in a dive motel room cleaning a gun or sharpening a knife. There’s an undeniable appeal of the action guy, one you know could protect you from all the baddies lurking in the dark. By contrast, Sam is often doing Internet searches or poring over old texts to research the lore behind the creature of the week. He’s cast as the geek boy, but the combination of good looking and smart (not to mention THOSE ARMS) is very sexy. The Winchester duo is formidable because they have both brains and brawn.

One aspect of how they approach hunting often causes friction between the brothers. Dean has often been a very black-and-white guy. Supernatural beings are evil, and therefore have to be killed. End of story. Sam isn’t so sure, especially when he finds out that there’s the possibility that he could have some dormant evil lurking inside him. He’s more willing to see shades of gray.

We see the difference in Season 1, in episodes like “Something Wicked” (1-18) when Dean wants to use Michael as bait for the shtriga while Sam wants to get the kid to safety. The different viewpoints really show up in “Bloodlust” (2-3) and “Croatoan” (2-9). During Dean’s conversation with Gordon, he identifies with Gordon’s black-and-white approach to hunting. But when Lenore shows that her group of vampires are telling the truth about not preying on humans, Dean sides with Sam against Gordon and helps the vampires get away from the hunter. He starts doubting his most basic belief that he’s carried with him his entire life.

Dean: “Think about all the hunts we went on, Sammy, our whole lives. What if we killed things that didn’t deserve killing?”

In “Croatoan” (2-9), Dean and Sam again find themselves at odds about how to deal with a supernatural threat. As residents of the town become infected with the demon virus, the brothers argue about who to kill and when. When they go to a house where a father and son are holding the mother hostage and doing her harm, Dean doesn’t hesitate to shoot the man. Sam, however, does hesitate to shoot the teenage boy because he’s a kid. Dean has the attitude that once someone gets the virus, he or she is a danger and needs to be put down like a rabid animal. That is until Sam becomes infected. Rather than kill his brother, something he will repeatedly refuse to do as the series progresses, he chooses to stay with Sam and give the Impala to the other survivors so they can flee the town. Again, he’s reminded that dealing with evil isn’t always cut and dried.

Sam is portrayed as the brother with the kinder heart, the one who offers sympathy to the victims and survivors with whom they come into contact. He also seems to have more of a conscience and feeling of guilt regarding the lies they tell and the credit card scams they use to fund their hunting. This appeals to those of us who value honesty and compassion. And sometimes the contrast in their approaches is just funny. For instance, in "Playthings" (2-11), when they've found the old woman who has apparently had a stroke:

Dean: "You know, she could be faking."
Sam: "Yeah, what you wanna do, poke her with a stick?"
Dean: Nods.
Sam: "Dude, you are not gonna poke her with a stick!"

At different times, I find myself rooting for different approaches, though it should come as no surprise that I prefer the "shades of gray" and more sympathetic approach Sam often employs. That said, sometimes you just need to open up a super-sized can of whoop-ass. :)

Which approach to you like better and why? What are you views on this topic?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th just had the biggest gross for a slasher film opening…in history! That’s right, Jared’s movie is a record breaker. I, for one, think he had something to do with this feat, because, really, the hockey-masked killer has been going downhill ever since part eight, Jason Takes Manhattan. And although some fun was had with Freddy vs. Jason and Jason X (aka Jason in space) the second best thing about this new Friday the 13th is that the creators got back to the basics.

For those of you unfamiliar with the 1980 original, Jason wasn’t actually the killer. Mrs. Voorhees, deliciously played by the toothy Betsy Palmer, was taking her revenge on camp counselors because she felt their negligence was responsible for her son’s drowning death. In truth, Jason didn’t start killing until part deux and, believe it or not, he officially donned the red-marked hockey mask in part three. What this updated version of the franchise--called a “reboot” by producers--did best was condense the mythology of the first three films and bring this new starter up to wham-bam modern standards while still paying tribute to its history and diligent fans. In actuality, this is number TWELVE in the Voorhees filmography. However, storywise it’s starting a new chapter, and if the current box office boom is any indication, the series not only has fresh blood, but a long future of slasher success.

As reviews go, I’ll keep it simple. Friday the 13th 2009 follows every slasher film’s formula of sex, drugs, drinking, breasts and blood. The story opens with a quick black and white recap. It’s June 13, 1980 and Mama Voorhees is in a life or death battle with the lone surviving counselor at Camp Crystal Lake, but she loses her head (literally) and Jason (Derek Mears) is none too pleased. Twenty-some years later, five backpackers are hiking through the Crystal Lake area looking for a treasure trove of pot plants. Among the young and the restless is Whitney Miller (Amanda Righetti), a woman who feels guilty for leaving her cancer stricken mother for a short weekend away with her boyfriend. Amidst laughter and lewdness the group is quickly and brutally dispatched by a killer sporting a sac mask. “And that’s just the intro” one moviegoer gasped.

Six weeks later, Clay Miller (our boy Jared) shows up in town looking shaggy and sexy, with some serious sideburns. He’s there to find his missing sister Whitney. They’ve been on the outs for years, but when she didn’t show up for their mom’s funeral he knew something was gravely wrong. Conscience-stricken for leaving his family when he was seventeen, Clay wants desperately to discover what happened to his kid sister, but a local tells him she’s most likely dead. People don’t disappear, they die. During his search, Clay crosses paths with a group of young adults who’ve arrived in Crystal Lake to party hardy. Rich bitch Travis (Travis Van Winkle) is showing off his daddy’s cabin and his “friends” are all too happy to lap up the luxury, but girlfriend Jenna (Danielle Panabaker) is quickly seeing him for the douche he really is. One-by-one they all start dying--many of the deaths reminiscent of the first three films--and Jenna and Clay fight to survive. I’ll not detail the body count or spoil who lives and dies, but I will say this…biggest fright…Jared’s gorgeous face…wood chipper blades.

Now that I’ve left you with that haunting thought, let me just say I know critics are harshing on this reimagining, but I personally enjoyed it. I found it humorous, creative, scary and I especially liked that it gave homage to its predecessors. My only criticism is that the tension didn’t really build to squirm-in-your-seat intensity, opening withstanding, and they didn’t utilize the classic ki-ki-ki- ma-ma-ma soundtrack well enough.

Obviously, my favorite thing was Jared. In addition to being ridiculously easy on the eyes, his acting experience on Supernatural made him seem much more credible, he elevated the cast and he was a strong adversary for Jason. Had Jared been wimpy or whiny I would’ve taken serious issue, but the powers-that-be were smart enough to recognize and utilize his heroism. I happily look forward to watching him as the leading man in other films because I think the success of Friday the 13th will give him more opportunities.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Why MJ Wants an Impala

Some people reward themselves with computers or furniture if they get a good advance on their book. This is what I’d get:


I heart the Impala, to the point that I actually shopped around for one. Let me tell you, shopping for 40 year old cars can be scary. Apparently they’re everywhere, because at least four people I know, including my dad and my best friend, tell me they had a late 60s model Impala.

We found one, in the Valley, in working order, for $3000. We thought about it, but that was when gas was over $3 a gallon and it would have cost another fortune to drive her back. They were built, after all, before fuel economy was an issue.

I have her on my wallpaper at school (can’t have the boys, too hard to explain to 4th graders.)

I loved her triumphant return in Bloodlust.

I love her sleek lines, I love her powerful engine.


I love that the trunk is “big enough to hide a body,” which is why Kripke chose an Impala. He was going to go with a Mustang, you know. Can you imagine these two big guys driving around in a little Mustang?

I love that she can do this….not that I’d ever do any such thing, of course.

I love what she means to Dean, a connection to his dad, the only home he knows, his legacy.


I loved how Dean bequeathed her to Sam, ensuring Sam would be able to take care of her, passing onto Sam the responsibility that his father had passed onto him, but doing it lovingly.

I know my longing for a 67 Impala isn’t rational, but my obsessions usually aren't.

What do you love about the Impala?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Coming This Week

In case you haven't heard, the return of Supernatural from hiatus has been pushed back a week, to March 12. *sob* But don't worry! We're still here, feeding your obsession passion!

Topics this week:

Monday - MJ tells us why she wants an Impala.

Tuesday - Terri gives us the scoop on Jared's performance--and probably the rest of the movie, too--in Friday the 13th.

Wednesday - Trish continues her series comparing the brothers, talking about how Sam and Dean approach hunting.

Thursday - Tanya takes a look at Mary Winchester, whose backstory is a lot more interesting than we ever guessed!

Friday - Flashback! This week's episode is a repeat, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester," and Natalie will break it down for us.

Hope to see you here!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever is the episode that was the beginning of my slide from Dean Girl to Sammy Girl.

Why? Two words:

Denim shirt


Ahem. Well, anyway, that’s at the end of the show. And I apologize in advance for the pictures. I know Dean was in this episode, too. I just didn't see him :)

The show opens with Dean running for his life, the sound of barking dogs behind him. Hellhounds? Dean trips over a homeless guy’s cart and hollers, “Run! It’ll kill you!” The homeless guy looks from Dean to the dog….a fluffy little pup with a bow in her hair.

Cut to the Impala driving into town 43 hours earlier. The boys pose as Feds (agents Tyler and Perry-too easy) in the morgue, wanting an autopsy on a marathon runner who’d dropped dead from an autopsy. While the boys are observing, Dean has to hold the heart and Sam gets squirted with spleen juice, but not before Dean notices the dead man has an indentation from a wedding ring and he’s all scraped up. The mortician is surprised to discover there’s no blockage in the heart, that’s it’s pretty healthy.

They next pay a visit to the local sheriff, who makes them take their shoes off before entering his office, and has a thing for hand sanitizer. The sheriff knew the dead man, Frank. They were on the same softball team, the Gamecocks. Of course, Dean snickers. Sam asks if the victim was acting scared, and yes, he’d been real jumpy, though the sheriff doesn’t know why. Turns out there are two other victims who died the same way, jittery before they died, and all scraped up.

When they’re walking back to the Impala, Dean is wary of teenagers near the car. Dean. Nervous. Sam gives him a look, and follows him the long way around.

They go to the victim’s neighbor’s house, a guy with a houseful of reptiles. All I could think of, how must that smell! Dean is twitchy, though. The neighbor tells them the victim was freaking out, scared of witches, AlQaeda, Pez dispensers with the dead little eyes. The boys learn that Frank, the victim, had been a bully in high school, had pissed a lot of people off. They also learned his wife had died about 20 years ago. Before they leave, a beautiful big snake slides over Dean’s leg, paralyzing him.


Dean researches the dead wife, a suicide. Sam checks out Frank’s house and finds no signs he’s cursed. As they drive back to the motel, Sam notes Dean’s driving the speed limit, and that he won’t turn left into oncoming traffic because he’s not suicidal. Even he recognizes how weird that sounds. A sound from the backseat draws their attention. The EMF detector is going off, and when Sam points it at Dean, Dean trips. “Am I haunted?”

After the break, Sam comes out of the bakery to see Dean playing drums to “Eye of the Tiger” in the Impala. He hands Dean the box of pie, but Dean tosses it in the front seat of the car (sacrilege). Sam has been talking to Bobby, and Bobby thinks it’s ghost sickness, where he gets scared, then more scared, then terrified, then his heart gives out. Sam theorizes that Frank was the first victim, “our very own Outbreak monkey.” Dean got it from his corpse and has 24 hours to go insane, then die. When Dean questions why him and not Sam, Sam theorizes that all the victims had certain personality types, that they were all dicks. Dean’s offended that Sam thinks he’s a dick. Sam goes on to say the dead men all scared people. Dean protests that he doesn’t scare people.

“Dean, all we do is scare people,” Sam points out, so adorably.

“Then you’re a dick, too.”

“Apparently I’m not.” Also so adorably.

To combat it, they need to kill the ghost that infected Frank, and they suspect his wife. Sam asks why Dean is waiting in the car when they’re parked in front of the hotel and Dean sheepishly admits the fourth floor is too high for him.

Later, in the hotel room on the 1st floor, Dean’s researching, when words start jumping out at him, like, “Are you gonna cry?”and You’re dying. Again. Loser.” The clock overhead is ticking like a heartbeat. Moments later, Sam walks in to see the clock smashed and Dean drinking a beer. He reveals that the wife isn’t the ghost because she was cremated, then chides Dean not to pick on the rash erupting on his arm. Dean starts choking and coughs up a wood chip into the sink. Sam declares him their biggest clue.

“I don’t wanna be a clue!” Dean protests.

The boys drive out to an abandoned mill…hey, the Impala is getting a lot of air time. Dean doesn’t want to go in, so he fortifies himself with a drink. Sam offers him a gun, but Dean refuses, afraid it will go off.


“I’ll man the flashlight,” he says.

The EMF goes nuts, but Dean realizes it won’t work with him around. Sam finds a wedding ring on the floor. It belonged to Frank. The boys investigate further, and hear a sound in a locker. Sam opens it…to release a cat, while Dean screams his head off. Sam stares.

“That was scary!” Dean says with a goofy grin.

They continue on to find pictures of Frank’s wife in the mill, photos and sketches. When they rip one, the mill comes to life, and Dean sees a ghost over Sam’s shoulder. Sam turns, aims his gun, and Dean bolts. Sam finds him by the trunk of the Impala. They’ve found their ghost.


After the next break, the boys are back in FBI mode at the sheriff’s office. Dean is drunk and declares the young adorable deputy awesome. Sam wants to know the cause of death of Luther, the man whose ghost they saw. The deputy tells them the sheriff is out, but he’s scrubbing his skin with a Brillo pad. “They know,” he says to himself. “They know what we did.”

The boys walk into a prison, and Dean is freaking out about the fake FBI badges. Sam hushes him as they approach a prisoner, Luther’s brother, Mr. Garland. Mr. Garland tells them everyone was afraid of his brother, but that Luther had been kind, and had a crush on Frank’s wife. Her husband killed Luther, because he thought Luther had something to do with his wife’s disappearance. Frank road-hauled him, but got away with it because Frank was a pillar of the community and Luther was a freak. Garland forgives Frank, because he’d been afraid for his wife, and he spread that fear to Luther, who’s now spreading it to everyone. (Why now? Was that explained? This all happened 20 years ago.)

As they walk out, Dean realizes what his rash is-road rash. He’s ready to burn some bones to get healthy, but Sam knows it’s not going to be that easy. Bits of Luther are all over the road. Dean blows up.

“We’re hunting a ghost-exactly. Who does that? We search out things that want to kill us. You know who wants to do that? Crazy people?” He lets out all his frustrations about diner food and truckstop waitresses with bizarre rashes and Sam’s gassiness. Dean quits, walking away, only to encounter the evil dog with a bow.

Sam returns to the hotel room to find a tense and sweaty Dean waiting. When Dean asks what they’re going to do now, Sam turns and says, “You’re going back.” Dean doesn’t know what to make of it when Sam adds, “And about time.” Then Sam’s eyes glint yellow. Dean demands the demon get out of Sam, who, omigod is sexy when he’s possessed, but Sam tells Dean he’s not possessed. This is what he’ll become. This is what he wants to become. He pins Dean to the wall , his hand on his throat. Dean snaps to and Sam is normal, demanding to know what’s wrong. Dean can only stare, wondering if it was a hallucination or not.


While Dean is in the motel watching Pokey get road-hauled on TV, Bobby comes to help, presenting Sam with a book on the supernatural in Japanese. Bobby can read it and speak it. Sam is impressed. Bobby’s theory is that the ghost can be scared to death, because it’s born of fear. It is fear.


Meanwhile, Dean hears hellhounds at the door of the motel room. The door bursts open and the sheriff comes in, clearly sick. He yells that Frank was his friend and made a mistake and the sheriff didn’t bust him, so what? They fight, and the sheriff has a heart attack on the floor of the room.

Moments later, Lilith appears, her cheerful little voice so at odds with her evilness. She asks Dean if he remembers the fun he had in hell. He asks why he got infected and she tells him he knows why. (Now we do too. I hadn’t made the connection.) She tells him to listen to his heart and starts yelling “Ba-boom, ba-boom!” faster and faster, and his heart keeps pace.

Bobby and Sam drive out to the mill, where Sam lures Luther’s ghost out, wraps an iron chain etched with spellwork around his neck and hauls him behind the Impala until he disintegrates. I hate that they used the Impala like this.

The three of them meet up on the side of the road to drink beer….ahhh, that denim shirt. Guh. Sam asks Dean what he saw, seriously, and Dean sees a flash of yellow in Sam’s eyes. Of course, he doesn’t tell the truth.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ruby: Love Her or Hate Her?

During Season 3 of Supernatural, two new characters strolled onto the Winchester scene, and they were – gasp! – girls. Many fans soon made it known that they didn’t like having these female interlopers into Winchester World. Perhaps they wanted the show to stay focused solely on the brothers, which is understandable and about which Kripke was quick to reassure them. Some just didn’t like the characters. While I could have taken or left Bela, I actually liked Ruby right from the start. She was the next in a line of kick-ass female characters I’ve enjoyed watching (Buffy, Faith, Sarah Connor, etc.). When she killed that demon with the knife in “The Magnificent Seven” (3-1), I was like, “Whoa! Who is this chick?” When she revealed herself to be a demon in the next episode, “The Kids are Alright,” but one who seemed to be on Sam’s side, I uttered another “Whoa.” Interesting twist that showed again that perhaps things aren’t all black and white in this war on evil. I don’t think anything illustrates this better than when she helps Bobby restore the Colt in “Sin City.” You can just tell that a demon offering to help and meaning it is just totally rocking his understanding of the world.

I loved Katie Cassidy’s sassy, tough, bad-girl portrayal of Ruby. And when budgetary constraints led to the demise of both her and Bela, I was bummed. I hated that Ruby had bit it. And I doubt she was welcomed back to Hell with open arms. Traitors usually aren’t.

Though Ruby works mostly with Sam, her snark is oh-so-Dean-like. A sampling:

Ruby: “It’s called witchcraft, shortbus.”

Dean: “But you’re a demon.”
Ruby: “Don’t be such a racist.”

Bobby (after he shoots Ruby): “What do you want?”
Ruby: “Peace on earth, a new shirt...”

Ruby: “Anyone got a breath mint? Some guts splashed in my mouth while I was killing my way in here.”

But Ruby is one tough, determined gal. She somehow convinces Lilith to give her another chance, and she’s let free from Hell with the task of killing Sam. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think some of the things she’s done to Sam lately have been killing him. But you’ve got to admire a girl who can totally trick Lilith.

Sure, she’s come back in a different body, and the feel of the character isn’t quite the same, but at least she’s back. I find her character really interesting, even though in my mind Katie Cassidy will always be Ruby. That’s not knocking Genevieve Cortese’s acting; it’s just that I’m never a fan of changing the actor when a role was established by another. I think it would be hard for any replacement actor to live up to the original. I do think that Genevieve has been creating more of an edge to Ruby lately. And even back when she was talking Sam into having sex, she’s going after what she wants like Katie often did in her portrayal – though Katie’s “Ruby” never got it on with Sam. (Her loss, btw. ) Here, see for yourself.

Sera Gamble has said that we’ll see and understand more about the changes in Ruby at some point. That should be interesting. I wonder if her punishment by Lilith has changed her somehow, or if the differences in hosts somehow effect the demons who possess them. We already know that there’s something different about Ruby because she’s helping the boys and she actually remembers being human when other demons don’t. She’s retained some of her humanity despite everything she’s been through. And I’m really curious why.

We’ve seen that Ruby can manipulate situations to her benefit. After all, she’s not pure as the driven snow, and she wouldn’t be half as interesting if she was. Even she says, in “No Rest for the Wicked” (3-16), “Uh, demon? Manipulative is kind of in the job description.” I suspect there’s debate about Ruby’s motives for getting Sam to use his powers to exorcise demons, but for now I’m going to believe that she truly is on Sam’s side and wants to defeat the baddies. But we all know that the writers have quite the ability to surprise us.

So, what’s your opinion of Ruby? Love her or hate her? And what do you think of Katie’s and Genevieve’s portrayals of the character?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Supernatural Origin - John's Story

Here at Supernatural Sisters we’ve put a lot of thought and discussion into John Winchester. What would make a dad take his kids on the road like that? How could he abandon them time and again? Did he really do the best he could? While we can only speculate what drove this man, haunted by his wife’s horrific death, there really haven’t been any clear answers. Until now.

In Supernatural Origins, the graphic novel prequel to the TV show we all know and love, we learn exactly what happened to John after Mary burst into flames. Yes, Terri, but it’s just a comic, you say. How tied to the show could it really be? Well, it was written by Supernatural’s co-executive producer Peter Johnson, with heavy input by Kripke himself. Who better to know the missing lore?

But before I reveal the insight Origin offers, let me just say this: I’m not any kind of comic book aficionado. I read Joss Whedon’s Fray and thoroughly enjoyed it and I do own every issue of Buffy Season 8, but that’s about it. I read Origin to extend my fan experience, however I have to say I was not a fan of the artwork. The Buffy 8 artists are amazing. I love their colorful and crisp work. In comparison, I found the artwork in Origin to be blocky, muddy and too heavily shadowed, the exception being two back-up covers I loved. Too bad the entire comic wasn’t drawn in that style. Instead, John Winchester comes off looking like Paul Bunyon. That complaint aside, I did like the little nuggets offered about his character

In the story we learn John didn’t have a funeral for Mary because he couldn’t think about shaking the hands of family and friends while he buried a secret deep in his gut and he couldn’t stand alongside a priest while he spoke of Heaven and peace on Earth. John knows what he saw! It was anything, but peaceful. Where does that leave him now? Poor Sammy can’t stop crying. It’s “like he’s got something TERRIBLE inside” and Dean stopped talking altogether. Torn up and wanting to understand what happened to his beloved wife, John leaves his boys with their mom’s best friend, Julie, while he does some investigating. When things dead end, John goes to a bar, clearly looking for trouble. He finds it, along with a psychic named Missouri. She gives him a reading and sees that someone nearby is in the same kind of danger Mary was. They rush to the house and find bloody words written on the wall: We’re Coming for the Children. John freaks and bolts for home. Julie’s dead, but the boys are safe in their beds. Missouri tells John he needs to leave NOW and take the boys with him and she hands him a ginormous tooth that belonged to the thing that killed his wife.

John ends up on Fletcher Gable’s doorstep where the eccentric advises John to write everything down in a blank book, starting with the fact that the tooth came from a Black shuck aka overgrown hellhound. That night, as John’s getting ready to hunt down the shuck, Mary’s very pissed off brother knocks down the hotel door. He thinks John’s going loco and Jacob plans to take his nephews. John, figuring there’s only one way to convince Jacob of the truth, drags him to the cemetery where his brother-in-law is promptly killed by the hellhound. Just as John himself is about to become kibble, a stranger shoots the dog.

It seems John has a mysterious mentor. Together they head to Harvelle’s where they join up with another hunter to find a Heeler. It’s there John ends up making his first kill…in front of Dean. That spurs John to leave the boys with relatives for a couple weeks while he hits the road again. On his journey John battles the uber-creepy Doc Benton (remember him?), has a celestial reunion with Mary--thanks to an I-See-Dead-People priest--saves his mentor’s life and ends up at The Fore Inn (The Inferno) a creepy motel where John’s mentor plays riddle-me-this and reveals that the hellhound is actually his, they had nothing to do with Mary’s death, but John really shouldn’t be so foolish and trusting.

“We need you out there, John. You and your boys. Hunting. Training. Becoming who you were meant to be. Drowning yourself on a barstool back in Kansas does yourself no good—and it certainly doesn’t work for us. Mary’s death lit your match. We just needed to give your fury a little focus.”

Throughout the story John is constantly told it takes “sacrifice” to move forward and his boys are part of the sacrifice he has to make. The end comes with John reclaiming his boys and hitting the road. “We got work to do.” But one question remains—WHO wanted them out there?

Who do you think is responsible for turning the Winchesters into hunters?

P.S. - Watch for a future review of Rising Son, the next installment in the comic series.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Synergy of Fandom

Tanya's post yesterday fits nicely with mine, because cons are part of the synergy of fandom. That's what I call the phenomenon that takes a show you like and turns it into something joyous and fulfilling, not just a piece of entertainment that fills an hour once a week.

My first obsession passion was Brendan Fraser, shortly after the second Mummy movie came out. It only lasted long enough for me to rent everything he'd ever done. I didn't know anyone else who liked him, but a forum on a fan site gave me an outlet for a few months. Then Brendan kind of had a lull in his releases, and my obsession passion faded.

A few years later, The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring came out. I'd never read the books, but oh, man, did I become obsessed with the movie phenomenon. That went on a long time, as long as new information from behind the scenes was released, and past the Oscars. I started watching Lost only because Dominic Monaghan was on it. (He played Merry, in case you never made the connection.) This was my first foray into "fandom," the world surrounding a great piece of entertainment. There were places I could go to get news every day, and tons of articles and interviews and videos to feed my obsession. But it could only climb so high, because back then, even the worldwide connection that is the Internet wasn't all that personal.

I have other passions. I'm a Browncoat. I listen to Pottercast and bought Harry, a History. From September to January, you'll be hard put to have a conversation with me that doesn't contain a football analogy. All of these have a commonality with my Supernatural obsession passion, but none come close to the intensity with which I love this show. And I blame the fandom.

When I first started watching the show, I had one friend (waves at AuthorM) who'd already been watching it. Slowly, we enticed some mutual friends, and some non-mutual friends, into giving it a try. They in turn found some more. I talked about it on my blog, and discovered some existing acquaintances (waves at Mary and Trish) who also liked it. When the show wasn't available to me (stoopid hiatuses), I put out feelers to find places that expanded on the experience of just watching (Plastic!Winchester Theater, Encyclopedia of Weirdness (comic), and an LJer who did Ten Things I Love About Episode X lists that numbered in the dozens). Through those, I made some new friends (waves at Gail). Sharing the experience enhanced it, gave my love some fertilizer and room to grow.

Then it got bigger. After season two, some of us held "Supernatural Summer," where we watched the first two seasons, a few episodes every week. We drew a new fan into the fold (waves at Ava) and did it again last summer, packing three seasons into about 12 weeks. And during season four I started weekly chats immediately after new episodes, and joined a blog with a group of brilliant writers who are fans like me (waves at Terri and Tanya, Trish and Mary).

All of that seems pretty extreme for a TV show, but I'm obviously not alone. There are huge forums like TWoP and Buddy TV, destinations for massive groups of fans of various shows where they dissect and analyze and discuss to levels far beyond what you find here. Tanya mentioned the fan conventions--Creation Entertainment also does them for Twilight, Stargate, Farscape, and Xena, as well as genre events for scifi and horror. Seven years later, there are still events being held for Firefly/Serenity, the Joss Whedon TV show that was canceled after 14 episodes and spawned an awesome but low-box-office movie. Do you think anyone would have cared this much 20 years ago, back before we could communicate with each other so easily?

No matter how much a person loves something, whether it's knitting or a game or sport or a TV show, if their love is self-contained, never shared, there is a limit to how big that love can get.

But put it out there, share it, and it can grow to infinity. It can make you cry at the prospect of losing it, or spend hundreds of dollars to go to a convention to get closer to it. The love can last far longer than the creation that generated it.

If I was alone in my love of Supernatural, it would still be there. I'd watch the show eagerly every week, and I'd watch it over and over. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki would still be on my List (you know what one I'm talking about!), and I'd still watch their horror movies and Jim Beaver's reportedly terrible new TV show (Harper's Island, starting in April!).

But it would be enough. If there weren't others for me to reach out and touch, I wouldn't spend hours analyzing the ramifications of a single line of dialogue. Thinking about the show from perspectives of my fellow bloggers or my friends or people over at Buddy TV whose opinions make me goggle inspires a host of new feelings as well as deeper thoughts.

The love, the excitement, grow logarithmically the more people I bring into my obsession passion.

That's synergy.

And I never want to be without it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Jared on Bonnie Hunt on Tuesday

Set your Tivos! Jared Padalecki will be discussing his movie Friday the 13th on Bonnie Hunt Tuesday Feb. 10!

Got Con?

On this blog, Natalie regularly explores fandom (be sure to come back tomorrow and comment on her post!) and, boy, there's no better place to see fandom up close and personal than at a convention.

In elementary and middle school, I was mostly a nerd. Once I hit high school and AP classes, I found other likeminded souls, but until then, a lot of my peers simply knew me as "that weird book girl." And even then, FoxTrot was my favorite comic (with Jason, the nerdy little brother most likely to quote Star Wars verbatim and camp out for opening night tickets to Lord of the Rings, my favorite character.) One of the first friends I made when I went off to college had his own StarFleet uniform and Klingon dictionary. I was fairly secure by college, but I still thought of myself and a fair number of my friends as being on the outside of some invisible social norm. (Some people still see it this way. I was on a panel with some fellow published authors and asked one writer if she'd ever been to DragonCon--the woman to my left wrinkled her nose and actually said to me, "Isn't that where the crazy people with no life go?")

Now, frankly, I no longer think of myself as that far on the outside--it's fairly mainstream to see Harry Potter movies, read Kresley Cole (since she's on the NYT list, I know I'm not alone in buying her books!) or watch Supernatural (and let's face it, those Winchester boys are way more fun to look at than Harry and Ron *g*). I mean, it takes almost ten minutes of conversation before I start trying to discuss the philosophical importance of the Impala or sing you the entire Dr. Horrible Soundtrack, so if I'm quiet (and you ignore my Browncoats shirt), I almost pass for normal.

Peripherally, I've been aware of fan conventions (most commonly associated in pop culture with Star Wars or Star Trek) for years, but I never saw myself going to one. I don't have a lot of time or money to spare and it just seemed...odd. Going to a Renassiance Festival for a day of family fun was one thing, but actually trying to find room in the budget to travel to something where I'd spend a few days with strangers? I was content to share my raving FANaticism with friends on-line or try (possibly in vain) to beat my dad at Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit. But that's before I heard that Joss Whedon might be coming to DragonCon (held every Labor Day weekend in downtown Atlanta) and since he's a writer I've always wanted to meet, I decided to boldly go where I'd never gone before. (Ironically, Joss being on the guest list was apparently a misunderstanding, but I never regretted my decision. Now, I plan my family calendar around DragonCon, although I did miss it when my brother got married over Labor Day weekend.)

Now, conventions come in all flavors and sizes. I believe there are conventions dedicated SOLELY to Supernatural in Chicago, LA and Australia--I know Natalie's going to some kind of con or event soon and can't wait to hear all about it! Then there are events like Comic Con (this past weekend in NYC...I hear Jared Padalecki was there, which begs the question: why wasn't I?) The bigger cons have programming tracks from everything to music, anime, paranomal shows like Supernatural, Lost and Heroes, movies, novels, gaming, and comic books. Between attendees, guests and volunteers, DragonCon here in Atlanta involves approximately 40,000 people.

The noise and the color (and the costumes!) can be dizzying when you walk into one of the FOUR ginormous hotels that hosts the event (and that doesn't even count the numerous smaller overflow hotels). But once you've adjusted to the sensory overload and long lines (just bring a deck of cards, a good book, or strike up a debate with the girl behind you over whether you're SamGirls or DeanGirls), an amazing thing starts to happen. A bizarre camarederie with people you've never met before. It was like 40,000 people all sharing the same inside joke. (Trish and I were thoroughly entertained when we saw two women walk by in jerseys that simply stated on the front: "Bitch." "Jerk.") I got very little sleep and it felt like a zillion humid degrees, but I didn't care. In fact, my ONLY complaint about the weekend was that there weren't more panels dedicated specifically to Supernatural (and, of course, that Jensen Ackles wasn't there.)

I made new friends, picked up new insights, sang my heart out with a hundred other people (normally, something that only takes place in my shower [alone]) and stood in line at a local food court restaurant behind two Jedis, a dementor, Laura Croft, a few Cylons, a half dozen Dawns, and some guy so into his discussion of World of WarCraft that they had to call his order number four times. (This year, I'm going in costume!) Two of my biggest pasttimes are reading and writing, both pretty solitary, but I underestimated how much I would love the energy of the crowd and meeting people who have the same passions and laugh at the same jokes and get annoyed at the same cliffhangers and plot devices and memorize the same lines.

What about you? Ever been to a convention? Thinking about going? Do you think you'd prefer the small, intimate crowd of a con dedicated to just one thing or the crazy energy of one where you're likely to share an elevator with a Wookie, Jack Sparrow, the Yellow-Eyed demon and some dude toting bagpipes?