This got long! (sorry, not sorry..*g*)
I will be the first to admit I went into this episode with MUCH trepidation. Maybe I am a "bad fan" for doubting they could pull something like this off, but history (:cough: Becky) left me feeling very nervous. Perhaps there are some that feel they didn't pull it off - but I'm not one of them. I'M THRILLED TO SAY!!
Strangely, it was the sneak peeks and 200th episode interviews that had me worried. I saw a high school cast singing about Mary's death, baby Sammy being chosen and "Bobby" saying "idjit" and it made me cringe. The cast talking about how important the show is to fans made me want to RUN A MILE! But, it seems that I was hasty in my concern (though, I feel it was kind of understandable).
I thought instead of listing all the things I loved (and actually, accept for two teeny tiny nit picks there was nothing I didn't love) I would instead look at why
that worked so well. Why Robbie Thompson did the unthinkable and successfully created a so called "love letter" to fandom.
On paper it shouldn't work. Trying to address the issues fans have with the show whilst being respectful to them is a hard ask. Having beloved characters sing, having young girls portray said beloved characters AND acknowledge the various factions within fandom seems like something that no writer (or show!) in would want to touch with a ten foot pole.
But it's testament to the Show that it celebrated its 200 episodes with such an episode.
Ten reasons why Fan Fiction worked:
1. After 10 years and 200 episodes our show has EARNED the right to create an episode like this. I remember when Hollywood Babylon aired back in season 2, I saw a comment that said something like "the show is referencing itself and the actors and it hasn't earned that right yet". That may or may not have been true, but it's something that stuck with me. Even before I knew what I'd think about this episode, I did think - after 200 episodes it has earned the right to do what the hell it likes. The fact that it was done so carefully and successfully was an added bonus.
2. The casting. This would not have worked if they had screwed up the casting of the girls in the episode. They managed to bring the right level of humour and pathos to their roles. They brought that certain "something" that (unfortunately) the girl that played Kate in last weeks episode was lacking. I thought all the girls did an excellent job (credit to the director also for that).
3. "It's your interpretation". Ok, it might sound like they are stating the bleeding obvious, but there are times when I think we need to hear that (well, I know I do). What I like most about the way this theme handled is that it never preached "this is the way we are writing the show so shut up!". It was - "this is the way we
are writing the show because we are the creators, but that doesn't mean you
can't enjoy your interpretation of it - be that you see wincest or destiel or you prefer Sam or Dean or Cas or you think, well, anything
- it's only an interpretation and it's OK. And even though we don't need permission to write fan fiction or create art, it somewhat did that. Perhaps "permission" isn't the right word. But it definitely acknowledged how comfortable they are with it. And how much they appreciate it. The passion, creativity and dedication was acknowledged. I never once got the feeling they put themselves above
us. It was in this way it was a real acknowledgement to the fans - and not a condescension, which I feared it might be.
4. The writing and directing. These were both skilfully handled. Again, this could have fallen flat on its face without the right directing touch. Phil Scgirria directed it and I his obvious control over it really shone. He allowed the humour in without letting it go overboard. He caught the reaction shots without allowing the pace to slow down. He gave each character special camera moments that helped us connect to the characters. The writing also blew me away I have to say. I've always liked Robbie Thompson episodes (Slash Fiction being one of my faves), but he knocked it out of the park with this one. The MoTW was the least
of what was going on but it was there to anchor the "love letter" and was superfluous enough not to add too much angst or weight. There were no deaths - aside from the actual monster of the week. The fact that the MoTW was a "muse" was most appropriate. But it was the way he wove the fan acknowledgement, the loose ends and brother love that really made this skilful.
5. Fucking amulet. I mean…WHAT THE FUCK?!?! They did that? They gave us the amulet fix for the 200th episode?! I think I tweeted once that if we get car washing or the amulet nothing else would matter. We almost
got car washing (naked mechanic!Dean \o/) and then naked sleepy!Sam!! (ok, not exactly naked but single layer! May as well have been!). But they gave us the amulet and I fucking cried! I hate you show for doing that to me. I mean, I love you but….STOP THAT! I'm TRYING not to care any more. What I ADORE about this amulet fix is that it was so damn simple. And it was so beautifully perfect
. (Hee - you can ask redteekal
(who I watched this with) I spent most of the ep going "no!, no! they're not doing that". What? No!" (Meaning of course "omg yes!" and "I can't believe they're doing that!"). We got amulet fix!!!
6. The love. Ok, I know that sounds cheesy and sentimental, but the love oozed out of this episode and it reminded me about why I fell in love with this show in the first place. I had pictured them maybe "mocking" that aspect of what we love about the show - but instead almost every aspect of it was about the love. The love of creators, writers, performers and viewers. The love of the story, the genre, the characters, the music, the props, the road, the motels and even the 'ships. The love WE feel for all of this and the love THEY feel for all of this. Within all of that we had a chance to celebrate Sam and Dean's love and it felt so nice that they didn't shy away from it at all. It felt like all
fans were included and without a sense of mocking or disgust. It was a fun look and full of love.
7. Dean. After writing how much I've been missing Dean recent he was back in all his wonderfulness. Those soft eyes that look on others with fondness and an attempt to understand. His desire to "save" and look on others with an open mind. Plus his reactions were PRICELESS. Jensen chewed those up - possibly because he was genuinely feeling "what the fuck" most of the time. ;) I'm sure he was as worried about this episode as some of us were (apparently he actually was). It was a gamble, that's for sure. But he committed himself and, even though this episode was a mile away from his recent demonhood, I never got the feeling he'd completely forgotten him. Sam and Dean will always have a layer of heaviness about them - that hadn't "suddenly" disappeared because it was a meta episode. They remained in character and the strength of that helped make this episode work. Dean demonstrated his caring leadership and ability to stop and listen.
8. Sam. Oh god. The sam!girl is me was in my happy place I gotta tell ya. I felt that special little shout out was there just for me. If Sam and Dean were real, they wouldn't back down from a fight, especially my sweet, brave, selfless Sam. There's nothing he can't do.
I squeed out loud and my heart melted. They put "selfless" and "Sam" in the same sentence. Robbie wins ALL the awards, just for that. :D I love the way this episode worked to give us some of Sam's story (his need for Dean to understand just how much he loves him) and allow "character Sam" to control the story. The fact that the director became Sam felt extra special to me (it may be stretching it too far, but "Sam" being in control and making choices AND killing the Monster (both Sams!) was wonderful).
9. That bloody rendition of "Carry on My Wayward Son"! For god's sake! How is a girl supposed to maintain her dignity!?! Fucking tears I tell you! That moment really just "got" to me. I was suddenly overwhelmed with just how much I have loved and how much still I love this show. Ok, so it was manipulative- but I like being manipulated like that! I thought seeing the road backdrop, the fake car and everything on stage like that would somehow cheapen the Winchesters story, but instead it reinforced how much that story means to me. No idea how they managed that, but boy, it worked.
10. And then all the rest:
- the stressed out drama teacher on her phone
- a tentacle type monster
- robots and aliens in the second half!
- that motel room! LOVES IT!!
- that stupid fake amulet of brolove now hanging in the car (ack! Wil that be gone next ep and now we all start wondering WHAT HAPPENED TO THE FAKE AMULET!? Fake!amulet fix-its will be needed)
- Cas! Oh I loved this girl! She captured Cas perfectly. And that song!!!
- Sam's "manly tear song" (DAMMIT! I actually even liked the songs! OH DEAN!!!!
- The guy with the plastic poncho! \o/
- Epic opening titles
- Chuck. Oh they kept that a good secret didm't they!! (did they? I'm glad I didn't know! Great surprise!)
- Jensen's look to the camera (normally I'd HATE that, but at 200 eps I'm letting it ride because, actually, it was hilarious).
- ADAM acknowledgement!
- The acknowledgement that they need to be hunting
- BM moments! (Personally it's "Bro Monent or Bro Mance - but WHATEVER! *g*)
- Dean and Cas actresses a couple! Hee! (and no, this doesn't mean it's canon - it means enjoy whatever the hell you want in this show!)
- "and I want you to put as much sub into text as you possible can"
- MY FAVOURITEST LINE! "so I used this for my one woman Orphan Black show last year!" She was such a powerhouse and this fit perfectly with her character!
- EVERYTHING ELSE! I'm sure I'll be posting about this for days! It'll take a while to come down from this high.
You want nit picks?
1. That teacher was in the basement for a couple of days. She looked far too fresh for that. She would have been hungry! (maybe she had a supply of alcohol on her?)
2. THEY GAVE ME THE ENDING I WANT!!! BOOO! Now they won't give me that for the actual finale. :(( I know the Js talk about wanting the character to die but NO! Driving off into the sunset is exactly how I want it. AND THEY GAVE IT TO ME! Maybe I should watching RIGHT NOW! I'm in my happy place with the show and I don't wan it spoiled!
But you know what? This has helped me. I may never forgive them for S9, but I can get over it. I have my on interpretations for S9 and even though they haven't played out I'm hanging onto my interpretations because I can
. This told me they still adore the characters and they KNOW what makes this show work. They still have a heap of stories to tell and many directions to take these characters in. They may not always work (what was that about robots?) but at it's heart there is, well, lots and lots of heart.
ETA: Holy crap. Forgot to mention that we even got some brother relationship healing. It felt like a genuine way to move forward. A little more insight and understanding from both.
I thought 10.05 was
AWESOME! Perfect 200th episode!
Pretty darn good! I enjoyed most of it.
Ok. It had some good moments.
Ugh. It just wasn't working for me.
NOPE! no no no. Please no.