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8.04 episode reaction 
27th-Oct-2012 08:53 am
Dean & vid camera
A bit late. I haven't read any reactions because I didn't want it to cloud my initial response. I know that there was a mixed response (I suppose...when isn't there?) but I wanted to get this down. I watched it on the plane back from Sydney and typed this up then.



Well. That was different.

It might be the way I went into this episode (I had a little heads up that it wasn’t received particularly well) but I actually really liked it. In fact, the geek in me loved it because it had two things that I love in Supernatural - 1) homage and 2) outsider POV.

I’m not a great fan of the hand held camera (I had to stop watching Cloverfield because it made me really queasy) but I tolerated this because it was pretty short and there were some interesting things going on with perception – as in, my perception as the viewer (sharing Sam and Dean’s view) and the way the film maker chose the varying shots etc to create his own film - which of course become the film makers of SPN. There was a nice twisting around of what we get to see and a reminder that it's the film maker that choses what we see in order to affect our response.

So yeah. Totally cool stuff to deconstruct and geek over.

We also got little nuggets like “work place romance” that totally satisfied my SamnDean OTP. (thank you show!)

So.

The homage was fun. I haven’t watched The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity but I could easily recognize this stylistic way of filming the modern horror story. Most notably the handheld or hidden static camera. We also had the recognizable character stereotypes (the Y-gen, teens – the geek, the jock and the girl) with familiar issues (friendship, love triangle, wanting to be something we are not etc). We even had the expected “twist” of the girl being the one responsible for the slaughter. It was always going to be one of them and it’s either the one we totally expect it to be or the one we don’t. Either way it’s part of the modern horror genre (and if you haven’t watched Cabin in the Woods it’s a MUST watch for this kind of homage, analysis and comment).

Of course the real twist was how Sam and Dean responded to the discovery of the monster.

I think that even though this episode had little Sam and Dean in it, it spoke volumes about their characters and their arc so far this season. Mostly Dean’s. Though I loved that we got a further look at Sam also. At the end he was on auto pilot and assumed Dean wanted to go after her. It was interesting to see that it looked like Sam was all up for following the hunt but it wasn’t until Dean said no he revealed his true feelings. Did you see the relief on his face? He even reassured Dean that they can always go after her if they need to. No wonder Dean finds Sam hard to read. Look how good he is at hiding what he’s really feeling.

But it’s Dean’s response that’s the big turn about. What a wonderful contrast to his response to Amy from 7.03 (The Girl Next Door). I am sure there’s a direct parallel.

We now know for sure (as we had suspected) that Dean is sympathetic toward monsters. He has a best buddy that's a vampire after all. We also know that Sam is still hunting because Dean is still hunting. I know this hasn’t been fleshed out yet, as in we still need to find out Sam’s true motivations for continuing (it’s my belief that he loves his brother and doesn’t want him hunting by himself), but I think at this point we can accept that he’s by his side and until we get the big “upset” (I’m sure it will come at some point!) we can take comfort in that.

I will admit to finding the story a little tedious – we pretty much knew that Michael was going to be a werewolf from the first bite so the ensuing investigate was a bit ho hum. But I did love seeing Sam and Dean come into the frame, even if only to see how they look to everyone else (gee they're good looking. And weird).

I also think giving us a “video” quality to the footage is particularly difficult on actors. There’s something about altering that cold harsh light that does actors a favour - as in it helps us sustain our disbelief by giving the footage warmth (well, it does for me). Camera angles also help that. So I found it hard to “believe” what I was seeing and kept “seeing” the acting – as a result that removed a lot of the tension for me. This is my way of saying I didn’t like the acting but that I don’t think it was all the actors’ faults. I thought Jared and Jensen pulled it off better (as they should!) –though the action sequence suffered for having a static camera, but *shrugs* there’s such a thing as being too picky.

I also get twitchy when the boys are around crime scenes spreading their finger prints everywhere. I'm pretty sure we're not suppose to read much into that but in the world of CSI style TV we can't but help to think about the traces they continually leave behind.

Mostly, above everything, I love that Show isn’t afraid to do something different. It kept within the parameters of the Show (as in MotW, case and dealing with the supernatural) but it used a “modern” (maybe fashionable?) way of telling that.

My love for Robbie Thompson (the writer) continues. You could see those lovely similarities to Slash Fiction (the video camera’s perspective, outsider POV) and played a little more with our perceptions of Sam, Dean and the nature of the supernatural in a natural world.

I also loved the credits at the end. For me, seeing them made me think we were watching it from the beginning. I think it was a nice little play with our expectations.

I think we have to remember that this is a TV show and it’s limited in many ways. But at least it’s not afraid to go into trickier territory. It has a history of homage (right back to Bloody Mary and the Japanese horror film The Ring) so this was just another way to play with that. And I just think good on them for doing it. Whether fans liked it or not no one say Supernatural gets stuck in a formula.

Go show!

ETA: If you'd like to see how the MotW(s) parallel Sam and Dean check out cassiopeia7's take on it. I think it definitely works.
Comments 
27th-Oct-2012 01:02 am (UTC)
I agree. It was risky. I succeeded more than it failed. And it reminded us how Sam and Dean look to people in the normal world.

I've often thought that badges or not -- if they showed up at my door with the Impala parked in front of my house I would lock the door and call the cops.
27th-Oct-2012 01:20 am (UTC)
Yeah - risky is the right word. Brave, daring, imaginative...

And they certainly didn't get it all right, but with their limited budget and time I think they did a pretty good job. At least they tried. ;)

Yeah - the Impala is a dead give away. Plus their sheer presence would be pretty daunting. I really felt it when they arrived at the kids door.

Though I'd probably a gibbering mess if I opened a door to 2 guys looking like that!
:))
27th-Oct-2012 01:14 am (UTC)
Heh. I've been lurking, waiting for this. Your observations went in a totally different direction than mine, but still. I love this post! (People keep telling me about Cabin In the Woods, so I guess I'll have to watch it, eh?)

No wonder Dean finds Sam hard to read. Look how good he is at hiding what he’s really feeling.

Winchesters. The most repressed creatures on the face of the Earth. ):

I also loved the credits at the end. For me, seeing them made me think we were watching it from the beginning. I think it was a nice little play with our expectations.

Did you notice that they ran the credits backwards, director's name first, actors' names last? Total reversal of how it usually goes. I was greatly amused. ;)

This ep overall was really kind of amazing. For the first five minutes, I KNEW I'd hate it . . . then things started clicking.

Edited at 2012-10-27 01:33 am (UTC)
27th-Oct-2012 01:52 am (UTC)
Oooh - I'll be keen to see what your reactions were then. ;)

I highly recommend Cabin in the Woods if you're into genre films and like seeing how the film maker plays with our expectations of what we know of them.

The credits were awesome. I admit it didn't click that they also ran backwards. Very cool.

I also admit that when it started I was worried because handheld can really, really make me annoyed and queasy. But it found a nice balance. I wasn't totally enthralled but I was impressed.

<3
27th-Oct-2012 01:26 am (UTC)
The homage of style and format is really to the movie Chronicle, in my opinion, which is hands-down my favorite movie of the last couple years. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it. It's about some teenage kids who suddenly acquire superhero powers, but it turns one of them into a monster. It's excellent.
27th-Oct-2012 01:56 am (UTC)
Ah yes, Chronicle. It's a film I wanted to see but know is was hand held I was reluctant. That method can seriously piss me off sometimes. But if it's not too much I will definitely give it go. Also.. yay! If it's about one being turned into a monster then it's a take on that. I might even try and watch it tonight, cause now I'm really curious.

<33
27th-Oct-2012 02:51 am (UTC)
I should qualify that when I say monster, I mean it brings out the worst in him. *g* He goes bad.

I sometimes feel like the only person in the world who has seen this movie. But I liked it! Heh.
27th-Oct-2012 12:29 pm (UTC)
You are about to not be the only one. I have it in my mits (local vid library comes through) and I plan to watch it tonight. :)
27th-Oct-2012 03:45 am (UTC)
I found your comments interesting. So far this season I am finding my appreciation for the episodes after seeing them through other fans' eyes.
27th-Oct-2012 11:54 am (UTC)
We all look at the show differently I think. I am still ridiculously invested. I will definitely call it if I don't like an episode but so far I've enjoyed them. I'm still reserving judgement on the season because my feeling is they haven't even scraped the surface yet. If they don't address everything that they seem to be setting up then I might not be so positive. But so far? Some great eps. ;))
27th-Oct-2012 05:11 am (UTC)
I need a 'like' button to this review because same as you, I'd heard nothing but excessive negativity to the ep before I watched it, so I went in a little leery. But everything you said I literally second to a tee.

Edit: I'm going to come back and add something here, hours after the original comment (I love when good metas make me think further on eps!) and say that this isn't an ep you could sit folks down who don't know the show and have them watch it as an example of SPN. It really was an episode for us; the fans who know the boys enough to understand their reaction at the end of the ep. Anyone new would have been 'omgwtfbighuntersdontevenkillthefuckingmonstersattheend', where as we see it as a true reflection of character growth (particularly in Dean who once upon a time would have killed the girl, regardless of Sam's wishes.). I adored that part.

Edited at 2012-10-27 10:18 am (UTC)
28th-Oct-2012 03:47 am (UTC)
Hi.

I often think about how the casual observer views the show. There are certainly episodes that I am sure wouldn't make any sense - The French Mistake comes to mind. I think this one would hold together as an episode but, as you say, someone new would have no idea how significant that last scene was. Hee... they'd probably think..."emo boys, being all thinky about stuff and not killing a known monster..wtf!"

I think this is a great dilemma for Dean going into this season because now that he can "sympathize" with monsters where is he going to draw the line? I am sure he'll be presented with that problem at some point. It also brings him into the same head space as Sam (also ties into Bloodlust with the shades of grey).

So yeah, even though this ep didn't have a lot of boys what it did was powerful.

xx
27th-Oct-2012 07:01 am (UTC)
Yay! Somebody else who found the episode interesting. I think that for a one-off experiment that it was worth doing, and enjoyed that the boys were on the edge of the story here, as a parallel to the fact that they were always one step behind the most important events here - they didn't actually save anyone, except perhaps any future vics of the professor. So they were reacting rather than creating the events of the story. I dunno, it made sense in my brain.

And I liked that the girl was the one who walked off into the sunet because she made an active choice rather than having been saved by the boys, which is fairly rare for a guest star, I think.

And I'm with you on the shaky camera problem. One reason I've never watched Blair Witch.
28th-Oct-2012 03:54 am (UTC)
I definitely think it was worth doing and it fits with the genre of the show so I'm glad they went there.

So they were reacting rather than creating the events of the story

Yeah. I think is made more obvious because we can see them from the outside. Just coming in to solve the problem. We aren't privy to thought processes (much) and we see them as just solving the case.

It was good to see her take control and walk away. She told her story to them in the hope they would let her go. I mean, she could have not finished the video. Just them them figure it out and hope that she'd get away with it. Instead she appealed to their sense of compassion. Which, considering the Dean we saw in 8.02, she was lucky she convinced him.

I'm glad the camera wasn't too shaky - that might have made it far too hard to watch.

xx
27th-Oct-2012 08:56 am (UTC)
Go show!!

YES! and a big fat YES to everything here (although I did like the acting and story). It's such a refreshingly positive (YAY!) and as always insightful review and mostly I couldn't agree more.

Thanks hon! ♥
28th-Oct-2012 03:56 am (UTC)
Yay!! I was probably being a bit hard on the acting and the story. There were moments I loved and others that didn't wow me so much. But considering the risk they took with this I think that's pretty good! :))

xoxox
27th-Oct-2012 09:17 am (UTC)
You liked it! Yay! :D
I experienced the ep similar to your reactions (except for the geeky stuff since I'm not one. ;). I had a slight tedious feeling there as well but also found the whole take on this ep very interesting.
However, I now need an episode again with lots of SamnDean in it. ;)
28th-Oct-2012 03:58 am (UTC)
Yep! I liked! Of course.. I mostly do like eps. Umm....mostly...;)

But YES! I need my boys now! <33
27th-Oct-2012 11:12 am (UTC)
Even though I don't watch the show any more, the reaction on my fist always makes me smile. Its like a micro experiment on perception. You all have such different ways of reacting to the show and pretty much all take something different away from the experience which is great.

You however, are always a delight. You are always so upbeat and your enthusiasm is lovely to see. We need more happy posts on lj!!!

This ep was the tipping point for another girl in my flist..she hated it.

Hope the conference trip went well and that you had some time to meet up with family:)
28th-Oct-2012 04:02 am (UTC)
This ep was the tipping point for another girl in my flist..she hated it.

Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. It really wasn't that bad, I think it just didn't deliver on a certain level that many would want. I keep thinking about SPN going for another couple of years and the really do need to do eps like this just to keep it fresh. I think I'd go crazy if every episode laid on the angst.

I think I've worked out that I have no real "show must do this to make me happy", so I'm pretty content as long as it holds together and the boys are made to be stupid.

Thanks for dropping in, even though you're no long watching. It must indeed be interesting to see how every one reacts without being on that emotional roller coaster.

xxx
27th-Oct-2012 11:25 am (UTC)
I hope you had a good trip. :)

I’m not a great fan of the hand held camera (I had to stop watching Cloverfield because it made me really queasy) but I tolerated this because it was pretty short and there were some interesting things going on with perception – as in, my perception as the viewer (sharing Sam and Dean’s view) and the way the film maker chose the varying shots etc to create his own film - which of course become the film makers of SPN.

Yeah - I quite enjoyed the episode, but I have some issues with the found-footage genre. Action scenes shot in night vision with a handheld camera, for instance, are completely incomprehensible to me. I have to wait for the characters to discuss it afterwards to find out what happened. I also struggle to suspend disbelief when it comes to some of the scenes that get shot. Werewolves and ghosts? Fine. Usable footage from terrified amateurs who are busy running for their lives? Um ...

That's not really a criticism, though. I mean, the genre is what it is. It's just not my favourite style.

Either way it’s part of the modern horror genre (and if you haven’t watched Cabin in the Woods it’s a MUST watch for this kind of homage, analysis and comment).

I just managed to see this. Meta with plot. It's like they made it just for me. :)

At the end he was on auto pilot and assumed Dean wanted to go after her. It was interesting to see that it looked like Sam was all up for following the hunt but it wasn’t until Dean said no he revealed his true feelings. Did you see the relief on his face? He even reassured Dean that they can always go after her if they need to. No wonder Dean finds Sam hard to read. Look how good he is at hiding what he’s really feeling.

But it’s Dean’s response that’s the big turn about. What a wonderful contrast to his response to Amy from 7.03 (The Girl Next Door). I am sure there’s a direct parallel.


I don't know that there's a big difference between the ending of this and the ending of The Girl Next Door. I mean - Amy was a monster who tried to limit the amount of damage she did, but nevertheless had lapses; so was the professor in Bitten. Dean killed Amy, Sam and Dean killed the professor. Dean let Amy's son go because he'd never killed a human; Sam and Dean let Kate go for the same reason.

I do think there's a strong contrast in the framing. The Girl Next Door is all about Sam and Dean not talking, and they come to their separate conclusions about Amy based on their most recent personal traumas. In Bitten we hear that Sam and Dean talk all the time - even if we don't see much of it - and they're surprised that they come to the same conclusion.

Mostly I think they're slowly bringing Dean back to the world. In the first couple of episodes, he struggled to deal with shades of grey: people die whatever you do, force works regardless the morality of torture, do whatever you have to in service of your goals. Then in Heartache he expressed sympathy for Betsy, who shielded a monster. This follows on from that. I think he's starting to remember how murky things can be - and that would include his own relationships with Benny and Castiel.

To Sam, it's no wonder Dean's behaviour here is both scarcely believable and a huge relief. He's struggled to work out how Dean might react in any given situation - let alone managed to work out how to rein him in.
28th-Oct-2012 04:24 am (UTC)
Hey,

Yeah. Good point about the similarity and differences between this and Amy. It makes sense that he doesn't go after her because she hasn't killed yet, like Amy's son. I suppose I felt like this was meant to be a big turning point for post purgatory Dean. That he actually weighed up the options and went with the shades of grey that he often hasn't been able to work with before. I immediately thought of Amy because that was an example of him not listening to Sam (or rather, not trusting Sam) and doing it anyway. It seemed extremely callous and a moment when Dean was unsympathetic (as a character). Here he seems to be demonstrating more willingness to listen (and to be seen to be listening and considering). Ack... I dunno. I can't articulate it.

But yes, as you say, they talk here and come to the same conclusion - let her go. I just wonder if they are setting up possible dilemmas in the future where Dean becomes tooo considerate of monsters (I might be thinking of Benny here) and it becomes a major issue as the season unfolds. If that moment at the end is just showing us Dean readjusting to life after purgatory and showing us that he as regained his compassion (compared to say the Dean we saw in 8.02) then that's a little more ho hum to me. Or rather, a missed opportunity to really explore the idea of how Dean's attitude to monsters has changing. (hee...might just be wishful thinking on my part).

xx
28th-Oct-2012 03:47 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I always think too about the way the boys spread their fingerprints all over crime scenes. You'd think they'd carry latex gloves in their pockets just to minimize the evidence.

Sam did seemed relieved if not a slightly baffled by Dean's response at the end to give Kate a chance. Of course, Sam was thinking of Amy as well as Dean's gung ho attitude since he's been back. I wonder if it's going to get him thinking.

I wonder if Sam will meet Benny next week of if Dean will just be going off on his own for a while. Sam's reaction to Benny and vice versa should be interesting. I can't help but think that Benny will end up being a kind of Gordon Walker figure -- someone who will try to come between the boys.

I was surprised by how much I ended up liking this ep. I've been wanting an outside POV ep and this one didn't give me much of what I was hoping for, which was a lot of insight into the boys, but there was some.

I can't help being haunted by the song refrain too: "What's the matter, what's the matter with you lately?" Sam and Dean have to be wondering that about one another right now.

Thank for the review.
29th-Oct-2012 02:25 pm (UTC)
I can't wait to see what they are doing with Benny - it will interesting if they align him with Gordon - whether he'll be a "baddie" or a good "monster" (I haven't read or seen anything about what's going to happen).

It would have been good to get a little more insight into the boys but I did like seeing them from the outside.

And yeah...the song is poignant. I think there's quite a bit up with both of them at the moment.

thanks for stopping by.
xx
29th-Oct-2012 10:42 pm (UTC)
Pretty much agree with you on all major points.

I appreciate them playing with the format a bit and trying different things, particularly for 'filler episodes' (don't like that term, though...) The framing device worked reasonably well, so it was all a bit static at times. The biggest draw back is the story itself being so pedestrian and predictable, when you are visually so limited you really need suspense and surprise in the narrative to keep viewers engaged.

Also, Jared and Jensen deserve a bit of down time, considering that they're normally in almost all scenes.
31st-Oct-2012 02:13 pm (UTC)
The biggest draw back is the story itself being so pedestrian and predictable,

Yeah. I think that was unfortunate. I felt like they had the right idea, but the story just wasn't really that interesting.

And I totally respect that our boys need some down time. This was a nice way to do it. At least when the boys were in it it was interesting (well, I thought *g*) and we got that little bit of extra info about them at the end.

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