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just enough to make us dangerous
Meta rec and thoughts... 
9th-Apr-2013 09:46 pm
Watch for the plot
maenad's has written an excellent and fascinating meta on why Taxi Driver missed it's mark. Or rather, the difference between what makes a strong episode and a weak one. She doesn't bad mouth for the sake of doing so or rant about it being horrible - instead she looks at it critically and examines how the writing let down an idea.

On writing hell: a comparison

They could also have simply relied on the power of suggestion. Have Sam step through the portal and find himself in Bobby's house ... or the Men of Letters' bunker ... or the house he shared with Amelia. Then turn those places against him and force him to navigate them. Use Sam's history with Bobby, or the season's themes, to illustrate the wrongness of hell. Make the things that Sam loves awful and force him to fight his way through them. That way you don't have to see anything that would be hell for you. You only have to see what would be hell for Sam. And as long as Sam is afraid of it, we should be too.

I love this idea so much. I said in my review that I enjoyed the episode, and I did, but a suggestion like this makes me realize how much more potential it had. Can you imagine how amazing it would have been if he'd stepped into Bobby's house? Bobby could have been trapped in there knowing Sam and Dean needed his help and him not being able to do anything about it. That would have been Bobby's hell.

I also love the idea that hell is different for each person. The show has already given us different versions of hell so it makes sense that Bobby's hell would be different to Sam's and Dean's. I also like the idea that time is fluid and somewhat intangible in the spirit realm. Show has sometimes suggested this but never really seen it through.

For me Season 8 has been full of really interesting ideas but has fallen short in the execution of them. Individually the episodes mostly work ok, but when looking at the season as a whole it seems to lack a solid focus. I am hoping that the next 3 episodes manage to tie some things together thus solidifying some of the season. I'm pretty sure I'll have more to say about this at the end of the season.

While I'm here I do want to say that I think it's ok to rant and complain about the show. It doesn't mean we love it any less because we can see its faults. We love and connect to it in a way that's really hard to explain to anyone who doesn't. That's why we get upset when it doesn't meet our expectations or desires - or lets us down with poor writing or characterisations. Sometimes we need to get stuff off our chests and try and make sense of what they're doing (or not doing). I think it helps get past the problems and remember what it is we love about it. I'm pretty sure I'm in for the long haul (unless they permanently kill off one of the brothers or have them working separately all the time) so chatting and working it all out will help me make it through.
9th-Apr-2013 01:53 pm (UTC)
I'm all for getting disappointment off our collective chests when it is done like this but it worries me when 'fans' just rant without purpose, or rather, without thinking.

Indiscriminate shouting just because their fave character has been (in their opinion) slighted in some way doesn't work for me. Whereas discussions like this enhance my enjoyment and actually make mediocre episodes more interesting.

Long live rational debate! :D
9th-Apr-2013 02:08 pm (UTC)

I love critical discussion that offers sensible reasons why things might not be working. Doesn't mean it's not working for all of us of course, but for those who like to figure out why something didn't feel right it's great to have those discussions.

Recent discussions have certainly made me appreciate an episode more. And at the same time have highlighted issues that I hadn't considered. I find it fun...
10th-Apr-2013 03:35 am (UTC)
*butts in politely*

Indiscriminate shouting just because their fave character has been (in their opinion) slighted in some way doesn't work for me.

Emphasis on the "indiscriminate shouting" part. How on earth are you supposed to take people like that seriously? *clings tight to brainy fans like maenad*
10th-Apr-2013 08:51 am (UTC)
Zactly. :D
9th-Apr-2013 02:11 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. maenad has a very thinky brain and makes some excellent observations in this meta. It really helped me understand why the episode worked on one level but didn't on so many others...
9th-Apr-2013 03:21 pm (UTC)
i haven't read maenad's meta yet (i'm definitely going to in a moment), but the bit you quoted, i wholeheartedly agree on. i didn't like this episode much, and that mostly had to do with the way they created hell. maenad's version sounds so much scarier and scarring than the amusement park ride-version we saw in the show. and if you think about it, that's kind of how heaven worked in 5x18, it would make sense if hell operated in the same way: taking your memories and using them.

i have to say, though, i seem to be one of the very few who really likes season eight (aside from that last episode, that is). i think that it's a million times better than the previous two seasons, which were very "blah" - for want of a better word - to me. to me, it's like sam and especially dean make sense again. i find it really weird that most of the posts i see on my flist are rather negative. i wonder what i'm missing, sometimes.
10th-Apr-2013 07:50 am (UTC)
Hi there,

taking your memories and using them.

Yeah, it would have been clever and pretty easy to accomplish.

It's great that you are enjoying S8. I felt like I was one of the few who enjoyed S7 (well, about 3/4 of it. I thought it was let down by the ending...), so I know how you feel. though I have enjoyed certain moments of S8. I think the MoL bunker is a stroke of genius and I'm loving the fact that the boys are on the same page. I think it's been weakened by some poor writing and some readjustment of canon (Sam wanting a normal life again for example), but mostly I've enjoyed it. My biggest beef is that they created a Sam that didn't look for Dean when he was missing. Fans have come up with some awesome and believable reasons why he might not have looked but the show never really addressed it - other than to say it's because of some agreement they had. I still haven't been able to swallow that bitter pill.

But there's been a lot of awesome stuff too so that's been heartening.
9th-Apr-2013 03:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks for linking this and bringing the topic up. I agree that that it would've been a more, hm, sensitive way to show hell, and I especially agree about everyone having their every own hell. I mean, it's the same with heaven, right? And if I go out on a limp there, then I can still apply that to a degree. Maybe this sort of WAS what Sam thought hell was like. Like, outside of the cage. What he imagined after Dean's deal ran out, during those first four months? IDEK. I don't wanna think about that ep too hard, tbh. XD
9th-Apr-2013 04:18 pm (UTC)
Maybe when hell isn't really aimed at you, when you are a casual intruder, it is sort of generic and lacking in effect. What made Dean's hell and Sam's cage experience a matter of horror rather than severe unpleasantness was that there was a conscious destruction and deconstruction of their selves going on. It's not about the racks or CGI flames, it's about having Alastair or Lucifer peeling you and using your headspace. Hell works as hell when its not only subjective, but a deliberate and hostile playing with one's subjectivity.
9th-Apr-2013 06:24 pm (UTC)
Excellent point. I guess what miffles me the most about that hell is Bobby, and how they described his hell. Being locked into a cage and have imaginary versions of the boys taunting him? Severely unpleasant, sure, but it just doesn't jive with anything they've built up so far. Neither does his relatively stable state. But yeah, you're right. Of course one person's hell would, looked at from the outside, lack in effect for another person. But what I'm nodding along with even harder with your comment is that Sam and Dean both had that horned and specific kind of psychological destruction going on.
10th-Apr-2013 09:26 am (UTC)
I really like the idea that this is what Sam imagined hell to be like so that's what he saw. Sadly, I don't think the writers were thinking like that but there's no reason we can't ;D People have come up with some great explanations about how hell and time works in the SPN universe and I'm never sure if the producers leave it open so we can make of it what we want or if they really just don't think too hard about it.

10th-Apr-2013 01:56 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty sure it's the latter, but you're right, that doesn't keep up from thinking it. XD
9th-Apr-2013 06:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the rec! Good stuff.
10th-Apr-2013 09:28 am (UTC)
So glad you liked it. Helped me make more sense of why I thought there was lost potential with that ep.
9th-Apr-2013 07:05 pm (UTC)
I especially appreciate when someone can analyze my basic reaction--hell wasn't very scary and it was too easy to find Bobby--and explain from a writing standpoint what went wrong.

This is the kind of critique that means something, as opposed to "fans" screaming about "their" character being slighted. This is the kind of analysis that I wish TPTB would see and respond to. Sigh.

The problem is, when it is good, SPN can be awesome--which is why when it falls short in an episode that had such potential, it hurts more :(
10th-Apr-2013 09:31 am (UTC)
*nods* I would love TPTB to read that. It's not about any one thing, but rather why a certain way of writing suits the SPN 'verse over another. It baffles me why they gave those two such an important episode. I would love to have seen Edlund or even Carver with that one. It'll always be the one that got away. Hopefully the last three can make up for it...
10th-Apr-2013 03:16 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for linking that, it was spot on :)
10th-Apr-2013 09:32 am (UTC)
I know right?! :D
10th-Apr-2013 03:27 am (UTC)
She doesn't bad mouth for the sake of doing so or rant about it being horrible - instead she looks at it critically and examines how the writing let down an idea.

Oh, does she EVER. God love the fangirl who takes the time to make an intelligent critique that delves deeper than the standard "it sucked, I hated it, bad writers" reviews that have almost become the norm.

Thanks so much for reccing this beautiful thing! *goes back to re-read meta*

Edited at 2013-04-10 03:28 am (UTC)
10th-Apr-2013 09:33 am (UTC)
She's got an awesome thinky brain!! :D

10th-Apr-2013 08:56 am (UTC)
Hmmm.. the suggestions about how the hell scene could have been sound interesting. I'm thinking though that Sam went into hell as a secret outsider not a captured soul, so he is not really in the tortured mind of others or his own but sees it more "physical", without the mind-horror. To me that is the reason he was able to just walk through and reach out to Bobby. However, I agree that they could have done a little more with Bobby's mindset as he seemed pretty clear for someone in hell. But then again, even he didn't really belong into the place. Maybe that area where Sam went to was where they put he 'smuggled' souls. A sort of broom closet to the official hell.

Complaints mixed with brainstorming, underlined by the love for the show have never bothered me. I just can't understand people who seem to bash the show with nothing ever good coming out of their mouths. I keep away from those.

I was just thinking yesterday how many possible ways the show could have been written and how many fans have even more many different expectations. It really leaves room for endless discussions and this exactly seems to keep the show alive and thriving despite some mishaps on the way (*sideglances at the first half of this season* lol). but I love how SPN never falls off the wagon completely but manages to catch and rebalance itself.

Btw, my english friend Olly (the one I introduced to SPN) is watching one ep after the other (as time allows) and seeing him hooked like that really makes me happy. It reminds me of me watching the early seasons and all the feelings that came with it and the person I was then. It is amazing that the show is still going strong and how they manage to keep the story going. To me it's a joy to behold.
10th-Apr-2013 09:04 am (UTC)
Oh, I just noticed that de_nugis has a similar thought on the hell scene as me. :D
10th-Apr-2013 09:41 am (UTC)
Maybe that area where Sam went to was where they put he 'smuggled' souls. A sort of broom closet to the official hell.

OOOH! I love this idea!! yes yes...see, that would makes sense of why that girl said "I knew you'd come". She knows she's innocent so is thought she was going to be saved.

I agree there are many ways it could have been done and many ways we can interpret what they did do. I suppose at least it has opened up discussions.

I also marvel at the way they keep going. Sure, I get annoyed and disappointed with some of the episodes and story telling, but mostly I have been entertained and I can't be upset too much about that.

Yay, I'm glad your friend if enjoying it also. Nothing like converting someone to the show...;))


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