I was actually sad to hear that Robbie Thompson is leaving the show. Even though I have major issues with the last episode he wrote (which actually make some sense now in light of the news) I have always enjoyed his episodes. I thought he brought some interesting ideas and characters into the Supernatural universe. He gave us some wonderful brother moments and always found ways of telling an interesting, inventive story. Sure, he liked to fan service and I have very mixed feelings about that, but I do think he genuinely liked the show.
On that note, I want/need to say more about the last episode. With that clarification I can (hopefully) articulate things a bit better. It's still negative so please be warned.
Also, thanks to those who chatted with me about the last episode (and don't feel you need to with this! I'm mostly writing this to help me ;D). I am always appreciative that people are happy to discuss an ep, even when my reaction is completely different to theirs. I do respect that we view episodes differently.
Oops, this got quite long.
I had many gripes about 11.20 - confirming God is Chuck and the return of the amulet most notably - but the number one thing that really made me angry was Robbie inserting himself into the script and the blatant fan servicing.
With the news that this is Robbie's last script I can now fully understand (with some relief - because I didn't imagine it) why he did that. I don't think it's appropriate (at all), but with the relationship that writers have with fans on the show (and in particular Robbie) I can understand it. Robbie not only gave himself the opportunity to reflect on writing and Kripke's tenure - through Metatron and God's dialogue (much like Kripke did at the end of S5) - he also gave fandom a "gift". The amulet.
Whether he is responsible for the confirmation that Chuck is God I can't tell. Surely he couldn't bring back God without it being a major part of the season's finale (I'd love to know if this had been planned since day one of S11). Creating such a major plot point like this couldn't have been done on a mere last hurrah. Time will tell in that one (but I'm not gonna lie, I'll probably laugh if he did. The joke will definitely be on him *g*. That's one hell of a hole to dig out of).
Which brings me to fan servicing. I have very mixed feelings about writers giving fans what they ask for. I know the SPN fandom is very intense and vocal, but I hate the idea that writers (and TPTB) write stories around the fans' demands. Mainly because it dilutes any story that they
have planned for the show. It removes the integrity of their own work and, quite frankly, cheapens it. It also implies that ALL fans wants the same thing - which we know isn't the case I give Robbie his due, he does try to please a broad base in the fandom (highlighted in Fan Fiction), not just one section (by why try in the first place is what I have to wonder).
That said, the very obvious fan service episodes he wrote like Baby and Fan Fiction I can accept more easily than Don't Call me Shurley. The main difference is he didn't hide the fact that the first two were "gifts" to fans. They were stand alones and could be watched outside of the mythos of the show. There was no hiding the fact of what they were. "Don't Call me Shurly" didn't do that. It was a MAJOR mytharc episode and didn't make itself obvious until the end (though I know it could be argued that it was obvious from the opening minute). It also took itself more seriously than Baby or Fan Fiction. I think if I had known beforehand that this was Robbie's goodbye script, I might have been more accepting of it. I still wouldn't have been happy, but at least I could be kind enough to think Robbie deserved his own farewell. Why I'm miffed about the amulet's return.
This is personal (of course) but I viewed the amulet's return as pure manipulation on Robbie's part. It was inserted into the story to win fans over and give them something they have been longing to have back. I not only disliked that the amulet appearing made no sense to the story (God could have healed Sam and the town without it and He could have appeared instantly to Dean with out it leading it to Him), I also disliked the way it made it's appearance. Having it magically appear in Sam's pocket created massive meta-ish discussions on whether Sam had kept it all this time or whether God had put it in Sam's pocket. Fans were invested. (Dammit! We're invested by this stuff! Don't play with us!). Then Jim Michaels confirmed God put it in Sam's pocket (which just never seemed a question to me, but I understand fans wanted Sam yo have kept it all this time. Even me!). Then Robbie announced his departure and the answer to who had the amulet all this time was clearly "Robbie had it and was just waiting for a chance to return it". It's further confirmation that there was no consideration for where it's been all or why). No back story was created for it. It's just there
. Something as important in fandom as this needed that consideration. I also think the way it was returned (via God) removes the initial connection the brothers had to it - as a gift of brotherhood from Sam to Dean. For it to continue as that symbol it should have been returned in that manner . I know that's contentious and to be honest I really don't care enough about that to be truly upset. In other words FANON! I will accept any level of fanon on it now because that's all we can do. And I know every fan will create their own meaning around it. Which, maybe that was Robbie's real parting gift.
(Though I would suggest we don't get too attached to it. If history has told us something the shows likes to take away stuff we love. /speculation).Why Chuck being God kinda sucks:
Oh the very top of my list is that Chuck/God let Sam suffer in hell for over 100 years - to horribly abused by Michael and Lucifer. He could have prevented it, but chose not to. For whatever (fanon) reasons we can create, that's what he did. Now, at the time Chuck was written I could accept that maybe he wasn't God (I have never been able to accept that as canon anyway) and it was easier to accept what happened to Sam. Now that it's been confirmed that Chuck was "acting" the whole time (and basically playing with our boys) - well, the level of rage is off the charts. Even the argument that God gave Sam and Dean freewill doesn't wash with me because he knew they were good men at heart. He knew Sam didn't deserve this outcome. If he made the choice to restore Cas so he could restore Dean, then he inserted his own will on their outcome. He could have saved Sam. It also makes Chuck, a perviously likeable character, extremely unlikeable (and I still don't believe anyone in the Show decided Chuck was God until - well, I dunno. Probably 5.22?). And God making a one off appearance at the end of Fan Fiction? Yeah, Robbie was always heading there it looks like. It's just makes everything in the past so bloody messy.
My expectations will be SO high for the next episode that there is no way it can be satisfying. If they don't give me an acceptable reason why He doesn't immediately alleviate the suffering of people (especially children) around the world I will be simmering with anger the whole time.
Having God present in this universe is more problematic than having angels around. He can do anything. ANY.THING. So when he doesn't I will want to know why (and I am open to inventive ways of examining this, but I just don't trust they will do it. Not with the writers we have next episode. But I will hold my judgement). They have to think of inventive reasons each season why Cas can't magically fix everything. I can't imagine how they'll make God impotent. And then there will be Dean finally seeing a God he's never really believed in. And realising what he's done to them. To Sam. Let alone Sam who has prayed to him countless times. It's opens so many things that I just know won't be explored (please prove me wrong!)Breaking the Forth Wall
This is nothing new to the show - they've broken the 4th wall a few times now. It's never something that has sit comfortably with me so it's probably not a surprise it didn't work for me this time. There are times when I've been ok with it (The French Mistake) but mostly not (in Hollywood Babylon and Monster at the End of the Book mostly ). The biggest squick for me in the episode was God singing. The line between Rob's con persona and the character he plays in the show was just too close. Every time he picked up the guitar I was out of the moment and could see right through the whole charade (which I never really want to do! I want my belief to be totally suspended). Also, Rob seems like such a lovely guy. His con persona is warm and fluffy, so I had to work extra hard to believe he's God - a character I now despise.
I know I sound like spoil brat not wanting all the lovely goodies Robbie gave us, but I suppose this gift was just not to my taste. But as I have said to many whose opinions were opposite to mine - I'm thrilled for those who loved the present. :)
Though I can thank him for giving me Dean petting Sam's hair :) Thanks Robbie! <3 (and I may thank you for the amulet's return once I see how it's going to now be used...Maybe ;D)
That all said, you'll be missed. Even if this last one was rather self indulgent your heart was in the right place.