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Rewatch S13: War of the Worlds (13x07)

Okay, so obviously, it's been a bit longer than I intended - but I got distracted with Christmas and stuff... well, first depression, then Christmas and stuff.

But I'm back to functioning now, so let's do another rewatch!

War of the Worlds

Ugh, Lucifer... what a thing to have to come back to.

I do like this old church set, with the light slanting in between the boards.

Anyway, if I were rewriting this without Lucifer... just exchange him for Dagon, maybe have it be a little less torturing.

Dean being protective of Cas - but also allowing him to go off and do his own thing. It's growth! But man, if I were Dean I'd be like "dude, you just got back from the dead - I am wrapping you in cotton padding and keeping you inside."

Asmodeus trying to find Jack... creepily. I do love how the demon keeps calling him "the Jack" hahaha, it's kind of hilarious.

I'm worried that I won't have anything to say about this episode...

...but there's KEVIN!!! I love him. I wish he could have lived in this universe. This meth-ed out Kevin. Or maybe speed-Kevin? Ritalin Kevin? I miss Kevin.

So, if I were rewriting this without Lucifer, they'd either have to have a different fuel for the spell, or Michael would have to use his own grace. I think using his own grace would set up S14 nicely, because it would set-up the fact that he was willing to sacrifice it in dribs and drabs. ALSO, it'd be a way to depower him just enough that he'd be a little more manageable for the writers - because they constantly need their super-beings depowered in order to work with them, as evidenced by their consistent insistence that they be constantly depowered by some means. I think Kripke... and maybe Gamble, were the only ones who knew how to write for super-beings. Anyway, I'll stop bashing the writers, sorry...

....AND no I won't, because I totally forgot about Ketch coming back. Oh my god.

So, trufax, if I were rewriting this season, I would NOT have Ketch return. It TOTALLY undercuts his death and Mary's choice to kill him at the end of S12.

Daniella: "...I'm a witch - and I know you don't like witches, but I also know that you help people who are in trouble."
- See, that's actually an interesting conundrum. That's a good set-up for a case. Someone is killing witches - do you hunt that person, or do you pat them on the back and say good job? Why are they investigating this case anyway? If some hunter has found a way to kill witches, shouldn't they just be glad? Oh man, who wrote this episode...*checks* UGH, I should have known! It's BuckLeming. Of all the episode for me to come back to after my inadvertent hiatus.

Okay, so, MASSIVE rewrite on this episode is going to be needed, but for now I'm just going watch.

Fun fact: Lucifer has never met Kevin before in person - BUT, since all angels know all the names of the prophets, both living and dead, he still knows who he is. Also, Lucifer has been in Castiel's brain. 

And Lucifer is without his powers in our world after jumping through the portal.

And Asmodeus just killed an innocent hotel manager - that's really sad.

YOU KNOW WHAT A BETTER EPISODE WOULD BE? Asmodeus hunting Jack, while Sam and Dean hunt Asmodeus because he keeps killing innocent people in places they've been.

I DO like the fact that Ketch has really cute curly hair in this resurrection. So, you know, that's a big bonus.

This is going to be the shortest rewatch since I rocketed through S1 without really knowing what the heck I was doing.

Sam's had that blue and black shirt since S1 - it's cool to see it again.

Dean: "Oh, and look at that, you got rid of your tattoo - was it a stick on? It was a stick on."
- Now, THIS is a good line, because it was a stick-on by the make-up department.

Seriously, the reason I don't like BuckLeming is because they like the villains WAY TOO MUCH. They try to turn all the villains into allies - they're the Kylo-apologists of the Supernatural fandom, only they're f*cking writers/producers on the show (depending how you want to read my use of the word f*cking there). BuckLeming and I were doomed from the start in terms of getting along - because I hate villains, and am only interested in the movement and emotions of our heroes, and BuckLeming seem to find heroes boring and only want to write villains.

Anyway, I just wrote all that while Ketch was weaving his story about being his own twin. The guy who plays Ketch IS good, and I do like his curly hair... so, it's not like I'm super mad that he's around, I just hate the reason he's around. Unfortunately, no matter how good actors are, sometimes it serves the story better to SAY GOODBYE TO THEM. I mean, why do we have to have Lucifer and Ketch come back from the dead constantly, but we can't get Gabriel to stick around? Or Bobby to permanently come back and be OUR Bobby (no offense to AU!Bobby) or CHARLIE for that matter. Because the writers recognize (some of the time) that bringing characters back undercuts their story arcs... of course, Charlie didn't even have as good a death as Ketch, but we can't have her. UGH. You know, I think the problem the Dabb years has is his love for bringing people back from the dead - ironically.

There's a shot that Speight (director) does here that I don't like - where Sam is in the foreground and Dean is in the background and they're BOTH in focus. I don't even know why I don't like it. He switches back to racking the focus (I think that's what it's called - basically switching the focus back and forth depending whose talking) a minute later, which is the way it's usually done, and it's MUCH better... but that initial shot with them both in focus is just so jarring. Not a fan.

Sam: "We know Mom shot Arthur, and we know we dumped his corpse into the waste canal..."
- I think this is the other thing that REALLY bugs me about Ketch's resurrection. Sam and Dean wouldn't just DUMP A CORPSE. If they're not fleeing the scene, then they're going to salt and burn every corpse they come across - ESPECIALLY the ones they create. Also, where the heck does the waste canal go? Is there a sewage treatment centre along the way? Does it dump into a local river? THEY WOULDN'T DUMP A CORPSE NEAR THE BUNKER - BECAUSE IT COULD BE TRACED BACK TO THE BUNKER. It doesn't make ANY SENSE.

I think it pisses me off the most because it makes the Winchesters look sloppy, and the Winchesters have been doing this together for 13-16 years (depending how you count) and that's just since Stanford. They've really been doing this for 30+ years each. THEY ARE THE MOST SKILLED HUNTERS IN THE COUNTRY. They wouldn't make those stupid rookie mistakes. If someone gets one over on them, it has to be because that other someone is really clever (like Crowley used to be), but it can't just be because the Winchesters dumped a body without burning it.

Ugh, back to that shot I don't like.

Sam: "The Arthur Ketch we knew was sadistic, amoral, predatory - loyal to no one."
Ketch: "You're wrong there. Not amoral, and actually loyal to a fault."

- I DO like this turn, because Ketch can't help but defend himself. The thing is, I'd be perfectly find with Ketch flipping sides and having a redemptive arc - but it would have had to have happened in S12, before his death, and not in S13 after a resurrection. So, if you want to keep Ketch around, have Mitch's death and Mary's pleas actually make a difference to Ketch so that he flips at the last moment and doesn't die. Have him leave to go take down the BMoL in Britain, if you don't want to send the Winchesters off to do it (which I still think they should have) - and then you can still have him in and out of your future seasons, but it's not because he had some magical resurrection magic sewn into his inner thigh by Rowena and the Winchesters were dumb enough to just dump his corpse in a drainage ditch and hope for the best.

Sam: "Sounds like it'd be easier to be Alexander than it would to be Arthur..."
- Ah Sam, missed his calling as a therapist.

Ketch: "If he were here, he'd...admit regret, to some of the things he did to your family."
- Aww, again, just have this be in S12...,or don't kill him, and you can still have it in this season, when he's still around. If you want to explore Ketch, then don't kill him in the first place.

And then we learn that the angels are going extinct, and they're hoping Jack can create more.

And really, it's no wonder they're going extinct when they're first instinct is always to fight to the death whenever they disagree with each other.

And Lucifer comes back... oh man, okay, so how would I write this... Man, I really wish Castiel would have just killed Lucifer here while he's weak. This is another thing that doesn't make any sense. I mean, yeah, he teases that he has information - but get it, and then stab him in the bar and be done with it. AND YES, before you say anything, I know that they made up the thing where Lucifer can't be killed except by another archangel - BUT, they hadn't established that yet here, and also he's super weak right now so maybe it doesn't apply! I'd at least like to have a quick attempt made.

Lucifer: "This is an emergency, Castiel, and all they'll want to do is put me back in the cage."
- BECAUSE IT'S THE SMART THING TO DO. You should have never gotten OUT. UGH.

Ketch: "And... how is she [Mary] now?"
Dean: "She's good."

- Again, Ketch, just can't resist checking up on your ex-FWB. Giving yourself away.

Cas: "Nothing yet, but interesting things are happening- YES, I would like to see you too, the sooner the better."
Dean: "Cas?"
*Lucifer hangs up*
Lucifer: "Smooth was never your strong suit."
*at the bunker*
Sam: "What's up?"
Dean: "Something didn't seem right."

- Didn't SEEM right?! Dean, Cas never flirts with you - and suddenly he is? That's a big ol' red flag.

Asmodeus and Lucifer showdown - they're good actors... I just don't have anything to say about it. Maybe that despite the writers' inability to write for super-powered characters long-term, they SURE LIKE INTRODUCING THEM.

Winchester and Demon fight, also entertaining...

Ketch to the rescue.

Ketch: "Did it ever occur to you, Dean, that I may be one of the good guys."
Dean: "No, not even once."

- I'm with you, Dean.

Ketch: "You and I were soldiers in opposing armies that were at war."
Dean: "Well, the thing about war is, one side wins."

- I think this is actually a really great commentary on the different cultural mindsets and what's fundamentally wrong with our society. But first, let's break down this cultural misunderstanding as it relates to our characters.
- In order to have a true war, both sides have to understand that it's a war. Ketch is operating on a very old fashioned kind of war - I think the last war like that may have been WWI. Though, arguably, not even then - it may have actually been the Boer War? ANYWAY... let's define what Ketch means... he's basically talking about a war for land, which was what S12 was to him. It was a colonial war, AS KETCH SEES IT. In this version, the Americans won, they "signed a peace treaty" (ie: the Brits withdrew after being thoroughly defeated) and thus the war is over. At the end of the war, the people conscripted to fight on either side no longer have beef with each other. It's the end of WWI, where they just get out of the trenches and go shake hands and hug, and everyone is happy. That's what Ketch thinks happened. The problem is that Dean wasn't fighting a war, he was making moral decisions and sticking with his principles, and expecting other people to do the same - and when other people proved to be amoral, without principles, and a danger to Dean, his family, and his countrymen, they were the enemy - there's NO END TO THAT. There's no peace treaty and now we can be friends, sorry for the death, good job on defending your homeland, our bad, no worries, water under the bridge. That's not the way "war" works for Dean, because Dean's "wars" NEVER END. You either work for good in this world, or are an innocent non-dangerous bystander, or you are ACTIVELY EVIL AND THEREFORE MUST DIE.
- It's not like Dean's WRONG... because that old fashioned type of war is really idiotic. The fact that you have these guys shooting at their neighbours across a field just because some other guy with a bunch of pins in his jacket told them to? It's STUPID.
- And there DOES have to be repercussions for your personal moral decisions - which Ketch MADE. You can't claim obedience as a defense, which is what Ketch is doing. The "I was just following orders" gets us well into WWII, where we start seeing the nature of war change on many fronts - but it's DEFINITELY where we learn that there's a personal moral responsibility that you can't escape. EVEN if you are just a foot soldier - if you're told to go shoot a bunch of unarmed civilians? If you're told to kill children? Do you do it? Can you live with yourself if you do? Also, when the war is over, that kind of stuff doesn't suddenly get forgotten - you still have to answer for your personal morality if it doesn't match up with the morality of the society in which you live (or the morality of the victors as the case may be). This is how we get war crimes. Dean is very much a person who is CONSTANTLY aware of personal morality. He isn't a soldier in a war; he's actually a judge and an executioner, and he takes that responsibility to heart - which is why the Mark of Cain tore him up so much. But yeah, that's the fundamental difference - Ketch is a soldier in a 19th century war; Dean is vigilante law enforcement... those two things are NOT THE SAME.
- Anyway, the way this is everything that's wrong with our society is the fact that for Ketch, wars end. For Dean, they don't. And never-ending "cultural" wars are definitely what's wrong with our world today. Everything is split into sides - it's not that people have differing political opinions - it's that it's US versus THEM. All of us are trying to make personal moral decisions, but we're turning it into a never-ending war between those who agree with us, and those who don't, and there's not ever going to be a peace treaty to sign that will END the war. Personally, I blame the fact that America started having wars on nouns - you can't sign a peace treaty with a noun - and so, your war never ends, and you never get to climb out of your trench and shake hands with your neighbour across the field.

And Lucifer and Castiel are in prison.

And Ketch has ironed out his curls again... so sad... and is working with Asmodeus, which isn't quite as sad as the curls being gone, but I guess is a little sad.

Sc 22


Kevin rambling cutely.

Michael requests to see Mary Winchester, now that Lucifer is gone.

That's it.


Okay, how do I save us from the pit of despair that is this episode?

Continuing the Luciferless Rewrite of S12:

You just have Dagon instead. I really liked that actress, so I'd be happy if she was still around. You can keep pretty much everything the same - but you could either change the ingredients needed for the spell, or you could have Michael provide the grace (as mentioned) since that would set-up his willingness to whittle away at his own power in order to achieve his ends (of more power). ALSO, it would set up the fact that you CAN use arch-angel grace to fuel things a little bit at a time (which is a reveal with Asmodeus and Gabriel later) - so it serves that.

Dagon would still jump through the portal and come to earth, and be depowered, and go save Cas or find him or something, and they could still end up in prison after a power-play gone wrong with Asmodeus. Having two princes of war fighting for control of Hell, and control of the Nephilim, would be really interesting. Dagon could still try the angel with Cas that Michael is coming and that she's on their side now - that they need to find Jack in order to keep Michael out of it (the last thing Dagon would want would be more angels) of course, her real end could still be to use the Nephilim to gain her own power and overthrow Asmodeus.

Rewrite in General:

Ignoring the Lucifer plot. The main thing to deal with is the shoddy resurrection of Ketch. It could be as simple as a line from Dean saying "I don't know how he did it, but you and I both know we didn't have time to burn the body before Jack was born - it could be him, Sam!" and then it's not a fault of theirs, but of timing, that they didn't think to salt and burn his corpse.

OR, Option 2, you make up your mind in S12 that you like this character and you don't want to kill him off, and you change the end of S12 instead of S13. Have Ketch be affected by his association with the Winchesters/Mary just as a Mitch was... although his death was REALLY satisfying at the hands of Mary, you'd have to sadly do away with that. Have him turn at the last minute, or have him plead mercy from Mary and have her be the better person and actually show it to him. Either enlist him to take down the BMoL from the inside, or mark him as a deserter from the BMoL so he has to become a mercenary, but maybe banish him from the country - finding him could still be a shock that way, but it could be more of a "we told you to leave" and then Ketch being like "But I can't live in Britain either, as I'm marked as a traitor..." and then have him try to apologize.

Option 3, tie him with Asmodeus COMPLETELY. You know what Asmodeus has at his fingertips? The power of an archangel - do you know what powerful angels can do? Resurrect people. So, instead of learning about the missing motel clerk part way through the episode and having it be a footnote, instead, have that be the case. Asmodeus has obviously sent goons to try to find Jack, and they're killing people - so Sam and Dean decide to try to at least get them to stop killing people, and they follow the trail to try to kill Asmodeus? Who knows... maybe they don't know it's Asmodeus... ACTUALLY YES, okay, so they don't know it's Asmodeus, but someone is killing people in places they've been... so Sam and Dean go investigating. THAT'S when they find Ketch, and they cuff him and bring him to the bunker and are atill like "What the heck are you doing alive?" and he's like "I DON'T KNOW" I came to under a thin layer of ashy soil behind your bunker, and then fled... once I got my barrings, I started hunting again, on my own, because I can't go back to the BMoL, not after what happened... anyway, I heard about this missing person on the police scanner, and was investigating when you two appeared... and then he can tell them that so far, he's gotten a description of the dude, and he can describe Asmodeus, and Sam and Dean can be like "ugh, that dude" and then Dean can get the call from Cas, and he can still follow them and then make his escape, and then we find out he's secretly working for Asmodeus, etc.

Option 4, Don't have Ketch come back at all. Rewrite the episode completely so that Sam and Dean are just on some other case. Does Ketch even have an important role in this season? Does he make any difference at all? Have Sam and Dean do something else, maybe they DO Have to decide if they're help extends to witches or not... maybe there is a conundrum of what people should be helped and who shouldn't. Maybe it's just completely unrelated - or maybe they do get wind that Asmodeus is trying to find Jack, so they start trying to follow that trail, and then get interrupted by the call from Castiel. Anyway, it annoys me, because I don't think Ketch serves any purpose behind "we wanted a morally grey character and we liked this one that we killed last season, so let's bring him back" - so, for that matter, you could still have Sam and Dean encounter another hunter in their travels and then at the end reveal that that hunter is sketchy and working for Asmodeus. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS. Just in case I have to resurrect unknown Hunter though, let's call them...River, because that's unisex. So, River the unknown Mercenary/Hunter, who Sam and Dean stumble upon while on a hunt, who follows them and helps them with the demons who attack them - and then takes off afterwards (without needing to escape or get shot at) and Sam and Dean are like "that person was okay!" but really THEY'RE NOT! Dun dun dun! Obviously, this option is only good if Ketch doesn't need to be KETCH (and I argue that he doesn't, but granted, I could be forgetting something... and don't mention the egg, when I rewrite S14, I'm rewriting that thing out of it.)

As usual, let me know what you thought in comments!

This entry was originally posted at https://hells-half-acre.dreamwidth.org/569508.html.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 31st, 2018 12:55 pm (UTC)
Ketch is a soldier in a 19th century war; Dean is vigilante law enforcement

You have a brilliant way of summing things up--I really appreciate your explanation of the difference between wars and the corresponding difference between Dean and Ketch. As I read your analysis I keep going "Oh! Of course!" because what you say makes perfect since but I never thought of it that way.

And totally with you in Ketch's return. (I vote for option 1, BTW--there just wasn't time to properly dispose of him--or 3 where Asmodeus brings him back.) I think your analysis of BuckLeming's favorite type is also spot on, and sigh, why are they still writing for this show? Sigh, bet I can guess...

Sam's had that blue and black shirt since S1

How can Jared still fit in season 1 clothes?!?!?

Jan. 1st, 2019 12:48 am (UTC)
Glad you like where my mind goes for character interpretations!

Also, thanks for the vote for rewrite option - I'm finding that I forgot more of the season than I thought I did, so it could very well be that we need Ketch for some reason. I just doubt it. :P

How can Jared still fit in season 1 clothes?!?!?

It's a mystery! :P
Jan. 2nd, 2019 04:54 pm (UTC)
Ugh, what a horrible episode for you to have to come back on. :/ That was a tall order to tackle. Agree 100% on the pointlessness of Ketch returning. I think that actor is pretty good, but that character does nothing but deliver MacGuffins and red herrings in seasons 13 and 14. It’s a glaring sign that whoever is putting these seasons together isn’t planning ahead, or thinking in terms of character (as opposed to plot).

I had hesitations about seasons 7-9 while first watching them, but on rewatch I was always impressed by how things came together, or pieces I had initially missed because I was so absorbed in the brother drama. Rewatching seasons 12 and 13 has kind of had the opposite effect - perplexed interest on first watch at the novelty of certain characters or plotlines, wondering how things will play out; and then jaded resignation on rewatch, realizing that these choices turned out to be just as random as they initially felt and didn’t really pan out to anything.
Jan. 2nd, 2019 11:31 pm (UTC)
No kidding. I didn't even even realize that I had to come back to a BuckLeming episode. LE SIGH.

That's the thing, I think that's why the show has gotten a little bit fan-servicey in these years... it's that the writers are writing like they're writing wish-fulfillment fanfic "I like this actor, how can we bring him back?" rather than writing like they're writing a tv show "what's the best way to make this a compelling story?"

Now, that's not a knock against fanfic, as I think a lot of fanfic out there DOES answer the second question - but not the wish-fulfillment fanfic.

The problem comes when with pure wish-filfullment is that not everyone shares the same wishes - so what you get is a minor portion of the audience that is happy with the end result, whereas, if you were writing to have a compelling story, even the people who didn't like your choices on who lived and died would be engaged in the story.

But, to your point, i think you're right - in that back in the day, I had Supernatural that was a character-driven show, and Teen Wolf, that was a plot-driven show... and MAN could you tell the difference. Teen Wolf fell apart when (because dissatisfied actors left) their planned plots fell apart and they had to take them season by season in kind of a mad scramble based on who they had. I think Supernatural has moved from a character-driven show to a plot-driven show, and that move happened under Carver... and Dabb isn't strong enough to get it back on track, because even though their future is seemingly secured, their still operating on season-arcs, rather than multi season arcs... and Gamble did that too, but at least she was a little more intricate about it, she seemed to know what end point she wanted to reach at the beginning (at least for S6, S7 fell apart for the same reasons that S11 did - the showrunner ducking out before the season ended.)

I mean, this is all conjecture, I don't know what happens in the writer's room - I only know what the end result looks like, and what that might be able to tell me about the writer's room.

But yeah, the gist of it is that Supernatural has moved from character centric to plot centric, but their plots aren't good enough to really carry that burden... its saving grace is the fact that the cast still believe that it's a character driven show, and so the compelling part of the show becomes solely the acting. Supernatural, as it stands now, is a well-acted show - not a well written one.

That seems SO NEGATIVE that I feel bad about writing it. I still enjoy watching and talking about the show, but when I recommend it to friends, I do tell them to stop after S5 and save themselves from my fate. (Though, I also tell them that they should watch Baby and maybe Red Meat, from S11, if they want just one more hit after S5 ends.)
Jan. 3rd, 2019 11:19 pm (UTC)
I know you stay on the positive side, but I also appreciate your honesty. There are certain pockets of fandom that tend to almost…gaslight, for lack of a better term? “It’s great, Jack is so cute, I love that the boys are getting along!” etc. I never want to take people’s enjoyment of the show away from them. But part of me starts to feel crazy – like, can you not see the significant drop off in quality here…??

I’m interested to track this as we go through the podcast. Obviously we’re in the sweet spot here in season 5, where plot and character are both being pursued at a high level. (In fact, seasons 4 and 5 might be the pinnacle of Strong Plot Arcs + Strong Character Arcs. I personally enjoy seasons 2 and 3 more, but in general I would say that they prioritize character over plot.) I agree that Sera Gamble certainly had an eye for character, even when the plots were all over the place. I will forever miss her attentiveness to the interiority of Sam. She also seemed sensitive to mental illness, and had an intuitive understanding of the emotional toll of hunting.

I agree that the shift to plot over character must have happened under Carver…but when? You and I may have talked about this before, so I apologize if I’m retreading familiar territory. Carver started out his tenure as showrunner with a very out of character choice for Sam. BUT, the end of season 8 was one of the most character-centric moments of the show…arguably one of the most character-driven finales. And then season 9 was an agony fueled purely by relational angst. So was it season 11 that finally started to waver in terms of character, once Amara and deified beings come into play? Or did that happen earlier in season 10 (which I have yet to rewatch)? I’m excited to rediscover this for myself, but I wondered if you have an opinion, having rewatched all of the seasons.
Jan. 4th, 2019 12:24 am (UTC)
Yeah, there's definitely a bridge to walk there - I think you can be honest in a positive way, whereas I think a lot of people think that to be positive they have to exaggerate or lie. I try to focus on the stuff I DO like when I watch now... even if it's as shallow as "Ketch's curly hair is cute"... and maybe that's what other people are doing too. But, especially on the rewatches, I have to call it as I see it as well.

It's kind of funny, because listening to the podcast, I've found myself shocked at how critical you two can be about some episodes... and I realize that it's because I've sort of made them too precious in my mind... we can never have them again, and therefore they are my precious babies and HOW DARE YOU! And I think that's what people who are..."gaslighting" are doing. They've made the entire show into their precious, and to criticize it is unfathomable. BUT, you have to take a deep breath sometimes and step back and remind yourself how much you absolutely hated Swap Meat - and that even in the halcyon days, there was no such thing as perfection.

I'm splitting this comment up, because I'm getting long-winded....
Jan. 4th, 2019 12:32 am (UTC)
Hahaha, we just finished Sam Interrupted, and Swap Meat is next! I'm excited for that one, because I enjoyed it and thought the concept was fun, but I remember you absolutely hated it and put it in your bottom five. I can't remember why - but I'm not going to go back and check until after we watch the episode, so I can see if I can figure it out on my own. Maybe I'll feel differently about that episode this time!
Jan. 4th, 2019 12:41 am (UTC)
I'll be interested to see what you think!

I actually haven't rewatched it since... 2011? I wonder if I'd think it perfectly fine now that I've got more...less good... episodes to compare it to. :P
Jan. 6th, 2019 02:10 pm (UTC)
Would you be able to give me a link to the podcast mentioned here?? Sounds really interesting, would love to check it out!

Thanks :-)
Jan. 6th, 2019 06:14 pm (UTC)

kailita is one of two hosts on the podcast "The Plaidcast" which you can find here: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-plaidcast

It's also on iTunes, if you prefer listening through there.

I hope you enjoy it!
Jan. 4th, 2019 12:39 am (UTC)
As to your question, I don't think it's as clear cut as we want it to be. I don't think there's an episode, or even a single season, that we can point to and say "this is it, this is when the switch happened." Because I think Carver did a MIX. And he did it from the jump. The front half of S8 - we have a GREAT exploration of Dean stripped down to his bare-essentials in Purgatory "Hunt. Protect. Brotherhood." And then you have a complete assassination of Sam's character in order to make a plot work "for some reason Sam hasn't rescued Kevin yet or tried to resurrect Dean, or anything." Because Carver was like "tension between the brothers fuels the narrative, how do we make them have tension?" And his answer was "Have Sam disappoint Dean" and then it became "Have Dean trick Sam into being possessed" and then it was "Have Dean slowly become a demon"... and the FANTASTIC character moment we got at the end of S8 was the resolution of that tension, because they've gotta resolve it. And the truth is that you can be a plot-focused author and stumble into amazing character moments... or have dashes of character brilliance.

I do think both Carvers great character moments, and his great character assassinations, came from his desire to always have the emotional-arc of the season be that the brothers were at odds.

Now, that changes in S11, but I also think S11 was great until it fell apart in the second half... part of that was due to bringing back Lucifer, which was a horrible mistake they now keep making, and the other problem was that Carver ditched early and left the boat without a captain... and so writers like BuckLeming were able to sideline the Winchesters on their own show, because they much prefer writing for any other character.

You also have to remember that you can't point to a particular episode, because S8-S11 had FANTASTIC writers in Thompson, Glass, Edlund (for S8), and slightly lesser extent Klein. They're all great character writers, so Carver could hand them his plot-centric season, and they could be like "oh cool, let's do a character study in this episode" and for 42 brief minutes, we're handed something that looks like the show we love.

So, I guess my answer is that it's something that changed over time... and not gradually, but in spikes and valleys...

I think an interesting thing to track would be when we start getting long scenes of recurring villains movements... in my biased opinion, there's a correlation there... the more Supernatural is turned into an ensemble show, the less it becomes about the emotional arcs of Sam and Dean, and the more it becomes about *insert plot*. Now, that isn't to say that you can't have character-driven ensemble shows - Stranger Things is a great example of one of those - it's just to say that I don't think Supernatural is one that has pulled it off.

I understand why they need the ensemble cast. It's been 14 years, and Jensen and Jared cannot physically be in nearly every scene anymore, for their own physical and mental health (don't know how much you know about film/tv production, but it is ROUGH on the body)... but yeah, I don't think they've pulled off the transition without losing something in the translation.

Edited at 2019-01-04 12:43 am (UTC)
Jan. 4th, 2019 05:28 am (UTC)
//I don’t think it’s as clear cut as we want it to be.//
I’m sure that you’re right. But I do like looking for the patterns, or the general shift in the Show’s priorities.

//S8-S11 had FANTASTIC writers in Thompson, Glass, Edlund (for S8)//
That’s a great point. The team is important, and god, the show really felt Edlund’s absence after he left (in my opinion). And the shift from season 11 to 12 felt notable too – was that when Robbie Thompson left? Something about season 12 just didn’t work for me; I think that might be my least favorite season. Anyway, yes, the writers shape the seasons as much as the showrunners. Season 9 had some of the most ridiculous angel antics I had ever seen (up until that point, at least) – but then you had episodes like Alex Annie Alexis Anne, which was dark and profound and ELECTRIC, and I remember saying, “Who is Robert Berens, because we have never done anything like this before.” But even Berens has only been able to do so much in the last couple seasons, and I think that’s because of showrunner choices/priorities, and because of something you pointed out that I think is very astute:

//I think an interesting thing to track would be when we start getting long scenes of recurring villains movements... in my biased opinion, there's a correlation there... the more Supernatural is turned into an ensemble show, the less it becomes about the emotional arcs of Sam and Dean, and the more it becomes about *insert plot*.//
I enjoy multifaceted villains with complex motives, and I don’t mind at all staying with characters like Kingpin in Daredevil to see what makes them tick. But in this case I think you’re totally right. Supernatural has never been about the villains. I appreciate a little cameo of Baby Lilith tormenting her suburban family or Azazel slaughtering nuns as much as the next person…but these long, drawn-out scenes where villains spout exposition and mull over their crafty plans just make me want to smite myself. When did THAT make its way into our regular rotation?? Tragically I think it started with Crowley, which is a shame, because making Mark Sheppard boring should be a criminal offense. He pushed back against some really abysmal writing and tried to spark some life into those scenes for as long as he could.

All of that to say, yes, I agree with you 100%, we’re moving more towards an ensemble, and in that kind of environment, Ross-Leming and Buckner will reign, God help us. Which brings us back to this episode!

//Writers like BuckLeming were able to sideline the Winchesters on their own show, because they much prefer writing for any other character.//
Have they said this explicitly? This is just baffling to me, but I think you have to be right. It shows in their writing. And it’s antithetical to the fabric of the show.

And for people who enjoy writing for ensemble characters, they sure waste the best ones by killing them prematurely!! Because I think we COULD maybe create a more compelling ensemble if we had characters like original Kevin and Charlie and Eileen, and not these bargain bin AU-versions of them who don’t share any relational history with the brothers.

Also – it’s kind of crazy to me that one option for giving Jared and Jensen a rest that we haven’t really tried is more Weechester scenes! Fandom consistently loves it. Child actors can bring challenges, but the ones we’ve had so far have done a great job. I guess you never want to exhaust that emotional tap, but it surprises me that they didn’t at least try going that route before, I don’t know, building an entire Alternate Universe?
Jan. 4th, 2019 07:47 am (UTC)
Yes, Robbie Thompson's last episode ever was Don't Call Me Shirley (11x20), which was a phenomenal piece of writing (in my opinion) and really the last phenomenal piece of writing we've had - though Berens and some of newer writers try their best.

Yes, Daredevil is a better example than Stranger Things as to how to do ensemble RIGHT.. because even when we're following Fisk, the action we're watching is an exploration of Fisk's CHARACTER. There's a PLOT, but it's being driven by Fisk's character, his ambition, his loves, his hates. And then it's also, of course, equally being driven by our Hero(es) - their desires, their choices, their morality. We're watching a story about a blind dude with super powers who's a lawyer by day - but that's not what the story is ABOUT. It's about what it means to love your community, it's about how you treat your friends, it's about your relationship with your religion when the hard questions are asked. Supernatural was a show about brothers, what it means to be family, whether or not we can escape how we were raised (aka "our destiny"), the lengths we'll go to for our loved ones and whether there should be a limit on that or not, how to deal with grief... but in these later seasons, what is it about?

No, BuckLeming have never said that specifically - I'm inferring it from their writing, and the fact that when they do talk about who they like to write for or about, it's always the villains.

I think we COULD maybe create a more compelling ensemble if we had characters like original Kevin and Charlie and Eileen, and not these bargain bin AU-versions of them who don’t share any relational history with the brothers.

Oh man, this is such a great point and really opening my eyes to an issue that I haven't been able to put words to. Because this just shows how much the show isn't about character anymore - they've removed the very thing that made these characters rich, which was their backstory and relationship to each other! MAYBE they could have gotten away with it if they had made the story about what makes us who we are, what ties us together, what do we do when our loved ones forget us, etc... but they didn't, they've turned the characters into props for the plot by basically removing the history that would drive any character story-arc. The characters no longer have arcs!

And you can see them doing it for characters that HAVEN'T been replaced with clones too. Ketch and Mary didn't interact when Mary returned in S13. We didn't even get a reaction to him being alive, I don't think - at least none that I remember. Sam is pretty cool being in the same room with Lucifer suddenly at the end of S11, and the only discomfort we do get is because JARED put it there.

Ugh. Anyway, case and point, basically.

Weechesters would have been great, I agree. They could have also easily done that with Mary's return - as we could have SEEN Sam and Dean explain their childhood to her... if they had actually brought her back to drive the character-arc, rather than just be a random plot device.
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