Angel Tries to Figure Out Complicated TV Shows by Watching One Episode in the Middle: Supernatural Edition
So this is something I plan to do more of in the future. The basic concept is this: There are so many nerdy TV shows that I’ve never seen and always kind of wanted to, and I know the bulk of my information about them because of fan chatter that I read on various social networking sites. They’re complex. They usually involve magic or ridiculously outlandish and kind of awesome technology. Basically, they’re on SyFy or the CW. Yeah, I said it. They’re exactly the kind of thing we love here at Nerds in Babeland, but you have to admit, even the most dedicated of nerds can’t watch them all. (Some of us have to watch every episode of Dexter 472 times. It’s just the way we work. By the way, have you watched this clip of Angel Batista leaving his season 3 girlfriend a voice message today?)
So, I’m going to pick up one of these TV shows smack in the middle of the series. I’m going to try to figure out how they got to where they are, where they’ll go from here, and what exactly is going on in this ridiculously complicated episode that I know virtually nothing about.
So naturally, the first thing I wanted to try this experimental procedure out on was Supernatural.
Here are the things I already know about Supernatural:
There are two brothers named Sam and Dean. Lots of fangirls think they should get it on. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is their dad. He is dead, as usual. I’m guessing he didn’t die because of a car crash, but I’m sure he turns up in flashbacks and maybe as a ghost in times of serious emotional need/life-or-death experiences. Paul Bennett/Jacob is Lucifer. Why am I not surprised? Also, some supernatural shit is afoot. And they like cars. The brothers, not the supernatural shit. I think.
IN THE BEGINNING, I couldn’t figure out which one was Sam and Dean, but I had established that one of the brothers was hotter than the other. The less hot one was therefore more aggressive. To use a Petrelli analogy, the hot one is the Peter to the aggressive one’s Nathan. Still, obviously Sam was the hot one to which I referred. The guys named Sam are always the hot ones. I’m sorry to say it but it’s true. That’s just how it goes. Wait, I’m not sorry to say it. Dean even has a square head like Nathan Petrelli. I’m just saying. To be fair, Dean fangirls, it’s probably the hair. I like a guy with longer hair.
TOGETHER, these two brothers seek out supernatural happenings so they can put a stop to them. Basically what they look for can be explained away by bad electrical wiring. They always make up fake identities when they introduce themselves because they want to stay under the radar, but I’m sure they always expose themselves before the episode is over. I mean that figuratively…this is the CW.
You better check yourself before you wreck yourself, so hit the “more” link to see the rest.
THIS EPISODE: 4×18, “The Monster at the End of This Book”
As I’ve mentioned, this episode was 4×18, “The Monster at the End of This Book,” which Shiny recommended to me as it is extremely self-referential and she wanted to see how an outsider would react to all the inside jokes. What I do know about Supernatural is pretty much what I’ve heard secondhand from fangirls, and I’ve spent enough time being a nerd with an account on every blogging platform and social networking site to find slash jokes when I see them. I’ve actually seen more than one person say that past the second season this show often reads more as fan fiction than it does its original self, and I think this episode is probably the bane of that fan’s existence because it deliberately plays on the concept by creating its own…basis for internal fan fiction mythology. It’s weird and I actually kind of respect it.
For those who don’t remember, in this particular episode, the Winchester brothers discover that there is a book series chronicling all the crazy shit that has happened to them thus far, including details that nobody could possibly reasonably know, so they seek out the author of this book. First they think he’s a psychic. Then they discover that he’s actually a prophet. He prophesies that Lilith, who I gathered is some hellish force determined to bring about the apocalypse (Lilith obviously not being an uncommonly used demon, or demon type, in fiction), is going to for whatever reason get it on with Sam and they figure this isn’t good and that Sam is somehow going to go all dark side on them if this happens.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the author of the books–whose name I’ve forgotten–is a complete idiot and I’m embarrassed by his existence. I hope that if prophets exist in the universe and I’m wrong about everything they’re not like this guy. I’ll take an Eli Stone-type prophet over this moron any day of the week. He fucking envisioned his confrontation with the Winchesters, and wrote it, and then was all surprised when it happened exactly that way. Wouldn’t that make you become a believer? But noooo. Anyway, then he makes that aforementioned prophesy about Lilith which is obviously no good for anyone since she is a dirty dirty slut.
Fortunately for everyone involved, it turns out Lilith looks like a ho-bag. I’m not just saying this because she is evil. I love antagonists. She actually looks like a ho. Sam tries to deter her with his ability to, I dunno, shoot wind or whatever from his fingertips–an ability with which he is obviously pretty impressed–but this doesn’t work (surprise, surprise). She also talks in Juno speak, which I think is unacceptable if you are a demon. If she spoke more like Castiel I could take her seriously. And she drinks baby blood. (………really? Really?)
Sam agrees to her deal, that he gives her his and Dean’s “head on a stick” and then she lets it all go. I’m not sure why this will make things better for her but there you go. Sam doesn’t buy it but pretends he does. Then he learns he has to seal the deal with her by doing…let’s go with the phrase “hanky panky” since one so rarely has the opportunity to use it…by doing the hanky panky with her. Fangirls the world over are begging Lilith to take off Sam’s pants, and wondering if the fact that Dean’s head on a stick (<—subtle and suggestive pun) is involved in the deal means that she also has to take off Dean’s pants. Details, details!
And yet Dean interrupts getting all “I’m gonna save Sam’s life and the episode” before any pants are removed. Even I’m kind of disappointed by this.
Sam saw his girlfriend die. He has a terrible guilt complex and therefore feels somehow responsible even though it wasn’t his fault. At the time it was very emotional and obviously cyclical because of what happened to his mom, which made it even worse, because it was something he’d encountered before. Sam’s probably sentimental enough for that to really bother him and make him feel like the universe kind of has it out for him. Still, he’s mostly over it now because some time has passed and because he’s seen some serious shit in his time but not quite. Sam is willing to show a bit of skin to get what he needs because he is secretly somewhat aware of the fact that he is hot (but probably not aware of exactly how hot, since he is obviously a little humble). I respect a man with that kind of confidence.
Sam’s idea of a “soulful look” is a shrug because he tries to hide his emotions sometimes but wants to acknowledge that he has them. Also because he has a weird definition of what “soulful” means since I’m guessing he has spent more than his fair amount of time being emo. He is more considerate and vulnerable, but he is also the kind of douche who will seriously order a salad at lunch. Seriously? A salad? He’s clearly more in touch with his feminine side.
Sam researches everything. He’s Supernatural‘s Hermione Granger, except he probably has it easier since he can just Google things. Still, I bet he spent a lot of his youth reading books about things that never seemed like they’d actually be useful at the library. He’s probably the type of guy who doesn’t “get” porn.
Nevertheless, there has to be something wrong with Sam so he has a “demon blood” addiction (does he sparkle or glow in the dark after he drinks it? can he lift cars with one arm? is it a good mixer?). He’s very bent out of shape about it. It sort of disgusts him that he is that way, and makes him feel “like a monster,” because he’s totally a goody two shoes about that kind of thing. He’s nursing a dark side that he tries to keep secret, particularly from his brother, and does a pretty good job of it, but like the demon blood thing–which is obviously part of the dark side–he really hates it. What he doesn’t realize is that the very fact mitigates the actual darkness, so his dark side is quite unlike, say, Dexter’s, since Dexter goes around being a serial killer and for the most part unashamed whereas Sam probably remembers every time he sneaked a glance at a classmate’s math test. Still, he even has “I have an evil dark side so don’t mess with me” eyes when he wants them, which are kind of adorable, really. All this is probably why he’s the one who ended up with the psychic abilities, which I’m sure contributes to his tortured hero complex. Whatever the case, in the end, Sam is constantly at war with himself, which at least explains the sideburns.
Dean talks in a raspy Batman voice when he’s angry, which I’m guessing is a large portion of the time. Dean has a hard time thinking in meta. However, his Batman voice and other demonstrations of his character in this episode seem to indicate that he tries to be strong and usually appears so (although obviously is secretly vulnerable since he has to be, because otherwise his haircut would render him as completely unloveable) unless his brother is in mortal danger, in which case he will kick the shit out of anyone who gets in his way. He kicks into srs bzns mode when he needs to protect Sam and Sam’s injury is probably pretty much the only thing that could really make Dean cry.
Dean is the older brother. He’s more protective of Sam than the other way around–Sam seems to feel that Dean can take care of himself and, seeing as Dean’s the kind of guy who can just get up and walk away after HE GETS HIT BY A TRUCK he’s probably not wrong to think that. After all, Dean is clearly the sort of fellow who believes that Windex is a cure-all. He’ll patch anything up with duct tape…even if the task would probably be more easily served by scotch tape.
Dean pretty much wears his heart on his sleeve and is unafraid of letting people know what he thinks. He loves puns and figures of speech and feels proud of himself whenever he uses one particularly cleverly. He probably makes up his own extremely creative insults and threats and lets them loose upon the world with great relish, though he would most likely rarely act on them (although when he does, he’d do it to the letter, I’m sure). I can get behind that.
He’s very proud and he doesn’t like asking for help, so when he does ask, he asks it in his raspy Batman voice to act very manly about it. He probably hates asking for directions also and always makes Sam do it (or won’t let Sam ask because he swears he can find it). He’s more willing to make calls that are morally grey.
When Dean defeats foes, he likes to yell at them, probably with a well-timed one-liner. He undoubtedly has unforgivably fantastic taste in music which will probably win me over once I start getting into the show, despite his hair. I’m sorry, I hate his hair.
TOGETHER, Sam and Dean take turns being skeptical about shit every other opportunity. What I mean is, in this particular episode, Sam doesn’t really believe that this author guy who’s writing their story is the real deal, but it’s clear that about half the time this is the sort of guy Sam WOULD believe but Dean wouldn’t. I would guess that generally, however, if one is more likely to be skeptical than the other, it’s Dean. Regardless, like Shawn and Gus, they clearly alternate.
Dean is much more logical and reasonable about things than Sam is, but Sam’s unconventional methodology is more likely to get things done. What I mean to say is, Sam appears to be more of an optimist, and Dean more of a realist or even a pessimist. Dean says in this episode that I watched “run this time to save our own asses” and Sam is like “aw hell no, WE GOTTA MAN UP AND FIGHT GODDAMNIT.” But, like being skeptical, it’s probably not always this way–although I think Dean is a lot more likely to run during a confrontation when he thinks they might lose than Sam is because Sam probably finishes everything he starts compulsively, not because Dean has some aversion to kicking ass and taking names (it’s pretty clear that’s not the case). Sam is a big damn hero and will run stupidly into certain death despite his other intelligence; Dean will run after him because he feels he needs to protect his brother. Because of their teamwork, and also because they are, you know, the stars of the show, they live through impossible confrontations over and over again, but Sam is the one who goes all brainless and heroic like. Still, Dean is probably always the first to throw a punch.
Sam does all of the brain stuff, but Dean does all of the heavy lifting. Dean probably somehow got Sam to do all of his homework when they were kids. Sam was probably nerdy enough to not mind.
Aaaaaand I’m pretty sure they’re from the midwest. They seem like midwesterners. I’m just saying I’ve spent a lot of time living in Illinois and Missouri; they’re obviously from nearby, so I’m going with Indiana or Kansas. I thought about cheating and pausing the frame on the license plate to check, but didn’t. Until now. Booyaaaaaaaaa.
Castiel is extremely good-looking and tries to act like he doesn’t notice and that it’s like his angelic grace or some shit. WHATEVER. I’M NOT BUYING IT, CASTIEL. His clothes are casual, like, I just wear this to blend in, yeah, that’s it, but they’re carefully selected and very neat so, if an angel can be all OCD about things, then he clearly is. He’s hellbent on looking casually fantastic.
He pauses between every three words or so for dramatic emphasis. When he wants to look important, he looks off into the distance. He avoids direct eye contact whenever possible because he either feels he is or he IS just too awesome to look anyone directly in the eyes. Maybe he just uses it for those very, very important moments, when he wants you to know that shit is SERIOUS.
Contractions are just not something Castiel enjoys using. Perhaps it’s because he’s an angel so he’s probably used to old methods of speaking, or perhaps it’s because he feels it makes him sound more regal, or perhaps he’s a character in someone’s NaNoWriMo novel and the author is trying to get his/her word count up, but whatever the case may be, he generally doesn’t use them.
Still, he’s into the whole “hint hint nudge nudge SAY NO MORE” business. He tries to keep the line between his place and the Winchester brothers’ place in the cosmos but likes them a little bit too much to not secretly help them out when he gets a chance and thinks they might need it.
IN GENERAL, this is the sort of show with a LOT of secret Christian subtext intermingling with some other religious mythology, but it’s got a Christian ideology probably functioning above all things. Actually on second thought I might say this is a case of dvoeverie, a word I so rarely get to use. Generally people probably try to ignore the Christian subtext or dismiss it as being necessary to the plot. It actually reminds me a lot of Charmed, if for nothing but Castiel’s presence. There’s a lot of fate vs. free will crap.
This is also the sort of show where someone can actually reasonably spit out (literally) the line, “You think I’m like you? I’M NOTHING LIKE YOU.” Yeah! Sam Winchester sure told you, bitch!
Also, I’m willing to assert that there has never been a very good female character on this show.
HEREAFTER, Lilith is defeated. Sam improves his psychic skills. Dean probably has some kind of secret that he doesn’t want to share with Sam like Sam doesn’t want to share his demon blood secret with Dean. Obviously, that’s gonna come out and the shit’s gonna hit the fan in some kind of Major Plot Point, but it will undoubtedly, somehow, come in handy in the end. It will all seem like Fate. Dean will still never let Sam live it down and will bring it up when they fight angstily.
WILL I WATCH IT AGAIN? Honestly? Yes. I’m a sucker for supernatural thrillers. Give me a cute boy with psychic powers and I’m putty. Where are these boys in real life? In reality, between the time that I initially wrote the rest of this article and now, I’ve already watched the first season, and I already see how unfortunate the wording was in at least one thing I said.
WELL, that’s it. I thought there had to be a better way to end this post but that’s all I’ve got. I realize now I may have prematurely shot my figurative wad by warming up this shtick with something like Supernatural but that’s what this column was designed for. Stay tuned for next time I try to watch a complex TV show from the middle. Hey, even suggest some for me. Or a way to make the title for this more succinct.
Also, sorry if I brutalized your favorite show.
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