xparrot: Chopper reading (books)
[personal profile] xparrot
So recently [livejournal.com profile] gnine and I found ourselves suffering from a dearth of fanning, and for reasons* ended up subjecting ourselves to the last few seasons of Supernatural.

That's not the surprising thing, if you know us. For all the many flaws that eventually drove us from the show, SPN has some of the most blatantly fanservicey h/c and angst ever put on TV. And Jensen Ackles is still a pretty, pretty man. So we decided to do a speed-watch, fast-forwarding through anything that wasn't Dean & Sam being stupidly codependent, or meta comedy, or the less irritating Castiel and Crowley storylines because I have a thing for angels and demons and even if SPN repeatedly fails to deliver the goods there, it's got just enough for me to keep trying. And for the most part it was what we expected, and we've been having fun, where 'fun' is fifty percent mockery and fifty percent shameful fangirl indulgence.

Then we reached the current season - eleven for those counting, because CW doesn't know when to quit - and were in for a shock. Because, at least as of last week's ep, season 11 is actually...um...good. No, really. Like, it's not the best thing on TV; but if you liked the first couple seasons of the show, you'd probably enjoy it now. Not only that, but it's explicitly dealing with some of the things that made the show so bad to begin with.

This has been a gradual trend. Season 9 was just bad (Metatron is the most obnoxious villain the show has ever had), and then season 10 was erratic, it had some surprisingly decent stuff, mixed with a lot of really annoying things, like turning Dean into a demon and then failing to do anything interesting with it. And killing Charlie - in an awful and unnecessary fridging that was entirely to produce manpain, no less. But I really liked the storyline of Cas struggling to help Claire, the daughter of his (long-dead) vessel. Plus, Timothy Omundson, whose hair alone makes everything better - he's become one of my favorite actors, he commits to every role and knocks it out of the park every time. And the arch-meta 200th episode is still delightful, one of the nicest acknowledgments of fandom I've seen.

Season 11 has a rocky opening, between dropping most of the emotional context (whatever Dean did under the Mark of Cain's influence goes without comment) and striving to convince us that the big bad bringing on the apocalypse this time is so much worse than all the other big bads who've brought on all those other apocalypses in seasons past. But partway through the premiere, Sam comes to the realization that we've all been ranting about for most of the show, that the Winchester motto is "Saving people, hunting things," and as Sam says, maybe they should try to remember the first half of the bumpsticker. And the best thing about this epiphany is that they've actually stuck with it. Sam especially is trying really hard, stopping Dean from killing demon-possessed people (or at least checking whether the host is still viable) and doing his best to help everyone they meet. And the result is the show feels back like it did in first season, when the boys were rough around the edges but obviously the heroes, rather than the antihero jerks they've been for so much of it.

They've also toned down the misogyny A LOT. Like, Dean has yet to stab a single woman this season (I wish I were joking, but that's seriously a major improvement...) Again like first season, several of the one-shot female characters have been really fun, and a lot of them have lived (or died dramatically heroic deaths.) (I'm ignoring the first couple of eps of the season, which had more issues. I'm also assuming Rowena will return because come on, that was just pathetic.) There was also a great ep with Sheriff Jodie Mills (currently the longest-lasting female character on the show) dealing with her two adopted daughters, which yes please I would watch that spinoff so fast. Am curious if Eileen the deaf banshee-hunter will be back. And the season's big bad is female and is being handled decently; for all Dean's issues with her, he's not demeaning her the way it's been with previous female villains.

The show's still not perfect (it especially needs to work on the racism - casting people of color as angels is great until you kill them terribly, show. On the other hand the new Reaper Billie is pretty amazing.) But it honestly seems to be trying. And several of the monster of the week episodes have been genuinely good, creative stories and engaging TV. The one from the Impala's perspective was actually very well-done. And I really liked the imaginary friends ep, it could have been terrible but instead managed just the right balance of silly and horrific and maudlin. (Obviously the writer had just watched Inside Out, but that's a feature not a bug.)

And from the fanning perspective, the characters are just so much more likable like this. Not only are the brothers acting like heroes, but they're actually relating to each other in a pretty healthy way, they're talking about things, there have been a few secrets that they eventually just told each other. And when Lucifer tried to convince Sam to let him out, Sam actually made the right call and refused. Twice! If anything the show is even better for having been so bad - a hero actually making the right decision means all the more when you know how easily he can make the wrong one. ...Not that the wrong choice doesn't get made. But for the first time in forever it's actually not the Winchesters' fault!

Plus, in related and shallow fangirl news, there is clearly a Destiel shipper in the writer's room. Not queerbaiting, the show has been playing it as friends, with no teasing. But after six seasons Dean has actually worried about Cas! And was actually there to help him! And has now vowed to save him! Be still my heart! Really, I've been waiting for this for so long (I was so angry when Castiel was introduced, because I had been planning to drop the show, and then they gave me a troubled trenchcoat-wearing angel, come on, that wasn't playing fair...) Feels like I've had the ticket in my hand forever, watching as every time it just sailed by - but finally my ship has come in! (Or really my trio, because Sam and Cas are totally BFFs, making one of my all-time favorite character relationships sets, the siblings/lovers/best friends trinity...)

Also Misha Collins is having so much fun with his current role, it's practically obscene. Really want to know where this is going...they just better save Cas, dangit!

So yeah, eleven season on, I'm back into Supernatural, actually looking forward to more. Did not see this coming...(now if only there were some fic that wasn't AU...) And honestly, if you're looking for something to watch and ever enjoyed the show way back when, it's worth checking this season out.

* The primary reason being this vid (which was extra hilarious to us because our 21-month-old housemate is obsessed with "Shake It Off", to the tune of asking for it several times a day, such that we all have it memorized.) Once we saw it, we kind of had to know what was going on. If you were ever a fan of SPN past s4 you should see it - technically it's massively spoilery for s9-10, but in practice most of it doesn't make sense unless you actually watch said seasons, which I wouldn't especially recommend, so. Also Osric Chau really needs to be cast on a better show for me to watch.

Date: 2016-02-24 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sheron.livejournal.com
Oh that is good to hear! I was a fan of SPN for a hell of a long time but I couldn't bring myself to watch the last couple of season after uh things happened on that show. But it's good to know that the last season is good enough for you to be back into it because I did plan to watch it once it's over and I know how it ends! I love these character a hell of a lot, regardless of the later plotlines being not to my taste.

Date: 2016-02-25 10:15 am (UTC)
ext_3572: (Default)
From: [identity profile] xparrot.livejournal.com
Yeah, it got really bad...I dropped it season 7, and then caught bits of 8 and 9 that did not make me eager to see more. But 10 is decent and 11 really is good - the characters are the characters I fell for when the show began, not the assholes they became later. Of course the season is only 3/4s done so it might take a turn for the worst, but right now, yeah, I rec it!

Date: 2016-02-24 11:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joonscribble.livejournal.com
Okay, I felt secretly ashamed that I fell back in with this show this season but now I feel better.

Your timeline with this show is kind of like mine. Just as I was about to nope-out, they gave us Castiel which NOT FAIR. And while I don't ship him with Dean, I found it monumentally annoying that their friendship seemed unnecessarily burdened down with not expressing concern or just basic decency that didn't feel right considering what they all went through together. I was getting sick of what felt like the show's glorification of men who cannot process feelings properly and how to be a hero, one needs to have the emotional intelligence of a rock. It's nice that they're crawling out of that. But I still tune in, bracing myself for something awful.

Also the angels and demons thing could have gone better in general, I agree. The show set up a lot of great potential but always wasted it left and right. I feel like there was a never realized spin off show that could have happened with Castiel, Crowley, and Balthazar roadtripping around trying to accomplish some nebulous common mission but mainly just sniping at each other. I'd watch that.

And YES TO TIMOTHY OMUNDSON! His Cain was a highlight last season. And his appearance in that video you linked (which by the way I watched on crazy repeat when I found it the first time) in the purple suit and glorious mane of hair was a great bonus.

Date: 2016-02-25 10:24 am (UTC)
ext_3572: (Default)
From: [identity profile] xparrot.livejournal.com
Yeah, I don't think it is that shameful right now - it's got good stuff, the characters are likable, and while it could be better still, it's such an improvement over what was!

The Castiel & Crowley road tripping show would've been so beautiful, sigh! But I'm still happier with what's been happening with Castiel now than ever previously. Since Castiel was introduced, the dynamic has always been Castiel loving Dean (whether in love or in angelic adoration or whatever) and Dean relying on Cas's powers and help to the point that it felt like he was using him. The last couple of seasons have gotten better with Sam genuinely seemingly like Cas's friend, but Dean less so, and even if I didn't ship them, Cas just cares about Dean so much I spent a lot of time yelling at Dean not to be mean to Cas. Even if Cas is such a massive screwup...he's an angel, he's still really new to this whole free will thing, and besides it's not like the Winchesters don't screw up as much. But now finally, Sam & Dean for once chose right and Cas chose wrong and Dean isn't pissed, he just wants to save Cas. And not even to help them beat the Darkness, or to save Sam or anything, but for Cas's sake. Just, awwwwwww!

The angels and demons, yeah. Wasted potential for sure. (Also it's a constant irritation how the Christian pantheon is just arbitrarily dominant, there are a lot of ways to make angels and Hell coexist with other mythologies but they went with the most unsatisfying...)

Timothy Omundson's purple suit is as glorious as the rest of him (also heeee, I might've actually gotten the vid from you if you linked it - I came across it a couple of weeks ago in a lost tab that might've easily been from last year, no idea what the original source was!)

Date: 2016-02-25 06:54 am (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
From: [personal profile] sholio
... that video. what did I just watch. D:

I'm really glad the show got good again! This is making me nostalgic. :D Maybe I'll pick up and watch season 11 when it's over. Or rewatch season 1 and then watch it, maybe, to get myself re-invested in the chaacters.

Date: 2016-02-25 10:26 am (UTC)
ext_3572: (Default)
From: [identity profile] xparrot.livejournal.com
That video is a thing of beauty and amazingness, I don't know what you're talking about! XDXDXD (what's really funny is how many scenes in it are painstaking recreations of actual scenes. Like, Dean getting booed for doing karaoke is totally from the show. Because if nothing else, SPN can always be relied on to bring the crack.)

I'm pretty sure you could watch s1 and then s11 and not miss that much - okay, there are a whole huge bunch of details that have changed and been introduced and such; but the core character dynamics really haven't evolved much. Actually it almost feels like they've regressed and have only just come back to where they started...

Date: 2016-02-25 09:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jadesfire.livejournal.com
I mainlined my way through the WHOLE of SPN over the course of a couple of months, but Life Happened in the hiaitus between season 9 and 10, and I never picked it back up. I think I'll skip the Charlie episode (because NOPE), but maybe I'll give it another go otherwise. Because when it's good it's REALLY good, and it's one of the few genre shows that genuinely does comedy properly IMHO.

Interesting read, thanks. Although why I'm thanking you for potentially eating ANOTHER lot of hours of my life, I'm not sure ;D

Date: 2016-02-25 10:30 am (UTC)
ext_3572: (Default)
From: [identity profile] xparrot.livejournal.com
Eheheh sorry? ;)

For the particular things SPN does, it delivers like no other show - and yes, crack comedy is one of those things it excels at! (the 200th episode about the high school musical Supernatural kind of has to be seen...)

Charlie dies in an arc episode - giving fair warning because she's actually in a couple eps before that which we nearly skipped ourselves because I didn't want to see her go. Her actual death is pretty telegraphed so you could just watch most of the ep and stop before the end, skip the opening of the next ep and just pretend she got away! (It's been less than a season since the ep so I'm still holding out hope they can bring her back, it's not like death really means THAT much in the SPN verse...)

Date: 2016-02-25 11:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jadesfire.livejournal.com
You are totally not sorry :P

My all-time favourite episode is the 'trip through TV land' one with the Gabriel reveal at the end. SPN has a gift for breaking format in a way that works with its format, and I love it for that (although...high school musical? really?)

Thanks for the advice on Charlie. She's such a wonderfully awesome character, that at least knowing her death is coming, I can brace for it. SPN is one of those shows where I *always* spoil myself for what's coming. I don't cope well with tension, and can enjoy things much more if I'm prepared. I want to finish working X-men out of my system, so maybe I'll hang on until S11 is done and watch straight through.

Date: 2016-02-25 11:44 pm (UTC)
ext_3572: (Default)
From: [identity profile] xparrot.livejournal.com
Hah, I love the TV episode - Sam turning into KITT is the most brilliant idea!

No, really, the 200th is a great ep - an all-girls musical is putting on their original production of Supernatural: The Musical. It's totally OTT but it features Sam and Dean arguing about why it's pronounced Destiel and not Dee-stiel, the return of the Samulet, and Dean approving of fanfic in what it maybe the most genuinely accepting of fandom I've seen a show be. And a couple of the songs are hilarious and the Carry On My Wayward Son cover is really nice :)

Waiting 'til s11 ends is probably wise, just because it's good now doesn't guarantee it'll keep it up! *bears no trust for this show whatsoever*

Date: 2016-02-25 11:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gruskek.livejournal.com
Oh man, I used to be so into SPN. But then it went downhill and I finally rage quit I think after season 9? I'm not even sure. Glad to hear there's some improvement though, since I've been planning to catch up one day being the completionist that I am.

Date: 2016-02-25 11:45 pm (UTC)
ext_3572: (Default)
From: [identity profile] xparrot.livejournal.com
Yeah, I ragequit after s7, which comparing my memory of the show then to what we just watched might've been the nadir. s9 was pretty bad though. s10 was definitely better, and s11 has been impressively improved from that. I'm not expecting it to last, but it's actually fun to watch now (again)!

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