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[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.
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