rhoda_rants: (sam)
[personal profile] rhoda_rants
(I can stop blogging about Supernatural ANY TIME I WANT.)


Now I know what it feels like to experience a Supernatural finale in real time. And holy shit, this was a doozy.

Black & white GIF of Dean holding finger-gun to his head,
and Sam drawing a finger across his throat.


Garments were rent, tables were flipped, tears were shed. And then the fandom broke Twitter. I’m not even being hyperbolic, because this time I WAS THERE.

Spoiler-ish, but not going into detail. Tread carefully.

Let's talk about expectation.

There’s a great quote from the movie Cigarette Burns--one of John Carpenter’s entries for the Masters of Horror series, if you’re curious--that goes like this: “We trust filmmakers. We sit in the darkness daring them to affect us, secure in the knowledge they won’t go too far.”

In a fictional universe that runs on danger and character-focused angst, it's difficult to manage audience expectations in such a way that the danger still feels real, but not so insurmountable that the heroes can't handle it. The audience trusts the scriptwriters, the directors, and the actors to bring them face to face with a legitimately scary monster, but also a way to defeat said monster that doesn't feel cheap or so awful it's not worth pursuing. One way to maintain dramatic tension is to give the hero some kind of sacrifice in order to achieve their goal. So basically that's what happened--characters (yes, plural) that people cared about were killed. Of course you can only do that so many times before it starts to get stale, predictable, and more like a drinking game than a real story.

I will also say it was not so much a well-conceived twist as a transparent manipulation tactic designed to work the viewers into a panicked frenzy to give those last hour ratings a boost. Say what you want about how this is a universe with magic and time travel and a plethora of convenient reset buttons. The point isn't so much that something happened that upset people. It's that people can tell when they're being played, and we don't appreciate it. "Oh no, someone's going to die!" should not invoke feelings of apathy and tallying of all the remaining characters to place bets. I had *counts* four personal predictions as to who would get offed in the last two episodes, and three of them were right. (Plus a fifth that I didn't entertain too much because I knew it wouldn't stick, and I was right about that one too.) This doesn't make me feel clever. It makes me feel like the writers ran out of ideas.

As an example of why this is rubbish, let me spoil the ending of a book that I absolutely hated: Jodi Piccoult's My Sister's Keeper. If you haven't read it (and I don't recommend that you do), the story's about a girl (Anna) who was conceived to be a donor for her older sister (Kate) to help treat Kate's leukemia. The conflict comes from Anna suing her family for medical emancipation, so she can live her own life free of being a living organ farm for her sister. There's drama and ethical questions and family angst and various differing points of view and it's interesting on several levels, and in the end Anna wins her case. And then immediately gets hit by a bus.

THAT is what I'm talking about. Coming through a mostly well-executed if flawed storyline with a bittersweet but satisfying ending, and then pulling a last-minute switcheroo that renders the entire preceding drama utterly pointless. Speak to me not of the rallying cry that nobody *really* dies on Supernatural, because we're still without Charlie, Ellen, Jo, Billie, Ash, Eileen, Sarah, Lenore, Kevin, and countless others I'm sure I'm forgetting that nevertheless failed to actually come back. This isn't LOST, guys. Mark Pellegrino notwithstanding.

The SPN finale was not as bad as My Sister’s Keeper, but it did give me a feeling of, "Come on. You had a perfectly good victory lap ending. That couldn't have waited until next season?" Because even though we got an unintentional clarification that that fifth prediction I mentioned wouldn't stick (Thanks, Jared!), we still have to wait several months to see HOW this plays out. Which gives me several months to wrestle with my intentions not to watch it ever again.

Because here’s the other thing: When the show is good, it is so damn good. The episode immediately prior to the actual finale was brilliant. Jody Goddamn Mills was there, as was Alex the Ex-Pire, and Mama Winchester, and Blowtorch Lady, and it was kickass and action-heavy and awesome and only the bad people who have been set up to fail in a way that makes sense for the story had to die. Hell, with a few rearranged plot points, they could’ve easily aired this one last, and let us savor the victory ending instead of the “What the shit, this is awful!” ending. I think this Twitter fan said it best when she brought this up a few weeks ago: “Cas/Destiel/TFW fans seem to be trying to rage-quit SPN but got trapped in a cloud of happy rainbow glitter.” (Source.) That was in reference to something else, but it still applies.

There are so many things I want from this show that it’s failing to give me. I want Charlie back. I want Robbie Thompson to take over as showrunner. I want that Wayward Daughters spin-off they’re constantly teasing us with. I want the Dastardly Duo to be strapped down Clockwork Orange-style and forced to watch Sense8, Penny Dreadful and Orphan Black until they figure out how to write marginalized characters WITHOUT. FUCKING. IT. UP.

I also want to know what happens next. I want to support the members of the cast and crew who are doing good work that literally saves lives. I want to see this Future!Punk Mad Max meets Vlad the Impaler apocalypse universe that really needed loads more setup but looks fucking awesome. And more than anything, I want to stay in touch with the amazing people this fandom has introduced me to.

Fuck this terrible, wonderful, addictive, abusive, ridiculous show, I hate it! (I still blame you for this, Christine.)
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