In my last short outing, I looked at my top (or bottom?) moments in Supernatural when something in an episode took me straight out of the show by being something I simply couldnâ€™t accept. This time out, Iâ€™m doing the opposite: Iâ€™m going to call out my top moments from the show when a concept in a story flabbergasted me in a very positive way and either made me reconsider things Iâ€™d seen before or be stunned by future possibilities.
It goes without saying that the basic premise for the show and the way it was originally executed â€“ including the casting of Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, classic rock music, and the 1967 Chevy Impala four-door â€“ were essential elements that drew me in. Iâ€™m taking all those initial creation elements for granted, here; but none of these would exist without those coming first!
- Faith: High-concept philosophy and psychology exploring faith, mission, motives, commitment, sacrifice and Deanâ€™s total lack of self-esteem â€“ his belief that anyone other than he was more worthy to be saved â€“ combined with Samâ€™s willingness to pay any price to save his brotherâ€™s life opened my eyes to levels in the show Iâ€™d been missing. Although Iâ€™d watched Supernatural from the beginning, this was the episode that made me realize it had far more depth, message, and potential than Iâ€™d ever realized or paid attention to. (Iâ€™d missed Home, which might have done that sooner â€¦) I smacked myself in the head and exclaimed, â€œHow did I MISS all this? Iâ€™ve got to see the episodes I missed; Iâ€™ve got to see it ALL again!!!â€ And here I still am â€¦
- Malleus Maleficarum: All demons were once human; they were what remained of human souls who forgot their humanity in the torments of Hell. That was a masterstroke idea, particularly as Dean approached the end of his year and finally began to appreciate the true horror of what awaited him in Hell. It also laid the groundwork for every demon-related development since, including burning bones to destroy a demon like a ghost and potentially â€œcuringâ€ a demon by making it again able to see itself through human eyes and experience remorse for what it had done. Thereâ€™s still more to plumb from this concept.
- Lazarus Rising to Lucifer Rising, and onward: Angels. I did not see that game-changer coming, especially after having heard Kripke speak at the 2008 L.A. convention, but the introduction of angels to the showâ€™s mythology opened up so many avenues for stories to drive down, and simultaneously fit the existing structure so very well, that the logic seems obvious in retrospect. And angels not being the gentle, beneficent guardians of religiously-inspired contemporary popular culture but instead being creatures of power and pride, many of whom were manipulative monsters, was the perfect development to give the show powerful story-arc legs to carry it potentially many seasons into the future. Angel enemies, angel allies â€“ they could come in all flavors. And we even realized that sometimes, we just hadnâ€™t seen them for what they were: having the Trickster revealed as the archangel Gabriel in hiding was one heck of a twist.
- In The Beginning: Mary was a hunter from a family of hunters! And in the supreme irony, she made the first deal that set the pattern for all that followed, when all she had wanted was to escape the hunting life for normality and family. I loved the whole idea of the Campbells, establishing the existence of families who preserved knowledge and passed on the hunter tradition from generation to generation. I was bitterly disappointed with how the Campbells were used, misused, and thrown away in season six because I thought their potential was utterly wasted. I suspect part of the rationale for that was the writersâ€™ decision to always deny the Winchester brothers any real hope of finding a balance that included both hunting and some semblance of a normal life. In the Winchestersâ€™ world, the decision has always been presented as binary â€“ either you hunt, or you live in the â€˜burbs, but you canâ€™t do both. Samuel and Deanna gave the lie to that, and I hoped weâ€™d explore that more. (I finally did that in some fanfic of my own, because the waste bothered me so much.) Iâ€™ve got my fingers crossed that my next pick below might allow that to happen a little now …
- Everybody Hates Hitler: The brothers inherit the Men of Letters bunker! Iâ€™ll admit I have a lot of issues with the MOL and the Henry Winchester story; organized secret societies that exist for centuries but get wiped out overnight make my eyes roll, and the sudden new family background for John irritated me no end. But I love the MOL bunker itself. Itâ€™s Bobbyâ€™s house and library, Johnâ€™s storage unit, and the Campbell family compoundâ€™s underground archive all rolled up into one and multiplied exponentially. It can be a source of stories, as it was in this episode; a resource for information and arcane weapons and supplies; a command center allowing central direction and coordination of activities; and a safe house to be intelligently used. Those last two items are particularly scary for the writers. Thereâ€™s always the fear that having a safe harbor will somehow negate all conflict and danger, but since the brothers have to go outside the bunker to accomplish anything and will never be content to hide just to be safe, I donâ€™t really see that as an impediment to good storytelling. The show has also always shied away from giving the brothers any real, consistent support structure; having Bobby as their go-to research guy also manning the phones to back up their fake IDs was the most they were ever allowed. I hope the writers will explore more of the MOL and let the brothers actually benefit from it. Iâ€™d hate to see it destroyed out of some fear that it makes the brothers too powerful or too comfortable, because that doesnâ€™t have to be the case. Itâ€™s also one of the most beautiful sets Iâ€™ve ever seen, and Iâ€™ll bet every director who gets to use it is thrilled because it offers so many different ways to shoot scenes in it. Itâ€™s both practical and visually stunning; a tribute to Jerry Wanekâ€™s design and construction and Serge Ladouceurâ€™s gift for lighting.
So, those are my big â€œHoly CRAP, thatâ€™s cool!â€ idea/concept moments from the seasons so far. Some others grew out of these, like the tablets of the Word of God becoming quest objects and the whole idea of power struggles in Heaven and Hell in the wake of the Winchesters short-circuiting the apocalypse affecting Earth. Some of my â€œhonorable mentionâ€ ones include The French Mistakeâ€™s acknowledgment of the existence of multiple dimensions where the rules are different (I wonder if that idea might come back one of these days â€¦), and the showâ€™s incarnation of Death as a contemporary of God.
Your turn! Which show concepts caught you by surprise and made you exclaim in happy wonder? Chime in!