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(I promise, not a lot of negativity here.)  

I actually find the serviceable, average episode to be the hardest to write reviews for.  There really isn’t much to say.  It didn’t suck.  It wasn’t “Bugs” (that was my Twitter review for the week).  I laughed a few times.  I scratched my head a few times.  I didn’t reach for the TV brick.  Oh, but there were some lessons this week.  What did I learn? 

I learned that James Marsters is a God and Charisma Carpenter rocks when she’s pissed off.  I learned Sam on a health kick is fun, as is Dean’s disturbance over it.  I learned how much fun it is to watch a victim of a witch attack have a proper (and funny) meltdown, something we don’t see a lot of on this show given the weird shit that happens to people.  I learned Sam and Dean make the oddest marriage counselors on the planet, but that was the point.  They are the last people to be giving couples advice, which makes the fact that it worked even funnier.  And I learned after seeing it for like the hundredth time, estranged brothers at the end of the episode is cliche.   

“Look Dean, it’s fine.  You can unload.  That’s kind of what I’m here for.”  Dean ignores Sam’s plea and gets in the car.  Shot of Sam frustrated.  

Rewind, “Bedtime Stories,” episode 5, season three.  “Is that what you want me to do Dean, just let you go?”  Dean ignores his plea and walks away.  Shot of Sam frustrated. 

Okay, there is a difference between those two scenes.  Sam’s hair is much shorter back then. 

Episodes like this are supposed to be a breath of fresh air after some really intense events of the first four episodes.  It was.  I liked.  It would have been perfect if we’ve had four episodes of intense kick ass action before it.  Where are the fighting, determined Winchesters of old?  That topic came up quite a bit this weekend at the Salute to Supernatural convention in Chicago.  I spent a good chunk of the weekend discussing the show with a variety of fans.  We all had some pretty strong opinions. 

“Dean is not an alcoholic,” a passionate fan who’s been watching the show since the pilot, told me when a random discussion between us broke out in the lobby.  She really wants Dean to go back to the days are being a leader, being someone who won’t take this crap.  “That’s the real Dean Winchester,” she said.  

Drinking has always been Dean’s crutch, so why is it different now?  Is it because he’s doing it at the laptop early in the morning while Sam is out jogging?  “Somebody better be chasing you,” Dean tells Sam after he comes in from a run, proving his sense of humor is still in tact.  Sam can tell something’s wrong.  After all, they’re together 24/7.  He should know when something’s eating at his brother.  

Sam:  What’s going on with you?
Dean:  We have had this conversation Sam.
Sam:  No we haven’t.  You see, to do that, we’d have to sort of...speak.  

I asked people why they thought Sam notices Dean's drinking now since Dean’s pattern of heavy drinking goes all the way back to season four.  Several claimed that it’s worse now.  He has to notice.  Okay, but he did that in season four too when flashbacks of Hell hit Dean.  His symptoms then were heavy drinking and nightmares.  Just like with season four, Dean wouldn’t talk about it either.  Where’s Sam’s call to Bobby?  “He’s acting...different.  I don’t know what it is.”  I’m assuming that all happened off camera.  

I loved season four.  It’s my favorite season narrowly over season two.  As much as I loved it, I don’t need to re-live season four.  Why are we wasting time revisiting these circles when there’s Leviathan scum out there to be ganked?  Speaking of Leviathan scum...

“I hate how someone else had to save Sam and Dean,” another blogger told me during an intense discussion in the hotel room over pizza.  She doesn't understand why Sam and Dean can't figure out a way to disable or kill the bad guys on their own.  They're the heroes in this story.  I normally agree with that point but in this case, I thought Don’s cool entrance and his bottomless pit suggestion was freaking awesome.  I didn’t mind the fact that a Leviathan appeared and didn’t take too much from the plot this week, but is isolation really good for Sam and Dean right now?  This ties in to what me, Mo Ryan, and Lynn and Kathy from Fangasm discussed the prior evening. 

Why are the brothers so isolated?  Is that good or bad?  If they can’t save themselves, then who else is there other than Bobby?  Castiel is gone, so is everyone else.  Who else do the brothers have? 

Mo certainly had an opinion, and this is what she wrote in her weekly Supernatural article.  â€œWhy must the boys pay that cost? No one has ever explained that adequately to me. The life they live is hard enough, must they be deprived of friendship and companionship and even fun enemies, for the most part? Having a number of recurring characters stick around wouldn't exactly take the focus away from the brothers. In any case, the show feels like something of a wasteland these days. So many good characters are gone, and I don't think the payoffs we've had have nearly matched what the show lost. Damn it, I even miss Bobby's house (the loss of which, again, barely rated a mention.)”

Should Sam and Dean be fighting and killing things on their own, or should they have help? I'd prefer the same balance they've always had before, but is that really the problem?  I think the big problem right now is we’re all itching for some fight to come from Sam and Dean.  They haven’t exactly been the kick ass hunters of old.  Even with personal hang ups in the past, they’ve taken out that aggression on some evil.  Remember Dean’s line about outbursts of violence and alcoholism?  We’re only one for two in that category.  Coming back to stab Amy, that was hardly a pissed off Dean Winchester going after the eerie menace.  New “Zen” Sam too is lacking a certain fire he had before.  

Are Sam and Dean cowering because they are losing their support network? Is taking away everything from them a good thing?  Is this a rabbit hole we want to go down?  In that both those discussions, we all realized something is missing.  Hope and personal victories.  They’re just going through the motions.  It’s kind of like watching a couple of guys go through career burnout.  They can’t win and they can't do it alone.  If going it alone was intense, fun, compelling, thrilling, interesting, so be it.  As of right now, it’s not.  I keep throwing Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid in the writers’ faces (hey, they said it first).  That’s how you do outlaws going at it alone.  I laughed, I cried, I died over the pretty.  These days, I’m just dying over the pretty (another silver lining there folks).  

I guess the point is, if you’re going to have the boys come up with clever, reckless ways to save themselves (Dean with the phoenix ash in “Mommy Dearest” comes to mind), I still don’t see how isolation from everything will work.  If you recall, even in “Mommy Dearest,” to get to that showdown in the diner, Bobby and Castiel were there to help.  If that support network goes away, they’re bound to be helped by random happy accidents.  How many of those can we take and will they be more interesting than rich supporting characters of old?  I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see but I for one love rich supporting characters.  

“Why didn’t Sam and Dean kill Don and Maggie, like Dean killed Amy?”  I actually heard that one a lot.  The answer seemed pretty straight forward to me.  They had a captured Leviathan in their hands.  That was an opportunity that couldn’t be wasted.  They also didn’t have much time.  If the circumstances were different, who knows. but it’s not the first time they’ve let someone go.  I thought it was great that they had their priorities in line this time.    

“What happened to the promise that they’d go back to season one?”  Another fan asked me after watching this episode.  She loves the monster of the week concept and wants it all the time.  Sure, she knows they’ve been through a lot and there’s no way they can be that Sam and Dean from season one, but what’s wrong with the fighting brothers going back and boldly taking on a different monster with each adventure?  Who needs a sweeping mytharc?  

I love mytharcs myself, and if one thing “Supernatural” has done extremely well is blend the monsters of the weeks with the mytharcs.  I brought up seasons two and four in our talk.  There was a looming mytharc woven in between those monster of the week escapades.  Both story lines coexisted and progressed very well side by side.  It’s only episode five, so it’s impossible to say how that’s going in season seven, but back in seasons one through five there was a constant.  Whether it be mytharc, monster of the week, or both, Sam and Dean used to smile more.  They used to have more fun.  They used to get mad.  They used to have heart. 

There, I said that word again.  What do I mean when I say the show is missing it’s heart?  My dear friend Lynn brought up of all episodes, “Heart.”  That was a very sad, very tragic episode.  We loved it.  Why?  Because we hurt when they did.  We deeply felt every bit of sadness on that screen.  So far in season seven, the only time I can say that’s happened in that incredible warehouse scene in “Hello Cruel World.”  

Sure, every single scene can’t be like that and I certainly can’t say it’s been totally missing.  But there’s some great setup here for them to work with.  Sam’s hallucinating about Lucifer and should be teetering more on a uneven edge, while Dean’s wrestling with his own fears and this big “secret” (I promise not to harp on the fact that another big secret between the brothers is a ludicrous idea).  If you’re going to bring up these issues, whether fans like it or not, run with it.  Go big or go home.  Do it with mytharc or monster of the week, or both.  I’m not picky.  

I know, perhaps I need to be patient.  It is after all only episode 5.  With the exception of season five (yes, the Paris Hilton one) I absolutely love all of the episode 5’s.  “Bloody Mary,” “Simon Said,” “Bedtime Stories,” “Monster Movie,” and even “Live Free and Twihard” evoke a pang in my heart when I think of them.  Here, my favorite moment ends up being a big laugh over a chick rightfully freaking out over hearts in her cupcakes.  Way to ruin another food that I love show!  So there’s another win here.  


All in all, this weekend turned out to be several fantastic sessions of TV group therapy.  I came back home with a new appreciation for my show, and a warm feeling that fans really still care.  They see trouble, but they’re not about to abandon ship.  Maybe I need to just take what I’m given and enjoy it.  To be honest though, if I did that, I’d be as boring as Sam and Dean are right now.  I rave when I have occasion to rave, I rant when I have occasion to rant.  I’m an equal opportunity fan and what do you know, so is the rest of this fandom.  I love being part of this.    

So, what’s the most valuable lesson to come out of “Shut Up Dr. Phil?”  James Marsters is a God and Charisma Carpenter rocks when she’s pissed off.  Score one for the guest stars.  Now it’s Sam and Dean’s turn.   



# Sweet 2011-10-26 14:25
I loved a lot of season 4, but I think that's where the heart got sucked out of SPN long before now. I really thought the show had grown up and was able to show all the characters having a POV at once. Especially Sam's, which got pointedly got cut out to boost Dean's hell and angel arc in season 4. Notice how the new grown up SPN only lasted 2 episodes and we're back to Sam being cut out, even in his own Sam episodes, to boost Dean's woobie arc. I could just cry, as I'm so disappointed right now.

I think the episodes so far have been okay, nothing earth shattering, but not terrible either. But that's often where the show sits now, and that aspect started in season 5, with the "funny" apocalypse take the writers decided on. Sam's post-addiction arc lasted 3 episodes there, which is 1 episode longer than his permanently damaged by hell psyche now. To say this attitude disappoints me is an understatement.

Honestly, all I want is for Sam to get his POV, real feelings, and proper plotting all season long, not squished around the more "important" emo breakdowns of Dean every season. I really really thought at least the brothers getting a dual emotional arc could happen this season, because Sam's Wall falling was so huge and talked about all summer long. But now, I'm just sad that this story was "cancelled" for another Dean rerun sl. I don't know what to think anymore.

OTOH, I can't say that this season is especially worse than any other season at this point. All the flaws of this season point back to origins in past ones. This is just a culmination of them, when the first two episodes had made me think that they might have actually been boldly jettisoned for real series writing for once. Oh well. Guess I'll wait and see what happens, or as the case may be, doesn't happen.

I do like the Leviathans as a foe, however. I will say that. I like smart enemies. It might be better if they didn't just eat people though.
# Ginger 2011-10-26 14:42
You've hit the one thing that is important for everyone to remember when we discuss this show -- we all love the show and we see trouble, which is troublesome because we love it.

I actually expect to know what the season is about within the first couple of episodes of a new season. So far all I've got is Dean is drinking, Sam is worried, and there is a real big secret between the two of them that I don't think is such a big deal anyway.

And, you are right, I'm looking for some proactive hunters in the show, but I'm not seeing them.

I'm also wondering if the Winchesters have anything to do with the Levi. Why are the Levi looking for them? So far, the brothers don't even know they are being hunted by the Levi.

The magic is missing, the brothers are there in name only, and I'm not very scared of the big bad so far.

Yet, I'm here and waiting because I love the show.
# sofia 2011-10-26 15:08
Alice, I think this is a really fair article. There's no arguing that there have been bumps in the road this season, but I'm nowhere near ready to abandon ship. There's still too much to stick around for!

Realistically I don't know that we'll ever top the awesomeness that was seasons 2 and 4 or the charm that was season 1 but I think there's still a good chance that we can land on something new and interesting.

I was trying to pinpoint the disconnect this season and I came up with an idea. Doesn't it seem like this season is the Sam and Dean of season one without the methodical monster of the week format? There was heart in season one but it was a lot about getting to know the world and mythology of Supernatural, not as much character development as season two or four. It was so charming because it was new and we were just beginning to feel the warm and fuzzies for the Winchesters. Now, six seasons later they are trying to stick this first season formula into more of a mytharc season where it doesn't fit.

I think the writers need to decide if this season is going to lean more toward MOTW or mytharc (personally, I prefer mytharc) and then write Sam and Dean accordingly.

That's just a thought, and it could easily change tomorrow. I find myself feeling a little differently after each passing episode... But I'm staying positive. We're only 5 episodes in!
# Deborah 2011-10-26 19:00
Alice, thanks for this srticle. I can't say I agree with everything you say here. I'm feeling pretty good about this season so far, and am really looking forward to new episodes. I do appreciate the fact that you actually say some good things in your review. I've been reading an awful lot of negativity about this season already.

I read Mo Ryan's article also and commented over there. While her article was meant as tough love for the show, there is a whole lot of negativity going on in the comment section. I wanted to repeat my comment here to see if anyone else feels at all like I do because I was definitely in the minority over there! I said:

I want to get back to the Winchester brothers on the road "saving people, hunting things, the family business" and, though so far this season it appears we might be on that path, in my mind I don't think we are there yet. But I'm willing to give the writers time to get there.

To address one of the points, the one about repopulating the world of the Winchesters - I disagree with this. Not because I don't want them to have friends, etc., but because I don't think that particular point is a problem with regard to good storytelling. My favorite seasons are still Season 1 and 2. In Season 1, outside of Dad (and Caleb and Father Jim, who we didn't really meet until they died), the boys had no extended family. Yet almost every week the show gave us guest characters that I cared about as much as some of the recurring characters we've had since. Every week the boys were going from town to town saving people they didn't know, just because it was necessary and it was what they had been taught by their father to do. And we got memorable characters who were thankful for the help. If there is anything I miss in the show, it's that -- when was the last time anyone thanked the boys for what they do and the sacrifices they make?

In Season 1 alone we got a lot of people who only appeared once in the show but who I still remember because the characters were memorable and because most of them knew that the Winchester brothers saved them and they thanked the boys in one way or another -- Haley and Ben, Andrea and Lucas, Jerry and Amanda, Charlie, Rebecca, Lori, Matt and his parents, Missouri, Jenny and her kids, Kat and Gavin, Emily, Layla, Cassie, Kathleen, Michael, Sarah, and Monica. Out of 22 episodes that season there were 16 which had people who knew that Sam and Dean had an effect on their lives - in many cases either saving their lives or the lives of others. And what they mainly did was allow the boys to connect with and help people outside of themselves. Ever since the whole angel and demon storyline took center stage, that aspect of the show has been pretty much absent, and it's that part I miss the most. I want the boys to be out helping real people and being thanked for their efforts instead of fighting in a vacuum - against terrible things, to be sure, and still doing it to save people, but mostly unbeknownst to the people they are saving. That's what makes this show depressing to me - that the boys are fighting and sacrificing and everything else but no one really seems to care, or even know about it, except for Bobby.

I don't know if we can get back to that -- there are too many people who are forever complaining about where do you go after the apocalypse and Lucifer and how are they going to top that. And I agree that is difficult to step back and not try to top what can't be topped, but I hope they will at least try. I don't need another arc that has to be bigger and better than the last one, another impossible and all-powerful foe that the boys fight against in darkness and secrecy. I want there to be people out there who know and appreciate what they are doing, and tell them that they are. That's what I miss most, more than the loss of Castiel and Jo and Ellen and Ash and Rufus combined. That's what makes the show dark and depressing to me. Sam and Dean need a hug and a thank you at the end of the day more than they need an extended family of hunters in the same boat they are. I want them to win - to take what theyv'e learaned from the past few years of cr*p and turn it to something good.

And they need a vacation - more than almost anything I want one episode where all they do is visit the Grand Canyon and relax. I want to see them in the present sitting on the hood of the Impala and looking at the stars, or going to a ball game or a Zeppelin concert. But if we got that, there would be people who complained about that. So instead I want the Supernatural folks to tell the story they want to tell. More often than not they've kept me entertained over the last 6+ seasons, and I've been enjoying the ride - one that I do not want to see end anytime soon.

Thanks, Alice.
# Ginger 2011-10-26 19:24
I don't disagree with any of your thoughts. You are talking about viewer investment in the story...the quest that all stories have. That's the same thing I was meaning in my previous post. What is the quest for the brothers this season? Why are the Levi after them? What is the connection between them and the brothers?

Right now all we know is Dean is depressed and drinking...agai n, Sam is okey dokie and worried about Dean, there's another secret being kept (again),and the Levi are after them for some unknown reason, but they don't know it yet. We're ready for Episode 6, and we should have been given something to be invested in. No fun between the two of them, no hope for victory (because we don't know the problem yet), and no hope for a reward of any kind (the thank you and appreciation you express). And how are we to rout for the brothers (investment), when they are not being proactive hunters?

Please, writers, pick a story; be that the brothers' emo'g over each other or an overall mytharc, but something I, as a viewer, can invest in. I feel like I really should know this by now.
# Melanie 2011-10-26 21:26
Deborah -- I'm with you! I haven't had a chance to respond to Mo's article yet but I'm very much closer to your view than Mo's.
# Sylvie 2011-10-27 09:07
You know, I tend to agree with you on this. I loved seasons 1 & 2 for the MOTW shows. But I also love the mytharc episodes. I think what I'm saying (and I've posted this elsewhere before) is that I'm a fan through & through, I love this show no matter what. Does Dean need to come out of his funk? Yes. Does Sam need to break down a little because of the wall falling? Also yes. But that's not all I want to see. The fact that Sam & Dean save ordinary people from evil is what brought me to the show in the first place. And I too remember the names of those very ordinary people from the first seasons. I've been watching some of the old MOTW shows from those seasons, and it makes me love this show even more.

We also need to remember that there are 23 episodes to go through this season (yea) and this was only episode 5. And I for one cannot wait to see what is in store for our favourite guys. I miss Castiel and yes even Bobby's house (this to Maureen Ryan), but I kind of like that it's just Sam & Dean fending for themselves once again.
# Bevie 2011-10-27 12:34
Oh my Lord, Deborah. Do I ever agree with you!!!!

Season 1 to me is just perfection. I love it to death! Also, seasons 2 and 3. It was season four (although it had 5 or 6 wonderful episodes) that I liked the very least, as the separation of the brothers took much of my enjoyment away. That to me was the beginning of the mytharcs. Can't say I'm a great fan of the overriding Mytharc! And having to "top" the last one every time is not what I look forward to. It is the brothers relationship, and that alone that makes this show so very special. I will never give up on this show until the very last scene is shot, no matter if its mytharc or MOTW. I could never give up on those boys!

Another complaint I keep reading about this season, is why they didn't kill the witches. I seem to remember that they would not kill humans, and those witches, no matter how old they are, are still human. They didn't kill any of the witches in "Maleus Maleficarum" except for Dean ganking Tammi, but Tammi was a demon, not a witch.

Another complaint is "why doesn't Dean tell Sam the secret that he is begging to be told?" Perhaps he remembers telling Sam the secret his dad told him and the consequences of that. Sam begged for the secret and then held it against him and even ran away from him. When he told Sam what happened to him in hell, which he had also begged for, what he received in return was "You are weak and whining about hell and boo hoo". I'm sure he is dreading telling Sam about Amy just for those two reasons.

I'd love to see them visit the Grand Canyon and have a good time together for a change, and you are right that people would also complain about that. So I'm with you about letting the powers that be tell their story and trust that Jensen and Jared won't let Dean and Sam be out of character if they can help it. Love them to death and will never desert them! :P
# BagginsDVM 2011-10-26 20:23
I agree much with Deborah; I want the guys to win a few battles with these monsters-of-the -week (and to look badass again while they're doing it!) & to get thanked for what they've done. I want them to have some hope that there is some reward when all is said & done, & that they have made a difference for the good. Maybe have the boys come across a few of the people they saved in earlier seasons & see how what they did helped those people. I want to be able to smile at the end of an episode every once in a while & say, "put that one in the win category for the Winchesters!"
I would like them to have some friends who don't die so quickly! I do love so many of the supporting characters, even if we've only seen them once or twice. They make such an impression!
Although I'd like to see the guys be able to get themselves out of some of these predicaments without help, I really did like how Don saved their bacon in this episode. I immediately thought that he & Maggie could be interesting allies in the battle against the Leviathan.

Thanks, Alice! Glad you had fun in Chicago!
# BagginsDVM 2011-10-26 20:50
P.S. I nearly forgot: the boys did save Jenny from her near-death by bloody cupcakes. I put that in the "win" category!
# MisterGlass 2011-10-26 21:47
Thanks for the convention updates and your always interesting take, Alice.

I appreciate the reminder that we are only five episodes into the season. And all things considered, I put two of those in exceptional, two in between good and fair, and only one in the negative range. On balance it has been a decent season so far, but there has been shoved under the rug that it leaves an unsettling feeling in the back of my mind.

"Dr. Phil" was a good average episode. The guest stars were great, there was some worthwhile comedy (even if Jared's ridiculously fun stretching scene was cut), and some genuine creepiness. Little beating hearts. In cupcakes. I cringed in open-mouthed horror.

Mo Ryan nailed something that has been bugging me since Season 5: the wasteland. I understand that Sam and Dean are the show's core, but the level of isolation they have suffered in the deaths of Ellen, Jo, Rufus, and Cas is horrific. I morn for Bobby's house too. Ellen and Jo at least were martyred in a worthy cause and went out like the heroes they are. And that doesn't count the other fun allies lost in earlier seasons, or those with whom the boys had less emotional attachment.

There needs to be at least a little interaction, a little sense of hope or community for this to escape from being a relentless exercise in despair. There has always been tragedy, but now there is no joy to offset it. No balance.
# Melanie 2011-10-27 00:06

I have been saying for a while that it's time to put the 'win' back in Winchester. :) So in that respect, I agree - the boys haven't kicked enough ass lately. And I will also agree that perhaps the emotional hook for Season Seven could be more clearly defined, since as it is, it does not appear to be resonating with fans in the way that (for example)the simple S1 'find Dad' did. As I told FarAwayEyes recently, if you held a gun to my head, I would allow as how some of the dialog was a bit clunky here and there. But other than that, I don't have any significant worries about the season or the story lines.

I have never been a wholehearted supporter of the 'expanded' SPN universe so to have it stripped down now doesn’t bother me. In fact, I welcome it. There are very few characters that I didn't expect to be killed off (or otherwise gone) and fewer still that I minded when they were. Right now, I don't mind that Cas is gone (partly because I think he'll be back eventually) I wish they didn't kill John Winchester (I know why they had to but to this day, I still don't like it!)I wish they didn't kill Hendrickson in S3 and I wish that Samuel Campbell had turned out differently,(wa sted truncated plotlines) but other than that -- I'm good with the clean slate character status. I'm good with the boys on their own. I guess it doesn’t feel all that bleak to me because I don’t invest in the secondary characters (except Bobby) very much because I expect them to be RedShirts. I believe that the writers plan on repopulating the 'verse a bit and in fact, I loved James Marsters' Don so much, I hope he makes the cut a la Crowley and becomes a new quasi-ally for the boys.

In terms of the boys themselves -- Show has spent three seasons showing us Dean spiraling down into depression. It seems to me that the overall tone of the show comes from Dean's POV, so it is as bleak as I'd expect the world-view of a clinically depressed person to be. To me this progression has been just pretty damn brilliant.
I expect that S7 will see the beginning (at least) of Dean climbing out of that hole. But I expect it to take a while because Show has always been remarkably true regarding the emotional characterizatio n of these two guys and you don't just 'get over' the sort of debilitating depression that Dean has. (Unlike the physical injuries, which are not realistic in the slightest --what is it the J’s call it? The magic CW ointment? LOL -- the emotional pain is so realistic as to make up for it in spades.)

It seems to me that this parallel – this reset – is necessary, not boring, not an unambitious retread. Necessary because we can’t go to a new place with the brothers’ relationship – yet – because Dean and Sam have not truly resolved the existing issues. I think that S7 intends to address the issues and move on with the brothers in a better place. Once Dean cheers up, so will the SPN landscape.

If, at the end of S7, Dean isn’t recovered or at least noticeably getting better, and the tone a little brighter and more hopeful, then yes, then I might be disappointed. (Depending on where they go with Dean’s SL)

If, at the end of S7, this is all there is to Sam’s hell wall falling, then yes, then I will probably be disappointed. (Again, depending on where they go with Sam’s SL)

But at the moment, I believe that Show intends on dealing with these issues over the course of the season. So I’m enjoying the ride.
# Melanie 2011-10-27 18:01
I've been thinking more about the story structure and the sense that we have about the Winchesters not winning enough. And you know, I think its because the way the set-ups/ cliffies have worked - the Winchesters have to 'fail' for the story to continue.
Starting in S3 - Sam failed to save Dean, so Dean went to hell. In S4, Dean failed to prevent Sam from killing Lilith so the apocolypse started. In S5, yes, they stopped Lucifer but without a satisfying emotional payoff - Sam was in hell then souless and Dean was an emotional wreck. In S6 they failed to stop Cas from opening purgatory so now we have the Leviathans on the loose and both brothers are emotional wrecks. (I don't think Sam is fine BTW) They may have saved the world? But honestly - who cares? Screw the world -- save the Winchesters!
# Tigershire 2011-10-27 01:41
Hey Alice,
This was a very thought provoking article. This in conjunction with Mo Ryan's article and Lynn and Kathy's article on Fangasm really got me thinking about this hard to pin point missing element, at least as I see it.

I think I might have another piece to this puzzle.

When Supernatural started, even though they had no way of knowing if they would get renewed from season to season, Eric Kripke had a 5 year plan. There was a 5 year myth arc, a yearly myth and each episode had a start and a finish, especially if it was a MOTW episode.

Season 6, and from what seems to be evident so far in Season 7, is that we have no 5 year plan this time. Season 6 had it's own year long myth arc, which came to a conclusion (ie Mother of all got ganked and the monsters got let out of purgatory)but what was next after that? We got a Season 7, now where do we go from there?

The answer is, Sera Gamble and crew are trying to figure that out. Or, possibly they know, but, we fans don't.

Actually we didn't know what the 5 year plan was first go around, but, because the writers did, everything they wrote about clicked into place (some pieces better than others). So while the fans didn't know what the ultimate goal of the 5 year plan was, we could see and feel the continuity of the seasons because, ultimately they tied together.

Season 6 and 7 seem to be missing that. It's like a pile of puzzle pieces lying on the table and their are so close to the same shape and colour, you don't know where they fit or where to even begin - no edge pieces.

Now, I don't know Sera Gamble or the writing team. Maybe they have a plan of action, maybe it will all be revealed and suddenly all of this will make sense and we'll have a collective A-Ha moment when we find out.

My opinion is, they need to get a 5 year plan. Don't worry about if the show is going to be renewed or not, because that really isn't important to the story telling. Having those multiple arcs to draw from are what help make the story complex and rich. Cause we know that J2 have the characters in the bag and we can count on them to ensure our characters are rich and true.
# Melanie 2011-10-27 17:49
That idea that Kripke had this monumental five year plan from the beginning is like an urban legend that has taken on a life of its own.
Sure there was a story that would go for five years. All shows are pitched with enough story to make it to syndication - 100 episodes - five seasons.
EK has confirmed that originally, his story did not include the angels or Dean and Sam being Michael and Lucifer's vessels at all. Ben Edlund pitched angels in S3 during the writers' strike. So whatever EK's original plan was - we haven't seen it, or at least not all of it.
We have no way of knowing what elements of EK's original plan for the brothers remain to be told. For all we know - now that the angel storyline (2 years or 3 if you count S6)is over - maybe we are back to EK's original story of Dean and Sam on the road, chainsaws in the trunk etc etc..
# Sharon 2011-10-27 02:34
What they need is to actually write for Sam. It is nonsense we have a Sam walking around fine and Dean having yet another emotional sl and focus. If you cant back up your character with proper follow up then they should of left the wallup or gotten Cas to of healed him in the premiere.

You keep concentrating on the 'heart ' and neglect the 'soul' you only get a pale imatation of the show you can have. There is huge potential here this season .
# Conica 2011-10-27 12:45
But they do write for Sam, the problem is Sera Gamble seems unable to write him as anything but Superman. Yes Sam should be having trouble dealing with Hell, but you know what that would mean? That would mean they couldn't show how much better he is with it than Dean. In fact Dean might actually be able to help him, given that Dean's gone through it himself, pretty much alone. Unfortunately there isn't that much to story to say for a person who remembers Hell and is all "zen" or who always knows just how to deal with things in a "healthier" way.

So I agree, it's ridiculous to bring this storyline up for Dean now, when you know they should have done in Season 4 and made it about Hell. Dean right now should be the steady one who when it comes to his place in Sam's storyline should be helping him and giving him advice based on his own experience. Dean's storyline should be more along the lines of having to deal with the problems this new enemy while helping Sam as well as perhaps his feelings of loss over his friend Castiel.

There is room for both of them to have a storyline but Sam's not going to have much of one if the writers want him to always "top" Dean at everything including how he deals with the memories of the "worst Hell experience ever"(which I never bought in the first place, it's not a context, they were both down there long enough that time doesn't really matter, they both suffered unimaginably)
# cd28 2011-10-27 18:43
I agree. People tend to focus on the big arcs, but sometimes it's the little details that make a difference. Take Cas's death for example. A number of people have commented on the lack of grieving shown by Dean. I know Dean had a much closer relationship with Cas than Sam, but Sam DID have a relationship with Cas, but I don't think we've seen Sam even acknowledge that Cas is dead yet. Cas at one time did consider Sam a friend, and he tried to rescue Sam from Hell. Sam last season said he would have died for Cas. And then of course, Cas hurt Sam probably more than he hurt Dean by crashing the wall, and Sam stuck a sword in his "brother's" back, as Jake had stabbed Sam in season 2. Sam must have some mixed feelings right now, but we haven't even had a conversation between Sam and Dean about Cas, since his death. The only one Dean has talked to about this has been Bobby. I think it would be more interesting to hear Sam's thoughts on Cas's death than Bobby's.
# Sylvie 2011-10-27 10:00
Thanks Alice, as ever I've enjoyed what you have to say about the show and the convention. I'm probably never going to make it to one, so it's with great pleasure that I can read what you and others on this site report to us. I've already posted everything I have to say about the last episode and the show in general, so I'll just leave it at that.
# Julianna 2011-10-27 10:48
I can understand why some fans want Sam to have more POV but it's also not fair to demand jettisoning Dean's storyline to get it. Both brothers deserve good storylines and equal focus every season- it shouldn't have to be one or the other. The fact that the writers have so much trouble with this concept has always been a mystery to me.
# Shelby 2011-10-27 12:37
This is it for me, too, but I(and many in the Dean Fandom don't want just and only an emo sl for Dean yet again-and we certainly don't want Dean's storyline to revolve only and strictly around Sam's again as it did in S6 and as even S4 and most of 5 was retconned into being by that atrocious(IMO) ending to S5. If they plan on truly fixing the brother bond this time around by not making it predominantly about Dean having to "let go" of Sam or "let" Sam grow up or his being "over-protectiv e" of Sam, and this time show us that the problems have genuinely come about through the fault of BOTH parties this time around(and as Sam alluded to in his speech to the Starks)with BOTH parties recognizing that change has to happen in their interactions with each other in this regard(NO MORE SAM RUNNING OFF W/O a discussion first!!! I swear something broke in Dean after it happened this time-and Show has shown us-in Time is On My Side-that if Sam talks to Dean about this kind of a thing, that Dean WILL hear him and understand. If they plan on showing us how Sam's part in what makes the dysfunctional relationship CO-dependent has hurt Dean, and if they then plan on addressing it fully this time-meaning Sam has to admit that his demands to be "allowed" to grow up HAVE been met many times over by Dean, and yet here we are at the same place again because Sam, as much as he wants Dean to "let" him grow up and handle things on his own, invariably winds up needing Dean more than ever, somewhere down the road, and yet he hasn't acknowledged or appreciated that in Dean since S1(in words, to Dean's face). And Dean needs that again and now more than ever. I would love it if they would fix the brother bond in a more equal and balanced manner this time, and in a way that would truly let Dean become his own person within the relationship so that we could get oof the merry-go-round of dysfunction and yes, get back to the saving people and hunting things. And I am sure that Sam's hell exerience hasn't been forgotten. IMO, Sera IS going for re-do of S4 in that Dean has reached a crisis point that Sam needs to put his hell experience aside to help him deal with(as Dean did for Sam with Sam's demon blood addiction in S4). In real life, deep depression and alcoholism such as Dean is exhibiting at this point, left untreated, often lead to terrible things happening. I think they WILL bring Dean "up" again-so that he can be there for Sam again. That's the way it's worked from Day One. It would be great if they could both be allowed to grow from it this time, and more importantly, it would be even greater, IMO, if they both be allowed to KEEP that growth. And then I would like to see a myth-arc role of singular importance be allotted to Dean for something that is unique about him and only him(and no retconning it away this time), as they've done for Sam since Day One. And I'm not saying that Sam can't have his story. I just think Dean(and Jensen!) deserves one, too. I AM giving them S7, but I'm not impressed so far(I wish Dean's crisispoint had involved a more supernatural storyline-as Sam's did-and not another soap-opera type of thing that, for me, is just a callback to the "domesticity" one of last season) and I don't want Dean being the predominant one to have to always apologize so specifically for the things that he's done wrong in the brother relationship-S7 does just seem like a wash, rinse, and repeat of many things-some I can live with(the brothers having each other's backs in the hunt, of course), but others ARE going to drive me away if the writers choose to make what I see as the same mistakes that they made in the last 2 seasons. NY favorite season was S4-the set-up of a better re-forging of the bond and the flow of the myth-arc was wonderful in that season, IMO-the best season of writing that they had-again IMO. S2 was also my next favorite, although I liked the myth-arc better in 4. This season, if they can even get close to the writing that they had in S4, I'll be okay, still DVRing though because my trust in the writing has sadly, not returned yet.
# Conica 2011-10-28 13:03
Great post but I wish it had some paragraph breaks. :)
# Sharon 2011-10-27 11:07
Nobody is asfing for Deans sl to be dumped apart from the fat they wouldnt do that. But is it fair that again Sams sl is curtailed yet again for a Dean emotional sl.Dean has had 6 yrs of this kind of sl . They couldnt give Sam 3 episodes before we dive into Deans problems. I get Dean has had a crappy time . I get he has had a miserable life but he is not the only one of the two brothers.

Balance e would be nice but they dont seem able to do it.
# lola 2011-10-27 22:28
And they can't be bothered to write Dean into the mytharc or make him important to the plot in any way except as an adjunct of Sam (or Cas.) The writing for both brothers is crap and has been since last year when Gamble took over and decided that Sam has trump Dean in all things. These past two seasons have read like Samgirl fan fic to me where it's written from another character's POV so that we can all see how awesome Sam is and how beloved. In that kind of fic, Sam is merely the object of someone else's perceptions rather than a fully fleshed out character and that is exactly the way he is being written now.
# Sharon 2011-10-27 11:08
I meant saying lol sorry.
# Julianna 2011-10-27 12:11

It's not that I'm thrilled with Dean's current storyline either. Personally, I think Dean deserves more than to get stuck with endless rounds of emo filler while Sam gets to save the world and have the show spend 2 seasons exploring his hell experience with lots of flash and pizzazz (and I really have no doubt Sam's storyline will be in the forefront after the winter hiatus). But the writers/produce rs have this rigid mentality on how they approach the characters. After seven years, you'd hope they'd shake it up a little and try something different: like letting Sam have the emo breakdowns and Dean get the plot driving storyline. I just don't ever see that happening. So, as much as I would prefer to find out that Dean has some Chosen One destiny of his own, I have to make due with alcoholic Dean because the alternative is getting nothing for his character. I just think it's really sad that the show can't balance out two lead characters when other shows manage with ensemble casts.
# cg 2011-10-27 13:36
This makes me think how much better other shows like Fringe have dealt with their main characters in relation to the mytharc. *Spoilers for those who haven't watched Fringe* You have three characters all related to the mytharc: Walter set everything in motion because of his love for his son and now is heavily involved in stopping what he has done (nice proactive redemption arc) /Peter actually coming from the world that is the home to the enemy and very important to the mysterious men in suits/Olivia was a special child who Walter experimented on before he did the big bad thing and is the key to crossing over to the enemies world. ALL of them have interesting arcs that are emotional, proactive and tied to the central plot. How hard can it be for the writers of Supernatural to write a mytharc that ties in "both" brothers, each for their own individual reasons and allows them both to be emotional and proactive. The closest they got was season 4, their most balanced season with both Sam and Dean heavily involved in the "big plan" to start the Apocalypse. That's why it was their best season, Dean was brought forward to stand side by side with Sam on the mytharc front. I would suggest however that instead of dragging one brother down the rabbit hole of crazy/addiction /turning into a douche bag they just allow both brothers to be worthy characters in their own way. that would help to reduce a hell of a lot of negativity and Sam v Dean stuff.
# Zaz 2011-10-27 20:10
Oh I will probably be writing a variation of this comment over and over for the next coming months - or at least until the writers get their heads out of their tushies.

Supernatural started to lose its way season 5 when it squandered episodes on dreck that did not build up to the climax. When instead of having Sam and Dean learning and growing they held them static. In season 6 they had some clever ideas but again squandered building the relationship that would have made us care. Here we are back in season 7 and instead of rebuilding what we lost - we are backing in the wash cycle. Too bad Sera doesn't read your blog instead of just TWOP
# anonymousN 2011-10-28 02:19
I have not read all comments..the episodes are not too bad ..and for me the problem is that they don't know what to do about leviathans as normally for other monsters there is lore, books and other sources they have to flesh out the myth about leviathans and when we know at least 40-50% of their myth and yes as deborah said they have to be ey were pawns for angels and demons and when they came to know this they saved the world at great personal cost.. so a little appreciation will be good for them..either by characters like ellen ,jo (to know someone other then bobby who is like family)...or just one episode will surely remove the gloom from their lives...that is why I thought Lisa was good for Dean..because she appreciated him...
# Bevie 2011-10-28 12:55
Thank you.

I loved that Lisa and Ben both appreciated and loved Dean. He really needs some of that and hasn't been getting it (except for Bobby) for 3 years now.

And for those who want Dean to be chosen. In what way exactly? I would like him to be chosen by God as just a really good human being and for that reason been taken out of hell. I don't want him to be anything more than a good human being with a little bit more self esteem. And he's not going to get that if they don't let him save a few people, like in seasons 1 to 3 who let him know he is appreciated.

He is much appreciated by me anyway, and totally awesome! :P
Mimi Rosen
# Mimi Rosen 2011-10-28 18:13
Hi everyone, this is my first post anywhere ever so here goes. I'm nervous. I think SPN is best when the stories are concise and each scene moves the story forward. For example, in DYL, way too much time is spent on the three victims stories rather than on the trial. In Dr. Phil, interviewing the sister of the first victim, was a wasted filler scene and boring. Just observe that the victims were pillars of the community and move on.

I believe SPN has needlessly killed off too many good characters. The brothers can be self reliant and still have allies and friends.

Some eps have shown inconsistencies in characters and stories. Seems like the writers aren't checking for continuity from ep to ep. How could the brothers not realize Chet is a levi since he bled black goo. Death reveals Sam's hallucinations in the premier, but in HCW, Dean and Bobby seemed surprised. In TGND, Amy deserved to die - if she was committed to living like a human, she had to find another way to save her son, or let him die. In contrast, in Dr Phil I'm not clear why no more effort was made to eliminate pretty violent witches, unless S & D were just out of ideas.

I don't mind Dean lying to Sam. In TGND, Dean lied because he was worried about Sam. Honesty all the time won't work on this show and isn't human nature. I don't think Amy should be a big issue between the brothers. Even Sam seemed surprised when Dean said he'd let her go.

I don't mind revisiting Dean's drinking. He's depressed and it's how he copes or not. At the same time, I want his badass, charming and snarky personality front and center somehow. Maybe Sam is more vocal now because he's changing and has less tolerance for this self destructive behavior.

Overall, I like SPN for its dark, grim and tragic stories and characters. But just because the brothers are lonely, overwhelmed, flawed heroes doesn't mean they have to be deprived of friends, humor and at least a glimmer of hope.

I'm sorry, one last thing. Reading the Fangasm article, it seems Jensen is frustrated with some of the writing. He and Jared felt compelled to rewrite two scenes in two upcoming eps - not just change a line or two. It appears these are more frequent, larger script issues than they've previously encountered. It shouldn't matter if writers are new or senior, all scripts should be reviewed for consistency and quality. The fans, actors and charcters deserve no less.