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There is so much about “Don’t Call Me Shurley” that I want to discuss. Emotion. Supernatural legacy. Acting. Beloved Characters. Shock. Meta. Storyline. I am overwhelmed. That by itself speaks to the quality and intensity of the script and delivery of this episode. This may turn out to be the longest reflection I have ever written about Supernatural so settle in.

Threads reviews are driven by the episode’s dialog. I listen to the words of the story and try to capture both their literal and figurative meanings. "Don’t Call me Shurley" was a brilliantly written episode. It was an emotional powerhouse filled with sculpted dialog. The impact of this story went far beyond what was said, though. It was stirring on so many levels. It was also elevated by some of the best acting I’ve seen on television. I loved this episode. Absolutely loved it.

Allow me to touch on a few quick points before I dig into the depths of "Don't Call Me Shurley."

Acting


Even on my first watch, while I was frantically trying to absorb what was happening - God in the story; the Darkness finally invading Earth; Sam and Dean’s final, desperate moments - I was transfixed by Rob Benedict’s and Curtis Armstrong’s acting.

Read these words:
Metatron: Your light shined on me -- me! Oh, and the warmth. But then you left me. You left all of us. It wasn't just the saps on Earth who were praying to you. The angels prayed, too. And so did I -- every day. You want to write the best-selling autobiography of all time, you explain to me -- tell me why you abandoned me. Us.

Next time you rewatch this episode, watch Metatron’s portrayal of those words. Curtis put every ounce of his being into those lines.

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They were given a depth of human emotion that was inspired.


Now read through the scene that blew my mind:
You were just the closest angel to the door when I walked into the room. There's nothing special about you, Metatron. Not then... not now. Now... I've been called many things -- absentee father, wrathful monster. But coward... I am not hiding. I am just done watching my experiments' failures.
Our vulnerable, gullible, lovable Chuck as portrayed by our sweet, innocent, sensitive Rob Benedict became GOD in that moment. He was scary, powerful, intense and definitely not joking.

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With all due respect, I truly did not know that was inside Rob. Together, he and Curtis elevated this episode to its complete potential.

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Add to that Jared and Jensen’s emotional, powerful delivery, and we were given a masterpiece of acting.

Supernatural Legacy


Chuck is back.

The Amulet is back. It was in Sam’s pocket. In Dean’s humbled hand, it glowed and led the brothers to God. The symbol of their bond, of their love, led them to God.

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The emotional wallop of those two things alone could fill this entire review. Suffice it to say, wow. Just, wow.

Script and Story

This script was a storytelling masterpiece. The drama and action in Sam and Dean’s world kept pace with Metatron’s conversations with God. As Metatron’s understanding and boldness with God increased, so too did the intensity of the story, and the audience’s stake in what was happening. Metatron was the personification of the viewer, pulling us through the intellectual and emotional acceptance of seeing God. Metatron’s narration included contrition, placation, encouragement, outrage and awe at seeing God and witnessing his intention to not defend his creation. Every word was powerful, and the emotional clout of someone pleading to God on behalf of our beloved, flawed heroes and all of humanity left us reeling.

A powerful path to understanding a person’s reaction to any creative work is to examine what stands out foremost in their mind about it. That will immediately reveal the lens through which they are judging its message and its value. So why did I react so strongly to this story? What do I think about when I replay this episode in my mind? What are its most important messages, at least to me?

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Chuck is God.

For six years, fans have been speculating about whether Chuck was God. SIX years! That’s a long time to wait for a canon question to be answered, yet as a viewer and fan, we all had to gulp in that new reality in the opening scenes of “Don’t Call Me Shurley.”  The shock was palpable, as I scrambled to grasp that someone was having a conversation with GOD.  Not a fictitious sister, a pagan deity or a prophet of the Lord. The Judeo/Christian God. The ONE God of those faiths and of the Supernatural universe. “Creator of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.” Castiel’s God. Sam’s God. My God. Did I even want that to be happening?

Not really, to be honest. I never expected that Supernatural would tackle a representation of God. I don’t at all care for their sanitized, cold, white-halls-hotel, corporate-meeting-room images of heaven, and except for a few great views this year, their presentations of Hell have been laughable, so how could they possibly get God right? Wasn’t’ that the line of taboo not to be crossed? On first watch, I was so busy trying to keep up with what was happening, there wasn’t time to ponder this question. On the second watch, though, I admired Supernatural (and Robbie Thompson) for having the outright courage to imagine a face-to-face, brutally honest conversation with God.

Herein lies one of the masterful components of this episode. Metatron’s conversation with God gently nudged the story, and the viewers, through all the stages of accepting God’s literal presence. He asked the first thing a person might ask if suddenly transported before God himself:
Let's brass some tacks already, okay? You see and hear all. You know what an absolute piece of garbage I've been the last couple of years. Did you bring me here to destroy me?

Metatron’s very first thought was asking if he was finally in the presence of God for the ultimate judgement. I have to believe that’s where we would all go first. Thinking of ourselves. Trying to grasp what was happening. When it was clear that he wasn’t going to be annihilated, he scrambled to understand why God had appeared to him, much the same as the viewer was then trying to understand what God’s role would now be in the story:

God: I'm hoping that you and I can tap into some of that old magic and finish what I started a few months ago.
Metatron: You wrote your autobiography?
God: Ish. I mean, there are chapters, it's kind of a loose structure, uh, but, I don't know, something's missing. I'm -- I'm stuck.
Metatron: You want to get the old band back together. Lennon and McCartney ride again.
God: Well, I'm kind of Lennon and McCartney, so... But every writer needs a good editor. I did some of my best work with you, Metatron.

So Metatron asked for the ground rules, again first trying to understand the implications for himself. To the viewer, this also answered very basic questions about the story:
Metatron: Does this mean I get to be an angel again?
God: Yeah, right. No, no, that's never -- never happening.

Basics covered, the conversation moved to the next level of complexity. As a viewer, we were even warned that we were moving into deeper waters:
Metatron: Real talk. Th-This is still a safe place, right?
God: Safest place ever created.
Metatron: Okay. There are two types of memoir. One is honest... the other, not so much. Truth and fairy tale. Now, do you want to write “Life” by Keith Richards, or do you want to write “Wouldn't It Be Nice” by Brian Wilson?
God: I want to tell the truth.
Metatron: Then you've got some work to do. There are no revelations in this book! And that's weird, given who you are.
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Imagine what you would say to God if you had his undivided attention and he asked you what you honestly thought of his actions? That’s what a memoir is at its core after all – revealing every thought, decision and action of your life for everyone to judge. So Metatron asked the obvious question:
Metatron: “Why?”
God: Can you be more specific? I kind of get that question a lot about pretty much everything.
Metatron: Why did you create life?

That opens up infinite possibilities for where the story will go. So we are now engrossed in a barroom “What’s the meaning of life” conversation with God himself. All while we are gently, continually reminded that this is indeed God.  Between Metatron’s blasphemy, fear, contrition and brave challenges to God as an author, he repeatedly expressed his awe for God the Almighty. He expressed complete reverence for the goodness of God:

You invented souls! Souls! Try shining a light on that.

I remember the first time I saw you. All the angels were terrified, but I wasn't. The feeling of your light was... was just beyond measure.

God: Why did you try to be me?
Metatron: That was just a sad, pathetic cry for attention.
God: Whose attention were you trying to get?
Metatron: Yours. You are light... and beauty. Creation. Wrath. Damnation and salvation.
I was moved by Metatron’s awestruck admiration of his God, at the same time Metatron confessed his sins and acknowledged his fallibility. The whiny, annoying, megalomaniac was transformed into a sympathetic character. Metatron’s mea culpa and long overdue humility convinced me of his sincerity, and allowed me to grant him permission to speak on behalf of humanity. He did so boldly, as any good editor should to an author, challenging why God was idly watching his magnificent, beyond-comprehension creation be destroyed when he clearly has the power to stop it.

The story has inched its way to speaking the harsh truths, as they’ve been portrayed in the Supernatural universe at least. I admired Metatron for having the hutzpah to say exactly what this show has wanted to say to God for 11 years:
Metatron: You want to write the best-selling autobiography of all time, you explain to me -- tell me why you abandoned me. Us.
God: Because you disappointed me. You all disappointed me.
Metatron: No, look. I know I'm a disappointment, but you're wrong about humanity. They are your greatest creation because they're better than you are. Yeah, sure, they're weak and they cheat and steal and...destroy and disappoint. But they also give and create and they sing and dance and love. And above all, they never give up. But you do.

Metatron was saying things that Dean would say to God given the chance. Humanity is worth fighting for with every fiber of your being.

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Dean cannot abide quitting. In fact, he said those very words to Sam as Sam lay without hope of survival:
Dean: Hey, listen to me! Sam!
Sam: We're not gonna make it.
Dean: No, no, no. There's no quitting here.
As it was all unfolding, I have to admit that several moments gave me pause. Actually, more than that. They made me worried and uncomfortable. For example, trashing God. Come on now! How far can you push my religious tenets? I don’t mind yelling at God, doubting him, challenging him - we all do it at one point or another in our lives. Maybe every day of our lives. A few lines went well beyond that, though, and actually made me squirm in my seat:
This -- This pile of self-doubt and nebbishness flooded the Earth? Followed up Sodom with a blockbuster Gomorrah? Created as much as he punished? No! Unh-unh! The guy I worked for -- total badass! And yes, he could be a dick. Now, that guy... had some stories to tell. And he has a lot to answer for.

At his climactic moment of desperation, Dean also referred to God as a dick.

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Then there were God’s chapters:
This is what I was talking about.
“Chapter 10 -- Why I Never Answer Prayers, and You Should Be Glad I Don't.”
And chapter 11 -- “The Truth About Divine Intervention and Why I Avoid It at All Costs.”

I think subconsciously I was moving over a bit on the couch so that the lightning might miss when it struck me down for watching the heresy! At least I’d have a chance of only getting slightly singed!  There was a purpose to the back talk, though. Things that needed to be said by an editor to a writer.

Besides the street-talk references to God, I also chafed that the female deity represented destruction, evil and everything bad in the entirety of existence.
God: I thought if I could show my sister that there was something more than just us, something better than us, then maybe she'd change. Maybe she'd stop... being...her. But... every time I'd build a new world... she'd destroy it….
Metatron: If Amara wipes the slate, the slate's destroyed. Everything is destroyed. All your great work... lost forever.
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Really? That’s how the feminine of the universal power is portrayed?? Then I considered the alternatives. I would have been upset if another male was introduced as a sibling deity, and one world can’t have two benevolent creators, so the story didn’t have much of a choice but to depict an evil sister. For the time being, I'm going to hope there is more back story. After all, we haven't heard Amara's viewpoint yet and this season has clearly teed-up the abused child theme. I think God's point of view was meant to be one-sided.

I know some of you are rather stuck on this point, and on a few other points of the story, actually, but I saw things differently. Sam DID release the darkness. God did nothing more than state fact. Did God answer Dean’s prayer? No, I don’t think so. God gave the amulet back to SAM, not Dean. Dean threw it away and lost faith. Sam picked it up and kept his faith. Sam asked God for help; Metatron just convinced God to answer. (Again, another whole review is needed to talk about these topics!)

Which leaves us with the biggest question of all. Why did God intervene? Why, after 11 years, did Supernatural introduce God to the story? Beyond shock, beyond the magnitude of the ever–increasing stakes faced by the brothers, why God? I think the answer lies between the lines.

[Hit 'Next' for "The meta, and really interesting side, of Metatron and God's conversation"



Meta Conversation, Hiding in Plain Sight

God: You didn't like any of it? Not even “Home”? No. Or “All Hell Breaks Loose”?
Metatron: Ugh! Way too much melodrama. And then you put yourself in the story? God!
God: Okay, that's fair. Mildly constructive. Still, it doesn't justify you... burning one of my books, though.
Metatron: What are you talking about?
God: “Tall Tales.” You were monologuing it to Castiel, and you threw one in the fire.
Metatron: How do you know about that?
God: Oh, I'm sorry. I always forget. People can't see me unless I want them to see me.

"Don't Call Me Shurley" picked up with Chuck pretty much were the storyline left him 6 years ago – sitting at a typewriter pounding out pages of his “books”. Quoting episode titles from those books honestly worried me at this point. Was this going to be another meta episode that talks directly to fans? Happily, “Don’t Call Me Shurley” didn’t break the fourth wall but instead stayed within the story. That was a huge relief and allowed me then to also stay in the story and just try to absorb the developments as they related to the myth arc.

Still, since this is a Threads analysis, let’s pause for a moment and marvel at the meta of these statements. Chuck, the symbolic representation of the show’s creator, Eric Kripke, was asking Metatron, who I established above was the representation of every person who watches Supernatural, what he/we thought of his story so far. The writers could be breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to fans, just as God chose to make himself visible and insert himself directly into the story. Supernatural writers have pushed that wall out several times. In fact, they are rather renowned for experimenting with it more than any other show. So what if they were actually doing it again? What if they were directly talking to fans about themselves and their work?

The second interpretation, though, is staggering. What if they want us to see the man behind the curtain? Chuck was Kripke. Was Metatron’s conversation with Chuck a conversation between fans and Kripke? Let’s re-listen to that conversation, imagining who is really talking:
Kripke: You didn't like any of it? Not even “Home”? No. Or “All Hell Breaks Loose”?
Fans: Ugh! Way too much melodrama. And then you put yourself in the story? God!
Kripke: Okay, that's fair. Mildly constructive. Still, it doesn't justify you... burning one of my books, though.
Fans: What are you talking about?
Kripke: “Tall Tales.” You were monologuing it to Castiel, and you threw one in the fire.
Fans: How do you know about that?
Kripke: Oh, I'm sorry. I always forget. People can't see me unless I want them to see me.

Fans don't expect that the show's writers hear what we say about them. What if Kripke read revews and fan boards (which he did) and saw and knew all we said about him and the show? Every nitpick and critisim. Back-peddle, fast!
Metatron/Fans: I can't believe you've come back. I-I didn't mean what I said about Supernatural. It's underrated -- due for a reboot. And this bar -- it's not crappy at all. It's just like the one in “Cheers.” Everybody knows my name!

“You’ve come back!” Let’s continue the conversation, assuming Kripke is talking directly to Supernatural fans. He just reminded us that he (as Chuck) wrote the early chapters of this story, and we as fans “have trudged through your complete oeuvre -- published and unpublished.” Truer words were never spoken as to how thoroughly Supernatural fans have absorbed Supernatural’s episodes.

If we’re talking with Kripke, our first question would be:
Fans: So, what you been up to?
Kripke: Oh, I've been super busy. Yeah, I traveled. Mm-hmm. I started a blog. Mostly just pictures of cats. Oh. They're so cute. And, uh -- Oh, I signed up for Snapchat. A-And I started a new series of books. Yeah. Revolution. But I don't think it's going anywhere.
Fans: Revolution?
Kripke: Yeah.
Fans: Supernatural. Maybe titles aren't your thing.
Kripke: You're not wrong.

Snapchat? Kripke finally signed up for Twitter recently. Chuck is Kripke and he wants to talk about his creation!
Fans: But why did you put on the Chuck suit in the first place? How did that make any sense to you?
Kripke: I like front-row seats. You know, I figured I'd hide out in plain sight.

The conversation strays to talking about the amulet (again, another WHOLE article by itself) but Metatron/fans pull it back to talking about Supernatural.
Fans: Look, I don't care about that ugly old thing or why you were slumming it with the plebes. Let's brass some tacks already, okay? You see and hear all. You know what an absolute piece of garbage I've been the last couple of years. Did you bring me here to destroy me?

The word plebes stood out to me. I thought it was odd that Metatron would refer to newbies when the conversation hadn’t necessarily been there. Substituting a conversation with Kripke about Revolution make that the perfect word, though. Supernatural fans don’t care about Kripke's new shows. We just want to know if God’s/Kripke’s return means that Supernatural is going to end. God/Kripke’s answer is interesting:
Kripke: You know what humanity's greatest creation has been?  Music. That and nacho cheese. Even I couldn't have dreamt up that deliciousness. But music... is magic. A lot of remarkable music was created in this space. B.G.'s Canteen. Now, it's not as well-known as the Bitter End or the Gaslight, but some amazing musicians got their start on this stage. I'm hoping that you and I can tap into some of that old magic and finish what I started a few months ago.
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Kripke paved the backroads of Supernatural with music. He loved it and made sure it was a contributing character to every story he wrote. He’s acknowledging that some amazing things were created on Supernatural (“in this space”) without him but he’s hoping that he can “tap into some of that old magic and finish what I started a few months ago.”

Finish what he started??
He continues:
Metatron: You wrote your autobiography?
God: Ish. I mean, there are chapters, it's kind of a loose structure, uh, but, I don't know, something's missing. I'm -- I'm stuck.
Metatron: You want to get the old band back together. Lennon and McCartney ride again.
God: Well, I'm kind of Lennon and McCartney, so... But every writer needs a good editor. I did some of my best work with you, Metatron.

God/Chuck/Kripke wants to continue his story, but he’s reached an impasse. He doesn’t know what to do next and he’s asking for help from someone familiar with his work.

Does this mean the writers are stuck? They’ve created a universe but don’t know where to go with it at this point, so they are asking for help from the ones who have been there with them since the beginning – the fans, maybe?

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Every writer needs a good editor. An editor’s job is to take in the creative outpouring of the author and to provide valuable feedback on where it can be improved. Isn’t that what fans do? Every second of Supernatural has been analyzed and reviewed, with an abundance of feedback (welcome or not) thrust back upon the authors. In “I did some of my best work with you” the writers are acknowledging that the editors move them to produce their best work. Is the fans’ input being acknowledged, since Metatron is a stand-in for fans?

Alternately and more literally, with whom did Kripke do his best work? Was there a core group of writers that did their best work together?  Kripke and Carver, working together again? Who’s the “old band” they want to get back together?? I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to hear where this conversation will go next!

So what would we, as editors, ask the creator(s) of Supernatural? What would we ask Kripke? Exactly what Metatron asked God:
Fans: “Why?”
Kripke/Writers: Can you be more specific? I kind of get that question a lot about pretty much everything.
Fans: Why did you create life?
Why did Kripke create Supernatural?
Kripe: I was lonely.
Fans: But you didn't stop at one archangel or a handful of angels. You created worlds.
Kripke: I was stupid. Naive. I thought if I could show my sister that there was something more than just us, something better than us, then maybe she'd change. Maybe she'd stop... being...her. But... every time I'd build a new world... she'd destroy it.
I really have to work out who “she” is in this interpretation. Networks? I don’t know yet, and I'm interested in your theories, but let’s keep going anyway.
Fans: So you and your archangels... locked her away? And you got down to unfettered creation.
Kripke: Tried to, anyway. But... this was as close as I got to something as good as or better than me or my sister.
Supernatural was as close as he’s ever gotten to something as good or better than anything that came before it. But we already knew that.
Fans: If [the mysterious she] wipes the slate, the slate's destroyed. Everything is destroyed. All your great work... lost forever.
Kripke: We should take a stroll, then. Enjoy it all one last time... before it's all gone.
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Why is God/Kripke anticipating the destruction, the end, of his creation? What is all this talk of a “deadline”? What are the writers trying to tell us?

Fans push again to understand why Kripke left in the first place:
Fans: What about your responsibility?
Kripke: I took responsibility... by leaving. At a certain point, training wheels got to come off. No one likes a helicopter parent.
Kripke left the show in the hands of ‘disciples’ i.e. those he taught and to whom he entrusted his creation in his absence. Metatron, i.e. fans, won’t let him off the hook, though. They remind him why he started writing in the first place:
“You told me to write for an audience of one -- me.” 

Then Metatron/Fans accuse Kripke of running away, of hiding, and he redirects again by saying,
“let's focus on, uh, finishing my book.”

Then it gets real. Fans call Kripke a coward for not helping the show go where it was meant to go.

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Kripke: I've been called many things -- absentee father, wrathful monster. But coward... I am not hiding. I am just done watching my experiments' failures.  
Fans: You mean your failures, Chuck.
Kripke: You want to watch? Be my guest. If you ask me, they're all reruns.

If this is truly the “come to Jesus” true confession time, if Metatron has one shot at getting through to the creator, he’s not going to let up, and neither are fans:
Fans: You picked me. Your light shined on me -- me! Oh, and the warmth. But then you left me. You left all of us. It wasn't just the saps on Earth who were praying to you. The angels prayed, too. And so did I -- every day. 
Kripke: I know.
Fans: You want to write the best-selling autobiography of all time, you explain to me -- tell me why you abandoned me. Us.
Kripke: Because you disappointed me. You all disappointed me.

Supernatural fans do feel blessed because the light of this show has brightened our lives, but many recently have voiced that they feel the show was “better” when Kripke ran it. Yet fans were brutally critical of Kripke as show runner. He was criticized for every decision, every plot development. Was he naïve, and thus disappointed in his creation, or in us? So we push again:
Fans: They are your greatest creation because they're better than you are. Yeah, sure, they're weak and they cheat and steal and...destroy and disappoint. But they also give and create and they sing and dance and love. And above all, they never give up. But you do.

For all our faults, infighting and criticisms, fans have never given up on Supernatural.

In the story, something Metatron said got through to God, because he decided to use his divine intervention after all. He saved the town. He saved Sam.

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He revealed himself to the brothers. He inserted himself into their story again. Did fans, or someone, convince Kripke to return to Supernatural? Chuck, his avatar, returned. Will Chuck/God/Kripke stay in the story or is this just a short visit?

We were left not knowing God’s intentions. Instead, he simply said,
We should talk.
That’s the understatement of the year. I for one, can’t wait to hear the continuation of the conversation with God, Chuck, the writers, or whomever it is that is certainly going to control the direction Supernatural goes for the rest of this year, and maybe beyond.

Superb acting, emotion, drama, story, meta, limitless interpretations, and I don't know what's going to happen next. I haven't even touched on the contrasting dialog between light and dark; the mentions of Dad (God's mug!) and parent, and how that relates to the "misunderstood children and their families" theme that has defined season 11;

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the fact that Dean once again tried to die rather that live without Sam; that once again Sam was on the brink of death, and his deepest fear was being abandoned by Dean, or the heart-rending song so powerfully delivered by Rob at the climax of the story.
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Together with all that detail that was in the storyline we saw, was the underlying message that Kripke needs to finish what he started.

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That’s why I loved this episode.

I’m in, Supernatural. I’m in. Your move.
- Nightsky



Editor's Note: We've just learned that Robbie Thompson is leaving Supernatural. I, for one, am heart-broken. I adore his writing, and greatly respect the care he puts into his scripts. #ThankYouRobbie and I'll miss you terribly. Your departure makes this episode all the more powerful for me.

Screencaps Courtesy of: http://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view-screencap.php?tv-show=supernatural-2005

Transcipts Courtesy of: http://transcripts.foreverdreaming.org/viewtopic.php?f=105&t=27004