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TV Review: ‘Supernatural’ – ‘Metafiction’

Supernatural’s “Metafiction” is a spectacular launch of season nine's six remaining episodes. Written by Robbie Thompson and directed by Thomas J. Wright, “Metafiction” lives up to its name. The episode begins and ends with Metatron (Curtis Armstrong) discussing narrative. In the opening sequence, reminiscent of Masterpiece Theatre, Metatron seemingly addresses the audience: “What is it that makes a story work? Is it the plot? The characters? The text? The subtext? And who gives the story meaning? Is it the writer? Or you? Tonight, I thought I would tell you a little story and let you decide.” Although the episode explores these questions in…

Review Overview

Reviewer's Score

Summary : "Metafiction" is meta-tastic!

User Rating: 4.61 ( 10 votes)
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About Lyda Scott

Lyda Scott is a freelance writer and editor, among other things. A good day is one spent over-analyzing film, television, and literature. Follow her on Twitter @Lyda_Scott.
  • Ginger

    While I often agree with your take on an episode, I didn’t “get” this one at all. I still don’t know what Metatron’s goal is after way too much exposition from a character that I just find irritating; not evil, not scary, not charming — just slimy. I get that he is writing a story, but what does he hope to accomplish with it?
    What was the point? What did we learn, except that Cas is going to lead the angels (and I think most fans probably already knew that)? What did this episode add to characterization? Nothing. Did the brothers relationship change in any way? No, but we did have Cas TELL Sam (that’s right, somebody had to tell Sam) to keep an eye on his brother. How is that going to help or solve anything?
    Did the main story arc advance in any way? I did not see that it did, but I could agree with anyone who thinks it did perhaps on a glacial level.
    Not impressed, and particularly not impressed with seeing 8 to 10 minutes of the Winchesters after a three-week hiatus in an episode told from an irritating character’s POV and focused on a support character.
    I will say to Mr. Thompson that if the writers ever decide to get around to telling a story this season, then this viewer will interpret it and give it meaning…I am still waiting for that S9 story, though.

    • Lyda Scott

      I always wait until after I post my review before I read others’, and I’m enjoying reading the different responses to the episode. I see where those of you who didn’t love it are coming from.

      Though we might be reading the overall episode differently, we’re on the same page with Metatron: I don’t like the character at all. Armstrong plays him with such wonderfully irritating obnoxiousness! That gap between how that character sees himself (victim of heaven long ago, now hero) vs. how the other characters and the audience see him is interesting, though. It fits right in with the other characters’ perception issues and even what I think “Metafiction” is doing (at least on one meta level; there are so many other ways its layers can be read).

      For me, there’s been such an emphasis on the “sum of its parts” and “means to an end” ideas, and even plurality of meaning, that I feel like Show is leading up to something that will tie everything together. I also keep thinking of Carver saying (I think at SDCC) that S9 would be more character-driven than any other season has been; in hindsight, that shift in focus has thrown me off at times. I *love* myth arc stuff, and I look for it constantly, so it’s been hard seeing those larger-scope storylines take a back seat at times.

      I think – hope? – that when we’re able to re-watch S9 from beginning to end, there will be a stronger sense of cohesion than the original run’s enjoyed because of MOTW pacing, holidays, hiatuses, etc. That’s how S8 worked for me; I appreciated its parts more after I could view it as a “whole.” Maybe that will be the case for S9, too? (And I say that for myself bc there are other eps that I still don’t quite appreciate!)

      As always, thank you for reading & commenting!

      • Ginger

        I think one of the messages in this episode was that the viewers should trust the writers, because they know the ending; i.e., the “sum of all the parts.” That is all very well and nice, if one does trust these writers, but I don’t, and the reason I don’t is because here we are at Ep. 18, and I don’t know what the real story is.
        I don’t know what Metatron’s (i.e., the writers) real goal is. I don’t even know why Sam chose death in 9.01, after choosing life and working with Dean in 8.23. I don’t know if Sam is over his anger, now that he’s worried about Dean and the MoC. Have we turned that corner completely now? I don’t know what is going on with Abaddon/Crowley…and is Malachi still alive? Cas is around doing something, but what does he hope to achieve? He is stepping up to lead the angels, but does he want to go back to Heaven or be a human again?
        So, 9.19 is a one-off and 9.20 is the spin-off. That literally leaves three episodes to tell a story. Add the premiere, which sets up a story, and that literally means that I could have watched four…maybe three…episodes this season and learned everything I needed to know about the season. There is something seriously wrong with that.

        • SnazzyO

          Well my mileage varies. I just rewatched the first three episodes of S9. The stark contrasts between then and now for our three heroes is HUGE. Further, our two villains and one frienemy (Crowley) have also stated goals and been shown to change their approach as the season progresses. Abaddon and Metatron are pretty clear cut but with some tricks up their sleeves. Crowley, OTOH, is a freakin’ wild card but I think that makes him a great X factor for the season. Gadreel’s set up to be a betrayer YET AGAIN (towards Metatron) but other than “tragic”, I’m not sure exactly how his story is going to come to an end.

          And while I agree that the pacing is a bit off (and the pilot is driving a MOTW ep LATE in the season), I can see stories coming together very well.

          And yes, it’s a very elliptical approach this year. Seems to me they are working hard to keep the audience guessing. The Angels and Demons are both in chaos. The brothers are fractured. I’m finding the plots and “what if’s” compelling. They can literally go in about 5 different directions and make a satisfying conclusion to the season. So much better than predictable IMO.

          • Ginger

            I have no problem with fans liking what they are getting, and I fully recognize that there are possibilities for the various stories.
            Personally, though, I prefer to be involved in a story for the whole season — not feel like I can watch three or four episodes during a season and see that story.
            Meta Fiction posed the question, ‘What makes a good story,” and told the viewers it was up to them to give it meaning. Thompson also asked for the viewers to trust the writers, because they knew the ending. That is all well and good, but I want to see the story unfold over a season — not wait for the last two or three episodes to see it. For me, that is how it is turning out this season, with the finale probably introducing another exciting possibility, and I will question whether or not I should catch the premiere and the last two episodes, instead of be frustrated for the entire nine months.

          • Lyda Scott

            Oh, CROWLEY – I am so excited to see how his arc is going to turn out. He is so sneaky and manipulative, and he (seems to be) very good at playing Dean. Gadreel has my interest, too. I can’t say I like his character, but I love how Tahmoh plays him. I think he’ll betray Metatron, too… hopefully sooner rather than later!

        • Lyda Scott

          There *are* a lot of questions still floating around out there! I read the episode’s message about the writer’s role differently, though – I took it that the writer isn’t infallible and doesn’t have all the answers because we know (or can safely assume, I think) that the Winchesters and Cas *will* find a way to subvert Metatron’s plan/story (since I doubt that we’ll find out that Meta’s been a big ol’ teddy bear all this time). So Meta might think he knows the ending, but does he really?

          I see where your frustration comes from, and I hope that these last episodes will be good ones for all of us. I’m excited about Jody returning in tonight’s ep!

  • Junie

    Thanks for the great review! I’m loving this season and I can’t wait to see where it all leads.

    • Lyda Scott

      Thank you for reading & commenting! Here’s hoping we get another great episode tonight! :)

  • SEpeum

    I thought it was a brilliant episode which gave me a lot to think about in terms of season 9 as a story. Possibly I felt like the parts where Sam and Dean are taking action and making decisions were paced a little fast – I feel like I need to rewatch to really get everything that happened and let some weighty stuff sink in. The acting was phenomenal on the part of Dean and Gadreel. I expected Dean to be even darker and colder in this episode, being on his downward arc, but he surprised me by projecting more exhausted, confused and sad. Heartbroken. Gadreel was unusually emotional too in his scene with Dean. I’m still trying to figure out just exactly what happened between them and within each of them. Jared’s acting is another thing I’m still trying to understand – it was expressive, but I might need to rewatch to get just what it was expressing. I liked your comments on that though, Lyda, that helped. Castiel’s story in this episode is one that I loved with all my heart! He is growing, evolving, while staying true to himself. I loved your observations about the little things that make him seem a bit more human now. They show that he has taken in the experiences from everything he’s been through. Unlike Metatron, who thinks he knows stuff from reading books about it but really doesn’t get it, Cas has lived it and he does get it. My expectation that Cas will be the beacon guiding the boys, and especially Dean, through the coming darkness grows stronger with each episode.

    • Lyda Scott

      I was expecting Dean to be darker, too; his heartbreak is *so* hard to watch. I’m interested in all the dynamics you’re mentioning, and I’d love to know what you think of Sam’s reactions — I watched so many times, but it seems so ambiguous to me! I have what I assumed (which I mention in the review) but there are so many ways his responses can be interpreted. Maybe we’ll get some more concrete framing in these last eps? And, oh, yes, I am with you on loving Cas’s arc, and I will be horribly disappointed if he’s not the beacon that helps the boys (& especially Dean w/ the Mark,etc.)! Thanks for reading & commenting! :)

  • Kate

    “…will Metatron anticipate such duplicity? He understands revising, but does he understand the organic nature of a text? After all, though he acknowledges to Gadreel that well-drawn characters can surprise, he insists that he knows how the story
    ends… but if text is organic, can the ending be “known”?”

    I loved this episode, the way certain scenes were framed – for example, the use of Dean’s reflection, as you pointed out, Gabriel’s all-too-brief reappearance. Also the tongue-in-cheek way it poked fun at the show’s frequent continuity lapses, and the decidedly inorganic leaps in plot and characterization it has often used to get its ducks in a row!

    I’ve been thinking about whether Metatron has fallen into the trap of thinking he is in control, as the “author.” Fact is, he isn’t the author of Cas, Dean, and Sam’s lives, and I really like how you note that he maybe hasn’t read to the point where TFW seized the
    initiative and rewrote their destiny. I really hope that’s what we’ll see at the endgame, and that Cas isn’t simply walking the path Metatron has “written” for him. I’m also wondering if that acknowledgment at the end to Gadreel might be significant in Gadreel’s ongoing allegiances too.

    See how I got past you mentioning Cas’s (all-over-body!) tan in order to post a coherent
    comment!

    <3

    • Lyda Scott

      Cas certainly is Captain Sexy in this ep, isn’t he? :)

      I’m can’t wait to see how Metatron’s plan goes from here, particularly his idea that he’s the “new God” and that he’s re-writing the world. I really wish we were to the straight-up myth arc eps already, but at least there’s only one more one-off before we get to them. I’m looking forward to more Mark of Cain, Abaddon, etc., in the coming eps (and am hoping that we don’t get a torturous cliffhanger to puzzle/worry over all summer!)