You know, I’ve had this chest cold all week and you know what’s not good for a chest cold? Laughing so hard in the first fifteen minutes of my favorite show that it triggers wheezing and gasps for air. I wasn’t sure if I hit my head on the coffee table from doubling over in laughter or from the lack of oxygen, but either way, the show got me!
Norms in the Supernatural universe have always been skewed, but this is as creative as it gets, mixing fan meta with the ancient concept of prophecy. Our beloved prophet, the one who knows and sees all Winchester, is nothing but a hapless recluse and drunk spending most of his days lounging in a bathrobe and writing the weird things that pop into his head. Now whenever I come up with a flash for brilliant story and must write it down for my own sanity, I’ll question whether I’m prognosticating or just have one warped imagination.
Fandom, You Had This Coming
I’m not sure if this is prophecy or just plain common sense, but poke a stick at something long enough and you’re gonna get a reaction. It’s usually a harsh one too. This time, it’s harsh and absolutely hysterical. Prophecy becomes THE golden opportunity to finally strike back at overzealous fans. Julie Siege, you have earned my medal of honor for gutsiest writer of the series.
The premise is too perfect not to go there. Sam and Dean are doing their FBI thing at a comics store and get accused of “LARPing” (live action role playing). Turns out this is exactly what happens in a series in the bargain bin called Supernatural. The stories didn’t sell too many copies and are an underground favorite (ah, the similarities). Sam and Dean’s eyes bug out of their heads when the first story is a detailed account of their episode with the Woman in White. This prompts a demand for the entire series.
Dean’s engrossed in “Route 666,” going through that debacle all over again. “Everything is in here, from the racist truck to me having sex. Dude, I’m full frontal in this one.” Sam’s more disturbed by what he’s seeing on the Internet. Yeah Sam, I know the feeling. When Dean takes a look at comments from the “few” fans, it’s even better. “For fans, they sure do complain a lot.” There are Sam girls, Dean girls, and oh… you’re going there!
Everyone who’s followed my work knows I’ve made several rants about how Wincest doesn’t sit right with me. They’re brothers, for Christ's sake! To see Sam and Dean actually react with the same amount of disgust is the best damned thing I could ever hope for. “They do know we’re brothers, right?” Dean asks. “Doesn’t seem to matter,” a very bothered Sam replies. “Oh come on, that’s just sick.” I’ve died and gone to Heaven!
Oh, but fun with fandom doesn’t end there. They meet the biggest fan girl of all, the publisher of the stories who knows them inside, out, backward and forward. They want to know the real name of the author, Carver Edlund, and the meta keeps rolling! She’s worried Sam and Dean, posing as fans doing a story, will produce a smartass article that’ll make fun of “my boys.” Her boys! Ha! Even I’m guilty of that. She gushes over how emotional these “real” men are, and the best parts are when they cry. “No offense, how often do you cry like that, huh?” Oh man, I’m dying here. This sounds exactly like my last con experience. She quizzes about Sam’s birthday, his LSAT scores, and Dean’s favorite song, getting perfect answers, but ultimately caves with the sharing of tattoos. Sam and Dean’s are still perfectly mounted on their chests, hers… strategically below the belt.
Now they must convince Carver Edlund, aka Chuck Shirley, they’re for real. So, to push surreal to new heights, Chuck reads his brand new manuscript, describing exactly the approach of Sam and Dean to his door as it happens. He reacts as expected, these guys are nuts and shuts the door. They show him the Impala trunk, but he still doesn’t get it. They ask how much he knows about the angels, and Chuck admits he wrote that but it was never published. Finally, they convince him when they mention the last name Winchester. That was never part of the books, and only Chuck knows that name.
So, the story goes on from there, right? No, for Julie Siege isn’t finished messing with us. She’s cool enough to pick on the writing team now, for fair is fair. Chuck’s mind can only reconcile this with one explanation. He’s a God, and he’s put these two people through horrible things for the sake of “literary symmetry” and “entertainment.” “Did you really have to live through the bugs?” Chuck asks. Dean affirms. “What about the ghost ship?” Sam and Dean both nod on that one. “I’m so sorry, horror is one thing, but to be forced to live bad writing.” That’s it, I’m toast for the next twenty minutes.
How Is He Doing This?
Once Sam and Dean get their hands on the latest manuscript, the story seems implausible, but has Chuck been wrong yet? In what happens to be my favorite scene of the episode, Sam and Dean in a laundromat (They are human! They do wash their own clothes! It only took 78 episodes to learn this!), they demonstrate how dead on Chuck is. As Dean reads through the pages, Chuck does more than describe their actions, he gets inside their heads. Dean with delight reads everything Sam is thinking but not saying while Sam is quietly loading a washer. When Dean nails everything Sam is thinking, down to his thought that Dean is being a dick, even Sam can’t deny what’s happening.
Oh, but Chuck isn’t done yet. His latest pages are the scariest yet, for Lilith is coming after Sam. He describes a scene of Lilith and Sam on a bed in the throws of demonic passion, and now Sam is incredulous. Dean’s believing all of it though. So, what happens when the brothers try to tempt fate? They end up sharing restrained but heated words with to avoid a predicted fight, and Dean gets a cheeseburger by mistake he didn’t order but was supposed to have. They also try to avoid the “Red” Motel, only to find their choice, The Toreador, has several letters burned out on the neon sign except R, E, and D.
Shocker of the week for me is Sam, finally being open and honest about what’s he’s been dealing with lately. He’s so guarded, so secretive, for him to freely talk about his fears with Chuck means carrying this burden alone is killing him inside. It helps that Chuck knows everything about the demon blood and can talk candidly about it. Chuck didn’t write about Sam’s need for demon blood, for he didn’t want him to seem unsympathetic. “Sucking blood, you gotta know that’s wrong.” Sam admits how it scares the hell out of him and he wishes he could stop, but he needs to stop Lilith. Chuck plays the perfect devil’s advocate, pointing out that’s supposed to be Dean’s and the angels’ job.
Sam gets to the heart of it, that Dean isn’t himself. Dean’s been looking out for him his entire life, can’t he return the favor? Chuck agrees, but also speculates that Sam likes the power for it makes him feel more in control. Sam denies it unconvincingly. See, Sam is still lying to himself! “It all rests on your shoulders,” Chuck confesses. Sam questions if it really does. “It seems to be where the story is headed,” Chuck admits. Chuck also doesn’t know how Sam’s showdown with Lilith will go, so Sam must decide what to do next on his own.
Now It Makes Sense
The plot takes a sharp right by the sudden appearance of Castiel, right after Dean confronts Chuck after his hilarious but predicted encounter with the front end of a minivan, a young girl with a doctor complex, and a smashed in rear window on the Impala. Chuck is a prophet of the Lord. Chuck dreamed about being a prophet, but didn’t put it in the story. “Writing yourself in the story is one thing, but as a prophet? That’s like M. Night level of doucheness.” Castiel further explains that a prophet is a mouthpiece and the books someday will become “The Winchester Gospel.” Even Chuck and Dean have a hard time believing that one.
So now this tale of angel, demons, and the apocalypse is complicated further by a prophet? My head is swimming! Castiel confirms what Sam and Dean have slowly been figuring out. Whatever the prophet sees cannot be undone. Dean tries anyway, rushing back to the motel and insisting he and Sam bolt. Sam won’t leave, deciding to stand up. He’s burned the hex bags and is waiting for Lilith.
Time for this week’s intense brotherly exchange, and it again doesn’t disappoint. Sam knows why Dean doesn’t want him to do this, he’s afraid he’ll go darkside. Dean admits that’s true and confesses he knows everything about Alastair’s death. He knows Sam is getting more powerful, but he and Cas don’t know why. I knew it! I knew Castiel would tell Dean what Sam did. That’s too juicy to keep a secret. The demon blood is still Sam’s nasty secret though, so I can’t wait to see that bombshell play out. Sam clams up (like he usually does when fighting with Dean) and refuses to go, prompting Dean to throw his bag down, step outside and figure out what next.
One of the strengths of this story is how it reinforces that both brothers worry so much about protecting each other that they’re willing to put themselves in harm’s way. Dean, so desperate to save Sam, does the unthinkable. He prays! Castiel appears, very pleased by the gesture, for it’s a sign of faith. This scene is a testament to how Dean and Castiel intuitively understand each other now and how they’re working this strange relationship to their advantage. Dean pleads for Castiel to save Sam, but Cas somberly admits he can’t get involved. Dean responds with threats of not following God’s orders, so Cas finds the way to reason with him. He explains he can’t intervene because prophets are protected. If anything threatens them an archangel, Heaven’s most terrifying weapon, will appear to destroy that threat, especially a demon. Body language is everything here as Castiel says, “Now you can see why I can’t help,” while slyly looking upward, giving Dean his hint. Dean is most appreciative now, and both leave vindicated.
Sam can’t kill Lilith, Lilith can’t kill Sam, so all that’s left is a demon scheme. Lilith confesses she won’t survive this war and is tired of dealing with angels. She’ll stop breaking seals if she gets Sam’s head on a stick and Dean’s too. Sam agrees, but it takes far more than a kiss to seal this deal. Sam must go “full frontal,” just like in Chuck’s strange vision of passion. I think Lilith made that up because she’s jealous of Ruby. Sam plays along, but pulls the knife on her before they get to the good part. Lilith overpowers him and just as she’s ready to stab, Chuck The Prophet arrives with Dean. The room goes white, everything starts shaking, and Dean gives Lilith a chance to escape. Why? I’m thinking he wanted to make sure those archangels didn’t take him and Sam out either. Yeah, that’s all I got.
Meanwhile back in the Impala (I love these scenes), Sam knows Lilith is scared and running. “She’s not going to survive the apocalypse, I’ll make sure of that.” That’s Sam’s proclamation that the demon blood doping will continue. Man, he can’t even listen to a prophet. How stubborn.
I love how this show consistently makes these secondary characters sympathetic and caught in the middle like everyone else. Chuck dreams what happens in the future, and is horrified, but can’t warn because Zachariah won’t allow it. “People shouldn’t know too much about their own destiny.” Chuck can’t even kill himself. All he can do is write. Yikes, that’s a pretty depressing fate, and now we wish he could have gone on thinking that all he was writing action novels. His desperate look says it all.
The Loose Ends
So, who is the monster at the end of this book? Lucifer? Lilith? Zachariah? Or is it Chuck The Prophet? For the best answer, we go to lovable Grover of Sesame Street. The title of the episode comes from the book in which Grover is scared of the monster at the end, only to find it’s him. Given that analogy, I’m putting betting money on Sam.
No “Then” and “Now” opening. That’s always a good sign that the episode is packed, and it was.
Dean knows Vonnegut? How awesome is that? Even Sam is floored. Chuck is so right about being Kilgore Trout, but then again Vonnegut also loved breaking that fourth wall.
“You should have seen Luke.” Hah! Biblical humor from an angel. Castiel is finally lightening up, isn’t he?
What does Julie Siege have against the Impala? First she eggs it in “It’s the Great Pumpkin Sam Winchester” and now the rear window is smashed out? She better make sure the car doesn’t go all Christine on her.
Zachariah, friend or foe? Is he another “dick with wings” or is he the angel behind turning other angels like Uriel? This show loves its character ambiguity.
Grade is easily an A. You know, I’m starting to sound like a broken record on these grades but hey, that’s not a bad problem to have when a show is this good. Bring on the rest! I’m welcoming the two week break though. I need to catch my breath, literately.