What a blast this week’s episode of Supernatural was. The line between letting the fans in on the joke and making fun of them was fine, and once again the writers were risking being ostracized, but I think it was trod very carefully (albeit still in a deliciously blasphemous, typical Supernatural way). I don’t know if the full effect was appreciated by some if not most of the fans, as those with whom I talked on discussion forums didn’t seem to make the connection between their behaviour and what was going on in the episode.
This is the one thing that makes me sad, for as I have made it quite clear in previous Supernatural reviews, this show isn’t fantastic only because of the quality of its various parts, but rather because of the subtext of the entire series, the fight for good, and how it easily parallels the reality of the world around us and the choices that each one of us must make.
"The Real Ghostbusters", the ninth episode of Supernatural’s fifth season, was a monster-of-the-week type wrapped in an aura of the show’s mytharc, as we find out, courtesy of our favourite insane Supernatural fan, where the Colt is (hurrah!). Becky gets involved in organizing (or does she start it?) a Supernatural convention and tricks Sam and Dean to attend.
Devious insane little minx. I really like her.
The Supernatural convention was a brilliant idea, and the perfect context for the return of Becky. The various Sam and Dean wannabes were also an amazing touch, as was adding the real Sam and Dean to the mix. Poor Chuck; he probably couldn’t imagine how fiercely those two were going to react to the whole idea.
Then there was the hunt within the hunt. As part of the Supernatural convention experience, a hunt for a ghost was organized, and of course, it finally came to light (pun oh-so-intended) that there were some real ghosts involved, too. Again, a predictable yet brilliant twist that got twisted again when we figure out who the real killer ghost is — or rather, who they are.
I also loved the titles of the two panels that were announced near the beginning of the episode: "Frightened Little Boy: The Secret Life of Dean" and "The Homoerotic Subtext of Supernatural".
I have to admit that I am still puzzled as to why Sam and Dean stayed at the convention in the first place. I know, I know, if they hadn’t, they wouldn’t have seen the ghosts blah, blah, blah, but they didn’t even make an attempt early on to leave. I would have honestly thought that they wouldn’t have even entered the hotel, and that something would force them enter.
Then again, perhaps I am simply underestimating the strength of one’s curiosity.
A theme that seems a little recurrent in Supernatural’s current season is that of celebrity obsessions. The obsessed-fan theme of this episode culminated with this exchange:
Dean: All right, you know what? That’s it. That is it. [...] What is wrong with you? Why the hell would you choose to be these guys?
Barnes: Because we’re fans. Like you.
Dean: No. I am not a fan, okay? Not fans. In fact, I think that the Dean and Sam story sucks. It is not fun, it’s not entertaining, it is a river of crap that would send most people howling to the nuthouse. So you listen to me. Their pain is not for your amusement. I mean do you think they enjoy being treated like, like circus freaks?
Damien: I don’t think they care, because they’re fictional characters.
Dean: Oh, they care. Believe me. They care a lot.
Sam: He, uh, takes the story really seriously.
This episode is all the more interesting in wake of the passing of Michael Jackson. It’s good to look up to people and be inspired by them. Heck, there are so many people that inspire me (including Michael Jackson, by the way), it would be hypocritical of me to condemn that. But I think it’s gone way too far; for when more people recognise celebrities than they do philanthropists and heads of state, when more people can quote full conversations from their favourite movies and not remember the basic tenets of their country’s constitution, then we have a problem.
The other adverse effect that such an obsession has is that we start taking a sort of perverse pleasure in these people’s suffering. How else can we explain the interest, time, and money we pour into following them as they head straight into the abyss? Rather than respecting their privacy in their darkest moments, we seem to be pushing them even faster and farther into it. How degraded has our society become when we enjoy the pain of others?
But, again, this doesn’t mean that we should scrape away the entire ‘looking up’ to famous people thing; after all, they can be pretty inspiring, and they can make us work hard to become better than what we currently are. And, in the context of Supernatural, perhaps the exchange below will finally allow Dean to get over some of his resentment at not being able to have a normal life, and to appreciate that, even with the mistakes that he made, Sam is a pretty special brother to have:
Damien: No offense, but I don’t think you get what the story is about.
Dean: Is that so?
Damien: In real life, he sells stereo equipment. I fix copiers. Our lives suck. But to be Sam and Dean, to wake up every morning and save the world, to have a brother who would die for you, well who wouldn’t want that?
Dean: Maybe you got a point.
Another nod to the Supernatural fandom was the fact that Barnes and Damien, who were playing Sam and Dean respectively, turned out to be partners. So much for the homoerotic subtext of Supernatural.
Some great lines and moments:
I know that technically this one is from another episode, but still…
Becky: Sam! Is that really you?
Sam: Uh, lady, are you okay?
Becky [touching Sam’s chest]: And you’re so firm!
Sam: Oh, uh, Becky?
Becky: Oh. You remembered. You’ve been thinking about me.
Dean Who gave you the rights to our life’s story?
Chuck: An archangel.
Dean: Great. We got a real ghost and a bunch of people pretending to be us poking at it.
Dean: Give me the map, Chuckles.
Wannabe Dean: No. You’re the chuckles, Chuckles.
Dean: A little gratitude would be nice once in awhile.
Dean: Just give her the puppy dog thing.
Damien, as Dean: How come Dean always lights this thing on the first frigging try?
Becky: Will you be okay?
Sam: I’ll find a way to live, I guess.
Sam: Hey Chuck, look, if you really want to publish more books, I guess that’s okay with us.
Chuck: Wow, really?
Sam: No, not really. We have guns and we’ll find you.