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TV Review: Supernatural – “Time for a Wedding!”

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Every year, Supernatural goes all meta on us and plays with its fans. This season, “Time for a Wedding!” pokes some fun at online fandom while taking Dean’s arc out of subtext and into the narrative. I have no problem with teasing the online fan base, of which I am a member, and I giggled through much of this episode. However, it’s not as successful as past meta entries like “The French Mistake” and “The Real Ghostbusters.” The problem is the story tried to service too many storylines, rather than committing to the comic set up.

I’ll start with what didn’t work well, so I can end on the positive note the episode deserves. Becky the SuperFan is an enjoyable over the top character who has worked very well in past episodes like “The Real Ghostbusters.” The writers use the character to poke fun at fandom, which is a risky business. But Becky has always been so over the top that though she’s an avatar for fandom, she’s clearly meant as a tease, not an actual comment on the show’s fans. In this episode, it’s not as clear what Becky represents.

She’s just as over the top in her desires and mannerisms, which generates laughs, but also reminds me that I prefer her in a smaller role. Becky’s more irritating in large doses. The increased exposure also means the writers decided to make her more three dimensional. And that’s a bit problematic, given what she’s up to.

Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as Sam and Dean WinchesterThe writers start the episode using Becky as an avatar to have some meta fun, and in that context, I can laugh at Sam being essentially roofied and tied up. Tongue in cheek teasing about the slippery line between fan and fanatic falls well within bounds for me. The homage to Misery is clever and I laughed at being to understand Sam’s muffled conversations through his gag. Jared Padalecki was a hoot when Sam growls, “F**k you!” only to have Becky cheerily respond, “I love you, too!”

I also adored Dean’s many expressions of goggled horror as he tries to get Sam to see reason. Jensen Ackles pulls out the stops as Dean demands to know why no one asked his permission and finally turns up at Sam’s door with a waffle iron as a peace offering. The writers run some nice character development through the comedy, as Dean tries his best to give Sam space and waits to be asked in to work on the case. His method contrasts with the way he insisted Sam work with him in “The Mentalists.” Dean has a lot of worries about his brother, but he’s trying to use a lighter touch.

We soon get more of a peek into Becky’s psyche, showing her to be a victim of bullying that robbed her of self-esteem. Those scenes are well done and the actress generates sympathy for why Becky is so fixated on trotting Sam around her school reunion. But getting a more realistic picture of Becky works against the mad cap antics with Sam, because if I have to take her more seriously, then I’m also going to take her roofying Sam more seriously. Changing the tone means the writers do not commit to the comic set up they start with and that’s a problem.

“The French Mistake” is my favourite meta episode to date, though “The Real Ghostbusters” runs a close second, and both of those shows committed to the set up for the entire story. We never had to step out for more realistic fare and then step back in. Having to do so in “Time for a Wedding!” weakens the comedy hijinks, because I can’t feel sorry for Becky without also having to care what she’s doing to Sam. The two tones work against each other, rather than enhance each other.

Not content with Becky’s narrative warring with itself, the writers also introduce a new hunter to partner up with Dean, presumably testing the water for a new recurring character. DJ Qualls plays Garth, a hunter who could not be more opposite to Dean, but who shows he’s got something to offer the Winchesters. Or at least, I’m pretty sure that was the intent.

Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and DJ QuallsIn practice, Qualls was given very little story space to establish his character. He was not allowed to be part of the final take down scene because Becky was given the role of surprising helper rather than Garth. Qualls was fun in the space that he had, but I didn’t end the episode being able to see what he offers to the Winchester team, especially since he spent the climax unconscious.

I think it was a shame to try and service a meta episode, Becky’s personal story and the introduction of a sidekick in the same episode, because all of the elements suffered. However, though the entire narrative did not play together well, the individual stories all had enjoyable moments. The episode was far from a failure. It just wasn’t as successful as it should have been. I laughed at many of the moments between Sam and Becky. Dean’s reactions alone were worth the price of admission. Crowley’s appearance was both entertaining and a nice way to embed this mostly stand alone episode into the Leviathan arc. We now know why demons have been scarce this season.

One of the more successful plots for me was the continuation of Dean’s personal arc. We’ve seen since the beginning of the season that Dean is struggling with some internal demons he doesn’t want to admit to himself, never mind talk about. He is very unhappy at losing Castiel, especially since he had refused to forgive Castiel just before the angel died. He’s scared he can’t fix Sam and he’s equally scared Sam somehow doesn’t need fixing and no longer needs Dean.

And if Sam no longer needs Dean, then who is Dean? Dean was taking care of people even before his mother died, cleaning up his father’s emotional messes by the time he was four. John charged his oldest son with Sam’s care, blaming him for what went wrong and never recognizing what he did right in creating a family life for his brother. Although it’s tempting to want to reach through the screen and shake Dean when he takes on too much guilt, it’s his father’s voice he’s hearing in his head, judging him.

The end of “Time for a Wedding!” makes the same point the beginning did: Dean does not want to face himself now that Sam seems to be in such an unexpectedly good place. I think Sam is being set up for a fall and will soon see how much he still needs Dean, but the opportunity for growth between the brothers is also welcome. I suspect Dean will need to face his father in some form to really move forward. Sadly, I doubt Jeffrey Dean Morgan will be available to guest star—but man, I hope he’s been asked. If we’re looking into Dean, we need another look at that relationship.

Exploding wedding cakeOh, and how cool was that wedding cake?

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About Gerry Weaver

  • Gerry

    Melanie, thanks and I agree, both Jared’s and Jensen’s comic chops shone through the structural issues. They were both just adorable, Winchester style.

    Tina,while I do think Dean’s arc is prominent at the moment, I think we’ve had lots of warning Sam has lots going on inside. He’s not fine, he’s just coping.

    In fact, this episode, my suspicion was that the pain Sam felt so keenly when the potion was wearing off was because in that in between state he couldn’t control the damage. That’s just me reading subtext, but the pain was a big deal for Sam and a rather odd side effect if the soul deals were supposed to be a secret.

    I think the two arcs will come together soon, and we’ll see that both Dean and Sam are not fine and they both need each other. And I can’t wait for that.

  • Melanie

    I think you are so right about the mixed up tone of the episode being the main problem.(I think Daub&Loflin have a tone issue in their writing in general) While I loved the French Mistake, I’m not a big fan of the Chuck/writer is God-ish meta episodes. To me, this one is the weakest of them. That being said, Jared and Jensen were both wonderful in the episode – so funny! When Sam snuggled that stupid notebook of Becky’s? Dean’s inability to get the words ‘married’ and ‘Becky’ out of his mouth? Comic gold! Loved that the episode was grounded in the progression of Dean’s storyline and that there was the continuity of Crowley and that the MOTW was a CrossRoads demon. Thanks for an awesome review.

  • tina

    I am not a fan of this one so I wont go into detail . I think it did nothing for Sam on any level . While Deans personal arc is moving forward Sams seems to of stalled and by making him look so well adjusted it will be difficult for the writers to being in any regression in Sam with his wall in the future has there has been no really build up .I dont mind this Sam if we were actually getting some insight into him but all we get is that he is fine.

    In fact we wouldnt of learnt he was camping if Dean hadnt told us. I think it is great they are doing this with Dean . I just wish the writers could see that well adjusted Sam is not a sl neither does it allow us to learn more about his hell or Sam himself.

  • Gerry

    I agree that there is much more to Dean! He’s such a combination of toughness and sensitivity. I think, though, that his early shaping into a caregiver will always be with him to a degree. I hope we’re exploring to what degree and how else he can see himself.

    I always expect Sam to be his most important relationship, though. I’m not sure anyone really gets over being a big brother or sister. (-:

  • charlotte

    I nice thoughtful review. I usually enjoy the meta episodes but this was just too silly for my liking. I did however appreciate your thoughts and feelings on what did and didn’t work, and one thing I agree with is the development of Dean’s character. My main concern is that after spending this much time exloring who he is without Sam, they only go full circle and decide that he is nothing afterall without his brother. Many fans believe there is so much more to Dean than just being Sam’s protector and I hope the writers agree.

  • Gerry

    I do think the writers muddied the waters with Becky’s character this episode, by mixing her cartoonish behaviour with a more realistic set of personal issues.

    However, I have loved all previous Supernatural meta episodes, so we’ll agree to disagree on the quality of the writing for meta eps. (-:

  • Paul

    I know I am a lone voice on this, so spare me your fangirl whining when I say I hate meta episodes. Meta eps take me outside of the suspenseful aire of the show. I do not really care what other fans like; This is my opinion, and I get to share it. Meta eps are writers being juvenile idiots, lazy and unfocussed. I can make fun of this sorry fandom all by myself, and do not need them to help. Becky was a comic relief character from the beginning, and besides being addlepated, she was considered harmless. Yet she now consorts with practioners of Black magic, and is willing to drug and kidnap someone to get what she wants. I don’t care that she was bullied in school–some kids make themselves spazzes in school, and thus deserve to be bullied! And anyone as annoying as Becky deserved to be beat up after school every day. Hell, I got bullied for being a bookish, artisitc kid–and I salved my wounds with the joy of being an academic success, liked by the only people whose opinion mattered in school–the staff! Becky is a cartoon, a loser who would abduct an unwilling person to boost up her own nonexistant ego. That makes her a sociopath. And it is not funny! Yet I have run into a lot of fangirls who seem to sympathise with this poorly drawn characature of fandom–ladies, get ahold of yourself, and stop pandering to the writers of this season by buying that this ep was intended to be humorous. Becky was cute and funny in a harmless way; but now, she can be viewed only as a potential danger whenever she next shows up. That is not good writing, and it shows a dim view of you lot as a whole. The writers think you guys are crazy. Instead of yelling at me for expressing an unpopular opinion, why don’t you look at the new disrespect this show has acquired for its loyal fanbase? I hope the episode is made that shows Becky going straight to the Hell she has earned by consorting with Demons and working black magic–oh yeah, and kidnapping and perhaps seducing an innocent human being that she was drugging. Sad, really sad…