Everyone and their brother (heh) has written some meta-tastic reaction to Supernatural‘s 200th episode, so here’s mine.
Man, see, I want to start off with the snark, with some kind of attitude, because that’s the way I’ve been thinking about Supernatural for so fucking long. It’s kind of hard to turn off.
Which is why I, to my great and utter surprise, adored SPN 200. Because somehow, it flipped the switch on my inner cynic and reminded me–showed me–why I love this goddamn show. And being a fan of the show, too.
Holy shit, dude. Did not see that coming.
To me, “Fan Fiction” read like an acknowledgement that there is no “story” of Sam and Dean. Instead, because of the way the fans have taken up the characters, the plot structure, the themes, there are stories upon stories of Sam and Dean, and all of them, this episode suggests, hold equal weight. It’s like, the ep pointed away from canon and towards fanon, especially around the events of seasons six through ten. It felt like an acknowledgement that yeah, some fans do see the canonical shit from this period as akin to, as Marie dubs it, “the worst fanfiction I’ve ever heard”—and that’s ok.
That is, this episode argues that both we as fans and the current creatives are all riffing on Kripke’s original vision: it’s all fanfic now. Or, you know, it’s all canon.
As a fan writer, I didn’t need the show’s permission to legitimate what I do. Hell no. And I know some people interpreted the episode that way. But for me, it was just fucking gorgeous to see the TPTB tip the old hat at us and say: We’re all doing the same work. We’re all playing with characters that we didn’t create, and goddamn, isn’t it fun?
I don’t go in for the SPN family stuff, as a rule. But this ep made me feel, just for a moment, like I was willing to believe in one.
I also adored the way the ep presented the raw elements of SPN, its heart, its narrative skeleton: for everything that comes after (shut up), this is a story that begins with Sam and Dean.
Whenever I write about SPN for academic audiences, I wrestle with summarizing the series in one or two sentences, like:
On its face, Supernatural is a programme with a simple premise: brothers Sam and Dean Winchester roam America’s back roads in a hot car, fighting demons, angels and everything in between. At its core, the series is the story of two men dedicated to, in Dean’s words, ‘saving people, hunting things’ (‘Wendigo’).
For ten seasons, Supernatural has followed the adventures of Sam and Dean Winchester, two frighteningly attractive brothers who cruise the backroads of America in a ’67 Chevy Impala hunting a never-ending cavalcade of shit that goes bump in the night.
This isn’t to say that other characters (like my beloved Castiel) or plot points aren’t essential; they are. But stories of Supernatural, even ones in which the boys themselves don’t appear, they all begin, somehow, with the Winchester boys. To me, these are the essential plot elements that one needs to know about the show: two boys in a hot car hunting for evil shit.
And for me, what SPN 200 did so beautifully was not only to illustrate this point to the audience(s) but to let Sam and Dean see that, too: to see both the love that their fans have for them as characters (as real people, natch), but to see how important they are to each other, to the story they’re still creating together.
I guess this episode gave me hope that the boys will follow Marie’s lead. “I wrote my own ending,” she tells Dean, and damn it, let’s hope the Winchesters do, too.
But if they don’t, well. That’s what I’m here for.
So thanks, Robbie Thompson and co., for making the Supernatural series a space of joy and pleasure again. Will it be so next week? Who knows. For now, though, I’m content.