Monday, September 24, 2012

Guest Blog: Adam Stovall On Love and 'Supernatural'...

Let’s talk about love.



When you’re in love with someone, even the shit they do that annoys the living hell out of you still serves to reinforce your love for them. In The Master, Amy Adams’ character is constantly saying that they really-really-REALLY should cut Joaquin Phoenix’s character off, but then her husband is unable to do so, and you can see in her eyes that this only serves to deepen her love for him and his unending mercy and compassion. When you love someone, even their weaknesses are strengths.

I started thinking about this a lot during the third season of Community. That was the season when things got VERY meta and idiosyncratic. It might not have been as funny as Season Two, but its brilliance and ambition and soul towered over nearly anything else that has ever been created for television or film. I started realizing that I LOVED Community, because even when it was at its most self-indulgent I still had it in my heart and would follow it anywhere.

I do not love Supernatural. But we’re really good friends. I dig spending time with Supernatural and seeing what might come and how the fellas will react. It’s not a bad thing that I don’t love it, because “love” means something. Love means that something is talking to your soul, in a language that even you don’t understand. To be honest, I’ve only loved one woman who ever said “I love you” back, and I feel like I’d probably have a better record on that if I understood at all what led me to love people. Hell, it’s not even easy to articulate what I love about films and TV sometimes. It’s a gut feeling, it’s there or it’s not. I like Supernatural a lot, but I do not love it.

But make no mistake, this is a show about love.

So the Devil has wakey-wakey’d and Sam and Dean are suddenly on a plane and who the hell knows what’s going on. I find it incredibly confounding that this show will be so audacious in its storytelling one moment and then totally chicken out the next. I appreciate the time and effort they’ve put into crafting this massive mythology that by its nature requires some talking about the biggest ideas in the land, and I appreciate that they squared their shoulders and went at the struggle between Good and Evil head-on. But have you noticed that there’s always an excuse to not actually include God? God is always absent, which…sure, that’s a choice. But did anyone really find that Joshua scene completely satisfying?

But I don’t want to just complain, because a) I’ve already done that in my Season Three write-up, and b) I really really really liked this season. I liked the Devil being portrayed in a sympathetic manner, at least at first. Obviously there’s going to be an arc and he’s going to end up being, well, the Devil. (Seriously, dude, you do not explode Castiel and get away with it. Not on my watch, buddy!) But I like him making his case from a place of love. No one really does something simply to be evil and twirl their moustache, they always have reasons and justifications and all that. The Devil was damned because he didn’t understand something, and it scared him. And now he’s feared and bemoaned and he doesn’t understand that either. How is it possible that he was so recently living in a place of love, and suddenly is its antithesis?

Of course, the real love on this show is between Sam and Dean (and no I do not mean it like that– they are brothers and you are weird!). It’s trotted out time and time again, that each is the other’s biggest blind spot and key weakness. Everyone who plans to take on one of the brothers Winchester uses the other one as their primary means of attack. While I could take the show to task a bit for going back to this well SO MANY TIMES, frankly, they proved this to be a wrong-headed complaint this year. Because with the world falling apart and the end being all nigh and junk, hope is an easy thing to lose. Hell, I was even starting to lose it a bit when Sam and Dean were set up as the vessels for the epic fight to end all epic fights, because seriously could this have been a surprising development for ANYONE? But then Adam. A nice little curveball that had been seeded in the show, that made sense when it happened, and ultimately proved to be the thing that let Supernatural land its punch perfectly. Sam and Dean fight because they love each other too much let the other succumb to their lesser angels (pun fully intended). Sam sees the best in Dean and Dean sees the best in Sam and both are willing to beat the hell out of each other (also, intended) to help them be the best they can be. But here, now, a change has to happen. Dean cannot be part of the fight, because then it’s too easy to sacrifice yourself and stay together in some Devil Prison Box. No, Dean has to be on the outside, so that nothing is coloring how he looks at Sam. Lucifer might be running the show, but it’s Sam’s eyes through which he sees. It’s Sam’s hands that get bloody. Lucifer is mighty, but to be in that moment where suddenly all of one’s life plays out and you see the Impala and you see Dean and you see every single thing that has happened in your life and you come face-to-face with just how loved you really are…well, that’s mightier.

God is Love, the saying goes (and I am suddenly very curious how atheists feel about this show). So while this show may not have any idea what to do with God, it certainly has an idea. And in a world where Jon Cryer just won ANOTHER Emmy for that show-that-will-not-be-named, having an idea is too rare. Supernatural has gone from being a show with which I was cool just hanging out, to a show I anticipate watching. A show I think about often, for both narrative and moral reasons. And now Dean is with Lisa and Sam stands watching and I don’t know why. I have no idea what’s going on, but I am enthralled. So maybe I do love Supernatural.

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