Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Guest Blog: Adam Stovall on 'Supernatural' Season Three...

"Wherein Adam Stovall Realizes That Sometimes The Sum Of The Parts Is Greater Than The Whole"

I don’t know.

I finished Season Three of Supernatural a few hours ago, and all I can think is…I don’t know.

I know that I want to focus on the good, the things I enjoyed without reservation. The score and the set design on this show continue to impress me and fill me with joy– seriously, the brothers Winchester have the best taste EVER in hotel rooms. I like so much of the milieu of the series, and yet that’s not why I’m still up at 3:32am thinking about what I just watched.

Obviously, I like the show. I do hope that’s been clear in my posts heretofore. I like the infrastructure of it. I like its novelty. I like that Kripke & Co have a fundamental understanding of their show’s strengths, and play to them like seasoned vets. Supernatural never betrays itself, which is actually quite a feat for a show that apparently was on the bubble for each of its early years. And yet, that is also not what’s keeping me up tonight.

It was a good season. It told a good story. Actually, that’s what is keeping me up: It didn’t really tell a good story. It showed a good story. But– and I realize this is due to the Writers’ Strike causing their episode total to drop from 22 to 16– the story was so truncated, it didn’t really track. Which isn’t to say it didn’t convey everything it needed to convey, it just did it rather artlessly, which is not a complaint I’ve had about any other season. Patton Oswalt tells a story about performing with a magician some years ago. One night, the venue shorted them both a hunk of cash. Oswalt, still a neophyte comedian, eagerly took the lesser sum and did his routine. The magician, however, was PISSED about this indignity. He was a professional, however, so he took the stage…and proceeded to perform the angriest magic Oswalt believes has ever happened in the history of magic being performed. The magician would, for instance, hold up the intertwined rings for the audience to see, then break them apart, hold the now-separated rings up for the audience to see, then chuck them into his trunk. It was cold and merciless, a hate-bang of a magic show. This, to be honest, is how I feel about this season.

So yeah, I want to focus on the positive. But, well, before I do that, let me address something that has irked me since I did some reading earlier about the production of this season. Apparently, the character of Bella was killed off due to negative fan reaction. WHAT THE HELL? Bella was awesome! Why would you react negatively to her? As I have mentioned, one of my favorite things about this show is the community that surrounds hunters. It’s this large, nuanced, lived-in world, with various dark corners. It makes perfect sense that this world would include someone like Bella, a cool thief who was the opposite of the guys in pretty much every way. I really liked this character, so much so that I got excited when I saw Lauren Cohan’s name in the credits. I loved the energy she brought to her episodes, what she inspired in Sam and Dean. I looked forward to this dynamic progressing over the next few seasons. But no, suddenly she’d signed a deal with a demon and there was a hellhound, so she was gone. She gets a nice long close-up just before the hellhound drags her off, which actually serves to illustrate my point. This development came out of nowhere, hadn’t been teased or seated in anything prior, but because everyone working on this show is a professional, they still found a nice moment with which to send her off. I can appreciate the moment, even though I LOATHE what prompted it.

Speaking of out of nowhere, LILITH. Now, I happen to know my way around Judaism, so the first mention of this name pretty much told me where we were going. That being said, I am going to assume that the primary audience for Supernatural is not overly well-versed in Judaism. She shows up in one episode and kills a whole bunch of people in an instant. Okay, that’s badass. Clearly, this is someone to fear. This is a Big Bad, which, in Azazel’s absence, you very much need. But then she’s gone, only to actually return in the LAST EPISODE. She’s mentioned in the penultimate one, but she only shows up in TWO EPISODES. The Big Bad. Two Episodes. 

Now, maybe I’m getting mad about something that has been addressed already. Maybe Kripke has walked us through what happened that season because of the strike, what was cut and what the initial plan was. And you know, there really are plenty of things about this season I liked. “Mystery Spot” was fantastic, I haven’t laughed that hard in quite a while. “A Very Supernatural Christmas” was the best Christmas episode I’ve seen of a show not called Community or Doctor Who. “Jus In Bello” was a cool little Assault on Precinct 13 riff. I dug the hell out of the resolution of Gordon’s storyline. Dean and Little Dean in “The Kids Are Alright” was a blast. The screwball comedy of “Bad Day at Black Rock.” Seriously, there was just so much to love about this season. I even really dug how it ended, with Dean in Hell begging for Sam, who suddenly has activated his Badass Demon Power and sent Lilith scurrying off in fear. That is really interesting. But sometimes– and any show this steeped in classic rock should already know this– you respect someone’s ideas far more than you enjoy the execution thereof.

All that said, I wrote this up at 3:30am (it is now a little after 4), because I’m excited to move on to Season 4. I’m excited to see where we go from here, but also because I’m excited to just go somewhere that isn’t this moment. I want to go back to enjoying this show without reservation.

PS – Y’all didn’t like Katie Cassidy either? I mean, she didn’t set the world on fire with a killer performance or anything, but she was well above serviceable. There’s a movie called Women In Trouble, wherein Emmanuelle Chriqui has a bit of highly-stylized dialogue to deliver. It does not go well. I think about that moment whenever I watch an attractive young actress performing solidly in a part that could easily have gone poorly. Maybe people would like Katie Cassidy more if she’d spent some time on Friday Night Lights or something. I don’t know.

1 comment:

danielletbd said...

This is by far the season review that caused the most internal debate with myself when posting it. As promised, I never edit (save for hyper-linking and formatting) the writers' words when they submit guest blogs for me/my site. However, because there were so many moments in season three that I personally connected to (namely "A Very Supernatural Christmas"), I went back and forth over doing a "He Said, She Said" to offer my counterpoints here. In the end, I didn't do that, simply because I like consistency, in an almost OCD way, and I would have felt like I had to go back and do the same for seasons one and two, even if I agreed with the majority of Adam's opinions there. With fall TV getting under way, I don't really have the time for that right now. But since Adam has inspired me to start my own rewatch of the series, it may just have to be coming. Especially because Adam's points about the fandom hating the female characters that come between Sam and Dean is a point I have had a lot of commentary about stored up for years anyway.