Carry on, my wayward son
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more~
Insert kickass guitar solo here.
Ahem. Yes, I am well aware that my writing gets lamer (and more vulgar, come to think of it) every year. But that is what happens when there’s something I am jumping out of my seat to share, and couldn’t be bothered thinking of more proper ways of introducing it.
The brief excerpt from above is the chorus to a classic song of Kansas’, called “Carry On My Wayward Son.” It is one of the main tracks from the show I’m currently, reluctantly, helplessly obsessed with. And how the heck did I find myself almost reaching former DBSK5-level obsession here, when I’ve sworn off being swept off my fangirl feet ever again, you ask?
It started with Glee, of all things. Glee.
That’s right, I watch Glee… or used to, anyway, before this new obsession took over me. The musically-inclined side of me loves it because it helps me discover good songs I would have been sorry not hearing due to over-focusing on a certain K-pop/J-pop boy band that broke my heart to a million pieces and danced upon the shards (yeah, so I’m kinda/maybe/still a little bitter about it. Sue me. No, wait…). Having Darren Criss on the cast was also a treat, with me being one of the original Starkids fans (He was Harry-freakin’-Potter before he was this Blaine-dude. Back off, gleeks). I haven’t been able to watch more after this certain episode of season 3, but I’m planning to… Maybe sometime this summer.
But I digress. So there I was— sitting in front of the computer, one cold November afternoon last year— catching up on the episodes I’ve missed, when I heard one of the most gorgeous songs I have ever heard in my life: “Fix You” by Coldplay.
After spending time melting on my seat into a puddle of goo on the floor at the scene of Will reassuring Emma with this gorgeous song, I finished the episode (Asian F) and immediately searched Youtube. It was then that I came across this fanvid, which turned out to be my demise.
It piqued my curiosity – Who are these people? Why is that girl on fire? Why are they crying? Ew, what’s that gross thing coming out of his mouth? Why does one of the main lead look dead? Whoa! He crawled out of a grave! Man-hugs, cool! What is this show?
I read the comments under the vid, and found out that the show is called “Supernatural.” It sounded interesting. It sounded promising. A show about two brothers? With supernatural elements and a lot of angst-fest? Sounds like my kind of show. What? Horror genre? Erm… Err… Gore? Gross! Not for me. But… (sigh) I’ll give it a chance.
Now, you see, I hated horror, and I hated gore even more. It is why I wouldn’t even notice Halloween passing by if not for the tons of candy and colorful costumes you can see everywhere. A horror movie is synonymous to gore-flying-whichever-way to me. You can make me watch one if it’s really good, but most horror movies I’ve watched (which admittedly doesn’t reach a two-digit count) just don’t have a plot line that is engaging enough for me to ignore the blood and guts liberally spilled throughout.
So with great hesitation, I clicked on the show, head turned away, one eye closed, and the other half-opened in case blood and guts start splattering on the computer screen. I was doubtful I could even finish one episode. But lo and behold, the pilot episode sucked me right in, and the moment I watched the infamous “jerk-bitch” banter between Sam and Dean Winchester within the first half of the show, I knew the horror element wouldn’t be enough to not keep me watching.
The show is about these two brothers shown in the poster above, Sam and Dean Winchester. Twenty-two years ago, their mother was killed by being pinned to the ceiling, slashed and burned to death above baby Sam’s nursery by something— you guessed it— supernatural. Dean, who was then four-years-old, carried baby Sam out of their burning home while John, their father, tried and failed to save his wife. John Wincheste became consumed with hunting down his wife’s murderer, and raised the two boys into a life of hunting every supernatural creature that come their way. Tired and resentful of this life, Sam ran away to college and built a life for himself: got into law school, dated a gorgeous girlfriend, and essentially cut himself off from his family. Four years later, Dean comes barging in, bringing in troubling news: John is missing. Reluctantly, Sam agreed to accompany his brother in trying to find their father, asserting that it would just be for a couple of days, not knowing that his years of apple-pie, supernatural-free life are coming to an end.
…Okay, so I stink at making interesting summaries. That’s just season one. I tried to avoid spoilers: I’ll be getting to that in a little while. Wikipedia has a longer synopsis, but even more spoiler-y. TV Tropes have an entertaining synopsis In short, the show is about these two brothers who drive around the back roads of US, saving people, hunting things that people only see in their worst nightmares: ghosts, poltergeists, wendigos, the Hookman, Bloody Mary, werewolves, vampires (the non-sparkly kind), spooky scarecrows, witches, demons– creatures from urban legends, myths, you name it, they fight it, and often get thrown against walls/choked/beaten up by said things before they kill them.
Hm. Much better.
The thing that ensnared my attention is the undeniable chemistry between actors Jensen Ackles (Dean) and Jared Padalecki (Sam). The connection is apparent from the first time Dean and Sam appeared together on the screen, that if I didn’t know any better I could have sworn they were really brothers outside of TV. It was due to this that even with the horror factor, I found myself going through five episodes in one day before admitting that, yeah, I am so finishing this show, if only for the brotherly bickering, Dean cracking borderline inappropriate jokes, and Sam frowning in disapproval. And the bromance. Especially the bromance. Bromance for the win. It was a little intimidating having to catch up with seven seasons’ worth of episodes, but I persevered, wanting to understand what was up with these two brothers that beckoned me to know their story.
I’m not going to delve deep into the mechanics of the show, because after season three, some (okay, a lot) of the topics they broach are things I’m not very comfortable with. I admit, I balked when the show started delving into theology, gaped at their interpretations of biblical scriptures and agonized over their own version Christianity. I think it’s important to know your faith and remember that the show’s main focus is not about religion, but about the story of these two brothers who would move heaven and hell for each other. The show creators said it themselves: none of it is to be taken seriously, it’s fiction, and therefore, not worth having an apoplectic fit about.
Despite of that, one of the main things that makes Supernatural a great show is its characters, of which the center is of course the brothers. Here’s a brief character description of the two main leads.
Dean is the older Winchester brother. He’s not your typical good guy. He’s obnoxious and kind of rude, but his heart is set on ridding the world of evil forces. He progresses from being borderline alcoholic to functional alcoholic in the span of six seasons. Unlike Sam, he likes hunting evil creatures (although that changes as the show progresses), and he’s more willing to let their father’s faults slide. He’s often the referee between Sam and John’s screaming matches. He’s “daddy’s good little soldier,” “parental big brother,” and “bad-ass hunter” rolled into one car-loving, gun-toting, skirt-chasing, pie-loving, ass-kicking hero. He’s rough, tough, sometimes kind of dense, hates emotional moments, and thinks normal is overrated. But that’s not all that defines this Winchester. Dean’s character grows and changes throughout the course of the show. He has his insecurities and his weaknesses and he keeps them locked tight, but they often get the best of him. He becomes darker, edgier, more able to distinguish the gray between the dark and white and at the same time more willing to get his hands dirty. He’s imperfect, and scarred, and has self-esteem worth a gnat. You’ll never meet anyone else as emotionally repressed or as self-castigating as this guy. But if there’s one consistent thing that makes up Dean Winchester, it is his love for his family; his unrelenting devotion to his brother. Sam is the most important person in his life; has been ever since he carried him out of their burning house when they were kids. Sam is his responsibility, protecting him is Dean’s job. While never really said aloud in the show, fan logic concludes that he practically raised the kid. Hurt Sam and he’ll come after you, guns ablaze and cold rage in his eyes. He’ll do anything, everything for his little brother, including walking through the fires of hell, and you can’t get more literal than that.
Sam is the younger Winchester brother; the voice of reason in the Winchester duo. He towers over Dean in height, but he looks up to his big brother like only a younger brother could (
…except that one time in season 4…), even though most of the time, he just rolls his eyes at his brother’s antics. His great intellect had managed to snag him a full scholarship ride to Stanford, and he snatched the golden opportunity to escape the path his dad set up of them, ironically making him the “black sheep” of the Winchester family. It’s no secret that he does not get along well with his father. Stick the two of them in one room without Dean as a buffer and they would tear each other apart within minutes. Sammy wears his heart on his sleeve, and he’s more prone to showing his emotions than his brother. His soulful eyes and his gentle nature presumably make him the direct opposite of Dean’s brashness and boldness. Seriously, those sad, puppy eyes could make anyone do anything for him, just ask the Trickster, and Dean, who you’d think would be immune to them by now. But underneath the dewy-eyed, gentle exterior lies a will made of steel. As the series progresses, we see that he is more like John Winchester, willing go to the ends of earth to exact revenge on his enemies. He goes from wanting to get out of the hunt to being doubtful he could do anything else. Sam Winchester is compassionate and kind, but he can be ruthless, unrelenting and unforgiving; and much like Dean, anyone who hurts his big brother would suffer the consequences. Anger can cloud his reason and twist his logic to serve his purpose, leading to dire (like, really dire… apocalyptic, even) consequences. A big part of what makes Sam is that he is in constant battle with himself. He fears that his less-than-human components may turn into the monsters they hunt and hurt the ones he loves.
The thing that I love the most about this show is the dynamics of the characters. Dean isn’t always the reckless one who charge into things with bravado. And Sam isn’t always the voice of reason. They don’t always win, and they don’t always manage to save the people. Heck, they have a penchant for being choked (Sam), thrown against walls (Dean), shot (both), stabbed, beaten the crap out of, arrested by authorities, knocked into a tree/table/gravestone, tortured to the nth degree… It’s not rainbows and butterflies with them; in fact, it’s more like a hurricane. Also, they are closer than most brothers are, you could see that, but they get to each other’s throats a lot. They bicker, they fight, they joke, they play pranks and on one occasion, when their relationship was put on a strain, nearly killed each other (granted, they were under some creature’s spell, but the issues were real). But through the broken trusts, betrayals, grief, lies, cycle of sacrifices that bear consequences, they still keep their grips tight on each other, all for one reason that for a Winchester means the world: they’re brothers. All because their utter devotion to family, the inhuman capacity to love someone so much that it drives you to the point of destruction– it’s all they have.
In the face of unrelenting, unwavering fraternal love, I am nothing but melted goo.
And also, hell hath no fury than a Winchester whose brother you just harmed/ maimed/ kidnapped/ temporarily killed.
More than once, it’s been lamp-shaded in the show that the Winchester brothers are unhealthily co-dependent to each other. When Sam died, Dean couldn’t accept it and sold his own soul without hesitation. When Dean’s deal came due, Sam spiraled down a path of
self-destruction until he set his eyes on revenge and unwittingly set off the end of the world. Without one, the other crashes and burns. Quite literally, they have no one but themselves. Their support system outside of themselves crumbles again and again, killed off by their enemies, or eventually betray them. And with a lifestyle that they lead, hunting and running after monsters who are trying to kill them on a daily basis and trying to stop their super-powered enemies from killing/destroying/taking over the world with only salt-loaded guns, knives and a (admittedly kick-ass) car, it’s a wonder that they could still get up in the morning. As one of my favorite hysterical Dean monologues say:
Dean: And that, Sam, that is exactly why our lives suck. I mean, come on, we hunt monsters. What the hell? I mean, normal people, they see a monster and they run, but not us. No, no, no, we search out things that want to kill us, or eat us! You know who does that? Crazy people! We (points to self and Sam) are insane!
Even if they try, there’s no getting out hunting, no option of walking out. They’ve both tried on separate times to lead normal lives, but the supernatural keeps nipping at their heels, unrelenting until everything else is destroyed and the only thing they could do is hunt. They are so far removed from normal that getting them to change, trying to bend them to conform to normal would probably be more harmful instead of helpful. They keep each other functional and semi-sane. [note: Although, lately, with season eight’s premiere, the writers seem to be trying to address this and turn their co-dependent relationship into something more mature and therefore healthier, which I understand and would normally support. But codependency seems to be a big thing that defines the Winchesters, and removing that would turn them unrecognizable characters. Plus I love my damaged!boys. I hope they set up a believable story progression.]
It’s not a pretty show. It’s dark and twisted, always taking good-VS-evil and putting new twists on them that leave you gaping. The brothers Winchester are the “good guys,” but they’re definitely not pure or always nice. They both have, to put it simply, incredibly messed up psyches. Sometimes, their morals can be just downright questionable, especially when it comes to each other (e.g. the lengths to which Dean would do to save Sam, and vice versa), which, even if understandable considering the way they’re raised and taught, is still disturbing (don’t I just love run-on sentences?). I think being raised as hunters means they are practically raised in a different culture within a culture. What makes the show compelling is the driving motivation for these two messed-up guys who have more issues than three newspapers and a Time magazine put together.
And I am well aware that I have just reached a new level of sappy, but that’s how the Winchesters make me feel. I have never seen two people as screwed and as doomed, and clung to each other with a ferocity that made them stronger and more vulnerable at the same time.
If there’s one lesson I’ve learned in this show, it’s this: Do not trust writers. They’re a sadistic bunch of megalomaniacs who have way too much fun torturing their characters and watching to see if they break, and too much thoughts in their heads and no way of channeling them out except through the same poor hapless characters made to do their bidding. They have a penchant for killing off characters without remorse. No one is safe, NO ONE. The love of Sam’s life? Killed in the first episode. Dad who they searched for one whole season? Sold his soul. FBI agent who eventually became their friend? Dead in an explosion. Sam’s one-night-stand who could have been a likable love interest? Werewolf. Tough, plucky, cute girl who had a massive crush on Dean and eventually became a good friend? Ripped to shreds and then blown up. Mother-figure, bar-owner, and all-around kick-ass female hunter? Blown up with ripped daughter. Angel best friend and deus-ex-machina-in-some-episodes-but-we-don’t-mind-because-he’s-hilarious? Exploded, resurrected, turned crazy, and then possessed, and destroyed inside out by stronger monsters. Pseudo-uncle and father-figure who see the brothers like the sons he never had? I’m still bitter about that one.
To be fair, though, the show is not all angst!RAWR!blood!pain!owie! They never take themselves too seriously. Light-hearted moments are always present, whether it be a witty banter, funny action, pop culture references, Dean being Dean, etc. What makes Supernatural a unique show is that they can take a ridiculous concept, write them into an episode and then make it work. They find ways to mock other shows, they parody their own show, and they even poke fun at their fans. And it’s the only show that I know that can get away with including a literally gigantic suicidal teddy bear, or having the characters play the actors who are playing the characters. The show just loves demolishing the fourth wall. It’s mind-boggling. The slash references scattered throughout the series are spontaneous and priceless. No matter how much heavier each season gets, there would always be some light, funny, sometimes freaking-out-of-place episodes that would leave me laughing. Although, it wouldn’t be Supernatural without a complete mood whiplash. Supernatural is an awesome roller coaster like that.
Supernatural has probably every genre spot down. Horror mixed with thriller mixed with action, throw in a ladle of drama and a healthy dose of comedy, a witty dialogue that could have you laughing your butt off one moment and then crying your eyes off the next, and add a heap of deadpan snark and a sprinkling of sarcasm. You get a creative, clever, emotional, dark, twisted, hilarious casserole of a show.
And the cast?
I can stare at Jensen Ackles for hours, and I’d like to keep Jared Padalecki in my pocket (it would have to be a gigantic pocket, but still…). Aside from being super-mega-foxy-awesome-hot (yeah, I went there), they’re great actors who bring their characters to life. Misha Collins, who plays Castiel, bring in a whole new level of fun into the table. These three could play off each other as if they’d known each other from diapers. Add in fan favorites like Jim Beaver (Bobby), Richard Speight, Jr. (Gabriel), the elusive Jeffrey Dean Morgan (John), Sebastian Roche (Balthazar), and many others. The gag reels and fan-cam conventions are as much of a favorite of mine as watching episodes of the show. The shenanigans that Jensen and Jared (mostly Jared) come up with would, as Alona Tal has said, drag everybody down to their maturity level. I can watch them goof around all day and I’ll never get bored. Not just them but the entire cast/crew, with fan favorite writers like Ben Edlund, Sera Gamble, Jeremy Carver, and of course the creator Eric Kripke. It’s not a surprise that they have a loyal, kind of rabid fanbase.
… which I now realize that I’m technically a part of. Why the heck do I keep getting myself into these kinds of fandom? It’s like getting into Cassiopeia pre-split days.
Now, season eight has premiered last week and I’m trying hard to contain my excitement. I’ve stayed far, far away from spoilers and trailers and interviews. And then of course, the trailer came out and all of that is blown out of the water. My baby brother would glare at me for the repeated “should-I-or-should-I-not,” mouse hovering indecisively over the play button, until finally he just grabbed the mouse and played it. Then came in Wednesday night when I parked my butt in front of the TV and would not move for anybody, forcing my dad who usually have the remote control hostage to watch the show with me. It would be the same routine for tonight’s episode. I think I can convert him into being a fan. It won’t be very long now. *steeples fingers and smiles evilly*
And I’ll shut my fangirl up now.
If this whole shameless declaration of love have not convinced you to give this show a chance, here’s my last attempt at pimping:
No, wait. Actually, it’s this one: