Supernatural, S10 Ep05 – Fan Fiction

supernatural s10 ep05--Sam and Dean surveying the cast of Supernatural the Musical

It’s the Supernatural 200th episode extravaganza!

This is a rare milestone—though not unheard of for genre series filmed in Vancouver—and how a show chooses to celebrate such an event reveals a lot about the type of people who work on it. Personally, I loved this episode. It will probably receive a lot of strong opinions from viewers and bring out a boatload of emotions, both positive and negative. I see this going down as one of those love-it-or-hate-it types. It has a bunch of in-jokes some people won’t get and others won’t appreciate. Parts of fandom will love it because it mentioned them, other parts of fandom will hate it because it referenced them, and casual viewers will probably be left confused, the majority of the lines going over their heads.

supernatural s10 ep05--Fake Dean and Sam

A “love letter” that finally acknowledges the show has a large female fanbase.

The producers described this episode as a “love letter” to fans. Now most of the time the producers of a show tend to guess wrong when it comes to what fans want. There are millions of fans with many varying desires for and interpretations of any given show, so you can’t please everyone, but sometimes a show just misses the mark completely. For instance, Star Trek: Enterprise promised that the last episode would be a “love letter” to fans, but it turned out to be a giant middle finger to everyone who had ever been invested in the lives of those characters. I think Supernatural was able to stay in “love letter” territory without diving headfirst into “offensive” or “absolute suck,” but there will be fans who disagree.

“Fan Fiction” brought Carver Edlund’s Supernatural books back to the forefront with a transformative vengeance. An all girls’ school was putting on a musical version of the books, but with a few creative liberties. Sam and Dean, looking for anything to keep busy after Dean’s demonic interlude, show up because one of the teachers at the school disappeared. They stumble across the play and have to work alongside these girls who know all about them—yet refuse to believe that Sam and Dean are the Sam and Dean—to fight the evil terrorizing the play.

supernatural s10 ep05--play versions of Dean and Sam flashing badgesThe promise of a musical episode had many fans excited, but showrunner Jeremy Carver’s description of “musical-ish” turned out to be accurate. While there was singing, it was because a fan-made musical was being produced. Actors playing Sam and Dean sang songs, but the actual Sam and Dean (and by that I mean the usual actors playing Sam and Dean, Jensen and Jared) did not. The plot of the episode wasn’t that strong, but it was really more of a side note here. You didn’t watch for the story, you watched for fake-Sam and fake-Dean belting out tunes about “The Road So Far” or Dean’s “Single Man-Tear.” This was an episode full of winks and nods and outright references to the most vocal parts of fandom.

The episodes that mention Supernatural fans tend to get a mixed reaction from viewers. Some fans appreciate the acknowledgement of their existence, while others notice that the narrative typically depicts them in a derogatory way, laughing at them rather than with them. “Fan Fiction” seemed like it was trying to repair previous mistakes, as if attempting to come to terms with the existence of fandom and fan fiction. That’s not to say that it didn’t poke fun at fans, but there was also plenty of poking fun at themselves.

Because of the musical aspect of this episode, before it aired people were making comparisons to Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Once More with Feeling,” possibly the most notable musical episode of any series ever. But “Fan Fiction” wasn’t at all like that. It had songs, but it wasn’t a true musical. Actually, the 200th episode of Supernatural was more like the 200th episode of Stargate: SG-1, though not as well done in my opinion. Like Supernatural, SG-1 had an in-universe fictional version of itself, in the form of the show Wormhole X-Treme. Wormhole X-Treme was a short-lived TV show created by an alien hiding out on Earth, introduced in an earlier episode, but in the 200th he returned to adapt the idea into a movie with help from the SG-1 team. It was very meta, and while it nodded at some aspects of fandom, it was more about parodying the show and the sci-fi genre itself. “Fan Fiction,” while similar, placed more of its focus on fans and fandom tropes. Unfortunately, whenever a show attempts to depict fandom, they usually fail, because how fans perceive a show is greatly different from how a show perceives fans. Supernatural managed not to mangle it too badly, though.

However, the fact that Supernatural chose to put the emphasis on fans, and in its own way come to terms with aspects of fandom that the writers and actors may disagree with, showed that they have their heart in the right place. They wanted to honor the fans, because it’s fans who have kept them on the air for ten seasons. It’s nice to be acknowledged and thanked in Supernatural’s own quirky way. Even if you hated the episode, you have to admit that at least they tried.

supernatural s10 ep05--Sam and Dean watching the play versions of themselves have a moment

The brothers having a moment interrupted by the brothers having a moment.

This was not a perfect episode. As mentioned earlier the plot was a bit thin, and the regular cast members were kept to just Sam and Dean. Castiel and Crowley didn’t show, and neither did any other fan favorites, alive or dead, besides one surprise cameo at the end. It would have been nice to see some of the other characters we’ve loved over the years—the real ones, not the fan-portrayed ones—but keeping it to just Sam and Dean makes sense. The show started out about the brothers, and that has always been the heart of the series.

As for that one surprise cameo, it was greatly appreciated. Chuck Shurley, aka Carver Edlund, author of the Supernatural books and Prophet of the Lord, appeared briefly at the very end. However, his appearance complicates things a bit. The last time we’d seen Chuck was at the end of season five, when he’d completed his final book and disappeared, literally, into thin air. Being a prophet, it would have made sense if he’d simply been assumed into Heaven, but fans speculated that he was actually God, something confirmed by show creator Eric Kripke. However, this fact was never explicitly stated within the show. Still, fans took that information and ran with it. In fandom it is taken for granted that Chuck is God, despite a lack of acknowledgement in the show.

supernatural s10 ep05--Chuck

Oh my Chuck!

This wouldn’t be the first time the creator of something told fans information that hadn’t made it into the final product (J.K. Rowling only told us about Dumbledore being gay during a Q&A, though the subtext was already there for fans to interpret). But in this case, while fans assumed Chuck was God, in the show Sam and Dean still only thought he was a prophet. When Castiel explained in the eighth season that there’s only one prophet at a time, and a new one is called only once the former prophet has died, they asked about Chuck since Kevin was the new prophet. Cas said that Chuck must have died, but Sam and Dean never followed up on that. Chuck has continued to be treated as a prophet within the show, but him showing up at the end of the play obviously suggests that he is in fact God. How else could he have been there if he had died or been assumed into Heaven? Chuck is God, something we’ve all been assuming for years, but the canonical acknowledgement of this fact brings up plenty of questions and inconsistencies that Chuck as God would mean for the show, the sort of things we’ve been asking unofficially for years but can now drag into officially sanctioned light. That, however, is a discussion for another time.

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