Snarky Supernatural Saturday (S1 E11)

Elderly, friendly couple in a small town? They’re kidnapping and eating people, right?

Or it’s a giant dude.

Oh, just a crucified scarecrow.

You SAW it move, you do not respond with “Please let’s just hurry,” you FUCKING RUN!

THANK YOU.

And then the scarecrow has the tattoo or something, right? There has to be a reason they pointed out the tattoo.

Oh, or she just trips over him. At least they didn’t bother with the useless Previously On, but that makes the lackluster title sequence even less lustery.

A demon killed their mom. A demon named SAM!

I’m treating this as confirmation that their dad is trolling them, by the way.

Oh, don’t play Mourning Olympics, that’s just not cool.

Um, no, being a good son doesn’t require blind obedience.

Dean calling someone a selfish bastard is hilarious.

Great, either one will save the other and they’ll cheesily reconcile by the end of the episode, or I’m going to have to follow two storylines about characters I don’t like instead of just one.

I have no idea who this girl is, but I suspect I’m meant to find her “spunky.” Blech.

Oh look, Dean’s ectometer is going off. Another big Twinkie?

The scarecrow is some sort of patchwork zombie creature, isn’t it?

Yep, it’s got his tattoo.

Wow, a gas station where they fill for you? That’s ancient.

They’ve got an evil protector spirit thing going, huh? Once again I find myself reminded of something vastly better, American Gods in this case.

The sheriff just literally ran him out of town. Hilarious.

Wow, it’s like she’s going through everything Sam is! Almost as if her sole purpose in being in the show is to advance Sam’s story!

And then Dean predictably saves them from the scarecrow, yawn.

Ugh, can you stop saying “pagan god”? It’s a god, it’s evil, can we drop the implication that polytheism=evil?

It’s one of the Vanir?

The appropriation and shallowness of the research here BURNS. I just saw Thor 2 over the weekend, and it managed to be less disrespectful to Norse beliefs than this. That’s pretty pathetic.

All the people standing around with umbrellas are going to start chanting “the greater good” any minute.

Why DOES it have to be her? Couldn’t it be an actress who doesn’t sound completely fake when crying?

“For the common good” is close enough.

YES! SHE SAID “THE GREATER GOOD!”

And then quoted Star Trek. Weird.

As it turns out, the apple pie is TOTALLY worth it.

…and I guess in a sense I was right about the old couple eating the victims.

Blah blah Sam saves him and they reconcile, cheesiness on cue.

You really need to stop mentioning the movies you’re ripping off by name, show.

The introduction of gods and demons to the show makes me think of something I read once regarding Shinto, that the difference between a god and a demon is their relationship to humans. To the people in the mountains for whom the river is a source of water, it is a god; to the people in the plains whose house it just washed away in a flood, it’s a demon.

And then the scarecrow god thing kills its worshippers, as evil gods in these sorts of things tend to do.

And then the scarecrow was a tree, I guess?

No, they just found the First Tree somehow, and it was right by that ladder all along. Okay.

Congratulations, Emily, you’re now being haunted by the ghost of an angry evil god.

On the other hand, you claimed a small amount of agency! Good for you!
 
Oh, for FUCK’S SAKE, Dean, can you not be evil for once.

Is Meg going to turn out to be some kind of monster?

…Or an evil cultist, that works. And by “works” I mean “meh, could have been worse, she could have gone back to her family.”

I find it amusing that the first episode to really feel like it’s part of a serialized show is also the first episode with no Previously On.

Characters so far (characters appearing in this episode are in italics, characters who have not been seen or mentioned in three episodes not included):
Drunken, absent father (still punking them)
The living incarnation of anxious masculinity
Milquetoast who is secretly evil-baby with evil-baby fiery lady-fridging powers he can’t control
-Disposable woman who exists solely to die in a horrible, painful way to create drama for the male characters and further the plot (deceased)
-Other disposable woman who exists solely to die in a horrible, painful way to create drama for the male characters and further the plot (deceased)
-Jenny (owned their house, lost it in the lawsuit the narrative just forgot about)
-Plumber (lost his house, sued Jenny)
-Jenny’s daughter
-Jenny’s son
-Missouri (I miss her already) 
-Murder-suicide cop (deceased)
-Black cop (not dead, in this show’s most shocking twist yet)
-Gavin (dickweasel)
-Kat (yet another generically pretty blonde)
-Ghosts who just want attention
-Evil psychiatrist ghost (he lives in a Silent Hill level, and not one of the good ones)
Emily, who gets actual agency and to actively make a decision and literally takes her fate out of Dean’s hands! (she needs a fansite)
Meg, who gets agency too but is evil
Evil scarecrow (probably not in the family of blood)
Evil farmers (FOR THE GREATER GOOD)
Disposable women who exist solely to die in horrible, painful ways to create drama for the male characters and/or Lori and further the plot counter: 7
Women who kiss Dean: 2
Missouri counter: 1
Average disposable women who exist solely to die in horrible, painful ways to create drama for the male characters and further the plot per episode: 0.6
Average women who suffer horrible fates no one should have to endure per episode: 0.8
Average Missouri per episode: 0.1 ACCEPTABILITY LEVELS CRITICALLY LOW

Final Rating: 6/10 WOMEN WITH AGENCY! PLOT THAT CROSSES AMERICAN GODS WITH HOT FUZZ! ADD IN MISSOURI OR MAIN CHARACTERS I CARE ABOUT AND THIS COULD HAVE BEEN THE FIRST GENUINELY GOOD EPISODE! 

—–

So, as I said yesterday, I’m not doing these anymore. I tried to like the show, and I don’t think I’m ever going to. And frankly, snark-watching just isn’t my thing–this was an interesting experiment, but I don’t think the results were particularly great and I didn’t enjoy it at all. I have better things to do with those three hours a week–like watching Veronica Mars, which is delightful so far, or working on My Little Po-Mo vol. 2.

So why didn’t this show work for me? Well, first of all, the double fridging in the first episode started it off on a sour note. Dean also was immediately immensely unlikeable for me–in that episode he was a swaggering, sexist bully, and while they backtracked on those elements somewhat in the following episode, he was still obsessed with his anxious masculinity in a tiresome way that the narrative didn’t particularly seem to want to criticize. Sam, meanwhile, was just boring generic milquetoast–the comparison to Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in one episode was spot-on.

It’s pretty clear by episode 11 that the relationship between the brothers is a central element of the show, which is a problem given that I find them unlikable and their relationship uninteresting.

The other thing the show offers is the monster-of-the-week horror plots. Unfortunately, these have also been utterly uninteresting for me. I simply do not find slasher movies frightening or (usually) interesting; fictional blood and gore and violence just aren’t frightening to me. The show seems to have no interest in the kinds of horror I find interesting or frightening–the psychological, the surreal, the kind where neither the audience nor the characters are entirely sure what’s real. There’s been none of that in the show, and no suggestion it will ever happen.

People have assured me that the show gets better. There is some hint that it’s doing so. But I simply don’t have time to watch hours and hours of something bad in the hopes it will improve; there’s too much good stuff out there I haven’t watched yet.

So what do I do with Saturday’s now? I’m not sure–probably something related to that week’s pony episode, at least while those are on the air. Perhaps a liveblog of the episode?

So Long, Snarky Supernatural Saturdays

I have decided to end the Snarky Supernatural Saturdays for a variety of reasons, mostly that I just don’t have time to spend three hours a week on something that I don’t enjoy and doesn’t create particularly great results.

Especially with work on Volume 2 about to start, I just can’t continue to waste the time spent watching the show. It was an interesting experiment, but I think hate-watching just isn’t my thing. I’ll leave it to people like the That Guy with the Glasses crowd from now on.

ETA: I do have one episode’s worth of snark written up, so I’ll post that tomorrow, along with a brief writeup of why I think the show didn’t work for me.

We have to find them before ponies start to panic (Day of the Doctor)/Where I’ve always been going: Home, the long way around (Princess Twilight Sparkle)

Saturday was a day of new directions.

It often is, of course. Biblically, Saturday was the day after creation, a long deep breath before history began. In real life, as the day after the workweek ends for most of us, it’s a day for the sort of leisure activities that make self-discovery and expression possible, the day when we connect with friends or work on our hobbies and interests. Life-altering experiences tend not to happen when we’re going about our regular routines, and there’s rarely time for much else on workdays.

But this particular Saturday–the most recent, as of the time of posting–was in particular a day of new directions for the two current shows I follow most closely, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Doctor Who. Both episodes were milestones; “Princess Twilight Sparkle” marks the beginning of the fourth season of Friendship Is Magic, meaning it now has more seasons than the other two My Little Pony TV series combined–and later this season will surpass them in combined episode count, as well. More impressively, of course, this was the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who, which is a massive achievement for any television show (not quite a record, however; Guiding Light predates television and lasted until 2009). It was also, by the way, the largest simulcast of a drama to date, and the 123rd episode/serial of the series to use “The Thing of the Stuff” as a title.

Both were highly entertaining episodes, but not quite in the top tier of their respective shows. What both did do, however, was dramatically transform key elements of the show, removing long-standing plot devices and introducing new ones.

Interestingly, while my prediction partially happened (and neither my hope nor fear occurred) for “Princess Twilight Sparkle,” “Day of the Doctor” was everything I feared, nothing I predicted or hoped for–and yet both episodes were entertaining and satisfying. Part of that is that “Day of the Doctor” did something I have been wanting (but not daring to hope for) ever since the episode title “The Next Doctor” was announced years ago: a multi-Doctor special in which a future incarnation appears. Part is just the sheer fannish joy of seeing thirteen doctors on screen together, even if nine of them are stock footage. (Though I will say, with the sole exception of his last scene, and much as I love John Hurt, his part could have gone to Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor, and it would have been a stronger episode for it. Admittedly, that last scene does make him checking his ears in the mirror in “Rose” retroactively hilarious.) And it was wonderful to have Hurt stand in as the voice of classic-fan criticisms of the new series, criticizing the kissing, the way his successors held their sonics, the catchphrases, the youth of the new Doctors… it helped tremendously to reduce the weight of self-importance that threatens always to overwhelm any episode created as a celebration of a milestone.

“Princess Twilight Sparkle” in many ways was similar–both had strong running themes of time and memory, with significant flashbacks and a menace from the past, long-buried, emerging in the present. “Princess Twilight Sparkle” was rather lighter, of course, being mostly concerned with how Twilight and her friends deal with her new role as princess, and reassuring the audience that this will not derail the show or her character. A number of lines seem to be there just to reassure fans, such as Rarity saying that they need to meet to talk about redecorating her loft, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie contradicting Rarity’s claim that every pony dreams of becoming a princess, and Twilight’s nervous freakout (now with added flight-based physical comedy).

Both episodes are heavily about visiting moments that have been teased from the beginning (well, a beginning in the case of Doctor Who, namely the 2005 relaunch)–the rise and fall of Nightmare Moon, Celestia and Luna’s battle with Discord, and the origin of the Elements of Harmony for Friendship Is Magic, the Time War and fall of Gallifrey for Doctor Who. In the case of the former, it was more or less what we expected, except that the origins of the Elements of Harmony were something of a surprise–they originate from the newly introduced, crystalline Tree of Harmony, which we must assume is the axis mundi of Equestria, its World Tree. Crystal trees have actually always been a personally relevant symbol for me, since they visually resemble a neuron and thus can be both the axis mundi and the axon, the Tree of the World and the individual soul. All of that now feeds into the Elements of Harmony–vessels of light representing aspects of the self, fruit of the Tree of the World (which is also, of course, the twin Trees of Life and Knowledge) that is also the soul–which are now revealed to have been the Sephiroth all along. Of course the focal Element manifested as a crown–it’s Kether!

The Time War, on the other hand, is depicted exactly the way I feared: as a series of explosions and laser beams. But I’m okay with this, because all we actually see is the final battle of a war of attrition that has stretched across all of history. I am willing to accept the beam weapons and fire as the Kardashev IV equivalent of being reduced to throwing sticks and rocks at one another. And yes, Clara is depicted as being Essence of Generic Companion, but in a brilliant twist, Ten and Eleven take on the companion role as well (Hurt–was he cast just so his character can be referred to as the Hurt Doctor?–explicitly names them as such) and together the three of them do what the companions do. Remember my (well, Phil Sandifer’s, really) breakdown of the four essential elements of Doctor Who: the TARDIS is the extradiegetic space that connects all conceivable diegetic spaces, the Doctor is the man who goes into those spaces, the monsters give him something to fight against once he’s there, and the companions give him something to fight for. That is what the War Doctor has lost that makes him no longer the Doctor, and it is what the Moment, Clara, Ten, and Eleven collectively give him back. (And why I adore that he earns his space in the ending credits as all the Doctors whoosh by, just after McGann and before Eccleston.)

What both episodes do, as I mentioned at the start, is take their respective series in fascinating new directions. In the case of “Day of the Doctor,” it’s a massive plot transformation. A big part of the premise of the new series has been the Doctor’s status as the last of the Time Lords, the sole survivor of Gallifrey. His survivor’s guilt has haunted all his new series incarnations, most visibly Nine and Eleven–but Gallifrey has been too important a part of the series’ history to stay gone forever. We’ve always known that sooner or later it has to come back. Yet ironically, by bringing Gallifrey back from the dead and giving the Doctor a quest to find it, the show creates a way to keep it gone forever. The universe is vast and the Doctor has no idea where to look–he can continue wandering at random forever now, always hoping to find Gallifrey.

The confirmation that Gallifrey stands (in direct contradiction to Rassilon’s claim in “The End of Time” that it must either rise or fall) from Tom Baker as a future Doctor repeating a past face. At last the show has firmly exploded the silly fan obsession with the regeneration limit! Including Hurt, Capaldi ought to be the last Doctor according to that one throwaway line in a crap episode everybody insists on treating as absolute fact despite being contradicted repeatedly in later and better episodes. At the same time, given Baker’s age, the pace of the series, and how long Doctors’ tenures tend to last, it is highly unlikely that we will see a future incarnation of the Doctor played by Tom Baker–which means the Doctor can never retire.

The transformation of Friendship Is Magic is, to a small extent, a change to the premise–the Elements of Harmony are now gone. However, they only ever really factored into five episodes: the premiere, the two Discord episodes, “Magical Mystery Cure,” and “Princess Twilight Sparkle.” They are not really an essential part of the premise, any more than Twilight being a unicorn and not a princess is–as Applejack and Twilight discuss in the episode, it is the continued friendship between the characters that matters. More important by far is the promise of the episode’s ending: a fruit has emerged from the base of the tree, a crystalline box (six Elements, plus three cutie marks, plus this box: it is the tenth and lowest Sephirah, Malkuth, the Kingdom, which is to say the World) with six locks opened by unknown keys. The very strong implication is that those keys will be created or found in episodes to come, an explicit story (as opposed to character) arc. The show has never had one of those before, and the possibilities it opens up are enormous. Not so much in the quest itself (presumably, they will collect the six keys and acquire the Infinity Gauntlet/Triforce/Conscience Machine by the end of the season), but rather in the very idea of a multi-episode arc. Unlike Doctor Who, Friendship Is Magic‘s premise is not inherently infinitely extensible, and as such fiddling with the structure of the show like this on occasion can have a profound regenerative effect. On the other hand, it is a sign that the show is starting to struggle to find stories within its original structure, necessitating the new one.

So, in Doctor Who, we have the promise of an end that opens up immortality, and in Friendship Is Magic we have a new beginning as a sign of aging. Either way, these upcoming seasons are going to be something new. My shows are evolving.

Finally got around to seeing Thor 2…

It was okay I guess? I found myself suffering from serious action fatigue in the fight on Svartalfheim with Thor and Loki. The movie was a little too heavy by that point, needed something fun. My biggest issue with the film, however, was the fact that none of the women had any motivation or agency of their own; they all existed solely to support the dudes.

Overall, though, I still had fun. It was entertaining enough to be worth it, if not as good as The Avengers or even Iron Man 3.

Sometimes it’s just really fun to be scared (MMMMystery on the Friendship Express)

Sergeant Sherlock Pie inspects the new recruits.

It’s April 7, 2012. The top song and top movie have not budged. In the news, less than 1% of the population of the District of Columbia votes in its Republican presidential primary, the 30th anniversary of the Falkland War occurs, and Sky News (part of the Rupert Murdoch empire along with a number of newspapers, Fox News, and some sheep ranches) admits to hacking email accounts, which would have fit well with last episode.


But this episode is “MMMMystery on the Friendship Express,” directed by Jayson Thiessen and written by a nigh-unrecognizable Amy Keating Rogers. None of her problematic signatures are on display here; there are no reflexively applied toxic memes or stereotypes, no Applejack worship (indeed, she’s barely in the episode), just some silly fun with Pinkie Pie being weird and lots of allusions. 

Most notable, of course, is Murder on the Orient Express, of which this episode is straightforwardly a parody. The most immediately obvious references are in the plot: a train suspiciously devoid of passengers unrelated to the story (in the novel, excuses are given as to why no one outside of one sleeper car could be involved, but the train nonetheless feels curiously small) becomes a crime scene. A skilled detective (Twilight in the show, Poirot in in the book) investigates, accompanied by an incompetent detective (Pinkie Pie here merges the characters of the doctor and M. Bouc) who falls for red herrings and makes accusations based on spurious reasoning. In the end, it turns out everyone is guilty except for the investigators themselves, but a solution is found so that no one is punished. One of the criminals even disguises themselves as a worker on the train, while another fakes leaving it while remaining on board!

More interesting, perhaps, are the structural similarities. “Friendship Express” does not match “Orient Express” beat for beat, even when one takes into account that the cast of the episode is half that of the book. However, both the book and the episode have an intricate, nested structure: a first part that introduces the characters; a series of short vignettes featuring each suspect in turn; a period of clue-gathering in which the incompetent detective is baffled and the competent detective confident and businesslike; and finally a denouement in whih the truth is revealed. The biggest differences are that the vignettes are the second phase in the episode and clue-gathering third, the reverse of the book, and the occurrence of a second crime in the episode, committed by all the characters Pinkie Pie falsely accused in the first. Additionally, the vignettes in both establish innocence for the characters featured in them, but in the show this is because they are falsely accused, while in the book they are providing alibis for one another. 

These vignettes, along with the scene where the lights go out, followed by the revelation of a new crime, and the fact that the second incident involves three simultaneous acts of vandalism, all recall the film Clue, itself a parody of the Agatha Christie-style upper-class closed-circle mystery of which Murder on the Orient Express is frequently upheld as a paragon. Rather famously, that film was released with three different endings, which were distributed to different theaters, but nearly twenty years on from that, the TV and home video versions are far more familiar, which play all three endings in sequence–each is shown, then immediately dismissed using silent movie-style placards, and the next is shown. In much the same way, each of Pinkie Pie’s accusations is shown, then dismissed by Twilight Sparkle–her first accusation is even done in a silent movie style!

There is quite a mix of media going on here, connecting a novel, two films (as the nearest source for the episode is not so much the Agatha Christie novel itself as the 1974 film based on it), and the board game from which Clue is adapted, and the episode reflects that, connecting styles and eras of film that deal with suspense and uncertainty. The episode as a whole, of course, references the closed-circle mysteries of the 1930s, while the griffin chef’s vignette references silent film, and more specifically the action serials typified by The Perils of Pauline. Doughnut Joe’s vignette is a 1960s martini-and-tuxedos spy thriller of the type today best remembered for James Bond, and the mule’s is a pastiche of the kung fu films of the 1970s.

We are back, in other words, on the theme of time, and in particular in the way in which different periods of pop culture expressed and experienced suspense and action–largely the domain of predatory figures in the silent film era and the 1930s, but a source of pleasure and excitement in later periods. It is a demonstration that even our feelings are subject to cultural shifts, can change their meaning from generation to generation.

There is an oft-repeated truism that the popularity of film genres shifts with the times: in times of war and economic turmoil, comedies and fantasies are more popular, while in stable periods of peace and prosperity dramas and thrillers are more popular. People who are afraid and stressed want to laugh and to escape; people who are comfortable and safe want pathos and adventure. What kinds of emotional states are experienced as pleasurable is in part dependent on the state of the culture, in other words.

It is a direct challenge to the season’s other major theme, love. If even our emotions are mere to signifiers, changing according to cultural context, does it not follow that love is a cultural construct? For all the claims that it conquers all, that it is eternal and can outlast time, can it really be just a matter of cultural programming that makes us regard it as one of the loftiest goals, where another culture might place duty, glory, responsibility, any of a host of other ideals? How far can this be extended? Is it possible to imagine a culture so boring that fear becomes the most sought-after emotion, so that horror movies and amusement parks become regarded as among the highest forms of art? Is it possible to imagine a culture where love is not desired at all?

Or, perhaps, are there limits? How we feel about feelings is clearly at least partially determined by the culture around us, yes, but is it a matter of influences tugging one way or the other on emotions that do have an underlying tendency to be viewed as positive or negative by most people? In other words, is love something that most people want regardless of culture, but culture influences how much they want it?

These are likely not questions that have solid, certain answers. We may never know the answer, but an answer can be assayed–and the show is about to do just that.

Next week: Amorivorous doppelgangers, giant glowing hearts, and some seriously excellent music.

Snarky Supernatural Saturday (S1 E09-10)

Episode 9: Home

Previously on Supernatural… wait, this is different! It… has nothing whatsoever to do with the last seven episodes, but it’s different! (Damn, and I had a good joke lined up for it being the same, too. It was an Arrested Development reference, it would have been great. Even when you do what I want, you still disappoint me, show.)

I was SO sure the monster in the closet was going to grab her and drag her screaming back into it. I want a monster-in-the-closet episode.

Telekinetic monsters in the closet are the best monsters in the closet.

Yeah, of COURSE the evil house is the old Winchester place. I wonder if they’re named after the rifle manufacturers, what with the whole Mystery Mansion thing.

Did this show just kill off a kid? Because that would get it like one and half, two points for sheer ballsiness.

Nope. Nope, It Was All A Dream. Probably a Prophetic Dream ™.

I hate prophecy as a narrative device, it’s the ultimate Because The Plot Said So.

Sam has dreams about horrible things happening to people and then they do? Evil-baby powers confirmed.

“First you tell me that you’ve got the shining—“ “That’s shinning. Yeh wanna be sued?”

Thus far this entire series has been set in flyover country, have you noticed?

Did they just NOT LIE about who they are? It’s almost like they’re capable of learning from past experience!

Or at least, Sam is.

The woman living in their house looks REALLY familiar, but I can’t place her. There’s something slightly odd about her mouth?

Richie is a juice junkie? OH NO, RICHIE IS POSSESSED BY THE EVIL TIME-TRAVELING GHOST OF BUSTER BLUTH! HE’S A TIME TRAVELER, HE CAN EXIST LATER IN THE TIMELINE THEN WHEN HE WAS DEFEATED!

Turns out it is the thing that killed their mom and Jessica, they beat it, find jobs as cropdusters, and the next eight and a half seasons are a workplace comedy.

If Dean has been in contact with their dad all along…

Oh, no, just leaving messages.

Is Dean wearing a wedding ring?

They’re not lying! Dean is capable of human emotion! The previously on changed! This is EASILY the best episode yet.
Oh Jesus fuck it’s one of those evil monkeys. Does ANYONE buy those outside of horror movies/shows? Owning one is like ASKING to be sucked into the bowels of hell or whatever.

Garbage disposal turns on. Calling it.

Ow. Yeah. Called it. And the monkey is all like “Ha ha!” because those little monkeys are almost as evil as evil-babies.

He started reading strange old books? Great, that’s ALWAYS a good idea, it never leads to discovering Secrets Man Was Not Meant to Know.

Cold-bangin..? What the hell is that? No, no, I don’t want to know, it’ll only upset me.

Wow, she’s good at cold-reading. That or she’s the one psychic on Earth that isn’t a fraud, but what are the odds?

Still, I like her. She’s tough.

Oh my god, is it going to LITERALLY fridge the kid? That would be THE BEST.

Ha!

Yeah, of course he wasn’t in any danger. International Guild of Ghosts and Demons union rules, evil-babies are safe.
Can Missouri come on ALL their investigations?

In fact, can we just stop following the Winchesters and get the Missouri show?

I mean, much as I hate psychics, I gotta say I love how she takes none of their shit.

It’s all down to the actress, really. She’s been handed a part that’s nothing but stereotypical Magical Negro, with the whole “black women are bossy” stereotype ladled liberally on top, but she OWNS it and just OOZES charisma.

The second spirit is holding the poltergeist out because it’s the ghost of their mom, right?

Oh god, they’re going to kill off Missouri, aren’t they?

I like how the poltergeist can easily attack all three when they’re on different floors, but only one at a time when they’re in the same room.

The kitchen is TRASHED. Jenny is gonna be PISSED.

I just want Missouri to swoop in and tell Dean off every time he’s about to say or do anything.
Okay, there’s still ten minutes left to the episode and we haven’t found out exactly what Jenny’s running from. SOMETHING needs to explode.

Zelda Rubenstein? Who?

Okay, the TOTES DRAMATIC ZOOMS are getting straight-up silly.

Sam’s getting beat up by an invisible force, bet that saved on guest stars.

Ghost of their mom. Called it.

“Sam. I’m sorry.” “For what?” “For the affair with Satan that spawned you, evil-baby mine.”

Yes, yes, and the mom chases the poltergeist away.

“What’s happening to me?” When an evil-baby reaches a certain age, they may notice… changes, such as horns where no horns existed before, prophetic dreams, and a newfound interest in girls.

Missouri comes home to find their dad waiting for her, right?
Of course he’s there.

“I want to see them so much, but it would ruin the Greatest Dad Prank of All Time!”

Huh, so apparently this show *does* have a plot after all! I wonder if they bothered pretending they knew where it was going, like X-Files, or just copped to making it up as they went along like Buffy.

Characters so far (characters appearing in this episode are in italics, characters who have not been seen or mentioned in three episodes not included):
-Drunken, absent father
Jerkass bully who insults everyone he meets, and we’re expected to find him charming Couldn’t be a bully OR assert his hegemonic masculinity this episode, because Missouri is the best
Milquetoast who is secretly evil-baby with evil-baby fiery lady-fridging powers he can’t control Now also has dreams about horrible things happening to innocent families, he’s clearly a complete monster.
-Disposable woman who exists solely to die in a horrible, painful way to create drama for the male characters and further the plot (deceased) Came back as a ghost, sacrificed herself to save said male characters. Got to speak maybe three words.
-Other disposable woman who exists solely to die in a horrible, painful way to create drama for the male characters and further the plot (deceased)
-Lori, secretly an evil-baby who unknowingly summons Ghost Buster, so clearly Sam’s soulmate
Taylor, disposable woman who exists solely to die in a horrible, painful way to create drama for Lori and further the plot (deceased)
-Reverend Dad, who likes adultery but not sororities
-Lori’s date, needs to learn that no means no, kinda deserved to have something bad happen to him but probably not death by Buster (deceased)
-The Angry Time-Traveling Ghost of Buster Bluth, a.k.a. Jack the Ripper Possessed an evil-baby, thirsts for juice.
-Matt, likes bugs, secretly not an evil-baby. (disappointing)
-Construction worker guy, brain eaten by beetles I guess (deceased)
-Other construction worker guy, totally fell for the old “nephews” trick
-Woman who actually has a job and life of her own, died horribly but it didn’t particularly advance the plot or give another character something to emote over(deceased, technically not fridged)
-1x Magical Native American(presumably returned to Central Casting whence he came)
-Matt’s parents (apparently have the power to fold time and space)
Jenny (still being sued, apparently, did we just forget that?)
Plumber (lost his hand to a garbage disposal, in 20 years he will be the origin of the legend of Plungerhand)
Jenny’s daughter Has a literal monster in her closet, it’s pretty great
Jenny’s son Evil-baby, possessed by the evil time-traveling ghost of Buster Bluth, thirsts for juice, got actually, literally fridged. Basically the most perfect character this show has had or likely will ever have.
Missouri, is also basically the best.
Winchester pere, manages to be both a milquetoast AND a dick, so I guess that confirms he’s really their dad.

Disposable women who exist solely to die in horrible, painful ways to create drama for the male characters and/or Lori and further the plot counter: 7
Women who kiss Dean: 2
Missouri counter: 1
Average disposable women who exist solely to die in horrible, painful ways to create drama for the male characters and further the plot per episode: 0.78
Average women who suffer horrible fates no one should have to endure per episode: 1
Average Missouri per episode: 0.11 UNACCEPTABLE

Final Rating: 6/10 IF THE ENTIRE SHOW WERE THIS GOOD I MIGHT OCCASIONALLY CHOOSE TO WATCH IT IF NOTHING ELSE WERE ON

Episode 10: Asylum

Previously on Supernatural, the show was actually all right. So how are you going to disappoint me today, show?

Oh look, it’s a previously on with none of last episode. They’re just going to ignore that all that happened, aren’t they?

Oh joy, a haunted mental hospital. I’m sure this will be respectful and well-researched in regards to its treatment of mental illness.

Bolt cutters!? Why, that would imply that local children have access to hardware stores and/or their parents’ toolsheds!

Black Guy Dies First in 3… 2… 1…

Oh COME ON, what could POSSIBLY be in a mental hospital that gets a biohazard sign ON THE DOOR? This isn’t Silent Hill!

Oh hey, the ghosts are going for the white cop. Quite the unexpected switch-up there, show.

Great, a bonethief got him and is wearing his skin.

…Man, how did I get this far without referencing the best horror game ever?

Okay, I was about to get squicked out that SOMEHING ELSE was going to have sex with his wife in his body. Killing her is marginally less squicky?
That only counts as a fridge if someone the audience cares about cares about her, by the way.

Those are pretty imprecise coordinates. I’m surprised it’s only one town.
What if it’s not their dad? I mean obviously it is because he’s setting up all these things and then sending them there as part of the Epic Dad Prank. But what if it’s someone else fucking with them?

I love when they consult their Junior Woodchucks Guidebook.

Okay, that was a pretty clever twist on their usual doomed-to-failure fake identities.

None of them are particularly great, but I don’t think it’s really a contest. Hewitt, obviously.

“Maybe it’s more like Amityville.” “You mean a known and obvious hoax?”

Why are they both assuming the text message came from their dad?

Okay, I would honestly rather see Sam talk about his brother than find out about the South Wing, but that would require the writers to come up with a modicum of personality for him, so, you know.

This is one of those creepy dudes who reads up on psychology and tries to apply it to dating, isn’t it? He’s read about arousal misattribution and so he’s trying to deliberately terrify his date so she’ll like him more. I hope he fries… but he’s probably going to end up killing her, because that’s the show.

Dude, that sillhouette behind him looks like it has ears. Is it Batman?

That face-shaking effect is NEVER SCARY, why do horror things bother with it?

Also: OH NOES, it’s haunted by the ghost of NAVI! No wonder it drives visitors “insane”: “Hey, listen! Hey! Listen!”

These ghosts are pretty clearly Xel’lotath-aligned, they should enchant their shotgun with Chatturg’ha runes.

Right, Dean, because the right way to go through life is cowering in terror from every rumor, hiding under the bed.

Gavin is like a DEAN-caliber asshole. “Scarred for life” my ass. “Oh noes, I kissed someone who wasn’t Hollywood pretty, it is the WORST THING EVER.”

You’d be better off attacking the hinges, Dean, you AMATEUR.
HE whispered in your ear, not “it,” you vitalist.

Okay, WHY is Dean going alone? There’s no urgency here, they could both lead the kids out and then go back in.

Okay, that panel was pretty bloody obvious. How did the police miss that when looking for the bodies?

Wait, if the ghosts create enough static to show up on the EMF, how are their cell phones working?

And of course the biohazard room again. Was that a SECRET DOOR? This hospital IS from a video game.

Can you imagine the construction workers? “Um, so you want a… secret… door… in your hospital? That’s… different.”

Blah blah, angry evil ghost psychiatrist makes people “crazy” because that’s what psychiatrists do.

Seriously, have you ever noticed that, in media, EVERYTHING related to the mental health profession defaults to evil? The patients, the doctors, the treatments, the facilities…

Okay, I can SEE the outline of the secret door. There’s a line of light!

Blah blah brotherly love triumphs over the evil ghost doctor.
How did that not even damage Dean’s shirt?

But the guy didn’t hesitate at all to kill his wife, because apparently “bros before hos” is an actual law of nature in this universe. Blegh.

Okay, giving him an unloaded gun was fairly clever, and definitely better than The Power of Love. That only works if we see the characters earn it.

Okay, that’s the second thing I’ve seen TONIGHT where a lighter stays lit when thrown. I am like 90% certain lighters do not work that way.

“Now you kids spend the rest of your lives cowering in terror, ‘kay? Don’t try to take control of the horror in your lives by fighting back the way we did, you’re designated victims, not main characters.”

And then their dad calls them, I guess? Meh, I’m sure they’ll find some way to make next week a pure Monster of the Week anyway.
Characters so far (characters appearing in this episode are in italics, characters who have not been seen or mentioned in three episodes not included):
-Drunken, absent father (still punking them)
The living incarnation of anxious masculinity He just hasn’t been bullying much lately, so I changed his description. Unfortunately it wasn’t so much character development as character drift.
Milquetoast who is secretly evil-baby with evil-baby fiery lady-fridging powers he can’t control Supposedly had massive breakthroughs in a single psychiatry session. Yeah, right. Also, you don’t go to psychiatrists for therapy, there aren’t enough psychiatrists for that. You go to have a focused conversation with the goal of getting a diagnosis and a prescription. Psychologists and social workers are where you get talk therapy.
-Disposable woman who exists solely to die in a horrible, painful way to create drama for the male characters and further the plot (deceased)
-Other disposable woman who exists solely to die in a horrible, painful way to create drama for the male characters and further the plot (deceased)
-Matt, likes bugs, secretly not an evil-baby. (disappointing)
-Construction worker guy, brain eaten by beetles I guess (deceased)
-Other construction worker guy, totally fell for the old “nephews” trick
-Woman who actually has a job and life of her own, died horribly but it didn’t particularly advance the plot or give another character something to emote over(deceased, technically not fridged)
-1x Magical Native American(presumably returned to Central Casting whence he came)
-Matt’s parents (apparently have the power to fold time and space)
-Jenny (owned their house, lost it in the lawsuit the narrative just forgot about)
-Plumber (lost his house, sued Jenny)
-Jenny’s daughter
-Jenny’s son
-Missouri (I miss her already)
-Murder-suicide cop (deceased)
-Black cop (not dead, in this show’s most shocking twist yet)
-Gavin (dickweasel)
-Kat (yet another generically pretty blonde)
-Ghosts who just want attention
-Evil psychiatrist ghost (he lives in a Silent Hill level, and not one of the good ones)
Disposable women who exist solely to die in horrible, painful ways to create drama for the male characters and/or Lori and further the plot counter: 7
Women who kiss Dean: 2
Missouri counter: 1
Average disposable women who exist solely to die in horrible, painful ways to create drama for the male characters and further the plot per episode: 0.7
Average women who suffer horrible fates no one should have to endure per episode: 0.9
Average Missouri per episode: 0.1 EVEN LESS ACCEPTABLE

Final Rating: 4/10 MEH BUT COULD BE WORSE

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: Predictions, Hopes, Fears

The 50th Anniversary is tomorrow! Do you have any thoughts on it? What do you think is going to happen? What do you hope is going to happen? What are you worried might happen?

Here’s mine:

  • Prediction: The entire episode (or vast majority) will take place in the Doctor’s mind/history/living crack in time from Clara’s perspective, because heavily abstracted metaphors are the only way the Time War can be shown without disappointing massively.
  • Hope: Clara will do something to make her something other than Generic Essence of Companion.
  • Fears: Clara will continue to be Generic Essence of Companion. The Time War will be a bunch of explosions.

This is a wild speculation post, so feel free to reply with your own ideas!

MLP:FIM Premiere: Predictions, Hopes, Fears

The Season Four premiere is only a couple of days away! Do you have any thoughts on it? What do you think is going to happen? What do you hope is going to happen? What are you worried might happen?

Here’s mine:

  • Prediction: Twilight will travel into Luna’s memories to learn the origins of Nightmare Moon as part of dealing with a new crisis, which may or may not be Nightmare Moon-related.
  • Hope: Celestia meant it when she said “We’re all your students now” in the Season Three finale. The premiere ends with Celestia writing a Dear Princess Twilight letter.
  • Fear: Twilight loses her wings at the end of the premiere. I actually don’t think her getting wings or becoming a princess is an inherently good or bad idea, it all came down to execution, and in my opinion they executed it well. More importantly, however, backtracking this quickly on something that was that big a deal last season would be very disappointing.

This is a wild speculation post, so feel free to reply with your own ideas!