bardicvoice: (Supernatural University)
Supernatural University Master Post

This post links to all my individual Supernatural University essay posts, in the order in which they were written. Additional Supernatural University discussions take place in most, if not all, of my episode commentaries, but those tend to focus on specific episodes; the standalones tend to cover bigger topics and haven’t been easy to find. But here they all are. Hope you enjoy them!

I’ve grouped these into the seasons in which they were written. Bear in mind when they were written as you read them; each essay only references episodes that were in existence when they were written. I used to have a lot more time available for meta; as the seasons progressed, more and more of the meta became integrated into the episode commentaries.


This way to the Table of Contents ... )
bardicvoice: (9.01)

9.01 I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here: There Ain't No Me If There Ain't No You

Sam's inner debate:
Fight for life, or die in peace?
Dean loads angel dice.

Commentary and Meta Analysis

Put me on the list of fans who loved this episode. I know it created controversy among fans – hell, what episode doesn't these days, given the different lenses fans always watch through? – but it worked brilliantly for me. In this discussion, I'm going to look at angels in the human outfield; what was going on in Sam's mind as he lay in that coma; Dean's decisions; Castiel dealing with humanity from the inside; and the enigmatic Ezekiel.

Read the rest ... )

In his internal debate about living or dying, Sam unconsciously stacked the deck against his own survival by emphasizing all the things that make human life hard: struggle, conflict, anger, pain, loss. All too often, I think we, like Sam, lose sight of the very things that make even the hardest life worthwhile: love, concern for each other, generosity, acceptance, forgiveness. Sometimes, we need to take a leap of faith and place our trust in someone else to find our way back to ourselves. Every time we do that, we take a risk – but don't you think life and love are worth a risk?


Want to read my commentaries and meta earlier? They always post on The Winchester Family Business a few days before they appear here. Check http://www.thewinchesterfamilybusiness.com/!



bardicvoice: (SU weebros by <lj user=Cakehole_Cat>)



Supernatural University: Tragedies, Bloodlines, Legacies – The Evolution of the Family Business

“Saving people, hunting things: the family business.”

That's been the tagline of Supernatural from the very beginning, memorably given voice by Dean way back in the second episode, Wendigo, and repeated multiple times every season since. But it's never been a static concept; every part of that phrase has undergone evolution as the seasons progressed. In this discussion, I look at how the show has changed our understanding of family and the family business from its original presentation of hunting, hunters, the Winchesters, and saving people to where we stand at the beginning of season nine. Welcome to a multidiscliplinary Supernatural University analytical session!

Read the rest ... )

Anticipation, It's Making Me Wait …

Season nine promises to continue exploring the Winchesters' MOL legacy and – through the consequences of Sam's trials, Dean's decisions, the angels falling, and Castiel being rendered human – the tensions in both the Winchesters' immediate and extended family. I suspect we'll see even more evolution in the family business concerning what it means to save people and hunt things.

But no matter what comes, I know family will always remain at the heart of the show. After all, this all started with another family business that diversified from its origins – Kripke Enterprises, a metal scrap dealer in Toledo, Ohio!

bardicvoice: (SU brothers by <lj user=Cakehole_Cat>)



Supernatural University: Demonstration Angel

Even in the Supernatural universe, Castiel is absolutely unique. Oh, every angel is unique, like every person – each one is an individual with its own identity and personality – but from everything we've seen, Castiel stands alone as the only angel ever to die and be restored … not to mention experiencing that more than once. He's done things no other angel ever contemplated, and doesn't behave like any other angel we've ever met. Why is Castiel so unique? What is his purpose? Welcome to a speculative Supernatural University session in myth, theology, philosophy, psychology, and television production!

In my previous meta on angels as a group, I said I think Castiel represents the quintessential angel, the truest vision of what God intended angels to be. In this article, I'll look at Castiel from three very different but inextricably linked perspectives:


  • In practical television production terms, I'll explore why I think the writers – the show's other gods – designed and introduced him the way they did, why certain things happened to him along the way, and why I believe his initial role expanded largely because of what Misha Collins brought to his portrayal.


  • In terms of character development, I'll explain how I think he's different psychologically from most other angels we've seen, and postulate that his contact with Dean and Sam caused him to consider concepts he otherwise wouldn't have.


  • In story terms, I believe his innate differences, combined with his experience, are why he keeps being brought back from the dead: I propose the show's in-story God may be using him as both an exemplar and a test bed for angel development: God's demonstration angel.

Read the rest... )


bardicvoice: (SU brothers by <lj user=Cakehole_Cat>)

Supernatural University: Calling All Angels

This is the first of two articles exploring angels in the Supernatural universe. In this one, I'll be looking at the role angels have played and how that developed through the history of the series, including how angels relate to monsters and humans, and how I think their role has both meshed with and changed the show's “bible” over time. In the next article, shifting from the general concept of angels to the specific, I'm going to explore in detail the unique role of Castiel and put forward my own theories on his nature and purpose. Welcome to a multidisciplinary Supernatural University session in myth, theology, philosophy, psychology, and the nature of television production!

Read more... )

bardicvoice: (Modern Classic by <lj user=Cakehole_Cat>)

8.23 Sacrifice: It Was Always God's Intention, The Ultimate Sacrifice

Metatron's Heaven:
Exile angels for revenge.
Closing Hell is death.

Commentary and Meta Analysis

My reaction to this episode was mixed. On the one hand, the performances, direction, and technical production aspects were absolutely stellar, and it filled my eyes and broke my heart in good ways; on the other, I had serious issues with aspects of the story, especially the divine metaphysics of falling angels, and it took a couple of viewings for me to get comfortable with the dialogue concerning Sam's confession to Dean and Dean's response. In this discussion, I'm going to address Metatron's expulsion of the angels and the emotional situation between the brothers.

Read the rest ... )

And here's my point. You've doubtless noticed my joy in this episode was not unalloyed. I have issues with the metaphysics of falling angels and with the idea of curing a demon by making it artificially feel remorse though injections of human blood. I've had criticisms of other episodes in this season, and throughout the run of the series.

But you know something? My delight in this show goes beyond my criticisms of the specific details that didn't work for me in a story or a season. I'm not concerned with having everything the way I want it to be. What makes me happy is having Supernatural itself: the story of two brothers who love each other and build a family of much more than blood, for whom saving people is the family business. What makes me happy is the passion and love of all the people behind the show who consistently make it more than an hour of entertainment; the quality it has that makes me think and write about it for long hours after an episode – or a season – has come to an end. What makes me happy are all the people I share my passion with, and the way they give it back to me.

Those are the blessings set before me, and with them, I'm content.

But really impatient for season nine.

bardicvoice: (B&W brothers by <lj user=clubinthesky>)

8.21 The Great Escapist: When You Create Stories, You Become Gods

We can all be gods.
Our minds write our own stories;
Angels, demons, men.

Commentary and Meta Analysis

Ben Edlund never disappoints! This episode was chock-full of information advancing and reinforcing the overall mytharc of the series. I suspect I'll be doing many more analytical pieces during hiatus, because there was too much here for me to deal with in a single write-up. In this discussion, I'm going to look at angels rewriting their roles, the impact of the trials on Sam, and the nature of the trials themselves.

Read the rest ... )

Good stories take us out of ourselves and put us into other universes. When we watch an episode of Supernatural like this one, we can be escapists getting away from the problems of our personal worlds, much the way Metatron fled his angelic troubles to become absorbed instead into human fiction. But great stories can also take us deeper into ourselves and enhance our understanding of and connection with others, as Sam and Dean managed to force Metatron to become involved by personalizing Kevin's story and their own.

Perception can be everything. And if we open ourselves to it, our perceptions can change, and we can become better, more focused, more involved, more caring people.

bardicvoice: (B&W brothers by <lj user=clubinthesky>)

8.19 Taxi Driver: No Reason To Think I Won't See You Again Somewhere Down The Road

Reaper shows the way.
Sam frees Bobby's Hell-trapped soul;
Benny says goodbye.

Commentary and Meta Analysis

I was thoroughly caught up in the emotion and rollercoaster nature of this episode while it was playing – tribute to all the actors and highest marks to the VFX crew – but once it ended, all the logic and plot holes weakening the script became glaringly obvious. I'm still going to treasure this episode despite the script issues, though, precisely because the characters' emotions were so profound and true.

In this discussion, I'm going to explore Reapers; speculate about Kevin, Crowley, and Naomi; celebrate Benny; and theorize about Sam and the trials.

Read the rest ... )

bardicvoice: (Modern Classic by <lj user=Cakehole_Cat>)

8.17 Goodbye Stranger: I Can't Take Any More Lies – From Anyone

Lucifer's lost crypts
Conceal the angel tablet:
Win and lose at once.

Commentary And Meta Analysis

This episode was a game-changer in many ways, and I enjoyed them all. It also harked back to much of the show's history while shining a different light on it, and I appreciated that as well.

In this commentary, I'm going to speculate a lot about Crowley's history, contemplate what's happened to Sam, and delve into the bond between Castiel and Dean.

Read the rest ... )

As I noted, I have more to say, but no time at the moment to say it. I'm on tenterhooks for the rest of this season, and for what season nine will bring; I think the show right now is on an amazing creative roll, and however much it scares me, I can't wait to see where it goes. Especially when this is what the episode left with us to think about:

Goodbye stranger it's been nice
Hope you find your paradise
Tried to see your point of view
Hope your dreams will all come true
Goodbye Mary, goodbye Jane
Will we ever meet again?
Feel no sorrow, feel no shame
Come tomorrow, feel no pain …

Not on Supernatural. We'll feel … everything.


bardicvoice: (6.19 Car boys by <lj user=meg_tdj>)

8.16 Remember The Titans: This One Was Supposed To Be On Me

Prometheus' fate –
Die every day forever:
Hereditary.

Commentary And Meta Analysis

I enjoyed this episode a lot more than I expected to when I first learned about it. Supernatural has an unfortunate track record when it comes to stories involving non-Christian gods; they have most often come off as sloppy caricatures bearing little resemblance to their source mythology. I particularly loathed everything about the travesty that was Hammer Of The Gods and the bizarre depiction of Osiris in Defending Your Life, among others. This episode had its significant inaccuracies and issues, but it escaped the gross stupidity of prior outings, and I found the story of Shane, Hayley, and Oliver magnetic.

In this discussion, I'm going to look at Supernatural's cosmology and its treatment of gods and myth, and talk a little about the Winchesters' current relationship and the parallels I saw between them and Prometheus.

Read the rest ... )

This was a monster of the week story rather than one heavily into the show's mythology, but I very much enjoyed the way it still managed to tie the brothers' overall themes and issues into a standalone tale. That kind of solid linkage always makes a MOTW story more memorable and enjoyable, and with all the emotional and thematic resonance among Sam, Dean, and Prometheus, I will remember and savor this one for a long time.

bardicvoice: (Modern Classic by <lj user=Cakehole_Cat>)

8.14 Trial And Error: This Is My Perfect Ending

God's obstacle course:
Three deadly trials prepare one
To slam shut Hell's gates.

Commentary And Meta Analysis

This episode clearly set the stage for the rest of the season, and perhaps longer. I particularly loved the honesty we got from both of the brothers and the way their respective declarations demonstrated the profound differences in their mindsets facing the quest to close the gates of Hell. With Sam now committed to perform the trials, I really hope the honesty continues, although I'm betting it won't at first.

In this discussion, I'm going to speculate about Kevin's difficulties with translating the tablet and what that may mean for the quest, and I'm going to look at where Dean and Sam stand psychologically and emotionally.

Read the rest ... )

Apologies for the delay in posting this here: I've had problems with the LJ posting interface on Chrome. It's being a bitch. These posts always appear first on The Winchester Family Business: you might want to look there first.


bardicvoice: (B&W brothers by <lj user=clubinthesky>)

8.10 Torn And Frayed: I Can't Enjoy A World I Need To Save

Who controls angels?
Crowley and Naomi both
Tamper with base code.

Commentary And Meta Analysis

Torn and frayed pretty well described all of our heroes by the end of this episode. But despite being torn and frayed, a blanket can still keep you warm, and the way this episode ended, with the Winchesters deliberately reunited by their own conscious choice, it offered us a warmth and hope we've long been missing. I loved this episode and look forward to where the story will take us from here.

In this commentary, I'm going to look at angel source code, tablets, and what's happening in Heaven; Sam and Dean's choices and relationships; and Benny's struggle with addiction.


Read more... )

I know I've been missing in action from commentary during much of this season so far, but I have to say I've been enjoying what showrunner Jeremy Carver has brought to the table. I'm in for the long run, and I can't wait to see where we go from here, with Sam and Dean back together again. And while their coats are torn and frayed and have seen much better days, as long as this show plays, they'll steal my heart away.

bardicvoice: (Welome back boys by <lj user=Cakehole_Ca)

8.02 We Need To Talk About Kevin: Let's Do This

(Originally published on the Winchester Family Business)

Escaped fighter Dean
Disrupts Sam's new life of peace.
New quest: Word of God.

Commentary and Meta Analysis

I'm afraid this won't be up to my usual standards – I'm hideously hard-pressed right now juggling the career I'm leaving, the career I'm starting, family matters, and my fannish heart – but I had to return to blogging Supernatural. I hope you'll forgive the absence of the episode summaries and the scattershot and incomplete nature of the commentaries, at least until my life takes on its new proper proportions in January. I promise to try to do better then, although I think the summaries are toast. Alas.

In the meantime, this discussion explores my thoughts on Purgatory, Dean, and Sam.


Read the rest ... )

Suffice to say for the moment that I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, need to watch it again, and cannot wait to see where Carver and company are taking us! I especially want to know what happened to Castiel; Dean's whole story in Purgatory; exactly what happened to Sam after Dean and Castiel disappeared; and why the angels haven't intervened to secure the stray Words of God on Earth … Oh, and I hope we get to keep the rock music this season, because opening with Jethro Tull and Styx was wonderful!

Bring it, season eight!

bardicvoice: (DeanSky by <lj user=clubinthesky>)

Supernatural University: Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose

(Originally posted on The Winchester Family Business -- Contains Discussion of Spoilers!)

As always in the anticipation of a new season, many fans are bouncing off the walls reacting to spoilery tidbits about the upcoming storyline. I'm going to say up front I've never understood the fannish tendency to jump off cliffs making judgments about things we haven't even seen yet, especially leaping to angry, bitter conclusions about the writers throwing one character under a bus while obviously favoring the other purely on the basis of short, deliberately vague interviews and attention-getting, tiny clips. Prejudging on the basis of incomplete information strikes me as short-sighted on so many levels, and can ruin the viewing experience not only for the judger, but for others who simply want to see where the story will go. My advice to fans (including me!) is always the same: don't assume things in advance, be aware of your own biases before accusing others, and give the writers time in which to build and develop their story – don't expect all the answers in the first five minutes, or even the first five episodes. If there were no mystery, where would the story have room to grow?


Read the rest ... )



And we'll all know more about whether I'm right or wrong as the season progresses! Give it time. I will.

bardicvoice: (SU brothers by <lj user=Cakehole_Cat>)


Supernatural University: Shameless Spoilery Speculation -- Season Eight, The Search for … Limbo?

I avoid spoilers, but accept teasers – by which I mean sanctioned interviews with writers, actors, producers, and directors. So I did follow the coverage from the San Diego ComicCon (although I haven't had time to see it all!), and of course, it sparked some thoughts in my overly fertile brain. What follows is just speculation, pure and simple, so don't take it as anything more. It's probably totally wrong, and trust me, I'm perfectly fine with that; I'll welcome seeing whichever way Season Eight goes, and I trust Jeremy Carver & Company to take me for a fine ride! But while I'm waiting to board the Supernatural Season Eight soul train, I'm going to indulge in a little wild-assery – come along if you dare!


Read the rest ... )


bardicvoice: (bardicvoice by <lj user=Cakehole_Cat>)

I haven’t had much time for blogging lately. Starting a new business while still working a full-time job has meant stepping away from writing meta essays and episode commentaries on Supernatural and indulging in other creative exercises, but it hasn’t stopped me from thinking. And recent events, combined with the habits of all the philosophical and analytical thinking that went into those Supernatural blogs, pushed me into codifying certain essential things I believe.

This essay has nothing to do with Supernatural, so if you visit this blog for fannish things, feel free to bypass this entry. But if you would like to learn something about the core of who I am, you’re welcome to read. Just be aware that what is contained here is personal to me. You may or may not agree with what I think, and that’s fine. But this is not a debate. This is my belief, born of long and careful thought. And it is my personal response to the increasing polarization of society along ideological lines largely driven by conflicting religious and cultural imperatives.


Read the rest ... )

bardicvoice: (Plaid)



Supernatural University
: Spectral Speculations

I thought Death's Door was a magnificent piece of work, and ranks right up there with Abandon All Hope as one of the best mid-season finales of the series. And while I grieve profoundly for Bobby's death, the story around it was solid and very fitting, and did him proud. Special kudos to Jim Beaver for an award-worthy, totally honest performance, and to the entire company for supporting him in it.

Although I do believe Bobby is well and truly dead, this is Supernatural, after all, and I strongly suspect we haven't seen the last of him. Sam and Dean have died more than once, but are still walking, and even Bobby came back from the dead before, raised by Castiel after Lucifer killed him in Swan Song. Castiel himself was brought back, evidently by God, at least twice after having been destroyed by more powerful archangels, as described or seen in Sympathy For the Devil and Swan Song – and where there's room for one wayward angel, I'm certain there's room for one almost-father and heavenly hero. I think there are some excellent story opportunities that could involve Bobby's eventual return, and I thought I'd explore one here. Welcome to a speculative fiction, cosmology, and mythology class at my little Supernatural University, in which I look to the show's established ghost and spirit lore to ask questions about where the writers could possibly take Bobby's story in the future, based on elements from the past!


Read the rest ... )

Happy Hanukkah, Good Solstice, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, and Blessed Whatever-You-Celebrate to all the world, with special love and best wishes to the fans, crew, writers, and cast of Supernatural. May all your wishes come true – but only in ways that benefit you, no legal demonic or fairy fine print attached.

Peace and joy to all, and to all, a good night!

bardicvoice: (Jensen directing Jim by <lj user=bardicv)

The LJ Rich Text Editor is finally playing nice with OpenOffice, so I'm finally posting my one season seven review here on LJ. Yay! At last!!

*************************************

7.03 The Girl Next Door: Nothing In Our Lives Is Simple

What makes a monster?
Sam hunts, then frees, an old friend;
Dean kills her instead.


Read the rest ... )



Winchesters endure. They survive. And somehow ... they make it right in the end.

bardicvoice: (Dean dontletgo by <lj user="Cakehole_Cat)
I intended to post my blog on last week's episode of Supernatural right here, finally, but the LJ text editor appears to be well and truly fucked, at least with regard to dealing with text imported from OpenOffice.  I absolutely don't have the hours and hours it would take for me to hand-code the whole thing.  So until I can find out what's wrong and get it straightened out, please go read the review over on The Winchester Family Business. My apologies.  *Kicks LJ*

7.03 The Girl Next Door: Nothing In Our Lives Is Simple

And I was so happy to finally finish one this season ... I'm sorry.




bardicvoice: (6.22 Sam gun hands)

6.22 The Man Who Knew Too Much: I'm Not Leaving My Brother Alone Out There

Memory endgame:
Castiel drops Sam's mind-wall,
Takes a power trip.
 

Read the rest ... )

 

The icon on this is mine, from a screencap by Alice Jester of The Winchester Family Business.


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