Friday, February 22, 2008

Too Much to Talk About

I could whine about all the customer service issues I've had lately, and how if you work in a customer service capacity, you don't want to deal with me.

Or I could lament how my iPod died again, and it's been less than seven freakin' months since I got it, and how they are about to lose me as a customer because their products cost more than anyone else's and last less time and I'm so pissed.

Or I could talk about the short story I'm working on for Amber Quill (release TBD, but maybe July). It's called RENEGADE, and it is inspired by the end moments of the episode "Nightshifter" from Season Two of Supernatural, though the characters and circumstances shall bear no resemblance to anyone you've ever seen. :)

But I would really rather talk about last night's Supernatural. Hope that's okay with you.

I watched "Nightshifter" first (which was coincidentally on before "Jus in Bello," which has nothing to do with the fact that I'm writing RENEGADE). At one point during "Jus in Bello" I thought, "The feel of this episode is so much more like last season." Which is neither a criticism or a compliment, just an observation. Could be the jail, could be the shot angles, could be the graininess of the film or the direction or a combination of all of the above.

Some of the good lines (as close as I can remember them without rewatching):

"Anyone got a breath mint? I got some guts in my mouth killing my way in."

"Yeah, but you didn't shoot the deputy."

"I'm so having a lot of sex when this is over. Not with you."

There was some complaint on a blog I used to read about how the show has made all women either evil/sluts or virgins/virgin-like. The complaint was followed by various levels of "feminist rage" aimed at the writers over this element, which I think is both vastly oversimplified and one of those things self-righteous people tend to find because they look for it.

First, I thought Nancy was great. Virgin sacrifice has ancient roots, so it fits the mythology of the show. But as the show went on, she revealed herself to be not much of a stereotype. She wasn't hot, but she was pretty in a normal-looking way. Certainly not someone who COULDN'T have sex if she wanted it. She wasn't completely fearful and shy/retiring, just scared of the guys the big bad FBI agent--the good guy, the one on her side, as far as she knew at the beginning--had told her were total monsters, something worth fearing. She acquitted herself pretty damn well, and was very brave, willing to give herself up to save her friends, and putting herself at risk to play her part in the battle.

Nor was Nancy the only non-evil female in the episode. Bela is not "evil" in that sense, she's just ambitious and without conscience, and probably more complicated than we have yet seen. Ruby isn't evil, either, taken at face value. Perhaps she'll be revealed later on to have ulterior motives that are firmly on Hell's side, but for now, she just keeps saving the boy's asses.

As for the rest of the season, we've had:

--Tamara, the hunter, who was smart, funny, a hunter

--The mom of the changeling who was just a scared mother

--Ben's mom, who seemed to be pretty together and neither evil nor virginal (thought it can be argued she had a slutty past, she wasn't portrayed that way on her episode), and Dean's momentary dream moment doesn't count because it was a dream

--Gertrude, the old woman...okay, never mind :)

Sure, there was the demon bartender, the pagan god woman, and the witches (whom I mostly place in a neutral category, as they were just selfish in a way most people are, not evil). But there was also the demon priest, Gordon, the ship captain's brother's ghost, the pagan god man, and the trickster. So how is a balanced slate of evil anti-feminist? Why not say, "The only non-evil man on 'Jus in Bello' was a buffoon, and so unfair to small-town sheriffs'?"

The other complaint I read about was that the show fell apart with the battle. I disagree. I think the problem is that people didn't get that Dean didn't tell US his whole plan. When he said, "We let them in, and then we fight," he wasn't talking about fighting to kill and be the ones to survive. He was talking about fighting to hold them until they could trap them inside and exorcise them, which they did, to great success, because as you could see when the lights came on, most of the people were moaning and moving.

Ruby wanted to kill the virgin and herself (supposedly, though I am in the camp that thinks there was more to that), use the spell to vaporize the demons and hopefully leave the people okay. Dean's plan had similar results, except they didn't have to cold-bloodedly kill the innocent woman. Choice is as much about being able to live with your decision (assuming you live) as about choosing the right thing. So while Sam was all "sacrifice the one for the good of the many," that was more than Dean could allow.

So, to recap:

1. They let the demons in.

2. They blasted them with rock salt and holy water that bruised the bodies but left them alive, and beat on them a little bit--again, leaving them alive--until they were all inside.

3. The deputy and the secretary/dispatcher used salt to trap them inside.

4. Sam's recording on the PA exorcised them all, leaving most, if not all, of the innocent people alive. Except the ones the demons killed before possessing, of course.

Seems like a very well-done plan, to me. I had no confusion while watching the show.

Okay, now the tasty little bits:

The tattoos
Some too-literal people might say, "How come they never mentioned that they had those?" but the show isn't like one perfectly connected series of moments. We don't see them doing laundry or shopping for rock salt (sorry, Megan), but we know they must. It's plausible that they got them after the big demon escape and before the season started, or between shows.

I just think it's hot that they have matching tattoos blocking demon possession. And that we got to see a flash of skin.

Speaking of skin...

Dean's shoulder
I like episodes where Dean gets shot in the shoulder. It's the only time we get to see those arms. Was that the same shirt? I have to watch BUaBS to compare. If it was, it was convenient that he had it on, pre-ripped sleeve and all.

Sam's Latin
OMG, he memorized the exorcism. And he said it so smoothly and confidently! Loved it!

Dean's jokes
I love the look that comes over his face when he just can't not say it, and he knows it's not right to, but he says it anyway. And it's always accompanied by Sam's bitchface, which is as dear to me as his hair. Which continues to be excellent, BTW.

Throwing them up against the wall
I don't think I'll ever get tired of that.

I probably have more thoughts I can't think of right now. What did I miss? What were your favorite parts? What was less than stellar that you can rationalize-away a la Natalie? :)


MJFredrick said...

My danged network hiccuped just when Dean was just about ready to say, "But you didn't shoot the deputy." AND when Nancy was fixing his shoulder. Grr.

I loved this episode, love that they memorized the exorcism, loved the plan, loved Nancy, LOVED creepy little girl. I even like Ruby. This season is AWESOME.

I agree that it looked like last season. It was a combo of Nightshifter and Croatoan, what with the siege and protecting civilians.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Yes, exactly! I had Croatoan in my head, too. The tension was similar.

Man, I HATE when that happens! In every single show, our satellite feed seems to glitch for a couple of seconds. But that was exquisitely bad timing for you. :)

It's awesome to hear from someone who has as much love as I do. Next time, I'm not reading anyone else's opinions so I can spend my blogging gushing instead of defending. :)

MJFredrick said...

Yeah, I unsubscribed from a lot of Supernatural stuff because they were taking away from my enjoyment of the show. I think this season is amazing. I just spent m Amazon gift cert on the Season One companion and the new novel by Keith DiCandido.

Even the dh enjoyed it.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I got the companion for my birthday--it's GREAT!--and a subscription to the magazine, as well. I have great friends/family. :) Let me know how the novel is. I was afraid to get it and be disappointed.

MJFredrick said...

This is a third novel. I liked the Raven one, HATED the Witch Canyon one. This is by the same author as the Raven one.

Trish got me the subscription for Christmas. I've got one issue and haven't even read it yet!!!

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I didn't even know there was a third novel! I guess the first one sold pretty well.