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SPN 8.12 As Time Goes By

Roommate and I agree: interesting concept, and I thought the acting and so on was fine, but my gosh the dialogue was awful.

Also, this ep is the third in a series of really weird tonal switches - from the itchy awful conflict of 8.09/8.10 to the LARPing lark of 8.11, to this one, all heavy with Family Issues and also big worldbuilding stuff. The progression of the Sam-Dean reconciliation has been not so much rushed as assumed pre-emptively; 8.11 was not, IMO, sufficient transition between "Benny's the only person who's never let me down" in 8.09 to Dean here, reiterating for Henry (and all the audience members who had NEVER EVER SEEN THE SHOW BEFORE) that he'll do anything to save Sam. I mean, not that we can't have deep resentment and brother-saving in the same ep, even, but I need lingering tension, people!

Everything in the last third of this was so ham-handed. Where is the subtlety, show? (Though I will say, Jensen and Jared were tops at working with what they were given, this ep. They pretty much carried it by the power of their faces alone, and I do not just mean in the sense of the pretty distracting me from the badness.)

OTOH, worldbuilding, huh. This was one of those episodes that, I feel, suffered from something I tend to think of as Star Trek syndrome: something goshbangwowhuge is introduced and resolved all in the same ep, never to be referenced again, much less given the half season's worth of development it deserved. 4.19 definitely suffered from that, I would say, to be only marginally saved when Adam popped up again later, and the same here. I would hope that we follow this Men of Letters trail and I bet the box will turn out to be useful, but I assume that we will never, ever see Abadon again. I mean, dude! The purest of the demons, selected by Lucifer himself, given the title Night of Hell (or Knight of Hell? but the other is cooler).

Apparently there are no Women of Letters.

I find it interesting that in a season that's been so careless with canonical details (the guy standing outside Amelia's house in 8.01, Samandriel's wings not appearing after he died, the "Winchester pact" not to look for each other, just for three), this episode is careful to explicitly confirm that line from back in S5 about the John/Mary romance being orchestrated by heaven. I didn't expect that to ever come up again. The fact that we're bothering to remember it now suggests that it will figure into this season's mythology, though I can't imagine how.

And my gosh, John Winchester. It turns out basically every important person in his life knew about the boogey man except him - and yet he still stumbled into hunting almost by accident. Presumably he never knew about Mary, clearly he never knew about his father.

This episode definitely gave me a lot more thinky thoughts than any episode has in a long time. Since 7.21, actually, I think.

In summary: the ham-handedness, the horrible dialogue, the tonal changes, and the Sam and Dean characterization that seems unrelated to anything we have seen in the last, oh, five seasons or so confirms me in my opinion that this season is bad, bad in much broader and more pedestrian ways than it has ever been bad before.

Original entry posted at Dreamwidth. Feel free to reply here or there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
downjune
Feb. 1st, 2013 03:48 pm (UTC)
This episode further cemented that fact that the spn world is populated almost exclusively by dudes from broville. Which is boring and makes me realize how special the ladies really are.

And what is UP with the writing, seriously. I mean the show was never going to win awards and there's always been a certain camp factor that is generally charming, but...

That old dude saying the box is "the supernatural motherload" was RIDICULOUS.

I am excited for this brainy side of things with the Letters, but I don't want Sam and Dean to be split into Brain and Brawn b/c they're really not that simple.

And how great was Abadon! She was really great.
de_nugis
Feb. 1st, 2013 09:32 pm (UTC)
I worried about the splitting into brain and brawn thing, too, but I think this ep was actually in that respect more balanced and nuanced that that formula would suggest. Henry's disdain for hunters was cast as pretty classist, and we've seen hunters as knowledge-gatherers (including the Campbell library, which I'm annoyed at TPTB for forgetting after 6.12) and Henry even seemed to recognize that John's journal was not, after all, a different thing from the journal he would have kept. And it was an episode that showcased hunter smarts: Dean's strategy, and the devil's trap bullet, which was a means of stopping Abadon that Henry and Dean seemed to figure out between them, when the Men of Letters thought she couldn't be stopped. And, after all, Sam and Dean are both compounds of Campbell and Winchester. I do like the fact that it gives an identity niche for Sam's more academic style of intelligence, but I don't think (except maybe in the singularly unsubtle mind of Bob Singer) that it translates to Dean = brawn, Sam = brain, just that it reflects the long-standing contrast between Sam's more analytic and Dean's more practical kinds of intelligence.

You know, they could have done the same story with John's mother, instead. Then there would be no contradiction to the In the Beginning evidence that John's father was a living mechanic.
scarletscarlet
Feb. 13th, 2013 07:16 pm (UTC)
You know, they could have done the same story with John's mother, instead.

Bah. You'd think this wasn't the same show that gave us Mary the hunter. There was an interview with Robert Singer on... I can't remember the site. But the interviewer raised that question, something like "Will we get to meet John's mother, anything likely to happen with the boys' grandmother?" and the first word out of his mouth in response to that question was "Wow."

Wow, like bringing in a female relative was such an outlandish concept. My face = >:|
snickfic
Feb. 13th, 2013 09:59 pm (UTC)
My face is your face.

UGH.

Edited at 2013-02-13 09:59 pm (UTC)
scarletscarlet
Feb. 13th, 2013 10:55 pm (UTC)
Lol-ing at your icon edit, because YES. Our faces can be grumpy at Singer together. It seems to be his MO.
snickfic
Feb. 13th, 2013 11:22 pm (UTC)
I won't lie, that one is my "How are you this stupid" feminism icon. And my young!Sam icon, and my 7.03 icon. I believe in multipurpose icons. :)

This is my subtler feminism icon (which really only works if you remember the scene it's of, which in turn is the middle of a dream sequence that's actually referring to something that happened the season prior - so maybe not so much subtle as opaque...).

Edited at 2013-02-13 11:24 pm (UTC)
scarletscarlet
Feb. 14th, 2013 01:29 am (UTC)
*squints a bit* Is it Giles hypnotising Buffy, and something to do with the First Slayer and how desperately fucked up that was?
snickfic
Feb. 14th, 2013 01:36 am (UTC)
Close! Giles is hypnotizing Buffy just like he did back in the S3 episode where he does it on purpose to make her helpless. More to the point, he's saying something about "This is how men and women have behaved since the beginning." Uh HUH. And like that ep in S3, I interpret it as Giles as Council representative, educating the powerful but naive Slayer.

And Buffy, of course, laughs at him *points to icon*

I love that episode so much. SO MUCH.
scarletscarlet
Feb. 14th, 2013 01:37 am (UTC)
It has been a very, *very* long time since I watched any Buffy. I might have to do something about that!

<3 her for laughing at him on that.
snickfic
Feb. 14th, 2013 01:41 am (UTC)
Buffy was my first fandom and I still have lots of nostalgia associated with it. It's so very different in tone from SPN. Perhaps I should watch a little again, here soon. :)
cordelia_gray
Feb. 2nd, 2013 07:24 am (UTC)
This episode felt like, with very minor changes, it could have been slipped into S2 or S3. Which I kind of enjoyed, if only for the nostalgia factor, but does not speak well of anyone paying attention to continuity. Even the Winchester/Campbell Cupid marriage thing - it was interesting that they referenced it, but I thought it had been arranged so that Sam & Dean would be born as optimal vessels for Michael and Lucifer. The whole "uniting different clans of hunters" thing feels like another retcon. Which I don't mind, necessarily, but still.

IA about the weird tonal shifts. There's no flow to the season, it's very choppy, and it seems like they want us to forget about the first 10 episodes, just as they wanted us to forget about the past couple of seasons when those ten started. We just need to be paying less attention, or something.

I do like the idea of Dean and Sam having a possible goal, or something to work towards, the idea of rebuilding some of the knowledge base the Men of Letters (stupid name!) had built.

Apparently there are no Women of Letters. Wasn't the woman who got possessed by Abaddon a member of the club? Or am I confused?


scarletscarlet
Feb. 13th, 2013 07:13 pm (UTC)
Shedding a tear for something as awesome as a Knight of Hell in a fine lady vessel being wiped out of the storyline the same episode she was introduced.

On the whole, I enjoyed that episode, and yeah, worldbuilding, but sometimes, such silly things. 808, Castiel is in the episode and so can heal gut-shot minor character. 812, Granddad is bleeding out and they don't even consider so much as pulling out the cellphone to call their magical cure-all. It's not like it's a new thing, but it *is* a pain when characters have to do stupid things to keep the story going. Why not find a way to write the story and have people NOT do the daft stuff?
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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