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Slovenly Muse

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  1. Well, that was Season 11! This one was interesting. I liked a lot of the standalone episodes, and the general vibe of the season, but altogether I found the whole thing kind of disjointed and confusing. Mostly the Amara stuff. I know I complained in Season 5 that Lucifer's whole character and plan was kind of vague and made it hard to understand the stakes, like the writers were maybe coasting on him being LUCIFER and what that name already meant to us to generate tension, rather than clearly outline his goals. But this season, the whole Amara situation was 100x worse, because we didn't have any concept of "God's sister" going in, and all the writing that attempted to show who she was as a character, and what she wanted, and why, was endlessly contradictory. She unleashes a plague that turns people into mindless rage zombies. She sucks out people's souls and leaves them emotionless empty husks seeking her "bliss". So, which does she inspire: rage or blissful calm? She is connected to Dean in a way that seemed profound and deeply rooted in the MoC, but was actually just be because she saw him on her way out of prison and noticed he looked like Jensen Ackles? (Completely understandable on her part, but this "connection" they had ended up being totally arbitrary and ultimately meaningless, as was his resultant inability to harm her which was never even genuinely put to the test.) She wants God to come out and face her, but is warded against him so he can't find her? She's upset about being locked away alone for so long, but wants to destroy existence? She says she wants solitude, but wants Dean to be a part of her forever? But she doesn't suck his soul out when she has the chance, after explaining to him that all the souls she sucked out will be a part of her forever? She kills people in churches semi-apologetically, saying it's not them she wants to hurt, she's only doing it to get God's attention. But when Chuck wants to give himself up to her, he can't, because she wants to kill him and THEN destroy all creation because that IS one of her goals? And when she's finally cornered and Chuck explains to her why creation was important enough to be protected, she understands and agrees up to the point of offering up her LIFE to preserve the world, and Chuck still feels the need to betray her and try to lock her away again, even though she can clearly be reasoned with? And no one thinks about talking to her again until AFTER they construct a bomb made of souls, which are essentially light, which she is vulnerable to, despite having EATEN souls in order to grow up and become more powerful? (Also, wouldn't the exploding light of 100 000 suns, like, destroy our entire solar system?) I'm sorry, but none of it made any goddamned sense. Besides that, the season made some baffling decisions, like bringing back Lucifer only to downgrade him to a petulant child. And even with the deliberate reminder of Adam in Fan Fiction last season, the boys crack open the cage to get Lucifer out, barely mention Michael, and make NO effort to rescue (or even passingly discuss) their innocent half-brother who is still trapped down there? And why? Why not free Michael now that Lucifer is free? Why does Michael need to be there? Even if he is a gibbering idiot now, as Lucifer claims, why leave him imprisoned? And why would Michael, Heaven's MIGHTIEST archangel, and the only one with a chance of overpowering Lucifer in the apocalyptic battle, be mentally unable to endure a few centuries locked in a cage, when Lucifer seems almost entirely unaffected by the experience? And as much as I enjoyed Misha's performance as Lucifer, I found it a bit strange that he was doing a Mark Pellegrino impression. I get that MP is the sort of "face" of Lucifer on the show, but Misha-as-MP was such a far cry from Jared's portrayal of Lucifer way back when, and since that was Lucifer at home in his "true vessel" the way things were "meant" to be, I always sort of considered JP's version to be the "real" one. He certainly had more menace and gravitas than Misha-as-MP, but for some reason I guess they wanted to take one of the show's biggest and most sinister villains and kneecap him by giving him a "comedy" twist. But despite the weird logic holes and strange choices, there were a lot of things about the season I liked. Sam and Dean's relationship was great. For the most part, they were very in sync, honest, and worked seamlessly as a team, which is awesome to watch. Some great (and necessary) conversations too. Their relationship seems to have come out of the MoC situation stronger than ever, which is really satisfying. I liked a lot of the standalone episodes - some strong writing there, and the new characters, like Billie and Eileen, and Jesse/Cesar (The Chitters), though I would like to see more regulars, since the new characters this season were mostly one-offs. They've killed off most of their recurring characters, like Kevin, Charlie, Hannah, Death, etc... But haven't really replaced them with new recurring associates. The circle is starting to feel a little small. Even new-ish characters like Claire, who do recur, have a totally different dynamic with the boys than the characters we've lost. Paternalistic, rather than collaborative. It just doesn't quite fill the void! I didn't skip anything, because it was all new to me, but there weren't any episodes I really disliked and would skip on rewatch except Red Meat, which I came out against. It seemed tonally out of place in the series, and I don't think it really introduced or accomplished anything to justify its awkward/painful choices. I did like quite a few episodes, especially: Baby - This was a fun one! Very fanservicey, but damn if I didn't feel nicely serviced! Some surprisingly deep callbacks, too, like Dean's "I Shot the Sheriff" joke back in Jus in Belo... and BTW, Dean's teasing Sam about finally losing his virginity reminded me that I don't think we HAVE seen or heard of Sam hooking up since taking that virginity pledge back in S9. So he DID finally lose it! 😄 Thin Lizzie - Sam's understated glee at finally having an excuse to check out the Lizzie Borden B&B was infectious. This was a fun case! Good stuff for everyone to do! Just My Imagination - An original concept, that brought just enough comedy to be delightful and balance out the sentimentality. I think it struck exactly the right tone, and brought out interesting angles on both boys. Into The Mystic - You guys weren't kidding about this being a good one! The case was interesting, but more importantly, the characters were awesome. I loved Mildred (finally, the show manages "old lady hitting on the boys" without being super creepy and awkward!), but especially Eileen. I hope we see more of her! I loved her a lot. I REALLY appreciated how they dealt with the character being deaf. It would be so easy to make her either the Banshee, or the one who is "special" enough to be unaffected by the Banshee's scream and defeat it. Instead, they made her deafness totally incidental to the hunt, bringing all the same advantages and disadvantages it would against any other monster. And while it's easy to picture being deaf as a liability on a hunt, the show seemed to make a point of showing how it worked to her advantage too, helping her to eavesdrop visually on private conversations and sneak into situations as an easily-underestimated and nearly-invisible laborer, acting freely in the background, rather than coming in flashing badges like Sam and Dean. I'm also assuming this episode birthed a substantial Sam/Eileen ship, because they had great chemistry. In short: more Eileen, please! The Vessel - This one was kind of deceptive. Even though it didn't accomplish much, and Dean was primarily, as he said, a witness to events he didn't affect, it was damn entertaining, and I loved Delphine. I know it's unlikely we'd see her again, but man, it'd be great if we did. Safe House - RUFUS IS BACK! Also this episode was super touching and well-constructed, and was more of a thinker than cases usually are, but the headline is Rufus. As always. I kind of also want to give honorable mention to Don't Call Me Shurley. Even though I wasn't riveted, and I don't love the show's choices re: God, it was quite satisfying to FINALLY get some clarity and and dig into the meat of the Chuck/God situation. All-in-all, an ok season with lots of high points that I don't regret watching, despite the very muddled mythology. And so, it is with trepidation that I embark on Season 12!
  2. Hmm. Season 10. What can I say about this season? I... really liked it. Mostly. I loved the Demon!Dean stuff at the beginning (could have used more though!), and I liked that it had more-or-less one arc that played out over the whole span of episodes, even though it did tread water a bunch and rehash some stuff to a frustrating degree; it didn't need to stuff in more plot, and the MoC story needed space to play out, so I appreciated that structure. I really enjoyed the slow progression of Dean's descent and his loss of control, even though it could have been smoother in the way it was communicated and executed. I REALLY enjoyed the brotherly dynamics of the season, as it seemed like Sam and Dean were actually communicating, and back in their old rhythms, right up until the last few eps, where Sam started working behind Dean's back and UGH! Here we are back at secrets and lies, which ALWAYS makes a bad situation worse, and is not fun to watch. But right up to that point, I was pretty sold! I liked Cole (is that an unpopular opinion?), but I was sorry to see his story just dropped and discarded so quickly. It could have been interesting to see more of his journey after learning that monsters exist and his father was one... That's typically where character journeys START on this show. Surely he'll redirect his obsession with Dean (i.e., revenge for his father) to an obsession with finding out the truth about his father. Was he always monster, or was he replaced by a monster? Could Cole and his son ALSO become monsters? What REALLY killed his dad? How will he handle knowledge of the supernatural w/r/t his own family? Could he act as a sort of counterpoint to John Winchester? I feel like he could have been more interesting if his role in the story had been meatier, but since it wasn't, he kind of came across as a distraction. I had mixed feelings about Rowena too. I really disliked her scenes with Crowley (the political manipulations and family drama in Hell), but once she was an independent agent working with (or, uh, for) Sam, she got more interesting. It's funny, I stopped watching the show after the S10 finale, and I spent the majority of this rewatch wondering WHY this season had been the breaking point for me, since I actually enjoyed the majority of it more than the several previous seasons. But I was pretty sore from losing Charlie, and convinced Jody Mills was next, and then the finale was SUPER disappointing, so that was probably what did it. I'll push through this time and find out where things went from here! I was really into the flow of the season, so I didn't skip any episodes, but I WISH I had skipped Paper Moon and Paint It Black, as I couldn't quite care about the cases or characters and found them dull. I had also intended to skip Dark Dynasty, because Charlie's death enraged me, but I steeled myself for it and managed to enjoy the parts of the ep that WEREN'T bullshit. I couldn't skip, but was very disappointed in Brother's Keeper. After an entire season on the MoC, it felt like they all of a sudden realized they had no idea how to end it, so just focused on dumping in a bunch of setup for next season instead of actually resolving the arc properly, or giving Dean and Sam the real Cain and Abel moment they deserved. I had a lot of favourites though: Reichenbach - I loved this version of Demon!Dean, like that the mark made him a demon, but without the twisting and corruption that comes from the usual method of centuries of torture, so he played more like Soulless!Sam, living in this gray area between being truly evil and feeling anything more than apathy about being good. It was just tragic enough, and our Dean was just recognizable enough, to be really affecting. Soul Survivor - I wish the Demon!Dean storyline had played out a bit longer, and I didn't love everything about this one, but watching the boys stalk each other through the bunker was dynamite. Fan Fiction - I don't always love the way the show engages with its fanbase, but this was very sweet and I enjoyed it despite myself. Credit where credit's due. Hibbing 911 - Jody and Donna forever! So much fun! Please give them a spinoff! There's No Place Like Home - I didn't love the Oz stuff, especially the wizard (kind of a letdown), but a great episode for Charlie, and for Dean's struggle with the mark. About a Boy - I'm so glad they got that actor back to play Young!Dean, because he absolutely nailed it, and this whole episode was a blast. Book of the Damned - The A-plot and the B-plot were both engaging. Charlie gets to kick a little butt, and Sam gets some fabulous character moments. Loved it. The Prisoner - What can I say about this one besides.... Yowza. Like a shot of pure BAMF!Dean directly into the bloodstream. This episode felt like a special reward for me personally for sticking around 10 seasons. You're welcome, show! Alright, after this point, it's all new to me. I'll swing back around with a Season 11 update (though it will be first impressions, rather than a rewatch), but if the following seasons are as bad as I fear, I may just do one general wrap-up at the end, if I make it that far! Thanks for your suggestions and feedback on this surprisingly delightful journey through a show I did not remember nearly as fondly as I should have. I can always count on these forums for the best opinions!
  3. Ok! I burned through Season 9 at a pretty good clip! As many of you've said, it was a mixed bag. I didn't love the Gadreel stuff, mostly because I didn't understand WHY it was happening from a storytelling perspective. One one hand, it seemed like a way for the writers to have their cake and eat it too, with making Cas human, but still hanging on to the "Angelus Ex Machina" plot convenience of having an angel around to magically provide easy solutions, but then, on the OTHER hand, it also felt like a way of adding manufactured conflict to the brothers' relationship with all the unnecessary secrets and lies. Neither reason really played well for me, but especially the second one, because they milked the "Sam feels betrayed" angle on it way too much, having Sam hold an oversized grudge for too long while repeatedly bringing up how Dean lied to him and unfairly saved his life (after he agreed to undertake AND abandon the trials specifically because he wanted to survive and thought Dean was too willing to throw his own life away. Also I don't actually think Dean really tricked him into letting Gadreel in, but I'll stow my thoughts on that for now.), and how they can't be brothers anymore, and how he wouldn't have done the same to save Dean, etc. The conflict got pretty ugly, and never actually got resolved, apart from the end of the season when Sam admitted that he WOULD fight to save Dean from dying, which, duh. What was the point of all that? I know there's some more resolution on that front coming in S10, but just looking at S9 in isolation, it was a disappointing thread to have to endure, only to be almost totally dropped without getting tied up. I also didn't love Abaddon this season, even though I really enjoyed her in the past, mostly because she didn't seem to really DO anything here, apart from bully demons to her side against Crowley, and use harmful tactics to outplay him, like breaking contracts to get more souls on her side - we never saw WHY she was too dangerous to lead Hell, or what specific plans she had that needed stopping, or even saw her wipe the floor with the Winchesters in combat (which would justify the need to get the First Blade to stop her). It kind of felt like the Winchesters putting their lives on the line to get involved in a political campaign in Hell on Crowley's behalf, and I would have liked to see some higher stakes there. But then, we get to the MoC stuff, and that's where the season struck gold, even if it took awhile to see where it was going and why. Dean's slow descent, his gradual loss of control, until he was becoming the very thing he would want to hunt... It was painful to watch, but very effectively done, and just got progressively more and more chilling. I'm really looking forward to the resolution to that story in S10. I also kind of enjoyed the Metatron storyline, and while I didn't love all of it, I enjoyed watching him follow Cas's path of trying to become the new God and seize control of heaven, but for all the wrong reasons (contrasting to Cas' good intentions, which were ultimately just as harmful), and the ways he tricked and manipulated the others angels into following him. That said, the writers seem to be flailing a bit with coming up with stories for the angels. I was hoping to see some meatier stuff after the fall, with the angels having to live among humanity and maybe explore their relationship to humans in new ways, but instead it's just the same old political/power struggles as always, just on a different plane. As usual, I had some issues, but found it overall an enjoyable season. So the episodes I skipped: Obviously Bloodlines, let us never speak of it again. It's actually the only one I skipped! I nearly skipped Dog Dean Afternoon, because the premise sounded too dumb to be good, but after seeing it on a few lists of favourites I gave it a try and quite enjoyed it! It wasn't the strongest comedy episode, but I had no idea Jenson Ackles barking at the mailman could bring my heart so much joy! My favourites of the season would have to be: Heaven Can't Wait - Maybe a controversial pick. I didn't actually enjoy watching this episode, so much as I enjoy everything it accomplished. Dean feeling wracked with guilt about kicking Cas out of the bunker, slipping out from under Sam/Gadreel's watch to check on his friend and try to help him and be there for him in the small ways that he could. Cas adapting to human life with a quiet dignity that is absolutely earned, taking misfortune in stride and finding the good in people and situations where he can. Jenson and Misha are always dynamite together. I'm not in a hurry to rewatch it, but I found it surprisingly emotionally satisfying. Bad Boys - Such a great Dean episode, totally in line with what we've seen of John's A+ parenting, but what absolutely sold this episode for me was the smile on young Dean's face at the end when he saw little Sam in the back of the Impala. That one little moment put the whole story in context and made it clear that by going back to his family, he wasn't choosing duty over happiness. Sam WAS his happiness. D'awwww. First Born - This one wasn't perfect, not only because of the TWO female characters it introduced and immediately fridged, but I LOVE Timothy Omundson, and that fight scene in the kitchen was bonkers. Of course Dean could pass Cain's test. Yowza. Blade Runners - Creepy MoL guy was a fun villain, and Dean's reaction to holding (and using) the blade for the first time was fascinating and great setup. Love it. Alex Annie Alexis Ann - Another controversial pick, I'm sure, but I enjoyed this one a lot. Probably because I adore Jody Mills, and I found her refusal to give up on Annie a really effective counterpoint to where the boys are in their arc. Dean's been gradually slipping into darkness and brutality, and Sam's been uneasily rationalizing it, so Jody acts as a sort of stabilizing force who puts the morality of the situation into perspective. Her maternal energy is a strength here, not (as is usually the case) coded as some sign of weakness, and her empathy creates a baseline that lets us see more effectively just how far Dean has been slipping. I suspect it's better on rewatch, with the whole-season perspective, but I found it really engaging, and a great direction for Jody's character. Do You Believe in Miracles - Not a perfect finale, but what an ending! I was surprised that Crowley's attempts to be besties with Dean all season would end up being the storyline that actually paid off (as opposed to the conflict between Sam and Dean). The way it left some things hanging made it feel more like a midseason finale somehow, but it was damn entertaining, and Dean's black eyes will haunt my dreams tonight. So far so good! On to Season 10! I'm not entirely sure I made it all the way through the season when it first aired. I THINK I did, but this was around the time I stopped watching, so some of it might be new for me. I'm interested to see how I feel this time around, because this whole rewatch has left me enjoying the show a lot more than I remembered!
  4. Yeah, this is technically I guess some sort of all-seasons episode recommendation thread. There's stuff from all seasons all over this thread, so spoilery discussions of plot points, while possibly off-topic, are probably fine, but spoiler tags never really hurt if you're not sure.
  5. This is my favourite Shirley Jackson novel! It's a freaking masterpiece. I'm pretty sure I read the last third of it in one sitting, while weeping. Like all her work, there is so much woven in under the surface, and it's almost kaleidoscopic, the way you can look at it from different angles and see different meanings. Damn, now I wanna read it again too!
  6. Wow, ok, that was Season 8. Geez, what can I even say about this season? There was a bunch of stuff that worked well, that I really liked, and some that was THE most painfully awful stuff the show has done to this point, and then there was some stuff with good bones that was just too dumb to be satisfying. First off, the obvious, is Sam. I can absolutely see Sam taking the chance to get out of the life and trying to have something "normal" for himself without anyone there to keep him hunting, IF he truly believed Dean was dead. I could even (not really, but just BARELY) see him rationalizing that wherever Dean was, Cas was with him, and probably represented Dean's best shot at rescue. But giving up without even taking a single step toward finding out what had happened to Dean and if it was possible to save him? No way. And even leaving aside the fact that he gave up on Dean, the fact that he made no effort to rescue Kevin, or protect Kevin's mom, or even keep his PHONE so that Kevin had SOMEONE to reach out to if he managed to save HIMSELF is just beyond the pale. Kevin was his responsibility, and that kid had literally no one else he could call for help. Remember when John went off the grid back in Season 1 and changed his outgoing voicemail message to give people Dean's number for emergencies? Sam dropped the ball so thoroughly, he didn't even kick it over to someone else to pick up. It is simply enraging. And not only was the Amelia stuff agonizing to watch for how bad it was, I was really appalled that the show waited so long to clarify HOW their relationship ended. In the premiere, it kind of looked like he was just ditching her in the middle of the night without a goodbye, which made all the flashbacks doubly painful, because their relationship sucked, AND we didn't even get the small comfort of knowing it was over, because he looked like a complete dickwad for worming his way into her life and then dumping her like yesterday's trash as soon as Dean got in touch. So their relationship AND lack of relationship were BOTH enraging for the entire first half of the season! I have never seen such thorough, ill-advised character assassination on any show before or since. But I know this is probably EVERYONE'S number one complaint about the season, so let's move on to what did work. I had no problems with Benny, though I know he's a sore point for some (the worst thing about Benny IMO was how unreasonably against him Sam was, as if Sam didn't INVENT not killing vampires if they promised they weren't an immediate threat to humans). I was disappointed in how his story fizzled to an ending, but kind of liked the character. I really liked the Men of Letters stuff and the move into the bunker - it's great to see the boys get settled in, actually have a home base (Dean has his own room!) and geek out over the wealth of tools and information left for them. A lot of the bunker scenes were really delightful. The trials were interesting, if poorly paced. Very clumsy as an attempted redemption arc for Sam, but on their own merits, the idea was fun. I liked Abaddon a lot, even though the decision to put her back together (the most unkillable, unstoppable demon you've ever met? Really?) rather than just... summon someone else... was incredibly stupid, I am kind of willing to let it slide since it meant getting more of her. That actress was dynamite. Amanda Tapping was a fabulous guest star, and I really liked Naomi, despite the "hacking the angel operating system" concept being dumb. And while it was frustratingly obvious that Metatron was playing Castiel from the beginning of the "angel trials" nonsense, the angels falling from heaven was an awesome hook to end the season on. But I feel like I could ramble about this inconsistent season forever, so let's move on. I skipped Bitten and Man's Best Friend With Benefits, and I considered skipping Remember the Titans, based on recommendations in this thread, but watched it and wished I'd skipped it (boring, and a bullshit portrayal of Diana). I had planned to skip Taxi Driver, but felt like it was too important plotwise. Ugh. That episode needed to be a 2-parter, with a much higher budget and better writers. Blech. My favourites from this season are probably all from the second half, and it looks like they match up with others' picks as well: LARP and the Real Girl - Always great to see Charlie, and to see Dean and Sam eventually get into the spirit of things, rather than making the LARPers too much of a punchline. Everybody Hates Hitler - Surprising lack of Hitler, given the title, but a very fun episode, and great to see the boys exploring the bunker and settling in. Nazi necromancers! Trial and Error - This may be a controversial pick, given how interminable the family is, but I loved Dean's new room, and the surprisingly subtle treatment of the typical "be careful what you wish for" demon deal morality lesson (it's not that wishes can be corrupted, it's that the dealmaker just didn't understand what the problem was), as well as the discussion of who was going to undertake the trials. Conversations where the brothers build each other up, rather than existing in a dumb state of manufactured conflict, is my catnip. As long as you don't think about where the trials story ends, it's all good! Goodbye Stranger - Surprisingly nice to see Meg again! (I'm repressing my memory of her ultimate fate) I liked everyone navigating their (justified) mistrust of Castiel, as well as Cas arriving at that intersection of his need to obey his brainwashing, protect the angel tablet, and also not kill Dean. I was into it! Pac-Man Fever - Although the writers are pushing her "tweeness" a touch too much, it's still great to see Charlie and learn more about her. Solid stuff, and a fun watch! The Great Escapist - I enjoyed this episode primarily, but not entirely, for Kevin's DGAF confrontation with Crowley. I don't know what the hell his plan was if an angel hadn't rescued him at that moment, or if he was just ready to die and let the next prophet inherit his problem, but it was so damn good to see him being smart and confident and getting the best of Crowley that I flat-out don't care. Ok, this brings me to a personal problem I had with the series after this point. I was supremely disappointed that Sarah was brought back from her season 1 appearance, just to make sure she didn't escape the curse of Sam Winchester's homicidal penis. It reinforced that the show was committed to killing its female characters with impunity and would never learn its lesson about fridging, and I started to fear for Jody Mills. She is by far my favourite recurring character, and after this season I started to DREAD her appearances, because every time she was in an episode, I'd get that gut-twisting bad feeling that this would be it, and I'd have to watch her die, especially given Charlie's eventual fate. And once you've ruined Jody Mills' appearances for me, you've sapped my will to keep watching. (I actually remember in the High School Musical episode, there was a throwaway line when the teen actress playing Jody walked by with the script wondering if she was even in the second act, and it felt like a deliberate joke on how tenuous her survival on the show was. Once again, the writers lampshade something they should be FIXING!) So can you guys do me a favour? I didn't stick around long enough to find out (unless I've repressed it), so if Jody Mills does die, can you tell me what episode that happens in so I can brace myself appropriately and not worry in the meantime? PM me if you'd rather not get into it here, but please let me know! Thank you, friends! Ok, Season 9! I think I remember mostly liking this one! Let's see how it goes!
  7. (Above quote re: Party On, Garth) Ok, ok, well, I'm far enough into Season 8 to discover that the Amelia stuff, and the Sam stuff, which I was SURE I must be remembering as worse than it was, is actually far, far more horrendous than I had expected. I must have blocked it out in self-defense the first time around. So, since you both make a good case, I went back and caught up on The Slice Girls and Party On, Garth, because I really needed a hit of the boys being functional and communicating with each other and actually having a relationship that is not actively painful to watch. Thanks for that! I didn't love either episode, but I didn't dislike them either, because even "meh" episodes from previous seasons are miles better than where I'm at now. I do recall the back half of Season 8 improving, and then enjoying Season 9, so I'm powering through, but oof. This is rough. I'm still not ready to give Season 7, Time For a Wedding! another chance though, but if things continue like this, who knows!
  8. Ok, ok, back on topic! Season 7! Wow, ok, I can really see why this one is divisive. One the one hand, I liked the Leviathans. (Or is the whole group of them referred to collectively as "Leviathan?" I think it was used that way at least a few times.) It was refreshing to get a break from the angels vs. demons stuff that dominated the previous few seasons, and Leviathan at least had a unique and interesting plan with more specific stakes than the Lucifer threat (my big criticism of season 5), which played into a slightly different horror angle than the show had covered previously (medical/food horror). So it was a welcome change of pace, not to mention the interactions between Leviathans, who were generally affable with each other, cooperative, and keen to get chowing down on humanity, which was a nice change from the backstabbing demons and grimly-serious angels. Leviathan were kind of fun! That said, I can definitely believe there were production issues, because the season as a whole didn't really gel. Leviathan were back-burnered for too much of it, and they weren't really explored as fully as I would have liked (plus some very "yanked from someone's ass" particulars about them, like the Borax and the weapon from the tablet, which felt like it was made up as they went along). Meanwhile, the mini-arcs that made up the majority of the season felt kind of pointless, like the Amy stuff ("Will Sam find out what Dean did?!" stretched out for too many episodes, and then ended up not coming to anything), Bobby ducking his reaper (then contributing little to the rest of the season and going out with a whimper before the climactic battle), and Sam's hallucinations of Lucifer (which felt like a problem the show kept kicking down the road until they could deux ex machina a quick fix. I would have loved to see Sam work through this on his own instead of needing Cas to magic it away, but whatever). Overall, even though I didn't enjoy as many individual episodes, the change of tone and focus worked for me, and I did come out in favor of Season 7! Based on recommendations and my recollections of the first watch, I skipped: Shut Up, Dr. Phil (marital strife is not fun to watch, even with great guest stars) Season 7, Time for a Wedding (I remember loathing this one and do not care to revisit!) The Slice Girls (Evil man-butchering amazons? On any other show, I bet I'd love it.) Party On, Garth (Drunk acting is painful) And I would have to say my favourites were: Slash Fiction (Even JUST for the diner conversation between fake Sam and Dean. This one was solid!) The Mentalists (Although the "twist" was frustratingly obvious, this was a fun ride!) Death's Door (Shut up! I'm not crying; YOU'RE crying!) Time After Time (Great dialogue, fun story, with bonus Jody Mills!) The Girl With the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo (I know Felicia Day is a bit divisive, but I love Charlie) Reading is Fundamental (Osric Chau was a welcome addition to the cast, and Kevin was a great character. And sorry not sorry but I LOVED "naked guy at the rave" Cas. That game of "Sorry!" with Dean in the dayroom was my everything, and again, it's a refreshing take on a character who has been entirely too serious up to this point.) I remember a bit of Season 8, specifically I remember LOATHING the beginning, which seems to be a common sentiment, and then coming around on the rest of it. I had forgotten how MUCH was dropped on Sam's plate at the end of S7 (Dean and Cas trapped in Purgatory, Meg and Kevin taken by demons, Leviathan still active without a leader), and knowing he did basically nothing about it was frankly enraging and a huge disservice to his character (although, I must admit, he doesn't have a history of being great on his own, at least not with a soul). But I guess I have to rewatch before I can judge properly because I don't remember the details. Wish me luck!
  9. That's interesting... I like the idea that they tried to give each other what THEY would have wanted for themselves, but I'm not sure I totally agree. Dean's wish in Season 3 makes sense, because he knew he was dying and he understood that Sam, and what he'd taught Sam and done for Sam, was his only legacy. Sam may not have wanted to keep hunting, but he was obviously going to, and Dean was worried about him being on his own. Sam failed because he couldn't get Dean out of hell, and was desperate enough to be manipulated by Ruby. But I disagree that Dean didn't really want a normal life. I mean, we saw in What Is And What Should Never Be that he does have a deep-rooted desire for the safety and stability of family. He also forms deep attachments to the people that he cares about. Mostly, we see his bulldog-loyalty directed at Sam, but Dean would do absolutely fucking anything for Bobby, Castiel... anyone he considers a friend. I always kind of thought his approach to sex (casual hookups with strangers) was mostly an attempt to separate the concept of "sex" from "relationships" because he was only equipped to handle one of those things with his hunter lifestyle, not because that's all he really wanted. But I think the stability of being in a relationship with Lisa and Ben WAS better for him than his life on the road, and it WAS what he needed to help cope with Sam's death. It was his past that was the problem, and the inherent danger it presented to the people around him, not his own desires. So. Sam gets full credit for good intentions, but was perhaps willfully naive about how badly Dean would be hurt when it all inevitably went wrong. But I'm sure this is something that was discussed to death at the time, so maybe I'll just leave it for the fanfic writers to work out. I loved your whole post! But I didn't want to quote the whole thing just to nod vigorously at it! I'm glad you're enjoying my ramblings. I figured since I asked for the thread's input I kind of owe it to you to share my impressions/reactions as I go, and you all gave great advice. I've really been loving this rewatch - it's reminded me how much I used to genuinely love this show, and now I get to rediscover it! I think watching with readjusted expectations has helped a lot: Knowing where things go later on and what will or won't ever improve has helped me to relax and appreciate what is working well WHILE it's working. Does that make sense? Ok, I JUST got to the "salad description" episode, and I genuinely had to rewatch that entire conversation about 3 times, it was so goddamn delightful.
  10. Wow, so that was season 6! I pushed through it pretty fast. As I recalled, I had some pretty mixed feelings. I didn't love Castiel's hubris and his increasing slips towards the dark side, even though I enjoyed seeing him and Dean positioned as antagonists, and appropriately equal ones, despite the fact that Dean is "just a man." ("I've taken some pretty big fish." That moment gave me chills, and I LOVE when the show remembers that Dean is a serious BAMF.) But Castiel's actual arc was... well, I just have this thing where I hate watching characters I respect do things that are blatantly idiotic for extended stretches. Like trusting Crowley, even though that ended in a surprising reversal somehow even worse than the expected outcome would have been. I also didn't particularly enjoy the Samuel/Campbells stuff - it didn't really go anywhere and I find pointless secret-keeping tiresome. I liked Dean's arc this season, even though it was painful - I liked the way Sam made him promise to settle down and try to be happy, because Sam genuinely cared about Dean's happiness and wanted him to have a good life after he was gone, but then the attempt at normalcy and its thorough failure ended up being far more painful for Dean than if he'd never tried. Sam had tried to give his brother a gift, and ended up breaking him, but the Winchesters' mistakes this season were made out of love, and that made them infinitely more watchable (and good-painful) than Castiel's or Samuel's mistakes made out of hubris or selfishness. Which brings us to Sam. Ok, I didn't love Soulless Sam. I went through this season pretty fast because I was frustrated with Soulless Sam and impatient to have Real Sam back. (This also taught me that maybe I liked Sam better than I thought, which was a welcome little realization.) However, I was thoroughly impressed with Padalecki's acting this season. I think it's hands-down his strongest season yet. Man, he's come so far from those first few seasons when you could sort of see him learning on the job. I REALLY enjoyed seeing his ability to layer the character of Sam into so many different incarnations - that first version, when he has no soul, but is trying to pretend everything is normal, and you can just sort of tell that something is subtly wrong, but can't quite put a finger on what it is, to when he is alone and full-on lizard-brain super-hunter Sam, to this somehow different version when he is on the road with Dean after Dean knows the truth - he's not pretending anymore, but he's not letting his Terminator flag fly all the way either... Then Reinsouled Sam is his usual puppy-dog empathetic self (which was a serious breath of fresh air, holy cow, and that was the acting, not just the writing - Padalecki made us feel, right alongside Dean, how great it was to have Our Sam back). And then the various incarnations in the finale, which were all spot-on. Even though I didn't enjoy watching it all, this season seriously cranked up my respect for Padalecki as an actor, AND my appreciation of Sam as a character. I had a harder time skipping episodes this season, even though I didn't love a lot of the arc stuff, it felt too important to skip. I did manage to skip All Dogs Go to Heaven, Unforgiven (no desire to see Sam alternating between super-angst and super-dick), and Mannequin 3: The Reckoning (a homicidal kidney should be more fun than this). My favourites of the season would have to be: - Weekend at Bobby's (so much to love here, and Rufus never really got his due for being a brilliant side character) - Live Free or Twihard (BAMF Dean goes next-level and I love it) - Appointment in Samarra (Dean's experience as Death seemed a bit generic and uninspired, and it kind of infuriated me that they brought Tessa back again so that Dean could ignorantly Mansplain her job to her over multiple scenes, but I love it when Death makes an appearance, and the Sam vs. Bobby stuff was gold.) - Like a Virgin (Great introduction to Eleanor, who I wish could have stuck around because she was an awesome character) - My Heart Will Go On (For the "One Way or Another" montage ALONE! Not to mention ELLEN!) - Mommie Dearest (Things shift into place for the endgame and it's all nice and intriguing, plus Dean is damn good at this.) Season 7 should be interesting - Once again, I don't remember much about it from the original airing, and I've never rewatched, so I'm excited to see where it all goes from here!
  11. Ok, now I've got Season 5 under my belt! Hmm. I have some mixed feelings about this season. After one season of Castiel, the writers are already struggling to find ways to keep this character around despite him being a LITERAL "deus ex machina," but I do like him and I'm glad they were committed to keeping him on because Mischa is really doing compelling stuff with the character and it's a delight to watch. I liked the increased stakes of having to stop Lucifer after helping him to rise, but I do feel like the whole mytharc of the season was a bit vague. The story got so huge, with the impending conflict between heaven and hell with Earth as the battleground... but the details kind of got lost along the way, and I would have liked a bit more clarity. What exactly did Lucifer want to do to the world? Just wipe out humanity? Why? And what then? Did he WANT to wage war on heaven? It seems not, since he tried to walk away from the final battle with Michael. Did he just want "Hell on Earth?" And if so, why would demons ever follow him, seeing as how they HATE hell, and see Earth as their escape from it? And if he really would turn on demons next, the way Crowley predicted, who would be left? What would this empty world look like, and why would he want it that way? I never really got a handle on exactly what motivated him or what was ultimately at stake. And Michael as a character was also kind of non-existent. We only saw one brief scene of him, and while it was awesome, I would have liked to feel that Michael was more of an immediate presence, working steadily on Dean maybe through his dreams the way Lucifer did with Sam. But overall, I did like the season, and I thought it did interesting things with the mythology. This season, and season 4, really demonstrate how badly this show ultimately suffered from not understanding HOW LONG it would run! I can sort of see them blowing their load on some big ideas (like making GOD a character in-universe!) that they obviously didn't think they'd run long enough to have to follow up on. But at the time, it was ballsy stuff, and I admire them for thinking big! Let's see, what did I skip? I passed on The Curious Case of Dean Winchester (because of unbearable idiocy), Swap Meat (painfully bad), and 99 Problems (Meh). My favourites of the season would have to be: - Changing Channels (duh) - The Real Ghostbusters (I liked this one, but I'm starting to see some barely-visible red flags with the way the show goes meta to talk about their fans. I totally understand that SPN fans can be... um... a lot. But sometimes the show isn't totally in control of the tone it's using to poke fun at those fans, and while this one is pretty successful, the groundwork is being laid for future missteps. I also forgot how big an influence TWOP was back in the day - shows like this actually gave them regular shout-outs, such as naming the LARPing Sam and Dean duo "Demian and Barnes" (the TWOP recapper and forum moderator respectively). Awesome.) - Sam, Interrupted (Not a fantastic episode, but solid and interesting, with some outstanding performances!) - My Bloody Valentine (after the way it was hyped upthread, I was not disappointed! Some great stuff for both Sam and Dean, and Jared brought his A-game. Not sure I totally buy Dean not falling under Famine's spell, but I'll handwave it, because the episode gifted us with some awesomely gruesome fun stuff!) - Dark Side of the Moon (So great to see the returning guest cast, and some good character stuff too in their memories. Sam always looking for the home he never had, and Dean trying to hold on tight to Sam, the only home he has left... Awww, boys. An interesting concept for heaven as well. Plus that opening sequence with Dean and baby Sam and the fireworks was so special. Colin Ford always does a phenomenal job as tiny Sam!) - Point of No Return (This is EXACTLY the kind of thing I meant upthread about episodes or moments that make me like Sam. I loved this. It gave us the moving scene of Sam deciding to put his faith in Dean and being right about it, AND the awesome moment of Dean STABBING ZACHARIAH IN THE FACE! I didn't love everything in this episode, but I did love watching Dean steadily crack under the pressure of having Adam used as leverage against him, and Sam reaching the end of his rope trying to save both his brothers from themselves. Great stuff.) - Swan Song (Yeah. I'm a sap. Sue me. I echo the curiosity upthread about how this would have ended if it had been planned as a series finale, because it did seem a bit hastily restructured. But whatever, it got us to that lovely Sam and Dean moment where love, not anger, is what lets Sam break free of Lucifer's control, and it hit me in all the right feels.) Honorable mention to Free to Be You and Me, which I really liked in concept, but not in execution. I thought it was interesting to see the boys apart, see Sam trying to find his way outside of hunting, but being troubled by visions of Lucifer (which were very well-done), and Dean falling back into the more carefree rhythm of hunting alone, but both of them having the security of knowing that their separation is a mutual decision (so they don't have to agonize over it), and knowing the other is just a phone call away. I hated the way it all played out in the episode, but I thought it was an interesting premise, and I kind of wish they'd stretched it out over another week or two to fully explore that dynamic (and give Sam something to do). But I get it - they can't actually keep the boys apart for long because their dynamic is too central to the show. Fair! I remember having some very mixed feelings about Season 6 and soulless Sam, but again, I don't recall a lot of specifics. I'll let you know how it goes!
  12. Well, that was season 4! Oh, man, I have so many thoughts about this season. I understand why it's so divisive! Overall, it is very coherent, and there are plot threads introduced in the premiere that wind their way VERY nicely through the season to the finale. The introduction of the angels is absolutely dynamite! The power of their first appearance, and the gradual realization that they are dicks who are just as manipulative and dangerous as the demons, because nothing on this show can ever just be a win... amazing. I also really enjoyed most of the episodes, and found a lot of the season very compelling. The storytelling was quite well-done. The only downside, really, is that I didn't care for a lot of the story. Sam's descent into darkness is continuing in a natural progression, but I just hate it. Sam's not my favourite, but I like LIKING Sam, even when I'm affectionately calling him an idiot! Even when I think he's going about things the wrong way, I can usually see his side, or at least respect his competence as a character. But this season flat-out turned Sam unlikable, the blood-drinking was so over-the-top, and was just painful to watch, as was Dean's extended suffering about his actions in Hell and being forced into that mindset again by the angels when they made him torture Alistair... It was damn powerful stuff, but it wasn't necessarily enjoyable to watch. I have a lot of respect for the storytelling of the way the angels and demons played Sam and Dean off each other, basically each side convincing "their guy" that he was "the one" to save the world, and then pushing them right into each other's way to undermine their cooperation, although I also hated seeing them dicked around like that and it gave me the feels in a frustrating way, instead of a good way. I thought the finale was brilliant. I was VERY engaged, probably more so than any other season so far, but not always in a good way. I loved seeing the growing bond between Dean and Castiel (this is a season that launched a thousand fanfics, I know that much!), and I actually thought it was really interesting that Sam's growing darkness had him acting more and more like John, and that that was directly addressed. I wonder if that was a deliberate attempt to mislead us into thinking that Sam wasn't REALLY turning evil, he was just growing into the image of his father that he had always fundamentally resembled, or if this was an intentional nod to the fact that John's path, his single-minded quest for revenge at the cost of his sons' happiness, was darker than he (and his boys) were willing to admit at the time. It felt like a fresh take on their "daddy issues," and I appreciated it. Anyway, I watched all the episodes except Family Remains, and I had MEANT to skip Criss Angel is a Douchebag as well, but on further reflection decided to give it a try, since I had been enjoying the season so much. I wish I had skipped it. I did not care about the washed-up old magicians at all, and found myself counting down the minutes until it was over. My favourites of the season would have to be: Lazarus Rising (seriously amazing introduction to Castiel), Yellow Fever (a qualified yes, because the story was kind of dumb and full of holes, and I found the idea of road-hauling a ghost that had been an innocent victim totally repugnant, but the comedy bits were gold), Death Takes a Holiday (I love Tessa! So great to see her back! And once again giving Dean the exact advice he needs to hear!), It's a Terrible Life ("There are fates out there worse than yours."), The Monster at the End of This Book (I don't always love it when the show goes meta, but this was thoroughly entertaining, as was Chuck before his whole character was, I assume, retconned), Jump the Shark (I remember being really annoyed by the idea of Adam, but I forgot how WELL this episode introduced him (and then, um, bid him farewell.). I also really liked the evident pain of Sam and Dean learning they had a brother who was able to have the simple pleasures of a normal father/son relationship with John that they had always been denied, and the intense complexity of figuring out what was best for him - Dean was right, in that it was the only moral and decent thing to do to protect him and let him live a normal life, but Sam was right (if a bit unhinged), in that simply being John's son made living a normal life impossible. It was heartbreaking, but interesting and good.), and of course, Lucifer Rising. Then there's Wishful Thinking, which sort of simultaneously appears on my "yes" and "no" lists. I LOVED the comedy, and got so much genuine joy out of the suicidal teddy bear and "KNEEL BEFORE TODD!" But I remember at the time it first aired, I spent most of the week setting the forums on fire about the Hope storyline, and how bullshit and gross it is to center your episode around a rape story without ever actually acknowledging that that's what it was, or demonstrating any interest in, or respect for, the victim's experience. Having Sam and Dean tell Wes that his wish (to make Hope love him) has to be taken back because it is "going to go wrong," rather than stating that wishing a person into sexual slavery in the first place IS wrong, seemed to intentionally miss the mark, or make light of the truly horrible thing he had done. It's one thing for the character of Wes to treat Hope like a "thing" he could "have," but when the actual writers seem to see her the same way, that is a problem. Of course, that's back when I still expected better of the show, or thought that if fans like me made enough noise about its really gross gender politics, they might take note and do better. And I WAS able to enjoy it a little better this time, knowing that I had wasted my breath all those years ago, and feeling more resigned to this type of bullshit. But it was still bullshit and really soured an otherwise outstanding episode for me. So, mixed bag. (I know, I know. The show often rubs me the wrong way with its gender politics, but then usually balances it out by doing other things really well, and I can usually just bristle and then let it go and still enjoy the experience - but this seemed like a whole other level of sexist and it really got under my skin.) So, having had a short novel to say about Season 4, I begin my journey into Season 5! I don't remember a whole lot about this one, so it should be fun!
  13. Ok, I am loving this discussion so far! Thanks so much everyone who has been sharing their lists! I started a re-watch, and I'm so glad I did. I'm working mostly from home at the moment, and I'm able to put on some TV in the background from time to time while working on other tasks, so I've been revisiting the series at a pretty good clip. I also found the archive of old TWOP recaps of the show, and there's nothing quite like watching along with Demian and Raoul! I've made it through season 3, and what a ride! I've only skipped a few episodes so far, just ones that I remember being boring or so dumb they aggravated me. I had totally forgotten how genuinely good this show was at the start! (Yes, the idea of paring it down to just a few episodes per season to revisit was not one of my best. Thanks for talking me out of it! Maybe once I get to the weaker seasons later on, the "curated" component of this binge will start to kick in.😉) Season 1 was such a blast from the past. The cases were simple and fun, and the family relationships really shone through. The mytharc of Sam having weird psychic powers was really compelling, even rewatching with the knowledge that it doesn't really go anywhere, seeing Dean try to pretend he's not freaking out about it so he can be strong for Sammy even though they're both in way over their heads, was really affecting. And the tension between Sam and John when John finally showed up, which sparked Dean (hunting for months with a partner who actually cares and has his back for a change) to confront the fact that his father actually sucked? *Chef's kiss* The only episodes I skipped this season were Bugs (boring) and Route 666 (the racist truck was a bit too dumb for me). I would say my favourites of the season were: Skin, Asylum, Scarecrow, Nightmare, and Devil's Trap. Season 2 was pretty solid too. The show definitely had its feet under it a little more, and there were some stronger episodes. A few REALLY strong episodes, potential series-best episodes, as identified in a few people's lists. Overall, though, I found the mytharc really tiresome once it switched from "What are these weird powers Sam has and why?" to "Will Sam go darkside and force Dean to kill him?" Obviously not. Every time it was suggested or talked about I pretty much just felt mad, probably because I already knew Sam's demon powers weren't going to like, spring up and seize control of him, and if they did, Dean would go down with him before he'd ever hurt Sam, so there was no tension there at all. But a lot of the standalone episodes absolutely delighted me, and I can't believe I didn't remember how good this show used to be! The only ones I skipped this season were No Exit (I liked Jo, and it bothered me when the show belittled her with lame "damsel in distress" stuff, or tried to put her in her place when she wanted to step up - I know a lot of that was due to fan reaction against her, but it sucked), and Houses of the Holy (I can't handle this show's previous take on religion before it got, you know, biblical). My favourites were: In My Time of Dying, The Usual Suspects, Nightshifter, Hollywood Babylon, Folsom Prison Blues, and What Is and What Should Never Be. Season 3's mytharc got me right back on board AND HOW. Dean selling his soul, and then slowly embarking on a journey towards recognizing his own self-worth, accepting that he didn't want to die only when it was too late to save him? (Though, it had been too late as soon as the deal was made). Oh, I loved it. I loved it a lot. And the Sam going darkside stuff became more compelling as well once we stopped expecting some sort of "evil" switch to flip inside him, and started watching him gradually but steadily compromise his morals out of desperation to save Dean. I didn't love every episode, and the overall plot arc could have been stronger (though understandable as the season was cut short), and Ruby was interminable, but the character work on Sam and Dean was masterful. I skipped Red Sky at Morning, and I had meant to skip Ghostfacers because I didn't like those guys, and I typically hate it when scripted shows do episodes parodying reality TV, but I saw it on a couple of "yes" lists and decided to give it another shot. I'm glad I did: I hated the format and the Ghostfacers themselves (and the homophobic "gay intern" stuff), but it's always great to watch Dean take charge and kick ass. Plus Sam in the party hat was adorable. This show used to do comedy so well. There weren't as many single standout episodes, but my favourites of the season were probably: Bad Day at Black Rock, Fresh Blood, A Very Supernatural Christmas, Mystery Spot, and Jus In Bello (though I didn't enjoy this one as much as I expected to - a few things annoyed me enough that it almost didn't make my list!). Next up is Season 4! I haven't rewatched any of it since it originally aired. I have such weird mixed memories of this one, and there's some good disagreement about it in this thread too, so I'll be really interested to see how it plays for me this time! I'll let you know!
  14. Thanks! Just to clarify, are these hits or misses? Ooooh, good questions! I generally prefer mytharc, but I love a good MOTW if it's done well and not just filler. For characters, I'm flexible. I guess I would say Dean's my favourite, followed by Cas, then Sam, but the most important aspect for me is seeing the characters' strengths. What are they super good at, or what are their moments of awesome. The episodes that highlight the reasons WHY fans love them. (Sam's third on my list, but if you're a Sam girl, curate some episodes to get me on board!) I also love the relationships - when characters have each other's backs, or it's stupid obvious how much they care about each other. I imagine that's what a lot of fandom appreciates about the show, so I'm hoping to find some good points of commonality there. Kickass women are always a plus. 😉
  15. I know! It's so hard to pick, and everyone will have a different opinion, but I'm hoping at least it might generate some interesting discussion! (and 5 is just a suggested number, definitely not a hard limit! If there are 10 in a season that shouldn't be missed? Bring it on!) And honestly, I would be fine to get a different list from everyone! Even just to start eliminating the "skippables" and comparing what people feel passionately about. I'm good to read summaries of whatever I don't watch to follow the story. I'm just interested in hearing from you what episodes you think really bring out the show's strengths! Maybe it would be a help, too, for anyone else wanting to rewatch before the finale, but being daunted by having 15 seasons to get through. It could be fun! Or a complete mess! I guess we'll see 🙂
  16. Hey friends! Primetimer has set up a forum for Curated Binges (awesome idea) and I immediately thought of this show. Actually, I'm here because rather than post a curated binge on the forum, what I would actually like to do is REQUEST a curated binge from you! Here is my SPN history: I was a fan in the early seasons, and really quite a big fan. I've been active on the boards for this show since the distant past, when it was on TWoP and Damien was recapping it alongside Raoul, the Big Gay Supernatural Dragon (I miss them so). But as the show ran on, I got impatient with it, and became really frustrated by its patterns (especially killing off every single female character, and then lampshading it instead of FIXING it!). I started letting it go, letting a season or two slip by at a time before getting drawn back in and catching up. Finally, I managed to break up with the show completely a few years ago. I'm not sure which season, but I think it was getting toward the end of the single-digits. ANYWAY, I was recently going through some old bookmarks and stumbled across some early-seasons SPN fanfic that I had completely adored at the time, and started doing a bit of re-reading, and it reminded me how much I really cared about these characters and their story. It's bringing up that old desire to delve back in to this show. But I was so soured on it by the time I quit that I really don't want to set myself up for a miserable experience wading through the stuff I disliked to get to the stuff I actually really loved. Here's what I'm hoping someone will be able to help me with: Since there is so damn much of this show, if you're a superfan who knows it really well, would you be willing to recommend the best, say, 5 episodes in each season? (Could be more or less depending on the season, of course - use your judgment!) I'd really love to get the highs, the episodes that bring the feels, and highlight the characters' strengths (and the storytelling strengths), as well as the strong relationships between the characters (not just Sam and Dean, but mainly them probably, given the nature/structure of the show), and skip right over the pointless filler, or the painfully awkward/sloppily-written episodes that drove me away. It turns out I really CAN'T quit this show! And just in time for the end (whenever that will air), I can't resist catching up one last time. Anyone willing to take a stroll down memory lane and throw me a few suggestions?
  17. I've had the last season saved up for awhile - I couldn't bring myself to watch it and for the show to really be over! But I finally finished it this month. Really lovely stuff, and the "sestrahood" is just what I needed in quarantine. I'm so glad they're having a reunion!
  18. I think you're exactly right, and I think period pieces like this that incorporate violence and oppression into their stories are MEANT to be viewed through a modern lens. That's why they work. Women may not have been considered "people" throughout the entire span of human history, but the fact is that they HAVE been "people" all along. There was never a time or culture in which women were in fact naturally inferior to men, or didn't have the same intellectual/emotional capacities. Their stories have always been valuable, and their experiences always worthy of examination. Domestic violence has always been "wrong" regardless of how it was viewed at the time. What we see in the way women were treated in the past is a reflection of how well or poorly people understood that, or to what degree they were willing to acknowledge it at the cost of their own comfort and convenience. (The same is true of the treatment of minorities.) The people in Lila's town might all see her as "deserving" whatever she gets because so few can imagine a life for women that doesn't involve submission, but through our modern lens, we can understand, and are MEANT to understand, the pain and the vast untapped human potential in Lila, and with that understanding, we can see how dismal her fate is. It is not possible to understand her story, or what this show is trying to say about her life and the power she is denied, without that modern point of view. It's not anachronistic to view a period piece through a modern lens, because to put yourself into the mindset of the period in which it's set is only to relinquish your belief that women and minorities are full people who deserve opportunity and respect, and that can only cheapen (rather than enrich) your understanding of the story and what it means for all the characters. So, here's my radical belief: Every individual that has ever lived has always had the ability and chance to understand that women are people, because it's always been true. History is full of men who didn't beat their wives, or who treated their wives as partners rather than slaves. I don't give present-day racists or abusers a pass because "they were raised in a culture of abuse" or "they don't believe/understand that what they are doing is wrong." I don't blame "historical context" for an abuser's decision to inflict harm on another human being, even though we are living in a society today where inequality is rampant. Why would I give that pass to someone from an earlier generation?
  19. Yes. I am so glad they're really hitting this issue. I don't know if I would say "hypocrisy" though, since the systems of resistance at the time developed this way for a reason. It reminds me of another historical docu-drama, "When We Rise," about the evolution of the LGBTQ-rights movement in America. Something they did extremely effectively was show the separate bubbles that all these different groups were working in at the time. Women, blacks, lesbians, gays... even though they all had the same oppressor (a patriarchy made up of straight, white men), they had almost no solidarity or understanding of their common cause. Everyone was so caught up in their own movement, they couldn't see how groups that should be their allies were being used against them by The Powers That Be to keep everyone separate and minimize the change they could effect. Groups of feminists dedicated to advancing women in the workplace would eject lesbians from their organization, because the presence of even one lesbian on the roster meant the entire group could be discredited as "a bunch of man-hating lesbians who want to disrupt the good, healthy, natural order of American life." Which left the lesbian feminists to form their own groups whose goals were more in line with becoming self-sufficient women-only groups who had no reliance on men whatsoever, which made them a completely different movement from the gay rights groups, made up of gay men who were dealing with the entirely different problem of having their bars and clubs raided and getting arrested and beaten every night. Trans rights were basically invisible, not really represented in any of the other groups. This show, thankfully, delves into people like Shirley Chisolm, prominent black women who were not supported by black men, because it's expected that she'll fight for EITHER women's rights OR black rights (and for that same reason, not supported by white women). That's just how it was done at the time. It was a tactical maneuver to focus exclusively on your group's particular issue, and it was thought to delegitimize you or undercut your message if you cooperated or organized with other groups. There wasn't much of an understanding of the political need to address the undertones of racism, sexism, homophobia, or transphobia that might be present in your organization. It's an alien mindset to us now, but this show has done a pretty admirable job of putting us back in that setting, and letting us see how discrimination between different groups prevented the full cooperation that was needed to mount a meaningful resistance against these disparate groups' singular oppressor.
  20. I agree the show's message about parenthood and adoption is muddled, but I do think we are supposed to agree that the judge unfairly favoured the rich, white people, as always. I would think that in a custody battle like this, when the adoption hasn't even been finalized, the judge would need a VERY compelling reason to keep the child away from its birth mother. Just thinking that she wouldn't be AS good as a rich family, because of their resources, isn't enough. The question isn't who is the "better" mother, or who could give May Ling/Mirabelle the "best" life, but rather who has the LEGAL RIGHT to raise this child, and that is a different issue. If there was evidence that Bebe was abusive, or an addict, or posed a danger to the child's safety, that would make sense. Abandoning her at a fire station doesn't establish a pattern of dangerous behaviour. It WAS the best thing for her to do when she couldn't care for her child, or present herself to the authorities to ask for help. Does Bebe still live in poverty? Yes, but even in America, where there is a strong tendency to commit minority children to foster care at an alarmingly inflated rate compared to white children in similar circumstances, poverty in and of itself is not a strong enough legal reason to separate parents and children. So, was Bebe right to kidnap May Ling? No! But she'll have to live with her choice, and its consequences, just as Mia did, and I think, rather than focusing on who's "right" or "wrong," the show is inviting us to live in the grey area a little, in the messiest parts of humanity, where we can disagree with someone's choices, but still empathize with why they made them. I think Mia's statement to Elena is a pretty strong thesis statement for this show: "You didn't MAKE good choices. You HAD good choices." Bebe was out of choices. It's not "right," but it's the natural consequence of an unjust system.
  21. I don't agree. Mia wanted to help Bebe because Bebe reminded her of her own situation (the child she birthed being truly "hers" even though others might not see it that way). Hurting the adoptive parents wasn't the GOAL, it was just the consequence. And Mia has not taken May Ling/Mirabelle out of her home. She has given Bebe the chance to argue her fitness in court, which she has every right to do. Ultimately, it's the court's decision where the baby goes.
  22. I am so glad I stuck with this show. I considered bailing after about episode 3, not wanting to watch a bunch of oblivious white rich people continue to take brutal advantage of the new black family, but it really has found interesting ways to explore the race/class/sexual orientation issues it has raised. I do take issue with the comparisons between Mia and Elena, though. I don't think they are equal assholes. Mia is abrupt and off-putting, but that's not a character flaw, it's just her. Same with her advice that you can't challenge someone without expecting to be challenged back. That IS good advice, and something Izzy needed to hear, and I don't think it's particularly hypocritical of Mia to say it. She stands up to being challenged very well. She may not have made the best choices, but she stands behind them. She wouldn't be intimidated off the witness stand, even though she knew her own past was about to be detonated in her face. She was ready to meet that challenge and face the consequences. She doesn't like to talk about difficult things (who does?) but she is prepared to defend herself. She is selfish, sure, and it was wrong of her to take Pearl away and not let her have a relationship with her biological father. But even though she makes mistakes, and does things for selfish reasons, there really is an undercurrent of reasonable goodness in the things she has done. She sold that photograph in order to give Bebe a fighting chance in court. She could have spent that money on her own child, but she spent it on someone who was in greater need. Pearl has a right to be upset, but that's not a morally unjustifiable action. She takes in Elena's kids when they come to her, because she can see that they need something they're not getting at home, and even then she doesn't nurture them, she just gives them hard advice that they need to hear. She acts out of selfish fear, but it's a fear that stems from the possibility of losing Pearl if the truth about her parentage came out. It may not be morally right, but it is emotionally understandable. At the very least, Mia demonstrates the courage it takes to stand behind her convictions. Elena, on the other hand, seems to act predominantly vindictively. Her actions stem not from a fear of LOSING her children, but of having to accept them as they are, not what she wants them to be. She resents the way her life turned out, due to the way her parents' expectations shaped her decisions, but then she heaps those same expectations on her own children. When she involves herself in the court case, it's not actually to help the adoptive parents: She threatens Mia, uses underhanded tactics, and risks exposing her husband to charges of witness tampering so that, in her own words, SHE wouldn't be responsible for her friends losing their child. She investigates Mia, tells Pearl her mother's secrets, and involves herself way too much in Mia's business in order to PUNISH Mia for... what? Helping a mother go to court to fight for her child? Even when she acts motherly towards Pearl, it seems to stem not from a genuine care for Pearl's interests, but an ingrained belief that Mia is not a good mother, and looking after Pearl makes her feel superior. It's like she has to justify her own ingrained racism by proving that the People of Color in her life really ARE bad by some standard or other. Elena makes the easy choices, the ones that DON'T take courage, and I respect her less and less with each passing episode. And thinking of.... Lexi is so much like her mother. I actually think, rather than because she knew she had screwed Pearl over, she didn't tell Brian about the abortion because while she was about to try to justify her "I'm a victim" mindset with her abortion story, some little part of her realized that if she told Brian the truth, she WOULD actually experience some real suffering (though still not as much as an actual victim). She would be opening herself up to being called on her actions, and if he was upset with her for lying to him or not telling him, she might have to confront the idea that she had done the wrong thing by keeping him in the dark (and I'm not saying she had any obligation to consult him, I'm only reflecting on the guilt she might feel for terminating the pregnancy behind his back), and so, just like her mother, she did the cowardly thing and protected herself. I love how complicated the situation is between Mia and Elena, and how it really does put some meat on the bones of the question "what makes a good mother?" Certainly, Elena and Mia are both good and bad in different ways. Focusing on the way the OTHER is a bad parent, rather than on the way THEY are bad parents, is hypocritical, but still not equally so. Mia is afraid to tell Pearl the truth and knows it's wrong to lie to her, but continues to do so out of fear. Elena seems absolutely blind to her own faults, and lashes out against others to avoid facing them. They are both motivated by selfishness, but not to the same outcomes. I can't tell if the show KNOWS there's an imbalance in the way their selfishness manifests, or if it really thinks it's putting them on equal footing, but I'll definitely be interested to see how it ends.
  23. My impression is that this attraction between them is more about intellect/class than an actual longstanding crush. Nino may have admired her intelligence when they were children, but then she left school and they each took very different paths. I think for Lila, it was being at the party and hearing Nino talk that rattled her and sparked something. She realized she was so far out of their sphere, she was missing out on so much, and the boy who SHE could make feel dumb is now making HER feel dumb, and Elena, who had always been a step behind Lila, is able to impress him. I think she was attracted not so much to him as a person at first, but to the life he represented, the academic life she wanted to have, and that her feelings got all tangled up with the idea that if she could somehow "win" him, then she could still be worthy, and valuable, and intellectually impressive, and not just chattel to be sold by her family for creature comforts. Whereas for Nino, I think this crush ignited for him when Lila started talking about Samuel Beckett on the beach. She revealed herself to be an intellectual peer who was very mysterious to him. And, unfortunately, I think Nino has more of his father in him than he would like to admit, because he seemed fairly attracted by her unpredictable temperament, and her unattainability as a married woman. He shares his father's desires for what he can't have. And once things got started, yeah, Lila fell hard. I mean, being with a lover who is so astonishingly considerate as to offer to wear a CONDOM (Oh my stars!) has to be worlds away from what she was experiencing with Stephano, if their wedding night was any indication. Add to that the fact that this is a summer vacation romance, which can ignite fast, and burn hot (but not sustainably), it doesn't surprise me at all that things got as serious as they did, as quickly as they did, even though we hadn't seen much going on between them previously. But, UGH, that scene on the beach was one of the most agonizingly unpleasant sex scenes I've ever witnessed. I've watched violent rape scenes that didn't make me cringe like that. I know there is a complex stew of feelings boiling around in Elena, leading to complicated reasons for feeling like that was an appropriate action to take, and she tells us afterward that she didn't regret consenting, but that man was wholly repugnant and he preyed upon her. All I want is for everyone in his life to see and understand what a disgusting predator he is, so he can lose everything forever and die in a gutter. I want to say that everyone in this episode is on a path that won't end well, but I do think that Elena, if she can really manage to stay out from between Lila and Nino, has turned an important corner in her life, and might actually come out of all of this better for it.
  24. Oooh, good call! I'll see if a Mod can migrate it over. Yes! The way the zombies are conceptualized differently makes a big impact on the tension and the storytelling. I believe this is based on an idea that's more in line with a Korean-folklore-influenced version of the resurrected dead, which makes it different from the zombies we see all over the place in American media. It's really interesting and refreshing! I love the way the zombies can move fast enough to actually get you, as well as the built-in "rest periods" where the characters can regroup, drum up suspense, and vary the action/tone so it's not all zombie danger all the time. I normally HATE the trope of "dumb new people are told there's a supernatural threat, but don't believe it and stupidly bumble into danger they were warned about," but it works deliciously well in this show. And the political machinations on top of it is dynamite!
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