bowtrunckle: (volcano)
[personal profile] bowtrunckle
So, I don't know what's up with Show, but it's making me want to post things!  Maybe that's good?  Or bad in the case that probably 3 people on my "flist" remember me and the rest of you are wondering who this random person is.  ;)

I just finished SPN 10x08 and, wow, I feel like I've been waiting for that episode since S3 but didn't know it until I actually saw it.  I feel like this is what show could be with a cast of supporting characters.  As much as I love Sam and Dean and how multifaceted and developed (in terms of, hehem, character development) they've become, they can't be everything all the time.  They can't fill the all the edges and corners of a story.  And when the story is made so narrow that it pretty much revolves around them (as they have done for the last million years), the story starts to teeter on the edge of feeling claustrophobic.

Yes, there's Cas and Crowley.  But, for me, their roles are limited by the characters they play.  Cas is an angel, and by being an angel (degraced or not or newly human or not), he has to maintain a certain "angelness" about him, a sort of naive, detached, earnest and literal persona, which I enjoy, but is hard to identify with or develop beyond certain strictures (but, to be honest, I was finding Cas's story interesting this season, especially with Hannah as his foil, but now she's gone).  Crowley is ... Crowley.  And despite his human blood addiction, apparent need to be loved (which, you know, will probably be played out as a thing with, Rowena, his mother), and his wheeling and dealing amongst his fits of yelling and smooth talk, he doesn't resonate with me (if anyone can figure out why let me know!) despite the fact the writers/show runners have manufactured the story to continually keep him involved season after season.

But Jody and Donna?  Now those are two characters I can get behind without blinking an eye.  They're funny and crass and lovable and tough.  They don't take bullshit even from Dean Winchester.  And somehow they can go from cracking jokes to being vulnerable to being funny on a turn of a dime without it feeling contrived.  And, a la brothers Winchester, they are complimentary opposites, which makes for interesting and unpredictable scenes.  But because by the middle of the episode it was clear there was a growing bond of loyalty and fondness (and protectiveness on Jody's part), "unpredictable" for me never meant uncomfortable or awkward or second-hand-embarrassment inducing.  For me, it hit that sweet spot of good unpredictable, vacillating between snort-laugh funny and tragically sad (Jody's dead family scene), giving me that weird lumpy-throat feeling you get when you see someone caught in a vulnerable moment and you don't know if you should hug them or pretend to ignore it (Donna's got that sad puppy-dog eye thing that Sam's got).

But, seriously, I can't remember an episode were I was actually left wondering what was going to happen, not in terms of the story arc or the plot, but in terms of what the characters THEMSELVES would do.  We know Dean will always choose Sam, and that Sam will do anything to save Dean.  We know they'll do their best to try to save people and kill the bad guys and then drive off and have a deep talk of few words, which will usually resolve nothing but still impart the fact that they care about each other in some backwards-brotherly way.  We know they will each silently angst over each other alone and in private (or in Sam's case while gazing out of the Impala on a rainy night).  But I didn't know what Jody and Donna would do when Sam and Dean showed up.  I didn't know what Donna's reaction would be when she found out "everything".  And not knowing was sort of exciting.

If anybody here remembers anything about anything I've written in the past decade while being on LJ (or maybe not), it's the fact that character-driven stories are my thing.  And part of the draw of character-driven stories is being able to be surprised in a predictable way.  Surprised in that characters do interesting and novel things that are completely believable for who they are and, in hindsight, are 100% predictable.  They are moments of insight where a reader/viewer sees new aspects of a character that slot in perfectly with what has come before.  It's called character growth.  And it a wonderful, marvelous thing if it's done well and with care and consistency because it’s a joy to discover new things about someone who feels familiar.

The most interesting thing about the pairing of Jody and Donna this episode was that it highlighted for me just how mundane SPN has become over the last 3 years (I’m not using mundane to denote something negative.  I’m using it for exactly what it means … run of the mill).  Jody and Donna were literally a breath of fresh air.  They reminded me what it’s like to watch something that’s not a reincarnation of a previous conversation/scenario or the 10th reiteration of a theme/through line. They reminded me of the joy and anticipation of pleasant surprises and how much fun it can be watch what happens when interesting characters are literally thrown in a room together.

But more than anything else this episode demonstrates that there’s a place for non-supernatural supporting characters, ones that aren’t antagonists or convenient plot points.  That Sam and Dean Winchester can and should have friends; that this TV show can and will portray women as independent, well-rounded, and well-balanced characters; and that, since the departure of Bobby, Jody and Donna are exactly what this show needs.  I feel like the perception over the years has been that recurring female characters who are not antagonists just “don’t stick”.  And this is me saying that they can and they do.  And they should continue to do so.

And to The Powers That Be, THIS IS WHAT A SPIN-OFF LOOKS LIKE.
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