Supernatural 10×05 Review: Fan Fiction

SPN1

After the 200th episode of Supernatural aired, the reaction online was pretty much the polar opposite of what I was expecting it to be. In the months leading up the episode, the lack of Misha Collins or Mark Sheppard made many fans of theirs not want to tune  in to the episode at all. It made them feel that this supposed “love letter to fans” was going to read more like a letter to only certain fans or, worse yet, turn out to be more like hate mail. Some accused the people that were upset about the lack of Misha or Mark of not being “true fans” of the show, but when word began to get out that the popular pairing Destiel would be mentioned, those same fans also began to consider not tuning in. I’ve been trying to remain neutral myself, as Robbie Thompson has been my favorite writer on the show for a long time and I really wanted to give it a chance, but even I was beginning to grow iffy about how it’d turn out. Tackling topics like shipping isn’t something that’s easy to do in a non-offensive manner, so I was prepared to go in with the expectation of getting laughed at and belittled. When I hopped online shortly after the episode aired, I was truly surprised to see the outright joy on my Twitter timeline. ‘Fan Fiction’ was clearly far better than many of us thought it would be and I’m grateful that it didn’t turn into the absolute train wreck that so many people in fandom were expecting. It was fun, in tune with much of online fandom culture, and generally an enjoyable hour of TV.

SPN6This episode once again proved that Robbie Thompson has his finger on the pulse of fandom. Within the span of a couple of minutes we got a nod to the Samulet, the line “we’ve got work to do,” and a montage of all the title cards the show has used thus far. This could have played out like pandering to the fanbase, but instead I felt like it acknowledged us and set the episode off on the right foot. It was a way of establishing some of the major markers that have led to this point in the show as well as using fandom jargon to let us know that we’re part of this too. This isn’t just a celebration of the show, but a celebration for all of us. The fact that the writers even know the term “Samulet” proves they’ve at least been reading our tweets and tuning into our conversations. We might not always get what we want, but they are listening and dropping that jargon in the first few minutes drove that point home. Within those few minutes the tone of the entire episode was set.

The understanding of the inner workings of fandoms continued throughout the episode, but was most notable by the use of the term “Transformative Fiction.” This is a term applied to fan made stories more commonly known as Fan Fiction, which is exactly what the play at the core of the episode is in essence. While adding ninjas and robots to the Supernatural universe might seem ridiculous, being a creator of Fan Fiction means that you have the power to express yourself in whatever way you so desire. To outsiders, this seems like a weird hobby, but for creators and consumers of Transformative Fiction, it’s an important outlet for expression. No matter how ridiculous your idea may seem, you have a space to do it. Even cooler still, your weird and off the wall idea might find an audience that appreciates it.

To put this in perspective for those who don’t dive too deeply into Fan Works, I once read a story where Dean was turned into an octopus, which is absolutely bizarre and unexpected concept that I’d never even considered before. Yet I found myself fully engaged in a surprisingly well-written story that seemed like an incredibly strange concept. Had Fan Fiction not given that author a chance to put out such an off the wall idea, I and many others would have been deprived of a wonderful story. There are no limits to one’s creativity. Whether it’s used to take an off the wall idea and share it with the masses, or to take a more serious topic and explore it on a deeper and more poignant level, Fan Fiction has become a cornerstone to creative expression in online fandom.

The show also made nods to both of the two biggest slash ships in the Supernatural fandom, which is another popular route that many creators and consumers of Transformative Fiction choose to take their stories. There has already been nods to Wincest (Sam/Dean) in the past, but the original pairing of the show got another nod this time around. Dean is initially reluctant to the idea of “subtext” between the brothers and tells the actors to take a “sub step back.” It seems that Marie, like Becky before her, is a Wincest shipping Sam Girl and has no problem slipping that subtext into her work. I wonder if some far corner of the Internet Marie and Becky have long drawn out discussions about their pairing. They probably, at the very least, follow each other on Twitter. To get extra meta here, I kind of want  Fan Fiction of these two fans interacting. We’re getting to some inception level meta here, but that’s sort of half the fun here.

SPN3The other popular pairing of the show, Destiel (Dean/Cas), also got a shout out when it’s revealed that the two actresses playing Dean and Castiel are actually in a relationship with one another. This is the first time this pairing has been acknowledged so blatantly, though many can argue that the subtext and dialogue cues (I’m looking at you “Profound Bond” line) have already quietly introduced the concept into the show. This is the first time a meta episode has paid attention to the pairing, though, which is definitely a milestone. Sam and Dean then debate the correct pronunciation of “Destiel” and Sam even name drops the other ship that sails in the Supernatural waters, Sastiel (Sam/Castiel), clearly showing that he’s having a lot of fun with the idea of “shipping.” While Sastiel isn’t as popular as the two other ships in regards to the amount of Transformative Works available online, it was still a fun nod. The discussion of ships ends with Sam joking that maybe Dean/Castiel could be called “CasDean,” which Dean responds to with “shut your face.”

While Dean’s reluctant to a lot of the fan created work and shipping discussion at first, unlike Sam who seems to be getting a kick out of it, Dean eventually comes around to accepting their interpretation in his own way. He flat out told the creator of the play “keep writing, Shakespeare.” I see this as explicit permission from the show for the fandom to keep on doing what it’s doing. Dean follows it up by acknowledging that he doesn’t see eye to eye on their version of things, but “I have my version and you have yours.” This last line caused a bit of a stir for those who want their ships to be depicted as canon on the show as it felt like it was once again dismissing the subtext that exists within the narrative, but the line actually made me pesonally pretty happy. The entire dialogue with Dean and the girls made it feel like the showrunners were talking directly to us, approving of our activities, and telling us we should keep on going. How many shows get that sort of permission within the text itself? This type of acknowledgement isn’t going to make everyone happy and I understand that many feel like they’ve been belittled by that bit of dialogue. For those that have been hoping for a more explicit textual acknowledgement of their ship, that could sting a bit. I just happen to fall on the side that appreciates the acknowledgement and encouragement to continue.

SPN2Another acknowledgement towards the fanbase that shouldn’t go unnoticed is the demographics of the fans. In the previous meta episode where a Supernatural convention was depicted, it seemed like they assumed the fanbase largely slanted towards men. This episode, however, was mostly women. It even included at least two queer women, which I know is also a pretty significant part of the shows demographic that doesn’t often get acknowledged. As this takes place in a high school all the women are depicted as very young, but still highly intelligent and creative individuals that goes against the typically shallow depiction of teenage women in a lot of media. While I’m at least a decade outside of this particular age bracket, I’m happy that the younger fans were depicted in this way. These girls were smart, creative, driven, and brave. Not a bad way to be depicted, honestly.

There were other minor references in the show that were subtle nods to us such as the lines “idjits” and “hey assbutt!” We even got a long overdue textual acknowledgement that Adam is still in the cage, which is something most people had assumed the writers had forgotten about. To wrap things up with a nice little bow, we got the return of Chuck, which, not going to lie here, made me tear up a bit. It also makes me want to shout “what does it mean?!?” at the screen because really, what was that? We pretty much know Chuck is God at this point, despite the lack of contextual confirmation of that popular fan theory. But why is he back? Was it just a nod to the fans and an intentional poke to get an emotional reaction from us? Or does it MEAN something? Come on, guys. We need a showdown between Chuck and Metatron, like, yesterday.

Waiting for this episode to arrive has been an emotional roller coaster. Trying to head into this without a preconceived opinion about what was going to happen was next to impossible, but with the rapid shift in fandom atmosphere over the past few days I was at least able to head into it a bit more open-minded than I was just a few weeks ago. I was pleasantly surprised and I’m glad this episode played out the way that it did. Robbie Thompson remains my favorite writer on the show and my faith in his understanding of the fandom is stronger than ever. This doesn’t mean he’s perfect or that there weren’t any flaws with the episode, but of all the writers on the show at the moment, I’m grateful that they trusted him with this concept. It was a fun reference packed love letter to the fandom. They chose the perfect writer for this extremely difficult task. Thank you, Robbie. I’m glad to know you’re hearing us.

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.


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About the author

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She's contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She's written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.

Comments

  1. I’m sorry, but I don’t think one can’t demand that TPTB do the right think and make Destiel canon. Not after Season 8. They queerbaited, they admitted to it, and now they have to deliver what they promised.

    1. Did I state you weren’t allowed to feel that way? Because I tried to make it clear you were entitled to feel upset. I just don’t happen to be upset. If I implied your feelings weren’t valid, that wasn’t my intent and I tried very hard to make sure I understood where you were coming from. That said, I was very happy with this episode and the nods to multiple ships. I think they balanced it well.

      1. No, i didn’t mean that. I just wanted to explain why some people would be upset if there was no canon Destiel. I respect your opinion too.

  2. I feel pretty much the same as you. I was so apprehensive about this episode and I have been trying to have no expectations at all about Season 10. But I loved the spirit and the execution of “Fan Fiction”. It really felt like a love letter to the fans, to ALL the different types of fans SPN has gained over the years.

    As a Dean/Cas fan the only thing I missed a little bit was Misha, but I find I can’t be disappointed with this ep. Some people have said without Cas the show would never have got to Season 10. But without Supernatural I would not have got to know Misha as an actor and we wouldn’t have had Cas at all.

    I think Robbie did a great job capturing why we have come to love the show and the characters. For the first time in ages I felt part of The SPN Family again and, Dear Chuck, how I had missed that feeling!

  3. I did not like the episode. To explain why, I’ll quote tumblr user exitpursuedbyasloth:

    “Even without all the ‘fandom/queerness is a joke’, this depiction of teenage girls is insulting.”

    “Apparently Robbie thinks if he plays up the ship stuff for laughs, it absolves him and his co-workers of all the their queerbaiting.

    “I mean, he literally has Dean say that a queer Supernatural isn’t the real Supernatural, it’s just MANDY’s Supernatural.”

    “Cas was barely in it, and excluded from the final Carry On number; I believe the Samulet got more mentions than Cas did.”

    “Robbie actually had Dean say a Queer Supernatural wasn’t the real Supernatural, like the writers haven’t ADMITTED to deliberately queerbaiting Destiel (THEY HAVE)”

    “Oh, and y’all realize that Robbie making the actresses playing Dean and Cas a couple is not Destiel subtext or an indication that Destiel is going canon, right?

    What it is is a low-key way of blaming any perceived Destiel by the audience on the personal chemistry between Jensen and Misha.”

    “And no, Mandy mumbling about subtext right after does not mean Robbie was admitting to adding subtext. Mandy is the FAN, not the WRITER.”

    “The one non-white student was only backstage, never seen on stage, not part of the show; High School Supernatural is just as white as the real show. CORRECTION: I did not realize at first that the girl playing Bobby was not white, possibly because they kept her in a FULL BEARD and PULLED DOWN CAP the entire time. Was this supposed to be a joke about how Bobby, a white man, replaced Missouri, a black woman, on the show?”

    “Sam doesn’t ship it. He was making fun of ship names out by the car, annoying his brother. Queerness was a joke used to tease yet again.

    “The Ship Name thing was also about delegitimizing Destiel. ‘Why not Sastiel’? As though Sam/Cas is just as legit as Dean/Cas, because it’s all made up in fans heads anyway. It’s downplaying the bond that Dean and Cas have, and acting like TPTB didn’t deliberately write Dean and Cas in a romantic framing.”

    “Dean LITERALLY said that a queer Supernatural was not the REAL Supernatural. TPTB are fine if we have our little fanfic, but the moment we actually expect them to pay up on their queerbaiting, they go BANANAS.”

    “Mandy, the writer of the play, had a very queer, subtext ridden play (or so we were told, they never actually showed any of this). Dean is very uncomfortable with that. He tells them twice that their Supernatural (the queer one) isn’t the real one. ‘This is Mandy’s Supernatural’ he says once. The other time he was telling Mandy that it was her interpretation, but not the real Supernatural. I guess Robbie having Dean shrug and say it was fine for them to think that (BUT IT’S TOTALLY NOT REAL) was something positive, and not a patronizing little head-pat.

    “See, TPTB were always fine with us shipping Destiel, so long as we kept it to our little fanfic. But the moment we started actually expecting them to pay up on their years of queerbaiting, that’s what they object to, to lash out at us.

    When Dean finds out about ‘Destiel’, he actually looks at the camera like he’s Jim on The Office. Like ‘Can you believe these crazy girls, folks at home?'”

    “Both Sam and Dean got much longer songs, and Cas’s was mostly repeating the same line. He also got no scenes with anyone, unlike Sam or Dean.”

    “Talented? IDK, they could sing and such, but the depiction of their ‘talent’ was so very embarrassing. It was HOW they portrayed that talent, it was a joke. Silly. The writing in the play was… not very good. The parts with robots and so forth was meant to ridicule.”

    “Seriously, they’re willing to make fun of teenage girls, queers, theater kids…pretty much anyone but straight white men. You ever notice that? That straight white maleness is never the punchline of their jokes?

    “Gosh I wonder why?”

    “Misha should have been in it.”

    “The episode was trash and a poorly disguised attempt by Robbie to wash SPN’s hands clean of any of the responsibility of Destiel (It’s not the REAL SPN, it’s your Interpretation, stated repeatedly, even at the end), combined with an older straight white man’s idea of what women, teenage girls, queer teenage girls are like, topped with another dead pagan female god, and the whole thing gave me contact embarrassment.”

    “It was pretty offensive.

    “I mean, I consider Dean [aka TPTB] repeatedly saying the [queer] Supernatural was not the real Supernatural, gay jokes, casual misogyny in how an older straight white man writes teenage girls (especially how silly the product of their writing was, because as these girls were a stand-in for the fans, how silly our work is), and the overall message of “The queerness is your interpretation is not real, but it’s cute if you want to pretend it is, SO LONG AS YOU UNDERSTAND IT IS NOT, AND WE DID NOTHING TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO THINK THAT, IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD” offensive, so…

    “(Seriously, it was the patronizing head pat we all feared it would be. Dean not caring if the girls ship by the end is not an endorsement. TPTB have never cared if we shipped, so long as we kept it to fanfic and didn’t call them out on their queerbaiting. That is not respect.)”

    “The 200th episode was really bad, Thompson straight up said that Queer Supernatural isn’t real, that it’s all in our heads. He’s totally denying the show queerbaits, I am so upset. It is dehumanizing and offensive. I hate this show and it makes me so sad to see fans, even queer fans, lap it up. we deserve so much better than these condescending lies.”

    “From what I’ve seen, people seem to be ecstatic that the show gave them permission to like things in their own way. Which… that’s not theirs for them to give permission to do. We already had that, that’s our right. I’m not looking for SPN’s reluctant tolerance of my own thoughts, ya dig?

    “But the show is still denying the legitimacy of that queer reading, it’s not something that’s in the *REAL* Supernatural, or that was encouraged by the SPN folks. They put ‘Fans Adding Queer Subtext’ on par with ‘Fans adding robots and space adventures’ (no, that’s not an exaggeration).

    “And I really did not care for this old white straight dude’s idea of what teenage girls (two of whom were queer, but I think only to set-up a joke) are like or what they’re capable of. Like the creative material these girls produced, was silly and not great.

    “I just hate how willing the show is to make fun of women and girls and queerness, but they never make fun of straight white maleness. When was the last time straight white maleness was the punchline of a joke on SPN?

    “I mean, there were a couple of cute/funny moments, in-jokes about the show, but the episode as a whole was… unimpressive-to-offensive.”

    1. I’m not going to invalidate this person’s opinions at all, but I think it’s fairly obvious I disagree with most of it. I especially disagree that the depiction of the girls was offensive or that their product was terrible. I think their production was actually really good and creative and, yeah, the robot was a bit off the wall, but like I said, I found a story about Dean being turned into an Octopus really charming so… it’s not the strangest thing out there. To me the girls were absolutely a positive representation of young women, especially when compared to the shallow stereotypes we get from so many other places. These girls were creative and determined and brave in many ways.

      I can’t comment on the queerbaiting part because I’ve been there and I know how hurt that part of fandom is. I’m a shipper, too, and I’m queer myself. I just didn’t find the acknowledgement as offensive as this person that you quoted (and presumably you as well?) did. I was left feeling really happy and like I’ve been given the greenlight to keep on doing what I’m doing. I don’t feel shut down or made fun of. Obviously this person does. So nothing I say about my own personal feelings will change that because we both have valid viewpoints on this matter. It’s our own personal feelings and what works for us and what doesn’t work for us. So yeah, not going to invalidate that part at all. I feel bad that they are so hurt, though, and wish I had the words to help soothe them. I sadly do not.

    2. 1. “Even without all the ‘fandom/queerness is a joke’, this depiction of teenage girls is insulting.”

      If you noticed, Dean and Sam were not laughing at the girls. They expressed surprise and asked questions about what they saw (script, music choices, props, space).

      The only “reprimands” that came from Dean were regarding music genre and the implication of incest between the Sam and Dean characters.

      The fact that Dean questioned the use of Andrew Floyd (sic) Webber music but was later quoting Rent (a rock musical about bohemians, some straight, some gay) drove home it was a choice of genre rather than generic singing that was source of Dean’s music concerns.

      On the implications of Wincest. Even if incest is a concept accepted within the SPN fandom and even if Dean is a bisexual effemiphobe rather than straight (likely, IMO), Dean is not only Sam’s brother… He was effectively Sam’s father also. Adding acceptance of incest into that already co-dependent mess of a relationship is a bit of a stretch for any character.

      The girls themselves were smart and opinionated. They were not behaving in any way that I find unacceptable. Actually, most were behaving in a manner that made me think they’ll be highly successful later in life.

      Depicting the fandom as teens rather than adults: SPN cast chose to use a subset of the fandom to tell this story… Not the entire fan base. By setting this episode in a private/charter, gender restricted school, SPN show runners reinforced the idea that they know this episode is only reflective of a SUBSET of the SPN fandom not the whole fandom.

      Further, they made a logical choice that allowed their “fandom” to create an SPN musical without shattering the viewers ability to suspend disbelief. Could they have set the show in a different venue: Broadway or off broadway or a church play? Not likely, Chuck’s books aren’t selling well enough for the first and churches mostly do religious holiday plays. College play? If there were young women and men cast, there would have been more testosterone fueled posturing or the audience would have an expectation of it. It also doesn’t really fit with where Dean has been mentally. Could they have set the musical in a co-ed teenagers school? Sure. But Dean is softer and more tolerant around young girls than boys, so maybe things would have parsed differently for Dean and so for the viewers.

      2. “I mean, he literally has Dean say that a queer Supernatural isn’t the real Supernatural, it’s just MANDY’s Supernatural.”

      A quote from Virginia Woolf for you:

      “Words, English words, are full of echoes, of memories, of associations-naturally. They have been out and about, on people’s lips, in their houses, in the streets, in the fields, for so many centuries. And that is one of the chief difficulties in writing them today-that they are so stored with meanings, with memories, that they have contracted so many famous marriages.”

      What Virginia Woolf said doesn’t apply to just words and writing, it applies to everything we encounter. We carry with us a weight of experiences that causes each of us to view everything in slightly different way from the company we keep. These girls were making a transformative musical play about the books that were written about Dean’s life.

      So, of course it wasn’t “his Supernatural”, Dean’s Supernatural is his life. If you recall, Dean once described his life as a river of shit when speaking to other SPN fans. However, Dean didn’t say that he disliked the musical. He said it wasn’t his version of SPN and he didn’t say that the differences interpretation was due to “queerness”.

      3. “Cas was barely in it, and excluded from the final Carry On number; I believe the Samulet got more mentions than Cas did.”

      Cas was represented. Misha Collins wasn’t.

      Castiel wasn’t in the Carry On number because Castiel isn’t a wayward son of Mary and John Winchester. Bobby was on the stage because he was a surrogate father to Dean and Sam. The actress playing Castiel was also playing Adam.

      My ultimate hope, as a Destiel shipper, from this song and this episode is that Adam is not forgotten. That Sam and Dean will realize there is another wayward son and will rescue Adam from that cage.

      On an another note: “what has eight legs and is not allowed to eat pie” is an amazing story! And the podfics are great too.

  4. I felt completely out of it! I don’t get “fan fiction” I guess. What does shipped mean?
    And why was there females pretending to be gay men when Sam and Dean are brothers?? It makes no sense to me. Has nothing to do with the brothers. They aren’t single dudes – they are single brothers. They aren’t gay. They are straight. So what was this all about? How is this a thank you to us fans??

    1. I take it you don’t participate in online fandom much. It was definitely full of references to online fandom so if you don’t participate in that, I suppose a lot of it would be confusing. A “ship” is a “relationship” between two characters and many people ship these characters together in many ways. Some people ship Sam/Dean, Dean/Cas, or Cas/Sam. I suppose since all the main characters on this show are men, there really isn’t a lot of opportunity for heterosexual shipping, and fans have their own queer interpretations of these characters anyway. The great thing about fanfiction is that you can make it be anything you want. You can feed off of canon or you can take it in your own direction and do your own thing. Fanfiction is whatever you want it to be.

    2. Actually, only Sam is straight. Dean is a closeted bisexual.

      Ship means that you are rooting for two characters to be involved romantically, to become a couple. In the first seasons of the show, some fans shipped Sam and Dean (I know, they’re brothers. I don’t get it either). After season 4, more people began to ship Dean and Castiel, a much healthier ship IMO (because they are not related in any way and both characters are bisexual). It became more evident in Season 8, where Dean and Castiel were deliberately written romantically, like Mulder & Scully. This ship is also addressed on the episode.

      1. What makes you think he’s bisexual? Plus he and Jared are christians. Or are u talking about character Dean?
        Yes this fan fiction is very confusing. I just love the show and tweeting about it. .

        1. They are talking about the characters, not the actors – not sure why you are mentioning the actors’ religions which have nothing to do with anything (? :/ ) but anyway, yeah it’s kind of an on-line community thing so if you aren’t familiar with it, you probably won’t get it.

        2. You seem to be conflating the actors with the characters. Sam was a Christian with faith, I’m not sure if he is now. Dean knows God existed at one point but doesn’t have faith in God, I’m not sure he every really has. Cas, yes.

          Most of season 8 was building up the possibility of Dean and Cas being more than friends. Supposedly, an “I love you” line was replaced with “I need you” in the crypt scene over the angel tablet. And that was what broke Cas’s reprogramming. There are lots of meta discussions about the bisexual development on Tumblr if you search for “Dean bisexual meta”.

          It is worth noting that in the world of SPN, Castiel, angel of The Lord, has said he is utterly indifferent to sexual orientation so Christians of that world may not be homophobic.

          Of course, Jesus wasn’t discriminatory in our world either, read Matthew 19 as a whole don’t stop at 19:4-5… Get to 19:10-12. Jesus understood that people were not always heterosexual. Some weren’t heterosexual due to birth, some weren’t heterosexual by choice. He asked all to accept this fact.

  5. I completely agree with you, Angel. I’ve been in this fandom since the very beginning, and I felt like the episode was a celebration of it all: the story, the series, the brothers, the fans. A celebration of storytelling in all its forms.
    I understand that a part of fandom (most of the Destiel shippers, I believe) have been in an antagonist position with the show regarding queer baiting, and I am sorry because I believe they are sincerely hurt by what they perceive as a mockery/queer baiting…in as much as there should more shows representing a wider range of sexual and gender inclinations (go out and make your own it’s an encouragement, not dismissal, in my opinion), when did it happen, that fans pretended to see their headacanon in the actual show? What does it mean for our culture that a profound bond ‘has to be’ romantic? I think there is a sort of diminishing attitude towards relationships in general, either it’s true love for ever or nothing, and I find it difficult to reconcile it with fandom as I first knew it (20 years ago. I remember fanzines. I’m oooold 😉 There is a fine line between seeing things differently and refusing to accept that difference. Personally, I didn’t pay much attention at all at the rumours before the episode: they can build up and build up and just ruin something for you. But I did end up tear-eyed and feeling that my emotional and practical involvement in this fandom for ten years was recognised and appreciated and most importantly, shared. No episode is perfect unless it’s the one in our heads 😉 For me, this was a pretty great one 🙂

    1. You know, Silvia, the episode says that Destiel subtext is on our heads. But it’s not. The writers admitted that they put Destiel subtext on the show. We are just upset that we didn’t get what TPTB promised. Not only that, but now they are putting the blame on us, Destiel shippers. There was a clear romantic build-up on Season 8, but now the writers are doing everything they can to downplay Dean and Cas’ Profound Bond, platonic or romantic.

      1. The upset is palpable and (I think) justified. I suppose that I stopped expecting anything from PTB many years ago (another fandom, another disagreement on characters’ coherence with what portrayed in the show). I do remember the sincere ache, even after 15 years, and I see it happening all over again for the Destiel shippers. In terms of fair representation, I can’t think of a single show that does it right. I do think Dean and Cas have a special, profound bond, and whatever TPTB say, that won’t change for me (even if I don’t ship them, I do see how they need each other).

  6. I really enjoyed your review and the episode. I know that some people wanted more validation for their ship (and there are a lot of them, not just the two mentioned!!) but as with most shows/show executives/writers that probably won’t ever happen. They have their vision and we have ours and rarely will we get more than what we got in this episode in terms of validation and for me that’s ok. That said, the issue of queerbaiting is not something I should argue or defend because as a straight person I couldn’t possibly imagine how that feels and to pretend to would be disrespectful, so I will discuss what I call ‘ship-baiting’ since that includes queer and straight pairings. The perfect example would be the x-files, a show that teased us with both Mulder/Scully and Mulder/Krycek for ages and frustrated fans on all sides. However, I can’t be angry with TPTB on that show because they were in the business of making money, like TV shows are supposed to and they dangled the carrot and I bit, regardless of if I liked the taste of it. My ultimate ship was M/S but damn if M/K wasn’t a smoking hot pair on the screen and in FF so either way it could have gone would have been ok with me. But that’s just me, because both sides were always going to have a problem regardless of which way it went. The Vampire Diaries ship-baits as well because in the books (according to my kid!) it’s Elena/Stefan but the show gives us Elena/Damon anyway and teases the fans relentlessly because they don’t know if they will end up following the books or go their own way. SPN has no real female leads to tease us with so they add some subtext for us with the male leads, one of which is an angelic creature and the others are brothers but it really doesn’t differ from what other shows do, they tease and dangle and pull back and tease some more and I have accepted that I watch if I like it, I don’t watch if I don’t like it, and I then watch and support other shows that I enjoy more. Hoping that SPN will pair Dean/Benny (lots to work with there as well!!) or Sam/Gabriel (Sabriel is an actual FF pairing that gets love) is as likely to happen as Sam/Dean or Dean/Castiel because that was never Kripke’s plan. The chemistry was a happy accident between the leads that actually has it’s roots in the close, personal off-screen relationships and the writers gleefully ran with it and ships were born. None of us will ever fully be happy with what they do and what they write but as long as they continue to say ‘we support your right to ship and express yourselves’ I guess I will be sticking it out till the end:)

    1. You cannot compare queerbaiting with ship-baiting. Not until the possibility of queer relationships get the same treatment that the possibility of hetero relationships get. Not until queers get far better representation on TV then they have now. Nobody questions the legitimacy of heterosexual ships/romance.

      Ship-baiting is baiting of straight pairings. Queerbaiting is baiting of queer pairings. Therefore, ship-baiting does not include queer pairings. You cannot compare Elena/Damon to Dean/Cas. And queerbaiting queer ships is actually used a marketing strategy to attract queer viewers without alerting the twitchy straights who would get offended at the very idea of queer romance (which is not even the majority of straight people at this point).

      If there’s no pay off in the ship-baiting, unless the couple in question were part of a marginalized group, one not typically afforded romantic roles in Hollywood, there would not be the same SOCIAL issue to rightly criticize, but rather just one of narrative choice.

      “SPN has no real female leads to tease us with so they add some subtext for us with the male leads.” There’s no reason for Supernatural not to have female leads, and I don’t think that’s an appropriate excuse to add subtext with the male leads.

      “The chemistry was a happy accident between the leads that actually has its roots in the close, personal off-screen relationships and the writers gleefully ran with it and ships were born.” This is not the case with Destiel (Dean/Castiel). The writers could have let the ship with the chemistry only. Instead, TPTB spent Season 8 building a romantic framework around them, and the show has been alluding to Dean’s bisexuality from the start. The only reason they didn’t go through with it is because they are a gay couple, which is not an acceptable reason. There is no way the plot is dependent on Dean and Cas being 100% heterosexual. The only reason they won’t make Dean or Cas queer is because they don’t want them queer, cause they think that will ‘ruin’ the story.

      Quoting: “Queer couples are not treated like hetero couples in Hollywood. Queers don’t have the representation, especially not in stories that aren’t all about how hard it is to be queer. Because stories shouldn’t have to ‘justify’ having a queer character. Because I’m sick of living with the ghost of the Hays Code. I’m sick of hearing excuses like ‘It’s a family show’ or ‘That’s not what the show is about’ or ‘The story would have to justify it’ for not having queer couples/characters.

      “Because queerbaiting is all about manipulating the desire of queers to have real representation, to be treated like an actual person by Hollywood, instead of a sassy sidekick or tragic tale or a minor character. Being able to see yourself on TV or a movie screen is hugely important, it should not be all straight white men, that is not the default human being. And I’m not just talking about queers, but women and PoC and trans folk.

      “If you don’t understand why representation is important, go watch the Star Trek:DS9 episode ‘Far Beyond the Stars’, its on Netflix. You don’t even need to watch the rest of the series to get the important bits. I’m not being flippant, I really think this episode does an unbelievably good job explaining why representation matters.

      “When a show doesn’t follow through on your basic ‘pretty white and straight’ ship tease, it can really suck. It can piss you off. It could be a terrible narrative choice. But when a show doesn’t follow through on the teasing of a queer ship, it’s telling queers ‘Nah, your love just isn’t legit enough’, it’s a stab to their entire existence.

      “Now, if we ever get to place where queer ships are treated the same as het ships, and have the same kind of representation, maybe then teasing queer ships won’t come with the social baggage it does now. But until that magical day, if you intentionally tease a romantic queer ship, you better follow through.”

      1. Thanks for your reply. Like I mentioned above I can’t speak on queerbaiting on it’s own and separate from ship-baiting, just saying that shows I’ve watched in the past, the X-files being the main example that I mentioned, had straight and gay ship-baiting to get ratings, so this is what I stuck to and I think I argued it respectfully. Also, since I evenly see the Wincest (squicky of course) and Destiel subtext – and this was acknowledged in the 200th – I can’t agree to Dean being the only possible Bi character in the show. Beyond that, although the plot is not dependent on Cas or Dean or Sam being straight, it doesn’t change the fact that TPTB don’t have to change that for me and you regardless of how strongly we feel, in the same say that they wouldn’t change their plans for a Het pairing. Also, I can’t tell you have many times I’ve wanted to write a long, angry letter to the writers at Criminal Minds and ask them to LAY OFF the detailed violence they show against women, it has made me physically ill (Mandy Pantinkin left the show because the ‘darkness’ was too much) but instead I stopped watching it and get my Cop Show feels elsewhere and moved on. Letting TPTB at SPN know how you feel is correct and fair, especially since they have given us access via social media, but expecting them to cater to us, right or wrong, fair or not, is not in my expectations since ultimately TV is a business that is run by people who want to make money and might not agree with our vision. Much more productive is for us to support and rally new shows that have strong LGBTQ characters, strong women and racially/culturally diverse characters (I am by birth a culturally diverse type!) and to bring this to the focus of Hollywood in general. Revenge is a soap opera that is not my cup of tea but I found it refreshing that it began with an LGBTQ character important to the plot, Modern family as well, Brothers and Sisters, to think of a few, they didn’t just throw in a gay relationship/character along the way to get ratings, these are the kind of shows I’d like to see more of. I am watching Season 1 of Sleepy Hollow and as of now there are three African American main characters who are smart and capable and hot and this is where I’d like TV and films to continue to go. Of course since I am not queer, I can’t feel what you feel but I can try and support what you feel and hope Hollywood does as well very soon.

  7. “Instead, TPTB spent Season 8 building a romantic framework around them, and the show has been alluding to Dean’s bisexuality from the start.”

    See, what I don’t understand is that, even those allusions and subtext, they are such a huge step forward for the show (a minor show if long standing when compared to others) to make. Subtext is often used in a social/political way to bring a controversial topic subjected to censorship into the mainstream conversation.

    My instinct is to support the show in this – because we don’t know what pressures there are behind the scenes – so that in the next show, whatever that will be, we may actually get fair representation.

    That there is a widespread, unfair biased attitude in Hollywood against non straight/white/het characters is true – that fans anger should be directed against a show that in its way tries to offer an alternative reading (and states openly that other readings are just as valid, therefore validating them), I’m not sure.

    1. There’s no need to keep queerness in subtext only. We are no longer in the sixties. Subtext is not a huge step forward. Textually outing Dean as bisexual and make Destiel undeniably canon would be a HUGE step forward.

  8. Agreed! This episode really left me feeling light and happy. All of the inside jokes within fandom really made me wonder just how much research Robbie put into this episode. :’) The Destiel mentions and nods were PERFECT and while I was bummed out that Misha and Mark were not in this episode, after having seen it, I’m not as upset as I was because it just felt like such a complete episode. I’ve already re-watched it over 10 times!

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