Supernatural Review 9×8: Rock and a Hard Place
This week’s episode of Supernatural caused a lot of uproar in the fandom. There were many fans who enjoyed that it put Dean in some highly sexual situations, but the context around those situations were upsetting to many. The episode essentially villainized the decision to not have sex and pressured a character who’d made that decision into changing her mind. Additionally, the show once again fetishized race and culture, a concerning trait which the writers often push onto Dean for some strange reason. This reoccurring habit of his has alienated many fans and casts him in a negative light. It wasn’t all bad, though. Jody Mills was an absolute gift and I’m glad to have Kim Rhodes back on my TV screen. If it weren’t for her, the episode may have been a complete loss.
In this episode Dean finds himself sexually involved with a character named Suzy who is a former porn star. She’s changed her ways and has decided to lead a life of celibacy. The two lifestyles are drastically different, but the choice to go to such an extreme was hers to make. She seems to genuinely want to leave that life behind for much of the episode, but Dean pushes the issue and convinces her to break her vow of chastity. The moral choices of chastity or life as a porn star are not what’s up for debate here. Those topics can be divisive on their own, but the choice of which path to take should have been entirely hers. I generally agree with the premise that sex is not something that we should be ashamed of, but I respect other’s choice to abstain. In this situation she made the choice to leave it behind and that should have been respected by Dean as well. It’s possible her heart wasn’t entirely into her vow of chastity, but for much of the episode we are led to believe that it’s what she wants, so the drastic change is jarring.
As mentioned above, Supernatural also returned to Dean’s baffling fetish for racial themed porn. We already know that he has a thing for ‘busty Asian beauties,’ but now he apparently enjoys Mexican themed porn starring white women as well. The previous racial fetish has turned off many fans, but adding another similar element will probably be the final nail in the coffin for a large number of people. It’s a sad truth that this show just doesn’t treat race issues delicately and sometimes it can be downright offensive. When things like this happen it becomes obvious that it’s something the show just can’t handle well, and its even worse that the writers seem to think Dean’s love of race fetish porn is a cute little joke. I see the anger and frustration all over my social media networks and I wonder how a show that’s been on for so long can continue to alienate so many of their fans so consistently.
There was one beautiful, shining aspect of this episode that made it somewhat enjoyable. Kim Rhodes made a comeback as fan favorite Sheriff Jody Mills. If she’d been brought back in an episode that wasn’t so offensive on so many levels it probably would have been my favorite episode of the season for her alone. Her fate was left ambiguous last season, but during a conversation with Producer Jim Michaels at SDCC, we were told that she was coming back. Kim Rhodes herself later confirmed it on Twitter. We were all overjoyed about this, as she’s proven to be an extremely brave, capable, and compassionate character. In this episode she exhibited those very traits. She got stabbed in the chest and not only survived, but yanked out the object and fought back against her assailant with it. Jody Mills continues to be one of the best female characters this show has ever done and I’m so incredibly grateful for her existence. The fact that Kim Rhodes also mentioned the controversy from the episode on her Twitter account makes me remember just how much I appreciate her existence as well. I hope we never lose her permanently from the show.
If you exclude the perfection that was Jody Mills, this episode was pretty terrible. Most of the episodes in the first half of Season 9 have been dramatically lower in quality than last season. With the mid-season finale coming next week I hope the show takes the winter break to re-evaluate its direction. This season has been rife with consent issues, poorly written female characters, offensive sexual humor, and the overused plot point of the brothers lying to each other. The show has always had problematic elements, but they haven’t always been so heavy or consistent. After disappointing Seasons 6 and 7, Season 8 came was a glimmer of hope that things were getting back on track. With the drop in quality on the front end of season 9, I fear things may be backsliding to its season 7 rut. The season isn’t over, however, and with less than half of the story complete there is a lot of room for things to change. I just hope that they can break this streak of episodic creepiness. It’s really starting to wear on us.
Author: Angel Wilson
Stephanie “Angel” Wilson 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 has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.
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