Saturday, 30 October 2010

Weekend at Bobby’s vs. Live Free or Twi-Hard vs. You Can’t Handle the Truth

… or the “Why is Sam such a Dick Trilogy”

It’s no secret that since Supernatural has been back I’ve not been the biggest fan. But then Weekend at Bobby’s happened and I remembered why I love the show.

Weekend at Bobby’s manages to make that “Monster of the Week” format, that the new series is running with, fun and exciting. It takes its lead from a classic episode of the X-files (I can’t remember which) where Mulder is sidelined and we focus entirely on Scully with on Mulder appearing on the phone. Well, instead it is the Winchester SnapShotboys on the sidelines with Bobby taking centre stage, giving us a much overlooked glimpse into the life of Bobby Singer.

The trigger for the episode however comes from Dean, who rings Bobby up to complain about how different Sam feels since he came back from the pit.

True, Sam has been acting like a dick all season, but that’s not exactly new. Sam has been a dick for some time now, season 4 was dragged down notably by Sam being a dick! Anyway, I digress.

Live Free or Twi-Hard, while an amusing title and a nice little play on the current popularity of films like Twilight, fails on multiple levels. Firstly it follows the Star Trekkien style of storytelling. By that I mean, something happens to the one of the main characters, i.e. becoming a Vampire, that will be entirely reversed by the end of the episode, despite there being evidence to the contrary that is even possible.

Instead of providing an episode about the characters striving to overcome adversity, this method of storytelling simply drags on for 40 minutes until the inevitable conclusion is reached without the episode ever having had any meaningful impact.

The second reason the episode fails is that it breaks canon, Dean’s vampirism being reversible is both convenient and poor storytelling. Part of what makes Supernatural interesting and unique is the lore that Kripke creates for the monsters, changing that lore breaks an audiences engagement with the story.

What I would have found more palatable would be for the cure to fail, after all it wouldn’t be the first time. Back in season 2, one of the most memorable and shocking failures on the Winchester Brother's’ part happened in Heart. After promising to cure Madison of her lycanthropy Sam is forced to kill her when the cure fails.

Obviously, long term, turning Dean into a vamp would be a terrible idea, but a catastrophic failure of the cure would have made the fact that Sam let Dean get turned even more impactful.

Which brings me back to Sam is a dick. The whole point of Live Free or Twi-Hard was to bring to light this betrayal moment when Sam allows his brother to be turned into a monster. The rest of the episode is by the by and it really could have been any kind of betrayal really it didn’t need to be vampires.

So the final episode of this trilogy focuses on a Pagan god of Truth who is causing people in a sleepy little town to commit suicide. I had a brief hope at the start of the episode that Gabriel was back, but sadly, no.

Again, this weeks monster of the week is one of convenience, providing a simple way to finally get rid of Lisa (big damn shame) and out Sam as being a dick. (Have I mentioned that Sam is a dick) While I didn’t find this episode as objectionable as Live Free or Twi-Hard, it still felt staged, that everything which proceeded was only there to give some lead-in to the rather unshocking confession and plea for help from Sam and the rather more shocking and violent response from Dean.

To be honest I’m glad that Dean finally got to unleash his anger at his brother and not in a namby-pamby pre-watershed kind of way, but in a full on, brutally uncut kinda way. But overall the Sam possibly-not-being-human-storyline has been a bit of a downer. With only two characters in the show, having one of them continually antagonise the other really does a lot to alienate the audience. So while it might make sense from a story point of view (and I say might) it really doesn’t from an audience perspective, especially an audience that felt the show had come to a natural conclusion at the end of season 5!

Well, that’s My Two Cents anyway, until next time…

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