“Do you want to hear a story?”
Are you up for a mental exercise?
(I’m taking some points I’ve put in things like my SPN retrospective and expanding them to stand alone posts for later referral.)
When dealing with stories, there are two different kinds of logic.
The problem with stories nowadays…
I’ve ranted on this before. Time for a more detailed post that I can refer back to.
May or may not be inspired by a recent film viewing.
Yeah Thanksgiving has put me behind and I’m trying to catch up. I was all set to blog a review with this episode and tonight’s but…
Ok confession time: When the time came to watch my shows, I was clicking on the Flash more and more with a bit of dread in regards to Supernatural. And you know what? That’s a really horrible place to be with what was once one of your favorite shows. Yet… slowly but surely this season has been turning around, until I actually caught up on SPN first! And didn’t regret it!
I mean had this episode been in one of the Kripke 5, it would have been very mediocre to below average, but after the ATROCITY of season 9? It’s practically 5 star! Part of me is starting to seriously wonder if the show runners are reading this blog because they’re actually showing signs of improvement and fixing previously listed issues!
A few quick things before I turn this into a writing tips rant.
- New character, Rowena. She was… a character in multiple meanings! She was a bit camp, but entertaining. She demonstrated competence and being a threat without showing herself to be some overpowered Mary Sue villain like this was a cheap knock-off of Dragonball Z (yes that is part of what I think ended Abaddon as a written character).
- Sam and Dean are behaving like… human beings! They’re smiling! They’re socializing! And you know what? That moment of Dean saying, “I’m going to die” (however it was phrased) had more punch BECAUSE we had seen greater emotional range from him earlier.
- While there are still a few holes in the angel deal, things were at least advanced and canon REMEMBERED (nobody was more shocked than me). Now we have an actual moral discussion, a plot to examine. I mean imagine if they freed Metatron’s vessel from him, just the implications of that, the story possibilities!
Still, you know what thrilled me most? What caused me a near heart attack? (besides high blood pressure and unhealthy living) They did a GOOD retcon!
What is a retcon?
Now, I’ve had some discussion with other fans (names withheld because I literally cannot remember them at the moment) over the issue of retcons in SPN, most often why I was so angry at the ones in S9 but accepted so many others elsewhere in the series. This episode gives a wonderful example but first, we have to establish what it takes for a retcon to work, and to be good.
- It cannot outright contradict previously established “facts” about the work. (i.e. If an line or character suddenly claimed that Sam was the older brother and Dean the younger.)
- It cannot contradict previously established “facts” about the work by implication. (i.e. If there was a comic or novel that said John Winchester was a part of an elite military hunter group in Vietnam.)
- It should harmonize any contradictions between previously established “facts”.
- BONUS: It should make new story possibilities, not break them.
Now, one minor issue the show has had was that witches seemed to have some inconsistency. What’s the retcon in this episode? That there’s (at least) 3 types of witches: demon based, natural born, and trained. Perfect! 1) This information does not contradict anything we’ve seen in any other episode involving witches. 2) The implications of this revelation do not create plot holes in any previous witch episode. 3) The issue with some witches seeming different from others is ACTUALLY RESOLVED! Bonus round: New storylines to examine! Like what if a natural born witch was to make a demon deal? Would they become super-witch or less powerful? Do psychics in the SPN world fit within the natural-born section or are they different? Do all natural witches have that “spark” which Leviathans can’t replicate? Can naturals be an angel vessel or is that an unresolvable contradiction? PERFECT SCORE!
Yes those questions aren’t answered, but the point is that they don’t have to be. The important, relevant plot and world-building questions were answered and these others can later be used to examine and expand future stories. Perfect! Well done!
Another example? The anti-demon hex bag. That Sam was able to find it online was possibly a huge plot hole by implication. Oh but they retconned that perfectly too! “Single person used it.” “Questionable reliability.” Yes, that’s how you do that. See it doesn’t require much, just a line or two, some tweaked word choices and you can make it all fit. Well done everyone!
Here’s hoping the episode that concluded five minutes ago doesn’t dash all my goodwill and anger me.