aesc: (Default)
aesc ([personal profile] aesc) wrote2010-05-19 10:55 pm

.spn 5.22: or, it took me long enough?

Long, exhausting conference was long and exhausting. But I'm back now, hurray, and I figured to preserve my year of diligence in recording my reactions to SPN episodes, I should write up the finale. I ended up completely chickening out and waiting until I got back from le conference so I could capslock/seek consolation from Trin, and also I decided to cling to Schroedinger's Cas a bit longer. (Schroedinger's Cas, if you aren't familiar with the theory, holds that an unobserved Cas exists in a state of pure probability as to his aliveness or not-aliveness.) Anyway, I watched the episode on Sunday, and was possibly not in the right frame of mind to process it all right away.

What I have here is really just a brief list of stuff I liked/didn't like, but mostly musing on the ending in general and ways of storytelling. Also, before you continue, I haven't really read any episode reactions, so some (possibly a great deal) of this may be redundant. Still, should you be inspired to comment, despite this being almost a week delayed, please observe the following:

1.) No wank. Seriously, no wank.
2.) No unmitigated creator-hate. If you're going to bitch about something, you have to write about something you liked.
3.) No S6 spoilers, please. I know some are out there, and I know what some of them are, but still.
4.) No wank.


First, the episode automatically met my minimum standard of acceptability, which is that Cas didn't die. Based on that admittedly slim qualification, it was a good episode.

Stuff I didn't like, though:
-Chuck being God, seriously WTF, what a letdown. This had better not actually be the case; God is a lot more bearable when he's an invisible douchebag (who, at least, seems to appreciate that Cas deserves better than being exploded)
-Dean not saying thank you at least one fucking time (although I'll get to that) to Cas for, you know, being awesome above and beyond. Also, his general refusal to admit that, while he doesn't like angels much, they're Cas's family, and Cas has every right to go back and try to take care of them. STFU, Dean, you pissed me off there.
-Wayyyyy rushed storyline, which is, in places anyway, a critique I have of S5 in general; I mean, all of S5 needed a beta reader to admonish the writers about pacing. Those filler episodes, like 5.05, 5.11, and 5.12 (hm, is it a coincidence I don't like either of those very much?), could have been put to much, much, much, MUCH better use than telling us shit we already know. I can think of, oh, twenty different things they could have done to even out the storyline and not make what was supposed to be the series finale seem like it needed only .05 seconds to resolve but a fraction of the plot, and to leave other issues unaddressed.

Stuff I did like:
-The story of the Impala. I don't think fanon is much off-base when it gives her personality and life; it's clear she has her history and meaning, beyond whatever meaning the Winchester Gospel might give her as the vehicle of salvation. She's home and family and a place of safety, and Dean rebuilt her exactly, down to the Legos and army man, and oh god I'm tearing up.
-Sam. Goddammit, Sam, I like you again.
-Cas bringing Bobby back, hurray! And Cas being sad and despairing but not fucking giving up, oh no, because he's CAS and that's that, inability to lie and inability to lie down and quit and all, and clearly God loves him (and me) because Cas doesn't die--or else maybe Cas is just too stubborn to stay dead even when he's been exploded again
-Dean asking Cas if he's God. Seriously, the way he asks it, I can't even say--choked up and broken a bit, and maybe hoping/disbelieving. And, as I wrote in the Casifesto, God should be the one taking the comparison as a compliment.
-The ending

And here's why I like the ending, at least in the general sense of what it has to say about the relationship between SPN, its creators, and its fans.

Let me start off by saying that, at first, the ending seriously irritated me when I saw it for the first time. Mostly it has to do with the writers really trying to shoehorn Lisa and Ben in with a handful of episodes left to go, when they weren't even mentioned since S3. Lisa isn't the dream-girl in the djinn episode; not a word of her, or what she represents for Dean, is breathed in all of S4 or most of S5. I'd buy it a lot more if she wasn't clearly meant to stand in as the embodiment or allegorical figure of the "stable home" that Dean's lacked his entire life--not when pretty much all of the show's emotional investment and development has been in Dean's Sam-delineated definition of "family." So I found that, and still find that, hard to swallow on some level. Remember the rant above, re: other uses to which we could have put a series of largely unimportant and unredeeming episodes? This would have been one. Another one would have been actually SHOWING us Cas's search for God.

Be that as it may, the way-open ending, with Sam out in the shadows (like everything else in Dean's life, he's always there)... wow, I liked that a lot. And in a way, it would have been a good way just to end the series, if S6 hadn't come up, because that's what SPN is, really. I'm not huge into the fandom side--I barely consider myself part of SPN fandom, just a member of a very tiny corner of it--but I do know that SPN owes a lot to its fans, not only in the sense of passionate support, but to an approach to storytelling, and the concluding of stories, that invites proliferation. Yeah, on one hand it is annoying not to have closure, but on the other hand... if there is no closure, there's no final answer. Canon has to opt out at that point, it has no choice; once the fadeout starts and the credits roll, there's no foreclosure of possibility, no limitation to the sort of story that can be told. Sam and Dean reunite and roll off on Road Trip #2? Write it! Cas gets sick of Heaven and decides he, Dean, and Sam will have to build a beach house in Maui? It can be done! Dean settles into his new life with Lisa and Ben and doesn't look back? Go for it, author! Sam and Lucifer agree to a timeshare of Sam's body while Cas tracks down God and God tearfully repents and gives Cas a sparkling pink pony? Write, fanperson, write!

Anyway, my change of heart came about because I just finished re-reading Charlotte Bronte's Villette, which I highly recommend. The ending, like 5.22's, is difficult because it refuses to commit one way or another. I don't want to spoil you for it (because you're going to read it, right? Right?), but the ending, like the rest of the novel, is in part a study of the difficulty of hope: that, when logic says it's over, and reason says expectation of good is useless agony, as long as there's no resolution--as long as there's no corpse, no mourning, no undeniable fact... hope is there, because possibility is always there. Faith, hope, and love abide, as the Bible says, and hope is a pretty damn bitter thing sometimes. But it's what fuels SPN, in its own dark and terrible way: it keeps Dean going even through the blackest, it's what turns Sam around when he decides to stop being angry, it keeps Cas and Bobby with Dean past their own doubts. So in the end, even a difficult and complicated end that refuses to say "this is precisely how things end, with no chance to interpret it differently," it's a very good thing.

So, yeah, there's my 5.22 review! For the season overall... Definitely not as good as S4, what with the stupid amount of retconning and the terrible pacing, and the fairly consistent failure not to take advantage of some promising storylines, like Cas's search for God, figuring out the horsemen's rings much much much sooner than 5.19 (which now stands as my least-favorite episode ever, so awesome work, Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin and David Reed, I hope none of you are on staff for next year, especially the first two of you). Still, what I loved... man, did I fucking love it. Cas's evolution, as slighted as it was in terms of airtime, is something you can draw out of every movement and gesture and sigh; Dean falling down and down and finally realizing he can't give up and keeping on with it; the show's refusal to accept the plotline that prophecy tries to dictate, and even its refusal to allow the unmitigatedly happy ending a lot of us probably wanted; "The End," which was so hard to watch but is definitely a favorite now, and the same for "My Bloody Valentine" and "The Devil You Know" (CROWLEYYYY)... So yeah, there's good stuff in there, too.

One last gripe: What about the amulet? Come ON.

And that's all I'll say for now.

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