Saturday, July 25, 2015

1.17 "Hell House" Nerds, WWBD, and How to Disappoint Your Fans

This episode has a couple of Firsts (!), as far as SPN goes, and whether they are good or bad depends on the viewer.  From a feminist perspective, it's a wash, I'm just warning ya up front; it's the kind of thing where I sort of regret looking too closely, really, because previously I just thought of this as a kind of hilarious episode, and now I'm a bit huffy.  But if you just want a couple of laughs, there are some good lines in this one.


  • Ghost chasing/Paranormal investigation.  There is a more recent sub-set of films shot in documentary style that are basically really long, CGI infested episodes of Ghost Hunters.  I am not much of a fan of reality television unless there are hoarders involved, so I've never really gotten into the bajillion (okay, dozens) of these shows.  
    • Actually, SPN does a hilarious job of pitting the 'real' ghost hunters, Sam and Dean, against the traditionally styled ones we know from TV.  The Brothers' interviews are ridiculous, with unreliable eye-witnesses, and they rely on research from the library more than anything else, whereas the Ghostfacers* are internet shit-stirrers that are all about fame and Lord of the Rings. Which brings us to another thing:
  • Nerds.  There are requisite nerds in almost every teen slasher flick.
    • Sometimes nerds are viewed sympathetically; one of the cleverest things Cabin in the Woods does is to use bookishness to align the audiences's sympathies with first Curt (Chris Hemsworth) in order to demolish the 'jock' stereotype, and then Holden (Jesse Williams).  These are smart guys, right?  They're not just one dimensional hotties.  They're real nerds, LOL OMG BBQ.  Whereas the Ghostfacers are just obsessed with pop culture, which is like, so dorky.
      • You can see where I'm going with this, right?  There are some parallels here to the online debates about 'real geeks' and 'geek girls.'  SPN's heroes have nerdy/geeky/WhateverTF cred by using science... in a show about ghosts.  Whereas their foils, the GhostFacers, talk about Buffy and getting to have sex with girls like that would be really nucking futs and Sweet Lord of the Rings.  Ain't no science on that list.  And that is why they are bad nerds, whereas the SPN guys are good nerds.
        • And why boys make good nerds, whereas girls, apparently, make bad nerds.**
        • And why the Ghostfacers, who are aligned with the feminine in this equation, kinda bum me out.
  • Buffy I thought about adding more about her in the above bit, but for reals, Buffy is The Shit and she deserves her own damn bullet point.
    • But she kinda underlines the discomfort I have with the Ghostfacers.  There is a moment in this show when the two Ghostfacers ask themselves 'what would Buffy do?'  Now, nobody in their right mind is running around going WWSam and Dean do, because the answer could be anything: go to hell, murder some innocent vampires, have campy sex, prank one another.  Anti-heroes, dude.  Whereas Buffy, like it or not, is a real deal hero.  No anti about it.  So why is it dorky/nerdy/yougetme to wonder what she would do in a time of duress?  Heroes are exactly who we should emulate in those moments; the uncomfortable answer is that it's dorky/nerdy/yougetme to ask yourself what Buffy would do because she's a chick, and two dudes are wondering; dudes, ergo, can't look up to female heroes without being the bad kind of nerd, assuming we could still even agree that having a female hero is even possible.  Apparently.
  • Just to make me completely crazy: misogyny.  It is literally mentioned by Sam, as he describes the ghost they're looking for: "Apparently a pretty misogynistic spirit... Takes girls and strings them up from the rafters."
    • "She was pretty hot.  In a dead way," one of the lowly interviewees says.  A bit meta, SPN; ain't a lot of ugly girls dying up in this show.
    • So, if you're keeping score here, this is another point in favor of the Brothers vs the GFs: the Brothers love women.  They know what misogyny is.  But those damn nerds probably don't.
      • In other words, this whole episode is about how much better they are than the lowly pop culture obsessed hordes who might be, I don't know, watching their show.
    • Misogyny is a thing to watch for in horror, however, as we've talked about before.
SPN Notables: 
  • Pranks episode.  Which is pretty funny.  The whole episode, for better or worse, is pretty hilarious--lots of clever cuts and funny writing.  Whoever writes the lines for Harry and Ed is having a hell of a good time.  Lead in to:
  • This is the first comedic episode.  There are really funny bits in a lot of the other ones previous; Dean always gets in some good one-liners.  But the balance tips with this episode--partially due to the talent of Travis Wester and A.J. Buckley, who have great chemistry and excellent timing and are definitely having at least as much fun as the writers with Harry and Ed--and what you remember at the end is not the main plot, but the sub-plot.

When Sam reads about a haunted house in Richardson, Texas, in a website, he convinces the reluctant Dean to drive to the place. They investigate the controversial witnesses of the spirit of Mordechai Murdoch, a man who hanged his six daughters and himself in the cellar of his farm in the Great Depression, but they do not find any evidence of truth in the story. Later, they disclose that it was a prank of two teenagers, but the legend of the fiend became real due to the belief of the readers of the site.

We'll go back to Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  for this summary.

Minority Report: I fucked up and erased this from my draft, which sucks, but I can tell you for sure that there were 2 speaking parts for white chicks and 1 speaking part for a lady of color (the victim).  Hmm.

White Dude Count: Um.  5 speaking parts?  I think.  I apologize, my Ukrainian friends!***

Victor: N/A; they burn the place and hope for the best, and so do we because who knows how many poor dead college chicks the writers would pile in otherwise.

Primary Villain: A made up, axe-wielding ghost dude.

Secondary Villain: A bored, bratty record nerd who makes up an axe-wielding ghost dude.

Lady of the Hour:  I can't in good conscience say that there is one.  There is the poor bullied girl who gets merked and the bored cousin who instigates the whole thing, but neither of them even tell their own stories, really.  The victim gets the most screen time and has a few lines but we barely hear anything from her.

So this episode, more than anything, is about measuring dicks among different breeds of male nerds.  Sam and Dean are 'serious' nerds, because what they do has real meaning and also, of course, because they use the library; the GhostFacers are goofy nerds, because everything they care about has no use in real life other than as entertainment; and also they look up to a chick.  What the fuck is that?****

This episode is still funny to me.  I still like it, because it makes me laugh and even though the Wins kinda look like bullying dicks for a large portion of it, I like that they have foils in the show, something that always tickles my writing funny bone.  I don't know how I feel about the way the writers are kinda bullying dicks for large portions of this episode, though.  Sometimes writing is just writing; there isn't a woman with agency in the episode because there just isn't.  Sometimes, though, she's not there because the people writing the episode think women are a joke.  And that's not cool at all.  For the record, the end result is the same: people who are not white men with socially normalized interests are further marginalized--even if it is a show about ghosts, it's obviously one people watch.  And half of us are watching ourselves be bullied.

*Y'all should've just started a band.  A Blue Oyster Cult tribute band.

**If it wasn't evident, I think nerd hierarchies are all bullshit, and fighting about who gets to be a geek and who doesn't online is some whole new level of bullshit that Dante probably would've made into a hell ring.

***As far as I can tell, Ukranians are reading this blog.  And other than Ukranians I got no idea.

****I hope it's obvious that this is sarcasm.  Because it is.  Sarcasm.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

1.18 "Something Wicked"

This is kind of the Supernatural origins story: how our heroes are made.  I don't have as much to make fun of as usual, since they use a Canadian hottie (and we all know how I feel about Canada) and there's a lot of family dramarama... This episode, I bet anything, planted the seed for how much I hate John Stupid Winchester.


  • Kidbait.  So, so many movies use children to evoke a response from the audience; in horror, children in danger of some kind are pretty common (everyone, basically, is in danger in a horror movie, right?) and there is a sub-set of horror that uses children as bait for a monster of some kind.  Adventure stories do this a lot, too, particularly ones aimed at children.  Anyway, in horror it's less common, but it still happens, and it is still, in my questionable opinion, annoying.  
  • Nightmares.  Nightmare on Elm Street, obvs.  Also, to a lesser degree, movies like Cabal, which have dreams that are real but can't kill you.  When Dean is talking to Kidbait, he says "I'd give anything not to tell you this, but sometimes nightmares are real."  And when Dean is sweet to kids it has the opposite effect of using kidbait in shows, which is to make me go awwww, so you win this time, SPN.
  • Gender swapping villain.  One of my favorites.  Psycho is the OG, and I think Insidious 1000 is the most recent to use this bizarre plot twist--which can only ever be awesome (former) or absolutely, hilariously bad (latter).
    • Men, Women, and Chainsaws has a more in-depth discussion of gender, victims/heroines, and villains.  If you are at all interested, it is totally worth reading; the premise is that male audiences identify with female protagonists, which is kind of revolutionary, and that villains/villainy is often about entering/being entered which in turn is male/female.  I'm doing a shit job, just read it.  It's good.
  • Upside down crucifix.  Used as a gag.  And pretty damn well, I should point out.
  • Witch.  This is some special kind of witch, but yeah, it's a witch.  Witches were kind of an 80's horror thing, although the best witch flick was actually for kids.  Also used as a gag, also hilarious.  Bonus: the gender of this witch is up for grabs.
  • Ray Bradbury.  But they kinda yank the name and drop the actual plot.  Still, RB is a horror heavy-weight, definitely worth mentioning.
SPN Notables:
  • Bikini inspector scene.  Yanno.
  • Another gay joke, this time from Kidbait.  Thanks, Kidbait.  Please don't grow up to be a douche.
  • Venus Terzo.  Oh, Canada--you rogue.
  • The meat of this episode, Brothers Win-wise, is all about the development of Dean (and Sam, but this one is really about Dean) and his character: his loyalty, in particular, which codes to 'obedience.'  At least as far as JSW goes.
    • There are a lot of flashbacks, which provide the background to the story.  In them, Dean is left in charge of Sam and they are barricaded inside of a hotel room while his father does whatever.*  Dean and Sam's relationship is set in stone: Sam is a tiny boy who gets what he wants and is a little bit selfish, Dean is as close to selfless as a resentful older brother can get.  It's kind of cute; Dean finally relents and lets his little brother eat the last of the cereal he wanted (and got none of), and when Sam finishes it he fishes out the prize at the bottom and offers it to Dean.  Seriously, so cute.
    • Their father was hunting the shtriga, and he knows it will come for precious lil Sammy** and so he... leaves them.  Alone.  And the viewer is left to wonder, when the shtriga does come for Sam, if he did it on purpose--was he using his own kids as bait?***
      • Dean doesn't think so, because Dean has a serious case of tunnel vision when it comes to his father.  Instead, Dean blames himself for the shtriga getting away, and for endangering Sam--he left to play video games, and this provides enough of a window for the villain to try and kill Sammy.  When JSW bursts in and saves Sam, he also blames Dean, viciously, for endangering his little brother by leaving.  "He gave me an order and I didn't listen and I almost got you killed."  
        • Emphasis: Dean is responsible for Sam; Dean can never leave Sam; Dean can never disobey his father because it might get someone he loves killed.
        • This revelation allows Sam to understand why Dean obeys their father--a man that Sammy clearly understands is a dogshit dad.
      • When the shtriga returns, years later, Dean takes it personally.
        • He tells Kidbait the truth about the shtriga, which is dangerous because To Protect People You Must Lie.  Which is the point--Dean needs to use Kidbait, and he might not be able to protect him (ergo: truth).  He knows Kidbait will work with them because he is also a big brother: "You said you're a big brother?... You'd do anything for him?"  Dean empathizes, you see.
        • But he makes sure to tell Kidbait: "this is not your fault."  Because Dean is a better person than his own father.
      • The dynamic of older brother/younger brother never changes: the last scene, as they are driving out of the hotel parking lot, goes:
        • Sam: "Sometimes I wish I could have that kind of innocence."
        • Dean:  "If it means anything to you, sometimes I wish you could too."


Sam and Dean investigate a small town in Wisconsin where children are falling into comas for no apparent reason. The brothers discover that a witch is creeping into the bedrooms of the children and stealing their "life force." While battling the witch, Dean recalls a past mistake that almost cost Sam his life at the hands of the very same witch, an event which has fueled Dean's protectiveness over Sam and his blind obedience to his father.

Kinda already did this, I guess, but thank you, Anonymous.

Minority Report: White girls: 6 (1 is a kid)

White dude count: 8

Primary Villain: The shtriga, duh.

Secondary Villain: ...I have to be honest.  I included this because I kinda think JSW is a secondary villain in this one.  Wait!  Wait!  Hear me out--I know I'm biased, and you kinda expect this sort of thing from me, I'm sorry, I'm sorry... I just... He left his kids.  He used them as bait, dude.

Victor:  Dean.  Little overkill with the win, actually, but I too have been known to carry a grudge, if not a shot-gun, so I sympathize.

Lady of the Hour: This is actually a little bit tough.

Venus Terzo, gorgeous though she may be, is actually not on screen a lot.  And she has almost no impact on the plot--this episode is about brothers (and their issues), not Vulnerable Young Mothers.  There's a pretty funny scene with an old lady that the Brothers mistake as the witch, but she only gets the one line.

And then there's the actual witch.  When we see the witch in it's human form, it's a dude.  There's an advantage to taking the form of a man, particularly in the 1880s, the oldest photos they find of it.  But when the witch arrives at night, it looks much more feminine; it is played by an stunt actress (is that how you say that?) and in lore a shtriga is usually female.  Sooooo...

Is the shtriga

  • Resilient?  Sure.
  • Loyal?  Nope.
  • Strong?  As hell.  And freaky to boot.
Is the shtriga also
  • Logically motivated?  We all gotta eat.
  • Consistent?  This isn't something we can guess at, although the answer is yes, superficially.
  • Unique?  No; this is just a generic bad guy; the only interesting thing is that she wears a man at her day-job.  
So the shtriga is 4/6, a reasonable score for a villain.  Remember, a true villain will never be loyal; an interesting one will be many other things, but never loyal, and never, in the end, unselfish.  The shtriga is extremely selfish, and although her reasons are logical, they are also boring.  Hasn't she ever read Twilight?  She'd probably have to eat, like, every eight years instead of eighteen or something, but I'm sure deer souls are totally delicious.

*Like, I dunno, drive up to New York and have a kid with somebody else that he never tells them about.  You know, whatever, no big deal.

**JSW yells alot about how helpless Sam is when he arrives on the scene, which begs the question

***of WTF he was doing the whole goddamn time.  You know he did, dude.  You know he was chilling in the parking lot, drinking diet Pepsi and fucking around with one of those douchey knives that are easy to twirl around your fingers or something and then he saw the strega go in the window and was like OH SHIT.  I better blame Dean, or he'll know I'm the worst father in the world.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

1.14 "Nightmare"

I think I put off writing about this episode because it is simply tough to write about.  My usual jokey tone isn't really appropriate for this one, and because talking without jokes is nearly impossible for me, this was nearly impossible to finish.

  • Telekinesis/pyromancy/etc: Think Firestarter, or Carrie.  That's the genre this episode taps, although the demonic origins of the power in SPN are a bit different from the usual approach... Assuming there is a usual approach.  
    • As pointed out above, there has been a bit of navel-gazing with films of this genre; the main characters who have these 'powers' are usually young girls.  The speculation is that their coming of age (and in Carrie, this means getting your period, and that has been a Thing) makes them capable of destroying the world that has previously abused them; Max fits this mold perfectly, except that he is male.  So that wraps up the most interesting thing about this episode.
  • Abuse.  It's hard to dress this up.  This episode is really, in a lot of ways, a drama rather than a horror film, although it does an excellent job of using the tones of horror to approach it.  The best example I can think of a horror movie addressing domestic traumas* recently is The Babadook, which is basically about grief and post-partum/long term depression; the earliest example I can think of that talks about domestic abuse in a horror setting is much campier but definitely horrific, in People Under the Stairs.  I'm sure that's not the first.
    • There is often an aspect of abuse in many horror films, but it is rarely the focus of the action, for whatever reason--the main character is rarely the one who experiences long-term abuse and in traditional horror arcs is often the savior or attempted savior of survivors (The Cell, PUtS, any episode where one of the Brothers Win is kidnapped, etc).
SPN Notables:
  • This is the episode where, in the goofs, the Brothers show up in their sleeveless priest outfits; "Brothers Simmons and Freely" indeed.
  • Origin of Dean's eating thing, as previously discussed.  Vienna sausages, btw, which is either gross as hell or amazing, depending on whether or not you are still in elementary school.
  • I don't even know how to deal with a lot of the other stuff in this episode.  In a really fucked up way, the family dysfunction in this show serves as a foil for the dysfunction in the Winchester family.  There are moments in this episode that are just flat-out excruciating to watch, because Brendan Fletcher does such a good job of radiating ambient rage.
    • "He always seemed so normal; you never know what goes on behind closed doors."  A neighbor says this about the first death (which mimicked a suicide), meaning that he might have been depressed or whatever; it is a portent, if you've ever seen an After School Special, of abuse--the twist being that he is both the victim and the abuser.
    • Max also uses the word "normal" to describe how he's feeling after the second death.  Hint of abuse #2.
    • Sam doesn't want Dean to kill Max, because he sympathizes with him due to their shared condition; Sam doesn't empathize with Max, though: "We're lucky we had dad."  As fucked as John Stupid Winchester is, he didn't do this.  Sam sees how bad it could've been.
    • There is a push and pull between Sam and Max, the foil: Dean is the difference between them.  Dean says: "Long as I'm around, nothing bad can happen to you."  And then jokes about going to Vegas or something, which is cute, but the worried look on Jensen Ackles's face--which he is so good at slipping in to otherwise comedic scenes--cues the audience in to his fear that Sam will, in fact, go darkside.  But does he leave?  No.  Never.
      • Max's isolation creates his hopelessness, and this is the crucial difference in the end between the personalities (and manifestations of power) in them, as well; Max doesn't think it can ever get better, and Sam--although delusional--thinks he can make it better.  
        • Sam: "I think I'm here to help you."  (I can make it better.)
        • Max: "No one can help me.  (There is no better.)
          • Sam: "What you're doing, it's not going to fix this.  It's not going to do anything."  (Phrasing, Sammy.)
          • Max: "You're right."  (Boom.  So sad.)

Sam has a premonition in which a man is killed, but the murder is made to look like a suicide. Sam convinces Dean that they must investigate the case, but the two are puzzled when they fail to find anything that indicates that the death was supernatural in nature. That is, until they find out that Max, the reclusive son of the first victim, has been using his recently acquired power of telekinesis to kill the family members that once abused him. Sam also discovers Max's mother was killed by the same fiery demon that took his own mom.

Good job,  Anonymous.


 Minority Report:

  • 2 white chicks
White Dude Count:
  • 5 white dudes
Max.  Poor Max.

Secondary Villain: 
Abusive creeps, I would argue.  Also, Yellow Eyes deserves a mention.

Max, probably.  And good job, SPN, because that is pretty effed.

Lady of the Hour:
The step-mother.  Ugh.
  • Resilient?   No.  There are often defensive reactions to calling someone involved in the cycle of abuse--the physically weaker partner--non-resilient or weak or whatever, because it robs them of any remaining power they might have and it makes them share the blame for the abuse... Which, in short, is a fucked thing to do to someone who is being abused.  But this lady isn't the one experiencing the brunt of the abuse.  You could argue--and people do--that due to the level of control and fear inspired by her husband, she was paralyzed and unable to interfere because she was so afraid... But this has never set well with me.  Remember: I lived in a house with serious domestic violence going on--I am not writing as a proxy.  And if you let your child (and he is her child, step or no) experience that level of abuse because you're afraid to get hit yourself?  You're a piece of shit.  There is no strength reflected in this character.
  • Loyal?  Yes.  To other pieces of shit.
  • Strong?  No.  "I've lost everyone."  Well... 
  • Logically motivated?  Maybe.  It depends on how much credence one gives to the argument above (I have some serious issues with it, obviously, but I am willing to concede a .5 just in case someone with more sympathy than me can make a great argument in its favor).
  • Consistent?  Yes.  Tragically.
  • Unique?  Not a bit.  She is every victim stereotype in the book.

Total: 2.5/6.  I'm not sure how to feel about this--do I wish they gave her more agency, made her at least more reluctant to shield the men who beat her child?  Yes.  Do I wish she was a character who tried to leave, maybe take Max away from them?  Yes.  Would it have been better writing to have any of that happen?  Probably.  But SPN doesn't do that--they don't talk directly about the realities of these situations when it comes to the female perspective, most of the time, and the show really exists as a platform to allow the Winchesters to be heroes, over and over.  But is it a better show for it?  No.

I'm not sure how they could've held on to their arc about the demon and made it as horrifyingly tragic if they'd changed her character... Or Max's, or the father's.  I have to believe they could've.  I mostly just wish they had tried.

*Probably because of said issues, these are actually my favorite kinds of horror flicks.  But the Babadook is the most recent one I've seen, for sure.

**Mr. Fletcher is also a horror staple, apparently, and I guess I should check Rampage out.  Tideland's been on my list for a while.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

"Shadow" 1.16

I just did not care about this episode until doing this project.  It kind of fizzled away in my memory; it wasn't hilarious or super meta or particularly dramatic or any of the things an episode must be for me to re-watch them (barring starting a blog that pretty much requires re-watching them). However, I've got a new love for it, as it finally features some (problematic) (but authentic) lady power.  A lady powered by demons.  Aw yiss.  You know what I'm talking about: Meg's in town.


  • The invisible villain.  Uncommon, but appears in multiple genres; Predator is probably the most popular example of a villain you can't see, although ghosts sometimes fall in to this category.
  • Captured evil turns on its user when free.  Kinda nebulous, I know, but it is a convenient ending.  Think Voldemort.  It pops up everywhere in popular culture--its a moral lesson, a cross-cultural allegory--and SPN employs it regularly, with reapers and wishes and cursed objects you get me.  They've only got 43 minutes to wrap these bad boys up, yanno.
SPN Notables:
  • This is the episode where that lady catches Sam watching Meg get undressed and calls him a pervert.  LOLLERCOASTER
  • Jokes aside, this is when we realize Meg is, to quote the Brothers Win, Big Leagues.  Chatting with a bowl of blood ain't no small thing.
  • Papa Win appears, just to leave again.
    • Tensions simmer.  Dean, brain-washed child of systemic abuse that he is (or is it 'responsible older brother?'  YOU DECIDE), supports his father's exit.  "Dad's vulnerable when he's with us.  He's stronger when we're not around."*
      • Sam and Dean hash out their different expectations; Dean says the quest will never be over, he will never stop hunting.  And in his heart of hearts, he wishes Sam and his dad wouldn't stop either, because that is what he thinks is family.  The Winchesters, hunting into the sunset.
      • Sam is blunt.  "I'm not going to live this life forever."  Sam's life is about revenge... Remember that whole evil turns on you thing?  Sam is painfully aware, but because of that pain he is vulnerable to the Dark Side.  He's not in this because its the right thing to do, or because he loves his family.  Sam thinks this will end his suffering.
  • This is technically the first time Sam makes out with a demon.  Just sayin'.

In Chicago, the waitress Meredith Mcdonell is pursued by a shadow in a alley, and once locked at home, she is slashed and her heart is stolen. Dean and Sam move to Chicago to investigate two similar murder cases, and while in the bar where Meredith worked, Sam meets Meg. Sam does not believe in serendipity, and follows Meg to an old warehouse where she worships a demoniac god. Meanwhile, Dean leaves a message to his father asking for help to fight against the shadow fiend. When John Winchester meets his sons, they realize that they have been ambushed by evil forces.

Excellent work 
Claudio Carvalho, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


 Minority Report:

  • One lady of color has the most lines besides Meg, three speaking parts for white ladies 
White Dude Count:
  • All three of the Winchesters appear, including Father of the Year, John Stupid Winchester.

Secondary Villain: 
Weird shadow demons--I only say weird because this is one of the only... If not the only episode that differentiates between different types of demons.  Most of SPN's demons are from Judeo-Christian lore; these are Zoroastrian; ergo: weird.

Best part: there is no real victory.  Meg just megs around after she gets tossed from that window.  Meg meg meg.  It's a flexible word, a noun or a verb, just like fu--WAIT A MINUTE.  WAIT JUST ONE MINUTE.  Does this mean... Our Primary Villain and Victory Snatcher and Lady of the Hour are all 

Lady of the Hour:
Meg!  OMG, it's Meg time.  Finally, finally, a real deal, deep down villainelle.

So let's talk about Meg for a minute.  Meg is introduced in Scarecrow and reappears for many (relatively speaking) episodes to come; she wears different ladies and ends up getting her very own character arc, which I may or may not address later.  Now here's something interesting that I hadn't considered previously: besides Mary Winchester, Meg is the longest featured woman on Supernatural.  Lisa might beat her out for number of episodes, Ruby has a bigger part to play, and the gender of demons, strictly speaking, is probably a bit fluid.  But Meg is it.  She's the second longest existing female in the SPN universe.

So what does this imply, exactly?

I hesitate to speculate, really; I doubt Meg was created with this questionable honor in mind.  I doubt that she was meant to last for more than a few episodes.  So why did she?  Why does Meg survive, when literally almost every other woman with an effect on the plot dies horribly?

Part of it, I suspect, is her unimportance.  I will see how I feel about this now that I'm watching her story with new eyes.  But I have this kind of rotten feeling in my gut that Meg's longevity has a lot to do with her useful mission creep.  She becomes kind of a catch-all; let's bring it down to basics for now, though, and look at her stats.
  • Resilient?   Hells to the yeah; please see above paragraph for reference.
  • Loyal?  Yes.  She really loves that bowl of blood... But on the other hand--and this is important--she's obviously a lying, cheating manipulator of everyone else.  Hmmm.
  • Strong?  Absolutely; Meg is by far the most formidable antagonist in the SPN universe so far.
How interesting!  3/3.  The perfect score for a hero.  But this is pretty dependent on whether or not you're a bowl of blood.
  • Logically motivated?  Remember the shpiel about villains?  We don't have to agree with their logic, because we probably don't agree with their values.  But their actions have to agree with both.  And this is where Meg gets a little less interesting to me--what exactly does motivate Meg?  Her relationships with the dominant men in her life (I'm getting ahead of myself, but I'm talking about her father, brother, Lucifer... Even, shall we admit it, the Winchesters)?  Okay, okay; you're right.  I should bring it back down, and so the answer, convolutedly, is yes.
  • Consistent?  Yes.  
  • Unique?  Turns out, she kinda is; Meg has a distinctive personality.  A wise-ass sense of humor with the most wholesome schoolgirl name ever.
So what separates heroes and villains again?  Maybe Meg was always destined for that long, winding character arc; maybe they gave it to her because she was capable of loyalty early on.  Maybe the only thing separating the good guys from the bad is perspective.

I will have a lot more to say about this as time goes on, that I know for sure.

Total: 5/6 or 6/6, depending on your view.

*The question of whether or not his children are more vulnerable without him apparently does not matter.

Monday, June 15, 2015

1.19 "Provenance"

This episode addresses class and gender in different ways than we've seen in pretty much any other episode except Racist Truck.  There's no POC in this joker, but it has a pretty blunt beauty in the running for Lady of the Hour and some interesting little asides worth a perusal.  And the Primary Villain is a sociopathic little girl who lives in a painting and is kept alive by doll hair.  So there's that.

SPN Notables:

  • Dean eats for comedic effect in the gallery in this episode, as well as during the funeral in Nightmare.*  I remember Jensen Ackles talking about how he did this but couldn't remember when, and the writers began to incorporate it in the script (to his ever-lasting regret).  Mystery solved, Mr. Ackles.  You are welcome.
  • The look the Brothers Win exchange when they see their hotel room is priceless.  Turns out SPN had a pretty meta sense of humor early on, huh?
  • Foreshadowing: the motives of ghosts are briefly discussed, with Sam being sympathetic and thoughtful and Dean being like, fuck 'em, who cares?  This is not a quote.
  • Goofiness aside, the real point of this episode is Sam's evolving (devolving?) view of himself because of his relationships and their inevitable gory ends.  His relationships with women, specifically.
    • Dean is very keen on Sam hooking up with the lovely Sarah Blake, whose father owns the gallery that keeps re-selling the Murder Painting.  Sam puts him off, in spite of the obvious chemistry between them.
      • There are two interesting things happening here: Dean, first of all, has so far only had the briefest of contacts with women we often don't see (they're off-screen) or hear (they smile coquettishly at him from behind their serving tray/nurse's uniform/computer screen/insert other stereotypically female service position here and he waltz over, makes them smile some more, then waltzes back and reports to a dubious Sam: "they're real" or "she gets off at five" or you get the picture), with the major exception of Cassie.  So Dean is either strictly interested in women as passing objects of fancy, or wants to settle down.  For all that he settles for stereotypes in passing, he's only deeply attracted to women of notable strength.  Cassie, if you'll remember, is a confrontational career-oriented bi-racial reporter who tells him he's full of shit when he explains that ghosts are real.**  Sarah can't really hold a candle to all that adversity (as I'll explain below), but she is definitely strong.  In a very memorable scene, she comes to Sam and Dean's hotel room after lying to the police and wants to know what the hell is going on.  And she actually kind of says it like that.  

Sam Winchester: You all right?
Sarah Blake: No, actually, I just lied to the cops and told them I went to Evelyn's, alone, and found her like that!
Sam Winchester: Thank you.
Sarah Blake: Don't thank me, I'm about to call 'em right back if you don't tell me what the hell's going on. Who's killing these people?
Sarah Blake: What?
Sam Winchester: It's not who, it's what, is killing those people.
[Sarah looks at him, confused]
Sam Winchester: Sarah, you saw that painting move.
Sarah Blake: No. No, I was, I was seeing things! It's impossible!
Dean Winchester: Yeah well, welcome to our world.
Sam Winchester: Sarah, I know this sounds crazy, but we think that that painting is haunted.
Sarah Blake: You're joking.  You're *not* joking. God, the guys I go out with.
Sam Winchester: Sarah, think about it. Evelyn. The Telescas. They both had the painting. And there've been others before that, wherever this thing goes, people die. And we're just tryin' to stop it. And that's the truth.
Sarah Blake: Well then I guess you better show me. I'm coming with you.
Sam Winchester: What? No. Sarah, no, you should just go home. This stuff can get dangerous, and... and I don't want you to get hurt.
Sarah Blake: Look, you guys are probably crazy, but if you're right about this, well me and my Dad sold that painting, and we might have got these people killed. Look, I'm not saying I'm not scared, because I am scared as hell, but I'm not gonna run and hide either. So are we going, or what?

But the important thing is what Dean says right after she leaves, with perfect sincerity:

Dean Winchester: Sam? Marry that girl.

So Dean Winchester, resident badass, is all about strong women. Which might explain his other adventures too--women of sexual agency are probably more likely to attract Dean, who's not really looking for shy types. So stereotypes aside, it makes his other (sexist) endeavors slightly less skeezy,*** and his character in general more interesting; some part of Dean is always looking for a family.

      • But back to Sammy, as this episode is really about him.  Did you notice what he said above?  "I don't want you to get hurt."  After all their adventures together and the inevitable wrap-up at the end, Sam stumbles through an explanation of why he won't be sticking around town longer to hang out with Sarah.  "It's like I'm cursed or something."  After what she's seen, Sarah knows he's not just being dramatic; she can't understand that Sam is bearing the brunt of his Intuits, his guilt over Jessica, his questions about the death of his mother.  She knows enough, though, and she even empathizes, having lost her own recently.  After his speech, she says, "that's very sweet.  And very archaic."  She manages to gently assert her own right to decide how much risk she is willing to take.  She exerts her own power.  She isn't a bullshit flakey stand-in for Jess.  Sarah Blake was a contender in her own right... And some part of Sam knows that.  He knows she is an equivalent partner--the same way Dean does, from their first little art-school show-down to her ten-cent words--and he can't afford to risk losing her any more than he already will when he leaves town.  Poor, poor Sammy.
        • There is a class equivalency with Sarah and Sam that echoes a little bit of his prior (batshit) love interest.  Sarah is well educated and moves in high society, as is implied by the intro scene in the gallery.  Sam fits with her.  Dean fits with Cassie, who is a fighter on the side of righteousness, and in spite of her basic middle class status has a bit of blue collar flair (mostly by proxy, since the town she lives in is apparently full of old men fishing and doing other country stuff, and not, for example, wafting around art galleries).

Summary:A young couple is murdered in their home shortly after buying an antique painting of a family portrait circa 1910. Upon reviewing the painting's provenance, Sam and Dean learn that everyone who has ever bought the painting has been murdered and race to discover how the portrait is causing the deaths before it can claim its next victim.

Gratsi, Anonymous.

White Dude count: 5 including the Brothers Win

Minority Report: 3 including our Primary Villain

Primary Villain: A creepy kid.  A creepy, razor wielding ghost kid.

Victor: the Brothers work together on this one, as Dean burns some doll hair in a crypt (wow, does that sound freaky) and Sam fends off the ghost.

Lady of the Hour: Sarah Blake, beer drinking art nerd that captures Sam's... heart?  Importantly, we actually have a (small, unlikely) second option; our primary villain is a lady.  Okay.  She's a little ghost girl, and hardly a lady--what with the murder and all--but she's female, which is at least intriguing.  Still though, part of the episode's appeal is that her villainy is a secret until the end--surprise!
  • Resilient?   Yes.  Sarah's resilience is kind of implied, but she manages to be very convincing in the arena of strength and resilience; she also mentions trying to get back to life after her mother's passing, which certainly counts as resilient.
  • Loyal?  Yes.  And I quote: "the hell I will, Evelyn's a friend," when Sam declines to bring her to the house of razorly death and says she should stay away.  So once again, we have a female lead that is loyal to some things above the mighty Winchesters, even when she wants to bang one of them.
  • Strong?  Please re-read the quotes above, if you need to; the actress who plays Sarah is no Kathryn Hepburn--she's soft and sweet looking and it's a little hard to believe some of the lines she says, kind of like watching a beautiful flower suddenly shuck its leaves and say 'piss off''--but the lines are written, so here we are.  She's not physically much of a fighter, but she doesn't turn in to a weeble-wobble with fear, either, and she says what she's thinking to her father and Sam without even a chin tremble.

Hiyooo!  3/3.  A definite hero!

  • Logically motivated?  Totes.  She doesn't do any nonsensical shit, that I could see, like abandoning her children because a strange dude tells her to or offing a buddy with a crazy ghost because she suggested hanging out.  Just as examples.
  • Consistent?  Yes.  She doesn't back out of her declarations, and she follows through with her feelings, even in cases where they're implied and not stated (kinda rare on television).
  • Unique?  This was actually the hardest thing for me to answer.  Sarah is not entirely unique, honestly; she's a very standard issue 'strong, beautiful, wholesome' Girl Next Door.  There's a little spice there, because she's also an art nerd... But as I said above, she's no Katharine Hepburn.  She's no Cassie, either.  I get the feeling that we were supposed to see more of Sarah**** and for some reason she gets shelved.  There's an enormous amount of potential, but she's not really unique.  She doesn't get the chance to be; the episode is about Sam, after all, and she is an accessory to his growth, not the other way around.

Verdict: 5/6.  Not bad at all.  You could easily convince me of that last point, too, if you wanted; I'm just not inclined myself to say Sarah is wholly unique.  But I'll take a 5, any day, especially in an epi with a tiny ghost-girl villain.

*Nightmare aired first, so it's actually the inception of Dean the Eater.

**She doesn't do this when we meet her, but way before, thereby breaking his beautiful fragile man heart and turning him into the hound we know today.

***Dean lies to women constantly about who and what he is; I think this is part skeeze, but as we've covered a lot, Dean thinks that in order to protect people he must lie to them.  And also, admittedly, to protect himself; for reasons why, please see above.  YOU DONE WRONG, CASSIE.

****I know.  Don't put it in the comments, please, some people probably haven't gotten that far in the series, and by some people I mean the three Russians reading this blog.  So no spoilers please.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

1.15 "The Benders"

OMG, I love this episode.  I do.  And I watch it every time it shows up on network re-runs, which seems to be every time I'm near a television.  Thank you, cable TV, for keeping low-grade scream fare alive.

The reason I love this episode so much, besides the film quality creepiness (set design in this one is off the chain), is our Lady of the Hour.  I'm calling it early--she's the only lady, granted, but she's my favorite lady.  Lemme tell you all about her.


  • Backwoods white people.  These are a sub-set all their own in Horror, and I think technically the original The Hills Have Eyes was the first, but since that also falls under nuclear fall-out creepiness I'm going to say Deliverance is the OG here.  I've talked about this before, but the horror-feminist bible Men, Women, and Chainsaws explains it best: these movies boil down to the fears of city folk.  It's all about The Other, y'all.
  • House of Horrors.  As I said, the set design is incredible.  They pull out all the stops.
  • Creepy children.  With a hint of incest to really make you squirm.  More than any other single thing in existence, this episode puts me in mind of the banned X-Files episode, Home.  Which: Oh.  My.  God.  Netflix has it, if you're curious... Just be prepared to say 'holy shit' like five times.  Don't watch it while you're baby-sitting.
  • Godzilla ref; "he likes the re-make," Dean says, as if he smelled a fart, and points at Sam.  Only notable because both Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki have starred in re-makes of classic horror films.
  • Oh, I almost forgot: The Benders were a real thing.  Yowzah.

SPN Notables:

  • First strait-up human antagonists.  No shape-shifting, no demon blood, no more nothing.  Just gross-ass people.  As Dean says, "Demons, I get.  People are crazy."
  • The brothers spend more time locked up than usual in this one, and they both get their asses handed to them.  It's kind of nice, considering they seem a bit invincible (and therefore less believable) at times.
    • Dean references his lock-picking skills; specifically, he references the pilot and wishes he had a paper-clip.
  • I believe this is the first female lead that has absolutely no romantic interest in either brother.  I mean, I think that's kinda bizarre, since she is clearly sane and has good eyesight, but yeah; I also love her for it.  Stronger woman than I.*  If that pretty pair of felons fell in my lap, I sure as hell wouldn't be hand-cuffing them to a car so I could go it alone, and let's just leave it at that.

Summary:  After hearing in 'smallville' Hibbing, while masquerading as Minnesota state police, a boy's story about a monster probably was inspired by a Godzilla movie, Sam points out the county was marked by dad as suspicious and has the state's highest ratio of disappearances, but Dean just wants to relax, at least till the morning, until Sam disappears on the parking lot. Dean teams up with local police woman Kathleen, who even after finding out they impersonated cops decides not to arrest him before Sam is found, because her own brother also disappeared years earlier. Their search reaches the large, lonely house where a sinister human family keeps Sam and others in cages, and their intentions at least are monstrous...

Thank you, KGF Vissers.  That'll do.

This episode doesn't have stand-out brotherly moments, as such, but it is basically about their loyalty at its heart.  That's all.  And for once, the loyalty and heroism of a woman and her brother.  We had a conversation (a monoblogolog, really) about how female characters on SPN generally are loyal only to people, never ideals; Officer Kathleen manages to be loyal to both.

White Dude Count: 7 including The Brothers Win and the kid that likes the original Godzilla

Minority Report: 3 white chicks, including Missy, the creepy kid.

Primary Villain: Creepy, creepy, creepy people.

Victor: They are master collaboraters, these cuties, but I like that Sammy gets 'em in the end (and, ahem, our LotH).

Lady of the Hour: Oh, Officer Kathleen.  You know I love you, right?

Resilient?   Absolutely.  There is something about this character.  As soon as we meet her, she's just not the same old bullshit.  There's barely anybody like her on Tv; she's just so damn normal.  If I remember rightly, the first time I watched this I expected her to be an extra in her initial scene--it was just so completely inconceivable that she was just a normal person doing normal cop shit.  And then we find out that she has been looking for her lost brother since he disappeared, and there's no big alligator tears or sobbing in Dean's arms or anything else... She's like an actual person.  Like, her part could've gone to a dude, and it wouldn't have to be re-written.  AMAZING.

Loyal?  Yes.  And here is another incredible thing: Officer Kathleen is loyal to her brother, and she is loyal to her job--not the main characters of the show.  Officer Kathleen is using Dean to further her own investigation, because she senses that the disappearances are tied together somehow; she's not loyal to the mighty Winchesters, she's loyal to her own family, and when she gets what she needs from Dean--they find the driveway to the Bender's Murder House--she ditches his ass because he's probably a criminal and she's basically all cop.  This goes back to the whole Women On SPN Love People and Not Ideas thing.**  Officer Kathleen has principles.  She lives by them, and she makes exceptions only in exceptional circumstances.  The end of the episode almost makes me clap, when she is basically like, sure, you helped me find my brother, but hell no I am not aiding and abetting your criminal asses any further.  Hilarious.  So, loyal?  Yes.  And here is her hierarchy: #1 Family, #2 Honor in copitude, and #3 Honor in general.  So the Winchesters, because they helped her, are allowed to escape because of number three; she can't quite turn them in herself.  But she wants to, because #2, but she can't, because #1... You see what I mean?

Strong?  If you have ever read my blog, you know I like it when women are characters of equivalency.  Meaning, I enjoy films where female characters behave accordingly when confronted by violence, evil, horror, etc, as far as films (and not real life) go: they behave like men would, and they kill the offending evil horror.  This rarely happens in films, and is virtually non-existent in syndicated television (feel free to correct me; I think Bones is the only show where a chick regularly offs bad guys, and it is still played for shock value and humor).  However, in this show, our LotH totes does.  She totally offs bad guys, and it's awesome.

Onward and upward.

Logically motivated?  Sho nuff.

Consistent?  Yes.  She is remarkably consistent throughout.  You wonder if she will actually kill the bad guy when given the chance, because of #2, but she is obviously willing to bend the rules if it will get her any closer to knowing what happened to her brother.  Because #1.  And there we go, full circle, without creating an inconsistent character or a predictable plot.  Well done!

Unique?  Absolutely.  Because of her slowly deepening character arc, she is only totally revealed by the very end, and she is a fully formed person with her own motives, values, and challenges.

Verdict: 6/6.  Yahtzee!

*Or maybe, just maybe, a less straight lady than I?  I have no reason to surmise this.  I'm just making shit up, really.  But wouldn't that be cool?  People bitch when you reveal a character is gay after the fact, but seriously--wouldn't that be cool?

**I guess I am making that a Thing.  Huh.  The caps are probably totally unnecessary.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

1.13 "Route 666"

One of the most ridiculed episodes.  Let's talk about why.

  • Ambiance.  Good ole X-Files ambiance.
  • In the world of horror, racism and classism are the things most obviously confronted thematically (which I realize seems like a bold claim, but it's not, I promise).  Think about it: Romero's Night of the Living Dead is the capstone of modern horror, and it was a revolutionary confrontation of racism.  Completely changed horror.  All zombie movies that follow are thematically children of that one; they stick a bunch of people who would never work together into a life-or-death situation and force them to confront their personal prejudices in order to survive.  Sometimes it's obvious, like Romero's flicks, and sometimes it's subtle (the interracial couple in 28 Days Later is a great example).  Sometimes it's more about class (Shaun of the Dead's living-zombie scene of people heading to work is a classic); lots of horror films look at this trope, either to sensationalize it (Deliverance, Wrong Turn, Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, basically any movie with poor white people who kill suburbanites) or dismantle it (the best example is Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, with Cabin in the Woods as a  decent runner-up).
SPN Notables:

This episode is really about Dean, and racism.  There isn't another one like it in the series, and for that reason it is notable, but because the characters and development in it are kind of thrown away afterwards it's hard to say it has any lingering effect.

As far as the dynamic between the Brothers Win goes (and the things actually kept in the show), there is another reveal about lying--a theme that resonates throughout the entire series, as it has to do with the loyalty between the brothers and honor and heroism and yadda ya.

Sam: "I lie to Jessica for a year and a half and you go out with this chick in Ohio for a couple of weeks and tell her everything?"

Dean: "Yeah, looks like."

See what I mean about Dean actually being the shittier liar?  And how he is also the one who believes fervently that lying about what they do--"Family Rule Number One," in Sam's words--is actually better for everyone?  If I were a (stupidly handsome, Jack-of-All-Trades, secretly pretty brilliant) lonely young man who thought he was in love for the first time and in spite of my many attributes believed my life was going to be one long slog of fighting hell-meat, I would probably spill the beans to the first girl I loved.  What am I saying--of course I would spill the beans.  I've got nothing to lose, except the possibility that I might be loved in return.  For once.*  And when that didn't work out, and my poor heart was even more broken than before, I would firmly, resolutely, absolutely believe that to prevent such broken heartedness in the future I would have to lie.  As terrible and unnatural as I am at it.

Play by play, as I watch it (that's not really a recap, right?):

Opens with a horrible car crash--the truck looks a bit modern to be a historical relic, but whatevs.  Cassie is a confrontational reporter.  "Two black people were killed on the same stretch of road in the same way within two weeks."  There aren't going to be any Oscars awarded for the acting in this episode, but I've always thought Cassie was stupidly hot (a fair pairing for Mr. Ackles; I've never really felt that way about most of his lady friends, with the thankful exception of Lisa).  The boys interview her; her father and his partner are both dead.  Cassie's mom comes in and looks a little wild eyed, then turns down talking like whoa.  A third murder victim is shown; the monster truck revs in the background.  Cassie wants the town to shut down the stretch of road where everybody is dying; she is very blunt.  "Would you close the road if the victims were white?"  "Are you suggesting I'm racist Cassie?"  They interview a pair of men amiably hanging out (white and black; their relationship and demeanor are never really explained) and learn about the monster truck.  Sam presses Dean on his relationship with Cassie, and, heartbreak revealed, Dean comes across as curt older brother on max volume.  But then, at Sam's urging, Dean does go see her, and they chat.  And seeing Dean in a pseudo relationship is... Intense.  And kind of hilarious.  And silly, and sexy, and I don't know.  It's harder to give a shit about the scene with the garbage music Netflix uses, but, you know, whatever.**  After this loving moment, we cut to the mayor getting run down by the truck.  After this murder moment, we cut to Dean and Cassie's pillow talk, which we never ever see again in an episode; again, weird.  Sexy.  Sad.  I don't know why people hate this episode--it's angsty as hell, but it's not badly written, and it's definitely not stranger--plot-wise--than many of the others.  I haven't watched this episode in a long time but it ain't bad.  Certainly no worse than Ghosts On a Motherfucking Plane.  Doing research Dean discovers our bad guy: the man from the 60s who was merking black folks in a big truck, who was also from a fancy family that owned the paper.  And that night, the truck shows up at Cassie and her mom's house.  Uh-oh.  It doesn't grind into the house, but Cassie's mom finally comes clean over teacups with the boys: Cassie's dad helped rid the world of racist murdering scum in pick-ups.  Dean's attachment to Cassie makes him a little heavy-handed when it comes to the interview; Cassie's mom's revelations are also a little heavy-handed, what with the usual total lack of social commentary in SPN.  But it ain't like this shit didn't happen, so I still don't know what all the beef with this episode is about; also, interestingly, the white mayor is treated as a hero/victim.  There's some nuance among the sad uplift music that is supposed to cue righteous rage... But still--why all the hate?  So anyway, into action: they decide to find the truck, torch it, Sam teases Dean about still loving Cassie.  They get to 'body' burning, but the truck won't die--it shows up and revs its engine.  Sam is left with the task of torching the real truck, and Dean leads the ghost version on a merry chase to the church where the ghost murdered a children's choir (yes, heavy-handed, but again: it ain't like this shit didn't happen).  Ghost truck evaporates.  Cassie and Dean say goodbye, and she kind of breaks his heart again.  And that is a little tough to watch.

White Dude count: 4

Minority Report: 4 black men, and Cassie, who is bi-racial, and one white chick (her mom).

Primary Villain: Evil racist ghost truck.  And probably the white dude who drove it, but in the end... The truck.

Victor: the Brothers Win; joint effort, really.

Lady of the Hour: Cassie.  Duh.

And Cassie is a good choice.  A legit good choice--she's a romantic lead, but the romance between Dean and Cassie is just one part of an emotionally charged episode full of racism and family intrigue and sadness.  Cassie is

  • Resilient?  Yep.  Cassie is definitely tough for the long haul, from confronting race issues at home to emotional clashes with people she cares about (which is everyone in the episode, including Dean).  
  • Loyal?  Trickier.  To herself, her ambitions, her own insight and judgment?  To her family?  Yes, absolutely.  So yes.  If she'd stayed with Dean and done something shady because she didn't believe him, that would mar her loyalty; that she confronts him and is honest about her doubts is hurtful (because of course Dean isn't lying), but not disloyal.
  • Strong?  For sure.  In her personal life--she breaks it off with Dean, TWICE, so she might be BLIND, but she is strong--and her professional life (ostensibly, this is part of why she doesn't pair up well.  Cassie is a skeptic and a career girl; she's not going to sit around waiting to know whether or not Dean is alive and if he's going to show up.  This is inferred, more so than stated).

Let's keep going; we're on a streak.

  • Logically motivated?  Obvs.  Do I need to explain this?  I don't need to explain this, right?
  • Consistent?  Yes.  Cassie has the remarkable--and painful--distinction of being the only woman on the planet who dumps Dean for the same reason twice, even though it's obvious her emotional and physical attraction to him is strong.  That, my friends, is consistency in a character--not even getting in to the smaller shows of reliable character development in the episode, as they're a bit more obvious.
  • Unique?  She's the one and only, baby.  In so many ways.  
    • bi-racial love interest
    • love interest, period***
    • knows The Truth about the Brothers Win
    • that whole two-fer mentioned above

Verdict: 6/6.  Cassie is a heroic, fully developed female lead.  And a POC who shows up in one of the only epis with a social justice focus!

So, not to be a downer, but... How come we never hear from her again?

*I hate you, John Stupid Winchester.

**Seriously, the Netflix substitution music is so shit that I stopped watching it on streaming.  I'm not patient enough to deal with DVDs for all of these, though, so we'll see what happens.  But OMG, Netflix, way to seriously ruin some good scenes.

***Lisa is a love interest, granted, but she isn't that from the get.  She's a sex interest ("bendy," I think was the word) who turns into a love interest as much for herself as for Dean's wish to have a family and love for Ben, the kid who's not his but is just like him (isn't it funny when that happens?).  Dean's hook-ups are usually barely on screen; they're so unimportant they become punch-lines or inferences for setting up his character or a bit of the plot.  Cassie is OG Love Interest #1.... Although, one could argue a case for the girl his teen-age self hooks up with in the Sam vs. Bully episode later on (where Dean's adult self dresses up in that hilarious dodgeball obsessed gym teacher suit); that is a bit less earth-shattering love, though, than tangled angsty teen-age puppy love.  Anyway.  Love vs. sex: SPN has issues.