Saturday, November 12, 2011

Supernatural Season 7 Episode 8: Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!

Okay, I'll admit: I knew, very generally, what this episode was going to be about, but I didn't see it coming.

“Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!” begins, we see Dean chatting up a cocktail waitress at a strip club. He's confiding in her about his hypothetical friend, whose hypothetical brother had been going crazy for a while, then took a turn for the better. Then they took their hypothetical annual vacation to Las Vegas, and the hypothetical brother hied of on his own to go camping. Wow, Dean! That stinks. I hope she can give you some advice to pass onto your...ooh, I see what's going on.

As Dean is spinning his tale of woe, however, he gets a text from Sam, telling him to report to a location a few blocks away, and wear a suit. It's a wedding chapel, and Sam hands him a boutonnière as soon as he steps in the door. (Pink is for loyalty? I've never heard that Sammy, but if you say so.) It turns out that Sam has had a whirlwind (as in, almost literally getting engaged over lunch) romance with...Becky?!?!

Yup. That's right. Becky, the obsessed fangirl of the Supernatural books by Chuck Shurley, prophet of God. Becky, who had delusions of being romantically involved with Sam and can't seem to keep from sexually harassing him. Becky, who doesn't seem to know how to be alone, and dated Chuck for a time.

Needless to say, Dean doesn't think this adds up. In a game effort to be supportive, he does buy the happy couple a waffle iron, but it's the most skeptical waffle iron ever.

Dean soon has bigger fish to fry anyway. Two people in town have gotten their fondest desires, only to die in accidents soon afterwards. Could it be a crossroads demon? That's usually a ten year time-frame. Maybe it's a witch! Either way, Dean's concerned that Becky is next. With Sam working the case with Becky (I can't believe I had to write that), Dean calls Bobby. Bobby can't make it, but sends in a local hunter named Garth as backup.

Becky takes Sam to her 10-year high school reunion, mainly to show off to the people who bullied her back when. She also introduces Sam to her friend Guy...who is also her supplier for the love potion she's secretly using. Becky continues to dose Sam, but it seems to wear off more quickly each time. When the potion leaks out into her purse, she hits Sam over the head (with the waffle iron!), drags him to a cabin owned by her parents, and ties him up.

By this time, Dean and Garth have a break in the case. They meet a very surprised new CEO, who reports that CEO-ing is not his dream, but boy, is the Missuz happy. They save said Missuz from a falling chandelier moments later, and she finally cops to a deal with a crossroads demon. Cut back to Becky, and...oh, wait! Guy is also the crossroads demon, and is offering her an unheard-of twenty-five year deal to have her husband without having to use the potion.

Some of the scenes that pass between Sam and Becky are too painfully awkward to relate. Suffice it to say that thank God, their marriage is, consummated. (I did have to laugh, and give the girl props, when she admitted that she'd imagined tying Sam up “in a different context.”) She returns to cabin after Guy's offer, and Sam tells her, “you're better than this.”

Sam's argument must have persuaded Becky, because she helps trap Guy so that Sam, Dean and Garth can confront him. He admits that he made a bunch of deals around town, then had another demon kill the clients so he could collect early. After that demon is dispatched, Crowley shows up, looking better in a beard than he has any right to. He explains that he's been keeping the demons off the Winchesters' backs so that they could hunt Leviathans, and will continue to do so if they hand over Guy. After all, who will want to make a crossroads deal if they hear that Hell doesn't hold up it's end?

Unsurprisingly, the hunters give Guy to Crowley. The episode ends with the Rosen-Winchester marriage annulled, the remaining crossroads deals broken, and Sam and Dean parting ways with Garth.

There are a lot of problems with this episode.

First of all, there was some icky gender stuff. I know, I know...I love the show, but it was ever thus. It was just particularly obvious this time. The two men who made deals with Guy were asking something for themselves: one won the lottery, and the other went pro as a baseball player. Both of the deals offered to women—Becky and the CEO's wife—had to do with relationships. Women want things, money and fame-type things, for themselves too, I promise.

Just in case there wasn't enough gender-fail, the writers made sure to work in some racism and ableism. After Dean saves her, Garth tells the CEO's frightened wife that he's going to send her to a “triracial paraplegic sniper”. This is clearly an attempt to milk disability and race for humor. Is the idea of a multiracial sniper who ends up paraplegic, but is still a badass, really so unthinkable? (ETA: the more I think about it, i would watch the hell out of that show.)

I should say something about Becky calling Guy a “Wiccan” early in the episode. It feels kind of beside the point, since he's actually a demon, but the writers should realize that Wicca is an actual religion. It's true that there are people who try things—like love spells—that are wrong by the lights of that religion; but for those who believe in magic, it's a morally neutral tool, no more inherently evil than a gun.

It seems like the only people we see using magic on Supernatural are “witches” (who are always bad) or hunters. Just once, I'd like to see good witches...or just ordinary people, practicing earth-based faith and using magic for protection, healing and blessing. Then again, if the show's going to get it wrong, perhaps erasure is better.

Then there's the fan issue. You know I had to go there. I know that this episode is about the unethical actions of one person, but it's hard not to feel an undercurrent of contempt for the fans. Many Supernatural fans have in common with Becky that we like to look at pretty boys while enjoying well-crafted, scary, action packed stories. And yes, some of us are shy, geeky, formerly-picked-on or unlucky in love. None of that means that we confuse fantasy for reality, or are willing to hurt anyone. What we are is worth millions of dollars to the show, in ad revenue, retail, and convention profits.

What no one online has asked so far, at least that I have seen, is how Becky even knew that Sam and Dean were alive. As far as the American news-viewing public was concerned, they'd been gunned down a few weeks ago after going on a killing spree. That isn't addressed or even acknowledged. Either Chuck is still writing or Becky doesn't watch the news, but neither of those thing were established. This plot hole is big enough to drive the Impala through.

There are a few good things about this episode. It addresses the issue of consent; Becky realizes that if she really loves Sam, she'll take his "no" for an answer. There's also a somewhat hollow nod to the idea that there's someone out there for everyone. (It's true! Sam says so!) Unfortunately, all of this is buried under the hot mess.

Hopefully next week's episode will be better. If they are really hunting the Jersey Devil, it could potentially be the most awesomely X-Files flavored episode since “Clap Your Hands if You Believe”. For the long term, though, I will say this: if Garth joints Sam, Dean and Bobby while an actress trained in four kinds of stage combat is left to keep mopping the floor, I won't be happy.

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