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?There?s no pace, no love interest, it?s all exposition? - Writing SN

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  • ?There?s no pace, no love interest, it?s all exposition? - Writing SN

    So, Lyn asked me to transfer our discussion about writers and their characterisation over to a thread of its own, since it's not really about S3 spoilers anymore .. and hey, I even opened it on an ironic quote from 'Hollywood Babylon', I hope you appreciate that. For further reference I list all the (main) writers and their episodes first. SN went from 14 different writers in S1 to 7 writers in S2, mostly getting rid of one-shot writers in the process:

    Eric Kripke:
    S1 Pilot, Wendigo, Home, Shadow, Devil's Trap
    S2 IMTOD, AHBL II

    Raelle Tucker:
    S1 (writing team with SG): DitW, Faith, Nightmare, Salvation
    S2 CSPWDT, Hunted, Roadkill, WiaWSNB

    Sera Gamble:
    S1 see above with RT
    S2 Bloodlust, Crossroad Blues, Houses Of The Holy, Heart, AHBL I

    John Shiban:
    S1 Skin, Hook Man, Scarecrow, Benders, DMB (with CH)
    S2 ELAC, Croatoan, Tall Tales, Folsom Prison Blues

    Ben Edlund:
    S2 Simon Said, Nightshifter, Hollywood Babylon

    Cathryn Humphris:
    S1 DMB (with JS)
    S2 Usual Suspects, BUABS

    Matt Witten:
    S2 No Exit, Playthings

    Executive Story Editors in both seasons were Sera Gamble&Raelle Tucker, which I find important to mention since the story editor's function is to coordinate episodes and plotlines and to make sure that characters, places and story-elements are coherent and consistent with each other during the course of a season. I always praise SN for its character continuity and integrity as well as plot-continuity and I think we have to thank these two ladies for that.

    As we can see, the episodes that are crucial to the seasonal plotlines, the mytharc or character development are usually written by Kripke, Gamble or Tucker, between the three of them half of the season is provided.

    Originally posted by Ehlwyen
    And knowing that they give certain cornerstone episode to particular writers gives me mixed feelings. Rather than who is most inspired it goes to who they think can best do it based on past work.
    I don't find that very surprising. Since the functions of writer, creator, producers and story editors are all in those three hands, they are the most involved in the creative and production processes and have the best overview over characters and plotlines, guaranteeing the highest possible level of continuity and coherency. Judging from my own perspective these three wrote most of my favourite episodes in S1+S2, so I would say they were also plenty inspired!

    Originally posted by Ehlwyen
    But to me every episode is equal in defining the characters. There are only arc and non arc episodes. If long moony looks by Dean means that it's a character episode then I don't want any part of it.
    Naturally every SN episode that has Sam and Dean in it inevitably has characterisation of those two and all episodes are equal in regard to the fact that the characterisation in it is defining and valid (after all it's canon as soon as it appeared on screen), therefore we usually do our best to analyse their portrayal in each episode in terms of coherency and continuity in episode reviews.

    Nonetheless there are episodes that are more focused on the characters as such (as opposed to focused on the MotW or mytharc), giving room for deeper exploration and/or development of the characters. I consider ?Faith' or ?WiaWSNB' or ?HotH' such episodes. I am not sure what exactly you allude to with ?Dean's long moony looks', but yeah, often it means that the characters actually talk about what they feel, they open up to each other and let the other one look into their emotional turmoil.

    Originally posted by Ehlwyen
    ...i think you left some words out...anything resembling a feeling to who you think these characters are. I'm sorry but I stand by the belief that some of the greatest connections come out of unspoken words and silent actions. Sure these heartfelt oprahesque scenes that we sometimes get where characters bare all (emotionally not clothingwise) are good exposition. But give me a moment like where Dean sees Rzeznik laying of the floor and having to come to grips with Dad's death all over again.

    Having to puzzle out a person's emotion is so much more like real life than having someone actually speak the words. Heck, most times when someone is upset they can't even find the words to accurately describe it much less find the courage to say it to someone.
    I actually didn't think that it was again necessary to emphasize that of course everything that we discuss here is based on our individual (and often differing) perceptions on who and what these characters are, I thought we were past that stage.

    Now, let me set this straight beforehand: I am a huge, huge fan of subtle references and underplayed, offhand insights into the characters emotional status, for example Dean's "Yeah, but I don't want to" in the Pilot or his offhand remark in ?Playthings' "I never really knew a home", his devastated reaction to Ronald's death in ?Nightshifter', the hitch in his voice when he says "That's my mom" in ?Dead in the Water' etc, I could go on with examples like these for pages, because our show is just THAT good with these kinds of references, it's what makes their characterisation so rich and allows us to find something love-worthy in every episode, no matter how much we like the MotW or not.

    I am also a huge fan of scenes where the characters wear their hearts on the sleeve though, for example Dean's admission to wanting his family back together in ?Shadow', the phone call between the brothers in ?Scarecrow', the way he spills his guts to Sam at the end of CSPWDT, Croatoan, Hunted, AHBL etc. I love these scenes even if they are more ?flashy' than the aforementioned offhand scenes, because I do like to have clarification and closure in character exploration.

    I love to puzzle the motivations and emotions together and trying to figure them out before they are outspoken, but I do appreciate that they are outspoken in the end, so we have something definitive to work with. For example I loved that we could figure out most of what drove Dean during 2.01-2.04 by paying attention to his behaviour, but I also adored that Dean in the end talked about it and gave everything that preceded that point a definition and clarification. The same goes for the big secret. It's one of the things I love about SN that it gives us the reactions first and the explanations later, making multiple-viewings such a joy, because hindsight makes us see the episodes in a sharper light.

    I also think that to interpret and recognize the offhand and underplayed elements as what they are, we need to have the more open ones as well, to have something we can reference them to. For example: We can of course understand Dean's "Yeah, but I don't want to" from the Pilot, but it becomes more defined in Dean's "I want us to be a family again" in ?Shadow'. These scenes complement each other and at least for me, the latter admission gives the first statement an even more heartbreaking context. I don't like to only go on vagueness and allusions, I love concreteness as well.

    Also, the characters need to have these scenes with each other, even if the viewer might not need it and it usually gives me the feeling of deep connection and trust between the brothers when they open up to each other. Yeah, and I am also a sap and a sucker for drama, I know that! Personally I think that SN balances both elements very well. Naturally we had more of the latter in S2 since it was more character driven, but the show rarely neglects to give at least two or three instances in every episode, where these ?oprahesque' scenes are referenced more subtle and it's the entirety of both that gives me the biggest satisfaction.

    Now, back to the writers: Episodes where things are outspoken or brought to a conclusion are usually written by Kripke, Gamble and Tucker and I think it needs good writers to make these work without becoming too corny or unbearably soapy. I know that you might disagree in this, Lyn, but I think they did a great job with being emotional without being gooey. Maybe I do have a higher tolerance towards these elements than you have, for example lots of people find the end scenes of ?CSPWDT' or ?Heart' overdone in terms of emotion and drama, while I find them just right and adequate to the gravity of the events that preceded these scenes.

    So the question is, what makes me like the characterisation of one writer better than the other? That's a difficult question. First off, I guess I can't quite rule out the fact that I love emotional episodes and since Kripke, Tucker and Gamble usually write these, I am probably doomed to love their episodes by default more than others. The content of their episodes (crisis of faith (Faith, HotH), personal struggles (Shadow, CSPWDT, CRB), character identity/development (Heart, WiaWSNB)) often allows the focus to be directly (as opposed to via parallels or mirroring) on the exploration of the relationship between Sam and Dean or one the characters itself, which are the story elements that I prefer to all others. So that's a point in favour to those writers.

    Secondly, the characterisation in itself in episodes from these writers matches my own interpretation of the characters the most. For example, I feel slightly uneasy with parts of the characterisation of Dean and Sam in ?Croatoan', where Dean comes off as overly violent and ruthless and Sam is overly irritating in his moral reprimands and attitude towards Dean. I never have this kind of uneasiness/irritation when I watch a Tucker or Kripke episode, I did have it once with a Gamble episode (Bloodlust) and I have it massively with ?Hollywood Babylon'. I do love about Tuckers characterisation of Dean that he is usually shown more vulnerable and open, she (and Kripke and Gamble as well) has a tendency to approach his feelings of loss, inadequacy, abandonment and self-esteem issues on many different levels and since this is an important part of what I see in Dean as well, I appreciate that.

    Overall her writing emphasizes Dean's and Sam's complexity as characters for me more than others. Same goes for Kripke and Gamble, partly for Shiban (hey, the man wrote Skin, Scarecrow(!) and ELAC) and Humphris as well. Edlund and Witten just fall short in comparison. I do know, that my antipathy against Edlund is a result of my resentments that root in my AtS days and I only waited for him to make the wrong step so I could be all over him and he did that with HB for me. I have never felt so out of sync with the characters like in that episode, but we already had that discussion in length.

    Originally posted by Ehlwyen
    Sometimes I wonder if we even watch the same episodes. I found Roadkill completely lacking in characterization. Just a bland rehash of the stereotype of their characters. Dean utterly unsympathetic and Sam overly emotive for no real reason. Whereas I find Hollywood Babylon extremely rich and revealing of character.
    ?Roadkill' was completely written from an outsider's perspective and I do find it believable that their behaviour and reactions to the ghost Molly come off as stereotypical for the uncomprehending outsider, just like Henrickson is absolutely unable to see anything but stereotypical serial killer material from the few ?facts' he gathered about them. I don't find it in any way irritating that their characterisation is different from the outside than it is from the inside. ?Hollywood Babylon' on the other hand was from the inside perspective and lacked character continuity and depth in the context of the season. I don't really want to recapture that discussion since I already laid out all my arguments about that in our HB debate.

    Originally posted by Ehlwyen
    We should probably start another thread if you want to discuss writer characterization.
    Done!
    Last edited by galathea; 06-07-07, 06:53 PM.

  • #2
    Much appreciated Chris!

    Originally posted by galathea View Post
    Executive Story Editors in both seasons were Sera Gamble&Raelle Tucker, which I find important to mention since the story editor's function is to coordinate episodes and plotlines and to make sure that characters, places and story-elements are coherent and consistent with each other during the course of a season. I always praise SN for its character continuity and integrity as well as plot-continuity and I think we have to thank these two ladies for that.

    As we can see, the episodes that are crucial to the seasonal plotlines, the mytharc or character development are usually written by Kripke, Gamble or Tucker, between the three of them half of the season is provided.
    Let me just preface this post by saying that I do love all three of them and their love and consistency of SN. I definitely did not want Raelle Tucker to leave. I just want to make that clear in case I haven't already.

    Executive Story Editor is not a position that is stated enough so it's good that you bring it up to give credit to where it is due.

    I don't find that very surprising. Since the functions of writer, creator, producers and story editors are all in those three hands, they are the most involved in the creative and production processes and have the best overview over characters and plotlines, guaranteeing the highest possible level of continuity and coherency. Judging from my own perspective these three wrote most of my favourite episodes in S1+S2, so I would say they were also plenty inspired!

    Naturally every SN episode that has Sam and Dean in it inevitably has characterisation of those two and all episodes are equal in regard to the fact that the characterisation in it is defining and valid (after all it's canon as soon as it appeared on screen), therefore we usually do our best to analyse their portrayal in each episode in terms of coherency and continuity in episode reviews.

    Nonetheless there are episodes that are more focused on the characters as such (as opposed to focused on the MotW or mytharc), giving room for deeper exploration and/or development of the characters. I consider ?Faith' or ?WiaWSNB' or ?HotH' such episodes. I am not sure what exactly you allude to with ?Dean's long moony looks', but yeah, often it means that the characters actually talk about what they feel, they open up to each other and let the other one look into their emotional turmoil.
    Well, I'm still not sure about what defines an episode as a "character episode."

    As far as opening up and exploring characters, why not include Bugs where Dean finally lets Sam know that Dad kept an eye on him and that it was a two way street of communication? Or Benders where Dean opens up to a stranger about his fears and protecting of Sam? Or Dead Man's Blood where Sam and John have their discussion? Or ELAC both times at the junkyard? Or No Exit with Dean and Jo and discussions about Dad? Those are all intensive conversational scenes revealing of character in not so epic MOTW episodes. I really think all of SN is about character whether a 3 minute or an 8 minute scene.

    I think the three you named as "character" episodes are actually more linked because of the existential nature and meaning of their own lives in the place of things rather than actual character development or opening up and revealing to each other. I would link Something Wicked in since it is about where they have been and who they are now in life. And I'm all about pondering our place in the scheme of things and always look forward to such episodes.

    I am not sure what exactly you allude to with ?Dean's long moony looks',
    By moon, I mean wishing the impossible. These are the sad resigned looks he has and you know he wants to wish it all away but can't.

    Picspam! (cuz' it happens way too often. If they were worth celebrating, they could be included in a drinking game. ) Brought to us by Screencap Paradise.
    WIAWSNB - In the last scene, after Sam tells him life isn't fair but its worth it.
    CSPWDT - In the last scene, after asking Sam what he could say to make things better.
    Hunted - In the second to last scene,
    HOTH - In the last scene,
    Playthings1 - After Sam says that people probably think he's overcompensating.
    Playthings2 - In the last Winchester scene, after Sam tells him to keep his promise.
    These are not to be confused with these looks in S1, where Dean at least has defiance that he can attain what others would call impossible. Or a glimmer of hope or resolve in his eyes.
    Nightmare - Last scene, after telling Sam nothing would happen as long as he's around.
    Something Wicked - Last scene, after Sam wishes he could be that innocent, and Dean wishes it for him as well.

    Woohoo!!! My first picspam!

    I actually didn't think that it was again necessary to emphasize that of course everything that we discuss here is based on our individual (and often differing) perceptions on who and what these characters are, I thought we were past that stage.
    Nope. Whenever you're bashing something, it's best to use an opinion phrase or I'll feel implied to start my defense that way.

    Yes, some things are considered more general consensus and don't require a declaration that it is opinion. Like "Cassie and Dean didn't have any chemistry." I find it important to differentiate between a consensus opinion and a singular opinion. Especially when you are defaming someone who is not usually defamed in the community.

    I realize Edlund's characterization is your opinion, but I'm not the only one who ever reads this and I find it important to any casual reader to know this is your opinion rather than a general opinion.

    Now, let me set this straight beforehand: I am a huge, huge fan of subtle references and underplayed, offhand insights into the characters emotional status...
    I know.
    I am also a huge fan of scenes where the characters wear their hearts on the sleeve though, for example Dean's admission to wanting his family back together in ?Shadow', the phone call between the brothers in ?Scarecrow', the way he spills his guts to Sam at the end of CSPWDT, Croatoan, Hunted, AHBL etc. I love these scenes even if they are more ?flashy' than the aforementioned offhand scenes, because I do like to have clarification and closure in character exploration.
    I don't have anything against these type scene in general. It's the overuse of them in S2 where they seem to happen every 3 episodes. If they have shown something once or twice, I as a viewer can extrapolate how it would happen in each new instance. I don't have to see similar scenes over and over. It begins to feel voyeuristic and invading of privacy.

    And worst of all, the proliferation works as an enabler to viewers to take the stance of "if it didn't happen on screen then it could not have happened." I like there being the mystery of "did something happen or not?"

    I like to have the big emotional moments, too but it is not necessary to see them every single time.

    I love to puzzle the motivations and emotions together and trying to figure them out before they are outspoken, but I do appreciate that they are outspoken in the end, so we have something definitive to work with. For example I loved that we could figure out most of what drove Dean during 2.01-2.04 by paying attention to his behaviour, but I also adored that Dean in the end talked about it and gave everything that preceded that point a definition and clarification. The same goes for the big secret. It's one of the things I love about SN that it gives us the reactions first and the explanations later, making multiple-viewings such a joy, because hindsight makes us see the episodes in a sharper light.
    Really? You found Dean's oblivious tone to supernatural creatures and psychic children much more acceptable after finding out that he already knew Sam might go evil? Or that he pulled so far away from Sam when he should have stuck to him closer protecting him from evil? Or that he was so self focused before the reveal in Hunted upon which he became Sam focused? It seemed to me that Dean found out the secret when we the viewers did.

    I also think that to interpret and recognize the offhand and underplayed elements as what they are, we need to have the more open ones as well, to have something we can reference them to. For example: We can of course understand Dean's "Yeah, but I don't want to" from the Pilot, but it becomes more defined in Dean's "I want us to be a family again" in ?Shadow'. These scenes complement each other and at least for me, the latter admission gives the first statement an even more heartbreaking context. I don't like to only go on vagueness and allusions, I love concreteness as well.
    Absolutely agree! We need both. However, I feel that the underplayed elements have fallen to the wayside in order to glut the episodes with these long dramatic scenes.
    Also, the characters need to have these scenes with each other, even if the viewer might not need it and it usually gives me the feeling of deep connection and trust between the brothers when they open up to each other.
    Awww, that just sounds so sweet putting it like that. I guess I just have a general acceptance of that love and trust that I don't have to see declarations to know that it is being expressed between the two. They spend so much time in the Impala alone, I know they have to talk to each other about important things whether or not I'm privy to it.


    Now, back to the writers: Episodes where things are outspoken or brought to a conclusion are usually written by Kripke, Gamble and Tucker and I think it needs good writers to make these work without becoming too corny or unbearably soapy. I know that you might disagree in this, Lyn, but I think they did a great job with being emotional without being gooey. Maybe I do have a higher tolerance towards these elements than you have, for example lots of people find the end scenes of ?CSPWDT' or ?Heart' overdone in terms of emotion and drama, while I find them just right and adequate to the gravity of the events that preceded these scenes.
    You definitely have a high tolerance! I feel that individually, each is done well. I feel that the continual use of them creates a trend and overall perception of the show that didn't previously exist.

    It does not help for the public to perceive SN as a extremely sensitive and overly emotional show. SN works best when it is difficult to categorize. CW, Ostroff, and the Reaper have already poked fun at SN and that Reaper is the fun, tongue in cheek version of SN. That's just a backhanded dig that SN doesn't have any fun and is overly dramatic. It's like saying that Reaper is BTVS to Supernatural's Charmed.

    However, excluding the lack of understanding on Ostroff and Reaper's part, SN has lost a lot of its light heartedness and emphasis on horror homages. In S2 it began to narrow to have a sole focus on the relationship of two main leads. Thats extremely dangerous. If the core audience is only there for Dean and Sam characterization then they will be disappointed in episodes that have a lot of extra character screen time allowing JA and JP to have some vacation time. SN should stay broad in all the different aspects it touches on. It has shown us before that it can do them all well.


    So the question is, what makes me like the characterisation of one writer better than the other? That's a difficult question. First off, I guess I can't quite rule out the fact that I love emotional episodes and since Kripke, Tucker and Gamble usually write these, I am probably doomed to love their episodes by default more than others. The content of their episodes (crisis of faith (Faith, HotH), personal struggles (Shadow, CSPWDT, CRB), character identity/development (Heart, WiaWSNB)) often allows the focus to be directly (as opposed to via parallels or mirroring) on the exploration of the relationship between Sam and Dean or one the characters itself, which are the story elements that I prefer to all others. So that's a point in favour to those writers.

    Secondly, the characterisation in itself in episodes from these writers matches my own interpretation of the characters the most. For example, I feel slightly uneasy with parts of the characterisation of Dean and Sam in ?Croatoan', where Dean comes off as overly violent and ruthless and Sam is overly irritating in his moral reprimands and attitude towards Dean. I never have this kind of uneasiness/irritation when I watch a Tucker or Kripke episode, I did have it once with a Gamble episode (Bloodlust) and I have it massively with ?Hollywood Babylon'. I do love about Tuckers characterisation of Dean that he is usually shown more vulnerable and open, she (and Kripke and Gamble as well) has a tendency to approach his feelings of loss, inadequacy, abandonment and self-esteem issues on many different levels and since this is an important part of what I see in Dean as well, I appreciate that.
    These individual episode characterizations is what I was hoping you'd explain. Though it is one show of two seasons, I think that individual episodes need to be compared as separate entities. Even though the same people are involved, one's views on the world are always changing and therefore reflect differently in episodes over time. I'm going to have to come back and edit in or reply in my next post about singular episode characterization as this post has gotten too long and I've run out of time.

    You know that I strongly disagree with the Dean and low self esteem issue. That was not the Dean we saw in S1. Having a love of others stronger than your own self preservation does not mean lack of self esteem. I probably should have argued my points to you long ago, but writing hasn't been my muse this year.

    Anyway, Gamble and Tucker S2 episodes are the ones that most bring up this topic. So obviously I'm going to love points of their episodes less than other writers. I have to hope that a new writer will bring a little more strength and personal worth back to the perception of Dean in S3.

    Overall her writing emphasizes Dean's and Sam's complexity as characters for me more than others. Same goes for Kripke and Gamble, partly for Shiban (hey, the man wrote Skin, Scarecrow(!) and ELAC) and Humphris as well. Edlund and Witten just fall short in comparison. I do know, that my antipathy against Edlund is a result of my resentments that root in my AtS days and I only waited for him to make the wrong step so I could be all over him and he did that with HB for me. I have never felt so out of sync with the characters like in that episode, but we already had that discussion in length.
    Well the main reason bring it up is that I'm terrified that your residual dislike of Edlund predisposes you to find fault when you might otherwise gloss over.

    ?Roadkill' was completely written from an outsider's perspective and I do find it believable that their behaviour and reactions to the ghost Molly come off as stereotypical for the uncomprehending outsider, just like Henrickson is absolutely unable to see anything but stereotypical serial killer material from the few ?facts' he gathered about them. I don't find it in any way irritating that their characterisation is different from the outside than it is from the inside. ?Hollywood Babylon' on the other hand was from the inside perspective and lacked character continuity and depth in the context of the season. I don't really want to recapture that discussion since I already laid out all my arguments about that in our HB debate.
    See I can't understand condoning stereotyping under the guise of it being an "introductory episode."

    I disagree that a stranger/outsider would see them as so bland. They meet new people every episode who often find them compelling enough to believe their crazy supernatural reasoning or scary enough to avoid. And if the show is meant to be introductory, then the leads should be the most alive and attention grabbing. Especially for a show that is so based upon characterization.

    Well, for me HB was strong character continuity as well as worked on multiple levels. Sam immersing himself in the work and Dean getting to take his love of pop culture referencing to another level. Making jokes is a great way to deal with fear and sadness. If you're laughing, you're distracted. It's why humor goes so well with horror. And it works the same with sorrow. It was very warming to my spirit to see Dean dealing with the darkness in a different matter than depression. Depression never gets anything done nor helps a person reach another mental state. By the end of HB, Dean had a mental vacation and was more like himself by the next episode. One episode of distraction did more good for him than 10 episodes of depression.

    Escapism is Hollywood's main export. A horrible label placed upon any seemingly lighthearted entertainment, I think it was great validation to see how well it worked for Dean.

    Besides, in the beginning of Heart, Sam said after they killed the werewolf they were going to Disneyland. True it's a stock response, but this backlot of where magic comes alive is as close to Disneyland without actually being it since this is a Warner Brothers show. Feels tied in to me.

    HB only failed by being an episode where Sam and Dean were not in a significant portion of scenes. If it was less MOTW (and JA & JP vacation time) and had a little more Sam, then this would have been a stellar episode.

    Can you send me your HB discussion posts? With BW forever lost, I have neither the thread nor pms so as to refresh myself on your actual points.

    I'll be back with more about my feelings about writer's characterizations. I am very glad we moved this into a new thread since I'm tentative about being exposed to S3 spoilers.

    Lydia made the punch!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Ehlwyen
      Well, I'm still not sure about what defines an episode as a "character episode."

      As far as opening up and exploring characters, why not include Bugs where Dean finally lets Sam know that Dad kept an eye on him and that it was a two way street of communication? Or Benders where Dean opens up to a stranger about his fears and protecting of Sam? Or Dead Man's Blood where Sam and John have their discussion? Or ELAC both times at the junkyard? Or No Exit with Dean and Jo and discussions about Dad? Those are all intensive conversational scenes revealing of character in not so epic MOTW episodes. I really think all of SN is about character whether a 3 minute or an 8 minute scene.

      I think the three you named as "character" episodes are actually more linked because of the existential nature and meaning of their own lives in the place of things rather than actual character development or opening up and revealing to each other. I would link Something Wicked in since it is about where they have been and who they are now in life. And I'm all about pondering our place in the scheme of things and always look forward to such episodes.
      Absolutely! ?Something Wicked' is a prime example of what I consider a character episode, I just picked some examples with the one's I mentioned. I completely agree with you, everything you mentioned here is excellent character work and that's why I love episodes that are generally frowned upon in fandom, like ?Bugs', because even if the MotW sucks, the characterisation makes the episode so much fun to watch!

      I think what differentiates a ?character episode' from a ?normal episode with character exploration' for me is, when the character is the focus of the episode and everything that happens in it revolves just around that single instance. For example, in ?Bugs' the conflict between Larry and Matt triggered the examination of the conflict between Sam and John as a by-product. I would usually call that paralleling, a part of the storyline in an episode parallels a certain aspect of the Winchester's life. In a ?character episode' the focus is the other way round for me, the storyline of the episode is a by-product of the character exploration. Like the Djinn in WIAWSNB is simply a tool to explore Dean's inner world or the Shtriga is a tool to explore Sam and Dean's past.

      It's not that the character work in episodes that I would consider a character episode is more valid or necessarily more important than others, it's just more extensive in my opinion. After a character episode I usually have the feeling to have seen an episode about Dean or Sam or Dean&Sam as opposed to have seen an episode about a thrilling urban legend with Dean and Sam in it. Probably just as subjective a feeling as anything else though.

      Originally posted by Ehlwyen
      By moon, I mean wishing the impossible. These are the sad resigned looks he has and you know he wants to wish it all away but can't.
      YAY! Thanks for the picspam! I see, my dictionary just didn't give me something that I could make sense of for the word ?moony'

      Well, I think we talked about this before, not sure if via PM or posts though LOL. This is a general S2 problem (for you, not for me ). In S2 the storylines narrowed down to various character driven arcs that revolved around personal struggles: John's death and the effect it has on Sam and Dean, individually as well as a team, the 'Sam might go evil' storyline etc. Dean's world went topsy-turvy in S2 and made him question everything he ever was, his life, his purpose and his identity. I completely agree with you, that this is a risky step for a show, as it can drive viewers away who prefer the broader approach, while it binds people closer that prefer a more personal approach, as is beautifully demonstrated by you and me.

      I find it perfectly understandable, that resignation, fear, depression are a big part in the process of Dean's questioning. As Sam says to Dean in ?Nightmare': "It's never been us. It's never been in the family like this!" S1!Dean experienced loss and sacrifice on some level, but still mostly saw things from a general perspective, "saving people, hunting things". Unlike Sam and John he didn't hunt for revenge or pressing personal reasons, he did it mainly because he has a genuine wish to help people.

      For S2!Dean things suddenly become very, very personal, immediate losses, tremendous change in perspective on his main principles, "saving my brother, hunting the thing that threatens the only family I have left". Breaking under that kind of pressure would be reasonable even for the best and most optimistic kind of persons. So, I did find the character writing for S2 adequate and comprehensible. Do I find it sometimes hard to watch? Heck, yes, I love these characters and want them to be happy, but I also want to have the feeling that grave events have grave effects on characters and S2 did that for me.

      Originally posted by Ehlwyen
      I don't have anything against these type scene in general. It's the overuse of them in S2 where they seem to happen every 3 episodes. If they have shown something once or twice, I as a viewer can extrapolate how it would happen in each new instance. I don't have to see similar scenes over and over. It begins to feel voyeuristic and invading of privacy.
      Hm, but it's not about the ?how' but about the ?what'. Every time we had such a ?big emotional moment' it was about something different. It usually marks a turning point in or conclusion to a certain storyline, so I do find them kind of necessary. Maybe I just like to have a look into their privacy though.

      Originally posted by Ehlwyen
      And worst of all, the proliferation works as an enabler to viewers to take the stance of "if it didn't happen on screen then it could not have happened." I like there being the mystery of "did something happen or not?"
      Can you give me a hint of what you mean by that? Some example of where you think the community denies certain interpretations since they were never outspoken on screen?

      Originally posted by Ehlwyen
      Really? You found Dean's oblivious tone to supernatural creatures and psychic children much more acceptable after finding out that he already knew Sam might go evil? Or that he pulled so far away from Sam when he should have stuck to him closer protecting him from evil? Or that he was so self focused before the reveal in Hunted upon which he became Sam focused? It seemed to me that Dean found out the secret when we the viewers did.
      Huh?! You lost me somewhere, or maybe I lost you somewhere.

      I was talking about the fact that Dean's confession in CSPWDT about how he thinks he should have stayed dead, shed a new light on his self-destructive behaviour in 2.02-2.04. We already figured out that he was mad about John possibly making a deal, we already knew that he was expressing his grief through violence, the confession confirmed all that but also went further and retrospectively delivered new arguments.

      I was talking about that we could already figure out what the secret was, by paying attention to his reaction to Gordon in ?Bloodlust' or his behaviour in ?Simon Said' or ?Croatoan'. I didn't have at all the feeling that Dean found out about the secret when the viewers did, there was a constant stream of short scenes that clearly alluded to Dean thinking about the secret and where it greatly influenced his actions and I did find it retroactively satisfying to know that I had been right when I stated as such in my episode reviews ever since ?Bloodlust'.

      I did find Dean self-focused only during 2.02-2.04, after the immediate fallout of John's death. Dean is known to withdraw into himself when he is hurting so I did find it understandable that he reacted the way he did, not being able to carry Sam's grief as well and latching out at the unfairness of it all. But after he opened up in CSPWDT and with the first sign of Sam being in distress in ?Simon Said' he re-focused on Sam. ?Simon Said' and ?Croatoan' were all about Dean protecting Sam in my opinion and in all the episodes in between I don't think he was at all distanced from him, on the contrary, an episode like ?The Usual Suspects' showed just how much they were back in sync with each other. Sure, the revelations about John in ?No Exit' or ?CRB' threw him, but he immediately shared everything about it with his brother.

      Dean's reaction to supernatural creatures in ?Bloodlust' is part of why I find that characterisation irritable (see my statement of problems with a Gamble characterisation), since it is way too black & white and doesn't at all reflect the complex motivations that we experienced in S1. I am not quite sure though, what you mean with his oblivious reaction to the psychic children.

      Originally posted by Ehlwyen
      Awww, that just sounds so sweet putting it like that. I guess I just have a general acceptance of that love and trust that I don't have to see declarations to know that it is being expressed between the two. They spend so much time in the Impala alone, I know they have to talk to each other about important things whether or not I'm privy to it.
      Yeah, I know I am sucker for any expression of love and trust between them, no matter how big or small that expression might be. Sometimes it can just be a very small gesture, like Dean gently comforting a distressed Sam by resting his hand on his back in ?Simon Said', but laying himself bare in front of his brother just tugs at my heartstrings. It has nothing really to do with the question if I think it is in character or even necessary for the boys themselves to express their brotherly affection that openly, it's where all analytical thoughts flee my mind and emotions take over.

      Originally posted by Ehlwyen
      You definitely have a high tolerance! I feel that individually, each is done well. I feel that the continual use of them creates a trend and overall perception of the show that didn't previously exist.

      It does not help for the public to perceive SN as a extremely sensitive and overly emotional show. SN works best when it is difficult to categorize. CW, Ostroff, and the Reaper have already poked fun at SN and that Reaper is the fun, tongue in cheek version of SN. That's just a backhanded dig that SN doesn't have any fun and is overly dramatic. It's like saying that Reaper is BTVS to Supernatural's Charmed.

      However, excluding the lack of understanding on Ostroff and Reaper's part, SN has lost a lot of its light heartedness and emphasis on horror homages. In S2 it began to narrow to have a sole focus on the relationship of two main leads. That's extremely dangerous. If the core audience is only there for Dean and Sam characterization then they will be disappointed in episodes that have a lot of extra character screen time allowing JA and JP to have some vacation time. SN should stay broad in all the different aspects it touches on. It has shown us before that it can do them all well.
      Well, to parts of this I already responded above, so I won't repeat it here.

      I did find the statements from the actors/creators of Reaper just totally unnecessary and rude. To make fun of a show that treads the same waters as yours at the same network is just plain stupid, plus it showed that they either have no real idea about SN or try to generalise and push it down for their own sakes. Anybody who says that SN doesn't know how to be ironic or poke fun at itself obviously didn't see ?Tall Tales' or ?Hollywood Babylon' or the action paced ?Nightshifter' and ?Croatoan' or ?Folsom Prison Blues' and ?Usual Suspects' which were not at all emotional. And honestly, I take a show that has genuine emotions and conflicts and treats them seriously any day over a tongue-in-cheek parody.

      I don't care that much about public perception, because it is usually based on superficial knowledge, prejudices and whatnot. I do agree though with your assessment of the viewers. Just as you were a bit disappointed with the shift in focus to the brother's characters arcs and away from the horror themes in S2, the viewers who are in only for the Sam and Dean characterisations will be a bit disappointed if it shifts back to a more standalone, horror format in S3. That's why there's such a huge uproar about the cast additions. Personally, I would love it if S3 manages a good balance between what made me fall in love with the show in the first place in S1 and the emotional roller coaster in S2.

      Originally posted by Ehlwyen
      These individual episode characterizations is what I was hoping you'd explain. Though it is one show of two seasons, I think that individual episodes need to be compared as separate entities. Even though the same people are involved, one's views on the world are always changing and therefore reflect differently in episodes over time. I'm going to have to come back and edit in or reply in my next post about singular episode characterization as this post has gotten too long and I've run out of time.

      You know that I strongly disagree with the Dean and low self esteem issue. That was not the Dean we saw in S1. Having a love of others stronger than your own self preservation does not mean lack of self esteem. I probably should have argued my points to you long ago, but writing hasn't been my muse this year.

      Anyway, Gamble and Tucker S2 episodes are the ones that most bring up this topic. So obviously I'm going to love points of their episodes less than other writers. I have to hope that a new writer will bring a little more strength and personal worth back to the perception of Dean in S3.
      Sure, characterisations are a constant flow, adapting to the changing situations that the characters find themselves in and in analysing and comparing the episodes we try to figure out if those changes are coherent and follow logically from each other. SN is doing that just fine.

      As you know, in my opinion Dean's self esteem issues are already addressed more than once in S1 and are only consequently developed in S2 and even openly outspoken in AHBL Pt. II. But we should probably not go into that topic in here, since the arguments are not displayed here. Just as I think Dean's struggle with self worth and self perception was exactly the right thing and in character in the light of the events of S2, the finale of the season kind of brought that character arc to a conclusion and we see a Dean who came to terms by taking action. I would find it totally logical for the next step in Dean's character development to overcome his problematic self perception and find a new peace within himself.

      Originally posted by Ehlwyen
      Well the main reason bring it up is that I'm terrified that your residual dislike of Edlund predisposes you to find fault when you might otherwise gloss over.
      I won't lie, I can't rule out the possibility that this might happen, but I knew that Edlund wrote ?Simon Said' and ?Nightshifter' before I watched those episodes and loved them just fine, so he managed to overcome my dislike there. I doubt that I would have felt better about ?Hollywood Babylon' though, no matter who wrote it, that it was Edlund in the end just affirmed my worries.

      Originally posted by Ehlwyen
      See I can't understand condoning stereotyping under the guise of it being an "introductory episode."

      I disagree that a stranger/outsider would see them as so bland. They meet new people every episode who often find them compelling enough to believe their crazy supernatural reasoning or scary enough to avoid. And if the show is meant to be introductory, then the leads should be the most alive and attention grabbing. Especially for a show that is so based upon characterization.
      I don't condone it under the guise of being introductory but under the guise of being from an outsider PoV.

      Uh-huh, but those new people they meet are usually not ghosts, or well, you know, they meet ghosts but usually don't have to take care of them emotionally! Of course Dean would show a completely different behaviour towards Molly if she was actually a living person and a victim here. You're right though with the statement that it's not the best way to introduce the characters to a new audience, since it doesn't make us care about them particularly. You won't hear from me that it is the best episode ever, but I found the ?The 6th Sense' homage interesting.

      Originally posted by Ehlwyen
      Well, for me HB was strong character continuity as well as worked on multiple levels. Sam immersing himself in the work and Dean getting to take his love of pop culture referencing to another level. Making jokes is a great way to deal with fear and sadness. If you're laughing, you're distracted. It's why humor goes so well with horror. And it works the same with sorrow. It was very warming to my spirit to see Dean dealing with the darkness in a different matter than depression. Depression never gets anything done nor helps a person reach another mental state. By the end of HB, Dean had a mental vacation and was more like himself by the next episode. One episode of distraction did more good for him than 10 episodes of depression.
      As I pointed out in the respective discussion it wasn't the general characterisation that didn't work for me but the emotional and psychological context the episode was in. Unlike you, I do think that you can't just go back to a certain type of characterisation at any point in a story and in HB it definitely didn't work for me to go back to S1 characterisation. I don't think Dean was dealing at all, he was simply avoiding, that doesn't do anything for a change of mental status either as we can see from the look inside him in WIAWSNB. It's all superficial, and I find that bland and boring and emotionally disconnective.

      Originally posted by Ehlwyen
      Can you send me your HB discussion posts? With BW forever lost, I have neither the thread nor pms so as to refresh myself on your actual points.
      I can do that. I put a PM together with our discussion as well as our PM's. Just need to find the stuff first.
      Last edited by galathea; 09-07-07, 04:21 PM.

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