Eric Kripke's initial conceit for Supernatural was the premise that all our human myths and urban legends had a core of truth: that magic and the supernatural were all around us, just a few degrees off normal. He gave us rough-edged, blue-collar heroes who fought to save people they didn't know, all because they knew things normal people would never have believed. And there was always the sense that the Winchesters and their world could be just around the corner, if you only cut that turn a little short.

I miss that.

Mind you, this change was in the mix for a long time. The eventual loss became inevitable the moment Supernatural transitioned from being a simple horror anthology (anchored by two brothers traveling U.S. highways and byways) into a tale of two brothers, manipulated by supernatural forces beyond their control, rejecting the roles ordained for them and aborting the apocalypse instead. That change was exactly what the show needed – Kripke himself acknowledged at the first Paley Festival in 2006 that the show really took off in season one when it became about the brothers, their relationship, and their defiance of destiny instead of being about the monsters – but it had this one little downside of gradually divorcing the Winchesters from all of us as the stakes they played for became steadily bigger and more global. It took five full seasons to achieve completion, but it happened as it was one day fated to occur.

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The inescapable void finally opened and swallowed us all as Dean, Bobby and Castiel watched major ecological disasters unfold on store televisions in Swan Song. Those earthquakes and super-storms never happened in our world, so it was undeniable that the Winchesters' world wasn't ours any more. The show made the split explicit in The French Mistake when it established the existence of multiple parallel dimensions, including ones like ours where magic didn't work, the apocalypse never began, and the Winchesters weren't real – and where Supernatural was, at most, just a television show.

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Ever since then, the gulf has widened. The show now takes place in a Charmed-style dimension where witchcraft has all the power and holds all the answers; where literally anything can be accomplished simply by the right recipe of ingredients, words, symbols, and gestures. It's become a gaming or comic book world, something perhaps made inevitable by the experiences of its stable of writers, many of whom now have gaming and comic book credits. Even the Word of God, as represented in the various tablets on Demons, Leviathan, Angels, and who knows what else, consists simply of spells to harness elements of the physical world to produce effects on its supernatural components. Angels, demons, hunters, witches, and gods – even the ultimate God – all just use spells as tools to achieve their ends. It's become just a game.

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With that development, Supernatural lost any and all connection to our reality.

I mourn that.

Make no mistake; I still love Supernatural. And as long as Jensen and Jared commit to it, so will I.

But it's not what it used to be. And that's just truth.
 

 Do you agree? Is there another way to look at this? Curious for your input!

Comments  

cheryl42
# cheryl42 2015-08-08 23:26
Goodness I thought I was the only one who thought SPN had turned into Charmed (with less scantly clad hero's). And yes The French Mistake (as wonderful as that episode was) really brought home the sad fact that the Winchesters didn't really exist in our world. When the supernatural started to manipulate the Winchesters lives the stories stopped being about what might be hiding in our closets and turned into something that had never happened in our lives. The apocalypse, the breaking of the seals, all the supernatural calamity that was supposedly happening world wide clearly wasn't happening in our reality. It was all playing out someplace else. It really did turn into witches and demons (angels for the most part weren't any better than demons). And yes any spell could easily trump the power of Death or even God.
It's not that the show hasn't been fun or entertaining. Or that I am bored with the show and want it to end (blaspheme!). But when Carver talks about returning to the original format i.e. the brothers united against a common foe (the Darkness) this wasn't the format I was hoping for. I'm glad that the personal journeys seem to be over with everyone scattered and not really connecting. And I hope it's true that everyone will be on board with defeating the big bad. But I was really hoping for the true original format....."sav ing people, hunting things. The family business".
I miss the days of S1 and 2 when the people that Sam and Dean saved were just regular people being touched by a reality that was previously just out of focus. Without too much of a stretch of the imagination I could believe there were hunters out there that would come and save me if my resident ghost got to vengeful. But sadly they don't exist in my world anymore.
I will watch the show and love some episodes and be puzzled by others but my secret safe place will always be S1 and 2.
Sharon
# Sharon 2015-08-09 03:54
You take on too many themes you can lose sight of what made it special in the first place. I do not relate to the show anymore neither am I comfortable with the brothers relationship esp since season 9 so whether the show can recapture any 'magic' of the first seasons is debatable and frankly unlikely the 'Darkness' does not invoke that idea.

I am a early season lover and although change can be a good thing in SPN,s case sometimes it has been far from that.
Jen
# Jen 2015-08-09 06:45
I feel their was a definate end at Swan Song. Thats the way it should have been. But the show was popular the fans wanted more. Kripke moved on.
They should have reintroduced the show in S6 with new ideas and a new base line - keeping the broad outline of Kripke's idea. It would have then given them the chance to change the show without the comparison to the Kripke story. Fans may have liked it or may not have. They can't carry the original story the way it was over another 5 seasons. Change was necessary but done with little thought
I still love the catch cry - Saving people hunting things the Family business, And I too will keep watching as long as Jarod & Jensen stay Happy and content with the show
LEAH
# LEAH 2015-08-09 14:04
Hi Jen,

Just a few random thoughts. I think Swan Song might have been a good series finale except for the idea that Sam was going to be in hell for eternity. I didn't initially think it through. It just seemed like a heroic and redemptive ending for Sam. But it would have left a bad taste always thinking back to where Sam ended up. If it could have been written that Sam as a reward or something for putting Lucifer away again , then got to ascend to heaven it might have been more of a palatable idea as an ending. Heroic or not having the series end with the death of one or both brothers will be very hard after so many years of laughing and crying with them. I want to hope the "peace" when they are done would be some earthly happiness.

The Krike years, although not perfect, were a hard act to follow. You had to basically take a story that had reached a conclusion and say...ok, now where do we go from here? I believe the ending with Sam standing there under the light pole was hastily tacked on when it became apparent that it would be renewed. Correct me if I'm wrong. I am glad it wasn't my job to figure it out. Sera did pretty well with what she had.
Jen
# Jen 2015-08-10 03:55
Thanks Leah I agree tough act to follow. In hindsight and the way the show was written on from here, I was thinking why couldn,ve Dean been Michael.s meat suit Kill Lucifer while he was weak and in the wrong body. He could have then left Dean -- and the boys could have soldered on They did say that Dean would have been a blubbering mess but they could have changed that Yep Sera did do well :D:)
LEAH
# LEAH 2015-08-10 12:44
I think, at the time, they were planning to wrap the series and Sam's heroic sacrifice was the endgame. Then things changed. I'm not sure Lucifer was that weak, their fight was going to start the apocalypse.:)
samandean10
# samandean10 2015-08-09 11:25
I agree that SPN isn't what it used to be, but not for exactly the same reasons as you present. While witchcraft and spells have taken on an outsized importance in the show, that process began under Kripke. And from Kripke on through Carver, none of the show runners has ever provided any guidelines regarding witchcraft and the use of spells. Seemingly anyone can do a spell as long as he has the proper ingredients, so what is the difference between those spells and spells cast by witches? And are there any limitations on the powers of witches? Some have obtained immortality, others have used spells to overcome (or even kill) anyone from humans to demons to Leviathans to Death himself. There has simply been no consistent canon established regarding witchcraft and spells- the writers use them as all-purpose mechanisms to suit the needs of the plot. Unfortunately, the shortcomings of the show's handling of witchcraft and spells are being highlighted under Carver, since the introduction of Rowena has now elevated witchcraft to an essential part of the ongoing mythology. So it does bother me that witches and spells seem to trump everything else in the show. But not because it widens the gulf between the Winchester's world and our world. In fact, I have had an awareness of witches and witchcraft and the lore surrounding them since I was little. Before watching SPN I was as familiar with witches as I was with ghosts, vampires, werewolves, etc. Even the prospect of the apocalypse and the accompanying disasters didn't seem otherworldly to me, since it's been well-establishe d in Christianity (and maybe in other religions?). I agree with you that

Quote:
the show really took off in season one when it became about the brothers, their relationship, and their defiance of destiny instead of being about the monsters


but I guess I disagree that this

Quote:
had this one little downside of gradually divorcing the Winchesters from all of us as the stakes they played for became steadily bigger and more global
Yes, the show was magical those first few years of saving people and hunting things, and the early seasons are my favorites. But a show that was simply about the brothers working case after case would not have drawn me in the way SPN did. Even though the mythology of the brothers' destiny was largely in the background those first few seasons, it was the thing that drove the brothers' relationship and that had formed their characters. It was what transformed them from fun, interesting characters into these two tragic people in whom I became completely invested.

To me, the problem isn't that the mythology has become too big- you don't get much bigger than the apocalypse and that whole story played out beautifully to me. The problem is that the show has fallen short at crafting the stand-alone episodes that were such an important part of previous seasons. (I also have disliked much of the execution of the myth-arc the past two seasons, but that's a whole separate issue!) TPTB have struggled at recapturing the excitement and fun of those earlier MOTW episodes. Partly I wonder if the well has simply run dry. They have covered so many of the more widely known urban legends and mythical creatures, and I think by this point it's hard to provide a fresh take on vampires, ghosts, werewolves, etc. Many of the recent episodes featuring those creatures have seemed really stale and dull. Or maybe there are still great, original ways of exploring those stories but the current writers aren't up to the task. The ghost in the wires in HACF maybe could have been interesting, but not as executed in that episode. And when they've tried to explore fresh territory it has generally been underwhelming to me- like Oz (ugh!!!). I actually enjoyed the introduction of the pishtaco in the Purge, but that episode was dragged down by the brotherly rift. The mythology has often taken the fun out of the MOTW episodes lately, instead of just playing in the background. But then I think about episodes like "Everybody Hates Hitler"- 8 seasons in and the writers came up with a fresh, fun, fascinating new MOTW in a great episode. So maybe there are still plenty of great new stories to explore, they just have to find them.

Bottom line, IMO the major shortcoming of the show the last couple of seasons is that it has lost its footing when striking a balance between the stand-alones and the myth episodes, and the stand-alones often just aren't that good. Maybe it's the fact that 11 seasons in it's impossible for the show (or any show) to remain as fresh as in the earlier years. I don't see how the show could ever recapture the sheer brilliance of the first few seasons, when we were slowly learning about the brothers and their crazy world and lives. But I like to think it's possible to craft a season-long mythology that co-exists with, and doesn't completely overwhelm, a good mix of MOTW episodes which focus on the whole "saving people, hunting things" element that was so central in the earlier seasons. And I would settle for that!
Bevie
# Bevie 2015-08-09 13:02
Mary I am so in tune with your thoughts about this! As much as I love Sam and Dean and as much as I love Cas, as soon as the angel showed
up in Lazarus Rising, the brothers were no longer "in control" of their own lives.

I absolutely love everything from "The Pilot" to the end of "Lazarus Rising". It's the brothers moving the pieces on the board, "saving people,
hunting things, the family business". From that point on they have been pawns on a chessboard. I still love them dearly and will be here
until the very end, but it is not the same anymore and hasn't been for 7 years.

I wish the writers thought the same as you and I still hope that the next season will be more like the first 3 were, back to the "saving people,
hunting things, family business" again. But I've been hoping for that for some years now.

I want them to take control of their lives again.

Mary, I miss your commenting on every episode so very much.:( Your metas and reviews were so fascinating. Please don't stop altogether!

Bevie
njspnfan
# njspnfan 2015-08-09 15:24
I agree with your musings; in the early seasons, Supernatural felt as though it was still grounded in the real world. The brother's mantra of saving people, hunting things, the family business had some teeth to it, and they followed thru on this by actually hunting things and saving people. Even in S4/S5, where the show became mytharc heavy, the brothers were still concerned about saving people. That started going away gradually in S7 under Sera Gamble and has accelerated under Jeremy Carver, particularly in Seasons 9/10 where it has started delving too much in to the world of witchcraft, giving witches and the like far more power/capabilit ies than they had in earlier seasons. The brothers have become too angst ridden and self absorbed with their personal problems, most of which are of their own making. Both Sam and Dean have a long road back to being the flawed, by likable heroes they were in earlier seasons; a lot of their behavior over the past two or three seasons has been neither sympathetic nor heroic.

Castiel used to be the "magic" fix but now the magic fix is... magic. And, for that matter, God is being presented more and more as quite the magician these past few seasons, with magic spellbooks, tablets that can give angels God-like powers, and God and the archangels locking away the darkness with a magic lock and key which oh, by the way, a crazy nun from the middle ages figured out how to unlock with ingredients that came in to existence AFTER The Darkness was locked away.

And the shame of it is it didn't have to be that way; they opened up a world of possibilities with the Men of Letters, the tablets, etc., and have not really followed thru as well as they could have. I still think the acting and production values are top notch, and the writers are still capable of putting together really good episodes. The big disappointment has been in the overall story construction by the show runners. Kripke did a good job of creating this Supernatural universe and followed certain rules; it wasn't perfect but stands in stark contrast to the current regime. I won't go in to all the discrepancies because they've been discussed ad nauseum but, suffice to say that Kripke at least put some thought/effort behind it, where the current show runners have no problem changing canon to suit the current story or arc.
Jen
# Jen 2015-08-10 04:23
I don't know why I bother to write down what I think when so many of you write so well and explain my thoughts exactly In future I will stick to replys to other writings. That way how I feel and think won't be so blahhhhhhhh Thank you All for this - and in part I totally agree with everyone.
njspnfan --- Kripke at least put some thought/effort behind it, where the current show runners have no problem changing canon to suit the current story or arc.
Yes at the moment there is no real depth to the story - what magic spell works this week for something may not work next week because the creature has a sore toe :(:(
LEAH
# LEAH 2015-08-10 12:31
I hope you don't stick to replies Jen, I enjoy reading your thoughts.:)
BoGirle
# BoGirle 2015-08-10 21:11
Me too! Always say what's on your mind.... I do!! HA!
Nate Winchester
# Nate Winchester 2015-08-13 08:55
Quote:
with a magic lock and key which oh, by the way, a crazy nun from the middle ages figured out how to unlock with ingredients that came in to existence AFTER The Darkness was locked away.
AAAAARRRRRRRGGG GGGGGHHHHH No kidding. Not just that the ingredients were made long after the lock, but the ingredients were separated by (even agreed upon by young-eathers) thousands of years! If the DarknessTM is so dangerous, why didn't God oh say... NOT MAKE A LOCK? He put the Leviathan away and threw away the key (no really, rewatch S6, the implication is that Purgatory had no door, humans & Cas & Crowley essentially had to go and carve one into the jail) but not the conceptually more powerful DarknessTM?

Like I say: Once upon a time the additions to canon in the show made sense and deepened the story & characters. Now they just make the plots and characters dumber.
Nate Winchester
# Nate Winchester 2015-08-10 16:01
Let's not spoil this with words:

JJA
# JJA 2015-08-11 16:52
It's not just Charmed, but Xena too. Supernatural has embraced "campy" storytelling.

In the early seasons, there was always this sense of terror and mystery. We had glimpses of Hell, but we really didn't get a full view of it. Likewise, Heaven was depicted as the dead's favorite memories, but we (as humans) couldn't fully perceive it for what it really was. For example, none of us could see Zacharia's 6 heads, we only saw him as a tall, older guy.

What I miss is the terror and the mystery. I miss how powerful angels seemed during season 4, and I miss how terrifying the YED was during seasons 1 & 2. I missed a King of Hell who wasn't Liberace in a black trench coat, and I miss a guardian angle who was more badass than Balki Bartokomous.