The Mechanics of Supernatural: Six Years Later

In 2009 when I first wrote this short piece, I was a newer member of the WFB writing family and my life was in a very different place. At the time, Supernatural was constantly amazing me with not only the forethought going into the storylines but the longevity of the continuity and the care put into these details; particularly compared to many other television shows.

I chose this piece as part of the Auld Lang Syne reflection series because here we are, so many years later and the show itself has undergone many changes and is many storylines away from where things where back in November 2009 - but it still continues to impress me. Characters reflect, remember and react based on years gone by and so many things are set into motion with detail and care well in advance. Supernatural still shows its care, artistry and love of craft in the quality of the product so many years later: it’s matured certainly (and maybe in different directions or storylines than some liked at times) but always with care, detailed invention and crafty thoughts. After all this time, I’m still anticipating, with bated breath, fitting together all the pieces of season eleven.


The Mechanics of Supernatural
Orignally Posted: November 1, 2009

Note from Alice: So, while I was considering my choices for today's article I spent a half hour going through some material at other sites, especially trying to catch reviews about the most recent episode, "The Curious Case of Dean Winchester."   I decided after taking in way too much negativity that this analysis Elle sent me would be ideal to share.  We all need these reminders once in a while, even though all I needed to do was come back here and feel better again!  Thank you again Elle for taking time to write this.  Enjoy!  

The Mechanics of Supernatural

The recent comments on The Winchester Family Business sparked an interesting thought in my twisted little mind that would not leave me alone. The idea is that we, as fans, can become very wrapped up in particular aspects of the show, such as characters we love or love to hate, but how often do we think about the utility of each component of the show and the way they all come together? Our show is a mosaic if you will, and all the pieces that we love to debate over individually come together form that which we spend our Thursday nights worshipping, Supernatural.
Consider the following example - Bela:

Bela was introduced to us in season three, in the classic Bad Day at Black Rock. Had we never seen her again after this episode, many might have, dare I say it, liked the character (save for that shooting Sam incident). Nonetheless, Bela stuck around for most of season three to inspire a (mostly) unified hatred of this character. That aside, let us look at her from a purely utilitarian point of view:

Bela served two significant functions in the storyline. One, the more obvious, she was the first to utter Lilith’s name in connection with Dean’s contract. Two, she stole the colt. Now, while neither of these in and of themselves is huge, a domino effect is created. When Bela stole the colt, she robbed the boys of a way to destroy Lilith without involving Ruby’s knife, and therefore, Ruby herself. The theft of the colt resulted in a lot of drama of the police station in Jus in Belo. It led Sam and Dean to involving Ruby in the final plot to kill Lilith (inadvertently brining their enemy: undercover demon Ruby- closer into the fold). While the knife is effective at killing a demon, it had no effect on Alastair and thus there is no reason to believe it would have worked on Lilith. Additionally, where the colt would allow a distant shooting, the knife required the boys to get up close and personal with whatever form Lilith had adopted, at the risk of a wall-pinning or worse.

Ultimately, Ruby and Lilith arranged it so that Lilith, apprised of the boys plans probably from Ruby (and yes, I am piecing that off-screen information together retroactively with the knowledge that Ruby was undercover for two years with the Winchesters) so that Lilith was able to kill Dean and drag him to hell in the end. So, to end this domino-effect theory rambling: Bela stole the colt, name-dropped and ultimately, these two things led to Dean’s deadly encounter with Lilith in No Rest for the Wicked.

It could be said that any number of roads would have led to Dean’s demise and subsequent southern trip. However, the point is that Bela, a less-than-beloved cog of the Supernatural machine was an integral part of how Dean’s death did play out, not how it could have played out. Ruby can be viewed in much the same way: as a piece that was necessary in order to get Sam in St. Mary’s Church with a dead Lilith and the impending arrival of one Satan. This formula isn’t just true of the major characters either: look at the demon Casey, the djinn, Madison, Andy or anyone else, for that matter.

The storylines of Supernatural have always, always been enduring (for the most part, writer’s strike aside) and this, as I have stated many times has always been one of the things I loved about this show. There is nothing I hate more on a TV show than when an incredible experience happens to a character, a major epiphany, a big break up or suffering a trauma, and then it’s never mentioned again. The character never experiences the fallout of that situation or event beyond the scope of that single episode - which just isn’t realistic. Human beings carry all their experiences with them; they drive us, motivate us, influence us, and yes, even bias us toward certain opinions or actions over others. What I propose then, is that for all the mysticism and supernatural elements of the show, the writers of Supernatural have a true understanding of the human condition and use this to their everlasting advantage (and ours) by piecing together long-term effects and durable subplots to achieve greatness.

I leave you with this: while it is fun to analyze our show, the characters and the plotlines, every once and a while, stop to consider the whole vehicle and the essentiality of each part. Whether you’re a Sam-girl or a Dean-girl, a Cas-lover or a Ruby-hater, this wonderful world of Supernatural that connects us wouldn’t be possible without these pieces and parts.

Thoughts? Agree? Disagree?