I've struggled with this review for several days. I've considered, started, and then reconsidered all sorts of ways to express just how wrong "There's Something About Mary" was and how it was a betrayal to a variety of fans. This was just more than another bad, poorly written episode by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming. This was a breaking point for many fans and could be the point everyone looks to when they see a mass exodus of fans or an outright riot for change that goes straight to Mark Pedowitz. Or both. Either way, I'm one of the ranks that is furious and can't take this crap anymore.
I mean, this episode got so many people riled up that triggered a wave fan protest on Twitter with the hashtag #FireBuckLeming. There were so many tweets, that the topic actually trended. It surpassed #Supernatural at one point. This naturally caused other fans to speak out against such behavior as “cyberbulling” and bad fan behavior, which led to some online skirmishes. It got ugly.
Was the episode THAT bad? No, I think there have been worse. But it was bad enough because it's extremely disappointing and frustrating when we get something like this in episode 21 with two more episodes to go, especially when we've been waiting for something to happen all season long. The actions of the characters made no freaking sense, yet another senseless character death was used to generate an emotional reaction from Sam and Dean, even though just about everyone they have known dies, thus ruining all prior development that was put into said character, and there’s the really stupid stuff like how do Sam and Dean get mail delivered to a secret bunker no one is supposed to know about? How did Crowley, Mr. Ten Steps Ahead, let Lucifer get the better of him? He’s not that dumb. I can’t even talk about Mary Winchester without throwing things. The only promising scenario to come out of this is maybe Crowley the rat can finally hook up with Olivia the hamster.
I have more very, very angry thoughts coming on this week’s TV Fanatic Roundtable, so be sure to check that out. Otherwise, I’m never, ever watching this again. At this point, I’m skipping all of Season 12. I have zero interest in watching the final two episodes. Congrats to Andrew Dabb on his rookie season as showrunner for officially killing the show I once loved. You’ve mangled the Lamborghini buddy.
#FireBuckLeming Backlash and More
So why were fans upset when this wasn’t the “Worst…Episode…Ever?” Accusations that these writers and the current production team aren’t being careful with sensitivity when writing a script and allowing racial and sexist arcs hit a boiling point. This trend has been going on for some time and some fans are frustrated that no one is committed to stopping it. Then there’s people like me who are sick of watching the constant bad writing and failures with continuity and canon that these two have a long track record of. As to why these simple mistakes in writing haven't been corrected by now is mind boggling.
Not sure what I mean? Let's look at a list of some BuckLeming episodes that particular draw ire from the fans and why:
- “Route 666,” (1.13) black people of a southern town are being killed by a Racist truck.
- “The Slice Girls” (7.13) Dean has a one night stand with someone who turns out to be an Amazon woman, who gives birth to Dean’s child after a day. These Amazon women as part of their rituals lure men in bars, use them to impregnate them, and must brutally kill the men that fathered their child (even if they are innocent) by cutting off their hands and feet. They pawned this off as “Mayan” culture.
- “Of Grave Importance” (7.19) - A new female hunter, Annie, is introduced and killed rather early. Turns out she slept with Sam, Dean, and Bobby just because, well, they were angsty? It didn’t do much for the character.
- “Man’s Best Friend With Benefits” (8.15) - Considered by many to be one of the worst episodes of the series. A black woman, who also morphs into a dog, is in a physical relationship with a white male witch and is forced to wear a dog collar at all times, not to mention must “obey” her master.
- “Taxi Driver” (8.20) - This episode ignored a lot of canon from prior seasons, and invalidated all of season six by Sam slipping into Purgatory so easily via a rogue reaper. Suddenly reapers were angels, contradicting plenty of reaper and angel lore from the prior seasons.
- “I’m No Angel” (9,03) - As mentioned above, Castiel sleeps with a reaper possessing an innocent girl, raising issues of insensitivity to rape and non-consent.
- “Holy Terror” (9.09) - A very popular minority character, Kevin Tran, is killed by Ezekiel (possessing Sam) because white villain Metatron wanted it for no well explained reason. In the end, it was all a setup for an emotional Dean scene the next episode.
- “Soul Survivor” (10.03) - Sam performs a demon “cure” on Dean, except that it doesn’t follow the demon cure he did on Crowley in season eight’s “Sacrifice”. Many of the emotional elements between the brothers are forced and wooden and failed to show the real trauma of going through such a ritual, something “Sacrifice” illustrated brilliantly.
- “Dark Dynasty” (10.21) - One of THE most controversial episodes ever, and still the most despised by fans. Charlie Bradbury, a fan favorite, a smart and strong woman and the only prominent Lesbian character in “Supernatural,” is brutally and senselessly murdered by a white male supremacist who is a member of the…wait for it…Frankenstein family.
- “O’Brother Where Art Thou?” (11.09) - Sam walks into Hell, confronts Lucifer in a cage thanks to a powerful spell by Rowena, even though Lucifer couldn’t be sprung from that cage for thousands of years prior to the apocalypse. Good thing Rowena is a such a great witch (deus ex machina). Sam ends up trapped in said cage with Lucifer. As Sam lets a tear or two slide down his face over being duped, Lucifer makes an inappropriate rape joke before the closing credits.
- “All in the Family” (11.21) - Even though there was an epic setup from the episode before to run with the return of Chuck as God and the return of the amulet, they pretty much ignored most of what they were given and ran with a story that didn’t flow at all with what was happening in the story at the time. Sam is forced to head up a rescue actually save Lucifer, his tormentor when they were stuck in the cage together raising the whole insensitivity issue about victims of violence since Lucifer through his jokes in the past had implied rape was involved. Newly redeemed Metatron, a principal recurring character since season eight, is also killed by Amara and no one really notices his sacrifice or loss.
- “Mamma Mia” (12.02) - Sam is literally mind raped by Toni Bevil. She gives him a hallucinogen to make him think they are in bed together in order to get information. This created a huge uproar from victims of rape who had to watch this very uncomfortable moment.
- “The British Invasion” (12.16) - This script was littered with horrible British stereotypes, from the blatant “death match” ripoff of Harry Potter to the evil cartoonish leader to the British Men of Letters who inexplicably had one of their own killed and decided all the American hunters should die because…they’re not British? It made me wonder if BuckLeming had ever been to England before because they got a lot of things wrong about the British. This episode also had their most blatant blunder of continuity yet, declaring that Lucifer was the oldest brother, when it was well established back in season five in a very iconic episode for the series, “Changing Channels,” that Lucifer was the baby brother.
- “There’s Something About Mary” (12.21) - A beloved female character, the first prominent hunter with a disability (deaf), is killed quickly by a hellhound that she could not hear within the first 30 seconds of the episode, for no good reason other than it created an emotional moment for Sam later.
I didn't even list the episodes that were just plain bad, like “Shut Up, Dr. Phil” and "Paint It Black.” Moving on, Here’s a couple of the tweets from the #firebuckleming on Twitter that list particular concerns
Look, @andrewdabb I'm not unreasonable. You don't have to #FireBuckleming. I will accept their continued employment under these conditions: pic.twitter.com/tg9zFO0Tbs — Pillar of Saltiness (@violue) May 13, 2017
Here’s the Twitter posts for the hashtag in general. Even fans that normally don’t partake in such protests were angry enough to get on board.
How about a Spoiler TV poll on what fan reaction? 73% say the episode was Awful.
Oh, but some fans got creative too. If you’re really, really itching for a rewatch, there might be a better way. Just play BuckLeming Bingo! It’s the only win a BuckLeming episode can deliver. Not sure how? Remember Mr. Ketch, the brutal and bloody killer, who decides to be a Bond villain and let Sam, Dean, and Toni meet their slow end in an elaborate death, even though that goes against absolutely everything he’s done so far, all because these writers didn’t have any clue on how to setup next week’s episode? Oh look, Deus Ex Machina. Bingo!
This card is courtesy of AJ, aka messier51 on Tumblr (http://messier51.tumblr.com/tagged/supernatural) who created it after a very controversial BuckLeming episode aired in season 9, “I’m No Angel.” Many fans were very irate that Castiel never expressed remorse for the sex with a possessed being when he found out after the fact. Ironically, at Salute to Supernatural in Chicago a couple of years ago, when a couple of fans asked producer Bob Singer about this episode and the issue on non-consent in his Q&A, he had no idea what they were talking about. Many took that to mean that because is Singer is blind these issues, so is his wife (Ross-Leming). I highly recommend checking out AJ’s Tumblr for other well done rants about the pain of watching these episodes. This person is reading my mind. :)
The Red Headed Monster
I know what some of you are saying, "You're unfairly picking on Brad and Eugenie. Others have bad episodes too." You're right and that's a problem too, one that falls squarely on the production team. In particular, I'm personally getting very, very tired of the lack of imagination when it comes to the season ending episodes, especially the final three episodes. That's what really set me off after watching "There's Something About Mary."
Remember how thrilled and stunned we were over "All Hell Breaks Loose Part I" or "Two Minutes ’Til Midnight" or "The Great Escapist" or "Don't Call Me Shurley?" I want to be excited about what's coming, not utterly angry at the writers for another blatant attempt at audience manipulation rather than delivering smart and clever writing. Not sure what I'm talking about? Lets's look at the past four seasons.
In season eight, episode 8.21, “The Great Escapist,” is a Ben Edlund classic. A brilliant episode that among other things, introduced to us the character of Metatron. He was benevolent, wise, and helped the boys and Kevin with their predicament. It was an awesome setup to run with. So what happened in episode 8.22? Andrew Dabb wrote a campy and scattered episode that made Metatron evil (no signs of that at all in the prior episode), and he brought back three past characters for no purpose including Sarah Blake, Sam’s season one love interest. All briefly appeared before getting offed for reasons that didn’t help the plot whatsoever. There was even no real emotional consequences for this. Sure, we liked Sarah, but it’s hard to feel the impact of a character we briefly remember from seven seasons ago. It was a wildly misplaced story in between two awesome episodes, “The Great Escapist” and “Sacrifice.”
Episodes 9.21, 9.22, and 9.23 were a mixed bag. Episode 21, “King of the Damned,” wasn’t bad, with Dean killing Abandon and Castiel being the leader of the angels. I would rank this one the best of Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming episodes. But in episode 22, “Stairway to Heaven,” we get another Andrew Dabb stinker where innocents are needlessly killed in the teaser, and another popular and beloved past character is brought back to be killed, Tessa the Reaper. I might have felt something except she was a rogue reaper now who just happened to have powers of an angel. What? Since when? She was so out of character it was crazy. Then Castiel’s followers quickly lose faith because of…Destiel? He won’t betray Dean? It was a contrived and desperate queer baiting mess and did no favors for episode 9.23 whatsoever. Many didn’t like 9.23, “Do You Believe in Miracles?” either because it focused on Metatron and not Sam and Dean. I myself didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t the bombastic season finale we’ve grown to expect, until the last five seconds.
In season ten, episode 10.21, written by the duo, is one of the worst of the series, and 10.22, “The Prisoner,” written by Andrew Dabb is an atrocity as well. Once again, another “surprise character” death becomes our supposed plot driver. This time it’s Charlie Bradbury, and it serves no purpose other than the Mark of Cain afflicted Dean is set off on a killing rampage of…The Frankensteins? Okay, it’s the Louisiana based Stynes, who just happen to be distant relatives of the family. I don’t think we needed a character death to spark their end. They were just annoying enough to be killed. Instead of menacing villains, they were like the vapid family out of “Dynasty” or “Bloodlines.” They were campy, terribly written villains, and their brutal deaths at the hands of Dean was boringly predictable. Oh, and Dean beats up Castiel in a forced emotional attempt to provoke a Destiel event. If that wasn’t bad enough, 10.23 then delivers the most improbable death of all, they kill Death. How is that possible? Everything delivered is season ten is off the rails.
In season eleven, that was a season that had loads of promise going into the last three episodes. Robbie Thompson delivered a huge classic in 11.20, “Don’t Call Me Shurley,” in which Chuck is finally confirmed to be God and in his return we find out the amulet has been in Sam’s pocket this whole time! It’s a huge moment in the history of this show and finally addresses two of the biggest mysteries of the series. Fans are pumped! Then Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming (11.21), Robert Berens (11.22), and Andrew Dabb (11.23), deliver three of the absolute worst episodes of the series, not to mention three episodes that completely derail any momentum season 11 had going. They actually ruined the season entirely and all the good work that went into it.
In 11.21, Metatron is killed. Oh boy, another stunt death! Four seasons in a row! These guys are certainly in a rut, aren’t they? In 11.22, they actually end up mortally wounding God. Really? They also end up killing the one interesting new character, Donatello the Prophet, who was introduced in 11.21. That was fast work. 11.23 went “psych!” and the whole conflict was averted by Dean getting Amara and Chuck to make up and smoke away together in a black and while swirl, while everyone else sits in a bar, gets drunk and eats peanuts. Then, a lot of time is actually wasted to kick off the horrible season 12 plot, the British Men of Letters.
So what’s my point? So here’s episode 12.21, written again by Brad and Eugenie, and they start with the…wait for it…shocking character death. ARGH!!! Do they realize this is five seasons in a row they’ve used that move at the end of the season? (Throw in Balthazar in season six’s finale and you’ve got six out of seven). Do they realize that it’s old, tired, predictable, and utterly insulting to our intelligence? Why are we mad instead of thrilled? This is the wrong reaction for fans to have!
A Final Plea
I don’t know if the philosophy of Andrew Dabb and Robert Singer is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but come on guys, it’s broken! It’s a broken record that keeps repeating over and over again and it’s enough! It must be stopped. Here we are once again going into the home stretch of the season and we’re getting crap. We’re getting contrived plotting that makes no sense rather than introducing something clever and unique to get us to the next explosive scenario. The show is clearly showing fatigue and I fell no one on the team currently is capable of doing anything about it.
I think our fandom shoulders some of the blame. After all, some fans jump on Twitter and Facebook after every episode and start gushing about how great the episode was, even though it was a piece of dung. Couple that with the entire lovefest that happens at fan conventions and the perception is TPTB are not getting proper feedback for the quality of an episode, or lack thereof. They believe that the loyal fanbase will stick with them no matter what and they’ve gotten complacent. A strong message had to get through. Whether they listen or not is another story, but ratings are no longer a way to measure fan discontent, especially with a long running show. Sadly, noise on social media is the new norm. Don’t believe me? It was noise that got Eric Kripke’s recent show “Timeless” un-cancelled after two days.
As a long time fan that has watched loyally, I’ve had enough. I’m tired of constantly repeated bad tropes and plot triggers. I’m tired of watching episodes that try to go for blatant fan manipulation instead of delivering truly compelling stories. I’m tired of villains that are shallow and are ones we just hate instead of love to hate. I’m tired of main characters being written with no real depth or complexity and never quite reaching their potential. I’m tired of season ending arcs that fizzle and fall back to the same cliched patterns every single year. I’m tired of the blatant disregard for prior canon and established history of this show. Finally, I’m tired of seeing women, minorities, and gay characters constantly get the bums rush for the sake of contrived drama because writers are having trouble advancing their plots creatively.
I understand that the show isn’t what it used to be and will never match the brilliance of the first five seasons, but I still expect to see something each week that is well done and entertaining and gives me credit for having some intelligence. This show does have a legacy to protect and that legacy has been pissed on the last four seasons. There’s still time to get it back on track before the show’s end. I’m not asking for writers to be fired. I’m just asking for TPTB of “Supernatural” to listen to the pleas of change and try better. Try to be less predictable and be more sensitive. These requests are coming from the heart from long time loyal fans that still love the show enough to care. They won’t be around much longer if things keep up. Neither will I.
Overall grade, an F. Not something exactly generating a lot of excitement for the two part finale. It was no accident that the Shaving People Punting Things video was put out so early on Friday when the protests were still going. Let’s hope they get it right this time.