As you all know, I've been a little sour on the show lately and quite critical, so after spending a week consulting some of my most trusted cohorts, I decided it was time to lower my expectations. After all, this is a show in its seventh season and this episode was meant to be fun. The excellence of sweeping arcs and fluidity that made up seasons two and four are long gone. I have to now except that if a Winchester is on my TV every week, I'm happy.
So yes, I went into this episode with super low expectations. I wasn't expecting any dramatic changes in character arcs or anything that would move the season's mytharc along. The episode tried to get meta, but not too meta. Once you've had an episode like "The French Mistake," trodding in meta territory anymore is going to be tame.
This episode in its structure reminds me a lot of "Swap Meat." In that episode, poor Sammy was the victim of screwball of the week and an exasperated Dean had to figure out what was going wrong. "Swap Meat" though was a disappointing episode. It was uncomfortable, not funny, and the body swap premise didn't come close to its promise (as I learned later due to time and budget). I felt like I wasted an hour of my life (actually more than one since I had to watch again for the review and recap).
"Time For A Wedding" is better. Not a classic, but better. Not to say that this episode wasn't uncomfortable at times. Becky is someone who can only be tolerated in small doses and there was too much of her to make the episode completely enjoyable or funny. At times, I was just mortified for poor Sam. Them working the case on the bedroom wall was one of those times (plus another that we all know, but more on that soon). The rest though was pretty decent.
Without a doubt, Dean saved this episode. Without his exasperated reactions to his brother suddenly getting married, having to work with a new hunter who scores an 11 (on 11/11/11) on the quirky scale, and deciding to wear a tweed jacket with a sweater and tie (thud, me), this episode would have stunk. Plus, who didn't shout to the high heavens, "FINALLY!" at seeing him in a strip bar in Las Vegas. I love the continuity shoutout that he digs smart chicks. She certainly saw through his "I've got a friend" act.
Speaking of Vegas, how freaking cool is it that the show got to use the exterior shot of A Little White Wedding Chapel? That place is infamous. I know friends that were married there. The only thing missing was Elvis singing at the wedding. Given Sam/Jared's latest mutton chops though, close enough. And why haven't we seen the previous six times of their annual trip to Vegas? I feel like I've been missing out.
Why don't I just list all the stuff I loved first? Get the fun stuff out of the way before I get serious about a massive shortcoming with this episode. First, we yet again learn a valuable life lesson from Dean Winchester. When in doubt, waffle irons are questionable wedding gifts. Forget that he had no clue how to work one, they only make good weapons when the wife doesn't knock the husband out with it. Put that on the list with frying pans.
I adore DJ Qualls as Garth. He's such quirky fun. It's a wonder he's managed to survive as a hunter. He's a bit rough around the edges. All he needed was a mentor in Dean though, and Dean needed to hear from Garth that he wasn't exactly delivering the right message. "No, I'm pointing out a pattern. Why do they think I'm threatening them?" "Because it sounded exactly like a threat dude."
How about the other great lines from Garth?
- "He told me two things. One he's tangling with a major league nest up in Oregon territory, numero dos, he said you'd be all surly and premenstrual working with me."
- "No offense, we were just wondering if you got here by nefarious means...I didn't mean of course corporate backstabbing, I'm sorry. I meant more like you know, black magic or hoodoo."
- "Going on romantic trip with hubster. Three exclamation points. I guess she got excited."
- "I got this thing about fish. Dead eyes man."
- "That's the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me."
I also love that this is the workings of the crossroads demon. I actually miss the demons and got nostalgic over their return. I've missed them lately just as sorely as the angels (yeah, don't get me started on Castiel again). They don't have to be on every week, but here and there is okay. This creates the perfect setup for Crowley to arrive to fix this mess so he can tell the Winchesters about the Leviathan big boss. He wants Sam and Dean to succeed, so that's why the demons have been called off. He also is trying to restore the basics back to Hell. When a deal is made, they keep them. Crowley needs to make some deals with smart people fast. Even he got in a good zinger. "This isn't wall street. This is Hell. We have a little something called integrity."
I did have one big LOL moment. The exploding wedding cake and the bride and groom crashing down in front of the credits. Visually, just perfect. That's my weird sense of humor kicking in though.
For those of us taking a dip into the shallow end of the pool (along with me I assure), I did promise these photos for you. It's okay to love them.
Did I mention the highlight though was Dean's reactions? Let's just enjoy a montage, shall we?
Sam's Sudden Independence Streak
So what's up with Sam all of a sudden wanting to take off all the time? He spent ten days or so away from Dean before they met up in New York, and now during their annual trip to Vegas (again, why we haven't seen the other six?), he goes off on his own camping in the desert. What do you make of this distance he's trying to put between him and Dean? His speech to Dean while under the potion, declaring that he doesn't need Dean anymore, really hurts because he means it.
How does he mean it? You know the history of this show. Potions, spells, curses, etc, always trigger the deep down "I would never tell him that, but it's the honest truth," statements. Remember the siren spell in "Sex and Violence?" The delivery was very harsh, but the statement said was true. Ditto to Dean spilling his true feelings in "You Can't Handle The Truth." Sam's actions lately certainly support those words, and he reinforces that by saying essentially the same thing at the end (in a much better way though).
Poor Dean, he's just been waiting for Sam's next big crack up instead of focusing on himself. Sam's well adjusted nature, even though he's suffering from hallucinations and traumatic memories of being tortured in Hell, is perplexing Dean. He can't understand how Sam doesn't need him. So why is Dean so worried at the end? Is it that he cannot live with himself? Is it that he's going to have to face internal demons that might make him more cuckoo than his brother? Or is there something else entirely going on that we and Sam don't know about?
A Love/Hate Letter?
Even though I enjoyed "Time For A Wedding," it wasn't until the rewatch that something hit me. There was this uncomfortable feeling that I chose to ignore in the first viewing because I was determined to be positive. After being given time to think about it, plus reading some comments here, I do see an issue.
It all ties back to "The Real Ghostbusters." I remember going into that episode with massive skepticism. How in the world was the sometimes crazy world of Supernatural fandom going to come out favorably? It really did. Yeah, the fans at the convention were over the top and taking the story a bit too seriously, not to mention making Sam and Dean very freaked out, but they were vindicated in the end. Fans truly are okay and can be heroes too. The whole experience even made Dean smile. It made me smile too. That episode to this day remains a favorite of mine. It was Eric Kripke's love letter to the fandom.
In this meta episode, I'm left to wonder if the intended message this time is that fans are truly a bunch of whack jobs. That's probably not the intent, but it does leave me to wonder, when you trod on fan behavior territory, what does that say when the previously vindicated fan takes one of the beloved main characters, drugs him, tricks him into marriage, then holds him hostage in a rather humiliating way when the plan goes south? Is it only sophomoric humor or some projecting on a fandom that's been a little harsh over the last few seasons?
Then this self confessed loser admits that her only social acceptance came on the fan message boards. "They were grumpy and overly literal, but at least we shared a common passion." That's not exactly Demian and Barnes reacting to Dean's hilarious rant about Sam and Dean's feelings by saying, "They're fictional characters." I kind of feel a bit useless now (but I'll get over it!). I was really mortified for Sam when Becky tells him, "You had that whole character arc about being a freak. I can relate." That's confusing fiction with reality. That's crossing a meta line.
I don't know, it's just ever since Eric Kripke walked away as showrunner, a lot of the sentimentality went with him. The heart, the fun, the smart and sharp stories that allowed us to laugh at ourselves once in a while. When Becky was manhandling a helpless, bound and gagged Sam, I wasn't laughing. I wasn't outraged either, and I accepted the moment as being light (plus what fan girl doesn't want to see a tied up Winchester), but I can't imagine any fan wanting to do that. It tore Becky apart from the rest of us. The meta fan is no longer relatable. It ruined the previous love letters to this "tempestuous" fandom (Kripke's words) that was started so brilliantly with "The Monster At The End of This Book."
Granted it's extremely possible writers Dabb and Loflin were trying to recreate a Wedding Crashers "tied-up-in-the-bedroom" scene of their own, but that movie didn't exactly trod on fan meta. Plus it was way funnier in Wedding Crashers.
Sure, Becky does do the right thing and get a small amount of vindication in the end, but considering it's a mess she created, it's hardly ordinary heroes like "The Real Ghostbusters." There's no sentimental speech at the end either as to what Supernatural means in our lives. Just a desperate, sad, lonely fan who gets to carry on in life as a desperate, sad, lonely fan. Couple that with an ambiguous ending that foreshadowed more strife to come, and my superfan meta warm fuzzies quickly dissipated into the wind.
I kind of laugh, because I'm sure by saying this I'm taking myself (and the fandom in general) way too seriously. I do wonder though if the writers, and Sera Gamble in general, have killed our joy because maybe over the last few seasons we've killed theirs. That's actually petty for me to say and I'm not sure I believe it, but you do have to wonder given the differences in outcome between Kripke meta and post Kripke meta. What we got here was the anti-Kripke.
Yeah, I'm probably taking things way too seriously.
Overall, I give "Season 7, Time For A Wedding" a C+. I do give it credit though for coming along at a time when we needed something lighter. I'm putting it in the "it didn't suck" category. As for next week's episode, don't let the promos fool you. They make it look like an intense MOTW backwoods hunt. I'm sure there is that stuff, but director Guy Bee has confirmed to me both on twitter and in person that this episode is hilarious. It's classic Edlund. I can't wait.
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