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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?


# Mallena 2016-01-03 20:30
I think I'm in the minority, I liked Bela. Lauren Cohan probably should have used her American accent, the British one was a little too much. She was so sad at the end, crying as the hellhounds were coming for her. Without her we wouldn't have had that awesome Sam happy dream. That was so funny when he woke up and she was there. Priceless. I also liked Genevieve's Ruby. She played Sam so perfectly, and did what she had to do to get the evil plot moving forward. Katie Cassidy' s Ruby was too snarky, she worked well with Dean, but not Sam. I don't like it when they kill off characters, but I can see the drama created, and try to just enjoy it. Really miss Bobby and Ellen, wasn't a Jo fan, still see her as a little sister. Supernatural is a tapestry, and no one is gone forever as long as my Blurays hold out.
# LEAH 2016-01-03 21:10
Hi Mallena. Lauren was born in the US but moved to England when she was young. She spent more time there than the US, she was educated there, went to college there. Her British accent is genuine. I felt sorry for Bela because of her childhood but I lost any sympathy when she tried to murder Sam and Dean in their beds.
# JJA 2016-01-03 22:46
I think Bella was a good idea that was mishandled.

They should have used her the same way they did Meg--for example, two episodes in season 3, one episode in season 4, no episodes in season 5, two episodes in season 6 and finally killed-off in season 7. Had they used her sporadicly, we ALL would have loved her.

That being said, I think resurrecting Bella would be great. We didn't actually see her die, so she may still be alive. After so much time has passed, I think it would be great to see her again.
# cheryl42 2016-01-03 23:00
I think I read that EK said that having her shoot Sam in her first episode was a big mistake. The fans really didn't like that. Plus she was always outsmarting the guys. That might have been a mistake too. I didn't mind her too much but she really didn't have much of a point to the overall story.
# JJA 2016-01-04 15:32
I'm shocked by the fact fans didn't like her shooting Sam. Why? She's a villain. That's what villains do!! What next? Fans won't like Lucifer trying to take over Sam's body? Fans won't like how Crawley kicked Sam's ass in "Dark Dynasty"? Villains do bad things to heroes (including outsmart them)! That's the point of having villains!

What I didn't like about Bela was the "sexual tension" between her and the boys, especially that erotic dream Sam had of her in the episode "Dream A Little Dream Of Me," which was otherwise a great episode.

I also didn't like how Bella outsmarted Gordon Walker in the episode "Warm Blood." If I were writing that episode, I would have had Bella attempt to outsmart Gordon, but in the subsequent scene we see her bound in some basement trying to chew herself out. The flippant way she phoned the boys during that episode was also really annoying.

If you ask me, there were only THREE times where Bella was handled well: her first appearance (Bad Day at Black Rock), her last appearance (Time is on My Side) and the episode "Dream A Little Dream of Me" (save for the erotic dream, which should have been edited out). All her other appearances were annoying and unnecessary.

Of course, given the many years that have passed, I wouldn't mind seeing her return to Supernatural.
# cheryl42 2016-01-04 17:06
I don't think she was supposed to be a villain. I think she was supposed to be a foil for the boys and a potential romantic interest for Dean, but mostly a friendly foe(kind of the role Crowley ended up with). But shooting Sam lost any affection from many fans for her character (how could Dean let that go!). I don't think she was ever supposed to be an evil character but when the decision was made to end her role they went the demon deal route (plus I think they wanted to get rid of the Colt).

She didn't really outsmart Gordon in Fresh Blood she gave him what he wanted. Which was Sam Winchester. That was kind of my point. For Dean's supposed love for Sam he tolerated Bela a little too much. I don't think the fans liked her very much.
# JJA 2016-01-04 23:41
Well, maybe the real problem with Bella was (as you elude to) that the writers could NOT decide what to make her. Was she a villain? Was she a love interest? Was she a foe? DECIDE ALREADY!!

I don't think shooting Sam was the real issue. The issue was that after shooting Sam, she should have been 100% a villain. The idea that she and the boys could team-up for her next episode was preposterous. If they wanted Bella as a "foil," there should have been some sort of redemptive arch after "Bad Day at Black Rock."
# cheryl42 2016-01-04 23:53
That was the writers strike shortened season. Maybe they didn't have enough time to develop her character. I think somewhere on this site there was a thread about the women of SPN back in the day. There were multiple reasons why she didn't work. I just remember the one mentioned by EK was shooting Sam. She lost the sympathy of the fans right in her first episode. Plus I know that it was annoying that she made the guys look "dumb".
# BoGirle 2016-01-05 06:58
It was also my understanding that EK was somewhat strongarmed into having her as a character in the first place (both her and Katie Cassidy were 'suggestions' of the brass, as was the road house). Maybe she didn't work especially well because EK never wanted her as a character in the first place.
# spnlit 2016-01-05 16:59
One of the knowledgeable writers on this site who may have interviewed Ek back in the day could correct me, but I think you are right E. The brass wanted a strong female on the show and Bella was part of the response. I was not reading websites back then when these eps aired but the complaints about Bella reverberated into the present. There were many reasons why Bella was not popular as pointed out. Some fans did not like her for being attractive and causing sexual tension, others could not tolerate her for shooting Sam, and others got pissed off because she always seemed to have the upper hand with the boys made them look rather stupid at times. I think another real problem with Bella was that she was the only HUMAN that was messing with the boys and causing them problems and grief for no particular reason other than she was selfish and greedy. ( I know Gordon was human too but he was a hunter on a misguided mission his jaded mind allowed him to pursue.) It was bad enough that the brothers had to deal with all the crap coming their way with monsters, demons, ghosts, AND Dean's impending death by hellhound , but here was some cocky English Chick piling it on for no good reason. We want Sam and Dean to catch a break or at least a breath before the next round of mayhem. At the end, I felt a tad sorry for her because of the reason she made the deal (sexual abuse) but she did not live her life well. Bella's death, foreshadowing Dean's demise just filled me with dread for poor Dean. I never thought they would allow him to be ripped to shreds but they did.
# JJA 2016-01-06 13:12
Yes, I read this too. Bella was originally intended for just that one episode. Then, the CW network (then under the leadership of Dawn Ostroff) requested that Supernatural add a SECOND female co-star to the show, thus Bella was elevated to regular. Note: it seems that Ruby was always intended to be a regular.
# cheryl42 2016-01-06 23:55
# LEAH 2016-01-07 00:12

(See our article with the video embedded:
# Alice 2016-01-07 09:46
Thanks guys for your excitement, but can you share your congratulations and excitement on the article we have for this? We have embedded the video there. For the record, usually big news like this does make the site usually. If you want to share links before an article is up, I highly recommend doing that on the Discussion pages. Thanks!