“Supernatural has everything. Life, death, resurrection, redemption. But above all? Family….It isn’t some piece of meandering genre dreck. It’s epic.” Calliope said it best, y’all. I was at The Salute to Supernatural Burbank Convention the week that the 200th episode aired, so I wasn’t able to recap it, necessitating another viewing (I know, I know—my job is so hard. Case in point? I attended the Salute to Supernatural Vancouver Convention when this episode was being filmed, and I got to see the setting and the boys in action. You can hate me. I’ll understand.) The 200th episode of our beloved show had to be something memorable, and that it certainly was. I know I cringed when I heard the concept of a musical piece, and I feared having to only hear it, blushing behind my covered eyes. Instead? I found myself a little bit enchanted by the whole thing. I was told that it would be a “love letter to the fans”, and, though I know the episode wasn’t everyone’s favorite, I think the majority of us found it to be just that. Since the plot isn’t really the point of the whole thing, no recap, per se. Let’s just get into the greatness.
1. “Created by Eric Kripke”
Eric Kripke. The closest thing this fandom has to a god. There is no way that the episode could not have paid tribute to him, but how could it be made organic? With this simple title card, accompanied by the clacking of keys, to remind us of what he started, and the strong writing it took to invest us 200 episodes ago. The subsequent showing of title cards from all the seasons (even the adorable one from the play that apparently needed more jazz hands) made me smile, but this? This was the charm.
2. Baby Be Good
Baby has never looked better than she does in the 200th. Seriously, when Dean is working on her during the opening credits it’s so pretty you could eat off of it. Or maybe I’m just talking about Dean’s bicep.
(Thank you, wardrobe, for the spectacular gift of Dean in a single layer without sleeves. Swoon.) Even the cardboard Baby in the play looks pretty great, and, just like she is on the show, she is a major character. It’s where the boys have their “BM” moments. You know, where they sh…are their feelings whilst perched on Baby’s hood or while side-by-side on her seat. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I adore many of the non-Winchestery characters on this show, and I cannot imagine it without them. But the three things I think the show absolutely needs to go on? Sam, Dean, and the Impala. She’s just that important. (Writer’s note: thanks for playing Gordon Lightfoot, music team. Many of my people in past generations hail from Quebec, so Lightfoot’s something of a legend to me. Nice nod to all things Canada.)
4. “We got work to do.”
Damn, I love it when the boys say this line. From the very first episode, this has been the plotline of every one—the Winchesters doing the work they are destined to do, and the responsibility they have to, quite literally sometimes, save the world. The line has been featured a few times now, from Sam saying it in the Pilot and Season Nine’s premiere to Dean saying it in Season Two’s “All Hell Breaks Loose: Part 2” (an episode that features in my top ten ever). Hearkening back to the pilot was a nod to the show’s rich history and quite simply? I loved it.
4. The Samulet
One of the most satisfying ways this episode paid tribute to its fans was in the prominence of our beloved Samulet. I’m sure I speak for most of us when I say that it is one of—if not the—most important props the show has ever had. We all choked up when we learned of its origins in Season Three’s “A Very Supernatural Christmas” (again, one of my favorite episodes, it must be said), and our hearts all broke when Sam watched Dean throw it away in Season Five’s “Dark Side of the Moon” (another favorite of mine, and, I’m sure, yours too, even if it broke us emotionally.) From the mention of She-Dean not wearing it anymore because it was always smacking her in the mouth (indeed, what really happened to Jensen Ackles in real life—he even chipped a tooth on it) to Dean hanging its replica on Baby’s rearview mirror as she drives off into the sunset, the Samulet is treated with the reverence it deserves. Dean may say that it never worked anyway—that he never needed a symbol to remember how important Sam is to him—and I’m sure he thinks that’s true. But we needed it acknowledged, even if it was just a pretend one carved out of wood. True, I hoped that once he saw its imitation, Sam would fish the real thing out of his pocket and hand it to Dean with a teary smile. But if I can’t have that? At least writer Robbie Thompson let me know it is gone, but in no way forgotten.
5. The Home of the Maeve
Okay—this one a personal thing. I. Love. Maeve. Joy Regullano is hilarious. When Sam asks about Maeve hearing weird noises, Regullano deadpans, “You mean something like this? Or perhaps this? How about this?” sliding the sound effects on and off with a blank face while Sam blushes in chagrin. I tweeted a compliment to Regullano, telling her she was channeling Aubrey Plaza in her delivery, and she said that that type of wry disdain was exactly what she was going for. Bravo. It certainly worked.
Later, when Sam and Dean admit they are real, Regullano also gets to deliver one of my favorite lines in the episode when she says, “You guys are way too old to be Sam or Dean. Rufus-Bobby combo? Maybe.” Oh, Rufus and Bobby. I miss you so hard.
6. Sing…Sing a Song
I am sure that writer Robbie Thompson and show composers Jay Gruska, Tim Pierce and Christopher Lennertz had a ball writing songs for the musical, and damned if “The Road So Far” wasn’t stuck-in-your head catchy (even Dean got caught bobbing his head to its rhythm.) Dean insists there is no singing in Supernatural, but come on—we know that’s not true. The soundtrack of this series is so important to setting its tone, and this episode was no different.
My second favorite song after “The Road So Far” was “I’ll Just Wait Here, Then,”sung by She-Cas under a streetlight, reminding us of the incredible episode “The End” from Season Five (man, they really chose great episodes to tip the hat to, didn’t they?) “I’ll just wait here then,” she sings, in an absolutely angelic voice, “I’ll wait for you.” And isn’t that, essentially, what Cas has always done? Later, Marie sings “A Single Man Tear” while people chant the demon exorcism in the background. “I wish that he could see the way I see him,” she sings, “The perfect brother. A man without sin.” It’s a lovely performance, don’t get me wrong, but I wish it had been “One Perfect Tear,” instead. The OPT is oft mentioned in the fandom as a Jensen Ackles’ masterwork, and though I’ve read that “A Single Man Tear” is a nod to a writer’s reference I sincerely would have loved OPT much more.
The closing number is “a classic”—a choir style version of “Carry On, Wayward Son” sung initially by the Winchester Family characters before being joined by the full cast.
The gentle delivery really showcases the song’s beautiful lyrics, and makes me wonder if the shining eyes the boys have as they watch the performance are acting or Ackles and Padalecki feeling the same emotion we feel as fans every time we hear its strains.
The throat closing emotion of it all is interrupted by a passionate point of fandom when someone joins the Winchester family, dressed as a teenaged looking boy in a hoodie. “Who’s that?” Sam asks. “That’s Adam. John Winchester’s other kid,” Maeve says. “He’s still trapped in the cage. In hell. With Lucifer.” THANK YOU! Someone had to remember that! The boys even have the decency to look slightly guilty—before Adam is forgotten once more.
7. Gotta give ‘em props…and sets…and costumes…
I absolutely loved the theatrical interpretation of some of Supernatural’s most iconic moments. From the Yellow Eyed Demon with baby Sam…
(Even Sam was scared!)
To how they portrayed Mary Winchester’s fiery death…
To the genius idea of how to cast out demons…
To the thorough inclusion of intricate yet still homemade looking props on the table…
I found the whole thing charming. Seeing a sign for Harvelle’s, for example, or a crossroads labeled “Sioux Falls” and “Lawrence” all brought up so many memories, as this episode was meant to do. I’m sure there are things that even I missed that I will see on subsequent viewings, which is one of the best parts of a re-watch. This love letter was very well illustrated, and that made it that much more delightful.
8. “Shouldn’t it be Dea-Stiel?”
If “Fan Fiction” is a love letter to the fans, then it had to acknowledge one of its most controversial aspects: shipping. According to Marie? It’s all about what’s going on between the lines, which prompts the following discussion when Dean observes his actor counterpart a little too close to She-Sam.
Dean: What are they doing?
Marie: Oh, uh they’re rehearsing the “BM” scene.
Dean: The bowel movement scene?
Marie: No, the boy melodrama scene. You know— the scene where the boys get together and they’re driving or leaning against Baby, drinking a beer, sharing their feelings. The two of them alone, but together. Bonded. United. The power of their pain is…
Dean: Why are they standing so close together?
Dean: You know they’re brothers, right?
Marie: Well, duh. But subtext.
Dean: Why don’t you take a sub-step back ladies!
Later, Dean sees the girls who play Dean and Cas hugging in real life, and wonders if it is part of the show. It turns out? Yes and no. The actors are a couple in real life, “Although,” Marie admits, “We do explore the nature of Destiel in Act 2.” Dean is perplexed. “It’s just subtext,” she explains again. “But then again, you can’t spell subtext without S – E – X.” This makes Jensen Ackles break the fourth wall, and give the camera quite the look, which you can interpret as you like.
Listen, no one needs my thoughts on shipping and what it means for fans, and I cannot claim to be an authority on how the writers, actors and directors think of it. The only SPN ship I ever sailed is Megstiel (moment of silence, please, for my favorite lost demon.) That said, I took this away from the episode: the writers write the show the way they see fit, and that’s canon. And then? Then what we do with it is ours, and up to us. When a character is strong and actors have true chemistry, it inspires a lot of “what-ifs,” and shipping is a natural extension of that. I know everyone involved with the show is deeply amazed by how passionate the fans are, and are happy that the show inspires them to be creative. What better honor can one pay to a piece of art than that? And speaking of inspiring creativity…
9. Transformative Fiction…More Than Meets The Eye
Canon. Just how important is it? Both sides are represented well in this episode, from Dean telling Marie what really happened in the “unpublished unpublished works” to Marie telling Dean passionately why she wrote her own interpretation. With spaceships. And robots. And ninjas. And Dean briefly becoming a woman.
When Marie realizes that the muse Calliope is going to kill her once the play has shown, she calls it dumb. Dean tells her it isn’t in a fairly convincing pep talk, letting her know that even though he doesn’t believe in her version, “Like, at all,” she does, and that, in the end, will save her. And when all is said and done, Dean and Marie have the final word.
Dean: “This has been educational, seeing the story from your perspective. You keep writing, Shakespeare.”
Marie: “Even if it doesn’t match how you see it?”
Dean: “I have my version and you have yours.”
Some felt this episode was disdainful of fans’ beliefs about the show—what is canon and what is not and what deserves to be. If anything, I saw that exchange as a respectful acknowledgment. Through our passion, we make this show our own. Our versions, shippy or not, can exist side by side, because in the end? Fans take from the show what they need to. I know I have.
Of course, when it comes to the brothers, the heart and foundation of the show, even the Winchesters and Marie are in agreement. During yet another “BM” (I prefer the term Broment, actually. Less fecal sounding…) we see the two worlds come together.
Marie, as “Sam”: “We need to get back on the road, Dean. Doing what we do best.”
Siobhan as “Dean”: “You’re right, Sammy. Out on the road. Just the two of us.”
Marie: “The two of us against the world.”
Sam, to Dean: “What she said.”
See? Some things are universal.
10. Vatican Cameo
(Bonus points from me if you know that reference. If not? Get thee to Netflix. Stat.)
Baby drives off into the sunset after Dean hangs the Samulet on the rearview. Surely that’s the end, right? But wait. Maeve sees that someone has claimed “the publisher’s” ticket, and that someone showed up. Marie freaks. Did Calliope come for her or for… Maeve interrupts with “Who cares? Go, fangirl!” Marie runs up, thanking someone for attending, acknowledging the play’s shortcomings and asking what they thought. And the camera pans over and the shouts/squees/swoons were heard and felt across the fandom land, because the “publisher” is CHUCK! What an utter thrill to see Chuck, and his portrayer Rob Benedict, again. As many in our fandom know, Rob suffered a stroke on the convention circuit about a year ago, leaving him with a lengthy recovery. How wonderful to see him back and better than ever, acknowledging Marie’s efforts with a simple “Not bad,” and a gorgeous smile. Eric Kripke has said that Chuck is God, and I hope that’s true for two reasons. One, it means that Chuck will always pretty much always be around because, despite Death’s assurance that he will reap him one day, God is fairly eternal. And two? Because it means God is still alive in the Winchesterverse, and I’d like to think that maybe, just maybe, he could be there for the boys someday when they need him the most.
The way the number 200 is featured throughout the episode
Dean (and Ackles’ actual) flub of “Andrew Floyd Webber”
The incorporation of Idjit and Assbut, important words in the SPN lexicon
Ackles’ delivery of “I’m gonna throw up” which reminded me of S7’s “…Time for a Wedding”
The way Sam continually finds the play charming, and Dean’s alternate reaction to it
Sam puzzling out ships. “What about Sastiel? Or Samstiel?” “Casdean?”
The X-Files references
“You wanna piñata this asshat?” being very “Dean”
Dean wanting Sam to say “It’s not a tulpa” in a Schwarzenegger voice
Marie being a Sam Girl (I feel ya, sister)
The mention of the incredible show Orphan Black
Katie Sarife’s perfect line delivery of, “Writer. Director. Actor. I’m gonna Barbra Striesand this bitch.”
Crowley, Jo, Ash and Jody in the main cast
“Did he just quote Rent?” “Not enough to get us into trouble.”
Marie hates the meta-stories. The boys, in unison, “Me too.”
The cast cheer of “Ghoooooooo….stfacers!”
The mention of “free will” in The Road So Far (go team!)
Sam almost killing a faux-Djinn
Calliope saying a fangirl favorite. “I can’t even.”
“I raised you from perdition…to be God’s ammunition.”
“Start the Wendigo set, prep the priest costumes….”
Sam’s slo-mo throw against the wall
“No chick flick moments!”
The audience, covered in purple goo
Dean saying, “Take a bow, Sammy,” and bowing a little himself
Marie calling Dean a jerk and him responding, naturally, with “Bitch.” Before realizing he has just said it to an underage girl.
“You know, if you cut your hair a little? You’d make a pretty good Dean.”
The look Sam gives Dean when he hangs up the Samulet
So tell me, what were your favorite parts? What did I miss? Did you catch an easter egg that I didn’t notice? I look forward to reading your answers in the comments. Coming soon? Our interviews with no less than six Supernatural cast members, including MarkSheppard and Misha Collins! See you soon. Happy Holidays.