the scourge of the southeast

the line between the world and the much weirder world

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008: Supernatural's Economy of Souls (or: a Rambling Defense of Sera Gamble)
I know Seasons 6 and 7 for Supernatural in particular get a really bad rap, but I think they're brilliant for a variety of reasons. They're messier than the first five (which, upon close scrutiny, are actually pretty messy), but they take that first-five mythology and they make it better (why does that sound like a freakish inversion of the Final Five Cylons? OFF-TRACK)

Now, I came into this late, so I got to watch Season 1-7 straight through in like two weeks of insane main-lining. I'll admit that S6 had me on the ropes. They introduced plot after plot and I was like "there is no way you're going to wrap up these fifteen different things in one big bow, and if you don't do that I'll be sorely disappointed." But! They did. Everything in S6 mattered even if it was kind of "wtf" there until like episode 20 or whatever the hell. But even then, rewatching it, it's all there. All the little clues add up.

So what is it that I like so much about Season 6? Season 6's arc takes the mythological groundwork that was laid under Kripke--the whole demons, angels, various gods, etc. thing--incorporates the creatures directly into the groundwork (the werewolves, vampires, etc.) and then builds straight onto that a system in which every single religion, and urban legend, and myth works perfectly. It introduces an economy of souls--not just the human soul, but all souls (that's why the Purgatory bit is such a huge and important part of the mythos of that season.) The more souls the more power for you and the less for the other gods. This works with "A Very Supernatural Christmas" it works with "Fallen Idols" it works with "Hammer of the Gods"--explicitly stating that framework of "the soul is the power that drives this engine" makes everything about Supernatural's internal mythos stand up better. That's why there are lesser gods still hanging around (and why they have to murder for their tribute to stay even vaguely powerful, since they no longer receive worship), the monsters as creations of a pre-angel pseudo-goddess (which explains why they don't fit neatly into those other mythologies, although most of them are pagan ideas bastardized into villains by Christianity, or otherwise have Christian origins), it just makes everything work.

Sera Gamble gets a lot of unwarranted shit for "ruining" the show. If you haven't noticed--the damn thing is still on the air and it's still fantastic. Season 6 retroactively stopped up some of the gaping holes that Kripke left, and Season 7 deconstructed the entire melodrama framework (and the fandom--good god, did it do a number on the fandom!) and left the characters with more dignity and dimension than they'd ever been allowed before. The whole debacle reminds me of when Marni Nixon was in charge of running Buffy the Vampire Slayer and "THAT BITCH SO RUINED THE SHOW. SHE RUINED IT." But Nixon's seasons are my favorite of the entire series.

So what is it? Aversion to change? Dislike of dark or potentially messy story lines, despite how poignant they are or how well they get wrapped up? Blatant screaming misogyny towards any female who dares think she can handle running the blessed glory of our God Joss/Kripke?

I know what the answer is for Supernatural. I've been in the fandom long enough to figure that one out. And with Jeremy Carver at the helm now and "SEASON GR8!" I think it's painfully obvious (and really weird) that a fandom so full of women hates them so much.

You are fully within your fandom rights to dislike Seasons 6 and 7 for whatever reason you see fit--I mean, I hate Season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a flaming passion and that's largely heralded as the "best one"--but if you spout bullshit I will call bullshit. Gamble didn't ruin anything, and what she actually did do with the show was enhance it, screw around with the pieces to test their limits, and ultimately put it all back together stronger and leaving everyone with a better understanding of how it works. Just how perfectly it worked (as evidenced by every episode of S8 that has freakishly echoed my exact words on multiple occasions.)

I know this was mostly about Season 6--I have another whole defense of Season 7 that I'll probably write when the mood strikes.

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Parts of it are kind of campy, and parts of it make me rage so hard I can barely watch them (SEASON, FUCKING, FIVE), but there's always like that one character to keep me in (SPIKE! and also Giles, but by the end it was 100% Spike--a punk rock emotional vampire). I found the show itself really liberating, tbh. But I think it still holds up really well and, if you're bored and want some ridiculous fun (at first--it turns into "WHEN DID THIS GET SO SERIOUS, OH MY GOD???" later once you're in too deep to back out) I'd definitely recommend it.

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