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Supernatural – Season 10 Episode 18 – The Gripe Review

Hello everyone and welcome to the home stretch of SPN season 10.

This episode brought forth the full spirit of this season, the show's dedication to its barnaclite guest stars, by giving us Metatron, Charlie, and Rowena. Also my absolute non-favorite writer Robbie Thompson was in charge of writing it.

Let’s start with Thompson. Every episode that bears his name convinces me more that at some point during the summer hiatus the actual man was kidnapped by a crazy fangirl (Becky, likely) and hogtied in a basement as she took over his job and is now writing his scripts. I have no other explanation for a staff writer producing work that is almost identical to stories you'd find on Livejournal accounts written by fans who have wet dreams about being a part of the SPN universe.

If you are at all familiar with fanfiction, you might recognize the trope favored by many amateur writers who, despite being utterly incapable of producing a story, still want to write. The trick they use is to repeat everything that happened on the show whilst inserting their OC in every scene and letting her take over the plot anywhere possible. For example if on the show, Sam steals an ancient book from a convent, brings it to Dean, and they argue whether or not to use it, after which Dean storms out of the room, in the fanfiction it's the OC who steals the book, does all the cool stunts and becomes the target of the bad guys. No explanation is given for how she can fight multiple hitmen, or break into high security vaults, or know anything about ancient text. The OC - let's call her Destiny Viollette WyldFyre (or Charlie) - doesn't have a background that supports any of her exceptional skills. In fact we know nothing about her past other than a tragic incident that, despite causing a lot of grief and flashbacks, has not hindered her becoming a super genius, ninja, tomb raider, field surgeon with knowledge of anthropology and psychotherapy.

In the part where Sam and Dean have their argument everything happens exactly like on the show, except Destiny Viollette WyldFyre is right there with them to listen and emote. Once one of them storms out of the room she slips into therapist/wise woman mode and dispenses pearls of wisdom to the other to set him straight.

If at the end of the episode Castiel reunites with the brothers and Team Free Will has a rare moment of happily eating take out, in the fanfic you get Team Free Will plus the OC, and the writer makes sure the guys acknowledge and appreciate her presence every moment of the scene so we remember who she is.

There was a real episode somewhere in an alternate universe this week, one in which Sam found the book and he and Dean alone, or with Castiel, faced the troubles that came after it. In this universe however Robbie Thompson, or the fangirl who kidnapped him, replaced that script with a fanfiction piece in which the author-avatar Charlie did all those things and everyone else played her cheerleader. Then Carver and his crew filmed it and gave it to us as an episode of Supernatural. This makes for an excellent meta idea for an episode like The French Mistake. Becky could guest star and be more relevant and less annoying than any of the folks who showed up this week.

Now the gripes:

#1 Why show the talk and tell the action?

This episode had two stories running parallel, involving two MacGuffins: the Book of the Damned, and Castiel's grace. Both items were acquired, yet the plot strangely didn't revolve around the acquisition so much as the jibber jabber that came before or after it. We didn't see how the book was stolen. We only heard about it in a phone conversation between Charlie and the boys. Castiel's hunt for his grace, though shown on screen, was also front loaded with foot dragging and much b--sh-- dialogue. The actual part where Cas found his grace was as exciting as two guys playing scavenger hunt in a library with no obstacles and no action, just boring clues to solve.

If you want to make an episode about nabbing a highly sought after book, here's a crazy idea: Why not actually show the nabbing? Why skip the job and show the jabber? What do we care how the boys and Destiny Viollette Wyldfyre deciphered the book? Is a genie going to jump out of it once it's done? Because that’s the only way this would be interesting. Or is the tension intentionally kept low because they assume everyone watching the show at this point is so old they may suffer from a heart condition if faced with too much stress?

As for Castiel's grace finding b-plot, I repeat, he finds it in a library, a place which I'm sure scores very low on the Exciting Locale scale. The only obstacle he faces is Metatron's douchebaggery, which he could have easily avoided had he used his brain more.

#2 What is the point of this sequence (and the one after it?)

Speaking of useless jibber jabber ,can someone tell me why we had to sit through Metatron eating grossly at a diner? What is the purpose of this scene? Is it to show how much Metatron enjoys being human? If yes, then what is the point of that? We've been through this with both Castiel and Crowley, including the unfunny potty humor. Do we have to watch every supernatural being express their awe over human bodily functions when it almost never plays a significant role in the main plot?

#3 Why is Metatron out of character?

Metatron's fascination with human psycho/physiology was not only pointless, it was also out of character and annoying. I couldn't stand him yapping about radio music in the car as he was driving around with Castiel. The name dropping of songs really irked me, as it would anyone who is unfamiliar with those names. Was his rant on non-mainstream pop, like his lactose intolerance induced diarrhea at the diner, supposed to be funny? Am I supposed to laugh when in reality I want to punch him in the face for sounding like this oaf coworker I have who always expects you to laugh at his lame, inside jokes?

Of a different note, why would Metatron save Castiel's life? What was that all about? Was it because he needed a ride to the library and didn't want to hitchhike with someone else? Or was it again a side effect of his "humanity", similar to what keeps happening with Crowley?

The only time Metatron acted in character was when he mocked Castiel for Sam hanging up on him. He was being a douche yet I felt less inclined to beat him up than when he was spewing pop culture references and acting like having his grace torn out of him was the best thing that happened to him since his mom baked him a pie.

#4 Does Heaven have a mythology anymore?

I'm still confused about what's going on in Heaven. I try to ignore it as much as possible, except it keeps coming up on the show. This episode we found out Hannah is in charge, but I don’t know what she is in charge of. Why are rogue cupids with a vendetta against Castiel still roaming the earth? Can angels go back home or not? If yes why is this one down here when he is so unhappy he’s willing to kill for revenge? Why does an angel beat up another angel like an ordinary dude? For that matter why would an angel pass out from a blow to the head like an ordinary dude? Was the cupid missing his grace like Castiel? Was that why he not even remotely looked and acted like a cupid?

Perhaps the real question is why I give a fickle about all this when the writers clearly don't. I have a  suspicion that - like so many other things involving show's past canon - Heaven’s mythology has become a free for all buffet for the writers. You could add to it or subtract from it anything that fits your script as long as you don't expect the next writer to follow in your footsteps and incorporate your changes. Canon could be defined and redefined as many times as needed to suit every writer’s need, and past and presently established mythology shouldn’t get in the way of the lulz.

#5 Why don’t actions follow logic?

If you were Dean Winchester, bearer of the Mark of Cain, and someone held you in a headlock, what would do? Would you slip out of the headlock and kick the guy in his yahoo right away, or would you wait over 2 minutes for the head bad guy to get through his monologue?

The amount of time Dean waits before finishing off this couple of small fries is hilarious. He can easily knock out both of them, as proven later on, yet he stands there in a silly yoga pose for 2 minutes and 20 seconds so the guy could talk about stuff and hold a knife to him. Did he not worry that at some point he might stab him in the gut? Why take that risk? If we assume he did it to get information (which in reality was a long harangue of bragging and Charlie shilling,) why do it while at a disadvantage? Why not incapacitated the guy first, then interrogated him?

I watch the Walking Dead and the zombies on that show have more sensible reactions than the hunters and gangsters on this show.

#6 Why is Charlie so ridiculously overblown?

I didn’t want to talk more about Charlie after I dedicated the intro of the review to her. But it is near impossible to ignore her when she not only steals the spotlight from the main characters every time, but also becomes more absurdly exaggerated.

A poster on the IMDB forums said that in their opinion, Charlie has surpassed the status of a character and ascended into becoming a gimmick, a vehicle for Thompson to enact his wildest dreams regardless of canon, plot, or logic.

She barely started hunting before she was shipped off to Oz. Now we find out she is an international relic hunter who also has enough field experience to stitch a bullet wound with dental floss. She's also familiar with archaic scripts and can tell if something is written in code. And all of that is in addition to her hacking and programming skills, her excellent combat abilities (which allow her to best not one, but two professional hitmen,) and her vast knowledge of everything supernatural now surpassing that of Sam and Dean.

Then we have the scene where she's alone with Sam and he's lamenting his current dilemma with Dean and of course, not to fall short in the angst department, Charlie has to bemoan her own situation as someone trapped in the life of a hunter. Thompson apparently forgets that Charlie chose to pursue hunting while Sam and Dean grew up in that life. Sam even says every time he tries to get away he is pulled right back in. What is Charlie's excuse? If she's so miserable being a hunter what's stopping her from going back to being a hacker, faking a resume and a new identity, and getting a job at Google, or WikiLeaks?

To top it all off we have the scene where she meets Castiel and he acts like he's just met the goddess of light. Castiel and Charlie have never had any interaction before this. They are complete strangers as far as we know. Why would he be excited to meet her instead of their meeting happening like any two persons meeting for the first time? Unless Sam and Dean sung her praise to him so much that he has a poster of her in his room, Thompson's assumption that everyone in the SPN universe knows Charlie, and is either a fan or wary of her, is fanfiction nonsense.

#7 Why would Sam repeat a foolish mistake for the umpteenth time?

At the end of the episode we see Sam negotiating to save Dean with someone off screen. I wonder if anyone had any guesses about the identity of the mystery bargainer besides Rowena. Sam wants to strike a deal with her, much like Dean did with Gadreel and was blamed for it, and Castiel did with Crowley and they both blamed him for it until the oceans ran dry. Sam himself jumped into bed with Ruby in season 5. Now it seems it's his turn again in the rotation.

Not only is this scenario done to death, it hints at a lack of intelligence on Sam’s part. After making the same mistake too many times, even the most brainless, reckless individual would avoid touching this hot stove with bare hands again. Sam wanting to make a deal with Rowena could be out of desperation, but it also brings his mental faculties into question. He can't be so dumb as to not connect past dots together and make the deduction that such plans always backfire spectacularly on all parties involved.

Before I end this review I have to add how disappointed I am that an important story development such as Castiel getting his grace back happened in this episode. It should have been done better. Once I even thought finding his grace would make a nice long or short term story arc for the show. Now it got squandered and lost in all the Charlie hype as just an excuse for her and the boys to party together. They turned the famous threesome into an unwelcome quartet. If that's foreshadowing for things to come in season 11 it will be my sign off from SPN. I said before, the moment they announce Felicia as a regular on the show is the moment I bid adieu to Supernatural.

Shoot me your comments below. This episode once again earned a 0.6 index in the ratings, continuing the low viewership trend the show's been on ever since its writers forgot they were writing for TV and not fanfiction.net. When Supernatural - once the #2 highest rated show on the network - scores lower than the newcomer iZombie, you wish TPTB read the gripe review.