aurora_novarum: "I hate to tell you, but those were demons, and this is the apocalypse.  BUCKLE UP." (The Apocalypse SPN)
[personal profile] aurora_novarum
I know a few people who are just starting to watch Supernatural (SPN) because of Amanda Tapping’s new recurring role as Naomi. I do not pretend to be a superfan of the show, but I follow it enough I can give some of the gist. And after seeing Naomi’s entrance, I think a bit of a backstory may be helpful.


The comparison to Stargate would be like this—instead of a team of four people that are surrogate family to each other visiting different planets every week meeting and often killing aliens, Supernatural is about two people (sometimes more) that are actual family to each other visiting different towns each week killing and sometimes meeting things that go bump in the night. Also, since it’s filmed in Vancouver, it shares a lot of the same acting pool (Michael Shanks, and I think Teryl Rothery have had guest shots. Peter DeLuise was even a recurring). Anyway, to SPN

Supernatural is first and foremost a show about two brothers, Dean and Sam Winchester. They are “hunters” = basically think Buffy the vampire slayer, but covering everything from demons and windigos to werewolves and vampires. Unlike Buffy, Sam and Dean are perfectly human—well mostly. There actually has been some specialness revealed about each of them over the years depending on plot arcs, but it’s like Sam’s Tok’ra leftovers or Daniel’s formal ascendedness—if it’s helpful to the plot, it’s relevant.

Hunters are part of an underground network of regular people who are wise to the monsters out there, and usually it’s kind of a family business. Hunters often play fast and loose with regular laws—they have several fake ids, including impersonating federal agents (Sam and Dean often pretend to be FBI). This has caused them issues in seasons past, but does not seem to currently have them on most wanted lists. Sam and Dean do have a special dagger?, athame? big ass knife that helps killing some supernatural bugaboos, but otherwise, they themselves just regular joes. But because of their former specialness and several seasons of monster hunting, they do have a reputation with both other hunters and the baddies at this point.

The show does a good job at balancing the serious, suspenseful, and the absurd, and have no problems in poking fun at themselves or even breaking the fourth wall. They’ve had Wormhole X-Treme type episodes. To be honest, that’s what attracted me to the show in the first place.

The Players:

Dean Winchester: Older brother (but physically shorter) of the pair. He likes greasy food and hot women, not necessarily in that order. And while pretty much all of the characters have been dead or mostly dead at one time or another, Dean seems to have a bit of an edge in that regard, so think of him as the Daniel Jackson of the group. He suffers from a lot of angst and guilt about a lot of things (actually they both do, it’s kind of the brothers’ thing). Dean is very focused on being a hunter as his career and purpose in life, and has a very protective streak about his baby brother. Also, while there are a lot of very strong pairings in this show—express canon, implied canon, or fanon, Dean really has one undisputed OTP, his (formerly Dad’s) car the Impala.

Sam Winchester: Younger brother of Dean. Sam is the more intellectual of the group—but don’t think Sam Carter—like science dweeb. While both the brothers websurf/investigate, Sam originally was more the researcher of the duo. Sam has never been as “into” the hunting family business. He quit and went to college (before his fiancée got killed by a demon), and threatens to quit as soon as whatever relevant plot arcy villain of the season is vanquished, but he always gets drawn back in. Sam gets very frustrated with Dean’s protective/controlling nature at the time, but do not get between him and his brother. And you know, thinking about Sam’s luck with love, he may be the Sam Carter of the group. (then again, so could Dean).

The Impala: This is the car the brothers drive around the country. It is not a talking car like Kitt, or some sentient entity like Stephen King’s Christine, but make no mistake, the car has its own presence, mostly because it’s been the constant home of the brothers in their nomadic life since their childhood. It’s doctored up with weaponry stored inside and has symbols painted in the trunk and stuff to protect it from baddies. It’s been damaged and/or destroyed so much it probably vies with Dean as the Daniel Jackson of the show, but it’s definitely got a presence. The Impala is kind of mascot/pet/home for the nomadic brothers.

Bobby: Actually Bobby was killed off the show last season, but Bobby still casts a big shadow (er, metaphorically speaking, this time). He was the boys’ surrogate father figure for much of their lives (their real father—well it was a complicated relationship, suffice to say both boys have daddy issues—real dad’s dead too, although that probably didn’t prevent guest appearances as much as the fact dad’s actor is now Oscar nominated movie guy with crazy schedule). Anyway, Bobby was kind of…well an Obi-Wan Kenobi kind of role, if Obi Wan was a red necked drunk. Both Sam and Dean are still grieving from Bobby being gone, especially since they had to kill his ghost at the end of last season.

Garth: Garth is the new “Bobby” this season. He’s played by the actor who was the deputy on Memphis Beat, and Sheldon’s fictional drug addict cousin on that one episode of Big Bang Theory. He’s young and newer at this deal than Sam and Dean, but is a go-to central resource guy for hunters.

Castiel: Castiel is an archangel originally sent to observe Dean and Sam for a previous plot arc, but now is a recurring ally and friend (most of the time). Castiel often has a limited and literal understanding of human beings so he’s both “babe in the woods” with things, and also allpowerful badass. [Castiel is actually my favorite character on the show.] I’ll get into a bit more with him later because I think his arc may be kind of relevant to Amanda Tapping’s.

Crowley: Crowley is a demon, played by Mark A. Sheppard, aka Canton Everett Delaware III of Doctor Who, that lawyer dude of Battlestar Galactica, Sterling of Leverage, Warehouse 13’s…look he’s that character actor that’s been on practically everything sci-fi related and then some in the past five years or more (how he missed Stargate I’m not sure). And Sheppard’s character is basically like Sterling and a lot of his other roles, snarky guy in suit who is an unapologetic weasel and awesome at being so. He has been a middle level baddie for a few years, but he seems to be the big bad of this season.

Kevin Tran: Kevin is a “prophet”, someone who can read the word of God. He’s just shown up last season and is still uncomfortable with this prophet role. He’s learning fast though as the baddies either want to kill him and/or use him. He’s been recurring this season and has a big role in the ep where Amanda Tapping first appeared.

You may notice the characters listed are all male. SPN has kind of a rough reputation when it comes to its female characters. There have been recurring female characters (the actors playing the brothers have married a couple of them in real life—another similarity to Stargate), but none have stuck too long, and often they meet horrible ends. That’s been one of the biggest complaints about the show by some fans. Although to be fair, pretty much EVERY character on SPN meets a horrible end—including Sam and Dean Winchester—they just keep bringing the boys back because, Iike I said, show about brothers.

The Current Arc: Angels and Demons

Like I mentioned, Supernatural is basically a monster hunting show. There have been (and still are) episodic monster of the week shows, but there have always been character arcs, and the last few seasons have been more arc focused for the baddies as well. This season is more angels/demons related, so I’ll discuss SPN’s take on the mythology here:

We basically see theology/mythology from the angels and demons perspective. God has been a bit more hands-off in SPN land, even with his/her/its angels—God’s actually a bit like the Ancients. Noninterference policy, but scattering junk all over the planet—in this case it’s tablets that only a “prophet” can read that gives instruction manuals to whoever (see Kevin Tran above). After God left the manuals, he disappeared. Except in very rare instances, even the angels haven’t seen him around in forever. This has caused angels to kind of follow a regimented status quo of stiff necked assholeness of following what they think destiny is supposed to be, leading to the Apocalypse of archangels Michael and Lucifer meeting on Earth.

To interact with people, angels and demons have to possess a person. For demons, any body will do; for angels (including fallen ones like Lucifer), it has to be consented to. For complicated reasons, Sam was destined to be Lucifer’s avatar, and Dean was to be Michael’s. Apocalypse got thwarted by Sam and Dean--with Bobby & Castiel’s help, although they died (temporarily) during it--a couple seasons ago. Suffice to say Lucifer and Michael ended up in Limbo.

After this Apocalypse didn’t happen, everyone kind of wondered what would/should happen now. With Michael now gone and God MIA, there’s been kind of a power vacuum in heaven. The same thing happened in hell with Lucifer gone, but Crowley seems to be one of the big cheeses. Castiel resurrected by unknown means (God?) thought he knew what God wanted and led some rebellious angels (mind you rebelling against other angels, not against “God”). For a brief time, he thought he WAS God, and actually became a bit of the big bad a couple seasons ago, working with Crowley and opening a doorway letting Leviathans loose on Earth. Leviathans were the big bad of last season in a (imho poor) plot arc. Castiel had a whole nervous breakdown and/or amnesia and/or insanity. Last season’s finale had Castiel helping the brothers defeat the Levianthans by banishing them all into purgatory, but Dean and Castiel got swallowed up there as well. Dean’s escape from Purgatory is shown in drips and drabs [with Leviathans chasing him, Castiel, and some vegetarian vampire] through the season to date, with the ultimate answers for Dean’s escape actually popping up in the ep where Amanda Tapping first appears. Castiel’s Purgatory fate also is revealed this episode.

And that’s the story from THEN up until NOW…

Date: 2012-11-21 01:45 pm (UTC)
colls: (SPN Impala_truth)
From: [personal profile] colls
I'm impressed with how concise you've made this. You've packed 7+ seasons into one page!!!

Dean/Impala = OTP trufax, it was my first ship on the show. I LOVE that you've listed the car as a character up there right after the brothers. A+
((can you tell the Impala is my favorite character?))

I'm pretty excited about this season and I hope that Amanda has a better shot at breaking the mold for female characters on the show. I think Felicia Day did a pretty good job chipping away at that in her guest spot in season 7.

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