Which is hilarious in retrospect, because I adore every bit of 1x17 now, and it's one of my most frequently rewatched episodes! When I didn't fall in love with it in 2006, I think the reason I gave myself was because the show seemed to lack GRAVITAS SUFFICIENT TO HOLD MY INTEREST.
SPN, THIS GROSS, DEPRESSING SHOW.
I took this opportunity to look back at my LJ posts from 2006, and in retrospect, I'm glad I didn't drop everything and join this fandom then, because I did not deserve SPN, and I did not deserve this fandom. I would not be friends with me from 2006.
# But this does remind me. Earlier this year I caught up on all the episodes of Psych I'd missed over the years, because this was their final season, and it's my sister's Show. (The finale was perfect in every single way, by the way, and I can only dream that we get one as true to our show as theirs was.) As I was marathoning it, I kept thinking to myself:
I have absolutely no idea why anyone watches SPN. WHY DOES ANYONE WATCH SPN.
I don't mean us, the crazy, obsessive fandom types who don't watch SPN so much as like, digest it with twelve stomachs and then poop out various assorted fanworks. I mean people who either happily-but-casually watch it, or just catch it on TV from time to time, as though it were Law and Order or something. I just can't imagine that SPN would have anything to offer that type of audience. Because I was having a ball with (er, some seasons of) Psych, eating up episode after episode like self-contained, easy pieces of candy. It's basically a buddy comedy cop procedural, so you can jump in at any episode and laugh and be entertained.
But with SPN I feel like you have to know these characters, this world, these vast swaths of mytharc and thematic undertow, in order to see its value. You have to commit--which is a lot of work! You have to keep track of all these minute wonderful little tics and details and allusions and callbacks and really revel in that kind of thing, because there's so much there and there's a lot more to Sam and Dean and Castiel and a decent portion of their other recurring cast members (John, Mary, Meg, Harvelles, Ruby, etc.) than there is to your average TV protagonist. You have to want to indulge in and keep track of all that shit.
I think that's part of a key difference between my approach to SPN when I watched 1x17 ("who are these people even; I don't understand this at all") and when I watched 4x01, and then 4x02, and then 4x03--("I don't know these people at all--yet.)
Ah, the sweet music of "yet." This time, I waited for that "yet." <3
# I've always loved that Dean actually steals glances back at the road while he's snapping that spoony picture of Sam.
# Even if it wasn't a real symbol this time, just like I'm impressed with Sam's tree-drawing abilities, I'm also impressed with Dean's sigil-memory. In my headcanon (and also in canon canon, since Dean's surprise!drawn sigils very quickly at multiple points) Dean is an exceptional talent with this. And obviously, they've both been very strictly trained. Dean's recollection of monsters and their death knells is memorized to the tune of several Led Zeppelin albums (and he'd never admit this, but as a result of this mnemonic he really doesn't like those albums very much anymore), but symbols and pictures and faces come easy. He remembers the house Lucas Barr drew out on Lake Manitoc, he remembers the sigil that can burn angels into oblivion, and even now, at the end of the road, at the end of the day, at the end of his life, he remembers Alistair's face in Hell. When he looks in the mirror for the first time south of human, he sees it again. And all of hell floods back.
# I love how old school this episode is, insofar as the social media goes. Ah, 2006. <3 Back in the days when it seemed like everyone had a domain or a subdomain of their own--streaming live not out of mom's basement, but probably out of the basement of an online friend of yours. I'll bet Hellhoundz-Lair had a guestbook and a message board and an obnoxious hit tracker and maybe even a tagboard (REMEMBER TAGBOARDS??? GUYS WHO REMEMBERS TAGBOARDS.)
# Clearly I didn't appreciate them the first time through, but the pranks are adorable in their utterly mundane, pedestrian kind of way. They're just so--impotent, and deliberately so. I mean, Sam and Dean coming off a case where they nearly get themselves and their father killed, and they're about to rush into one that involves a bunch of sick, dying kids and a whole passel of traumatic childhood memories. Within a few months, Sam will have experienced the essential death of his brother, the death of his father, and Dean will be weathering the anguish of not having died (and not for the first time, either) and guess proxy-killing his father. Which makes everything about 1x17 so funny but so sad at the same time. ;(
# Obligatory mention of that ridiculous trout fisherman cuckoo clock. You have no idea how very very very very very badly I want to own one of those so I can hang it right next to my kitchen table.
# I wonder how many times Sam's used that strategy--that is, his coercive performance of... well, something, which somehow manages to 1) cue Dean into playing along almost seamlessly, and 2) immediately turn its subjects against their better judgments. And I wonder whom Sam tried it out on first. I'll bet that he never once dreamed that he'd be able to pull the same simple stunt in a context that would give it the power not only to obviate the need for torture, but also put him and his brother back on the same page for a few precious, hard-won minutes (9x21 "King of the Damned").
I'm both fascinated and devastated by the idea of being able to carve out these moments of solidarity/security with each other, but only by virtue of manipulating a third party into a false reality, in which they perform an act--and in this burlesque, they are brothers.