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Friday, 3 April 2015

Editorial: Five Ways To Revive Supernatural.

Editorial: Five Ways To Revive Supernatural.

It's a lamentation wailed by many, and none louder than me: Supernatural, never exactly a good series but one which hovered variably between 'a tolerable waste of forty minutes' and 'entertaining', has plummeted from even that standard of quality to become something not just aggressively terrible, but also astoundingly dull, rehashing the same tired storylines over and over again in a desperate attempt to sustain what is still something of a licence to print money for the CW.

Never one to turn down a momentous challenge, we here at Fission Mailure would like to offer five ways that Supernatural could be reinvigorated, allowing it to survive two or maybe three series more.

1. Kill off Sam or Dean. Permanently.

One of the key issues with Supernatural is that there are no lasting consequences for anything. Characters perish and return constantly, and while the show attempts to pay lip service to the idea of a tangible cost - whether by having their return be as a demon or by having them be traumatised by their experience - it's ultimately always temporary: Sooner or later, the show always settles back into formula. 

The only people allowed to die permanently are supporting characters, and usually (but not always) women, at that.

So, one way to reinvigorate the show is to change that, and to change that in a big way by killing off one of the two brothers. At this point, it really doesn't matter which, as any kind of individual personality they've had has been eroded over time to a kind of Generic White American Null State, it just matters that one of them gets impaled through the face by a magical sword that prevents resurrection. Or returning as a ghost. 

For safety's sake, maybe pay the actor not to return.

2. Make it a true ensemble show.

Supernatural does have some moderately likeable supporting characters, and the show could probably benefit from making them not supporting characters. One or both of the brothers, Felicia Day's Charlie, Castiel, Jody Mills (and Donna, perhaps), Crowley maybe, and Garth could form a fun five-to-eight person band.

This would have a few upsides, but the main one is that, like any other ensemble show, it means you could flick between the different members of the group, having one or two take the spotlight for an episode, and then having larger, more plot-related episodes where the entire group works together as a team. With more personalities in the mix, the potential for a more interesting variety of character conflict becomes available as well, and maybe we won't have to deal with Sam and Dean's vaguely toxic sibling codependency every episode.

Also, Charlie, Jody, Garth, Crowley and Castiel are all more interesting than the brothers themselves, so there's that.

3. Transform both Sam and Dean into supernatural creatures - again, permanently.

In all honesty, this is probably the idea with the least mileage, but I've remarked before on this blog how I thought that Dean becoming a demon could provide some interesting storylines for the series. That, unfortunately, was totally wasted, phased out in three episodes in exchange for the literal exact same storyline we'd had the previous series, in what is one of the most staggering and baffling examples of poor writing I've seen in a while. 

But I stand by that idea, and I want to take it one step further - both Sam and Dean should become supernatural creatures. Dean can become a demon, while Sam can become something that either changes his outlook on the world drastically (it'd be cliche to say 'angel', but yeah, angel) or creates a constant struggle to maintain his principles (some manner of ravenous, hungry beast. Or a dragon). 

Suddenly, the lines become massively blurred, and we have the two on the receiving end of a storyline they've been on the - the not receiving end of before: The 'should we kill this good monster, who doesn't kill people, but might' story. 

4. Make Dean and Castiel's romance canonical.

I've mentioned this before as one of the only things that could revitalise the series, and I stand by it.

I mean, it's there. Let's not kid ourselves here, the people who fiercely and obsessively ship these two together might be overly invested, but they're not conjuring romantic subtext from thin air, it's been very deliberately written in to the show specifically to appeal to them. It's not a particularly new tactic from writers, although it is a particularly cowardly one, to heap on homoerotic subtext to keep one subset of fans watching, while never making it canon, which might draw the ire of executives or loud and angry bigots.

As with the other items on this list, making their romance canonical opens up new possibilities for the storyline - unlike other items on this list, most of those possibilities are due to entirely un-supernatural character interactions. How do they navigate a romantic relationship now that it's official and real? How does Sam cope with his brother having found the kind of happiness that we're repeatedly shown that Sam craves? 

Some might argue that this takes the series in an almost soap-opera-y direction, but I would argue that it went in a soap-opera-y direction the second they made 'brotherly angst' a massive recurring subplot. At least it would be a new and interesting kind of soap-opera-y direction.

5. Literally reset the entire series back to the beginning and recast everyone. 

I add this with the caveat of 'preferably in combination with one or more of items two through four.' 

This is a bit of an extreme one: A total reset in which the entire series is totally wiped away. We pick back up from the first episode: Sam's at university, Dean arrives, their father's on a hunting trip and he hasn't called in a few days. And then - and this is key - they steer it in a new direction. 

Without the weight of nine series worth of story, the writers would have the freedom to let the series veer off into unexplored territory. That might lead to some genuinely interesting things - or it might lead to the same storylines with new faces. It's a toss up. 

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