Monday, 21 April 2014

What I Learned From "Meta Fiction" or Remembering The Thing I Sometimes Forget...

“What makes a story work? Is it the plot, the characters, the text? The subtext? And who gives a story meaning? Is it the writer? Or you? Tonight, I thought I would tell you a little story and let you decide.”

I wasn’t planning on writing anything around “Meta Fiction”. After my hour and a half podcast on the subject with my podcast cohort, Superwiki’s Sister Jules (listen here), I felt like I’d said all that I needed to say, but yesterday I realised that maybe there was just a little more.

There was a story swirling around after the story of “Meta Fiction” that would not leave me alone and it got me thinking…

I’m not one for talking Meta or canon or any of those deeper elements of Supernatural that light up other writer’s worlds. My primary dialogue is usually based on the emotional aspect of the story, or at least how the story affects me emotionally. I watch this show with my heart and my mind, but when it comes to Supernatural, my heart rules the roost. I make no apologies for that. It is, after all, why we’re all so passionate about this show. Because it touches our hearts.

I don’t look at the primary relationship in Supernatural as having ever been perfect, nor do I need it to be perfect. For me it’s the flaws and the constant struggles that make the brothers’ relationship so compelling. The fact that their relationship is deeply flawed and damaged and yet they stay united is the thing that keeps me coming back week in week out. Because I’m rooting for them ever step of the way. It’s their journey, their ups and downs, their sometimes seemingly impossible battle to love each other against everything that is thrown at them and that they throw at each other, that keeps me engrossed and in love. Passionately in love. It’s the flaws in their relationship that to me, make it perfect. They live in an extreme world and it makes sense to me that their problems should match that environment. There is a truth to their relationship that I find profoundly satisfying, even when it’s breaking my heart.

I’m happy simply to have my boys on my television fighting the good fight, whatever that may be and trying to find meaning in their lives as they battle evil and sometimes each other in their eternal quest to save the world and stay side by side whilst doing it! Yay! That’s all I need. That to me is my story of Supernatural and it’s all I need.

But other fans need different things.

And that’s it, that’s the point. Story is an individual experience and what you bring to story and what you need from story is personal. There is no right and there is no wrong because this story belongs to each of us individually and every single one of us is unique.

That is what I took out of “Meta Fiction”. I didn’t see Metatron’s narrative on story as chastising or disrespectful to fandom or excusing the writers for future canon erasures or continuity errors. That didn’t even enter my head! I just don’t watch the story like that. That’s not my Supernatural.

But what Metatron’s narrative on story did do was help me to remember exactly that. My Supernatural is not the same as everyone else’s. We each see this story and these characters through our own values, our mood on the day, our hopes and dreams, how we see ourselves, how we see others, how we see family. We each have a unique vision of our world and it affects every second we watch this show. What we bring to the story affects what we take out and our needs differ.

And though I actually believe that Metatron’s speech will be seen as something that reflects back on his megalomaniacal vision of his world, which he will find he doesn’t control because of exactly the thing he questions…“who gives a story meaning”, it was a good reminder to me to respect everyone’s view on the show. How we interpret it is up to us. How we all see it is different. Because story is personal and my feelings about it or your feelings about it are no less right or wrong than the next fans. 

I’m going to try to remember this next time I feel frustrated because my opinion seems to be flying in the face of what everyone else seems to be saying, or the next time I sit scratching my head at another writer’s take on an episode I love and they didn’t, or the next time I feel irrational rage about some tweet or another! Because none of that matters. This story is my story and just like the Winchesters do, I will write it for myself.

What makes a story work? Is it the plot, the characters, the text? The subtext? And who gives a story meaning? Is it the writer? Or you?

For me the answer is simple. It’s you!

Now…about that shower scene…

Come on... like I wasn't going to mention it! ;)



  1. Nice article Amy... and I also just finished listening to you and Jules on the podcast, which was great.

    I loved this episode so much. I really haven't stopped thinking about it and/or discussing it with others since it aired... and I think any story that does that is a successful one. I can't wait to see where we are headed... and I really like that Gadreel took note of Metatron's admittance that there were parts of the story he didn't see coming... which means he's not in as much control as he'd like to think :)

  2. I loved it too. It was one of the highlights of the season for me. There was so much in it to digest. That look on Gadreel's face at the end spoke volumes. I'm terrified about where this season will end but so very excited. Isn't that always the way with this show!

  3. Jensen certainly looks like he has been working out doesn't he.
    Also loved this episode and your podcast. I also thought that what Robbie Thompson was saying is exactly what you just said.

    1. Jensen is so broad across the back and shoulders, but I notices (as did everyone else) at Vegascon he was definitely bigger through the upper torso. He's been working out for sure. I think that is part of his transformation of Dean with the Mark of Cain. Aren't we lucky!

      Personally, I just want the writers to tell the story they have planned out. Just tell it, I'll roll with it or I won't, but I don't want to think they are altering the tragectory of their plans because of me as a fan, you know?

  4. Perfectly matches my feelings, Amy. I have always thought that Show is presented in such a way as to allow individuality in the way it is interpreted. It's one of the things I love most about it.

    I also loved that we see a more caring Sam in this episode. I think that he is steadily working through his anger at Dean's actions at the beginning of the season and his worry for what the Mark of Cain is doing to Dean is winning out. The next few weeks are going to be an interesting ride. And I really don't think Metatron is as in control as he thinks he is. The Winchesters are the wild cards who will continually surprise him. He seriously underestimates them, imho.

    1. Absolutely and at the back of the season when passions are high, it's great to be reminded of that. It's one of the things I love about the show the most too.

      And yes, I've been enjoying watching caring Sam be activated as Dean most obviously gets more and more troubled. Certainly I know you were like me and never doubted that Sam loved or cared for Dean, regardless of his hurt and angry words. I love how Sam is quietly watching Dean without pushing him because he knows his brother well enough to know that's not going to get him any kind of answer.

      Metatron has greatly underestimated the free will of the characters in his story as his first draft showed. He's in for a rude Winchester awakening and I can't wait.

  5. I really enjoyed this episode. We all perceive things based on our own experiences, personalities, etc, and I think that this episode was the writers' way of subtly reminding fans of that amidst increasing demands to make the story go a certain way, ever rising animosity between fans and the assertion that 'my way is the right way' to watch becoming more common. I have always watched cognizant of the fact that I am coming at it from the perspective of my unique worldview. This is why I am generally baffled (but never surprised) when wank and fighting amongst fans occurs. But it is also why I am always delighted when I find that the way I experienced the show is (mostly) shared by people with whom I shouldn't have anything in common. All logic states that you and I have nothing in common (I am a Muslim South African of Indian descent), yet we've had fairly lengthy discussions about the meaning behind what is happening in the show and we almost always agree when it comes to how we experience it. And that is what makes it so awesome :)
    A point of interest: In the podcast you guys spoke at length about the water motif. In psychological interpretation of a projective drawing of family, a water theme is often associated with depressive tendencies. This just stood out for me.

    1. I feel like what Metatron said is going to reflect back on him as he realises that the characters in his story are the ones that give it meaning and that his characters have free will, which he hasn't counted on. It was a display of his arrogance and flags what's to come - especially when he admitted that his characters surprised him. Boy is he in for a surprise! But having these words spoken directly to camera definitely makes the viewer take those on board in a more personal way. It's a good reminder I think, that we all experience and get different levels of satisfaction from difference aspect of the story in our own unique way.

      As you say, people from all over the world and from different backgrounds can come together and discuss this show on a level that shows we do have things in common. I love that!

      Interesting what you say about the water. I feel like the shower is a good place to completely let your guard down because you are alone in that space. That's what I think Dean was doing, but I feel metaphorically, it was about trying wash all the feelings away. Poor baby :(

    2. Oh, no doubt Metatron's arrogance is going to come back to bite him in the ass! I saw an interesting observation somewhere that said that he had only read the published Carver Edlund work. So he doesn't know how the Winchesters tore up the script and he therefore underestimates them. I cannot wait for his script to be set on fire by them!
      I didn't mean that these reminders were the main plot point, but rather an underlying one. Metatron's points about 'what gives a story meaning', 'having well drawn characters surprising you', and 'knowing the end' were three aspects that I think were kinda sorta maybe (?) a message to the fans :)
      One thing Metatron got right though - It's gonna be a helluva show!

  6. I don't really have much to say about this entry other than THANK YOU! I too watch the show pretty much the way you do and on the rare chance I see complaining about canon and continuity because I don't search it out , I'm baffled because I don't see it. Have you seen the NYT article? I had to look up Joseph Campbell after Misha mentioned him but I think he was on to something. For me personally the show isn't about the monsters/angels/demons, its about the humanity of them all. Who are Sam and Dean Winchester? Who is Castiel? Who is Crowley? and so on. Okay so I lied about not having much to say...

  7. Thank you for writing something Amy even though you did do the podcast (which I did listen to that very day you posted it and I enjoyed it, as always, immensely). I just loved this episode and some scenes more than others (Dean, shower, water in the face, green eyes, lashes, freckles, scruffy beard, okay I'll stop now:))

    I agree we have our own interpretation of each and every episode and this one certainly was not different. I for one did not think the opening scene with Metatron talking to the camera felt like he was talking to us the audience at all. I was more sure of that once they flashed to Cas sitting in that room tied up and gagged with Metatron. I think he was always talking to Cas and what we saw was all flashback, or where they sometimes do "1 day earlier" cards. The same music was playing, same smoking jacket worn by Metatron, same lines spoken before he got up from the desk and turned off the music. But this is my view point and I don't expect or even care if anyone agrees with me. It is just how I viewed it and what I took away from that scene.

    I just loved the concern showing from Sam and seems to be increasing each and every week. I've always been concerned in what the "great burden" the MoC will have on Dean but after seeing that scene where Cas tells Sam "you keep an eye on him" with that look of total worry and concern, that scared the living crap out of me. And then the look on Dean's face while they are driving away. He is getting so very dark, I just hope it is Sam that pulls him back and makes this all right in the end.

    I personally don't think I could love this show or it's actors and all the people that have anything to do with bringing us this heartfelt show week after week any more than I do. I respect them all so much and am so grateful for all of them and how much they put into bringing us this little show that really deserves so much more recognition then it gets but I'm happy that we can have the interaction we have with all of them and not sure we would have that if they got too big.

    Thanks again Amy for writing something. I always look forward to anything you write. It's TNT repeat time so off to watch Dean come back from Hell. (More skin time even if it is brief from Dean. I know I'm bad but I can live with that.)

  8. Though I usually respond to your podcasts via e:mail, I thought I'd switch it up.

    I, too, feel that all of us, respond to story through our own world view - through the events, experiences, and people who have shaped us. For me, the brothers' relationship, with all its struggles, feels real. Their personal struggles are as important to our view of them as heroes as much as their ability to think quickly on their feet and effectively use their weapons. If they stumble in these personal arenas, well, don't we all?! They are flawed and finding their way - just as the rest of us are. To truly understand and accept and love another human being is one of humanity's greatest gifts. It's one I hope Sam and Dean will be able to give to each other. Most importantly, I hope they will accept it from each other, too, because they deserve it - as do all of us.

    Commenting on Metatron as author - yes, he's familiar with story - all kinds, but he doesn't seem to be familiar with the writing process. If he was, he'd know that lots of authors talk about how their characters refuse to go where the author wants them to go; that they shape their own stories, often tell their own stories. Character determines story, not the author. Dean does not do something un-Deanlike or he wouldn't be Dean. The same goes for Sam, Castiel, Gabriel, Gadreel, etc. Metatron does not seem to get that. He's not invested in character, only in being an author. He wants to be a puppeteer, not a storyteller. And, he's messing with characters that are not even his. He has no real understanding of them nor does he seem to want to understand them. That will be his downfall. He has the typical angel arrogance that human beings are less than, yet if he follows his own train of thought about second drafts being better than first drafts, what does that say about angels? Which of God's creations came first - angels or humans? Which ones are invested with souls that power the Supernatural universe? Which ones are never broken if they act out of love and forgiveness, not fear or hatred or arrogance? He thinks he's so's going to come back and bite him in the ass :) I can't wait!