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Supernatural S09E18: "Meta Fiction"


That was... interesting? 

"Meta Fiction" started out so well, too: an elaborate fan fiction parody written by Castiel's number-one fan, featuring all the essentials—including an extended Dean-in-the-shower scene and Castiel making awkward smalltalk mid-case to highlight their profound bond. A (maybe) long-dead (mostly) beloved character inexplicably returned to life, and everyone's personality felt just slightly off, from Rambo Gabriel to Oddly Self-aware Dean. It worked because it was too ridiculous to believe and at no point following Metatron's hijacking of the story did I actually consider that everything that was happening was canon... until it was. 

That's when it got weird, because the thing about real-life fanon and head-canon is that yes, sometimes inferring details works wonders to fill a hole in the official narrative, and sometimes it doesn't. You can generally tell, when you wander into fandom's weird and wonderful waters, who has a grasp on the characters as they are and who is writing pure wish fulfillment. With that in mind, I couldn't help but wonder if "Meta Fiction" was, on some level, cut from the same cloth as the infamous "Season Seven, Time for a Wedding," where the usual, good-natured ribbing of the more intense corners of Supernatural's fandom got a little too heated, a little too contemptuous. There were times in "Meta Fiction" that seemed to say, "See? See how awful it is when amateurs get control of the universe? Leave the world-building to the professionals, kids," and that's kind of shitty. 

Boogertron was clearly the author of what the internet would eagerly label "badfic." He claimed to want to set up "interesting characters and see where they lead," but he clearly had an agenda, as illustrated by his rewrite attempts, and let me just say that it wasn't necessarily the rewriting that betrayed Metatron's true intentions. Any half-decent scribe, working in a fandom or an original universe, is going to rewrite until he or she successfully takes the story where it needs to go. Metatron's problem was that when his story clearly wouldn't, and couldn't, go where he wanted it to go, he forced it. It's not that Castiel would never willingly lead a band of loyal rebel angels, but Castiel right now has repeatedly turned down offers and gone out of his way to not be in charge of anyone but himself. 


Metatron also made the mistake of underestimating the intelligence of his audience. When Castiel didn't understand a literary reference, Metatron literally info-dumped his entire reading history into Cas's brain so that it would never happen again—rather than, for example, choosing a more commonly known reference that his audience might've better appreciated. It's really quite indicative of what a lazy "god" Boogertron is. 

He's also the newest addition to Supernatural's "tragic" characters list. You can't say that Metatron isn't enthusiastic, or that he didn't start out with, well, not so much noble intentions, but thoughtful ones. Castiel has pushed for his fellow angels to get out of the clouds and experience a little bit of life with the mud monkeys for years. He just wasn't a dick about it (except for that time with the Leviathan, but he also wasn't entirely in his right mind at the time, so he's not excused, exactly, because only Dean ever gets to be excused for crappy behavior, but we get it). 


Speaking of Dean's crappy behavior, he was surprisingly restrained this week, Mark of Cain and all. We also got our first indication that Dean does understand just how messed-up the whole Gadreel-possessing-Sam situation was, which I think a lot of us already figured, but remember: headcanon =/= canon. Dean and Sam captured Gadreel and hoped to torture some information out of him about the magical angel homing beacon leading de-winged denizens of Earth to their slaughter. When Sam left to find Castiel/avoid a mental breakdown as a result of Gadreel's too-close-to-home taunting, Dean was left to slice-and-dice duty and discovered that just because Gadreel had been inside Sam for weeks and not him didn't mean that Gadreel couldn't find some nasty-but-true zingers to throw out there. 

In fact, I think being in Sam's head the whole time made the nastygrams to Dean evem more personal. I can picture Sam seeing Dean as some lost little boy, hurting everyone around him because he's too scared to function on his own. Without Gadreel's twisted slant on the sentiment, it's not really a criticism at all, and I don't think that Sam himself would see it that way. Both Winchesters have issues with self-worth: Sam's stem from the demon blood and his death peen and feelings of being "less than" due to his connection to Lucifer. Dean's stem from his childhood conditioning to be the "good soldier" at all costs, for his entire life. The man is well into his thirties—older than that if we count his time in hell and various other alternate universes—and that rigid selflessness is crumbling. The last time it failed, Dean saw himself become a feared torturer in hell, so understandably, he's got issues when it comes to addressing his own needs in a non-destructive way. Dean feels like a failure whenever he caves, but he's at a breaking point in his life—he needs someone to save him for once, and Gadreel's comment that Sam wouldn't save Dean, taken out of context as I'm sure it was, still hit close to home. 


Buuuut at least Dean didn't kill him. Gadreel is too interesting of a character to simply be run through with the ol' angel sword while he's tied to a chair. In "Meta Fiction," we got more confirmation that Gadreel's biggest fear is imprisonment, not death, and that he didn't let Lucifer into the Garden of Eden with malicious intent, he did it to set humanity free. Now, whether this belief was born out of Gadreel's own feelings or planted and nurtured by Lucy himself remains unseen, and hopefully it will remain unseen because it's the ambiguity of Supernatural's more flawed characters—including the Winchesters themselves, at times—that make the series so interesting. Like so many amateur writers,  Boogertron and "Meta Fiction" just tells and tells and tells. I'm going to go ahead and chalk it up to being a clever way to invoke Metatron's habitual assumption that his readers were too dumb to "get" his story, but it was still irritating to be beaten over the head with so many in-depth character analyses from the characters themselves. It's just not how they act. 

(Maybe-real-but-probably-not Gabriel's winky-smile was perfect, though.)


I'll admit it: As soon as the credits rolled for "Meta Fiction," I hated it. I didn't hate it with the venom reserved for "Season Seven, Time for a Wedding," or "Taxi Driver," but I hated it. I still don't love it. I understand what the writers were trying to do and in some places, they excelled (everything before Boogertron tied Cas up). But in some places they faltered (SO. MUCH. UNCHARACTERISTIC SELF-AWARENESS.). In general, the latest "meta episode" in Supernatural's long history of meta episodes was an advancement of the trope. A messy, brain-melting advancement.



CASE NOTES

– So holy fire gives s'mores a "delightful minty aftertaste." Want.

– Gadreel is totally going to turn on Metatron. Did you see how pleased he looked when Metatron admitted that the Winchesters' kidnapping of Gadreel wasn't part of his plan? It means Boogertron isn't as all-powerful as he claims to be, and remember, kids, Gadreel has never really been on board with all the killing that Metatron makes him do. 

– Cas's stolen grace is "burning him out." Thoughts? 

– I screamed when Casa Erotica came on. What are your Gabriel theories? I still kind of think he's dead, honestly. 


What'd you think of "Meta Fiction"?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/20/2014

Season 9 : Episode 23

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