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SPN memeage o' favourite episodes

Memeage from[info]ficwriter1966 : ten most favourite and least favourite SPN eps, and why. Helping the viral spread of legitimate procrastination!

Ten Most Favourite
Okay, this was tough as all get-out. I was whittling down from seventeen, y’all. And even so, I cheated. A bit. There were a few that I love for very similar reasons, so I picked the one I liked just a little more, and took the opportunity to tack the corresponding one on with it.

There are a bunch of s1 and s2, one s3, a secondary s4, and some s5. And yet, if you asked me to list my seasons in order of preference, I probably couldn’t do it. Not drinking the Kool-Aid yet or anything, but say what you want about the places they’ve taken the story, they never let it stagnate. I value that highly. Sam and Dean keep growing, in response to their circumstances and to each other, and I love that.

And I couldn’t sort them in any kind of order, either. It was hard enough getting it to ten! In no order of preference, then:

s3 Jus In Bello: The whole siege element, nicely claustrophobic, forcing a lot of interesting dynamics, and the brothers having to keep improvising, work with “civilians”, and overcome one damn thing after another, working their way out of a totally vulnerable position. I love how good they are at thinking on their feet, and working together, and their desperate, out-of-the-box long-shot plans that they barrel through somehow. Plus, Henrickson being stone-cold awesome. So wish he could have gone on to become a hunter, but alas; I guess that’s what fanfic is for....

s1 Hell House/s2 Tall Tales: Pure and simple: brotherliness at its most boyish, exasperated and fun. These, to me, give as much of a window into the pre-series brother relationship as the flashbacks; all the behaviours and aggravations have such obviously long roots. Hell House comes first because of the pranking, but the way they tell the stories to Bobby in Tall Tales just gets me every time. “We don’t have time for any of your blah-blah blah-blah....”

s1 Scarecrow/s1 Phantom Traveler: These two for a similar reason to two above: an insight into the relationship, except in this case it’s revealing how they’re readjusting to one another. Traveler shows them really dealing with something new for the first time – demons – and how they go about it, the lengths they go to in this job. And Scarecrow highlighted their differences so well, as well as giving us the first instance of Sam choosing family over vengeance; it comes first by virtue of being a better-constructed story, and dealing more with the themes of family, loyalty, and sacrifice.

s2 Croatoan: Another siege/civilians episode, which obviously I love, but it’s the conversation when Sam’s going to die that totally sets this apart for me. The first time Dean really lets us, and Sam, see something of the weight he’s been carrying, not just since John died but for his whole life. Plus, I adored the haunting musical score, the supporting characters of the doctor and the Marine master sargent, and the fact that they didn’t actually solve the problem – one of those things which makes this show feel more “real” to me.

s2 Folsom Prison Blues/s2 The Usual Suspects: So clearly I love it when the brothers have to navigate the problem within significant restrictions, more than just the job at hand and the clueless civilians involved. Both of these episodes show just how smart they can be and how well they can work around law enforcement and setbacks, as well as some of the “real life” consquences to leading the lives they do. I prefer Folsom because of the crazy plan to actually get themselves arrested, and both of their reactions to being in prison, and for Deacon himself, and his connection of being John’s war buddy.

s2 Crossroad Blues: Loved the blues element, especially since so much of the show’s beloved rock has its roots in that music, and how they worked in the legend of Robert Johnson. But it also set up so much of the horror of “deals with the devil”, the underlying dread that this is what John did to save Dean. Also how evil will consume whatever is in reach, and innocence or ignorance is no defence against it. Plus, loved how the deal played out at the end, giving us both Dean’s skill with traps, and his inner turmoil.

s2 Nightshifter: Okay, the absolutely-awesome escape at the end, with the incredible music cue of Styx’s Renegade is almost reason in itself to add this one. Let alone another fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants siege situation (that happens more than I realised), Ronald Reznick, Henrickson’s first appearance, and the general problem-solving required of them by shapeshifting shenanigans. = Love!

s5 Abandon All Hope: Oh man. Incredible send off of Ellen and Jo, and bringing home once again the cost which fighting evil will exact from those who do so, both in their deaths and for those they left behind. I loved how, in two short episodes this season, they were able to show how they had grown from s2, especially Jo with Dean. Plus, first Crowley appearance, revealing more factions in the war – and, hooray, the magic all-solving Colt doesn’t work!

s5 The Real Ghostbusters/s4 The Monster at the End of This Book: I’ll admit it, I love the way Show does meta on itself. These two were brilliant just for their self-lampooning commentary, but they also helped give the brothers some feel for the bigger story they are in. Being in the very shallow outskirts of fandom doesn’t hurt either; I could laugh at their jabs at themselves and at us, and appreciate the episodes for the big sloppy kiss they were intended to be. Also, the Prophet Chuck! Ghostbusters comes out ahead in the meta department, so that comes first.

s5 Point of No Return: *does the Sammy dance* Okay, I’ve spent too much time talking about this one
already, so all I’ll say is, damn they love these characters, this story, and us. This was just about a perfect payoff of so much that they’ve been weaving together for the last five seasons, and set up so much for the end of the season. Sam just rocks the hell out of this episode. Plus Adam comes back. Plus The Wink. So, so, so much squee!


Ten Least Favourite
Like my most favourite, this was tough – but for the opposite reason. I love this show, with all its missteps and occasional flailing about in the nonsense pool. Every episode is about the brothers, their relationship, the cost and the strength of family, and the cost of standing against evil. That’s what I come to see. So while the episode might be weak, or contain elements that I don’t like, that’s kind of beside the point, because they always deliver on what’s important to me (I meta a bit about that
here). But, since it’s that kind of list....

Kind of an even spread on the seasons for this one. I think what they mostly have in common is that the story element, outside of the brothers, was weak or didn’t hold my interest, or the characters just didn’t appeal to me much. So, in a kind of general least-to-not-so-least favourite order:

s1 Bugs: Well, yeah. Epic!fail denouement, and the forced-feeling Native American guru-quest, to show us that Dean was originally envisioned as a fast-and-loose Han Solo type character? Well, okay. Glad we're past that now. Just goes to show that wiseass smug Native American seers can be fooled by superficial appearances too. I did love Sam’s bonding with the kid, though, and his realisation of his own changing feelings about family – I wish that element had been given a bit more space.

s1 Bloody Mary: You know, I just didn’t care about any of the girls in this episode. Mary’s story was sad and kind of interesting, but the rest of the girls were just annoying, and I admit I didn’t much care if they all died. So yeah. Once again, Sam’s journey, with worried!Dean in the background, was by far the strongest thread. What is it about them giving “Sam” episodes the weaker stories and characters? Especially in s1.

s3 Malleus Maleficarum: Just kind of meh. I like Ruby as an antagonist, and the long game she played was awesome, but her schtick can be wearing at times. And, clearly, spoiled white ’burb women don’t get much sympathy from me, I guess. Especially when they bring it on themselves.

s3 Long Distance Call: Made some good comments about the effect of technology on society and stuff, but with two episodes to go until Dean went to Hell, that kind of felt off-point. And the tension in the brother relationship at this point works much better when they’re together; splitting up somehow takes a lot of the oomph out of it, in storytelling terms. Not sure why, exactly, but that’s what happened: as soon as they split up, I lost interest in either thread.

s1 Nightmare: Another fantastic Sam story against a backdrop of people I honestly don’t like and don’t care about. I know Max was supposed to be a reflection of what Sam feared he could become – but really, Show? That sort of shadowing isn’t very resonant when the characters are so fundamentally different in terms of inner strength and pathetic-ness. I’m just sayin’. It’s pretty obvious why Yellow Eyes liked Sam best. That breeding program wasn’t really churning out a lot of champions for him, was it?

s4 The Rapture: I think largely because of the amazing run of strong episodes leading up to it, slowly turning the screw on the brother relationship – and because it was the last episode before the two-part finale – the focus on Jimmy+family just felt like it came out of nowhere. At any other time, I might care more about them, but at that point all the family’s tension and struggles did was stall the building stress between the brothers, even undercut it a little. Yeah, there was Dean’s discovery of just what Sam had been doing, but it came at the end and the main story felt too tangental to them in terms of conflict. If it had even been one episode earlier – before Jump the Shark – the overall momentum would have sustained much better, I think.

s2 Everybody Loves a Clown: Clowns don’t creep me out or anything, but this just felt like what it was: a place-holder between the end of one arc and the beginning of the next. There was so much to love – the first part, with John’s funeral pyre, then introducing the Roadhouse, Ellen, Jo, and Ash; and it goes without saying that I adored the end, Sam’s vulnerability with Dean, and Dean and the crowbar and the Impala – but the story itself was completely irrelevant to everything else that was going on, and usually gets the fast-forward treatment.

s5 I Believe the Children Are Our Future: Oh, hello little innocent anti-Christ. A lot of this episode didn’t really make much sense, although the acting and a lot of the themes were very strong. Mostly it just felt like Writers insisting on their Good Omens tribute, trying to make it fit the larger story, rather than doing something that actually made sense in the broader sweep of the story. (Writers? That’s what fanfic is for.) Although this does mark the beginning of the fruitless attempts to find things that will actually stop the devil, so there’s that. (Am I the only one sitting here saying “So, Death has this scythe, does he? It’ll even reap God? Ahem?”)

s5 My Bloody Valentine: Don’t squick easily or often, but that opening scene? Gah! Other than that, I liked it. (You can tell I’m really reaching for “least favourite” episodes by now.)

s2 All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1: Didn’t much like the brothers being apart, and the psykids story was always a little weak, but other than that it’s fun enough. Andy! Ava! Aldis Hodge as Jake! Death o’ Sam! – seriously, though, that was absolutely the most heartrending moment in the show’s run, and Show doesn’t exactly skimp on those moments, either. This episode only made it into the list because the brothers spent the entire episode apart, really.


So, there you have it. Wow, I am just no good at being concise.

Comments

( 4 speakses — have a speak )
deepbluemermaid
May. 12th, 2010 11:56 am (UTC)
I love your SPN meta posts - so interesting to read :)
themonkeytwin
May. 12th, 2010 07:25 pm (UTC)
Glad to be of service! :) At least this way I can use my verbosity for good, instead of evil....
bitterlimetwist
Dec. 30th, 2011 09:29 pm (UTC)
I always wanted to comment on this, but I didn't know you when you wrote it, and even a year ago I would've been too shy to just randomly come by and comment. Now of course you're stuck with me comment-spamming you. My I-love-lists post reminded me about this list, so here I am. Run. Run as fast as you can.

I love favourite/least favourite lists because they're essentially meta about the list-maker, and the relationship the list-maker has with Show. I think it's really funny that we would have almost no overlap on our lists because our tastes differ wildly, but what you love about Show is what I love about it, so we have similar reasons for our choices.

say what you want about the places they’ve taken the story, they never let it stagnate. I value that highly. Sam and Dean keep growing, in response to their circumstances and to each other, and I love that.

Someone who values the chances Show takes, and who appreciates that Sam and Dean grow and change? LOVE.

the fact that they didn’t actually solve the problem – one of those things which makes this show feel more “real” to me.

Problems aren't always solved, things are left hanging. \o/ Also, Croatoan. \o/

Well, I mean, Nightshifter. I think that episode is perfect.

Meta humour. \o/

You are already aware of my deep and abiding love for Point of No Return. The way you describe it here, and in your meta, makes me so happy. I can never explain anything the way I want to, it always comes out wrong. You've pretty much written everything I ever wanted to say about that episode, only a million times better than I ever could.

Every episode is about the brothers, their relationship, the cost and the strength of family, and the cost of standing against evil. That’s what I come to see. So while the episode might be weak, or contain elements that I don’t like, that’s kind of beside the point, because they always deliver on what’s important to me

Hearts x a billionty

I like Ruby as an antagonist, and the long game she played was awesome, but her schtick can be wearing at times.

Her I'm-an-evil-badass-who's-going-to-make-you-do-evil-things-Sammy schtick, said with hand on hip? That one? Because that's the one that wore me out.

Just, word on everything you said about Nightmare and The Rapture.

the psykids story was always a little weak

I think you may be the only person I've ever come across who wasn't completely in love with the psykids story. Yay for Kripke cutting his losses.

I am just no good at being concise.

Hearts to the power of infinity.

Thank goodness your dislike for this type of thing didn't stop you from writing this - cause I really loved reading it.

Okay so, I have to know. Why the deep hatred for most/least favourite lists? They're so enlightening, what's not to love?

Pee ess, the only new episode I could imagine making this list, were you to revise it, is The French Mistake. Would it share a spot with 5.09 and 4.18? Just curious. *ducks*
themonkeytwin
Dec. 31st, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC)
Eeeek! Comment-spam is LOVE. Especially retro-comment-spam. *shameless grabby hands*

we would have almost no overlap on our lists because our tastes differ wildly, but what you love about Show is what I love about it, so we have similar reasons for our choices.

I think you may have put your finger on the key to our endless comment threads. \o/

(Apart from our general inability to shut up, that is. Naturally.)

You've pretty much written everything I ever wanted to say about that episode,

The funny thing is, every time I go back over what I said then, I'm always thinking of more things I want to say. But then I figured I hit the high points, so eh. The rest would just be self-indulgence.

Her I'm-an-evil-badass-who's-going-to-make-you-do-evil-things-Sammy schtick, said with hand on hip? That one?

YES. THAT ONE. KILL ME NOW.

And how it was always said with this deep incredulity that the boys wouldn't automatically see why they should agree with her and her plans. I mean, I have no idea if that's how she actually felt (surely she's not that stupid?) or if she thought that was how she should play it – being careful not to overplay the sympathy card because that would tip them off? And then bringing the sympathy in with more strength when Sammy needed it? Either way, it just made me want to smack her. Plus, I never once for a moment bought her act – I always assumed she was playing them – so that was frustrating, too. Grrrr.

(Oh, by the way, I have been doing Lilith-Ruby motivation timeline ponderings, and I'll have to map it out to check, but I can fanwank see a logical progression of strategy. AND AND AND my rewatch with my buddy just got us up to Samarra, and I have THOUGHTS about what they were intending – and what they thought they were doing – with soulless!Sam. My buddy was calmer about it than I was the first time around, but she was still all, uh, so – when does this stop? Because it was amusing for about two episodes. And I was all, I KNOW. DON'T WORRY, THEY FIX IT.)

I think you may be the only person I've ever come across who wasn't completely in love with the psykids story.

Wow, really? See, that's another example of what I see as the writers doing the "see what sticks" method. Show really is organic that way. (And I have more THOUGHTS on that on 6, and help, stop me now.) The psykids ... I don't know, maybe it's just because they were the first batch, but WOW did YE produce a bunch of weirdos and runts. Not to say weirdos and runts couldn't make very motivated leaders of demon armies, because, heck, some of them got pretty damn vindictive. But still largely ineffectual. And damnit, that's a fic idea now. YE bemoaning how the breeding program is going.

(I've been thinking about this stuff for a while now, on and off, but this Cracked article may have cemented it. And I quote: You can inject new life into virtually any film or franchise by watching it again, only this time rooting for the bad guys. Really think through the scenario from their angle, and try to break down how they go about taking on the hero. More often than not, you'll find yourself scratching your head, or outright screaming at the screen. Mind you, in spite of the hinking and jinking, Show still does better than a lot of other stories at wrangling a somewhat coherent bad-guy plan.)

... SEE? Congenitally incapable of staying on-topic. THIS is why I hate "favourite" lists, they keep making me focus and pick one thing over another while all I want to do is say OOH LOOK INTERESTING and chase rabbit trails. I don't mind reading other people's lists, though. They inspire more rabbit trails. ;)

Would it share a spot with 5.09 and 4.18?

Oh HELL yes. And so would Time For A Wedding. *ducks with you*
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