Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jump the Shark

Remember before season 3, when it Bela and Ruby were announced? If you're at all tapped into "the fandom," you saw the uproar it caused. People were afraid they'd be love interests, or riding around in the back of the Impala, or something.

Then there was the synopsis of "The Kids Are Alright," the episode where Dean wondered briefly if he had a son. Same uproar. People were afraid a kid would interfere with the hunting, or he'd be riding around in the back of the Impala, or something.

In the case of the son, the episode was excellent--the way it was handled fit perfectly into the structure of the show. Since Ruby and Bela were recurring characters, that was a little tougher. Many people hated them--the acting, the characterization, the way they...

...messed with the brothers.

I think that's the element that drives this outcry every single time. The fans fear any development that would interfere with the brotherly dynamic, and the central conceit of the show--two guys on a road trip to fight evil.

Which brings us to this season's uproar.


It all started back on January 5, when Kristin of E! Online posted this teaser about Jeffrey Dean Morgan's character, John Winchester:

"Turns out, Jeffrey may be a daddy to a secret son on a certain show, and this certain show will be changed forever because of this upcoming plot twist."

In the comments trail of that post, once someone said flat out that it could mean a third Winchester brother, all hell broke loose. Furor may have continued in certain forums, but for the most part, people blew it off as "TV-reporter hype" where she planted seeds that don't connect to reality.

On January 14, in Mega Buzz by Matt Mitovich et al (of TV Guide.com), we got the following bit:

I heard a rumor that Supernatural is adding a new lead — and it's a long-lost Winchester brother?! Please say this is just a rumor! — Jessica M.

MATT: Consider the CW forewarned (literally, by yours truly) that Supernatural would be playing with hellfire if they went this route. Asked to address this near-sacrilegious buzz, series creator Eric Kripke will only say, "Stay tuned." Sources, meanwhile, tell me that whatever the truth is here, it's going to make for a very interesting story arc.

On February 9, Kristin confirmed the casting of Jake Abel as an 18-year-old, third Winchester brother for the episode airing on April 23. This was also reported on many other TV sites, apparently first by TV Guide, but this was the one I saw. There were details that made it harder to blow off, and also turned up the lamenting. It's a one-time casting, the brother won't be seen again. It's the result of an affair, and John knew about him.

I personally have never thought about, worried over, and feared a spoiler as much as I have this one.

If this is exactly as described, I think it will take a lot to make the fandom accept it. Some will probably not buy that John would have been unfaithful to Mary's memory a mere 7 years after her death, not when he was still totally obsessed 22 years later. Others, who are more pragmatic, will admit it's unrealistic that he didn't sleep with other women during those years.

Personally, I think I could handle the boys finding out they had a brother in a focused sense, but not a global one. The emotions of them meeting, etc., would be well done, I have no doubt, especially because it seems likely Adam would be in danger and Sam and Dean have to save him. But after that, what? If the stories are right, we don't have to worry about the whole "back seat of the Impala" thing. But Sam and Dean wouldn't leave him behind, unprotected and alone. Of course, he could have a good family situation, but still. I'm sure Lilith and Alistair would love to have something to use against the boys, and do they really need more conflict? The show is loaded already, and the specter of brother versus brother is more than enough, in my opinion, without making it a triangle.

This could be a "trick," like The Trickster or the djinn, with an alternate reality or something like that. When the first rumors surfaced, this was what most of us figured. We trust Kripke and Co., especially this season, because even though there have been a few standalone episodes we didn't care for, and some chemistry and acting issues in some we loved, the road they've been taking us down has been marvelous, even if we hate every step of the way.

But even the most beloved showrunners/creators can misstep. Is this one going to be Kripke's? All we can do is wait until April 23 and judge for ourselves. In the meantime, Kripke did do an interview here that doesn't really tell us anything but is pretty funny.

So what do you think is going to happen? What does this mean for the brothers and for the show going into season 5? Weigh in in the comments!