Supernatural

Dear Supernatural,

Our relationship began back in 2006. I know you first aired in September of 2005, but it was a different time then. Not that I’m 100 years old or anything, I’m 27 just to be clear.  You see, I’m from Austria, and we had to wait a year for the translation of an American TV show to reach our screens. There were no streaming services, and the internet at my parent’s house was really crappy anyways. So there was no other option but to watch you a year after everyone else. I’m sorry for that, but in the end it all turned out just fine. You’re twelve years old now and, as I am writing this, your 257th episode is about to air. That’s just over 10,750 minutes (or 7.5 consecutive days) of demon hunting, ghost killing, and interfering with angels – the usual family business. You’ve had a good run, and some fans are ready for you to just let go. Well, I’m not.

From the very beginning, you’ve had a really creepy horror element embedded in your DNA. This was especially present in the first seasons, as Sam and Dean hunted and finally killed the yellow-eyed demon, seeking revenge for their parents’ deaths. After Azazel engineers the release of hundreds of demons from the Devil’s Gate in the season two finale, demons become the Winchesters’ most common foe. These are the standard demons, human in appearance with nothing to distinguish them but their liquid black eyes. Initially they were worthy prey, ruthless and very hard to kill, and without The Colt this task seemed nearly impossible. But with practice and some magic mumbo jumbo these creatures of hell became the show’s two bit thugs.

I was a sucker for the exorcism scenes, where Sam would recite Latin verses and Dean would brandish holy water, either trying to save the vessel or gather valuable information. The baddest demon of them all was of course Crowley. He may have started off as a pompous crossroads demon, but he rose in the ranks to become the King of Hell. He had one of the most fascinating side-arcs, and now he’s a consultant, maybe even a friend, to the Winchesters. They even have him on speed-dial! But he wasn’t the only captivating demon. As you grew older, the stakes just climbed higher and higher. I still remember Ruby and her relationship with evil-Sam, as well as Lilith and her challenge to break the 66 seals to free Lucifer from his cage.

Demons became much more than just fodder for the Winchesters, and they continued to grow in power and scale leading to Dean’s death at the hands of Lilith at the end of Season Three. It was a gut-wrenching cliff hanger, a common motif with you that I’ll admit I secretly resented you for, but I’ll forgive you! I really thought they’d find a way to weasel out of Dean’s contract, and the question on everyone’s mind was: Where do we go from here?

Then in the fourth season premiere, we were introduced to the angel Castiel, who quickly became one of the show’s most intriguing characters, despite his somber and subdued demeanor  You’d think adding Heaven into the mix was a Hail Mary-way to bring Dean back to life, but Castiel was just the start of an amazing plotline that grew to epic proportions. I loved how ingeniously the writer’s appropriated bits of the lore, like how prayers are used as a form of communication. We slowly see Castiel’s devotion to good devolve from pious angel to tyrannical God, but in the end his downfall comes as well. Stripped of all his abilities, he returns to the Castiel we all loved, if not a bit broken from his experiences, as he struggles to learn what it means to be human, and through his endeavour we learn a lot about ourselves as well. Castiel reminds us that sometimes the brighter the light, the darker the shadow. But it isn’t just his identity as Castiel that made him so interesting; it’s the duality of his very nature as well. Not unlike a demon, an angel needs a host. A human named Jimmy Novak had to give up everything to offer Castiel his body. The mere concept is heartbreaking and the scenes with Jimmy’s family are very touching and full of love (most of the times at least).

When you aired your fifth season in 2009/2010, many thought it would be your last, and according to your creator Eric Kripke and many ardent fans, it should have been. This letter, in part, is to tell you that I don’t count myself among them. During this season I finished school and my six months of mandatory military service. It’s also when I started my first regular job and it’s one I’d keep for over six years. And you were there the whole time, as a constant noise in the background of my life. The fictional world you created was so viscerally engaging, but the horror elements got a bit lost after the fifth season ended. I still yearn for the creepy and eerie atmosphere of the early years, like when the shapeshifter in the first season peeled off his own skin, transforming into someone else entirely. That was just awesome. As you grew older, you relied more and more on CGI, especially with all the angel stuff and the Darkness in Season Eleven, but I suppose the destruction of the world isn’t easily done with practical effects. Every now and then you fall back on those old-school gimmicks in current episodes, and I truly appreciate that. It’s one of the reasons I’m still with you, over ten years later.

For 42 minutes a week, I was, and still am, invested in the adventures of Sam and Dean Winchester, and I can’t wait until the next episode – even if others left when you faltered because of such creatures as the Darkness for one. I didn’t mind that, though. Family has always been a recurring topic for you, and what would speak to that theme more than introducing God’s sister? By the way, I loved the characterization of God, mainly because of his unusual but obvious choices. I actually liked how that storyline ended. In such a larger-than-life show, sometimes it gets a bit lost that earth and humanity aren’t alone in the universe. It was a good twist, though maybe an obvious one for a show that keeps increasing in scale.

Let’s talk about the show’s mythology for a bit; the different myths you use to expand your universe continue to astound me. Like the Four Horsemen in Season Five. This was the first time we got to enjoy the performance of Death. He may only feature in a couple of episodes, but each time he’s on screen, his mere presence dominates the scene with his gravitas (which always reminded me of Guinan in Star Trek: TNG). I hope we see him again; I don’t believe for a minute that he can be killed. God also had a certain presence for a season or two. The way Castiel and the other angels talked about him always made me wonder what it would be like to actually have this character on the show, and then he was! But nothing compared to God-Castiel and the Leviathans (some of the strangest creatures of all, I still don’t know what to think of them). Even though many felt the show went off the rails, I also really enjoyed the storyline of Metatron (the scribe of God), the angel tablets, and the prophet Kevin. I personally loved Curtis Armstrong as Metatron, he was the perfect cast for such an arrogant weasel.

Speaking of sidekicks, over the years there were a lot of them, and how you weaved their development in and out of the main plot was always one of your greatest strengths. Most are dead now, or haven’t been seen in years. I fondly remember the resilient Ellen and her daughter Jo, whom I never really liked, though I couldn’t tell you why. And who could ever forget the unusually lovable hunter Garth Fitzgerald IV? I miss him. One of the best recurring characters is Jody Mills. She’s just so awesome, and a safe haven of sorts for the Winchesters. She’s a really relatable character, a stand-in for the viewer, as she’s slowly caught up in this strange world by no fault of her own, and she takes it all in stride. She’s always in a good mood, actually asks thoughtful questions about everything that’s happening, and her relationship with Bobby was just so cute. Bobby’s the character I miss the most, of course. After the death of John Winchester, he was like a father to the boys. Not a man of many words, but always there, always caring, and always with an ace up his sleeve. Can you please bring him back?

But after ten years, following the defeat of Abaddon, the storyline about the Mark of Cain, and Ezekiel’s possession of Sam to save him – I needed some space. I worked as a technical editor for several years then, but wasn’t exactly happy with my life. I appreciated the support you provided over the years, but my life just felt too cluttered. Your talks about friendship, trust, family, and road trips (now my favourite kind of holiday, by the way) meant a lot to me. Nevertheless, it was just too much and I couldn’t relate to you anymore. So for about a year I didn’t want to have anything to do with you. I decided to quit my job, and study media science in Germany. Away from my family and my old friends, I got the chance to get to know myself better. I have new friends now, the best friendships I’ve had my entire life to be honest. I‘m working on some personal projects I’ve always wanted to pursue, but never really got around to doing. And I finally had my coming out. All this because I moved away, and had the courage to turn my life upside down, to take real risks, just like you taught me.

As Season Twelve began, I caught up on the episodes I’d missed so I could finally let you back into my life. I’m happy that after the confrontation between the Darkness and God, you went back to your roots. Stories about the Winchester family (yay, Mary is back!), about the bigger picture (I’m not sure about the Men of Letters yet), featuring interesting new villains (e.g. the princes of Hell) and, of course, some old ones. Now, I know I haven’t talked about the Impala (which is a whole character on its own), the differences between Sam and Dean, their deaths, and their urge for a normal life, but that would be a lot to get into right now.

I want to make it clear that the personal things I mention in this letter didn’t directly happen because of you, but having Supernatural as a constant in my life has been reassuring in that some things just don’t change. The adventures of Sam and Dean taught me to never give up, and that there’s always a way out if you can think on your feet, no matter how dire your situation may be. This letter is just a glimpse into what has happened over the last twelve years of my life, and yours, but know that I still appreciate your stories.

Other shows that have outstayed their welcome with fans like C.S.I or Criminal Minds didn’t stick with me like you did (Honestly, how many of the same investigations can you watch anyway?) But Supernatural, you’re different somehow. You tell personal, yet fantastical stories that truly speak to your viewers, stories from another reality with monsters, magic (I totally forgot to mention the coolest witch of them all: Rowena. She deserves to be one of the main characters), and weird, quirky things like the Ghostfacers. I think we can all agree, you were never ashamed to be yourself.

You’ve always been there, and unlike other fans who have lost faith in you, I hope I can count on you for many years to come.

Best wishes and happy hunting,

Chris

Christoph Staffl
christoph.staffl@gmail.com

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