One of the original draws of the show for me was the America that it presented- that it represented. I’m talking about the importance of Setting here. SPN’s America is a place of neon signs, empty roads, skies. I am young, British, I have never been out of Europe. This was not an America I had seen before, ever. The closest I’d been to it was American Gods. The place I knew from films was all skyscrapers & crowds. & this- this beautiful isolated strangeness, this sparsity- it’s very wonderful to me.
If SPN took place on a more conventional stage, it would be a different show. Heck, it would be a different Story. & as it is there is a tragedy & a malaise to it. It knows what it’s doing. & this is something that has carried over through the entire show thus far, right from the Pilot up to Keep Calm & Carry On, through the horror, the apocalypse, the noir Season Six, the ghastly fake-tan phase, the intensity & darkness of the late seasons. Death rolls up in a white Cadillac. Angels smash through billboards, plunging to Earth. God hides out in an empty bar & writes his autobiography. There’s a million motels, the Blue Rose, the Blackbird, the Velvet Inn, the Too Tired. When shit goes down, it’s in Lebanon, Stull, Cold Oak, Blue Earth.
This is one of the ways in which the show retains its intense hilarious weirdness, is what I’m saying. I can’t describe how satisfying that is to me. There are ridiculous puns on every sign. Death’s number plate reads BUH*BYE. This is what Christmas looks like on the show:
I mean. Come on.
There are tremendous images of loneliness.
There are the whackjob motels, the diners, the neon.
(Look at that freaking dinosaur. A DINOSAUR.)
There are abandoned buildings. Because what other kind of building is there on this show.
(& that, by the way, is the look of a show that has spent its entire special effects budget on dry ice.)
There is the insane and sometimes completely inappropriate signposting.
‘Martha’s Ass Chili’… I mean…
This is never commented on. No-one within the show says ‘OMG, that sign is so funny, in a sick sort of way, because Crowley just cut one of Kevin’s fingers off!’ But it’s THERE, & it’s both subtle & absolutely fucking ridiculous. & of course this is all part of the show’s sense of humour, which is totally individual & what makes the show so rich. Tall Tales. Clap Your Hands. Plucky Pennywhistle’s. Just My Imagination. Wishful Thinking.
It’s so loopy.
& then of course where would the show be without its twelve gazillion shots of Baby, & the open road.
There’s a huge sense of freedom here. & the isolation that, in show-land, inevitably accompanies it. There’s a sense in the show of the hunting life drawing people in; a sense that once you’ve lived that kind of life nothing else seems real enough. I mean, hell, I can believe it. I love that when we saw a skyscraper on the show last season it looked totally flimsy. (I also love that it has the AKF logo on it. Never noticed that before.)
All this has also given us one of my favourite images of the show to date.
The Winchesters, the whole world of Supernatural, feels like part of a dying world. But also an immortal one. The America of the show is theirs, they know it, it’s their homeland, it’s alien. They are damaged, dying, immortal, beautiful. It’s a perfect fit. There’s such a glamour to it all.
I reckon one of the most profound moments in the show (and maybe in television history, all things considered) comes in Fan Fiction. That last bit of the musical, and the lights come up, & the pretend-Winchesters sing. & behind them is a painted backdrop of a desolate highway. & then- Sam & Dean, just standing, watching them. & we watch them Get It- what their lives mean- to other people, to themselves, their own legacy & mythos. & they stand there & they Realise. Y’all know what I’m on about. (If you don’t, do yourself a favour and rewatch.) & that painted highway, & the way the shadows intersect, & the Route 66 sign…
It is extremely non-literal poetic storytelling. It’s beautiful.
& you know what, I’m just gonna leave this here.
EDIT: so Andrea has informed me that it’s an alligator, not a dragon. Oops. I still find it funny, though.