TV Review: SUPERNATURAL’s 200th Episode “Fan Fiction”

Sam and Dean have made it through ten years and 200 episodes, and the series celebrates with its most fan servicing episode yet. 

I don't watch Supernatural anymore. I stopped watching with the fifth season finale, "Swan Song," which was show creator Eric Kripke's intended series finale and the episode that marked his own departure. Earlier this year, I tried to move on to the sixth season out of a niggling curiosity, but eventually gave up again (although I will grant you that "Weekend at Bobby's" and "The French Mistake" are two very funny episodes). 

But last night, the opening moments of Supernatural's 200th episode (200!) caught me as soon as The Flash ended, and before I knew it, I was hooked. I watched to the end, and laughed uproariously the entire time. I enjoyed it quite a bit - but of course I did, because I am still a fan of the first five seasons of Supernatural, and "Fan Fiction" is just about the most fan-servicing hour of television I've ever seen. 

That's not a bad thing, and in fact it makes sense to reward longtime viewers for a milestone as remarkable as 200 episodes. Smallville's 200th episode, "Homecoming," is one of the very best episodes of the entire series, but there's quite a bit of fan service there, as well, with flashbacks to the first season and flash-forwards to Clark's eventual transformation into full-blown Superman - tights, flights and all. 

So for this episode, it makes sense that Supernatural pulled no punches in the gleeful fun department. Sam and Dean track the death of a teacher to an all-girls school where a female Max Fischer is producing an original musical based on Carver Edlund's Supernatural books. 

I mean, she is overtly Max Fischer, and if you want to combine Rushmore with Supernatural, I am not going to be the one to stop you, no matter how little thematic sense that makes. 

So, as you can imagine, the actual plot doesn't matter much on this one - there's like a murderous scarecrow that protects the artist's vision or whatever, but the point of it is that the show within a show must go on. And the particular show within this show is so good. There are plenty of silly nods to the slash fiction 'shippers of Tumblr, with the girls who play Dean and Castiel being in a relationship in real life, etc, but none of that is what I especially enjoyed about the episode. 

No, what works best about "Fan Fiction" are the moments of Sam and Dean's life - largely from the first five seasons, although I'm sure there are latter episode references I missed - that are interpreted through the eyes of a bossy, creative, teenage girl with a respectable production budget and no qualms about reimagining canon to support her narrative. It's a fun, unusual way to call back to some of the monumental scenes of the series without going the flashback route. 

(The musical numbers are pretty good, too - particularly the one that goes "saving people, hunting things, the family business" - well, you get it. Anyone who's watched a "Previously on Supernatural" for the first three seasons gets it.)

But "Fan Fiction," as much as I enjoyed it, highlighted my problem with Supernatural Season 6, and why I couldn't go on. The only good episodes anymore seem to be the ones that service the fans - including "The French Mistake," although "Weekend at Bobby's" was a nice departure from the trend, but feels like an outlier rather than an indicator of untapped potential. A post-S5 episode of Supernatural is either goofily meta or boring. And I do love the goofily meta episodes from earlier seasons - episodes like "Hollywood Babylon" or "It's a Terrible Life" - but there was so much more there, real thematic depth and narrative weight. An episode like "Mystery Spot" goes from goofy to heartbreaking in moments; "What Is and Should Never Be" is a killer; even "Heart," a fairly typical CW take on werewolves, gives us a devastating coda to all of the sexy, throat-ripping action. 

The dramatic moments of Supernatural made the levity all that more meaningful - but when it's all levity vs. tedium, it's hard to keep caring. 

But then again, what do I know? "Fan Fiction" is the first episode of Supernatural I've seen since Season 6. Those of you who have kept watching - give me your thoughts in the comments.