Supernatural: Embrace the meta!
Sam and Dean test their meta.
Oh we of little faith...Every time Supernatural announces one of these heavy-meta episodes, we cringe a little. They just sound so self-indulgent, so fraught with peril. And then every time, they knock it out of the park. So it was with "The French Mistake," which sees Sam and Dean tossed into a strange world where they're actually TV stars named Jared and Jensen. It could have gone so, so wrong, but it was so, so very right.
That's not to say there was a lot of heavy plot development going on (but really, did there need to be when there was so much meta-y goodness?) Basically, Balthazar shows up, talks about "The Godfather," tells the boys that Raphael is after them (and the weapons of heaven), gives them the key to his weapons cache, and then tosses them into an alternate universe to keep them safe.
Specifically, a universe much like our own, where there's this awesome show called "Supernatural" that we watch every week, where Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki portray the Brothers Winchester, and some guy named Misha Collins tweets incessantly from the set. There are some differences, of course -- we doubt the real Jared has a mansion and an alpaca, or that the boys never talk to each other, or that Kripke is developing a show called "Octocobra" -- although we would totally watch that if he was.
Read on for a bounty of quotes and on-set hijinks after the jump!
The show within a show
So, the boy have to impersonate the actors they are in this reality, and they are completely out of their depth, shocked by the trickery of TV-making, and paralyzed by the business of acting. It's awesome. They're also amazed by the decadent lives that Jensen and Jared lead.
Watching the guys pretend to act was priceless. Dean gets all squinty and gruff, and keeps sidling over to his mark. Sam squirms and twitches and can't figure out what to do with his hands. When Dean tells him not to look directly at the camera, Sam cranes his neck back so he's staring at the ceiling as he delivers his lines. It's amazing.
Our favorite alt-reality version is Misha Collins, who the boys at first mistake for Castiel. Misha is laid-back, tweet-happy, and his speaking voice is half an octave higher than Castiel's growl. He's constantly taking pics from the set and tweeting to his adoring fans. When he gets kidnapped by Raphael's henchman, Virgil, he's a screaming, weepy mess (which, lets face it, how we'd react if someone had a knife at our throats.) The fact that Virgil slit his throat to make a blood phone was genuinely disturbing.
Then there were the reactions of the behind-the-scenes folks, who seem to think that the J's have quite simply lost their minds or gone on a Sheen-style drug bender. Director Bob Singer (played by Brian Doyle-Murray) is long-suffering and exhausted. First AD Kevin Parks (played by Jason Bryden) is convinced there are drugs involved. Sera Gamble (just a voice on the phone, and it might actually be her) is a bit bitter and insecure that no one is taking her seriously. And Kripke himself (played by Micah A. Hauptman) is writing the aforementioned "Octocobra" and celebrating the fact that Misha's murder got them on the front page of Variety. Plus! He gets shot! A lot! You have to admit, just about every fan has thought of seeing Kripke go down in a hail of bullets at one time or another...
The guys figure out that Raphael will be pulling Virgil back through the portal, so they jump him and get their key back. But when Raph brings them back, Balthazar is waiting. The boys were just a decoy, an that key opens a bus locker in Albany. Castiel has the weapons of heaven now. They boys aren't happy that he signed off on the plan to use them as decoys, but Cas is unrepentant.
At least the guys are home again, where they matter and they occasionally save the world. Granted, they're in peril, broke, and temporarily without booze, but at least they're talking. That counts for something, right?
The hilarity that ensued
Look, this ep wasn't about the plot half so much as it was about the commentary, snark and in-jokes. Some of our favorites:
Yes, those were actors playing the main crew members, but yes, they are using the crews' real names.
Kevin: We can clean up, reset the window, takes about 95 minutes, basically, so we're have to blow off the scene where they sit on the Impala and talk about their feelings.
Bob: Hah! Right! You answer the hate mail!
A makeup artist whisks Jensen to the chair, telling him she's going to get his makeup off. Dean scoffs, then realizes yep, there's actual makeup.
Dean: Oh, crap, I'm a painted whore.
Sam: Wherever here is, this twilight zone Balthazar zapped us into, for whatever reason, our life is a TV show.
Sam: I don't know.
Dean: No, seriously, why? Why would anyone want to watch our lives?
Sam: Well, according to the interviewer, not very many people do.
Dean gets visibly ill when he sees the various versions of the Metallicar. "I feel like this whole place is bad-touching me."
The boys run into who they think is Castiel, and Misha does the angel voice, etc. Then he lightens up as himself, asking the boys if there are new pages.
Dean: His name’s Misha.
Sam: Misha? Oh, wow, just great.
Dean: Misha, Jensen...what's up with the names around here?
Misha: You guys! You really punked me! I'm totally going to tweet this one! [Whips out his phone, typing] "Hola, Mishamigos! J2 got me good. ... really starting to feel like one of the guys. "
The guys run across a trailer with Jensen's name on it.
Dean: That's fake me. This must be fake mine.
[They enter. It's seriously opulent and full of toys.]
Dean: Dude I have a helicopter.
Sam: Who puts a 300 gallon aquarium in his trailer?
Dean: Apparently Jensen Ackles.
Sam: Huh. All right, here we go, let's see who this guy is.
Dean: Well, he's not a Hunter but he plays one on TV.
[Dean finds a copy of "Supernatural" magazine. We can neither confirm nor deny that we have that issue.]
Dean: Oh, come on, look at these male modeling sons of bitches. Nice Blue Steel, Sam.
Sam: It says you're from Texas, and uh... oh. It says you were on a soap opera.
[Cut to an actual scene of actual Jensen on actual "Days Of our Lives."]
Dean: I don't like this universe, Sammy. We need to get out of this universe.
The driver takes them away from the set, and the guys see the "Welcome to Vancouver" sign.
Dean: Dude, we're not even in America!
The driver takes the guys to Jared's ridiculously over-the-top mansion.
Dean: Nice digs, Jay-Z.
Sam: Wow, I must be the star of this thing!
Dean: Yeah, right...
[The guys see a weird machine in the hall.]
Sam: What am I , Dracula?
[Dean opens the machine. It's a tanning bed.]
Dean: George Hamilton Dracula...
The guys hear a noise from the backyard. Dean checks it out.
Dean: Dude, you have a camel in your back yard!
Genevieve Cortese: It's an alpaca, dumbass.
Gen: Ruby. Right. Because that one never gets old.
Dean: [To Sam] You married Fake Ruby?
Gen snarks that Jensen has never come to their house before.
Dean: Well, now that I know there's an alpaca out back, I'm definitely coming back!
Gen: Well, alpacas are the greenest animal...
We loved watching the boys realize that there are perks to being actors -- like, they can just buy the finger bone of a minor saint and have it shipped to the airport rather than having to drive to Mexico to steal it.
After the guys are pulled off Virgil, we see this conference call:
Bob: It appears Jared and Jensen were seen beating an extra to death.
Jim: This is Jim here, Sera, and it wasn't all the way to death, only part way, so there's a plus...
Kevin: He could definitely still run.
Bob: And we'll certainly follow up on that, but I think the real issue Sera, is the boys appear to be on some sort of extended psychedelic acid trip.
Sera: OK. Maybe it would help if I... I'll fly up and talk to them.
Jim: You know, I'm not sure Jared and Jensen know who she is, strictly speaking. She's, you know .. new. No offense.
Bob: I think what we might need at this stage is for Kripke to come up himself. He created this show. They'll listen to him.
Sera: How's that make me look? I'm supposed to be running this thing. Besides, Eric is off in some cabin somewhere writing his next pilot.
Bob: He sold "Octocobra"?
Bob: Mother of god. They'll buy anything.
Bob surprises the guys on the set of Bobby's house:
Bob: So is it money? Is this the kind of act that goes away if we can scare up some coverage on a raise?
Dean: More money? You already pay these two jokers enough as it is.
Bob: 'Cause I like to think that over the years, we've grown closer. That you don't think of me as Director Bob, or Exec Producer Bob Singer, but as Uncle Bob.
Sam: You're kidding. So the character in the show, Bobby Singer...
Dean: What kind of a douchebag names a character after himself?
Sam: Oh, that's not right....
Bob: Guys, you can't come to work on poppers. And smuggle kidneys in from Mexico. And make up your own lines as you go. You cannot make up your own lines! Good god, what about your careers?
Sam: Screw our careers, Bob!
Dean: You heard my brother. That's right. I said brother. 'Cause you know what, Bob? We're not actors. We're Hunters. We're the Winchesters. Always have been, always will be. And where we're from, people don't know who we are. But you know what? We matter to that world. In fact, we've even saved the son of a bitch once or twice. And yeah, ok, here, maybe there's some fans who give a crap about this nonsense...
Bob: I wouldn't call it nonsense...
Dean: But, Bob Singer, if that even is your name, tell me this -- what does it all mean?
Bob: OK, this is good! I mean, we've all had our psychotic breaks, right? I can work with this!
When Virgil comes to the set shooting, there was one person who just calmly dodged the bullets. Who was that? Hee!
We loved this episode almost unreservedly. Our one quibble? Why oh why did everyone have to get all dismissive when Raphael was in a female meat suit? The person Raph is riding doesn't diminish the power he/she/it wields. Who cares if it's a male or female when Raph can still smite the hell out of anyone in the way? Was Balthazar's sneering "honey" really necessary? Sigh...
Otherwise, we loved Balthy. We loved how he called Castiel Cassie and Raphael Raffi. We loved that he refers to the guys as "these two marmosets." We love the "Godfather" references. We loved him scoffing about his missing lung and calling his wound "garish." More, please!
What was your take on the ep? So any of you know how many of the folks we saw on set were actual behind-the-scenes workers? Do you approve of the meta eps, or do you want the show to just get on with that whole advancing the story thing? Talk about it in the comments!