Category Archives: Fiction

Whispers, Spoilers & Speculation Corner: 01/09/17: The New Year’s Edition


This will be the last week the Whispers, Spoilers & Speculation Corner appears on Innsmouth Free Press. It is moving to The Historical Meow (this week’s column will appear at both sites).

You can access previous spoilers columns here.


Last Week in Innsmouth

You can still buy our all-woman Lovecraft Mythos anthology (the first one ever), She Walks in Shadows, which has won the 2016 World Fantasy Award. As well as our other books, such as Orrin Grey’s past columns in his new book Monsters from the Vault.

You can also still catch our latest Whispers, Spoilers and Speculation Corner here.


Sci-fi Spoilerpalooza
By Heather S. Vina

Happy Holidays, everyone! Wishing you joy, peace and prosperity! And Happy 2017, everyone! Fingers crossed the beginning of this year improves VASTLY on the troublesome end of last year.

The official episode synopses are out (click on the show title) for the Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow crossover. TV Line also has the most recent promotional photos of the characters interacting with each other.

The CW is changing up their 2017 schedule: New show Riverdale will debut Thursday, January 26 at 9 pm., which sees Supernatural moving to Thursdays at 8 p.m. Legends of Tomorrow will move to Tuesdays at 9 pm. starting January 24. iZombie will premiere with a two-hour episode on Tuesday, April 4 at 8 p.m. before then moving to its regular time period at 9 pm. The 100 will return on Wednesday, February 1 at 9 pm. The Vampire Diaries series finale will air on Friday, March 10, with The Originals returning the following week on Friday, March 17 at 8 pm.

The CW also announced that there will be no more additional episodes ordered for Frequency and No Tomorrow this season. The shows’ fates remain unclear.

However, good news for fans of Westworld: The show has been renewed for a second season. Ed Harris also confirmed he will be back for season two.

After the big DC/CW crossover event, a few sites have some interview roundups. TV Line spoke with executive producers Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim. EW spoke with executive producer Andrew Kreisberg on what didn’t make the cut. Variety has an interview with producer Marc Guggenheim on what the fallout will be. And the Dominators will be returning to one show soon.

TV Line has up some more scoop about the Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow crossover. There’s also another promo out for it.

TV Line has up a preview for the best upcoming winter shows in 2017.

Great news for fans of Netflix’s Luke Cage: Marvel has announced a second season.

TV Line has up spoilers for the returns of thirty plus shows!

12 Monkeys: The show has cast actor James Callis (Battlestar Galactica) in a mysterious role. According to executive producer Terry Matalas, his character is a “rebellious and enigmatic time-traveler raised throughout history by the Army of the 12 Monkeys, one whose conflicted personal and emotional path will change everything for James Cole and Dr. Cassandra Railly.” Also from Matalas, the mystery character is “a highly anticipated and pivotal new character to our series’ mythology.”

The 100: There’s a new trailer out and a new promo for season four. EW has up some spoilers and promotional photos for the new season as well. Executive producer Jason Rothenberg has some scoop on Octavia’s journey post-Lincoln’s murder.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Looks like Adrian Pasdar is returning to the show. Episode is unknown right now. Spoiler TV has up the promotional photos and official synopsis for episode seven.

TV Line has up an interview with Clark Gregg about the events of the midseason finale. EW has up an interview with Gabriel Luna about what has happened to Ghost Rider. EW has up an interview with executive producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen about what’s next after the events of the midseason finale. TV Line also has up a solo interview with Whedon on what’s coming up in the second half of the season.

EW has up an interview with Ming Na on the latest Agent May twist. Collider has up an interview with Clark Gregg and Jason O’Mara on the second half of the season. Spoiler TV has up the promotional photos and synopsis for episode nine.

American Gods: EW has up the first promotional photo of Corbin Bernsen as Vulcan.

Arrow: TV Line has the dish on Oliver and Susan’s romance. There’s also a new, very spoilery promo out for the second half of the season. TV Line has up the promotional photos for episode 10.

Bates Motel: The show will be returning on Monday, February 20.

Class: Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for the season finale.

Colony: There’s a new promo for season two. The show is adding three new faces to its cast in the forms of William Russ (Girl Meets World), Keiko Agena (Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life), and Paolo Andino (The Last Ship). They will all have recurring roles in season two. The show has also cast actress Laura Innes (ER) in a recurring role as Karen. The show will return on Thursday, January 12, 2017.

The Defenders: Superherohype has up some set photos of the actors filming.

Dirk Gently: The BBC America show has been renewed for a second season.

Doctor Who: There are a a new sneak peek out, new video featurette, and official trailer for the Christmas special. The official Twitter account also put up a new photo for the Christmas special. BBC released a new wallpaper for it.

Take it with a grain of salt, but the Daily Mirror (a British tabloid) is reporting that when new showrunner Chris Chibnall takes over in 2017, it will be with a clean slate. Meaning both Peter Capaldi (Twelve) and Pearl Mackie (Bill) will be gone, and the show will cast a new, younger Doctor. The magazine’s “sources” report that the BBC wants to revitalize flagging merchandise sales with a younger Doctor and get back to having a season a year instead of another year-long break as we are experiencing this year. Peter Capaldi is also teasing the idea that he might not be on the show much longer.

With the Christmas Special having aired, there’s now a trailer out for season ten, with a lot of new companion Billie. The official ratings for the Christmas special are out, and the show had 7.83 million, placing it at 9th for the week. The AI or Appreciation Index came in at a score of 82, tying it with last year’s special “The Husbands of River Song.” The BBC site has up a list of “10 Things We Know” about new Companion Bill.

The Exorcist: Deadline has up an interview with creator/executive producer Jeremy Slater on the season finale and the chances for a second season.

The Expanse: Spoiler TV has up the promotional photos and trailer for season two.

The Flash: Actor Greg Gumberg (Alias) has been cast in the recurring role of Detective Tom Patterson. SpoilerTV has up the official synopsis for episode nine, “The Present.” TV Insider has up an interview with Candice Patton on Iris’ relationships and the epic crossover. There’s a HUGE spoiler for the show over at Canadagraphs Twitter. Be warned, though; it’s pretty big.

TV Line has up some scoop from executive producer Andrew Kreisberg on the fallout from the crossover episode. The show has found its “Gypsy” in actress Jessica Camacho (Sleepy Hollow). TV Line has up the promotional photos for episode ten.

Frequency: Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for episode nine, “Gray Line” and for episode eight, “Interference.”

Game of Thrones: EW has an interview with Sophie Turner on what’s coming up for Sansa in season seven. The show has cast mixed martial arts Fighter Conor McGregor in a mysterious role.

Gotham: The show has cast actor James Remar as Frank Gordon, Jim Gordon’s uncle.

Grimm: TV Line has up some scoop from the producers on the final season of the show. TV Line has up an interview with Sasha Roiz on the final season. TV Line has up some behind-the-scenes photos of the cast filming the final season.

Legends of Tomorrow: Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for episode eight, “The Chicago Way.” EW asks after the December crossover whether Sara given up on trying to save Laurel. TV Line has up some photos from the fall finale. The show has cast actress Elyse Levesque (The Originals, Orphan Black) as Guinevere. Caity Lotz posted a photo of her and the guest star in costume.

EW is reporting that actor Matt Angel (Grimm) has been cast as a young George Lucas in an episode that will find Ray and Nate deeply affected by the time changes.

Legion: There’s a new promo for the show.

The Librarians: Executive producer Dean Devlin spoke with EW about this season’s arc and the influence Doctor Who has had on it. Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for the Christmas episode, directed by Star Trek’s Jonathon Frakes and written by star Noah Wyle.

Lucifer: Actor Tim Dekay has been cast as Dr. Jacob Carlisle, a brilliant neuroscience professor whose appearance in episodes 12 and 13 will have “deadly ramifications” for someone Lucifer cares for. TV Line has up some spoilers on Charlotte’s plans now that she knows Chloe’s secret.

The Magicians: There’s a new trailer out for season two.

Once Upon A Time: EW has up the first promotional photo of the alternate universe episode. TV Line has up an interview with Emilie de Ravin on Belle’s painful decision.

Canadagraphs has up some set photos and descriptions of scenes being filmed with actors Josh Dallas and Colin O’Donoghue, with new guest star David Cubitt (Medium). Faran Tahir announced on his Twitter that he will be returning to the show as Captain Nemo. EW has up an interview with executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. Canadagraphs also has up some set photos with Lana Parrilla, Sean Maguire and Will Traval.

Executive producer Adam Horowitz debunked to EW a fan theory on Emma’s prophesized death. TV Line has up the first promotional photos of August’s return. EW is reporting that Ariel (actress Joanna Going Swisher) will be making a return appearance. Actor Gil McKinney’s Prince will also be returning.

The Originals: TV Line is reporting that Matt Davis, AKA Alaric, will be making an appearance on the show in the eighth episode. TV Line has some scoop on Hayley and Elijah’s romance.

Outlander: EW has up an interview with Caitriona Balfe on what is coming up in season three.

Powerless: The show finally has a premiere date: Thursday, February 2nd at 8:30pm ET. There’s a new promo for the completely revamped DC series. They no longer work in an insurance office but a super hero gadgets research and development department of Wayne Industries. Too bad. The insurance bit sounded funnier to me.

Salem: The show is officially ending with season three.

Sense 8: Netflix has announced it will air a Christmas version of the show on December 23. Season two is set to premiere Friday, May 5, at 12:01am PT. There’s a trailer out for the two-hour special for Christmas.

Shadowhunters: Spoiler TV has up the latest promotional photos and clips for season two. Spoiler TV has up the promotional photos and synopsis for episode two and episode one. Comicbook.com has up an interview with Harry Shum Jr. on what’s coming up for Magnus in season two.

TV Line has up an interview with executive producer Matt Hastings.

Sleepy Hollow: TV Insider has up the first promotional photos of Ichabod’s new team and the season synopsis. Actor Robbie Kay has been cast in a recurring role as a “handsome Internet star.” TV Line has up “10 Things You Need to Know” about the season premiere and an interview with newcomer Janina Gavankar. They also have up the promotional photos for episodes three and four. TV Line has up a video interview with Tom Mison on the new, Abbie-less season. They also have up an interview with Lyndie Greenwood on Jenny in the new season.

Star Trek Discovery: The show has found its Captain in actress Michelle Yeoh. She will be playing Han Bo. Her ship won’t be the Discovery but the Shenzhou, another ship. Bryan Fuller is now reporting that he will no longer be involved with the show at all. The show has also added two new cast members: Doug Jones (The Strain) will be playing Lt. Saru, a “Starfleet Science Officer and a new alien species,” and Anthony Rapp (Rent) will be playing Lt. Stamets, an “astromycologist, fungus expert and Starfleet Science Officer.” The show has officially found its female lead in The Walking Dead actress Sonequa Martin-Green. Reports have her staying with The Walking Dead as well. IGN has up an interview with actor Doug Jones on his new character, Lt. Saru.

Supergirl: Chyler Leigh spoke with TV Line about Alex’s coming-out story and the importance of this story right now. EW has up an interview with executive producer Andrew Kreisberg on what is coming up after last week’s crossover storyline. TV Line is reporting that villains Livewire and Metallo will both be making a return appearance. EW has up some spoilers from executive producer Andrew Kreisberg on where the show goes after that winter finale.

Teen Wolf: TV Line has up a preview for season six. TV Line has up an interview with executive producer Jeff Davis on what is coming up for Malia. Actor Matthew Del Negro (Scott’s dad) announced on his Instagram that he will be making a return appearance.

Timeless: Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for episode eight, “The Space Race.” They also have up the official synopsis for episode nine, “The Last Ride of Bonnie and Clyde.” The show has cast their H.H. Holmes with actor Joel Johnstone. Spoiler TV has up the synopsis for episode ten, “The Capture of Benedict Arnold.” The show has cast actress Annie Wesching (24) in a recurring role as Emma Whitmore, a woman important to Flynn. TV Line has up an interview with executive producers Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan on what is coming up in the second half of the season. The show has cast actor Jim Beaver in a recurring role as NSA Agent Neville.

The Vampire Diaries: Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for episode seven, “The Next Time I Hurt Somebody, It Could Be You.” TV Line has up an interview with Zach Roerig about Matt’s father issues. They also have up an interview with actress Kristen Gutoskie about Seline’s intentions. TV Line has up the first promotional photo of the latest Big Bad, Cade. EW has up an interview with actress Malese Jow on her favorite scenes as Anna.

Get ready, fans. There’s another “painful” death coming, warns Julie Plec. Actress Alexandra Chando (The Lying Games) has been cast in a guest role as a character named Tara.
Van Helsing: Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for episode 11. BIG spoiler in the synopsis though.

The Walking Dead: Spoiler TV has up the brief official synopsis’ for episodes seven and eight, and for episode six as well. EW has up an interview with Andrew Lincoln on Rick’s Baby Judith admission from last week. EW has up an interview with Lauren Cohan on Maggie’s big move. Comic Book.comis speculating that a recent post by actor Chandler Riggs’ dad is hinting at the young actor leaving the show.

EW has up an interview with Tom Payne on what Jesus is up to. Variety has up an interview with Alanna Masterson on Tara’s secret. The Hollywood Reporter is theorizing that Tara’s run-in will have future implications for Negan’s survival. However, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is reporting he will be around for season 8.

Variety has up an interview with actor Chandler Riggs on Carl’s relationship with Negan. The Hollywood Reporter has one with him as well. TV Line has up a first look photo of the main crew confronting new character Gregory. EW has up an interview with Andrew Lincoln on the second half of the season.

Westworld: TV Line has up an interview with Jeffrey Wright on the Bernard reveals and what’s to come. EW has up some promotional photos for the finale.

The Hollywood Reporter has up an interview with Evan Rachel Wood on what she would like to see in season two. EW has up an interview with Ed Woods on the events of the finale. TV Line has up an interview with executive producers Jonathan “Jonah” Nolan and Lisa Joy. EW has one as well. TV Line has up some spoilers for season two.

Great news for fans of Syfy’s Z Nation: The show has been renewed for a fourth season.

Zoo: The show has promoted actress Gracie Dzienny to regular in season three. She played Mitch’s daughter Clementine in the season finale.

Over at E!Online, the spoiler rooms have spoilers on shows Once Upon a Time, The Vampire Diaries, The Flash, The Walking Dead, Timeless and Supergirl; also on shows Once Upon a Time, Arrow, Teen Wolf, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl; on shows The Vampire Diaries, Once Upon a Time, Legends of Tomorrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., 12 Monkeys, Supergirl, and Supernatural; on shows Once Upon a Time, Supergirl, Shadowhunters, and Timeless; on shows Once Upon a Time, Supergirl, 12 Monkeys, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Arrow; and on shows Once Upon a Time, Supergirl, The Originals, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Colony.

At TV Line, Matt’s Inside Line has spoilers on shows Arrow, Lucifer, Once Upon a Time, Supergirl, The Flash, and Timeless; on shows Lucifer, Supernatural, Once Upon A Time, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and The Flash; on shows Once Upon A Time, Westworld, The Vampire Diaries, Gotham, Lucifer, and Arrow; on shows The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Emerald City, Once Upon a Time, Zoo, Grimm, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Lucifer, and Arrow; and on shows The Flash, Once Upon a Time, Supernatural, Grimm, Lucifer, Sleepy Hollow, The 100, Supergirl, and Timeless.


Supernatural (Thursday nights, 9pm, CW)
By Paula R. Stiles

Check out my Patreon page. Help me keep this column going and start doing Supernatural reviews again.

It’s official! The show has been renewed for a 13th season. This may well be (by a couple of weeks) the earliest renewal Supernatural has ever received.

The show is moving to 8pm when it comes back on January 26. Repeats are currently in progress. This week’s is “Rock Never Dies” (12.07).

The Season 12 line-up (23 episodes) so far: “Keep Calm and Carry On” (12.01) official photos and press release; “Mamma Mia” (12.02) synopsis and photos; “The Foundry” (12.03) synopsis, official photos, sneak peek, and promo; “American Nightmare” (12.04) synopsis, official photos and promo; “The One You’ve Been Waiting For” (12.05) synopsis, promo and set photos; “Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox” (12.06) synopsis, photos and promo; “Rock Never Dies” (12.07) synopsis, photos and promo; “LOTUS” (12.08) synopsis, photos and promo; and “First Blood” (12.09) synopsis, photos and promo, as well as an extended promo.

The synopsis for “First Blood” (12.09) is up. This will be the first episode for 2017:

“First Blood” – (8:00-9:00 p.m. ET) (Content Rating TBD) (HDTV)

THE HUNTERS BECOME THE HUNTED – After being arrested for the attempted assassination of the President of The United States, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) must find a way out of an underground, government-run, detention facility in the middle of nowhere. Determined to find her sons, Mary (guest star Samantha Smith) and Castiel (Misha Collins) seek assistance from an unlikely source. Robert Singer directed the episode written by Andrew Dabb (#1209). Original airdate 1/26/2017.

TV Line has some spoilers out about the returns of Eileen, Claire and Donna later in the season. We’ve already seen Rowena and Jody come back.

The article also discusses 12.11, which involves a “de-aged” Dean. More accurately, he will be suffering from a magical condition similar to Alzheimer’s where he loses his memory over a period of time. There’s also a cute photo from the episode involving a bunny.

The showrunners apparently didn’t get the hint that the LoL have gone down like a lead balloon with the audience, as they promise a whole lot more of them in the second half of the season. God help us.

TV Line talked about the departure of Rick Springfield in 12.07, as well as the return of the LoL. Ugh.

There’s a new interview out with show AD John MacCarthy about the crew side of the show’s production.

There’s another Shaving People, Punting Things video out.

Jensen Ackles and the show have been nominated for the People’s Choice Awards. The ceremony will be on Wednesday, January 18.

Ratings for “Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox” (12.06) went up a little in demo to 0.7/3 and 1.80 million, dropped a bit in demo to 0.6/2 and remained steady at 1.80 million for “Rock Never Dies” (12.07), and remained steady in demo at 0.6/2 and dropped a bit to 1.73 million for “LOTUS” (12.08).

For repeat ratings, “Keep Calm and Carry On” (12.01) got a 0.2/1 in demo and 0.66 million in audience; “Mamma Mia” (12.02) got a 0.2/1 in demo and 0.72 million in audience; and “The Foundry” (12.03) got a 0.2/1 in demo and 0.80 million in audience.



Horror: The Cult of Exotic Death


By Paula R. Stiles


One day when I was 14, my maternal grandfather bit into a burger and nearly choked to death in front of me and my cousin. It was fall and our extended family was passing through Lebanon, NH, so we had stopped at the A&W Root Beer restaurant there (sadly, now long gone) for supper.

Beloved and much-missed Grandpa Van was not eating too fast. He hadn’t taken too big a bite to eat. No. His throat muscles had atrophied thanks to his recent diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, now known as ALS. He died a few months later. Ever since, I dread whenever water or a bit of cracker goes down the wrong pipe. You see, ALS can have a genetic component. And it can skip a generation.

We all fear what Stephen King once called “the bad death.” What’s funny, though, is what kind of bad death we want to see in our horror stories. The more exotic, the less likely it is to take us, the better.

Zombies? Check. Vampires? Sure. Werewolves? Absolutely. Flesh-eating bacteria? Uh-huh. World-killing flu? Why not? Balloon-carrying, clown serial killers? Alrighty-then.

Heart attack? Cancer? MS? Alzheimer’s? Not so much. At least, not straight up with no chaser.

Sure, good horror does often evoke real-life horrors in a metaphorical way. We see a lot of domestic abuse in horror (and yes, domestic abuse is very common in real life), especially in the vampire sub-genre. And there’s body horror, which often mimics what a parasite from some hot and far-away part of the world can do to an unsuspecting First World body. In fact, some things (like rape) are not only very common, they are portrayed in many works as universally happening to female characters in a tone-deaf way. It’s a free-for-all of gender violence aimed at women in a lot of horror.

But let’s face it – your odds of being whacked by a killer clown while at summer camp are much less than getting lost and dying of exposure, or being killed in a car crash on the way home (or sexually assaulted). But what do we see in theaters and on our bookshelves? Endless movies about hot, young teens whittled down by some chainsaw-wielding maniac. Or zombie horror. Or vampires, sparkly and otherwise.

Admittedly, some of this has to do with the target audience – complacent, social-anxiety-ridden teenagers who think they’re physically invulnerable, for the movies; young, white men for books and graphic novels. When the genre does bother to target other groups, it splits off to paranormal romance for women (young women, of course, because why would older women read books, am I right?) or magical realism/literary for People of Color, both writers and readers. Horror writers and fans look down on these two categories, even though paranormal romance, like most things romance-genre-connected, sells like hotcakes while horror is considered a genre ghetto. Older people who actually buy a whole lot of books might as well not exist in the eyes of those selling them, at least when it comes to horror.

Still, I think a lot of it boils down to simple escapism. King talked at length in his two non-fiction books, Danse Macabre and On Writing, about how he put a lot of his early struggles with poverty and alcoholism into his books. And those elements definitely ground his books in a way that lesser books by lesser authors are not.

But even there, these themes are distanced by the supernatural element. Jack Torrance struggles with his alcoholism and isolation (and being so broke that taking a caretaker job with his wife and son at an off-season hotel in the middle of winter and nowhere is a great opportunity), but those are just the elements of his personality that make him vulnerable to the ghosts. The ghosts are what push him over the edge.

If he went over the edge due to the drinking and isolation, that would be drama. In horror, the ghosts aren’t just metaphors. They are real. So, there’s always an external element of threat in horror that doesn’t exist in straight drama that perhaps makes the threat easier to connect with emotionally.

It’s much easier to deal with things like genocide in The Martian Chronicles when it involves Martians and hypothetical spacemen than when it involves your direct and not-so-distant ancestors (or cousins). Dementia and mental illness are more tolerable in the context of The Twilight Zone than a hospital room. And nuclear holocaust, despite attempts by Hollywood to make it “respectable” drama, was monopolized by the horror genre early on. Nobody ever wanted to think about nuclear bombs in a “realistic” context.

This may be why people seek out horror despite its dark themes. And it may be why some themes (which can be given a horror spin more easily) are more common that others. The fantasy element is like a shield that allows you to see Medusa without being turned to stone.


Happy Halloween, everyone!


Liked this? Throw a little in the tip jar for the kitties.


Mommy’s Burning on the Ceiling: Mary Winchester in “Supernatural”


By Paula R. Stiles


I’ve made no secret over the years that Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith), the fridged matriarch of the Winchester family on CW show Supernatural is one of my favorite characters. I’m also quite partial to Meg, both versions. I liked Jessica, Ellen and Pamela. I like Amara, as well as Jody and her adopted brood. And I’ve warmed to Rowena. Clearly, my tastes run toward older, experienced and spiky, played by talented actresses. Jessica wasn’t the first three, but Adrianne Palicki is definitely talented (still sad her Wonder Woman series never took off), so she gets a pass.

Mary’s popularity increases with me in that she is now the longest-running character on the show, even appearing before her sons Sam and Dean. Plus, the show has teased us over the years with versions of Not-Mary played by Smith (most successfully with Eve in season six episode “Mommy Dearest), and the younger Hunter version of her played by Amy Gumenick in season four’s “In the Beginning” and season five’s “The Song Remains the Same.”

Mary_vs._Anna

However, the older I get, the less patient I am with the dire writing of women on television, to the point that even an irritating side character can turn me off to an entire show (The Flash and Arrow, for example). I doubt I’ll stop watching Supernatural any time soon, but it’s been on so long that its early seasons encompass a very different television landscape from the one (admittedly with its own imperfections) today. And one of the things that still seemed acceptable without comment in 2005 was bookending your pilot episode with a double-fridging of female characters.

It’s therefore still disappointing to see a character with so much potential as Mary initially introduced as Fridged Mommy, though in her case, she’s burned on a ceiling, instead. Even more disappointing is seeing Sam’s girlfriend Jessica endure the same fate at the end of the Pilot, simply because the show’s creator Eric Kripke was too lazy to think of anything else to do with her. There’s no doubt about it. That’s bad writing.

jessicaburning-r50

So, it’s understandable that when the omnipotent goddess Amara rewarded Mary’s son Dean for helping her reconcile with her brother by resurrecting his mother, not all fans of the show were enthused. Bringing back a fridged character usually results in that character’s immediate refridging (often after she turns EVOL). But I’ve always wanted to see Mary back and hope springs eternal.

Let’s talk a bit about what makes a fridged character. I think we can all identify her fairly easily from back in the day. You’re watching Bonanza or Miami Vice or Magnum P.I., or reading a Batman comic or whatever, and let’s just say there aren’t a whole lot of regular female characters on the show or in the comic.

Then, one day, a female character who actually seems pretty cool shows up. She falls in mutual love with the Hero (eh, okay, whatever) and then, by the end of the episode, she’s dead, insane, evil and then dead, or moved to Timbuktu with a new boyfriend and ten cats. Either way, she’s gone for good. It’s like, “Hello, Female Character with Potential; goodbye, Female Character with Potential!”

And all the time, the male writers of the show are complaining that they’ve gotta put in female characters with “romance” plots because “chicks dig it” and that’s why they also write them out as quickly as possible, because they were forced into sullying their magnum opus with girl cooties. Why, if they had their druthers, the show would be a sausagefest 24/7 (except, like, not with any canonical slash overtones, c’mon, dude), just as it should be.

The nerve of the network making them do changes like that. The show would be perfect without them, don’t you agree?

It takes you quite a long time to unpack just how thoroughly misogynistic it is to resent having to include 51% of the population in a story. It takes you even longer to figure out that the real reason they put these love interests and doomed mothers/sisters/cousins into stories aimed at male audiences is because these female characters are not really characters — they’re plot coupons and rewards for the Heroes. Those female characters are actually necessary to the story the writers want to tell and insisted on by the writers themselves. They just aren’t meant for the female fans.

Everyone knows that the Heroes can’t be Heroes unless they are restless and miserable, so these rewards are constantly taken away from them, in a way that creates as much angst as possible. And the fact that women are not job promotions or cartons of Ben&Jerry’s ice cream — they are people — is never, ever acknowledged. In fact, it’s strenuously ignored.

Which brings us to the Women in Refrigerators website. It was originally based on an incident in the Green Lantern comic in which the Hero’s new girlfriend gets murdered by a villain and stuffed in a refrigerator for her boyfriend to find.

Green_Lantern_1994-54-15.0-r50

Now, aside from the fact that this plot alone sounds incredibly stupid (and the art in the comic panels does it no favors), the author of the site’s point that this happens a lot to women in genre fiction is well-taken. I may not agree with every single entry on her list, but she’s dead-right that a disturbingly high number of female characters in genre media are introduced as Love Interests, Mothers, Hot Sisters/Cousins, etc., only to be brutally killed off or otherwise written out almost as soon as we meet them. The Green Lantern’s girlfriend, for example, is introduced a mere six issues before she’s killed off. So, these characters, on top of being horribly dead, have little audience investment because they are one-dimensional.

Surprisingly, some of them turn out to be really popular because the writers, to save time, make them perfect and awesome (or get lucky with casting, as Supernatural did with Samantha Smith and Adrianne Palicki) so that the pain of losing them can be felt by the reader/viewer as it is by the Hero — you know, instead of actually developing them over time as real characters and then killing them off for reasons that are about them and not their boyfriends.

Many writers go another route. They have them “meet cute” in a way where the female Love Interest treats the Hero like dirt right off the bat (so we don’t actually like her that much after all) and usually interferes with his (or sometimes, her) main purpose in the story. This is why I call Love Interests “soft antagonists.” They are usually good people, but they create conflict for the Hero’s mission in the story and interfere with its continuation in some way. Therefore, at some point, they’ve gotta go.

Green Lantern’s girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, doesn’t like him initially and then doesn’t like it when he gets his Green Lantern ring, so she’s gotta go. It’s her or the superpowered Call to Action. In a comic, the superpowered macguffin always wins that war.

An equally high number of women with actual agency in these stories (i.e., protagonists) are depowered/turned evil/killed off through similar means. A Xena: Warrior Princess is quite rare. Sexual violence is especially favored, used in a tone-deaf way as a tool to create more angst or, worse, as an origin story for toughening up a female victim into a hero. Game of Thrones pre-season six fairly leaps to mind here and from the rape rumors surrounding the upcoming Westworld series, HBO hasn’t learned a thing. Joss Whedon even did a fridging with a lesbian couple in Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. I can’t say I was thrilled about it.

I don’t believe in over-applying such tropes to the point of pointlessness, as it were, but I trust it’s not hard to see why the Mary of the Pilot, like Jessica, is a fridged character. Where it gets interesting is that not long after, Mary starts being something else.

For one thing, show creator Eric Kripke always claimed that he intended for Mary to recognize her demonic murderer (keeping in mind that none of the rest of her family had any clue about his identity for over two decades after her death), but decided to hold that reveal until near the end of season two. This would explain why, halfway through season one, we get the episode “Home” where it’s hinted that Mary wasn’t your usual sunny, innocent fridged woman, that she wasn’t killed to get her husband John out on the road, either. She was killed for reasons that had to do with her — and as a ghost, she has power.

marysavior-r50

That storyline wasn’t about John. It wasn’t even about her sons. It was about her. In Supernatural, knowledge is power. Paradoxically, Mary had to die, not just to push forward John’s story, but because she knew too much. It was the same reason the show killed off John early in season two.

Jessica never stops being a fridged girlfriend (to the point where the prelude to the reveal of her gruesome fate is nearly identical to that of Alexandra DeWitt’s). That’s even emphasized in later seasons. But Mary goes from June Cleaver to Queen Gertrude to someone even darker, someone more like Sarah Connor, very quickly. So, there’s this mystery to her, a subtext that belies the innocent mother of the Pilot, that is intriguing.

Then we get to season four, where she turns out to be a badass Hunter (“Aha!” cries the subtext) and even fights one-on-one against an angel in season five. While pregnant with her badass son Dean, no less. And we find out that the Winchester tragedy of demon deals began with Mama — not Papa — Winchester, that he was the innocent civilian in that marriage while she was the one who knew about the supernatural world and was trying to retire from hunting all along. Like Shane, she brought the job home, despite her best efforts, and it caught up with her in the end. The traditional roles of the trope have been reversed and they never quite flip back.

marynightgown-r50

Unfortunately, the writers recast her (still leaving poor Samantha Smith in that damned nightgown). And once they were done with that past storyline, they promptly got rid of Young!Mary via a mindwipe, of all things, so they could ensure she walked into that nursery unaware. The worst part was that the writer of that episode, Sera Gamble, not only was a woman, but she became showrunner and then wrote another episode where she fridged a Love Interest with a similar trope. Ugh. We women sure can be our own worst enemies, sometimes.

Now, I’ve been dying to see Mary come back in her older form, especially since Smith’s turn as Eve the Mother of Monsters in season six’s “Mommy Dearest.” So, I’m thrilled to see her back. Granted, there are ways they could do horrible things with this, but the trailer (despite its unnecessary commentary by the most irritating fangirls the show could find) indicates we won’t be getting a return to Fridged Mommy in a Nightgown. It indicates we will be getting Sarah Connor. I am all for Sarah Connor, preferably with that stupid mindwipe lifted. That’s meaty. That’s fun. Let’s go there, show.

MarytheHunter-r50