Category Archives: Media

Whispers, Spoilers & Speculation Corner: 01/25/17


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Sci-fi Spoilerpalooza
By Heather S. Vina

The 100: EW has up an interview with showrunner Jason Rothenberg on Clarke’s Lexa grief and the coming season.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: EW has up an interview with Patton Oswalt on Koenig’s return. Spoiler TV has up the promotional photos for episode 11.

Beyond: The show has just been renewed and season one isn’t over yet, but already there’s a teaser promo for the new season!

The Defenders: EW spoke with Finn Jones on how Iron Fist fits into the new Defenders world. Krysten Ritter spoke with EW on the relationship Jessica Jones has with Daredevil.

Emerald City: EW has up an interview with Shaun Cassidy on the latest episode.

The Flash: Big news: Actor Rick Cosnett (Eddie) is returning to the show. EW has up the details on who is singing in the new musical crossover with Supergirl.

Lucifer: The show has cast actor Timothy Omundson (Psych, Galavant) as God Johnson, a patient in a psychiatric hospital who thinks he’s God.

Legion: IGN has up an interview with producer Lauren Shuler Donner on how the show fits with the X-Men movie universe. The show’s Twitter account put up a new promo, as well. Both TV Line and Spoiler TV have up advanced previews for the first episode. Neither one is too spoilery.

Timeless: Executive producer Eric Kripke spoke with TV Line about the possibility of a romance between Lucy and Wyatt.

Game of Thrones: While HBO has not yet renewed the show for an eighth and final season, word has it that when it does, that season might consist of more than ten episodes!

Once Upon A Time: The show has found its Tiger Lily in Native American actress Sara Tomko (The Leftovers).

Powerless: Spoiler TV has up the cast photos for the new show. They also have up the promotional photos and official synopsis for the premiere episode. It’s set to air on February, 2.

Shadowhunters: EW has the first look at Alec and Magnus’ first date.

Star Trek Discovery: Bad news: The show has been delayed again. Cool news: The show has cast actor James Frain as Spock’s dad, Sarek. IGN has up a nice breakdown of all of the known characters.

The Vampire Diaries: TV Line has up an interview with Ian Somerhalder on Damon’s feelings for Elena.

Over at E!Online, the latest Spoiler Room has spoilers on shows Arrow, Timeless, Once Upon A Time, The Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Colony.

At TV Line, Matt’s Inside Line has spoilers on shows The Leftovers, Grimm, The 100, Supergirl, and Zoo.


Supernatural (Thursday nights, 8pm, CW)
By Paula R. Stiles

Check out my Patreon page. Help me keep this column going, pay Heather, 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 tomorrow night.

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; “First Blood” (12.09) synopsis, photos and promo, as well as an extended promo; “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” (12.10) (this is the one with Alicia Witt) synopsis; “Regarding Dean” (12.11) tech survey card, synopsis and photo; “Stuck in the Middle (With You) (12.12) tech survey card and photo (this one’s directed by Richard Speight Jr.); “Family Feud” (12.13); “The Raid” (12.14) tech survey card; “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” (12.15) tech survey card; and “Unnamed Episode” (12.16) tech card.

The synopsis for “Regarding Dean” (12.11) is up:

SUPERNATURAL 12.11 “Regarding Dean”: Sam (Jared Padalecki) enlists Rowena’s (guest star Ruth Connell) help to track down an old world, powerful family of witches after Dean (Jensen Ackles) gets hit by a spell that is rapidly erasing his memory. John Badham directed the episode written by Meredith Glynn.

There’s a new interview out with the current showrunners, in which they double down on the LoL and Lucifer Baby Daddy storylines. Because those have been so popular with the fandom [/sarcasm]. In addition, it seems we haven’t actually yet met the much-ballyhooed Mr. Ketch, who will be recurring for our sins, starting this week.

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

The CW has a new midseason sizzle reel out.

The show won in its category for the People’s Choice Awards, though Jensen Ackles did not.

The second con in Jacksonville, FL was last weekend. Video for the morning Gold panel is up.

Jim Michaels teased that episode 12.16 will end on a cliffhanger. Hopefully, that cliffhanger won’t suck like the one for “LOTUS.” The episode will be directed by new director Aymn Kaderali. On the tech card, Robert Singer and Andrew Dabb have reappeared as mysteriously as they disappeared a tech card or two before.

There’s a new interview with show creator Eric Kripke in the print version of TV Guide.

Rerun ratings for “LOTUS” (12.08) held the course in demo at 0.3/1 and 0.86 million.

In Live+7 ratings, the first “LOTUS” airing rose from 0.6 to 1.1 and from 1.734 to 2.804 million.


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Whispers, Spoilers & Speculation Corner: 01/16/17


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You can access previous spoilers columns here. You can also still catch our latest Whispers, Spoilers and Speculation Corner here.


Sci-fi Spoilerpalooza
By Heather S. Vina

Great news for several genre shows this week! FX has renewed American Horror Story for two more seasons, while Freeform has renewed Beyond for a second season, and the CW has renewed Arrow, The Flash, Supernatural, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow.

In “back from the dead” news, the CW has picked up Constantine as an animated series on the CW Seed. It will be voiced by Matt Ryan.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Patton Oswalt is set to reprise his role as twins Sam and Billy Koenig in the January 31st episode.

The 100: There’s a new promo for season four.

Colony: EW has up some spoilers for season two from executive producer Ryan Condal.

The Defenders: EW has an interview up with showrunner Marco Ramirez on balancing the series. They also have up a sneak peek of their cover and issue devoted to the show, as well as a first look at Sigourney Weaver as Alexandra, the villain of the series.

The Librarians: The site io9 has up an interview with Lindy Booth on Cassandra’s recent big episode.

Gotham: The show has cast actor Raymond J. Berry as Shaman, a mysterious figure who enters Bruce’s life to “help him” become the man the city needs him to become. Or so he says.

Legion: EW has up an interview with showrunner Noah Hawley on the potential for crossover.

Lucifer: Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for episode 13, the winter finale. TV Line has up the first look at Tim Dekay as Dr. Jacob Carlisle.

The Flash: The show is casting Music Meister for the crossover with Supergirl. The character will be the crossover’s “Big Bad.” The show is also seeing the return of Robbie Amell as Ronnie, the Black Flash (speedster Reaper) and GorrillaGrodd.

Once Upon A Time: The show is casting Peter Pan’s Tiger Lily for an upcoming episode. They are also bringing back Rose McIver for a guest appearance as Tinker Bell.

The Originals: Showrunner Michael Narducci is exiting the show. If it’s renewed, Julie Plec will be taking over.

Powerless: Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for the show’s first episode. The official Twitter account also put up a sneak peek.

Sleepy Hollow: TV Line has up an interview with Tom Mison on the identity of the new Witness.

The Vampire Diaries: EW has up an interview with Paul Wesley and Candice King on how they think the series should end.

The X-Files: Sounds like there might be news of an 11th season coming soon.

Over at E!Online, the latest Spoiler Room has spoilers on shows The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, The 100, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Colony.

At TV Line, Matt’s Inside Line has spoilers on shows Arrow, Timeless, Legends of Tomorrow, Once Upon A Time, Lucifer, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., iZombie, and Supergirl/Flash.


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

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 official cast and crew photo for season 12.

The show is moving to 8pm when it comes back next week on Thursday. Repeats are currently in progress. This week’s is “LOTUS” (12.08).

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; “First Blood” (12.09) synopsis, photos and promo, as well as an extended promo; “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” (12.10) (this is the one with Alicia Witt) synopsis; “Regarding Dean” (12.11) tech survey card and photo; “Stuck in the Middle (With You) (12.12) tech survey card and photo (this one’s directed by Richard Speight Jr.); “Family Feud” (12.13), “The Raid” (12.14) tech survey card; and “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” tech survey card.

The synopsis for “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” (12.10) is up:

SUPERNATURAL 12.10 “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets”: Lily Sunder (guest star Alicia Witt) steeps herself in black magic, honing her powers for over a century, waiting to exact revenge on a band of angels that murdered her family. Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) must work quickly to stop Castiel (Misha Collins) from becoming her next victim. Thomas J. Wright directed the episode written by Steve Yockey

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

Ackles was home for a while longer post-Christmas than the others to be with his family (snarking between him and Jared Padalecki, who was filming on episode 12.14 alone without any of his male co-stars, quickly ensued on Instagram), but is now back on set and … uh … bowling. It doesn’t appear Ackles completely missed filming 12.14, though, since he was back in Vancouver by January 11 and filming for 12.15 began on the 13th.

Ackles, Padalecki and Misha Collins (with help from a cheeky monkey) will guest star on this week’s season finale of Kings of Con, out tonight/tomorrow at midnight on Comic-Con HQ.

There’s a rumor out, thanks to a new tech survey card put up by Jim Michaels, that Jeremy Carver may be returning as showrunner as of 12.15 (here’s the tech survey card for 12.14), which is currently filming as of last Friday. A solo showrunner (since Phil Sgriccia has been exclusively on the production side). Keep in mind this is still just spec based on his being on the title card, and Andrew Dabb not being on the card, while Robert Singer is listed as an Executive Consultant, the usual term for an ex-Executive Producer.

There’s an interview out with Post Production Coordinator Mary Manchin.

For repeat ratings, “Rock Never Dies” (12.08) got a 0.2/1 in demo and 0.79 million in audience. I sense a theme in the generally increasing ratings from the LoL eps through Mary to Lucifer (or at least Sam and Dean in black leather jackets).


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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!


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God in “Supernatural”: Asking the Big Question and Getting a Big Answer


By Paula R. Stiles


For a long time, there has been great speculation about which character was God in the show Supernatural. Many candidates for the post have come through, including pagan gods, archangels, Death, and ambitious angels souped-up on monster souls or powerful tablets. The show’s big initial stab at answering the question came at the end of season five, when it hinted that the Prophet Chuck who was recording the lives of the Brothers Winchester was actually God Himself. Fandom reaction was mixed and the original showrunner, Eric Kripke, left soon after, whereupon the storyline was dropped, unconfirmed.

Part of the problem was that even when they first made the suggestion that a writer within the story was actually writing the story and was therefore God (in Chuck’s first appearance in “The Monster at the End of This Book” near the end of season four), the writers acknowledged that this was probably a bit too meta even for the show and more than a little self-indulgent (The Writer Is God!). Probably the biggest problem, though, was that it was too simplistic.

The show had taken multiple stabs at the question of the nature of God and divinity in its universe for years, some of them quite contradictory. There were, for example, pagan gods who gave favors in exchange for human sacrifices. There was the idea embodied in the first such episode (season one’s “Scarecrow”) of Hunters coming out of nowhere as saviors in the middle of the night. There was the deadbeat dad concept beaten to a pulp in seasons four and five. There was the aforementioned idea of the Author as God.There was Lucifer as the embodiment of Evil. There was the personification of Death. Jesus was occasionally mentioned as someone who had permanently broken the monsters and pagan gods’ hold on humanity. Prometheus came up in a similar vein in season seven. Things got complex and picking one idea was always bound to disappoint people.

I wrote an article a few years ago for Innsmouth Free Press on the nature of Jesus in the show. In it, I suggested that Jesus and God the distant Father in the show might not be one and the same. In fact, they are not the same aspect of God in the Christian Trinity, so they shouldn’t be the same in a fictional story based on the Trinity concept, either. Yet, it’s not uncommon for shows to ignore the Trinity completely and go with a completely monotheistic God the Father (or Mother) figure.

Then the show introduced the concept of the Darkness at the very end of season ten. While this was likely based on a DC comics “character” known as The Great Darkness from Swamp Thing back in the 80s, the show took it in a pretty different direction. For one thing, on the show, the Darkness was female. She was a character named Amara who wore an outfit that hearkened considerably toward bare-breasted Minoan snake goddesses and who appeared to be in large part inspired by references to a goddess figure in the Bible (Jeremiah) called the Queen of Heaven.

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For another, she was God’s sister – in fact, she was significantly more powerful than God (who turned out to be Chuck the Prophet) Himself. For a third, unlike the comics, she wasn’t actually evil. And for a fourth, she had a significant and unique connection to one of the show’s two protagonists, Dean Winchester, who had previously been portrayed as a human Christ figure frequently expected to be responsible for the welfare of the entire world.

This started to open up some possibilities for a far more complex and compelling treatment of divinity than television generally gets. Mind you, the writing got pretty broad in the way of Star Trek: TOS films like The Motion Picture and The Final Frontier, but it “went there” with admirable sincerity. The awkwardness of talking heads in sports bars, gardens and children’s parks did not actually negate the depth and heft of the material being addressed.

When Chuck initially came back in “Don’t Call Me Shurley” toward the end of season 11, it appeared the show would have him and him alone be God. This meant it would therefore never address the fact that he was a master of many atrocities, the ultimate absentee father. But then a remarkable thing happened – first, Dean called Chuck out on being a deadbeat dad and lousy brother, on behalf of both humanity and Chuck’s sister, Amara. Second, the hints that Chuck was actually perhaps the bad guy in the story with his sister coalesced in the show actually allowing her to take her revenge on him. And then, once she finally had regained the upper hand and punished him, she came to realize this wasn’t what she wanted. Having gone through her own journey, she was ready to listen to Dean’s help in finding out what she did want, which was to reconcile with Chuck and find her own way in this new world.

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This was a pretty powerful thing. Not only did it finally play out and defuse the deadbeat dad aspect by forcing Chuck to own up to it and pay for it, but it also defused the usual misogynistic overtones in the story (around which the show Lucifer on FOX is dancing with its own version of this trope) by making Amara, not the bad guy but the ultimately vindicated, triumphant and merciful party. She won by being the bigger person in the exchange. Chuck could have just come out, faced her, apologized, and let the chips fall at the beginning of the season, but instead, he chose to be a coward and work through his very confused “Firewall between Light and Dark,” Dean, instead. Dean was confused because, as far as he knew, he was only human and a nobody, despite the recurring tendency of everyone around him to hold him responsible for the weight of the world.

It turned out Dean was wrong.

And that brought in the third aspect of divinity. In Chuck, we had the biblical creator God, the cruel judge, the deadbeat dad. In Amara, we had the primordial chaos of Genesis and Mediterranean/Mesopotamian origin stories, like a very intense and pagan version of the Holy Spirit rather than the biblical Queen of Heaven in the Book of Jeremiah. In Dean, we had a human Christ figure who directly helped and interceded for the world with the other two figures, almost like a combination of Christ and the medieval version of his semi-divine mother Mary. The Firewall. Only, as Chuck hinted, perhaps not entirely human. And probably not so mortal. Definitely unique.

For obvious reasons, the writers never “went there” because you can’t admit that a main character is effectively immortal and throw him into situations where he might be killed by the monster of the week. So, they fudged, but if Dean is the only Firewall that has ever been (and it appears he is), then yes, he’s basically immortal.

This role is especially interesting in that Dean and Amara’s stories were in parallel, which also brings in the role of the Mega Team Free Will this season, AKA Chuck’s “Chosen.” Dean was able to intercede with Amara due to a mysterious “connection” whose origins remain unclear. That connection felt sympathetic and real because he had experienced the same level of betrayal from his family and friends, had a similar feeling of isolation, and was himself working through it to an unclear goal. In fact, he spent a great deal of the season trying to get other people to kill Amara because he couldn’t bring himself to want to and felt others were blaming him for not stepping up to the plate in his usual role as killer and blunt instrument. For a long time, he failed to recognize that he was actually growing beyond that limited role.

Meanwhile, other people simply felt this was an Achilles Heel Amara had put in him and not an actual signal that perhaps he needed to seek another, gentler route. Well, except for Chuck, but as I already said, Chuck was being a coward about it all and doing a lot of hinting rather than explaining. He of course justified this as Dean having to be the one to make his own decision. Because he’s Chuck.

Some fans have complained that neither Dean or Amara turned out to be as terrible and destructive as advertised, but I think that was ultimately the point. The fear that others felt about either of them losing control created more conflict and destruction than either of them actually did. And they both ended the cycle by taking the high road together.

So, TFW was influencing both Dean and Amara throughout the season, for good and for ill, in ways that helped them grow and figure out what they wanted, and help each other figure it out, too. Dean told Amara near the end that she simply saw in him a substitute for her brother, but I think Dean was underestimating himself. Amara’s connection to Dean was significantly different from her connection to her brother and it still is.

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Sam’s role in this is pretty interesting. At the beginning of the show, Kripke wrote him wanting to live a normal, human life, but worrying about his demon blood, about not being quite human. Meanwhile, Dean was human but feral from a life in the supernatural world. Each brother has his own way in which he is human, but Sam is the one who has sought out normal and has a connection to it. Sam is also the one who has always prayed to God and who is in awe of Chuck when Chuck’s true nature is revealed to him. Never mind that Chuck doesn’t care enough to intervene when Sam is infected (either time) by the Darkness, only when Dean finally asks for help. Sam still has faith.

Sam also struggles with conflicting feelings over loyalty and betrayal regarding his brother, whereas he has no relationship with the Darkness. His terror when Amara explodes at her brother in “We Happy Few” and takes back the Mark is the extent of his reaction to her.

The rest of TFW, not all of them human, are also important. Castiel (a rogue angel), Crowley (King of Hell) and Crowley’s mother Rowena (a powerful witch) are all outcasts who are either outcast by their association with the Brothers or who acquire a purpose and family by their association with the Brothers. Meg forlornly attached herself to Dean in later years, seeking someone new to whom she could ally. It’s like the oft-stated motif in the Bible that God doesn’t choose the great and mighty as His instruments but the broken and the downtrodden, the better to show His glory. Similarly, Chuck’s Chosen are outcasts who coalesce around the Brothers Winchester, especially Dean.

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The big question is where do they go from here? There is no possible way to go back without some epic plot-holing. Chuck left Dean in charge when he and Amara went off on their road trip and both cliffhangers turn on Dean’s suicide mission to save the world. If the world has been saved, then Dean should be dead. If he’s not, then those “happy few” in the know will immediately realize that something has changed. The sun didn’t die. Dean didn’t blow up. And Chuck has disappeared. Plus, Dean shows up with his mother who has been dead for over thirty years, clearly rewarded for his labors. There’s no way Dean can hide being on the same level with Chuck and Amara, or at least the question of whether he is.

Supernatural returns tonight at 9pm on the CW. We’ll see what happens next.


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My Dad and Donald Trump


By Paula R. Stiles


My dad died three years ago this fall and I’m about 99% sure he would have voted for Donald Trump if he were still alive. Even after Trump’s epic fail at the first debate (the second one is tonight) and the recent infamous bus video, my dad would never have chosen a woman over a man, ever, certainly not a Democratic woman over a Republican man. He actually believed the crap Rush Limbaugh spouts and felt himself very hard-done-by in this PC society. I still remember the day he absolutely forbade my mom to take me to see Bela Abzug talk.

He and my mom were only a few years older than Trump and Hillary Clinton, and therefore in that same generation and attitude. My dad was well-educated, with a Masters degree in History, and he married a well-educated, assertive feminist in my mother, who had a Masters in Nurse Midwifery. He served seven years in the Navy and twenty-two years in the Coast Guard, before retiring and becoming an English teacher in Poland. By all accounts, his students loved him. He was also a Peace Corps Volunteer in China. You would think he’d have been smart enough not to vote for Trump, but there you go and here’s why.

My dad had no respect for women.

In addition to the above accomplishments, my dad also abused my mom and his children, and he cheated on my mom endlessly during their marriage. In fact, my mom was in the process of filing for divorce when my dad was thrown out of Peace Corps a year and a half in for punching a guy in a traffic altercation. The “provocation” involved the guy calling my dad’s then-30-year-old, grad student Chinese girlfriend a “slut.” She was my age. And I was also in grad school at the time.

So, needless to say, my dad did not respect women, and made various nasty and demeaning comments about our gender over the years. Oddly enough, I don’t think he was as bad as Trump. He was more between Bill Clinton and Trump in that I don’t believe he ever engaged in sexual assault. He prided himself on charming the pants off women and all of his girlfriends that I met (he liked to introduce them to me when I was a kid) thought he was a great guy – which he was, during the Honeymoon period. Just as Clinton had grown up poor, my dad grew up respectably working class. Unlike Trump, he didn’t have the assumption that he could do whatever he wanted because he was rich and anyway, I think he liked the chase. He liked them willing. Trump, obviously, doesn’t see women as even that human.

It would be easy to wonder why my mother didn’t just up and leave my dad. Where was her self-respect? I have wondered that and asked her about it many times over the years (when you’re one of the direct victims of that refusal, you get to ask). The most chilling response she ever gave me was that she worried he would show up at the door one day with a gun. She had a point. Attitudes and services for battered women are not too great these days, but they’re a cornucopia of support compared to what was available in the 1970s. Abused women, especially educated abused women, were expected to put up with it. And hope he didn’t kill them and their children.

The attitude was that if you were an educated, professional, working woman getting out there doing a “man’s” job, then you deserved what you got if he felt intimidated by your accomplishments and beat you or cheated on you. If you couldn’t be a “good” wife, you could expect another woman – a younger, hotter, more-accomodating model – to come along and steal him away. Smart women were supposed to compete over men, not the other way round.

People ask the same questions about Hillary Clinton and look down on her for things her husband did to her. They actually use it against her that there’s no evidence Bill has abused her or treated poorly aside from cheating on her incessantly for decades. They make victims out of the women with whom Bill cheated. They are willing to listen to the dumbest excuses and most egregious lies made up by some of these other women to justify that cheating because those women are only chasing after powerful men and not after power itself. It’s still more okay, in our society, for a woman to take another woman’s man than it is to take that man’s place. And we’re all for feeling lots more “sympathy” for hot, young college girls who fangirl Bernie than for “over-the-hill” women who favor Hillary Clinton.

Too many people are happy to believe that Hillary was a cold-blooded political pimp for her husband rather than a victim of a sexual Catch-22 where she couldn’t win whether she kept him or dumped him, just as there were people who were happy to believe my mom deserved my dad treating her like dirt because he resented her success. My dad liked strong women and he liked to break them down. There were a lot of guys in his generation like that and too many, still, who are young enough to know better.

So, the next time, boys, you start going on about “Billary” and “Hitlary” and how evil she is, and holding her to an insanely higher standard than the no-standard-at-all you hold Trump, please stop. Just stop. If you’re going to vote your sexism and your misogyny this election, own up to it, already. Stop blaming Hillary. Stop blaming my mom. Stop blaming us.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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