Episode 11×20 AKA “How Chuck Got His Groove Back”
Well, the hellatus is over and Darkness is unleashed on the Earth in the form of a woman, Amara. Sam has hair glorious enough to rival season 8; Dean has a weird not-quite-consensual relationship with the Big Bad; and Castiel’s not here right now. I’m guessing the Winchesters won’t be getting sunshine and puppies anytime soon…Warning THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD.
As we enter the final stretch of the eleventh season of Supernatural, we have the Winchesters facing the biggest, baddest evil in the universe, and no clue how to defeat it sans the power of God.
So of course, the episode begins with Metatron dumpster diving.
The former Scribe of God has hit rock bottom, and while Metadouche deserves the hand he has been dealt, when I saw him give up the food scraps he had scraped from the bottom of a trash bin to his dog, well, I have to say, I felt a little bad for the guy.
Not a lot, but a little.
It’s that moment, when he’s hit absolute rock bottom that he’s transported to the kind of bar that serves more whiskey than water. There’s only one person in the bar, and that is Chuck, whose return has long been teased.
The Big Picture
This episode is not about the Winchesters. This episode is not about the perpetual battle of good versus evil. This episode is not about the Darkness.
This episode is about God.
Things We Learn About Chuck:
- He has a “World’s Greatest Dad” coffee mug.
- He considers music to be humanity’s greatest creation.
- He has a blog of cat pictures (probably on Tumblr.)
- He has had girlfriends and boyfriends.
- He knows how to play the guitar.
- He doesn’t consider Lucifer to be a villain.
- He and Amara are exact opposites. “I am being; she is nothingness,” he says.
- He has regrets.
The focus of “Don’t Call Me Shurley” is on Metatron helping Chuck decide what kind of story he wants to write. Chuck doesn’t want to rehash the past (the archangels barely get mention in his original draft), nor is he interested in giving details about Amara, or creating “new” stories to give fresh content. The audience has had the privilege of knowing that Chuck is God for a few seasons, but Metatron is the first within the Supernatural universe to have such knowledge. His confusion over Chuck’s authorial designs reveals to us that this is a God who is having a bit of writer’s block. For Metatron, this is him viewing his Father as someone totally unlike the being that he used to know.
This Chuck, he’s not the God of fire and brimstone that we know from Old Testament stories. This God wants to let the Darkness have its day, and to let Amara wipe the slate clean.
As a writer, I can attest that this is an instinct we all have. When the story isn’t flowing the way you expected, or you have that one problematic character that makes you headdesk, or you’re just tired of it? Yeah, that “delete” button looks pretty tempting. However, God is not just a writer, no matter how long he wears the “Chuck suit,” and pushing delete means the end of the universe. This is not the God that Metatron remembers.
“This is me,” Chuck insists. But Metatron, he knows differently:
Really? This, this pile of self-doubt and nebbishness flooded the Earth? Followed up Sodom with a blockbuster Gomorrah? Created as much as he punished? No, you’re not. The guy I worked for? Total badass? And yes, he could be a dick. But that guy had some stories to tell, and he has a lot to answer for.
This badass god doesn’t reappear until Metatron accuses Chuck of being a coward, and really, the heart of “Don’t Call Me Shurley” is in how Metatron responds to that moment. We know Metatron to be self-serving and egotistical, and it’s a testament to Robbie Thompson’s (sometimes unbelievable) talent as a writer that he can turn Metadouche into a son looking for answers as to why his Father left him. Metatron did horrible, unspeakable things to get God’s attention, but his tearful accounting of why humans deserve to be saved demonstrates true character development. My god, I cried, no, I sobbed. Humanity, Metatron says, never gives up.
If you side-by-side this with the scenes of the Winchesters, you get a perfect example of what Metatron means.
Writers know that revision is the hardest part of writing; fixing issues of content, structure, and development can feel like sandpapering your soul. We avoid it, and sometimes we wait for an editor to make us do it. God, it seems, is no different than any of us.
When Metatron reads Chuck’s final draft, and we see the look on his face while Chuck plays the guitar, we know that it’s the final draft. There are times when writers and editors look at a completed work and we just know that it’s good. It doesn’t have to be happy, and it doesn’t have to be perfect, but we feel satisfied by the story’s conclusion, and that everything in the story is as it should be.
For all of Supernatural‘s meta-ness, this is perhaps the most heart-wrenching meta episode we’ve encountered in eleven seasons. Though we will have a season 12 beginning this fall, we know we are nearing the end of a story we’ve loved and grown with, and we’re looking for assurance that these characters will meet an ending that they deserve, and that the end of Supernatural will be everything that it should be.
I’d like to think that this is Robbie Thompson’s way of promising us that yes, it will be.
Until next time, SPN Family.
P.S. Here is the scene of Chuck singing “Fare Thee Well” because I just can’t get enough of it. It’s even my ringtone now. (Someone call me dammit)
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