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Supernatural parodies Twilight fad in episode “Live Free or Twi-Hard”

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It was only a matter of time until Supernatural started making fun of pop-cultural fads. In its latest episode, the show turns the critical voice it used to comment on its own fandom in the last two seasons toward the Twilight phenomenon, as well as the phenomenon’s implications in the show’s world. The results are pretty mixed, but the episode at least provides some plot advances for the season.

(Spoilers ahead.)

The opening sequence purposefully looks and sounds cheesy, drawing from exact lines in the Twilight series as a Twi-Hard—another name for a die-hard fan of the Twilight series—is on her first date with a so-called vampire she met online. She’s soon led to a dark alley where vampires kidnap her and take her to their lair.

Being that this girls was the seventh in a string of teen girl disappearances, the Winchesters are sure to check it out. They get past their dad with the usual cop routine and end up in her room, which is plastered with Robert Pattinson-lookalike posters/cardboard standees as well as loads of pseudo-goth decor.

Rummaging through her netbook diary, they find out she’s been emailing back and forth with a self-proclaimed vampire on a fan forum. One exchange leads them back to the goth bar where she met the guy, where each Winchester brother tracks a different potential vampire. Sam ends up following the right one, slicing the vamp’s head clean off. Dean manages to come up empty-handed, but is stopped by one of the guys who kidnapped the girl earlier. He chucks Dean clean across the parking lot, and tries to force-feed him some blood. Since drinking vampire blood is the only way to turn into one, this situation promises to end badly.

Fresh from his kill, Sam catches up with Dean just in time to see the force feed, which he strangely lets happen with a sinister smile on his face. Afterwards, Sam chases the vampire away, but the damage is done.

So Dean gets turned into a “fang” (hunters’ derogatory word for a vampire) and it’s hard to think of it as a big deal because we know he’ll be cured soon, not just because there are still 17 episodes left in the season, but because Samuel seems to have a cure for anything in his ancient hunter bag of tricks. When Samuel gets there, he tells him he needs the blood of the dude who turned him, meaning Dean has to infiltrate the vampire nest and basically kill everybody, all without having a drop of blood or else his state becomes irreversible.

Dean does so brilliantly, but not before we find out that the guy who turned him is the head vamp who runs a mini-fascist vampire regime, complete with guards, prisoners and “recruiters.” He’s using the whole Twilight craze to get teenage vampires to turn fans into more vampires, who then become recruiters themselves, perpetually until he has an army of vamps. A sillier/better twist would take that even further and imply that the series’ author is being imprisoned by them, forced to influence people to want to be vampires.

They get the blood and make the antidote Dean needs. When he takes it, Dean goes into a fever dream state wherein he remembers seeing Sam just standing there while he was being force-fed vampire blood. The episode ends on a sour note as Dean asks his brother, “I know you’ve always got my back, right?” to a half-hearted response of “Yeah, of course,” from Sam.

In Supernatural, vampires are an almost extinct strain of infected humans who can only be killed through decapitation. This is a much more appealing depiction than most places, but the writers still realize how cheesy the modern conception of vampires is. In the end, “Live Free or Twi-Hard” is less successful intelligent commentary about the Twilight craze than as a character study on WTF is wrong with Sam. Samuel, their grandfather, even asks him if he let Dean get infected on purpose to get into the lair and find out about the alpha vampire (a nebulous super-villain monster). Sure enough, Dean does has a vision of a dude sending minions from a graveyard or crypt, all pretty hazy of course.

The similarly vague plot element that “monsters are working together and rebelling” gets thrown out again, but it also isn’t nearly as interesting as the development with Sam. The fact that the show is zeroing on his completely uncharacteristic behavior has me intrigued as to why that’s the case. One theory that’s floating around in fan communities is that Sam doesn’t have a soul. Could it be that Sam’s soul, or most of it at least, is still trapped in Lucifer’s cage? Remember, he got swallowed whole in the Abyss, Cas says Heaven has nothing to do with it, and Bobby has tested all the demon-banishing techniques on him to no effect. I think it’s the most likely explanation that Sam has no soul and that he’s only out of hell because of some deal he made down there.

Whatever the explanation is, I’m sure we’re going to hear it in next week’s episode “You Can’t Handle the Truth”, where some truth serum-like spirit called Veritas will afflict Sam and cause him to spill the beans to Dean. Sure, the reveal sounds like it’ll be a bit forced, but it’s about time they told us what’s going on with Sam. The show works much better for me without too many big secrets because I really don’t want to see it turn into a LOST clone.

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