Saturday, December 3, 2016

Supernatural, Season 12, Episode 7: Rock Never Dies

This episode is all about Lucifer, just showing that we can’t keep a good devil down. I would say that’s kind of understandable, I mean when you’ve raised the stakes (and ye gods does Supernatural raise the stakes with every season) you kind of need to hold on to a big epic threat and milk it for all it’s worth

I am torn though about where this episode is going

So Lucifer manages to come back and heal his decaying meat suite thanks to some teenagers happening to find a super powerful satanic ritual. Because of course they do. I’ve seen more convoluted inserts but not many.

So Lucifer is back in the body of aging has being rock star Vincent Vincenze and he’s deciding to have a come back with his band. Albeit with no music. It’s all about the popularity and having everyone worshipping him, lots of buzz with no substance

It’s like someone decided to write a subtle criticism of modern social media, actor and popularity based culture along with a whole celebrity class who are famous for no discernible reason. Except then they aggressively crossed out the word “subtle”

I mean, you have the expert PR person pointing out that hey I work for the devil? I’m in PR, that’s a step up. You have her excellent comment on how actually useful fame and social media presence actually is (you get buzz – but those people aren’t going to buy albums or concept tickets. A lot of social media “celebrities” don’t actually get a lot of cash in the bank). We get the truly disturbing image of a woman ready to kill herself carving his name into her body to prove her utter devotion and we have Lucifer’s excellent comment on how humans are utterly desperate to worship someone, to set someone on a pedestal above them – be it religious figures or rock stars. Humans want to worship

The commentary is good

But the way it falls flat as social commentary for me is that, by all accounts of the show, Vincent Vincente WAS a very popular rock star because of the music he produced. Sure he wasn’t universally loved – but the fact that Sam and Dean snark at each other constantly because Sam liked him (in an exchange which is perfectly brotherly awesome – I do love it when you can clearly see them as brothers). And, for all he’s causing quite a stir, the minute he has his come back gig and quite literally can’t play a single instrument it would all fall apart. This isn’t a famous reality TV show star or the Kardashians or any of the other infamous “what-is-this-famous-person-famous-for” personalities: his persona was based on delivering something rendering the whole commentary more based on how excessive buzz can get more than anything else.

The gang move in to stop him which has Castiel and Crowley being surprisingly hilarious together, Dean and Sam snarking eat each other. Also Dean hates Los Angeles but Crowley, unsurprisingly, is utterly in his complete element because where else can you find such a motherlode of people desperate to sell their souls in order to make it? This is Crowley’s place.

Also Dean looks… amazingly good with the black leather rocker look. Oh. My. Gods. He does.

So Lucifer sets up his little concert and the gang uses quick thinking to evacuate the place so they can have their confrontation in which Lucifer batters them around merrily until he burns out his vessel and buzzes off.

So what was Lucifer’s motive here? Nothing. Or chaos. Or possibly both. Because daddy issues. Ok Lucifer with daddy issues is hardly a novel concept but it’s actually kind of well done here. Last season we had Lucifer basically recruited into the fight to help God and fight Amarra. It was epic. In it god and Lucifer reconcile and now Lucifer is…. Still stuck on earth. God has apparently completely forgotten Lucifer. After all that epicness, Lucifer has a damn good reason to be pissed, to be absolutely furious that his dad went through all this reconciliation to just USE him and then abandon him once he got what he want

Lucifer has ever damn reason to be pissed… and he can do little about it because, well, God. So he’s stuck on Earth and deciding to burn all the things. Is it a sensible, mature response? No, it’s nihilistic, rage filled, despairing and lacking any goal. Or any real reason or way you can possibly negotiate with it. When you have, perhaps, the most powerful being in the planet basically existing just to lash out in eternal rage is a terrifying concept.

But is this even related to Vincent Vincente and what Lucifer did? I mean “I will burn all the things” basically turns into “I will burn down one small club full of people”. Hey, don’t get me wrong, it would be a tragedy – but hardly world shaking. Was this just the results of Lucifer flailing around? In some way this is scary in its unpredictability: Lucifer could do absolutely anything and there’s no way of predicting his rampage. But, at the same time, if Lucifer’s awful is basically relatively small scale local tragedies, it’s not quite on par with the world destroying epic plot lines we’ve had before.

But do we need that? As Sam poignantly points out at the end of the episode – people died, a musician who were valued and worshipped and brought a lot of joy died. This wasn’t a win, it was merely losing more slowly. Do we need a “the world is going to end” plot to make the stakes worth fighting for? Isn’t a string of poignant tragedy after tragedy enough and enough reason to stop Lucifer?