The fact that the convention participants in this ep are almost all male is often remarked upon. I don't know what the reason for this was, and I haven't found any interview or explanation by Kripke on this fact but I was curious so first, I did some research on how many actual conventions had already been held at this point. Supernatural's first convention with it's stars present was in May of 2007, in London (Asylum 1) although there seem to have been conventions held by fans before that according to SuperWiki. The ep itself was filmed right before Salute to Supernatural Chicago 2009. I also found out that Jensen was asked about fan fiction in the first convention and knew about "Wincest" already at that time (Kim Manners had told Jensen and Jared). Jensen also mentioned at Asylum 1 that Kripke's gay references stem from this knowledge and are made to show how ridiculous the idea is. (Thank you stir_of_echoes for your report ;) ) We do know from the recent ep though that the writers/Sam&Dean have given fans their blessing in the writing of whatever fan fiction created from our various imaginations and I think in a way this ep is trying to say something similar as well.
OK! Let's get started!
"Topsy Turvy" by The Bughouse Five
(plays when Sam and Dean enter the hotel and see everyone in costume)
"Trouble Baby" by The Bughouse Five
(plays when Sam and Dean talk to Chuck about not publishing the books)
"Whiskey" by Swank
(plays when Dean and Sam are having drinks and the guy comes in and tells them about the ghost)
"Ain't Got Nobody" by Hound Dog Taylor
(plays when Sam and Dean talk to Demian and Barnes after they face the ghost, then try to leave the hotel)
"Ring-a-Ling" by Miss Eighty 6
(the fake Leticia Gore's ringtone)
The episode begins with Sam and Dean driving to somewhere in a hurry. You can tell they are in a hurry mostly because of the "danger" music(LOL). Chuck is at the entrance to the countryside hotel as they drive up. They rush toward him asking about the emergency and Chuck realizes that Becky must have taken his phone to call the boys. Of course Chuck knows that Sam and Dean are not excited about their lives being made public - as that is pretty much what they said as soon as they met him... but Becky has the mistaken impression that Sam and Dean would be THRILLED to come to their very first convention.
BECKY:What? They're going to want to see it!
SAM and DEAN:See what?
BECKY:Oh My God. I love it when they talk at the same time!!
Sam and Dean get the surprise of their lives when they go into the lobby and find all these people so obviously dressed up as the most hated monsters of their lives. The yellow eyed demon, the scarecrow god, the hookman... and as they are taking all that in, a guy comes and calls Dean by name. Dean's like "Do I know you?" Who are you? of course, I'm Dean too. Can't you tell? There are Supernatural goods at a store booth - coffee mugs with baby, t-shirts and stuffs and it's quite overwhelming.
The MC reads out the schedule, which includes the "Homoerotic subtext of Supernatural", then Chuck begins his speech but he is so nervous from it being his first time on stage, let alone Sam and Dean glaring at him from the back... he starts chugging down water. (Watching Rob chugging down his water next to Jensen in the jam session at the recent Vegas Con totally reminded me of this scene.)
Then we have Hookman remarking on how the boys should have their knives and iron bars on bungees so that they could retrieve them when they were thrown into things. According to Kripke, this had been mentioned by Jared and Jensen as a joke. Kripke explains the boys do not use bungees because the boys not losing their weapons would result in some boring, short monster scenes, and that makes sense. But then if you get creative, there are other ways to make a bungee useless. What if the monster stepped on the cord? Would they still get their weapons back? How about the monster catches the weapon instead? Or if the monster attacked them or held their arms while the weapon was air born... couldn't that be dangerous? Seriously, bungees are not a very good idea.
Then we get hookman talking about why Sam couldn't tell how Ruby was evil. Knowing what they know now, Sam is a bit pissed to be called on it, Dean looks at Sam like, "Yeah, why was that exactly?" and Becky is furious - I am thinking for Sam's sake, but we also have to remember that these fans only know what happened up until Dean going to Hell. Up until then, Sam was wary of Ruby but thinking that he could use her. It's only after Dean dies and Ruby "saves" Sam that he starts to see her as an ally.
So during the break, we find out that Chuck has a thing for Becky but Becky only has eyes for Sam. Poor Chuck and poor Sam LOL. Sam thinks he's got to be nice too, because that's just the kind of guy he is. But Sam and Dean are both pissed at Chuck and come and start demanding that he stop writing at once. Chuck excuses himself from Becky to argue his case and try to get them to understand.
CHUCK:I'm not a good writer. I've got no marketable skills. I'm not some hero who can just hit the road and fight monsters, Ok? Until the world ends, I gotta live, all right? And the Supernatural books are all I've got. What else do you want me to do?
Their talk is cut short when they hear a scream and Sam and Dean rush off to see who is hurt. Chuck calls out to them that it's ok, but they've already gone and he can't explain about the larping game, which was probably a good thing:P
I'll take a moment here to point out that as far as this episode's theme is to show how awesome Dean and Sam's lives are, this is our first indication :P But we will see later how much courage and heroism can be found in the hearts of many of the people there, even though they are not going around killing monsters everyday like Sam and Dean.
*headpalm* Now I all of a sudden reminded of It's a Terrible Life:P Sam and Dean experiencing normal life and making a choice to leave it all and live the life of hunters. It makes me think that we all do have a choice in what we do in life - whether it is what we are really good at, or what we really enjoy or what we believe in. And sometimes that is influenced by the heros we read of or watch on TV. These people can give us courage to do what we need to do or think is right, don't they? And that is also what this episode is about. AAAAND I'm getting all teary. Back to the story.
Sam and Dean come up to the "servant" who excitedly tells all the larpers that have gathered about the ghost she saw. Becky tells them what is going on, all excited ("You guys are soooo going to win!"). But they quickly leave, now that they know it's not a real emergency. As they do, they hear Demian and Barnes (the gay couple) acting out a part from Hunted:
DEMIAN: (growling) Dad said...he said I may have to kill you.
BARNES: Kill me? What the hell does that mean?
DEMIAN: I don't know.
DEAN/SAM: I need a drink.
In another part of the hotel, another one of the guests, Alex, is looking around with his fake EMF meter -
ALEX:EMFs going nuts.
He meets the girl playing Latisha Gore's ghost and he shoots her with his fake salt bullet and complains that she didn't "disappear." LOL
Then, as he is walking down another corridor talking to his "Dean" and telling him not to eat all his skittles... out pops a real ghost. Alex is pretty impressed with the boy's makeup. We have our first clue as the boy tells Alex, "Ms. Gore won't let us have any fun" and then Ms. Gore's voice is heard saying "naughty, naughty, naughty." Alex is flung about the room and hanged upside down, then the ghost of Ms. Gore appears and goes right through him in the end. Alex gets so scared that he doesn't even stay to explain what happened to Sam and Dean, which is unfortunate. It's obvious on a rewatch that Ms. Gore is not trying to hurt Alex, just trying to get to the rascally boy that was throwing Alex about.
Dean is getting a swig of whiskey when he notices the fake ghost of Ms. Gore and makes a move on her. He is quickly told off by the girl, who is too busy looking at her cellphone to notice the handsome guy in front of her. When she does look up, she looks a bit more interested. She notes (also) that Dean doesn't look scared of girls like all the others seem to be. And Dean gives her his pickup smile *gulps*
But that is interrupted when Alex comes into the foyer and then storms out without explaining except to say that he was flung around by a "real live ghost,"
Sam and Dean decide they need more information and bribe it out of the real Manager. Both the manager and the actress are not impressed with the fan crowd and we have a cutting remark by the the manager about not wanting the "nerds" - and I guess you could see this as how some people would view fandom. Actually, after reading stir's report of Asylum 1, this sounds like a pretty accurate depiction of hotel staff at the time. The interesting thing, though, is how the manager and the waitress/actress end up being involved in this case later.
So with the right amount of bribery, the manager tells Sam and Dean that the bodies were found in the attic and tells them how to get there. Demian is listening in and thinks this is part of the game as well. He and Barnes start looking for the attic too but they get lost and end up on a different corridor. Sam and Dean are in the attic, and it totally reminds me of the ghost scene in Changing Channels. The dark attic with planks and pillars everywhere looks very familiar, and the boys going around with flashlights too.
SAM:The EMF's going nuts.
DEAN:Great. We got a real ghost, and we got a bunch of dudes pretending to be us poking at it.
All these little phrases like "The EMF is going nuts" by Sam and Dean now seem cliched because we are hearing the exact same phrases said by the larpers. And that is another interesting similarity between Changing Channels and this ep that I never thought of before.
Here we have a whole bunch of larpers playing the parts of Sam and Dean(instead of Sam and Dean playing the various parts). The larpers are finding fake ghosts and pretending to kill them just like Sam finding the fake ghost in the sitcom beginning song. And I've had another thought. In Changing Channels, Gabriel does his best to make fun of Sam and Dean in the roles he gives them. The song of the sitcom itself is making fun of them by saying they are "living a lie." After that experience, maybe it seems to Sam and Dean like all this mimicry by the fans is actually making fun of them and their lives. Makes them feel more like "circus clowns" than they would have otherwise.
So. Sam and Dean then actually find the real ghost of Ms. Gore's son crouching in a corner. Sam talks to the boy and the boy seems to be saying that his mom scalped him.
BOY:My mommy loves me this much!
It's a very horror flick type moment isn't it? But I just now realized that all the boy was trying to do was indicate how much his mom loved him with his hands/arms... and that just happened to involve taking his hand away from his scalped head. Sam completely misunderstands the boy. Unfortunately, he disappears before they can ask him anything else.
It is Demian and Barnes who find the map. As they are walking along a corridor looking for the attic, out pops a naughty boy ghost and points to the picture frame that has a hidden map to the cemetery. Now, don't ask me why anyone would hide a cemetery map in a picture frame. I don't know. But it is suitably mysterious and exciting like a treasure hunt, so that the two larpers think it is part of the game. They are also impressed by the boy's disappearance but think he only ran away quietly.
Next scene, Becky is licking her palm and blowing "kisses" at Sam (REALLY?! U.G.) And Sam is again trying to be nice (REALLY?) while he waits for his information on the phone, and Chuck is looking at them going, great.
Sam goes to Dean who is sitting at one of the tables at the bar and tells him that according to the historical society, one of the boys was Leticia's son and she is supposed to have scalped him. And Dean gets all pissed that a mother would scalp her own son - naturally.
DEAN:Oh that's it, I'm gunna deep fry this bitch extra crispy. Dude say where she was buried?
Of course the historical society guy doesn't know where she was buried, but Demian and Barnes playing Sam and Dean at the next table and seem to have a very interesting looking map.
SAM:(To Dean) It's real. A century old, at least, and he's right, there is a cemetery on the grounds.
DEAN:(To Demian) Where'd you get that.
DEMIAN:It's called a game pal. It ain't called charity.
DEAN:Yeah right. Gimme the map, Chuckles.
DEMIAN:Yeah well you're the Chuckles, Chuckles. Besides, Dean don't listen to nobody.
Demian pulls back his jacket to reveal a plastic gun. Dean rolls his eyes.
BARNES:(In character to Demian) Dean! Cool it.
DEAN pulls out his own gun, his Taurus.
DEAN:What! They're freakin' annoying.
This scene *shakes with laughter* is funny even just reading the transcript. Demian's toy gun... and Barnes stopping him IN CHARACTER... and Dean and Sam doing the exact same thing (but of course Dean has a real gun :P) So I've talked about these fans saying the exact same phrases as Dean especially and how it sounds so cliched because of that, but I want to take the time here to talk about the fans and their versions of Dean and Sam. I am thinking that it is linked to the reason we have so many guys in this group of fans and it is part of a point the ep is trying to make about fans and possibly fan fiction as well. Maybe I'm reading too much into it but here it is. I sort of see these enactments and mimicry of Sam and Dean's story by the fans as similar to fanfiction. Basically, fan fiction creates many Sams and Deans and many realities aye? They are not the original story - and although I hate to use the word, they are "fakes." BUT they are created through the fan's love of the real Sam and Dean. To me, the various larpers seem to symbolize the many different fanfiction created by the fans, especially because it is mostly a male group - and also mostly Sams and Deans. The fake guns, the fake meter as opposed to Dean's real gun and real EMF meter sort of symbolize that too.
And then there is Demian and Barnes - a gay couple Sam and Dean, which is really significant. I think that, as with our Season 10 ep, the writers are saying that fans are free to create their own versions of Sams and Deans - even though the real Sam and Dean are definitely not gay or bi (yet anyway :) ) and might feel a little uncomfortable finding out that there is such a thing as a gay couple Sam and Dean. There is no reason that something like that could not exist as fan fiction. The important point here is that even though Dean is angry at the fans for the mimicry in the middle of the ep, by the end, he is able to accept it as a compliment. I know that Kripke and others were uncomfortable with the wincest fanfiction in the beginning, but the way Dean's view changed in the ep may also symbolize the changing views of the Supernatural crew as they realized the reason behind these - basically the fans' love for the show.
OK, I'm getting ahead of the story so let's go back. Sam, always the diplomat, sets it up so that they can work on the case together.
The conditions being that Demian and Barnes get the Sizzler certificate and get to "be Sam and Dean." And Sam and Dean end up being Rufus and Bobby - Dean being Bobby *giggles helplessly* Ahhh! That is so perfect. They are walking to the cemetary and of course Demian and Barnes go back to their reenactments. This time it is a scene from the ep. Asylum where Sam gets influenced by the anger management doctor ghost and says all kinds of mean things to Dean LOL And after a bit of tagging along behind, Dean cannot take it any longer.
DEAN:All right, you know what? That's it. That is it.
DEMIAN:What's wrong Bobby.
DEAN:(So angry he can't speak for a moment) I'm not Bobby, ok? You're not Sam. You're not Dean. What is wrong with you? Why in the hell would you choose to be these guys?
BARNES:(In normal voice) Because we're fans. Like you.
DEAN:No. I am not a fan, ok. Not fans. In fact, I think that the Dean and Sam story sucks. It is not fun. It is not entertaining. It is a river of crap that would send most people howling to the nut house. So you listen to me. Their pain is not for your amusement. I mean do you think they enjoy being treated like... like circus freaks?
DEMIAN:Uh....I don't think they care, because they're fictional characters!
DEAN:Oh they care. Believe me. They care a lot.
SAM:He..uh...he takes the story really seriously.
So going back to my earlier points, Dean shows here that he feels the fans are making fun of their lives and treating them like circus freaks.
When they get to the cemetery, Demian and Barnes of course are looking around for some fake bones or something to show that they've won the game. Dean and Sam are getting ready to start digging. They somehow convince Demian and Barnes to help them but when Dean opens the coffin to a real skeleton, they tell Sam and Dean that they are crazy and start walking away until Barnes turns around and sees Leticia Gore's ghost behind Sam.
So of course there is a lot of shouting and running while Dean getting salt and kerosene to burn the body and Leticia burns right in front of Demian and Barnes.
DEAN:Real enough for you?
Next scene we have another shot of whiskey - exact same shot as Dean earlier but this time, it's Demian dunking the whiskey down his throat. Sam and Dean come up and Dean pays for their drinks.
DEMIAN:Hey. How'd you know how to do all that.
SAM:We..uh...We read the books.
Well, Sam and Dean think that's the end of things and are on their way out - after their last words to Chuck, and find that all the doors and windows are shut tight and they cannot get out. They then realize that they had not actually ended things.
SAM:Yeah. This is bad.
DEAN:Gee ya think Sammy?
Fake Leticia comes flying in from seeing the ghost of Leticia's son, and Sam and Dean go and talk to him. All he can say is that his mom didn't do it, and why did they burn her up, before he disappears again.
The rascals start having their fun - first by scalping the Hookman. But for some reason we don't feel too sorry for him because of his cynical attitude toward the show LOL Poor guy.
Chuck is finishing up his Q&As (answering incredibly "probing and vigorous questions" LOL) when Sam comes up on stage and explains the situation.
SAM: You gotta keep everyone safe in here Chuck. This is life or death.
CHUCK: For how long?
SAM:As long as it takes.
CHUCK:Well...how the hell am I supposed to do that?
SAM:I don't know man. Just do it.
CHUCK:Ok. So ahh, good news. I got much more to tell you... I guess.
Sam and Dean bring all the staff of the hotel into the room as well, despite their protests - the manager being the most bothered by it all. After a bit of thought, they realized what really happened, and decide their best bet would be to get fake Leticia to come and try to get them to open the doors so that they can torch the bones.
DEAN:You're an actress. We just want you to act.
WOMAN:I work at Hooters, in Toledo. No, you can forget it.
SAM:You'll be safe, we promise. This is really important.
While they are talking to her, Demian and Barnes come up and tell Dean they want to help. Dean quickly tells Sam to "Just do the puppy-dog thing ok?" (LOL) and turns to Demian and Barnes.
DEAN:Cause this isn't make-believe.
DEMIAN:Look, we know. We're not nuts. We're freakin' terrified.
BARNES:Yeah but if all these people are seriously in trouble, we gotta do something.
DEMIAN:Because. That's what Sam and Dean would do.
And Dean kind of looks at them speechless. This is where Dean changes his view of everything. He realizes that these fans are not making fun of their lives, and that their lives give people courage to do things they might be terrified of doing otherwise.
So Dean goes with fake Leticia to convince the ghost boys and Sam and the two larpers go to the doors so that they can get through when the time comes. I will stop to note that fake Leticia is able to have the courage she needs to do what she has been asked too. Not because of the books of course. She is not a fan of the books. But she has been directly influenced by Dean just as Demian and Barnes had the opportunity to see the real Sam and Dean in action.
Poor girl, she does a pretty good job and the boys are worried enough that they start to open the doors before the girl's cellphone goes off. That is such a hilarious scene - I love all of their expressions including Dean's as he waits behind the wall with his iron poker! It's enough to get Demian and Barnes out the door but not Sam. It is now up to the larpers to burn the bones. Sam realizes what went wrong and goes to help Dean while D&B start digging.
BARNES:Oh my God. Supernatural makes digging graves seem so easy. It's not though. I'm gunna throw up.
DEMIAN:No you're not.
I love Demian for this line. Willing Barnes to go on.
Sam is able to save Dean from a close call, but gets thrown to the wall and loses his poker. Sam is being choked by one of the boys and calls to Dean but another boy's got Dean. They are both about to be scalped. Outside, D&B have dug up the graves, salted and are ready to light them up but the darn lighter doesn't light up!
Meanwhile, the manager is sick of being forced to stay and listen to the private life of Chuck and he goes to open the door as Chuck protests. As it opens, one of the boys is right there in front of him. Chuck is there in a heartbeat and closes the door just in time.
CHUCK: I said nobody leaves damn it. Now somebody salt this door.
And now Becky has the hots for Chuck. But more importantly, Chuck shows that he does have courage and is able to do what is necessary to save everyone.
So finally Demian's lighter lights and the boys burn up just as Sam and Dean are about to be scalped. Dean gets up to retrieve the poker.
DEAN: You know maybe that guy was right. Maybe we should put these things on a bungee.
So - the larpers save Sam and Dean from certain death as well as all the other people in the hotel. Message? We have the power inside of us to do what is needed and what is right. We don't have to be (the real) Sam and Dean to be heros.
The next day, I assume, Dean is on his way out and thanking Demian and Barnes for their help while Sam is talking with Chuck and Becky. I'm going to go with Sam first, even though this comes later in the actual ep.
Becky is telling Sam that she is so sorry but she has fallen in love with Chuck and despite their "undeniable chemistry" they has to go where her heart leads. *shakes head laughing*
Sam, I'm sure, feels like laughing too, but he holds it in and looks very stricken instead.
BECKY:Will you be all right?
SAM: Honestly I don't know. I'll just have to find a way to keep living, I guess.
BECKY:God bless you.
SAM:Ok. Oh, hey. Chuck. If you really wanna publish more books, I guess that's ok with us.
CHUCK:(Excited) Wow. Really?
SAM:No not really. We have guns and we will find you.
CHUCK:Ok, ok. No more books.
SAM:See you around.
Sam is adorable. But if he had just told her he had never had any feelings for her, maybe Becky wouldn't have even tried what she did later??
Then Becky tells Sam all about Lilith not really having the colt and that Crowley actually has it.
OK, Back to Dean. He asks their names, and he's asked in turn, but when he tells them, of course they do not believe it - well... maybe they do, but are afraid to admit it. Dean turns to leave when Demian stops him with his words.
DEMIAN:You're wrong you know.
DEMIAN:About Supernatural. No offense but I'm not sure you get what the stories about.
DEAN: Is that so.
DEMIAN: Alright. In real life, he sells stereo equipment. I fix copiers. Our lives suck. But to be Sam and Dean, to wake up every morning and save the world. To have a brother who would die for you. Well who wouldn't want that?
DEAN:Maybe you got a point. You know, you two don't make a bad team yourselves. How do you know each other anyway?
BARNES:Oh. Well, we met online. Supernatural chat room.
DEAN:Oh. Well it must be nice to get out of your parent's basement. Make some friends.
DEMIAN:We're more than friends. We're partners.
DEAN:Oh. Wow. Ahem. Howdy partners.
So, I've already mentioned several things that this conversation makes me think - (1) Dean being made to realize that his life is envied, that a lot of people wish they could have such an exciting life and loving brother, (2) That even though the makers of Supernatural may be a bit uncomfortable with some of the fan fiction when they come face to face with it, there is nothing wrong with creating our own versions of Sam and Dean, (3)That despite our normal jobs and lives, we all have it in us to be heroes, and finally (4) The writers feel honored that the show gives so many people the courage to carry on and to do the right thing - to be heros. That's what I got out of it anyway.