Supernatural: The Real Ghostbusters
August 12, 2021 5:09 AM - Season 5, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Dean and Sam inadvertently attend a Supernatural fan convention where they meet lots of fans of the Supernatural books, and soon come to realize that the hotel at which the convention is held is a former orphanage and is haunted by the ghost of a woman and four young boys.


Chuck: Um, did you take my phone?
Becky: I just borrowed it. From your pants.

Becky: Oooo, the LARPing's started.
Dean: The... What is that again?
Becky: Live Action Role Playing? It's a game. The convention puts it on. [hands Sam a piece of paper]
Sam: [reading off the sheet of paper] Dad's journal... Dear Sam and Dean, this hotel is haunted. You must hunt down the ghost. Interview witnesses, discover clues and find the bones. The first team to do so wins a fifty dollar gift card to Sizzler. Love, Dad.

Hotel Manager: Look, I don't have time to play Star Wars, guys. Go ask the guy in the ascot.
Dean: Actually, we, uh... [slides bill over] ... really want to talk to you.
Hotel Manager: Okay, wow, you guys are really into this.
Sam: You have no idea.

Damien as Dean: It's called a game pal. It ain't called charity.
Dean: Yeah, right. Gimme the map, Chuckles.
Damien as Dean: Yeah, well you're the Chuckles, Chuckles. Besides, Dean don't listen to nobody. [pulls back his jacket to reveal a plastic gun]
Dean: [rolls his eyes]
Barnes as Sam: [to Damien as Dean] Dean! Cool it.
Dean: [pulls out his gun from its holster and threatens them]
Sam: Dean.
Dean: What? They're freakin' annoying.

Dean: What is wrong with you? Why in the hell would you choose to be these guys?
Damien: Because we're fans. Like you.
Dean: No. I am not a fan, okay. 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?
Damien: Uh... .I don't think they care, because they're fictional characters!
Dean: Oh they care. Believe me. They care a lot. [storms off]
Sam: He.. uh... he takes the story really seriously.

Chuck: Uh no, there's really no such thing as a Croatoan virus for... [points to abdomen] ... down there, um... you really should see a doctor.

Chuck: Ugh, I don't think the Benders made flesh suits out of all their victims. Maybe just, like, a couple scarves.

Chuck: Ah, what does the future hold for Sam and Dean? Well, how do you feel about angels? Yeah, because let me tell you, they're not nearly as lame as you think.

Chuck: Let's see, what else? I fell in love for the first time at 16. Lost my virginity, actually. But then she went around telling everybody it didn't count.

Damien: You're wrong you know.
Dean: Sorry?
Damien: About Supernatural. No offense but I'm not sure you get what the story's about.
Dean: Is that so.
Damien: All right. 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.

Becky: Look Sam. I'm not gonna lie. We had undeniable chemistry. But like a monkey on the sun it was too hot to live. It can't go on. Chuck and I, we found each other. My yin to his proud yang. And well, the heart wants what the heart wants. I'm so so sorry.
Chuck: Yeah, Sam. Sorry.

Dean: Hey Chuck. Good luck with the Supernatural books, and screw you very much.

Sam: Oh, and Chuck, if you want keep writing Supernatural books, it's okay with us.
Chuck: Wow. Really?
Sam: No, not really. We have guns and we'll find you.


This episode contains the first mention of Crowley.
posted by orange swan (14 comments total)
This seems like as good a place as any to post a link to a blog post I found, written by someone who says she attends a lot of conventions and went to a Supernatural convention, but found it was pretty sad and basically just designed to milk as much money as possible out of the fans. The fictional convention in this episode looked to be much better and more creatively planned and more fun. I suspect Becky had a hand in the planning, and it's to her credit if she did.

This is the second of four Becky episodes. I cringed when she actually thought she and Sam had something going, but I suppose she does worse later on. Kind of neat to have her give a tip about the Colt's whereabouts to Sam -- and to speculate that Crowley was Bela's lover (!!).

It was kind of fun seeing how ordinary people like Damien and his partner would actually handle being hunters. They didn't look anything like as dashing in action as Sam and Dean do, but let it also be said that they pulled their weight and helped get the job done.
posted by orange swan at 5:13 AM on August 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

How many fancy silver lighters does Dean go through throwing them into graves? I mean it’s not like they’re cheap disposable Bics. Maybe it’s time to start picking up matchbooks from all those motels.

I don’t know if it’s just shooting outside in broad daylight, but the boys don’t look so young here. Ackles’ crowsfeet in particular are noticeable and Padecki isn’t without his own wrinkles.

I really wanted to see a parade of Impalas leaving the hotel. Seriously, a traffic jam of black Impalas should have been part of the joke.

If dimwitted, delusional Becky knows who the boys are (through Chuck), I wish the cosplaying couple could have accepted Dean’s admission of who he is, or he could have introduced himself in a way that they could accept—maybe something like “believe it or not, my first name is actually Dean.” Okay, maybe that wouldn’t have worked, but I’d like to think that as a reward for seeing the best in the Winchester boys and proving themselves good-hearted and brave enough to deal with the ghosts, they should have been able to have an honest connection with Dean.

Speaking of Becky, I really hate that character stereotype. Yuck.

I’m not sure how I feel about Becky explaining what happened with the Colt. It feels like a cheat by the writers, but at the same time, it says a lot about Chuck (or not).
posted by sardonyx at 7:29 AM on August 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

The thing I remember finding unintentionally hilarious about this episode was the Supernatural Con attendees being so overwhelmingly male, as compared to the makeup of most general sf cons I've attended and Supernatural panels at those cons. I don't know when the Supernatural-specific cons started (not my kind of con), but at this point in the show's run it's not like the cast & crew hadn't been on the circuit and seen it for themselves. But it seems clear that there's always been members of the production who believed they were making a macho show for macho dudes and were rankled at the fact that the ratings & vocal segments of the fandom belied that, and did things like this episode and the Becky character in general to be dismissive of their actual fandom in favor of the one they thought they deserved.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:01 AM on August 12, 2021 [7 favorites]

"It's not really jumping the shark if you never come back down" words to live by, but I never need to watch that again.

Anyway--I can understand being incapable of reading someone's novelization of your life, but there's stuff in there Sam or Dean or both wouldn't know about (Crowley) or that Chuck knew but didn't write down (Sam drinking blood), and surely stuff that's both (whatever he saw at the end of 4x18.) I wondered about what they could've learned from Chuck, or at least his books, or someone who had read his books, or a wiki summary by someone who read the books, but no, apparently they would rather enjoy the surprise of taking things as they come. I just completely forgot that the Colt and who had it were, somewhat hilariously, two of those things.

But I think now I'm confused again about Bela. Stealing the Colt just to sell it right before she died didn't make a ton of sense when she could have used it herself, but presumably she expected something in return for giving it to Crowley. (Maybe she still went to Hell but got like...a really nice chair. Yeah. A nice comfy chair.)
posted by jameaterblues at 6:32 PM on August 12, 2021

Serious boyzone vibes.

If this is a tribute to the fans, it certainly isn't coming from a loving place.

"LARP Maid" (the paid "booth girl" pretending to be the ghosts mom/ whatever) was a relatively satisfying contrast to Becky, though, and pretty meta.

Ackles and Padalecki aged fast, agreed. No idea if it's too much sun (didn't use to be a problem in Vancouver during the filming season), genetics, heavy substance use, or a combination. iirc, it gets even more pronounced by the double-digit seasons, and pancake makeup started getting involved too?

Zippo-brand lighters start at about $20. Knockoffs aren't all that much less unless you buy them by the pallet-load (but tend to be even less reliable*). The real thing is still made in the USA, and some were made in Canada between '50 - '00 or so. They still have a true Lifetime guarantee - you mail one back, they'll try their darndest to fix it (not very well ime), or send you a new one.

Problem with Bic-style lighters (a lot of the name brand ones are still made in France) is that very few of them have a way to stay lit when you let go of the fork, and use a lighter fuel that goes out more easily than the naphtha in Zippo-style lighters. But yeah, whole matchbooks work well. Hard to find now, in 2010... kind of hard to find? Maybe a lot more ubiquitous in the US/ outside of cities in the PNW?

otoh, just about any mall will have at least one place where you can buy name-brand zippo lighters. Still.

The recent spate of gang hits around here feature torched getaway cars - they aren't torched professionally, just torched like how movies tell us how getaway cars are torched. I have no idea if they use zippo lighters, or some other means. (These are real gangs, real first degree murders and attempted murders, but a lot of the hitters are amateurs/ patsies. It's actually really pathetic.)

* even the real thing takes a lot of daily maintenance to work reliably, and even then...

Ah, ok, they do lampoon that fact with larpDean having problems with his.
posted by porpoise at 6:44 PM on August 12, 2021

This seems like as good a place as any to post a link to a blog post I found, written by someone who says she attends a lot of conventions and went to a Supernatural convention, but found it was pretty sad and basically just designed to milk as much money as possible out of the fans.

The article talks about this too, but it's soooo much a product of it being a Creation convention. I've been to a few of those over the years, for Star Trek and Xena (way back in the day) and they are very much the cookie-cutter money extractor described there. They will have a few marquee media guests, but little else in the way of interesting programming.
posted by Pryde at 9:02 PM on August 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm so glad that the Creation cons I went to in NYC back in the late 80s/early 90s were before they'd really upped their money-extraction game. I don't remember there even being a photo/autograph room, and the guests varied from TNG/TOS, Isaac Asimov once, and some CBS Beauty & the Beast (maybe it was just Armin Shimerman as a DS9 guest telling some of his B&tB anecdotes, but I'm pretty sure it was early on enough that he might have been there for his pre-Quark TNG appearances, and had more B&tB stuff to talk about than Trek, and I remember there being a charity auction at one with B&tB stuff).
posted by oh yeah! at 2:59 AM on August 13, 2021

a traffic jam of black Impalas should have been part of the joke

With a bunch of role-playing "Deans" at their respective wheels, honking the horn and yelling things out the window. I can see it.

presumably she expected something in return for giving it to Crowley

This does make sense. Bela was such a high-level operator that, yes, perhaps one of the strings to her bow was that she was working Crowley for better conditions once she got to hell, if she didn't succeed in getting out of her deal. The Winchester boys never even thought of that approach!

Ackles and Padalecki aged fast, agreed.

They still look very attractive on screen thanks to professional beauticians, lighting, and camera work, but I've come across online comments from people who have seen them in real life and who say they don't look all that good in person, that Padalecki looks gaunt and balding, and Ackles looks gaunt and his skin looks poor and is sagging, and that they both look significantly older than they actually are, that Padalecki, who is 39, looks like he's in his mid-forties, and Ackles, who is 43, looks like he's in his late forties or even early fifties. They're both 20 or so pounds below what a medically recommended weight would be for men their size, as actors generally are, and there does come a time, usually in one's 40s, when one can't get away with that look anymore.
posted by orange swan at 6:05 AM on August 13, 2021

Threads for episodes come along often enough here that I'm usually too behind to comment. By the time I see a thread, it seems like everybody else has moved on. (Not meant as a criticism, more an explanation for why I don't participate more despite being so active here when the show was airing.)

I feel like a negative confirmation bias is creeping into these threads, about the cast of this show and the people behind the scenes. I haven't done a really deep dive into their personal lives and maybe they really are just awful people, but some of the assumptions I see here seem excessive to me. I'm definitely not saying we should excuse it if any of these people say or do bad things, but it feels like there's this growing consensus that everybody involved with this show was an asshole, and... I really doubt it's that grim.

As for the actors aging, I got a bit of a shock when we switched to hi-def and suddenly everybody had crow's feet, but if anything I think these guys held up amazingly well. We re-watched the pilot halfway through the final season, and of course we could see a difference but it was kind of remarkable how much they hadn't changed. (Although Dean somehow seemed even shorter than Sam in the pilot. Did Ackles start standing on a box?) You can call them out for posting shitty stuff online or whatever, but I think taking shots at their looks is... not right. I'm definitely not trying to attack anybody here, but I'm hoping to see a little more focus on the show itself, with a little less negative commentary/conjecture about the people who made it.

there's always been members of the production who believed they were making a macho show for macho dudes and were rankled at the fact that the ratings & vocal segments of the fandom belied that, and did things like this episode and the Becky character in general to be dismissive of their actual fandom in favor of the one they thought they deserved.

I do remember arguing in these threads years ago that this was kind of a bro show going out to an audience of Tumblr feminists, so there were just always going to be problems. I thought that macho crap was baked into the show, that you just had to learn to tolerate it if you wanted to keep watching... but to my surprise they did end up dropping a lot of those problematic elements. There were more women behind the scenes (like, Sera Gamble was the showrunner for a while) and I felt like it showed. Dean stopped calling sexy monster ladies "bitch" all the time, the homophobic jokes went out the window, Sam and Dean started opening more and stopped keeping all these stupid secrets from each other for no goddamned reason. It felt like the show just grew up in a lot of ways. You only have to look at the musical episode a few seasons later to see how far the show had come regarding its take on female fans. That episode was an absolute Valentine to the same people the show had previously personified as Becky... and even Becky grew up and figured out what a loser Chuck was!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:17 PM on August 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

I want to preface that my intention is the diametric opposite of trying to be fighty. I appreciate you bringing up the discussion on 'The Boys'' looks over the past bunch of episodes.

It feels to me that there's been a collective realization that the show trades heavily on Padalecki and Ackle's physical appearances and screen demeanor and rarely casts male presenting actors that can compete with them on appearance. Even Dr. Sexy was cast with turn-off-flags so while still credible in the role, is still a step below The Boys' broadly-accepted-as-attractiveness.

Especially in contrast to the continual casting of female actors who require both a basic competency as well as being broadly-accepted-as-attractive. Sometimes very much so. A fair number had legitimate careers as models.

I think that the discussion is less getting down on "the people who made it" (well, really just Padalecki and Ackles, no?) and pointing out the state of hypocrisy/ boyzone-ness of the show at the time of these episodes first airing.

Good point about TV switching over to HD; TV and movies shortly after the switch were hard to watch, but then the makeup arts caught up. Schwarzenegger, Cruise, and Chow (Yun Fat) looked like T-600s for a few years. The makeup (and probably surgery) is so much better now.

Did SPN eventually acknowledge The Boys growing more mature (aside from suddenly turning into male Babushkas) and becoming less physically/ aesthetically potent?

They sure ignore the accumulated physical damage that they receive. They should already look like well-loved dog toys from the accumulated injuries they've been shown to sustain, not even talking about their self-cutter-forearms.

At this point in the show, The Boys continued external treatment as hunky just-post-college-age is approaching an inflection point of ridiculousness, especially when holding the average age and broadly-accepted-as-attractiveness level of female actors constant.
posted by porpoise at 9:38 PM on August 13, 2021

In later seasons there was a theme of people insulting Dean for looking haggard, previously commented on in this season 15 thread in fact, to the point of unfairness it seemed. And honestly on screen I still don’t see it.

In universe, Castiel ends up healing them fairly often, which could actually do a thorough job of magically mending a lot of cumulative wear on their bodies.

Plus, well, they do lead a bit of a charmed plot-armored existence as the leads in the divine narrative, which is lampshaded and explicitly taken away a bit during that final season.
posted by Pryde at 12:52 PM on August 14, 2021

My comment about their signs of aging wasn't so much a criticism of the actors and their looks but more of an observation about how the different lighting and setting affected the way we perceive them (and how the show's regular make-up, shooting angles, etc. didn't really work for an episode where they were supposed to be the hottest, most virile, least nerdy guys in the room). Personally, I like a bit of maturity on a guy, so it wouldn't make sense for me to critique them for not looking like teenagers.

I do, however, feel that it's fair to discuss how the characters (and by extension, the actors) look. There are lots of episodes where their attractiveness is definitely a driving plot point (or a minor aside). We seen Sam, in particular being pawed and felt up on more than one occasion (Becky upon first meeting, and the older, wealthy woman in Dead Man's Hand are the first two examples that come to mind of women who can't keep their hands off him). The gossipy women at Ben's birthday party certainly pay attention to Dean and check him out when he walks by, and we can't say he doesn't have success picking up random waitresses, based mainly on his looks. I think if the writers are going to play those cards, the viewers can't be expected to ignore them.

I can't saw I paid too much attention to how the boys looked in the later season episodes I've seen. I wasn't familiar enough with the characters or actors to really notice, or to have the perspective that they're supposed to be really good looking guys. (We all know that Hollywood casts attractive people as average or homely all the time--not to mention some very strange looking people as attractive--so I don't tend to make judgements about how attractive characters are supposed to be until those opinions are stated in the shows or movies themselves and are made part of the canon.) I will say, however, that I'm into season seven in my own watching schedule, and by now Ackles has had a really, really long run where he's pink around the eyes in a way that's very noticeable and would make me concerned for a friend or relative, so I do find that a bit distracting, but again, that's not a criticism of him or the way he looks.
posted by sardonyx at 8:46 PM on August 15, 2021

The one thing I did want to say, Ursula Hitler, is that even if you're posting a few days after the episode has been put up, I'll still be reading what you have to say, and will respond (if I have something to say as a follow-up). I tend to keep posts open (in an excessive number of tabs) purely because I'm interested to see what comments get added after people have had time to watch the shows or to reflect on shows they've seen. So, know that you're not typing into the void.
posted by sardonyx at 8:49 PM on August 15, 2021

In later seasons they move away from depicting Dean as attractive and start dropping in lines about how he's old and haggard. There's a scene where Dean grumbles about how he tried to pick up a waitress and she said he had a "dad bod," and IIRC that is the last time we ever hear about him even trying to be with a woman. It seemed like they were really trying to sell the idea that Dean was past his prime, and it got weird. If Jensen Ackles has become "TV ugly" that sets up an insane standard for people to live up to. To be clear dudes in general and Ackles in particular aren't really my thing, but I know what TV handsome is and I think Ackles is still definitely that.

When the show was airing I complained plenty about how Dean's sex life was totally dropped as a plot element. It wasn't like I'd ever really enjoyed that stuff, but it was obviously a big part of the character and it seemed weird and kind of shame-y for it to just vanish like that. I didn't want to see him chasing waitresses in his 40s, but a guy in his 40s doesn't have to live like a monk either! If they'd dropped in one line were Dean said something about how he wasn't fulfilled by cheap flings but didn't feel like he could settle down with anybody either, so he'd opted to live alone, that could have worked. But we never got that.

One last observation: It's funny how this show could do meta comedy episodes and that didn't bother me, but it used to drive me up the wall when The X-Files did it. (I thought the Supernatural episode with Sam as KITT was way too much, but otherwise I was fine with the meta goofs.) I think that's because Supernatural always had plenty of comedy in the mix, it didn't feel like such a jarring change when they got goofy, while X-Files was super serious aside from the comedy episodes. And the comedy episodes of Supernatural usually stayed grounded in a way The X-Files didn't. It still felt like the same show no matter how wild it got, while The X-Files comedy stuff felt like we were just watching the writers goof around for an hour. It didn't feel like Comedy Mulder and Regular Mulder were the same person really, and Darrin Morgan episodes didn't even feel like they were necessarily canon, while Sam and Dean can deal with a teddy bear monster or Scooby Doo and they are the exact some guys they've always been. Their consistent personalities are what make those wild swerves funny.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:05 PM on August 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

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