Television: Sneak Peek At Supernatural S5.21 & Why This Viewer Thinks Crowley Works As A Character & Bela & Ruby Didn’t

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First off, don’t miss Misha Collins live on twitter tonight at 9pm EST. He will be checking in with the fans Misha Collins-style while the show airs on the east coast. If you haven’t read any of Misha’s tweets, you definitely don’t want to miss out tonight.

Supernatural is coming down to the wire for the 5th season’s apocalyptic storyline, so I was wondering why S5.20, The Devil You Know was such a slow moving episode it was almost standing still. About the only analogy I can come up with is that it is like the part in the roller coaster ride where you make that slow, ratcheting climb to the top of first hill the ride is about to go whizzing down. I sure hope that S5.21 and S5.22 have that kind of excitement to them cause the last episode was sort of boring. But only sort of—this is Supernatural after all so it did take some interesting twists while it was ratcheting up that hill.

In Supernatural S5.20 Castiel (Misha Collins) hadn’t back from out of nowhere yet, but the dapper, smooth talking demon Crowley (Mark Sheppard) had. And he is back with self-absorbed plans to use the Winchester brother’s battle to defeat Lucifer for his own personal gain. With Crowley back for S5.20 and tonight’s episode 5.21 Two Minutes to Midnight and seeing how well he fits in and suits the storyline, it got me to thinking about something I’d like to share.

Now I am not anywhere near opposed to there being female characters on Supernatural. Not as long as they are well written and are played by actors with talent that fits the role. I loved Ellen Harvelle and Pamela Barnes. I would love to see Missouri Mosley or Tamera come back. But what I have come to the conclusion about is that the writers of Supernatural simply excel more at creating recurring characters who are male.

In the writer’s strike abbreviated season three of Supernatural, the writers and producers experimented with creating two female recurring characters; the demon ‘is she or isn’t she an ally’ Ruby (played in season three by Katie Cassidy) and the conniving con woman Bela Talbot (played by Lauren Cohan). Both of these female characters were interesting concepts that failed to translate well onto screen, especially Bela whom I liked as character concept more than Ruby. Before season three of Supernatural even ended, Bela Talbot was vanquished to hell.

She was done so in the wake of fan outcry over the shoehorning in of this poorly written, though in my opinion decently played, character who had little or no chemistry with Dean Winchester whom she was ‘paired up with’ in terms of the writers trying to create a ‘Moonlighting’ type interaction. Cassidy’s version of Ruby was also banished back to hell and returned in season four as played by Genevieve Cortese (now Padalecki). Even the change in actress didn’t improve the character and Ruby finally bit the dust at the end of Season 4.

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So what is this all leading up to, you ask? It’s leading up to the introduction of the character of the demon Crowley, played by Mark Sheppard and the fact that while watching him in Supernatural S5.20 it suddenly occurred to me that Crowley seems to be an inventive reworking of both Bela Talbot and Ruby. As I said, the character concepts of a suave, not to be totally trusted con artist and a demon with their own agenda were very intriguing ones. The creation and successful introduction of the character of the demon Crowley proves that sans the shoehorned in attempt to force sexual chemistry and ‘Moonlighting’ type ‘repartee’ into the mix and the ‘they are such kick-ass hot chicks’ stuff, the character concepts behind Bela and Ruby work.

Crowley is everything the character concepts that the two female characters weren’t and it’s because the character of Crowley is has more natural flow to it. That flow most probably comes from the fact that Crowley was written genderless and Mark Sheppard was allowed to bring gender dynamics into it. His interaction with Dean and Sam Winchester works because the writers aren’t trying to shoehorn in sexual attraction or the contrived ‘feminine wiles’. The writers of Supernatural seemed to be able to allow the male characters they create to be people first and gender second. The fatal flaw with both Bela and Ruby (and Anna too but we won’t go into that) is the writers were too busy trying to write ‘sexy, kickass females’. They forgot to just write the characters, especially Bela, as genderless and allow the actresses in the roles to provide the ‘feminine factor’.

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That doesn’t mean the writers don’t get it right sometimes. Both Ellen Harvelle (Samantha Ferris) and Pamela Barnes (Traci Dinwiddie) I feel were written genderless and the actresses’ cast in the roles brought the female energy into them. The same thing appears to be going on with the third and fourth appearances of Jo Harvelle in Supernatural S5. This time the writers just wrote a character and allowed Alona Tal to make Jo realistically female. They got it right with Lisa Braeden in both her appearances on the show as well. They wrote a character that had a history with Dean and for him to interact with and then allowed Jensen Ackles and Cindy Sampson to bring out the male/female dynamic between their characters.

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So tonight we get more of the demon Crowley and his interactions with Sam, Dean and Bobby (Jim Beaver). We see what Bela and Ruby could have been if the writers had just written them as characters and let actresses do their work like they let Mark Sheppard do his. And boy did Jim Beaver and Mark Sheppard have their work cut out for them in this episode! The CW Network says there will be a huge jaw-dropping moment that will leave many of viewers and fans in tears.

Take a sneak peek after the brief description of Supernatural S5.21 Two Minutes to Midnight, airing tonight on the CW Network at 9PM EST right after an all new episode of The Vampire Diaries at 8PM EST

BOBBY SELLS HIS SOUL TO HELP STOP THE APOCALYPSE AND DEAN GOES HEAD TO HEAD WITH DEATH — Crowley (guest star Mark Sheppard) tells Bobby (Jim Beaver) he will give him the location of Death (guest star Julian Richings), the fourth horseman, in exchange for his soul. Knowing Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) need that fourth ring to stop the Apocalypse, Bobby reluctantly agrees. Sam and Dean confront Pestilence (guest star Matt Frewer), but he unleashes a deadly virus upon them, so Castiel (Misha Collins) must intervene on their behalf. Dean has a meeting with Death to discuss Lucifer, and an unholy alliance is formed at a very high price for Dean. Phil Sgriccia directed the episode written by Sera Gamble

3 thoughts on “Television: Sneak Peek At Supernatural S5.21 & Why This Viewer Thinks Crowley Works As A Character & Bela & Ruby Didn’t”

  1. Which version of Ruby did you like? I liked aspects of both versions but still felt the character just didn’t translate all that well to screen overall.

  2. I completely disagree that “The Devil You Know” (5×20) was a slow-moving or boring episode. On the contrary, it had all those elements that I expect Supernatural to have at times where it truly excels. It was well-written, well-paced, with just the right balance between horror, angst and comedy. And we haven’t been “making a slow, ratcheting climb” all season just to come whizzing down as we approach the finale. We’ve made a somewhat haphazard journey, where some “filler” episodes were used and everything substantial was saved for the last two episodes. Not unusual for Supernatural, as this has been done in past seasons as well.

    A great character (regardless of being male or female) is a combination of outstanding writing, and a skilled, properly-cast actor. If a character isn’t working, then one of those elements is no doubt missing. This is especially challenging with the female characters. But if they are created with their own personality and story purpose (and not the need to only be sex objects) then they work.

    (p.s. It’s “Bela Talbot” not “Talbert”, as you initially name her.)

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