S8 and why hope isn’t necessarily a bad thing (aka viewing prevailing television themes as fic genres)
So I tend to like to think of show runners as fic authors. Why, I don’t know. Maybe because television lends itself so well to fanfiction. Or maybe because as a show’s fanbase grows, fandom inevitably begins influencing a show’s direction, fanon becoming canon and canon becoming fanon until the lines are so blurred they may as well be the same thing.
The thing is, I’m really freaking excited about S8 and I have absolutely no fear of Really Bad Shit Happening. And here’s why.
Kripke was a big fan of the psychological drama. He liked family angst and character development and exploring the human psyche. He also liked horror. Naturally this created an environment where people got hurt, often. He’s what you’d call a dark fic writer. Dark fic doesn’t tend to have happy endings and neither did his run. S5 might have ended with the good guys winning, but there was nothing happy about it. Out of all the show runners, he probably had the most realistic view of their world. It ends bloody or it ends sad was pretty much his destination from day one.
Gamble now, Gamble is a hurt comfort girl. She likes the angst (and honestly, your genre preference will determine which show runner you like best). She wanted to strip everything away, create conflict where conflict didn’t exist, just to see her characters suffer. Just to see what they were made of and provide opportunities for us to coddle them. As you can expect, her characters got hurt, her characters lost everything, her characters were put through the ringer beyond human endurance. If she was writing fanfiction, hers would be the 600K fic on ff.net where the main character gets raped 80000 times and somehow doesn’t break. There was never the possibility of Gamble’s run ending well. Never (and like most people who write 600K torture-porn, she abandoned the fic halfway through).
So now we have Carver. And Carver is an action-adventure guy. There’s a reason he billed S8 as “Raiders of the Lost Arc”. He’s writing the adventure. He’s writing two heroes facing off against a known foe, and yeah, they’re going to take a beating, but the thing about the action-adventure genre? The hero always wins. The hero always comes out on top. The hero always gets the girl (or angel). And the ending always fills you with hope. It is a testament to the strength of the human spirit, a clear journey in defeating the enemy and overcoming self doubt so that they can emerge stronger, better people. Action-adventure stories don’t end badly. They end fucking happy. They end with the good guy riding off into the sunset, angel at their side and baby brother carving out a life with wife and kids.
And that’s the thing. Kripke was never going to give us the happy ending. His genre prevented it. Gamble sure as fuck wasn’t going to give us a happy ending. But Carver, Carver just might. Because he’s a different kind of writer. He’s writing the kind of story that demands a happy ending. Because what’s the point of watching an action/adventure if the hero doesn’t win?