In “My Heart Will Go On,” a sixth season episode of the CW’s Supernatural, the Winchester boys learn that Fate Herself (Kate Walder) is out to kill them. And even more bizarrely, they learn that events surrounding an obscure, century-old ship called Titanic are also playing a crucial role in a series of bizarre, modern-day murders in Pennsylvania and California.
Although sarcastic and silly, Supernatural’s “My Heart will Go On” does probe at least one interesting notion. Specifically that people living a century later remember the Titanic because it sank. If the ship had not sunk, it would remain an obscurity, just another ship from a century ago, and therefore nothing special. And in this alternate universe-type story, that’s precisely what happens. The Titanic is a ship not of dreams, but of history, forgotten by all because it did not sink on that April night. I enjoyed how the episode played with this idea, with Sam and Dean asking people if they’d ever heard of Titanic, and wondering what the big deal about a “boat” could be. “Does the name Titanic ring a bell?” represents a common refrain.
I’m not a regular Supernatural watcher, but I also noticed that this episode played with the idea of alternate dimensions in other small, nuanced ways. In particular, Sam and Dean don’t drive an Impala in this reality. That and other small touches make us aware we’ve slipped into another universe. I appreciated the attention to detail, and I’m sure that for longtime watchers, the episode’s meticulous attention to continuity paid off richly.
I have a number of friends who swear by Supernatural, but I’m never been a fan of the series myself. I’ve only seen about fifteen episodes in total so I cannot ably judge the totality of the program, but sadly “My Heart Will Go On” only reinforces my initial impressions of the program. In short, this episode highlights a smug air of self-satisfaction, and isn’t particularly scary or smart. Worse, it seems to have an axe to grind. Cameron’s Titanic sucked, we hear in the dialogue. Celine Dion sucked too. Oh and Billy Zane sucked as well. And the movie is only good because of “Winslet’s rack,” according to Dean.
In particular “My Heart Will Go On” eagerly gloms onto the idea — shared by too many fanboys and girls, alas — that it is somehow “cool” to hate something just because so many audiences actually love that very thing. Somehow, that feeling of hatred makes these folks in the minority “special” or better than everyone else, I suppose. They saw through Titanic after all, and that means they have good taste, right?
Also, isn’t it a wee bit disingenuous for the writers here to go after Titanic tooth-and-nail, while crafting, essentially, a total knock-off of Final Destination? There’s a cognitive disconnect between a show that bashes Titanic as a bad movie while at the same time it so knowingly and enthusiastically rips off another popular movie. If you want to prove that Titanic was creatively bankrupt, showcasing a creatively bankrupt rip-off doesn’t exactly make the case that your production is better. But anyway, according to Supernatural, Titanic really, really sucked. By inference, I guess that means that Supernatural is totally awesome.