Review of Episode 8×02: What’s Up, Tiger Mommy?
Overall: Very solid—even more so than the previous episode. I’m comparing this season a lot to season six (the last time someone new took over), and so far it’s comparing favorably. This actually feels like Supernatural, whereas many episodes at the beginning of season six did not. That’s not to say they were necessarily bad episodes—they just didn’t match the tone and format I had come to expect from the show. Sera Gamble seemed to take a while to find her show-running groove. The vibe I’m getting from Jeremy Carver is that he has a strong vision for the season, and he’s confident in his approach—both very good things.
Dean: Wow—lots of interesting stuff for Dean in this episode! This was the first time I’ve ever watched him threaten/torture someone and seem like he was really enjoying it. When Dean tortured Alistair in season four, Dean was clearly miserable—his heart was not in it one bit. When Dean tortured demons in season six, interrogating them for Lisa’s whereabouts, he was serious about his business and obviously knew what he was doing, but never seemed to take any joy in it. But in 8×02, when they showed the flashback to Dean interrogating a creature in Purgatory, there was this light in his eyes, this reverence as he handled the knife…I felt like we finally got a glimpse of what he was like as Alistair’s apprentice in Hell. Some powerful acting from Jensen.
As far as present-day Dean—he was fierce in this one. I like how they inter-cut the two interrogation scenes, and how shocked Sam was at Dean’s violent methods. I, for one, totally agreed with Dean that they should leave Kevin’s mom alone. She was safe where she was, and Crowley had no reason to harm her. I thought Dean should’ve stood his ground, and Sam should’ve backed him up. However, then we wouldn’t have gotten to meet Tiger Mommy, who totally rocked the episode!
The main thing for Dean in this one, besides his ultra-sharp, extra-violent Purgatory instincts, was Kevin’s statement that Dean uses people until he doesn’t need them anymore, and then just lets them die. While this statement isn’t exactly correct, there is some truth buried in there, and I don’t blame Kevin for what he said (especially considering Dean almost slit Tiger Mommy’s throat). People around the Winchesters do die in horrible, bloody ways. This isn’t Dean’s fault or Sam’s fault—it’s just the nature of the job.
However, Sam and Dean (particularly Dean, in this ep) do seem to view some people as more expendable than others. Remember good old “Devil’s Trap,” the season one finale? Sam had the chance to kill Yellow Eyes right then and there, but wouldn’t because it would have meant killing John, too. So tonight, if Crowley had been inside, say, Bobby or Poppa Winchester or even Sheriff Mills, I don’t think Dean would have been prepared to kill any of those people the way he was prepared to kill Ms. Tran. When it’s a stranger, it’s easy to put the good of the many over the good of the one, but when it’s family, saving the family member takes priority. Is this a good thing? I don’t know. I think Sam and Dean do need reminders sometimes that strangers have families, too, and that lives are destroyed whenever an innocent person is killed, no matter who that person is.
Sam: I loved him in this episode! He was sweet, sensitive, sentimental Sammy, whom we all adore. He was kind to Dean at the end (I love it when they’re nice to each other). Plus, he really rocked the awesome charts using Thor’s Hammer and doing that clever reverse exorcism. Cool stuff, and some great lines, too: “Where’d you get the five eighths of a virgin?” LOL. No flashbacks for Sam this time around, but I’m hoping maybe next week. As long as the writers keep the focus of the episodes split pretty evenly between the two brothers, then the fandom as a whole should be pretty happy. I remember in season four, when it seemed like Dean was getting more focus, and the Sam fans were NOT HAPPY. That was the first time I had ever heard fans speaking negatively about Dean—even making fun of him and calling him a jerk–and I was traumatized! I think the writers learned something back then, and hopefully that lesson stuck: Both boys have fans. Both boys need to have their own storylines (and episodes devoted to these storylines) in order to keep the fans happy. No good can come from favoring one brother over the other!
Kevin: Very cool, and lots of fun as always (loved him whimpering through getting his tattoo). I understood his desire to see his mom, but Sam and Dean really shouldn’t have caved on that front. There is a reason why the most emotionally-involved person shouldn’t be in charge of making certain decisions. I definitely could appreciate why he bolted at the end—I probably would have done the same thing, considering how badly Sam and Dean’s plan went wrong. The only question for me would be: If it was possible to memorize the tablet (or at least what Kevin had already identified as the most important passage: how to banish demons) then why didn’t Kevin memorize that part as soon as he ran away with the tablet, before he stashed it away?
Tiger Mommy: She was by FAR the best part of the episode! Stole the whole show, as far as I was concerned. I loved her sitting there, tough as a boulder, while she got her tattoo. I love that she took so much of what happened in stride, and was determined to protect her son no matter what. I especially love that she bid her soul—what a mom! I’m so glad she survived the episode, so she can perhaps come back and rock again. Everything about the actress’ performance and the writing just made this gal impossible not to love.
Crowley: His “smoke” is reddish—I never noticed that before. Great lines and great performance, as always. I didn’t realize he didn’t have a soul—I thought the black (or in his case, reddish-black) stuff was the demon’s soul, all tarnished from being in Hell. Crowley used to be a human, so he did have a soul at one point. Maybe by now it’s all burned away? Interesting. In any case, I love that’s why he lost to Ms. Tran—she was willing to give up everything, and Crowley, of course, was not. To him, everything would probably be his position and/or his power, and I can’t see him giving up either of those things for any reason. Maybe when his kingdom freezes over…
Benny: Only in flashbacks this time around. He seemed loyal to Dean and helpful, but we know he needed Dean at that point. We’ll see how things play out, now that they’re both walking free.
Castiel: Okay, by far the most traumatic part of the episode—particularly the final flashback. I have no idea what was going on, but it seemed like Castiel was screaming for help and Dean left him behind. That’s what it looked like. We got a nice reunion scene between Dean and his angel, a reasonable explanation for why Castiel abandoned Dean in last season’s finale, a pledge that Dean would not leave Purgatory without his winged buddy…and then we got the last scene. Bad. Very bad. Let’s hope there’s an explanation that does not make me hate my favorite brother.
Final thoughts: Good stuff. I’m intrigued, entertained and a little horrified. I want to know what did happen and what will happen, and I’ll definitely tune in to find out. Keep up the good work, Season Eight!