Supernatural Review: Episode 8×22 “Clip Show”

Review of Episode 8×22: “Clip Show”
by castiello

Initial Thoughts: They killed Sarah. Sam’s Sarah. Right in front of him. Right in front of us…It was awful and brutal and…and…**runs off to sob in a dark corner**

A few hours later…

Okay, I think I’ve recovered enough to talk about the episode.

Sammy: Oh, poor baby…Watching Sarah die like that and not being able to do anything about it…Seriously, there are no words. I almost couldn’t bear to look at the screen. And afterwards, his brokenness. His defeat. So painful…Now Sam wants to give up on the quest, and I can’t blame him – who knows which person Crowley will go after next? I mean, think about the kids Sam and Dean have saved: that little boy in “Dead in the Water,” the little girl in “Playthings,” Krissy, Ben…Just going over the possibilities makes me feel a little sick. Crowley sure knew which trigger to pull didn’t he? And so did the writers. Ouch.

Proud of Sam for sticking up for Cass in this ep. Dean went on and on about all the crap Cass has pulled recently – which honestly isn’t that bad compared to things Castiel’s done in the past, e.g. teaming up with the King of Hell – and Sam’s simple argument for why they should forgive their angel buddy consisted of three short words: “Because it’s Cass.” Amen, Sam! Amen!

Sarah’s observations about Sam’s hair may have been flawed (Yes, you heard me, I didn’t like the Season One haircut. Nay, I hated it **ducks sharp objects hurled by rabid Sam girls**) but what she noticed about his character was right on the $$$. She said he seems more self-assured. Seeing as he felt lost and guilty and cursed when she first met him, it was cool to see Sam’s changes through the eyes of someone who hasn’t been there to witness everything he’s survived in the past seven-to-nine years. The differences between then and now, both physical and mental, are staggering. He is all grown up, just like Sarah said.

She also said that Sam “knows what he wants.” At that particular moment, I’d say it was true. Sam wanted to close the Hell Gate, and then go on to lead a normal, “apple pie” life. The only problem with that goal: Sam and Dean have no idea what will happen when the Gate slams shut. They are operating under the highly unrealistic expectation that once the door is closed, all things that screech and claw and rip people up will instantly go “poof” and the world will be a calm place, empty of both monsters and demons. When this doesn’t happen, and there are still ten million creatures out there killing innocent folks, then I have no idea what Sam will want. He’s been very committed to this task…but what about the next one?

Dean: Another poor baby. Though Sarah’s death surely didn’t impact him as hard as it did Sam, I know Dean can’t be taking it well, either. Especially thinking about who might be next. I mean Crowley does know about Ben and Lisa. Wiping Lisa and Ben’s memories has done nothing to prevent Dean’s ex-girlfriend and surrogate son from being used as a weapon – why would it matter to Crowley that they don’t remember Dean? Dean remembers them, and that’s all Crowley cares about. They are a way to emotionally gut Dean, just as Sarah’s death emotionally gutted Sam. And Crowley was wicked smart not to start with Lisa and Ben – holding onto them as an ace in the hole was one of his usual strokes of demonic brilliance.

But now Dean is in a major Catch-22 situation. Because if he and Sam don’t quit, Ben, Lisa and hundreds of other people could die senselessly. But if they do quit, then Sam dies. And that is simply not an option in Dean’s book, or in mine. Dean’s main driving force at this point is trying to get Sam better. Without completing the third task, that won’t happen. Sam is clearly willing to make the sacrifice, but there’ll be Ice Capades in Hell before Dean goes along with that plan.

Not diggin’ how mean Dean was to Castiel in this episode. Poor Cass had his brain rewired – numerous times – and still managed to overcome his programming to keep himself from killing Dean. So what if Castiel took the angel tablet? Dean doesn’t have any right to that, anyway. Get off your high horse, Dean! (Ooh, I just had a cool mental image of Dean riding Death’s horse in the apocalypse…) Seriously, though, this is not the first time Dean’s been downright cold towards Cass – remember back in Season Six when the angel civil war was going down? Most of the time, Dean acted like he couldn’t care less. I think he offered to help a grand total of one time, and even then it was only as an afterthought. I know the current strife between Cass and Dean won’t last forever – it never does. So I’ll suck it up…for now. But all the while I’ll be eagerly looking forward to the return of the closeness I have come to cherish between Dean and his angel.

Sarah: You know, there’s a part of me that rages against certain post-Season Five creative choices. Like killing off Bobby, having Castiel be the bad guy for a whole season, turning Grandpa Samuel into a world-class d!ck, etc, etc. Now, I will be adding killing off Sarah and Tommy to that list. Okay, maybe Tommy’s death was somewhat acceptable, but Sarah? The one girl who was pretty darn near universally approved by the fandom as a potential mate for Sam? When the post-Season Five creative team decided to take her away from us, something rose up inside of me. Something like “This is NOT your show. This is KRIPKE’S show. You are not running it as well as he did, therefore you do NOT have a right to kill off beloved characters on a whim.” And then I realized: that is exactly how I am supposed to feel – because that is exactly how Sam and Dean feel. The people they’ve saved are the one thing that keeps them going, the one pure, good thing they can look back on when they want to feel better. Crowley took that from them, and the writers took it from us, creating a perfect moment of empathy between the fans and the characters. Hats off to some tremendous, Kripke-worthy writing.

Castiel: Totally won my heart over during his trip to the grocery story, buying jerky and Busty Asian Beauties and demanding PIE. In his childlike, emotionally-stunted, socially-crippled way, Cass was doing everything he could to make things right with Dean. I only wish Castiel had finished the job rather than teaming up with Metatron for some seriously-dubious Nephilim-hunting. It’s scary how easily Cass can be led astray, even after the Crowley debacle…

Metatron: I was just saying how much I liked this dude, and already he’s lost some of my respect! Killing an innocent creature that had committed no crime aside from being born? ICK. The justification “she’s an abomination” holds less water than a desert. You can’t kill somebody for no other reason than because they happen to exist. And the self-defense argument doesn’t work, either – Castiel and Metatron went after this girl with the intent of murdering her. So what if she made the first move? I had nothing but sympathy for this creature, no matter how mean and bad-@$$ they tried to make her seem. Metatron’s idea about closing Heaven was well-reasoned, but the cost of getting the job done is already too high.

Abadon: Sam and Dean get major IQ points for leaving her without hands – I’ll give them that. Sadly, that’s about all the IQ points they earned in this episode. There was no logic behind reconstructing one of Lucifer’s Knights. They had a dangerous demon successfully incapacitated, and they brought her back for no good reason. The demon-curing exorcism they listened to was performed on a REGULAR demon – there was no reason to think it would or could work on a super-powered Knight of Hell. And at that point in the ep, Sam and Dean didn’t know that Crowley was intentionally keeping demons and demonic creatures away from them. So, there was no reason not to try to find a normal demon to test the ritual on. No reason except that the writers wanted Abadon back, and took the easiest route possible to have that happen. Sam and Dean didn’t even put her in a devil’s trap, for crying out loud! They relied solely on the bullet rather than putting every possible precaution into place, and that’s so not them. Also, they left her unattended. And they left her hands about two feet away from her. Stupid X infinity. The only positive thing I can say about the Abadon mess is that watching her hand creep across the table and jump onto her shoulder and reach into her brain was a fine moment of horror television. I think my skin crawled away.

Crowley: Can’t talk about him right now. The pain is still too fresh.

Re: Closing Heaven: I like that the tasks to close the Heaven Gate are quite the opposite of the ones required to close Hell. To shut the door on demons, a person is asked to do good things – e.g. kill an evil creature, save an innocent soul, cure a demon. But to close Heaven, a person must do something morally corrupt, like cut the heart out of a creature that doesn’t deserve to die. I shudder to think what else Castiel and his new friend will have to do to meet their goal…

Final Thoughts: So, Abadon is (stupidly) on the loose, Crowley is hitting the boys – and the fans – where it really hurts, Sam’s ready to give up, Dean doesn’t know which way to turn, and Castiel and Metatron have embarked on a morally-questionable-at-best mission to save angel-kind. Sounds to me like we have all the makings of a gut-wrenching, thrill-a-minute season finale :).

Supernatural Review: Episode 8×21 “The Great Escapist”

Review of Episode 8×21: “The Great Escapist”
by castiello

Overall: Cool. Very cool. A different kind of episode, but not in a bad way. I think the fact that Sam and Dean weren’t ever really part of the action gave the episode a weird, low-key sort of feeling. It felt like an in-between episode. Too important to be labeled a “filler,” and yet not epic enough to be called a true mytharc episode. Despite the strange pacing, we got to see some wonderful insights into Sam and Dean’s childhood, we finally learned what the third task was, both Cass and Kevin escaped from Crowley, and the King of Hell got to try on his directing hat. All in all, this episode was fun and informative, and, as usual, it left me excited for the next one.

Sam: Man, those make-up people are doing an awesome job! Sam looks sick as a dog: pale, feverish, even a little bit manic. We learned that his physical symptoms are at least partially due to the delay between each task. Which makes some degree of sense, and reminds me of a neat fanfic I read several years ago where something similar was happening to Dean (And The Ground Shook by sams1ra). When Sam is making progress toward the next task, he feels better. When he is neglecting the trials, the magic inside of him festers restlessly. I guess whoever took on the tasks was supposed to read all three of them ahead of time and just get them done right in a row, without any dilly-dallying around in between. Which Sam and Dean would’ve done – if they could’ve read the friggin’ thing…Which brings me back to something I said a while ago: It’s insanely dumb to start an epic quest when you only have half of the information.

Another possible reason for Sam’s symptoms – he seems to think the trials are purifying him. This is very interesting. I have to wonder – does Sam even still have demon blood inside of him? He hasn’t displayed powers in about three years, give or take (don’t blame me for being fuzzy on the math – this is what happens when the show keeps skipping over years…). I wonder if he really does still have anything impure running through his veins, and if slamming the hell door really is burning the bad blood right out of him. Would be awesome if it were true, but it could just as easily be a delirium-induced product of Sam’s imagination. He still feels unclean, and wants to believe he’s being purified.

Sam’s memory of feeling tainted as a child gave me chills. Again, it could’ve been fever-induced, and not a real memory, but I believed it. It’s certainly possible that somewhere in the back of Sam’s consciousness, he always knew. His memory about the “farty donkey” – and the goofy, loopy way he told it – was just plain cute. My only complaint about that otherwise charming brother scene: unless my ears were playing tricks, I think Sam said they took the donkey ride at the Grand Canyon. Which would make a continuity error, because in “Croatoan,” Dean specifically said he’d never been there. Stuff like that always makes diehard fans twitch. Like in “Sam, Interrupted,” when Dean said that Sam had always been a “happy drunk.” Again, it was an adorable scene, but we’ve seen Sam drunk on several occasions, and he has consistently been melancholy, sometimes even desperate and tearful. Not exactly my definition of happy. If the viewers can remember these little details, why can’t the writers?

Niggling fan issue aside, though, I will cuddle the donkey story as a rare instance of John actually being a good father. And I do love John… 🙂

Dean: This whole situation is just killing him. He was the one who wanted to close the Hell Gate. He was the one who wanted to take on the tasks. And it ended up being Sam, instead. So, not only is Sam’s life in danger during the tasks, but also in between them, due to an unforeseen side effect of taking on the job. Right now, I’m betting Dean is sorry he ever suggested this quest in the first place. Certainly, if he knew then what he does now, he never would have let Sam perform that first spell. As it is, Dean doesn’t even seem to care very much about closing the Hell Gate anymore – the only reason he wants the third task completed is because he hopes it will stop the symptoms and save Sam’s life. Desperation, protectiveness and fear are Dean’s only remaining motivations at this point.

I will say he’s doing the best he can to keep it together and to keep Sam together. Although, when you put somebody in ice water to bring down their fever, are you really supposed to submerge their nose and mouth like that? Couldn’t the person drown while they’re unconscious?? Just sayin’…

I had to love Dean for telling Sam, “It’s not your fault,” about the demon blood thing. Too often in the past, Dean has seemed icked out, freaked out, or just plain judgmental about Sam’s powers and their dark origins. Although I always knew that Dean didn’t love Sam any less for being “tainted,” I don’t think Sam knew it. I think Sam needed that reassurance. And, although it came quite a few years later than it should have, I’m glad Dean finally said the words.

Kevin: That video…Dang. Those little bits of broken glass on the floor used to be my heart. An inspired and emotional performance. I loved Kevin all the way through this ep, from his cleverness at figuring out Crowley’s mind game, to his willpower as he refused to reveal the third task, to his relief and happiness at the end of the episode. Our favorite prophet has seemed broken in recent episodes. Here, he finally seemed whole. At peace. My only questions: 1.) If Crowley really took Kev, does this mean Tiger Mommy really is dead??? (NOOOOOOOOOOOOO) 2.) Where in the name of heck is Garth?? Did something happen to him, too? Shouldn’t the guys be trying to find him??? Why is no one particularly concerned that a hunter (AKA a person with the world’s most dangerous, high-mortality job) is MIA? Oy.

Crowley: “I was born to direct.” “I could’ve played Dean myself.” “I’ve got deals and plans up the jacksies.” With lines like that, is it any wonder that I wanted him to win in the showdown with Naomi? Bad Angel Lady is cruel, scary and gross. Crowley’s all those things, and he can make me spit out my Koolaid in a fit of laughter. Anyone who can do that deserves the win. 🙂

Cass: Keeping the tablet inside of himself? Pure genius. And the trick with Biggerson’s…Man he knows just how to scramble the brains of his fellow angels, doesn’t he? “There are just so many Biggerson’s…” ROFL. Marry me, Ben Edlund. Right now. Today.

I actually thought Cass would convince Ion to help him. Ion seemed conflicted, and I get the feeling that Crowley was just the lesser of two evils. (How sad is that? Between a demon and an angel, the demon is the less morally corrupt choice…) I could see Ion becoming an ally, but sadly, it wasn’t to be – Ion got an angel bullet through the brain, and we won’t be seeing him again.

We will be seeing Cass, who managed to escape despite severe injuries and pop up right in front of the oncoming Impala. Can’t really blame Sam and Dean for hesitating to run to his aid, though – considering the last time Cass was with them, he basically beat Dean into mulch. And Castiel, who was channeling his inner Dean all episode long, couldn’t help but respond to their pause with a sarcastic, “A little help, here?” My heart does this little fluttering thing whenever Castiel talks like Dean, or even just tries to talk like Dean: “Hey ass-butt!” 🙂 I guess I just love to see those little hints of their bond, those signs that Cass has come so far from the “follow orders” mode he was in when we first met him.

Metatron: Very likeable, very funny, very…human. I couldn’t help but warm up to this little angel from the secretarial pool. He loves his stories, and the excitement in his voice when he talked about the “raw, wild invention of God’s naked apes,” made me smile. This is a rare angel who likes and respects humans. That said, he was a coward, as Sam said, for hiding away while an apocalyptic crapstorm was going down. Metatron redeemed himself by saving Kevin and joining the fight. I was, however, chilled by the angel scribe’s last words to Dean. What will happen if they manage to close the Gate? What will the world be like, and what will Sam be like, assuming he survives? Truth is, they have no clue – and that scares the pants off me.

Naomi: She needs to die. Nuff’ said.

Final Thoughts: We are heading bravely forward into uncharted territory. I’m afraid for Sam, afraid for Dean, and now, after Metatron’s comments, I’m pretty darn freaked out that they’re making a mistake by closing a door that maybe wasn’t meant to be closed. Will evil souls still be able to descend into Hell? If not, where will they go? What will happen to the demons still up on earth when that Gate gets slammed? Are they trapped up here? And, most importantly, what will happen to Sam after finishing the third trial? Is “purification” necessarily a good thing? As Season Eight revs up for its epic finale, part of me is eagerly awaiting these answers…and another part of me is dreading them. And, seeing as this is Supernatural, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

Worst Story Ever Written

We all know that it’s a good idea to read good stories and figure out what makes them so compelling. Ninety percent of the time, that’s what you want to be reading – stuff that’s so unbelievably awesome that you hope the writer’s skills will actually rub off on you somehow. But, from time to time, it’s also beneficial to read a really bad story and analyze exactly what makes it so darn unreadable. If you can determine what caused you to give up on a novel after only ten pages, you can hopefully avoid making those same errors in your own writing. It’s a great way to sharpen you editing claws, stretch your critiquing muscles, and improve your own writing, all at the same time.

Sounds good, right? Now, all you need is a story to practice on. A really bad, really horrible story. And I happen to have the perfect one. A few years ago, I read what is quite possibly the worst story ever written. It’s so completely awful, that it almost comes around full circle and becomes good. Seriously, you will cringe when you read it. You will roll your eyes and think, How in the heck did this thing ever get published? In the end, you won’t know whether to laugh or weep at the sheer wretchedness of it.

You probably think I’m being mean, talking like this. You probably think I’m ignoring the whole “support other writers” spiel I gave in my constructive criticism post and being a total hypocrite. I’m not. The reason: This story was written badly on purpose. The author, who is actually very talented, takes basically every single mistake that would make an editor twitch, and crams them all together into one hilariously groan-worthy short story. It’s absolute brilliance, and a super-handy guide for what you should NEVER EVER do when you’re writing a short story. Or a long story. Or a novel. Or anything.

So, go check it out, and try to find every example of awfulness you possibly can in this piece that can only be described as bad writing at its very best. 🙂

http://www.everydayfiction.com/the-most-epicly-awesomest-story-ever-by-randy-henderson/

Enjoy, and keep writing!

-Gretchen

 

Mentalist Review: Episode 5×21 “Red and Itchy”

Review of Episode 5×21: “Red and Itchy” (AKA “Animal, Vegetable or Ewwwwwwwwww!”)
by castiello

Overall: It was the one episode I never saw coming. The one place I was sure they’d never, ever go. The one plotline that I thought would remain a dangly, loose thread, always and forever. But, no – in a burst of great continuity and bold storytelling, The Mentalist not only revisited the topic of LaRoche’s mysterious Tupperware, but did so in a thrilling and ultimately satisfying way. Well done, Show!

Jane: Okay, I take back what I said last time about him being kind of jerkish and making Lisbon come upstairs to get him all the time. Seems he genuinely was working on the Red John case, and was actually very close to a breakthrough. In hindsight, that little book he was reading must have been his list of names. It just looked different, somehow. Then again, the last time they showed Jane’s house and his bedroom, those looked different to me, too. And there’s no reason they would change those sets. So…weird angles, maybe? Unusual lighting? In any case, Jane is on the verge and I can’t really fault him for needing some alone time. The only thing I can fault him for is trying to find his alone time in a bustling government office building. Dude, just take some personal time and go hole up somewhere! A motel room, your house, an abandoned warehouse – almost anywhere would be an improvement.

Anyway, before Jane went into full seclusion, we got to watch him skillfully tap-dance his way around the topic of JJ’s Tupperware. I swear, if BSing is an artform, then Jane is Picasso. It was like seeing him do his psychic act all over again. LaRoche: “Do you think me a monstrosity?” Jane: “No…Not a monstrosity. I think you’re a very complex person…” LOL. Brilliant stuff. I kept waiting for Jane to screw up and say something that didn’t fit, but he pulled off the con brilliantly, letting LaRoche guide the discussion, keeping things just vague enough to be open for interpretation.

Where Jane impressed me the most, though, was his decision not to look in the Tupperware. I mean, he must have been dying to look. We all were. But in a rare move, Jane chose to respect JJ’s privacy and let some secrets remain secret. Part of Jane probably thought that the reality of what was in the box would never live up to what he’d been imagining. And, maybe a part of him was just testing his own willpower. But most of all, I think he does have some weird form of respect for LaRoche, some strange kinship that actually grew stronger during this case, and while Jane was conning and scheming JJ the whole episode long, I think at the end Jane decided to act as a true friend should. One small step for man, one giant leap for Jane. 🙂

Lisbon: “For once, don’t be the voice of reason – be the voice of wrath.” When Jane said that to her, I got shivers. And when she came back with, “Okay, how do we get the b!tch?” I actually hissed the word “yesssssss” under my breath. Right on, Lisbon. Right on. I’m so glad she followed her gut on this one. Jane’s plan wasn’t even as dangerous or half-cocked as usual, so there would have been no real harm done if he was wrong about Brenda. (Just some departmental embarrassment, but what else is new?)

If anyone discovered the secret of the box, I would have expected it to be Jane. If not him, then Van Pelt or Rigsby, who were openly making bets about the box’s contents. But in the end, it was Lisbon who showed that her passion for justice is only part of the reason she decided to become a cop. Apparently, she can’t resist the thrill of a good mystery – and she can’t stand not knowing the solution. It was Lisbon who broke down and scratched the itch for us, tracking down the rapist who had assaulted JJ’s mother and at long last digging up the truth.

I have to wonder, though, if she’s glad she made that trip. Now, Lisbon has to face a big decision about what to do with her newfound knowledge. Jane would tell her to just let it go. I mean, technically, she doesn’t know anything for sure. She just has a very strong hunch. Revealing her suspicions would be like opening up a can of worms and dumping them out to crawl all over the ground. LaRoche would find out the extent of Jane’s betrayal. LaRoche would be disgraced and probably wind up in prison. His mother’s memory would be tarnished. So, Lisbon will likely hold her tongue (LOL) and keep this secret buried, just as she has in the past with Bosco’s crime and the numerous illegal actions Jane has taken over the years. But how much of this stuff she can cover up before she starts feeling like a dirty cop? There’s gotta be a breaking point somewhere, because Lisbon believes in the law. Like, really believes. And I would so hate to see Lisbon hand over her badge because she just didn’t feel like she was honoring it anymore…

Cho/Rigs/Van Pelt: No overt mentions of the Rigspelt reunion – just a subtle shift in Rigsby’s demeanor when he talks about Van Pelt to Cho. No more whining and moping or endlessly obsessing. Rigbsy simply talked about the bet he and VP had going, but there was this lightness in the way he talked. This gentle happiness in the way both of them acted. I’m sure it took Cho all of two seconds to figure out they were back together. Never mind Jane, who knew it was going to happen before Rigsby and VP even did. The bullpen had a nice, relaxed feeling to it. Tension-free. Relieved. Meant-to-be. I was happy to just sit there and soak in the new group dynamic. And for the record, Cho’s wisdom and his ability to read people is starting to rival Jane’s. Cho didn’t hesitate when he said the contents of the box were “animal.” He’s not half as damaged as Jane, but Cho has still seen way more of humanity’s dark side than anyone should…

LaRoche: Speaking of dark sides – whoa! This dude is pitch black. I never thought of him as being particularly similar to Jane…I always thought LaRoche cherished the law above all else. But now that I’ve seen what he’s capable of…the coldness of it, the calculation that the act required…Yikes. JJ’s darker than Jane, if you ask me! When Jane shot Not-Red John in the mall, at least it was a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing. There were tears streaming down Jane’s face – he was pushed over the edge. But JJ’s crime took so much planning…to break into someone’s house, inject the person, and do that in the dead of night. Wow. And how could he possibly have gotten away with it? Given the circumstances, wouldn’t he be like, the one and only suspect? The only thing I can figure, is that someone let it slide. The police didn’t want to catch him, because they didn’t really blame him. The kind of corruption and rule-breaking JJ openly detests is probably the only reason he’s a free man today.

Brenda: Man, was I glad to see this chick go down! I mean, after what she did to Lisbon? After what she did to that kid? Brenda’s fall was long overdue. The fact that it happened on camera was just a bonus. The real joy was seeing her sitting there in the interrogation room with Lisbon and Jane. Seeing her smug expression and then seeing Jane smear it right off her face. His little “baaaa” said it all: You are not nearly as special or as smart as you think you are. You are a common criminal, just like all the rest. Right on, Jane. Right on.

The Box: After all that teasing, I actually thought they might not reveal the contents. After all the hype and the build-up, I actually thought maybe they shouldn’t reveal the contents. They could’ve easily done a cop-out ending and left us guessing for the remainder of our natural lives. But they didn’t – The Mentalist delivered a satisfying pay-off in a creepy and disturbing way, and I give them major points for tying up a mystery that’s been niggling for two long years. In the end, I was only left wondering about one thing: Seriously, why didn’t he just freeze it?

Final Thoughts: Jane is about 24 hours away from figuring out who Red John is. Lisbon just found out an icky secret. Rigsby and Van Pelt are together and it feels so good. What will happen next? Guess we’ll have to tune in to the SEASON FINALE TONIGHT!!!

Supernatural Review: Episode 8×20 “Pac-Man Fever”

Review of Episode 8×20: “Pac-Man Fever”
by castiello

Overall: Despite a few minor plot quibbles, this episode won me over with some great performances, a very welcome visit from one of my favorite guest stars, and a healthy dose of Supernatural’s own version of chicken soup for the soul: those wonderful brotherly love moments that will always keep us coming back for more.

Sam: Oh, poor baby. He’s a total mess right now, isn’t he? I could feel my mothering instincts shooting into overdrive when Sam wandered out of his bedroom all sleepy and sick, with his hair mussed up. All he needed was a pair of footie pajamas and he could’ve passed for a four-year-old. An enormous, mutant four-year-old, but still. I do have to agree with Dean on the clippers, though. You need a haircut, Sammy – like, two weeks ago. When I watch old Season Four episodes, I think to myself, “Wow, Sam – you weren’t too nice in this season…but dang, your hair looks good!” A few snips go a long way, buddy.

Rapunzel issues aside, though, it’s hard for me to watch Sam suffer like this. Why would the trials cause so much damage to the person trying to complete them? What would be the point of those spells debilitating the person so badly that he could not complete the final task? Is it another form of test – like, you have to be strong enough to overcome the illness and still manage to complete the third task? Or is it something else – something that has to happen in order for Sam to finish the trials? Whatever the answer is, I have faith that the storyline is going to make sense, and it’ll be a good payoff. Supernatural doesn’t hold back when it comes to payoffs…they just like to torture me in the weeks leading up to those moments. (And in the summers, and on hiatuses, and…)

So, we will get our answers, but in the meantime, I’m left to fret alongside Dean. I have to love my guy for how hard he tries to take care of his brother. Dean made the right call, telling Sam to step back from the fight. And Sam made the worst call in the history of calls by ignoring Dean’s instructions. The logical part of me wanted to scold Sam for going into the field in such a debilitated condition. If you can’t see straight enough to shoot a stationary paper target, then you have no business hunting living, moving, blood-slurping creatures. Sam put himself, Charlie and Dean in danger by insisting on joining the chase. I wanted to stay mad at Sam for this terrible decision. Honestly, I did. But the truth is, he did take down a young djinn. He did save Dean and Charlie’s lives. And Sam did apologize for the error in judgment. In the end, all I could feel was what Dean felt – grateful that things ended the way they did, grateful Sam was still standing there, grateful that after all they’ve been through, these two brothers are somehow – against all odds – still together. I love you, Sammy!

Dean: I don’t know what’s harder: watching Sam suffer, or watching Dean watch Sam suffer. I’m leaning toward the latter. When that djinn said Dean “reeks of fear,” nothing could be more true. You can just feel it rolling off of him. Even when he’s being bossy and controlling, you know it’s just covering up the terror that’s threatening to consume him. It’s like the mom who chews the kid out for running in the street – all that yelling is really code for, “OMG, I could have lost you. I could have lost you…”

As always, though, Supernatural kept the humor flowing just enough to take our minds off the boys and their imminent peril. I was snickering at the clipper comment, but I laughed out loud at the punching scene – Dean: “I need you to punch me. I know you don’t want to, but—” WHAM! Too, too funny. Note to Dean: I’m guessing Sam doesn’t like to be bossed around and fussed over and babied quite so much. Note to Sam: Unresolved anger issues, much? Brother-punch scenes are almost always either heartbreakers or comic gold, and this one went platinum. Great stuff.

Charlie: Loved, loved, loved getting Charlie’s backstory. The actress’s performance had me blinking back tears when she talked about how her parents’ accident was her fault, and how her mom was the one who got her interested in fantasy fiction. And the ending scene, when Charlie took out the book and began to read The Hobbit? Cue the waterworks. Big time. It really was a beautiful, emotional story that came full circle.

Charlie the hunter-in-training was interesting to watch. I would love for her to work some more cases with the boys in the future – just as long as she doesn’t get killed off. Many of her scenes had me chortling – the upside down badge, the power suit conversation, the “future therapy” moment – but I was scratching my head a little about the numerous IDs and passports at Charlie’s place, as well as her general secretiveness during the first part of the episode. I don’t quite understand: is Charlie still on the run from the law because of her arrest when she was twelve? I thought she forged a new identity for herself after the Dick Roman thing. Were those fake IDs somehow related to how she pays for her mother’s care? I needed just a hair more explanation on that front. Also, I’m not sure why she wouldn’t just tell Sam and Dean about her mother, but I guess that could be chalked up to simple guilt. She did feel responsible for the accident, after all.

Re: Djinn: I like the idea of a djinn that sends you to your scary place instead of your happy one. That said, those fake-looking CGI tattoos don’t hold a candle to the real ones on the djinn in Season Two. That guy gave me goosebumps just looking at him. His eyes, his tatts, his whole demeanor just screamed “blood-drinking freak.” The way djinn were portrayed in Season Six and in this episode – they’re almost too cool. Too sleek and slick. Not as grubby and dirty and creepy as I would like them to be. Also, if we’re doing djinn comparisons, I was fully expecting Charlie to have to die in her dream in order to wake up. Isn’t that how Dean pulled it off, back in the day? I guess I just needed a bigger moment, before Charlie came out of it – I needed to see in some major way that she really had let go of her mother, let go of her fear. I halfway thought Dean was actually going to kill the mother in the dream, just to force Charlie to let go. As it was, the “letting go” scene in the dream was a bit anti-climactic. However, I think the writers were trying to save the “big moment” for the Hobbit scene at the end, and I can get on board with that decision.

Re: The Dream Root: Although the punching scene gets an A+++ in my book, I did wonder why it was necessary to knock Dean out in the first place. Didn’t he and Sam like instantly slump unconscious after drinking it in Dream A Little Dream of Me? I just remember the image of them both sprawled across the beds in the motel room, completely unaware that they had already passed out and entered Bobby’s dream world, because it happened so fast. Why wouldn’t the potion have a similar effect in this case?

Re: Saying Goodbye: Once again, Sam said his goodbyes with Charlie, and then retreated to allow Dean and Charlie to have a private goodbye. This is like, the third time Sam has felt the need to leave when Dean’s saying goodbye to someone. The folks over at Supernatural Fans Online brought this to my attention, and I have to admit that I’m not sure I like the trend. It’s almost like the writers are saying, “Dean has a more special connection with people than Sam does.” Sure, in this case, Dean and Charlie had gone through something private in Charlie’s dream world, but it was still nothing that Sam should have to leave for. If the writers are going to make Sam leave every time Dean says goodbye to someone, then we’ve got a problem. It’s not fair, and this is coming from a Dean Girl. If Dean’s going to have private, special goodbyes with some people, then I would ask that Sam get the same opportunity. Sam forms special bonds with the guest characters just as often as Dean does, and that is something the writers should recognize.

Re: Brother Hugs: Another episode, another brother hug! Is anyone out there complaining? **crickets** Yeah, didn’t think so. 🙂 As much as I adored the hugs in the season opener and in “Taxi Driver,” I have to say that this most recent hug may have been my favorite. So unexpected, so spontaneous, so…joyful and painful at the same time. It twisted my soul up in all the right places and left me feeling happy, hopeful, and ridiculously high on brotherly love. As Charlie pointed out, these guys have been through so much, it’s hard to believe there’s anything they can’t face, as long as they’re together.

Final Thoughts: In the world of Supernatural, love trumps fear. I will hang onto this thought as we swerve onto the bumpy road ahead going 90 MPH. They’re our boys. They’re Sam and Dean. Somehow, some way, they’re going to make it.