Review of Episode 8×21: “The Great Escapist”
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. 🙂