The Race: The Results! (Finally!)

At long last, I’ve finished catching up on my tapes, and am ready to declare the winners of this year’s season-long battle for my fangirly heart. Some of my shows let me down this year. Others rose to the occasion. And a rare few delivered action, emotion, and surprises in ways that blew my mis-matched kitty cat socks right off my feet. (Now my toes are cold…)

And so, without further ado, this year’s top winner is…

Supernatural! Yay! It was a surprise to me, because despite a strong season, I just didn’t see this one taking the top spot. The favorites were Castle and Grimm, no question. I definitely felt more excited about those two, leading up to the finales. And then Supernatural just delivered this KILLER, shocker of a season finale, and it totally warped my mind – in a good way.

There are three elements that factor into a show’s final score for the season: 1.) Overall quality of the season, 2.) Surprise factor, and, most importantly, 3.) How badly I want to tune in next season.

Supernatural’s Season Nine was the strongest season since Kripke left. Current showrunner Jeremy Carver seems to have learned from his Season Eight mistakes (e.g. the unrealistic storyline of Sam not searching for Dean), while keeping up an intense season-long mythology. Frankly, I really liked the mytharc in S8, and just thought Carver needed to do better on the brothers’ relationship – which he totally did. Kudos to Carver for listening to fan feedback and incorporating it into his plan for S9. Well done!

Now, let’s talk a little bit about that finale…Whoa. Okay, in the beginning, it was pretty much like a normal ep. A good ep, but not spectacular. The real “wow” factor came in the last few minutes of the episode, as the fight between Dean and Metatron heated up on Earth, coinciding with Castiel’s search for the tablet in Heaven. The way the scene was building, you just knew how it was going to go. Dean had the pulp royally beaten out of him, but he was looking at the First Blade, and it was going to fly into his hand, and at the very last moment, when all hope seemed lost, Cass would destroy the tablet and Dean would stab Metatron DEAD. So, I’m sitting there, all nestled in the couch, entertained but not enthralled, waiting for expected things to come to pass…And then Dean takes an ANGEL BLADE right through the middle of his chest!! What the…???

THAT made me sit up. My eyes got huge and I think I actually said, “Whoa.” So, that was Big Shocker #1. That whole part was great television, building the scene one way, and then veering in a drastically different direction. My attention was riveted in place from that moment onward, because I had no idea how they were going to get out of this – Dean’s injury was clearly fatal. Then Metatron escaped. Fortunately, Castiel took care of him with a clever trap set in Heaven. However, down on Earth, the boys were left in a very dire situation, brightened only by the following exchange:

Dean: “What happened to you being okay with [me dying]?”

Sam: “I lied.”

Aw, Sam – that’s all we needed to hear. That’s all Dean ever needed to hear. I had no problem with Sam and Dean’s relationship this year, because no matter what jerky things they said to each other with words, it was clear all along from their actions that the bond was just as strong as ever. So this exchange, at the end, was just icing for me – sweet satisfaction on top of an already yummy cake.

And then something not-so-yummy happened: Dean died. And I don’t care that they’ve both died about ten thousand times by now, or that it’s obviously not going to be permanent – somehow, these actors still make me care that it’s happening. Their performances keep me in the moment, and bring a little tear to the corner of my eye. 😦

So, Sam takes Dean home, and, predictably, sets about summoning Crowley. Deal time. I settled back into the couch. But then, Crowley was already there, sitting next to Dean’s body. Hmmm. Crowley actually seemed sorry about what had happened, but also strangely excited. As he began to talk to Dean about Cain, I started to sit forward again. The writers had cleverly reminded us, at the beginning of the ep, that Cain was a demon. So as Crowley reached the end of his monologue, the anticipation built to a climax, and I’m betting about 80% of fans, myself included, knew that not only would Dean’s eyes open, but that they would open to reveal pools of jet black.

So, Big Shocker #2: Dean was resurrected as a DEMON. Now, I’ve heard some fans call the end of this episode predictable. I even said myself in the previous paragraph that I knew his peepers would be black when he opened ‘em, and many others likely did, too. So, how is that really a shocker? Because if you’d asked me at the beginning of the episode what would happen, neither dead!Dean nor demon!Dean would be on my list. Because if you’d asked me at the beginning of Crowley’s speech what was about to happen, I still couldn’t have told you that Dean was about to morph into something demonic. I only knew in the seconds before it happened, right when the writers wanted me to know, and not an instant before. That, my friends, is great writing.

And, as with all great finales, we were left with questions that have burned all summer long, filling the air like the sweet scent of barbeque smoke, making our stomachs growl for a taste of Season Ten: How will Castiel survive? Is it possible for him to reclaim his own stolen grace? (Anna did, but hers wasn’t used in a spell). Is Dean a regular demon, or a Knight of Hell? Will he have more loyalty to Sam or Crowley? When and how will Sam find out the truth? Will he be able to cure Dean, or would that be a death sentence, considering the mortally-wounded state of Dean’s body? (Demons can live in dead/dying bodies, e.g. Meg in Season One, but once the demon is out, nature kind of takes its course…) How much human emotion will Dean retain? After all, we’ve seen demons in love (demons in “Sin City,” Cain) and also cases of very loyal demons, like Ruby, demons who have parent-like affection for others (Azazel), and even a demon with a crush on an angel, so the possibilities are wide-open. And I, for one, can’t wait to see where they go with this!

Supernatural Final Score: 9

All right, now that I’ve got the gushing out of my system, let’s look at how the other shows finished out their seasons:

The Mentalist and Castle tied for second place, with Castle leading most of the way, and TM sticking its nose out at the last instant for a photo-finish. Both shows had strong seasons, with The Mentalist’s total creative reboot and Castle churning out one epic episode after another. As Castle drew to a close, we had the emotional arrest of Senator Bracken, the icky politician responsible for murdering Beckett’s mother, and the build-up to the much-anticipated Castle/Beckett nuptials. The Mentalist finished its run with a poignant human trafficking storyline and a hard-core, not-even-a-little-bit subtle push towards a Jane/Lisbon romantic relationship.

While many viewers were probably celebrating this last item on the list, I spent most of the final few eps of TM in Mixed Feelings-ville. It’s not that I don’t like Jane and Lisbon together – I’ve been reading shipper fic since I started watching the show. It’s just…I don’t know whether the writers like Jane and Lisbon together. The nature of the Jane/Lisbon relationship has varied wildly from season to season: gently flirtatious in Season One, strictly friendship in Season Two, platonic but very close in S3, occasional shippy hints in S4 and S5, and finally an aggressive and blatantly shippy S6. Is anyone else’s head spinning?

Castle may have sometimes overbaked its Castle/Beckett UST moments in the past, made the attraction a little too in-your-face obvious, but at least there was never any doubt that these two characters were, indeed, attracted to one another. On The Mentalist, for me, there was doubt. The writing was inconsistent. Rare moments like the “I love you” in the S4 finale were dropped like hot spoons and never picked up again. There was no apparent jealousy on Lisbon’s part when Jane dated Kristina, and as for Lisbon/Mashburn, it was never revealed if Jane even found out, much less got jealous over it. Fanficcers were left to explore these issues on their own. Actors and writers on The Mentalist suggested in post-Season One interviews that the Jane/Lisbon relationship was more brother/sister than romantic, a definite contrast to the Season One interview in which Tunney said that Lisbon probably bought a new pair of shoes for work when Jane started his job at the CBI.

Overall, I got the strong impression that the show had no intentions of ever putting Jane/Lisbon together, and was just throwing occasional bones to the shippers in a sometimes-unsuccessful attempt to make them happy (I know of at least one shipper who bailed early in S2 – she seemed to feel what I did: a complete removal of the flirtation/romantic hints we saw in S1).

And then along came S6. It was clear from early on that the writers were going to “go there.” Which would have been fine, if they took their time and made it natural. I am happy to go anywhere my shows take me, as long as it’s done right. This, however, felt very rushed. And forced – more like a desperate attempt to save the show than something the writers really wanted to do. If they had intended to put Jane/Lisbon together from the beginning, they would have laid a strong and consistent foundation all along. Instead, they thrust Lisbon headlong into a serious relationship with some guy the audience didn’t know (or care about), for the sole and transparent purpose of creating a jealousy storyline for Jane. I felt physically uncomfortable watching Lisbon interact with Pike – I love Lisbon, and here she was, this person I care deeply about, kissing and making plans with a total stranger – not just a stranger to the audience, but a stranger to her. Yikes.

Of course, it wasn’t all bad – we had those gemstone moments in private between Jane/Lisbon, those gut-twisting, all-show-and-no-tell scenes where both characters grappled with her new relationship and the possibility of her leaving. Their dialogue was sparse and simple, leaving emotion to overflow from between the lines. Awesome, powerhouse stuff.

And in the end, with the finale, that’s what won me over. The writing for that last episode was brilliant, and the performances were somewhere in the stratosphere. I’m still not completely comfortable with it, and I’m not sure the writers are, either, but they gave it 100% – everything Jane and Lisbon did in that last S6 ep was in character, from Jane’s trickery to Lisbon’s hurt to Jane’s painful and liberating confession of love. Very sweet, very romantic, very Jane and Lisbon.

The freeze-frame at the end definitely scared me – I mean, it was a nice image and all, but I thought it might very well be the last image of TM I’d ever see. I’m sure the writers were thinking it, too, and were trying to make the ending as happy as possible for a large (but not necessarily the largest) part of the fandom – the shippers. Needless to say, I breathed a long happy sigh when I found out TM was coming back for a Season 7. With all the bold moves the writers made this year – killing Red John, bringing aboard a whole new team, putting J/L together – they deserved a chance to show what they can do with a new year and a totally fresh start.

For me, I’ve never cared so much about how a couple gets together as I do about how their relationship is once they are together. Therefore, I’m way more stoked about seeing how Jane and Lisbon will navigate their new romance than I was about this whole jealousy/engagement thing. I truly can’t wait for next season, and I’m SO GLAD there is a next season. As long as the writers keep it in character, this relationship is going to be SO MUCH FUN!

The Mentalist Final Score: 8.5

Okay, now let’s talk about Castle for a quick sec. Yes, just a quick sec, because I honestly have no complaints here. The resolution to the Bracken storyline was wonderful, emotional, epic. The finale was full of humor, woe, genuine scares, and a flaming shocker of an ending that leaves me wondering who was in the car following Castle, what they did to him, when and how Beckett will find out the truth (he’s obviously not in the fiery wreckage, as she currently believes), and where it will all go from here. Castle is the perfect example other shows should look at when trying to decide whether the main couple should get together, or whether that would ruin the show. The answer: it can ruin the show – or it can make the show stronger, funnier, more romantic, and more exciting than ever! In Castle’s case, it’s the latter, and I’ve never loved the show more than I did this season. I even recently poked my nose into some Castlefic for the first time ever – and was not at all disappointed.

Castle Final Score: 8.5

With a last-minute tie for second, front-runner Grimm ended up coming in third. I loved the end-of-season addition of the new character “Trubel,” a young Grimm with brains, attitude, and some serious fighting skills – she fits right in with our gang without taking away from anyone’s screen time. The storylines all season long were excellent – it’s the perfect popcorn show, and I thought for SURE it would either win the race or at the very least come in a close second. But then something happened. Not something horrible that made me hate the show or anything like that – but just something that made me shave a few points off the final score: the finale.

Was it enjoyable? Yes. Exciting? Totally. But surprising? Not at all. Maybe the blame should fall on the person who put together the commercials for the finale, and not the episode itself, but there was nothing that happened in this episode that you couldn’t predict from the previews. We knew Adalind would replace Juliette. We knew Sean would get shot (still was totally traumatic – he’s one of my favs). We knew Monroe and Rosalie would tie the knot, and it was strongly implied that Nick would lose his powers. Really, the only thing we didn’t know was that Nick and Adalind would actually sleep together – and I don’t count that so much as a surprise moment as I do an “ew” moment. Ew.

Moving forward, I couldn’t be more excited – I seriously cannot wait to find out if Sean survives (he’d better – he’s one of the most complex, intriguing characters on the show), how Nick fares without his powers (wouldn’t that be terrifying, to know these things are out there, and not be able to see them anymore?), whether Juliette and Nick can weather the Adalind storm, and how newlywed life agrees (or doesn’t) with our favorite lovebirds (love-wesens?), Monroe and Rosalie. Also, what’ll Hank be up to next year (me-thinks powerless Nick will need his partner more than ever)?

Despite the predictability of the final ep, it was still a great ride that left me aching to see what’ll happen next. If Grimm keeps up this level of awesome, we may just have a new winner next year.

Grimm Final Score: 8.3

Chicago Fire finished its strong second season in a respectable fourth place. “Reliably lovable” is how I like to think about this one – I sit down, and I know I’ll be entertained. I’ll laugh, I’ll jump, and I might even cry (see “Best Tearjerker Moment” below). The storylines surprise me and make me think – every single time. The characters make me care – every single time. The two-night CF/CPD crossover event was a thing of beauty. Finally, NBC actually delivered something that was both a “crossover” and a “two-night event,” just as advertised. Bravo, Peacock Network!!! I’m so glad it was a two-nighter, too, because I couldn’t have waited a whole week to find out if Shay was okay! And major kudos to Amanda Righetti, because not once did I look at her and think “Van Pelt.” She was a totally new character, and I loved it. They almost had enough storylines with the hospital staff to make a third show: Chicago Medical. Hey, I’d watch it! 😉

The only downside to the two-night event was that it was SO wonderful and SO epic, that the finales for both shows were a little weaker by comparison. I did love that the CF finale focused on Severide, his guilt at overlooking a victim inside a burning building. That was pretty dark, actually, but the Chief’s wedding added some humor and light to balance it out. And of course we had the obligatory cliffie at the end. But overall, it did feel like a regular ep – not the final ep of a pretty dang awesome season!

Chicago Fire Final Score: 8.2

CPD falls just a hair behind its older sister. For whatever reason, CF owns a little bigger slice of my heart. Maybe because I’ve known the characters longer, or maybe just because while cops are out there firing guns and trying to catch bad guys, firefighters are simply trying to save people. There’s an innocence to that, an uncomplicated core of “goodness” we can all relate to. CPD is a great show, but it’s just a little darker, a little meaner, a little less pure than CF. The gruesome death of Jin in the finale showcases this. Antonio’s wife leaving him added yet another shadow to an already pretty bleak season-ender.

Nonetheless, I love the characters, and I’m compelled by the show, especially when it gives me delicious treats like the budding Lindsay/Severide romance. I wanted that so bad, but didn’t let myself hope. It seemed like they were pairing her with Jay, and I figured doing a cross-show romance would just be too daunting for the writers. And then they went there! And my fangirly heart jumped over the moon, landed on the sun, burned to a blackened crisp and was joyfully reborn from the ashes. I ship Lindsay/Severide!! Looking forward to many more scenes between them on both shows…assuming Severide made it out of that explosion…:/

Chicago PD Final Score: 8.1

Honestly, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. should have ranked higher than sixth place. It is an action movie, a comedy, and a sci-fi masterpiece all rolled up together in a hotdog bun. And I can sum up, in one word, why this show fell so far behind in my race: Ward. I’ve just never liked it when shows take a character you really care about and turn him or her “bad” as a way to shock the audience. It always feels like something that was just done on a whim to shake things up. Now, I do recognize Joss Whedon’s a genius, and I can give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he DID plan to have Ward be evil all along. But that doesn’t make the twist any more palatable to me. I feel like I wasted my time getting invested in something that wasn’t real. And that’s probably what I was supposed to feel, because that’s how Coulson and his team felt. The problem is, it didn’t make me like the show more. It made me like the show LESS. Like, a lot less. I missed parts of most of the last few eps, and honestly didn’t care that much. It’s still a great show, but not quite AS great. There’s an emptiness to it, now – a reluctance on my part to become overly attached to characters who might suddenly be revealed as evil to boost ratings.

I do give the writers credit for making Ward a complex shade of gray, rather than a cut-and-dried Prince of Darkness. And yes, the performances were excellent, and the finale did make me laugh out loud when Coulson broke out that huge gun, shot Garrett’s head off, and was all, “Guys, I found it!” Classic Whedon humor. All in all, this show is still very much worth watching, I just hope they don’t make me regret it…again.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Final Score: 7.5

Oddly enough, S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn’t the only show to turn one of its good guys not-so-good last year. Maybe it was something icky in the water? Whatever it was, Beauty and the Beast drank some, too. (Probably didn’t taste very good!) I know I didn’t like the flavor of evil!Gabe after a season of loving him! Yeah, yeah, I know he started out as a bad guy, but still, I thought he’d redeemed himself, and the return of Gabe The Murderer and, ultimately, Gabe The Murdering Beast just didn’t quite sit right in my stomach. Seemed too easy, too uncomplicated: Gabe is bad, and Cat and Vincent are meant to be. End of story. I would’ve liked more layers. I would’ve liked Gabe not to be a total psycho! It didn’t help that I apparently missed an episode. I have no freaking idea how, either – all I know is, Cat got kidnapped and Gabe was still a good guy, and I couldn’t wait to tune in the next week. When I tuned in the next week (or so I thought), Cat was no longer kidnapped, and Gabe was completely evil. WTH???? Not the smoothest transition for this viewer.

Maybe I got abducted by aliens. There was certainly missing time involved – like, a whole week of it. Whatever the case, I shook off my disorientation and tried to enjoy the remaining episodes. Thanks to the charming cast and funny writers, this wasn’t so difficult. I am thrilled X 1,000 that JT wasn’t killed off, and super-pumped about the potentially X-Files-y type supernatural investigations that Cat and Vincent may plunge into next year. Which we will thankfully get to see, since BATB got renewed! Yay!

Beauty and the Beast Final Score: 7.4

And in last place, we have Elementary. Which sounds bad, but considering that I only watch truly awesome shows, even last place isn’t such a terrible spot! When this show decides to bring it, they bring it like crazy. Problem is, they don’t always decide to bring it, and I think we had a bit of a sophomore slump going on last season. Certain moments and individual episodes really sparkled: Bell’s shooting and its aftermath, Gregson’s marital issues, Watson’s kidnapping, Moriarty’s return, Mycroft’s MI6 storyline. But then, in between those moments, we had some dry, unappetizing filler that didn’t seem to have any real direction or taste (other than cardboard).

My RX for next season: More Mycroft! My mom is always complaining about him getting together with Joan, how they have no chemistry. To which I reply: WHO CARES? Honestly, what does it matter if Mycroft has chemistry with Joan? He has chemistry with SHERLOCK. When those two brothers are onscreen, there is a crackle-fire intensity the likes of which I rarely see on TV. The emotions are all tangled up and crazy – the rivalry, the resentment, the jealousy, and yes, deep down, the LOVE. Mycroft returned to MI6 to save Sherlock from prison time. Baffled, Sherlock asks, “Why? You didn’t owe me anything.” Mycroft: “We’re brothers.” Oooh, watch out Sam and Dean – your spot as Top TV Bros may just be in jeopardy…

Elementary Final Score: 7.3

Miscellaneous Mini-Winners (FYI: I just spelled ‘miscellaneous’ correctly on the first try! Go me!):

Favorite Night of TV: Tuesday, cuz it’s got three in a row – S.H.I.E.L.D., Supernatural, CF!!

Best Tearjerker Moment: Tie: Chicago Fire’s heartfelt reunion between a disabled, alcoholic fire chief and the firefighters who once hated him for saving their lives and Elementary’s episode-closing scene between Sherlock and his dead friend, Alistair (Why did they have to kill him off??? And why did they have to write the ep so beautifully??? **sob**)

Here’s hoping for many more memorable moments from all of my shows next season!

May this fall bring on the best race ever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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. 🙂

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.

Supernatural Review: Episode 8×19 “Taxi Driver”

Review of Episode 8×19: “Taxi Driver”
by castiello

Overall: We got to see Bobby again. We got to see him and it was wonderful and epic and brilliant. Do I really even need to talk about the rest of the episode…?

(Yeah, I guess I probably should.)

Okay, so…

BOBBY: Nothing could’ve prepared my heart for the joy of seeing this crotchety old hat-wearing dude on my screen again. Even the previews were misleading – they only showed Bobby from the back, and seeing as the scene was obviously taking place in Hell, I figured the Bobby-like figure would turn around and reveal itself as some grotesque, slobbering monster that would try to chew Sam’s face off. (Hey, this is Supernatural – it could easily have gone down that way). But instead we got some sustenance for our souls in the form of Sam and Dean’s real, honest-to-goodness surrogate daddy. This was the genuine Bobby, people – not some twisted, vengeful spirit version of himself. What a refreshing relief.

Sure, he was a little worse for wear – I mean, Hell will do that to you. But he was more or less intact, and even had some of his trademark Bobby spunk, wanting to rejoin the battle on Earth, and making that joke after killing the Sam-Imposter (“It was 50/50 – I took a shot.” Seriously, Bobby? Seriously?). But best of all, he was the stern-yet-forgiving, tell-it-like-it-is role model that we have all come to know and cherish. Bobby’s shock that Dean had befriended a vampire was as honest and believable as his appalled reaction to the fact that Sam had not searched for Dean. Sam: “Dean and I had an agreement…” Bobby: “I know that agreement – that’s a non-agreement.” Thank you, Bobby. THANK YOU.

Bobby voiced the concerns and angers of the fans this season, which made me feel like the writers heard us – and listened. Thank you, Writers. THANK YOU.

I talked to one fan who said the only thing she didn’t like about this episode was that Bobby did not get to really see or interact with Dean. I actually didn’t have a problem with this. Bobby and Dean have had a lot of bonding moments over the years. Also, when John’s spirit made the trek up to Heaven, he interacted more with Dean, while only sharing a look with Sam. This seemed to even things out. Dean got a better goodbye with John, Sam got a better goodbye with Bobby. And Dean did get to see Bobby’s spirit ascending to Heaven after months of torture in Hell. Dean knew that Bobby was safe at last, and that was enough for me.

Dean: “I don’t trust angels.” You’ve got the right idea there, man. Keep following your gut. Although Naomi proved to be a helpful resource in this episode, I hope Dean sticks to his instincts when it comes to this she-devil in angel’s clothing. Cass may be confused about a lot of things right now, but he told Dean outright what Naomi did, and I don’t think Dean’s going to be forgetting that anytime soon.

Another thing Dean won’t be forgetting soon: the torture he and his brother both suffered in Hell. I can’t imagine what it took for Dean to let Sammy walk through those gates alone…I thought they should have gone together. I mean, as long as Sam did the actual rescuing of Bobby’s soul, why couldn’t Dean be there for backup? Then Benny wouldn’t have had to die, because Dean would have been there to lead Sam and Bobby to the portal in Purgatory.

Instead, this episode turned out to be a heartbreaker for Dean in more ways than one – not only did he let his little brother go to Hell alone, but then Dean had to kill someone he cared about just to get Sam back. The pain in Dean’s eyes and the rawness in his voice said it all. But I think anyone who doubted it can now see once and for all: when it comes to Sam and Benny, one person will always come first for Dean – and that’s Sam.

Dean was somewhat gentler with poor Kevin in this ep, trying to coax him out of hiding with food, but still, it wasn’t enough. The kid needed psychiatric help, and Dean had other things on his mind. The level of paranoia Kevin was experiencing should have had alarm sirens blaring in Dean’s brain. Maybe if Sam hadn’t been in Hell, Dean would have been able to focus more on Kevin’s mental health. Kinda dropped the ball on that one, Dean…But I forgive you, since, well, Sam was in Hell.

Sam: Just as I can’t imagine what it took for Dean to let Sam go, I don’t know how Sam found the courage to voluntarily enter Hell when he should’ve been running screaming in the other direction. I’ve always thought of both brothers as brave, but this may have been the greatest test of Sam’s mettle, yet.

Leaving the watch to mark the entrance was a nice touch. Not replacing the giant rock in Purgatory, though? Bad move, Sammy. Not at all in keeping with his character – these guys know to put stuff back where they found it. Especially stuff having to do with gateways and doorways and portals. No way Sam would have left that opening to Hell gaping wide like that. Just seeing it gave me shivers…I’m almost certain that open doorway is going to come back and bite both brothers in the butts – most probably next season – and it ticks me off a bit. You can’t have a smart character do something stupid, just to create a new plotline. If the writers need that doorway open for some future storyline, then they should have shown Sam at least try to move the rock back. They should have shown Sam and Bobby try to move the rock together. Every effort should have been made by these two experienced and intelligent hunters to prevent a stream of Hell-spawn from escaping into Purgatory. Finally, if all efforts failed and Sam and Bobby could not spend any more time trying to move the rock, then I would have been okay with it. But I was so not okay with the two of them just walking away without a second thought.

One thing I was okay with, though – Sam’s treatment of Benny. Despite Sam’s personal feelings, he was willing to bring Benny back to Earth. Later, when Sam told Dean that Benny had stayed behind, I could hear the softness of true understanding in Sam’s voice. He misjudged Benny. He let jealousy cloud over what Dean had always said about Benny being a friend. It was a sweet moment, and a healing one between the brothers. Kudos to Sam on not being afraid to walk into Hell, and double-kudos to him on not being afraid to say, “I was wrong.”

Benny: He let Dean send him to PURGATORY. He allowed Dean to CHOP HIS HEAD OFF. Benny sacrificed his life on Earth to go rescue someone who despises him, all out of loyalty to Dean – take that, all you Benny-haters! This was a great wrap-up of Benny’s storyline. A very different direction than where I thought the writers were going to go with him, and that’s cool. I love stuff that’s not predictable. I’m not saying I won’t miss Dean’s fang-buddy, but he never did seem happy being back on Earth, and this ending seemed to fit. I felt like Benny was back where he wanted to be, and the door’s not closed, so who knows? Maybe someday he’ll be back. (Benny: “Dean, I know you didn’t expect to see me again, but, well, there’s this open portal down in Purgatory, and a whole mess of demons just escaped…” Dun-dun-dun…)

Crowley: Keeping an innocent soul trapped in Hell? That’s low, even for you. But then, maybe Bobby wasn’t totally innocent. He did dodge his Reaper and stay behind, knowing it went against the natural order. Then he became a vengeful spirit and hurt innocent people, so, I dunno…that could be the loophole Crowley used to keep Bobby in Hell. That, or Crowley’s just an a-hole. Yeah, I think I’ll go with a-hole.

Kevin: Oh, poor baby. I could just feel how scrambled his brains were in this episode. He couldn’t tell reality from hallucination, and frankly, neither could I. Even at the end there, I didn’t know whether Crowley had actually appeared and taken him, or if he ran away as Dean assumed. Either way, I couldn’t help but applaud the writers for leaving me wondering.

Evidence for the “It was all in Kevin’s messed-up head” theory:

1.) The glass windows of the boat were not broken when Sam and Dean entered, although Crowley had broken them earlier. Can the King of Hell fix glass?

2.)I think Garth and Co. would be smart enough not to have Kevin’s location stored on a smart phone.

3.) I refuse to believe Tiger Mommy is dead. That’s right, I refuse.

Evidence for the “Oh crap, Crowley really has Kevin” theory:

1.) Dean assumed Kevin had simply run off. And when you assume…well, you probably know the rest of that saying…

2.) Maybe the King of Hell can fix glass – and wouldn’t that be the smart thing to do, if he wanted Sam and Dean to believe that Kevin had taken off on his own?

Naomi: Remember what Dean said once about Bela? “When that b!tch breathes, the air comes out crooked.” Well, I think we may have met Bela’s angel equivalent. Naomi: “Poor Castiel, he’s so confused…He must’ve misinterpreted me.” Really? He misinterpreted you when you had him kill ten thousand fake Deans and then told him point-blank to kill the real one? Not a lot of wiggle room there, honey. Naomi may have saved Sam’s life and Bobby’s soul, but we can’t forget that she only did it to manipulate Dean into trusting her. For all our sakes, I hope she failed.

Randomness: I was a little confused about the rogue reaper – how come he had a body and how come he was visible to Sam and Dean? Previously, reapers were only visible to those whose spirits had left their bodies, e.g. Dean in “My Time of Dying.” Sam and Dean had to do astral projection in “Death Takes a Holiday” so they could communicate with reapers and Dean was actually clinically dead in “Appointment in Samarra” before he could talk to Tess. A little consistency or some explanation of how the Taxi Driver was visible to regular humans would have been a good thing. Other notes: Hell was pretty mild, actually. I would’ve preferred something a little creepier or more original-looking than a red-tinted dungeon. That said, the people Sam encountered were disturbing and suitably tortured/creepy. And the special effects for Bobby’s soul were fantastically beautiful, so all is forgiven.

Last Thoughts: This episode was a relief for me. It reminded me so much of “Born Under a Bad Sign.” In that episode, just like this one, I started out fearing the worst, and it turned out so much better than I thought it would. “Taxi Driver” was awesome and wonderful and it featured the best, most heartfelt brother-hug we’ve seen in a good long time. Definitely one of my favorite eps of the season.

Supernatural Review: Episode 8×18 “Freaks and Geeks”

Review of Episode 8×18: “Freaks and Geeks”
by castiello

Okay, on a scale of one to ten, how excited was I to see Krissy again? The answer: eleveny-forty. That is a really high number that Nathan Fillion made up, but I think it accurately conveys just how much I love Krissy and the actress who plays her, Madison McLaughlin. Krissy is one bad-@$$ hunter-in-the-making, and this was one bad-@$$ episode.

Sammy: Gotta love a guy who can spot a phony surveillance photo. He may be under the weather physically, but his brain is still all sharp and pointy. 🙂 Another thing still intact when it comes to Sam’s character: his hope. Throughout this episode, Sam repeatedly expressed optimism about the possibility of being able to hunt and lead a normal, picket-fence life at the same time. He wanted Victor to be the real deal, and even when that guy turned out to be a crazy mofo, Sam still hoped that maybe Krissy and the other “X-Kids” could manage to stay in school and take on the occasional hunt. I wonder if this is what Sam really wants – not to leave hunting (and Dean) behind entirely, but to find some kind of balance or compromise. The closest thing we’ve seen to a normal or balanced hunting family is Mary with her parents. They lived in a nice house and Mary went to school, but she also went with her family on nearby hunts and was well-trained to handle all manner of monsters and demons. That lasted at least eighteen or twenty years before Yellow Eyes stepped in and everything went down the crapper. So, maybe it isn’t as far-fetched as Dean thinks?

More Sammy Notes: That little look Sam gave Dean when Dean came in and saw Sam tied to the chair – great comedy. These guys don’t even need words anymore, because their expressions and gestures say it all. Sam’s little look said, “Sorry, man – they got me.” I also loved the hilarious moment at the beginning of the episode, when Sam got tired of Dean’s fussing and finally turned the tables around. The minute Sam said he wanted to talk about Dean’s emotional state, it looked like Dean had just taken a long swig of lemon juice. Everything about Dean’s demeanor immediately said “Are you kidding me? No way!” and what started out as a classic emo moment morphed into a laugh-out-loud one instead. It reminded me of the Lord of the Rings joke in the previous ep. That’s one of the great things about Supernatural – they never take themselves too seriously, and they’re always willing to poke a little fun at themselves when things are getting heavy.

Speaking of heavy, though: The fans who are worried about a possible Amelia pregnancy storyline are probably freaking the heck out right now. Several weeks ago, Prometheus (I think it was him) asked Sam what he would be willing to do if his own son’s life was on the line. A hint about an upcoming plot development? Some Supernatural geeks thought so. And now, in this episode, we have yet another character talking to Sam about the possibility of having kids. Victor asked Sam if he wanted to have kids of his own, and Sam expressed uncertainty. Being spoiler-free, I have no idea what to make of this, but it is two separate mentions of how Sam might feel about having kids. I’m not sure I like the idea because I’m not that fond of Amelia, but there might be a few bright spots to a pregnancy storyline: 1.) It would give Sam some strong motivation to survive the trials, since he’d want to live to see – and raise – his son. 2.) The idea of Dean watching out for/protecting Sam’s child is all kinds of hot.

Dean: As always, Dean has a special bond with the kids on this show. And even though Krissy is almost an adult, the connection she shares with Dean is just as strong as ever. Sam, aka Mr. Perpetually Awkward With Children, even left the room so that Dean and Krissy could have a moment to say their goodbyes. And so Dean could have a “talk” with Krissy’s future boyfriend. Dean: “If you ever break her heart…” Aiden: “I know, I know – you’ll hurt me.” Dean: “No, she’ll hurt you.” So true, Dean. So true.

I like how Dean could smell the phoniness of the Victor situation a mile away. His hunter instincts are awesome. Remember back in “Croatoan” when Dean wanted to kill that kid and everyone else said no? Well, that kid turned out to be possessed by a demon, didn’t he? Dean may not be as intellectual as Sam, but sometimes you have to just trust your gut. I’m glad Dean wanted to dig deeper and find out what was really going on with Too-Good-To-Be-True Victor. Also glad to see that Dean was the one who wanted to hunt the vamp nest so the kids wouldn’t have to, and how Dean was the one who talked Krissy out of killing Victor at the end. “We don’t kill humans,” Dean told her. Isn’t this the same lesson Sam taught Dean in “Faith”? Nice to see Dean taking the message to heart, and passing it on to the next generation of hunters.

Randomness: The X-Kids were pretty cool. I liked them all, and I liked the storyline in general. It was a departure from the norm, and I’ve always enjoyed it when the show explores the morality of other hunters that Sam and Dean encounter. We’ve had several hunters who wanted to kill Sam because they thought he was evil. We even had a hunter-turned-vampire who justified turning an innocent girl into a vamp just to trap Sam and Dean. Victor, however, seemed like the lowest of them all. His idea to raise promising young hunters in a stable, non-dysfunctional environment was a good one. Commendable, even. I think murdering the families of those young hunters and turning completely innocent people into vampires for “practice kills” was where he started to lose me. 🙂

Other Notes: The plot was predictable (previews kinda spoiled it), but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment because I cared about the characters and had fun watching them figure out the mystery themselves. The biggest surprise for me was Victor’s suicide. I didn’t see that coming, but it fit with his character and the situation, and in the end I was just glad he didn’t choose to harm anyone else on the way out. If he hadn’t been completely unhinged, Victor might’ve actually done some good in the world. If he’d chosen to locate and care for real victims of random monster violence, rather than “creating” his own victims, this would have been a much different episode.

It made me happy to see Krissy stay with the other young hunters, and even happier to imagine Garth checking in on them. I so wish that could’ve happened onscreen! But since it didn’t, and probably won’t, I guess we’ll just have to settle for tonight’s brand-new episode. 🙂 I do hope we get another Krissy episode sometime in the future, and I really hope tonight’s ep lives up to the previews, because it looks unbelievably cool.

Happy watching!

 

 

Supernatural Review: Episode 8×17 “Goodbye Stranger”

Review of Episode 8×17: “Goodbye Stranger”
by castiello

Take 10,000 dead fake-Deans. Add two unicorns, an angel/demon romance, a bunch of crypts owned by Lucifer, and a healthy side of Crowley, and what do you get? A squirm-around-on-the-couch, yell-at-the-screen, pretty darn good episode of Supernatural. This ep had great forward motion, answering questions, resolving some hanging storyline threads, and bringing several issues out into the open:

Sam’s Illness: Honestly, when Dean found that bloody tissue, I was more relieved than anything. Finally, Dean has all the facts – or at least as many facts as it is possible to have at this point. Apparently, Sam is damaged on the subatomic level. He is damaged in ways that Castiel can’t heal, and it may or may not be fatal. You’d think this info would make me want to cry into a couch cushion, but hearing all of that actually made me feel better, not worse. I like knowing what we’re up against, and I trust Castiel’s diagnosis, even though he was still under Naomi’s control at the time. Cass is a healer who can sense everything from a person’s coronary health to whether or not they have a mild bladder infection, and as far as we know, he had no reason to lie about Sam’s condition. At the end of the episode, when Dean said he couldn’t take any more lies from anyone, Sam seemed to hear him and really take the message to heart. I feel confident that Sam will be honest about his health going forward. The lies hurt Dean more than the truth about Sam’s suffering, and I think Sam finally gets that.

Naomi’s Mind-Control: Finally, finally, Castiel has broken free! He remembers Naomi’s torture and even was able to tell Dean what happened. Of course, before that could happen, we all had to suffer a little bit of torture ourselves, watching Castiel beat Dean’s face into bloody mulch. The fact that Cass had to practice killing Dean thousands of times to even come close to killing the real thing says so much about the bond these two share. The scope of that opening scene, the cinematic scale of seeing all those dead Deans, was brilliantly handled by the FX team and truly proved that a picture is worth a thousand words. As I writer, I shouldn’t really say that, but dang if it wasn’t true in this ep! That was a bigger, better effect than the shot of Dean hanging by meat-hooks in hell at the end of Season Three.

And of course, hearing the real Dean begging and pleading for Cass to stop, hearing that fear in Dean’s voice when Cass reached out to heal him…brutal, gut-wrenching stuff. That whole scene was a beautiful and very deliberate parallel to Sam/Lucifer pounding Dean into raw pulp in the cemetery in Lawrence. Not quite as powerful, since Sam and Dean have a stronger bond (and since this wasn’t literally the end of the world), but a touching moment nonetheless. In the end, the power of Castiel’s love for Dean was deeper and stronger than the power of Naomi’s mind control, and I never doubted that it would be. This show may be the very definition of dark, but ultimately, light will always triumph.

Meg’s Whereabouts: At long last, Castiel got to rescue his demon love, and we got to see our favorite bad-turned-kinda-good black-eyed b**ch in action. I can’t tell you how much I missed this girl: Sam: “You let dozens of innocent people get killed because you were ‘buying time’?” Meg: “Hi, I’m Meg. I’m a demon.” ROFL! How can you not love her? It was cool to see her used as a resource to find Lucifer’s crypts – sometimes it’s easy to forget just how deep her history is. Being Azazel’s daughter and an important Lucifer-loyalist, Meg has all kinds of insider knowledge and it was neat that the show finally explored that a little bit.

Another neat thing: She still has the hots for Cass! And he still has the hots for her! Their scenes together were oddly touching. Their relationship has gone through so many different stages, from sane to crazy to almost-sane again. They are the ultimate odd couple, and there is absolutely no reason why a romance between these two characters should work, but maybe that’s why it does. Love is insane, and I ship Meg/Castiel. And even though I knew no happy ending could ever be possible for them, I was disappointed to have their time together end so abruptly. Knowing how much Meg meant to Cass, I felt sure that Sam and Dean would try to save her, but instead they just drove away…and I was left a little bit bereft. Meg’s death felt kinda wasted. I know she was buying time so Sam and Dean could escape, but still. If they’re going to kill off a character that important, who’s been on the show since Season One, they should do it with more fanfare. Cass should have been there, at the very least.

The Angel Tablet: Finally, Sam and Dean know about the angel tablet. It’s always scary when there are threats floating around that they don’t even know about, so this was another big relief. And now that Cass has the tablet, I know he will keep it away from demons, bad angels, and yes, even Dean. I don’t blame Castiel for wanting to keep the tablet from his human friends – considering that those same friends brought on the apocalypse just a few years ago. I don’t think it’s necessary for Sam and Dean to read the tablet or possess it. Now that Naomi’s mind-control is broken, I trust Castiel to keep the tablet safe on his own.

Randomness: I’ve always liked the fast cuts between Castiel’s scenes with Naomi in heaven and his scenes with Sam, Dean, etc, back on Earth. This episode was full of these cuts, giving it a fast-paced feel that only added to the urgency of the situation. Also liked: Sam and Meg’s long overdue conversation about when she possessed him back in Season Two. Interesting stuff, and funny, too. Love interests on this show shall henceforth be referred to as unicorns. 🙂

Questions: What exactly does “subatomic damage” mean? Are we even sure it is damage? Maybe Sam is just changing – like, physically transforming into something else. Like, a more powerful being that will be capable of closing the hell-gate, once his transformation is complete. (Hey, don’t look at me that way – I’m just throwing out ideas!) Another question: Why does Naomi want Dean dead? She spent loads of time training Cass to kill Dean, but killing Dean was not necessary in order to secure the tablet – Castiel could simply have knocked Dean unconscious and taken the tablet. Cass clearly had the upper hand, strength-wise. So, what’s Naomi’s motive for wanting Dean dead, and what’s her motive for obtaining the angel tablet? Originally, I assumed she just wanted to keep it away from demons, which is quite understandable, but in this ep it sounded like the angels could actually use the tablet to become more powerful…eeek!

Final Question: Is Meg really dead? Like for sure???

Final Thoughts: Just a great episode that kept things moving. Supernatural has always been a show about giving payoffs and rewarding viewers with real results and storyline resolution, rather than stringing people along for eight seasons with no answers. We got a lot of answers and resolution in this ep, even as more questions were raised, and I am left feeling super-excited for tonight’s episode. 🙂