If you were disappointed or surprised that Sam and Dean mostly took a backseat to Supernatural Season 9 Episode 20 (especially so close to the finale), that’s because the hour was really focused on setting up the world for its potential spin-off series, Bloodlines.
The episode begins in Chicago where young, handsome cop Ennis Ross is about to propose to his long-time girlfriend, Tamara. But don’t get too attached to her. Elsewhere in a monster night club, shapeshifter Sal Lassiter has a run-in with werewolf Julian Duval, and they do not get along. Like Ennis they are also handsome, because this is a CW show where all guys must be good-looking.
The one drawback to this episode was that Sam and Dean were almost completely irrelevant to the story. They only served to tell Ennis, “Hey man, you DO NOT want to become a hunter.” Then he became a hunter anyway, so mission not accomplished. The episode had to focus on the new players, so it’s understandable that the Winchesters were used sparingly. But every time they’d appear on screen, I’d think, “Oh right, they’re in this, too.”
Even with all those points, Ennis (Lucien Laviscount) and David (Nathaniel Buzolic) have the right chemistry to make it work. Buzolic has a pleasant earnest yet tricksy vibe, and Laviscount showcased more nuance than I expected with his character. The actors could carry a series if their characters get more development and feel less like cardboard. There’s a lot of conflict to explore in their relationship since one is a hunter and the other is a shapeshifter ? assuming they become friends, which seems to be where they’re leading.
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One word describes most of tonight’s Supernatural: boring. The story about a bizarre vampire family felt recycled and didn’t have many winning moments. Bitten’s Greyston Holt stopped by for a cameo, and it was a pity he was killed because he was the most engaging of the fanged monsters.
I was really encouraged to see Sheriff Mills manage to last the episode without dying– quite a feat for a female support character in Supernatural. I think the episode did a good job of showing her as a reasonably competent hunter, but also as someone who knows how to live with the grief of losing one’s family– something the Winchesters haven’t necessarily learned how to do so well in their own lives.
Many of the support characters this season have had stories that parallel or highlight lessons the boys would do well to learn, and I think Sheriff Mills’ story also fit this pattern. Hopefully in the future we will get to see more of her relationship with Alex, and what impact it has on her life and her efforts to heal from her past tragic experiences.
But then we cross into more of a gray area when the brothers kill demons or angels, because those are creatures that possess human bodies. When they knife a demon or smite an angel, they’re also killing the poor guy or girl that the supernatural entity was controlling. Then there are the rare cases when the Monster of the Week turns out to be just a regular ol’ human, which raises more ethical questions.
Supernatural continues tonight on the CW with a brand new episode called”Meta Fiction.” On it Metatron tries to get Castiel to join forces with him. Meanwhile, Sam and Dean capture Gadreel.
On last episode Dean struggled with the after effects of the Mark of Cain. Meanwhile, Sam heard about a case where straight-laced people were turning into violent murderers. Sam suspected possession and suggested to Dean that they investigate, but Dean told him to go without him. While interviewing the local townsfolk, Sam met an elderly woman named Julia, who told him the Men of Letters came to town in 1958. Josie told Sam the story of a young man named Henry Winchester and his female companion, Josie Sands. While Sam was away, Crowley tested Dean. Did you watch last week’s episode? We did and we recapped it right here for you.
Those words from Metatron begin the episode, as does a special title card. Castiel follows the call of a sigil, only to find angels dead and one alive to tell him about an angel offering a deal: join Metatron, fight for him and return to heaven, or slaughter. She’s heard of him and is hoping, like other angels, that Castiel will be their leader, but while he wants to make Metatron pay, he refuses to be a leader. He sends a photo of the sigil to the Winchesters, and Sam discovers the same symbol at other crime scenes. Gadreel’s in Utah, and there are two possible next stops, so the brothers are taking one while Castiel takes another.
The angels hit the road, with Gabriel giving a rundown of what he’s seen and claiming that he doesn’t want to run anymore. He wants to lead, and he’s going to need soldiers. When they stop at a Gas-n-Sip, they run into trouble: minions of Metatron. Gabriel tries to send Castiel away while he holds them off. Does that all sound just a bit too good to be true? Yes, right? Well, that’s because it is. Castiel notices that his coat isn’t torn where it was earlier. Continuity errors, they’ll get you every time. No, none of this is real. But is Gabriel dead? All we get is a wiggle of his eyebrows.
Well, it wouldn’t be the second half of a Supernatural season if the entire story hadn’t devolved into a big giant angst-fest. You know, more so than the show’s usual angst-fest. Sam is probably dying. Again. Castiel is being weird and evasive. Again. And once again, Dean is stuck in the middle, wondering why he doesn’t get nice things. Welcome to the homestretch, ya’ll!
More on my bitter tears later. Fresh off of a trippy adventure in his own personal “Mystery Spot” Castiel caught up with the Brothers Winchester when they invaded his turf in search of whatever was randomly killing demons in a small town. That “something” turned out to be Castiel himself, so I guess in actuality they all caught up to each other. How quaint!
From the jump, Dean and Sam suspected that there was something off with Castiel, which leaves Dean 2 for 2 with the knowing-his-family-members-are-lying-about-stuff record. Earlier, he spotted Sam’s bloody tissues in the trash bin back at the Batcave and between Sam’s supernatural black lung and the really great job the makeup people are doing making Jared Padalecki look like he’s perpetually fighting off the flu, it wasn’t hard to figure out that Sam isn’t as fine as he claims– but really, is he ever? Cas further elaborated on Moose’s condition by claiming that Sam was “damaged in ways he can’t heal” and implying that it was electromagnetic (!?) in nature.
Thanks for your insight, Cas. I guess. But brownie points to the Supernatural crew for making an effort to at least show a gradual progression toward…whatever we’re working toward. I’d rather have details dangled in the dialogue and Sam discretely hacking up a lung than the usual modus operandi of ignoring everything until it suddenly becomes relevant again. It makes me think that this story is being thought out and planned, as opposed to slapped together over hellatus. I like it. It makes up for the blah cases of the week that preceded this wangsty adventure and the general clusterfuck of the first half of the season. Amelia even kind of sort of made sense once Meg compared her to a unicorn during her and Sammich’s little heart-to-heart.
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It appears that Kevin is plagued by Crowley. He hears him in his head and in his dreams. His dreams are full of torture Crowley dishes out and the pressure of getting the tablets translated is really getting to the young man. When Dean and Sam show up he is carrying around a big metal frying pan and is in a real foul mood. They learn that he hasn’t heard from Garth, but he has translated the next trial, which is to rescue a soul from hell and send it to heaven.
In order to figure out how one can sneak into hell the boys summon and capture a Crossroads Demon, who Dean is disappointed that it isn’t a hot chick, and questions him. Finally he gives in and tells them that there are some Reapers that are smuggling people into hell as well as heaven, for a price. Before the boys put the demon out of its misery they learn everything they need to know about getting into hell.
They approach a reaper, who is playing that part of a Taxi Driver, they propose their need to get into hell and when the Reaper tells them he is the same Reaper that took Bobby Singer to hell Dean is hell-bent on getting his soul and sending it to heaven. The boys have a small discussion when Dean wants to go with Sam and Sam has to remind Dean that he has to do the trials alone and he will get Bobby back. The Reaper tells Dean to return for Sam in 24 hours and then leads Sam into an alleyway and instructs him to take his hand. As he does Sam mutters how creepy it all is.
The alley starts to twist and move and Sam starts to get nervous, but all of a sudden they appear in a grey forest. Sam asks RJ if they were in hell and RJ tells him that they are in purgatory. Sam begins to get upset saying that he paid to get to hell and RJ tells him to calm down and gives him directions to the backdoor (a portal) to hell but tells him to be back in the same spot in exactly 24 hours. Meanwhile Dean returns to the location where Kevin is hiding out. Kevin emerges from the closet, convinced that Crowley is in his head, spouting that it is the safest place to be. Dean gives the boy a lecture about how he has to suck it up and just keep going, but Kevin isn’t convinced and scurries back to his room with Dean’s pie in tow.
After last week’s silly “Man’s Best Friend With Benefits” I hoped Supernatural would return to form tonight. I was a little leery, as “Remember the Titans” is not only another stand-alone episode, but one that involves gods. The show’s track record with gods is not good (see “Hammer of the Gods”). Sadly, the episode did end up a disappointment, though more for the damage to the season’s arc than the legend of the gods.
The portrayal of the Greek gods Zeus, Prometheus, and Artemis was handled adequately, drawing on the legend of Prometheus stealing fire for mankind and getting cursed by Zeus to die every day with an eagle eating his entrails. The conceit of his son inheriting the curse apparently by accident was a stretch, but one that I could roll with. The writers are allowed dramatic license to make the parallel to the Winchesters. However, it is that connection to the trials arc that failed for me.
Sam has been hiding-or thinks he’s been hiding-his tuberculosis or something with similar symptoms from Dean. But he’s scared. And watching the price Prometheus pays for saving mankind from darkness apparently opens his eyes to the likelihood he won’t survive the trials. He confesses his doubts to Dean, who prays for help to Castiel and it all should be very moving.
Sam, Dean and ArtemisBut I spent the episode just astonished at what was playing out. I could not believe Sam and Dean would bring Prometheus, his girlfriend and his son TO THE BUNKER. They were supposed to throw the key in and lock it away forever because the secrets inside are so dangerous in the wrong hands. Instead, they not only bring these people in, Dean then tells them all about the Men of Letters which is a-wait for it-secret society.
FIRST, despite the unified front Sam and Dean managed to develop in the wake of the Men of Letters/Batcave stuff, it appears that we’re back to keeping secrets and flaunting our trust issues. Dean was still fiercely against Sam taking on the God trials required to close the gates of Hell, but a little headtrip through their worst memories-courtesy of this week’s evildoer, Spencer-somehow inspired him to back Sam’s plan?
Is that how this works? In what basically amounted to a revised version of his speech back in Season 5 when Sam decided jumping into Hell was a GREAT idea, Dean said he trusted Sam and would support whatever decision about the trials Sam made. Excellent. We’re all on the same page.
Then, LITERALLY TWO SECONDS LATER, Sam coughed up a wad of blood that was way too conveniently timed to NOT be somehow related to his neat glowing appendage trick from last week’s hellhound bubble bath. When Dean asked if he was okay, Sam pulled out his signature move: pairing an unconvincing “I’m fine” with the patented Sam Winchester Guilt Face. Oh no. HELL NO. I am not ready for this shit. I. AM. NOT. READY. FOR. THIS. SHIT.
Okay, okay, GOOD THINGS. They exist! They do! Wedged between James and Portia’s Bella/Edward romance-mind-meld-bondage-whatever and the admittedly semi-interesting world-building that explored the inner-workings of the witch community, there was that awesome confirmation that Dean’s trust issues aren’t so much about not trusting Sam as they’re about a general inability to trust ANYONE who isn’t Dean.
After a season that started off pretty rocky for the Winchester brothers, tonight’s episode of Supernatural proved that they’re more bonded together than ever – and reaffirmed everything I love about these two crazy dudes.
As has been the trend with Supernatural lately, this episode saw yet another big mythology development: After weeks of headaches, nosebleeds, sleepless nights, and a diet of “ground-up hooves and pig anuses” (hot dogs), Kevin finally finished decoding the tablet. So Dean and Sam interrupted their homemade dinner (courtesy of Chef Dean!) to rush over and learn the details he’d uncovered.
Unfortunately for Sam and Dean, the instructions were a little complicated. But what else would you expect? We’re closing the gates of Hell, people, not cooking a Hot Pocket. Their new goal, as Kevin explained, was to pass a series of dangerous tests and earn the ability to close the gates. The catch? He’d only decoded one of three tests so far – and this couldn’t be a team effort. One person must complete all the tasks, he said.
With that, the boys set out to complete test one: Kill a hellhound and bathe in its blood. So they tracked down a family that seemed to be suspiciously lucky – in this case, a dysfunctional Ewing-like family who got rich by striking oil – in hopes of finding someone whose crossroads deal was nearing its end.
The ornate box Sam and Dean got from Henry holds a key. The key opens the former headquarters for the Men of Letters in Kansas. Despite not having been used in at least 60 years, it is clean and still has power and running water. The huge art deco headquarters was clearly the Men of Letters nerve center: HAM radio, full library, weapons, mini fridge. The boys settle in. They are there for about two weeks before they get a case.
An old rabbi named Isaac Bass spontaneously combusts in a college pub in Pennsylvania. Sam found his info in one of the Letters’ files. He was part of a team of rabbis that were “hardcore saboteurs” during WWII. The guys head to Pennsylvania and split up. Sam goes to the library to see what Bass was researching so intently, while Dean talks to the witnesses at the bar. While there, Dean thinks a young guy is following him – it turns out that he was just flirting with Dean. He tries to be cool, but leaves quickly. Sam calls – he thinks he is being followed. They plan to meet at a parking lot in 30 minutes.
Dean thinks he has found Sam, but it is really this massive ogre-like man, who throws him across the parking lot. Sam hears his brother in trouble and tries to hack off the meaty arm of the ogre – the knife sticks and doesn’t slow the monster down. The guy who was hitting on Dean at the bar stops him. His name is Aaron, and this is his golem.
As Aaron explains, Bass was his grandfather. He was always telling Aaron fantastical stories of the war, which he and his parents chalked up to escapist fantasy. But once Bass died, it became clear his stories were true. The group that Bass was part of was the Judah Initiative, and they created the golem from clay to protect the Jews in times of “general crappiness.” The golem tore down a Polish ghetto and killed a whole lot of Nazi bastards.
In typical “Supernatural” fashion, the playful “LARP and the Real Girl” was a tonal 180 from the emotionally fraught events of “Torn and Frayed” — which is liable to give anyone marathoning the show emotional whiplash at a later date, but probably comes as a relief for those of us who are still reeling from last week’s intense installent.
At the top of the hour, the show acknowledged that Sam and Dean have both been through the wringer the past few weeks, with Dean expressing his desire to have a night off and see a movie or hit a bar; playing at normalcy the way the Winchesters can tragically only ever accomplish in small doses. Thankfully for Dean, their latest case unexpectedly managed to combine work and play, as the brothers investigated the whimsical world of Live Action Role-Playing.
Also in typical “Supernatural” fashion, neither brother seemed particularly eager to talk out their feelings (at least not with each other, although it was implied that Dean indeed gave Charlie the “wiki” on what they’d been up to since they last saw her), which meant a lot of distracting themselves with the job. It illustrated that when Sam’s head is in the game, he’s a darn good hunter, and proved Dean’s earlier point that Sam needed to be all in or all out in order to be reliable.
Although the brothers clearly have plenty of issues still to work out, this was the first episode all season (and arguably in the last three seasons) where we got to see Sam and Dean letting loose and having fun. Hell, I might even go so far as to say that they actually seemed to be enjoying each other’s company. While that’s a tragic indictment of how far they’ve fallen, it’s also realistic and surprisingly poignant, given all these two have suffered. These two have been through so much, apart and together and as a result of each other, that it’s nice to see them both slowly fumbling their way back towards that brotherly bond that made episodes like “Hell House” (remember that?) so enjoyable.
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