Sunday, 28 October 2012

Review - "Supernatural" 8.04 "Bitten"

Well, I think we all knew from the outset that this was an episode that would polarise “Supernatural” fans. It was a different kind of “Supernatural” episode not just in the way it was shot, all on hand held or CTV style cameras, which many don’t like and find difficult to watch, but also in the way it focused on characters outside of the norm, as in, the focus wasn’t on Sam and Dean or any of the secondary leads like Bobby or Castiel in past episodes “Weekend at Bobby’s” and “The Man Who Would Be King” and this wasn’t going to be like “Ghostfacers” because Sam and Dean were well and truly in that episode. This was something different altogether, a different story told a different way. For some of us it worked and for some of us it didn't. 

I went into “Bitten” as I do with any episode, wide open with expectations set to neutral and I have to say, this was one hell of an enjoyable hour of television for me. So I guess, put me in the "it worked" camp. When it finished, I felt proud as punch of this show and the people who make this show. That they have the cojones to give something like this a whirl and pull it off so spectacularly and that they have the cojones to make the show they want to make.

This last bit makes me particularly happy, because I always worry that the creators of this show may be influenced by the likes of me, or you or whomever comment and offer dialogue on “Supernatural.” That they may read some of the commentary on whether Sam is being written this way or that or whether we feel Dean is being all out of character and allow our insights and opinions as viewers to colour and skew the way they choose to tell their story. It’s arrogance on my behalf to think they would of course, but it does give me pause for concern sometimes. Obviously they feel the need to listen to some degree, because if we rampantly hate something, that’s going to reflect badly on the future of the show, but even at this level, it makes me somewhat uncomfortable. I remember Edlund being asked, do they have to listen to the fans and he thought for a moment and said, “No”. His implication as I took it in the context of the question, that they may listen, but they don’t feel they have to. I felt relieved to hear that.

I’ve said this many times, I want the creators of “Supernatural” to be allowed to tell the story they want to tell. They know the end game, I don’t. They know where the mid-season finale is going, where the season is going, how far this arc is going, where these characters need to be and who they need to be for the pay off, I don’t. They’re working to a big picture plan of which I have absolutely no concept. I’m not there with them, working through the structure of a 23-episode season and beyond, so I don’t know. I have to have faith that they know more than I do about their story and about their characters and where all their ducks need to be for everything to unfold and for that reason I give them the time and the respect to allow them to unfold their story as they see fit, even when I find it challenging or disappointing. I think the last couple of seasons have dragged us from pillar to post and it’s made some of us gun-shy. I read it over and over in the comments and I get it, I’m often in the same boat. Some disappointments are hard to let go of, even if you enjoyed the bulk of seasons 6 and 7, which I did. I love this show with a passion, in case you haven’t noticed, so some knocks hit hard. But this is a new season, a fresh start and personally, I’m loving how it’s playing out so far and so I’m happily offering up my trust to allow this, highly creative and talented bunch of people, the time they need to tell their story. After only 4 episodes of a 23-episode season, I think that’s only fair and reasonable. So that’s what I’m choosing to do and crossing my fingers my faith pays off. It usually does. So far, so good.

I thought “Bitten” was a lovely piece of story telling. I found myself sitting up leaning all the way forward at one point and I had one of those moments where you go, “Man, I’m seriously digging this.” By the end, I was dreading seeing what played out in the opening scene. I felt for these kids. I liked them. Michael was adorable and sweet (and a looker), Kate was smart and had a life plan, Brian was insecure and trying to find his place. I liked how normal they all seemed.

I enjoyed seeing the birth of these monsters from their point of view. Their struggle to come to terms with what was happening to their friend and then, inevitably, to all of them. We’ve seen this from the Winchester’s perspective before, when they’ve come across monsters who don’t want to embrace or don’t realise they’re embracing their monster form, like the Rugaru in “Metamorphosis” and Madison in “Heart”. We know that the Winchesters have come across monsters with families; that have been living in society and attempting to curb their monstery ways, but it was good to see this from the inside out, get the monster-eye-view if you will. They were just your average college kids who got caught up in this horrific situation. I’m kind of shocked we haven’t seen this before.

I really dug seeing how the Winchesters appear to the outside world. We’re usually alongside them in the trenches and we’re so used to them and what they do, so this was a fun way to see the brothers. I often think to myself, when they’re having some bizarre conversation in a diner about their latest case, shush, someone's going to hear you and call the cops on your asses! I mean, it’s not like they whisper and they’re always just stepping off to the side and going into some horrific detail about some case with people RIGHT THERE! I remember in the commentary for “In The Beginning” Kripke noting that Dean and Young Mary only walk two steps away from the kid who accidentally sold his soul to the YED and that the kid would be able to hear them talking about demons and the like and he’d be freaking out! Kripke was laughing his ass off! And it’s true! So I was giggling like an idiot when they got caught on camera talking about the Mayan God.

I don’t have a problem with shaky-cam, I quite enjoy it as a film making technique. The only problem I have with it is that it's very rarely perfect. There’s always going to be a moment when you go, umm, where’s that shot coming from? Having said that, I thought “Bitten” as a whole, did a pretty good job on the hand held POV camera concept. It was smart to have Brian install stationary cameras around the rooms to give the director and editors more to play with. There were a couple of times I thought, put the damn camera down, this is getting serious, but then I remembered the people who film themselves caught up in all sorts of terrible disasters and well, some people do that sort of stuff for real! With this style of filmmaking, I think there has to be a degree of suspension of disbelief and I was willing to do that.

What I do think is that this form of story telling allows a fair bit of intimacy. You’re with the characters all the time instead of moving off to different points of action. In that way, I felt like I had a better grasp on these characters than most of the one off characters we meet in “Supernatural” and I appreciated that. The performances were pretty good. I thought Michael and Kate in particular had nice chemistry and I believed in their relationship and I could see that Michael was a good guy and was Brian’s only friend and I could get a vibe on Brian’s dissatisfaction with always being the third wheel. The episode hinged on them being able to carry off the piece and for me, they did. I must admit I really didn’t like when Brian forcibly bit Kate, I know where it was coming from, desperation, misplaced love, fear, anger, but it was way harsh how it went down and I was incredibly pleased she took him out for it. He embraced the monster, he welcomed it inside him and he let it take hold….he had to go.

Which brings me to the Winchesters letting Kate walk. Having to sit through that video, see what they do and the creatures they do it to from the other side, must have been edifying. Monsters have told them, they’ve said that they’re not bad, don’t want to be monsters, that it’s not their fault, not their choice, but seeing it laid out in front of them, seeing these kids getting dragged into their world through no fault of their own, the confusion, the fear and the outcome, had to shift something inside the brothers. They’ve had their doubts before about whether every monster deserves to die, they’ve argued over it many times, but this gave them another perspective.

Is that the reason they let Kate walk? Hmm, I have a feeling Dean was thinking about his association with a certain vampire he brought back from Purgatory when faced with this question. How could he go after Kate, when she says she’s going to keep her nose clean and not do the same with Benny? Dean seemed to mull the whole thing over. Once upon a time, he’d probably shelve the Benny thing, compartmentalise it and still go after Kate, finding some way to rationalise the double standard later. But I think Dean’s changed, Purgatory, his new association, whatever, I saw this as nice growth. Glad to see it Winchester. I’d expect Sam to give her a chance, so his reaction didn’t surprise me. I did notice how quickly he packed up. It was like he wanted to get out of there before his brother changed his mind. Of course, it could've been that Dean was simply moved by the story of these kids, but seeing as where we’re about to go in next week’s episode, I’m pretty sure he was thinking of his toothy friend and this scene was all about setting up a certain meeting and the quandary Dean’s about to find himself in. 

One could sit here and go into the parallels of the story of the three kids having this life of a monster forced upon them and the story of Sam and Dean and the life that they were raised in. Their Apocalyptic destinies, Sam’s demon blood running through his veins and the brother's ongoing struggle to reconcile themselves with their lives, just as Michael and Kate, not so much Brian, were faced with a similar dilemma. Destiny versus free will, freedom to choose your own path and all that. We could look at the song choice, Milo Greene's "What's the Matter" and ponder over the lyric, which seemed to be purposeful in its intent, not just to illustrate what was happening in the relationship between the friends but also what's currently happening in Sam and Dean's relationship, "Do you ever wonder why, We go on and on and on… What's the matter? What's the matter with you lately?" But you know what……I’m just going to take the episode for what it was and enjoy it as a one off. We all need a break from my overly thinky thoughts anyway and I have a feeling next week my thinky thoughts will be in overdrive!           

I must admit, I was a little hesitant to write my review this week, because I’ve seen how vehemently some have disliked this episode, but as I said last week, the wonderful thing about this show is that we all come at it from different angles and take different things away with us. I liked “Bitten”. Actually I liked it a lot. I understand it didn’t blow everyone’s hair back, but that’s because we’re all individuals and like different things. I’m really happy to be a fan of a show that takes risks, that creates such great dialogue, that we feel compelled to discuss for good and bad. I’m so happy that this show exists for me to feel so passionate about it, you know?

Would I want to see this kind of episode regularly, hell no, you know me, I’m a Winchester lovin’ girl and I adore the story of those two men and I am literally champing at the bit for next week’s episode to see more of their story unfold…and because Mr Edlund wrote it….and because I saw some of it being shot! OH MY GOSH! I am so excited for next week’s episode. So no, I don’t want a plethora of episodes like “Bitten” but this was good, I enjoyed it and I praise the team behind this show for pushing the boundaries and our buttons.

Now bring on that Winchester angst!

Thanks for reading… let me know what you think.

Until next time you AWESOME people! Come on, you think I wasn’t going to get an awesome gag in there. Oh Dean….

sweetondean is Chief Editor and Staff Writer for The Winchester Family Business

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Review of "Supernatural" 8.03 "Heartache"

You know what I love about this show? Everything. The end. No, really…well that, but really, I love how we all come at this show differently. I love how we all see different things, feel different things. Sometimes some of us don’t like an episode that others really dig. I think that’s kind of great, because I think that this demonstrates that “Supernatural” has many layers and as individuals we experience these layers, this story from different angels, just like life itself.

I enjoyed “Heartache”, even if it left me with one! I loved the dynamic between the brothers. I’m really digging that so far this season. Even though they’re at odds, I’m enjoying watching them work through it. I can’t remember the last time they spoke so honestly to each other. It’s been a couple of seasons! I heard this episode called a filler, but I felt it was far from that. “Heartache” focused on the other arc of the season, not the mythology arc about the Word of God and the gates of Hell, but the arc running concurrent to that one, the one that’s been the centre of this show from the very beginning, the one we all care about, sometimes a little too much. For me, “Heartache” was all about Sam and Dean’s arc, the monster story and the title, being a metaphor for where the brothers are, both as individuals and as partners.

I like a story that unravels slowly. I’ve never been someone who needs all the answers right now. In life yes, but not in books or movies or TV. I like the sense that I’m not sure how this is going to play, what’s going to happen next. I love being left with the urge that I just have to turn the page. “Supernatural” season 8 makes me want to turn the page like a crazy woman! For the first time in a while, I feel like I have absolutely no clue as to how this whole Sam and Dean thing is going to pan out. I mean, Sam’s obviously not going to walk away. Say, even if he does for an episode or two, he won’t walk away forever; the obvious reason being this is a show about two hunting brothers! Something’s going to have to bring him back into the fold, make him happy to be riding shotgun with Dean again. But I have no idea what. I don’t want something horrible to happen to him or anyone he cares for, to force him back into the life, I want him to get there by his own volition, because he wants to be there, wants to be fighting alongside Dean. But I just can’t see how that’s going to happen and it’s driving me crazy! And by the way, I love it!

The brothers are in very different headspaces from each other right now and both have got to where they are because of the experiences, of not just the last year, but the last seven years.

Let’s talk about Dean…because, well…you know why! Dean! I love post Purgatory Dean, both in his flights of fury and his zealous and overly enthusiastic approach to the job. I love that he has a spark back under his pretty backside. Of course he broke my heart in this episode. He may have been all perky, but we all see right through you Dean. We see his fear of being alone. His fear of being abandoned. His comments to Sam in the car; “Things are really coming together man, you and me, it’s all good…..I know where I’m at my best, right here, driving down crazy street, next to you” made me literally say out loud, to no one in particular, “Oh Dean….” Ouch. My Dean-lovin’ heart. I just felt so damn sad for him. There’s no place he’d rather be and no person he’d rather be with than Sam and Sam just ain’t feelin’ it. Which makes me want to weep for both of them.

I mean, for the first time in a long, long time, Dean actually seems reasonably happy. He looks great (redundant comment), he's off the booze or at least off slamming down all the booze in the world, I bet he's as fit as a fiddle after chasing monsters around Purgatory for a year. He feels good. He feels happy to be back in the game. All he needs is his brother back on board. Wibble.

You know what he reminded me of? Do you ever get overly enthusiastic about something because you really want a friend to enjoy it? Or you want them to feel good when it looks like they’re feeling bad? So you’re all up and positive and jazzed to try and get them up and positive and jazzed too. That’s what it looked like Dean was doing to me. Not that I think he doesn’t believe what he’s saying or doesn’t genuinely feel this verve for life, but I think he’s over compensating, because he can see, Sam doesn’t feel the same way.

One thing about Dean that impressed me (apart from everything) was that he never lost his cool with Sam. He got sarcastic, poking his brother for walking away from the family business and he gave Sam a bitchface at the farmer’s market that rivalled anything the younger Winchester had thrown his way over the years, but he never got narky with Sam. I think, partly because he doesn’t believe Sam can or will give up the life and partly because he thinks if he just lets this play itself out, Sam will come around to Dean’s way of thinking. Dean would never consider walking away from Sam. Even when Dean briefly entertained the idea while with Lisa, it didn’t take much for Dean to hit the road again with his brother. Even when he was so depressed he could barely face each day, he stayed in the game because of his brother. Dean’s never been very good at understanding that people may feel a bit different about a situation than he does, so if he feels that him and Sam are back on track, he’s assuming that Sam will eventually feel the same way too. Dean's in denial. I’m calling it, Dean-ial.

If Sam left hunting, Dean would see it as Sam walking away from him. Even though I'm sure Sam wouldn't be removing himself from Dean's life, Dean would see it as his brother leaving HIM, not leaving hunting. I thought Sam’s comment “Maybe you don’t need me. Maybe you’re at your best hacking and slicing your way through all the world’s crap alone, not having to explain yourself to anybody” was one of two things; 1. Sam trying to talk himself into that being a realistic option and 2. WHAT? Really…if there’s one thing we know about Dean, he does not want to be on his own. Sam found that out right back in season one when Dean said, “I can’t do this alone” “Yes you can” “Yeah…well I don’t want to.” When Dean said he couldn’t do this alone I never thought he meant hunting, I always thought, Dean couldn’t do this alone, emotionally. He can’t. He needs Sam, not just because he loves him but because Sam keeps Dean grounded, Sam is his touch stone, Sam is the one person who understands Dean and understands everything Dean’s been through. Sam keeps Dean human. And visa versa because Sam without Dean has not been a pretty picture in the past. There’s a reason these two were soul mates in Heaven.

I have a feeling Sam without Dean in his “happy” gap year, was not entirely what he’s making it out to be. If you’re truly happy, you don’t slip away to some old cabin spasmodically, to do whatever amongst the ghosts of those you love and you sure don’t slide out in the middle of the night on a girl that you see in golden, glowing tones in your memory. But I can see how, after a year out, Sam might find being his brother’s sole connection to this world, a lot of pressure. I can see how Sam could feel trapped by not only the life, but also Dean’s expectations of who they are and the need for his brother to be as an integral part of his life as he has been for the last seven years. Let’s face it their relationship is a tad on the co-dependent side. Which I personally love! Oh dear… I don’t think this means Sam loves Dean any less. The fact that he’s by his brother’s side, even though he doesn’t want to be doing the job, is evidence of this and speaks volumes.

The way Sam is dealing with Dean, I'm wondering if it stems from fear. That his disconnection is reflective of the trauma he went through after being left alone in that lab. I’m wondering if Sam is too scared to go down this road again with Dean. That losing his brother was so traumatic, that the very real fear that Dean could “die” again, is making him keep Dean at arms length. He’s obviously happy his brother is alive, he obviously loves Dean enough and is loyal enough to see this last case through, but he seems disconnected and I’m reading that as an side affect of the trauma of losing his brother and not wanting to get hurt to that level ever again. He’s watched his brother die over and over. Enough. His panicked reaction to hitting the dog, his panicked reaction to trying to find Amelia in his flashback scene. He’s scared. He’s scared of losing the people he loves and he’s scared of ending up alone. Kinda like Dean really… Right now, I see Sam as full of fear and if we ever get to see him immediately after the disappearance of Dean, which I really hope we do at some stage, I think we’ll see how bad it was for him and have a greater understanding and empathy for the Sam of the last three episodes.

I get how Sam and Dean have got to the place that we find them now as individuals. How they’ve sort of both come full circle. I heard someone on a podcast I listen to call this repetitive story telling, blaming eight seasons and running out of plot for revisiting something initially raised in the very first episode. But I disagree and I think this is overly simplistic analysis. This theme of Sam and Dean’s different perspective on their lives and their jobs has always been an ongoing theme and has never gone away. It’s at the centre of who they are and what makes them and their relationship so interesting.

It’s no surprise to me that Sam would revisit this “normal life” mindset when left alone. He hasn’t really had time to do that in the past. He was searching for the YED while dealing with visions, he was trying to save his brother, he was under the spell of the Demon Ruby and her blood, he was facing his destiny of being Lucifer’s vessel and wondering how to save the world, he was soulless, he was broken….then….he was alone. With everything and everyone stripped away from him, no wonder he had a good, long look at where he’s been and what he wants. No wonder he decided he didn’t want any of that, because who would! He had time to think and I think, he realised, those things that he wanted, way back when, he still wanted them, because seriously, that’s better than being tortured in Hell! He just hadn’t had a moment to draw breath and consider it before now. Sam’s always wanted to be normal. Yet he had demon blood dripped into his mouth and demons manipulating his life and he was born to be Lucifer’s partner in the Apocalypse and he fought his way, alongside his brother, out of each and every one of these things and came through the other side, but only after paying a price too painful to bear, losing Dean. That’s why he snapped at Dean about free will in the season opener. Sam is fighting his destiny one more time. Sam is trying to be who he always wanted to be. I think somewhere inside him, he probably knows he’s fighting a losing battle. I never believed the Sam who said all he wanted was Lilith’s head on a plate, bloody. This Sam who wants to be normal, feels like Sam to me.

Dean of course, had a similar experience with Purgatory. When we first met Dean, he was gung-ho about hunting, but as time went on and sacrifice upon sacrifice piled up around his ears, Dean lost his mojo. He’s always wanted family and when he lost his, he tried to find solace with another, only to discover that hunting and his brother were the only things that would ever make him whole. But he struggled through the following years, as Sam and Dean were tested over and over, as they tried to find their place together through all the soullessness and the broken wall and all the other horrors put upon them. I think this is a big reason why Dean drowned so many of his sorrows in the bottle. Yes, he lost Bobby, yes he lost Cass, yes he lost all those that fell before them, but the greatest loss was his brother. From the time Dean went to Hell, nothing was ever quite the same. They never really found their footing again, because so much crap was being constantly flung at them. Then Dean has his year in Purgatory and the experience is pure, it’s a rush, it’s what he does really well, it’s what he can be proud of, it’s simple and black and white and it reignites all those feelings as to why he loves doing the job, including all those feelings about fighting next to Sam. So Dean came out of Purgatory reinvigorated, except this time it’s different, because now he’s doing the job for himself, not out of loyalty to a dead father, but because it’s what he enjoys and it’s what he’s good at and it’s where he wants to be. Thank the Lord! Because I really love this Dean. I hope depressed Dean is gone for all time!

In my opinion, the brothers coming full circle to closer to where they were when we first met them is self awareness, not repetitive story telling or lack of character growth. It’s maturity. It’s only as we grow and mature that we begin to accept ourselves and who we are, even if it’s at odds with who we think we should be or others expect us to be. Sometimes we find that who we are now is closer to who we were when we were younger, but fought against out of expectations from family or society, or out of a belief that we’re supposed to live a certain way. As you get older, those things seem to clear to a better understanding and acceptance of yourself and what makes you happy. I think this is what happened to Sam and Dean. When faced with this time apart to assess their lives as individuals and with no expectations weighing them down, they came back to whom they’ve always really been. A warrior who loves the hunt. A boy who just wants to be normal. Of course, it could also be that without each other keeping the other grounded and in touch with the reality of the Winchester’s world they both reverted to a life that seemed more simple, easier to understand, before all the nightmares of their destinies began to change who they were! Either way, I like it. I feel like this show has really grown up.

I think it’s ok for Sam to pine for a different life. I think he’d not be Sam if he didn’t want more than hacking and slicing through a world of crap. I don't think having a dream of a normal life and enjoying hunting with his brother need to be two opposing positions that can only bring him sadness. Wanting more is human and what Sam is experiencing is probably the first simple human desire he's had the luxury of entertaining for a long time. But I think it’s unrealistic to believe that a normal life can ever be an option for him. He’s Sam Winchester. How he didn’t get hunted down during his “gap” year is baffling! Not only that, he’s just not safe to be around. Dean discovered that the hard way with Lisa. There is no getting out and those around you are in danger because of it. Dean will be there to pick up the pieces when his brother realises this. Man, these poor guys.

One thing I’d like to note and if I could point it out to Sam I would, when Sam was in the throws of the job, he was digging it. He was in to the research. You could see an ember of enthusiasm sparking up as he accessed medical files and whatnot. He may have said, “You want me on board, I’m on board” but it looked more than that to me and I wondered if Dean saw that too and that’s also a part of why he’s holding back and just seeing how this all plays out with his little brother. Dean's a smart cooke. He understands his brother even when they seem worlds apart. Sam’s lack of connection with wanting this life, in my opinion, is not about the work, but about what the work has cost.

All this brother commentary, their back and forth, which was surprisingly honest, was juxtaposed with the case of Brick Holmes and his wife Betsy. Brick was ancient Mayan warrior whose only reason for living was combat, who found his life’s purpose through battle, who couldn’t bear the thought of carrying on the fight without his partner in life, who had made sacrifice after sacrifice to survive, who was so tired he just wanted out. Of course everything here relates directly to Sam and Dean, what they’ve been through and where they find themselves now. Both have been exhausted by sacrifice, both have been so tired they want out, Dean is now invigorated by the combat, but that will not sustain him alone because he can’t face doing it without Sam. Sam is tired of the sacrifices, of being tied to a destiny he wants escape and he just wants to be out.

You know the brothers being at odds about their future and Dean’s response to Sam not looking for him is going to go boom at some point. It’s bound to get worse before it gets better. Angst! I see angst in our future!

I should also mention a couple of things. Jensen directed this episode, as we all know. I always get excited when his name pops up with that director’s credit. I feel weirdly proud of him. Actually, it’s not weird at all, I am proud of him. He’s talented and watching those talents blossom and grow, both in his acting and his directing is a pure joy. His Dean was just wonderful in “Heartache”. Gosh I enjoyed Jensen’s performance. He did a good job directing this episode too. I don’t think you can pick between him and the veterans who work on this show, which says a lot, seeing as this was only his third time in the chair. I noted that he made some interesting composition choices, which for me, seems to be becoming a bit of a trademark. They should just give him the premiere episode next season; I reckon he’s up to it.

I loved seeing Jensen’s daddy, Alan Ackles in the show. I liked his cop a lot. About time a cop gave some sass back to those smart mouthed Winchesters! I couldn’t help but think, that withering look Papa Ackles’ character gave Dean was probably a look Jensen was on the receiving end of numerous occasions when he was growing up! Having Alan in that scene, made it all the more fun.

I’m still enjoying the mystery that is Sam. I was expecting more flashbacks, but I kind of enjoyed just noodling around in Sam’s head instead. Sam’s always been so thoughtful, as in, he’s a thinker, so to me it seems kind of appropriate that he appears to be really thinking things through and we are experiencing that process and not necessarily seeing purely actions indicating his position. It’s almost like; he’s not figured it out yet, so we have to wait too and we're riding the brainwave with him. I thought his flashback was interestingly over romanticised. Apart from his obvious panic in the moment he thought Amelia and then Riot had disappeared, it was all happy and glowy and golden. I guess we have a tendency to up the happy on happy memories. By the way, I don’t think for a minute he’d never had a birthday cake, just that he was relieved to find Amelia and was touched by her surprise cake. I mean, who doesn’t like surprise cake! I’m still waiting to like her more than I do. She kind of spoke to him like he was Riot! Sit. Eat. (Roll over). Well, she is a vet. I guess we’ve not seen much of her so I’ll be quiet now until we do!

The closing scene with the brothers in the car, Dean not wanting to hear Sam, Sam trying to make Dean listen….owwwwwwww. How can this show hurt so much! You know what though, wistful memory, sweet smile, teary puppy-eyes aside…Sam walked out on his normal life in the middle of the night with a car full of weapons and headed to a cabin where he thought no-one would be….. Why?

And, I love having my Dean back.

Oh blimey! I’ve gone long again. Suffice to say, I enjoyed "Heartache". I enjoyed the brother’s interaction. I’m loving the mature and honest dialogue (even though they still both have secrets). I thought the monster was kind of cool and Betsy was kind of sad. I like that Sam is still with Dean, out of loyalty and love, to finish this one last job (yeah right Sam), I LOVE that Dean is bad-assed and happy and didn’t have booze in his hand once. I loved how healthy the boys both looked! Can anyone say hiatus tan? I think JC may have to tell the Js to stay out of the sun a bit before a new season kicks off! It looked like Sam and Dean had been to the beach! Ok…now I’m thinking about Sam and Dean in board shorts frolicking in the surf so it’s time to bug out!

One more thing about Dean….Dean and the strippers “Smell that?” “You’re gross.” Oh Lordy, that was nearly as awesome as when he covered the Winchester family jewels with his hands as he went through the metal detector in last week’s episode. I missed rowdy Dean….. Oh and by the way, I’ve been to that strip club. Wait. On the location tour! On the location tour!

Oh and… Dean got an app! BLESS!

Alrighty, let me know your thoughts. 

Thanks for reading!

sweetondean is Chief Editor and writer for The Winchester Family Business

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Review of "Supernatural" 8.02 "What's Up, Tiger Mommy?"

I’ve got to say, I Ioved this episode. I really loved it.

I can’t remember the last time “Supernatural” got me so over emotional. I mean, outside of the overtly emotional episodes of course, where I cry like a baby! “What’s Up, Tiger Mommy?” probably was not meant to affect me the way it did. I’m not sure if it was that final scene, the tension leading up to that scene, or all the reveals in Purgatory that gave me so many feels, but I was so emotional at the end of this episode, I felt like I could burst in to tears. I think maybe part of it was, that I feel like some of the work done in this episode is some of the best I’ve seen in the series, or at least that I’ve seen for some time. I’m specifically talking about the Purgatory scenes and how they look and feel. I’m talking about the performances, John Showalter’s direction and the overall tone of those scenes, both visual and dramatic. I felt strangely overwhelmed at the end of this episode. It made me all teary!

I’m not saying it was perfect, but what’s perfect anyway, except maybe Sam’s hair :). It was written by Dabb and Loflin and these guys are hit and miss. When they nail it, they nail it, when they don’t; the result is alarmingly out of whack with where the tone of the show and the characters should be. But, I have to say this was one of their better outings. I don’t trust them to write mythology or big character episodes, but they did a solid job on this one. There were a couple of early moments representative of the wobbliness of their work, little patches of awkwardness as they tried to juggle the drama and humour, but as a whole and specifically the back end, this episode blew my socks right off and was the best work they’ve done for a while and certainly the best work they’ve done while expanding the myth-arc of a season. By the end, I was electrified with anticipation and a good amount of dread, as to how these parallel stories are going to play out and how this season will unfold.

In revealing the boy’s stories of their year apart, “What’s Up, Tiger Mommy?” focused on Dean’s flashbacks, but for me, I found I was struck by Sam’s mysterious behaviour. I feel like I get Dean, kind of get where Dean is coming from. We know he fell in with Benny, we know he hunted, we know he embraced the darkness within him that was unleashed by Alastair in Hell, which in the past, he’s admitted to not entirely disliking and we know he found Cass. The big mystery is how Benny and Dean’s relationship developed, what impact that had on Dean, what happened with Cass and why Dean left Purgatory without his wingman….now known as Hot Wings! I’m also intrigued to see if this house of cards will at some point collapse around Dean’s ears and what the fallout will be. You’ve got to assume it will and I’m nervously waiting for that to happen. But Sam?  He’s so mysterioso to me!

First off, he seems strangely accepting of this reinvigorated, yet hard-edged Dean. There were a couple of times I expected him to have a bit of a go at Dean, be Dean’s moral compass, but he didn’t and he wasn’t. He seems to be rolling with the punches a little more than usual. I’m not sure if this is detachment because of his year out and he wants to be somewhere else and is only doing the job out of loyalty to his brother, or whether his experience with Lucifer and his wall break have changed him. Either way, there’s something about it I like. These are two grown men, who are remarkably different and I feel like they should give each other a bit of space sometimes to be whoever they are and not be at each other constantly to meet the other’s personal expectations. It feels to me like a mature step forward to allow each other to breathe and learn, without the bitching at each other, which has gone on in the past, in particular over the last few years. I feel like Sam’s watching and thinking, “Let’s just let Dean find his feet.” Giving his brother the space he needs to reintegrate into the world. In particular I saw this in the interrogation scene. Sam did call out to Dean a couple of times and I’m sure if it looked like the guy was actually about to have his throat slit, he would have been up in a flash, but I think he was letting it go to see where it went and trusting Dean to rein himself in. I thought that was kind of cool. I liked that at the end of the scene he just said, “Come on” with a little gruff in the voice, but he didn’t go “What the hell Dean?” There was no calling Dean out on his behaviour (which was scary), no chastising. I really liked that. I liked it a lot actually. Weird music cue out of that scene though...kind of popped the mood…just sayin’.

I also thought part of his reason for giving Dean a bit of a breathing space might be that he recognises that Dean’s current modus operandi is born out of trauma, sort of like his own detachment and he’s hoping that time back in the land of humanity and time with his brother will start to soften Dean’s razor sharp edges. We’ve seen them both go through similar journeys, as they try and cope with their experiences in Hell. I would think this would give them both a bit of patience with each other. I’m also wondering if Sam sees a little of his soulless self in Dean and is sympathetic and understanding because of it. It looks to me like he’s watching, maybe waiting, to see where this new Dean leads. Actually, it’s probably a blessed relief for Sam to have his brother not miserable and drinking the whole time! He was worried about Dean’s alcohol consumption last season, maybe Sam sees this Dean as the lesser of two evils, so to speak. I’d prefer to hang out with this Dean that’s for sure.

I was interested in the reverse exorcism. Sam’s a smart dude, super smart (really good at maths apparently), but somewhere in me, I’m flummoxed by him suddenly pulling this one out of his tight little butt. Saying stuff backwards is hard! When Dean questioned him, obviously also wondering where on earth that came from, Sam just blew it off and said, he simply said the exorcism backwards. Now, this could be that he’d, just never thought of it before or rather that the writers never thought of it before, but my overly suspicious brain instantly equated it to my feelings that there’s a lot more to Sam’s year than he’s currently letting on and that his year is going to be a bigger surprise than whatever happened with Dean and Cass. I mean, why else would it have been brought up in the script? He could have just said it and we could have all moved on, but it was specifically referred to and questioned by Dean, which made me all the more suss. Surely Sam didn’t spend a year, just sitting on the couch watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills with his girlfriend! I’m really interested in Sam’s year and what he’s not saying. I’m digging the rebirth of smart Sam too, with the computer jargon last week, the snappy mathematical calculation and reverse exorcism this week. Very cool. I love it when these guys show their smarts. I also loved the scene where Dean pointed out the Demons surrounding Mrs Tran’s house. So old school.

The other thing I thought was interesting about Sam was that when Kevin was trying to talk Dean into going and checking on his mum, Sam wasn’t saying, “Dean we should”, in fact he was barely saying anything at all. He said “He’s got a point, Dean” and when Dean flashed him a look he smirked and went back to his newspaper. He just let that conversation go and only came on board once Dean had succumbed to Kevin’s insistence. I guess these guys are used to the life and death situations by now and these days, look to the bigger picture…what with them stoping the world from jumping off a cliff every year! Let’s face it, they’ve lost a lot of people and this could definitely leave them hardened. I wasn’t surprised on Dean’s stance, because where Dean is now, his empathy level is pretty low and he’s been forced into becoming more of a big picture guy over the last couple of seasons. Also, he was making sense, everything Dean said made perfect sense, but I was surprised Sam didn’t pipe up. Which once again, makes me wonder what happened to him during his year off that left him so detached. Is it simply the trauma of losing Dean? Is it simply, he just doesn’t want to be there, so he’s letting his brother drive the bus? Or is it something else?

Dean in Purgatory is absolutely terrifying, but I love it. Man, I’m loving Purgatory Dean…and not just for the reasons you think! If I remove myself from my passion for the character and all the feels I get when he’s hurting, I’m thrilled by this characterisation and how Jensen is playing him. Like I said earlier, I think the scenes in Purgatory may be some of the best work the show has ever done, both visually and in context to the story being slowly revealed.

The scene where Dean found Cass was breathtaking and may become one of my favourite scenes ever. I loved every aspect of it. How it was shot. Every frame looked like art, like a painting. The opening with Castiel by the river, the terrain and how Dean came in from the side. The wide shot, then the great close-ups of the actors, which gave the scene and the dialogue a more compelling and personal feeling. The camera movements, everything just a little swimmy and off kilter. The swoop from across the river showing how the three were standing. Dean on one side, Cass on the other and Benny in the middle. Benny in between Dean and Cass. Then of course there were the performances. We all know Jensen and Misha are good at what they do, but that scene, that interaction between Dean and Cass was one of their finest moments. Jensen’s Dean literally went through a myriad of emotions in those couple of minutes. Joyous, confident, confused, angry, hurt, accepting, focused, determined. I swear to God, I stopped breathing. If they weren’t taking about Leviathan and monsters and were talking about criminals and murderers, these two would be getting awards up the wazoo for this kind of work. But alas… I went back and watched this scene over and over and over to capture all the nuances.

Misha’s Castiel looked haunted, terrified and trapped and when Dean said he wasn’t leaving without him and Cass simply said, “I understand” I got the distinct impression Cass was sad about that. The look on his face to me, looked like he thought, “I know you won’t leave me, so for your own good, I’m going to have to leave you.” It was a look of sad resignation. That he knew and understood, that he’d have to make that tough decision because his friend was too loyal to. That Cass would take the sacrifice on himself. Go back and look at that expression and the sadness there. It made me instantly feel like the reason Cass didn’t get out with Dean is that he somehow forced Dean to leave without him, took it on himself to stay or die in order for Dean to leave, because he knew Dean wouldn’t leave if Cass wasn’t with him. But then we had the final scene….

I couldn’t help but think of Dean’s words, “He, just let go.” Of course, we have no idea of the context of that scene. We have no idea whether that’s when Dean escaped Purgatory, or whether Angels can’t travel through the portal, or whether Cass’ hand simply slipped Dean’s grasp, or whether this is something to do with Dean’s “Something happened to him down there” line, or whether that scene is totally unrelated to Dean’s exit altogether. We have no clue. But of course, we’re supposed to think, this is the moment Castiel was left behind and it may well be. If this is the case, I pray that Dean did not leave Cass behind on purpose. I’m not sure I could cope and I’m not sure, when the dust settles, Dean could cope. I would really hate that, like, a lot! It would make me too sad. I need the reason to not be directly Dean’s fault, though he obviously feels guilty about it, which makes me go, eeep! But ugh, if he chose Benny over Cass and ugh, if he purposely left Castiel behind… I should also probably tell you, I trimmed that scene out of the episode and went through it frame by frame watching their hands…it made my tummy hurt a little… just sayin’.

Benny. Benny, Benny, Benny. Who got bad vibes when Benny confronted Cass? I sure did. I wondered how long Dean and Benny had been together before they found the Angel, because they already seemed close and Benny seemed downright protective. I didn’t like him questioning Cass and I’m glad Dean jumped to the Angel’s defence. I’m also happy that when Benny suggested they leave, Dean didn’t even hesitate to disregard him. Dean’s affection for Cass is clear. The hug was warm and full of relief and happiness. I’d say their present situation has definitely allowed Dean to let bygones be bygones. Benny was suspicious and wary of Cass from the jump and I’m suspicious and wary of Benny. I’m worried that whatever happened between Castiel and Dean in Purgatory is a direct result of Benny’s interference/manipulation and that Dean, for some reason, rolled with it. I can’t picture that right now, but time will tell. Stupid time always making us wait…

The other Purgatory scene that was breathtaking I touched on earlier. The intercutting between the interrogation scene in the present and Dean’s interrogation of the monster in Purgatory was masterfully done. I loved the shots of Dean speaking directly to the camera from the monster’s point of view. I loved the brutality of this scene and it’s mirroring in the present day. I loved how Dean seemed to lose himself to the moment and the memory. There was a feeling that he actually lost his anchor in our world for a minute. That he may no longer have a handle on his anger. He’s always been explosive, but he’s always been able to manage that. Then again, he didn’t lose control, he just used what he thought was the best tactic to get the information they needed. Dean seems to have taken the path of least resistance when it comes to his feelings towards torture. We know he owned up to enjoying some aspects of it in Hell and to me it looks like he’s embraced those in Purgatory, or rather, gave over to them out of need, accepted them and this part of himself as a necessity. He certainly didn’t look like it was bothering him none. I’m wondering how long it will before these feelings come back and bite him in the ass again. The scene was beautifully crafted both technically and in performance. Jensen is doing some of the best work I’ve ever seen from him.

I’ll be honest. Purgatory Dean makes me uncomfortable and this isn’t from an, I love Dean place, this is just, this character, no matter who he is, makes me uncomfortable. He’s uncomfortable to watch. He’s not what I’m used to. He puts me on edge. But I’m in love with it. He’s so damn interesting.

I liked that Dean was willing to kill Mrs Tran in order to kill Crowley. I’m sorry Mrs Tran, no offense, but that would’ve been fine with me. Crowley is a danger to the whole world. I didn’t see Dean as being unsympathetic. He warned Kevin that his mum was bait and Crowley was just waiting for Kevin to show up. He warned Mrs Tran that coming with them was dangerous. He even tried to ensure they were both protected, by insisting, with a little bit too much glee, that they get the tattoo. He asked Mrs Tran if she was sure when she offered her soul, saying it was a big call. He told both of them all the dangers that they faced if they tagged along and then allowed them to make their own choices. I might also note, Sam seemed to be onboard as well, even though he questioned whether Dean would actually kill Mrs Tran. Personally, if that would have stopped Crowley trying to get her son, I think Mrs Tran would have been onboard with that plan too.

From the outside, or first watch, it may appear ruthless, but I think, in hindsight, it’s more about focus. There’s a big picture at play here and it’s important. The brother’s put their lives on the line every single day. If the people around them are aware of the risks and yet still make the choice to stay and fight, they can’t blame the Winchesters for the outcome. I like that Dean has got to this place and Sam, either through complacency or agreement, seems not very far behind. Of course, it just took one snide, manipulative and well placed comment from Crowley to get Dean thinking that he does indeed toss people aside, bloodied. I liked that Sam tried to support his brother there. It’s not true, I don’t believe Dean does toss people aside, but it is true that many perish in his presence. Nature of the gig though…and I don’t see that as entirely his fault.

For me, this interplay with Dean and Purgatory and the mystery surrounding Sam, as well as the interesting dynamic between the brothers as they hold back the truth and each relearn what it’s like to live this life and live it together, was the meat and potatoes of this episode. It’s what held my interest; it’s what I’ve been tossing around in my head ever since I watched it. The rest of the plot, the characters, no matter how awesome, seemed like the padding to the real story. The brothers.

I like Mrs Tran, she was ballsy and I loved the foreshadowing used in relation to her soul. I thought the scene where she talked to the brothers about what it would be like to lose her soul was great. I really appreciated them sitting and staying with her. I really appreciated their honesty.

Kevin was ok. I like the character, but I have a feeling he’s going to be an, in small doses kind of guy for me. He was an idiot to listen to the master manipulator, Crowley and bug out on the boys, but I also get why he did it. He was scared and he was protecting his mum. He acted out of emotion. It was dumbass, but I understand. I’m assuming he still has an Archangel tethered to him right? I mean they can’t all be dead. We never met them all.

Crowley was fun to watch as usual. I wonder why he doesn’t just kill the brothers though, other than for the obvious reason that we wouldn’t have a show if he did! But really, they are so in his face and so in his way and so annoying, wouldn’t he just snap their necks? I’m starting to get a bit confused by this! I loved that we finally saw his eyes. Red. Seems the King of Hell is just a Crossroads Demon after all huh? He can big-up himself all he likes, but he’s still got those telltale red eyes. I totally dug the red smoke too. I checked with Adam Williams, the “Supernatural” VFX co-ordinator as to where the idea for the red smoke came from and he said it was in the script. Nice touch.

I liked the new Angel, Samandiriel. His dominion is imagination and visualisation. Helping us to transform our own lives, thereby transforming the world around us as a result. Interesting! Of course, it was the kid from “Bugs”, which was neat. I love seeing the kids from early episodes all grow’d up! I would be very happy to see Samandiriel again. I always feel like we should hang on to the Angels that aren’t complete dicks, because they are few and far between! I really liked what he said about Cass…having too much heart, it mirrored what Dean said in “Reading Is Fundamental” when talking about the Angels and their inability to care, “Seems like when they try, it just... breaks them apart”.

Ok, I’m going to stop, because this has got crazy long. I could go on and on about this episode and about where Sam and Dean are. I feel like I really only scratched the surface!

Oh one last thing, I think my favourite moment of all was when Dean went through the metal detector, not because he had all those weapons, but because of how he put his hands over the Winchester family jewels! Something tells me Dean would need more than a measly metal detector to have any impact in that department ;). Bless his cotton socks.

I’m loving the feeling I’m getting from the first two episodes of “Supernatural” season 8. I love the classic rock, that Baby is back, that the drama is balanced with plenty of humour, that we have demons and the blood phone and exorcisms and all these throwbacks to the earlier seasons and that the brothers feel front and centre, at least to me. The show is looking damn fine. I think the first two episodes were super strong and I’m totally jazzed, if somewhat terrified, for what lies ahead.

What did you think of the episode? Let me know your favourite bits and what you think went down with Cass in Purgatory.

Thanks for reading!

sweetondean is a writer and Chief Editor for The Winchester Family Business

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Review of "Supernatural" 8.01: "We Need To Talk About Kevin"

And we’re back! Feel good? Does to me that’s for sure. I never realise how much I miss this show until the first episode of the new season and then I’m all… Ohhhh…ahhhhh…*sigh of relief*.

Let’s start at the beginning shall we? “We Need To Talk About Kevin”. I liked it. I liked this opener. It set up a lot of intriguing questions that can act as excellent starting points for a season long arc and beyond. I’m not just talking about the story of the Word of God and the possibility of locking up all the demons for all time; I’m talking about the character setups. I liked the character stuff. I liked it a lot.

I loved the opening scene in the woods. I love how Dean was reintroduced to the world. He was totally feral. The sprint past the tent. The confrontation with the camping kids. How he grabs their backpack and splits. He’s like an animal. Startled, edgy and trying to survive. 

I completely understand how Dean would find Purgatory “pure”. He’s always struggled with the greys in hunting. Right back to the first time we met Ty Olsson actually, in the season 2 episode “Blood Lust”, when Dean realised not everything was as cut and dried as John Winchester had taught him; “I wish we never took this job, just... jacked everything up…. What if we killed things that didn't deserve killing?” Ever since that point, the line in the sand has blurred. He’s become friends with an Angel, tolerated demons, become an ally with Death, given witches a pass, let a Skinwalker live to be patted another day. Things lost clarity for him. Dean’s world became full of murky greys and I think he struggled with that. In Purgatory, he was back to a world where it was easy to recognise evil. There was no, do they deserve it, should I, or shouldn’t I. There was no one to discuss it with, talk over the morality of the issue at hand. No one to question his motives, no one to question his actions. The choice was kill or be killed. Easy. I totally get why Dean, on some level, would dig Purgatory. He's always said he understands demons and monsters over humans. "Demons I get. People are crazy." I understand why he considered Purgatory “pure.”

Part of me likes where Dean is and part of me doesn’t. Maybe I should clarify that. I very much like whom Dean has come out of Purgatory as. In stark contrast to his season 7 drunk and depressed state, he’s focused, powerful and kickass. This is a Dean I can get onboard with, well technically I’ll get on board with any Dean, but you know what I’m saying. This is a Dean Winchester that feels right. He’s always been an emo and angsty boy, but he’s always been strong and dedicated, someone you could turn to and rely on, but the last couple of years beat him down and he became a shadow of the person he once was. I never loved him any less, but I hurt for him terribly. Purgatory Dean seems.... cleansed. He’s regained his mojo, his Deanness. In fact he’s Dean on steroids, which brings me to the part I don’t like. No that’s wrong, the part that worries me. Dean’s great beauty has always been in his humanity. He may be a hunter but he’s incredibly human. He feels deeply for those lives affected by him or by the things he hunts. He leaps in front of strangers, not because he’s cavalier in the face of death but because he’s a born protector. He worries about who he is, what the life is doing to him and those around him. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s not afraid to show emotion. I don’t want that to change. I don’t want this new Dean to lose any of that. I want his humanity to remain intact. I do think the Purgatory experience will soften as he gets used to the world up top again and he’s forced to remember that in our world, not everything is clear cut. I’m ever so thankful that he’s come out with new purpose and a sharp edge, gosh I'm glad about that, but I just don’t want him to lose his soft centre.

Which brings me to Sam, who is Dean’s soft centre. They keep each other human and it'll be Sam who will help bring the humanity back into Dean.

Poor Sam, I’ve been seeing him getting a bit of sledging since the episode aired, but I’m going to give him a break. I’m ok with Sam and his decision. I get it. I understand. Here’s where my thinking has led me.

Here's a guy who just had every last vestige of family ripped from him. This life, this hunting life has taken every single person he loved. His mother, girlfriend, father, friends, Cass, Bobby and the person he loves most, Dean. Everything, everyone gone. “Nothing says family quite like the whole family being dead. I feel like his reaction was one of shock. He no longer had control over anything. There was nothing he could do about any of it. I think Sam was simply lost. There was nothing left to fight for.

I also think it was very pointed that he said he fixed the car and hit the road. When Dean has been in a similar situation, he fixes the car. When the Impala got totalled and their father died, Dean focused on fixing the car. He didn’t know what else to do, so he fixed the car because that's one thing he could fix and in doing so, it stopped him having to face anything else. When Cass went all vengeful God and Sam’s wall collapsed, Dean fixed the car; “Imma fix this car. Because that's what I can do.”  There’s a level of control in that. It’s like; this is the one thing I still have control over, the one thing I CAN fix. Sam didn’t know what to do, so he fixed the car and then he hit the road. That in itself speaks to me.

Then he ran over that dog.

I think the dog is the impetus to everything that followed and a metaphor for everything that Sam's walked away from, the responsibilities. The way Sam responded to hitting the dog, the way he was screaming and freaking out at that nurse, that wasn’t so much about the dog as far as I’m concerned, that was about everything else. That was Sam’s stressed out reaction to everything. Guilt and fear and grief and loss and loneliness all there, spilling out as this helpless animal lay in his arms. I think this dog probably gave him a focus that he’d not had since everything was torn away from him and he was left standing staring into the space where his brother had once been. It gave him something to care about again. He hits the dog and the woman is thrown into his path and he anchors on to both of them because they’re the first real, tangible thing he’s had to hang onto since Dean disappeared. I get it Sam and I’m cool with it.

Why would he want to continue a life that he never wanted in the first place? He never chose hunting and hunting has destroyed everything it’s touched. Sure, Sam said he was good with it now, he couldn’t go back to his old life and I’m sure he convinced himself of that, until the life forced upon him, evaporated before his eyes. I’d prefer this for Sam than either of the Sams who dealt with losing his brother in the past. Robotic Sam and blood chugging Sam. Sam who drank and never slept and tried to sell himself to the nearest demon to bring his brother back. I don’t want to think of him trudging across the country obsessively searching for something he doesn’t even knows exists to help a brother who he doesn’t even know is alive or dead. I don’t wish that on him no matter how much I love the brothers and their relationship. This new life, to me was a much healthier path to take and I hope he found some happiness in it. I really do. Because he’s not had a lot of happiness since he was 6 months old and he deserves a taste of it. Even if it can’t last, because we know it can’t and won’t. He was right, people die all the time, and they can’t be the sole people on earth whose task it is to save everyone. How can one person do that anyway? It must have been horrifically daunting for him when first faced with this new situation. He didn’t know where anyone was, he didn’t know if they were alive or dead, so Sam chose to live, instead of live a half life in hope of something he couldn’t be sure would ever return. That sits well with me in relation to who Sam is and the journey he's taken. Did he stop thinking about Dean? I bet you he thought of him every damn day. People lose people, they move forward, they move on with life, but they never forget and they never let go and I guarantee you Sam never let go of Dean in his heart. Sam is a damn good person and I never doubt that he loves Dean, ever.

I also think there's more going on with Sam than we know, obviously. I mean, he says the relationship is over, but he was clearly with Amelia at the time Dean reconnected with Sam. Though, that was weird don’t you think, how she just watched him leave. It felt to me like this is something maybe he does, goes off on his own for a while, so she’s used to it? Because it’s not like she said see you later, bye, ring me, she just quietly watched him leave….it was almost like he snuck out and she wasn’t surprised. So there’s something going on there and there’s more to that relationship than he’s giving Dean right now and more to his year. I found Sam just as evasive as Dean.

Which brings me to Sam and Dean. No matter what, no matter what’s going on in Sam’s life, no matter how hurt or abandoned by his brother Dean may feel, nothing will ever keep them apart. They fell back into each other’s lives in a nanosecond. They may be on slightly different pages right now, but they're certainly reading the same book. Sam was watching every move Dean made, every twitch, every stressful look at a vending machine full of choice, he even bought his brother a burger, which Dean was obviously surprised and touched by. He’s watching out for Dean and I don’t think it’s out of guilt. They’re going to be ok, because they’re always ok and for me, that was in evidence here in this episode. It was a start and it felt like a promising one with plenty to work with. It’s going to take time, they’ve been apart for a year after all, there’ll be lots of angsty bumps in the road, but you know that they’ll always have that “...deep abiding love for each other” as Dean said slightly sarcastically.

I really enjoyed their conversation in the motel room when Sam tried to explain what happened with the dog and the girl. I thought that was a fabulous moment. They looked and sounded so grow’d up there, it was a rather grown up connection…until Dean and his lines about not taking a joint from Don and the letting the dog in the car! Did you also note that Dean was on the floor? He would have spent the past year on the ground, lying in the dirt. The bed would have been so foreign to him, the comfort so foreign that he sat on the floor. Damn. That said more about where Dean’s at than practically anything else.

I’m intrigued by the introduction of Benny. So Dean bonded with Benny. I’m sure they went through some crap together to get topside and a friendship was obviously born. It doesn’t bother me. Yeah he’s a vampire, but I guess when faced with a situation like Dean was, you hang on to whatever can get you out of that bad place, kind of like Sam and the dog and the girl. I see parallels between Dean's unlikely friendship with Benny and Sam's relationship with Amelia. Both were born of trauma and need. I like Benny a lot. I know he’s trouble, I’m not sure what kind of trouble yet, except that it’ll be big trouble and Sam’s not going to like it and that’s part of the reason Dean's lying. The rest of the reason is so mysterious! It must be bad. Just the way Dean speaks to Benny in some kind of, let’s not talk about it, what happened in Purgatory stays in Purgatory code. All this keeping your nose clean business. But there’s also softness in how they talk to each other. There’s genuine affection in their tone. I’m intrigued to see that Dean has made another friend. I wonder if one day he might have a human friend (other than Sam of course) and I wonder if he'll eventually have to gank Benny...

I can’t help wonder if whatever happened in Purgatory is something to do with Cass. Dean had Benny’s soul shoved up his arm. Cass can touch souls. What if Cass helped them escape and Dean willingly left him behind. Castiel’s sacrifice for redemption? What if Cass was trying to come too but “let go” and only Dean and Benny got out. What if Dean chose Benny over Cass for some reason? I’m just grasping at all sorts of straws here, but it seems like such a big, nasty secret Dean has, it’s got to be a hum-dinger and I can only think the worst thing he could do in Sam’s eyes is leave Cass behind, especially in favour of a monster, because as far as I can see it, everything else he'd have to do in Purgatory would be about survival, no matter how heinous. But you don't leave one of the family behind.

And speaking of big, nasty, I am totally stoked that Crowley is the big bad this season. This makes everything so personal. He’s screwed the brothers (figuratively speaking), every which way but Sunday over and over. He knows them, knows their signature moves so to speak. They’ve all been balancing this you scratch my back, I’ll rip yours to shreds relationship for so long now, to have them at logger heads is going to be all kinds of fun. Crowley is awesome. Powerful, powerful snarky and joy to see on screen. I’m going to thoroughly enjoy their repartee and their clashes, for however long it lasts into this season and beyond. Though I do wonder, will this finally be the season we see Crowley get his comeuppance?

Plus of course there’s Kevin, we need to talk about him…obviously. I’m enjoying Kevin. I quite liked him at the end of season 7, but he’s really upped his game and I'm pretty happy with how that character played out in this opening episode. He adds a nice dimension to the boy’s relationship and I think he’ll be a good bouncing off point for the brothers to reconnect.

One thing that interested me is that this season is about the Word. It’s about information being given by God and yet it’s also about the information being withheld by the boys. I think it’s really interesting to frame their unspoken secrets and the journey they must take together, up against a quest for the Word of God. They seek out the truth as they hold the truth back. Stark contrasts in motivations between the over all arc and the character arcs.

And I wouldn’t be sweetondean if I didn’t talk about how freakin’ smokin’ hot Purgatory Dean is. Smokin’. SMOKIN’! How can you whack blood and grime on someone and make them better looking? How? It's just insane. That scene where he's just running through the forest chasing the vampire, all fit and strong and fast and... boy oh boy…I may have made a couple of little noises here and there… Imma gonna enjoy Purgatory Dean… oh yes.

Anyhoo, all in all…I think "We Need To Talk About Kevin" was a great start to season 8. It was intrigue upon intrigue upon intrigue. I loved that the brothers got everything out on the table from the get go. There was no "I'm fine." "I'm good." rubbish that these two usually spout. They spoke about their year. Yes they were holding back (we've got 22 more eps to tell the story after all), but they were talking. They weren't saying, I don't want to talk about it. We had their character journeys and individual arcs laid out for us nice and clear. That's what I really loved about "We Need To Talk About Kevin", so much of it was character based. That's what "Supernatural" has always been about. That's what's always made it special. But in the last couple of years the show seemed to move away from the character stuff and more towards the big monster story stuff. But this was all character, all deep and murky and mysterious and it got me so excited to see what happens next. The Winchester brothers were the heart of this episode just as they should be. Thank you Mr Carver.

So until next week people…because I can say that now….NEXT WEEK. Ah, it sure feels good to have my boys back.

What were your thoughts on the opening episode? What do you think is going on with Cass and with Dean and Benny and do you think there’s more to Sam’s situation than meets the eye? Who was standing outside Sam’s house? Let me know, because I need more theories!

Thanks for reading.

sweetondean is a writer and editor for The Winchester Family Business