Monday, 19 November 2012

Review - Supernatural 8.07 "A Little Slice of Kevin"

Maybe I should be disappointed that “A Little Slice of Kevin” showed no aftermath of the war of the Winchesters from the week before. I was expecting some tension, possibly a little hostility, definitely an undercurrent of anger. Maybe I should be disappointed that we didn’t get that. But, I simply can’t seem to give a damn, because what we got was a blessed relief. I love the angst, I really do, I can’t help it, I love that these two boys run deep, but I love the brothers getting along, caring for each other, sharing emotions, supporting each other, sooooo much more. It was a tiny bit jarring, for about 32 seconds, until I went….”Ahhhhhhh, I remember this and it feels goooood!” I know we’re going to see the anger again, I know those feelings of doubt and mistrust, the issues of the season, are still there, just under the surface, nicely fermenting, I know the angst will be back, but until then, in this quiet moment….I’m going to just bask for a little bit, in the warmth of the Winchester’s glorious bro-ness and dare to dream that this episode showed progress in their healing and could be that step in the right direction we’ve all been hoping for.

“A Little Slice of Kevin” had a very familiar vibe and I mean that in the best possible way. The brothers appear to be on the same page for once (even if we know it won’t last – *cough* Benny *cough*), we have a big Heaven vs. Hell – angels vs. demon thing brewing, we had classic characters such as Crowley and Castiel back in play, we had angel wings, the demon knife and witches and we opened with the Impala purring her way down a back road, classic rock blaring as Dean shoved junk food in his mouth. Happiness…the whole lot of it.

There was plenty happening in this episode and it charged along at a break neck pace. We were brought back to the big mythology arc of the season, the God rock thing. The Word of God tablets and that concept was expanded upon. We were introduced to a new notion of how the prophets come to be…which is very Buffyesque, in that there can be only one. One dies and a “potential” prophet is activated. Though, I always thought the Leviathan digging up that first God rock activated Kev? Maybe he just wasn’t needed before then? I put my fingers in my ears and went “la-la-la” when Chuck was mentioned as presumed dead (la-la-la); I can’t and won’t accept that! Nope. Because, you know, maybe he was more than just a prophet? And hey, there were times when there were two slayers, so maybe there can be an spare prophet now and then! (Going to my happy place where Chuck’s ok).

But of course, the big story was Castiel. He’s back and he’s not crazy. Thank goodness. He’s much closer to the Castiel of seasons 4 and 5, when he’d rebelled and started to find his own path, but was still sane and angelic. My favourite Cass. I’m glad that Purgatory healed his mind, even if it hasn’t totally healed his soul…which technically he doesn’t have, but you know what I mean.

For now, Cass bought with him mostly questions and not many answers, but he does have answers and I’m hoping that his reintroduction into the Winchester’s world will give him a chance to fill in some of the gaps for both brothers. I mean, he knows Benny. Sam and him should definitely have a little offline on that particular subject! I was as suspicious as Dean of his story about not remembering anything until we saw that the angels were up to no good again. I’m glad he’s not wilfully hiding stuff, even if he’s going to be unwittingly hiding stuff. Boy, poor little guy. I’d like everyone to be able to mend and move forward this season, from all their past transgressions! Time to deal and move on.

I totally dig this idea that God had someone jot down his thoughts as a worst-case scenario handbook for the human race. It opens up a whole range of possible story arcs. That Transformer Archangel Metatron was quite the note taker. There are a few God rocks out there dealing with different Heavenly issues. The Leviathan rock, the demon rock…and what else? An angel rock? Please let there be an angel rock! With specific instructions on how to kick their meddlesome butts!

Gah. Angels! Until “Supernatural” I thought angels were nice! I have friends who go on about angels and look at me weird when I try to explain that you can’t trust them! Then I remind myself, once again, that this is just show (shut your mouth)! Anyhoo… the angels are interested in the Winchesters and they’re using Castiel to spy on the brothers and report back, without Cass’ knowledge. Manipulative S.O.B.s!

So what do they want? Well, I’m thinking they probably don’t want the gates of Hell closed anymore than the denizens of Hell would. Because if the place is on lockdown, where do all the evil souls go? Do they just linger around on earth like nasty bad smells? Or do they head skyward? Also, I think the angels like the idea of Hell and the balance between good and evil. Because if those gates are forever locked and no one gets punished for their sins, then what happens to humanity? Would we all run amok without the threat of fire and damnation hanging over our heads? So, I think we might find out that neither party wants Hell’s gates closed for eternity.

My other thought was, as I mentioned, there might be an angel rock out there, as part of the compendium of tablets that has been created. If there is, would it have information that would help the Winchesters pop those pesky winged annoyances back behind the pearly gates for all time? I’m sure Sam and Dean would be quite keen on that idea. I’m kind of keen on the idea! I’m sure the angels would not be keen on that idea at all! Or maybe it contains information that could give Crowley control over Heaven? That would be problematic for them!

I’ve also been toying with the notion that the angels now running the big show, are of the same thinking as the late Archangel Raphael, in that maybe they want to kick-start the Apocalypse Part Deux, go back to the original plan. Maybe this is why they need to keep an eye on the Winchesters. Maybe they’re hoping to use their bodies (aren’t we all……..) as the vessels of the end game reboot. Maybe that’s where all this is going. Can anyone say season 10? “Whatever you do, you will always end up... here. No matter what choices you make, whatever details you alter, we will always end up... here.” Stop that Amy! I really hate that thought. I don't want this at all by the way. I’m going to angel wipe my own mind!

Obviously whatever the situation, the angels are not going to want the King of Hell to get his grubby little mitts on the Word of God. So it could just be, that they let the Winchesters fight the fight and then they swoop in and grab the prize. Sounds like angel behaviour….

Of course there’s nothing at all to suggest any of this yet, but…I just don’t trust those conniving winged bastards! I do quite enjoy them though and Naomi seemed kind of cool, if treacherous and a tad buttoned down. It’ll be very interesting to see how she and the angel scheme plays out.

Not only are the angels spying on the Winchesters, they’re playing with reality….which made me go, hang on, what does that mean for the big picture? Carver has said from the get-go that season 8 is all about perception. How one person sees an event can be different from how another person sees the same event. How we the viewer are currently seeing things, may not be how they end up being revealed. The angels are popping Cass in and out without his knowledge, without the brother’s knowledge. He’s compelled to be honest while in Naomi’s office of honesty and then he doesn’t remember being there when he’s zapped back to earth and no one misses him. So the angels are playing with time, space and truth.

The angels dragged Cass from Purgatory and expunged his memories. By the way…Illinois? I wonder how close to Pontiac they were? Is there an angel portal there or something, where they can travel to the other realms? Seems odd that Cass and Dean would both be rescued by angels in Illinois. Jimmy Novak was also from Pontiac, Illinois. Curiouser and curiouser.

So is anything else being affected by the angels and their mind games. Sam for example? Are we’re going to find out that Sam’s been manipulated by the angels into not looking for Dean, choosing a different life or meeting Amelia. Did they throw the dog in front of his car (!), or could they have messed with Sam’s mind and make him assume Dean was dead? Or, and I think this is more likely, did they, ‘push’ him to go to the cabin that night to find Dean? Maybe it was one of the angels lurking in the shadows watching Sam as he left? And if that was the case, it brings us back to, why do the angels need Sam and Dean together? I’m guessing they never expected Dean to get out. Maybe Benny was a fly in their ointment. But with Dean back topside, did they then want Sam to find him for some reason? Or is the fact that they are now together back on the job, a worry to the angels. Did they try to keep them apart but, couldn't overcome their Sam and Deanness bond? So many questions.

I don’t want to find out that Sam’s entire year was a manipulation. Personally I like that he made those choices for himself, as controversial as they are, I like that Sam made decisions for his own future, whether we all agree with them or not.

Sam had what I thought was the most telling line of the entire episode, when he said to Dean “"Survivor's guilt? If you let it, this is gonna keep messing with you, you gotta walk past it." Was this Sam letting Dean know what he’d been through? Certainly Sam has gone through survivor’s guilt more than once when it comes to his brother and in the past, he’s not done so well. But this time around, did Sam find a way to “walk past it” and become a healthier person for it? Once again, here we have a case of perception. Dean sees it as abandonment; Sam sees it as letting go and moving on.

We also saw how perception was affecting Dean’s memories of Cass and Purgatory. Dean remembers Cass slipping from his grasp and yet Cass told Dean he purposely let go. Dean seemed to know that Cass didn’t try as hard as he could, but he also saw it as his own failure for not trying harder on behalf of his friend. He said no one would get left behind and Cass was left behind. He wanted to get Cass out and he couldn’t. I don’t believe, as has been suggested around the traps, that Dean has purposely remembered this incident wrong, so that he could continue to beat himself up for something because he thrives on guilt. I think that viewpoint trivialises this man and the depth of his caring and of his wounds. He said, they had to scratch and fight and bleed to get to that portal. He remembers the heat, the stink, the pain, the fear. That it almost finished him. Is it not more fair to say that in the stress and confusion of the situation, Dean simply didn’t realise what was happening, that he didn’t realise Cass let go, didn’t understand exactly what was going on, rather than Dean loves to self flagellate, so he’s chose to remember wrong out of his need for self loathing? Perception.

Personally I’m relieved that Dean didn’t make a conscious choice to leave Cass behind, or that Benny did something underhanded. I’ve been dreading finding out badness went down. Now that’s one thing I, at least, can move on from.

I’ll admit, I teared up when Cass said, “You can’t save everyone my friend. Though you try.” Awww Dean…. I hope he was listening…though it’ll never stop him trying. He is who he is.

Oh I nearly forgot the Trans! Ha. I keep forgetting about them! I don’t mind Kevin, I still quite like him…I’m sorry he lost a little slice of himself. How was that! Man, brutal. I loved how after Cass and Crowley’s showdown, he grabbed that tablet and wouldn’t let go. It reminded me of when we first met him and Sam was trying to get the tablet out of his hands and he actuallycouldn’t let go! He needs to get away from his mum though, because she’s making dumbass decisions that are endangering their lives, plus, she’s as annoying as all hell! She’d drive me batty if she were my mum. I didn’t find her fun this time around, just kind of grating. Though I do think Kevin and Mama Tran have good chemistry. Imagine her and Garth together? That'd be interesting! Maybe he can teach her a few valuable hunting lessons. I was impressed she got that enormous demon into the trunk of her car though! Nice move! I mean, she’s tiny. Did you see the size of Sam up against her when they met on the side of the road? I loved that too…Sam was so mad. I loved how he just snatched that book wearing his best chastising face.

Crowley reminded me of Lucifer in this episode in that, remember how Lucifer was all quietly evil and kind of cool until he got under pressure and then he turned all bloody rampage and murderous in “Hammer of the Gods”? That’s what I thought about Crowley. We’ve seen him torture monsters and other demons but this season he’s snapped Kevin Tran’s girlfriend’s neck and now he’s done something fatal to some potential prophet’s inside, while exploding another and cutting off Kevin’s pinky! I think he’s feeling a little under pressure and he’s showing his true colours. He’s not the smooth, Savile Row villain anymore. Oh and poor Alfie! What happened to Alfie?

So, “A Little Slice of Kevin” made it 7 for 7 for me. I think the episodes have been getting stronger as the season has gone on. The story is getting more interesting and layered, as little bits of the mystery are pealed away and new questions are raised. I like it! Crowley is in on the Word of God thing and I assume Sam and Dean know Crowley knows. 

This episode also left me feeling a bit more optimistic about our favourite ghost hunting bros. I’m hoping that what we saw with the brothers in this episode was indeed a small step towards the rebuilding of their relationship. A return to the trust and the closeness. I’ve never doubted the love. Dean didn’t dig at Sam once for his year out. Maybe he heard Sam last week. Maybe he heard Garth. Sam was empathetic and supportive; he seemed present and connected to Dean. Maybe Sam heard Dean’s pain last week. Maybe he saw the hurt in his brother. Like I said…the issues are still there, they will raise their ugly heads again…but even if they can have days like this…that’s a start right?

And now for a dip in the shallow end of the pool....

Sam. V-neck t-shirt. Add to that bare feet and sweatpants. Didn’t you just want to snuggle with him all curled up in that bed…and I’m a Dean girl (but I’m Sam curious)! And Dean…FRECKLES! Did anyone else notice that the grade on this episode was less saturated? Also, the boys didn’t look quite as made-up or overly tanned and…you could see Dean’s freckles clear as day. We should always be able to see Dean’s freckles. If I ran this show, I’d make that a rule. Plus...arms. Goodness. I’m finding it harder and harder to get through the brother’s scenes without pausing…rewinding…pausing…rewinding! They are so gosh darn PRETTY!

And on that highly intelligent and well thought out point….

I really dug this episode, it was chocked full of all the stuff I like and yeah, Dean and his hero complex, to me, will always be a thing of beauty...I can't helps it!

You know what I love about season 8...and I'm really loving season 8 as most people have become aware of.... I love that the Winchester Universe is being opened up again.

Last season everything was stripped away, ostensibly to draw the brothers together. But then at the end, they were ripped apart and have to, once again, struggle to find their way back to each other. So, what was the point? Their world was reduced to 2 and in that situation there can be no outside perspective to help you see yourself, your brother, your relationship or your actions. How can you grow when you only have one other person to interact with?

This season there are people! New characters and familiar characters, all of whom can shed light upon the brothers and their journey, past and present. The season feels more expansive because of it, in the best possible way. Not big and unweilding, but personal. The whole thing feels more personal and so the stakes feel higher.

Seeing the brothers as individuals and as a duo through other's eyes is good for them and good for us. It's not taking away from their relationship for me. In fact it's doing the opposite.

It feels like a breath of fresh air has blown through Supernatural. I like!

What did you think of the episode? What are your theories around what the angels are up to? Do you think their mischief is affecting anything else in the story? Let me know your thoughts.

Oh and cool things....the Benny soul transfer, Cass' wings, the exorcism into the phone, the demon bomb, the demon bomb shadows, the Leviathan bombs (every, so cool).

Oh no! I just remembered, the next episode is two weeks away… D’oh! I think I might do a little marathon of episodes 1 – 7!

Until next time…I'm just going to leave this here...

Thanks for reading!

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

Monday, 12 November 2012

Review - Supernatural 8.06 "Southern Comfort"

Ouch. That smarts. This episode made my stomach hurt. Then I realised I’d eaten a whole box of Anzac cookies out of nerves! So maybe the tummy ache was too much sugar. But the heartache was certainly Winchestery.

I’m not much of a fan of Adam Glass, he’s a patchy writer whom for me, has seldom delivered and consequently, I have little faith in him. Garth is a character that I've not been enamoured with. He's been too clownish and two-dimensional. He's been comic relief and I wasn’t interested in him in any way in either of the episodes he was featured in (neither of which I particularly liked). But, both of these things changed with “Southern Comfort”.

For once I think Adam Glass got a good deal right. It wasn’t perfect, there was a little too much procedural goings on for my liking, the spectre story at the centre was a little….meh and rather heavy handed in its parallel between the Winchester brothers and the two waring brothers on opposing sides of the civil war, but then, the spectre story wasn’t the real story was it? The brother stuff, which I feel Glass has failed abysmally at in the past, was what elevated this episode and had me, well, eating too many cookies out of angst! I found the brother stuff to be right on the money.

Garth. Garth was a little breath of fresh air. I liked his sincere attempts to emulate a man he obviously loved and respected. That he stepped in to fill a roll, left empty by the death of Bobby, in support of his hunter community. He got a lot wrong. I laughed every time Dean corrected him. That’s not how you wear the hat, say balls, use idjit. But in the end, I think Dean saw that where Garth was coming from, was honest and heartfelt and he wasn’t trying to replace a man that Sam and Dean care about and miss deeply. This Garth can come back, not too often, but I’d be cool if we saw him again this season. He’s smart and sensible, sweet and perceptive, gives good advice and is so trouble free that he could pick up that penny. That was my very favourite part. Oh, and he’s a hugger. Naww.

So yeah, I enjoyed this episode a lot more than I expected to. I was very pleasantly surprised to say the least. For me it continued what I think is an epically good run of strong episodes and a rocking start to season 8. It was as painful as hell in parts, but it was that good pain that I kind of like, because I’m weird like that.

So let’s get to it huh? Those ghost hunting bros….

It makes my proud of this show that 8 seasons in, I can still get so upset over the emotional struggles of Sam and Dean Winchester. That I’m that invested. That I’m still there with them, exploring their relationship, their issues past and present, their individual characters and the differences between them. That they can still infuriate me to the point of very bad language, but that I can still see through my frustrations to their love and to my love of them. Both of them. It’s got to a point that they pretty much need a Sherpa to carry their baggage, but I’m willing to help them lug it and hopefully watch them unpack it and toss some stuff out as the season progresses. Geesh, I think I over did that analogy!

I’ve been waiting for this blow-up…for a few seasons actually. It was TIME! There’s been so much unsaid and shoved down deep between the brothers. There’s so much they haven’t dealt with and all of that crap is affecting what’s happening in their world right now. Neither has told the other much about their year apart, even if they think they have, so they’re both in the dark and muddling their way through this latest murky emotional terrain and doing a piss poor job of it I might add!

Sam says to Dean that he’s been straight up with him from the jump and told him why he didn’t look for him. But has he? Has he really? No. He told Dean he found something, something he's never had before, which to Dean means I found something better and I chose that over you. I’m not saying in any way that’s how Sam feels, you all know my ideas around Sam this season, lord knows I’ve pontificated enough on the matter, but Dean is a bundle of insecurity who has always felt like everyone leaves him and that he’s not worthy of love. John Winchester has a lot to answer for (I really must get on that new thread about him). Even right back in “Skin”, the shifter inhabiting Dean’s fine form said, “Sooner or later everybody’s gonna leave me.” I don’t think Dean’s thinking on this has changed. I think he’s still terrified Sam will leave him. So Sam saying, “I found something” doesn’t cut the mustard. What he should be saying is what he said to Amelia, “It felt like my world imploded and came raining down on me and I ran.” This is what Dean needs to hear. This and more. I applaud Sam for reminding Dean of Amelia’s name, I think that was all about stopping Dean calling her, "a girl", she was more important to Sam than just "a girl" and I'm glad that he told Dean that they'd lived together. Good. That’s a start. But that’s still not letting Dean know that HE was missed and that it messed with Sam’s head. That’s what Dean needs right now. He needs that reassurance that he’s still important to Sam and that he wasn’t forgotten, simply left behind or replaced.

I’m not just picking on Sam. Dean hasn’t told Sam anything about his year either, so how’s Sam supposed to understand. It’s bitchy to say “I highly doubt you get anything about Purgatory” when you haven’t offered anything. But I get that, it’s Hell all over again and who wants to rehash that kind of pain, but Benny is another issue. He hasn’t told Sam why he’s friends with Benny. He hasn’t told him Benny saved his skin more than once, or that he also saved Castiel. He’s said he wouldn’t be topside without Benny, but he hasn’t explained the hows and whys. Sam’s been open to monsters being friendlies before, right back to season 2’s Lenore, so it’s not like if it was all lain out for him, he wouldn’t be open to it.

Dean’s tirade under the influence of the spectre lacked resonance for me because it was just that, under the influence of the spectre. Bummer. The spectre caused white-hot rage, so we don’t know to what level his feelings were enhanced. I don’t doubt that Dean still has issues around the whole Ruby thing and Sam being back for a year without telling him thing…though I think any anger over anything Sam did when soulless needs to be let go of immediately, even if the hurt can’t be. I think these are things we all know he's hung on to, but do I think that he believes what he said about Benny being a better brother than Sam ever was? Absolutely not, he's just super mad now at Sam for the whole not looking for him thing and this is how that's coming out. He's seeing Benny as having his back for the past year and Sam not and those feelings were released under the influence of the spectre. I think Sam has proven his love for Dean, just as Dean has proven his love for Sam and I think they're still proving it. In the past, they've both been there for each other over and over. The fact that Dean is so hurt by Sam’s actions while Dean was in Purgatory, proves how important Sam and Sam’s love is to him. This kind of anger is born of love. The worst and truly hurtful arguments are ones you have with those you love most. I don’t think Dean would say any of that stuff if he wasn’t possessed by a spirit or something – whether that’s good or bad I can’t decide. It’s a bit sad that he needs to have that kind of push to open up I guess. But then as I said, we can’t be sure to the level of amplification of those emotions. Obviously they're there, but are they there to that extent? I mean, Mrs Lew was pretty surprised her husband's highschool fling was brought up all these years down the track. I'm not sure that the feelings that made her kill her husband were feelings she was even aware of. Are we to believe that her resentment of Ms Allcott outweighs the love she feels for her husband after 34 years of marriage? Hmmm. The spectre grabbed on to your resentment, obliterating everything else. The resentments are there, but so is the love and other feelings, it's just under the spectre's influences only the resentment can be felt. At least that's my take on it. So though there's truth to the feelings, they're not the only feelings, just the only one's that can be felt while possessed. It's the big, a penny for your thoughts thing right? And I guess maybe, the penny dropped. 

Next time Dean get's a chance to lay it on the line, I’m hoping it just comes from inside him with all his emotions intact, so he can at least say his piece rationally and not because of some supernatural influence that highlights just one side.

So, though all sorts of other crappy issues were raised up by that damn penny, the two that are at the heart of the matter are the two from this season and it’s the brother’s lack of sharing of their individual experiences that has got them to this point. I think, when you look at both of these issues, it may boil down to one thing for both brothers, Sam feels Dean is choosing Benny over Sam, Dean feels Sam chose a girl over Dean. Dean has issues around abandonment and his own self worth and Sam’s always worried his brother couldn’t love him and would only see him as a monster because of his demon blood. It’s not about jealousy it’s about insecurities and I think both the brothers are currently playing into each other’s dysfunctions astoundingly well. Nice job boys.

For me the only bit that really irked me was right at the end of the brother’s fight outside. Sam had every right to tell Dean to stop rubbing his face in “the year off” and get off his “high and mighty.” Dean was continually getting in his little jibes and that can get old real quick, but Dean said, “Ok, I hear you” and it should have ended there. But Sam had to say that line about Benny and flare the whole fight right back up again. I literally yelled at my TV. I know he was hurt and over it and drawing a line in the sand and all, but It was just…ugh. If he really needed to say it, he probably could have framed it better. Dean said he killed Amy because he knew Sam couldn’t. Whether that’s true or not, I’ve long ago stopped caring. Amy had killed, four times that they know of and Dean put her down and he says it’s because Sam couldn’t. Fine. If Sam had not phrased his statement about killing Benny through narky anger, maybe it would have been taken in a different way. He could have said, “Ok I get it, if he messes up, you won’t be able to kill him, so if it comes to it, I will.”  But you know what, no, because in reality, he should have just left that one at Dean’s “Ok, I hear you” and given Dean a chance to prove that maybe he did hear Sam instead of throwing Benny all up in Dean’s face again. It was like; I gotta get in the final word. I don’t care how frustrated he is with his brother, to me that undermined everything Sam said to Dean prior to that. I think Sam’s way more of an emotional mess than Dean at this point and he’s way more angry. To be honest, outside of Dean's rehashing of stuff while being inhabited by the spectre, I'm kind of at a loss why Sam is quite as angry as he is. I get why Dean is up in arms, but surely the Benny friendship is not the worst thing that Dean's ever done. It seems odd for Sam to not at least have a little leeway with that one. He just seems angrier about it than he should be. I guess it's more about the lie, I think that's why he was angry about Amy, more the lie than the act, or maybe Dean was right, maybe he does blame Dean for dragging him back to the life…if not the first time around, maybe he does this time around. 

This fracking Amy thing man. When will it end. The only good thing about it is that at the end of all this, I’ll be able edit together all the uses of the name Amy and make it into my ringtone! Silver lining.

Neither of the brothers is a saint and neither is sin free. I don’t point the blame at either of them for past choices and by the way, I loved that that word was used in this episode, “Choices.” They live in an extreme world and they can’t always make the right call. They are very different individuals who have always approached things from different angles and who have always wanted different things. Their flaws, of which they both have plenty, is what makes them so very beautiful. It’s because of their flaws we love them more right? 

The bottom line here is about communication and they’ve always been shite at it. Obviously nothing’s changed but then, how much do we really change once we get to a certain age and who ever really tells the complete truth to family members, or is that just me? Who amongst us hasn’t omitted something because we know someone isn’t going to like it, or it’s going to hurt them, or change how they see us, so we bury it? These guys are like everyone else as far as I can see, it’s just, this is a TV show, so it's amped up!

I don’t mind the conflict if I feel it can help them move forward. I wish Dean had remembered what he said, but then, he could always get Garth on the blower and ask him, though Dean being Dean, I think he’d rather forget. I don’t think this is the last of this kind of ‘conversation’ they’ll have, I don’t think it’s going to be put on the back burner, I think this is the first step in bringing these guys to a more healthy, grown up place, towards accepting each other’s choices, mistakes and differences. I think we’ll see more of this before it gets better. It feels like it’s just the start. It feels like this is the first chapter. Let’s just keep airing those grievances boys, though I better make sure I’m stocked up on cookies!

If I could sit these two in a room, this is what I’d say…

Dean, you need to let this stuff go. Yes, you’ve been hurt, yes you’ve been disappointed in the past by Sam’s actions, but your brother is still here by your side and he obviously loves you, so why don’t you look at that, instead of everything else.

If you want to know why he took a year off, why he didn’t look for you and he’s not opening up, damn well make him. Say, “Ok Sam, explain it to me, tell me what happened.” Then…LISTEN. If Sam doesn’t want to tell you, well then, you have every right to be pissed, but instead of just feeling abandoned and angry, ask him….maybe you’ll understand, maybe you won’t, but you’ll never have a hope in hell of understanding unless you hear the story and if Sam’s not going to offer more than he has off his own bat, then you’re going to have to ask him to open up. 

While you’re at it, tell Sam about Purgatory, tell him all the stuff he doesn’t know. That you were alone and on the run from every monster in the place until you met Benny. That the vampire saved your hide more than once, that you might not have survived without him, that you’d never have made it out without his help. But beyond that, he proved to be loyal to you, even looking out for Castiel. That Benny was a friend to you when you were in desperate need of one. That yeah, it’s weird that you’re pals with a vampire, you get why Sam’s baffled and mad, that it seems like double standards, but Benny opened your eyes to the possibility that not all monsters are evil, everything isn’t black and white and that Sam should be happy that you’re learning that lesson. If Sam still doesn’t understand or still won’t try to understand, you have every right to shut down on the subject….but if you don’t at least try and explain it, well you don’t have a leg to stand on against Sam’s confusion and fury. Maybe you’ll get through to him….you won’t know unless you try and he won’t understand unless you explain it. ('re smokin' hot...whatchya doing later).

Sam, I know you were devastated by the loss of your brother, but Dean doesn’t. All you’ve told him is that you found something and it was a girl. All he’s hearing is you found something better. You know your brother. You know his insecurities. You know he fears that everyone will leave him. You know that that’s how he’s seeing this. Right or wrong, that’s who he is and after all this time, you should know that. So, don’t just tell your girlfriend, tell your brother that your world imploded on itself and rained down on you when you lost him. Tell him how you felt, tell him you ran, you were lost, you didn’t know what to do. Tell him about how meeting a kindred spirit helped you find your way back to the world, that with her, you no longer felt scared every day. That you understand Dean’s hurt, but you just couldn’t see the hand in front of your face for a good long while. Dean loves you above anything else, maybe he’ll see the pain that his disappearance caused and it’ll help him understand your state of mind and the choice you made. But you HAVE TO TELL HIM. You haven’t. 

And stop threatening to walk away, because that’s just freaking Dean out even more. You have every right to want something else and I get that you want Dean to understand and appreciate that and be prepared for the possibility that you won’t always be riding shotgun with him, but by threatening to leave him out of anger, you just exasperate an already volatile situation. Those threats just validate Dean’s fears of not being loved enough, of not being needed enough. You’re a bright and empathetic boy; use that big brain of yours. ( you think I've got a shot with your brother).

Sam and Dean, you boys, you’ve been through more than should be asked of any human being and you’ve been through it TOGETHER. You obviously love each other deeply; otherwise you wouldn’t be able to push each other’s buttons so effectively. But you’ve never, ever been able to really talk. Here and there, little pieces have leaked out and been shared, but by and large, you bury everything until it explodes outward. You can’t expect your brother to understand how you’re feeling if you don’t tell him. You can just say, “He’s my friend” or “I found something” and expect your brother to understand unless you give these statements context, history and reason. Just….be the amazing men I know you to be, be the brothers I know you are. Tell each other the full story, because only then can you be justified in having any expectations that your brother should or could give you some slack and empathy. But above all, stop the lip service when it comes to each other’s choices. If you don’t “get it” don’t say it, if you don’t forgive, don’t say it. Everything rings hollow when you say one thing, then say another in anger. Stop it. And please, truly forgive each other, you both deserve it. 

Now get out of here and go be awesome. Idjits.

I’m confusing reality with “Supernatural” again aren’t I?

(By the way, I love that photo of them in the diner. Look at their elbows. They're touching. Now, I know logicially this is because Jensen and Jared are big units and they need to squish in close to both fit in frame, but the forgetting that part of me goes, if I was hating on my brother, I wouldn't be sitting that close to him! Reality/Supernatural.... yeah I know).

We really are in a spot of bother with these two aren't we…but I kind of like it. Don’t hate!

I guess my biggest fear is where this is going, that both boys will be forced to make a choice, though me being me, I’m confident that they'll choose each other. It might look a bit touch and go for a while, but ultimately Dean will always choose Sam and Sam will always choose Dean. Just call me sweetondean, the eternal optimist.

So I dug this episode a lot more than I thought I would. It was hurty goodness. I enjoyed, if that’s the right word, all the brother’s angsty scenes. I’m glad they’re starting to get some stuff out. Sam has finally lain out how pissed off he is to Dean. Dean, unknowingly, let Sam know that his choices have affected and continue to affect Dean. Maybe something clicked in one of them, even in just one, that’d be a step in the right direction. I even got a bit more of a sense of what drew Sam to Amelia. It was the conflict scenes that had me though. The final scenes of the last two episodes have been absolute corkers. It’s good stuff.

So what did you think? What’s next?

Until next time just remember, we’re “Supernatural” fans, we’re Tonka Tough!

Now hurry up next episode!

Thanks for reading!

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

Thursday, 8 November 2012

My Dean Winchester bust!

So here’s my Dean bust that I bought as part of the Winchester Bros charity auction.

Jensen signed it to me and then it was sent to me here in Australia from set, with the sender address being Clif Kosterman c/- Supernatural Films.

The money from this auction purchase went to Team Levi.

I think it’s pretty cool! Plus it’s the first thing I have signed from Jensen where he’s actually written my name! Which makes me happier than is probably rational…..

The bust with Jensen's signature

My name in Jensen's handwriting!

From a different angle - it's pretty cool and even has the crease in his bottom lip!

Here's a shot of Jensen signing the items.
You can see the Dean bust - plus a stick-it with my name (circled in red!)


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Review - Supernatural 8.05 "Blood Brother"

I have a confession…I’m as much a fan of Ben Edlund as I am anyone else associated with this show. This is not to say I have pictures of him around my room, I don’t…but I’m not adverse to the idea. Would I like to meet him? Yes. Have a photo with him? Yes. Spend some time in a panel with him? Hellz yes! Have my favourite quote from my favourite episode of his tattooed on my arm…erm…yes, actually, that one’s done and dusted. Ben is a creative individual. A writer and an artist with a mind that darts and leaps from one idea to the next, sometimes making it back to finish a thought, sometimes not. He inspires me in my creative endeavours and makes me want to be better at what I do. Whether it’s trying to write a novel, writing these reviews, writing a 30 second script or telling a story with pictures to try and get an audience to tune into a movie or a show. Creative people inspire my creativity and Ben is one hell of a creative. So yeah, I like his scripts. If we add into that Guy Bee, who as a seasoned TV director is very good at story telling, accompanied with inventive yet unobtrusive camera work and a knack for action, you have a duo that seldom misses a beat. And that’s just what we got with “Blood Brother”. The other wonderful thing about these two is their understanding that you can tell a story without words, that not everything has to be laid out in dialogue and a lot of what isn’t said fills the gaps for what is. They also have an innate appreciation of the talent of the actors performing their scenes and their ability to deliver. They simply let them do the work.

“Blood Brother” was an excellent example of a finely tuned “Supernatural” episode. A story that never stopped moving, developed the arc central to the key relationships and gave us a nuanced character study that informed us of the headspace these characters are currently living in.

We got quite a few flashbacks in “Blood Brother” and for me these have been the most seamlessly integrated of the season so far. The first flashback to Purgatory was simply stunning. The ramping of the slomos, the black and white flash transitions, the eerie whistling. It felt like a fractured memory. It was nicely shot and beautifully edited. The edit on that initial Purgatory flashback was masterful.

These flashbacks to Dean’s time in Purgatory helped us to understand his relationship with Benny and why he stands by him so steadfast. Benny proved himself in battle, not just by looking out for Dean’s back, but also Dean’s friend Castiel. He saved Castiel and I suspect that happened more than once and this was even though he knew the Angel drew the monsters and even though he knew Dean and his chances of making it out alive, were lessened by the presence of the Angel. This would have gone a long way with Dean. Loyalty is very important to him. He’s not leaving his Angel friend behind and now he’s seen a monster, which you could tell he was still treading somewhat carefully around, also pledging his loyalty to Dean by this act of friendship to Castiel.

One of my favourite moments in the Purgatory scenes was when Dean, exasperated, tried to make peace between Benny and Cass. Who else found themselves thinking of a similar moment when Dean tried to make peace between Sam and John? It seems no matter what Dean goes through and no matter where he finds himself those traits remain. I’ve always got the sense that he simply can’t handle it when the people he cares about don’t get on. It all boils down to his need for a family, in whatever form that takes. He doesn’t want them to fight, he has so few people, he needs them all to get on, because he wants them to be around him. It was an amusing scene but it kind of made me sad, because I thought, geesh this never ends for him.

It was great to see Cass being Cass once again. Smiting like a ninja, making off the wall (yet relevant) comments about the metaphysics of Purgatory and not getting the Aunt joke. I’m thankful that crazy, comic relief Castiel seems to be a thing of the past. He was always most amusing and endearing when he was funny in spite of himself. Not because he was saying or doing something funny, but because he wasn’t and yet still was. He’s an Angel. I feel like he should be treated with a degree of respect. I never liked the drinking a liquour store or the kissing Meg…it just seemed, forced. By simply not understanding the reference, you’re reminded who he is and what he is without making him seem less, if you know what I mean. I hope that when he’s back in the land of the living again, this Cass remains. I liked Purgatory Cass. I’m looking forward to finding out why he never made it out with Benny and Dean.

Benny of course was right, Dean could have dumped his soul in any grave, or in a bin, or a river, or a drain or whatever really, but that wouldn’t be Dean. Monster or otherwise, he made a promise to someone who became a friend and he loyally followed through on it. Like Benny said “You and that whole friend thing, man.” It’s one of my favourite Dean traits, that loyalty, that heart and I’m so happy to see, no matter what he goes through, no matter how much he’s hurting, that remains intact.

His friend needed him and he went to his side. Should he have told Sam? Yeah of course. Would he? No, of course not! The brothers are great at keeping secrets from each other. Let’s not forget, they were raised to keep secrets. But it’s more about knowing each other so well that they know the other will be pissed and they don’t want to face that or deal with that. It’s true for both of them, not just Dean. Both are guilty of sweeping something under a rug rather than bring it out into the open. It’s easier to do that, than face the ire of your brother and probably the fact that you’re definitely wrong and have to slog it out with someone who knows you better than you know yourself. As hair-pulingly frustrating as that is for us, it always amuses me because avoiding confrontation is such a human thing to do and the brothers are experts at it, even though it always bites them in the ass.

I liked seeing Dean’s friendship with Benny. That there really is a sense of camaraderie and not just duty when it comes to this unlikely ally. Benny doesn’t get Dean’s humour anymore than anyone else. The whole Vampirates thing was fantastic. “It’s like the third thing you say.” “No…it isn’t.” Dean’s face! No one gets Dean’s humour! (It’s ok Dean we get it and love you for it). I also thought, Dean is spouting off stuff about the Zone Diet and Fabio and I’m quite sure Benny has no idea about any of that either, but he didn’t flinch, that made me like him even more. Everyone just kind of tolerates Dean’s bizarre pop culture references. Oh and Dean pocketing the money…looking over his shoulder. Bless! Little moments like that were priceless. And I need to say…Dean in the vampire's nest, was BAD ASS! Oh gosh….I know he has issues and I know part of his gruffness and inability to deal with anything is all part and parcel of his time in Purgatory and it’s not healthy and all that, but give me this Dean any old day. Sure he needs balance….but oh my, Dean wielding that knife is one sexy mo-fo.

I think it was no coincidence that the conversation about Benny’s history happened in the Impala. It’s also no coincidence that Benny’s story parallels Sam’s as well as Sam and Dean’s. ‘Born’ into a family where you didn’t question the life, with a father who ran the ship with an iron fist, who kept his family together but apart from the rest of the world.  Who does that sound like? Benny was part of this life until he met a woman, until he found “it”. This could be Sam’s story with Jess, but it could also as easily be Sam’s story with Amelia. In the Impala is probably where Dean hears the best. Whether it’s the familiar surrounds or what, but that car has experienced some of the most profound conversations of Sam and Dean’s life, so to have Benny relay this very familiar story in this environment, hopefully will spark something in Dean to make him think. Dean can be a great listener, but only when it’s something he wants to hear, because if it’s too painful for him to think about, like Sam wanting to move on, which to Dean means Sam not wanting him, he’s just not going to hear it until he’s made to hear it.

Of course the other possible parallel to Sam was Benny’s memory of Andrea. He remembered their love; he remembered their romance, who they were together. He had romanticised her and it helped him get through Purgatory. He thought she was dead, but she wasn’t. She was a monster now too. Those sunny memories of happiness and love were just that, memories. He couldn’t go back, that life didn’t exist anymore. I wonder if this is foreshadowing what’s to come for Sam, what he must face and what he’ll eventually realise? I wonder if this is why Sam’s flashbacks are golden and shiny.

I adored Sam’s flashbacks in this episode. I loved to see how he was trying to get by, being a handyman and even though he was so alone, he was still Sam, paying attention to people, making a point of getting to know the kid at the hotel. He’s always been great with people. Where his brother is the slightly abrasive one, Sam’s the empathetic one, the one who connects…though Dean’s pretty good when it comes to connecting with a chick. He knows how to work it then.

I've read that some people think Sam is being written unsympathetically this season, but I don't see it like that. This is probably the most sympathetic I’ve felt for Sam in a long time. Now, before you rip me a new one, I’m not saying I haven’t been sympathetic towards Sam in the past, I have, as much as you all see me as a rampant Dean girl, I love Sam too, but this is the first time in a long time that the Sam we’re dealing with is a very human Sam, enduring very human emotions. There’s no visions, demon blood, Lucifer, soullessness, broken wall crazy hanging over his head. Sam, for the first time since season 3 is simply Sam and he’s dealing with everything that’s passed, with no supernatural intrusions.

I said a couple of weeks ago that the detachment we’re seeing in his character towards his brother and their life together, for me, felt like fear. He’s scared to get close, scared to completely let Dean in, scared to fall back into their old ways because he’s terrified of losing his brother, terrified to go through losing everything and everyone again and all the pain that brings.

This is a man who saw his brother ripped to shreds by invisible dogs, shot in the chest, hit by a car, he cradled Dean as he died in his arms at least 4 times that we saw. We often talk about how Sam means everything to Dean. Dean has said it himself, “Watching out for you... it's kinda been my job, you know? But more than that, it's... it's kinda who I am”. We’ve accepted that Sam is Dean’s number one. No matter who else may cross Dean’s path, his brother is an intrinsic part of his physiology and that will never change. But what we forget and often don’t discuss is that for Sam, Dean is all he knows. Sam was at loggerheads with an absent father whom he wound up being estranged from. For Sam, the one person, the one constant in his life, has always been Dean. His older brother raised him and was there for him, loving him ferociously from before Sam could even remember. Sam may not have the outward franticness to his love that Dean sometimes appears to have, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel his love as deeply. He even said in “The French Mistake” when Dean, tentatively suggested that the fake world of Jared Padalecki was better than Sam’s reality, no, “We’re not even brothers here man.”

Now picture this, the one person whom you’ve spent your whole life looking up to, trusting and relying on, is killed over and over in front of your eyes. Then, just as you’re getting your wits back together, after the latest supernatural abomination perpetrated against you, that person disappears to parts unknown and you’re left alone, well and truly alone. Surely that would traumatise Sam. I imagine him spending the ensuing days, weeks, months, reliving that and every other nightmare him and his brother suffered through, agonising over every dreadful scenario that Dean may now be experiencing. Then, after a year, when he’s obviously still struggling to find his feet in this strange, new world, poof…his brother miraculously returns and wants to hit the road. Go back to their old life, the life which has caused Sam untold pain and which could once again mean death and loss.

The Sam we saw looking for Amelia on the bridge, the Sam we saw raging at Dean, angry with his brother for keeping secrets and taking risks, racing to his brother’s aid with his foot pressed hard against the accelerator, is a Sam unhinged by fear. I look at him and think, oh man; he’s scared out of his wits, he’s scared he’s going to have to relive all that torment again. Sam is breaking my heart in two. I want to sit next to him and hold his hand and tell him, everything is going to be all right. I no longer see detachment; in fact I see the opposite. I see a love so powerful that it’s making him frantic at the thought of losing it again, of the pain of losing that one constant in his life, the pain of losing Dean. Sam, you make me hurt. Unsympathetic? I don't see it.

All of this is also why I don’t have an issue with the whole not looking for Dean thing, even if Dean does…which obviously, being Dean, he would. Sam has seen the consequences of their continual need to sacrifice themselves for each other and the world. He’s seen the catastrophic ramifications both cosmically and personally. He’s lived through it. Even if he had a clear idea of where Dean was and how to bring him back, who’s to say that wouldn’t start some crazy new cycle like the Apocalypse part-deux, who’s to say that Dean wouldn’t come back damaged…like you know, soulless or worse, who’s to say that retrieving Dean wouldn’t be part of some bigger evil scheme that the brothers have been unwittingly sucked into and more importantly, who’s to say Dean wasn’t in Heaven and pulling Dean back would rip him away from somewhere he’d finally found peace? Sam didn’t know. So in amongst dealing with the sudden loss of the person that’s anchored him his whole life, in amongst dealing with a mental clarity that he’s not had for a while, that allows him to think about all the tragedy that’s befallen him and his brother because of this life they were raised in, he’s also got the possible weight of the world and all it’s inhabitants crushing him and the possibility that dragging his brother back to earth wouldn’t be the best option for Dean or maybe even humanity. 

There is a natural order, the brother’s have said, “Screw it” over and over and have been smacked in the face for their troubles. When do you learn? When do you look at the big picture and go, um, I gotta stop messing with this stuff because every time I do, something worse happens. I’m not seeing anything here that doesn’t feel like Sam and quite frankly, I’m falling head over heels in love with Sam all over again this season. I love me nothing more than a damaged, flawed hero (hence the whole Dean thing), and this Sam, with all his humanity is just so beautiful to me. It’s a problem I have, I know….but this is a 100% human Sam, dealing with human emotions and showing, once again, how achingly human he is. Sam is going through a deep emotional struggle and I’m there with him every step of the way. 

I know none of this has been openly discussed by Sam, but I think it's being subtly revealed bit by bit. It's a slow burn mystery that I'm enjoying.

I even warmed a little to Amelia in this episode. When Sam astutely pointed out she was alone, you saw that guard drop. You realised that bitchy front was to keep people like him at bay. Incredibly tall, handsome, serial killer types! In that one moment you saw how they came together, out of a common pain. Like people who find each other through shared trauma. Kind of like Benny and Dean. I’m pretty sure I said this a couple of weeks ago too, there’s a symmetry between the relationships that the brothers worked into their lives in each other’s absence.

And those brothers were my absolute favourite part of this episode. Their bickering was fantastic. I’m weird I guess, because I don’t look at them and see them drifting apart, I look at them and see them desperately trying to cling to being together.

You don’t bicker at each other that much if you no longer care. You don’t question where someone is going if you don’t care if they go. You don’t go to text them because they’re the first person you think of, if they’re no longer important to you – even if you don’t go through with it. You don’t freak out all over the place and rush to their side; because you think they’re in trouble if you don’t want to have a relationship with them. You don’t ring them when you need help, even though it means facing a situation you know is going turn ugly, if you didn’t trust them above everyone else and in fact, if you didn’t want them to know your secret. Dean nearly text Sam he wasn’t alone but changed his mind, but in the long run, he made the call even though he knew the outcome. I think it was his way of bringing Sam in, without having to tell him.

I loved every single conversation Sam and Dean had. From the Kevin Tran bitchiness from Sam, which was epic, “Well he was in advanced placement” to the phone conversations; “You don’t know him, he’s a friend,” “A friend? Dean you don’t have any, all your friends are dead” “It’s not what I called to talk about!” And then the, “I get the separate lives thing, but this is a hunting thing.” “Oh God, stop talking.” Each moment was beautifully written and beautifully performed and felt like a true and honest representation of a couple of siblings driving each other crazy. I know they’re frustrated with each other, not the first time, I know they’re hiding stuff, not the first time, but nothing in this episode made me think they’re drifting apart or trying to get away from each other, just that they’re trying to figure it out, figure themselves out, each other out, their duoness out, in amongst all the damaged, because let’s not forget the most obvious thing here, they’re damaged, both of them, deeply, by what they’ve gone through over the past year. There’s going to be emotional fallout.

Then there was that final scene. I replayed it over and over and over. The brothers don’t have to speak. One look and they both know what the other is thinking. Dean was stoic, because he knew Sam would figure it out, he just stood firm and watched. Sam figured it out and his first move was that of a hunter. He may have been out of the life for a year, he may say he doesn’t want it anymore, but there he was, at his brother’s side with his hand reaching for his knife because he knew there was a monster standing in front of him. But one small head shake from Dean and he stopped. He gave his brother the benefit of the doubt, even though a mask of anger clouded his face. It was beautiful. Beautifully written, shot, edited and performed. This scene was made by a group of people at the top of their game. As is this show. This no longer feels like a genre show about a couple of ghost hunting bros, that’s housed on a small youth skewed network, this feels like a grown up drama that would be able to sit on any network. It’s mature and gritty and challenging and heartbreaking and I LOVE IT. I’m sorry; I know I sound like a broken record, but season 8 man, its some good TV.

Of course I want Sam and Dean to find some happiness together, I want them to be cool with sitting next to each other in the Impala riding the backstreets, joking and teasing, enjoying being brothers, but I also recognise them to be men in their thirties who have changed and grown together and I’m good with that, in fact I’m enjoying it. I’m enjoying seeing them traverse each other’s emotional minefield to try to get back what they, in reality, haven’t had for a very long time. That's the thing about Sam and Dean, they never stop trying, they never give up on each other, they never give up on being brothers. No matter how much they fight, no matter often they walk away from each other; they find their way back, because they want to. At their core, they want to be together. No matter what Sam is saying, look at what he’s doing. No matter who Dean is friends with, look at who he stays with.

Next week, I’d say Sam and Dean are going to deal with the aftermath of the Benny thing. Hey, at least they’re talking.

Until next time Supernatural family.

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