Sunday, 31 March 2013

Review: Supernatural 8.17 "Good Bye Stranger"

Well hello “Supernatural” you’re on fire baby! “Goodbye Stranger” was damn fine. I can easily judge how much I dig an episode by how much noise I make and at one stage I was a tad worried that me screaming “No, no, no” at my television might have my neighbours calling the cops! (Alas they did not; obviously they don’t care for my welfare). I was knee deep in this one from beginning to end. In a season of super strong episodes, “Goodbye Stranger” was right up there.

That was one hell of a powerful opening. Seeing Castiel drive an angel blade through Dean’s heart was shocking, even if we all knew that it couldn’t possibly be real. It made us realise what was coming, foreshadowed something awful and for me, put me on edge straight away, where I stayed for the 40 something minutes. The hundreds of dead Deans shot was fantastic…even if it was my worst nightmare. Seriously though, he’s one hell of a pretty dead dude!

Ok, let’s talk about Meg…I can’t wait any longer. I’m so bummed out that Meg died. (Did she die? She did didn’t she. I think she did. But I’m still holding on to a little hope). Meg’s a nasty piece of work for sure and she could never redeem herself for the evil she’s perpetrated against the Winchesters, but oh my gosh I’ve always loved her. She’s been a character that has redefined herself over and over. She’s understood that sometimes to survive, you have to go where the wind blows you. She’s always had the best snark I’ve ever heard and even though I loved Nicki Aycox’s Meg, it was Rachel Miner’s Meg that I truly adored. She playfully owned Meg’s evilness.

Meg always knew which card to play, even if sometimes that was the helpful card. If it protected her or got her to where she needed to be, she was willing to take a road that may not be the most enjoyable. I saw in her the kind of do-what-needs-to-be-done-to-get-the-job-done mentality that the brothers have developed. I liked that symmetry and that development in her character. I think she wound up being more like the Winchesters then she’d ever care to admit. An adaptable survivor – it’s just she’s all for bad, where as they’re all for good. I think that’s part of the reason they ended up working with her. They were all capable of seeing a common goal and doing what needed to be done to achieve it, even if their reasoning differed. There wasn’t trust per say, simply understanding. She understood the brothers would as soon as stab her with the demon knife as look at her and the brothers understood she’d throw them to the hellhounds if it suited her. But both could put those things on the back burner to do what needed to be done. I loved how Meg and the Winchester’s relationship developed like this. It shows how smart they all are.

Meg’s relationship with Cass started off as a thorny one for me. I disliked the pizza man kiss with every fibre of my being. It came from nowhere and felt like nothing but fan service. But the show managed to develop their peculiar relationship and obvious attraction into something interesting. It’s that line between good and evil that the show loves to toy with. But beyond that, for me Meg and Cass would see something in each other that they wouldn’t see in the human world they live in. They’re both supernatural creatures, with a different understanding of humanity’s place in the scheme of things. They’ve both been around the block a few times. If thrown together like they were, I can see them being drawn to one another if only for that reason. Being something different can be hard, even if you’re all evil, or all powerful. That’s something that shone through for me in their scene in “Goodbye Stranger”. In one room you had a couple of humans, in the other room you had a couple of totally different creatures that could connect on a level no human could ever understand.

Meg of course was human once, why would she not be attracted to a hot guy (albeit it hot angel). Cass may never have been down that road, but he’s been with humanity for a few years now and the most human of humanity, the Winchesters. You can see in all his interactions how this has changed Castiel, for good and bad. He obviously feels emotions now, why would he not feel conflicted affection for a creature with a commonality to him, who at one point took care of him and was now vulnerable and tattered in front of him. I liked this scene a lot. I liked that Cass has no clue why he’s so sweet on Meg, having never experienced anything like this before. I liked that he’s learnt what makes a girl’s nethers quiver (though I presume only in theory); he's watched  at least one porno and he's been hanging out with Dean after all, not like Dean’s shy about the ladies. The whole scene rang true to me and I was surprised by it. It also made me want to see Misha in some kind of romantically sexy role, because damn, the way he looked at Meg…well, I was tempted to grab some pizza and move some furniture around!

Meg’s death hit me hard (this may have been the yelling no, no, no thing). The character has such a long and strong history with the show, through her connection with Azazel, the original villain of “Supernatural”, the very first thing we all learnt to hate and started out hunting with the boys. She’s possessed Sam, beat the snot out of Dean, was partly responsible for Jo and Ellen’s deaths. In the end, she went down fighting for what she believed in, Lucifer and that Crowley is an ass! She’s Lucifer’s gal. I don’t think for a moment that she was standing up for Sam and Dean – though maybe her Unicorn – she was preventing Crowley from getting what he wanted, because she hates Crowley, he’s a usurper in her eyes, plus he just tortured the crap out of her. No angel tablet for Crowley is a win for Meg. I think that’s why she stood and fought. Team Free Will’s ultimate escape to safety was simply a by-product. Which seems fitting. The fact that the guys scarpered without assisting her, speaks to what I said earlier, this was their relationship, she was after all Meg, an evil demon who caused them a lot of pain… But booooo! In a season where we seem to be rebuilding the “Supernatural” Universe, why did they choose to kill her off? The Meg character is meshed to the cellular make up of where we’ve been and where we are now. I’m bummed to lose that history. She felt like the last one standing…

Wow – so I apparently turned this into a eulogy for Meg! We return to our normally scheduled programming…

One of the things I’ve been enjoying about season 8, well the back end, has been the teasing between the brothers. I’m loving both of them having a bit of fun with each other again. The fact that they’re smiling regularly and smiling at their brother, well, be still my beating heart. It feels like years since we’ve seen them being so affectionately playful! Sam in particular seems to be having a good time poking fun at Dean and I’m really enjoying it. The first scene with the brothers was kind of delightful, except for the coughing up blood thing. Dean’s Doc Holliday joke was an unknowingly astute call.

I’m also loving this new honesty business. We’ve had some cracker Impala/brother scenes this season and this may have been my favourite. Dean simply saying he can’t take any more lies and Sam agreeing to be upfront from now on just, well, yay and *sigh*. I love these guys and I love where we’ve come with them. Through all the pain we end up here, where they’re laying their cards and their feelings on the table over and over. I think this has been the most honest they’ve been in like, forever. It certainly feels like the closest they’ve been in like, forever. And Sam’s cheeky come back to Dean’s heartfelt “I can carry you” line was so awesome. It really pulled me back and reminded me of “No Rest for the Wicked” when Sam told Dean he “…should’ve been jamming Eye of the Tiger right there” after Dean’s impassioned speech. Perfect come back in a perfect scene – just like Dean’s “Shut-up”. So perfect! It’s also good to know the Rudy Hobbit, like Swayze, always gets a pass!

One thing that became clear in “Goodbye Stranger” is that Naomi has no clue who Castiel really is, or what makes him tick. Killing fake Deans over and over and over (and over and over…must have taken him a while to get to where she thought she had him), was never going to be the same as having real Dean in front of him. She underestimated Dean and Cass’ friendship and she underestimated the level of humanity that Castiel now has. If there’s one thing “Supernatural” does well, it’s show how loyalty and love can conquer all. It drew John back from Azazel, it drew Sam back from Lucifer, it drew Bobby back from possession and now it drew Cass back from Naomi.

And they all happened to be facing a bloodied and broken Dean at the time, who reminded them that they were family and he loved them, because for Dean that’s the most important thing. Dean’s the embodiment of this theme. Oh my gosh…I literally just teared up! I’m not saying that it’s just Dean who can do this for people, it’s just that the Cass and Dean beat down scene is one that we’ve seen before and it’s used as a metaphor for what’s at the heart of this show. Cass learnt about love and loyalty and family from the best teachers ever, the Winchesters. He was never going to be able to stab that in the heart.

Where’s this angel tablet thing going? In fact where’s this demon tablet thing going? I’ve been pontificating theories with Far Away Eyes about what the snag to this whole tablet thing might be. There’s got to be a snag right? It ain’t going to be that simple (not that the trials are simple, but you know what I mean). Cass is off on a bus to where exactly? Is the tablet leading him or did connecting with the tablet give him a better understanding of what needs to be done now. Is he off to track down the tablet’s scribe, the Transformer angel Metatron? You can bet your bottom dollar that whatever Cass is doing and what the brothers are trying to do is going to end up being at odds.

There were a couple of really interesting things raised in this episode, like Naomi and Crowley’s past relationship. I think most of us have always suspected that Crowley is not quite what he seems, not simply a crossroads demon made good. The fact that he’s been around since Mesopotamian days, certainly would imply that he’s something bigger…even if just a demon, an ancient demon who’s had dalliances with angels in the past – if indeed Naomi is an angel (I think she is, just a special branch). Obviously the whole Fergus thing was a ruse. Is it that Crowley has been many people over his time and humanity has always been his cover? Was he simply possessing Fergus and laying low for some reason? Is Crowley simply his latest in a long line of concealments? We’ve seen his red eyes, we’ve seen red smoke, but he’s pretty gosh darn powerful, I figure he can fake whatever he needs.

The other thing was far more troubling. Sam’s health. What does it mean that Sam’s been damaged in ways that even Cass can’t heal. “Something on the subatomic level and his electromagnetic field…” What? Hmmm…. Interesting indeed! I think it’s important to note that when Dean asked Cass if it was lethal, Cass said he didn’t know. I found this whole conversation around the changes in Sam to be so intriguing. We know he’s suffering, but maybe the deep changes – the changes that are happening to his cellular construction - are something different all together. Something not bad – not lethal – a different change. Cass said damaged, but that could also just mean changed right? (Right? RIGHT!!!?)

I liked “Goodbye Stranger” a hell of a lot. I’m a sucker for great big mythology episodes and this one was a BIG one. I’m glad we’re back with the tablets, I like this story and that the Cass manipulation, as suspected, worked it’s way back around to join the main arc. I enjoyed all the secondary characters. They are after all, some of the longest “living” and most involved in the brother’s history. Cass, Meg, Crowley – they all rocked it. I dug all the interactions between Sam and Dean, even the small ones, like when they were researching and Dean said he thought Cass was lying or when Dean commented on Meg’s hair and Sam gave him the open palmed, silent “What?” which Dean heard loud and clear. Beautiful. I thought the scene between Meg and Sam was really well done. I liked how she got it, but didn’t get it! I think being able to talk to someone who wasn’t emotionally involved was easier for Sam. Dean’s always going to have a different perspective, because Sam’s relationship with Amelia affected Dean personally in a way – as in Sam was with her and enjoying her company while Dean was fighting for his life in Purgatory. That will colour every conversation or attempted conversation for Sam. Meg was a blank canvas (also a funny one). I’m glad Sam still wants a normal life, it’s who he’s always been, it’s nice to see that at least that one thing hasn’t changed and it makes me hopeful he can indeed take Dean with him to the light at the end of the tunnel (rose coloured Winchester glasses firmly on my face).

This script was tight and punchy and had some of the best one liners I’ve heard, including one that made me squee “Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?” I’m a Star Wars geek from when I was a little kid and I’m literally going to go watch A New Hope once I’ve posted this! Robbie Thompson is a lovely writer. I get excited now when I see his name pop up. I couldn’t be more thrilled that he has one more to play out this season.

And how good was the final montage with Goodbye Stranger by Supertramp. I hadn’t heard that song in years. I loved the way it was just allowed to play and then drifted off into wind and bird noises. Beautiful, beautiful work. This show is damn good TV.

So Cass is in the wind, the trust between him and the Winchesters is currently in the wind with him, the boys are trying a new concept called honesty, Sam knows that Dean knows that Sam’s not feeling so good, Crowley is screwed, Naomi is screwed (what’s a bet they end up working together) and the longest surviving demon and secondary character on the show is no more (A-wah!). Good episode was good and chocker-block!

6 episodes left until whatever horror awaits us with some God awful torturous cliff-hanger. Gah! Bring it!

Also...Dean should always wear a henley...

Also, also…I’m just going to leave this here…

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts on the episode!

See you time!

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

For all the latest Supernatural info and article links, follow The Winchester Family Business on Twitter at @WinFamBusiness

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