Saturday, 26 October 2013

Supernatural Season 8 Binge-Watch: A Flash Review.

I just finished my annual (sometimes bi-annual but the longer the show goes the tougher that is) series rewatch. Season 1 - 8. Every episode. Even those that make me wince a little.

When I got to season 8, I realised I hadn't watched the entire season in one hit since the season finished, which is unusual for me. And getting to it after watching seasons 1 - 7, I felt like I was seeing it with fresh eyes. So I binge-watched it! Bam! Then I thought to myself, Self, how about doing a flash review, a quickie few lines (or so) on what my random thoughts were on each episode as I revisited them. 

I often find episodes grow on me with repeat watching and some grow to irritate me (a little, none irritate me too much, except that damn mannequin one. Stupid mannequin episode.) I will say that, though there are a couple of episodes that don't pop my cork in season 8, this is the first season since 5 where there hasn't been an episode that I actively want to avoid. I merrily watched each one without thinking, damn it, I have to watch it because it's a rewatch and I'm committed! So for me, that says a lot about the overall quality of season 8.

Oh, I should also say, I haven't gone back and looked at my wrap-ups and what I thought at the time of the first screening. 

Anyhoo, here we go. A quickie look (well as quick as I ever am) at season 8, complete with an anti-possession ranking out of 5!

8.01 We Need to Talk About Kevin

Strong opener. I loved how this one started with the big sweeping shot of the forest and Dean bursting forth from a bright, white light, looking unbelievably smoking hot all covered in Purgatory gack. Swoon. This premiere episode set up a lot of stories that would be visited throughout the season, Benny, Sam and Amelia, Sam's controversial decision, the missing Castiel and the one that became the main arc (outside of the brother's relationship), the tablet. Chock-a-block. I think it's a ripper! Wait, did I just speak Australian? I think it's a very good opening episode.


8.02 What's Up, Tiger Mommy

Look, try as I might, I really don't care for Mrs Tran. I find her super irritating. Even in this first episode. I think first time around I was like, oh she's sassy that's fun and all that jazz, but I guess as I'm now impacted by her in later episodes, she gets up my nose. Other than Mrs Tran, I thought the episode was cool, though I seriously wished Dean stabbed her when she was Crowley. Too harsh? The interogation scene, cutting back and forth between Dean questioning the guy in the present and the monster in Purgatory was so nicely put together and I think the scene where Dean finds Cass by the river is one of the finest scenes the show has done. The direction, the cinematography, the performances, that scene, right there, is why I love this show with the passion of a thousand fiery suns, because i's just that good.

 3.5 STARS

8.03 Heartache.

As Hugh Grant said in Notting Hill, oopsy daisy. Because this is a Jensen directing effort I want to love it, but yeah, I don't. It's okay; it doesn't make me gnash my teeth or anything…except one line. I totally dislike when Sam holds up the piece of fruit and goes, "Farmers market. Organic."  Wise ass! It feels weird as hell to me that line. It makes me strangely uncomfortable. Also, I get totally distracted by how brown they both are. I literally find it hard to concentrate on anything beyond the tan. They are so brown! There are some good ideas here, like the parallel between Brick Holmes' life and Sam and Dean's lives, but as usual with these writers, it misses its target. It may well be my least favourite of the season. (Sorry Jensen... I still love you bb.)


8.04 Bitten.

I think this episode is awesome. I know most people don't, but I like it a hell of a lot. I like the origin story, I like the lovebirds (the other kid I can take or leave), I like seeing how the brothers are seen from the outside, I like that song that plays beginning and end, I like the way its shot and I love that the brothers let Kate walk. I hope we see her again. I totally dig this episode. So there.


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8.05 Blood Brother

For me this was the first, totally kick ass episode of the season. I liked getting a bit of a look at Benny's back-story and seeing his relationship with Dean. I liked getting to see how Sam and Amelia connected, it helped me understand what was going there, because I saw what they must have seen in each other, damage. I love, love, love the scene where Sam figures out Benny is a vampire. Love. Love that little headshake from Dean. That scene's a cracker! This is an episode I've already revisited numerous times.


8.06 Southern Comfort

To be honest, this episode leaves a bad taste in my mouth and to be brutally honest, it has nothing to do with the episode and everything to do with the fallout. It launched a term that by the season's end, I actively wanted to salt and burn and the aftermath resonated longer than I thought possible. Here's hoping we've all let it go. Consequently, the whole thing makes my teeth ache and it's not really the episode's fault. If I can separate myself from the bad juju, I quite like it. I kinda like Garth; he's grown on me like he has on Sam and Dean. I like what he's trying to do here. I don't think he's trying to replace Bobby; rather he’s trying to emulate him, which I see as an act of love and respect. I also see Dean's issues with this as his still grieving. Bobby's death is still an open wound. It's the first time I noticed how glowy Sam's flashbacks were, making me feel that the relationship wasn't realistic and the memories were romanticised and heightened by his desperate need not to go through anymore hunting induced trauma. I do wish Dean hadn't spat forth all that gunk under the spectre's control. As soon as he started I went, ugh. Internet bells ringing in my ears. It was one of those moments which made me want to shush him. Oh God, stop talking! I didn't care for Sam's little dig at the end about killing Benny either. I thought that was unnecessary. Sure he was pissed and hurt and he had every right to be, but yeah, let's just keep escalating it shall we? I guess that was the pissed and hurt talking. They both behaved in ways I'd prefer not to see again, thanks so much. I guess it served some purpose...other than to stab us in the push their relationship towards that breaking point, that left them to face a decision, pick up the pieces and try to heal. And I don't mind a little painful brother stuff. Now let's never speak of it again. Please.


8.07 A Little Slice of Kevin

I watched this straight after Southern Comfort and you know what struck me, why are they being so nice to each other? They were so cross in the last episode, or at least at the end there Sam was mighty pissed! I understand why Dean(ial) would be sweeping it under the rug like a crazed cleaning man, but not Sam. None of the angst carried over into this episode. I struggled with that. But as I know these guys can bury their crap like no one else, I rolled with it, over the bumps. On the flipside, I was glad not to have the angst and have them being relatively pleasant to each other. It was a bit of a nice breather! There were a couple of lovely moments between them. Sam was being empathetic and supportive, which I liked. Also he had bare-feet, track-pants and a v-neck t-shirt on at one stage, which I REALLY liked. The Naomi grabbing Cass reveal was great. It was so totally jarring. I loved the way that was done. And the line “You can't save everyone my friend, though you try. Gah. Love. He speaks the truth. I remember Dean got a lot of stick after this episode, for thinking he left Cass behind and apparently creating his own guilt, but I totally could see why he thought he was too blame, why he thought it was because he couldn't hold on to his friend. Why he was angry and disappointed in himself. In that circumstance, with everything that was happening around him, it all must have been a confusing blur. I have no issue with it, or with him (sshh you lot!) Another thing I liked about this episode was how brutal Crowley was. Poor Kevin and all, but yay, King of Hell was being a prime dick and not just a sassy smart mouth. I liked that. About time. I enjoyed this episode more than I remembered, even with the incongruity of the brother's relationship at the beginning. Oh and this one totally cemented my Mrs Tran is a pain in the ass feelings.


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8.08 Hunteri Heroici

Yay! The first fun one of the season. Watching all these episodes back to back, I think I sighed out loud when I got to Hunteri Heroici. Great fun. Great guest star. Lovely ending with Cass and Fred listening to the music in Fred's mind. I didn't much care for Amelia's dad though. He was way mean to Sam and it was totally unnecessary and kind of cliche. Oh, and the cat was EPIC.


8.09 Citizen Fang

Oh, I really dug this one, as hurty as it was. You know me, I kind of like the hurty ones. One thing I didn't like was Martin. I found myself wondering if he was always like that, you know, before the crazy. We were all assuming he was still a tad on the not-quite-all-there side, but I'm wondering now if he was always a single minded tool, refusing to see anything but what he chose to believe. Maybe that's who he always was. He was much nicer when we met him in the mental hospital! I hated the way he spoke to Sam. I hated the way he spoke to Dean. I loved the way Sam and Dean ignored him as they spoke to each other. All the exchanges between Sam and Dean were painful, though. Lots of wilful misunderstanding, lots of hurt feelings. I get why, but it still hurt to watch. I wish Sam had taken a moment to put a bit of trust in his brother's instincts. I found it odd that he wouldn't even give it a moment's consideration. He seemed very black and white on the subject. Though he did give Dean that time to go speak with Benny, which I loved. I just see Sam as so angry by this stage and on binge-watch; you can see that frustration mounting episode to episode. I was glad Dean stuck fast to his belief in Benny and, sorry, but I was glad that Benny took Martin down. He makes my blood all boilly, not as bad as Gordon, but in the ballpark! As for the text thing. Yeah, not Dean's finest hour. regardless of his intention and I am glad he got Sam and Benny apart from each other, but not his finest hour, as he later admitted. He obviously didn't think through the emotional ramifications for Sam, he should have. It was way smart though...just sayin'.


8.10 Torn and Frayed.

I liked this one too. I like pain! Obviously, because I'm a fan of this show! I find the opening scene super frustrating as the brothers bump heads. I want to bump their heads together! Damn they can be annoying. And I'm talking about both of them. But Lord knows, we're used to it! The thing is, both had valid points, so I get the impasse, but still! I know there is all the Cass and Alfie stuff in this one, but I only see the brothers and where they're at with their anger and disappointment, hurt and mistrust. And yet when it’s important, they’re still able to work together and have each other's backs and in the end, come together and move forward. I will always see this as them choosing each other and committing to repairing their relationship over simply choosing the job. Maybe I have those rose coloured glasses on again, but for good or bad, they are the most important people in each other's lives, their relationship is the most important relationship they have, I totally get why they'd want to try to make it right again. It must be incredibly painful for them when it's not. It's a shame it's all at the expense of other relationships, but at that point in time, I get it. I also think the Amelia relationship had served its purpose and run it's course (for us all!) Sam and Amelia were two people suffering deeply through loss, who clung to each other as they struggled to survive the day to day. They both lost the most significant people in their lives. But when those relationships are returned to them, is what they had as meaningful. Had Don not come back, would Sam have chosen Amelia and walked away from the life? My money is on no. I think she filled an empty sadness in him, Mrs Right-Now. He probably did the same for her. But when that emptiness was no longer there? Thatâ's my deep and meaningfuls on it anyway.


Let me pause here for a minute, because this season definitely feels like a season of two halves. That can also be said for season 6 and season 7. All of the last three seasons seem to kick off with a storyline that is resolved at the end of the first half of the season (roughly), which then allows the remainder of the season to solely focus on what was actually the main arc.

You know what's funny? The whole Amelia thing. I barely noticed it on binge-watch. What that relationship created in the brother's dynamic came across as the real story behind the Amelia relationship. How it changed Sam, how it changed Sam and Dean and how they interacted with each other and how it changed Dean and what that meant to the season finale. Because had Sam not experienced that relationship and what that reignited in him, had Sam not opened up about still seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, still wanting a life after hunting, maybe things might have turned out differently. Because no matter what Dean says about not seeing that light, Sam's change of attitude definitely rubbed off on Dean. In the end he came to the conclusion, nothing is worth sacrificing their lives for any more and that felt like hope. Maybe that was the point...

The first half of season 8 is hard work. I don't mean that it's not good; it's a strong season for me. But it's painful. There are a lot of hearts breaking in the first half of season 8. There’s a lot of anger and a lot of hurt and a lot of harsh words and a lot of not considering each other’s feelings. I actually like the first half of season 8 though. A lot. When I binge-watched, like I did, for the most part I found it cohesive with a solid thread, but I have to say, when I got through episode 8.10 I felt like I'd run a marathon! Talk about putting us through the ringer! I was ready to sit back, kick my shoes off and relax! I felt like I'd put in the hard yards and now I was about to reap the rewards, because damn it, I deserved them! Maybe that was the point too.

8.11 LARP and the Real Girl

I love Charlie. Love her. I'm so glad we have her. She's one of my favourite characters. Though the faerie story isn't that strong, the rest of this episode rocks. Bright, sassy lines, fabulous pop culture references, Dean in a fun get up, a lovely brother moment which opened the way for a bit of emotional equilibrium, for all of us. Really, it has all the elements most of us love about Supernatural. Plus that end scene is to-die-for awesome. Bless, bless, bless! And Dean looks smokin' in chainmaille and Sam has a ponytail. WIN!


8.12 As Time Goes By

Three words. MEN OF LETTERS. Love.


8.13 Everybody Hates Hitler

Outside of the season finale, I think this is my favourite episode of season 8. There is something about this episode that makes my heart sing. Aaron and his Golem rock. The Men of Letters bunker rocks. Barney Miller rocks. Sam warming his hands over the burning body of the Nazi Necromancer rocks so hard. The fact that I just wrote Nazi Necromancer rocks! The dialogue is fun and snappy. The songs at the beginning and at the end are perfection. The final scene with the brothers in the war room, Sam busy making notes and Dean just sitting with him, feet up, sipping his whiskey, enjoying the moment. KABOOM. Heart explodes. This is Supernatural at its close to perfect best. Oh man, I want to watch it now!


8.14 Trial and Error

Now we get into the nitty gritty. Now it all starts to go pear-shaped again. Oh well, we had 3 episodes that didn't rip our hearts out, that's a streak inSupernatural terms! I didn't mind that Sam got to do the trials. It seemed kind of fitting somehow, being as it was about the gates of Hell and all. I'm not one of the Dean fans who think Dean needed to do the trials because he doesn't have a story. I think he has a story. It's called Supernatural. I also think what happens to one brother happens to the other. Dean was doing the trials alongside Sam. They needed each other to succeed, like they always do. So I was totally cool with how this played out. I loved that we got to see the hellhound, nice effect. I loved that we got a sense of what the tablet was all about and now had our mission. I loved the speeches both the boys gave to each other. Dean’s so broken resolve filled desperate, Sam's so hope filled desperate. Both reaching out to each other as the people they’ve always been. Dean disregarding himself in his hope for happiness for Sam. Sam having enough hope to carry the both of them. GOD DAMN I LOVE THESE TWO. Oh and the glasses were genius and so hot. I want to kiss Andrew Dabb for those glasses. He needs to layoff the sassy dialogue though, it can be a little muchy in parts.


8.15 Man’s Best Friends With Benefits

Ah the one everybody hates. I didn’t hate it. It wasn’t the worst episode ever (see: Mannequin episode), but I’ll grant you, it was not great. I think they didn’t think the whole making-out-with-his-familiar-who-happens-to-sometimes-be-a-dog thing. Not the best of taste. The dialogue is clunky. Sam and Dean’s interactions are strained and off. The cat allergy thing was left of field. The guys seeing their histories flashing before their eyes was poorly considered and felt disrespectful. But for some reason I still dislike Heartache more. I think it’s that “Farmer’s Market. Organic.” line. Man that sets my teeth on edge. Hey, they’re both written by the same duo. What can I say.


8.16 Remember the Titans

This is kind of pathetic, but I learn all my ancient Gods stuff from Supernatural! It's probably not the best classroom! I found this episode pretty meh on binge-watch. One of the few scenes I loved was when Sam and Dean were talking about how there was no case and we could see through the window into the morgue as the dude got up and walked away! Gold. I also loved how Dean embraced the MoL and actually got kind of braggy! Adorable. Of course, the best bit of this episode was Dean’s prayer to Cass. It's such an amazing scene that it kind of feels like it doesn't belong with the rest of the episode, which is a bit on the average side. But that scene. I remember the first time I saw it I howled! It's beautiful. And the fact that I got the chance to discuss it with Jensen, has now made it like this perfect moment for me. I watch it with him talking in my head (what's new.)


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8.17 Goodbye Stranger

The only thing I don't love about this episode is that they killed Meg. A-wah! Why, Robbie. WHY? But other than that, this one rocks big time. It basically has everyone in it, which is always awesome. It revealed a lot about what was going on with Castiel and the tablets. It had a killer opening scene, like literally! How good was that, with the killing of the hundred Deans! It had one of my favourite lines ever, "Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper" (Why, Robbie, why!) Oh and also, "You know, I can hear you both. I am a celestial being" BAHAHA! I liked Sam and Meg having a moment. She has been up inside him for a whole week, after all. I liked Cass and Meg having a moment. I loved the brother's little Rudy Hobbit moment in the Impala. Awww. I love it when they don’t let the other one get away with being soppy *sigh*. And I loved the way it ended with "Goodbye Stranger" bySupertramp and how the song just sort of drifted out as the bus goes into the tunnel. Lovely.


8.18 Freaks and Geeks

The one thing wrong with this episode is Krissy! Too harsh? She's like Mrs Tran for me, the more I see her, the more she rests on a nerve. A junior Mrs Tran. But my main problem here, other than Krissy, is that this episode halted what felt like the beginning of something epic, it seems like it should've been before Goodbye Stranger. In binge-watch, I felt like, "Get out of my way, episode, we have trials to do!" Other than that, it was okay. Not the best story. I guess it was trying to hammer home, with a whacking great big mallet, the concept of a hunter being able to have a normal life, or not, as the case may be! Clunky. Mr Glass is not subtle with his subtleties.


8.19 Taxi Driver

Holy crap. When this one came up in the binge-watch I remembered all the kafuffle about canon. But boy howdy, I really dug this. I was left scratching my head again at why it got such a trouncing. I was gripped. Gripped I tells you. That Dean/Benny scene alone was worth the admission. Not that I paid admission or anything, you know what I'm saying. Heart breaking stuff. And I loved Sam having to go through Purgatory and getting a bit of a peak at it and I thought the section of Hell they created looked really cool and I loved getting Bobby back for a hot minute and I thought the twist on the rebel reaper was neat, because I've always loved the reapers. I was super happy that Sam got a glimpse of the real Benny, hey, he doesn't have to love the guy like Dean does, but at least now he understands what Dean saw in Benny. Tick that off the to do list. And the power of that hug. Man, you could hear their bodies thwack together as Dean grabbed Sam and hauled him in. Love. If I had to pick at it, it wouldn't be about the canon; it would be that Purgatory felt like it was having a monster free day. I would've like to have seen Sam hacking heads as he made his way through, because that would’ve been appropriate and also mind blowingly hot, I would imagine. But all in all, this is one of the best of the season for me.


8.20 Pac-Man Fever

Oh Robbie, please keep dressing Dean up. Thank you. Once again, Charlie is awesome, but I said that. I liked the theme of this one, letting go, which Dean did in the end, but not the way Charlie did. It also had my favourite hug of the season, surprise hug…the best hug of all! I loved the Dean/Charlie hugs too…and the kiss on the head. The closing scene with Charlie reading to her mum nearly did me in, having not long ago lost my dad. The MoW was a tad obvious, but as usual, this wasn't the real story, the real story was what Charlie could teach Dean about holding on too tight. All in all, very *sigh* worthy.


8.21 The Great Escapist

Oh my God. Sam and his not being clean thing. Devastating. He breaks my heart in two. Beautiful script. Beautiful performances. This kind of episode is why I Iove this show so much and why I think more people should be damn well watching it. And this beautiful writer has gone and left us…which makes me a sad panda... This episode got me thinking so much. About Sam and about John and about how John told the YED he’d known for awhile about Sam and if Sam could feel it, was it because he could feel what was coursing through his veins, or was it because John had figured it out a long time ago and was unintentionally giving off vibes, which is why Sam always felt like a bad fit with the family and why John didn't want him going to Stanford, not because he was worried for his safety, but because he was worried what he'd become without the elder Winchester's supervision. Gah. It made me think and think about Sam and about John and about how Dean was oblivious to all of this because he simply loved his brother, full stop… Damn good stuff. No other show makes me think like this one. Plus, the line "When you create stories, you become gods of tiny intricate dimensions unto themselves" is one of the most perfect lines I've ever heard. It goes hand in hand with Edlund saying that the Golem's voice sounded like church bells rolling down a hill; who says and writes stuff like that? Ben Edlund that's who. KRIPPPPPKEEEEE! *SHAKES FIST IN FURY*


8.22 Clip Show

Wow. The scene where Sarah dies was so damn stressful. What a fantastic scene. I think I stop breathing along with Sarah. And Crowley's speech droning on the whole time as the boys frantically search. Good stuff. I love the idea of being able to cure demons. It could open up so much for the brothers and gives them a great tool. I loved getting to see more of the bunker; having a dungeon is awesome (as we'll no doubt see in season 9). I wish they'd used their great big Winchester brains and not left Abaddon alone. They're smarter than that. I would have felt better if she'd fought her way out instead of escaping because the Winchesters were dunces! I also wish Cass wouldn't have wandered off…again…but that/s not the writing, that's Cass! Frustrating angel that he can be. Back to back with The Great Escapist, this didn't feel as strong as it could or possibly, should have been, but it was a solid episode that steered us well towards the finale.


8.23 Sacrifice

My love for this episode grows with each time I watch it. I love it. It's a toss up between this and Swan Song for my favourite finale and a toss up between this, Swan Song and Faith for my favourite episode, changes with the mood! I adore every single second of Sacrifice. Sam is so heartbreaking in his devastated state, as he tries so hard to do what they set out to do. So sick and so sad. Crowley and Sam's scenes are pure gold. Jared and Mark together are stunning. Cass' epic fail makes me hurt for him. He means well, and look where it's got him again. And the brothers finally had the conversation I'd been waiting for since demon blood became a beverage. Finally sharing what they really do mean to each other. Sam finally telling Dean how much he hurts, Dean finally telling Sam, never doubt his love. No one does this stuff better than Jensen and Jared. ARGH! I LOVE IT (and them). And then they just let it go, we'll figure it out like we always do, I got you little brother, huddling by the Impala and the sky falls. The absolute beauty of that scene, with Cass wandering through the forest looking skyward and Dean holding Sam as he looks to the Heavens which are raining down upon them. And the angels shooting through the sky like comets. My god. What a scene. What a season finale. What a show!


So that's it. There's my binge-watch random thoughts on the episodes of season 8. I love where this season took us and where it got us to. I love how the brother's relationship progressed through the season and where they landed. I only wish that'd be where they/d stay! But I know thinking that's gonna happen is setting myself up for a painful fall! But what/s new. This is Supernatural after all!

Thanks for reading

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