Saturday, 30 November 2013

Review - Supernatural 9.08 "Rock and a Hard Place"

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Owies. The pain! Here I was having a perfectly good time. There was creepy scenes, scary dungeonous pits, awesome Sam and Jody being awesome, Dean being cocky, bummed out, nervous, awkward and then…um… Olé! It was all kind of joyous and then…IT WASN’T! OhSupernatural; when you’re really good, you’re really painful!

Before I get to the heart-ripping-out Sam and Dean stuff…

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The teaser had me on tenterhooks. I was for sure thinking that Honor was about to be yanked out from under her car by her ankles! I never thought that the whatever the hell was after her was going to lift up the car! That really just started the creep because then the poor girl was dropped into a hole in the ground, waking up in the dark not knowing where she was and having to try and find her way by only the glow of a taser! I mean it really was the stuff of nightmares. Then there was the other girl scraping the wall, over and over and over until her nails were shredded and her fingers bled. Then hey, due to lack of water, why not make her suck the blood off her fingers to quench her thirst. Yikes! That was hardcore. It was all so dark and nasty in the best possible way.

Meanwhile at the church Sam and Dean were becoming virgins!

See, this is where the show excels. It manages to have this horrible scenario unfolding, one that makes you shudder at the idea of it and it sits it next to something so funny that you can’t help but laugh out loud!

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I love Sam and Dean becoming virgins, even though I agree with Dean, you can’t unring that bell! The moment when they told their reason’s for joining the purity group was such a treat. Yes, we’d all seen Dean’s overshare in the preview, but somehow that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. I swear there were more sound effects from the women in the episode than in the preview version. They seemed to be making more little noises…or was that me.

And Dean and Suzy. Watching him go from, cocky I’ve got this covered, to the realisation he was barking up the wrong tree, to awkward excitement when he found Suzy’s DVDs, to the realisation that, holy crap she’s right, she is right in front me, maybe this is going to happen after all, to the Spanish, to the hoisting her up onto his lovely hips. It was…well I thought it was fun and sexy. Seriously when he told Suzy to ask him again if he was a bad boy, but this time in Spanish, I laughed out loud…then I may have whimpered a little. (Wee bit of an over share, Amy?) 

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Of course the scene wasn’t perfect…I mean, as much as I enjoyed it I was also torn, because, well…if we’re going to have a sex scene what the hell with all the layers! (Hey, I’m nothing if not shallow and possibly facetious.) I liked the scene. Actually, I even kind of liked that they were in such a hurry; they left their gear on. I didn’t care. Dean had me at hoisting Suzy on to his hips. D-amn. And the “Olé!” in the soundtrack made me guffaw. And that gif sequence on tumblr of the whole thing… “g”

Dean’s a bad boy, always was and always will be. He likes sex, he doesn’t apologise for that and he’s even told us all about it now. Thanks for the visuals, Dean! I’ve always liked this side of Dean. He’s not a perfect character, he’s far from the perfect guy (wait, what?) and this bad boy thing has been part of his character since the moment we met him checking out his brother’s girlfriend in her smurf pjs. It’s a part of Dean’s personality that I personally enjoy and I love it when he gets to let that side of him loose and I really love, that through all his bravado he still get’s nervous and through all his bad boy moves, he comes across as tender. His life, for the most part is one waking bad dream. Suzy was one of the good dreams. I liked it a lot when he said that. 

Of course the blue flash of deity fire kind of spoiled the afterglow a little!

Meanwhile back at the motel.

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Gosh I love Sam and Jody together. They were both fabulous in this episode. In fact, that was one thing I liked the most about “Rock and a Hard Place” everyone was well written for their characters. Sam was very Sam, Dean was very Dean and Jody was even more awesome than I remembered.

I should tell you, I saw Kim Rhodes recently at Armageddon in Melbourne, Australia and spent a fair bit of time chatting to her and saw a couple of her panels. She loved doing this episode and told a few funny stories. It was the first time she’d had to do a fight sequence and she did all her own stunts. She was super proud of it. She was super proud that she didn’t need a stand-in. Like all of us, she’s got a great big crush on both the boys, but maybe a little bit bigger on Jensen. She talked about the scene where she had to hug Sam. It was the shot where she was supposed to release him and she just stayed hugging Jared and the director called action and she kept hugging…action…hugging…action…hugging… “Um Kim?” “I’m working up to it okay!?” Then she talked about how when she’s around Jensen she kind of loses it and he knows it and kind of tortures her with it. In one scene they were standing next to each other listening to the director’s feedback and Jensen just reaches out a hand and touches her. She said she instantly heard nothing the director was saying. Then Jensen as casual as anything pulls his hand back. She turned to him going, “You can’t do that! You have to tell me everything that was said now, because when you do that, all I see is THIS” and she made wild hand gestures indicating his face and body. Apparently he just smirked at her. Another time in the scene where the guys pull up in the Impala, they had to do another take so Jensen had to back the Impala out to reset for the shot. As he drove past Kim, he stopped beside her, wound down the window and winked. Kim just turned into a puddle right then and there as Jensen continued to drive away…laughing. Don’t you just love them. Don’t you just love her for being just like us.

Anyway, Sam and Jody together are such a treat. There’s a lovely dynamic between those two characters. A nice respect. Jody definitely has a kind of a nurturing, motherly vibe towards Sam and I love the relationship that’s grown between them. It’s so great seeing them work a case together. Sam’s knowledge blurting out ideas, Jody looking them up on the computer. It’s cool. 

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They had some lovely dialogue too. I absolutely adored what Jody said to Sam about his relationship with Dean. That Sam already has the comfort that everyone is looking for, in his relationship with his brother. That what they have is something special. YES JODY, IT IS! She was kind of summing up the show in one sentence…Sam and Dean; they’ve got something special. Through everything they’ve been through, through everything they’ve inflicted on each other, it’s a constant, they have something special that other people in their lives can see, even if sometimes the brothers can’t. I love it when the show is the audience for a moment. I think that ‘something special’ is about to become very relevant...

Then there was Dean putting that twit in his place – man I love it when he goes all no nonsense hero guy, the evil doer monologue (will the evil doer never learn to keep their nefarious plot to themselves?), the fight between Jody and Vesta and then Vesta lay her ET phone home finger on Sam…and… 

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Oh Sam. All he wants is to be ‘normal’ feel ‘normal’. We know he’s always felt like a freak. He told us back in “Metamorphosis” that he was “a whole new level of freak”. In “The Great Escapist” he told us he’d always felt like he wasn’t clean, he wasn’t pure, like he couldn’t be like the hero in the stories that his big brother used to tell him, because he knew something was not right with him, because he could feel the demon blood in his veins and the evil of that. But he had hope, because of the trials. He felt like he was being purified somehow, that maybe all this sacrifice, all this good meant he could finally feel whole…

But the trials destroyed him; they didn’t restore him as he hoped. He was turned to mush inside and Dean made the terrifying decision to allow an angel into his brother to try to heal him from the inside out.

It all looked like maybe it was working. Sam felt better. Happier than ever. He was running again. He felt good. But was that really Sam? Or was that the power of Ezekiel within.

In the last couple of episodes, we’ve seen Sam appear to get weaker, more tired. Something is wrong. Automatically your mind assumes that maybe it’s because of Ezekiel’s extracurricular activities – he’s been on a resurrection binge. Has this weakened the angel to such a degree that’s it's weakened Sam?

I’ve wanted desperately to believe that maybe this time, the Winchesters had come in contact with an angel that remembered that their Father wanted them to love humanity, not look at it like it’s simply a pathetic horde of hairless apes. My heart wanted Ezekiel to be true and honest. My head kept reminding my heart what show we are watching!

The Goddess Vesta opened our eyes. She told Sam and us that Sam was “all duct tape and safety pins inside”. Oh…crap. 

So has Ezekiel been healing Sam at all? Or has he just been using Sam’s energy to heal himself. Sam feels like he can’t recharge, like his battery is being drained. Is Ezekiel just a parasite, tapping into Sam’s life force to restore himself and not repairing Sam in the process? What if Ezkekiel is essentially destroying Sam. Carving out an empty vessel that will give him no trouble. Or what if Ezekiel has been draining Sam’s soul? Repairing his angelic powers to the point that he can even zap away in a flurry of off camera wing sounds? Cass used Bobby’s soul to fix himself and look how that knocked Bobby around. Is that why Sam is feeling like he is? You can seem I'm starting to panic!

Oh Sam. He’s exhausted and once again, starting to doubt himself. Starting to feel like the promise of the trials has come to nothing. We’ve seen him struggling to make sense of the feeling that something’s not right, now he's finally told his brother how he's feeling… “Why does it have to be something else, it’s always something else, we’re always scraping to find some other explanation, when maybe it is just me…I’m a mess Dean, and you know it and sometimes I feel like, maybe I’m never going to actually be all right…or this is just the way I am”. 

Of course at this point, Dean can’t take it anymore and decides his brother needs to know the truth, it’s not him that’s not right. We know Dean’s been struggling with this secret from the get go. He never wanted to keep what he did a secret from Sam. We’ve seen a few moments where it looked like he was about to spill the beans. Now Dean sees what all this is doing to his brother. Seeing Sammy go through this again, have to relive all these feelings again… Dean hangs his head, “I can’t let you put this on yourself…” wipes a nervous hand down his face and sets his jaw, “it’s not you, Sam…”

BOOM. Ezekiel. 

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Ice ran through my veins.

I’d always assumed at some point, either Sam would figure the whole mess out, or Dean, out of the guilt gnawing at his bones, would finally tell Sam. But there’s no way that can happen, because Zeke won’t let Sam remember enough to help him figure out what’s going on and Dean can’t get to Sam for Zeke. Zeke won't allow it. Any hope I had was dashed when those blues eyes erupted and Zeke said, “I wouldn’t do that Dean”. I moaned and grabbed my heart.

Ezekiel says it’s because Sam’s not ready, he’ll die if he ejects the angel now and Dean’s stuck between a rock and a hard place of wanting to tell his brother everything but not wanting his brother to die and there’s not a damn thing he can do about it. Because he doesn’t know what the truth is and he can't get to his brother because there's an angel blocking the way.

I’m starting to believe Ezekiel is essentially holding Sam hostage and using Dean’s love of his brother against them both.

Has Ezekiel been manipulating Dean from the start? Was there ever any hope for Sam or did the angel simply say there was to get himself a sweet a vessel? Every resurrection seemed to tap the angel out, the implication being he was doing a service for Dean at his own expense, but was all this simply a ruse to get Dean further over the barrel? He allows Dean to see that Sam’s not feeling great. He allows Vesta to spy on Sam’s insides. He allows Sam to tell Dean he feels shattered both physically and emotionally. Everything to reinforce what Zeke’s been telling Dean and make Dean feel like there’s no other choice than to allow the angel to stay put. 

Damn you, Zeke. I’m officially not a fan.

A couple of things have started to scare the bejebus out of me. 

When Ezekiel does leave, or is forcibly ejected from Sam, will Sam be in the same state we found him at the beginning of the season? Ready to let go of this life and move on. Certainly his current, defeated mind set would put weight to this. This scenario has been alluded to by Jared and also, with all the talk from Jensen about Dean being in a dark place emotionally, you’ve got to figure that there’s a pretty good chance that Dean’s dark place is because of where we’re going to find Sam land. I always assumed Sam would find out and be mad, the brothers would have a fight, probably get past it in a couple of episodes and move right along. Bury another hurt as only the Winchesters can. But, if Sam’s “practically dead inside” maybe it’s going to be a whole lot worse than that. Right now a fight sounds bloody awesome, because the alternative frightens the crap out of me.

Is Zeke going to shoot through wearing Sam? Is Dean going to wake up one morning in the bunker and Sam will be gone? Zeke will have just walked off with his brother. Or Dean will somehow try to stop Zeke and Zeke will zap Dean. Zeke is obviously still powerful enough to zap a room full of demons, to restore life to Dean’s dead friends…so how could Dean ever hope to stop him if he decided to just up and leave. Like leave, with Sam attached. I’m making my stomach hurt just thinking about it.
The thing is, it’s more than the physical desolation of Sam that's so troubling, it’s the spiritual desolation. He’s losing faith in himself again. He was all slumped and deflated. This is going nowhere good.
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It hurts so much to see Sam going through this again. I want him restored and feeling good about himself. Having faith in himself and believing in the goodness that’s out there, like he once did. Being the positive to Dean’s angry negative. As I said to a friend recently, being the Yin to Dean’s Yang. The balance. He’s had to deal with demon blood, being the vessel of Lucifer, being soulless, being sent crazy, being torn apart on the inside by some trials that God put forward that served to kill you if you rose to the challenge. He thought he was finding salvation from all the self-doubt that has plagued him since he was a child. Now, he’s all duct tape and safety pins and feeling like shit about himself again. (Excuse the language but it seemed appropriate). Oh my gosh. My heart can’t take it…for Sam or for Dean *wibble*

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When Zeke said he promises it won’t be much longer, maybe I should believe him. When Dean said, you gotta have a little faith, maybe I should try *grasps at straws* but this show has moulded me into something else and I’m dreading with glorious anticipation what’s to come.

Remind me again why I watch a show that causes me so much emotional upheaval? Oh yeah, because it’s awesome!

 “Rock and a Hard Place” did everything I think Supernatural does the best. It creeped me the hell out of me. It made me screw up my face and go “ewwwww”. It made me laugh out loud. It made me a little hot under the collar in the very best of ways. And it ripped my heart out and threw it against the wall, laughing maniacally as it dribbled slowly towards the floor, landing as a frightened little quivering blob, beating at a rate that’s really not healthy.

I am officially terrified.

Bring on the mid-season cliff-hanger.

I’ll just be over here rocking back and forth mumbling, “it’s just a TV show, it’s just a TV show”.

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