Saturday, 1 March 2014

Review - Supernatural 9.14 "Captives"

I feel like I need to start this week’s review with a fashion blog, because excuse me GQ Winchesters! I’ve been joking that they’ve been doing some retail therapy to deal with their bro feels, but gosh, they must have some pretty swanky shops nearby the bunker! When the boys FBI’d up they were looking spectaculacular, with Sam and his jumper and coat ensemble and that overcoat of Dean’s with the checked pants and dress boots…and don’t even start me with what they were wearing and weren’t wearing (layers) in the teaser…which brings me to the teaser! I am a segue genius!

This week’s teaser was one of my favourites ever. I just loved the whole set up with the ghostly figure, the flickering lights, whizzing down the hall and through the grate in Dean’s room, Dean eyes closed with headphones on and music too loud to hear what was going on. It was like a mini horror movie! It was awesome. Then of course we had a frantic Sam, rushing from his room, yelling his brother’s name, twice, grabbing a sword as he goes searching for Dean and then BAM as Dean rock salts the ghost and deadpans “Yep, bunker’s haunted”. LOVE, the whole thing, LOVE.

Especially Sam running out of his room looking for Dean… Kind of reminded me of the sweet potato scene, right? I’ll get back to that…

This week’s episode, “Captives” was split down the middle with two concurrent stories. The Winchesters and the search for Mrs Tran and Castiel and his, what increasingly appears to be, redemption arc.

I don’t mind when the show splits the storylines like this, but I must admit again, not the first time I’ve said this, but I’m struggling to care about the angel wars.

It’s not Cas, I’ve preferred Cas this season than for several seasons and I liked the mixture of tough, kickass angel warrior Cas with the Cas that’s learnt humanity's lessons, the good and the bad ones and has taken them onboard. Castiel’s growth has been a joy to watch. I’m also enjoying the parallels between Castiel and Sam in relation to the decisions that both have made in the past and their feelings of needing to put right what went wrong.

But the angel war. Blah. Sorry. Cas good, angel war blah. I think it’s because we keep seeing these angels that we don’t get a chance to get a handle on. And this war is so obtuse. It reminds me of the previous angel war and the angel weapons of mass destruction thing, it all happens off screen and we hear about it later in bits via characters we don’t know or don’t know enough to care about. Plus angels have been almost unanimously represented as dicks, so it’s hard for me to connect with it or them.

I’m actually a fan of the angels and have been since they were introduced. There have been some epic ones…but Metatron and possibly Gadreel, though we don’t really know him yet, are the only angels other than Cas that we really have any kind of sense of. 

Adam Harrington played Bartholomew suitably creepy, but apart from the back story he gave us that filled out a little of Cas’ history, Bart just felt like a meaningless, transient character, so I couldn’t even really cheer when Cas stabbed him with the angel blade. I was more like, okay good…moving on.

So I’m finding it very hard to engage with this whole angel war business. I feel like for it to be interesting, it absolutely has to be grounded in Metatron, who I do care about…CARE ABOUT SEEING DEAD…and Gadreel along with Cas, for it to have any kind of resonance.

But Cas’ story and where that’s going seems interesting and Misha is, of course, knocking it out of the park.

So for me, the other part of “Captives” was what grabbed me…which isn’t really surprising seeing as it had the Winchesters in it!

I was unfortunately spoiled for the epic Kevin reveal. Boooo CHCH promo producers and heads of creative that let that travesty of a promo through! BOOOOO!

I love Kevin. Love him. It wasn’t always that way. I remember early on I found him a bit annoying but he grew as a character and grew on me and even dead he was awesome and I love him and I know I’m going to continue to miss him and miss his sassy backchat, because someone’s got to backchat the Winchesters and that was Kevin Tran’s special skill (along with reading God rocks)!

The interesting thing is, if Kevin hadn’t died, what would have happened to Mrs Tran? Everything has consequences good and bad. You’d be hard pressed to think up a good thing to come out of Kevin’s death, but here it was, for Kevin and Mrs Tran at least and I suspect the brothers. Saving Mrs Tran must have been at least a small salve on the Kevin Tran wound.

There was so much wonderful going on around the Kevin Tran haunting. I’ve already mentioned the epic teaser, which was epic, but how about the dinging coffee maker that Dean actually took to the forest with them! Oh my gosh, that was gold. I laughed at the boys sitting staring at the coffee maker hoping Kevin would contact them through it…until I wasn’t laughing, because Dean trying to say his piece to Kevin was heart breaking. I’m pretty sure he’s said that over and over in his head. I’m also pretty sure it wasn’t a pity party, KT but hey, you were stuck in the veil, you’re allowed to be snarky.

Here’s another thing I was thinking…with the information that Metatron has locked Heaven to the souls, it made me wonder what would have happened if the brothers had closed the gates of Hell? I mean, Metatron already had Heaven in his nasty grasp by then, so imagine that, all the good and bad souls trapped in the veil. Once again, there are consequences to every action. Not closing Hell’s gates may have been a good thing and not just because it meant Sam didn’t die.

I’m glad we got to find Mrs Tran. I’ll be honest here, she’s never been a favourite character of mine (though I met Lauren Tom in Sydney last year and she was a sweetheart, so I softened on Mrs T a bit!), but I was happy to see her storyline rounded out. I never like it when we’re just not sure if someone is dead or alive. 

I cried when Sam silently told Mrs Tran about Kevin. I found their interaction so moving; it instantly tore at my heart. Trapped for a year, only thinking about how to get back to her son, only to find out that he’d died, just added so much sad to the whole thing. I'm so glad Sam decided not to continue the lie and be truthful about Kevin. I did wonder though, if Crowley had Mrs Tran, why didn’t he use her as a bargaining chip to escape the Winchester’s grip. I’m assuming when Del the funky homosapien demon stopped seeing Crowley that was when the Winchesters had him under warded lock and key, so why not use Mrs Tran to negotiate your release? Especially as we know he had lingering humanity. Anyhooo food for thought!

And this week Dean got hit on the head and trussed up like a GQ turkey and Sam had to come and kick some butt to save his bro…I’ll get back to that.

The reunion between Kevin and Mrs Tran was powerful in its subtlety. Such a sad and touching moment. Lauren Tom totally nailed that scene. Totally. 

I also dug the interaction between Dean and Mrs Tran…apart from the fact that Dean looked MASSIVE. Mrs Tran taking the ghost of her son home because she’s a parent and it’s her job to protect and take care of her son no matter what the consequences might be was pretty much a metaphor for what Dean does in relation to Sam. Because Dean does see himself as his brother’s protector...which has become a problem for Sam.

Which I guess brings me to Sam and Dean. See segue genius!

Kevin was pretty much the fandom right? 

“Can you two get over it? Dudes, just because you couldn’t see me doesn’t mean I couldn’t see you. The drama, the fighting? It’s stupid. My mom’s taking home a ghost. You two, you’re both still here.”

Well… Here’s the thing, Kevin was mostly right. The drama, the fighting, it is stupid. They are both alive and that is a good thing. Just ask Kevin. But, “...get over it”? No. That’s not what they need to do. They need to work through it, because getting over it…or shoving it down, or putting a couple of W’s on the board and get past all of this, that’s what’s got them here, because they never, ever work stuff through and deal with their issues.

And that’s what I want them to do. Not just hug it out and move on. I want them to work through what’s hurting, together and get to a better place because of it and be happy and maybe laugh again. Being brothers is more than just being ‘co-dependent’. 

It’s obvious Sam still loves Dean and cares what happens to him and that it's not just a business relationship now. (I told you I’d get to it.) You can’t tell me that’s not panic/worry all over Sam’s face and in his voice and body as he runs to his brother’s aid in both “The Purge” and “Captives”. His mouth might be saying one thing, but his reactions are saying something else altogether. And like I keep saying, he’s there. He’s still there and that in itself speaks volumes – let alone the hesitation at his bedroom door. 

How I loved that little hesitation. I held my breath as he hesitated and then let it out in a great big wobbly sigh…

This situation has been a long time brewing and it’s not going to get sorted in a few episodes – and including this one we have had 3 where they have been in conflict and together. (I’m not talking “Road Trip” because this conflict kicked off at the end of that episode, or “First Born” because they were separated.) The repairing of their relationship is not going to have value or honesty if it’s a quick fix. “Get over it” is not going to work.

When Sam walked away, part of me rolled my eyes internally and the other part of me got it. He’s hurt and angry and he’s not about to simply “get over it”. I’m kind of glad Sam is standing firm, as heartbreaking as it is to watch for both of them, because nothing is going to get fixed between them if they just get over it.

The tragedy is, I absolutely think they both want to fix what’s broken between them but neither of them know how or what to do next. Any step forward towards each other is going to take both of them putting away their stubbornness and swallowing a fair bit of pride and neither of those things are strong Winchester traits.

They also need to use their words. We could be waiting a while…

I would have liked to have seen what Sam was doing in his room. Reading a book but not seeing any words? Just as Dean was listening to music but not hearing any notes. Because you know the only thing swirling around those angry heads of theirs in that moment was each other.

I won’t lie, I’m worried, not for the brother’s relationship because as you all know, I believe in these guys whole heatedly and believe that they love each other profoundly and that will be enough to get them there, I’m worried that this emotional isolation of Dean (and possibly the Mark of Cain) is going somewhere gnarly and without Sam to guide him back from the brink, the only way is down and dark. Then again, maybe that’s the point…maybe that’s what’s going to bring them back together emotionally, maybe that will make Sam reach out for his brother with the love we know he feels. Because it looks like it’s going to take something big to get these idjits back on the same page. 

And just like everyone else, that's what I want, desperately, but call me weird if you like, I'm enjoying the journey we're taking to get there...and yes by enjoying I mean openly weeping but hey, I'm a Supernatural fan, I'm used to buckets of tears!

Supernatural is all about the greys in life. What looks like the right thing to do could turn out very good, or it could turn out very bad. The brothers are never portrayed as completely right or completely wrong…either of them. The uncertainty of the world they have to deal with and the choices they have to make adds to the compelling nature of their story. Both of them have great big lessons still to learn and accept about themselves and about their brother.

We all react so strongly to what’s happening between the Winchester brothers, because we feel so passionately about them and whether we like where it’s going or not, it keeps us talking and thinking and crying and yelling at our TV and unfortunately, sometimes each other.

That’s the nature of loving something with all your heart…the more you love, the more you feel. Can anyone say Sam and Dean…



  1. Perfectly said. Just perfect. Your reviews rock Amy.

  2. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you have nailed it again for me. The only thing I am still on the fence on is Cass. I'm not sure I have back the interest that I had in him a few seasons ago. The rest of the angels are meh, with the exception of Gadreel and Metatron. I can't wait to see them get their comeuppance.

    It was great to see Kevin again even though he is a ghost, and I just KNEW Mrs Tran wasn't dead. I do think that Crowley tried to use her as a pawn with Kevin, but not very convincingly so they didn't believe him.

    The scene at the end was again heart breaking. The boys appeared to take it all in, but then when Kevin left it was obvious that a pep talk wasn't going to cut it. Sam's propensity to internalise and overthink everything and Dean's to try to bury stuff isn't going to get them anywhere this time.

  3. Absolutely perfectly said. You so get this show! Who doesn't see a huge Crowley double cross coming?

  4. Amy - love your review and agree with all of it. To me, the fact that people are now stuck in the veil, and can't get in to heaven, has made the angel storyline a lot more interesting. I like the "new" Castiel; there's a quiet resolve and humility to him now; his time as a human and all of those punishment resurrections have finally paid off. And you're absolutely right on the Sam and Dean stuff; this can't get swept under the rug - it needs to be dealt with and, as you said, it's probably going to take something big to get them back on the same page. Have also wondered if there are external influences (Mark of Cain ?) that are exacerbating the conflict between them.

  5. Yes I'll be a broken record also here and Amy you did again as you always do. We do want the boys to work through this and it will require more than a few looks and nods. Words need to be said and that is not something that comes easy to Dean especially. The fashion has definitely brought the pretty out in the boys, not that they needed any help there, but they sure did look sharp and it is nice to have more scenes in the bunker where they have shed a layer or two. Oh, my mind just went to a very interesting place there.:)

    I am glad they took the mystery out of what happened to Ms. Tran and seeing Kevin again, even if he was a ghost, took me to a happy place. He was so forgiving of the boys and what happened. That could have gone a whole different way there.

    As for Crowley, a double cross can always be expected from him but he sure cannot use the blade to hurt because it doesn't work without the mark of Cain so he needs Dean there but that doesn't mean he won't find some way to bone these boys (pun intended).

    Again, thank you Amy for another spot on review. I always look forward to your reviews.

  6. Amy -- I think I love you. I was so happy that Kevin saying that to the brothers (although it made me fist-pump vigorously when he said it) didn't make it all better. Maybe I'm a little sadistic but Dean is so damn pretty when Sam turns that emotional screw. And don't get me started on how pretty Sam is charging around in a panic because Dean isn't where he left him . . . . they're just fucking adorable -- the both of them. I simultaneously want to hug them and slap them up-side the head.

  7. Hi Amy,

    Thanks for the review! It's always great to get your viewpoint.

    How tall is Lauren Tom? Both Js looked huge compared to her. Watch the scene where she takes the knife from Sam. Amazing! It must have been difficult to figure out the camera angle to get them all in :) Jared and Jensen probably love to have tall guest stars so they can stand up straight and have everyone still be in the frame! And, as I said over at WFB, Wanek was smart to get the Js off set during key scenes so the guest stars could act without being distracted :)

    Thanks again!

    1. Lauren Tom is tiny! I'm 5'3" 160cm and I'm taller than her.

    2. Ha, don't I know it. I'm 4'11" and when I got my picture taken with Jensen and Jared, they both had to hunch down and I was wearing heels! Too funny. Long live the little people! :)

  8. You nailed it on the head yet again. I must say I agree with the angel storyline. It hasn't really captured my attention yet, but I'm hopeful, and I love Cas, so it's all good. But I kept waiting for the story to get back to Sam & Dean finding Mrs. Tran. The moment she finds out about Kevin's death was just so heartbreaking, just the look on Sam's face had me sobbing.

    I'm ready for the Ghostfacers now, some laughs will do us all good. Had I known the amount of tissues I would go through since the beginning of SPN, I would have bought stocks in Kleenex! :)