Saturday, 14 February 2015

Review - Supernatural 10x13 "Halt & Catch Fire" - Finding Peace

-by sweetondean

A ghost, a salt and burn, smart Sam, empathetic Dean, honest bro talks…weeeeeeeeeee!

Everything above is why I liked Halt & Catch Fire so much. It was old school with a helping of new school – being this new found, grown up, honest dialogue between the brothers that has been an absolute highlight of season 10 for me. They’re talking and I’m in love with it!

From the moment I first saw the promo pics for Halt & Catch Fire I was excited (yeah, yeah, I always am!). There was Sam and Dean with a jerry can and a flaming matchbook! I thought to myself, if they add salt to this picture I’m going squee! Why? Because I love me a salt and burn! We don’t get them that often anymore. The brothers’ lives have become way more complex, with way more complex enemies. A good ol’ ghost hunt is reminiscent of a far less complicated time for Sam and Dean, when the enemy was obvious, the bad guys were the bad guys and the Winchesters were the good guys full stop. Of course now, the Winchesters are sometimes bad, the bad guys are sometimes good, and everything is a morally, grey, murky mess! I love me that mess. That mess is as interesting as hell. But it is nice, every once in a while, to get an episode that throws you back to the beginning of the show and reminds you of some of the things you originally fell in love with. Halt & Catch Fire definitely did that for me, it was an old school monster of the week episode that also shone a mirror on the brother’s journey, and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Ghosts are creepy. I find them way creepier than most things that Supernatural does, because ghost stories are what we’re raised on and a lot of us believe or half believe or don’t exactly not believe that ghosts might be maybe possibly real! Like, I don’t believe in vampires but I don’t not believe in ghosts…even if I don’t really believe, I don’t totally not believe. I watch some of those paranormal shows; sometimes they’re down right freaky! So ghosty episodes tend to give me the heebie jeebies more than other creep-out episodes. Unless it’s clowns. Or dolls. Or scary kids *shudders*.

In the world of Supernatural, if a spirit hangs around too long, if it can’t let go of its life or loved ones, it becomes all twisted and broken. It becomes an angry spirit, murderous and evil. It becomes what the brothers hunt down and destroy. 

We found out about what creates an angry spirit back in season two’s “In My Time Of Dying” when the Reaper Tessa explained to Dean what would happen to him, if he decided to stay in the spirit world and not go on with her. Of course, we also saw this thread with Bobby. These spirits get attached to something or someone on Earth and don’t move on to the next plain. Consequently, they go mad. I love it when the show harks back to what we know. I love it when we revisit old lore.

There may have been something else happening here with the spirit of Andrew, other than holding on too tight to his old life and his love for his wife. We’ve never found out if the gates of Heaven reopened, so we don’t know if all the spirits are still stuck in the veil. I’m assuming they are – because we haven’t heard any different. So what this episode also did was make me worry like crazy for Kevin! Still stuck in the veil with all the other spirits (and with his mum 24/7)! Is what happened to Andrew happening to Kevin? A-wahhhh! Now I’m sad! I don’t want Kevin to become an angry spirit and get all revengey! Please don’t make that happen, Show!

Andrew not only died and got stuck/decided to stay, but he also got zapped into the wifi routers! It’s a nice twist on a horror trope we’ve seen in movies like Shocker or the X-File’s episode, Kill Switch. It gives the concept of ‘a ghost in the machine’ a modern vantage point that makes it all the more creepy because the spirit is targeting his victims through things we use everyday! Our wifi speakers (I have the coolest little wifi boombox which I’m pretty sure isn’t out to kill me), our computers (thankfully I don’t have a mouse!), our SatNavs (I’ve never trusted that SatNav woman, I always feel like she’s judging me when I go the wrong way) and our phones, (personally, I never turn on my phone’s location thingy, because I feel like I’m going to be tracked or something, because basically that’s what happens and it kind of freaks me out! I mean I get freaked out when I go to Google Earth and see a satellite photo of my car in my driveway! It’s weird. I don’t like it.) Sorry I digressed with my paranoia! I promise I don’t wear a foil hat with coat-hangers on it or anything! Anyhooooo it means that we got some pretty fun/cool murders in this episode! Okay, you know you’re a Supernatural fan when you use the term, fun/cool murders! My favourite was the exploding speaker boy! Though the killer SatNav was great too…that truck going over the cliff looked amazeballs! There sure were some nice VFX in this episode!

I loved all the boys' interactions in Halt & Catch Fire. I loved that we started with Sam telling Dean that Cas is on to something regarding Cain’s whereabouts. The fact that Sam and Cas are staying in touch via phone fills me with squee. I absolutely love it. Once upon a time, Cas was very much Dean’s friend, but now he feels very much like a friend of the Winchester brothers, not one brother exclusively. His friendship with Sam has been a delight to watch come to fruition. There is an understanding between them that transcends their mutual love of the elder Winchester. 

Dean has been running on hope for a while now, hoping that they will find a cure for the Mark of Cain, but here, he finally says no more. He’s right in pointing out that if Cain could have cured the Mark he would have cured his own a long time ago, but I’m not so sure it’s that’s simple. The Mark for Cain and the Mark for Dean are two different things, acquired in two different ways. Who’s to say that a transferred Mark can’t be somehow removed? But I understand Dean’s unwillingness to pin his hopes on that, or anything else at this point and his willingness to get back to the job of saving people and hunting things. That’s where Dean has always found solace and clarity. That’s where Dean feels in control. Doing a job he knows he does well. I love how fiercely Sam wants to help his brother though. I couldn’t love it more. And I love how Dean is recognising that and thanking Sam. Damn, these boys are so awesome; they will be the death of me.

There were simply some lovely brother moments in this episode, both together and as individuals. I assume Dean’s food consumption and complete distraction when faced with college chicks was the Mark, once again demanding to be fed, and Dean feeding it the only way he can, or is willing to. On the other hand, Dean’s always loved food and chicks! I totally enjoy the hedonistic side of Dean; I find it unbelievably attractive. So when he’s eyeing off all the girls walking by, I really like it. Like, a lot. A. LOT. I’ve always found Dean’s total love of the women and his rather casual attitude towards sex, charming…the fact that he’s so gentle when he gets a girl in the sack just adds to that Dean Winchester enigma! Dang. I’ve gone and distracted myself! He really needs to learn to eat noodles though…but seeing Jensen just about to crack as those noodles came spilling out of his mouth and seeing Jared’s perfect Sam look in response, was a delight…and please let there be more of that on the gag reel.

Sam was uber smart in this episode and I love me some smart Sam. He was all over everything to do with the computers, figured out the wifi stuff, and even managed to quickly work out the only way to save Dean when that 911 call came through. I love that he knew straight away that to get through to Andrew was to have his wife talk to him. 

I didn’t know what a Trinni was. I figured it was like a Siri or a SatNav brand or something, but I’d never heard of it, but I was pretty sure Dean would have – and known a bit more about computers than he was allowed to show here. Remember what Frank taught him, and remember he did have a dating app and a translator app for his phone! But I’ll let it slide, because seeing Sam be all brilliant was lovely and Dean had his moments of brilliance later.

Actually it was more moments of empathy. And empathetic Dean rocks. I loved his conversation with Delilah, talking about being haunted by his mistakes and how he deals, or doesn’t deal with it, and that he does his best to put things right. When he says you can’t bury things like that, it seemed to me that Dean might have somehow turned a corner (I'm nothing if not optimistic). All the self-analysis that he would have been doing over the past weeks, as he looks to a future with the Mark of Cain, and what that may mean for him, has made him a more honest person, with himself and with Sam, and now with complete strangers. Because now he knows, burying stuff may be the difference between being able to live with that nasty ass tattoo and not being able to live at all. Sometimes Dean seems like the oldest and wisest person on the planet…this was one of those moments.

As was the moment with the spirit Andrew, once again, Dean talking from personal experience…

“The more you kill, the crazier you get, the blood fuels the rage, so it looks like to me you have two choices, you can keep killing, and become something that you won’t recognise or you can move on because that is the only thing that can give you peace......pain or peace.”

Dean has lived through this; he knows the sound of blood rushing in his ears as he gives in to need to kill. I adore that he’s admitting to this and using his experience to help others…which brings me to the end of the episode.

The closing scene between the brothers was another high point of season 10 for me. I’m just so blown away by these two and how they’re talking and especially Dean, who’s never been that great at sharing his feels. Hearing Dean talk about how helping people is his peace, it’s all he wants to do and he’ll fight the Mark until he can’t fight it anymore and he’ll go down swinging…well yes, I cried buckets of tears. I love that he now believes the answer is with him. I think Sam’s unwavering belief in Dean has brought Dean to a new place with his problem, and though I don’t think he’s at a point where he believes he can win the battle, just fighting it on his own terms will give him strength and power. Dean can’t live on false hope. We’ve seen that before. He needs to feel like he’s in control of his own destiny, not that destiny is in control of him. Damn, I couldn’t be more proud of Dean right about now. 

Or more proud of Sam, heartbreak etched on his face, who you just know is not going to give up on trying to find a way to help his brother, no matter what Dean says. His resolve to find a cure for the Mark of Cain is just as strong as Dean’s resolve to find a way to live with it. This may end up being an issue between them down the track, but right now, Sam is letting Dean have the space he needs, letting Dean call the shots, because he knows his brother back to front and he knows, this is what Dean needs. But what’s a bet he’s up all hours of the night researching and staying in touch with Cas…well we know he is, because… NEXT WEEK!

Halt & Catch Fire was about as old school as Supernatural gets, without losing touch with where we are now and how far we, and the brothers have come. An old school salt and burn complete with rock alias’ and the new school Sam and Dean, talking, sharing, respecting. Have I told you guys how much I’m loving season 10?



  1. hey amy,

    great review. you know two and a half years ago I had rambled on and on in quite a few posts about where carver had been going with this show. admittedly I didn't like dean at all in the first half of season 8. for ten episodes I couldn't stand him. he angered me every time he uttered a word. I abhorred his hypocrisy and the way he treated sam. to this day I won't fast forward through all the dean and benny scenes of blood brothers and only watch sam and Amelia...and she was downright awful. lol.
    then we got to the second half of the season and it was awesome. I actually started to like dean again..i mean my anger dissipated immensely. as I watched the second half I realized the complete turn around by the point where it wasn't making sense. here he was telling sam how much he wanted normal for him...but when he thought it's what he had while stuck in purgatory, he berated him for it...every moment he could for ten episodes. what the hell is his deal was all that kept running through my head?

    so being how much I hated, disliking dean for an entire half of a season I re-watched both the first half and what we had of the second half and then it all clicked. I got it. I understood where carver was going and though it was a hard pill to swallow at first, the story, his plan is amazing and i'm enjoying every second of it. Carver tackled a monster that no other show runner dared to face, he was tackling the boys inner demons..and it is fantastic. the best villains to date.

  2. it dawned on me that dean's anger towards sam wasn't about sam at all. I mean after all what did sam truly do that was so wrong? keep a promise. honor dean's wishes...break down completely to the point of running away from the life that took every single member of sam's family? grieve day after day and anchor himself the only way he could, by focusing on someone just as broken and lost as he was and distracting himself one small moment at a time as dean had done not so long before him with lisa and ben? what did sam do that pissed dean off except not be there with him in purgatory to keep him from becoming the monster he became down there. not that he killed to survive, because we all know he had to, but to find peace in it, a calm in it and an appreciation for it. to in fact enjoy it. sam wasn't around to keep dean human and it's my firm belief that he resented him for it. it's why I believe he made benny to be more than he was. he made benny out to be the exception to the monster rule, dean's monster rule which he noted to amy before he gutted her. dean had to believe benny to be human or else dean would be a monster. no doubt a bond was formed...but benny allowed the dark side of dean, the killer in him to be free, without judgment.. in the end benny killed humans. he was what he was and always will be.

  3. so how does that get us here to this episode? why is it taking so long to make a point? forgive me as I've always been this way...always taking the scenic route instead of simply going from point a to point b. season 8 was the true beginning of the battle of the boys inner monster. all the years of burying all that crap was bound to erupt and dean is full on Mt. Vesuvius. ( did that ever erupt? lol) dean's trip to purgatory brought to surface his monster within, to the point that dean can no longer bury it or wish it away... to the point where it has him believing that a killer is what he truly is, when that is simply not the case. to the point where he would do anything to keep sam alive and with him, not only because he cannot fathom this world or his life without his brother, not only because sam has always been a part of who dean is, but also because sam keeps dean human, sam is dean's touchstone, his faith and for the most part his reason for fighting for himself because dean won't fight for himself on his own.

    so we get s9 and all that entailed and in the end, because dean is unable to face his own demons as to why he goes to the extremes he does, as to why he can't simply tell sam he's sorry for fear if he does he'll have to admit what he's truly afraid of...he becomes the very thing he's feared he always has been...a demon. if dean had stayed on that bridge. if he'd had the courage to not only face sam but himself then none of this would've happened.

    and here we are in s10 and specifically in this episode where we see dean coming to terms or starting to come to terms with himself.

  4. what do i have to say about this eppy and how it ties in with the inner demon theme and fighting the monster within as well as the both boys coming to terms with who they are and with ea. step coming closer and closer to understanding the other's perspective?

    here we have it….the walk in ea. other’s shoes. at the beginning of s9, Sam was resigned to accepting death because he saw no way out for himself. Dean kept telling him to fight, but Sam believed there was no solution. He thus accepted his fate with pure Winchester style, both with dignity and going out on his own terms. Though he didn't want to die, he saw so no way out and thus accepted for him what he believed to be the inevitable and resigned to do so his own way.

    But dean didn’t stop the fight. He still believed in a way out for Sam and thus resorted to the only way he could think of to save his brother. He knew he wouldn’t like it, he knew Sam would be hurt and angry, but alive was more important to dean… for him, he’ll take his punishment when the time came.

    So now here we are in quite a similar circumstance. Dean is now the one who has resigned himself to acceptance that there is no way out of this situation and thus will live with it on his own terms. He said he would fight until he couldn't anymore and if/when he goes down, it’ll be swinging.

    Now we have Sam who hasn't lost faith. He still believes there is a cure and Sam is not so resigned to accept his brother's situation. There was an article recently that stated Sam would be exploring his own journey on his quest to save his brother. I have no doubt that Sam will keep trying to find a way to save Dean, even if his brother has given up. I believe we will see Sam working without Dean's knowledge on finding a way to rid Dean of the mark.

    Now while I don't believe Sam will trick Dean into possession of any kind, I do believe that Sam may very well take an approach that Dean might not approve of. Sam will do what it takes to save his brother, regardless of Dean's acceptance or not.

    I love the irony that is supernatural. Sam has always shown his love for his brother by abiding his wishes, or keeping his promise. Unfortunately this has backfired on Sam and Dean ended up angry anyway...but not in the way that Sam thinks. Thus the endless misunderstandings from these boys. It seems that this season Sam is, for what I actually think could be the first time, doing what he wants to do instead when it comes to saving his brother. Sam is pulling a "dean Winchester" this go round, while dean ironically has been following Sam's lead...another example of the boys walking in ea. other's shoes. lol

    I have this visual of dean swimming in sam's boots while sam is trying to squeeze into dean's LOL

    Needless to say, I have no doubt that Sam will find a solution. I’m excited to see what it will be.

    Looks like Sam will once again have enough faith for the both of them...…

    just a note: cuz I like to play where did we see them before...I believe mrs silver is the same lady who played mrs Armstrong in wishful thinking.

    forgive the longevity of the's Saturday and I had way too much time to kill.

  5. I did like the feel of an old school monster hunt...though I don't think technology is scary....what I do find scary though is what technology is doing to our society, especially the me that was the scare factor in this eppy...

    I too squee over all the brother moments....especially love smart sexy sam....the geek in sam tickles my toes.

    1. Nappi I love your comments and I how you see Carver's epic story arc for the brothers, because as you know, it's exactly how I have always seen it too.

      It was, from the get go of season 8, about shining a mirror on themselves and who they are and what they want. About looking inwards to the things they have struggled with for years, the things that they have so often allowed to fester and poison their relationship.

      It is no mistake that the boys' journeys mirror each other, because through experiencing what the other experienced, through walking in each other's shoes, even though they may not conciously recognise it, they are learning and learning to accept.

      Carver said at the beginning of taking over as show runner, that he wondered where the Winchesters had gone in the time during his absence from the show. That he no longer recognised their relationship and that he wanted to get them back to being brothers, but on a more mature footing that was representative of their age and experience, and that is exactly what he has done. He said he had a 3 season arc and he has delivered on his promise.

      Because now we have brothers who act like men in their thirties who have been through thick and thin together, who talk like they know each other inside and out, who share because they're sharing with the one person that has always been by their side. It was and is genius and I'm so grateful that JC took their relationship and shook it up.

      It was, at sometimes, a tough journey to witness, but without facing who they are on the inside, they could never come to a place where they could accept and share who they are. As you said, facing their own inner demons in their own way was the only way they could overcome them, or at least understand them and become wiser and more complete men.

      If this had not been such a tough journey, or if it had happened in one season, this would never have felt so real and certainly would not have been so rewarding. People don't change overnight, but watching Sam and Dean change over a period of years makes the story grounded in a reality we can all understand.

      I never doubted where the story was going for a moment, I understood what was happening every step of the way, I shouted about it and was constantly shouted down (and consequently moved along).

      But that's why the last few seasons have been so exciting for me, because I could really see the genius of the storytelling unfold before my eyes.

      I never lost faith...I had enough faith for the whole fandom! And here we are with the brothers as we have them today, as we've always wanted them. always wished they could be for us and for each other, and I love them even more...and I wouldn't have thought that was possible!

      I also believe Sam is going to take his own journey with the Mark - I read the articles too, but you can also see those seeds being sown and though this may cause some conflict, I also feel that the boys are in a place of far better understanding of each other and their relationship, and relationsip needs, and so I no longer fear that conflict.

      Watching these two find each other again has been a profoundly emotional experience.

      Thanks for your always awesome commentary!

  6. Boy Anna, you weren't kidding. I think I don't have much to say after that. :)

    Anyway, good review again and the excitement you give really sticks on. I have had trouble again not because of the episode nor Supernatural but because some online stuff and it has got me down a bit. Anyway, you lift the spirits of a lot of people and that is only a good thing.

    Keep on going and doing what you do.

    - Lilah

    1. Hey Lilah, like you said to me yesterday, don't let them get to you!

      Thank you for always making me feel better in the face of that crap that we so often see swirling! And thanks for your support!

      Keep loving Supernatural and screw those downers right in the face! ;)


    2. I am glad that we have a place to do it. Next episode seems awesome! Can't wait for your full preview.

      - Lilah

  7. I was so excited by the old school feel of this episode, too, but as you said - the brilliance in the writing comes in showing the boys in an old school situation with 10 years of battering and hard won maturity at their backs. I am loving caring Sam and struggling Dean. I have to admit, I'm feeling terrible for Dean... Last week, he told Tina he was "a functional alcoholic." I remembered that line while driving to work the next day, and burst into tears. It just hurts that this beloved character truly has been so battered. That made it even sweeter when he showed such wisdom, self-awareness, and empathy in this episode. :) BTW - see you in Vegas! -- Freya922

    1. Yeah, the functioning alcoholic and the how he deals is with whiskey made me helluva sad too. But his self awareness these days just makes him seem stronger somehow. And the Mark seems to have repaired something in him...which is the most interesting thing to come out of all of this. He's come out swinging, and though I don't think he believes he can win, at least he's going to fight - within himself - and live his life on his terms for as long as he can. I love this. It shows such inner fortitude and it's great to see Dean like this - it's been a while.

      See you in Vegas! Not long now! Make sure you find me! Seat C33 :)

  8. Coming for my weekly dose of happiness here at the blog! And totatlly enjoyed reading everyone's comments too. I've learned to stay away from places like Spoiler TV where there's so much negativity you have to wonder why some still watch the show...but your blogs...YAY!!! Happy time again!

    I found this episode might be one of my favorite monster of the week eppys in the entire series. It allowed to the show to remember it roots, and allowed the boys (Dean mostly) to remember what they are here for...saving people, hunting things... And I'm glad Dean has found (for a short time at least), his peace with the Mark.

    Sam on the other hand, you can tell with that last look before they pulled away in the Impala, he's not so ready to give up on a cure/fix/whatever. I wonder how far and how deep it'll take him at the end of the season.

    Loved the idea of the ghost using the wi-fi, the writers did a nice job of making that work instead of making it seem completely far fetched. And awesome special effects, esp with hubby-ghost.

    The continuing saga of Sam's hair always makes me laugh. How can one man have so many different looks in 10 season of hair? LOL! Was watching Something Wicked from Season 1 the other day...can hardly recognize Jared anymore, he was such a youngin back then. Ha!

    Beautiful camera work in the last scene, the sun just right on Sam's hair and shading Dean's eyes lighter when he turned his head. I think the entire crew outdid themselves in this one.

    And yeah, the boys, finally realizing that they need to be honest about things. All those hellish rough patches over the years, they've finally matured to where they neeed to be with the world and each other. I'm sure there will be some more rough patches ahead in as we head to the finish line of Season 10, but I'm loving Dean's honesty with himself and Sam, and Sam's fierce (if now solo) determination to free his brother from the Mark.

    Season 10 is really coming together nicely. Can't wait to see Cain's return next week. Timothy O's hair alone will be worth it! LOL!

    1. Tim's hair needs its own credit! :D

      Thanks for your comment!

  9. "My peace is helping people." My stomach literally flip flopped when Dean said that. I love the interactions between the brothers all the time, but this season has been extra special.

    As always, your reviews are great! Thanks for taking the time to share them with us.