Sunday, 19 April 2015

Review - Supernatural 10x18 "Book Of The Damned" - I Can't Do It Without My Brother

Are you legally allowed to marry a TV show? There was that woman who married the Eiffel Tower a few years back, so maybe... Of course, I’ve been shacking up with Supernatural for 10 years now, and I’ve most definitely wanted to pop the question before, but “Book Of The Damned” made me want to drop to one knee and finally make it official! We could play Carry On Wayward Son as I walk down the aisle, and Highway to Hell as we leave the church! Because that is most certainly what we’re now on, a highway to hell, built on good intentions, wrapped in lies and deceit, coming from a place of love. Everything is Winchestery and everything hurts…so…good.

“Book Of The Damned” was just damned wonderful. It’s rare these days to see fandom collectively cheering, but this episode managed to have even the most jaded of fans rallying in its corner and waxing lyrical about a certain Robbie Thompson and his ability to absolutely capture the heart and soul of this show and every character in it. The episode left me elated and full of squee and terrified and full of dread, my heart thumping from love and excitement and hurting from love and sadness. It was that collection of feelings that only Supernatural can balance so perfectly, and that extraordinary “something” that made me fall in love with this show in the first place. “Book Of The Damned” was a thing of true beauty.

I love Charlie and it’s been such a pleasure to watch her morph from this geeky, scared, hacker girl, to someone kicking ass and travelling the rocky path of heroism with all the greys that comes along with it. Charlie wanted a quest, something epic, like in the books and games she loves. She went to Oz and had an adventure while at the same time discovering the truth of what being a hero means, the choices that have to be made that aren’t always easy on the soul or the conscious. She came back to our realm tougher, wiser, a fighter. She eagerly agreed to help Sam and Dean and set off on a new quest, one all about family, her new family.

I love that Charlie is slowly, by osmosis really, becoming a hunter, understanding what that means, understanding Sam and Dean and their world. It’s sad and awesome. Sad because, like she said, she didn’t want that life, didn’t expect it, she had very different plans, but awesome because it’s great to see these kick-ass female characters! Heroic without being stereotypical. Able to have a full range of emotions. Charlie should struggle with what this all means for her, it’s new and unknown, she should still be scared, and it’s great to see her written like that.

And of course Felicia Day is so perfectly, wonderful as Charlie. I love this character, what she’s brought into the boys’ world, the relationship she has with them as brothers and as individuals, the things she can reflect back to them, comments she can make that can broaden their view of each other and their relationship. The brothers need these people in their lives, people who can look from the outside in and give a different perspective. All Charlie had to say was “Brothers!” to Sam and the whole perspective of what Sam said and did and was feeling bad about, changed. Outside views are so damn important in this show, so damn important for Sam and Dean and their insular world. Yay for Charlie, may she forever live!

And though I never in a million years thought I’d say this, but let’s not kill Metatron for a while either! Cas and Metatron’s road trip was unbelievable fun. BAMF Cas smacking Metatron about when he just couldn’t take the incessant yabbering any more was gold! There was some damn funny interplay going on. Like a buddy movie, without the comedy, or the buddies. Go Cas! Every so often he gets humour!

I was so busy loving the back and forth between these two that I missed that the master manipulator was doing his thing and distracting Castiel so that Cas wouldn’t see the twist coming. Like I didn’t. Curtis Armstrong eats up and spits out every single word of Metatron’s dialogue with such aplomb that I got totally lost in his performance! I never saw the blood sigil thing happening, and really, we should all know better! There he was bleeding! The only weapon he really needs as an angel is a little bit of blood and a little bit of finger painting! I nearly slapped my forehead for not thinking of it! What he's got planned for the demon tablet...well it can't be good.

I cheered when Cas got his Grace back. Huzzah! He figured out the quote because Metatron had stuffed him full of all the references, which was delicious irony. The books exploding as he powered back up, the light, the burning blue eyes, the broken, tattered wings, destroyed by the fall. My favourite Cas is fully-charged, kicking some ass, tough mofo angel Cas. Yay! I’m so happy he’s got his mojo back…let’s hope he puts it to good use!

And I’m pretty sure Metatron was speaking for all of us, and for Cas too when he asked Cas who he was and what his mission was. Cas has seemed lost for a long time now, trying to figure out his place in the grand scheme of things. He’s been the good guy, the bad guy, a human. He’s forever on the outs with Heaven, destined to wander amongst humanity, never really fitting in. He’s cleaned up most of the messes he’s made as he's tried to redeem himself. He really never had his heart in the whole rogue angel thing anyway. He’s all Graced up again, so that’s done and dusted. So what does he do next? An angel without purpose is a sad thing. Sure, he can focus on helping Sam to save Dean, and I’m sure he will. I’m also sure he’ll try to fix the broken Novak family. But he’s an angel without wings, without the backing of Heaven, without Heavenly intent… I think Metatron’s words hit a nerve with Cas, and I think we’re going to see that unfold somehow. I think we’re going to see Cas have an existential crisis of the who am I, what am I, why am I here kind of level! It makes me wonder what path he will take the rest of the season, and what sacrifices he might make.

In an episode that had so many delicious character moments with characters other than the Winchesters, Sam and Dean were very much front and centre.

Oh Sam Winchester, you’re going to be the death of me. There is heartbreak etched all over Sam’s face. Even in the moments when he’s smiling at his brother goofing off and wistfully dreaming in the car. You can see that under it all, Sam’s desperate and sad.

Desperate enough to make a choice to save Dean that he knows Dean does not want. Mirroring Dean’s desperation and bad decision-making at the beginning of season 9! Putting his trust in someone he knows he can’t trust because he won’t, he can’t let his brother go, no matter the consequence of what he has to do to save him. Here it is, the journey these two have been on over the last couple of seasons, as they learn to understand each other’s choices, because they are now facing the same. Facing, understanding and accepting each other’s mistakes and their own. How I love this mirroring of each other’s paths that we’ve been privileged to watch play out through season 10.

Dean is facing being destroyed by the Mark of Cain, but stopping this from happening may destroy far more. He doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want to die, but he doesn’t want to live if the ramifications are biblical. It’s not worth it. His life is not worth more than others. Sam faced a similar thing when closing the gates of Hell, he could choose to live, but at what cost to the world?

Dean didn’t want Sam to sacrifice himself for the greater good, just as Sam now doesn’t want Dean to sacrifice himself either. Screw the greater good when it comes to my brother, should be these guys’ motto!

It’s selfless and selfish all in one. Both brothers are willing to sacrifice anything they have to, to save each other. But it’s as much about not wanting their brother to die for their brother’s sake, as it is not wanting their brother to die for their own sakes. Neither can live without each other. It’s always been fandom’s perception that it was Dean’s dysfunction that he could not live without Sam, that he could not let Sam go, but time and again we’ve seen how Sam can also not live without Dean. In "Mystery Spot" as he tried everything, and anything to get his brother back. The lengths he went to and the alliances he made to try to stop Dean going to Hell. He even admitted to Dean that he tried to make deal after deal to rescue Dean from the pit. Sam’s not good when Dean’s not around. We've seen how lost and anchorless he becomes. He’s not whole. Just as Dean isn’t whole without Sam. They may have both tried to live a life without each other, but neither of them could, or in the end, wanted to. They are Yin and Yang, two halves of one whole, they balance each other out, and they absolutely keep each other human.

“You know when Dean came to get me at school I told myself “One last job.” You know? “One more job.” And then when I… um.. when I lost Jess I again told myself “One more job.” It was always “One more job.” You know? One more job. One more job. Then I was gonna go back to law and then my life. I guess I really understand now that this is my life. I love it. But I can’t do it without my brother; I don’t wanna do it without my brother. And if he’s gone…”

I’m so passionately in love with season 10 Sam and the fierce love he has for Dean. That love is always there, but it’s so wonderful to see it in full flight like this. The way these brothers are each other’s world is what drew me into this show, it’s what keeps my rooted to the spot week in and week out, it’s why I write thousands and thousand of words about them, it’s why I have their words and initials tattooed on me. As much as what’s happening now to Dean and to Sam makes my heart ache in pain and tremble in fear, it also makes it soar and fill to the brim with love, pounding out of my chest, as I watch the tears form in Sam’s eyes as he contemplates life without Dean. OKAY, I JUST MADE MYSELF CRY!

And then there’s Dean, trying to pretend that everything is going to be okay. Hanging on to whatever tiny shred of hope comes his way. Not seeing what’s really happening to him, not seeing that his brother can see more of Dean than Dean can. The image of Dean walking on the beach, the sun shining on his face, free from the affects of the Mark, with his brother by his side, “Sand between our toes, Sammy. Sand between our toes.” Not “my” toes, “our” toes. I want that for Dean so bad that it hurts. I want that for the both of them. I can’t even with the love I have for these characters (and the men that play them, I might add.) The absolute joy they bring me, even amongst all the pain.

Jensen said in a meet and greet that Dean can’t see what’s happening to him. He thinks he’s doing okay, but he can’t see the changes brought on by the Mark of Cain that Sam's seeing. That wonderful shot with the gross nun-skin book so beautifully illustrated this. One minute we’re looking at the book in Sam’s hands, the next minute we’re waking up in the kitchen with Dean, dazed and confused. One of the many perfect, and beautifully directed scenes by PJ Pesce. He can come back over and over!

Of course, Dean’s hope was shattered when the consequences of the cure were alluded at. We can’t have fist-pumping Dean for too long now can we! But my sadness got sidetracked because I was suddenly too distracted by the ridiculous amount of pretty going on in the Gas-n-Sip scene!

Why is it that everyone who talks to Dean seems like they’re flirting with him? Oh right, BECAUSE HE LOOKS LIKE THIS!

And then he does this!

HOLY CRAP! He's so damn badassed.

The introduction of the Styne family is super cool. Jacob Styne was fantastically menacing with that dripping with honey, southern drawl…but Dean… Yeah, thank you everyone for that moment!

And as if we hadn’t had enough heart-wrenching blows to the gut, we have the bunker scene. Why do I feel like this is the last happy moment Dean is going to have? Surrounded by his family, all of whom are only focused on one thing, his survival. Sam trying to smile as he clinks bottles with his brother, but knowing he has a terrible secret, a deceit that is growing exponentially with each lie he tells. Now he’s not only lying to Dean, he’s lying to Charlie and Cas too. He's made a deal with the Devil's mother and nothing, absolutely nothing good is going to come of it, and you know that inside, he knows that too.

And The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes” hauntingly plays over the montage of what, on the surface, looks like such a joyous gathering. The lyrics so perfectly punctuating the emotion...

No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes

No one knows what it's like
To be hated
To be fated
To telling only lies

But my dreams
They aren't as empty
As my conscience seems to be

What an amazing scene. The power that these images have for us. The incongruity of them in the Winchester’s world. How rarely we see smiles, let alone laughter...even if we know all of it is fleeting.

And then the scene changes into the action sequence where we see Sam hide the book, where we see Jacob Styne acknowledge that he knows the book didn’t burn and that his family will continue to seek it out, and then we have the reveal of Sam asking Rowena for help.

So much goodness. So many emotions. This show. These brothers.

“Book Of The Damned” was one hell of a special episode. It left us on the precipice of doom! And I just can’t figure out who’s in more trouble. Sam or Dean? Or us! Probably us. Yeah us. I think we’re in big, BIG trouble!



  1. Oh yes it is we the fans that are in big...big trouble. I may not survive this one. I couldn't believe how much last seasons finale affected me (for like weeks). I am trying to prepare myself for ice cream, wine and hugging pillows.
    Robbie Thompson gets these brothers better than just about any writer except maybe Carver. These last few episodes have kicked the show into high gear and the gallop to the finish line is going to be a rocky ride.
    Great review as always.

  2. Wonderful review. This season has really been on a roll, between episodes like the Demon Dean arc, Fan Fiction, Girls, Girls, Girls, About a Boy, Executioner's Song, Inside Man, and now this . . . There have just been so many great episodes, and we haven't even gotten to the final episodes yet!
    I agree with you that this is probably the most enjoyable Metatron's been in a while. His interaction with Cas has reminded me of Crowley with Sam. The only thing I didn't quite get about the episode was, how on earth did Sam track down Rowena? Did he use a spell? Did she come to him? Maybe we'll find out next episode.
    Thank Chuck Robbie Thompson still has yet another episode in the season, I believe Angel Heart. Can't wait!

  3. I loved your review Amy, as always. I think season 10 has been truly wonderful... and I've really enjoyed seeing Sam and Dean's relationship getting back to the way it once was... I guess up until now, with Sam hiding things from Dean again. Will they ever learn? As Bobby said last week, it's so typical of the Winchesters brothers. I think these boys will be the death of us all, lol :)

    I love Robbie Thompson episodes. I love Felicia Day as Charlie... and, like you I've enjoyed seeing this character grow into a kickass hunter. Her relationship with Sam and Dean is beautiful to watch; the younger sister they never had. She fits perfectly into their world and helps us to see a different side to the boys. The scene between Charlie and Sam, where they both talked about what they thought their lives might've been, was heart-wrenching.

    Everything about this episode was brilliant - the acting, directing, sets, lighting, VFX, etc. The final scene was one of my favourite of the entire series with ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ and the ‘Last Supper’. Eek! I'm now living in fear of what's about to come in the final few episodes.

    Seriously, how good is this show? After 10 years, I’m still sitting on the edge of my seat, eagerly anticipating the next episode, but also terrified about what it will bring.

    I love Supernatural so much (in case you didn't know that, lol) ;)

  4. You know, some of the speculations I have seen has been really great, in a way that people are discussing where the finale will go and most of all we seem to have no idea. NO clear idea at all. And guess what I have seen that that does. It freaks people out. To not know the outcome. I mean season 9 ending was spoiled and guessed pretty much by all. It lost the impact. I mean even Jensen spoiled it or gave a nail to that coffin that it will happen. But the speculation and stories. I wished from those alone people would make a fan fiction book. Season 10! The road not taken!

    I loved, loved, LOVED! the Styne family. Is it really Styne and not Stein? My first thought about the family was "This is how Bloodlines should have been". So I actually cheered when you had written the same. Except I want the family to stay in Supernatural. No spin-off just a villain to recon with. I hope and wish actually that Jacob didn't die. I mean that actor was brilliant. He made the character. And with the book, the awesome compass and the family itself. Well, I want to see and learn more of them. I also loved the dagger Jacob had.

    What intrigued me about the family that it was clearly said their connection to Nazis. (Aaron and the golem) If you remember that weren't the villain in that episode and the men bloody hard to kill too? Maybe we will be actually getting a continued story to that line that fans have hoped for. That is why I am not that sure that Jacob is dead. Of course if they did burn the bodies it is another matter. Also, I wish if we get more of the family that the rest of them are as good as Jacob was. But sure thing is that they would be big trouble to the boys and the world.

    The music was spot on. Even mentioning Ironic. I hate that song btw but it fit the situation. :p

    The emotional state is bad with both brothers and I am more worried about Sam. Maybe because Dean is hiding everything and how bad he is. The thing is. We know the outcome if it is not fixed. Dean turns back into a demon. That has been said and by that I don't care if Dean was dancing in flower meadow among butterflies and rainbows because they are on the clock to prevent that outcome. The fight between can be shown what ever way they like. And Sam taking the book also is because they don't have any solutions to the matter so he will use everything that comes their way. And with the previous book he found the solution and he was able to save the day.I hope that is foreshadowing.

    I really enjoy your reviews Amy so keep at it. Don't know if you will make a podcast about this episode alone but hope you do and can't wait. Cheers!

    - Lilah

  5. hey amy,

    awesome review....I guess we've reached the part of the story where they are walking in ea. other's shoes. I think this is wonderful and so important to their relationship. I think the one thing that's always been lacking due to ea. boys low self esteem, is the ability to understand the other's perspective instead of what ea. brother mistakenly believes to be the other's perspective. As horrible as this situation is, this is what the boys have always needed. Experiencing the other's side will inevitable have them finally understanding the choices ea. have made in the past. Not that those choices haven't been similar, they have...throughout the series the boys have made choices to save ea. other out of love that ended up hurting ea. other in other ways in the process. We the audience have always been able to witness this love and get an understanding of why ea. brother makes these choices, but that's the one thing the boys haven't been able to figure out. They know they love and would die for ea. other, but they never really truly understood what is was like for the other...or at least they couldn't see it, it hasn't clicked til now....I guess because this is the most similar situation the boys share. I mean what happens to one eventually happens to the other and there's that "I get it"....but this time...this time the boys are really sharing a similar situation. Dean for years has been sidelined to witness Sam fighting an evil inside, never truly understanding what it was like for he does. So it stands to reason, Dean now understands Sam's choices and his acceptance. Sam is now relegated to that role, and now he shares the role Dean had, to stand by helplessly and watch, unable to give up on his brother. This is so important that they get to finally experience this...It brings their relationship to a whole new level of understanding and acceptance.

    I thought this episode brilliant. Loved everyone and everything about it. The possibilities are endless it seems which makes it very exciting.

  6. As far as the song at the end...I posted this elsewhere. I didn't think it was about Sam as much as I thought it about Dean. I know they focused on Sam and I know he's keeping a secret for the moment, but the man behind blue eyes, as I saw it was Dean. Dean is the one pretending here and Sam is the only one who can really see it. The harder Dean laughed, the more Sam knew he was pretending and the sadder Sam looked to me. He's running out of time, hence his desperation and his reaching out to Rowena.

    Now I know this isn't good, but and here's a but...I don't think Sam is as blind now as he was with Ruby. I can't help but find it important that Robbie Thompson specifically had sam tell Rowena that he doesn't trust her and never will. I also can't forget that quite a few times this season Sam has come up with a plan B. I know how desperate Sam is..I know dean turning back is inconceivable and a danger to everyone...but i'm not so sure that sam, given all that he's been through will be dismissive of the consequences...then again...i'm just not sure...but I do have faith in Sam.

    Leah and I are on the page that their will most likely be a negative side effect to Sam curing Dean. I was thinking that the dominoes may have already started their tumble.

    Three things happened that's important in this eppy.

    Metatron now has the demon tablet. Now whatever he does could be biblical and menacing and big trouble for our boys...and this is a consequence of Sam trying to cure Dean. He helped to get Metatron out so they can get info.

    Rowena now has the spell book...can someone say copy machine? That alone can bring trouble for the boys.

    The Stynes...The STynes, who seemed to have wrought darkness for centuries are after the book that Sam is now in possession of...that can bring all kinds of trouble..

    and let's not forget Crowley who we haven't seen for awhile and who the hell knows what he's really cooked he has the boys right where he wants them.

    all i'm saying is that whatever happens in the finale, it might not necessarily be something happening to sam or because of sam directly....what happens in the finale could've already started because of Sam's pursuit for the cure...

    just a note regarding dean's response to sam calling back to the purge....I don't think that was dean holding any kind of grudge and last season's finale pretty much had sam telling dean he lied and dean knows the truth...I think dean said what he said to push sam to stop....sam's words echoed dean's words to cain and also was a call back to him worrying about consequences later when he saved sam....and look what happened...I think dean said it as a reminder to sam...not to make him feel bad but to remind him of what he said and what the consequences of dean's actions led to...sam's come on dean...called dean out as we all knew dean knew sam he quickly changed tactics and went to this is my cross to bear...I really believe he's trying to protect sam here.

    that's it..time for work..have a good day all

    1. I agree, Anna. Sam knows he can't trust Rowena, he's not blind to that, but there is desperation in his actions which is wholy justified. He knows it's not a good move, but right now, he sees no other way. I'm not sure he has a plan B right now. These boys tend to think best on their feet. I think it's more like he will figure out how to handle Rowena once he's in the situation. The brothers are very much about figuring it out on the run, rather than having a plan set in stone at the beginning. I think he's more, "I don't trust her, but this might be the only way, I'll figure out how to handle her and the consequences when I cross that bridge."

      I totally agree with you that Dean wasn't being petty in that moment but reminding his brother of those words to remind him that he has, at least said even if he didn't really believe it, there are situations where saving each other is not worth the decision to get there and the fall out. It was to push Sam to stop and think about that in the moment.

      I saw Behind Blue Eyes as about both of the brothers too, as the camera flicked between them, the lyrics played out for them both. It's really about them, not one or the other and it's so damn perfect.

      I feel like the end of this season will twist around on Sam and where we thought it was Dean in trouble, it will wind up being Sam. The seasons seem to alternate between the brother's being in dire straights!

      Oh and I hope we see the Stynes again - not just episodically, but as a force out there that the boys have to deal with. They're the Anti-Men Of Letters!

      Thanks for the comment, Anna.

  7. glad you are still in it, Enjoying it.
    what is this stuff about Cass not having all his grace back
    WTH did I miss......

  8. "Yay for Charlie, may she forever live!" Yes, this.

    Sam is breaking my heart right now. It's so good to see him watching out and caring for Dean. I missed that, even though I know it was always there beneath the anger. But he's breaking apart trying to save Dean, and I'm breaking with him.

    Thanks for another great review.

  9. Yes, your reviews continue to make me smile! Always always always. Thank you for being such an awesome fan!, this is all heading someplace very very bad. Sam is so breaking my heard this year, esp in the recent eps. Kudos to Jared for really making us feel the emotions with the pain just etched all over his face....ah, it's killing me!!! (I so appreciate how this show allows the actors to act rather than just stuffing words in their mouths, it's part of what makes these characters so real).

    I love how you said that Sam is lost and anchorless without Dean. For so long, Sam wanted to have his own life, but he wasn't able to see or couldnt really see that no matter how hard he tried...that there was no life without his brother. To see him finally making that realization and now with Dean losing the battle with the Mark.... just rips the heart out. I dont know where this dark path is leading him, but it's not good, so very very very not good...and it's not good for us either, because we know how these writers can torture us. And October is so far away from May... sigh...

    Oh, the episode. Completely loved Charlie here. I too am enjoying her transformation as well as her relationship with the boys. They're so comfortable with her and she'd do anything for them. One of my favorite Charlie eps. Her and Sam's scene...absolutely perfect.

    Road Trippin' with Cas and Metatron. Too much fun. Not much more to say. When does THAT spinoff happen? LOL!

    Amazing episode all around. I've said for a long time that Season 5 is my favorite of SPN. It's when I found the show and how I got addicted, but Season 10 is threatening that spot for the lead. Just see how things play out.

  10. Thanks for another great review Amy. And yes, we are the ones that are in trouble! Yikes, that last scene with The Who's Behind Blue Eyes, OMG, that was epic! Now we know where the music budget went. :) I think I love Robbie Thompson. The guy knows this show inside and out, just like any fan would. And I'm always stoked to see Charlie, but boy that conversation with Sam was so sad. Not one person that becomes a hunter can go back to their old life. And we got a "Princess Bride" shout out. My favourite quotable movie! Did it look like Dean was coming from a workout at the beginning? With that beautiful grey fleece? Mmmmm, Winchesters working out. Oups, sorry, I think I drooled a little.

    Season 10 is bringing all the chills. I guess we know where we're heading for season 11 now. Nowhere good, that's where. :(