Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Review - Supernatural 10x22 "The Prisoner"

I started writing this on Saturday. I was at the hairdressers. My hair takes and inordinate amount of time to do…have you seen the colour(s)? So I had a couple of hours on my hands and thought I’d write up my review.

I already knew that Jared was unwell. I already knew he was too ill to attend JIB6. And along with my Aussie friends, I hoped that he’d be well enough to still make it to Australia.

Then Jared tweeted those two scary tweets.

I didn’t know what to do. I instantly tweeted him back and wrote on his Facebook wall, reaching out and taking a few moments like he asked us to. Then I sat there in shock, worrying, trying not to burst in to tears, feeling frightened, feeling helpless.

Like so many of you, I consider Jared family, I consider him a friend. But my relationship with him is unique – unique to this fandom family. Our friendship with Jared is not a traditional friendship and in those moments following his tweets, I felt acutely the real distance between how I feel about Jared and the reality of our relationship. I can’t pick up the phone and make sure he’s okay like I would my other friends. I can only message him via social media and hope maybe; just maybe he sees that I’m thinking of him. Me, being just one voice among thousands that poured love in his direction in the hours following his call for help.

My festive day at the hairdressers suddenly went to shit. I was getting my hair sorted for the Aussie convention the next weekend. But now Jared wasn't coming – but worse than that, and far more important, Jared was in pain and quite frankly, I was scared. Really scared. Scared for my friend.

I wrote off the rest of the day and went home, crawled into bed and Skyped with my friend Hazel. We talked about our beautiful Js, fretted about Jared, were honest enough to say we were also gutted we weren’t going to be seeing him the following week, and supported each other through what was a very strange and emotional afternoon.

When Jensen’s first panel at JIB6 commenced in the evening my time, I was relieved to hear him say that Jared was home and resting. I felt a little better knowing that Jared was safe, and with Gen and his boys. I decided I’d give the review another crack. So I popped on “The Prisoner”. But there was Jared – okay it was Sam – broken and sad, trying to reach out to his brother, tears in his eyes, full of pain…and I just couldn’t do it. It just felt too close to the bone. Hearing Sam saying he’d been the one out there, messed up, scared and alone. I had to turn it off. I was having serious problems differentiating between what Jared was going through and what Sam was going through. I decided I couldn’t face it. I closed my laptop and put on Thor. I like Thor. I was torn between Captain America and Thor, but Thor makes me laugh more, and I wanted to laugh.

Last night “The Prisoner” screened on Aussie TV. I half watched it. I was catching up on JIB vids…in particular that delightful vid of Jensen accidentally flashing the audience his lovely tummy! I ended up watching the back half of the episode, where Dean is killing all the things. I remembered how much I loved this episode. LOVED IT. With a passion. So I decided to give this review business another shot.

So here I am. It will be briefer than usual, my headspace is still a bit whackadoo (how the hell are we going to survive the finale this week), but here are just a few random thoughts I've been mulling over about a stellar outing in a season that has proven to be universally stellar.

Just when you think Supernatural can’t get any more painful, it reaches right into your chest, grabs your heart, drop kicks it against a wall and then gleefully watches as it slides down and slumps to the floor, slowly bleeding out blood made of pure, gut-wrenching, anguished Winchester love. Oh Supernatural, how I love that thing you do.

Call me weird, or possibly just a Supernatural fan, but “The Prisoner” was one of those episodes that was insanely painful, but bloody brilliant and amazing to watch in an oh-my-God-my-feels, kind of way.

The aftermath of the death of the wonderful Charlie was always going to be catastrophically hurty, but the brutally violent and bloody fallout surprised even me. I can’t say it was, but it totally was, but really wasn’t, but kinda was, but kinda wasn’t, but really was, absolutely thrilling…if you know what I mean.

Dean Winchester is almost gone – but not so gone that when faced with blading a friend, he stopped. He didn’t kill Cas (even though for a shocking moment I thought he had), so Dean is still in there. But the Mark of Cain has the wheel – it has taken Dean’s pain and anger and amplified it to the point where Dean is ball of red hot, yet icy cold fury. He’s terrifying…and totally smokin’.

Dean’s angry words to Sam hurt more than any words the brothers have ever said before  - and let’s face it there have been some corkers. They were words we never thought we’d hear, never wanted to hear, and sure as hell don’t want to believe. And they were words we know, that in his right mind, Dean would never say, believe or wish for. Dean is not in his right mind, and thankfully Sam knows that.

I know Dean well enough to also know this. I also believe that some of Dean's anger aimed squarely at Sam is coming from anger toward himself. Don’t think for a minute the thoughts, “If she wasn’t trying to help me, if she didn’t love me, if I didn’t have the Mark of Cain – Charlie would be alive”, haven’t gone through his head. Charlie was trying to find a way to save Dean, and Dean will be painfully and deeply aware of this. That’s how he rolls. I think that some of his anger is coming from this place, not just from a place of fury at Sam for what Dean sees as Sam’s culpability in Charlie’s death. And all of this, every single little bit of it, is being enhanced by the evil and murderous intent of the Mark of Cain – whose power has been coursing through Dean’s blood all season long.

Dean has been on the brink for sometime. Sure, he hasn’t been killing all the things, but I’ve seen his desperation to stay Dean manifesting in different ways.

Dean has been clinging to Sam almost too tightly, leaning heavily on Sam’s belief in a cure, or his belief that Dean can live with the Mark, to get him through. He’s been keeping his relationship with Sam on an even keel, surprising all of us when he’s apologised in moments we thought he’d tear Sam a new one. If Dean doesn’t get angry, if he keeps that in check, maybe the Mark won’t take hold, maybe the Mark won’t flick a switch…

A large part of why I think Dean is so angry is that he was trusting so hard, believing so hard in his brother. Believing that Sam believed in him. All the lies that went before and all the heartbreak and tragedy they’ve caused – Dean was trusting and believing that his brother wouldn’t make those same mistakes, wouldn’t make his mistakes. And so when it turns out Sam has been actively going behind Dean’s back, saying one thing to Dean while doing another, lying and working with someone they know to be evil – an error of judgement both have made - that not only shattered Dean’s grasp on hope, it shattered Dean’s trust in his brother. And that trust is something they've both worked so hard to regain.

If Dean was in his right mind, he would be angry, but probably get it – he’d do the same thing, and he knows it – but Dean is not in his right mind, nowhere near, because something is taking control of him from within.

In Dean’s eyes, Charlie was another person who died because of the Winchesters, because of Dean. She was family, full of love and life. Dean adored Charlie. I think Dean’s not just furious at Sam, he’s furious at himself, at their family, at their life, remembering all those who have fallen in their aide. He didn’t want anyone to get hurt trying to help him; he didn’t want anyone to die trying to save him and he thought he'd made that clear. 

And the Mark of Cain means that no logical thought will help him see through how wrong all of this guilt and how wrong all of his finger pointing and blame placing is. Because all the Mark wants is blood and all it needs to feed it is rage. Dean was hanging on so tight – Charlie’s death pushed him over that edge.

Of course, not Dean, nor Sam, nor Cas, nor Charlie are responsible for Charlie’s death, that falls solely at the feet of Eldon Styne – but right now, drowning in anger, drowning in pain, drowning in guilt, neither Sam or Dean can see that.

Sam is desperate; he’s terrified he’s going to lose Dean. He’s said more than once that Dean’s all he’s got. Dean really is all Sam’s got. Sure they’ve got friends out there but no one is ever going to come close to what Dean means to Sam. And Sam doesn’t function so great without Dean. We’ve seen before how that manifests. You can see the panic in Sam growing as he sees the tell tale signs that Dean is losing control surface more and more. And now he has the weight of Charlie’s death and his brother’s hate filled words all slamming his heart. But Sam is not giving up. This time he’s determined to save his brother. It’s like he’s painfully aware he’s tried in the past and not succeeded. This time nothing is going to stop him. I’m so in love with Sam’s determination. But in reality, he is as out of control as his brother is…just in a different way.

In the midst of all this is Castiel. Watching as his friend disappears before his eyes. Knowing that if that happens he will have to kill him, or watch him murder the world. Not fighting back as Dean beats him to a pulp, even though he’s a fully charged angel who could send Dean flying across the room with a flick of his wrist. Standing by his other friend as he desperately tries to save his doomed brother. Offering Sam what advice he can, knowing that everything that he’s attempting to save Dean is a bad idea, while also knowing that in the long run he’ll support Sam regardless. Because neither of them want to lose Dean.

And Crowley, who was so desperate to feel the touch of humanity again, he tried to be good…only to be turned upon by someone he had foolishly trusted. When Crowley’s eyes turned red and smoked? Holy cow. I screamed at my TV. I always knew that there was more to him than he’d ever shown us. He’s been playing possum for a long time…not letting on what he truly was…playing the frenemy card! Now he’s been betrayed by not only Sam, but also by his mother Rowenna. Hell hath no fury like a King of Hell scorned! I always knew Sam would have zero issue killing Crowley…but I think it took Crowley by surprise.

Then there’s the wild card, Rowena, who is yet to show her hand. I don’t know what she’s up to, but I’m pretty sure it’s not helping Sam save Dean.

“The Prisoner” was delicious, filled with wonderful words by the wonderful Andrew Dabb, lovely sets, stunning lighting, brilliant directing, captivating character moments, truly shocking scenes and performances that hit it out of the park even for a show that hits it out of the park constantly. Both Jensen and Jared were mind blowingly good in this episode, but I think this was possibly one of Jensen’s finest performances – if not his finest. The moment before he shot Cyrus, the scratching of his head with the gun in his hand before he pulls the trigger…I think that may be my favourite moment ever. Ever. Just for the breathtaking acting of it. Spectaculacular!

Now we’re on the brink of the season finale and I have no idea what’s going to happen. None whatsoever. Season 10 has been remarkable and I’ll be sad to see it finish…but I have a feeling next season will lift that constantly rising bar, again.

And I can't help but think, in amongst all the feels we're bound to be feeling during the season finale, we'll be thinking about our friend Jared, and hoping he's doing okay.

Love ya, big guy. Always Keep Fighting.

 For more of my thoughts on this episode - listen to The Women of Letters Podcast


  1. Can i just say I felt the same way you did when I read that message from Jared. And I am a Dean/Jensen girl but ever since he came out with the always keep fighting campaign and talked about what he went through in S3. Its like first thing goes through your head is I hope is all right. And like you I was glad to see the out pouring from the co stars from the show or basically the spn family and the fact that fans showed support by getting always keep fighting trending that night for Jared. That is when you remember how special this fandom is at times. You forget until something happens and then its like wow. And like you was glad to hear Jensen say something at the opening ceremony and then he sat on the two chairs and included the little bit about Jared in Sweet Home Alabama. Ugh Now for a not really a review it was very nice to read and I keep thinking about speculating in my head because I read others speculations on what could happen and I always go back to Eldon tossing all of Deans things in the pile about to be lit on fire. And I keep on thinking is Dean going to be lost inside himself not know who he is and Sam will have to be there to help Dean become the hero he once was; get his heart back. I have read other specuations where Dean is the tin man and needs to find the heart of a hero again. So I wonder if the spell will have an effect where Dean will have no clue who Sam is Cas the impala the bunker. He will just be lost in himself and the hero that was once Dean winchester will need to be found again. That is me speculating.

  2. Amy, thank you for putting into words what so many of us were feeling this weekend. I’ve been so sad, thinking of Jared and whatever it is he is going through. I've only met him once in a photo op, but his openness on social media and at conventions has created this sense that we as fans know him a little as a person, and care about him a lot. So his tweets were both scary and heartbreaking.

    Somehow for me the friendship between Jared and Jensen in real life, their goofiness and kindheartedness, their outwardly happy “apple pie lives,” their devotion to their families, has acted as a counterbalance to the gloom and doom of the show. If my heart was breaking for Sam and Dean, at least I knew that Jared and Jensen were doing just fine in RL. But Jared’s not fine, not at all, and now everything SPN is colored with the realization that there really is sadness behind those eyes. And if someone as successful and adored as Jared can battle with depression, where does that leave the rest of us, struggling on our own?

    I’m hanging on to the positive though, especially the honest way in which Jared is both laying bare his own struggle but also encouraging others to speak up, to ask for help, to support one another. Jared was brave enough to ask for help – the rest of the cast, other actors, and the fandom have responded with an amazing global show of support. Jensen’s beautiful words on Sunday, when he told the fans at JIBCon that “Jared is reflected in you,” extend beyond that room to the entire fandom, where people are reaching out not just to Jared, but to each other. That love and generosity that Jared has shown for his fans, now multiplied in every direction like light through a prism, buoying us all up.

    I used to watch the show and think, well, if Sam and Dean can get through whatever challenge they were up against, I can at least get up and go to work and face the day. Now it’s Jared I’ll think about – and his real life struggle carries a lot more weight. None of us have the perfect apple pie life, but we can keep fighting for it. Jared’s still inspiring us, maybe even more than before. #AlwaysKeepFighting

    (P.S. The Prisoner was awesome and painful and awesome and painful – basically everything a great episode of Supernatural should be. I have no idea what will happen next and that’s a good thing!)

  3. Thank you for talking a little about Jared and his struggles. I had forgotten that Sam had said in the episode that he had been alone and scared. That was my first thought when I read those tweets from Jared. All I could think of was he was on that plane alone and scared. I was so relieved to hear he was home and safe but it didn't really calm the worry for his health.
    The out pouring of love and support from the fandom was absolutely overwhelming. The spontaneous chanting from the fans at JIBcon to Always Keep Fighting just reduced me to a puddle. I hope he is using us as a warm blanket to wrap himself in when he is feeling down. We love our moose.
    The Prisoner...Dean/Jensen was so terrifying in his vengeance. There is no way he says those words to Sam in his right mind and Jensen kind of confirmed that. But when he killed Cyrus I think Dean crossed a line that he isn't going to come back from without some serious Supernatural help. Poor Sam he is really beating himself up and now he is desperate. Desperate Sam tends to do things that aren't really wise and desperate. There were moments when I was sure we were going to lose either Crowley or Cas and now I can't see how this is all going to get resolved or not resolved. I see another set up where we will spend another 5-6 months with our stomachs in knots.

  4. Great review. I know it's hard to concentrate on SPN after reading what Jared said (in my case I read it on FB). It got me so very worried. It's not like him to cancel anything. This season has had it's fair share of depressing moments and I know actors need to delve deep inside themselves to get to it. It can't be easy to slip out of. And, yes, I know the show wrapped a while back, but if you are the kind of person who suffers from depression to begin with, you have to work that much harder. Been there, done that. So, thank you Amy for mentioning it on your forum. Keep on fighting.

  5. I so share your views, Amy, both about "The Prisoner" -- which was bloody brilliant -- and about how it felt it felt to hear that Jared was doing so poorly. When you wrote "I felt acutely the real distance between how I feel about Jared and the reality of our relationship." -- I could so relate. I struggled with devastation because Jared was hurting, anger at myself for the energy expended (because of the one-way nature of the relationship), and frustration because nobody in "Real Life" understands, but mostly dread because I just want Jared to be OK and have no power to make it so except, like you said, by sending support via social media.

    I feel terrible for Jared, and a bit pissed at the Powers That Be for not maybe making sure the boys aren't pushed too hard. I do wonder about 3 cons in a row, in 3 countries, and 2 hemispheres. If a person's not feeling 100%, how the hell are they going to do that, coming off of an intense year of filming and constant cons already? So much rests on their shoulders, it has for ages, and I think Jensen is 100% right when he says that Jared gives and gives, and then exhausts his stores. In my imagination, Jared "cracked" when Gen left the U.K., or maybe when Jim Michaels signed a 3 year contract, or who knows... I wonder if a firm end date, whatever it was, might help, so the finish line is clear. (I bet it would help the writers plan a stupendous ending.) On the one hand, I don't want it to end. On the other, I want it to end WELL.

    As for Jared, I saw the mainstream media start to pick at him, about his "depression" and "exhaustion," and I just want to smack them, to make them leave him alone. I know it was inevitable, with how public his declarations were, but I feel so protective. For heaven's sake, any one of us in his psychological place would just call in sick with "stomach flu" for a few days and recharge our batteries. Nobody would have to know. (I call sick days "mental health days," myself.) But he doesn't have that option. :(

    One other thing you said that struck me was that you were having trouble separating Sam and Jared. Me, too! I find I don't WANT to read hurt!Sam right now, or watch it, because they are so fused in my brain. I need it to be, on some level, pretend. I need to KNOW it's not real, on some deep, rational level, while the rest of me engages with the story. Right now, Sam's suffering feels a bit too real, which is I think what you were saying.

  6. Spot on. Regarding your comments about the episode and Jared's call for help. I found it EXTREMELY difficult to separate Sam/Jared. It was such a weird feeling. I think watching the finale is going to be much more emotional because of it. What a weird world we Supernatural fans live in. But a beautiful one as well. The support for Jared was wonderful to watch unfold.

    When I saw Jared's first tweet I had to resist the urge to actually panic. I have such a feeling of those boys being my surrogate boys. I can't imagine my fears being any more real than if it had been my own sons. I had to wonder if I wasn't losing a little touch of reality. :/

    Thanks Amy for your wonderful words. I am SOOOOOO nervous about the finale. I hope I can get up for work the next morning.

  7. Again, you speak for my heart, Amy in your review of the episode. Thank you for the time you've also taken to acknowledge Jared in this review. Those of us affected by the situation are naturally devastated that he's not coming but, for myself, I am overwhelmingly concerned for his wellbeing. It took courage for him to speak out, admit he is struggling and ask for our support. He has it by the truckload. It heartens me a little to hear that he is already feeling a little better after a few days at home. Now I just want him to turn off the outside world, rest and recharge in the arms of his family and close friends, and not worry one little bit about us.

    Watching this penultimate episode was painful enough, but re-watching it after the news about Jared made it even more heartbreaking. He puts so much of himself into being Sam Winchester (and so does Jensen in being Dean) that I tend to think that part of his exhaustion was not taking enough time to decompress after such intense episodes - and we know the finale is going to be no less powerful.

    There was so much I wanted to say about this episode, but can't really articulate it at the moment. After I've seen the finale, had a good cry, and cry again on the shoulders of my lovely friends this weekend at AHBL, given Jensen a big hug to pass on to Jared... maybe then I will feel better equipped to comment on this episode and the finale.