Sunday, 13 December 2015

Review - The Supernatural Season 11 Midseason Finale "O Brother Where Art Thou?"

-by sweetondean

Oh my God. Hellatus always hurts…always…but when you’re left with Sammy in the cage facing Lucifer, a single tear trickling down his cheek…well that’s just damn cruel, Supernatural! Damn cruel and painful and shocking and really kinda awesome. Really kind of awesome that after so many years, I can still be a mixture of all these feelings, and still feel so shell-shocked and terrified for the characters I love. 

“O Brother Where Art Thou?” left me a nervous wreck. By the time the episode had finished, my heart was racing and I’m pretty sure my hands were over my mouth, muffling a scream of NOOOOOOOO! 

I always figured it was Lucifer speaking to Sam, not God. I always figured that when the Darkness was released, that had an impact on either Lucifer or Hell or both, enough to allow Lucifer to project out, to contact Sam. I didn’t know how, but it’s just what I assumed was going on; especially considering the connection the Darkness has to Lucifer.

It was when Young John Winchester professed, “I could never fool you” that this thought process locked and loaded for me. This felt like the relationship that Sam had with Lucifer, (I feel like Lucifer said something very similar to Sam at some point though I can’t remember or think of where). We’d seen Lucifer come to Sam as Jess to try to cajole him into saying yes, just as he came to Nick as his dead wife with the same intent. This is a Lucifer move, to trick, so for me, the young John vision smacked of the Devil. 

I guess it’s possible that Lucifer is lying to Sam now, though I also remember a time when he told Sam he’d never lie to him – and though he certainly has been a master manipulator and king of misdirection, off the top of my head, I can’t think of a time where he outright lied. So I'm taking what Lucifer said as the truth, it's what I thought was going on from the get go. He revelled in telling Sam the truth. He understands Sam well enough to know that eventually the visions would bring Sam to the cage looking for a way to defeat the Darkness and he would know that the truth behind the nature of the visions would devastate Sam, and he'd be hoping that this would make Sam break and eventually say yes, allowing Lucifer to catch a ride in his vessel and roam free once more. The Devil is the ultimate player of events, and having Sam surprised and on the back-foot, doubting himself, doubting everything he believed, and probably cursing himself for allowing himself to believe that God would actually reach out to him, shaking Sam’s resolve, plays right into Lucifer’s nasty hands. I still gasped though, even as my insides yelled, “I knew it!” I wasn’t prepared for the horror of it all. It’s one of the most horrible images Supernatural has given us. Sam in that cage with Lucifer.

The tragedy here is Sam so desperately wanted to believe that God was reaching out to him, trying to help him. He deserves that. Sam deserves a good voice to be the one guiding him and offering him assistance. He deserves to hear God’s voice and not Lucifer’s. After everything, everything sacrificed Sam most definitely deserves that. He has always had faith...through all the horrors, he’s always had faith. But this is Supernatural, and we should know better, we should know by now, we can’t have nice things! And this turn of events is horrifyingly similar to the Supernatural version of Cain an Abel, when Abel thought he was talking to God...yet he was actually talking to the Devil.

I’m gutted for Sam. He was so brave going there to face off against this thing that's caused him so much pain, believing his actions were for the greater good, and had the backing of God. This is going to rock him to his core. I don’t expect him to be in the cage for long, in Earth time anyway, but once he’s out…having all he believed in blowing up in his face; it’s going to have deep personal ramifications. How could it not? Oh Sammy....


So much unfolded in “O Brother Where Art Thou?” and so many questions were raised, setting us up for a pretty full on second half of the season. Outside of Lucifer now having Sam in his grasp, we also had the angels finally pulling their fingers out of their collective butts and actually growing a pair, rallying together, to do their damn job! Rowena and Crowley are back in the mix, along with Rowena’s mysterious reaction to hearing that it was Lucifer in the cage they were heading to Hell to crack, and Amara the Darkness is menacingly circling Dean, as Dean’s struggles to understand and overcome her thrall. 

The Amara and Dean bond fascinates me. I’m desperate to find out exactly what it means. What she thinks it means. Amara has grown into a woman, the woman Dean met in his vision at the beginning of the season, but she’s still child like in many ways. There's a naivety to her actions that comes from not being long on this earth and not understanding humanity and it’s history. Remember she’s been locked up since before Creation. The way she talked to the priest about having a meeting in a room with God was pretty damn funny. How she petulantly said that praying wasn’t working after a few seconds. There's a matter of fact way about her that reminded me of our early interactions with the angels. I liked the way she struggled to understand what God actually means to humanity and was then baffled by our acceptance of His way or the highway. I’ve got to say, the show is really pushing some boundaries here in how Amara is talking about her brother! You’ve got to be proud of a show fearless enough to have a character say that it’s God’s ego that created religion because He just wanted to be worshipped and adored, that His religion is propaganda.

If Amara is the beginning, I figure she’s the older sister! Ahhh good old sibling rivalry, this show never strays far from the family theme. I like how the God siblings are the light and the dark – there always has to be light and dark, good and evil, Heaven and Hell. It's Universal balance.

What Amara is offering to Dean and the world, no pain, just bliss, sounds very much like what the angels were offering if the brothers fought the Apocalypse. The angels promised paradise on earth. It’s so interesting that we’re back here with the Devil and the offer of bliss...for subjugation of course. Interesting and kinda terrifying. I’m not a believer in the “we’ll always end up here”  theory, it freaks me out, I don't want to believe it, but when things go down as they did in this episode, you can’t help but feel squirrelly about it all! 

It’s never a good idea for the boys to head off in different directions on a case. Not that this was a case per say, but it was not a good idea to have Dean to the leg work on the church massacre, while Sam stayed behind to supervise Rowena’s work with the Book of the Damned. Come on guys, we’ve learnt that much! When you’re apart, bad things happen! 

If only Rowena had come up with the spell a few minutes earlier, before Dean started sensing Amara. Before he was engulfed in whatever hold she has over him, blocking out all other noise around him...mesmerising him from across the street. But instead, Dean was already drifting under the spell of Amara’s bond when Sam called to tell him the Hell trip was a go. Thumb hovering over the answer button - unable to press it as Amara’s presence filled his consciousness.... The phone ringing out in his hand as he walked towards her. I loved the use of silence to show how lost he became in the feeling.

Amara finds Dean fascinating. I get it. He’s as fascinating as hell! He was the first of her brother’s creation she clapped eyes on (and what a creation he is). He was the first taste of humanity she got. He saved her, even though he didn’t mean to. She feels bonded to him even if it’s not reciprocated by choice. 

Amara may have some kind of power over Dean, but interestingly, it’s not one that he can’t break…we’ve seen him break free twice now…and act out in violence against her, as we know everything inside him must be screaming at him to do. But obviously the Darkness’ power over Dean is, at least for the moment, stronger than his will to break free of her completely. She says they’re going to be one, but when she goes to take his soul – after he tried to kill her - she changes her mind and kisses him instead. Dean stumbles away asking what that was. I wondered too (even though I soooo got it). Is her fascination with Dean so great that she doesn’t want to essentially destroy him, like she has with the other humans whose souls she consumed? Could she not bring herself to take his soul...the look of confusion as she was surprised by the hold Dean has over her?

Amara sees Dean as her saviour but also her destiny. It’s like she’s imprinted on him or something, like a baby might with a mother, or a chick does with the first thing they see… (We all did that experiment, right? Had a baby chick follow us around?). It made me wonder if she needs Dean alive for some reason; needs that protection he offers her, needs him to be beside her instead of another soul inside her, or if she just feels so strongly attached to him that it’s clouding her judgement and if this might actually work against her, may lead her to underestimate him. I wonder if the bond she’s feels between them is stronger for her than it is for Dean – because it does feel that way...Dean doesn’t want it, but she does. She's almost giddy with the excitement of it.

Although, Dean did seem genuinely disturbed when Amara, killed the angels “What have you done…they will smite you.” You’d think that’d be considered a good thing! But it didn’t look that way for Dean. Was that the protective bond showing itself? Then Amara zapped him out of harms way and back to safety, from the spot and time she took him, leaving Dean dazed and confused. 

In many ways, Amara reminds me of Lucifer. She was betrayed by God, banished and locked away. Like Lucifer, she carries the emotional scars of that and shows them as vicious resentment and violent retaliation. She just wants her brother to notice her – and in doing so, takes her anger out on his favourites – us humans. Lucifer has done the same thing, punishing and corrupting humanity out of anger and possibly spite, and maybe even a little bit of expectation – God created the Devil for a reason. The interesting thing is that Lucifer was the first to wear the mark, the lock and key that secured the Darkness. He passed the mark to Cain, who passed it to Dean. Dean no longer has the physical representation of the mark, but its power still has a hold on him through the Darkness’ bond…does that mean Lucifer would also have a bond with her? Or is he too powerful to be under her spell? He certainly was not too powerful to resist the corruption the mark caused in the first place - was that caused by Amara? It’s interesting to me how similar these two are considering their shared history…and ancestry. 

I love that all these questions have been raised. It’s a damn intriguing season. Dean and the Darkness, Sam and the Devil. Their struggles in this episode mirroring each other as we went back and forth. Both brothers so obviously fearful but so very defiant as they were circled like prey by a pair of ancient evil predators determined to take hold of them. It was terrifying and delicious all in one. 

And what of Rowena? What the hell was that reaction when Sam told her it was Lucifer in the cage they were trying to crack. The smug little smirk, like she couldn’t believe her luck. Dean registered that look with a confused frown. I feel like both those looks were there for us to register too…as something yet to play out. The warding failing from the cage could have been Rowena's doing and part of her plan, or it could have been Lucifer’s power. It wasn’t clear which, as Crowley and her scarpered. I can’t wait to find out. I think she’ll be in deep shit with the elder Winchester. She rushed Sam; she practically pressured him into going on the mission without Dean, when you know his instinct would have been to wait. She obviously had her reasons. 

Every performance in this episode was amazing. Emily’s Amara was powerful, petulant and naïve. She’s scary and fascinating and every so often, a little fun. I’m completely intrigued by her and have no clue where her story is taking us. 

Ruthie and Mark S are an utter delight as mother and son. I loved how Mark had Crowley sitting quietly cleaning his nails as the conversation between Rowena and the Winchesters happened around him. Making a point of not letting his mother get to him. And Rowena's cutting quips to her son, they're fantastic.

Mark P is something else as Lucifer…I mean, my gosh! His Lucifer. He’s perfect…and it’s so conflicting because you love him but hate him, but he’s so awesome, but he’s so awful…then I also had the weirdness of having been hugging Mark the weekend before and talking about spiders - which he’s scared of! So much confusion! 

Jensen gave a performance as nuanced as always. I love how Jensen plays fear in Dean, it’s physical, it’s in the way he stands and moves, and how he can almost not look at Amara – he looks at her in short, stolen glances, like he’s afraid to look at her for any length of time, until he’s captivated by her again – expressions of confusion and revulsion side by side with wonderment dancing over his ridiculously beautiful face. He’s so damn good. 

And Jared’s Sam, so strong, feet planted solidly on Hell’s ground, until he was pulled into the cage and his world crumpled; a single tear rolling down his tortured face, sheer terror etched in his every expression. If I could have reached into the TV and hauled him out of there I would have. HEART. BROKEN. Jared was bloody magnificent.

I loved the scenes in Limbo, with the muddied ground scattered with skeletons, the long pathway, the lightning, the holding cage looming were crazy gorgeous; this show looks so good. Then Lucifer’s eyes glowing red out of the murk, as he materialised behind the bars. Sam bolding standing to face him. It was all so spectacular, as spectacular as Lucifer himself, who I wish I could hate, but he’s so much fun, I just can’t. I hate what he’s doing, I hate what he’s done, but I can’t help but enjoy every moment he’s on screen, even when it hurts. I love having this character back on the scene.

Oh and, I loved the way the brothers stood when facing Crowley and then again with Rowena…how in sync they were! Hands in pockets, a gigantic united front. I think their stance spoke volumes. This is the Winchesters fighting as one, even if they found themselves fighting on different fronts. 

So now we wait a horrific wait until January 20 (or 21 if you’re me), to find out how Sam gets free. Dean is going to be hell-bent – pun intended – on saving his brother, and probably getting even for his brother being left behind in Lucifer’s clutches. He couldn’t save Sam from the cage last time, maybe this time he can. But will there be ramifications like there were when Sam finally was able to save Dean from the Mark of Cain. 

I can’t see Sam saying “Yes".  Just...nope,  nope, with a side of NOPE!

I’m scared for Sam and Dean, both of them. I’m terrified for Sam, for obvious reasons, trapped in his worst nightmare, the horror of his situation is, poor Sammy…but I’m also terrified for Dean, because we have no real idea what the Darkness wants from him and where that’s going to take him. Dean is still trapped by and paying for his decision to take on the Mark of Cain, even when he’s freed of it. The MoC is still controlling what’s happening to Dean, and that makes me so sad. 

I thoroughly enjoyed “O Brother Where Art Thou?” in that painful way we enjoy this show. It was a whirlwind from beginning to end, and heart wrenching and gripping and took my breath away, leaving me frightened and gasping and shocked. It feels like we’ve been set up for an incredibly high stakes story in the new year. Man, I love this show. This season is a humdinger.

Here’s to the epicness of season 11! BECAUSE IT’S SO DAMN EPIC. 



  1. Yes!, in all ways!
    May I post your review on my very own blog, of course with mentioning all credits ? Because if I could write down my feels about that episode it would be the very same way.

    1. Sure, just credit me and please link back to this blog :)

  2. Thanks, it's done. Take a look if you want:

  3. Now at last I understand your comment about spiders in the Devil's Cage lol! I wish Dean knew this little phobia of Luci.
    Thank you for the review, it was great and emotional, and great (but emotional) and overall great. As usual. Season 11 is truly epic and feels like one from Kripke's era. Not that I didn't like the things that came after, there were quite a number of pearls among them. Still, it feels good to return to the roots. It fascinates me to watch the actors becoming better and better with each new season. They manage to find new hues and shades in their characters, they are getting more mature and subtle in their performances, and it's no mean feat because they were brilliant from the start! Now I want the boys back, I can't wait 40 something days, what to do, what to do...

  4. Rowena's calm in the face of her warding failing -- seeming to be prepared to take off ASAP -- told me it was HER doing. And I'll never forgive her for it!

  5. I think it's entirely possible that with the Book of the Damned, Lucifer is able to talk to Rowena too. She better run far and fast. Dean is gonna be so pissed! And terrified. Not sure I'm going to be able to handle the next ep since this one just broke me! I'm so terrified for Sam I can hardly stand it! This season has been amazing!

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  7. I've been avoiding all reviews and find myself happier for it. Although your's usually reflects my thoughts pretty well, I just skimmed. I'll read properly at a later time, but I just had to mention this: "Thumb hovering over the accept call button...". THANK YOU for mentioning that! The way I saw it, Dean hesitated because he was feeling Amara's presence and was confused by it, but he was about to answer Sam's call when he was distracted by Amara's appearance and subsequent teleportation to parts unknown. Every reaction I've seen so far says Dean willfully ignored the call and people are very unhappy about it. Whether it was because he could not answer because of Amara's influence as you saw it or because he didn't get the chance to do so as I did, I definitely don't think it was Dean ignoring Sam on purpose.

    1. ".... I definitely don't think it was Dean ignoring Sam on purpose."

    2. I was totally perplexed by people thinking it was Dean wilfully not answering Sam, especially as he just got off the phone saying "wait for me, don't do anything 'til I get there."! It seemed obvious to me that it was Amara's presence that prevented him from pushing that button. It's not like he pressed reject or even hovered near reject. And to top it off, the phone was still ringing in his hand as he walked towards Amara, you could hear it!! He didn't hang up. At no point did we see him hang up. That made what was happening crystal clear to me.

    3. IMHO he didn't ignore the call...he was in her thrall. You could hear the sound of the ringing fade away as he sees her.

  8. My personal fan/jury is still out on all of Sam's visions. I still think the Not-John vision wasn't from Lucifer. That was an explicit message to Sam telling him that defeating the Darkness was up to "you boys". I agree he said he could never fool Sam but I'm thinking Gabriel maybe? IDK that seemed to be a comforting vision as opposed to visions of being tortured in the cage. I'm still hoping that God hasn't abandoned Sam. That would be too cruel.

    I was absolutely crushed for Sam. I kind of guessed this was going to happen but Jared and Mark P really sold it. That was a fabulous sequence in the episode.

  9. Wonderful review--thank you, Amy! I, too, agree that Dean was unable to answer the phone due to Amara's hold over him. I'm intrigued by their connection! My heart broke for Sam in this episode and I do still hope that somehow his faith in god will protect him. His faith has been challenged many times before but this time may be the last straw. But there's no way in hell (hee hee) that Sam will say yes to Lucifer.
    I was shocked to read negative reviews of this episode and am not sure what happened to those folks. I have loved every episode this season and am glad I have holiday festivities and Buddhist retreat to distract me from Hellatus! xoxoxo