Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Review - Supernatural 11x15 "Beyond the Mat"

-by sweetondean

The Winchesters hanging out together, laughing, elbowing each other. The Winchesters reliving childhood memories. The Winchesters having a coffee over the breakfast table while talking about a case. The Winchesters teasing each other and actually smiling. The Winchesters talking about their dreams while lying in the car. The Winchesters forgiving each other. The Winchesters not judging each other for keeping secrets. The Winchesters being emotionally honest and open with each other…. 

Welcome to season eleven!

"Beyond the Mat" was another glorious example of this rebirth of the Winchester’s relationship. Actually, rebirth is not the right word – because no matter how we adjust our rose colour glasses, they’ve never been this emotionally solid with each other. We seem to remember them, from the early seasons, as being in some kind of broment love bubble – but that’s not the case. There was always conflict; there were always secrets – big ones! So what we’re seeing now is not a rebirth so much as an evolution of their relationship. An evolution that has come about through painnnnn, erm I mean, maturity, experience and years, and because they understanding each other on a level no one else can. It’s come about because of shared knowledge of what each other has gone through, and an acceptance of who they are, what they’ll do for each other, and what they mean to each other. They put it on the table at the beginning of the season…they will BOTH always put their brother above everything, that’s not going to change…with that admission from both brothers, it seemed like a breath of fresh air blew through their relationship. They are both the same…they feel the same about each other…they know it’s probably screwed up, but that’s it, that’s the way it is, no more fighting it, that’s who they are. It’s like a load lifted from both their broad shoulders, and the result is what we are getting, and loving... LOVING now. Brothers on the same page…and relaxed around each other. It’s so nice that neither is waiting for the other shoe to drop…even if I can’t help but hold my breath in case the whole thing blows up in all our faces! 

I couldn’t love season eleven more if I tried. For the brothers of course, but also for the amazing storytelling. We’ve been blessed with kick ass mythology episodes, and kick ass monster of the week episodes, one after the next. We’ve been blessed with a couple of the most amazing episodes the show has done – all inside Baby – all inside a damn sub. It’s totally astonishing that a show of this vintage can manage to reinvent itself in a way – and keep fresh – and keep telling better stories. There doesn’t appear to be a slowdown. No one is resting on their laurels. Instead, eleven seasons in, Supernatural is getting better. It blows my tiny mind.

The thing I loved most about "Beyond the Mat" was seeing Sam cut loose. It occurred to me, we don’t often see this side of Sammy. We’ve seen Dean geek out plenty of times, but not really Sam…not like this. Seeing him ringside, thoroughly enjoying himself, slapping his brother on the arm, yelling at the ref, jumping to his feet…was totally joyful. Seeing Dean seeing his brother doing this…was even more joyful. The way he looked at Sam as Sam got lost in the moment…the way they looked at each other, while the other wasn’t watching. Man I loved watching them watch the bout. I could’ve just had a whole episode of that! Seeing them have fun together like this.... GUH!

Sam got it…right from the get-go when Dean said he was fried and needed to get away, Sam got it. Dean needed this - they both did. Dean’s face when Sam jumped in at the funeral, and suggested that they go watch the wrestling was a mixture of surprise, happiness…and maybe it was just me…but I’m pretty sure I saw a big dose of love. There have been many times this season that I’ve wanted to reach into my TV and hug Sam Winchester…and this was one of them. Big time. 

The episode was about reflecting the brother’s lives and choices back at them…especially Dean…so that they can refocus on, and find the strength for the fight ahead. I love it when the show does that! For Dean, to hear that his childhood idol had made the same kind of mistakes as he had made in the past, might allow him to stop kicking himself a little in the future. So much of this season has been about acceptance and forgiveness…acceptance of what you've done and can't change, forgiveness for those things, and moving on.

The message was clear, you do what you do, what you love…whether a passion or a calling, you keep doing it, regardless of the challenges, regardless of whether you’re getting your ass kicked – you do it, and you keep doing it, you don’t give up, you keep moving forward…you keep grinding. This is something the brothers are all too familiar with…but in times when they’re feeling particularly beat down…it’s great to get a reminder. 

Dean got a reminder. A reminder that him, Sam, Cas, are not the only ones who make mistakes. And a reminder that making a mistake doesn’t mean you can’t set it right. Like he said, he has to believe it's never too late to do the right thing – he has to believe you can turn bad around into good.

Meanwhile - while Sam and Dean were geeking out and having fun – and being reminded that they will win, because they won’t give up and they won’t give up together – Crowley was busy being Crowley and escaping Lucifer’s clutches!

I never for a moment thought that Crowley believed that the demon Simmons was on his side – at least he wasn’t going to believe it or not believe it - he was just going to use it. She served him the purpose of getting free, where he could do a little sleight of hand and manage to zap Simmons and threaten Lucifer with the Hand of God weapon. It turned out to be a one shot again – but I think that’s a good thing – you don’t want God’s power to be continuous in some weapon in the wrong hands! And as Crowley does, he managed to wiggle himself out of that bad situation – he’s free – and on the run – and maybe heading Winchester way. I'm glad we don't have to see him as a dog anymore, that made me uncomfortable!

The end scene was another one of those “wow” moments when I forget that Dean actually says how he feels these days! It was a tough case and he’s not okay, not even a little bit, and he’s says so – another one of the things I love about this season, no “I’m good” from either brother. If they feel shitty after a case – they say so. It’s refreshing! But…they are refocused and they are determined and the Darkness and the Devil better watch the hell out. The brothers are stronger together – and this is the most together we’ve seen them for a hell of a long time, if ever.

There were so many delightful moments in Beyond the Mat – from Dean fanboying (knowing that Jensen was pretty much being me in front of him – he’s had some pretty good experience!), to drunk, farting Dean, to blushing in front of his first crush Sam, to Dean bouncing around in the wrestling ring, to worried Sam and smart Dean, to every second of Casifer – I love how Misha is channelling Mark Pellegrino and making Lucifer fun and scary all in one - to the cool throw backs to crossroad demons and Hellhounds. So much good stuff!

But mostly I just loved the brothers actually out together, actually having fun, actually taking a moment away from their crappy lives (even if they did end up stumbling into a hunt). They bought merchandise for God’s sake! They had t-shirts! Bless them. Seriously…just bless them! I love them to pieces.

My apologies for being ridiculously late with this – I’ve been busy and busy getting ready for Vegas! I’m Vegascon and Seacon bound tomorrow! Keep an eye on my twitter for photos – and Jules and I will be podcasting for sure! I’d say I’ll write up a report – but I know I’ve promised that before and have never done it. I’m on the road and on holidays and at cons and it all gets a bit busy! But I will give you details via the Women of Letters podcast!

So I’ll see you back here soon! Hope the hiatus isn’t too bad!


  1. I'm loving the honesty between the two brothers. Well said.

  2. You know, this wasn't one of my favorite episodes, mostly because I really hated that Dean's childhood hero turned out to be such a bad guy. I had trouble feeling sorry for him right up until very end when the hellhounds came for him, but even then, I was torn because it felt like he deserved what he got - except of course NO ONE really deserves that horror. So I had a lot of mixed emotions about it. But now, in reading your review, I'm less conflicted and see that I missed some things that I should have picked up on, so I'm going to watch it again. I'm going to watch them ALL again before we start up for the last juggernaut to the season finale - eep! - with a clearer eye. I am in total agreement that Season 11 is completely amazing. I'm loving how we get to see the absolute and unbreakable bond these two brothers have in full force. That last bit from Dean 'then God help them' gave me chills. Thanks for your insights. As usual, they are spot on.

  3. "Actually, rebirth is not the right word – because no matter how we adjust our rose colour glasses, they’ve never been this emotionally solid with each other. We seem to remember them, from the early seasons, as being in some kind of broment love bubble – but that’s not the case. There was always conflict; there were always secrets – big ones!"

    Yep, I think some people have forgotten there were many episodes in early seasons where they did NOT agree or treat each other so well. They were getting to know each other again.

    But oh the joys of season 11! Ditto to all you said about it. And MORE! It is glorious and with all that is happening with Jared and Jensen and the campaigns it is just all melding together. They boys both love when Sam and Dean aren't fighting and you can tell in their performances. I feel like more than once this season I've seen J2 come through in a scene. Or, maybe I'm confusing it with con vids. LOL.

    Thanks for the review and great Women of Letters podcast. You answered my question. Have a blast on holiday and make good choices. Hehe!

  4. Totally agree Season 11 is the season of brotherly love, understanding and honesty. I loved the brothers in this episode. Dean fangirling lol, Dean playing in the ring, Jensen totally nailed it, comedy gold and Dean passed out from being drunk under the table by the wrestlers lol!! Sam's meeting of his teen crush, lol also Sam's face when he finds Dean, total bitch face!! Also Dean's little fart (excuse the language lol) and stagger on getting up perfect!! I never thought I'd ever see Dean beaten in the drinking department!! All in all, I loved this episode, though I now hope we get back to darker material. Loving this season and the brothers so much!! Until next time.