Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Review - Supernatural 12x12 Stuck in the Middle (With You) - by sweetondean



Don’t you just love our show? I mean seriously, don’t you love it? Twelve seasons in and Supernatural still likes to experiment with form and story, and still has the capacity to surprise us with twists and turns we never saw coming and simply never expected to see coming! It still leaves us discussing the whys and the hows and the wheres. I always say Supernatural doesn’t rest on its laurels - its laurels being it’s length of time on air and its passionate fandom - and Stuck in the Middle (With You), is a fine example of our show still stretching its epic wings all these years down the track.


I loved this episode! Loved. From the timeline that jumped back and forth, to the music choices, to the absolutely amazing reveals, to the questions that these raised, and the conflicted character feelings I was left with. It was a fabulously penned episode from Davy Perez - witty and smart - with amazing direction by our favourite of all arch angels, the one and only Richard Speight, Jr.. Rich kept the pace pumping and us on the edge of our seats, delivering several tight and exciting fight scenes, and some super cool moments followed by cracker surprises in what must have been a complex script to bring to the screen. Plus Serge’s beautiful cinematography and what must have been a truly brain scrambling edit by editor John Fitzpatrick, all made for a brave and innovative episode that came together beautifully. Like I said, I loved it!

I was lucky enough to once again be able to watch this episode with my friend Hazel. We were still travelling post Vegascon and where holed up in a hotel room. What made this experience even more of a treat was Stuck in the Middle (With You) was one of those episodes that makes you want to talk about it! We found ourselves discussing demon lore, character choices, looking up the Superwiki to confirm when we last saw the Colt, sharing feels about Mary, about our boys, gasping and clapping our hands as each reveal played out. You should have heard us when Ramiel flashed those yellow eyes! It was so much fun!


Stuck in the Middle (With You) was a little bit of an homage to some of Tarantino's classic film moments. From the music styling that included spaghetti western themes and the fabulous use of “Walk With a Winner” as we cut to Mary helping Cas into the barn, while the boys battled the demons and poor old Wally dies. Man I LOVED that music cue, it was absolutely fantastic and it worked a treat with the sudden burst of chaos it accompanied. 

Then there was the opening diner scene, the slo-mo walk, the glowing box, the time jumps, the title cards, the whistling…. so many nods, and all of them fitted into the episode perfectly. I’ve always been a Tarantino fan. I like the cartoonesque, hyper stylised, violent vibe his movies have, comedic and horrifying at the same time, with sharp and sassy dialogue, characters who are bad but you can’t help but love, and grey area heroes pushed to the extreme, making choices born of anger and revenge. It kind of seems appropriate our show would wind up tackling his film making style.


The reveals came BAM BAM BAM, thick and fast and were so fantastic they made my head spin in the best possible way. 

I thought it might be easier to break them down bit by bit. So if you're ready ramblers, let’s get ramblin’!



The Demon

Ramiel, the night fishing demon that Mary shiftily got the boys on board to bring down, was a Prince of Hell. A brand new breed of demon, the like of which we’d never even heard of. They were the next breed of demon after Lilth (I guess the Knights came after the Princes?). Ramiel was one of four Princes - one other being Azazel, the original yellow eyed demon. THERE ARE MORE YEDS!  There are two more we are yet to meet! And one is interested in the Nephilim! Squee!

The shock waves that Ramiel’s yellow eyes sent through me! I gasped! I loved the reaction in Mary when she saw his eyes, and then the reaction in Sam when Mary told her son that the thing they had come to kill had those damn, terrifying, yellow eyes. The horror in Sam’s face; the fear that zapped between mother and son. 

Like Cain, all Ramiel wanted was to live a quiet life away from the demands of Hell. Where as Cain raised bees, Ramiel fished. Neither wanted anything to do with their past or their lineage. But Ramiel had something the British Men of Letters wanted…



The Colt

The freakin’ colt! I had to scramble to figure out when we last saw the Colt - outside of Frontierland in season six. I knew it was season five, and I thought it was when the boys tried to kill Lucifer in Abandon All Hope, when we found out that Lucifer was one of the 5 things in all creation that the Colt can’t kill. The goddam Colt! I wracked my brain to remember if Dean left it behind when Cas zapped him out of danger. I remember him being flung into a tree, but I remember he seemed to hang on to the Colt (for a change not needing a bungy!). I went back and watched the end of the episode to make sure I remembered right! We never really saw, but my assumption was, and still is, the gun went with Dean.

The noises I made when Ketch unwrapped the package Mary passed him, revealing the gun in all its glory. The yelling that happened when I realised that the Colt was being given to someone other than the Winchesters! BY A WINCHESTER! Of course, we could question what Mary knows or believes of the Colt - we know that her father believed it to be legend until Dean went and recovered the gun from Daniel Elkins in season four’s In the Beginning, so what Samuel may have told Mary - the stories about it - she may never have truly believed, and he couldn’t have update her on the info as the Yellow Eyed Demon killed him! And of course she wouldn’t have any idea that her boys had at one time possessed the Colt and used it. But how and when did Crowley get it again? He says to Ramel, "It’s amazing what some people just leave lying about". So when did he snatch it. Are we to assume it was left after the attack on Lucifer? Of course originally Crowley got the gun from Bela after she stole it from the Winchesters, and then he gave it back to the boys in season five - setting them up for the failure with Lucifer. Somehow he reclaimed it after Lucifer was back in the cage, and gave it to Ramiel who had it under lock and key for six years! ! After Abandon All Hope we only ever saw the Colt in the past when Dean left it behind in Frontierland. I would dearly love to know what happened with that gun. I’ve often wondered about it! The show should just do an epi just on the journey of the Colt! And now the damn British Men of Letters have it! Bugger. Bastards.



Mr Crowley

Oh my gosh! How delicious was it finding out how Crowley became the King of Hell. I’d always assumed he’d wormed his way in there somehow, saw an opening and took his place, using his usual slippery techniques, but instead he got it by default, because he was in the right place at the right time when Ramiel didn't want the job! It sort of makes sense now why Crowley seems not to love the job that much, it wasn’t necessarily his plan or ambition. He was a Crossroads demon, off travelling, meeting people, using his charms, making deals, now all of a sudden he was running Hell with all its problems, red tape and paperwork! It all kind of fell into place with that reveal, as to why Crowley so often seems like a fish out of water in his own kingdom. What an awesome twist - a back story I never saw coming!



The Devil

Something else I never saw coming! Bloody hell, how I screeched when I realised it was Lucifer in the cage, but not THE cage! Chained up like he'd chained Crowley - like a dog - as defiant and sassy as ever, back in the wonderful skin of Mark Pellegrino. What on earth is Crowley thinking - Lucifer totally gets under his skin, and is way more powerful than Crowley ever will be. Here the boys are, thinking Lucifer is safely back in the inescapable cage, but instead he’s under Crowley’s lock and key - glowy red eyes all glowy! This is going nowhere good, my friends, NOWHERE GOOD! Crowley is being unusually stupid!



Mother Mary

I left Mary to last because she’s a conundrum. I just don’t get her, and to be honest, I’ve got to the point where I don’t even like her - and I’m hoping that changes fast. 

I said a few weeks ago that I was having trouble rationalising her lack of interest in her sons, and with that, having trouble feeling any kind of empathy or sympathy for her. Yes, she’s been dragged back into the world and out of the happiness of her family life in Heaven, and I get why that might screw with her head, but she’s too much about her and I can only excuse that for so long when her boys are there, living and breathing and loving her in the world she now actually inhabits. Like I said, I don’t need her staying with them cooking them chicken soup, but I do need her to appear to give a shit! And regardless of Wally saying what wonderful things she says about her boys, she sure doesn’t relay that to them. I noted that though Sam smiled, Dean kind of grunted the comment away with a slight rise of his eyebrows, not a dismissal, but not exactly an acceptance of Wally’s declaration that Mary is proud of her boys. What exactly has she done to demonstrate that?

Now she puts her boys in danger by not telling them exactly what was going down with the hunt. Sure, she didn’t know the demon in question was a Prince of Hell, but she did know that this was a recovery mission and not just a standard demon kill - she’s supposed to be a seasoned hunter, she should have called on her wits and realised there must be more to it. She used poor Wally (goddamn it I liked Wally), as her stooge, setting him up for his own demise, and ended up nearly getting Cas killed! But outside of all that and the lying and manipulating of her children, which I know some have hand waved away as a Winchester trait (sorry, I can’t do that), she let what she now knew was a super powerful demon to take a shot at both her boys, rather than give up the thing she stole. She stood there mute, as Ramiel counted them down before pulling Michael’s lance out of thin air and sending everyone flying. If it wasn’t for Sam’s wicked Ninja moves, her eldest would be dead. What the actual fuck, Mary Winchester? The thing tucked down the back of your pants, which you didn’t even know what it was, was actually more important to you than your sons’ lives? One could argue she knows her sons are kickass (by guess work really because she’s hardly been around them), and knows they can defend themselves, and who knows if Ramiel would have let them go anyway if she did aqueous to his request…but really? She was gambling with Sam and Dean’s lives. NOT. COOL. EVER. And to top it off, she’s working with the people who tried to kill her youngest, and at the very least, tortured him! Dean says it straight up - he’d never work with them because they tried to kill his brother, but apparently Mary is cool with it! And even when she realises the British Men of Letters sent her into a shit storm, she still goes and meets them to handover her ill gotten gains. Sure she threatens Ketch, but she still hands the Colt over and still remains on their books! ARGH! I know more generous people are saying she’s playing the long game and thinking if she can assist the BMoL with the destruction of all things supernatural, it will get her boys out of the life. But if she spoke to them for five seconds, she’d know that this is their life and one that they’ve accepted, and they've even learnt to hold some pride in their achievements. Even Dean asking Ramiel if he knew who they were shows that. I’m pretty sure they’d rather she didn’t work with those British bastards regardless of her intent (whatever that may be). And we know how those boys feel about lies…having waded through so many of their own to get to what is now a pretty damn solid footing. *big sigh*

Now don’t get me wrong, even though I currently don’t much care for Mary, I do like her as a character, for the reasons I’ve stated above, because I don’t understand her, she makes me feel feels and scratch my head and I enjoy the consternation she leaves me in! I’m friggin’ fascinated in what the hell is going to happen with her storyline, what will happen when the boys find out about her deception - because I think Dean’s on the way to being on to her - and how she will redeem herself. I think her arc, though personally confusing for me (and many others), has been super interesting and I’m enjoying the complexity and the surprising aspects of her character. This is so not the Mary I thought she’d be and part of me thinks that’s cool - while the rest of me gnashes my teeth at her…. she’s nothing if not challenging!



And outside of all these wonderfully wonderful reveals, the awesome script, sharp direction and edit, and Tarantino touches, we had some amazing character moments with Team Free Will + 1. 

Dear Crowley certainly is in a pickle! He really does he have a soft spot for the Winchesters - Dean as a past buddy and Sam, well I think he fancies Sam a little quite frankly! And just like Crowley does for the boys, the brothers fall into his better the devil you know category. As he said to Ramiel, when everything is going to crap, the Winchesters stop it - they are (sort of) allies Crowley can’t afford to lose. But now we realise not only is the King of Hell fond of Sam and Dean, he also has feels for Cas! Crowley seemed genuinely moved by the possible demise of Feathers. And really, there was no reason to save the angel when he did, the boys were already safe, but he still made sure Cas lived. I guess that keeps him in the brothers’ (sort of) good graces, but I think like Castiel, it seems that the longer the demon is around the Winchesters, the more moved and changed by their humanity he becomes. Of course, Lucifer is already playing with that one, whispering in Crowley’s ear about what he really is to the Winchesters… I do so love Crowley’s relationship with Sam and Dean, it’s always so damn entertaining!



Is anyone else getting a tad worried for Cas? He’s around the boys more than ever this season, and I’m sure this is not the first time the whole, you’re/we’re/he’s family thing has come up! That worries me, and the more the brothers use the word home in regards to the bunker with Cas, the more I start to fret about him! I can’t help it! I’ve been watching this show for nigh on twelve years, I know how they like to set us up and knock us down! I did love the scene between the three of them though, when Cas said he loved them all, Sam said they were fighting for Cas and Dean said they’d never leave him because he’s family (Mary could really take a note out of her sons’ book about what family means to them!) The double hand grab with both brothers helping their best friend to his feet was inspired and such a beautifully simple, yet powerful image. I loved it. It was damn perfect. And I loved the earlier teasing of Cas and the teachable moment with the waitress. The smells of food thing cracked me the hell up! And Cas sniffed the waitress! It was all gold.



And then we had Sam and Dean, walking in sync slo-mo down the street, working as a well oiled team as they prepared for the demon's return home, and of course, saving each other - Dean first, skewering the demon about to kill Sam, then Sam returning the favour by skewering Ramiel before he killed Dean. Tag team heroes. Just how I like my Winchesters - looking out for each other, having each other’s back. The Winchestery broments have been epic this season!


Phew! So there it is! This was such a big episode with so much awesome it left me with so many thoughts and so excited for the back end of this season. I simply can’t wait to see where all these threads are winding us! Kudos to everyone involved in bring this treat of an episode to us!

Until next time - I promise I’ll try not to be so late!

Thanks for being patient and for reading!

-sweetondean

4 comments:

  1. great review...hope you enjoyed vegas....welcome back

    You know in the beginning, I supported Mary. I understood how overwhelmed she must've been, how lost she felt, how guilty she must feel regarding Sam, even how she was basically in mourning for losing her children and husband all over again. I got that she need alone time. That support from me is beginning to wane though. Believe you me, I've run the list of possibilities on what might really be going on with Mary..and in every scenario, whether or not she's trying to rid the world of monsters forever so her boys can live safe, or this has something to do with her "unfinished business"....whatever it is...the way she's treating her children is deplorable, whether one tries to disguise it as keeping distance to keep her children safe, or to keep her distance because she feels they could be a liability...whatever....

    I don't think she's like John or a Winchester. I think she's like her father and all Campbell and that's not a good thing.

    John might've kept some secrets and left the boys alone while he hunted YED, but he at least demonstrated and showed the boys he loved them. He told them. The boys might've thought dad a deadbeat...or been pissed off by him, but never did they feel as though John didn't love them. John made it perfectly clear that he did love them.
    The boys really don't know for sure if Mom truly loves them. She's spent zero time with them. She's made no effort to find out what's happened to them during their life. She's only run into them accidentally or tricked them to work a case with her. She's lying to them. She's offered hardly any real signs of affection. I mean do the boys truly know Mom loves them, or is it more that they're hoping so.

    Let's say she succeeds in whatever mission she may even be on....chances are it's likely going to be her last anyway, cuz I don't see Mary long for the supernatural world....what then,,,she confesses she did it for them...so what? what was the point of saving a world for her sons she never spent a moment showing interest in and trying to get to know better.....will the boys be thankful...oh mom yeah she loved us...she just never let us know it...and wasted any time getting to know her kids so she can be some kind of grand hero to them...in the end all Mary would end up being is a delusion to Dean and nonexistent for Sam. Mary' behavior right now is representative of how much she doesn't know or get her sons...or what they have always been about.

    As for Cas...I found his scene a bit too sugary for my liking. Nobody gets to use the L Word except the boys...which is appropriate.

    All I know is every other character who actually said the "L" word to the boys, ended up dead...yes Charlie this means you.

    it's like the old horror movie trope...

    rule no. 1....don't have sex in a horror movie or you'll be sure to bite the dust

    Supernatural...

    Don't use the actual word Love to the boys if you're not Sam or Dean...or you'll bite the dust.

    Cas dying wouldn't surprise me..let's just say that.

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    Replies
    1. The show better not have brought Mary back just to kill her at the end after a big speech about why she was so distant to protect her boys. I need emotional conversations, hugs, tears, reminisces of their lives, shared laughter...it's past time for this season to give us the feels. We had a few good moments in the beginning, but now so many people are starting to dislike Mary, and that can't be Dabb's intention. I'm a pretty patient person, but I'm beginning to have a problem with Mary's story. Sam Smith is a lovely lady, she could handle all the emotional parts easily. Let's get to the good stuff now, please.

      They can't kill Cas, the fandom would revolt. There is a lady on another website that attacks anyone who says anything negative about Cas. I know a lot of his fans are that passionate. Spin-off, maybe?

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  2. Great review Amy. I have to admit. I had Mary on a pedestal like the boys and I'm struggling with her choices. My only theory is that she is going through this arc the same way both boys(and Castiel) have been through a similar arc in the past. Making choices that they 'think' are for the good, but have ramifications later.

    It took Sam and Dean years to get to where they are now, being honest and open with a better relationship. I think maybe they are taking Mary through the same process only in just a season! Which seems abrupt and harsh at times. I'm hoping in the end she will have a eureka moment and it will all have been worth it. She hasn't had 12 years to get there, but I think (hope) she does.

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  3. Great review for a great episode. I also love Tarantino movies, so the style worked for me. It was so well written and Davey Perez paid so much attention to detail. He did his homework and it showed.

    Mary certainly has been the hot topic around the fans since the episode aired. Dean has to be on to her. He knows niether Sam, Cas or Wally stole anything. That leaves Mary. Poor Dean. He is going to be crushed when he finds out Mary's betrayal. Not only is she working for the people that brutally tortured his brother, She used an innocent man (got him killed), used her sons as cover for her clandestine caper and handed over the most powerful weapon the world has ever known to a foreign faction. I don't really care what her reasons are that seems unforgivable to me. Dean is so cut and dried about this kind of thing, lying to him while knowing you are doing something wrong. It isn't going to be pretty when he knows for sure. That last scene in the diner started out as a POV from outside, almost like someone was watching Mary and Ketch. It is all going to blow up in her face.

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