Sunday, 20 May 2012

Review - Supernatural season 7 finale - 7.23 "Survival Of The Fittest"

Warning - contain episode spoilers 

See here’s the thing when dealing with Crowley, he will always find a way to bone you. 

Supernatural season finales, is there anything as exciting and harrowing? I must admit I spent the whole week sweating on it. I’d managed to stay relatively spoiler free. I didn’t read any of the preview articles. I didn’t watch any of the preview clips. Then the Upfronts came along and I’m afraid I’m weak willed and couldn’t stay away from Jensen in that grey suit, shiny tie and hiatus scruff…so bam...suddenly I knew more than I wanted to know about where the brothers were going to find themselves at the end of “Survival Of The Fittest”. Between Mr Ackles and his extra tall buddy, apparently masquerading as Grizzly Adams, I was spoiled rotten; both in plot possibilities, prettiness and the wonderful visual of the boys voting with their 5th extremity. Thank you Jensen. That will forever be seared into my mind’s eye to muse over………………

What was I saying? Oh right. Finale.

So Saturday comes along (remember I’m an Aussie) and I wake up extra early, feeling slightly nauseated and in a flop sweat. The closer it gets to the time the more I’m overcome by a sense of dread. I mean I literally feel like I might throw up a little. I’m so concerned about Sam and Dean Winchester I’m having a minor panic attack! Is this normal? I know most of you would say, yes, yes it is and I know nearly everyone outside of my Supernatural family would say, no Amy it certainly is not, please get a life. Then I would explain to them how I have a life, rich with stories of love and loyalty, of brothers and family, of heroes and villains, of rising above expectations, of falling to temptation, of shiny black cars and the myriad of emotions and frailties that make up humanity and they would walk away shaking their heads as I grinned triumphantly! But I digress. I was so nervous before watching this finale I didn’t know what to do with myself. Then Carry On Wayward Son started and then I cried….

I never compare season finales to each other. I never say, oh it wasn’t quite “Swan Song” or it didn’t grab me like “No Rest For The Wicked.” I let every season finale stand on its own merits. They each sit within the structure of an overall season arc. It’s like comparing apples and oranges, they taste different, so why bother. “Survival Of The Fittest” launched us with a jetpack strapped to our backs, screaming towards season 8. Holy fudgin’ crap. What a kicker! For some reason I didn’t see it coming even though I’d discussed ad nauseam what the end might be and Purgatory was certainly on the discussion list. I knew Dean would find himself in a tricky situation, I just didn’t think it would be alone in Purgatory with Sammy back on Earth not knowing where Dean had gone. We were left with them apart and normally that would leave me in a state of horror. But not this time. On the contrary. I’m so damn excited about what this opens up that I can’t stop thinking about it. Sure we’ve done the brother’s separated and in Hell before, but that was through self-sacrifice and to some degree choice. We’ve also done the brothers separated through emotional conflict but that was once again, through choice (and you’d be right in assuming I don’t like that). This time Dean was simply zapped away, caught in the jet stream of Dick Roman’s whatever the hell that was. Sam’s left behind with no real clue what just happened to his brother, though being the brainiac he is, it’s not going to take him long to reach the conclusion Dean has been sucked into Purgatory. But they weren’t prepared for this. They weren’t prepared to be separated. It wasn’t discussed, they weren’t expecting it, they didn’t want it. This makes the whole thing feel very different to me and I dig it! I gotta say though, who the hell would want to save the world? Look what happens when you do! First Sam goes to Hell after stopping the Apocalypse now Dean goes to Purgatory after stopping the Chompocalypse. That sucks ass! But it’s so goooooooood! Ooooo it’s so good! The possibilities!

First things first. So we’ve despatched Dick. The Levis have been neutered, with Dick sent back to Purgatory (WHERE DEAN IS!) and the rest of them left wandering the earth Dickless, practically impotent. Their story reached a climax and exploded. They couldn’t pull off their master plan for creaming humanity. It was all cocked up by those pesky Winchesters. Awww come on! It’s my last chance to get in as many dick jokes as I can! Ok I’ll stop now. Sorry….(Yeah, I’m so not sorry). Anyhooo…. I enjoyed the Leviathan as the big bad this season, but I think their one failing was their lack of interest in the Winchesters. It made them feel less of a threat because their threat was global and in being about everyone, it lost the personal touch. Also, the Leviathan represented people we might have come in contact with, as in the corporate douche-bag up on level 5, so in some ways they were too familiar to be really scary though in other ways that familiarity made them all the more frightening. But, for me they lacked the creepiness of say Lucifer. Actually I found Lucifer disturbingly hot; (even though we know he burns cold), my bad, but I’m sorry, the Devil was smokin’, so he’s probably a bad example for me to use! But do you see where I’m struggling to get to? The Leviathan were almost too worldly to be otherworldly and in that sense lacked a bit of punch. But I did enjoy them or I should say, Dick. I love Dick Roman. He was smarmy and smug and so awful he was wonderful. James Patrick Stuart relished that character. You could see how much fun he was having with Dick Roman. Totally great villain. Also, the Leviathan plan was masterful and they were certainly different and I applaud the Supernatural creative team for pushing the big bad a bit and creating something that wasn’t your typical monster. Can I ask a question though? This might be a dumb one. It came to me while watching that last scene of Dean being surrounded but the critters in Purgatory. If the Leviathan are goo, how do they normally get around? Ok, so they shifted into humans on earth, but I wonder what form they take in Purgatory? Are they just a slick of ooze sliming their way across the ground? That doesn’t seem very frightening! Unless they’re like the Blob! The Blob! Oh we need a Blob monster next season. How cool would that be! Whoa….I digress!

So the boys burnt the flask. No surprise there, it’s what I thought would happen. Bobby did indeed request that the boys burn the flask and put him out of his misery. It was his choice. How it was done was beautiful and unexpected though. To not see Bobby flame out and to only see the glow of the flames on the boy’s beautiful, tragic faces was a masterful touch. It made it a far more personal to just have Sam and Dean experience it (and Cass silent on the stairs I guess), and it also saved us the distress of seeing one of our favourite characters go up in smoke. Watching Bobby die the first time was enough for me. The burning of the flask held the emotional wallop I knew it would and once again I bawled my eyes out for the loss of Bobby Singer. I was never in love with the GhostBobby scenario, as much as I enjoyed the moment we saw him again and the extra time we got to spend with him. In hindsight, I’m not really sure what the reasoning was in bringing him back. He helped the brother’s work through the clues, but they could’ve got there alone and frankly I would’ve preferred that they did and though he offered more information on what he remember from Dick’s office prior to being shot in the custard, most of that Frank had already worked through via the numbers. So really, in the end, what was the point? I love Bobby to pieces so from that perspective it was good to see him, but the circumstances were so harsh and so unfair. Still, I don’t feel his original death was marred by his reappearance as a spirit with vengeful tendencies. I still look at “Death’s Door” as being his true out. The question now of course is whether he’s gone for good, or as much as anyone ever is in Supernatural. Being as we are about to explore Purgatory, I imagine there’s a chance he could pop up again. I prefer to think of him in Heaven with his wife and all the people he’s loved over the years, it seems unfair that after everything he’s done, after everyone he’s saved, he be in Purgatory with monsters. But it’s been said before that we really don’t know where spirits go when they flame out. Are they put to rest? Or as they were spirits and didn’t move on after death, does that put them in the realm of Purgatory? Because Bobby possessed a maid, does that put his eternal soul in jeopardy? I hope not. I don’t want Bobby’s story to keep dragging on. I’m kind of done with it now. We’ve said goodbye to him twice, I don’t want to say goodbye to him again. I guess there’s the chance that when we get Dean out of Purgatory, if Bobby is there he could ride Dean’s coat tails out, but….to be very honest with you….I don’t want that. As much as I love Jim Beaver, as much as I love Bobby Singer, I don’t want to have an easy out. Is this the end of Bobby Singer? A big part of me says yes and I’m cool with it. Thank you Bobby and R.I.P.

Seeing Dean in Purgatory at the end of the episode left me wondering if he’s going to think he deserves to be there. He’s alive I gather, though that’s weird because everyone else in Purgatory is dead. I’m hoping he doesn’t get overcome by the malaise of the season and start to think this is his destiny. He believes he’s a monster, a killer. He carries guilt about everyone he’s ever known who got caught in the crossfire of his life and ended up dead. He carries guilt for each and every soul he tortured in Hell. Is this the place he always thought he’d wind up? Will his stint in Purgatory help him get over some of those feelings of self-loathing and give him a new view on life when he emerges? In biblical terms, Purgatory is where the soul goes to be cleansed of all past transgressions in preparation for ascension into Heaven. This could be a good thing for Dean. A bloody good cleansing. As much I was freaking out about Dean being in Purgatory, in the dark and murky woods, surrounded by God knows what, part of me got a little thrill. I like nothing more than seeing Dean go into full on Hunter mode. The guy is so skilled and so smart, seeing him faced with insurmountable odds and conquering them is a joy to behold and let’s face it, we know he’s going to be ok. I just hope that he’s not shell shocked when he emerges. I hope this experience isn’t another one that damages his psyche. I hope it makes him stronger somehow. I’m wearing my rose coloured glasses again aren’t I?

Seriously though, I have absolutely zip idea how this is going to play out. One must imagine there are a lot of monsters down there who’d like to see Dean Winchester dead. Are you kidding? A bunch of them are there because of him. But who else is there? There were monsters and spirits who weren’t evil that would’ve ended up in Purgatory. What about all the people Ash couldn’t find in Heaven? Angels? The dead ones, are they there? They don’t have souls, so you’d think not but who knows. Is Adam there because Michael has a hold of his body and so his soul has been expelled? Dr V? She must have gone back to Purgatory. Who and what is actually in Purgatory? See how exciting this is! I see either Dean tracking down friendlies or the friendlies coming to find and help Dean. But what a great big fat unknown. There’s an opportunity here for the writers to create a whole new Universe, with new lore and exploration and development of existing lore. I’m so thrilled by this twist. It’s an absolute corker.

Of course Dean is not entirely on his own, Castiel was sucked into Purgatory with him. I’m pretty sure Cass just went on a recon mission when he disappeared. We needed to end up with the visual of both the boys alone. It wouldn’t have done to have Cass by Dean’s side while Sam is shown by himself in the lab. We needed the synergy of the two shots of the brothers in their isolation. Cass zapping away was for creative and cohesive emotional resonance. Dean, like Sam, was suddenly all alone. Did you notice Cass’ voice at the end when he spoke to Dean? Sound familiar to you? It was deep, gruff and straight talking Castiel. No bees. No craziness. I think that feeling like Dean is offering some form of forgiveness and helping the Winchesters to put an end to Dick and not destroying everything as he feared he would, has brought Cass back. I said in my write up of “Reading Is Fundamental” that I thought Cass was hiding behind his craziness because to do otherwise was to face what he’d done. I think we saw this idea come to fruition when he said he couldn’t help because he’d destroyed everything and he’d destroy everything again. He was terrfied to try; terrified he’d blow it. I’m glad Dean yelled at Cass to clean up his mess. It may not have seemed to get through to him in the moment, but I’m sure that it did. Add to that watching the boys suffer as they put Bobby to rest and Dean’s “Bottom of the ninth and you’re the only guy left on the bench, sorry I’d rather have you” speech and Cass seems to be coming back from his place of self doubt to be more like the Angel we remember. He was the only one who could help, so he had to help. It was his fault. Dean was right, he needed to “nut up” and I’m glad he did. How he helps in Purgatory is yet to be seen. Can he pop back and forth between the dimensions of Purgatory and Earth? Or is he stuck in there with Dean, which will be interesting seeing as their relationship is still not quite solid. I’m intrigued to see what has become of Cass, what his abilities are in relation to Purgatory and to what level he is reborn and is able to assist.

But I don’t want Castiel to grip Dean tight and rescue him again. I don't want an Angel-easy-out. It’s Sam I want to save Dean. It's Sam's turn. I'm sure his being unable to rescue Dean from Hell has always weighed upon him. This is his chance to put a little something to rest. Plus I'd just love to see Sam save his big brother. Neither of the Winchesters have been able to rescue the other from the major threats…i.e. being in Hell. Sure on smaller issues they’ve had success. Like in “Faith” when Sam took Dean to the healer or in “Appointment in Samara” when Dean got Death to restore Sam’s soul or “The Born-Again Identity” when he brought Castiel to restore Sam’s mind. Under those circumstances they’ve been able to save each other and they’ve always found a way to save each other emotionally, but neither could find a way to get the other out of Hell. But now, here's Sam's chance. Sam knows how to crack the door to Purgatory. They've done it before. The trouble is, what gets out if he goes in? That’s if the story goes that route. Sam’s never done very well on his own, neither has Dean for that matter, they aren’t whole without the other brother, but he's not as totally alone as Crowley attests to. He does have a few friends still alive that he can call on for help, or support. There’s Sheriff Mills, there’s the hunter Garth. There are people out there for Sam. Crowley is wrong on that count. But Sam’s been through a hell of a lot this season, his mind is only just starting to repair and now he’s without Dean and doesn’t know where Dean is or if he’s alive. The guy’s on shaky ground at best, how will he deal with this blow? Man, poor Sammy. Something tells me he’s going to go at this problem like a dog with a bone, because there’s no way he’ll rest until he knows his brother is ok. Remember how he was when the Trickster/Gabriel killed Dean? Gah! I'm scared for him! But on the flipside, I have so much faith in Sam and his strength and his smarts and his love for his brother. I’m pretty excited to see where he goes with this problem. I’m also interested to see how long the writers keep the brothers apart.

And even though the brothers are apart, they kind of are still together, because you know their primary focus will be worrying about the other and finding a way back to each other. Dean also has the task of staying alive and Sam has the task of cleaning up the Leviathan mess and rescuing Kevin and possibly Meg from Crowley but you know neither brother will be far from the other’s mind. So, that’s why I’m ok with this separation, because it’s not coming from a place of anger between the Winchesters and I can only see it making them stronger both as individuals and as a team. I’m not one of those fans who’s all, oh Dean needs a story, Sam needs a story, for me it’s THEIR story. I’m happy when we explore both of their characters individually and see their individual development, but it’s their relationship that holds the most joy for me and I can’t wait until we see them restored. Having said that, I do hope we get at least a couple of episodes to explore this separated scenario. I hope the writers are brave enough to believe we can cope with that. I know I can, because the aftermath will be epic.

And speaking of Crowley, why does he need Kevin. What’s he want with a Prophet. I get why he took Meg, she’s been a naughty girl in his eyes, but Kevin? I’m scratching my head at why he’d need the protector of the Word of God. I’m really starting to pitch a tent in the Crowley’s not a demon camp. I don’t know what he might be, but I’m starting think he’s not what he seems. He has way too much power. Look at the power he was wielding in this episode. He got out of his contract with Dick, which you’d imagine he couldn’t have as demon contracts are unbreakable, he seems to know everything, he has a veritable army at his disposal, he appears to be more powerful than the Leviathan, than Lucifer. He totally boned the Winchesters again and got everything he wanted. Is he just damn clever or is he something else completely? I’m pretty sure our frenemy Crowley will be a major player in season 8 and seeing as I totally love him, that can only be a good thing.

Of course the other character that featured in “Survival Of The Fittest” was The Impala! Baby is back and looking purdy! I may have fist pumped the air and hollered WOOOOHOOOO, when she came down the highway! How lovely was that first scene…silent, except for some birds tweeting, until you start to here her thrumming in the distance and then Born To Be Wild kicks in. It was perfect. Did you notice when she was hooning down the highway and bursting through the gates of Sucrocorp there were two guys in the front seats? And did you notice that we didn’t see the lines “Don’t die” “Yeah you too” that were in the promo? I heard a lot of people complaining that we saw Meg drive the car but not Dean, but go back and look. I think they cut a scene. I think Sam and Dean are in the front seat and somewhere between the burst through the gate shot and Meg driving through the sign shot, they cut out a scene. I reckon after crashing through the gate they originally pulled around the back, Sam and Dean got out, told Meg she knew what to do…maybe there was a snarky line about not hurting his car from Dean, Meg tears off, Sam, Dean and Cass are at the back door of Surcrocorp, they do the don’t die lines we saw in the promo and go inside, maybe Sam goes in that way and Cass and Dean another way – that’s how they split up – and then cut to outside again and Meg drives through the sign. This is how I think it went down before they had to lose some time in the edit! Because there are definitely Sam and Dean look-a-likes in the front of the Impala right up until Meg gets out. Go look! Wait…finish reading first. I promise I’m nearly done.

So there we go. “Survival Of The Fittest” was a doozy and I think it was pretty awesome finale. Once again, everyone’s performances were spot on. Jared’s alone Sam at the end was excruciating to witness. Season 7 has come to an end and we are left with a lot of very cool and exciting questions. How will Sam find out that Dean is in Purgatory? Will his fragile, barely healed mind be able to cope with this latest crisis? How will Dean survive Purgatory? Who or what is in there with him? Any old friends that might help? How hot is he going to look fighting for his life? How will he get out? Will Sammy be able to rescue him? What’s Cass’ role in getting Sam and Dean reunited? What’s with Crowley and what’s he want with Kevin? Will the boys rescue Meg? Is Bobby gone for good? Who’s going to tow the Impala out of that sign and was Sammy paying enough attention to Dean to be able to fix her, or will her repairs go on Burt Aframian’s credit card? Why didn’t everyone run when Dick started pulsating! If they’d just got out of range, we wouldn’t be in this sticky mess! Sorry…just had to get one more in there. But the biggest question of all…..HOW ARE WE GOING TO SURVIVE UNTIL OCTOBER?!

Well, thanks for reading and supporting me. During hiatus I'll have some projects that I'm working on that will hopefully keep you entertained. I have the All Hell Breaks Loose III convention in Sydney next weekend with Misha, Jim, Richard, Traci and Ghostfacer Travis Wester, so that should be a hoot and I’ll be writing that up for you. Plus I’m off to VanCon in August (insert epic squee here) so I have that to look forward to as well and believe me, there will be reports! Then it'll be season 8 and I'll be back writing the episode reviews!

Oh one more thing. I’d like to thank Sera Gamble for 7 years of beautiful story telling. She’s one of my favourite writers of the series and many of her episodes are amongst the ones I go to constantly. “Faith” is probably my favourite episode ever and those of you who know me are aware of how I’ve chosen to express that. I love her work. I find her personally inspiring both as a would-be writer and a female television professional. I will miss her voice terribly and I wish her all the best. I’m excited to see what she does next and I know I’ll be following her career with interest. I’d also like to welcome aboard Jeremy Carver, he too is one of my favourite writers and I couldn’t be more thrilled with his inclusion back into the fold for season 8. Very few writers have delivered such beautiful narrative as Jeremy has and I’m sure the show will flourish under his deft touch. Who else can see this show doing a Smallville….10 seasons anyone? 

So, let me know your thoughts and theories on the episode and I’ll see you soon with a write up of the shenanigans at the Aussie con…we are a little naughty us Aussies!

Bye for now….keep the faith, October will be here before we know it! 

- Amy

Monday, 14 May 2012

Review Supernatural 7.22 “There Will Be Blood”

Warning -  Contains spoilers

So what, we keep going while he’s out there like this? 

Do we have any other option? 

After the sometimes baffling and very complex episode last week, this week we were served a pretty straightforward, let’s just get in there and set up the season finale kind of episode. “There Will Be Blood” laid a lot of ground-work for the big shebang and while on the surface it didn’t appear to be particularly action packed, for me it was a satisfying hour of television that seemed to be over only minutes after it begun. We were reintroduced to a couple of well loved villains, got more time with Dick and his creepy henchman Edgar, witnessed further disturbing developments with Bobby’s anger management issues and were party to some thoroughly enjoyable brotherly interactions that were topped off by Dean’s no junk food freak-out. I’m with you Dean, you don’t win friends with salad.

Though as a whole, I found this a mostly enjoyable outing, there were couple of moments that made me scratch my head and I might just get them out of the way up front before I move on. This episode was written by Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin who, throughout season 7, have not been able to recapture the lofty heights of previous work like, “Weekend At Bobby’s” and “Frontierland”. I feel like they’ve become all sizzle and not enough sausage, putting too much emphasis on the snappy one liners and witty pop culture references and not paying enough attention to the detail, and though I think this was possibly their best effort for the season, there were a couple of stinkers in there that made me want to grab them by the scruff of their necks and rub their faces in it. First up, how come Bobby could zap his way into the vampire house to scout it? The boys have been popping that flask in the car so they can slip away…a few feet if you go by the service station scene…to have a natter about Bobby going bad and yet he can zap practically across the street with no effort at all, flask still tucked into Dean’s spunky new leather jacket (I’ll get to that later). Bookdal and I had a little chat about this on twitter, surmising that maybe he’s learning, maybe he’s getting stronger, but it’s when your viewer is sitting there trying to connect the dots with maybes, you know you’ve had a fail. Now, if Sam and Dean had looked at each other with WTF faces and we’d found out that indeed Bobby can now zap without the flask, that would have been an awesome and powerful moment, because that would mean there’s no more stashing him…but alas…nup. The other thing that kind of bugged me was the little boy and the Alpha. Um, ok we know he’s a creepy monster and all but now I’m not entirely sure what else he is and I like him and I don’t much care for him having little boys around for nefarious reasons. That simply squicked me out. I know there was little girl twins in Dean’s confusing and never explained vamp dream and I know vamps are all about creating new families so they don’t live out eternity alone and then something about young pure blood, but wasn’t the Stockholm Syndrome chick enough? I think adding in a wee boy went too far up the ick meter and then caused the awkward, wait we’re not going without the kid scene followed by the even more awkward motel hallway scene where Dean explained what just happened to Sam even though Sam would’ve been standing right beside him at the time. Exposition much? It reminded me of Kripke lambasting himself for the exposition in the Pilot at last year’s Paley event. Lastly, let me just get this out of my system, I hated, hated to the power of a bazillion, the “See you next season” line. I hated it when Crowley said “…haven’t seen you all season” to Cass and I still hate it. Who says that? It’s not a natural way to speak and it was forced and awkward. We’re smarter than that. That was a great big clunky meta shout-out in the middle of a serious and dark moment and it made me want to bang Dabb and Loflin’s heads together. If the Alpha had simply said, “See you next time” that would’ve been cooler and creepier and we’d have still got it, the Alpha will be back. There are times for meta and that wasn’t one of them. It totally took me out of the moment and jarred me back to reality. Ok…I feel better. Moving right along.

Though the Leviathan are the big monster arc for the season, the emotional arc has been all about loss, culminated in the most devastating loss of all…pie. Okay, maybe that’s not the most devastating, but surely it was the last straw. For me, it’s always the brother’s emotional trials and tribulations that I find compelling and though those pesky Leviathan definitely have the Winchester’s attention, it’s what to do about Bobby that’ll be keeping them up at night. This is the big story, what to do about Bobby. Oh Bobby. I can’t see any way he can be saved, short of reincarnation and I’m still not sure how I feel about that. We get too many easy outs on this show. I think we may have used all our get out of dead free cards. Bobby can’t carry into next season being all narky and evil, because we did that good-friend-gone-bad thing with Cass, so what’s the option? I have a couple of theories. I do so hate to share my theories because 9 times out of 10 they’re wrong, but as I’m amongst friends…. It goes two ways, either Bobby is somehow destroyed in helping to finish off the Leviathan, preferably in defence of the boys or we have the big cliff-hanger, what ever that may be, and then as a post script, we see Bobby, having done in Dick, understanding his time is up and asking the boys to burn the flask. He smiles at them as he flames out. Cue wracking sobs. That possibly sounds a little too nice for Supernatural though huh? Whatever it is, it has to continue Bobby’s heroic arc. He still has to get the heroes send off. He can’t be remembered any other way. Yes, at this stage, I can’t see him being anything other than a goner, as much as that hurts. He’s getting worse and worse, he’s now run off wearing a maid to get Dick (sounds like some porno), leaving the boys to grieve for him again and again and again. Poor Dean, just standing there staring into the safe as Sam moved around checking for EMF. Sam’s thrown the whole we can make this work thing out the window. I remember thinking at the time, that’s overly optimistic, that’s going to change. As usual, Sam has ended up going down the logical road, looking at stats and lore and coming to a bad conclusion. Where as Dean is typically trying not to think about it, defending Bobby even though he knows Sam is spot on. Lord have mercy on all our souls, when will the pain stop. Please make it stop. Oh right, it won’t, this is Supernatural. I really hate what’s happening to Bobby…not hating it in an, I hate the show went there way but in an, I hate Bobby and the boys have to go through this way. It’s too sad. Poor Bobby. Poor Sam and Dean. One thing though, he really has to stop appearing to Dean in the bathroom, it’s getting kinda pervy…..though if I were a ghost…..never mind.

I’m so in love with the Leviathan plan. I love that they’ve now attacked junk food and that in poisoning the entire population of the world and making everyone drug-addled morons, they’re also going about poisoning every other supernatural creature that has a taste for the long pig. Clever. Dick and his gooey gang are highly enjoyable. I was totally bummed out when Edgar met his end. He was cool. He was a great bad guy. His stand off with the Alpha Vamp was fun to watch. Two ancient monsters going head to head…then…Edgar’s head was on the floor. Had to happen I guess, glad Sammy got the kill. But still. I liked Edgar.

Obviously Dick is on to the boys. He’s nabbed Crowley. Ah Crowley, always good to see you. Crowley and Dick will be the battle of the smarm. Once again, Crowley has a lot of power. His blood is the key to everything, the boys want it and obviously, Dick doesn’t want them to have it. What would stop Dick from just obliterating Crowley and being done with it? Or does Crowley’s blood also have some value to Dick? Is it not just about stopping the boys getting their hands on it but needing it himself? The high-tech Devil’s Trap was awesome. If I had higher ceilings, I’d be tempted to get one just like it! Do we believe Crowley doesn’t know that Cass is still alive? He was obviously fishing. God love the brothers for not even flinching and protecting Cass. I’m not so sure Dean would have done that a while a go….there’s those baby steps again. I thought his reaction spoke volumes.

About Dean, apart from his sadness over Bobby at the end there and his utter frustration over having to eat his greens, he seemed almost buoyant. Sure he’s still drinking, but he always has. I think that’s in the blood and will never change. Maybe that big crash and burn isn’t going to happen, maybe he’s actually dragging himself out of that hole, or more likely, being more successful at burying it all, because of late, he’s seemed a little better. I’d say having Sam back and sane, is a very big part of that. I think he can handle just about anything as long as Sam is by his side. I love watching them work together again, poke fun at each other and look to each other, with and for support. And was the implication they had both ‘enjoyed’ John’s old Playboy magazine? Ah brothers… Can I also say, I adore it when John gets a mention.

I keep seeing commentary that the Winchesters aren’t showing signs of recovery in their relationship and I simply don’t get it. Sometimes I feel like I’m watching a different show to everyone else! This place they’re at now is the best they’ve been since Dean went to Hell, in my opinion anyway. They seem like a team again. Like they have a purpose. They’re bitching at each other like siblings. I also like that they seem more equal now. Feels right, seeing as we’re 7 years along and they’re 7 years older. I totally dug the scene where Dean got the idea to steal that poor schleps blood….as not right as that was. The horror on Sam’s face. The smug grin on Dean’s face, followed by yet another dick joke. It was really fun…if a little creepy. The guy just sat there looking back and forth, back and forth, slurping on his mega slurpy as the boys talked about Bobby. “This is for hurricane Katrina you said?” “Yes, yes I did.” Then as the cop car cruises past honking his horn to the music, I swear Dean starts to seat boogie. Another thing that might be helping Dean’s mood is that in some way, he has all his people back. Yes, Bobby is a ghost about to go darkside and Cass is, well, strange and neither relationship is what it was, but somehow maybe just having them around, seeing them, being able to speak with them again, is making Dean feel a little more complete. In fact he’s feeling so good, he went and splurged on a new leather jacket and doesn’t it fit him nice. This might be sacrilegious, but I like it better than the original one. Yes, yes, the original one was John’s and it had lots of sentimental value blah, blah, blah, but Dean is a man now (oh boy howdy is he), so I think it’s appropriate that he goes and gets his own jacket (and not just because the other one got pinched). He was even sensible and got one with lots of big pockets, perfect for stashing wooden stakes and the like. I wish we got to see him go shopping for it. I’m not sure why, but I have feeling that would be adorable.

One thing I’m still not digging about the brothers is that they’re still getting written as a bit dumb. Now that Bobby is back in the fold, he’s feeding them all the answers again and I don’t like it. Sure, he’s got nothing better to do than think (and scheme) but, really? Sam and Dean, expert, experienced hunters couldn’t put the pieces together like Bobby did? Sammy did what he does best and sorted through the web to find out about Sucrocorp, but they couldn’t figure out the rest? This is why I’ve been enjoying them having some alone time, because it makes them rely on their resourcefulness and not outside help and I’m disappointed that once again, the outside help is making them look less than smart. The other thing was, they really fell for Emily’s story hook, line and sinker. Surely they’d know by now that a very pretty, slightly creepy girl, locked away in a room for twelve years, who looks surprisingly balanced, is a bit suss. Guys! That’s horror movie 101! And another thing, why won’t they talk to Bobby? Why won’t they sit him down and have an honest conversation with him? Ok maybe he can’t sit but you know, tell him they’re worried, try and make him see what’s happening, try and make him see sense. Locking him in the safe is just going to piss him off…which it did. They’re not helping Bobby’s bad mood by treating him like a ditchable prom date. For a couple of guys who like to angstily hash out everything, I can’t understand why they aren’t trying harder to talk him down. Though I guess Dean did in the bathroom. Seriously Bobby, stay out of the bathroom. But Sam and Dean needed to be talking to Bobby. Too late now….

As I said up the top, Dabb and Loflin write some great one-liners and witty pop culture references and “There Will Be Blood” was no exception. They do funny good. I loved Dean saying Edgar and the Alpha were Pacman and True Blood. I thought vamptonite was brilliant. There were a couple of great Dick jokes, “What makes Dick so hard to beat”. The whole Dean not dealing with having to eat healthy food, going into toxic shock because he needs his road food, “I can’t live on rabbit food, I’m a warrior” was great fun. Jensen hit every note perfectly and Jared’s reactions with Sam were spot on. I love a good Sam eye-roll.

I’d also like to mention the design this week. The vamp mansion was glorious. The set dressing was lush and rich and it was so beautifully lit. I particularly liked the Alpha’s red tie and spiky pocket hanky. That just topped everything off for me. Gee it was great to see him, I dig that character and the way Rick Worthy plays him. Creepy but soooooo smooth. The pink room was gorgeous and the art on the walls! Huge odd animal paintings. I totally loved them, if you didn’t catch them go back and look and I really liked the buffalo motel room, it had an epic bedspread!

“Let There Be Blood” left us locked and loaded for the season finale. We have the blood of the father of fallen beasts, we have the blood of the fallen Angel, we’ve been promised the blood of the ruler of fallen humanity….though why do I think that Crowley has something up his perfectly tailored sleeve with his, no mine last, routine….now all we need is the bone of the righteous mortal. Still can’t wait to see who that is and where they get it from….sure hope Sam and Dean have some part in putting that puzzle piece together. So are we ready? Are we ready for Carry On Wayward Son? I’m not, but then again I am. I want to see how this story finishes, if it indeed does. I want to know what’s going to happen with Bobby, what’s going to happen with Cass, that Kevin will get out alive, if the Leviathan all drop dead if Dick does, what on earth the promised (or rather threatened) cliff-hanger is and that Sam and Dean come out the other side knowing they have each other. That’s the most important part for me. I can’t believe the season is just about to finish. Boo.

Well…what did you think of the episode? Do you have any Bobby theories? 

Thanks for reading. I’ll see you next week for the season 7 finale! *Meep*

Until then, please enjoy this cap of Dean winking…. 

And here's the promos for next week's season finale!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Supernatural - Review: 7.21 “Reading Is Fundamental”

Warning: Contains episode spoilers

The Angels, they don’t care. I think maybe they just don’t have the equipment to care. Seems like when they try, it just breaks them apart.

Supernatural is a complex show. It sounds pretty simple on paper, 2 brothers travelling the back roads of America, hunting monsters and saving the world, but any one who watches it knows that there is soooooooo much more to it than that. It’s a deeply layered story, rife with multi-faceted relationships, profoundly damaged characters and rich mythology. “Reading Is Fundamental” is a perfect example of the kind of show Supernatural can be. Layered, multifaceted and rich. One that sometimes leaves you not knowing how to feel, or feeling all the feelings, or flip-flopping between the two. This was an episode screaming to be dissected, if that’s your bag, and for the first time in a long time, I actually made notes….on my 3rd rewatch….because there was so much happening, I found it hard to keep track of it all. I will, of course, miss stuff. I always do. I never read anything before I write an episode up, but after that I go and read everything and half the time I wind up going, “Awww. Nuts!” because I’ve totally misread a situation or didn’t pick up on a nuance in a certain scene. I have a feeling “Reading Is Fundamental” is going to be one that makes me go, “Awww. Nuts!” a lot and probably loudly.

Ben Edlund wrote and directed “Reading Is Fundamental” and if you know anything about me, you know that I’m a massive fan of this man, his crazy brain and his brilliant writing. Edlund knows how to tell a story. This was the 21st episode of Supernatural he’s written and the 2nd one he’s directed. Looking back at Ben’s work, one thing jumps out, there’s always more to his episodes than initially meets the eye. Even with the funny ones there are layers upon layers and he manages to bring all those elements together without it feeling disjointed. Other writers on the Supernatural team don’t quite have the same level of skill. When they attempt this layering they somehow just miss the mark in making the whole thing feel cohesive and their episodes wind up feeling tonally disjointed. It’s one of the things I love most about Edlund’s work, that he can deliver complex narrative and still maintain cohesiveness in concept and tone. On some level “Reading Is Fundamental” was baffling, because it confronted us with changes in characters and relationships that we may not have been prepared for, but tonally it never waivered. The comedy, though still there, took a back seat to the guts of the story, which built momentum as the hour progressed. It’s an episode that’s in desperate need of a rewatch. If you got everything going down on the first pass through, you’re way brighter than I am!

So Castiel is awake and he’s somewhat, errrrr, changed. Cass made me feel uncomfortable in this episode. I teetered between feeling sorry for him and wanting to hug him, to feeling frustrated by his strange behaviour, to feeling bemused by his new persona, to feeling distrustful of who he’s become. What an ever-morphing character Castiel is. There was a lot of chat about how this Cass persona was very much like Future!Cass and at first I was all, oh yeah! But on 2nd watch, I realised they’re diversely different. The only similarity to me seemed to be their ability to smile. Future!Cass was cynical, jaded, broken in spirit, human. Crazy!Cass is almost optimistic, or is it na├»ve, or is it self-accepting, or is it enlightened, or is it simply insane….see….I’m not at all sure what to make of this new Cass. Part of me thinks that in making that sacrifice and taking on Sam’s Hell torture, he’s managed to come through the other side with a new perspective on things, like he said to Sam, now he sees everything. He see's how everything's connected. It's like he's transcended to a new plain. When Dean asked him what he was going to do, his answer seemed to indicate a lightness, like the weight of all he’d done and all he was had been lifted, “I don’t know. Isn’t that amazing.” Here is a Being that has followed orders his whole existence, has always been duty bound. Now he finds himself free of those binds, which in itself is highly disturbing because there was nothing in him that seemed like he wanted to stay and help, not just the Winchesters, but also, mankind. He’d rather watch the bees. Apart from handing over a small vial of blood, he was flying out of the whole shebang. Unprotected I might add. Do we all remember what Cass said about giving someone enough rope? Even his line about the blood, I couldn’t quite read if he was just being new weird Cass or plain sarcastic, “You know me, always happy to bleed for the Winchesters.” What? I don’t know, I really don’t.

Then there was the game of Sorry. I don’t know, what was being said here, but I know one thing for sure, this weren’t no game of Sorry. Is it that this was the only way, in his current state, Cass could actually try to communicate amends to Dean? Get his message across? Was he trying to get Dean to apologise, or break bread first? Did he mean something more when he said, “I’m sorry, I think you have to go back to the start”? Or was he literally only talking about the game piece. “Why should I prosper from your misfortune. But these are the rules, I don’t make them.” Ok, what? I feel like there was a whole other conversation going on here that I wasn’t privy to and it’s going to keep me up at night! The other line that baffled me was before the game started when Cass said “It took everything to get me here.” I’m with Dean, “What are you talking about?” What did that mean? Is he being purposely obtuse or is he in fact, simply addled. I can’t tell. This was one loaded conversation and if I were Dean, I’d be running it over and over in my mind. All this makes me believe there’s something going on with Cass and we don’t know about it yet. I think everything Castiel said here was of some import, it just needs deciphering. I don’t know, I might be reading too deep, this episode kind of threw me into that end of the pool, but if Supernatural has taught me one thing, it’s to never expect anything to be what it seems.

The only point where I felt Cass was not speaking in circles was in his conversation with Sam. I absolutely loved this scene. Cass was lucid and sounded sane to me. He was accepting of what he’d done and I would say, accepting of this outcome being his penance for past transgressions. Taking on Sam’s pain almost gave him a new sense of purpose, a sense of doing right, like his burden had been lifted. He couldn’t see how he could improve. When Sam said they’d find a way to make him better, he was confused, because to Cass, he is better. This conversation, which was so heartfelt, made me feel like the other Cass was not being honest. Like he was hiding behind his craziness. Like he was wearing a mask. Because if in this quiet moment with Sam he can make this much sense, what was with the pull my finger routine, or the horribly awkward meeting with the other Angels. It’s almost like it was a show. Like I said, I don’t know, I really don’t. Castiel completely did my head in. I’m literally champing at the bit to see where they go with him next, because I really can’t imagine. 

Where as Sam seems to have forgiven Cass by way of understanding a shared experience, Dean of course, is still struggling with it. As well he should be. It would be out of character for Dean to forgive so easily. He will forgive, he always does, but when people this close to him disappoint him; it takes time for him to trust and move forward with the relationship. Look at how he struggled with forgiveness of Sam in season 5 and that’s Sam. Castiel is in a worse position. He did the one thing that Dean says do not ever do. He hurt Sam. You don’t hurt Sam. Sam’s Dean’s life. In fact, Cass came very close to killing Sam. I think Dean could easily overcome the issues around the betrayal with Crowley, but not what Cass did to Sam. That was the ultimate betrayal. Even though, in the end, Cass took on Sam’s pain, let’s not forget, he’s the one that inflicted that pain in the first place. But, we can see forgiveness starting, with baby steps. It’s not like Dean’s not speaking to the guy, he is and you can see how desperately sad the whole situation makes him. But anyone hoping for that relationship to find its heart again may have a long and possibly disappointing wait ahead. If in fact it ever gets back to where it once was. They’ve both changed since Cass went darkside. I hope at some point they talk it out though. Dean always gets to a point where he needs to talk, usually over the Impala. Once he’s talked, well then, he seems a lot better. I expect that will come...eventually…because Dean’s great capacity for forgiving those he loves is part of his beauty. 

“Reading Is Fundamental” also reintroduced the Angels to the show. I like the biblical mythology in Supernatural and as we’re dealing with Leviathan, it seems appropriate we deal with Angels again too. The thing is, they’re out there, we know that now, so not to integrate them in the Winchester’s Universe from time to time seems a little ridiculous. I was ready to say goodbye to the big Angel storyline, mainly because I was tired of the focus being taken away from the brother’s journey and I wanted the Winchesters to learn to lean on each other again and work through a case with out Heavenly intervention, which they’re now doing very nicely thank you, but I’m ok with the Angels popping up here and there, especially when there’s something at stake as important as the Word Of God and the Leviathan eating the earth. However, I don't want to go back to the big Angel arc. One of the things I've really enjoyed in season 7 is that we've been spending more time with Sam and Dean, the heart of the show and though I enjoy the supporting characters, to me they are just that, supporting and I don't think their stories should ever drive the main arc, as per season 6.

Both the Angels featured in this episode were great. I’d be pretty happy if Inias was an Angel that the guys crossed paths with again. I liked him. He seemed more Angelic than most of the Angels we’ve met. Hester, on the other hand fell into to the typical Angel barrel of dicks! That whole “The very touch of you corrupts. When Castiel first laid a hand on you in Hell, he was lost.” Wow. Cranky much? Like Dean doesn’t shoulder enough guilt. We know he already blames himself for, well, everything. Guilt is an essential part of his makeup and you can be sure what Hester said to him is something that's already crossed his mind and probably nestled itself into his gut. But hey, it wasn’t his idea to send an Angel down to Hell to haul him out. It wasn’t his fault that Castiel realised that humanity was something worth fighting for, when all the other Angels were conspiring against us. Great line though Mr Edlund, a real pearler! I was glad Meg stabbed Hester. Even though that confused me because I thought only an Angel can kill another Angel. Though I guess as long as you have the blade. Dean killed Zach. I always assumed that was because he was rockin’ the Michael thing but I guess as long as you have the Angel killing blade, you're golden.

And what about Meg? What’s she up to? More than she’s letting on that’s for sure. Her relationship with Cass is rather amusing. At first it squicked me out, but now I’m starting to think she has a bit of a soft spot for the Angel, which could be interesting, if it played out that way. Not romantically, obviously, but if she was forced into a situation with Cass which goes against her demon nature? Maybe there’s more to Meg than her snarky, self-serving demony ways? Probably not. I really want to dislike her, but I just can’t. I never have. I think she’s an awesome villain and I’m happy she’s managed to survive this long and I hope she continues to be a thorn in the brother’s sides for seasons to come. Plus, I really love that she reads gossip magazines! How funny was it when the other demons rocked up in that truck? They’re not sharpest tools in the shed those demons. It must have been the largest, loudest form of transport they could find! As their boss would say… Morons! I’m assuming Meg led them there to see if they’d told anyone else about seeing her. Make sure they’re stupid and alone and then do them in. Or is she really planning on handing Castiel over to Crowley in order to get back in with the King. She's such a crafty one. I liked her position, “Find a cause and serve it. Give yourself over and it orders your life. Obviously these things shift over time. We learn, we grow.” But what is really Meg’s cause? Do I believe the line she slinging the Winchesters? Nup. But I can’t wait to find out what she’s planning and where she’s gone. Where did she go?!

In a season full of great new characters, we got another one in this episode. Kevin Tran, The Keeper of The Word. The Word of God! Crikey. Just when you think Supernatural can’t reach more lofty heights, they bring in the Word of God. Poor old Kevin, being dragged into this whole Leviathan mess. At least as a prophet he doesn’t share the same crippling headaches that Chuck had. But Kevin does have a very big Leviathan problem, with Edgar now having hold of him and the God rock. But where was Kevin’s Archangel? A prophet has an Archangel tethered to him right? There should be a few more kicking around unless they all died in the war in Heaven without us knowing. I must admit to loving the way Edgar took out the Angels, driving his fist into them with black goo oozing out everywhere. I guess the Leviathan can kill Angels too? Maybe as they were God’s first creation. That’s what I’m assuming. But fuzzy Angel mythology is fuzzy…

Apart from the awesome Metatron/Megatron conversation, in an episode full of sharp and textured dialogue, my favourite line came from Dean. “The Angles, they don’t care. I think maybe they just don’t have the equipment to care. Seems like when they try, it just breaks them apart.” Oh man. That’s such a sad line. That really hurts. You can see on Dean’s face how much that really hurt, both to say and to realise. I also thought it might have been prophetic and maybe a nugget pointing towards his future relationship with Castiel. Because caring so much did indeed break Cass apart. He wasn’t built to care like he wound up caring and everything he did and become was because of that. He was corrupted, not by the evil of humanity, but by our heart and soul and the goodness that lives within us, as amplified in the Winchesters. In order to prevent this happening to Castiel again, should Dean keep him at arms length? Is that what he’s thinking? Because you know he feels guilt over Castiel's fall. You know he partly blames himself. Oh, and did you notice that Meg called Sam Bullwinkle! I also thought her “wingnuts” description of the Angels was a great term for them. The Sam/Kevin chase was damn funny too. The big guy doesn’t corner so well.

So we’re left with how to kill the Leviathan…. with the bone of a righteous mortal, washed in the three bloods of the fallen. According to the screen grab I got, the fallen are: the fallen Angel, the ruler of fallen humanity and the father of fallen beasts. Awesome, seriously awesome! Great set up for the next 2 episodes! Of course my mind immediately went to Dean when I heard the words righteous mortal, him being the righteous man from Hell and all. I don’t want him to have to hand over any part of his body, but if he did, if he had to give up a rib or some other bone he could do with out, would that assuage some of his guilt? Of course it could be another righteous mortal entirely. After all, it says mortal, not man, so it could be a woman. Yeah, I doubt it too. I have a feeling the deals the brothers are about to make to get the blood from the other two fallen, may have repercussions that ring through into season 8 (which I can say now and know it’s really happening!). I’m wondering if we finally find out that the ruler of fallen humanity…as seen in the promo…is not what we think…which has been teased and implied and analysed here and there for a ages. Probably not, but it’s still fun to consider! Sorry…being purposefully obtuse, just like Cass, in case my readers haven’t seen the promo for next week’s episode.

“Reading Is Fundamental” packed a complex and emotional wallop, while delivering an intricate story woven around deep character analysis and setting up an exciting premise for the season finale. As with last season’s “The Man Who Would Be King”, it filled in the mythology gaps and laid groundwork for the coming weeks. I hope the momentum created in this episode continues in “There Will Be Blood”. That all the pieces lain out here by Edlund are built upon. Only 2 episodes to go and I have lots of bad feelings about where we’re going! We know it’s going to be a cliffhanger…  but what kind of cliff are we going to be hanging off? Ugh. Supernatural finales always kill me. I don’t want the season to end. I really hate the hellatus.

What did you think of the episode? What was your take on Castiel?

Thanks for reading. See you next week!

All Supernatural caps produced by me, no copyright infringement intended.