Sunday, 27 January 2013

Review - Supernatural 8.11 "LARP and the Real Girl"

Well that was fun. It’s been a while since we had a fun episode of “Supernatural”. One that took us out of the mythology for a bit. “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie” was the last one I could think of and let me tell you, that was 20 episodes ago! I know this because I counted them!

And season 8, well I think we can all agree, it’s been heavy going. Even for those of us that are really digging the season, it’s still been emotionally fraught and somewhat exhausting. So a little respite from the big picture story and the angst…well, that’s not a bad thing. In fact I think “LARP and the Real Girl” was perfectly timed. After “Torn and Frayed” left us, torn and frayed…I think a lot of us were in need of a bit of a break…a bit of fun, just like the Winchesters.

So yeah, I loved “LARP and the Real Girl”. Loved it. Come on, are you surprised?

I love it when the brothers find themselves solving crazy cases, in crazy situations. I love how they simply roll with the punches. I guess in their line of work, they’ve seen most things…so though they always have those little raised eyebrow looks between them; they simply shrug it off and go for it. I’ve always loved that about the Winchester boys, their adaptability.

The first killing…wowsers…nasty! That would be a horrific way to go. Quartering is a rather unpleasant part of medieval justice – hung, drawn and quartered - we’ve all seen Braveheart right? That’s what they did to William Wallace (I watched that scene once, never again). By the way, I don’t think Ed was “drawn and quartered” as Charlie said, because the drawn bit is the disembowelling bit…you know, because the hanging don’t kill you so let’s take your intestines out! Ed was just “quartered”….by invisible horses. I so loved the wall-blood-splatter! It’s almost a running joke now right? No matter what happens – splat on the wall! I giggle every time. I hope I’m supposed to!

The supporting cast in this episode was great. Lance the crying guy was a classic with his, “Those texts weren’t from me. They were from me, but they weren’t from me me” line and the way he looked at Sam when he told him he was a powerful mage, how he waited for Sam to react. I loved Boltar the Furious, though he was a bit of a tool. Talk about taking a game too far. I thought it was hilarious when he called the boys out on their fake ids “Hold” – about time they got busted! And I absolutely loved the Sheriff. How fab was he? Cracker lines. “Twig and berries” “High as balls” and the line of the episode, “Kids today with their texting and murder.” So often the law officials on “Supernatural” are either shown as dolts or they’re wallpaper, so it was cool to have this Sheriff have bit of personality. It was pointed out that the actor who played the Sheriff was also Mike – John’s mechanic partner whom the boys questioned in “Home” – love a good recycled actor. Season 8 seems to be the season for it!

Then of course, there was Charlie. I enjoyed Charlie’s turn in “The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo”, but in this episode…she was awesome. Just awesome. What I like about her – apart from here sassy “Smell you later bitches” line, is how she reacts the way you should react when faced with a creature who’s trying to kill you…scared! She doesn’t want to be involved in the fight, but sees where she’s needed so stays to help, but she’d obviously rather be somewhere else! She never feels like a victim, even when in a spot of bother. She misquotes Notting Hill and Star Wars and then makes out with the monster of the week! She’s smart and thinks on her feet and always has an epic comeback…much like our favourite ghost hunting bros. As woman, she’s a character that I feel very comfortable and happy to have on my TV screen. She’s not ball-busting tough, she’s not kick-ass action or any of those standard, stereotypical female TV characters. She’s an individual who is smart and confident and living her life the way she chooses, with a splash of bravado when facing possibly death and a bit of a smart mouth. I like her.

The other thing I like about Charlie, is her relationship with the brothers. With Sam, they’re both computer geeks, they have a mutual appreciation of Harry Potter and Sam protected her and carried her to safety when her arm was broken. With Dean they share a common love of pop culture and all things nerdy. We all know Dean is a massive nerd, a huge movie fan and a pop culture nut. He’s constantly quoting movies and TV, Star Wars, Star Trek. We’ve seen him nerd out before…but never quite like this! So Charlie, for me, is someone who is kind of a balance between both of the brothers. She’s got the brainiac, attention to detail, computer geek thing that Sam’s got going on and the pop culture, nerd thing that Dean’s got going on. She’s a little of both! She’s kind of their perfect girl! Kind of… She's welcome back anytime as far as I'm concerned. Felicia Day rocks.

Which brings me to our bros. Here’s something I love. Throughout this series, the brothers seem to bounce back and forth between roles. Neither is great at talking, but sometimes you have Sam reaching out trying to push Dean to talk, sometimes it’s the other way around. “LARP and the Real Girl” started with the classic Impala scene – boys driving at night (BTW loving that every episode this season seems to have a classic rock song). Sam has his head buried in something looking for clues, when Dean asks him if he’s ok. Sam then talks about how frustrated he is that they have this powerful weapon but they don’t know how to use. Pretty sure that’s not what Dean was asking. Sam was reacting how Dean so often does, not wanting to talk, shutting down, just wanting to do the job. Dean reaching out to Sam and acknowledging that he knew what Sam gave up wasn’t easy, was a real step forward for Dean. The end of last week’s episode and in this week’s episode, I was impressed with his interactions with Sam, his attempts to talk to his brother – or allow his brother to talk. Sam can be just as guarded and closed off as Dean but Dean was trying to understand.

I felt like this episode saw a definite shift in their relationship. As the boys worked the case, they seemed to actually enjoy themselves and enjoy being together. Dean all goofy in his LARPing getup and Sam trying not to smile and looking at his brother with that look only Sam can do, when he can’t believe what Dean just said or did. That…oh Dean look. There were lots of raised eyebrows, little nods and nonverbal exchanges between them. They worked great as a team, Sam taking on the research role while Dean played dress-up to canvas with Charlie – I mean, it couldn’t be any other way. It definitely seemed like a little weight was lifted off their broad shoulders…or maybe, a little weight was lifted off ours, or both. After last week’s “Torn and Frayed” just to see them do the ‘nearly smile’, was enough. But of course we got more.

I totally appreciated Dean’s acknowledgment to Charlie that the text thing was not his finest hour. Though last week he told Sam he knew he was wrong, it was part of a fairly heated exchange. So though I believe he meant it, to some, the anger in the conversation could make the words appear to lack a bit of resonance. But here, I believed that Dean knew he was wrong and that it was not the way he should have gone and he seemed accepting of that. I figure how he gave Charlie the wiki, he must have put the blame for Sam deciding to give up Amelia at his own feet – being as that’s how Charlie seemed to interpret it. I could see Dean wording it as such. Of course, the Amelia thing was not Dean’s fault as I’m sure he knows, that was Sam’s decision and Dean, in a moment which made me proud of him, allowed his brother to make that choice himself.

But you could see, as the boys worked the job, there was definitely a lighter air. Maybe somehow they both felt a little better, knowing that they no longer needed to worry about those other responsibilities. I still can't tell if Sam's aware or not of Dean's decision regarding Benny. If he isn't, then his actions at the end of the episode are even more awesome.

So then it was Sam’s turn to reach out to his brother. I think seeing Dean actually have a pretty good time, helped Sam come to the absolutely fantastic place we all found ourselves at the end. When Dean continued to try and build bridges, repeating that he got it, that Sam had given up something very important and that he needed time, I was super proud of him again. I felt like my baby is finally growing up and allowing his baby-bro to do the same. But I never saw Sam’s reaction coming...and oh my gosh…if I could have leapt through the TV screen and hugged Sam Winchester tight at that moment, I would have (I’d give Dean a squeeze for good measure while I was there). Sam recognising that Dean was making an effort and trying to get them to have some fun together, recognising that Dean was being understanding and supportive by allowing Sam time to grieve…and then returning the favour and doing something for Dean…for both of them…something for their relationship…suggesting they both have fun…well, it made me go eeeeee! The whole conversation made me clap my hands with happiness!

I might be wanting to read more into this than maybe I should, but that little exchange, that little grown-up bro exchange, felt a bit like a game changer to me…it’s like I felt something give. I just cross my fingers that this, right here is the turning point for the Winchester brother’s relationship. They’ll always butt heads, they’ll always fight, they always have…but to rekindle some of that warmth and fun in their relationship, which has been transient at best for a while now…well that’s all we want right? I’ve never doubted for one second their love for each other and when push comes to shove, their devotion to each other, I've never doubted their bond, but they’ve lacked that warmth, that joy they used to have in each other’s company. They’ve lacked it consistently since the end of season 3 to be honest. Too much crap they’ve had to wade through. I don’t ever expect it to be the same, they’re different men now and I’m cool with that, more that cool. I’ll be happy with a new kind of relationship, a more mature kind of relationship, if it’s one where they seem to enjoy being brothers again.

Now. Dean. DEAN. Yes…this is where I gush. I try not to do that here. I mean, we all know I’m a Dean girl – name is a bit of a give away – but I do try and stay pretty balanced, as we’re all fans of the show first and foremost, so I try not to let my character partiality bleed through too much. But this week….I can’t contain myself! He was just too beautiful.

Just when I think I can’t love Dean more…I love Dean more. He's such a kid a heart. He missed out on a lot growing up, having to take on so much responsibility for his family at such an early age. Seeing him let loose like this...he looked full of glee. The way he tried so very hard to hide his eagerness for the LARPing. Even when looking at the website at the Sheriff’s office, his little boy enthusiasm was showing through. Then when they got to Moondoor, he couldn’t resist picking up the sword “nice balance”, and Sam cracked me up…arms out stretched, “Dude!” Ha!

Then fixing Charlie’s army on the model battlefield, the way he didn’t blink or miss a beat when Charlie popped that crown on his head, happily donning the LARPing outfit. The way he looked in the mirror, you could see he was feeling pretty happy with himself right about there! Just, his ridiculous, adorkable, boyish excitement for the whole damn thing! It was so lovely to see him having a good time and letting his inner child shine on through. He's so precious.

Then the pièce de résistance, his Braveheart speech – “It’s the only one he knows!” Bless. I wonder how many times Sam's heard Dean say that speech! Ahhhh the whole thing was pure joy. My face was aching at the end of that scene! And of course, he looked smokin’ hot in his chainmail and LARPing gear…smokin’ hot! For heaven’s sake…dress that boy in anything and he’ll smoulder up the screen. Also, epic bowlegs…epic.

And I have to say, Sam with that chick in the IT tent. Seriously, that boy can be clueless! Hello! You’re gorgeous! Of course that chick would fancy you! I really loved that scene – thinking on his feet with the mash-up line. It was lovely to see him doing what he does best, getting people to help him and open up to him. Pulling all those, I can't believe I'm seeing this, did I hear that right faces. I absolutely loved his reaction to Dean and Charlie both thinking belladonna was the porn star! The silent stare. Cracked me up! Jensen’s known for his comic turns, but Jared as the straight man…his timing is perfection. And that ponytail…he should wear his hair like that all the damn time…justsayin’ (maybe without the cape though).

Robbie Thompson is fast becoming my favourite writer on “Supernatural”. Ok, Edlund will always be my favourite, but Robbie is a close second! I’ve dug all the episodes he’s done since joining the show (yes, even "Bitten"). But “LARP and the Real Girl” really showcased his talent. Not just with the comedy and pop culture references, but by giving us a couple of really good, poignant and important brother scenes. I seriously can’t wait for his next scripts (8.17 and 8.20).

So this was the episode I needed and I think a lot of us needed. It was so nice to see mostly positive feedback, something we haven’t seen for a good while. It felt like a large part of the fandom sighed a little sigh of relief as the stress of the last week drained away! Fingers crossed the brothers are headed in the right direction. There’ll be more bumps…there always are…but I feel a little less scared of them now. All because of a couple of ridiculously gorgeous, big hearted boys, dressing up like idjits and charging, shoulder to shoulder into fake battle.

Gotta love this show.

Thanks for reading! See you next time.

P.S. - can't wait to hear what the Js have to say at Vegascon about doing this ep!

sweetondean is Chief Editor and a writer for The Winchester Family Business

For all the latest Supernatural info and article links, follow The Winchester Family Business on Twitter at @WinFamBusiness

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Brothers that LAPR together..... A Supernatural Fanfiction

Sam and Dean stood in front of the basins of the public restroom in the park behind 'Moondoor'. Swords casually propped up against the wall.

"Those nerds didn't know what hit 'em" Dean chuckled as he turned on the tap and ran his hands under the cool water. "Think I got blisters from that damn sword though."

"Awww princess" teased Sam, "The nasty sword too rough for your delicate handsies?"

Dean looked up. "Hey I beat the snot out of those Orcs" he said, "And I've got a bunch of ears to prove it." He reached into the leather pouch hanging off his belt and pulled out a handful of fake ears, proffering them to his brother.

Sam just laughed. "Yeah man, you're the hero of Moondoor."

"Damn straight." said Dean. "Anyway, I saw you clipping a few Orcs and Elves around the head yourself."

Sam laughed again. "Yeah, I got me a few" he chuckled.

Dean looked at his brother and smiled, it'd been a while since he'd seen Sam laugh. Damn, it'd been a long while. He liked it. He liked to see his baby brother enjoying himself for a change.

"You know," said Sam with a smirk, "You should leave that wig on, blonde flowing locks kinda suit you."

Dean looked in the mirror and flicked the hair back with an over exaggerated wave of his hand, "You think? Well you know what they say Sammy, blondes have more fun." Dean winked.

Sam shook his head "God forbid!" He laughed again. Only his brother could turn a gibe around like that. He bent down to rinse the paint off his face.

"And you Sammy, should leave that paint on," Dean said, casting a sideways glance at Sam, "Hides that ugly mug of yours."

Dean quickly sidestepped, narrowly avoiding the water his brother flung at him.

They walked back across the field towards the Impala.

Dean sighed a contended sigh, "Well they may be nerds, but they sure know how to have a good time. That was definitely fun."

"Yeah…" Sam agreed, "It was fun. Oh and, hey Dean," he continued.

Dean looked up. "Yeah?"

"Happy birthday man."

Though he tried not to, Dean beamed.

For more Supernatural fanfiction by sweetondean visti her fanfiction page

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Review - Supernatural 8.10 "Torn and Frayed"

And here we are, back in business! Hellatus over! Hooray!

I can’t tell you how happy I was to have “Supernatural” back. Seriously. I spent the afternoon beaming! I had a day off work so I actually watched it live (don’t ask me how ‘k?) and I was so chirpy after it, which is weird, because it was not exactly a chirpy episode! But I guess I was chirpy just to have the show back and chirpy to see my boys again…and that was the most I’ve ever used the word chirpy in my life!

This was a tough episode. It was tough to watch. Some tough choices were faced and some tough decisions were made. But for me, I can’t help but feel hopeful. I can’t help but feel like this was a tiny little step in the right direction for the brothers. A start...

Ok, I’ll admit something…when we awkwardly zoomed in on Crowley’s surprised face as he said “There’s an angel tablet”, I said out loud to no one but the dogs… “Well d’uh!” Do you think us fans are getting a little too smart for our own good? We’d all been discussing the possibility of an angel tablet for a while. I mean if there’s a demon tablet and a leviathan tablet, stands to reason there’d be an angel tablet. So that little OMG moment was totally lost on me. (I wonder if there’s a human tablet too)?

I was more surprised that all this information was buried deep in Samandiriel’s noggin…or his vessel’s noggin. Geeze, poor Alfie…the dude goes off to work at the Wiener Hut one day and look how it turns out! Anyway, I guess if the angels instinctively know the names of all the prophets, they instinctively know all of Heaven’s other big secrets, including the existence of all the tablets. I wonder what else they know. I wonder what other secrets are buried within their programming.

Though it was difficult to watch for the most part, I enjoyed the progression in the angel storyline. The whole thing has certainly piqued my interest and I’m finding that because we’re actually seeing what’s happening, as opposed to just hearing about it as per season 6, I’m more involved, I care more. I didn’t much care for the angel, weapons of God, Raphael war stuff in season 6, mostly because we barely saw any of it, it was just referenced. This time around, we have a greater involvement because we’re in the room, we’re getting to see the story the brothers aren’t seeing and Cass isn’t remembering.

I found the torturing scenes pretty damn brutal. Particularly the first bit, where Viggor reinserted that angel-radio silencer into Alfie’s frontal lobe. Ick and ouch. I was wincing. All the screaming, it was pretty hardcore, even for “Supernatural” and even for me. Doesn’t help that it was an angel we were all hoping would make it out alive, because he seemed like a good guy and good guy angels are few and far between. I felt so sorry for Alfie. Young Tyler Johnston did a really nice job.

So who is this Naomi chick? I figure she’s working for someone or working as part of a larger group. A consortium of angels. I’m seeing her as kind of a middleman, like Zachariah, rather than the boss of the operation. I don’t think she’s running the show. When she digs around and finds out what Alfie gave away whilst at the hands of Crowley, I wonder what her plan of attack will be. Will she mind control Cass into unwittingly manipulating the boys, to help her reach her goal of finding the angel tablet so it can be returned to Heaven, or maybe even destroyed, so that it can never be used against them? I think it’s about time the Big Man came back and pulled his bratty little kids into line! They’ve been nothing but trouble since he went AWOL.

I’m guessing that the reason the angels have crossed into mind control/brain washing territory is because angels have experienced free will for the first time in eternity and maybe this was the only way the high ranking angels could get everyone back into the fold. Or maybe it’s for some other nefarious reason yet to be revealed. Maybe just to keep their secrets, maybe something bigger. Alfie seemed surprised that Cass didn’t know who Naomi is. Like Cass should know who Naomi is. But Cass can’t remember her, because she’s playing with his programming. I wish Alfie stuck around so we could have found out more…

Poor Cass. Man, my heart bleeds for Cass. Here he is, going around fixing little baby’s hernias and generally out there doing good for humanity with a smile on his face and then bloody Naomi makes him kill Heaven’s most adorable angel! What has she done to him? It’s not just the mind control; she stuck something in the corner of his eye that made his vessel bleed. So if the Alfie thing is any indication, it looks like Naomi is tinkering with Castiel’s hardwiring. I feel horrible for him. He thought it was his idea to save Alfie. He thought after killing so many, saving one would help with his penance. Then he thought it was his idea to kill Alfie. Poor Cass. The way he cradled the dead angel’s head. A-wah! This is going to totally screw him up. Because he already feels pretty crappy about what went down previously and now... Ugh. Where’s this going? Nowhere good.

If this was why Castiel was pulled from Purgatory, well then, somehow the Winchesters must be involved, because surely the angels in charge could get any old angel to go rescue Alfie or track down Crowley or find the angel tablet. But because the Winchester’s were already on the tablet track and Cass is their friend… This all worries me because Castiel has only just got back into the brother’s good graces after the leviathan/souls episode. I don’t want Heaven to make Cass do anything that puts him at odds with Sam and Dean. Hopefully, now that the brother’s spidey senses are tingling about the whole thing and that they can see something is amiss with their angel buddy, they’ll be able to sort out what’s happening to Cass before it becomes too destructive to the lot of them. Damn angels.

This is the best Cass storyline we’ve had since season 4 and 5. He’s intricately involved in the main mytharc. He doesn’t feel shoehorned in. I felt like the last two seasons, no one really knew what to do with Cass and he was there more for the benefit of the fans than the benefit of the story, but this season he seems to have more of a purpose.

So…Sam and Dean... Clunky segue, sorry.

It seems crazy to me that a show can physically hurt when I watch it. But that’s what happened when I watched that opening scene. I got like this little pain in my chest. It simply hurt to watch. This was the Winchesters at their not listening, bull-headed best.

Sam had every right to be angry with Dean for making him fear the worst for Amelia. Dean’s text move, though it served its purpose, was not the way to solve that situation and get his brother out of the picture. But on the flipside, Sam simply didn’t want to hear anything Dean had to say. Anger does that I guess. When you’re as angry as Sam was, and I think that was anger that’d been brewing all season and wasn’t just about the message, well, you become selectively deaf. But had he known the situation, had he known that Martin had Elizabeth with a knife to her throat, I’m quite sure he would have felt differently. But of course, Elizabeth was never mentioned, because that would’ve been too easy on us!

The thing with this conversation, which I liked is, really, they were both right. They both had a case. Dean’s move was hurtful and thoughtless and caused his brother worry and pain and he should’ve realised that would be an outcome, but none of this would have happened if Sam had put just a little faith in Dean. I’m not saying Sam should’ve trusted Benny blindly. But have a little faith in his brother? Yeah.

I think Sam’s lack of faith or trust or whatever when it comes to Benny is more about Dean having lied and kept Benny a secret, than the fact that Benny is a monster. Because really, that doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense when it comes to Sam. Sure he’s been burnt by monsters before and sure, he might be worried that Benny may turn out to be Dean's Ruby, but usually he’s more thoughtful than that and usually he has more empathy than that. This monster is responsible for his brother standing in front of him, that in itself should require a little consideration. But he doesn't even seem interested in hearing of any possibility that Benny might not be all bad. He dismisses it out of hand and that just seems weird to me. So I have to take it, this anger is about his brother and the lie and the whole getting dragged back to hunting thing and how he felt when he lost Dean and the loss of Amelia and all the fear that comes along with what he’s having to do now and just everything rolled into one gigantic bag of anxiety and anger, that he’s focused on Benny. Because nothing else really makes sense to me.

And there’s no point saying, yeah but Dean didn’t trust Sam about this or that so why should Sam trust Dean, because two wrongs do not make a right and because this is Sam we’re talking about, not Dean…this is Sam and in the past he’s not been quite so black and white. That’s why I think his mistrust and anger stems from much more than simply Benny being a monster and I really hope at some point that gets recognised.

Anyway, it was one of those scenes where you want to clonk their heads together and say, shut-up both of you and listen to your brother! Had they not (hot) angry glared at each other, maybe they might have got somewhere…but no, Dean huffed out and Sam closed his eyes in frustration and…yeah…ouch...the fans grimaced. How many times have we been down this road in the last 7 ½ years? And we keep coming back for more! We be crazy! Having said that, I actually enjoyed the opening scene. It felt honest and realistic. Any other outcome would have felt wrong at that point. They were both too far-gone. I’m glad there wasn’t a band-aid pop over their sores.

So much hurt. Sam hurt by Dean’s lies and thoughtless trick, Dean hurt by Sam no longer wanting to be by his side, by Sam wanting out. Neither taking the time to listen each other, neither taking the time to talk to each other. (Hot) angry stares and bitter words... But it had to get here, before it could get to where we ended up.

I liked all of the brother’s interactions in this episode. I dug how, even though they were seriously annoyed with each other, they fought like a team. Covering each other’s back…in unison as always. Cass was so right to go get Sam. Without this move, I’m not sure how they would’ve been reunited, because they’re so, damn, stupidly stubborn. I think Cass did it because he needed them both, but I also think he did it because he knows they need each other.

I also think Kevin’s comment about not being able to enjoy a world that he had to save, that he kicked his mum to the curb, so he could focus on the mission, may have influenced Dean’s change of heart towards Sam (though obviously not initially, we all know how Dean likes to brood on things). I think seeing Kevin push his only family away made Dean reassess. Is it worth it? If he continued on this track, he’d push his only family away out of hurt and stubbornness. If he forced Sam to stay, or if he didn’t allow Sam to make his own choices, if they continued on this path of angry resentment, where would it end? Was the job, the life, the mission worth losing the most important person in the world to him? That’s why I think Dean had a change of heart, because nothing is worth losing his brother over, nothing is worth all the fighting.

Dean was honest enough to say he was jealous of Sam’s ability to separate his life from the job, something Sam’s always been able to do from day one and something Dean has tried to do and failed at. This time, he let Sam make his choice on his future. He told him both feet in, or both feet out, not in a way that instilled guilt, not as an ultimatum, but as advice from one brother to another, because they both know, that having one foot in their world while trying to maintain a foot in the other world can lead to you being dead. Either choice Sam made, Dean would have been supportive of it, even if it meant losing Sam as the person by his side day in day out, because by giving Sam this choice, it meant that no matter what, he wouldn’t lose Sam as a brother. Mature brothers are mature! For once! I think that was one of the most grown-up conversations they’ve ever had. I look forward to more.

I wasn’t surprised that Sam chose to stay with Dean. Of course we knew this would be the outcome eventually, this being a show about the Winchester brothers and all, but we didn’t know if it would be the outcome here and now. But when I saw Amelia and Sam’s interactions in the motel room, how Sam seemed to draw away postcoital, I knew that Sam would not be there at the end. It was when Sam said they should think about it, it was when Sam said, “Words will never cover what you mean to me, what you’ll always mean to me…” Two things struck me here; if you are crazy in love with someone, if you know you’re meant to be together and that this is the only life you want to live, you don’t have to think about it, because you just know. Then when Sam said, “…what you’ll always mean to me…” well that sounded like goodbye. That sounded like he already knew. Sam’s a good guy. He was obviously regretful of the fact they slept together, Don still being in the picture. That’s never going to sit well with Sam. He cares too much for others. Also, the fact that Sam popping up again in Amelia’s life, caused her to rethink her relationship with her husband... Had that not happened, had Sam not been there, she would have moved on and been happy without him. I think both of these things would have weighed heavily on Sam. I’m not sure Sam would ever have felt comfortable living with that knowledge, living with that guilt.

But I think there’s more to it. I don’t doubt that Sam loves Amelia, but they were these two damaged people. That’s what brought them together in the first place, that’s what bonded them. With the return of both their loved ones, some of those wounds have started to heal. I wonder if Sam doesn’t need Amelia in quite the same way that he once did. Maybe that hole in Sam’s life that Amelia helped to fill is not as gaping anymore. I also think Sam knows that deep down, he could never walk away from hunting…not just from his brother, but from what he’s always done. Sometime ago he came to terms with the life and even embraced it, even more than Dean did. Maybe in his heart of hearts, he knows that hunting will always be there, like an itch that needs to be scratched.

Amelia telling Sam that it’s up to him to choose between, being with her 100% or being in the life of his that she knew nothing about, was exactly what Dean said to him. Both feet in, or both feet out. Funny that. I respected how Amelia phrased this. I respected that she didn’t give him an ultimatum, that she gave him a choice, that she gave both of them a choice and she that didn’t tell Sam what her decision would be, so there was no guilt, no pressure…just a choice to make from his heart. In the end, Amelia chose Sam…but Sam chose the life he never shared with her.

And Dean took his own advice. I know Sam pretty much gave Dean an ultimatum at the beginning of the episode in relation to Benny, but I don't think that's why Dean made that call. I think Dean listened to what he told Sam, all in, or all out. I think he was committing to repairing his relationship with his brother and with Benny still in the picture, he knew that could never completely happen, because his relationship with the vampire would always be a bone of contention between Sam and Dean. So to move forward, to get past all the fighting, he had to let Benny go. I can’t even imagine how difficult that decision must have been for Dean, he doesn't turn his back on friends and you could tell by his face and tear filled eyes, how painful it was for him. But in the end, Dean chose to put his family first. He chose to put the most important relationship in his life and the most important person in his life, first. I can’t be disappointed in Dean for this.

I am sad for Benny, desperately sad. But, I think it's important to remember, when Dean and Benny first came back from Purgatory, the plan was never to see each other again. They hugged and said goodbye. No matter how much Benny meant to Dean, that relationship was never supposed to spill into this world. It only did so because Benny needed help and contacted Dean. He needed help when his old nest attacked him, he needed to be helped when Sam set Martin on him and this time around, he wanted help to stay on the straight and narrow. Benny always contacted Dean, not the other way round. Should Dean still have dropped everything and gone to Benny? You know what? Dean’s up to his elbows in demons and angels and tablets and closing the gates of Hell and a whole lot of brother crap. Dean can’t be solely responsible for Benny’s choices. Dean can't be solely responsible for Benny keeping his nose clean. Benny has to learn how to stay on the straight and narrow himself. He can’t expect Dean to drop everything and travel cross-country at a phone call’s notice. Sounds harsh I know, but no one in this show seems to take responsibility for their own actions and it’s about time someone did.

I’m sad for Benny, I like him a hell of a lot, I like Dean and Benny’s friendship a hell of a lot. I’m sad for the both of them and I sure don’t want this going down the, Benny kills a human now Dean has to kill his buddy path…please TPTB, do not do that to us or to Benny or to Dean. I fear that’s where it’s going, but I seriously hope not. Of course, this being “Supernatural” and all, Dean’s decision will probably bite him in the ass. Lord knows, we couldn’t possibly let him walk away and it all be ok…we’ve got to grind him down with more guilt yeah? We’ll all just sit here and wait for the Benny situation to explode in Dean’s face… Gah!

Wow…this whole review has been a real downer! Sorry about that! But it was a pretty dour episode. I don’t know about you, but I ran the emotional gamut! From anger and frustration, to revulsion, to giggly glee at Cass and Dean doing their shtick “That’s his serious face, yes.” Or even better “…manifest through shrubbery” MANIFEST THROUGH SHRUBBERY! My new favourite saying. I have to figure out how to work it into a conversation! Then there was horror, confusion, fear and in the end a bittersweet, cautious optimism. It was like being on a rollercoaster… AHHHHHHHH...EWWWWWW…GRRRR...HEE HEE...AHHHHHHHH…AWWWWW…PHEW. I ended up wobbly at the knees!

I’m not saddened by Sam and Dean’s decisions. I’m not angry or disappointed that they chose to give up two important people in their lives. It’s a step towards committing to fixing their broken relationship. A fragile understanding. Don’t get me wrong, I want them to have friends, I want them to be able to have other relationships outside of each other. But at this point in time, with these two people, with these two relationships with what they're facing and with where the brothers are emotionally, it’s just not possible. But they’re not alone. They’re not isolated. They still have people around them. They still have Cass, they still have Garth, they still have the Trans and out there somewhere, they still have Sheriff Mills. It’s just right now, to get their house in order they had to make a choice. Sam and Dean chose family and well... isn't that kinda the whole point?

Thanks for reading guys! See you next week for Dean in chainmail........ Eeeeee!

sweetondean is Chief Editor and a Staff Writer for The Winchester Family Business

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Review - Supernatural 8.09 "Citizen Fang"

Hi! How are we all feeling? A little fragile? This hiatus is going to be harsh… Stupid CW changing their return date.

You know, I’m at work while most of you watch the show and this week my twitter was going nutso! I get alerts when someone tweets me and I kept getting “Oh Amy, tonight’s episode is going to break your heart” kind of tweets! So I started to panic. Like, I was having the worst day anyway and then I was having massive “Supernatural” anxiety on top of it! All this concern for me could only mean one thing, Dean screwed up, Dean did something horrific, everyone knows how I feel about Dean, so if I’m going to be that distressed by the episode, well… I was freaked out! I emailed Alice and Ardeospina! I said…am I going to cry??? Alice said she was surprised by something that happened and she was surprised she could still be surprised, she also cried, Ardeospina didn’t cry but thought that I probably would! OMG! I managed to make myself even more anxious…seriously…I had a lot of stuff going on which was making my stomach hurt, but my “Supernatural” feels were making me sweat!

Finally, the day ended and I could get home to my boys because obviously, they needed me! I nearly ran every red light to get there. I threw some food at the dog, got some tissues just in case, cracked a beer and prepared for the worst. My heart was leaping out of my chest for the entire episode. I was seriously queasy throughout! But…I didn’t cry...

I groaned when Dean said the thing about Benny never letting him down. I groaned when Sam spat out his well good on you line. I groaned when Sam let Dean get handcuffed to heater. I groaned really loud when we found out Dean sent the text. I groaned even louder when Sam hung up on Dean. GAH! These two! But you know what…it’s all good…I’m good with it all. In fact, I’m pretty damn happy about all that brother crap getting flushed to the surface…because now maybe we can deal with it and get rid of it once and for bloody all!

I may have touched on this somewhere else, but I’ve been thinking a lot about Sam and Dean lately (and by lately I mean seven and a half years) so humour me while I hop into my way-back-machine…

“Skin” – 1.06
Dean to Sam – while in the guise of the shapeshifter

"He’s sure got issues with you. You got to go to college. He had to stay home.

I mean, I had to stay home. With Dad. You don’t think I had dreams of my own? But Dad needed me. Where the hell were you?

See, deep down, I’m just jealous. You got friends. You could have a life. Me? I know I’m a freak. And sooner or later, everybody’s gonna leave me.

You left. Hell, I did everything Dad asked me to, and he ditched me, too. No explanation, nothin’, just poof. Left me with your sorry ass."

“Asylum” – 1.10
Sam to Dean – while possessed by Dr Ellicott and with a gun pointing at Dean.

"I mean, why are we even here? ’Cause you're following Dad's orders like a good little solider? Because you always do what he says without question? Are you that desperate for his approval?

That's the difference between you and me. I have a mind of my own. I'm not pathetic, like you.

You know what, I am sick of doing what you tell me to do."

The reason I’m starting this week’s review with a couple of quotes from the first half of season one, is because I think after “Citizen Fang” it’s important to take a step back and look at the history and nature of Sam and Dean’s relationship before we spend six weeks in the depths of despair.

I think us fans have a tendency to look at the Winchester’s bro-ness through rose coloured glasses. I know I do. We love them, maybe a little too much sometimes, just like they love each other, maybe a little too much sometimes. Actually, there’s no maybe about it, I think they love each other to the point of distraction (same goes for us). But I think the resentments we’re seeing raise their ugly heads in such a hurtful way now, are resentments that have been there right from the moment we met them.

When we first heard each of the brother’s inner doubts and anger at each other, albeit via supernatural interference, I remember thinking, o-oh, everything’s not so peachy-keen jelly-bean! And now….well now, their relationship has been so impacted by the shite they’ve had to wade through, that those resentments are starting to seep into everything. And you know what? Good! Let me explain myself a bit better because you probably all think I’m about as crazy as mostly-ok-Martin.

Sam and Dean have been on one hell of a ride to get them to where we now find them. They haven’t had a chance to draw breath since, well at least since when Dean went to Hell.

When we first met our beautiful Winchester boys, they hadn’t seen each other for 2 years. Sam had left John and Dean to go to college. John told Sam, you walk out that door don’t you ever come back. Dean didn’t contact Sam for the whole 2 years. He says he didn’t think Sam would pick up, but we know he was smarting from his brother leaving the family, or rather leaving Dean, which we later discover is the way Dean sees it. It wasn’t until their father went missing and Dean found himself alone, that he went to his brother and asked him to join him in the hunt for John, as much because he wanted to find their father as have his brother beside him. I think it was probably the excuse he’d been waiting for so he could reconnect with Sam. Dean doesn’t do alone well, neither brother does.

Sam was crystal clear, he had no intention of continuing with the hunter’s life beyond the search for dad and had Jess not been murdered, I’m quite sure Sam would be a lawyer right about now.

But circumstances changed Sam’s mind. During season one and then into season two Sam continued to remind Dean that this was not the life he was going to follow. Initially, he just wanted to find dad. Then he wanted revenge for Jess and mum and everything. But still, once the Yellow-Eyed Demon was done with, Sam was leaving the family business once and for all. I’m sure this hung over Dean’s head like a death sentence.

But circumstances changed Sam’s mind. He was killed, his brother sold his soul to resurrect him and now Sam’s mission was to get Dean out of that deal. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and after that…well, after that it all kind of went in the crapper.

While Dean was in real Hell, Sam was in lost-without-his-brother hell and he fell in with Ruby. Between Dean and Sam they started the world on the road to the Apocalypse. Their trust in each other was permanently shaken as each chose different sides of the Ruby camp. Lucifer was risen. They found out they were the opposing vessels for the Apocalypse – forced on to opposite sides once again. They struggled to stay apart and then struggled to stay together. They were forced to face all their memories in Heaven and a wedge was driven further between them. Sam’s memories showed he was happiest when away from the family/family business. Dean got hurt because Dean’s memories were all about being with his family. So, the amulet went in the bin…..

They had a shining moment when they came together out of pure love and desperation to stop Lucifer in his tracks and it was that love and dedication to each other that quite literally saved the world (that’s how I see it anyway). Dean wouldn’t leave Sam and that helped Sam fight off the Devil to save Dean. But could they even catch a break then? Nope.

Sam dove into the pit. Dean struggled to live without his brother. He tried to follow Sam’s wish for him and what Dean thought was his own dream for a family life, only to find that was never going to be possible. Sam’s unexpected homecoming was not a happy one. Something was wrong in Sam-town and Dean knew it. His brother came out of Hell without his soul.

When soulless Sam’s soul was restored, the brothers had the world to save, yet again, this time from a barrage of Jefferson Starship monsters the likes they’d never seen and then, from a friend, who proceeded to send Sam crazy. Whatever. They kept moving forward because that’s what they do. They’re Winchesters. They stopped Eve but they couldn’t stop Cass, the Leviathan came, more end of the world stuff and then, bam, bam, bam. Cass died, Bobby died, Sam went mad, Cass came back, cured Sam and Dean killed Dick Roman, vanishing before his brother’s eyes. Poof. Gone.

Then…everything stopped.

They were apart for a year, where they both had a chance to draw breath and assess everything, without the pressures of the world driving itself off the cliff once again.

Dean fought in Purgatory and found a new sense of purpose. Sam met someone and found a new sense of life. Dean went back to being the hunter he was when we first met him. Sam went back to trying to make a safe and normal existence for himself, like when we first met him.

I think, what we’re seeing here and now are issues that the Winchester brothers had with each other since that wonderful day they came into our lives. The issues that they’ve never properly aired and that have had to take a back seat to the brothers being great big heroes.

What I see happening between Sam and Dean is confusion and hurt and anger and resentment amplified by years of confusion and hurt and anger and resentment.

I think that Dean is confused and hurt and angry about why Sam never looked for him, why his brother let him down. Why his brother turned away and went in search of a “normal life” again, and that plays into all of Dean’s insecurities and fears about not being worthy and being left alone, but I also think all this plays into that very first tirade. Sam got another shot at friends and a life. This should make Dean happy, he did too for a fleeting moment. But it’s déjà vu all over again. Dean had dreams he didn’t get to live, but Sam got another shot…at the expense of Dean.

I think Sam’s mad as hell. MAD AS HELL. I can’t remember seeing him this angry. He’s almost itching for a fight. I mean, if there was a fight, he could leave again with a clearer conscious right? I think sure, he’s angry his brother kept Benny a secret from him, he’s angry at what he sees as a double standard, but I also think, he’s mad as hell that he’s back doing the one thing he thought he got away from again. He’s back hunting. I think he’s pissed. Not necessarily at Dean but just at everything. All these flashbacks he’s having to his life with Amelia. He’s obviously thinking about it constantly. Well at least three times every 42 minutes! It looks to me like it’s eating him up. It looks like he feels like he’s been dragged back to following orders like a good little soldier and his brother is calling the shots once again. He's angry and he's scared. He’s given up everything once again, for the family business that has left him with so much pain.

I think, those two very simple outbursts, way back in season one, are continue inform the brother’s relationship and are playing into where they’re currently at. Because these are deep resentments, they’re epic siblingesque resentments and they’ve never truly been aired and dealt with. And sure, there's been a torrent of horror and mistrust under the bridge since then, which only adds to everything, but as I see it, where they are now and where they kicked off, are two very similar places. So that’s what I mean by…good. Get it out guys. Please, get it out and talk about it! You've been burying this stuff for years. It's time. Let's have that mature relationship Carver promises they're working towards. Let this be the first step to that.

They don’t communicate well, never have. Through everything they’ve learnt, that’s something that’s eluded them. I’d say their upbringing wasn’t conducive to open and honest discussion! For the brothers, it more often than not comes out in spits of pain. Which is why I never really worry about them, because the kind of pain being felt at the things being said is the kind of pain felt because of love. If they weren’t the most important people in each other’s lives, they wouldn’t be so deeply injured by each other’s lack of trust and understanding. They wouldn’t lash out so hurtfully.

Maybe this is how my Winchester rose-coloured glasses work…I don't know. I know most people don’t roll with my assessment that, regardless of what the brothers say or how they act, that love is always there and is their stone number one. I’ve always seen their relationship as a great big functioning dysfunctional piece of love. Sure there’ve been wonderful moments of fun and closeness where that affection is clearly on display and I think it’s those we tend to hang on to. But they’re gigantic, burley blokes and they butt heads, a lot. They can't be sharing and caring at every turn. They live in each other’s back pockets. They are totally different individuals. They piss each other off royally. They hurt each other completely. Their world is scary and extreme and their reaction to it and to each other can be scary and extreme. So…yeah, it’s bad, but it’s also good, because even if it’s coming out as yelling and nastiness, at least it’s coming out. That seems like a giant step forward! Everyone knows where they stand pretty much and we all know, when everything hits rock bottom…the only way is up (baby, for you and me….you’re all singing that in your heads now aren’t you).

And yet, in amongst all the angsty, heart stabby, keep us awake at night bro stuff, we saw some really strong moments between Sam and Dean that shows, whatever they have is still there and maybe we can take some solace in that.

Dean didn’t rail at Sam for putting someone on Benny. Even though you could tell Sam was expecting Dean to bite, Dean didn’t, instead agreeing with his brother that they needed to check it out. Sam gave Dean the time he asked for to go to see Benny before everything went too far. This was my favourite moment of the episode. The boys were laser focused on each other. Martin was bouncing back and forth yelling at them, but they just stared at each other calmly like no one else was in the room, as Dean asked “Sammy” for that time. I loved that moment. There was understanding and give and take going on.

But then the brothers met an impasse. Dean asked Sam to trust him and in doing so, to trust Benny, but if there’s no trust between each other, how can that trust be extended? Sam questioned Dean’s judgement. Dean hit one out in anger; Sam got hurt and volleyed one back. They went their separate ways and took their own actions. For right or for wrong, they followed the path they thought was justified.

I’m sure Sam probably would have killed Benny given half a chance, though Benny is pretty charming, maybe he could have talked Sam around! I think Dean did the text thing to protect both his brother and his friend. He doesn’t want them to get into a fight. He doesn’t want one to kill the other. He needed Sam out of the picture. He’d planned for this situation a while back. That’s smart man, and it also shows how well he knows Sam. Yeah, it was one hell of a dick move…but I was initially blown away by that level of forward thinking and then saddened that Dean thought maybe it would come to that and then saddened more that it had come to that.

I don’t think Dean realises what a fragile place Sam is in. I don’t think he’s seeing it. I don’t think Sam's showing him for a start, or telling him, no one’s telling anyone anything, but I also think, opening his eyes to what Sam’s feeling is something Dean doesn’t want to face, because then he’d see that maybe Sam doesn’t want to be there, next to Dean, driving down crazy street. Though's getting kind of obvious.

But everything in this episode could have gone a different way if the brothers had done what they do best and faced the problem together. Because I think Sam may actually feel differently about Benny if he truly met the vampire and learnt why Dean puts so much faith in him. They kind of want the same thing Benny and Sam and Benny and Dean I guess, happiness, family, they're all not that different...except for that pesky monster thing.

The one fly in the ointment of this whole shebang was Martin. Had he not been in the picture, things would have gone a lot different. Though had he not been in the picture we’d have never had this particular chapter in the Winchesters scrappy history! Martin had no place being out hunting again, he probably had no place being out…I just assume the hospital he was in got short on beds or something and turfed him. Sam probably should have been smarter than he was in putting Martin on Benny’s tail. But I don’t blame Sam, because I think out of everyone in this tragedy, which is hitting Shakespearian heights, Sam’s the one coping the least.

Did you see that panic overtake Sam again? When he raced towards Amelia, we saw that blind panic that we’ve seen a couple of times this season. Sam’s not doing good. I’m almost expecting one of his eyes to start twitching. He actually reminds me a bit of the Sam at the end of “Sam, Interrupted” when he said he’s angry all the time. Sam’s hurting. I’m kind of glad he’s getting a time out! 

I couldn’t be happier that Benny came through this with his head still attached to his shoulders. Benny is awesome. I love that character. Ty Olsson is doing a fantastic job with him. Benny fits well into the complex and conflicted character drama that is “Supernatural”. Plus he is cute and cuddly! Did he kill mostly-ok-Martin? Yeah, I’d say and I so don’t care! I’m pretty much taking everything that happened in this episode on face value. I think Martin’s neck looked ripped, not cut. Martin got close, Benny lunged, that’s how I see it playing out.

Oh…you know, I do have one theory…hands up who thinks Benny is going to make it to season 9. Bueller? Bueller? Nah me neither. I think we might have a “Heart” situation on our hands, with out the steamy sex of course….WITH OUT the steamy sex people! Benny gave up humans a while back, but he’s finding it hard going, plus he can’t have any semblance of the life he wants. He’s alone, lonely and teetering on the edge of being a monster…I mean a monster that kills. What if he decides, it’s not worth it, getting out of Purgatory is not what it’s all cracked up to be. What if like Lenore, he simply wants done with it, because either he can no longer control the blood lust, or because his life is plain miserable. He only has one person now who keeps his ducks in a row. Dean. I think Benny might ask Dean to send him back to Purgatory. I think he might ask his friend to kill him. If this happens I hope Sam is by his brother’s side, because, Dean’s going to need that support. Meep. Just a theory…run with it if you like! But be warned…I’m usually wrong. I suck at theories!

“Citizen Fang” was painful to watch, that’s for sure, because we all love these brothers and we want them to be happy and most of us want them to find that happiness together, but I’m really glad it’s all happening…finally... and I’m totally digging it. I thought it was another cracker of an episode that once again played into the whole perception thing going on this season. Everyone thought what they were doing was right. From their perspective it was. Even crazy mostly-ok-Martin.

The music, the cinematography, the direction, the performances the script from Dan Loflin were all spot on. I loved that scene where Dean confronts Benny. I love that Dean’s standing there with a knife behind his back. The camera drifts back and forth, the cicadas are chirping and the frogs are croaking and that southern style music is playing and I swear, it felt so steamy I nearly turned up the air conditioning and not just because there were two hot (one ridiculously hot) men facing off with knives! See what this show has done to me! Pretty men + violence = hot! I’m a tragedy.

While we’re on hot… “or…you could just drop a dime yourself” D-amn! Dean Winchester, you flirt like a BOSS! Woof! Also, Jensen, your Texan was showing…drawl much? Smokin’.

Oh and Amelia’s real. Which, I was pretty much expecting, but still. It made me think…if Sam left because he wanted to give Amelia and Don a shot, that when we saw him leaving it was after one last night together, then this whole time, Sammy would’ve been looking at his phone, hoping that Amelia would ring to say that she didn’t want her ex, that she’d chosen Sam and that it was all over with Don… But his phone has never rung, so he’s known and would’ve been dealing with the fact that his girl didn’t pick him. Quick, group hug everyone, because that smarts! How good was Jared’s reaction when Sam saw Amelia in the bar. That was awesome. I have no idea what’s going to happen… I figure, this will be the end of Sam and Amelia….but like I said, I suck at theories.

So here we are. Dean pulled a swiftie on Sam, Sam’s mad as all get out…one’s in Louisiana, one’s in Texas and we’re left high and dry for six weeks! SON OF A BITCH! But it’ll be ok, because my glass half-fullness is saying to me, that this is the beginning of a new road for Sam and Dean where they actually get the opportunity to deal with their crap and move forward into the back end of the season, wanting to be together and being the awesome duo we know they can be. That’s the thought that’s going to get me through this hellatus anyway! Maybe with some puppies and rainbows! Maybe I'm in deanial...get it...DEANial... Yep. But seriously, I'm thinking in a few episodes, hopefully we’ll see some kind of harmony and balance work its way back into their lives…well as much as can be expected…because this is “Supernatural” and none of us expects a happy ending here.

I just wanted to say thanks so much for reading my stuff and for all your support. I really appreciate all your comments and feedback. I know we don’t always see eye to eye, but I dig that, because it makes it interesting and I love to read everyone else’s ideas. I read every comment, even if I don’t always respond. I really love this show and I really love these brothers and I really love this fandom – even when I want to salt and burn it - and I love being part of all the crazy. “Supernatural” is way more than a TV show for me and I have a lot of you to thank for that.

We’ve got some fun things planned here at WFB for the hellatus, so keep your eyes peeled for those and I’ll be around with something for sure!

Oh and one last thing…rugburn…who else was obsessed with the mark on Jensen’s face that was the supposed result of rugburn caused by mucking around (wrestling/fight training) with Misha and Jared in his hotel room while at Toronto Con. Boys. Bless.

See you soon…stay strong!

sweetondean is Chief Editor and a Staff Writer for The Winchester Family Business