Monday, 29 April 2013

Supernatural Convention Report - Viva Las Vegascon Part 3: It's A Wrap!

I’m baaaack! Oh my gosh…I'm so sorry. It’s been so long since I wrote part 2, I’ve already got my tickets for Vegascon 2014! I got to keep the same epic seat. How exciting!
So I'm just going to give you a few highlights of day 3 of Vegascon and share a few of my photos!

Anyway…where were we? Oh yes, J day was over, I’d had my Js photos, J2s, J2Ms and Jensen’s meet and greet and after a very loooooong day, was ready to crash. BUT…our photos would be available to pick up around midnight, so after our Misha op, Hazel and I went and grabbed some much needed food with a few of friends and waited until the mighty Chris, had printed up the Js and J2 ops.

We wandered back to the photo room at around 11.30pm to find the photos all laid out and waiting. One of the really fun things about looking through hundreds of photos to find your own photos is looking through hundreds of photos! Some of them are adorable, some of them are hilarious, some of them you think….ooo, good pose, might have to plagiarise that one!

Anyway, we all grabbed our photos, giggled, gushed, grimaced as appropriate. I always find I pretty much dislike all my ops until maybe a week or so later, when I look at them with fresh eyes and love them! It was well after midnight when we headed back to our rooms. Hazel and I sat up oooing and ahhing over the Js for a bit, I uploaded some photos to twitter and then….THE CLOCKS WENT FORWARD! D’oh! Yes, daylight savings kicked in and all of a sudden it was 3.30 in the morning. I did mention that conventions are super exhausting right?

Sunday came around awful quick and kicked off pretty early at 10am. We didn’t want to miss the start of the last day, so we mustered ourselves and made our way down to the auditorium. Richard came out on the stage, bouncing…literally bouncing all over the place. The man’s energy is daunting. There was a little Elastic Waste Band magic, a bit of Richard and Rob re-enacting the lift from Dirty Dancing (Rob playing the chick part) and then we were on with our first guests.

I’d met Julie McNiven a couple of times, but I’d never seen Samantha Smith. Talk about pretty! Well, both are of course!

Sam and Julie seemed pretty relaxed and just chatted, as much to each other as to us, answering questions about the show and other things. We had the obligatory character questions that always make me squirm, because it’s not like they’ve been living with these characters for years or anything, but like all cast members, they answered them politely and with enthusiasm. Like Julie was asked, what she thought of Anna trying to kill Sam and she said, she did what needed to be done, she was trying to save the world! [Insert sassy attiude here.] Both the ladies were pretty sassy with their answers. It was nice to have a couple of chicks at the event, adding a bit of glamour. These things tend to be a testosterone-fuelled boy-fest on stage and an estrogen-fuelled chick-fest in the audience, so having the “Supernatural” gals there was a treat. Julie's married to a Kiwi (remember him from Plunky's?), so seems to have picked up the antipodean sensibility and humour...also language, which she blamed on being married to a Kiwi...I was sitting next to a Kiwi at the time...and being an Aussie, I got where she was coming from!

At the end of the panel...there was dancing. Dancing was a theme at Vegascon!

Next up it was Mr Jim “Pants on fire” Beaver!

Ok, so, the episode “Taxi Driver”, was the episode they were shooting immediately before the convention. Sooooo yeah. That Jim is really awful good at keeping a secret! I’d missed Jim’s panel on the Saturday, due to having a lunch date with Jensen and Jared, so I was very happy Jim got to do two panels. Now, as most of you probably know, this was the first time Jim has brought Maddie to a con. He brought her on stage for his panel, but disguised her as Bobby! Complete with hat and beard! So if anyone did get a shot of her, no one would recognise her. It was pretty cute. She's in a couple of my photos, but I've decided not to post those.

Maddie chirped up every now and then and proved to be free spirited and incredibly bright. Jim did the obligatory eye roll at her comments and odd little interjections, as he positively beamed. I mean, we all know how much he adores his kid! It was pretty special for him to share that with us all. He's damn well adorable enough, let alone when he's being an adorably besotted dad! So it was a fun panel. Jim’s panels are always great; he’s a lovely man. He has fun with the fans, gives them a bit of cheek but is always very gracious with how he answers questions. Of course, he said that he didn’t know if he’d be back on the show…errrr…yeah! We're never going to believe anything he says ever again right? Anyway, it was lovely to see him as always (on stage and then later in the episode).

And the gals came out and gave him a cuddle too and met Maddie…which was super sweet!

After Jim's panel, we had a wee break. A break? Practically unheard of! But, because we weren't getting a lot of photo ops this day, we found ourselves with a bit of time...which was unbelievably nice! We did get a photo with the ridiculously gorgeous Samantha Smith in her ridiculously fabulous and high heels! Man, she's a stunner!

Next panel was the incorrigible Sebastian Roche! 

Now, I've seen a few of Seb's panels. Last October, at Armageddon in Melbourne, I saw him do the rudest panel ever! Even he was shocked at himself. Mind you, a room full of Aussies are pretty much up for anything, including faking orgasms so he could get the whole auditorium making inappropriate noises in unison. The panel at was like a panel on crack! He didn't stop moving, dancing, talking, jumping, dancing, moving, singing, bouncing, generally bumping and grinding. It wasn't very dirty...not too much swearing...barely any question answering either...but funny? FUNNY! We were all in tears. I kept saying, "What's happening?" kind of like faux Bob Singer from "The French Mistake", "What's happening? What's happening?" Even Seb was wondering what was happening!

It was exhausting just watching him... I can't imagine how exhausting it must be being him! Or at least him on stage, because at Armageddon, when he crashed a conversation my friend and I were having with Mark Pellegrino at the drinks event, he was perfectly lovely and calm and discussed restaurants and food and was all charm...I think he has an on/off switch!

At one stage he recorded a message for a fan's mum, who loved his character on General Hospital, which was pretty cool! Then he had us all sing The Beatles, Help with him.

Honestly, this panel was pretty much how Vegascon was...very free flowing, lots of music, lots of singing and dancing and just plain, craziness. I don't even know what was going on in Seb's panel. It was a blur of activity and tears of laughter that left all our faces aching.

Next up...Mr Ty Olsson!

Of course, we know that this was Ty's inaugural convention appearance and he was having a gooooood time! Hey, most of us go a bit overboard at our first con right? Ty's panel was fabulous. He told some great stories, including some personal stories. He's had a bit of a life, with foster care and some personally challenging incidents, which he alluded to. He was open and honest and enjoyed having the band on stage - giving them little musical cues, dancing...everyone was dancing! And of course, he had a few drinks going on! He was so worried that Creation would never have him back! He'd tried to get a tattoo done while on stage, but he wasn't allowed to do it, but has promised, if he is at Vegascon 2014, he's going to get it organised, so he'll be tattooed during his panel! I really hope he does! He did get a tattoo later and tweeted pictures.

There was a kid in the audience that he gave cash to every time he let a swear word slip. Semi-frequently. The kid did pretty well, made quite a few bucks. He chatted to a fan's friend on the phone. He answered a fair few questions...but was having too much fun with us and the band and the booze to answer too many. Personally, I think he did a great job...even if he was a bit worried he'd be banned! And of course, there was a special guest who came to visit him...Big Daddy vampire himself, the lovely Mr Rick Worthy, who'd come to town under his own steam and joined in the fun at Ty's panel.

I swear to God, everyone practically bolted to the photo op desk to buy an op with Ty after his panel just couldn't resist the urge to throw your arms around that solid frame of his. I'm so glad I got enjoy Ty's first "Supernatural" convention with him, we all had a great time!

Our last panel of the day...of the con...was Mark Sheppard.

Mark's such a charmer, with his London accent. I was raised by a couple of Londoners, so it's an accent that is very familiar to my ears. Mark's a fan-boy, he's as much a fan of shows as we are a fan of the shows he's been in and it's lovely to hear him chat about that. He's been in some of my favourites, Leverage, Doctor Who, Firefly, X-Files...he's like a genre God! He's also a rather good drummer! I can't even remember how it happened, but somehow Mark ended up on the drumkit on stage where the band and Mark performed AC/DC's Back in Black. How damn cool is that! That's Vegascon for you!

Rob had to come out to listen... he quietly crouched on the side of the stage and watched Mark, in awe, just as the audience did.

And guess what Mark still has on his phone! Actually, this one is an out-take!

And that was the end...the end of the panels...Richard came out and closed out the show.

We still had our Ty photo op, which was as lovely as we thought it would be. He's cuddly! Then we had our "Baddies" op with Seb, Ty and Mark... I had to shuffle over and get in-between Ty and Mark and I said to Mark, "Can I just squeeze in here?" and he turned to me and said..."Why does that sound so sexy when you say that?" I said, "I don't know, does it?" and he said, "Yes it does" and I said, "Well, then my work here is done.""Thanks guys"...we walk away, Chris grabs us...someone blinked (Ty!), gotta do the photo again.... Me: "Looks like I gotta squeeze in here again" Mark: "Stop it you." It was pretty funny. Cheeky Englishman that he is…cheeky Aussie-gal that I am.

Then we had the autos...which we literally had to be guided around by a Creation volunteer, as we had Richard's Meet and Greet and the autograph cues were moving slow! I've been working on getting an Impala poster signed by all "Supernatural" cast that I meet. I'm doing pretty good so far! I'm lucky to get people like Aldis, and Sam Smith and Christopher Heyerdahl. It'll take a while to finish, but it's getting pretty full!

Then it was off to Richard's M&G!

I've only ever done Jensen and Jared's Meet and Greets, so this was new for me. Just 10 people for an hour, (as opposed to 20 people for 1/2 hour). We sat around a table, (as opposed to in chairs in front of the guest) and just yarned. Richard talked a lot about how hosting the convention came about, how he got Rob and the boys onboard (of course, Rich and Rob have an epic bromance) and talked Creation into allowing the band to be part of the show. He talked about how much they rehearsed (not much) and how much they want to do it again (please email Adam at Creation and say we all want them). He told us that the band was not supposed to be on with the Js, but he asked Jensen if he'd like to keep the band on stage...and then the conversation went something like this... Richard: "Do you want the band on stage while you're on stage?" Jensen: "Yes! Unless they have something else they need to do." Richard: "Do you want them on stage with you? Because if you want them...." "Yeah, yeah, it'd be great, but only if they're cool to do it, unless they want a break or something?" Richard: "JENSEN, DO YOU WANT THE BAND ON STAGE WITH YOU?" Jensen: "Yes, that'd be awesome!" BLESS! Thank goodness too...because with the band on stage, we got to see Jensen dance, air-guitar and sing. Yay!

Richard was EXHAUSTED. You wouldn't know it, but he said he was totally shattered...looked pretty good to me though. He has such pretty's such a pleasure to chat to him...sorry, shallow for a moment. I really mean, it's such a pleasure to chat to him because he's a very nice, down to earth fellow. Very nice. Basically, this meet and greet falls under the new guidelines from Creation so I'm not going to go into it much, except to say that Richard said a lot ofs, "You didn't hear this from me" and "Don't repeat this, but" so you can see why they prefer us to keep these things under wraps a bit. Mostly we discussed what we thought of the new format, how the band went and how amazing they were and how great the guests all interacted with them, because that really was the case, the guests were having as much fun as we were, in fact, I think some were having even more fun!

Louden Swain was playing later that night and we had every, single, intention to go and see them. We've seen them at Burcon and I, in particular, am a big fan. But...we waited for our photos, picked them up and giggled and gushes and winced...then, we thought food would be a good idea...being as we hadn't eaten anything except the little snacks I'd packed and bought over from Aussie. So we took our drinks and food up to our room...FATAL ERROR. We never made it back down again. By the time we'd got our food and eaten it, the band was well and truly on and our shoes were well at truly off! Next time boys, next time.

And that was it, the first ever Salute to "Supernatural" Convention in Las Vegas was over. I can't even begin to tell you how much fun it was. It was my 5th Creation convention and they have each held their own charms. LACon 2011 was my first, my first Jensen sighting, the Jensen/Jason Jam session and will always hold a very special place in my heart. Vancon was amazing because it's where they shoot and we got to see locations and see them filming complete with Jensen lolling all over the Impala, plus meet some crewmembers. Chicon was small and so had this nice intimacy, it was also my first Jensen meet and greet and I'll never forget the moment he strode into the room. But Vegascon...Vegascon is a party, where all the guests are there to have as much fun as we are. You see them (not Misha or the Js obviously), wandering around the casino. They stay in the same tower as the convention goers so you pass them at Starbucks...or as with Chad as we were leaving Monday morning, pass them coming back from where ever, possibly doing the walk of shame and looking definitely worse for wear! It puts a whole different spin on the experience. Sure, it's massive and the distances you walk during the day are incredible and the bar is way too far away from the auditorium and the queues are a bit longer than any other con, but it's a PARTY and it's so much fun and I seriously can't wait until next year!

But before then...I have All Hell Breaks Loose 4 in Sydney, with guests, Sebastian, Matt, Mark S, Richard and Misha (Corin is scheduled, but I doubt he'll be here...hugs Corin), then I have Dallas! DALLAS! I'm a little over excited about visiting Texas. So there's a bit of fun to be had before Vegascon 2014...and a bit of training to do, because the next Vegascon is 4 days... 4 DAYS!!! I THINK THAT MIGHT KILL ME!

Sorry this was so dragged out...the Show, you know, kind of got in the way! If you missed the other 2 reports, you can read Part 1 with Matt and Chad and Karaoke here and Part 2 with the Js and Misha here!

Thanks so much for reading and if you have any questions at all, please feel free to pop them in the comments or hit me up on our convention page! I hope to meet some of you soon!


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

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

Review - Supernatural 8.20 "Pac-Man Fever"

So it’s official. Dean’s a hug-monster. The man truly does “wuz hugs” and I’m cool with it! Oh boy am I cool with it!

I was excited for this episode from the beginning. I like Charlie; I like Robbie Thompson’s writing. I was thinking, this is going to be a fun filler! That’s what it looked like in the previews. Dean gussied up in uniform, Charlie by his side. What I wasn’t expecting was an episode that packed an emotional wallop, that worked in aspects of the season mythology to keep us connected to the larger story and that left me in a pool of tears and squees! Simultaneously! Which makes them tees or squears or something! Putting it in language Dean would understand, “Pac-Man Fever” was…awesome.

One of the things that surprised me the most about this episode was that Sam was not “benched” as the synopsis indicated. Far from it actually and I was pleasatly surprised and mighty thankful for that. The brothers have been rocking it of late; bromantically speaking and I didn’t want that put on the back burner no matter how much I like the recurring character. But that’s not what happened, Sam and Dean and their relationship was front and centre and having Charlie in the mix, allowed us and them to see their relationship through her eyes…which essentially have become our eyes. Charlie has become a Winchester fangirl!

This is one of the big reasons I think Charlie has hit a chord with the fandom. She’s like us. She’s geeky and loves genre, she’s a gamer who digs novelty t-shirts. She’s a fan. It was so brilliant of Robbie Thompson to bring this character into our world. Charlie’s a fan but a fan we can openly relate to without any feelings of weirdness or awkwardness.

Fandom has been depicted in “Supernatural” before, mostly with a cheeky smirk from the writers. We “get” the convention folk in “The Real Ghostbusters”. We understand the passion of the cosplaying Hookman and his questioning of plot inconsistencies, character motivation and bungees on weapons. Most of us have read fanfiction, some of us write it, so we understand the enthusiasm of Becky Rosen. We understand her shear delight when she meets her heroes in person. Who doesn’t want to never stop touching the Js when put into close proximity with them! But though these fans were mostly written tongue in cheek and with a good dollop of wink filled humour, they accentuated the aspects of fandom that wig non-fan-type-people out and maybe the things we prefer to keep under wraps. While I think they were written from a place of (mostly) love, they kinda still managed to make fun of us, because they highlighted the aspects of fandom that outsiders make fun of and in doing so, they made us a little squirmy.

But Charlie is written in a way that makes us proud to be a fan. She’s smart and funny. She isn’t secretly enjoying her fanness in the dark, bathed only in the glow of her laptop (not that there’s anything wrong with that)! She’s not closeted about her fanness. It permeates ever aspect of her life and she lives it loud and proud. She’s not all giggly and wide-eyed; she’s all “Whatsup, bitches”. Charlie is cool. Just like we are! Right?! She represents how diverse and interesting we are, not how peculiar. Not only that, now she’s read Chuck Shurley’s books she knows the brother’s story, just like we do and she’s become their cheerleader, just like we are and she thinks they’re awesome heroes and loves them…just…like…us.

Her voice reflects ours. When she says, “There is pretty much nothing the Winchesters can't do if they work together,” we all yell out YES! When she tells Sam just what he needs to hear and what Dean needs to over hear, “...If anyone can get through the trials, Sam, it's you” we all nod and go, yesssss. She wants to see the “broment”. Don’t we all! She thinks they fight like an old married couple. Yep, they sure do! It’s like she’s in our minds! She’s reflecting back at us all the things we love about being a fan, what we love about the show and what we love about the brothers. Plus she promised Dean pie…and never brought it! Ba-dum-tss! And the joke lives on! Ha ha! What a great character.

But Charlie is also a character of her own with a journey of her own that deeply resonates with the journey of the Winchesters. She understands loss, she understands isolation and she understands being an outsider. Fleshing out Charlie by revealing the story of her mother and the sadness that lies beneath Charlie’s bubbly shell, allowed us to connect with her on a new level. We already liked her but now we understand her that much better, as do the brothers. The Winchesters and Charlie both lost their mothers at a young age and it’s driven their lives ever since, influencing who they are, what they do and what they like, down to fantasy fiction and pie. I’m sure Dean’s epic love of pie comes from the fact that his mum used to give him pie… *wibble*

Where Charlie and Sam seem to connect through their obvious similarities in techno-intellectual-geekiness, Charlie and Dean connect on a whole other level, the one with pop culture references and movie quotes. Every moment Charlie has with Dean is a pure joy. She brings out in him a lightness that’s always a delight to see and of course, that adorable big brother thing he’s got going on. He calls her kiddo. Naww. The shopping montage was beyond awesome. Dean sat there making her a fake id as casual as anything, while Charlie paraded outfit after outfit waiting for the yay or nay. For heaven’s sake! Who would ever have thought we’d seen that scene! I also like the way Dean talks to Charlie. He’s pretty matter of fact in his answers. She’s just that little bit removed from the emotion of it all, that she can be a good sounding board without it coming back on him in any way and she’s just that little bit removed from the emotion of it all, that she can say things to him that will make him think without getting defensive.

I wasn’t expecting to cry in this episode, but I cried a lot. I was deeply moved by Charlie’s story. The scene within the dream/game when Charlie spoke of telling her mother one more time that’s she’s loved, started me off. It’s damn good writing and damn good characterisation when a show can dig that deep into your own emotions. We feel for the character but we also relate to their sorrow and relate it back to our personal experiences. We all understand and are familiar with loss; it’s the unfortunate outcome of the cyclic nature of life. Consequently, we can easily relate intellectually with what the character is going through. But it’s when you relate emotionally and in a big way, that you know you’re being presented with something special. I was pretty messy at the end of this episode. It got a bit hurty and it hit me pretty hard. Charlie reading The Hobbit to her mum, one last time…yeah…puddles of tears. Puddles I tells ya!

It was because of Dean, because of Dean’s words and understanding that Charlie was able to let go of her mum. She let go of her fear of letting go. Then she asked Dean...

“What about you, you're gonna let it go?”

“That's my boys.”

Yep…That’s my boys.

I keep harping on, I feel like I’m harping on anyway, but I’m crazy in love with where we find ourselves with the brother’s relationship. Once again, they were concerned for each other, bickering (of course), looking out for each other, teasing each other and actually showing each other that they care.

They were working together like a well-oiled machine. Sorting through research, coming up with solutions, speaking at the same time. The way Sam rushed to Dean when Dean was coming out of his dream-root sleep. Gah! I’ve always love it when they’re all grabby and patty, giving each other a once over check to make sure the other is ok! My Winchester cup runneth over. I feel like I’ve been transported to an alternative Winchester Universe where the brothers actually act like those brothers we once knew! It’s wonderful.

Not only that, they have a home! Did you notice Dean called the bunker, home? My heart skipped a beat when he told Sam to go “home”. Home. The Men of Letters bunker is a haven where they can take stock, do some research, eat some decent food and sleep for days if needs be, which Sam needs be right now.

Sam, oh Sam…how he’s suffering. (Still looks hot though. Sick, bed-headed Sam is hot. Sorry…but it’s a fact.) I admired Sam’s tenacity and strength in this episode. There was part of me that was like Dean - stay home young man and rest! Then there was part of me that thought he was being silly and stubborn going out into the field in that condition, that he could cause harm to himself and possibly others by not being fully up to speed, which nearly happened with the mama Djinn. But, Sam has a trial to do and he’s going to have to do it while he’s not firing on all cylinders. It’s not like the sickness is going to go away (for now) and it’s not like he can just put everything off until he feels better, he’s going to have to get out there sooner or later and launch head on into whatever God’s final Word has in store for him. So wanting to be useful, wanting to feel useful, wanting people to have confidence in him and trying to have confidence in himself is understandable. He had something to prove and not just to Dean.

Obviously, Dean’s worried sick. Worrying about Sam is one of the things Dean does best. There’s no hiding that Sam’s not doing so good. It’s not like he can pretend. He looks awful and it’s right under Dean’s nose. Cass’ words about Sam being damaged in ways that even Cass can’t fix must have been playing on his mind, because Dean repeated those words to Charlie. Dean’s at his worst when he can’t help and no matter how hard he tries, he can’t help Sam. He just has to try and be understanding and supportive and that’s not necessarily easy for Dean, especially under these circumstances. He’s scared for his brother and he’s scared of losing his brother and that fear is impeding his ability to be what Sam needs right now. Dean’s hanging on so tight, he can’t do anything else.

Then this happened…

The hug. It was Dean letting go and not letting go all at the same time.

“What about you, you're gonna let it go?”

Let’s face it, no matter what, Dean will never let go of Sam, it’s not in his biological makeup, Sam is part of Dean and Dean will always hold on to him, but the hug…that out of the blue, surprised the hell out of Sam and the rest of us hug…that was Dean letting go of his fear. Because Charlie was right, there’s pretty much nothing the brothers can’t do, as long as they face it together. They’re better together. They need to get this trial done. Sam needs to do it. Sam needs to know that Dean thinks he can do it. Dean needs to let go of the fear of losing Sam and stand alongside his brother and show him that he has the faith in him. That’s the only hope they have of getting through the final trial. Together. This shows such growth on Dean’s behalf. I’m as proud as punch of him. For me that hug said - I will never let you go Sammy and I’m thankful that I have you, man…but I believe in you, I believe you can do this. So you and me, let’s go do what we gotta do. I got your back -“What d'you say we find our prophet”. Dean put his fears aside with a hug of love, appreciation, acknowledgement and faith. Dean spoke volumes with that hug and Sam, albeit a little bewildered, heard every word. I think Surprise-Hug may be the best hug ever.

These really are my boys… I may be tearing up a little… Again…

Oh yeah, and there was a couple of Djinn, and exploding human guts and dad’s journal beats out app and the MoL bunker has a firing range, Hicks and Ripley, I love you - I know... and you know…other awesome stuff…but… Surprise-Hug!

A good filler episode is one that doesn’t forget that it’s actually part of a bigger story. It’s not this isolated 42 minutes, it’s 42 minutes of 23 episodes worth of 42 minutes. It’s ridiculous to be brought into the brother’s world and not have them at least discuss what’s happening in their world, what they’re going through, what’s currently on their minds or where we all left off. They don’t live in some bubble; we don’t live in some bubble! These things don’t go away when they’re on a non-related case. Just as their history doesn’t go away, or their wealth of knowledge and experience doesn’t just suddenly evaporate. A good filler episode will recognise all of this.

“Pac-Man Fever” was a good filler episode – in fact it was a great filler episode, or maybe it was the filler you have when you’re not having a filler! Because not only did it reminded us of the big picture, it cleverly used the history of the show, recognising that we don’t forget, just as the brothers wouldn’t forget, what has gone before. Plus, it gave us a neat story, which enhanced a cool character and allowed the brothers to grow and move forward and it wrapped it all up in a great big emotional bow.

“Supernatural” has always been about the people, the story has always been about the relationships and the best episodes reflect this. This isn’t a show about monsters. This is a show about heart. It’s a show about family and what we’ll do for those we love. A wise old dude in a trucker cap once said, “Family don’t end with blood”... “Pac-Man Fever” was a great example of this. Thank you Robbie for sharply written script and a beautiful episode and welcome to the family, Charlie.

And…did you think I would leave you without this? Lord have mercy, Dean Winchester….(and your green eyes and freckles). 

As always, thanks for reading.


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

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

Monday, 8 April 2013

Review: Supernatural 8.19 "Taxi Driver"

I liked “Taxi Driver”, a lot. Let me tell you why. I’m not much of a stickler for the nitty gritty. I don’t watch an episode and go, wait, that doesn’t gel with what was represented by canon in episode 5.ticketyboo. I don’t really care if the show takes some libities, it’s cool if you do, it’s just I don’t. It’s not how I watch TV and as much as I can pontificate about mythology and canon as effectively as the next rampant “Supernatural” fan, I just don’t watch “Supernatural” that way.

“Supernatural” to me is an emotional experience. I’m heavily involved with 2 men, who happen to be brothers, which would be weird and awkward if they weren’t fictional characters. I get lost in the moment and if the emotion is gelling, nothing will tear me out of it. That’s how I watch this show. That’s how watched this episode. I was swept up in the emotion. Yeah, there were some weaknesses in the script, these guys are not the best writers on the team, we know that, we don't expect much from them, let’s not flog that dead horse, but I didn’t notice the weaknesses at the time. Because at the time, I was worrying for Kevin, I was hating on Naomi, I was wanting to kick Crowley, I was thrilled to see Bobby, I was sad for Benny, I was freaking out for Sam and I was wringing my hands with and for Dean. I was living in the now and was swept up in the story of these characters that I love and adore and gosh darn it, I guess I was too involved to notice there were any glaring issues. When an episode resonates with me emotionally, I can overlook the odd plot hole.

I’m a fan; I’m not a professional reviewer. There are plenty of bloggers out there who fit that bill. I’m just a “Supernatural” fan who loves to enjoy this show she loves, who loves to write about this show and who loves to talk about this show. I respect everyone has their own opinions, but lately I’ve felt like the show I hold so dear and my enjoyment of it is being systematically stripped away from me and held hostage by anger and negativity and I’m tired of being bummed out by it. So I made a decision, I’m reclaiming my show for me. I'm reclaiming my squee. This show makes me, and so many people I know happy and I’m not going to let anything take that from me. Because “Supernatural” means too much to me. It’s got me through rough times, it’s brought wonderful friends into my life, it’s reinvigorated my love of writing and it’s enriched me in ways I can’t even get my head around. The amount of happiness this show has afforded me outweighs anything else. Plus, it's still far and away one of the best shows on television.

So from now on, I’m watching my show and then afterwards, I'm sticking my fingers in my ears and going lalalalala, whilst I sit back and enjoy the afterglow of the Winchester ride (which sounds awesome and dirty). I'm not letting other opinions dimish my enjoyment. I will happily overthink the show in my own way, with excitement, curiosity and faith. It’s onwards and upwards to season infinity and beyond with my glass forever half full.

Poor old Kevin! You know, Osric Chau, man. How different is this Kevin from the Kevin we first met. He’s such a nice young performer. His deterioration is a physical experience not just for Kevin but also for the audience. And yet, some how the kid still seems to crack out the funny lines and infuse his edgy, tattered performance with humour. I’ve grown to like Kevin. At first I found him a little irritating, but I think by using him carefully and allowing the character to be almost the human representation of the audience, has helped. We’re so used to great big heroes in this show, taking the knocks and remaining standing, but Kevin is suffering, probably like we would!

The cracks were starting to show when we last saw him and Sam advised him to slow down…something he, and Dean wouldn’t hear of. Now with trial number 2 decoded, Kevin is hearing Crowley in his head…or is he? Was it actually Crowley? Was it Kevin’s imagination? Or was it Naomi, the mind manipulator pretending to be Crowley? Though, I’m not sure why she’d do that, as Kev knows nothing of the angel tablet or Castiel and Fizzle’s Folly is not warded against angels, so she could (and does) come and go as she pleased. Which Crowley, technically speaking, shouldn’t be able to do…which, I guess is why the windows blew out, destroying the demon wards and allowing him to get inside. Crowley seems to be more powerful now than ever before, which is another reason my questions about Crowley are getting louder. But was it actually Crowley? I was saying no. I thought that all of this was inside Kevin’s head. That insomnia, overwork, whatever physical toll deciphering God’s Word is having on him, is making him buckets of crazy and imagining the King of Hell is inside his brain. I mean, when the boys arrived back at the boat, the windows were fixed, which made me wonder if Kevin just had a psychotic break and bolted - or Naomi took him, because she could certainly clean up the joint with a wave of her hand. But then I listened to a podcast with director, Guy Bee who said outright, that it was Crowley. Of course, he could be yanking our collective chains…Lord knows it wouldn’t be the first time, Mr Beaver needs a pair of flame retardant pants these days and I trust Guy about as much as I trust Jim! But, if Guy’s on the level, then Crowley has split with the kid and could now have the entire demon tablet, not just the part with the acknowledgements and about the author, and will get the heads up on what the 3rd trial is and the brothers won’t (well they will, of course, but you know what I’m saying.) It’s all very nerve wracking and exciting…except for Kevin and possibly Mrs Tran! I don’t think we’ve ever seen Crowley that angry and desperate. I loved his line “What you people never seem to understand is you are nothing, fleeting blips of light…I am forever.” Eeeep!

He was pretty pissed at Naomi too! Whatever went on in Mesopotamia…there’s certainly no love lost now. I think my prediction of them working together is, errr, not going to happen! I like it when Crowley is all angry and mean – “Really” – flick – boys halfway up a tree! Awesome. I wonder if they’ll ever kill him. Maybe at the very end? I can’t see it happening any time soon, but then…with this show, who the hell knows huh?

Naomi…yeah, you can try and sweet talk your way into Dean Winchester’s good graces sweetheart, but he ain’t never gonna trust you. There’s only one angel he trusts and even then, it’s up and down. But he’s loyal to Cass and nothing you say will change that, lady!

Pretty much every angel Dean has had any kind of serious contact with has ended up being a pain in his and his brother's ass. Zach (I love you Zach), Uriel, Glenn Close…err Anna, Balty, Raphael, why would Dean think Naomi is any different. Cass is an angel anomaly, an angel with a affinity for humanity, not a robotic, warrior, bureaucrat… Ooooo don’t call her a bureaucrat! Geesh, that one hit a nerve! But somehow, I have a feeling Dean and Sam may end up working with Naomi in some regard, even if they don’t trust her. Because, if she can help get them to their end goal, then it may be worth the risk. Though taking a chance on something all-powerful always has its downside. She was playing her role well, but I don't think the elder Mr Winchester fell for it one little bit.

Freeing Bobby’s spirit was a fortuitous opportunity for Naomi, because that’s something the brothers will remember, even if they see right through it. Maybe Naomi and Crowley faked the trapping of Bobby’s soul…working together to get the Winchesters on the angel’s side…see I’m not giving up on my Naomi/Crowley in cahoots theory!

Ok, let’s get to the really important stuff. How pretty is this screencap!

I like that Sam got a chance to go to Purgatory, see it for himself (and not just because the colour grade on the Purgatory scenes seems to make everyone doubly hot!) Both boys have been to Hell, Heaven and now Purgatory. It seems right to me that they’ve had these shared experiences. Their experiences were different in all places, but the fact that these two share so much can only give them greater understanding of what each has and is going through…which coming from where we’ve been to where we are now, is soooo good. These two finally being on the same page, caring for each other and supporting each other is all I ultimately want from this story…I don’t know if that’s weird or not, but I watch for the Winchesters and their relationship means the world to me. I’ll travel the bumps in the road with them, but in the end, it’s their love that I want to see on the screen.

And the way they’re interacting these days is so grow’d up. Carver promised a more mature Sam and Dean and I feel like he’s delivered on that promise. Dean’s worried about Sam and he’s letting him know. That’s ok by the way. I tell my brother when I’m worried about him and I tell him off if he does something that I think is dumbassed. Doesn’t mean I think less of him, just means I care. Dean cares for Sam, he loves his brother, he’s worried for his health and safety and you know what, so he should be. But the fact that when Sam says, I’ve got it, Dean sucks it up and just makes sure he knows the full story of what Sam’s about to do, speaks volumes to me about his growth as a character and the belief and trust he has in Sam. These two feel much more like equals than they used to. Dean is always going to be Sam’s big brother, Sam is always going to be Dean’s little brother, Dean’s always going to worry about him, that’s biology, that’s history, that’s family but their relationship has grown in leaps and bounds and I like it a hell of a lot.

Sam was in Purgatory for about 7 hours before he got to the gateway to Hell, according to what Ajay told Crowley, so I’m sure he saw plenty of action, even if we didn’t. I kinda loved that he got to grab one of those rockin’ Purgatory weapons too. It suited him and he looked awesome swinging it (as did his hair!) As time moves differently in Hell, I made the assumption that it took a lot longer for Sam to find Bobby than we saw, I mean, we can't see every second. The watch at the doorway out was such a nice touch - marking the spot, but also being a reference to time and the nature of time in this plane.

I like how the show depicts Hell. I’ve always thought Hell was kind of like Heaven, in the way it’s different for everyone. Dean’s Hell saw him hung on meat hooks and ripped to pieces over and over until he broke and became something he never wanted to be. Bobby’s Hell was seeing the two people he loved most in the world, his boys, every minute of every day, taunting him. Sam’s experience, of course, was a different ball of brimstone altogether, because he was in the cage, which I’ve always assumed is not the same as Hell.

Maybe this corner of Hell we saw in this episode is more how it really looks (obviously Crowley changed up the d├ęcor again – frustrated hairdresser come interior designer), because Sam was just a visitor, not a tenant and so would see it how it is, not how it would torture him the most. The rambling halls and the tormented souls (creepy chick was creepy), for a show that operates on a minimal budget, they sure know how to make something look expensive. Hell looked great, as did the doorway portal in the alley.

BOBBY. I wasn’t sure it was going to be Bobby. It looked like his back in the preview, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a trick or if Bobby would turn around and look at Sam with black eyes or something. But it was BOBBY! I was so glad to see him. He looked pretty good for a guy who’d been in Hell for a while! But he’s a strong old dude and I can just imagine him cussing out everyone down there who got in his way. Also, as Bobby was not corporial - he was a spirit of sorts - the level to which he would carry trauma is debatable. Maybe if he ended up coming back to his body on Earth, we would have seen a very different Bobby. 

Oh, but I loved seeing him again, I really did and I loved that it was Sam who saved him and got to spend time with him, because Bobby’s spent more time with Dean, so it was nice for Sam to have that moment. And speaking of big mouth Dean…I laughed so hard at the thought of him telling Sam about Bobby’s Tori Spelling and pedicure secrets! Little bastard! Just shows you how tight those brothers are!

The Sam not looking for Dean thing came up again. That seems to have been happening a bit of late. To tell you the truth, there was a moment at the end in the car where I thought Sam was about to say something. But nope. Like I’ve said before, if we never hear anything more, I’m cool…I’ll survive and I won’t rage about it, but I’m certainly curious, so I’m hoping that something more is revealed and I'm hoping it's by Sam. With so many little mentions, it feels like it might be going somewhere.

Bobby is... such a Bobby! He can’t help but tell Sam off for reneging on the “non-agreement”, then having a dig at Dean about his vampire friendship and then saying that without him the brothers really went off the rails! Awwwww bless his heart. Of course they’re doing fine or as fine as they ever are, but I’m sure a bit of Bobby wisdom and a kick up the pants would do them both good, every once in a while.

Bobby was sad and beautiful, as was Jim Beaver's performance. Bobby said he wanted to stay to fight, though I’m sure he probably wanted to stay just for his boys, but you could tell that he knew it was impossible. I’m glad he’s in Heaven and I’m glad we know it. He should be there. He has friends there, a wife. I hope he’s happy and I hope, somehow, we get to see him again. Bobby and Sam’s reunion hit all the right notes. Just the right level of emotion for a couple of hunters in a sticky-wicket and this is where this episode soared, emotionally it was a cracker.

With Naomi coming to Dean to tell him about Purgatory, Dean discovers Ajay dead and realises his little brother is now trapped with no way out. It must have taken a lot to ring Benny, but then again, it probably didn’t. When it comes to Sam, Dean will do whatever it takes to keep his brother safe, including asking a friend one hell of a favour. This scene between Benny and Dean is the scene Jensen told us about in his meet and greet at VegasCon. While discussing a question regarding directing actors, he spoke of how sometimes, if an actor makes themselves emotionally available for a scene, it can go an unexpected direction. This is what happened with this scene between Benny and Dean. It wasn’t written with so much emotion, but something in the two actors took it to that place. Both were surprised. Neither of them saw it coming. They had a bit of a laugh about it afterwards, but once they’d identified it, it went to that place every take. Guy Bee was as surprised as Jensen and Ty; he hadn’t seen the scene like that on the page. Jensen said it was because it wasn’t on the page; it was just one of those magical moments that sometimes happens. What we got as viewers was a performance so raw that, I don’t know about you, but it stopped my breathing. Dean’s need for Benny to say “Yes” was etched into every line on his beautiful face. He was in a state of desperation and despair.

The words may have never come out, but we all knew what was being said. Dean was asking to cut off his friend’s head, a friend who means a lot to him and who’s shared a lot with him, to save the brother that is the world to him. Benny’s struggles topside probably made it easier for him to say yes, but I have a feeling the vampire would’ve said yes anyway. Dean thought Benny would come back with Sam, or at least hoped he would. The sheer devastation on Dean’s face as he pulled Benny into a hug before throwing his arm back and in a one swipe, killing one of the few friends he’s ever had in his life, was, well…*sob* 
What a scene. Jensen is the master of emotion. The chemistry between Ty and Jensen has always jumped off the screen, but this scene was something else. I hope it's not the last we see of Benny, but if it is, it was a worthy exit.

I’m glad Sam got to see the side of Benny that Dean connected with. I always considered it strange that Sam, of all people, wrote Benny off without a second thought. The fact that Benny’s sacrifice allowed Sam to return to his brother, release his father figure to Heaven and finish the 2nd trial shows that Benny was on the up and up and I’m glad Sam now knows that. I don’t think he’d ever really accept Benny, which is fine, but I do think being in Purgatory and seeing that Benny was a “man” who could be trusted was another important step forward for the brothers and another step to putting past hostilities behind them. Admitting when you’ve misread a situation doesn’t make you less of a man, in fact it’s the opposite, it makes you more of a man. 

For the audience, allowing a monster to be a friend, to be someone who can be trusted and to be someone we can care about adds to the wonderful level of greys in this show. It shows a maturity in the story telling to allow something we'd traditionally fear, to become something we end up crying for. 

Which brings me to what was my favourite part of the episode (can you guess what it is?) When Sam returns to Dean. When Dean is pacing and waiting for Sam, Bobby and Benny to emerge from Purgatory, he looks terrified. Then when Sam comes out of the light…oh Dean’s face… Then Dean pulls his jumbo sized little brother into a hug that actually looked like it hurt it was so powerful. A powerful hug, eyes closed, brothers wrapped around each other in relief. A great big Winchester love filled hug. If there’s anything better, I don’t know what it is.

The way Sam tells Dean about Benny choosing to stay behind is so gentle. I loved that moment. I loved Sam for being so gentle with his brother’s feelings. I loved that Dean tried to correct his disappointment over Benny with happiness for Bobby, “I mean, that’s fantastic about Bobby.” You can see he’s on the edge of a thousand emotions. You can see Sam is reading every one of them. These guys, seriously, Jensen and Jared, give them a scene together like this and it’s jaw droppingly good. They’re so damn GOOD. Will somebody give them a bloody award or something! Man.

Then, finally the Winchester brothers watch as Bobby’s soul soars to Heaven. Beautiful.

If there was one criticism I'd make about “Taxi Driver” is that it felt a touch rushed and I would have happily seen a "to be continued" but, the episode hit so many perfect emotional notes for me, any criticism of it was rendered meaningless. Even just writing this and going back and checking through scenes and dialogue as I go, had me feeling all the feels. Like I said, it’s why I watch the show and when a show gives me a punch in the gut as good as this…well then, I’m going to sing its praises loud and proud.

Two-week hiatus, people. BOOOOOOOO…and then...DEAN IN UNIFORM! YAYYYYYYY! I knew there was a reason I loved Robbie Thompson! I have a feeling it’ll be another play, pause, rewind, play, pause, rewind, play kind of episode…

Thanks for reading, see ya later.

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

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

Personal note:
Constructive, thought provoking, criticism is always welcome and enjoyed. I'll often raise contentious issues myself. Lively debate can be fun and that's certainly not what I'm talking about when I discuss the anger and negativity I've been witnessing in the fandom.

I've been facing each episode with trepidation, not because I'm worried if I'll enjoy it or if it will let me down, but because I dread the outpouring of anger that nearly every episode seems to get these days. Having issues with canon and the writing, I'm interested in discussing and debating those thoughts rationally, but the bitterness and toxicity of some dialogue is soul destroying and discouraging. Especially when it seems to happen week in, week out.

This week was my line in the sand. Had it not been for Alice, my fearless leader at The Winchester Family Business, I would not have been writing ever again. That's how disheartened I'd become by what I was seeing. But she reminded me, that there are a lot of people whose dialogue is well thought out and passionate without being soley negative and that there are a lot of people that are enjoying the show, but don't feel the need to yell it from the mountain tops and so their voices aren't heard. As one of the most read reviewers on the site, my posts are a place where these later fans come and feel safe, even if they don't comment.

So I had to take emotional stock and I had to make a choice for myself. I had to seriously look at why I watch this show, what it means to me, what I get out of it and whether or not I wanted to continue to share my perspective on it. 

I came to the decision, that "Supernatural" and this fandom mean too much to me to walk away. But to continue to write and be involved in this community, I could no longer let other people's opinions affect how I feel about this show and the fandom. Consequently, I'm choosing to focus on my enjoyment of the show; remembering that this is something that I love, it's the only way forward for me. 

This doesn't mean I will never find fault, but if I choose to celebrate an episode and wave my hands at inconsistencies, I will and I won't feel less of a fan for doing so, because I'm not less of a fan for choosing to focus on what it is I love about this show and not what disappoints me.

At the end of the day it's just a TV show, albeit, a damn good one...