"Supernatural" has always been a show that leaves you guessing.  We diehard fans love spending hours taking what we’ve learned from each episode and playing connect the dots.  â€œCaged Heat” though did something very unique with our little game.  It’s gone and turned the picture we thought was coming together into something completely unrecognizable.  Now that can be good or bad.  You’re likely to get a different response depending on the fan you ask, for the confusion is now quite polarizing. 
“Caged Heat” is a really good episode technically.  Sam, Dean and Castiel working together, Meg coming along and being awesome, Christian finally getting that Dean Winchester filleting we’ve been rooting for since the season opener, some funny moments and great dialogue, and the boys winning one for once by getting rid of the big bad.  Of course there’s a price and again it’s the debate over Sam’s soul.  That’s been season six though.  All the episodes have been good technically, but there’s a little something missing there right in the center.  The soul.  Entertained or not most fans cannot deny that this is not the same show, much like this is not the same Sam and Dean Winchester and same brotherly relationship.    
 
Let first focus on what made “Caged Heat” so strong.  For one, Castiel is back into the mix.  He was great from beginning to end. Poor guy.  He doesn’t want to fight civil wars alone.  He misses his friends.  You know, the good old days when there was a looming apocalypse.  His little stunt with Meg, kissing her like “the pizza man” still reminds us how humanity fascinates him.  He needs companionship.  I think what Balthazar told him in “The Third Man” is really sticking with him.  When it comes to being an enforcer though, he's very effective. 
 
The plot as well is quite intriguing.  Sam, Dean and Castiel working with Meg to take down a common enemy, once Sam addresses his little nasty issue of missing a soul first.  We get to see the dank and dirty prison where monsters are being tortured and killed by Crowley.  The horrible lengths he’s going to find Purgatory.  Crowley’s intentions are still unclear but his evil methods certainly aren’t.  We even get the mildly amusing opening scene where he gets to torture and behead himself, aka the alpha shapeshifter.  That had to be a fun one for Mark Sheppard, who we will really miss on this show.  
 
The return of Meg is good too, but also a bit of a head-scratcher.  She is her normal smart mouthed self certainly didn’t hold back for Dean or Castiel’s sake, but her interaction with Sam was puzzling the entire episode.  I highly suspect those two had an arrangement before she supposedly “ambushed” the Winchesters.  After all, these guys are hard to find by demons thanks to their rib carvings so how else would she find them?  In the past seasons Sam has always been the one that’s gotten the brunt of Meg’s ire.  For her to keep her distance most of the episode and take orders from him certainly had me wondering what was up between those two.  I’m especially suspicious after Sam killed Meg’s minion and she didn’t protest or fight.  It certainly was a great indication that she was following his lead for some hidden reason. 
 
The strength of “Caged Heat” is the balance between the dramatic moments, the action, and funny bits, something missing a lot this season.  Castiel trying to decipher porn in a “room full of dudes” is hilarious, unlike the awkward time in the whorehouse in “Free To Be You and Me.”  Equally hilarious is Sam and Dean’s expressions of complete astonishment when Castiel returns Meg’s kiss, even though she did it just to grab his angel killing sword.  There were the “hell yeah!” moments from Dean, like when he threatened to kill Samuel with his cold stare of death and finally got to end Christian by yanking the demon killing ginsu out of his hand and skewering him with it.  Also, when you give Sam Winchester a blunt object, he’s completely badass. 
 
The lines are really great in this one too.  Dean got in several, like when being confronted by a pair of hungry ghouls.  â€œAlright, alright, Shawshank’s a great flick, but let’s skip the shower scene, huh?”  Meg had several good ones, especially when flirting with Castiel.  Aside from calling him by the nickname she used in their last meeting in “Abandon All Hope,” Clarence, she always had a dirty response for his stoic words.  â€œKeep talking dirty, makes my meat suit all dewy.”  The bluntness of Sam with Dean continues too, a side of his new personality I enjoy.  â€œOkay, you’re right, let’s go with Plan B.  Oh yeah, we don’t have one.  Until we do sorry dude, stock up on soap on a rope.”  
 
Then, talk about throwing a monkey wrench into the season, they killed off Crowley!  The supposed big bad of the season was nothing more than the weaker pathetic being that was portrayed in “Weekend at Bobby’s.”  While his fiery death is a surprise, it seems quite easy too.  How did Castiel find his bones so easily?  I suspect he was setup, but by who?  Is there really another big bad out there calling the shots?  If so, who is it?  We’ve actually been entertaining that thought on this site since the episode aired, including the possibility that Sam is the true one to reckon with.  One clue that could be the case is Sam asking Castiel take care of the monster prison at the end.  Did he in a sense tell Castiel to kill everyone there?  Why would the place be wiped away like that?  Is it Sam’s attempt to cover tracks or just get rid of the monsters?  More mysteries to solve and the more we get each week the more they become maddening.  
 
This episode did try a bit too hard at continuity, for all the demon hunting elements were there, as if the writer was following a manual.  The return of the knife, Devil’s Traps, the demon torture table, Sam and Dean taking the TK toss, and so on.  Also, Sam’s characterization again compared to other weeks was very uneven. In this episode, he was actually showing signs of emotion, rage, and taking things personally.  I’ll touch more on this on my season six thoughts later in this article, but again Sam’s actions ended up being more distracting than compelling.  Except when he performed self-mutilation to draw a Devil’s Trap with his own blood.  The wicked smile with his bloody teeth gave me chills!  

Then there’s Samuel.  I’m not sure what to think there.  I understand his grief over Mary but to sacrifice his grandsons?  There’s something more there.  If there isn’t, he’s being written poorly.  What Grandfather would turn on blood like that?  If he knew that Dean made a deal for Sam, didn’t he know that Mary sacrificed her soul for these boys?  Wouldn’t he know she’d do anything for them?  His actions defied logic.  If blindly resurrecting Mary above all else are really Samuel’s true intentions, that is a complete waste in resurrecting a character.
 
Ultimately though, the big struggle of the episode is whether or not Sam should get his soul back.  It’s always been my belief that Sam doesn’t really want it back and has been going through the motions to please (or manipulate) Dean.  Even Dean believed this in the very beginning of this episode.  Castiel, being forced to actually spend time with the Winchesters, finally lays it out for Dean.  Sam’s soul maybe so irreparably damaged that restoring it will reduce Sam to vegetable status.  Crowley reinforces this.  Even Meg agrees.  When Sam believes they’re right, now Dean ends up taking the same road to denial that Samuel seems to be on regarding Mary.  They’ll find a way.  They have too.  The Sam that’s there now is a “replicant.”  I get that Dean misses his brother but to risk what is for what was seems like Dean has gone back to seeing Sam as an inhuman freak.  It seems like a major step backward, especially after all that was accomplished with character growth in “Swan Song.”  For once, I was with Sam in walking away at the end.  Sam has to fight for his right to be.  If Dean can’t come on board, Sam should go it alone.  
 
I’m not sure if I should be giving grades anymore on these episodes.  If everything that’s been presented all turns out to be inconsistent writing, then it’s an instant drop for everything (except “Weekend at Bobby’s” which is still holding strong).  Analyzing just the technical construction, I’m giving “Caged Heat” an A-.  If all these little character and plot nuances end up being red herrings or going nowhere though, this episode gets busted to a C.  
 
Season Six Where Art Thou?
 
If “Caged Heat” did anything, it got me more puzzled about the direction season six in general is taking.  The way I see it, two things are happening this season.  Either the scattered plotting and uneven characterization is because it all adds up to something we don’t expect or it’s due to inferior writing.  After watching “Caged Heat” I’m entertaining a large amount of conspiracy theories.  I have to, because the alternative explanation of sloppy writing would definitely take whatever wind exists out of the sails of season six.  
 
I get it, we’re dealing with flawed characters with fishy motivations.  That’s a known aspect of noir, a cinematic theme supposedly inspiring season six (at least that’s what they told us at Comic Con).  Another aspect is “red herrings,” aka things introduced in the plot that are meant to distract but go nowhere.   A lot of this erratic character behavior could end up being red herrings or a lot of it could be important.  Ten episodes in this season and we really can’t be sure yet.  Here’s what I have on my scorecard of where we stand now at this point in season six.  Prepare for your brain to hurt:
 
Sam and Dean are at odds again, Ten episodes in and there’s no hint of the brothers being close to the same page or ready to work together.  That’s not exactly what I  expected.  I’m not going to criticize or say this must be corrected but I’d like some better clues that it’s all for a reason.  Is it?  Does this brotherly rift go anywhere?   Dean once again sees his brother as some sort of freak. One that’s incapable of making his own decisions or doing the right thing.  Then again, this isn’t Sam.  Not the real Sam anyway.  So does Dean have to let go and accept or try to get the real Sam back?  His struggle and frustration ends up really being our struggle and frustration.  It’s not fun.  We as fans now have to wonder, what will happen if the old Sam never comes back?  Will his soul heal or corrupt if it returns?  The situation seems no win for these brothers right now and that’s pretty depressing.  
    
Sam is scheming.  He’s definitely up to something.  The whole plan he concocted supposedly on the fly with Meg was too well though out.  He had to have figured it out ahead of time and was waiting for the right opportunity.  Dean has no right to trust him but man, Dean is so busy going through the motions and missing the old Sam he’s not seeing some clues.  Sam’s behavior in “Clap Your Hands If You Believe” was all an act.  Sam has actually been manipulating Dean all season.  The vampire fiasco was pretty obvious.  Is it just Dean’s warped sense of loyalty keeping him around?  Is Sam using the soul thing so he can keep a close eye on Dean?  Is none of this really happening and Sam's behavior is just all over the map?
 
Why didn’t Sam contact Dean for a year?  If he doesn’t care about Dean or Lisa as he claims, why would he care if Dean was happy and had a family?  I’m beginning to think anything Sam says is a smoke and mirrors for hiding his real plan, including having feelings.  Either that or the writers are completely butchering his character.  No matter what, often times this Sam isn’t fun to watch either.  Why was Sam even brought back?  I have sincere doubts that Crowley did it alone for he had no good reason for Sam to be around.  He was likely following orders.  At least that’s the explanation that makes sense to me. 

Okay, I got to know.  What happened to Sam's powers?  He had them for five seasons and suddenly not a mention?  I have this feeling he has them but is holding back.  Either that or they were just dropped entirely because the writers didn't want to deal with them.  I was quite disappointed that this episode hinted he might use them when he bit into himself and it didn't happen.  Is that just me?     
 
Samuel, where did he come from?  Crowley said in "Caged Heat" that Samuel was the best purchase he made since Dick Cheney.  From who?  Balthazar maybe?  Is that who pulled Samuel from Heaven?  Now Samuel goes from confident family leader to pawn in Crowley’s master plan quivering mess over his dead daughter?  He’s so obsessed and focused on Mary he can’t look beyond at her legacy?  What will he do now that he’s not getting her back since Crowley is dead?  What happens now that he's left to live without someone owning him?  Does he hold this against Sam and Dean, and will Dean make good on his promise to kill him?  Does anyone care?  I honestly hope there’s some future development there because Samuel is not resonating with anyone right now.  
 
Crowley is not the big bad after all.  Is there one? Is Hell now in civil war much like Heaven and eventually a new power emerges?  Or has there always been a higher power than Crowley?  Who is the other power?  Meg is a minion.  Raphael seems too busy in heaven.  It’s sad, but given the week in and week out erratic behavior from Sam, if it’s not bad writing it’s a front for something else.  Is Sam the new rising leader or is the enforcer for one?  Maybe he’s finally become that General for the demon army?  Were the events in “Caged Heat” a ploy for him and Meg to not get his soul back, but to take out Crowley and his stupid plan to conquer Purgatory?  Maybe the monster prison needed to be destroyed so that tracks could be covered?  Is it possible Sam is going to use monsters as part of a new plan?  Is he using Dean to find monsters?  Or is the real mastermind Samuel?  Of course it could be nobody and it’s just mass chaos everywhere.  But then I’d have to blast the show for horrible writing if that ended up being true.   
 
One thing I’ve always loved about “Supernatural” is that they’ve never allowed the plot to get so complicated that they write themselves into an inescapable corner of conflicting continuity and presentation, a la “The X-Files.”  Sure, some loose threads got by, but for the most part, the plot and characters were kept in control.  That doesn’t seem to be the case in season six, at least so far.  So is this the side effect of this noir approach?  Is this really working for the show?  
 
I’ll be honest, I like season six.  I don’t love it.  Not like I loved the other seasons.  I don’t find the situation hopeless and I still have faith that it’s all going somewhere, but sometimes I think I’m watching “Unsolved Mysteries” rather than the clever and emotionally compelling horror show I fell in love with.  My Friday nights aren’t ending with the same excitement and buzz as my Thursdays the years before.  That’s okay though, for shows evolve, people evolve, things change.  I’m here to watch and be entertained, no matter what the level.  â€œSmallville” is certainly not ending the way it started and I can’t expect the same for this show.  Until then though, I’m just hoping to walk away from an episode with some things making sense.  That to me is turning out to be best case scenario.  I’m not there yet. 

Comments  

elle
#21 elle 2010-12-07 11:41
Good look at the season so far, Alice. You have some interesting theories.

I for one am in the crowd that is really enjoying this season. I'm just riding it out and enjoying the trip. Of course, I also stuck out all of "Lost" and enjoyed that entire ride, despite the many who lost (haha) interest due to the mysteries and long running unanswered questions.

To me it seems that Sam has already been set up to be the big bad last season, in the Samifer incarnation, and I can't see it happening again. I think right now we are being given a thumbnail of the over all happenings and when we pull back to the big picture, all the bits will fall into place.

I am loving the characterizatio n of Dean and Sam this season. Dean is more himself, to my way of thinking, than he's been in a long time. He's certainly more take charge and less depressed than we've seen in a while. He's on a mission.

I do not believe that Crowley actually got Sam out himself, but rather did what he does best and made a deal. Perhaps with Raphael. Perhaps with someone else. Hard to say at this juncture.

With Sam's soul - I'm wondering if this will be a case of earning the soul back i.e. through some demonstration of character on Sam's part? Perhaps it will come down to a major choice of self-sacrifice that is necessary to restore his soul. Lets not forget that we still don't know where Mary and John's souls really are either. Speculating here - but perhaps these two nuggets interconnect.

Samuel's desire to resurrect Mary baffles me. I get it. She's your daughter, you woke up in a world where suddenly your entire family is gone. However, you want to rip your daughter out of Heaven and bring her back into a world where her mother and husband are dead, her sons have realized her worst nightmare in becoming hunters and her youngest son, whom in theory she condemned to this path 10 years before he was even born by making a deal with YED AND you're not even taking care of her sons? That's either an extreme amount of faulty logic (and, as Alice said, poor characterizatio n) or there is something far greater at play here.

That said, Dean's face off with Samuel was epic. Swoon! I love when Dean makes these threats, because he's nothing if not Mr. Follow-Through when it comes to avenging.

Next week, with Death coming in is interesting. I'm curious to see where that goes. Does he shuffle the monsters off to purgatory? Will Dean find purgatory in his time as Death? Does Purgatory matter now that Crowley is ash and singe? (Probably).

I think this season is shaping up quite nicely, if we just take a calming breath, sit back and have a little faith that after 5+ years, they know what they're doing in the writers room.
faye
#22 faye 2010-12-08 10:36
Elle, Samuel doesn't baffle me. As a parent, I know there are some things one will do for one's kids that one would never do for one's spouse. I've been married 25 years, but I can imagine my life without my husband (sorry, honey). Life without my kids, I start to hyperventilate at the mere thought. I just don't want to go there.

But I think if Samuel knew Mary was safe in heaven, he'd be reasonably content. But what if he were convinced she was not? She did die (or something)as a spirit when she was saving the boys.

Maybe Crowley convinced him that she was in purgatory? That would go a long way to explaining his motivation. He is sure Deanna is safe, but his baby girl is not.
DramaQueen
#23 DramaQueen 2010-12-08 14:10
I don't really want to do a long, in-depth comment, but I did want to put in my two cents. I am enjoying this season just as much as I enjoyed the first three seasons. I find it humorous and engaging. I spent much of my time angry or upset in season 4 & 5, which I'm working on rewatching/fini shing up right now on TNT. Seeing as I'm not a longtime fan, maybe my opinions are those of a silly-minded person, but here goes.

I think Sam definitely has something bigger going on, but I'm not so sure about him being the Big Bad. It just...I dunno I re-watched "Caged Heat" several times this past weekend and that theory still seems off. At times it seems to click and at others it doesn't. I mean if he is...I dunno there seem to be some inconsistencies with that theory from what I've seen in the show.

I think Samuel has a good claim, although I'd like to find out more about what's going on with him. Sure, Mary was his family, his partner in hunting like Sam is Dean's, but is it really so simple?

I'm invested in this series for the same reason as so many other people. The relationship between Sam & Dean. Right now, it's strained and there's a deep chasm between them, which makes the dynamics of it all the more intriguing to me. I can see how much it bothers Dean that Sam is not...well Soul!Sam. Yet, he still stands by him, playing the responsible big brother as he has all his life. I don't think that he's taken a huge step backward in character development. I don't think that he thinks that Sam is just a big freak anymore. I think he's doing some of the things he's doing because he believes that Sam doesn't know the difference between right and wrong. I mean, in the simplest meaning of the word, he does. But on a deeper level, Sam does not. I commend the man for not walking away from his brother, especially after Robo!Sam's statement that he doesn't care about Dean.

I am seriously interested in the who the new Big Bad might be, what with Crowley dead. Although I'm not sure I ever really believed that it was Crowley to begin with. It just seemed kinda fake all along.

I'm really excited for this week's episode and plan on watching it after I get out of work. Hopefully several key things will be revealed.
Yume
#24 Yume 2010-12-08 16:41
Much as it confuses and hurts me at times, I still love Season 6.
It´s something new, they are getting a new angle on many things and especially the brothers´ relationship (yes, to me this is still Sam, a vital part missing, but still Sam - which makes it more painful at times, not less). That´s a really difficult thing to do after five seasons straight that have focused exactly or mainly on that, so kudos to the team!

I´d like to comment on the powers: I think that they are connected to the soul.
We never learn what exactly it is that makes those powers so evil.
I would guess that since this is done only with his mind, that he had to focus his mind completely on the "task" at hand, which was, at least in the end, destruction, killing. He had killed before, but I would imagine that killing with a weapon is different, the weapon does part of it for you, the will to destroy does not have to be so strong.
And so with each time he was killing with his mind, through his complete focus on it and the absolute will to kill/hurt/destr oy/dominate (much like the Unforgivables in Harry Potter, if that means anything), this wish to kill became more and more part of him, and tarnished his soul.
So I believe that this needs a soul to work, a soul that can develop this strong wish to hurt or kill. No soul, no feelings, no intense wishes, no powers.
I could be completely wrong about this, of course, but this would be my best guess.

I´ve also thought about Sam being the Big Bad. I still think no - besides the fact that I would really really hate it for various reasons.
Bottom line for me is: much as I love it now, this would probably kill this season for me. I can live with SoullessSam and both of them trying to cope with who and what he is and what that entails, in fact on a certain level I enjoy that.
However I cannot live with a Sam, soulless or not, who has a great evil masterplan and has been manipulating Dean all season (I know that he has done that, but manipulating for the sake of getting accepted is very different from manipulating as part of some evil scheme). I don´t want to believe that every word that was said, every moment they had was a lie.

The only thing that may make sense would be, as someone suggested in the BigBadSam-threa d, Sam having been pushed into something and complying for the sake of protecting Dean, before he lost or gave up his soul for the time being, and that things sort of got out of hand for him afterwards, when his perceptions changed. I could see this happening with the angels, for instance (maybe not Cas, if he didn´t know that Sam´s soul wasn´t there, unless he lied, of course), but there´s others. Raphael?

Big Bad or not, I also don´t think Sam has been lying to Dean about wanting to get his soul back. He was never wild about it, and never pretended to be (I think I should probably go back to..), and when he was given not a single further reason to want it and plenty of reasons - from his point of view - to stay away, he made up his mind based on his logical conclusions. What else should he go by?
And he was quite upfront about it - unless he had just been waiting to be given a reason to walk away of course. This would have to be one helluva complicated scheme though, to require him to pretend to Dean and stay and then pretend again and go.
I think and hope it was genuine.

I´m really looking forward to the next episode, sounds like it´s going to be a major one...
Alice
#25 Alice 2010-12-09 01:13
Hey everyone, I just wanted to say there are a lot really great comments! I plan on doing more personal replies, hopefully tomorrow now that the recap is done. I really do want to address many of your points because they are so good. I did want to note that like I said in the article I do like season six and I will never give up on it, but you have to admit the "where is this going" factor is quite maddening. But hey, maddening is my sort of thing.
hjradcliff
#26 hjradcliff 2010-12-09 21:57
its been awhile since i commented but this season just has me scratching my head. usually i have an idea where the season is heading but season six has me turned around. i'll be glad when sam gets his soul back because its just not the same mood between the brothers. dont get me wrong the season is good but its just not what we have come to expect from sam and dean. the spark just isnt there, its like they are hiding in the shadows of their former selves. on a side note has anyone heard if the show has been picked up for another season?

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