I swore after last week's rant, I was going to be a bit more fair with "Defending Your Life."  Like last week, this was a very mediocre episode, but without the polarizing scene that had you screaming at your TV and then taking your frustration to the internet.  However, this week has once again pointed out a very glaring problem with the writing that I can't overlook anymore.  I'll address that throughout this review, but in the meantime, let's get to some episode details.   
 
One obvious weak point of "Defending Your Life" was the Monster of The Week story.  As happens from time to time on Supernatural, TPTB cannot get both the character development and the MOTW to work well together.  That blend clearly failed here.  Sure, it was nice to see Sam and Dean on a traditional case again, and lord knows they needed it after all the crap they had been through lately, but ugh, Osiris was not a great character.   
 
Osiris wasn't creepy, or menacing, or even interesting.  He certainly didn't have the presence that you would expect from an Egyptian God.  Some of you may know, I was a little cheeky when the preview photos came out for this episode and on our Spoiler Page compared this scenario to the Star Trek The Next Generation pilot episode, "Encounter at Far Point."  I even slipped a couple of pictures of Q into our photo gallery for fun.  Turns out the two weren't alike at all.  Q was far more compelling a character and I give the win to Star Trek.  


 
The trial scene was a terrible mess.  As Osiris was declaring Dean guilty, I sent my virtual TV brick soaring through my flat screen.  That was a bad on so many levels.  I'm not damned good with the principles of law, but I've watched enough trials on TV where they run way smoother than that.  They're gripping, they're exciting, they're "grabbing onto something until your knuckles turn white" dramatic.  This was a bunch of crap.
 
Now, keep in mind, I'm not blasting the character studies or revelations.  Some good things did come out of that scene.  I'm just talking about the execution of the scene from beginning to end.  For one, it was clunky as Hell.  It didn't have any flow in the dialogue, and just seemed random at times.  My big nitpick though is a major opportunity was blown.  
 
It would of have been way better if Amy was the actual third witness.  That bombshell at that moment would have been superb!  She comes on the stand, Sam suddenly isn't so defensive of this brother anymore, it all could have played out right there.  It was the perfect setting!  The fact that it didn't happen must be because a) the show didn't want to pay for another Jewel Staite appearance or b) they want to drag this painful (and forced) drama through a few more episodes because they need to get the most bang for their brotherly drama buck.   
 
That was wow factor that was missing.  Dean's death sentence at the hand of Amy (Jo made no sense, she wasn't the vindictive "you killed me" ghost) is so much more logical.  I did love the scene between Jo and Dean, but that could have happened while he was waiting for Amy to come get him.  Jo and Dean's talk was a very important scene, and one of the few moments in this episode that actually worked.  Forget worked, the scene was goregous.  It reminded me how much chemistry these two had, and that I'm still pissed that Kripke killed her and Ellen off.  Dean really let his vulnerabilities show here, and I really hope that letting these issues surface will help.  He needed to talk about this with someone, dead or alive. 



Character study wise, the episode did okay.  Some important issues were raised, but it just didn't dig deep enough.  Dean didn't find much joy in the case and was ready to walk away as soon as it involved people being judged.  He was quick to judge those being condemned, even though they had paid their dues and earned redemption.  Their actions weren't enough for their souls to escape the guilt, which Dean could relate.  Everything he's done hasn't helped with his.  Dean was clearly judging himself and it wasn't pretty.  I'm sure all surfaced so easily too because of what he did to Amy. 
 
Speaking of which, Sam just fights off another troubling hallucination, and then takes time shortly after that while they're in FBI mode ready to investigate a case to mention Amy?  To thank Dean?  Ugh, more contrived drama meant to remind us about an act that we possibly couldn't forget.  We don't need reminders writers.  We do watch every week.  Plus, they did have all that in the "Then" segment.  



I have to admit, I'm really damned impressed with Sam.  In Bardicvoice's most recent meta on "The Girl Next Door," she reminded us that while Dean was a torturer in Hell, something that has probably manifested his view of himself as a monster, Sam was a pure victim.  That couldn't be more obvious than in this episode.  Dean is carrying a lot of guilt for others he cannot let go, while Sam believes he paid for all that guilt in Hell.  Turns out being a victim is a soul cleansing experience.  You know, that actually makes sense to me. 
 
I do wonder if there are those that criticize that Sam is a little too well adjusted for all he's been through, but I can't do it.  The hallucinations are still keeping it real for him and I'm hoping that's going to lead to more than just a palm clutch every week.  If it doesn't well, as you're about to read, I'll just add that to the growing list of writing inconsistencies.  Otherwise, he has two choices.  Carry on, or curl up and die.  Sure, he could have gone the way of the raving mad lunatic in the mental institution, but that doesn't make for a good series about two brothers on the road, does it?  I really doubt Sam's issues are over, but I get where being whole again has made him stronger.  

 
 
Sam did an awesome job defending his brother, but it was the secret of Amy that sunk Dean.  So why did Jo have to kill him?  She tried to defend him too.  Right, I already covered that.  The fact that Jo told Dean that her getting into hunting wasn't his fault and she would have done it anyway should be been a huge release for him.  He had to hear that.  I hope it is.  That and the fact he saw Sam letting go.  So then why is this secret still hovering over them?  Because we need some more brotherly drama in episode 6?  I'll watch it play out, but I still think there were some major missed opportunities here.  
 
It is really nice to see Dean make some strides here, but he's got a long way to go.  I'm fascinated that Sam was the second witness called, for it was important to show that Dean still feels huge guilt over dragging Sam back into this life.  Sam had to remind him he didn't kill Jess and that circumstances dragged him back in, but at least Dean's guilt is very consistent over what we've seen over the years.  It goes all the way back to "What is And What Should Never Be," when his ideal life was Sam having that dream life as a lawyer with Jess.  Funny how even back then he saw himself as a low life that disappointed people.  That still lingers today. 
 


One problem I have comes from Sam.  Why is he suddenly so concerned about Dean's drinking?  Dean has been heavily drinking since the fourth season.  He should be concerned, but why now?  That little exchange over the AA chip just didn't sit right with me.  
 
Another nitpick is Sam being caught by the rabbi while stealing the ram's horn.  Was that meant to be funny?  Was that another bit that ended up on the editing room floor?  It was really awkward and how did Sam talk his way out of that one.  It wasn't necessary.  That little bit of time could have been used for so much more.  
 
What happened to the writing?  
 
I'm going to take some time to touch on a problem that has really bothered me last season and this with Supernatural.  The writing. I've been doing The Vampire Diaries reviews lately too, and one thing that show is experiencing right now is a tightness and careful attention to the complex stories being woven in their writing.  In other words, the writing is pitch perfect in every way.  Supernatural used to be that way once, but it seems to have lost its way in season six and now the beginning of season seven.  With each light, mediocre scripts like this one, it becomes harder to ignore. 
 
For one, I'm still stinging how Castiel has become nothing but an afterthought.  All that guilt in Dean, all that despair, and there's not one flash about the angel that has been a huge presence in his life the last three years?  Whether you are or aren't a fan of Castiel, he's been too important in Dean's life in recent times to be ignored.  If Dean can feel guilty about Jo, a death that he didn't cause, then why oh why isn't Castiel in that fold?  I know, because there was only 42 minutes to tell the story, right?  I'd agree if the story wasn't so light.  This was a slow moving, not very dynamic, story with plenty of unnecessary time wasting moments.  Castiel could have taken about ten seconds.  



(Remember this guy?) 

This is the prime example of writing that is no longer cohesive and trying to tie things together.  It's gotten outright lazy if you ask me.  For example, in this most recent episode of The Vampire Diaries, they managed to connect an important piece of information for one character in the midst of a very busy script all because she was looking at pictures on a cell phone.  A detail that wasn't left hanging and didn't take a lot of time.  
 
If they can do that, then how can something major like Castiel be overlooked?  I've always theorized that they've run out of ways to make Castiel interesting and came up with a less than perfect plot to write him off.  He didn't even get a proper goodbye.  Ellen and Jo got way more of a farewell and they weren't on the show anywhere near as long.  The sentimentality that once used to define this show has lost it's way.  When that kind of heart isn't in the writing anymore, it stops being interesting.  It stops being a show that I can't wait to watch every week.   
 
I do wonder if Supernatural's new mantra for writing (or perhaps editing too) truly falls within Chuck's rant in "Swan Song."  The fans are always going to bitch, there will always be loose threads, blah, blah.  That was a cute line at the time, but if that's truly become a philosophy with the writing, then that's almost sacrilege to a team that once took these things seriously.    
 
My dear friend Mo Ryan sent me something this week, a quote from another very brilliant writer who's show is hitting it's creative apex right now.  Vince Gilligan, showrunner for "Breaking Bad," had this to say about characterization in a recent interview:   
 
"And we always talk in the writers' room about "˜mysterious versus confusing.' Mystery is good; confusion is bad. Sometimes, if you squint, they can seem like one and the same, but they're really not at all. Confusion usually derives from a lack of internal logic. It derives from characters who suddenly stop behaving in recognizable ways. And mystery is just a lack of illumination. So we think a lot about mystery versus confusion, and we always strive for the former, not the latter."
 
Supernatural is not taking the time to differentiate between the two.  Sure, I've read some great analysis this week on this site and others where Dean's actions with Amy's can be explained.  I think those points are very correct.  However, as a viewer for the first time (okay, the second and third too), Dean's actions made no freaking sense.  They were out of the blue.  The fact that I had to spend a week of my life on a fan site reading some very well, thought out metas going all the way back through the series history to trace to that point isn't right.  I don't know, is this the show keeping me guessing or confusing me to frustration?  If I really, really have to think that hard to get to that point in Dean's headspace, imagine what it means for the casual viewer?  It means they're flipping to another channel. 
 
The thing is, the first two scripts of the season were brilliant.  I actually thought the show was finding it's stride again.  However, they were written by Sera Gamble and Ben Edlund, the show's two most senior writers.  After them, the writing gets very murky.  Why can't these same standards be held to the more junior members of the team?  Why aren't they as in tune to the plotting and tying together loose ends?  Why aren't they striving for consistency?  "They're new writers" cannot be used as an excuse when that was never an issue with other seasons and other shows seem to have no problem with whoever writes the script.  Somewhere, some control over the process has been lost.  
 
Is it wrong as a fan for me to ask for better?  If we've had seven seasons of this maybe not.  But considering there used to be some consistency in plotting (not to mention careful attention to detail) it's something I as a fan cannot easily overlook.  I used to be is massive awe over the writing.  Now I'm finding exponential examples why The Vampire Diaries is creatively kicking Supernatural's butt.  Is really sad for me actually, but then again, I'm just one opinion.  
 
Overall, I give "Defending Your Life" a C.  It was far better in exposing Dean and Sam's characterizations than last week, but things are still off.  It's kind of deflating that just two weeks ago I was rather excited by what I've seen.  It's sad to see TPTB give up this easily.  As usual, now I'll hope for better next week.  
 

Comments  

Melanie
# Melanie 2011-10-15 15:36
I have to respond to this before I even finish the review. It wasn't the secret of Amy that sunk him. It was that he still felt guilty -- about lying to Sam about her most recently and about all the other things --as Jo said "You carry a lot of stuff you don't have to."
Dean was guilty because he feels guilty about 'going behind Sam's back' not because he feels bad about killing Amy.
Alice
# Alice 2011-10-15 22:48
I don't disagree with that at all. Sorry you thought that I was saying he was regretting killing Amy, especially when he told the bartender he thought he was doing the right thing. His guilt clearly stems from lying to Sam, but I figured that was already fact.
Melanie
# Melanie 2011-10-15 15:40
Castiel is not part of it because Dean doesn't feel guilt about what happened to Cas. Sadness and regret, sure -- the 'heart is heavy but none of Osiris' business' part. I think the omission of John Winchester is far more glaring than not bringing Castiel into it. I'm glad that they didn't pull Cas into it -- glad that Dean apparently doesn't feel guilt about Cas IMO he shouldn't and perhaps its a sign of a wee bit of character growth (not inconsistency) that he doesn't.

Personally, I'm not seeing big writing problems, I'm really not.

I wonder if Sam is really as OK as he says. Dean is skeptical, obviously. I'll agree with you there - if all of Sam's issues are reduced to palm pressing, I'll be disappointed. But I think Show has clearly demonstrated a difference between the two brothers in how they've dealt with their respective stints in hell. For those who cried foul tht Sam was being given Dean's storyline - that doesn't appear to be the case. Dean's guilt is still with him, but hopefully he now has a better perpsective on it and can continue to work through it.
Alice
# Alice 2011-10-15 15:53
I think you're missing the point I was trying to make here. I'm not saying he SHOULD have felt guilty over Castiel. I'm saying that if he feels guilt over Jo, then this would have been a great window to bring up his feelings over Castiel as well. He shouldn't feel guilty about Jo either, but Dean is in a bad place right now.

What I'm mostly stressing here is how the writers have blatantly glossed over that entire friendship. Castiel was a major character you know, more than Jo and Ellen.
Melanie
# Melanie 2011-10-15 17:46
I understand the point that you're making, but I don't think the two situations with Jo and Cas are the same at all. I can see where Dean would feel responsibility for Jo - who he sees as a kid he should have somehow protected and NOT feel that sort of responsibility for Cas.
I think when Dean takes responsibility for someone he then feels responsibility/ guilt when he 'fails' to protect them. Jo and Sam are definitly in this category. I don't believe that Castiel is, despite Dean referring to him as a child.
Melanie
# Melanie 2011-10-15 23:09
Sorry I had to run off without really finishing what I was saying. I agree that Cas as a character in the series is far, far more important than Ellen and Jo. And I think that's why he wasn't used in this MOTW episode. Jo's purpose, frankly in coming back in S5 was to be canon fodder and pull at Dean's (our) heartstrings over what might have been and now could never be. Regret and guilt tinged the entire relationship after her death. She's the perfect embodiment for Dean's guilt -- in part because he shouldn't feel guilty about her - that's the lion's share of Dean's guilt - stuff that wasn't his fault yet he sees it as his responsibility and puts blame on himself.
I just think there's more in this episode than meets the eye at first.
Alice
# Alice 2011-10-16 00:58
No worries Melanie, I know how things get in the way. Happens to me all the time!

Very true. I suppose it's my frustration over them tackling something like this and not digging deep enough. Maybe there is more than meets the eye. That's what I'm hoping the brilliant reviewers on this site will dig deeper into. For now though, I was just hoping for more.

Thanks for coming back and clarifying!
Melanie
# Melanie 2011-10-16 13:02
I just got caught up on Vampire Diaries -- and I agree with you that the story is good and I've always thought that the series was written well. However, I think that comparing TVD and SPN is apples to oranges in terms of the storytelling. TVD is a straight up serialized story, while SPN is not. SPN has serial elements but also includes the stand-alone MOTW episodes. The SPN writers pick and choose which serial elements that they will weave through the MOTW episodes. In this case, they didn't choose to touch on the hanging thread of Castiel's death. I agree with that decision - I don't think it would do justice to a character who had as much impact on the series to toss off as a minor part of what was a one-off story. I'm assuming, and I could be wrong, that he'll be tied in with the Leviathan story later and Dean will deal with his feeling about Cas more directly. Dean's a complicated character with a lot of layers --I'm with you that this episode did only scratch the surface of his issues. But to me, its the beginning of Dean dealing with stuff that's built up over six seasons - I would have been extremely PO'd if there was anything resembling a resolution of them in ONE episode. I'm happy if he's simply stopped spiraling downward at this point and begun climbing back up.
Also about the trial not running true to 'real' trials I saw that less as bad writing and more as being projected from the POV of Dean's guilt - which includes inconsistencies and logic errors - because if it didn't, he wouldn't feel guilt about most of the stuff he's carrying around. The guy that got out of prison spoke about the trial being weird and not making sense too and Osiris said his verdict was based on Dean himself- so that's how I took the whole thing.
KazKriz
# KazKriz 2011-10-15 17:28
I totally agree with your post.
I think last weeks episode was great. Dean's actions were justified and I do think they made sense. Now, I think this episode could have be so much more worked. I mean Dean's guilt is such a huge issue and seeing him on a trial and bringing Jo back this epie could have been really better. I don't think we have huge writing problems... some ups and downs maybe but it's not something we haven't seen before ,have we?
There were some little troubles about this episode and how they could have made it much better but so far I loved this season.
Sharon
# Sharon 2011-10-15 15:47
I didntexpect Sam to curl up and was fully expecting a functional Sam but I am sorry it is just the way I feel he is too well adjusted. In this episode if you blinked you would of missed Sam rubbing his hand and if this has become the representation of Sams broken mind it is not very much .

I know I sound like a moaning minny but this was important and the first two episodes were so good and detailing Sams problems now it feels like it is all fading into the background and I have been there to many times with Sam .

I hope you are right Alice and the writing does not let him down again.
Alice
# Alice 2011-10-15 15:55
I'm hoping that by Dean's comment in the end that the slate isn't wiped clean and Sam agreeing that this means Sam's issues aren't done. Not that they'll run with that, but at least they left the door open.

I'm not sure what to expect by the writing anymore.
saltwatergal
# saltwatergal 2011-10-16 13:48
Alice, I have been a fan of your insights and look forward to the clarity you bring to the SPN episode reviews each week. With only 42 mins to tell their tale and feed our emo it amazes me that they do it so well. Being a long time Egypt groupy I have long wondered why they ignored the metaphysics of Egypt. I chalked it up to it being too daunting so much--so powerful--and yet so compelling. When I finally learned they were going to use Osiris, well I already knew they were up against it. How can you bring in this concept and squeeze it into one episode? Well it would be like relegating the Archangels Principalities Drones all on the head of the same pin..you get what I mean. This being the case I figure making "Osiris" a bit snarky was a creative decision and trade off to what turned out to be nothing more than a passing tip of the hat to what could have been a wealth of material and potential story development. On this level I was disappointed. I guess the bottom line for me is that I wasn't so much disappointed with the writing of the dialogue but maybe the fault lies more with the editing? I agree with you that it seemed choppy-ish. But the dialogue between Jo and Dean and even Sam's lawyering at trial was engaging. I even enjoyed the bartender's banter..here a supporting role was clearly defined and made enjoyable by casting and dialogue. I even truly LOL at Dean talking to himself while waiting outside the bar...a priceless peek at the Dean of now. After re watching the episode,I don't think my disappointment lies with the writing as it does in trying to fit too much into, obviously, too short a time and using Egyptian lore to boot. I too would like to see what was sacrificed to fit into the time slot. I tell you I'd pay hard cash to see more Sam and Dean and give up the commercials...h ow about you? Long story short? I love SPN and will take what ever they give me..knowing that what they are trying to do is near impossible.
Ana
# Ana 2011-10-15 16:00
Hi there :)
I've never commented here but I will now simply because I saw this in a completely different perspective and I'd like to explain it to you.
I don't think the trial was about the wrong that Dean has done at all but about what he feels he has done wrong. In that sense, the witnesses, the trial and Osiris himself were irrelevant because Dean had already charged and sentenced himself. Jo made sense, much more so than Castiel, because her death so clearly was not his fault even though he thinks it is.
And the focus on the drinking and being tired of the job is not random, it shows how the way Dean usually copes with things is failing and rather than help him is starting to destroy him. Something that Sam, somewhat distractedly, notices.
In the end, this is not about Jo, Amy or or Castiel or any of the past but about how Dean is, right now, falling apart.
Just my 2 cents...
Alice
# Alice 2011-10-15 22:54
I agree completely. Different perspectives are good, for there's so many different ways to explain something.

It's definitely about Dean's issues, but I believe Castiel should be part of them. If not here, why has he not be mentioned? I think that this would have been an ideal opportunity. It didn't have to be a huge thing, just a small mention. John too, but at least those have been touched upon in episodes past.

Thanks for commenting here! I hoping you choose to comment some more.
Ana
# Ana 2011-10-16 13:06
Yes, I do think Castiel is one of the biggest issues with Dean and I've seen many people criticize the fact he was not even mentioned. But it seems to me this episode set up the road of this season, i.e. Dean's breakdown and I believe it will be addressed further as we go, including Amy, Castiel, the soul torturing in Hell, etc, etc, etc.
To address all these in an introductory episode would short change the remaining arc, in my opinion, and not do justice to Castiel's relevance.
This of course is what I think the writers are going for, I could be totally wrong and they may be just dropping Castiel like they dropped other characters in the past and in that case it would be terrible writing.
But I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt :)
EJ
# EJ 2011-10-15 16:01
I totally agree with you on all of this. I thought last week's writing wasn't lacking necessarily, but I do think they made a really, really awful mistake in having Dean kill Amy. I think it stunted his character growth and it set up repetitive trust issues between him and Sam, which I thought were FINALLY over.

This week I think they just missed the mark. The episode had so much potential but it didn't follow through. I am really happy that they brought up Dean's drinking and guilt issues, but I think it could've been fleshed out way better. The trial scene definitely could've been better. especially with Sam as a witness. I'm happy that Sam's finally feeling content (because he sure as hell deserves it after everything) but I wish THAT had been fleshed out better as well. It's also driving me nuts that they haven't even mentioned Castiel, even though he was a pivotal part of their lives for the past few years.

I'm hoping that this is just a bump in the road. Every season has it's so-so episodes, so I'm holding out that season 7 as a whole is going to be great.
dlt847
# dlt847 2011-10-15 16:11
The problem may be with the story arc that was developed for this season. We kept hearing about D/S being like Butch and Sundance and on their own without the tools they used to rely on, and having to rely on each other. That's fine and good, but when everyone was sitting around the table, did they go beyond that and develop the characters for the season, in order to pull it all together? I agree that it seems lazy. Is it fatigue, and the SPN team is just trying to stretch things out, and not placing higher expectations on the writers, or are the writers working with weak, undeveloped plot lines?
Bookdal
# Bookdal 2011-10-15 16:12
Alice,

I agree with much of what you have written. I do have to say, though, I'm enjoying the intellectual exposition that's going on, but I believe this may be a case where the absence of Kripke's touch is most evident. Gamble and Edlund have a handle on character studies, and I think that what the creative team has done is clone themselves, instead of finding those episodes which are good at what Kripke was good at, and that's plot development. This is the problem of trying to recreate one's one point of view in writing - little diversity and redundancy, which is what I felt last night's episode was. It echoed "Crossroads Blues," but fell apart in the end, as did the previous week's episode.

As for Cas, I was upset that he would not have been on that list of witnesse. Of all those people who we could directly link to Dean's actions, Cas's downfall would be at the top, at least to me. And I'm not a fan of trotting out the Egyptian gods as what is a quasi joking manner.

There were things I really enjoyed, though, such as Dean's guilt not being absolved and Sam's concern about Dean's drinking - finally someone is noting that. As for Sam's clean slate, I'm not as signed onto that yet. I'm waiting to see....

Thanks for the review, Alice.

(And I agree about Vampire Diaries, as you well know :)
alysha
# alysha 2011-10-15 16:21
I thought it echoed Crossroad Blues too, but CB got more done in the same time. I think the trial wasn't written tight enough, it wasn't smooth enough, and it lacked tension. There was tons of tension in CB. We learned a lot about Dean then, but really, is there much more to learn about him now? So maybe its time to move forward.
pinkphoenix
# pinkphoenix 2011-10-15 16:15
Alice,

Thanks so much for a very insightful review and I do agree with you on several points especially the writing. After a bit of a disappointing season 6 in my eyes at least, I was blown away with the first two episodes of season 7 thinking that the writers have returned to what made the show so brilliant; only to have episode 3's writing alongside this episode to be a little annoying to say the least.
raelee
# raelee 2011-10-15 16:22
I am between a little concerned about the writing and No, there are some bumps but it's working.

So, my vote is between those, since I don't button to click for that.

I expecting the trial for Dean to be Dean and the God, Dean defending himself, or not defending himself as the case may be. Sam's defense for him to me wasn't written well at all, it felt like him playing lawyer to Dean while admirable was just BAD, because I don't think Sam even really bought his defense. Except for with Jo, with her Daddy issues. But he knows his brother feels guilty and not just say remorse and all the split hairs he came up with.

And the thing with Amy, what I don't know is WHY Dean liked to Sam about killing her. I like that episode a lot, I think the ending was a bit off but Dean did the right thing killing her, the kid catching him was awful and wanting to kill Dean --- it all makes sense. It's like the ghouls who killed Adam and then tried to kill Dean and Sam when they couldn't get John.

But I'm not sure what Dean's motive is for lying to Sam about Amy, to protect his mental state, because i don't think arguing with Sam about it would lead to anything breaking in Sam, or I don't see that? I don't know. Also it feels out of character for Dean, but they are playing Dean feeling out of character for lying to Sam like this. So I don't know....

I think after years of seeing Dean using Alcohol as a crutch, much like Bobby does. Sam's just finally saying something, also the AA chip brought the subject up so he could bring things up a bit. I loved that part of the episode and the writing.

Jo/Dean stuff was beautiful. And I was surprised there was no Castiel mention with Dean's guilt. But who knows maybe Dean thought it would be Amy and Osiris was going to call Cas, or maybe the fact Osiris wasn't going to call Cas is a clue Cas isn't dead.
Cathia
# Cathia 2011-10-15 16:23
Just for the record, I liked that episode way more than the previous one, but it wasn't so good either. After two really nice episodes, the story is going down the cliff and I just hope that it will get better in time.

Osiris... unfortunately, gods tend to be MOTW on Supernatural, with a possible exception of Trickster/Loki. Writers don’t give them justice, that’s for sure – take the Carrigans for example. So powerful and all, and suddenly it takes a Christmas tree to get rid of them. Leshii, another stupid MOTW. I won’t even mention all the gods gathered in the “Elysian Field Hotel”, ‘cause it is way to irritating for me. It’s a real pity, they could be used so well in the storyline. I understand the Coyote, if he was ganked by the guys just like that, but Kali, Odin, Osiris… pretty powerful ones. This Egyptian guy… c’mon it’s like they didn’t decide whether he should be scary, funny or… official? The only good thing about him is that he was played by the actor, who was also a Regent on Warehouse 13 and I tend to have a nice feeling about the WH Agents (yes, I am a great Mark Sheppard fan).

Trial… it was a complete madness… it was just like the sentence was already made, no matter what Jo, Sam or Amy would say, sentence was clear from the beginning. Osiris was neither a judge, neither a prosecutor. He was a maniac with an ego, I guess. Yes, Alice, just like you, I would like to have Amy on the witness chair. But yes, now we are waiting for that revelation to come and we already know that it will be a mess.

Now… Bobby. Since the Leviathans burned his house, I thought it will be something new with him, more like taking jobs, going around with the Winchesters, since they are in an obvious need for a backup with Sammy. Ok, I could “swallow” that he stashed copies of important things in safe places, but now… He is just sitting in one of this Rufus’ safe places and doing everything he was doing before. Kinda boring and lame, I’d say. Nothing changed so why burn his house (suddenly I realized that I was more touched by that than Castiel’s death… if he is dead)?

And last but not least, Leviathans. Last time we remember one of them was on that gas station in town near the Winchesters’ hideout. If we assume that they know how the brothers operate, and I think we may, they should be looking for a small house, an abandoned one or something like that. Now it seems like they are off the scent. Or maybe they are just watching Bobby? I don’t know, but I think that it should be cleared out. Otherwise it will be just like the writers said to us: “We don’t want to go all the time with the big bads, so here we go with another MOTW.” C’mon, just honor our intelligence, guys. Please.
percysowner
# percysowner 2011-10-15 17:49
I liked the last episode more than you did. This is really the first episode that I felt meh about. That said when I saw the the writer was Adam Glass, the guy who wrote Like a Virgin and (my personal most hated episode ever) All Dogs Go to Heaven, I was really expecting much worse. Okay to be fair to the guy he also wrote Two and a Half Men, which I didn't hate and Mommie Dearest, which I kind of liked. But honestly, this was completely the WRONG person to handle a script that had such a strong concept.

That said I am really enjoying this season. We are finally dealing with issues Dean has had since the beginning of the series. I hope we finally get to see Dean coming to terms with them. Sam's decision to forgive himself happened off scree, the same way his decision to drink demon blood happened off screen. Sigh. However the show really can't have BOTH brothers wallowing in guilt, and Sam did pay his dues, so I'm giving them a pass and just saying Sigh.
Ginger
# Ginger 2011-10-15 18:01
I haven't read all the comments, so hope this is redundant.

I agree that the writing is a little lacking , in plot development and consistency, and things even deeper than that. I believe what we are seeing is the difference in EK and SG as showrunner. My personal opinion is that inexperience is not an excuse. I've always believed that EK ran a tight ship, but SG is more conciliatory; more of a team player, so she lets more get by than she should. (JMO).

That said, last year was a mess in both plotting and characterizatio n, and this season has shown a marked improvement. When reviewers complain about 'pacing' and uneven plotting, that means the writing in the show is falling short. Last year, many fans loudly complained about these two things, about the poor characterizatio n. I myself posted more than once that I thought the writers were writing for themselves, trying to outdo each other, and displayed extreme hubrus in telling inside jokes. That seems to have been corrected this season.

I don't know if we'll see better plotting or execution this season or not. That remains to be seen by how the stories develop. But after last season, I'm pretty pleased so far. I thought last week's script was very intellectual and this week's had good characterizatio n, so after last season, I'm happy to have that much (as well as a 7th season). It's not perfect, but it's still SPN with the pleasure of seeing JA and JP strut their stuff. The producers had better thank their stars that they have these two, or it wouldn't work.

As far as Cas is concerned, I'm one that just doesn't care. That said, they did include a Lisa/Ben in the flashback, so for the Cas fans, they could have included one of Cas I suppose. I'm one who thinks Dean doesn't carry guilt for Cas's actions, though. He did tell Sam that they had tried talking to Cas many times and he didn't listen (and he betrayed them and I think Dean sees it this way).

To sum it all up, I disagreed with you last week, but this week I feel you are justified. I'm just glad that SPN is on each week still, and if it doesn't get bad like last season, I'm okay with where it is at. Agree, however, that writers for shows of this calibre should, if for no other reason than to not embarrass themselves, should strive for perfection and these seem to not do that any longer.
elle
# elle 2011-10-15 18:25
Alice,
I agree with about everything you said in your review. The episode was heavy-handed in the "foreshadowing" (though I don't feel you can even call it that), it missed a huge opportunity in this trial and it all kind of fell flat.

The court thing drives me nuts - it was TERRIBLE! And this is a shame because it had the potential to be piece of Supernatural history. The point you make about Castiel is very true. I felt like if they were trotting out the things Dean felt guilty for then perhaps at least some conversation about numerous things was warranted - the exclusion of Dean's years as a torturer should have been in there too, and while they were talking about Dean's "offenses" toward Sam, then what about when Sam was killed? This whole thing was patchy and random and, as you said, made little sense. It was not the fluidity I've come to expect from SPN.

The acting was great - I failed to mention this in my own review because I was caught up in all the things wrong with the episode- Jensen and Jared always do a good job, and Alona Tal was wonderful too.

I appreciate your analogy between this and Vampire Diaries. This week's episode of VD was such a full episode, emotionally and plot-wise, but it was done well.

I'm not ready to break up with Supernatural yet. I think we're going through a rough patch but have hope we'll come through it okay.

Here's hoping the show gets on more even footing next week.
HarleyQuinn
# HarleyQuinn 2011-10-15 18:53
Alice, I love your reviews. I love almost everything about this site, but this site is outstanding regarding fans that aren't just gushing over their favorite show and aren't afraid to point out negatives.

That being said, I agree with everything in your review. I've been a diehard of this show since S1 and every week, I watch hoping that they're going to turn it all around. I know people like Raelle Tucker are now writing for TrueBlood, but seriously, they need to do the characters and show we love justice.

I agree with what someone else mentioned about Sam...it makes me very nervous that he's acting so well adjusted so early on. This all happened in the space of a few episodes? The end of S7 maybe, but so soon? I can't stop watching, I keep holding on hoping they'll turn it around back to the tightly woven plots we knew and loved.
Lindab30
# Lindab30 2011-10-15 19:29
I've been reading through all the reviews and everybody's comments and I find it all very interesting. I have much running through my mind that I want to say. I just am nowhere near as eloquent as so many others who comment on here.

I agree the MOTW was nothing to jump up and down about. But, he did serve his purpose, to bring Dean's guilt out in the open. Now it is there and it needs to be addressed. Somebody somewhere (don't know which review it was in or if it was comments) didn't like how Sam suddenly made a comment about Dean's drinking be cause he never has in the past. I think Sam has been aware of the drinking but not of just how serious it is. As others have stated he has been so caught up in his own problems he just has not seen Dean's. Now he is in a state of peace and I think he will be really seeing Dean's pain for the first time. I hope this will be expanded on in future episodes. I am so happy that Sam realizes he has paid the price for setting Lucifer free.

This state of peace is most likely temporary. The idea of placing bad memories behind a wall is not unique to Death. We all do it. Sam is surviving and doing well right now I think for two reasons. Most importantly Dean made him see the difference in the pain of hell and the pain of "here". Sam is relying upon that heavily and he has made it stone one and is building on it. I think we will see him digging his thumb into his hand for a long time to come. The other reason is I believe Sam has put up his own wall that is holding back the worst memories. If he was right now dealing with 180 years of hell all at once he would be that drooling heap on the floor.

They each still have a lot to deal with. At some point the other shoe is going to drop for each of them. Sam has more hell to face and Dean will hit that crisis point. Dean will be able to help Sam no matter what state he is in personally because that is what he is all about. However, I don't believe Sam can help Dean unless he himself is at peace. Anyway, that's my perspective on the whole thing.
LA
# LA 2011-10-15 20:31
Hi Alice, Where can I read your reviews on The Vampire Diaries?
Alice
# Alice 2011-10-15 21:09
On our sister site, TV For The Rest of Us (www.tvfortherestofus.com). I'll have the one for Thursday's episode up tonight. That one was so amazing, there's a lot to examine.
Scullspeare
# Scullspeare 2011-10-15 20:36
I’ll admit I was in a bad mood when I watched this episode – a power outage caused me to miss the first ten minutes Grrr! – but it was my least favourite of the four so far in Season 7 (which I'm enjoying).

And while I’ll agree with many of the criticisms already stated, I have no problem with Castiel not being a part of Dean’s ‘guilt.’ I think Dean has many unresolved feelings and issues with Castiel’s death, I just don’t think guilt is one of them. I certainly hope they're dealt with; I just didn't think this was the time or place. Now if John Winchester had been called to that stand, that would have made sense (I know, I know, JDM is never available). As Lisa said last season, Dean still has miles of Daddy issues.

I think pacing has always been a weakness of SN, even in the Kripke era. After John Winchester whispered to Dean in In My Time of Dying (2.1), it was Croatoan and Hunted (2.9 and 2.10) before we finally learned what he said. By that time, fans had speculated so much about it, that the ultimate reveal was a letdown. There’s building up suspense and there’s dragging things out and SN, unfortunately, has always veered closer to the latter. I was really hoping they’d learned from past mistakes, and would make Amy the third witness, striking while the iron was hot, so to speak.

What Dean did, to me, was in character with his head space right now and, as others have said, his guilt is in going behind Sam’s back, not with what he did. I would much rather have seen them hash that out now than drag it out and make it an issue five-six episodes down the road.

Many of the initial criticisms leveled at the Season 2 finale (All Hell Breaks Loose Part II) was that it tried to do too much (Kripke’s script as initially envisioned was HUGE and had to be seriously scaled back to fit time and budget, all of which is covered in the fascinating behind-the-scen es documentary on the Season 2 DVD) but, ultimately, didn’t do enough. I felt the same way with Defending Your Life. It has so much potential but, as approached, they barely scratched the surface of what could have been. Sigh.

I say this all with great love for this flawed little treasure. No show, warts and all, has ever got under my skin like SN.
JMark
# JMark 2011-10-15 21:16
I respectfully disagree Alice on a many things, most of all that the writing on SPN is an issue (and that VD is better?? Really???). You said yourself that the season's first two episodes were brilliant, and what I gather from last week is that your main beef was the decision by Dean to kill Amy and lie about it at the end. So therefore I'm led to believe you've enjoyed at least 85% of the first three episodes. You'd be hard-pressed to find that level of contentment for other shows.

Now speaking for me, I enjoyed "Defending Your Life" more than last week's. I felt the story was tighter and more coherent, better direction (perhaps last week's was just a bit too much for a young director in Jensen) and so much was happening that the scenes just flew by. Ghosts, salt circles, and bone burnings - sign me up. That was old school SPN right there.

Now..

I think anyone who is fed up with issues between the brothers are in for some pain until the show ends. There will always be things that the writers throw at us to add some tension. Always have been, and always will be. And as much as this show is a fantasy - it's unrealistic to have guys that do what they do, for as long as they've done it, after all the time they spend together clunked up in that car - not not have things that they keep from each other. Sam and Dean are complicated characters in a complicated fiction-world.

Dean's guilt is something that needed to be addressed and to a large degree I think it was last night. I think after he spills his lie-by-ommision to Sam a great burden will be off his chest and he'll quickly go back to being the Winchester we know and love, even if it takes some time on Sam's part to get over.

Also I disagree that Sam pointing out Dean's drinking wasn't necessary. It very much was IMO. Sure Dean's been a heavy drinker since he got back from Hell, but this year he's been hitting it harder than any time I can remember. Every episode this season has highlighted his drinking, so, since it's been one of the many threads in this season, it was time to address it as such. It worked especially well in this episode since his drinking is a direct by-product of the emotional weight he's gone through over the past 2 years.

And finally, while I did like your suggestion of Amy being the one sent to kill Dean, I disagree with the notion that if Dean felt guilty about Jo than he should feel guilty about Cas. Melanie said a lot of what I feel, but in addition to that- Cas was a powerful being that was 235353242 years old. I'm sorry people, but all of what he did falls squarely on him, as it did with Sam, as it did with Dean, as it did with John, and as it did with Mary. PLUS Cas wasn't being played by the angels and demons to help speed along his decisions like the Winchesters were, no, Cas had all the necessary info with nothing being hidden from him. He knew ALL the risks and had EVERY card laid out in front of him. Of all the things I think Dean should feel guilty about, that's one of the last. Mindwiping Lisa and Ben would take a much higher priority over Cas in the guilt department IMO.

The conclusion that Dean came to upon Sam pointing it out is that its not so much guilt that he feels, but grief. That is major progress if you ask me, and I think this realization is going to help Dean a ton for the rest of the season. And yes, he feels grief for Cas' death too, but it's just been two episodes people.. give it time. Cas constantly being brought up is not going to happen. It barely happened for their own father after he died in season 2, so what makes Cas more special?

My long-winded point of all of this: Relax. Its four episodes into the season and there's a lot going on that will be fleshed out. Castiel will be mentioned at some point again, Sam is going to have more hell issues (if he weren't why have him scratch that cut at all?), Dean's little lie is going to come out, the brothers will be alright, monsters will killed, and there will be great episodes with fantastic writing/suspens e/and blood. Let the show pace itself. Did you expect every episode to be as crazy-superb as the first two? There are ebbs and flows to every season of SPN. Every show has hiccups, and every fan base could easily point out plot inconsistencies with their favorite show (including Breaking Bad and Vampire Diaries).

Patience, people.
Alice
# Alice 2011-10-15 22:32
Disagreements are okay and I like your statement about patience, but there is one thing I want to clear up. My complaint is the consistency of writing with seasons 6 and 7. It's not very good. I'm not saying season seven is awful by any means, just that it's following some of the same troubling patterns that season six did. I still like the tone better in S7, but the uneven writing is something that wasn't so evident in the first five seasons. Okay, maybe season one, but they were just getting started.

Hey, Vampire Diaries is an acquired taste, but my point is their writing has been a lot tighter and way more consistent. They're attention to detail is admirable, and what SPN used to do.
JMark
# JMark 2011-10-16 15:32
Quote:
Disagreements are okay and I like your statement about patience, but there is one thing I want to clear up. My complaint is the consistency of writing with seasons 6 and 7. It's not very good. I'm not saying season seven is awful by any means, just that it's following some of the same troubling patterns that season six did. I still like the tone better in S7, but the uneven writing is something that wasn't so evident in the first five seasons. Okay, maybe season one, but they were just getting started.

Hey, Vampire Diaries is an acquired taste, but my point is their writing has been a lot tighter and way more consistent. They're attention to detail is admirable, and what SPN used to do.
It's alright Alice. I love reading your reviews and love this place as a whole (It's literally my second homepage in my browser heh). Just was poking a little fun at TVD love :lol: . My gf loves that show too and have tried to get me to watch since the beginning. So far I have resisted and short of being threatened with deadly force I think I'll make it through this season without watching too. Maybe someday I'll crack, but here's hoping its not soon!

Anyhoo, I hope that things get more toward your liking. There have been some seasons that have had uneven writing for the first half (seasons 3 and 6 IMO), and some that had uneven second halves (seasons 4 and 5 IMO), but one things for sure.. in the end this show always finds it's footing and completes the story in a way that wows you into appreciating the entire season, even the lesser episodes. I think that will hold true for season 7 as well. Plus, we have a long way to go so far in the first half. So bring it on, SPN!
saltwatergal
# saltwatergal 2011-10-16 14:34
Thank you ..well said.
MisterGlass
# MisterGlass 2011-10-15 21:26
A thorough write up as always, Alice.

There is little for me to disagree with, and I have become truly concerned with the lapses in the writing that you mention. The lack of subtlety in this episode irked me to no end. The conversations in the first half of the episode, especially Dean's manner, threw me. The sudden leap of alcoholism to the forefront when it had been a subtext was not handled with any delicacy. And Dean's willingness to quit and leave the victims to their fate at the first sign of complexity did not seem like the Dean of recent seasons to me.

The overemphasis of past plot points was annoying, and the trial scene lived down to my expectations. If there had been a level of gravity to it, I think it could have worked. I actually like the idea that Dean is the one deciding the guilt with Osiris just presenting those facts that Dean does not publicly acknowledge. Sam defending Dean is novel. But the result was a muddled mess.

I would like to have seen Dean strike up a conversation with Osiris at the bar instead of the bartender. He could have been a witness, after all. And they could have gotten a table in some dark corner and kept talking, with it slowly dawning on Dean that something more serious is going on. Sam could have arrived after his part of the investigation, and tried to defend him. Even Jo could have been called as a witness. The fact that it was a trial didn't mean they had to resort to a campy courtroom arrangement. I think the attempt to make it parallel a real trial did not help anything, it just made it seem more ludicrous. Being judged in a public place, where they could not reasonably pull guns and fight back, would have been much more tense to me.

It wasn't until Dean was alone with Jo that I found a scene I could appreciate. And I did enjoy those few minutes, because I thought they actually said something new and insightful about Dean's perception of himself.

I didn't have too many complaints about Sam in this episode. I like the idea that his guilt has been lessened by his suffering, but I do not necessarily think his suffering and hallucinations need to end as a result. I see it as a way of helping him cope.

I am all for exploring Dean's complex self image and his guilt, deserved and undeserved, but not in this manner. He is a wonderful character and a tortured soul who deserves more careful rendering.

I too will hope for better next week. And a passing mention to Cas, who I hope will not go the way of Adam.
KazKriz
# KazKriz 2011-10-15 22:27
Just one quick question. Why are you talking about TVD?! it's no logical comparing one show with another, not even when it's about the writers. I just don't think that's good because when you (or at least when I) read a review about a show you're not expecting to find a tiny comparison between the writers skills of those 2 shows.
Alice
# Alice 2011-10-15 23:02
I used the Vampire Diaries as an analogy. I see many of the things in their current writing that SPN used to be. Aka, attention to detail. Comparisons like this are necessary sometimes to make a point. I mentioned how great Breaking Bad is too with characterizatio n.

Sorry that didn't work for you, but for others that know those shows so far have agreed.
KazKriz
# KazKriz 2011-10-16 13:13
I watch those shows too. I mean I've followed TVD and Breaking Bad since their first season. But I don't think comparing what SPN "used to be" so early this season is like saying it's something it'll never be again. I don't think that using this kind of comparison was really necesary. To make your point you could just talk about what the show used to be (according to you).
But well, it's my point of view.
Alice
# Alice 2011-10-16 18:53
Nothing wrong with your point of view! It's analogy I chose, so not much else can be said about it.

I do need to clarify again though, my issues are with season 6 AND season 7 so far. My main complaint is inconsistent writing and poor attention to detail with the plotting. It is way too early to judge season 7, but when coupled with season 6, the same bad patterns are emerging. I do like the tone of season 7 better though. I've made it no secret I didn't like the noir thing last year much. There just isn't a dedication to the great writing there once was. That incidentally coincides with Eric Kripke stepping down as showrunner.
Tillyputian
# Tillyputian 2011-10-15 22:53
I thought the episode was okay. Could have been so much better and had it focused more on the trial and even Sam's defense of his brother. A tighter focus would have accomplished what Sera Gamble said this episode was supposed to set out to do, give Dean a turning point to start to mend.

The trial was pretty sad, Sam's defense kind of amateurish for a pre-law student. And the end, when Sam said he felt that he had paid his dues? I kind of wanted him to say "And you have too Dean." Because what Dean needs so much right now is someone to say that to him. Though I think it is great, and healthy, that Sam thinks he is past his guilt, it is way too fast for me to be very realistic. He's not even over hell yet and yet he is over years of guilt. Can't understand how the writers got to that point so soon and it almost makes Dean's guilt seem ridiculous. Of course, Dean is obsessed with his guilt, but still, writer's don't make small it, it is so much a part of who he is.

I have enjoyed this season so far, it is so much better than last year, but I sure wish the writers and showrunner, on whose shoulders the end result ultimately falls, would focus tight on the plot at hand and not divert us all over the place until the whole point of the story is diluted and weak. I love this show, these characters and their journey and I guess after some of the disappointments in season five and six, I want his to be the best season ever. So far, so good, mostly.
Ginger
# Ginger 2011-10-16 08:05
I actually thought Sam's defense was supposed to look amateurish, but I could be wrong. Sam had reached his bachelor's degree, and pre-law could be anything: political science, criminology, etc. I know a lawyer who has a bachelors in English.

Another point and, again, this is just my opinion. I have noticed that in the episodes SG writes, they usually lag mid-point or two-thirds of the way through. The point being, I think plotting is not her strong point. (I'm not saying she is a poor or weak writers. It's just a trait that I feel is there.)

I also think that some of what I don't care for is the female POV; i.e., the prevalence of personal drama in the forefront. EK had the personal drama in the background, with the MotW story reflecting where of or the other ofthe brothers or their relationship was. In that way, the action was in the forefront. I liked that perspective better, and I think it helped make the plotting tighter. No doubt he had clunkers (I'll never get over the grace tree), but overall it worked better for me.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-10-16 04:57
Unfortunately, I can't entirely agree with your assessment, Alice. I enjoyed (or should I say: suffered?) the episode very much (as I said in my comment to Elle's piece,and do not wish to repeat it) - but I have to agree that the depiction of Osiris was poor and wanting. For my taste he came across as by far too modern, too American, even, though they chose an exotic actor to portray him. That this was one of the most important ancient deities was not palpable at all.

As for the writing, well, there are some bumps on the road, and it's not as smoothly done as we have been spoilt with over the last seasons - I'll simply fasten my seatbelts a bit better (to paraphrase Bette Davis), because it's going to be a bumpy ride :lol: .

From my point of view there was a lot of depth. Looking at Dean...and seeing how fear and confusion skew his senses at times...
Here's a man who's able to face any enemy with valour and vigour, and yet he is perfectly capable of becoming a frightened child when the enemy is within himself.

Dean reminds me of a wound left open, with all the gangrene and stinging pain of such a sore that threatenes to suffocate him. Like slow, anguished mortifying of the flesh...I find it in every look of his eyes, every - at times - awkward movement of his body... He's lost, it seems, in a rotten place, and he needs to be helped to get out of there... But, knowing our show, his ordeal will not end soon... But eventually I hope and pray that he will be okay (being at the mercy of the writers).

In the past, Dean has been able to push that down, drown it in oceans of hunting and/or (in all likelihood) rivers of whiskey, but that wall he's been trying to uphold is coming down, too. After all he's been through I'm not surprised.

Perhaps that's the motto for this season: the breaking of walls. Not only Sam's, but Dean's, too. Though of different texture, their inner walls protected them or at least helped them make believe that it can be okay. I believe that hope will be gone, now.

Best, Jas
subwoofer
# subwoofer 2011-10-16 07:29
As far as your poll goes- the writer's are using a map? Seems like they're just stumbling around with two hands and a flashlight.

The episode. Yes, the high point was the Jo and Dean scene. This was set up by the whole confession of Dean- "I didn't want to hunt alone." Dean was used to being his dad's wing man, now he needed one of his own. While the fault for Sam's girl dying rests with a certain yellow eyed demon, Dean is hording the guilt. From the episodes where Dean was living the white picket fence life, he does well with a family, but his occupation gets in the way. IMHO the best thing for Dean would be to hook up with a female Hunter... like Jo. That idea had so much potential, but of course, we can't break the brothers up.

As to the episode itself, I think I rambled enough on the other thread, just that there were a few key ideas that really got lost in the shuffle with all the filler. Sam feeling fine despite the imaginary devil stuck in his head. Dean's guilt for Sam being a Hunter. Dean's guilt for Jo. Dean's guilt period. I thought he was handling stuff- like Bobby, who also drinks- are we going to see a gruff guy hunter meltdown in this season? Anybody that acts like a man's man curls up in a ball and sucks their thumb with a bottle in the other hand? A sharing circle- "Hi I'm Dean. I'm a Hunter. I kill demons and people sometimes. I haven't had a drink for 15 minutes... where'd this coffee come from?" I just don't see where this is going.

...and not to be the fun police, but the drinking and driving scene at the end of the show... not cool either.... come to think, the whole show had folks going to their car after pounding back a few. Maybe Osiris works for MADD....
Nazli
# Nazli 2011-10-16 08:31
I actually liked the episode. To me it felt an episode from season one. I feel like the problem with Castiel situation is the writer`s room inability to decide what to do with him. If they showed him during this episode, people`d assume that he`s dead and gone for good this time. The writer`s team clearly haven`t decided what to do with his fate. Dead or not ? This is the question for Castiel. Also I don`t think Osiris`d control an angel if we assume Castiel is still an angel not fallen. I`m still hopeful enough that we at least see an episode where Dean finally lashes his guilt about Castiel. The only thing I am glad is they gave a nice closure to things between Dean and Jo.

I don`t know why I think this but I feel like at some point during this season Dean will try suicide. He has bottled up so much and now he even can`t trust Sam.

Also Sam`s issues can`t be resolved this quickly. This is all I am gonna say about his situation.

Thank you for your review.
Sharon
# Sharon 2011-10-16 13:03
I dont know ?all I know is they couldnt give Sam 3 episodes before it became about Deans issues.Sam goes through all that has happened to him and he ends up with abit of hand rubbing
Dean deserves a sl but .
I have to believe they have more planned here for Sam because the alternative is something I dont want to see happen
Bevie
# Bevie 2011-10-16 15:15
Sorry you are disappointed so far Alice, except for the first 2 episodes. Myself, I have enjoyed the 3rd episode the most and the 4th the least so far, but I still enjoyed even the least quite a bit.

I saw no logic in bringing Amy in as a witness as Osiris was judging Dean on the guilt that is in his heart, and killing Amy was not anything he felt guilty about, but the lying to Sam was. I had no qualms about Dean doing his job and killing Amy. I still feel if she had been less attractive and sweet fans wouldn't be so down on Dean for it. She was a killer and no doubt would have done it again, like Lenore and her nest. So sending Amy to kill Dean wouldn't make sense.

But Jo. Now that is one big hunk of guilt that Dean carries around in his heart and made perfect sense as far as Osiris was concerned. He could see that guilt clearly. It wasn't Dean's fault that Jo and Ellen died, but try telling that to him! (by the way, Jo didn't die in the explosion as she had already died in Ellen's arms, but Dean doesn't know that, so in his mind it was the explosion that killed them both. If he had known that, it would have been hell hounds that Jo brought to the motel room to kill Dean)

Their talk together was wonderful and Jo had no animosity whatsoever towards him and I hope he remembers that.

I felt that Sam's defense could have been a leetle more ......how can I say, strong?
He seemed a little lackluster in it and not too upset that he might again lose his brother. I blame the writing for that entirely. How we all miss Tucker, Humphries and Carver. Too bad CW is so cheap. :-

Some complain the last 2 episodes were like season one. I LOVED season one, so that doesn't bother me in the least.

My mind boggles when I read complaints that it is all about Sam or all about Dean. It's about the brothers as I see it and that is why I enjoy episodes a lot more than some others. I would rather enjoy the enjoyable than pick on the bits that could have been done better. That's just me and not criticism of others.

I can't see any reason for Castiel to have been included in the trial as Dean doesn't feel guilty about him, but only grief that his friend went off the rails, betrayed them and as he thinks, is now dead and gone. (Hope that isn't so)

As far as mentioning Cas, he could be mentioned many times, as we don't see the brothers 24 hours a day, and the time alotted for the show is not enough to stuff everything in that we various fans would like to see. The show needs to be 2 hours at least to get everything we want into it. I would like it to be 2 hours a week, but I'm afraid the 2 J's would soon be hospitalized for severe exhaustion and I NEED my weekly fix. :P

So Alice, I hope the future episodes are more to your liking. Don't want you to desert our boys :-) .
Alice
# Alice 2011-10-16 19:07
Heavens no, I'll never desert the boys. Any discontent on my part comes from the TV critic I'm supposed to be in these things. It's really my job to point out when things work and when they don't. I get really sad that they aren't, but that's how TV works. When a show ages, the commitment to quality usually sags. I often joke, eventually my expectations will lower where my reviews end up saying, "It wasn't Bugs."

I've stuck with a lot of TV shows to the end, through the good times and bad, and have rarely been disappointed with the end. Okay, The X-Files, but it was blatantly obvious that they had written themselves into a corner and would never get out. But The West Wing, I was thrilled with how they ended that after a lot of people abandoned it.

Sorry, I'm rambling. I'll never give up on Supernatural. I'm with it until the end.
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2011-10-16 16:01
Thanks for the review Alice. I do feel that of the four so far, this one didn’t do itself justice. Shame really because the idea behind the episode was really good.

First things first, I found Osiris pretty lame. He was more of a petulant child than anything else ‘... because I’m the judge, son’. He was a bit too cartoonish character to be intimidating.

The whole trial scene also felt a little flat to me. (I think Law & Order has ruined me!) In fairness, the scene got less than ten minutes which didn’t exactly give them a lot of time to give a scene like that the credence it deserved. I wasn’t too gone on the choice of witnesses (plus we got cheated out of a third.) Yes, the appearance of Amy as the third witness would have been awesome but that would have taken further time away from the trial itself. (Speaking of, I’m going to have many a happy daydream in the coming months imagining John as a witness. SG should promise JDM her first born child to get him back on the show.....) As a witness against Dean, Jo was fairly lame. You’d think Osiris would have picked stronger witnesses.

The choice of Sam as a witness did make a little more sense. However, were Dean not drinking to beat the band and had an iota of sense left, he’d realise that the ‘domino effect’ wasn’t going to stop had Dean left Sam where he was. The words ‘destined for’ have been used so often in relation to the guy it beggars belief. If anything it’d have been worse for Sam without his brother because following Jess’ death, without the steadying presence of Dean, Sam would have ended up either dead or turned earlier. It’s not as if Lucifer/Azazael would have said ‘Oh wait, he’s at university, better leave him alone.” (Though this would be great to entice people to stay in school!)

I think if Dean bears guilt over Sam it would be in relation to the way he feels Sam ‘turned out’. Back in Season 2 (I think) there was that lovely scene where Sam said something along the lines of ‘I’ve spent my whole life looking up to you Dean, trying to be like my big brother’ etc. I’m sure those words haunted Dean in the aftermath of Swan Song (and even earlier). While undoubtedly heartfelt and well intentioned, these words could actually prove quite damaging to Dean in his present state of mind. Sam has spent his life trying to emulate Dean, could Dean also see this as being the reason Sam jumped, because Dean led the way in that regard? Did Dean feel some of Sam’s more unsavoury characteristics also stemmed from him? Dean saw himself reflected in Sam in You Can’t Handle the Truth. Did he see the lies and ruthlessness etc and think ‘Sam’s only like that because I am like that’?

Has Dean’s guilt been alleviated as a result of this episode? I think partly. It’s so easy to put the blame on your actions, to put yourself into that butterfly effect scenario, and there’s no limit to it. Dean could also think “If I had not helped Sam with his reading or letters when he was a kid then maybe Sam wouldn’t have been as good at school, and he wouldn’t have gone to Stanford and I wouldn’t have had to drag him back into the life etc etc.” However, where I think the trial will help Dean is with the knowledge that others don’t blame him for it at all. It’ll be a slow process for Dean (and it took Sam over 20 (200?) years to get to the point where he ‘kinda feels good’) but perhaps now he has one foot on that road. If not, Sam had better get to work spiking Deans beer with happy pills because as the trial showed, Dean no longer has an interest in whether he lives or dies (and if this isn’t an indicator of how low Dean is I don’t know what is).

In relation to Sam’s guilt or lack thereof... Is Sam that well adjusted? I don’t know if it’s true to say that he feels guilt free, I think it’s more that he feels he can look people in the eye now, he’s no longer the least of anyone. It doesn’t negate what he has done but it will give him the strength to keep on going and I feel the positivity and enthusiasm he has had about hunting these past few weeks were borne out of a genuine desire to help people, and not to atone for his ‘sins’.

Compare this with Dean following his resurrection. He went from hunt to hunt non-stop but that was coupled with a measure of desperation as he tried to do right in order to wipe out the ‘wrong’ he had done in hell. Sam’s atoning is done; he’s not going to be lead or driven by guilt any more. Perhaps he now knows guilt doesn’t lead you anywhere good. Guilt over Jessica’s death drove Sam to seek revenge on Azazael which led to John’s death. Guilt over Dean’s deal and subsequent time in hell drove him to seek revenge on Lilith. So while Sam might have regret for what he did (and he obviously does given his ‘If anyone should be on trial here it’s me’ statement), experience has taught Sam that nothing good comes from letting guilt ferment.

I feel that one of the key differences between Sam and Dean at the moment is that Sam has realised that he can only be the master of his own mistakes, he can only be responsible for what ‘he’ did; not what Meg did in his body, or Lucifer or Dr. Ellicott or even Soulless Sam. Dean hasn’t reached that stage yet. He has decided that others mistakes are his to bear as well. As a role model for Sam (and Jo) I’m sure his sees his role as one of influencing others (we saw this with Ben in 6.01), be that in positive or negative ways.

I’m not sure the writers are finished with Sam in this regard. I’m kinda thinking that might be it for Sam this season though. There was a real sense of finality about the way that last scene was delivered. However, it’s also possible that Sam told Dean he’s okay in order to give Dean some hope that he too can overcome his guilt and difficulties. Perhaps Sam wants to lead by example for Dean this time. (Hero Sam times two!)

Aside from that.... ‘Hunter in a space suit’ (Bobby, have a hug) and that entire ‘You are Dean Winchester, this is what you do’ scene was brilliant.
purplehairedwonder
# purplehairedwonder 2011-10-17 11:46
Quote:
In relation to Sam’s guilt or lack thereof... Is Sam that well adjusted? I don’t know if it’s true to say that he feels guilt free, I think it’s more that he feels he can look people in the eye now, he’s no longer the least of anyone. It doesn’t negate what he has done but it will give him the strength to keep on going and I feel the positivity and enthusiasm he has had about hunting these past few weeks were borne out of a genuine desire to help people, and not to atone for his ‘sins’.
I think this is exactly it. There's a big difference between being guilt-free and being able to move forward from it. Dean asked Sam if he really felt like his slate was wiped and Sam said no. Sam acknowledges his mistakes but has gotten to the point where they no longer define him. He's not trying to hunt to make up for his 'destiny' or 'sins,' but because he wants to help people.

I also don't think his Hell issues are gone. We saw him check out for a brief moment at the very beginning of the episode. But, like he told Dean last episode, he's managing. I'm completely expecting the other shoe to drop at some point, though. Him finding out about Amy, for instance, could easily put a chink in the wall he's been slowly building up from Dean's stone number 1 and give Lucifer more room to slither back in. It's just a matter of time. For now, though, Sam needs to be there for Dean and after the trial, he knows it.
Sylvie
# Sylvie 2011-10-16 16:13
I love reading your reviews and all the opinions they can bring out. I agree that the episode wasn't the greatest, although I didn't hate it, I don't think it was as bad as "Bugs" or "All Dogs Go to Heaven" say, but I can see where you're coming from. I think having Amy be the last witness would have been a great reveal what with the guilt he feels over not killing Amy, but having to be cagey about it with Sam. I did love seeing Alona Tal again, my God the chemistry she had with Jensen was stupendous, it's unfortunate that she and Ellen were killed off so soon.

By the way, I totally agree with you about "The Vampire Diaries", the writers are doing an exceptional job on the show. I'll be checking out your other website to see your review of the latest (explosive) episode.
Freyja37
# Freyja37 2011-10-16 18:59
I will agree the writers dropped the ball on this episode, so much wasted potential, the trial scene could have been better...

I will say I don't miss Castiel and could care less about anything regarding him, just my opinion.. Dean doesn't feel guilty about Castiel because he did it all on his own.. ;)

Jo he felt guilty about because he thought it was his fault she died, if he hadn't met her would she still be alive? (Yes, I am still mad Eric had her and Ellen killed, hell I am still pissed they killed Bela)

I will also disagree with TVD writing, I stopped watching because it was way to cliche and boring. There was nothing there, reason why I don't watch The Secret Circle.

Overall SPN isn't doing to bad, do I think they could do better sure, but it's not to the point where I need to panic...
Sweet
# Sweet 2011-10-17 15:19
I will say that in Sera's defense, I think she may be trying to grow SPN up from the way the writing was set up in the Kripke era (and btw, Kripke is still around and approving all BTS - he was there all through season 6! - he is just not running the day to day). Eric Kripke, I think, is a better script writer than a show runner. I love SPN with all my heart, but for me, the writing for the show - as a series on television - has been lazy, poorly plotted, and immature from the jump. Except for season 1 and maybe season 2. But the seeds for the bad plotting were there at the start. I think Sera now has her own problems added into the mix, but I do not blame her at all for trying to change up a few things on her own. When I saw the first two episodes for this season, I thought, wow, SPN has finally grown up and shown the ability to write fully and maturely like other shows on tv. And then they kind of let me down in episodes 3 and 4. Ha ha. It's always something. I do think Sera is more bibro than Kripke (either a Dean Girl or an appeaser), but Sam is still clearly the victim every season to whatever Dean is crying about himself over. I have a solution. Tell us the story primarily from Sam's POV now. He's earned the attention, and Jared Padalecki has more than earned their confidence. The idea that Sam's time in hell in the Cage, with Lucifer, and suffering from severe hallucinations of it with a permanently broken psyche, had to be dumped like yesterday's newspaper for a recycled Dean emo arc, just makes me cry over the show once again dropping the immense potential in Sam's character.
CitizenKane2
# CitizenKane2 2011-10-20 22:24
A short comment. Before I watched "Defending Your Life", I went to revisit "Abandon All Hope".

I found it painful to sit through "Defending Your Life" - for me, it didn't feel like "Defending Your Life" was ... connected ... to the tramatic events in "Abandon All Hope". I tend to agree that "Defending Your Life" was a wasted opportunity, let down by a poor script.