(This originally appeared on blogcritics.org back in November, 2008. Since then Blogcritics has deleted the entire archive of articles that I wrote for them, so I'm reposting those reviews here. Enjoy!)
What a concept! A horror show where one of the main characters accurately states, “For us everyday is Halloween,” opts to do a Halloween themed episode. Considering the Halloween season is a disastrous time in the Winchester family history, why not dress up the fact that this year isn’t proving to be any better for the brothers?
“It’s The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” paid fitting homage to the teenage slice and dice horror flicks of the 1980’s. You know, those countless films in which Halloween urban legends were depicted with horrifying gore (like razor blades in the candy) and enough campy teen kills during bad parties to make us wonder how a town didn’t notice the sudden drop in the teenage population. Maybe the motivation behind following that formula in this week’s episode was to confuse enough channel flippers into thinking they were watching Halloween(insert your terrible horror movie here).
For my "old long ago," I blew the dust off my two 2013 dissertations on the show's use of angels - one as a group, and one specifically on Castiel - to set the stage for a "new, more recent" look at what the show has done with angels since then. While I organize my thoughts for an update on Supernatural's latest angel entourage, enjoy revisiting my past angelic musings - and that amazing linked 2009 Mo Ryan interview with Eric Kripke!
In the late half of Season 9, I decided to do something I'd never done: participate in a Supernatural
Fan Fiction contest. I resolved not to do any slash but instead write up a big budget, movie style, possible "finale" to the show which tied up loose ends. I chose it as my Auld Lang Syne feature article not only because it was a lot of fun to write (and had some great artwork by neigeausoleil
) but also because it's somewhat humorous to look back two seasons later to see what I got wrong about the show's future plots... and what I ended up getting right.
I'm very proud to announce that Elle has offered to step in and do the episode reviews until elle2 returns. She sent me her first one for "Free To Be You and Me." I'm thrilled with her point of view, so enjoy and tell elle what you think.
Here's a really fun twist on today's "Caption This" courtesy of guest contributor FS425. Castiel plays "Caption This!" The angel certainly has a lot of one liners to draw from.
Thoughts on "Free to Be You and Me"
THEN: We are forced to relive the downward spiral of the brother’s relationship and the splitting of Team Winchester from last week’s episode. This episode served as the ideal continuation from last week’s devastating ending. Though it was sad to see the brother’s separate, after seeing this week’s episode I am even more certain it was necessary. I think Sam needed to be on his own to make the realization that he could be strong enough and that he could learn to forgive himself. For Dean’s part, while I can’t imagine that Sam wasn’t still on his mind 99% of the time, the tension-free environment was ideal for gaining perspective on a very messy situation. I truly believe that when the boys reunite (and notice my use of “when” not “if’), they will be better for their individual experiences.
- “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, in my opinion, was very well used in this sequence cutting between Sam and Dean. I’m not a classic rock expert, but it worked for me! It is only episode three so this may be a premature assumption- but it looks like our wish for the return of classic rock has been granted!
- The instrumental music during Sam and Lucifer’s conversation at the end was brilliant. It was just the right mix of eeriness, mystery and tension.
- Hunter Trio -not much to say about them, but as a vehicle for getting Sam to a better place, I thought they were effective. It couldn’t be a demon; it had to be a human catalyst to convince him that he could change. That’s just what these three were.
Lindsay:mostly, she really annoyed me - so nosy and determined to cozy up to Sam that I was POSITIVE she was a demon - my money was on Meg. She sort of bugged me actually, too eager. Although, with Sam as a bartender, I’d find a reason to cry into a few cocktails just to be near him! I bet nosy wished she’d never talked to Sam beyond drink orders after that knife was held at her throat. Lindsay did serve a purpose - telling Sam that even he could be forgiven and that he could change - I think this affirmation helped him later as he spoke with Lucifer/Jess.
SAM: “People can change. There is reason for hope.”
The opening scene with Sam and Jessica set a sombre, sad tone. When Sam first lays eyes on Jessica, the love and relief on his face is heartbreaking. He’s missed her. Her name isn’t mentioned much these days, but from the expression, we know (not that we doubted) she’s never been a far away thought. I suspected that perhaps Jessica was Lucifer or some other entity meant to manipulate, but regardless I enjoyed seeing the intimacy between the two. “I miss you, so much.” Viewers weren’t privy to much of their relationship, but the tenderness was visible in the dream-sequence here. Calling Sam out for his actions; perhaps reflecting his own internal thoughts on what’s been happening?
It’s interesting the parallel that’s drawn between Sam leaving hunting now and back when he went to Stanford. I think Jessica (even though she is really Lucifer) sums it up nicely -“different verse, same song” - bottom line, leaving doesn’t fix the problem, it just delays the inevitable and eventually, life catches up with you, no matter what. Jessica’s words aren’t surprising to Sam from his expression; he’s had these thoughts - he knows that he can’t run forever, but he’s in denial. He chokes back the tears, conflict easily read on his face.
Sam is clearly lost; he looks especially torn as he watched the three hunters walk away from him at the bar. Sam’s struggle with the other hunters was sad, but in a way I think it was cathartic for him. He said aloud what he’d done, admitted it. He fought and helped Lindsay without using any kind of powers, only his skills as a hunter, and what’s more, he didn’t consume the demon blood even when it was literally forced into his mouth. Sam needed this to happen; just like Dean needed a dose of reality back in It’s a Terrible Life. Hunting is his life. That’s all there is to it. Sam iscapable of helping people without demon-juice and now he knows how strong he is capable of being; strength of will. Sam resisted the greatest temptation there will ever be - the blood was physically in his mouth and he chose not to drink it, not to be that guy again.
DEAN: “Eat it, Twilight!”
The sequence after the teaser, cutting between Sam and Dean was a fantastic technique. Dean in the opening sequence reminds me much of how he was in season two after John died. Systematically hunting everything and anything, recklessly even, in an effort to escape his own feelings. The scene where Dean cuts into the vampire and the result is blood on his face is reminiscent of “˜Bloodlust” - Dean is not in a good headspace.
This week, instead of Sam and Dean, we had Dean and Cas whose friendship, tentative though it may be, is intriguing and moving to watch. In this human world, Dean can function as a guidepost for Cas, who is very much out of his element. (I would have loved to witness the personal space conversation.) Castiel asks for Dean’s help, because he’s the only one who will help him, and Dean caves. What was most affecting about this exchange was Dean’s silent moment and the way his face softens before he vocalizes his consent to help Castiel.
Dean understands what it is like to have (or at least, to feel like you have) nobody else to lean on, to have nobody by your side. It’s clear that there is affection between them, and I can’t help but wonder, given that the THEN reminded us of Castiel’s speech last week, if Dean isn’t motivated here because he feels guilty and obligated. It definitely wouldn’t be out of character for Dean to shoulder the guilt that Cas (somewhat unreasonably, though understandably) laid at his feet in the hospital last week. On the other hand, Dean is finally needed again. It’s been a long time since someone asked him for help, since someone needed him. Also, kudos to Jensen for delivering the “I didn’t poop for a week” line; I bet there are great outtakes of that one!
I found it interesting that Cas’ hooker lead to the mention of absent fathers and then later Cas and Dean compared missing dad stories. Dean and Castiel have a lot in common, more and more every episode. The parallels between the Winchester family and the battle of the angels doesn’t stop there. Raphael talks about how his “˜father left them with no instructions’ and I can’t help but think of Sam and Dean back in season one faced with the same scenario.
The roles Dean and Cas have taken on in relation to one another this season is different than before - Dean is almost a mentor to Castiel and at the same time, Castiel fills the part of Dean that needs companionship when Sam is unable to fill that role. Regarding Dean’s confession to Castiel that he felt better without Sammy; I didn’t believe it for a minute. Sounded like an attempt to convince himself things were better off this way when in reality, the experience with Cas made him miss Sammy all the more. I do believe it was a relief from the tension and strain that had existed between Sam and Dean for the past year, which had become especially taut since Lucifer Rising. This is a scenario in which Dean is assessing things based on the respite he is feeling being free from that long-term disconnect that has hung as a shadow between the boys, and is thus not a legitimate feeling, but a transient one that will quickly wane. In fact, from the look he gave the empty seat after Cas poofed away, I’d say he’s not far from that now.
CASTIEL: “But today you’re my little bitch.”
There are no words to express how much I love his “human moments” - I truly hope we continue to have them and they don’t socialize Cas too much. The relationship between Dean and Castiel in this episode shifts dynamics to a certain extent. Dean is without his right hand and while he is capable of functioning solo, we know he prefers not to. The relationship between Dean and Castiel has a different dynamic this season because they have no choice but to trust each other and share information. Also, Dean’s wit is always about ten times better when Cas is confused by it. Thelma and Louise - not quite as funny as the God-on-a-flatbread exchange, but definitely up there in my books.
The seriousness of “and the officer will tell us where the angel is” - well done, Misha! His acting was fantastic in this episode. I always think he is a great actor, but I thought he upped the game here; the deadpan delivery and comedic timing was awesome. The rhythm between Misha and Jensen in this episode reminded me of season one, with Sam and Dean. It was nice to have this tempo re-established, even if it wasn’t actually the boys themselves.
While the whole de-virgining of Castiel plan was hilarious to watch, it brought us to the point where Dean realizes just how long it’s been since he’s laughed and that was a sad moment. Watching Dean and Castiel’s adventures- Dean giving Cas the money and the advice about dealing with the lady - very older brother to me. I think part of the reason he enjoyed it so much was because Dean falls best into the role of caretaker and older brother; he’s hardwired this way. (And who didn’t love when Dean shucked the blame on Castiel for trapping Raphael, complete with the annoyed look that Cas shoots him? Very older brother in my opinion.)
Bad Ass Cas is my favourite, hands down. And he latinated! Sigh.He’s one spin behind the wheel of the Impala away from being an honorary Winchester. (Now, for the sake of the Impala, let’s hope the angel who can’t even hold his faux FBI badge upright, never perches in the driver seat.)
I have to appreciate the symmetry of Castiel confronting the “brother” who betrayed him at the same time as Sam and Dean have split. Family issues abound this season. Raphael was a scary dude - don’t want to meet him in a dark alley! This episode goes to Misha, who was all around superb in every scene, particularly as he walked away from Raphael in the ring of fire.
LUCIFER: “You’re the one Sam. You’re my vessel. My true vessel.”
Jess as Lucifer threw me, I’ll admit. I entertained the possibility that this was Lucifer initially, but given the dark lord’s insistence that he didn’t and wouldn’t use lies or trickery to reach his endgame, I disregarded him as a candidate. Stupid me. The character of Lucifer is really growing on me - I am enjoying the understated nature and gentleness, even, about him. Though we know he is Satan, he doesn’t ooze pure evil in the way that previous big bads of the Supernatural world have. For the most part, Lucifer is very up front - lays everything on the table. This is a character whose arc is going to be fascinating to watch. Mark Pellegrino plays it well too. I’ve not seen his previous work, with the exception of one episode of Lost, but he plays it with a subtle charm. I like that Lucifer, unlike most demons, doesn’t tease and taunt. Things just are - he’s very matter of fact about things and even enticing with the sly, manipulative empathy he extends.
“Cause it had to be you, Sam. It always had to be you.”
Damn you, Kripke! To leave us on that ominous, diabolically clever note?! Pure evil genius. Lucifer’s words echo, practically verbatim what Ruby said to Sam in Lucifer Rising and I can’t help but speculate on the demon prophecy out there with Sam’s name on it as a key player. This was destiny perhaps long before Mary made a deal with a yellow eyed demon. Only in episode three and already this season is brimming with the potential to be even more epic than season four.
Thoughts on My Bloody Valentine
How we are at episode fourteen of season five already, I'll never know. The last four weeks have flown by in a whirlwind of mytharc and emotion. I truly enjoyed this episode. Coming off last week's heart-break, the humour was much appreciated. The gore, much less so. Several watches under my belt now and this episode still requires the tissue box be close at hand. This review practically wrote itself because the episode was so rich in material, offering something new with each viewing. So without further ado, here we go.
Teaser - "I want you, all of you, inside me."
Cannibalism is possibly the most disgusting things ever and now I've seen it in full drippy red detail twice
on Supernatural. While Metamorphosis
still takes the cake for gore factor, My Bloody Valentine
follows in a close second. Repugnant though it was, the opening sequence of this heart-wrenching (forgive the pun) episode was exceedingly well executed and most assuredly grabbed my attention. With an opening act as visceral as this one, only a show like Supernatural could make the delightful cherub postcard as disturbing as the one Sam studies at the crime scene.
I was very pleased to get a review from Elle on "Abandon All Hope." It's one of those episodes that takes a while to sink in, so I'm thrilled she took some time to absorb it all and come up with this great review.
Before I present Elle's review though, I should note that Tigershire let me know about her review for this episode at her blog. So take time to check this out as well, for she too has some great thoughts regarding this saga. http://tigershire.blogspot.com/2009/11/abandon-all-hope-review.html
Also, my recap is coming. I did make some progress on it today, so hopefully it'll just take another day or two. The pretty boy screen shots are what's taking the longest amount of time.
Okay everyone, enjoy Elle's analysis and send some feedback her way!
It's been a while since my last SPN review here at the Winchester Family Business, and boy is it good to be back! So, without further ado let's talk about Goodbye Stranger. It was an odd mesh of characters, old and new themes and a good send off for some characters and mini-arcs even as it laid more key ground work for overall season storylines.Â
I suppose we all had some forewarning that Castiel would be going away, especially when Misha Collins was cut as a regular. But now that he has gone into that obliterated pile of black goo at the bottom of a Kansas retention pond, his demise is starting to sink in a bit. Sera Gamble has even confirmed that Castiel is indeed dead, but we know that in Supernatural that doesn't mean he's truly gone. Yet, we are left with a hole, and perhaps a lot of sorrow depending on what fan you ask.
It's always disappointing to read casual, dismissive references to Supernatural as simply a fantasy genre show featuring two hunky brothers. While that superficial description of the show is true on its face, it merely provides the framework for a profound exploration of a multitude of bigger themes: loyalty, family, morality, self-sacrifice, free will and destiny, to name just a few. Indeed, this season culminated in an argument between the brothers about the sometimes blurry line between good and evil.
One recurring theme on Supernatural practically since its inception has been faith, both in the religious and secular sense. Faith and religion are often intertwined, but the show has portrayed these two concepts very differently.
For this weeks video, I chose to go about it from a different angle. Inspired by The WFB article that focused on how demons have changedduring the run of the show, I decided to focus on angels as it fits the episode, the fan video I wanted to highlight and the new monster that was added to Supernatural mythology.
I guess you could say we lost two characters in this episode. At least for now. So I chose two videos this week - one about Rowena and the other about Castiel.