Thoughts on Supernatural 11.19: The Chitters
This was an unexpected episode in all the best ways – truly a solid, stand-alone episode. What appeared to be another MOTW storyline came to be an emotionally driven story about, not just brothers and family, but loss, the quest for vengeance that drives hunters so often and the costs of achieving it.
These green-eyed, vibrating cicada spirits themselves weren’t much, in scary appearance factor or as far as some of the bad-ass evil creatures Supernatural has presented through the years.
The storyline of the creatures, their 27-year timeline, incubating eggs, underground caverns…well, it wasn’t the best of the monsters Sam and Dean have fought over the years and really, the backstory of these creatures was a tad lacking. Apparently, they mostly stick to Mexico and wandered over one day? They don’t really choose victims based on any common parameters, other than convenience, and though they infect hosts by crawling in their mouths – they breed through human sex and then the “babies” incubate for decades in dead human women? I realize this is a TV show, but it’s a weak monster, in my opinion. Especially given how simple they were to kill in the end.
The beasties were unique in appearance and M.O., I grant, and did fulfill their primary purpose: serving as a vehicle for the main plot of Jesse’s emotional journey and the impact this had on the Winchesters. In this regard “the chitters” was a successful adversary – and they were certainly satisfying in the entertainment arena. Plus, the green-eyes and uber-lust certainly introduced a new level of weird.
Jesse and Cesar were a wonderful addition to Chitters – watching them alongside Sam and Dean added depth and emotion, plus it was good to see the brothers working with hunters again.
When we first meet Jesse as a young boy who loves his older brother Matty, their bond is indisputable. The protection, the unconditional love, the desire to take baby brother away from small town prejudices – it’s all very well conveyed – and their relationship, even in the few short minutes the audience is privy to it, is concrete; very Sam and Dean-esque. This makes the loss of big brother that much more tragic, despite our short connection with Matty.
27 years later, Jesse’s grief remains. Though a capable hunter, he is angry and the grief is raw. The relationship with Cesar is a well-balanced match, since Cesar is obviously the more level-headed of the two, or at least when it comes to this issue and this town.
Watching Jesse and Sam pair up and Dean and Cesar seemed to offer them each some insight and self-reflection: of course they’ve each lost a brother (never mind that they’ve regained each other) and done things motivated by vengeance, understanding very well Jesse’s motivations. They’ve also seen how loss and drive to hunt the thing responsible for it can harden a hunter and cost him a lot over years with that mission focus. It was a good opportunity for each and probably holds some foreshadowing, maybe not just in Sam and Dean’s own relationships, but about Dean’s drive to find/rescue Cas as well.
The young loss of Matty as well as the retirement of Jesse and Cesar offered reflection opportunities for Sam and Dean. Standing at the funeral pyre for Matty, Sam offered to Dean that when he was young, he used to worry about John and Dean being dead and having no idea what to do. Dead didn’t really know what to do with this, besides return that they always came back. Both of them seemed to be acknowledging how lucky they were, then and now, that both of them are still (or again) alive.
This episode was ripe with subtext about both the Winchesters and over all sibling bonds and revenge-driven actions, how can it not relate to the overall season plot?
Dean and Cesar had a conversation about Jesse’s desire for revenge, a common theme in their line of work that went something like this:
“…how many hunters have you seen over the years get their revenge?…and they are never fixed…But you gotta help him get that revenge anyway.”
The applications of this philosophizing are vast in the Supernatural world, so what kind of foreshadowing are we looking at, ultimately? Are we talking about our favourite feuding sibs – Amara and God? Will Amara need to achieve some “revenge” against her brother for perceived injustices he’s committed?
The episode is rich with relationships and at the end of the day, though a thoroughly enjoyable episode, a very melancholy tone overall: from the loss of Matty at the beginning, the tonal choices in the cinematography, the mass grave in the caverns, the old sheriff’s story about killing his daughter, finding the coin in Matty’s wallet among the bones, and ultimately the acknowledging air between Sam and Dean as they speak of the rarity that is Jesse and Cesar making it to retirement. It all feels like a calm before a very big storm.
What are your thoughts?