Once again Supernatural redeems a character that was conceived with great intentions, miswritten along the way and finally ends up really, really well. When we first met Jo in ELAC she was flirty, funny and confident in her world. Fine. No problem. Trying to take her out of that world and make her a hunter didn’t work too well in No Exit. Something didn’t translate with her younger sister persona and inexperience thus Jo the experiment didn’t work. A shame. They did a decent job of growing her a bit by the time BUABS but she finally came into her own in AAH. Even in GGY Jo was still immature, frightened and lost at the thought of her mother being possessed, turning to Rufus, her surrogate father figure at the time, for encouragement. As Jo was more of a prop for Ellen in GGY she wasn’t given a fair turn, although she fought well and I’ll grant her that.
In Abandon All Hope the writers let her go with a bang. She was strong, confident and in control from the beginning. She played the helpless damsel in distress at Crowley’s mansion which morphed quickly to hunter as she, still in slinky black dress, pulls out a set of wire cutters to no doubt disable the electricity and anything else with wires. Watching, and enjoying, her mother match Castiel shot for shot (or was it Castiel matching Ellen?) and then her excellent cold shoulder to Dean was to me a lot of fun. It showed a nuance to Jo that had been lacking in Season 2. This Jo is aware of her sexuality and also very aware that she can choose who and where and when and that the game of catch me if you can is a lot more fun that here I am, come and get me. I liked how she got Dean right where she wanted him and then left him with a laugh and the confidence of someone who knows who she is.
Confidence can kill you though and that’s where Jo proved her mettle and proved to be her downfall. With Dean flattened by a hell hound Jo turns and wades full on into the fray, brave to be sure and she can handle a shotgun. As so often happens when someone wades directly into the middle of a fight though, someone gets hurt. In this case, with ripping claws of hell hounds everywhere those hurts are fatal.
Kudos to Alona Tal for bringing Jo’s shock such realism. Her face and her eyes and the slump of her body convey all that she’s not given words for, agony, shock, disbelief and a detachment from reality. She’s aware of what’s happening but from a distance. Finally, given a chance to regroup a bit she comes into the fullness of the character, everything Jo has wanted to be and told us she wanted to be in No Exit, she wanted to hunt. She wanted to do it for her father, to make him proud. Jo, you did. Thank you, Ben Edlund, for giving this character a full arc, even if most of it occurred in this episode, and allowing her to be all grown up and fully realized; Jo was a hunter and she died a hunter’s death. While I hated that Bobby and Sam and Dean burned the picture (the small sentimentalist in me wanted them to always have that memory) I recognize what they were doing was having a funeral the only way they could.
Since I’m planning an article on Ellen I won’t spend much time here other than to say that Samantha Ferris knocked it out of the park. Truly. Many of you who’ve read my stuff these last few months have heard that I lost my beloved German Shepherd, RJ. He died on July 7th when I chose to put him to sleep to end his suffering and give him dignity and kindness. Even as I type this the tears spring to my eyes. On that very same day (evening actually) a litter of ten German Shepherd puppies was born and I got first pick of the black and red males. My new friend, Jobe, came home on September 2nd and today he is just two days shy of being twenty weeks old. What does that have to do with Samantha Ferris? I’ll tell you.
That scene with Ellen and Jo, as Ellen tells the fading Jo that she’ll always love her and then realizes Jo is dead is exactly how it was with RJ and me. I was petting him and telling him how much I loved him and what a good boy he was as he slipped away and when he was gone I told him again that he was my good boy, my very good boy. I felt the agony of Ellen as that scene played out and it breaks my heart open anew just to write this. So, I’m done now – Ellen, I’ll miss you forever in the future. Samantha, you’ve got loads of talent for bringing a character to life. I hope you get lots and lots of opportunities in the future to bring someone else to life.
It’s interesting to note how quickly and easily Lucifer sows doubt and deceit. It’s fabulous to watch how effortlessly Jared conveys Sam’s conflict between knowing he is his own person and yet fearing he’s fated to become something else. I suppose for Sam the torment is that he’s tried to escape fate (hunting) by running away to Stamford only to have it all come crashing back on him. Perhaps that was why he was so fearful that he’d go ‘darkside’ because he wasn’t able to escape hunting in the first place and thus he accepted his ‘destiny’ without much of a fight, while Dean constantly maintained that he doesn’t believe in destiny.
I wonder how much Sam was acting the part of conflicted Sam and how much is actual conflict of mind as he stood and stoked his fire against Lucifer. Sam by now knows that Dean has his back no matter what, so what was Lucifer doing with his taunts, and was Sam truly taking the bait or was he playing a masterful hustle as he did back in The Curious Case of Dean Winchester?
I love that Sam has finally come to the point in his character growth that he is no longer accepting his destiny; we’ve come a long way from Hunted when he tells Dean that he accepts his destiny whatever it is. Now, Sam is saying no. I do have a mind. I do have a choice and my choice is no, no, NO. Keep it up Sam. Although, I can figure out what six months means (May sweeps) so we’ll have to watch, wait and see.