Ah Halloween. That time of year where everyone gets together to celebrate peace, love, joy and the miracle of,no wait,that time where everyone puts on their spring floral best and gathers in harmony over bunnies and the miracle of,no wait,the time when leprechauns and green beer,no,ah yes, Pagans, rotting pumpkins, sorting through the countless racks of costumes at Walmart, and kids so strung out on sugar you're driven to drink to drown out the hyperactivity. That's the holiday!
I'm not sure I got why a horror show felt the need to do a Halloween themed episode, but they likely needed a reason to recreate the campy teen kills in all those bad horror films from the 1980's and 90's. Thank heavens this was a stunning mythology episode too, for if we only got homages to a genre that many of us giggle over rather than scream in fright, it would have fell flat far worse than what we got.
Razor Blades? Please,
Right from the start the setup hinted to us that the writer watched way too many of these films growing up, for we get happy suburban family (Kripke's favorite target) and overdone Halloween decor everywhere, making me wonder why people who do this don't realize that both Halloween and Christmas are Pagan holidays. She's carrying a large pumpkin and a massive bucket of candy, and judging alone from the number of kids in my sub, she doesn't have enough.
Of course we knew hubby was going to snag the candy at first chance. They do that! Razor blades in the candy. Oh, why not start with the stupid urban legend. Hubby chokes, spits out blood and falls to the floor with carved up insides. Wife finds him and screams, so it already feels like a campy kill fest.
I NEVER get tired of seeing Sam and Dean in suits. The same ties from last week are back, and I say fans should band together and send them some new ties. The red striped one has got to go. It sucks the pretty out of Jared. I know the budget is tight, but please. They ask all the uncomfortable questions while Dean finds the poorly hidden hex bag and its time for the research in the hotel room scene.
I know this is a new writer, but I could have plotted this. So far the formula is as vanilla as the murdered dad. Dean eats candy while Sam reveals the contents of the hex bag, and I've forgotten what else because the episode is already dragging. All the items of the hex bag are serious witchcraft, which means they're dealing with something powerful. When are they not?
Now for the usual teen bad party scene, and we wait eagerly for the horrific kill that's about to happen to the nameless teen we don't care about. This one comes courtesy of a boiling pot during bobbing for apples, and I have to admit, the visuals are pretty good on this one. One of the better useless teen riddances I've ever seen. The acting is really bad here too, but I suspect it's on purpose, for we weren't dealing with Academy Award winners with Friday The 13th either.
Sam and Dean are FBI again. This scene would be really useless if not for the Winchester eye candy. Dean is agent Seger (as in Bob), so what is Sam? Agent Cooper? (as in Alice). Sorry, trying to pair up my Detroit rock icons there. Anyone right now wonder why authorities don't question that the FBI is there? I know, the same thing happened on The X-Files. Mulder and Scully could walk into anything, but hey, they were actually FBI agents. Except not since this is TV. I'll shut up now.
Another hex bag found. Damn witches. Sam has the answer. Uber geek Sam kicks into college lecture mode to explain the ritual o' week that's going to get them into big trouble. I'm listening, but I'm also wondering what motel room would have a purple bedspread, brown walls, and a bright green couch. That would make most of the designers on HGTV barf. Anyway, Sam talks about three blood sacrifices in three days with a smile on his face, and we wonder about his warped sense of accomplishment from finding this out. Poor boy needs some more validation in life!
The last sacrifice has to happen before midnight on the final day of the final harvest. According to the Celtic calendar, that be Halloween. The witch is summoning the demon Samhain when the "veil is the thinnest between the living and the dead." Masks were put on to hide from him, sweets were left on doorsteps to appease him, pumpkins carved to worship him. So now Halloween is less about blood orgies and more about brats in costumes begging for candy. So it's suburbanites that twisted this holiday and not the Pagans? I knew they were the true evil ones.
Samhain can only be raised every 600 years and the mark is tomorrow. I don't know about everyone else, but I get pretty excited over being alive for a 600 year anniversary. It's like the turn of the millennium, many don't live to see it. Samhain can raise ghosts, zombies, all sorts of the dead, but Dean won't have to worry about leprechauns. At least until the St. Patrick's Day episode. Sam is all doom and gloom, for they might have to face "every awful thing they've ever seen." Maybe that will involve leprechauns after all. Unicorns too. Oh and clowns, don't forget the evil clowns.
I heard from a few people that Samhain in Pagan lore is not a demon and there were some inaccuracies about the legend in general. Okay, I accept that, but considering this show has always taken liberties with all sorts of folklore, I'm giving them a pass. I liked Samhain as a powerful demon, because we got one hell of a scene later.
Dean's on a stake out, and Sam thought it was a good idea to leave the bag of candy in the car? Dean chows down, looking as squeamish as my kids the day after Halloween. Dean spots the blonde from the party and finds she's the dead guy's babysitter. She's the witch. Ooh, ooh, let me guess, they're going to talk to a witness now. Someone who might give said info on babysitter. She was suspended from school, so time to talk to the teacher.
This part grasped my fading attention. Dean looks at poorly done masks hanging from the ceiling, and the best done one catches his eye. Oh, but he isn't critiquing the art, it's a blood red demon and it hits home. Screaming and flashes. Something's being triggered. A kid is trying to put a large bong shaped object in the kiln and Dean does give his appreciation for that. Really Dean? I figured that would more be for Sam in his college years.
They meet the chipper Don, and this time they're agents Geddy and Lee. Judging by the use of "Tom Sawyer" on this week's Chuck, Kripke isn't the only fan of Rush. Don talks about how disturbing Tracy is, how she's an emancipated teen, and the setup is too heavy handed. We get it, she's the evil one, move on.
Impala pulls into motel in a great overhead shot (anything that glorifies the Impala wins with me), and Sam walks over. They can't find Traci. Go figure! They're greeted by larger than average kid in a great astronaut suit. "Trick or Treat". Dean tries to get out of the fact that he ate all the candy, and tells the kid bluntly, "Well I think you've had enough." Ouch Dean! Kid flares the evil eye, and somehow we know that's not the last Dean's seen of him. No candy means war!
You know what else means war? Coming back to find two angels waiting for you in your motel room. It's so rude to drop in unannounced. Sam pulls the gun but Dean tells him it's Castiel, so Sam turns into a humble pile of mush. "Oh my God" he says, and then realizes that might not be what you want to say to an angel. Aww, he's so adorkable as he stumbles over his words and offers a handshake to an angel that's 2,000 years behind on human customs.
Castiel eventually takes Sam's hand after a long awkward stare, shakes it, and then grips it with his other hand as well. "Sam Winchester, the boy with the demon blood." Well that's one way to say hello. "Glad you hear you've ceased your extra curricular activities." Yeah, I'm as confused as Sam is right now. I suppose "bless you my son" would have been out of character though.
Other visitor says "let's keep it that way," and Dean responds by calling him "Chuckles". I think it's safe to say he's not sweet candy with sugar on top or a dead clown on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Pleasantries end for urgency is at hand. Did they find the witch? Umm, yes and no. Castiel pulls out the discovered hex bag from the wall, and they share that they're looking for the witch. Um, I don't think the angels believe that's good enough.
The raising of Samhain is one of the 66 seals. While Dean talks with Castiel and Uriel about their lack of humor over his Lucifer remark (those angels are so damned touchy), Sam's eyes move back and forth in the background, clearly disturbed by all this. Yeah, I'm with you there Sam.
"Lucifer cannot rise. The breaking of the seal must be prevented at all costs." I would pay attention to Castiel's urgent warning, but I'm too distracted by how outrageous this week's motel room is. Brown walls, bright purple bedspreads, an emerald green couch and red and green square tiles? Quite an eyesore for an intense discussion between two almighty angels and some minions.
Dean asks Castiel where's the which, for they'll "gank" her. That's the third episode in a row to use that phrase. How about a thesaurus guys? The same can be said for the word "dick", but that's coming later. The witch is too powerful even for the angels to find her. She's cloaked. She's a witch Castiel, not a Klingon. I dunno, I'm not buying it. If they can pull Dean out of Hell and heal just about every scratch on him (even restore his virginity), they can't find one witch?
Sam's gung ho on finding the witch, but Uriel isn't happy. Dean wants to know who the Hell Chuckles is, for it's clear he doesn't like him. Castiel identifies him as a "specialist." Dean asks what kind, and now he and Sam are very worried as both angels give that "you tell him" stare to each other. They're warned to leave town, for the angels about to destroy it. Ah, Chuckles is a "smite first and ask questions later" type of angel.
Sam is shocked that they would consider such a thing, Dean is mad. "I understand this is regrettable," says Castiel. I'm with Dean, they're going to murder 1200 plus innocent citizens and it's described as regrettable? Man are these guys out of touch. Castiel goes for the "bigger picture" argument, and Sam pleads for a chance to save the town. Instead of getting a blessing for his work, he gets called a "mud monkey" by Uriel whose ready to do some smiting. That gets a reaction from Sam, who lectures the angels on how they're supposed to show mercy.
"Are you both a couple of hammers?" Dean asks, very mad now. Come on Dean, the plan comes from heaven, it must be just. Castiel throws the fact at Dean that he obeyed every order John Winchester gave him. Nope, that doesn't impress Dean one bit. He walks up to Uriel, flares his badass, jaw-clenched glare of defiance, and announces they are not leaving town. He guesses that the destruction is not supposed to happen with him there, since he's worth something to the man upstairs.
Pulling rank on two angels? That's pretty ballsy Dean. I guess Castiel's warning of obedience so far didn't sink in. Dean goes to Castiel, announces they're finding the witch and will stop her, and Castiel pulls a "talk to the hand" on Uriel. "I suggest you work quickly." Hmm, they bought that? Something is up.
Oh no! The Impala! It's been egged! Poor baby. That's more tragic than anything I've seen all season. Egging Dean would be fine, but the car? Dean's pissed, looks all around and shouts, "Astronaut!" That even manages to get Sam to crack a smile, who desperately needs it right now.
Back in the car and Sam is quiet and distant, staring at the hex bag. His look of disappointment is crushing my heart. There, there Sammy, I'll make it better. Dean easily picks up on this. "I thought they'd be different," Sam explains. "I thought they'd be righteous." Dean's answer is perfect, "they are righteous, that's kind of the problem. Of course there's nothing more dangerous than an a-hole that thinks he's on a holy mission." That right there shows how differently these two see things just from one word. Sam associates righteous with mercy, Dean with power.
Sam confesses what's really bothering him. "This is God and heaven, this is what I've been praying to?" Aside from a very strange "Jesus on a tortilla" reference, Dean's perspective is stunning. "Just because there's a couple of bad apples it doesn't mean the whole barrel is rotten. For all we know, God hates these jerks." He even pulls a baseball analogy. "Babe Ruth was a dick, but baseball's still a beautiful game." Aww, my heart is melting! The big brother pep talk. We don't get too many of these anymore. Last time Dean lectured Sam, he punched him twice and threw a lamp across the room. This is so much better.
Sam stares at the hex bag and Dean ends the tender moment with an insulting comment, and that's also the classic way to end a sweet brotherly moment. "Are you going to figure out a way to find this witch or sit there fingering your bone?" Sam surmises that it takes a lot to burn a baby metacarpal bone like that, like say, a kiln. Back to the school, and it's the teacher who's evil. "Oh, yikes, color me stunned," I say with deadpan and unexcited voice.
Next is Castiel and Uriel in a park having a VERY interesting conversation. Something else is up. They must follow their true orders, and it involves Dean. Castiel pulls the righteous card with Uriel, and aww, he does have a conscience. Something tells me Castiel doesn't like Uriel very much either. Good call there Cas!
This next scene makes no sense to me and comes across as clunky. The girl witch is tied up in the basement, and evil teacher dude is about to perform the third blood sacrifice. Sam and Dean arrive, Sam shoots him, and checks out the body while Dean rescues her but oops, she's evil too. There's two of them, brother and sister, since the raising of Samhain is a two person job. She waves her had and pins Sam and Dean to the ground, and I'm thinking Sam better learn to use his stuff on more than demons. It would have come in handy here.
Traci does some bad monologuing (always a weak spot with this show) about how she hated living with him for 600 years, grabs the cup, gets her brother's blood and starts to perform the incantation. Come on guys, snap out of it and shoot her. The object was to stop the rising of Samhain. You know, seal breaking? How could Sam reach over and paint blood on his and Dean's faces, but he can't reach over and get his gun? Someone pointed out to me (thanks elle2!) that we should have seen the guns knocked across the room or something. All we saw was them drop to the ground along with Sam and Dean.
Black smoke rises from the ground and into dead brother, while Sam and Dean play dead nearby. You better play dead, for once Castiel and Uriel find out about the broken seal, you're in trouble! Samhain goes to the girl, twists her neck and calls her a whore. She did have that coming. His eyes are gray, so this is a high pay grade demon. Because of the blood on Sam and Dean's faces, he doesn't see them clearly and walks off. "Halloween lore," Sam explains after Samhain leaves. "People used to wear masks to hide from him, so I gave it a shot." Dean isn't impressed. "You gave it a shot?" I laugh as I'm taken back to the only good scene in "Route 666" where Sam pulled a similar trick with the racist truck. Dean wanted to kill him then, and he looks the same now.
Samhain walks the streets, but doesn't get anyone because they're all wearing masks. Sam and Dean quickly figure out he's going to the cemetery. That's where I'd go to raise the dead. I'm assuming there's only one in town. The next scene isn't necessary because we already know this show will go there, but Sam mentions the usual weapons might not work on this powerful demon. He gives Dean the "you know what I mean look" and Dean objects. The angels maybe jerks, but they're right about Sam using his powers. Dean even reminds Sam of his own words, "It's like playing with fire." He hands Sam the demon killing ginsu, and its official, Sam is now the brother in charge of demon killing. I guess he does have the credentials for it. Sam isn't happy, but says nothing.
Samhain arrives at mausoleum and locks partying teenagers in a crypt. Oh no, what's going to happen? Could the dead rise and end up eating one or more of them in a bloody kill? Yep, that's it. Sam and Dean arrive in time for only one to get "ganked". Dean gets rescue and zombie detail, Sam goes off for he's got a demon to kill.
The kids file out, Dean watches a couple of zombies rise, gets all mean and pulls out his stake. "Bring it on stinky." Ha! I could watch an entire horror movie of Dean and Sam knocking off zombies. That would be really cool.
You know what else is cool? Sam finding Samhain. Sam's no longer wearing a mask but a tough guy glare ready to kill. He gets the sudden flash of white light from Samhain and emerges unharmed and still mad. "Yeah, that demon ray gun stuff doesn't work on me." Awesome! Sam rarely looks so deliciously badass.
High level demon comes charging at him, and Sam throws the vicious hook punch. They fight, and fight, and fight and fight and fight (yes, the Itchy and Scratchy theme song is playing in my head), and then we're back to Dean killing zombies. He takes care of them, faces a ghost, and gets thrown against a wall. "Zombie ghost orgy, huh. Well that's it, I'm torching everybody."
The rest of this scene absolutely kills me. It's the stunner that lingered in my head for a few days and still makes my heart sink. It should be noted from here on out, not one word is spoken. Every bit of the powerful message from this scene comes from the top notch nonverbal acting from Jared and Jensen.
Samhain, crazy eyes and all, has Sam pinned against a wall and is choking him. Sam pulls out the knife, using it per Dean's instructions, and Samhain blocks it with his arm. He's stabbed, but is able to shake it off without trouble. Knife goes away. In a fit of anger he throws Sam across the room and against the wall. He and Sam share of second of a stare off, then Samhain comes charging. At this point, Sam has no other choice but to extend the demon exorcising arm of doom and do his demon killing mind trick.
This guy won't go easily though. A couple puffs of black smoke billow out of his chest wound, making Samhain madder. He inches toward Sam with rabid snarl, but Sam manages to slow the advance. The sharp staccato sounds of the score play in the background while Sam's face twists and turns in all sorts of ways. He grunts and his hand shakes profusely, a clear message that this is really taking an extreme toll on him.
Then Dean arrives in the background. He's stunned, worried yet stays back. Sam looks at him, eyes pleading to let him continue, and we get the amazing long shot from Dean's point of view of Sam in front of a stained glass window with statues of angels on both sides of him. So angels have got his back? Angels are watching over him? Dean looks down the hall, the knife is on the floor by the doorway, but Dean just watches with helplessness and sorrow for his brother.
Sam is shaking bad now, scrunching his face harder, and the close up profiles his crazy dark eyes of doom (I've got HD. They didn't go black). He clutches his head with his other hand in agony, indicating he won't be able to hold out much longer. Blood streams from his nose right when black smoke finally pours out of the demons mouth. Sam goes for the kill, not letting up despite his agony, and eventually the smoke swirls to the floor and disappears, leaving dead teacher behind.
If that didn't get to you, what happens next will. The score turns sad, and Sam gasping for breath lets his eyes slowly wander upward to Dean, who he knows is watching and is afraid to see his reaction. His eyes turn sorrowful as blood streams down his face. Then we see what he sees, Dean still frozen in his spot, his mouth hanging open, and his look is this perfect mixture of fright and sorrow, for his worst fears about his brother are coming true. His power cannot be denied, nor can it be held back any longer. He's getting more powerful and there's no off switch.
After taking some time to recover from that one, even watching the bad CW promos, Sam is back in ugly motel room and man his camaflouge bag and neutral clothing clash with the bright purple floral bedspread. Uriel appears on the couch, freaking him out. Uriel mentions the anniversary on November 2nd, the day Azazel killed Mary and 22 years later Jessica. He scolds Sam. "Yet you brazenly use the power he gave you, his profane blood pump through your veins." Sam defends his actions, pointing out if he hadn't used his power, the demon would of have killed him, and his brother, and everyone.
Uriel doesn't accept the explanation, telling Sam he was warned twice now. Sam gets mad. "You know, my brother was right about you. You are dicks." That prompts the angry eyes from Uriel, who does the whole angel flapping his wings thing to move over to Sam. I'm thrilled we didn't see that and got the camera focused on Sam's reaction instead. The blowing of his hair like it was caught in a sharp breeze was a nice touch. Sam jumps a little, but stands his ground.
"The only reason you're still alive Sam Winchester is because you've been useful. But the moment that ceases to be true, the second you've become more trouble than you're worth, one word, one, and I will turn you into dust." Sam does not take this warning lightly and keeps his mouth shut. Yeah, he's pretty smart. Uriel backs away and sends a similar warning for Dean, telling Sam to ask Dean what he remembers from Hell. Uriel vanishes and Sam is quite unnerved now.
The episode should have ended there! That scene gave me chills. That's an impression you want at the end of an episode. Is it too late for them to change the order for the repeat and DVD version? Not that this next scene isn't good, it is, but it should have come first.
Dean is in a park, watching kids play, and Castiel is on the bench next to him. Castiel reveals that this was really a test for Dean, and his orders were to follow Dean's orders. It was to see how he'd react in "battlefield conditions." "It was a witch, not the Tet Offensive," Dean jokes. That even makes Castiel laugh. He's got such a gorgeous smile.
Dean thinks he failed the test and lets him know that if he was given the chance again, he'd make the same call. "I don't know what's gonna to happen when these seals are broken, hell I don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow, but I do know is this here, these kids, the swings, the trees, all of it is still here because of my brother and me." Yeah, not bad for a normal guy and his whole new level of freak demon blooded brother.
Castiel admits he was praying Dean would choose the save the town, but they only stopped Samhain and allowed the seal to be broken. They are one step closer to hell on earth. Ha! Try going to Wal-Mart on a Saturday. That is Hell on earth.
This part gets me, for Castiel is now comfortable enough with Dean where he opens up. I love how the relationship between these two is developing. Castiel has questions, has doubts, and he doesn't know what is right and wrong anymore, or if Dean passed or failed. In the coming months Dean will have more decisions to make. "I don't envy the weight that's on your shoulders Dean. I truly don't."
They share an earnest look of concern, and Castiel disappears. Final shot is Dean alone on the bench, waiting for what's to come next. Some serious crap I think.
My heart is bleeding for Sam, for this guy has had it rough for a while now. He needs some sign of hope and isn't getting it. His faith took a real beating, and I sense decreasing faith and increasing demon power makes for a bad combination. As for Dean, memories of hell coming back to him can only get uglier. Also, I'm now believing he was chosen for the fight to come because the angels have lost touch with humanity and they need a leader who can better define that line between right and wrong. Both brothers are in for a long fight ahead, and hopefully their heads will be in the right place when it happens.
Overall, this episode did a great job of pushing the mytharc along, but the side story was pretty weak and the episode dragged a lot until the angels showed up. A season can't be 22 episodes of "Lazarus Rising" though, so this one was decent. It didn't disappoint, and it didn't make me feel like I'd lost 42 minutes of my life either (cough * Red Sky at Morning* cough). The acting in this episode from Jared and Jensen was through the roof, not to mention Misha Collins and Robert Wisdom (Uriel), and some of the best we've gotten.
Check out my summarized view of the episode, complete with deep thoughts and a grade on blogcritics.org.