Before I get started, I beg for a few paragraphs of self indulgence to get an issue off my chest. This is something that has been stewing for a while now, but considering it's still happening during repeats, well, I just feel like bitching. If you just want the episode review, please skip down to the next heading.
Ahem. Enough throwing Gossip Girl in my face CW! If I see another promo for Gossip Girl obscuring my view of a Winchester, I'm driving to LA and smacking Dawn Ostroff myself. I'm not in your target demographic and have no interest in your all teen network. I wouldn't even be watching this silly network if it wasn't for Supernatural, Smallville, and Reaper being pitifully stuck on it, left to flounder on their own while all I read is about is how the ninth ranked show is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Last week The CW only aired two original shows, Friday Night Smackdown and Farmer Takes A Wife. They were one and two respectively in the ratings last week, but Smackdown (4 million) is going away in September and Farmer Takes A Wife barely drew 2 million. It was almost beat out in the ratings by a Supernatural rerun (1.83 million), one that aired for the third time. Their precious Gossip Girl barely cracked a million on Monday. How is that the most buzz worthy show on the network?
I hate The CW. I hate how a brilliant, incredibly crafted show, with its fantastic acting, top notch writing, great directing and jaw-dropping story telling, not to mention critical and fan acclaim, is stuck with a network that insists on shooting itself in the foot. I saw the overall ratings statistics for all of the networks for the 2007-2008 season compared to 2006-2007, and with the exception of Fox, everyone has double digit declines. The CW, however, has declines in all demographics of 20% or more, making it easily the champion for most bleeding of viewers. Their precious 18-34 demographic lost 26%. This is the coveted market? They've thrown all their network resources toward a target demographic for a 26% decline? All networks are reporting increases in advertising upfront dollars except The CW. They stayed flat. Face it CW, most cable stations are kicking your butt in the ratings and revenue department right now, let alone other networks.
This network, no matter what image they like to project, forgets that Smallville and Supernatural are their top two scripted shows, yet they continue to alienate viewers by telling us we want to be watching teen trash instead. Reaper drew much higher ratings than Gossip Girl but almost got cancelled. Smallville is likely in its last year, or it should be considering it's clearly run its course, so I beg you Warner Brothers and ABC Television Studios, for all decency and fairness, find Supernatural and Reaper a new home and let this network crash and burn with their elusive and fickle teen demographic.
(Deep breath). Thank you. I've been looking forward to reviewing "Sin City". Why? I'm not sure, maybe because I only need to dig into half an episode. After last week's grueling exercise with "Bad Day At Black Rock", I need a break. Even though this episode delivered a slow and less than memorable first half (okay, completely forgettable), the second half of the episode more than made up for it, thus saving this episode from my rankings of worst episodes ever (that'll be coming in a couple of weeks). The episode marked the debut of new writer Jeremy Carver, who along with Robert Singer wrote a script that while lacking in plot, gave us some great and much needed character exposition. This episode has relevance because so much new canon was revealed, thus securing its role in all the wonderful meta analysis that fans must do over the long summer to keep from going insane. No, I don't want my life back yet.
This episode starts in a church, where there's a nun, a priest, and a dude blowing his brains out with a gun (heard that joke before?). Wasn't this the same church I saw in Smallville a few weeks ago? Even though this was not a great teaser by any means, nor did I care why this dude ended it all, I did adore the shot of the balcony and the beautiful stained glass window behind the loser with splattered brains. I love the gothic architecture that dominated the time of those old churches. Given the cookie cutter ones in my world of suburbia, I say its time for a revival.
Bobby is taking apart the colt. Yeah, good luck with that. I've always had mixed feelings about the colt. They have this weapon, and it certainly has helped them out of a few jams, but I'm glad it was proven not to be the "end all be all" weapon. It makes for more compelling drama that way. I like the idea of all these demonic weapons being gone so that Sam can be forced into a situation when times get desperate to use what he's got. But I wipe such speculation out of my mind, for I must trust in the creative minds for season four. I told you this was a long summer.
The brothers are off to Elizabethville, Ohio, which I know is fictional given the fact I live in this state. This supposedly takes place in the rust belt, so I accept with ease that townsfolk in these parts would embrace debauchery so easily. Mahoning County, home of Youngstown, is known to have the highest percentage of corrupt politicians in the country. So, I'm placing Elizabethville there.
We get to meet the red shirt early in the episode. Richie, the poorly written, badly acted, overly stereotypical Italian hunter (come on, fuggedaboutit? release the hostages?) was so irritating I couldn't wait until he got whacked. You know an episode is struggling when you're more irritated with annoying supporting character and not focusing on the plot. Of course, I went back and realized I hadn't missed any plot yet. Let's see, the Father from the church hangs out in the bar with sexy bartender, dude comes in and shoots someone, and a little splash of the holy water reveals he's no demon. I guess I could say the plot thickens, but instead it's just a plot.
Dean, why are you worried about Richie? He's a moron, just like you said. You can't save someone from their own stupidity. Now we get a scene that sparks my interest. Ruby arrives at Bobby's place, attitude and all. I like these two together, considering neither is taking each other's crap, and it makes me wonder why it was the only scene they had all season. I'm hoping for more in the future. She's going to help with the colt. I'm still not sure if I'm happy or sad about that, but if anyone can fix it, she can. That of course raises a question from me. Could Samuel Colt have been a demon? How else would he have gotten the colt to work? Sorry, slow episodes trigger such questions.
I'm just going to jump to the good part, because Sam's stuff with Trotter was too ridiculous for words, as was Dean's less than convincing outrage over Richie being killed. Dean traps Casey in a devil's trap, and she traps him in the basement. He can't do an exorcism from memory, as we see when the pages of the book fly away thanks to Casey. Sam can? We learn a few episodes down the road that yes he can, and it's awesome. Dean tries anyway, and in one of the greatest lines of the season, Casey tells him "I think you just ordered a pizza". There we go! "You Winchester boys are famous. Not Lohan famous, but, you know"¦" I love this Casey demon, and she and Dean do have some chemistry.
So, it's a contest to see who arrives first, Sam or Casey's demon friend. I found it interesting, Casey's line, "You shouldn't underestimate, Dean. It might be the death of you." The "death of you" line was strongly used a couple of times this season, and come to think of it, by the same writer in different episodes. Either it's a convincing plot device to reveal the character weaknesses, or foes just like using that line a lot. So was Casey right? Does Dean underestimate a situation too much? Could that be why he ended up giving his demon deal so much thought in the end? Who knows, but such a line stands out after seeing the rest of the season.
Sam looks for Dean, but I don't care, because I'm more fascinated with Dean and Casey. "And that's how it ends?" "No, that's how it begins." A demon gives a pretty convincing lecture on the corruption of humanity: Booze, gambling, murder, war, genocide, Dick Cheney. Demons are ready to take their turn, for they can't believe they can do much worse (she won me over once our VP was mentioned). That's actually scarier to me than some demon war, the idea of evil preying on regular human weakness. There's plenty of it.
The dialogue between Casey and Dean is lengthy but exposes so much. Casey is a woman of deep faith, just in Lucifer. She doesn't see much difference between her God and everyone else's. Dean learns that hell is no picnic, and the trouble he caused is only going to make it worse for him. Then we get the backstory we have been wanting for two seasons. Yellow eyes was none other than Azazel. He had a chain of command, and Sam was the next in line. Imagine what could have happened if Sam did step up with Azazel dead. Or could happen. I loved how Dean did his best to hide his disturbed feelings when Casey admitted she would have followed Sam. That had to be very hard for him to hear.
This entire exchange brought up an interesting question, "What did Dean learn from all this?" He's going away with a lot. Dean doesn't believe in God, but he doesn't believe in the Devil either. Since neither can be proved to be real, he can't go on faith. Someone like his dad, that was real. This is consistent with "Houses of The Holy" in which he said "I believe in what I can see". Still, seeing someone he perceived to be evil faithfully following a cause with sound rationale changed his bias. Saving the world all of a sudden isn't so simple, because humans are essentially destroying themselves and all demons aren't evil. This is what led to his fantastic revelation with Henriksen in "Jus In Bello" when he forecasted the world was going to end bloody.
Dean's view of Sam changed. He begins to think that maybe yellow eyes was right, maybe something is "different" about Sam. Knowing what incredible power Sam could have doesn't make that unsettled feeling any easier. He knows his brother if desperate enough will give into his demonic abilities and after a year he won't be around to save him from it. It's incredible how we got all that from an anxious gleam in his eyes behind the usual brave face and from his brief conversation with Bobby. So much with so little. Jensen, I bow down.
Dean also begins to realize here that he may have made matters worse by making that crossroads deal. If his brother uses his abilities, the demons win, if he doesn't, hundreds of demons are targeting him. It also starts to sink in that suffering in hell is hardly a relief from the crappy world he's in now. It all begins to click from this point forward, and it will tear him apart internally for the rest of the season.
Sam gets some character exposure of his own and for only a few lines, this one had me thinking all season. The Father told him, "You seem like a pretty smart kid. Somehow I see you out in front of the pack. You could do some great things." Sam reluctantly tells him he likes what he's doing. Then the Father hits the nail on the head, "his brother's keeper." Any destiny or life that Sam could have is being held back because of Dean. I'm going to hold off on further expanding this thought until next week, since this continues and gets explored deeper in "Bedtime Stories".
For the first time we witness Sam rushing in and without hesitation coldly blowing two people away. He doesn't stop to think these are humans too, or consider Dean's plea. Sure, he was cold when blowing away Jake, but that was personal. Dean had every right to be rattled by this. He doesn't get to see Sam's grief though, and Casey's point about demons gunning for Sam is all but made as a sly Ruby plays this for all its worth. She skillfully exploits Sam's weakness for Dean, and her influence no doubt will affect Sam. No wonder Dean never trusted Ruby.
Wow, I lied to myself. That was hard to analyze. So much character weaving in just twenty minutes. Anyway, I give this overall a B. It could have gone lower, but was raised up because it sent me away thinking and analyzing. In the end, the episode did its job. Next week is one of my personal favorites. Any dark and twisted take on fairy tales wins with me.