First, allow me to apologize for the lateness of this review. My life has been undergoing some significant upheaval in the last little while, on top of midterms, no less. Thank you to Alice for her patience with me. I just touched on the main points that stood out to me in this episode, apologies for the shortness of the review as well. I promise next week, when life has stabilized again, I'll make a more decent contribution to this fantastic site.
Okay, let's dissect this episode:
Thoughts on "I Believe the Children Are Our Future"
We're back to SOP this week: set up with the teaser and then onto the fake badges and agents to match. Right away, the first thing I notice is that our boys are totally back in sync. Unlike Fallen Idols in which I thought the characterizations were off despite the return to the original formula, Sam and Dean are jiving in all the right ways this time around. The prankster, ribbing, brotherly chemistry was felt in I Believe more than it has been in a long, long time. Several times in this episode were reminders of days gone by: such as when Dean showed Sam his hairy palm and proceeded to grin devilishly when Sam warned against using his razor to correct the palm in question. Everything feels much less tense than it did only a few weeks ago. The strain of unspoken accusations, guilt and grief doesn't hang so heavily over every conversation.

           Grey and dismal was the atmosphere for most of the episode and it facilitated the emotions behind the storyline. The use of childhood myths (lies seems a bit harsh of a word, I don't think of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy as a lie but rather a wonderful preservation of childhood innocence) in such a ghoulish way was quite enjoyable. It brought a deliciously creep element to the storyline. I admit, the Tooth Fairy freaked me out. I'm with that little girl - keep your quarters! Enjoyed that Dean was the one to figure out what was happening when talking to Jesse. That was a refreshing change of pace. Usually, Sam figures out what is happening.( And please, don't take that to mean I'm anti-one brother or another, it's simply an observation on pattern).  
The episode was good mix of macabre humour with a rather poignant storyline. All of the gags worked for me but a few stood out:
-          Sam and Dean interrogating the gag-store owner and liquefying the rubber chicken. That was simply awesome.
-          Sam's face when Dean hit him with the joy buzzer and his subsequent pouting as they left the house
-          The whoopee cushion and Castiel: while I normally find the whoopee cushion to be crass and not terribly humorous - this scene rocked. Largely as it was in the middle of a rather dramatic, heady scene, because Misha played it straight without so much as twitching - “that was not me” - and of course, Sam's totally irritated expression. (Can't you just imagine the bloopers derived from this?)
Cas seems to be largely reacting every time we encounter him - reacting to fear, that is. He still has the penchant for adopting a black and white view of the world and now it's combined with fear and a pervading desire to restore the balance of the universe to it's pre-Apocalypse scale. Jesse's existence threatens to throw more powder into Lucifer's already well stocked keg and Cas wanted to stop that before it could happen. As Cas stood with the knife over Jesse, he seemed to genuinely regret was he was about to do, but felt he was serving the greater good with his actions. I think poor Cas is just very confused.
Castiel wasn't in this episode much, but his raison d'tre this week served as a great vehicle to demonstrate the brother's newly regain unity. They were equally appalled by his suggestion that Jesse needed to be killed and seamlessly worked together when it came to talking to Jesse about the fact that he was a half demon spawn. Sam's speech to Jesse very much struck me here. This Sam has come a long way from the soldier who mandated the life of a hunter to little bro Adam only a short year or so ago. Overall, I was impressed with their appeal to the human part of Jesse and the gentle way they approached the whole mess. Our boys are growing up.
What really surprised me about this episode was the character of Jesse. I actually enjoyed the acting and the characterization. Normally, I find child actors aren't very good - they are either written younger than they look/are or with an obscene level of genius and analytical skills that renders them not only unbelievable, but also unlikable. Supernatural has historically had a fairly decent track record with the child characters - but I especially enjoyed Jesse. What worked was that we knew he was powerful but he didn't act powerful - no maniacal cackling and summoning lightening, no electric energy flaring up and crackling around him - he didn't even really raise his voice. I enjoyed the quiet power of this character - much the same way Lucifer's subtleness is appreciated every time he's on screen. Jesse also connected - I felt bad for him, his predicament was a difficult one. (Although, how awesome would it be to have those kinds of powers? I want, therefore it is? Yes, please!) I was glad to have the anti-Christ mythology established firmly in this episode. There has been a pervading theory that Sam was the anti-Christ for a long time and though I believe that was largely dispelled by the Sam-is-Lucifer's-vessel reveal, I was curious about the role of the antichrist in Supernatural mythology all the same.
The end was very touching on a few levels. Jesse's decision was necessary, despite the sadness of it. The note on the bed to his parents was particularly touching and I am glad that the door has been left open for him to return later. Finally seeing Sam and Dean back together in the Impala without all the tension was thrilling but the gentle lament over their loss of innocence at such a young age was sadly sobering.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. To borrow from a Winchester:
"That'll do, pig!"
 

Comments  

Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-10-24 07:26
Elle, hi,

What a lovely review. Don’t mind its ‘shortness’ , as you call it, there’s so much in it… wonderful.

Just as you, I watched a multi-layered episode – with great joy and a huge amount of sadness. I agree that the tension between the brothers seems to be not as heavy in the air as it used to be, but it’s still there. Very much so, and they are not yet ready, it seems, to approach it all… I believe they have to deal with so many voices in their heads (from reproach to guilt to the loss of innocence) that they need (just as any human being would) time to sort it out and get it out of their systems.
I think this season we will follow the paths of two brothers who will grow and overcome the anguish that still keeps them in chains… and rise like the mythical phoenix from the ashes of their pain and loss and fears… I am a strong believer in ‘what does not kill me, only makes me stronger’. But that’s just me.

You touched on the end of the episode and the Winchesters ‘gentle lament over their loss of innocence’ – that was a moment that moved me to the core. I was reminded of the Shtriga-episode in season one when Sam tells Dean that he would like to have the kind of innocence Michael had had before the monster entered his life. The boy would now know ‘what’s out there in the dark’. And Dean confirmed that he would want that for Sam, too.

Sometimes I feel like that, too. When I look at what I hear every day in my job from the people in my care, I sometimes bemoan in a little corner of my head the loss of innocence…
I always wanted to believe, from childhood on, that we, as people, are somehow protected (angels watching over us…?) and that, if we try hard enough, nothing can really break us… but the worst things happen to the best people… And when that happens, there is no returning of the innocence we all were born with…
It is as sad as it gets. It’s hard enough when people get confronted with some kind of evil when they are grown up. But when a child has to learn about it and grow up a wounded person, it’s profoundly sad.
That is now a part of Jesse’s mind-set. He will never be the same. He was coerced to become aware of ‘what’s out there’ and of his probably complex destiny. Being a child he might not be able to grasp it all, yet, but being a half-human, half-demon kid, he obviously already possesses enough intuition to leave… and probably to try to sort it out.

However, the brothers’ lives got messed up the moment Mom got pinned to a ceiling. Had John been another man, the boys might have ended up like poor Max Miller in ‘Nightmare’ , being beaten on a daily basis…
Why not wish for the kind of innocence they would have had if Yellow-eyes had not focused on dear little Sammy, or Mary had not made her deal back then…. They have seen too much. No human being should be forced to live through what they have encountered.

I’m becoming more and more curious to find out where the writers are heading with the show. We have so many layers now. Gosh, I love this show. Did I mention that before?

Take care, best wishes, Jas
elle2
# elle2 2009-10-24 10:11
Hi, Elle,

What a great review. I love the direct approach you took here, short but wonderful. I may take that approach myself more, it'll make writing a bit easier and manageable.

Like you there was much to enjoy here, especially the ribbing between the brothers and that there was a comfort back between them of some pranks -- Dean with the joy buzzer, and Sam able to chastise his brother. Lots of tension was released and they're finding a way to be brothers again.

I especially liked the ending where this time both brothers lamented the lack of innocence in their childhood. It's a testament to Dean's growth as his own person to finally be able to say it aloud and without anything other than pure regret that they lacked an innocence growing up. As has been stated, usually he regrets that for Sam, to know be able to include himself in that mix is growth.

I also liked that Sam had an opportunity to 'save' Jesse -- at least from immediate death, something he wasn't able to do with Max Miller all the way back in Season 1 and Jack back in Season 4. The guy needs a break and he got one here.

I truly enjoyed Castiel on whoopee cushion...wonde rful.
Narcissus
# Narcissus 2009-10-24 10:43
Another reat review Elle, whatever the length. You guys always bring up things I fail to notice, like how Castiel's scenes highlight the brother's sort of 'reunion'.

SN seems to like childhood themes, doesn't it? I wonder if they're trying to tell us something? Either way, it's always handled very well. This time around, I love how Sam relates to Jesse, the way the boys approached him, and especially how, through Jesse, they somehow got to understand their own childhood better.

What I find interesting is how, at this stage with the apocalypse nigh and all, the anti-Christ is still a child. If we're allowed to apply logic to this one (come on, this is Supernatural, logic is not always called for), all the players in the apocalypse should be adult, or at least 'wearing' adult forms, for fairness' sake. Even Lilith possessed an adult for her last run. That being said, some rather sticky questions come up: So is the apocalypse going to proceed with a juvenile anti-Christ? Does it mean that the apocalypse was brought on too soon (is that even possible?), or was the anti-Christ meant to be a child anyway? If the anti-Christ was meant to be a child, why? Or does it mean that although the apocalypse has STARTED, the ACTUAL END is still quite a way off, at least until Jesse has grown up?
Randal
# Randal 2009-10-24 13:11
Excellent review and good points about them growing up. I think at this point, even knowing there will still be moments of tension, Sam and Dean seem to accept that both have screwed up, but what's done is done, and that they can do their 'best work' concentrating on the here and now.

I'd be shocked and flabbergasted and such if Jesse didn't return - which is kind of a dumb thing to say now that I think about it because how can you introduce The Antichrist® as a one shot deal - but the fact that everyone, save the subdemon number threes, is humanized in this show makes more believable. Cackling supervillains are best left to the comics.
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2009-10-24 20:33
Loved your review. I'm glad to see the boys back to normal. Their tension and stress, for me, was not them.

I was disappointed in the having Sam pushed up against a wall again. With Sam's powers, even those he had before the demon blood, he is WAY pasted that. Sam shouldn't have let them do that to Dean either, and I really wished Dean has stood up for Sam when Cas was railing on him. The writers already acknowledge that both boys were at fault. They can rail on each other...but shouldn't allow anyone else too.

I wouldn't equate Sam's action toward bro Adam and Jessie. Adam was 19 years old and Jessie was 11. Adam didn’t have any powers, and could have been another hunter, were as Jessie does and can’t, at least not yet. And Adam was a Winchester and Jesse isn’t. Jessie has some pretty awesome powers, and anyone with THAT type of ability has to be handled much differently. I think the way the boys handled Jessie shows the compassion and love for humanity they has in the earlier seasons….. and I, for one, am glad it’s back.
Dany
# Dany 2009-10-25 09:51
Hi Elle!

Great review! Yes it's a short one but you manage to say so much in it!

I to loved that the boys are back in sync, I missed the brotherly chemistry and the pranks :-)

I got a little angry with Cas while I was seeing the ep but after a little thinking and reading about why he was acting like this I end up forgiving him.

Poor Jesse, it's an awful true to find out who he really his and having to deal with it at such young age. I really hope we get to see him again.