(From Alice): I have elle's fantastic review for "The Curious Case of Dean Winchester."  Considering this is especially a polarizing episode, its always good to get another great point of view and she gives a good one.  In compliment, my review was posted yesterday on blogcritics.  It premiered to the sound of one hand clapping.  No, I'm kidding.  I think the lower interest is there is because I put too much fun stuff on this site plus I was in an unusually generous mood when writing it (I still think it earned an A though).  Here is the link:   http://blogcritics.org/video/article/tv-review-supernatural-the-curious-case/#comments

And now for elle's review.
 
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Thoughts on The Curious Case of Dean Winchester
So, it was my intention to have this review done sometime on Friday. I came home Thursday night after class, watched my Supernatural tape, made my notes and even got part way through the second viewing when - BAM! There's life, knocking at my door. One of these weeks I swear I am actually going to have the review done in a timely fashion. Now, moving on"¦.
Episode seven. How in the heck have eight weeks already flown by since the beginning of season five? I'm thunderstruck that we're one third of the way through the fifth season. And as far as episodes go? This one was way up there on the Loved-It! meter.  The episode begins with a lovely shot of Weekly World News, headlining that the apocalypse is here. You don't say. Additionally, for the third consecutive week, the show is sticking to the tried and true MOTW teaser. It seems that we are sticking to this one for while now and I'm kind of happy to be returning to days of old.
 It was fabulous to have all our boys working together in this episode. I've been waiting for a juicy Bobby storyline for a while - ever since he was paralyzed actually. It's an interesting affliction to lay on a character, especially one like Bobby, and to experience the phases of dealing with the loss of his walking ability alongside Bobby is a very rich viewing experience. Dean was very sweet in his inquiry about how Bobby was doing - tentative and somewhat unsure of how to ask his question. Booby's response is all snark, but the shot after he hangs up the phone is very telling. This is one of my favourite shots because everything is very clear without any words being spoken. We have this lonely shot panning out of the main room in Bobby's home - dark and shadowed with Bobby being dwarfed by the size of the room, looking very small and incredibly sad.
Dean still hasn't completely shaken his penchant for deal-making and self-sacrifice when it comes to his family. He traded 25 years for Bobby without so much as batting an eyelash. Old!Dean was awesome! Now, I was not familiar with Chad Everett before this episode but I thought his characterization of Dean was spot on and hilarious to boot. Old!Dean was very whiny - "I'm all creaky" and had a flare for the dramatic - one of my favourite exchanges between Sam and Old!Dean: "Sammy, when you get to be our age..." "You're thirty!" Equally as amusing was the "mission pathetic" line from Sam as he shoved Dean out of the way of the safe. Jared did a great job of acting as though he was still opposite Jensen, the rhythm didn't change in their interaction. I especially enjoyed the time lag between Sam emerging on Patrick's floor and then Dean, wheezing and puffy like he was going to keel over any second.
Bobby was very touching in this episode. His confessional that he felt useless now was very, very real. The writer's did a very good job of capturing the emotional state of someone who has suffered what Bobby suffered - feeling invalid and having suicide ideation. He is a very desperate man, even going so far as to engage a witch to turn back the hands of time, despite the huge chance that he'd lose his life in the end - and would have if not for Dean's trade. The exchange at the end between Dean and Bobby very poignant. Dean didn't let Bobby's deflections turn him off the conversation that he knew needed to be had:
"You don't stop being a soldier because you got wounded in battle"¦.you're family"¦I can't do this without you. So don't you dare think about checking out. I don't want to hear that again."
Dean has grown up a lot - he recognizes that he needs to have this uncomfortable talk with Bobby because it's important; because Bobby's important and he needs to tell him that. It was exactly what Bobby needed to hear. I like to believe that Dean got through to Bobby, but his deep, shaky sigh and the expression on his face at the end makes me wonder. If nothing else, at least it seems as though Bobby will hold on for Dean and Sam. While ideally he should be fighting for himself, this is better than not fighting at all.
(There is one hole that shouts out to me how did Bobby figure things out before the boys? He not only had to get to the town, but then beat the boys, who'd been looking for a while, to finding the game.)
Did anyone else think cross-roads demon before we knew Patrick was a witch? I did. I kept waiting for some reference to a crossroads that would tip everyone off on what we're dealing with. I was certain that, as he was taunting Dean about shooting him, his eyes were going to turn black. Alas, not a crossroads demon, though in the end, I liked with he-witch idea better. The MOTW was rather interesting this time around; he wasn't black and white evil. The ambiguity of the character was quite enjoyable, as were his accent and cheek bones. To start with, Patrick reminded me quite a bit of Dean: "I don't know what you think I did with your wife, girlfriend, mother or sister." I can imagine that if wasn't for that witchy element, Dean and Patrick might have gotten on like old friends.
Unlike witches we've encountered in the past, Patrick didn't want people dead just for the sake of killing them, such as when he stopped his honey from obliterating old!Dean and Sam. He also seemed to have empathy for the very elderly - the old man that Sam sees him playing with is permitted to win thirteen years, which I found intriguing but in keeping with Patrick's word that he wasn't a murderer. This is the first witch we've seen who wasn't in it purely for personal gain- Patrick seems to have no problem taking youth, but at the same time allows the elderly to win, rather than steal their remaining years. A Robin Hood of time - took years from the rich and granted years to those coming up short on them. Patrick even sort of warned Dean about the heart problem, granted it was an off the cuff remark that wasn't paid much attention. The final game with Sam was heart wrenching and even Patrick seemed to genuinely not want to take Sam's years - it's rare that the boys encounter someone who doesn't want to exploit them fully, regardless of the cost.
Further, Patrick was clearly very in love with his lady - he loved her enough to let her go. I found their story very touching, we don't often see tragic romance on Supernatural (aside from Jess and Sam in the early seasons, or the back history of John and Mary), so it was nice to have this new dynamic. The actor responsible for Patrick was Hal Ozsan and I thought he had great chemistry with the rest of the cast, particularly with Jared in the final, emotional poker game for Dean's life. Like the trickster, this character is one I didn't mind seeing get away.
[Anyone notice that while Sam is constantly being nearly choked to death or some variation thereof - such as in this episode; with Dean his near death experiences invariably involve his heart. I cite, aside from TCCODW, Faith and Yellow Fever as two prime examples of this trend.]
This was a great episode for Sam. He was able to win and save his family based on pure skill (and a lot of luck) rather than anything supernatural. Sam had some great emotional moments and it was good to see him in a role of leadership to some extent. This was a very positive experience for his self-esteem and I like to believe that these episodes are helping Sam to be healed from his experiences and traumas last season, getting him ready to face Lucifer when the day comes. Finally, by far, one of the best gags was Patrick clapping thrice and Sam ending up with Chlamydia - especially the way it was carried through to the end with Sam off for a booster shot. The triple-clap was a clever way to cast a spell if you ask me. Imagine, striking your enemies down with ironic spell casting.   This episode looked like it was great fun to shoot.
                All told, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. All of our characters were afforded some great material to work with (and I bet Jensen had a nice little break there too.) Season five, while not quite as smack-you-in-the-face-with-shocking-twists as season four, is nonetheless shaping up to be a very good season with some great character development in lieu of the huge plot developments that we saw last season. That isn't to say there haven't been hasn't been plot twists, because of course there has been, it's just nice to be refocusing on the core, the characters, for a little while. You know, until the apocalypse hits overdrive.
                "Changing Channels" looks like an incredible episode! I can't wait to see it - especially in light of the ringing endorsement for Alice and promise of a fabulous twist.  Let the countdown begin!

Comments  

Narcissus
# Narcissus 2009-11-03 04:06
I've only read the review halfway through, but I just want to put in my two rusty cents worth. I think the he-witch let that old man walk away with 13 extra years as a show for Sam, to soften him up a bit. Just a thought.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-11-03 05:47
Hi Elle,
very much like you I can hardly believe that we’ve seen one third of this outstanding season, already. Realizing that somehow made me sad, because – the day will come when this season will be over… But, let’s not think about that now, especially not when we have so great an episode here, and many more to come.
To my mind this season has been keeping the quality up, I haven’t found a really weak episode yet. They all gave us more and more aspects of planet Winchester.

This one, finally, concentrated a bit more on Bobby (I love Bobby. Did I mention that I love Bobby?). I cannot imagine how it feels to be paralyzed, but I remember how my dad slowly lost his will for life after being paralyzed after a stroke, remaining trapped in his body for the whole three years it took him to die. A worse-than-deat h fate for a man who had been an athlete and avid chess player his whole life (which was so much a part of his nature that it still feels as if I learned to play chess before I was able to walk, because the happiness that game brought us is still inextricably linked with my father).
Taking from that experience, I have to say Jim Beaver does the most remarkable job here. His body language, his flat voice, the shadow on his face… I believe everything he says, even when he doesn’t use words. He isn’t in control of his life anymore, and a man like Bobby will have a hard time accepting that fact.

The tragedy of it is not only the paralysis, but what it does to his self-esteem – Bobby is convinced of being worthless and utterly alone. He puts on this front, as usual, but that armour is not as thick as it used to be. The tears are just below the surface. It messes with his head and the image he has always had of himself – that he is a hunter, body and soul, a man in control of his own life and – quite often – the paranormal life he encounters on a daily basis.
And he can hardly accept Dean’s heartfelt sympathy, which is not pity at all. Dean loves that man, almost as much as he loves Sam. He doesn’t even think about the pros and cons of the magic poker game, he just does what he thinks needs to be done to save the man he regards as a father (I’m sure there is a Winchester-self-sacrifie-gene).
Bobby can hardly let the boys’ love in. My guess is, if he did that, he would feel entirely vulnerable in his soul, just as his body is. He needs some kind of inner shelter, I believe, or he will indeed stick a gun in his mouth.
The relationship Bobby and Dean have has grown even more, and it is wonderfully played out by both, and Jensen, again, moved to tears. He seem to do that on a regular basis these days. Damn you, Jensen Ackles. (I mean that lovingly, of course) The amount of Kleenex I need to pile up is embarassing.

Both brothers deal endearingly with Bobby, Sam being the one more in control. It’s what he learned to do after Dean’s helltrip. The emotional Sammy from the first seasons is still in there, but he trained to get a stronger front when necessary. And with Dean being old (hail Chad Everett!!) and Bobby in a wheelchair, Sam is the one who is needed for the action.

I’ve said more about all that in my blogcritics comment, repeating it would seem strange to me – or would anyone here mind? (I’d really like to know, there are still some insecurities in my head when it comes to this blogging-thing).

I agree, Elle, that the witch was a great character with quite some charisma. He was sweet. And fair. I like your Robin Hood-reference. Perhaps he was that. His interaction with Sam was truly moving, and what Jared did in that scene in the end got to my core… when Patrick announced that Dean would be dead within minutes, my heart sank when I saw Jared’s face. Gosh, what a fantastic actor he is, speaking pages of dialogue without saying a word… Allow me to quote Norma Desmond from ‘Sunset Boulevard’: ‘We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces then.’ Well done, Jared, … another box of tissues coming up…
What deeply moved me was the tragic love story the witch carried in his bag. I’m a sucker for tragic love stories. Tristan and Isolde, The Phantom and Christine, Dracula and Mina, … Patrick and his love… I would have loved to learn more about their background. The sombre note this episode ended on was partly their tragedy… I think it did end gloomily, even though we had Dean’s happy dance and a deep, hopeful conversation of Bobby with Dean, and Sam’s need to get a shot… It didn’t leave me entirely happy, though. But the way it did – moved, slightly sad, suits the episode…

And now waiting begins for ‘Changing Channels’.

Love, Jas
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-11-03 05:49
P.S.: Elle - almost forgot to say: I really loved your review!! Keep them coming! Luv,Jas
Suze
# Suze 2009-11-03 06:24
Narcissus, I thought so too ... Aha, a sprat to catch a mackerel, thought I ... But the Manwitch ( sorry, too much Futurama ... ) obviously had a very soft spot for Whatshername so he wasn't totally bad and the old guy with the tattoo and the thing for three in a bed also came out of his game rather well.

I think we might be seeing more of him sometime ( That's Patrick, not Threesome-Geeze r, she adds hastily ... )

Nice one, Elle2.
Dany
# Dany 2009-11-03 07:30
Hi Elle! Great review, as always.

I agree with you on the Loved-It! meter (nice meter by the way) this episode is way up there!

I liked Patrick too and hope that we can see him again (maybe 6th season? *crosses fingers for luck*)
Randal
# Randal 2009-11-03 13:35
Great review and I'm glad to see a bit of the old school MOTW feel this season, too.

Believe me, I enjoyed the über-epic-ness of season four, but I've always been partial to season two (plus the last half of one) in that it really feels like a road show, now there's simply the backdrop of the apocalypse. Plus, finally getting some traction on Bobby's storyline was sorely needed.
Karen
# Karen 2009-11-03 14:20
Great review Elle
I really like this episode as well.
I like that they have gone back to the old motw for some of the episodes.

With the ending of Fallen Idols when Sam says “The way I see it, we got one shot at surviving this’ ‘Maybe I am on deck for the Devil, maybe the same with you and Michael. Maybe there’s no changing that.’ ‘But we can stop wringing our hands over it. We’ve gotta just grab on to what ever is in front of us and kick it’s ass and go down fighting.’
I figured Kripke was letting us know he was going to take a step back for now and get the boys back in sync before the real actions starts with the apocalypse. I could be wrong, but that's what I got from it.
elle2
# elle2 2009-11-03 17:12
Great review, Elle.

I'l admit, when I first watched this episode I thought it was only so so, rather weak actually and boring. So I decided to sleep on it and caught it again the next day...something must have happened because on the second watch I really, really enjoyed it.

You make an excellent point regarding Jared not missing a beat of his chemistry with Chad as Dean...the chemistry and the rhythm was definitely there and I found that great to watch and agree, that must have taken some work.

"Grumpy old men" was awesome and Dean's whiny self makes some good sense because while I beleive Dean to be strong and able to handle his injuries without the whine, imagine going from 30 to 80 in less than half an hour and having to deal with all of the ramifications of that...not sure I'd do it so well. It was also an interesting way to sort of shine a mirror on all that Bobby is internalizing about his changed physical status.

Great review, I'm so glad you're writing them.
elle
# elle 2009-11-03 17:23
Hi Everyone!
Thank you for the great comments!

Narcissus, Suze, Dany, and Cathy1967 - I didn't consider that Patrick's motivation may have been to manipulate Sam. That's an interesting point.

When I was considering Patrick's motivations and whether or not it was a magnanimous move on his part - the point that he didn't let Bobby off did come up. My thoughts on that were, perhaps Bobby's status as hunter trumped his "elderly" status. The more intelligent and keen supernatural beings seem to be able to recognize a hunter from a million miles away. Further, I don't really see Bobby as old and feeble, whereas the old man just wanting to see his granddaughter's Bat Mitzvah could be described more in that vein. Additionally, Patrick let the the first guy, Mr. Gooey, win his youth back too. Though we didn't get to see how that happened, it did impact my theory that Patrick was more generous with the elderly.

Regardless, I certainly hope we see more of Patrick in the future! He'd be a fun character to revisit.

Jas - you give an excellent analysis of Bobby and what he is going through. I agree that the episode wasn't exactly a happy ending, despite things being wrapped up, for the most part. I'm a sucker for tragic love stories too! Well, any love story, actually.

Randal and Karen - the MOTW modus operandi is certianly welcome, in my books. I agree, Randal, that while season four was awesome, there is something to be said for the original formula.
Karen, you make a good observation from those quotes that Kripke was going to return to the ways of old. I didn't even click with that.

Thanks for all the comments! I love hearing your feedback.

Thursday's almost here!!!
elle
# elle 2009-11-03 17:29
Elle2,
It's very surprising to me the impact that a second watch can have on you, I agree. From comments and Alice's review, this is one of those love-it or leave-it episodes with very little in between. I'm glad you're enjoying my reviews - it's especially flattering coming from an author such as yourself.
Amanda P.
# Amanda P. 2009-11-03 17:45
Awesome review!
When Sam got 'the clap' my first thought was also chlamydia, but its actually Gonorrhea. I had to look it up. lol
Elle
# Elle 2009-11-03 17:51
Amanda P. - well, now I feel like a dork for not knowing that, lol. Mixed up my Veronica Mars references I guess. I should know my STD's better after all those lectures in highschool health class...
Thanks for reading!
Suze
# Suze 2009-11-03 17:52
Oh God, sorry ... Got my Elle's in a twist earlier, that'll teach me to try and multitask. That should read

Nice one, Elle!

If you're both going to favour us with your musings maybe one of you should change your tag to avoid confusing twits like me ... Go on, we could have a contest ... Name That Elle! ( Only joking, I'll just have to learn to read proper )
Galina
# Galina 2009-11-03 19:24
I am not a fan of this episode. I didn’t feel that Dean’s life was in danger even for a second there – if he died the angels would just bring him back to be Michael’s vessel. The Grumpy Old Men routine had its moments but was just a gimmick - did Dean really need to become old in order to get what was going on in Bobby’s head?
Sam did save the day, but the writers chose to show his concern for Dean in the midst of a game of bluff… So was he really concerned, but channelling his concern for the win, or was it all a bluff, or a mixture of both? I have no idea.
I loathed the Manwitch. He was charismatic but I have to disagree very strongly that he was not entirely evil. He was offering temptation on a silver platter to desperate or careless people and using their weakness to his own ends. They were doing it of their own free will, of course, but it doesn’t absolve him of his absolutely selfish and destructive intent. That he indulged in generosity from time to time means just more manipulation and deceit for me. As for the “love of his life” – he let her die, how nice of him! They both took advantage of how many people over how many centuries? I couldn’t have cared less for their fate.
For long stretches of the episode I had the feeling that the writers were so fascinated by their new Manwitch toy they forgot who the show was about.
The only real highlight for me was the last 2 minutes. Sam’s booster shot and the face he made at Dean were hilarious. The heart-to-heart Dean had with Bobby was honest and raw and absolutely lovely. Otherwise, no matter how it pains me to write it, a flat and boring episode after two flat and boring episodes (for me) makes me dread the rest of the season.
Bevie
# Bevie 2009-11-04 14:22
Great reviews Alice and Elle. I was so happy that the both of you really enjoyed this episode as did I. It's in my top five (along with about 40 other episodes, LOL).

Was so disappointed in some other blogs and postings to find that nearly all felt it was boring or not advancing the mytharc or complaining about the lack of Jensen and some complaining the lack of Sam and too much Bobby. I really was wondering if I saw the same show they did!

Chad Everett was exceptional in making me believe that it really was Dean at 80. Still as loveable in his old age. And that happy jig and kicking his heels made me so happy that I finally see a little of a reasonably angsty free Dean. Actually the last 3 episodes have cheered me considerably as Dean seems to be coming back to his little boy humour and snark that I adore.

And all the complaining I read about Sam's final win at the poker game being cheesey, we should remember that both Dean and Sam were well schooled in the art of Poker and Pool sharking by John at a young age. Dean probably enjoyed hustling more than Sam, but that doesn't mean that Sam didn't absorb all the lessons too. I cheered when he put down his 2 fours.

Can't understand why an episode isn't enjoyable if we don't believe the boys can really die. I don't watch it to worry if they'll die, but for the rich relationships and characterizatio ns which for me are the best ones in the history of TV shows.

And looking forward with great anticipation for the episode of tomorrow night.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-11-04 16:08
Bevie,
got me in your corner...

It's great that you point out the hustling skills of our fave brothers, as we have learned early on that they are masters there, thanks to papa Winchester.

We've seen Sam hustle pool, already, then why not poker as well...?

The best part of it all, for me, is the authenticity the characters are drawn. It makes sense, their journey is absolutely comprehendable, so that we could actually believe to deal with real people instead of tv-characters.

Love that. They draw me in every time. Tears or hilarious laughter, don't care. This is entertainment at its best.
Best wishes, Jas
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2009-11-04 16:35
Elle, great review. You really put a lot of work into it.

I really thought this epi would have been more interesting if we hadn't already known that Sam and Dean couldn't die, but I still liked it very much.

I'm not really a fan of the Manwitch either, Galina. I really have a hard time thinking he is nice. He kills people! Don't understand why we saw his girlfriend's death either. Maybe he will pop up in another episode and all will make more sense.