2 deaths door

Welcome back, Supernatural and hello to the newly refreshed, reinvigorated and totally rejuvenated season nine! Where last year was a journey of discovering just what sacrifice was too great and how far was too far, about blurring the lines of good and evil, right and wrong beyond what we thought even the Supernatural world could do; this season promises an entirely new realm of possibilities.


The Road So Far

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It has certainly been many’a’long months since we first watched those angels falls from the heavens and crash land to Earth amid Sam and Dean trying to overcome the trials-induced sickness/deathly pain. But as it never fails to do, listening to Who Do You Love? by George Thorogood and the Destroyers and watching the awesomeness that was season eight recapped in the Road So Far segment had me geared up and raring to go. How exactly do we move forward with all these storyline precipices now?

I would be remiss if I didn’t take just a second to mention the new title card – it is outstanding. In fact, that word doesn’t do it justice. The seared angel wings and Hell fire give me chills and on that title card alone, this season has some serious promise.
 
“[W]e hugged it out in that church and now we’re gonna go to Disneyland?”

SamandDeanImpalaCrop

This episode was anything but a Disney ride – though it resembled a rollercoaster of sorts. It was a sigh of relief to see somewhat healthy Sam Winchester, rather than the gaunt, ailing figure from the final days of last year’s episodes. While not the first time Supernatural has ventured inside someone’s head to explore the inner turmoil, this time was unique unto itself.

Sam represented himself, but elected to have dream!Dean as not only the fighter in this scenario, but the driver. Now, yes this mirrors his real life well enough: the open road, the Impala, Dean driving, Sam narrating the supernatural happenings in surrounding world. In this case however, even dream!Dean pointed out his position in the front seat – so in this case, it feels significant that Dean’s face was the driving force pushing Sam to fight to live and ultimately, was the face that convinced him to live at the end as well. After all, if there is any one person on the planet that Sam will chose to live, fight or die for – it’s his brother.

SPN 0380

And then of course there is Bobby, the always welcome and wonderful Jim Beaver. Bobby has forever been a safe paternal figure for both boys, and his auto shop represented a resting place that was always there to recuperate and rejuvenate, regardless of life circumstances. Plus, Bobby is the life advice, wise overseer. In this circumstance, he still filled that role. Sam was much more easily persuaded to follow Bobby toward the cabin in the woods, toward eternal rest and peace and beer with an old buddy.

spn901 BOBBY
 
The coma world was two starkly contrasting paradigms. The dark, tilting world of the Impala – ever moving, ever chasing toward something and the warm, serene forestry that Bobby presented – calm, still and finally a place at rest. One has to take a moment to acknowledge the camera work and set design here, because as always Supernatural did a truly exceptional job subtly creating the sentiment and marketing that were both of Sam’s choices.

Bobby and Dean were well matched to their roles in Sam’s internal debate, representing his waning desire to continue fighting, his exhaustion with an endless, ongoing battle and Sam’s growing desire to finally, fully and completely rest. One of the most heartbreaking moments in this episode was Sam’s question to Death (played once again by the impeccably cast Julian Richings):

Can you promise that this time it will be final? That if I’m dead, I stay dead? Nobody can reverse it, nobody can Deal it away; and nobody else can get hurt because of me?

The sincerity, the exhaustion and the desire for this to, please, be it, please – truly beautiful moment and such affecting acting.

“This one goes out to any angel with their ears on…this is Dean Winchester and I need your help.”

DeanPrayingCrop

Dean Winchester, in a hospital, over his dying brother, near a chapel. Well, if this doesn’t spell capital-T trouble, I just don’t know what does. Rage, grief, exhaustion and fear all rolled together here to create the tense, edgy, desperate ball of a human that is Dean Winchester and pushes him to snarl at the doctors and foolishly send open letters with his location to murderous angels – and as always when Dean is panicking for his brother he is both heartbreaking and awesome to watch.

Initially, when the doctor suggested Sam’s fate was up to God I thought security might have to be called to save the doctor. Following that visceral and unrestrained exchange on his true opinion about God, Dean’s prayer to Cas was touching – particularly the tears – alas, it was wholly useless. The open-call angel prayer was unexpected and I have to admit, I’m a little surprised to find there weren’t more angels closer to Dean. But, the angels have had a big week, so I guess I can let that slide.

7 ezekiel

Let’s talk Ezekiel. Despite anything Castiel says and any actions to the contrary thus far – I am wholly suspicious of this character. For starters – the actor was just a touch breathy in his delivery for my liking throughout the episode. Aside from that, but like Castiel’s treacherous friend, perhaps Ezekiel is just in need of a new vessel and the time is suitable and convenient to jump into a Winchester. The was something wholly impure about the way in which he garnered Sam’s permission to possess and the way he manipulated Dean throughout the episode leading finally to the possession route. Ezekiel will prove trouble, no doubt about it.

Speaking of possession, it was surprising in some respects to see Dean elect to have Sam possessed to save him, even after witnessing his conversation with Death. Sam is tired and ready to go – Dean has been there himself. Equally surprising was the decision to keep the secret from Sam. It’s one thing to have him say yes, I suppose, through a veiled appearance, but once he is awake and the situation can be fully comprehended, it might be time to have him make his own decisions. This is another one of those Winchester “for your own good” choices that will bite everyone in the ass.


“I would fly, but I have no wings, not anymore.”

10 seatbelts


Ah, Castiel the human. So many fantastic things. As always, Misha Collins is unmatched in the straight delivery of Cas’ absurd lines while the other characters stare dumbfounded and, in the case of one helpful but wary driver, back away. This episode was an excellent illustration of what the season holds for Castiel: he has no angel powers (beyond hearing the angels), his completely naïve to what it means to participate as a human being in a human world and his trusting, compassionate nature makes him extremely vulnerable. That said, Castiel is a survivor. Though inexperienced, Cas is adaptable – as one angel learned by failing to use her seatbelt. Remember kids, wings or not, always buckle up.

12 laundry

Ultimately, the greatest moment with Castiel was the silent exchange in the laundry mat. Covered in blood, strips naked and loads the machine – but wait, wash the trench or have water? Screw it, steal clean clothes and have the water. So good! Finally have a chance to put Cas in something different. There are some promising moments ahead with this Human-Castiel.

Final Thoughts

13 work to do

This episode had a raw, old school Supernatural quality about it. There was more fighting and doing and less theology and grand plan, which, while certainly makes for an excellent show too, the nit and grit is nice for a change too. Although we see that Ezekiel possessed Sam and is dormant, to Sam’s unawareness, and we know the boys have Crowley and the angels are after Cas, there is still know grand season map laid out or hinted at thus far, beyond perhaps the angel mess which is largely generalized at this point. Overall it was a great episode that nicely swept up the scattered pieces from last season’s finale and addressed the critical bits but without too neat a bow to leave us no road to go down.

Next week is shaping up nicely too, by all accounts and promos. Boys, it sure is good to have you back!

 

Comments  

leah d
# leah d 2013-10-13 11:07
Hi Elle, very nice review. I have to admit I have been suspicious of Ezekiel since the premiere. I have watched this show (and others) too much to take every nice-seeming character at face value. Especially the angels!! It was just too convenient. We'll see I guess.

Dean's first instinct, upon Sam waking up, was to talk to him but then E. said that would surely kill Sam. Dean would, of course, choose the option of not letting Sam die. Manipulation?? I don't know but every supernatural creature knows how Dean would react to any situation where he might lose Sam.

Controversies and all, I am eager to see how it all plays out and as usual my heart hurts for both Sam and Dean and the burdens they carry.

Thanks again.
percysowner
# percysowner 2013-10-13 13:21
Never mind
LEAH
# LEAH 2013-10-13 15:25
#2 Percysowner- I completely agree with your opinion that we should be cautious of Cas's over-the-phone endorsement.
E
# E 2013-10-13 16:27
Nice recap/review Elle, I was wondering about one thing that you brought up.... "Sam is tired and ready to go – " This idea has been brought up quite a bit since the episode aired, and I am not sure that I agree that Sam was ready to go at all. I think that to go or not to go was never in question; he was going to have to go no matter what because his body was giving out and there was nothing that he could do about it. The only question for him to ponder was A). die and stay as a spirit, slowly turning vengeful as Bobby had done not too long ago or B). Go with Death willingly but make sure to keep Dean and everyone else safe from any potential deals that might be made to bring him back. Sam choose the later, I see it more as a sacrifice than a willingness to die or a sense of giving up.

About Ezekiel... hmmmm... good or bad... bad or good. I am just not sure. It would make sense plot wise for him to be an ally as we have seen so few angels that have been shown to be truly good on this show. It appears as though there they are setting up some kind of showdown and there needs to be an angel champion; why not Ezekiel? And yet, how cool would it be if he's an infiltrator? What better way to get what you want by eliciting trust from those you seek to hurt? What better way to get to Castiel then to do it through the Winchesters. I'm not at all sure which way this will go, but I think either direction could be really interesting given that the rest of the writing stays on par with the season opener.
scullspeare
# scullspeare 2013-10-13 17:08
Thank you for that awesome review and a hearty ditto to all you wrote!

I’ll add more kudos to director John Showalter and DOP Serge Ladouceur for the look of ITIGLIH; it was beautifully shot. I loved the off-kilter camera angles in the Impala as Sam realized he wasn’t really in the car, but in a coma, fighting for his life. And the shafts of light coming through the old-growth forest as Sam and Bobby walked through were visually breathtaking.

Couldn’t agree more on the awesome new title card; it’s my favourite one yet.

Jensen did an stellar job in this episode, from his grief/anger in his prayers to Castiel and then all angels, to the conflicted emotions as he wrestled with the idea of Ezekiel possessing Sam to save his life. Some actors can say so damn much without saying a word and JA is definitely at the top of that list.

Ditto for Jared as he wrestled with the stay or go dilemma. I loved too that Bobby and Dean, the two people that Sam loves the most, represented the opposing sides, each adamant that their interpretation is right. Something tells me Sam's been in the middle of those kind of arguments before. :lol:

Like Percy’s Owner said above, Ezekiel’s trustworthiness depends entirely on whether he is who he say he is. Methinks Carver and Co. are keeping their options open on that until they see how things translate from page to screen as the season progresses.

One facet I’m still wrestling with is exactly when Ezekiel possessed Sam. Some seemed to believe he was masquerading as Dean in Sam’s head the entire time he tried to convince him to say yes; others think he took over the moment Sam said yes. I’m leaning towards the latter because of one simple word: Cronuts.

Dean turned to Death and said, “I would’ve brought cronuts but, you know, time was short.” That’s a very Dean line – his snark, his knowledge of Death’s fondness for junk food. If that was Ezekiel, he’s pretty quick on the uptake in terms of siphoning info from Dean’s memories – and SPN’s angels are not exactly known for their senses of humour. (Remember Uriel? He was the funniest angel in the garrison. :-/)

Sam finding out eventually is a given, but I’m fascinated to see how it plays out. My only hope is that the new-found maturity in the brothers’ relationship that we saw at the end of Season 8 factors into the big reveal and subsequent reactions. *crosses fingers*
anonymousN
# anonymousN 2013-10-13 17:09
A very good article.
I have watched it once.So my thoughts maybe a little hazy.
1) Title card brilliant.The sound along with the title card-It felt like the angels were talking and then they were screaming as they were falling down.
2) Sam-I am optimistic about what happened and I am happy that they gave me a glimpse inside sam's head.Brilliant acting by Jared as always.I liked the way Sam thought he has learned the lesson of how their meddling contributed to some of the problems.(But as I have the benefit of being the viewer and am partial to Sam and Dean I think it is better that it is Sam and Dean who are meddling).
3) Dean-His grief on finding Sam's state his reaction was heartbreaking.H e again turned out to be quite resourceful with his prayer and brilliant acting by Jensen
4) Cas- Well it was a good show by Misha of Cas's inability to comprehend his mortality at the beginning and I liked how Cas adapted by strapping him in the car.
4) Ezekial-Good actor and a character I have hope for being Sam connection even though I think he is going to be Dean centric.
5)Bobby-I am happy to see bobby in any form.
6) Still disappointed that Naomi died.Liked Hael and understood why she abducted (but did not like it) Cas.I think it is the same actress playing/ed April on TVD.Acting was good.
LEAH
# LEAH 2013-10-13 17:28
Ah Percysowner, please don't do that! I will delete. I do want to hear your thoughts. It has been a week of defending Dean for me. Sorry.
elle
# elle 2013-10-13 17:39
Thanks for all the comments, fair readers!

leah d - I agree, Sam and Dean and their burdens are a weary load!

E - I think it's been tossed around for a few years now, the idea that boys might be tired and ready for the eternal rest. I think Sam was least exhausted by the burden of being yanked backed from the brink constantly at such extensive prices to himself or those around him - that was the feel I got. And it makes sense. He and Dean a couple seasons back discussed letting each other go for good, no deals, just finality, period. There is always a cost and we have seen that both Sam and Dean have moments where they are absolutely exhausted by it. I think this was one for Sam. No world hanging in the balance, his brother was ok, and he could just let go, finally. Alas, we shall see what the true price of being pulled back will cost this time!

Scullspeare - I'm hopeful as well that Sam will understand when he finally learns what's happened. That we will see a different reaction to the secret reveal between the boys that we have in the past.

AnonymousN - I liked Hael too, even though she was evil, it was that crazy, lovingly-obsess ed evil that is unique unto itself. I appreciated the actress and her madness in the role. It was her desire to share Cas as a vessel while hers deteriorated that made me further suspicious of Ezekiel's alleged humanitarian motives in possessing Sam.

Only a few days till 9x02 and we continue the maddeningly slow reveal of this seasons path!
nappi815
# nappi815 2013-10-13 18:01
so i know it's been raised elsewhere but maybe i blinked for a second......wer en't sam and dean in south dakota when the angels fell? i mean they were at bobbys meeting up with crowley and then they found an abandoned church..right? so how in the hell do sam and dean end up in a hospital in upstate new york? did i miss something?
percysowner
# percysowner 2013-10-13 19:02
Don't worry Leah, I've been considering giving fandom a break. I don't think I'm on the same page as a lot of people, and I don't want to be a drag or cause a fuss. I'll still hang around and participate, but I'm going to monitor myself for a while.

I understand you being protective of Dean. I really do. It's hard to have the character you love be jumped on.
leah d
# leah d 2013-10-13 19:28
#10 Percysowne- I understand. I actually think more people are on your page this time around. Sam has taken his share of being jumped on, God knows. Glad you are hanging around. You were not a being fuss or a drag, just being sarcastic. :-) I know that.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2013-10-13 19:33
Great recap, Elle.

I don't trust Ezekiel entirely, either. I want to, as Dean does, but I don't know that he's all compassion or if he's wrath waiting to be unleashed.

I loved your look at Bobby and Dean being the two choices in Sam's mind and how well they represented that. I especially like this part: he dark, tilting world of the Impala – ever moving, ever chasing toward something and the warm, serene forestry that Bobby presented – calm, still and finally a place at rest.

Well put.

I know I'm beyond excited for season 9's trajectory. It sure looks like it'll be a wild ride.

Thanks for this.
anonymousN
# anonymousN 2013-10-14 06:45
Elle- I do not think she was crazy ...more desperate and trying to understand this different world into which she has been dropped without family and a deteriorating body.I.e with hitherto unknown limitations.
anonymousN
# anonymousN 2013-10-14 06:48
Quote:
Don't worry Leah, I've been considering giving fandom a break. I don't think I'm on the same page as a lot of people, and I don't want to be a drag or cause a fuss. I'll still hang around and participate, but I'm going to monitor myself for a while.

I understand you being protective of Dean. I really do. It's hard to have the character you love be jumped on.
Percysowner ,I always wait for your comments before watching an episode as watch it online after you guys watch it. because,Mostly we are on same page.
percysowner
# percysowner 2013-10-14 11:48
Quote:
Quote:
Don't worry Leah, I've been considering giving fandom a break. I don't think I'm on the same page as a lot of people, and I don't want to be a drag or cause a fuss. I'll still hang around and participate, but I'm going to monitor myself for a while.

I understand you being protective of Dean. I really do. It's hard to have the character you love be jumped on.
Percysowner ,I always wait for your comments before watching an episode as watch it online after you guys watch it. because,Mostly we are on same page.
Thank you for that. I honestly don't know how much I will or won't participate. I can see the whole Ezekiel thing polarizing the discussion. I tend to get very emphatic about my views and I don't want to be defending them. I'm going to play things by ear and see how the episodes play out and how the discussion settle in to see if being part of the conversation is going to be more upsetting than fun.
Rick D
# Rick D 2013-10-15 23:50
Excellent review, elle. Maybe I'm too trusting, but I'm giving Zeke the benefit of the doubt so far, I think he could be a good guy.

I totally agree with you that we are seeing some fantastic, old school SPN here- and I for one am glad of it. I know it's only been two eps so far, but IMHO this is the best the show has been since the Kripke years.