OPEN COUCH  to FRONTIERLAND
 
Or
 
Do not forsake me, oh, my darling…
 

Hallelujah, hallelu, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelu, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelu, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelu, hallelujah
 
Voices from the fast knock on my door as I start watching this latest episode of my beloved show. Samuel Colt. The enormous Devil’s Trap from the past. The time when Ellen was still alive and fighting alongside ‘her’ boys.  The time when Sam had just come back from the dead, changed, killing in cold blood. Dean getting zapped back to meet his young parents. All that leading up, somehow, to another huge confrontation with Mommy Dearest. Oh, yes, this is going to be interesting!
 
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Hello Wyoming 150 years ago, and, hello – wait a minute! Sheriff Dean, wow, fresh from a Sergio Leone film, I am already in fan girl heaven. Cowboys, I say. Cowboys. And if that duel wasn’t enough to glue me squeaking to the screen, the show gives us a Bonanza opening! My head is spinning! Okay, I know, this is Supernatural… it’s not gonna be all fun. But, come on guys, just a little…
 
Don't know where we're goin' or where we been
Hallelujah Trail
It's written in the dust and blown by the wind
Hallelujah Trail
 
But we are not there yet. At present, Sam remembers some important facts, like – where Samuel’s library is hidden. Ahem, Sammy, dearest, when you’re finished, could you come over? I have a library here that needs some sorting…. and… I would love to get my hands on some of those books in the Campbell vault. Well, the three men of one of my favourite families do some old fashioned research here and find that they need a phoenix’ ashes to kill Mommy Dearest (forgive me for referring to the Mother of All by this term, kind readers. After watching the film on Joan Crawford by the same title, Faye Dunaway in the title role became an epitome for bad, bad mothering).
 
I can’t help it – does Sam remember the library in his flashbacks before or is the wall in his head getting thinner? We haven’t been confronted with this issue for a few episodes now. I wonder what will become of this ever-present threat I gladly forgot about for a little merciful while.
 
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And, we learn, Mommy Dearest can be destroyed by the ashes of a phoenix… I think this makes sense, actually, but I’ll get to that later. Bear with me, kind readers… Looks like the famed mythological bird, used metaphorically countless times (yes, I am guilty of that, too) does truly exist. I’m not surprised. Since Supernatural has ventured beyond its ghost and ghoul storylines, everything is possible. Now even European mythology becomes more and more a part of the once American ghosts and monsters stories. Personally, I like it. Go international, guys!
 
Turns out one of their heroes, Samuel Colt, the Samuel Colt has dealt once with a phoenix, 150 years back in lovely Wyoming. Lovely? Ahem, I think I’ll wait with my assessment of that. This scene is packed with wonderful little moments for Dean who looks and feels like the cocky Dean we met in early Supernatural episodes. His little proud side-glance while he’s going through the books, his ‘get your own’ as he denies Sam Colt’s journal… ah, I just love it. ‘We’ll Star Trek Four this bitch’ - ‘I only watch Deep Space Nine’. Sorry, I am trying to crawl back to my chair… it’s been a while since I laughed that hard. I’m deeply grateful to Dean for explaining what he means, since me, myself and I have only ever watched the classic Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and Stargate Atlantis. Oh, yes, and the new film with Chris Pine. Okay, okay, back to our story…
 
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Dean is very confident about the whole time travel thing, since they ‘got a guy who can swing it’… cockiness is not very helpful this time, sweetie, since Castiel’s lieutenant arrives in his stead, some blonde angel gal named RachelDon’t really like this angel. But she has a point when retorting back to the Winchester clan ‘I think you call him when you need something.’ That’s often been the case. Often. But not all the time. She feels protective of Castiel, granted. But why does he need to be protected. Or – does he need to be shielded from his human friends? In order to focus on his task of commanding an army… he mustn’t be distracted by emotion? Those emotions, probably considered inappropriate for an angel… But then she is put in her place by Castiel himself. But then again – he has only 24 hours to give them. Or else he wouldn’t have the juice to bring them back and lose them. Is he afraid to lose them because he cares? Or because he needs them for his own purposes? Oh, Castiel, as much as I love you – at this point I hardly know you anymore. I wonder what your agenda is. And I pray that my doubts will be proven wrong.
 
You can't tell a horse from a stubborn mule
Hallelujah Trail
You can't tell a hero from a doggone fool
Hallelujah Trail
 
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelu, Hallelujah Trail
 
With Dean returning from his supply run to Wally’s Western World I find myself smiling again. In part because Sam is wearing one of my favourite shirts in this scene, in part because Dean is so proud and happy with what he brought back. He might have a fetish here, but it’s the kind of fetish I love. This might not come as a surprise for you: I love Western movies. Used to watch them with my dad when I was a kid. We loved Bonanza! Thank you, Supernatural, for that charming Bonanza opening credit! Ha! Even today Westerns keep me glued to the screen. Cowboys are cool. And these two are going to be cool and, well, sexy. Anyone out there who does not agree?
 
Awwwh, Dean… he’s so happy with this outfit. He looks like he was born to wear a hat like that. Oops… I know, I know, how could I not go shallow in this episode? I just love Sam’s diva moment here. He doesn’t like his shirt. But he looks fabulous in it. 
You want authenticity? Oh, guys, you’ll get more than you bargained for. I would in all likelihood react like my dear Sammy… hate this kind of authenticity on my shoes…
 
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And, yes, they used to hang people back then. Well done, guys, not interrupting here. Don’t mess with history. You don’t want to experience the butterfly effect again, do you?

At least Dean gets to be Clint Eastwood. And Sam, well, Sam gets the Chuck Norris part. I just love the references in this episode. Keep me smiling all the time. 

And the references keep on coming. Elkins Saloon? A relative of the Elkins we know? I bet he is… In this show, in this episode everyone is somewhat related….
 
Unfortunately, Dean is to be disappointed again. The saloon is not what he hoped it to be, and neither are the bar wenches… Is it me, or does Dean look like a four year old kid whose toy got broken? Saved by the judge… ‘that was a close one!’ Very close, indeed, since they miss the judge-burning phoenix by a hair’s breadth. It was not a case of apparent death, as the sheriff assumed. Here’s a nice picture – a metaphorical phoenix in cowboy boots. Nice, indeed.
 
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All they find, as they go to confirm their suspicions, is an empty grave. Of course. And the scene comes with one of the best shots of this episode – everything fits: lighting, a slight sepia tint, costume, background. I love this show.
 
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To actually make history, they need to get Samuel Colt there, or at least his weapon. And the only way to get to Mr Colt in time is to use the mean of transportation of the time. Sam is not enthusiastic about this idea but admits that it feels alright. Now, we have horse/riding therapy where I work. And I know that we always have to care about how much the rider weighs. We’ve had men of the size of Jared in therapy. And mostly they were too heavy to be allowed to get on one of our horses. And those horses are biggies. So, I feel with Dean as he goes ‘That poor horse.’ As much as I love my boy, he probably is too heavy for the poor animal…
 
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Love a woman and she'll love you
Hallelujah Trail
Just do unto her like she wants you to
Hallelujah Trail
There ain't no such thing as a perfect man
Hallelujah Trail
You girls gotta do the best you can
Hallelujah Trail
 
In the meantime Castiel is confronted by Rachel. What exactly is Castiel’s dirty little secret? We haven’t had an answer to that so far. Not entirely. But he seems to be doing some quite unpleasant things up there, probably betraying angels that trusted him, like Rachel. They don’t understand. But they feel threatened enough to try to kill him, almost succeeding. 
 
He gathers enough strength to zap himself to Bobby’s place, dropping in a sorry heap on the floor of his kitchen, doing his warding-off-angels graffiti on Bobby’s fridge. Oh Cas, what have you got yourself into?
 
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No time to dwell on that. I am being distracted again – by Dean, of course, who enters the saloon in that fantastic coat. I want one. Not that big a duster, but, well, it just looks cool… When has this series become a fashion show? Love it, loco as I am… And yes, sweetie, you do look good! There never was a better looking sheriff…
 
Dean is confronted with this new burden (and confronts his deputy with the new boss and his new part: playing the bait, a role he doesn’t look happy with) and Mr Colt with a pair of not-so-bright demons looking for trouble. And they find it.

I love the idea of hunters and demons fighting for centuries. I would like to see a demon hunt from the middle ages or Roman times. But then again, that would probably be too camp, even for such a unique show as Supernatural.

 
Okay, there is a bit of camp here – I can’t help it, but Sam’s introduction as ‘I’m a hunter from the year 2011’ and Mr Colt believing it as soon as Sam shows him his magic brick is a bit much. Now, I believe that Samuel Colt has seen enough in his life that would make him believe everything, but no confusion or incredulity? Not my favourite scene, really. This goes too smoothly for my taste. Finally there is some bewilderment when Sam presents Colt’s journal.
 
Unfortunately Samuel Colt is a man prone to drink, disenchanted, bitter and not in the mood to help Sam. There’s no such thing as altruism in this part of the West, it seems
 
‘I need the gun.’
 
‘What gun?’
 
‘The gun.’
 
‘Oh, that gun.’
 
It’s a curse, so Colt believes. At least Sam’s Sherlock Holmes deduction reaches him and wrests some respect from him. It’s still not enough for him to accompany Sam. But he will give him the gun.
 
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Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelu, Hallelujah Trail
Hallelujah, hallelujah
 
Neither Bobby nor Castiel have the slightest about what’s going on in the past. Castiel tells Bobby about his latest pains, but somehow there is something in his demeanor that warns me to trust him. Bobby, however, doesn’t notice it (or is the noise from the freeway distracting him? This is only the second time I notice the noise… was it there before?).

Cas, unfortunately, hasn’t got the juice to bring the boys back from Frontierland. But there is one thing that might give him the strength to do so – touching Bobby’s soul. My god… the thought alone is giving me the creeps. Hello vampire Castiel. So, an angel needs to ‘feed’ on a human soul for strength? Is that what the issue of collecting souls is all about? The more I think about it, the less I like this idea. But it could serve as a great storyline.
 
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Bobby, however, I love even more, if that is possible. He’s doing exactly what I expect of him – give Castiel what he needs to bring his boys back. This is how I feel towards my dearest friends. That they are so much a part of me that I would be ready to do anything to save them. There has never been dire need to test that conviction that I have, but I pray that I will react in this manner, should the need ever occur. Is there a greater love than that of a man laying down his life for his friends? I doubt it.

Bobby can’t just strand his beloved idjits in Deadwood. He can’t. What a wonderful man. 
 
Far away, one hundred and fifty years back, Dean learns the Romeo-and-Juliet-in-the-West – story from the Phoenix himself. Oh, Dean, not every monster is in fact, a monster. This scene, this idea could well serve as an allegory for the outcasts of every society. Not everyone living outside the ‘normal’ world is evil, strange or dislikeable. Sometimes they just try to survive, doing ‘nothing wrong’
 
Instead, people dealing with them, perhaps even fall in love with them, are sometimes treated even worse, as they are regarded as ‘traitors’ to the so-called normal society, aren’t they? In this case, his love, his human wife, got ‘pinned in the alley’ by the man that hides behind iron bars, perhaps raped even. Now, personally, I think the deputy was asking for what is coming to him.

But, Dean, I get it that you feel the need to kill a monster – but only for the sake of being different? This is truly a moment of season one – Dean. I thought Dean had grown into someone seeing nuances and differentiating more, since he has had a ‘monster’, his own brother, right next to him… This might be one moment in this series where the new writers didn’t stick to the psychological continuity of the show, perhaps because they are not yet intimately familiar with the mindset of the protagonists.
 
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But at least this gives us an old-fashioned duel in the last minute the guys have left in the West of the past. We knew it, didn’t we, that Dean is a true gunslinger, eh? Suddenly I am reminded of a prettier version of Yul Brunner in The Magnificent Seven. The way he holds his gun, stares at the shot phoenix… wow… my kind of tv moment! And then there is a moment wonderfully embedded it this show’s continuity – Dean drops the gun, leaving it in the past to be found much later and returned to Dean. You know the story. 
 
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Well, Cas finds his strength in time to bring them back – without any of the phoenix’ ashes. You can almost hear Dean thinking ‘oh, great’ as he realizes the magnitude of their failed mission. But, hey, this is Supernatural! Uncanny things happen – the ashes are being delivered to them by the trusted US Postal service. I wonder if that would work over here in the middle of Europe. Our postal services make a habit of losing things in the mail or delivering packages à son gout. 
 
The deliverer is actually one of ‘couriers’, and his badge shows a man on a horse… a service established in the old West – it’s the same emblem as we found on the mail box in Sunrise, Wyoming: Western Courier. They were looking for riders at the time… Did you notice the ‘Riders Wanted’ poster? Again, a movie comes to mind… Hidalgo this time and Viggo Mortensens trusty Pony…. Okay, okay, get a grip… but how can I when I hear my boy say one of my all-time favourite English words – thingamajig? I can’t. No, no grip, sorry…
 
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This is wonderfully illogical. But I love it nevertheless. Perhaps Samuel Colt truly figured out how to work Sam’s magic brick and remembered the date when the ashes needed to be delivered. This came like a deus ex machina in a moment when their hope began to sink. Moments like this don’t always make sense. But they are needed, just like the great Western tune whistled in the final scene. 
 
Early in the morning, almost day
Hallelujah Trail
Rise and shine, we're on our way
Hallelujah Trail
 
I love this episode. It’s not the most stringent one, but it’s a feast for the eyes and for the heart. The feel is that of an early episode, and the humour is necessary, since from now on we will go downhill with the boys, won’t we? This is very much a Dean episode, Sam is more or less an extra. Though being a devoted SamGirl, as you know, I don’t mind at all. I enjoy Dean’s adventure-loving attitude in the old West. 
 
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I can’t stop thinking about the phoenix… Will this also be only a creature gracing the story for one moment, like the dragons did, or will we meet them again? It would be shame to waste such an interesting mythological beast.
 
Are you familiar with the legend of the phoenix? I’m trying to make sense of this… A phoenix is a mythical creature, first named by Greek historian Herodotus and Roman poet Ovid in his Metamorphosis.

In China the phoenix is fenghuang, guarding the entrance to the Forbidden City, representing females and the empress (as opposed to the dragon which represents the masculine and emperor). 

In Slavic tales he is a firebird, a mythical creature that may bring the one who captures it blessings or harm. It’s typical symbolic role is that of a hero’s quest, its (often lost) feather serves as a symbol of premonition of a hard journey ahead. 

In ancient Egypt the phoenix was called bennu and was thought to be the soul of the sun god Ra. Many tales speak of bennu coming to life by bursting from the heart of the afterlife’s god Osiris (hello, Alien!) – which would mean that Ra had somehow reincarnated itself through Osiris.

In the Middle Ages, it was thought that Jesus showed the nature of this bird by laying down his life and having the power from God to take it up again, and thereby this bird was looked upon as a symbol of resurrection. Lactantius, an early Christian author supposedly wrote a poem De Ave Phoenice about the mythical bird in which he compares Christ’s resurrection to the story of the phoenix. It also symbolizes the faithful followers of Christ’s doctrine by which the sinful self dies and hope comes to life through Christ.
 
It looks as if this leads to another great confrontation of the forces of light and darkness. The Mother of All against the Lord’s army. Given the legend of the phoenix as a symbol of Christ, but also as a symbol the female, it seems quite logical that its ashes can destroy the dark epitome of a mother. The phoenix, also a symbol of light, is able to destroy darkness – by being reborn, by being the soul of the sun itself… A beautiful idea. I am quite curious where this show will be heading with this. 
 
And with Castiel. I believe Cas stands at a similar watershed as Sam did a while back. His intentions may be good – he wants to save his home, doesn’t he? But what methods is he resorting to? I am intrigued by the thought of angels needing the energy of the human soul, thereby being vampires of a very special kind. What if we find out that Heaven is nothing else than a gigantic food source for the angels – with souls being sucked out and then tossed downwards to hell? I know, I am speculating… I am just curious. Only five more episodes to go. Something tells me to keep tissues at hand. 
 
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Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelu, Hallelujah Trail!