Thoughts on 9x02 – Devil May Care
Season nine is moving along at quite the tempo, if episode two is any indicator. This episode had a number of set ups for the year ahead of the poignant and psychological as well as action variety and continued to establish the key players in this game. The episode was exceptionally well written, with the typical witty sarcasm feeling even snappier and more rapid fire than usual and the expressive dialogue and mental anguish both well on point. Overall, this was an excellent episode from every angle, in my opinion.
From charred corpse in a body bag to perfectly manicured and lovely as ever rising up from dead to a general addressing her troops – is there anything is delightfully insane evil genius can’t achieve? Abaddon’s return, while not unexpected to anyone who saw the promo, was fantastic. Supernatural has never been short of bad guys before, ranging from the cool, slickly appealing Lucifer, to taunting and teasing Azazel to the always verbose and sarcastic Crowley. Abaddon is another unique creature to add to this list of classic baddies.
For her first declaratory returning act, Abaddon assembling the best and brightest of among the demons – the most depraved – and promises to bring Hell to the world, literally. Though not the first time we’ve heard this promise, or at least a version of it, there is something particularly sincere and chillingly promising about this statement. Making no attempt to hide her disdain for Crowley, the (allegedly) deceased King of Hell and his lackadaisical rule of the Pit, Abaddon all but places a crown on her own auburn head before making an example out of a mouthy demon, not ready to break loyalty to Crowley without solid evidence of his demise and not completely convinced about the powers of these so-called Knights of Hell. Abaddon sends her back to Hell with a message for all below ground – “Tell them I’m coming.”
Clearly, we’re heading toward a road of Crowley working toward a mutual end with the Winchesters to eliminate Abaddon at some point in this season, or at least the appearance thereof. We know demons are never completely trustworthy so it will be impossible to say for certain which smoke-blower is truly on which side until the end. Either way, it should make for one hell of a show (pardon the pun).
Poor Sam. From the hospital, to a toxic city block trapped by demons with assault rifles and guilt-inducing young hunter with a grudge. It’s a rough week to be Sam. Of course, Sam doesn’t remember that first part and the second part is pretty par for the course at this point – so maybe his diary reads:
Attacked by some demons after walking into a trap we knew was a trap again and then nearly died again. Met someone else who has a grudge ‘bout that Lucifer thing. Man, you’d think the God-squad raining down would refocus them, but nope, gotta keep reliving the past. It’s so four seasons ago. Oh well. Had fried chicken and …. ”
One brutal moment was the look on Sam’s face when freeing Lucifer was mentioned. After all this time, that must have been a shock to his system to hear. On the other hand, by the end of the episode, when he was forgiven, in a way, perhaps the encounter was worth it for that moment. It was only after this that he expressed to Dean he was happy with his life, etc. Though small and seemingly insignificant in the scheme of the episode overall, it was good closure on review – or at least a move towards it.
Despite this, Sam ends the episode positively, expressing his overall satisfaction with the place his life is at: family and friends around him and he’s feeling good. It’s hard to say whether this buoyant attitude is a side-effect of Ezekiel’s presence within Sam or not, which it seemed like maybe Dean was considering in the measured look he gave Sam at the end. Regardless, although we know from experience that this will likely be a short lived inner peace, it is good to see Sam so even-keeled after so many years of suffering and anguish. Regardless of where the road twists and bumps later on, this break of recovery is healthy for Sam to have.
Another grand appearance by Ezekiel this week – and boy, how awesome was the angelic showdown? The visual of those damaged, shadowed wings and the ethereal eyes captured well the raw but broken power contained within Sam Winchester. Jared, as we know well from the history of the show, transitions and captures the essence of other characters possessing Sam very well and Ezekiel is no exception. The soft, subtle frown, the imploring, sympathizing stare and the low even timbre of Ezekiel’s voice as he speaks to Dean are entirely different from Sam Winchester. If Ezekiel proves untrustworthy, nobody can blame Dean for believing him – while wearing Sam’s face it would be hard not to believe those soft blue eyes as Ezekiel promises he is a good guy. I especially liked when he admitted that is what a bad guy would say – but he repeated it more or less again anyways.
The interaction between Dean and Ezekiel –“Zeke” – is interesting. It is clear that Dean doesn’t want to trust Ezekiel and of course we saw last week that he felt he had no choice. This week it feels like more and more he is waffling and questioning his own judgment of the situation. As Dean himself said, the conversation he was having with Ezekiel was one he would normally have with Sam. So, Ezekiel is either a genuinely trustworthy character or he is completely manipulating Dean based on Dean’s desire to fix his brother and now, based on his access to Sam’s thoughts and memories which he can use to further connect with Dean – made even easier by wearing Sam’s face. I can’t say why – call it my Winchester’s-have-a-knack-for-trouble Radar – but I’m going with the latter. Either way, I kinda like Zeke.
Crowley and Kevin
Oh Crowley. Life ain’t so grand for the King: shackled to a chair, being usurped and you don’t even know it and nobody around to listen to your voice but yourself. Sam and Dean were genius to lock Crowley alone in a room without a soul to speak with. This would be torture to a normal person after enough time, but to Crowley – Mr. Manipulate Through Language – it’s Hell. And not the good kind. The look on Crowley’s face after Sam and Dean walk away and close the door really says it all.
The King (or is it former King now?) is thoroughly worked over by the voices in his head – recalling that he deserves to be loved. Is this evidence that his humanity, or a fraction of it, is still present? Perhaps. I would still like to see more of that engaged, so long as it didn’t mean converting Crowley entirely. I enjoy him to much as he is. Nevertheless, after the torture by Kevin – Crowley believes he’s won the game of reverse torture: Kevin may have the mallet, but Crowley’s got his words. Thusly, he gives up two names of his more disappointing demons to Sam and Dean, who leave to, respectively, check the names and find Kevin. Now there is a moment as Sam is shutting the door where Crowley looks contemplatively at him – possibly noticing an angelic afterglow, I wonder? Hmm.
For his part, Kevin is exhausted, scared and armed – nearly shooting Dean as he enters the bunker. Ten points for Dean’s Hunger Games reference after nearly being shot by an arrow. Nevertheless, Kevin is clever enough to function as the new Bobby – not exactly as the FBI supervisor per say, but enough to dig up some serious blackmail material that gives the boys the access they need without any pesky questions. Well done, Kev.
Despite his exhaustion and rage, despite Crowley’s slick tongue and enticements (Mark Sheppard is so brilliant), Kevin never truly breaks. For me, this was one of the best points of the episode and one of the reasons that Supernatural is a great show: depth of characters. Yes, Kevin physical hurt Crowley because of his mother, but he never gave in and released him. Kevin understands fully two things: Crowley is not going to keep his promises and the Winchesters need him there.
Ultimately, Kevin was going to go and find his mother himself, until Dean made him realize (heartbreakingly) that she is dead. This was a touching moment and Orisic reminded us why we love Kevin so much – he is a sweet kid who got dragged into a mad, mad world and learned to survive. Kevin, as Dean told him, is part of the crazy little Supernatural family no matter what.
(Side anecdote – for any White Collar viewers out there: how ironic that Mark Sheppard played another role where he was the proverbial devil making a deal, more or less trading another soul?)
Dean was a full on smart ass and whipping out references left and right this week, but no matter what was falling out of his mouth the ever-present undercurrent of guilt and self-doubt were just below the surface. Full of side glances and subtle comments, Dean is questioning his decision regarding Sam – either to keep it a secret or to let Ezekiel in at all.
Dean is a self-doubting guy, this we know, when it comes to the welfare of his family and anything that happens therein. This decision about Sam, we know from Dean’s conversation with Ezekiel, is weighing heavily on him and it seems from the direction that this episode implied, this means a couple things may happen.
First, Dean said to Ezekiel that he “used” to talk to Sam about these kinds of things. This is wild speculation on my part, but I suspect as this burdening secret gets heavier, it will undoubtedly create tension between the boys because Sam is no idiot and he will quickly come to understand there is something bothering Dean – and the more times Ezekiel steps in as he did today, the harder it will be to cover up, explain away or keep quiet. Plus, that many lies will just increase the load. We’ve seen what secrets do to the Winchesters – and however Sam may react, the secret keeping itself is going to become an issue.
Second, when Sam said he was happy with where his life was, the look Dean gave him was not one of a reassured person, feeling he’d made the right decision. Dean looked more irresolute than ever. Putting Dean in this place of lack of confidence in himself personally does not bode well professionally (so to speak).
Whatever happens, however this plays out, the possessing angel did allow them to escape Abaddon. Big plus for the Winchesters there (even if one doesn’t know it yet).
Ultimately, this episode hit on the two key things: characters and plot points – and it delivered both successfully with exceptional humour and great pacing. Between this week and last week, the season is setting up some interesting demon/angel plots that we’ve never seen before and preparing unique character growth in entirely new directions. Introduce a powerless angel and a hit-list of demons and we’ve got ourselves quite the party.