Thoughts on Supernatural 10x03: Soul Survivor

Excuse me while I catch my breath, because intensity of this week really had some deep-gasp moments. The little bits in between the Sam and Dean interaction, for the most part, were kind of “meh” in this episode – but when they were on the screen - and since the boys were the majority of it – they were non-stop incredible. Lots of love for Soul Survivor.

Despondent and Desolate Despot

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Lonely Crowley – not even torturing souls and inflicting vengeance on traitors is doing it for him anymore. Instead he’s surrounded by his minions and sycophants, offering varying degrees of concern and opinion on his “sabbatical” with the so-called “elder Winchester.” It was quite amusing to have one demon offer to be Crowley’s new wingman – and he may have survived the suggestion, had he not backhandedly insulted Dean in the process. Especially after startling Crowley out of a lovely flashback of the good ole bromance days of yore. (Really, if only Crowley and Dean has held hands running through a field of flowers and sunshine or made snow angels together….).

Too bad for Crowley not all his henchmen were so understanding – a suicide burner also made a statement that Crowley’s hell was not what they were working for. This was an interesting way for the residents of Hell to protest Crowley’s leadership without repeating a similar uprising to that of Heaven in days past or have a new player attempt to take Crowley’s throne reminiscent of Abbadon. Truly, this was just enough to shake Crowley out of his stupor and not have any power-struggle redux – and Crowley’s consistent lackadaisical expression throughout each of these presentations is a testament to Mark Sheppard’s wonderful presence on this show.
 
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Finally, Crowley makes his move by giving Cas a (temporary) fix so he can humanize Dean. Crowley told Cas he “wasn’t sentimental” implying that if they had to kill Dean to stop him, he didn’t care. This suggests that Crowley truly let go of his time and BFF relationship with Dean for the sake of his rule of Hell, or that he was banking on Sam and Cas bending over backwards to keep Dean alive. My money is on the latter there. Crowley is a sentimentalist in many ways, as we’ve seen. Thoughts?

Winding Roads, Distractions and Priorities

Hannah and Castiel. Well, I have two confessions to make: I find Hannah super boring and untrustworthy as anything; and I was really hoping her grace would be the sacrifice for Cas to keep going so we could get rid of her. There I feel better.

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If nothing else they addressed the romance she seems to be directing at Cas by having him, politely, reject her. She didn’t seem to take it too well – when she repeated “priorities” with that knowing smile she seemed to be suggesting he was focused more on the Winchesters than anything. I can’t disagree – but then, I think it’s a substantially more important priority than her “round up all Angels, be they willing or not and put them in the clouds” mission, so….

I wondered if Hannah was misreading the map on purpose to delay reaching Sam and Dean – as I said, I find her entire demeanor untrustworthy. Can’t say why in particular. When they finally reached the gas station – part of me expected an ambush she had planned. Adina was a good loose end to address though, and boy was she angry. Technically, Daniel was killed as a result of Hannah and Adina’s aggression as we know, but Castiel was going to be made to pay. Poor Cas, how does he always get caught in these messes, even when the Winchesters aren’t involved?

Regardless of his motives, big cheer for Crowley for saving Cas. Not only do we no longer have to see him struggle, but we also have full-capacity-Cas for a bit now. This means he can make it to the bunker in no time flat to help Sam with Dean (and that I have to assume Hannah drove the car which Cas flew for better time?).

Blood Brothers

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The best parts of this episode, unsurprisingly, were Sam and Dean. It was smart to leave the majority of the “cure” administration strictly between the boys on the part of the writers, because the tension was so much more raw and electric. Dr. Sam gets the blood blessed by a priest before heading back to the bunker were Dean is strapped down and Devil Trapped, and it’s Dean’s blood type, if that makes a difference.

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Here is where such a great twist is revealed, linking together not only the opening scene of the season of Sam torturing a crossroad demon for information on Crowley but also of Dean later killing Crowley’s client: Sam showed the man how to summon a crossroad demon to make the deal. Wow. Of course we know it was never Sam’s intention for the man to actually make the deal or for the other dominoes to fall as they did, this still reinforces how desperate Sam was by that point. Echoes of early season four, stumbling drunk, crossroad demon summoning Sam come to mind. Truly a far less reckless one – but it parallels nevertheless. No length can’t be reached for family with the Winchesters.

Sam plays his role very well. He struggles against Dean’s barbs – in particular the accusations about the man at the crossroads, but he never gives in. Sam is incredible here. My favourite moment from Sam is when Dean has his fun, taunting about always saving Sam and it’s Sam’s fault there life is the way it is – basically, hitting every button he knows Sam has or had. Finally, Sam stabs him with the syringe and throws the same line right back when Dean questions what he’s doing:

“Saving your sorry ass from the fire.”

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Sam’s expression is strong, certain and unwavering. He’s going to win, he’s going to get his brother back and that’s all there is for him. Don’t mess with Sam Winchester’s brother – even if you are that brother.
 
Let’s talk about “lean, mean Dean” for moment. He’s cold, callous and digging deep and far to hurt Sam here with no holds barred. And in that rich, rough voice, with a smirk – I kind of like demon Dean. A lot.  Even when he’s after Sam with the hammer (not running, mind you – just methodically walking through the hall, picking his way through each door and room while taunting friendly invites like a serial killer in a horror movie) I’m delightfully thrilled and wondering what we will do for entertainment when Demon Dean is no more.

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The final moments of Dean swinging the hammer and Sam evading through the bunker were powerful – my heart was in my throat a few a times. The filming was excellent, the lighting added an intense tonal value when the red was flashing at times and of course, the quiet moments vs. the moments where it was just Dean looking like a hunter stalking prey. Finally, when it all came down to the very end: first, I’ll admit I jumped with Dean swung the hammer and Sam barely dodged it. Whew. And while I didn’t expect Sam to kill Dean (of course) it was still a very powerful moment emotionally for Sam.

Favourite scene – visually and emotionally -  when Sam’s knife dropped, Dean when black eyes and Cas held him back while having the illuminated angel eyes, all while Sam watched sadly and Cas kept saying “It’s over now.”

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From this we have Dean strapped in again, Sam with holy water and Cas armed with an angel blade as Dean awakes with black eyes and some snark – but to everyones stunned silence, no sizzle. We confirm it’s really him when Sam relays to Cas his brother is hungry and he’s going to get him some “cholesterol” after which time Sam is going to get drunk before dealing with any other looming issues on the back burner. It’s unfortunate that Sam and Dean didn’t their own reunion scene this episode – but I anticipate some guilt, deflection and intense emotion when it finally happens properly, and these take time so I can wait for the whole thing to be done right.
Dean and Cas share a nice couple minutes together of Cas reassuring Dean that Sam and he have been through too much for this to destroy their relationship. Wait, let me rephrase that:

“You two have been through so much…it’d take a lot more than trying to kill Sam with a hammer to make him want to walk away.”

This episode certainly had some exceptional lines – and many, many of them came from Castiel. Including his brief summary of how he got the extra grace and the “female” outside in the car. Either way, it was a good show of friendship between them. All is right with our boys for tonight.

Twisty Teasers and Cliffhangers

“Heaven and Hell, they seem reasonably back in order. It’s quiet out there.”

Cas may understand more and more about the human world these days, as seen in his education of Hannah, however ironic twists of fate that come from putting words like this out there are just beyond him yet, it would seem.

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That was one heck of an ending. Non-spoiler based guesses anyone?

Final Thoughts

Love, love, love! Dean is back, Sam is relieved, Cas is full power and Crowley has shaken off his melancholy. Avengers assemble! All the players are back on the boards and just in time, it seems something is about to start. And that’s okay too. Yes, the quieter start to the season has been a nice pace – but I’m curious to see what the major story will be for boys going forward. It doesn’t need to be a universal, global looming apocalypse per se, but a good mission to focus on might do the trick.

Dean is back! I’ll admit, part of me is a bit sad to see him normalized again so soon. Then, I think of two things: Sam and Dean (and Cas for the moment) together again and Cas’ words to Sam about the Mark of Cain needing to be dealt with sooner or later. So yes, Dean appears human again for the time being – but how permanent? Crowley already discussed feeding the Mark or else – what does this mean now? I anticipate some fun and drama ahead. And Demonic flashbacks, I hope too!

And who the heck is that killer red head!?

Share your thoughts below!


Comments  

Prix68
# Prix68 2014-10-25 12:29
Thanks, finally a review I can get behind. I liked the episode and am enjoying the slower pace this year. The last two seasons have been big first and last episodes with not much in between. I like the tension to build slowly and hope for a big pay off in the end. DD was great but I did miss Dean and am glad to have most of him back. It feels like the brothers are already in a better place this year.
elle
# elle 2014-10-25 17:38
I agree - it is nice to have our Dean back too. I expect we're in for some guilt, some demon hunting and some more visits to Cole's storyline too. Lot's of stuff to keep us busy and entertained on many levels this season! Plus, so much material leftover to milked for flashbacks of DD and Sam on the warpath!

Thanks for reviewing :)
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2014-10-25 12:40
Thanks for the fun positive review. I just watched the episode for the 3rd time and I will have to say I like it better with each viewing. I really loved your screen caps too by the way. I think Crowley still has a plan for Dean, Cas has a lot of angel work to do and Sam is going to have his hands full dealing with whatever the MOC means for his brother. And wow was Jensen intense in this episode. This was the DD I was looking for and he didn't disappoint. What he is now will be seen as the rest of the season progress' but after the intensity of these first 3 episodes we might need a little break to go get drunk with Sam.;) I also love that the focus is on the brothers so far this season. Redhead sipping wine while hotel staff are pinned to the ceiling? Yeah no clue.
elle
# elle 2014-10-25 17:40
Visually this was a particular favourite - so I went a bit nutty trying to choose screencaps! Glad you liked the winners.

I don't think I could handle a whole season of DD at that intensity - too much awesome.
Lilah_Kane
# Lilah_Kane 2014-10-25 14:01
Don't shoot me, but uhm... Don't know how to put this... Ehm...

The headline has a wrong number on the episode. It's 10x03. *hides under a rock and peeks* :D

Liked your review. Thumbs up. ;)

- Lilah
elle
# elle 2014-10-25 17:36
Right you are - I was ahead of myself in my excitement over the episode you see and thought I'd corrected this already. Thanks!
Elle2
# Elle2 2014-10-25 18:17
Nice review, Elle,

I too really enjoyed the episode. Like you, I wished it wasn't over so soon, but I also really enjoyed what I got. I truly think that had the season been constructed a bit differently, as in the 200th episode wasn't the fifth episode of the season, we might have had Demon Dean a bit longer. But, with the major, major milestone of 200 as Number 5, they really did need to complete this arc in a tight manner so as to give up Number 4 which I'm thinking (based on some producer/writer comments as well as the synopsis and my gut instinct) will be kind of a breathing episode where some of the immediate fallout is dealt with, with the longer-range fallout, the Mark, coming later.

Like you, I adored Sam's intensity and single focus: Save his brother. Jared's expressions, both when he was not debating with Demon Dean, and especially in the screen caps you chose above with Cas restraining Dean and Sam looking on are incredible. They convey so much emotion. Tomorrow night's plan is for a Black, Reichenbach, Soul Survivor mini-marathon. It's been a long, long, long time since I've saved eps on the DVR, but these three with their character focus on the brothers are worth it. I'm hopeful the rest of the season keeps it smaller, focused on the brothers and keep the big bads to a minimum.

Thanks for the review!
nappi815
# nappi815 2014-10-26 00:10
thanks for the awesome review...agree with all of it.....so looking forward to the rest of this story.....every one was amazing and oh so pretty.....:D incredible job from everyone...most especially jared and Jensen. ;)
Bevie
# Bevie 2014-10-26 12:16
Your review was a pleasant relief from the doom and gloom previous ones. Thank you so much! I'm sure many more enjoyed this episode than not.

Jensen was amazing as Demon Dean hardly resembled our Dean in anyway with the exception of looking like him (like the shapeshifter in "Skin"). He was just another person entirely, and scary as hell! Why he hasn't an Emmy is because I don't believe any of those PTB ever watch this show. And Jared was so incredible as well. Fantastic jobs they both do and have always done and given their very best!

I too don't trust Hannah. She is much too quick on the trigger for my taste. Even Meg was better for Cas.

Thanks again Elle!