Be still my beating fan girl heart. You are still alive!
Just wow, wasn't "The Inside Man" the breath of fresh air we all desperately needed? One of the biggest disappointments I've had with season ten is that everything I watch just feels off. It's been hard to explain why, but last night reminded me why. Heart. Fun. Sentimentality. There's a certain tone that makes this show unique from all others, and the loss of that tone in recent seasons has been very disheartening. Well, last night, we were given a gift. It was a very special gift that reminded us of what this show once was. Just like Sam at the end, I had my single man tear (okay, it was more than one) going when it was all over. I haven't felt that way in ages. Thank you show.
A lot of the thanks falls on writer Andrew Dabb. I haven't been Dabb's biggest fan of late. He's had more misses than hits and I called his outing before this, "The Things We Left Behind," an unmitigated disaster. But Dabb proved that all you need to do is channel your inner sentimentalist and you can deliver something that's new but feels classic. It was a chance to reflect on better times, a chance to find comfort in an old friend, and a chance to laugh, cry and cheer a little.
Managing three stories at once for "Supernatural" has proven to be an uncomfortable burden. When put all together, the stories often seems random, disconnected, and it often ruins the engagement of the story. With "The Inside Man," that was never the case. It was a joy from beginning to end. I was drawn in immediately and the episode never lost me. The "attention getter", aka the opening teaser, wasn't relegated for once to the "blood spatter of the week" involving a total random stranger. Right away we were told that this time we'd be reuniting with an old friend. Talk about gorging on comfort food before the meal.
The return of Bobby reminded us under no uncertain terms how big of a hole his loss has left. He brings everyone together. Father figures do that. The absence of the father figure in a show heavily stressing Daddy issues has seemed to created a chasm for which "Supernatural" has truly not recovered from ever since season seven. Talk about the "don't know what you've got until it's gone" metaphor. It's mantra for this show.
Not to say that Bobby should be evoking the single man tear every week and making these manly men feel like they're growing lady parts, but he has a certain warmth and sensibility that hasn't been replaced by any other character. He helps make the crappiness of this world more bearable. He was the rock, the smart-ass, the cranky old coot that could plan for any contingency and see through any Winchester habit, like the brothers lying to one another. I call it the ability to bust the go to "trope" that so weighs down many of the stories. Without your center you get chaos and disjointedness. Kind of sounds like almost all of the plots since "Death's Door," don't you think?
So yes, I laughed my ass off over the angel announcing, "The Bobbys are surly." No shit Sherlock. I'm surprised Bobby hasn't raised a ruckus in Heaven before now and whatever punishment he may be facing for his actions, I hope Sam, Dean, and Castiel has good sense to come up with plan to get him out of it. He deserves that much. We as fans deserve that much. Bobby must return. Castiel and Metatron better start working on that loophole.
But yes, this wasn't just about Bobby. This was a return of the classic storytelling of the entire team in a seamless way. You have to give Dabb credit, he didn't introduce any head scratching and drastic new canon or try to re-write previous history. He did his homework and actually wrote a story with continuity. My inner fan girl is squealing! He also introduced a Men of Letters character that was funny! I definitely want to see Oliver the mind reader back. His reaction to Castiel was priceless, as well as his line calling Sam "the hippie." He wouldn't believe that Castiel was an angel, because he's an atheist! He can't read angels minds either, which must have really thrown him for a loop. If they're struggling with ideas for Castiel, they need to pair those two together again.
To my astonishment and surprised fan girl happiness, Castiel was awesome! He willingly went along with Sam's risky plan and delivered with the badass nature that reminded us that he is not doubt an angel warrior. He and Sam really do make a good team and it's gotten almost intuitive with them now. Castiel didn't like that Sam was keeping Dean in the dark either, but he accepted that what they were doing was to help him. The highlight for me was his little action hero moment jumping into the sandbox, and then getting to bond with Bobby even for just a bit in Heaven. It reminded me of their quality time together in "Frontierland." Man, have I told you how much I miss Bobby?
Okay, here's a nitpick. Why oh why didn't they steal Metatron's grace and beat him up like a human before? Like when they had him on the MOL bunker all nice and secure? That really would have saved some trouble. I get hindsight is 20/20 but was there a good reason other than the writers didn't want to pull that trigger until episode 17 but they needed him for some filler? I think it was a brilliant plan and I like how Metatron is now at Castiel's mercy. Still, the plan to find Castiel's grace sounds risky. Do you think it'll actually happen? What happens if Castiel becomes a fully restored angel? It sounds like he's ruined his chance of ever going back to Heaven again. You think he'll finally get his own room at the MOL bunker?
This story focused on something so aptly that again has been missing, the plight of both brothers. Both of them are spiraling, and this week we got to truly see how much it is scaring both of them. It scares me, that's for sure. Dean no doubt is slipping again. We've seen it before. Yes, I was a little skeptical with the sudden "he's getting worse." He should have been gradually getting worse weeks ago rather than fretting about the fact that he might get worse. The nightmare was powerful and very effective. Why? Because the focus wasn't on Dean. We know he is suffering. It's Sam watching in horror his struggling brother and being helpless to stop it. The fact that in Dean's subconscious terror cried out in desperation for his brother speaks volumes. This isn't a problem that Sam can fix with a gun. That makes Sam's plight more desperate. Dean's too, and I love seeing in such a powerful way both brothers in peril.
Dean's issues are predictable, but it certainly didn't make them any less chilling. He's blase and just waiting for the chips to fall, giving into the those urges to be a classic jerk. He's not totally back to his demon days, but he's on that path for sure. I felt sick for those college kids he setup in the bar at the pool table, but I was supposed to. Too often like with the aforementioned "The Things We Left Behind" Dean has been doing in low lifes that we couldn't give two craps about. Dean taking the watch from that kid was the ideal harsh touch to show how much of himself he's losing. It wasn't a prize he needed to win. He just did it for cruel fun and that kid wasn't due a comeuppance.
Still, I loved watching Dean and Crowley bond again. I'm not sure which character I've been most disappointed with this season, Castiel or Crowley. If I have one big criticism of this episode, it's the reveal that all this time, 17 episodes now, Crowley has just been in one long mope. He's been putting up with his mother because he's been taking a page from the Winchester playbook and choosing to value family, even if his mother has been making him miserable. Yes, it's heavy handed given the return of Bobby, but still I loved Dean's "family don't end with blood speech." It's all delivery and it's perfect. Not only did Dean kill with that speech, but Crowley's reaction was brilliant. It was the kick in the pants he needed. I also love that the King of Hell isn't afraid to drink umbrella drinks in public, especially when he downs scotch in the lair.
My least favorite part of the episode was Rowena, but her plot has dealt with well. She wasn't over the top in this one. Her failed death spell on Dean reminded me so much of Sam being immune to the white ray of death from Lilith and Samhain. I half expected Dean to use the "demon ray gun" line that Sam did. That's okay, there were enough callbacks to moments past. I'm assuming that Dean didn't slit her throat because of his fear of what it would trigger inside himself and not out of loyalty to Crowley. Either way, her dismissal by Crowley was awesome. He finally saw the difference between her and what the Winchester's have. She wouldn't be giving him the time of day if he wasn't the King of Hell. I like the idea of her being on her own, plotting her revenge outside the comfort of the lair. It makes her more evil, more diabolical, and far less annoying. I hope anyway. She can only be taken in small amounts.
All in all though, the whole twisted, busy story came full circle back to Sam, thus completing my happiness. We've so needed a clear Sam POV. No doubt, this entire Mark of Cain ordeal has been eating away at Sam slowly. It was never more apparent than him taking a tender moment in his room alone to read some fatherly advice at a time when he needed it the most. Just read these words:
“So, this is weird huh. Look, I just wanted to say Cas told me what you’re doing for Dean and I’m not asking you to stop, but maybe going behind his back is not the best idea. Your brother, he can be stubborn, but I think he’d understand. And I know it’s the life, doing a little bad so you can do a lot of good, but sometimes the bad’s real bad, and the good, it can come at one hell of a price.
I ain’t there on the ground and whatever you do, I know you’ll make the right choice. You’re a good man Sam Winchester, one of the best and I’m damned proud of you son. I was content up here, but getting a call from you, it’s the happiest I’ve been in forever, no matter what it costs. So stay safe, keep fighting and kick it in the ass.
Sam has to know how risky pursing the solution for the MOC is, but at what lengths will he go? Will he take Bobby's advice that the price to pay for good is too high? After all, Metatron's words spelled out how far he has to go to find the solution. It involves a great power, and the one who created the Mark of Cain in the first place, Lucifer. I don't think Metatron was offering that as a practical solution, but the idea is planted in Sam's head now. He knows how to get to Lucifer. He has that connection. The question is, will he again choose to risk sacrificing himself, going with the insane plan to engage Lucifer, or will he finally remember that this need to risk all for his brother isn't worth the consequences? I still remember The Trickster's words in "Mystery Spot"; "This obsession to save Dean? The way you two keep sacrificing yourselves for each other? Nothing good comes out of it. Just blood and pain. Dean's your weakness. And the bad guys know it, too. It's gonna be the death of you, Sam." The death of him or much worse? Does Sam after all these years know when to stop?
But yeah, if you're gonna kill a fan, just end with the single perfect man tear. This time the visual is stunning. Sam, alone in his room. There it is all exposed, that private agony that's slowly destroying him. That's foreshadowing with a capital F. It's about freaking time.
- Door 42! Yes, it's predictable since that reference has been used before, but you can't deny the answer to everything. I've even educated my kids that when in doubt, the answer is 42.
- Who jumped when Dean saw the black eyes in the mirror. I did! Great job overall by director Rashaad Ernesto Green (a first timer I believe).
- Major kudos to the actor that could replicate the Hannah dewy eyes! Castiel was enamored, that's for sure. I half expected Sam to tell them to get a room. I'm glad Hannah is still in charge of Heaven and keeping order, but she really needs a vessel. After a while, using that guy would get really weird.
- I absolutely love the return of the great lines. Most belong to Bobby, but the winner goes to Metatron. "Asstiel." Bwah! Honorable mention, someone FINALLY mentioning that Crowley and Rowena are Boris and Natasha to go with Sam and Dean's moose and squirrel. You win Dean!
- Enough with Sam "borrowing" a second hand car every time he needs wheels. That white truck was hideous. The Impala needs a little brother or sister, aka Sam and Dean must have a second car! I vote for him getting something more permanent, and not a Dodge Charger. How about one of those classics in the MOL garage?
- "Kick it in the ass." We love you Kim Manners, and miss you very, very much.
Overall Grade, an A. Not just that, I'm putting this in the warm fuzzy classics department with episodes like "The Song Remains The Same," "Weekend at Bobby's" and "Fresh Blood" to name a few. I'm clinging onto this warm feeling like glue for the next two weeks until the show returns because I don't expect this feeling to last once the whole ominous story kick starts again.
(Screencaps from SpringfieldSpringfield.co.uk)
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