Okay, you got me. I snagged that line from “True Detective.” Still, isn’t is appropriate? The phrase “form and void” comes from the bible, the second chapter of Genesis. “And the earth was ‘formless and void’ and the darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” Given what we saw in this second episode of season eleven, it looks like we’re starting over with Genesis. The battle between darkness and light, good vs. evil, sin vs. purification. We’re in for a heck of a ride.
Looking back at seasons nine and ten, “Supernatural” hasn’t had a lot of luck in weaving multiple stories together. A lot of times one will stand out while the others turn out to be slow filler. That is not the case at all with “Form and Void.” All three stories stood out and blended together perfectly. Each one had a purpose and played a major role in building the new storyline. Not once did I look at my watch or wonder why my time was being wasted with a secondary character when there’s a Winchester in peril in the A plot. Not that I wouldn’t have been happy with an hour of Sam struggling with the idea that he’s about to die, but what we got was good as well.
As things progressed I got more engrossed in the outcome, and by the thrilling end the theme was clear, where there is darkness there is light. Light is not a half bad thing when you’re a Winchester. Let’s look at each individual story, from dark to light.
Dean, Crowley, and Rosemary’s Baby
“Whatever’s in that house, I can taste the power radiating from it. That thing, it’s old…deep…dark.”
Out of all the stories, this one went in the darkest direction. I get the gist was supposed to be some creepy Rosemary’s Baby type story, but that was all just a fun disguise for what was really happening. The Darkness, aka Amara, is going through her own form of creation, starting from birth and growing strong.
The story ended up being the next chapter of the Crowley and Dean dynamic. It also rightly put Crowley back on top. This is the Crowley I know and love and it’s a great twist that he often shows up to perform exorcisms, if anything to earn a few favors. Crowley’s interest in Amara is intriguing and we’re left wondering what does he actually plan to do with this girl? Why does he want that child so much? Is this his way to building leverage over what’s happening in the cage? Everything Crowley has done is for conquest and power, all while staying ten steps ahead of the enemy. Whatever his plan for Amara, I doubt it’s to bring peace and balance to the universe.
Then there’s Dean, on the opposite end of Crowley’s agenda, and what’s happening with him is a little less defined. He’s definitely been affected by Amara and has taken the role of her protector. As soon as he got the call from Jenna that something was wrong he raced back. Crowley noticed Dean’s bond with the baby and I suspect that’s the reason why he didn’t take Dean out. That and he still can’t find himself to kill a Winchester. Dean wasn’t about to let Crowley get near that baby, even knowing that she was Amara because he saw the Mark on the child. He tried to kill Crowley, but then stopped himself. Is he under her control? Was what he saw in the clouds a vision or was it real?
That does raise the question, just how evil is Amara? The angels fear her, the demons are in a stir, she brought a plague that killed humans, but does that make her truly evil? The power that Crowley sensed, is it a power that is opposite of God? Or perhaps she is really God and God and the archangels were the evil ones? After all, they show no love or mercy for humanity (most of the time anyway). What sort of God abandons those that need him? Maybe she would love humans the way that God didn’t? I have a feeling they aren’t going to go that far. It’s a pretty hard act to sell. I heard Carver say “hero of her own story.” Isn’t that true of everyone? Maybe it boils down to, which hero do you believe in?
I’ll tell you what I didn’t like. Why kill both Jenna and her grandmother? Isn’t this supposed to be a saving people thing this year? Redemption story anyone? Their deaths seemed unnecessary and pointless. It goes with my criticism that what’s the point of devoting any time to these people’s stories, wasting valuable Winchester screen time, if they’re just going to off them willy nilly. Andrew Dabb is most notorious for just randomly killing people off and it’s a tactic I’ve never cared for. Deaths need to enhance the story. Just like with last season’s “The Prisoner” and other countless episodes, it meant nothing. Also, she eats souls? Oh man, didn’t this story line already happen once? Famine anyone? I must admit that twist just fell flat for me.
“What are you?” “I’m an angel of the Lord.”
Poor Castiel, still torn between his love of the Winchesters and his loyalty to his brethren. He is the light in a dark and corrupted Heaven, still maintaining faith in his mission. He’s burned so many bridges with Heaven though he’ll never be able to go back. It’s “The End” becoming a reality.
Last week we got to hear how the arrival of The Darkness has shaken up Hell, this week its Heaven’s perspective. Oh, they’re freaked. It’s such a crucial matter for them that dewy-eyed Hannah #2 came back to earth, defying her previous wishes to occupy another vessel. I adored the man love going on between Hannah in that vessel and Castiel. What was great though is Castiel isn’t stupid. Even with all that pain and torture, he knew that it was a “good cop/bad cop” ploy to learn the whereabouts of the Winchesters.
The question is why? Did the angels want to find Sam and Dean for revenge on letting out The Darkness? Do they think Sam and Dean hold some sort of key to controlling it? Do they know Dean is bound to Amara? Is there something else they knew about the brothers that they didn’t reveal? So why was finding Sam and Dean so important?
In Hannah’s conversation with Castiel, he/she was trying to find out if the rumors were really true about The Darkness being released. Once Castiel confirmed, her/his terror was very real. It’s a callback to “Lazarus Rising” when the panicked demon saw an angel for the first time and had her eyes burnt out. She said the same thing as Hannah, it’s the end for all of them. Yet her end came from one of her own brothers, not The Darkness. So who is really evil? Why are the angels so scared? Given the fact that angels so far have been proved to be shallow, human hating dicks, why do we care? Maybe Amara’s arrival will finally fix Heaven?
Oh Sammy. Sam’s story was pretty damn spectacular, wasn’t it? Where Dean and Castiel’s stories were dark, Sam’s was all about light. His struggle brought a tears to my eyes and was definitely my favorite of the three. The possibilities his story set up! It’s huge. Every one of his scenes were gold because it captured so well the gravity of the situation. Even from the beginning the terror was high and I loved the scene with the infected man who stated the obvious, the very words that emanated from Sam’s fearful looks: “Liar! You and me, we’re dead. We’re just taking our sweet time about it. If you were smart, you’d put a bullet in me, then eat one yourself.”
Sam didn't expect to live. He just didn't want to die until he helped others. He stopped himself in telling the "bite me" man that he would survive this. "I'm gonna fix this," was his choice of words. That desperation to prevent more human suffering by his hands forced Sam to go a different way and it shocked us all. He prayed to God and actually got a sign. Whoa, what’s going on here? God has been notably absent for a while. Why now? Just like that chapter in Genesis, the spirit of God is still very much alive. It was seen with the introduction of Billie the Reaper. That reaper can sing! I hope every time she appears from now on she sings “O Death.” The visual of the shadow of her hand reaching out to touch the shadow of the dead man’s hand showed that despite everything, she is doing God’s work. She is delivering souls, whether Death is gone or not. She is doing so with mercy and grace. It’s another memorable and mind blowing introduction of a new character.
Her speech to Sam though is chilling and very grave. She did everything to crush Sam’s hope and spirit, knowing he was on the brink of death. Was that possibly the disease talking, so her presence was imagined by Sam, or was Billie truly delivering a stern message from beyond? She told him that when he and Dean die next time, not only will it stick, but they aren’t getting that afterlife. They’ll be tossed into “the empty.” That phrase is a welcome label to a long sticking issue. Fans have been asking actors and producers for years what happens when angels and demons, monsters in purgatory, and souls that just disappear (aka John and Mary) go. “The Empty” works for me. There is no coming back from there - lost forever with no hope of return. It’s a very dark and unsettling thought and the idea that Sam and Dean could end up there adds a new, real threat to their lives. It’s delivers the message that whatever they do with their time on this earth, it matters.
Yet despite her warning, which is likely coming from another source, she left Sam with a big clue. He’s unclean, in a biblical sense. Whatever Billie’s words, it shook Sam so much that he went to a place that he hasn’t been in years. The last we heard that Sam prayed was season two. I knew from the previews that Sam was going to pray, but after seeing it I wonder what clicked inside of him that made him go that route. I remember him saying in “99 Problems” that he believed that God exists, but that he’s not listening. Sam’s been in some pretty desperate hours since then and hasn’t turned to a higher power, probably because everything he’s experienced told him he and Dean are alone in this crappy world.
The whole scene of Sam privately pouring out his heart to God brought me to tears. It’s so long since we’ve seen Sam this raw, this vulnerable, this openly honest. He’s had emotional moments, but honesty and true expression is something that doesn’t come easy from Sam. Every bit from that plea came from deep in his heart. He’s definitely not this open with Dean, or anyone. Sure it was likely the desperate act of a dying man, one that didn't want to leave business unfinished, but to see one of the brothers take a giant leap of faith for once is inspiring and touching.
Was it God or Sam’s subconscious that triggered that debilitating memory of Hell, dropping Sam to his knees? I say given the timing, and how Sam has done everything in his power to forget Hell, that some sort of higher power intervened. I love Sam’s yell of frustration though. “What does that mean?” He’s dying, tired, desperate, and not in the mood for games. I had no doubt that Sam would eventually figure it out but purification by burning holy oil? It seemed a bit too convenient to me. Wow, guess who just happens to carry holy oil in his bag? The voices telling him to stop was an interesting touch, again leaving us to question just how much of what he saw was real.
Who is this Billie really, assuming she was real? Is she taking orders from someone specific (like maybe Death who isn’t really dead). Is this going to inspire Sam to pray more in the future, turn to something greater than him in his mission to save people? Getting a win in this case had to feel good and if anything he moves forward with hope. That’s a lot more than he had before this incident. I wouldn’t call this a full redemption, but it’s a good start. Where there is dark there is light.
The Red Headed Monster
I have an issue with the way some aspects of the plot played out, and it only contributed to a problem that has gotten more glaring as time goes on. We had this discussion over dinner at Toronto Con, but this episode did give very compelling evidence for one thing. Carver and company are essentially re-writing the first five or six seasons and a lot of what happens can be tied to events from other seasons. Just look at what was given to us in this episode:
- There’s the BTD (Black Throat Death). That is Croatoan virus from season two and five.
- The villain is a little girl. See Lilith, seasons three and four.
- Sam fell to his knees after a Sam got the vision of Hell. Seasons six and seven.
- Sam turned to his faith in a desperate time. Season two.
- God gave Sam a sign. God has been incommunicado since season five, but now he’s back (maybe.)
- The angels are scared that this is the end. Parallel with the demons, season four.
- Sam is seeking redemption. Season five.
- Sam requiring purification. Seasons 1-5, but really it did happen in season 8.
- The bad guy is consuming souls. See season six (and I think nine as well).
- Castiel and the brain probing helmet, season nine.
- Sam and Dean have a renewed purpose. Season five, which seems to be the big winner this round.
Who loved watching Sam “MacGyver” the stun gun from parts from the hardware store? I’m not sure how many know, but one of Jared’s early acting roles was the pilot for “Young MacGyver.” Talk about coming full circle.
Kudos to Dabb remembering continuity and the MOL bunker library still being a mess after the events at the end of last season. I love continuity.
Best Quote: “I’m sorry Agent Pathetic-has-been-rock-star. Did I offend your delicate sensibilities?” I’m so glad wisecracking Crowley is back.
Since they’re on the subject of purification, one thing I wish they would address that would end the countless speculation that I keep reading is Sam and his demon blood. From what I know, Sam was purified of the demon blood during the trials. That was stated in “The Great Escapist.” No, he didn’t finish the trials, but the trials were to end in his death. His purification still happened through the illness. It burned his organs, aka the purification. The comment was made a couple of times during my interviews at Comic Con that the demon blood was no longer in play. No, it wasn’t a flat out “The trials purified Sam” or “When he was possessed by Gadreel he was cleansed” (I’m very certain it’s the former), but from what I understand, this isn’t coming up again. I know this show is often guilty of leaving breadcrumbs more than flat out saying things, but from every impression I’ve gotten so far demon blood in Sam is old news.
All in all, a very exciting and enjoyable hour. I give Mr. Dabb an A, despite the obvious parallels to prior seasons that could likely go nowhere. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that this might all lead to something because I was so damned entertained. Next week, the dreaded Brad and Eugenie script. I’ll try my best to be objective, but all it’ll take is one bad line for me to be chucking tv bricks in extreme frustration. They have a knack for triggering my short fuse. Let’s see if what we get remotely follows continuity. I just might be happy with that.