Okay, we are only two episodes in so this is probably a premature assessment; but the flavor of the season is settling in nicely so far. "Mamma Mia"had a decent flow, some interesting action and we did finally get to see someone punch Toni in her smug tea-drinking face. How about the rest of the details?
The Hellish Life of Rock Stars
This was a relatively strong portrayal of the new Lucifer initially. Granted, we haven’t seen much of Rick Springfield just yet, but he certainly held my attention. Vince Vincente is a sad, on-the-brink-of washed out/up, severely depressed/guilt ridden musician awash in grief and booze. Ripe for Lucifer’s manipulations.
These moments in the hotel room are nostalgic of some of the old darkness that used to be Supernatural. Now, certainly there have been dark moments in recent years – but way back when (think season four and five) there were serious nasty overtures – angel manipulation, demon torture, depression. It was interesting. It was brief, but Vince washing his hands from a bloody faucet, the “ethereal” manipulation of his so-called lover, combined with other elements we’ve been treated to so far, all callback to those old days that may be more present in this seasons themes, perhaps.
Vince seems to have good potential all around – though there are questions of how long this particular vessel can hold our dear under lord. Perhaps this is why Lucifer wants Rowena and her magic – to keep the vessel more intact from the burn out effects that usually befall them? So far, so good: not too much or too little.
Just When You Think You’re Out….
Adore Ruth Connell though I do, and her portrayal of Rowena, I have gone back and forth over the years about Rowena as a character – and whether or not she’d overstayed her welcome. Recently, after her last resurrection, I’m team Rowena and in fact, almost felt sympathy for the fiery wiccan as Crowley dragged her back into the whole mess. But, that’s family for you. Especially when family is the King of Hell and wholly willing to blackmail you.
Rowena seemed genuine (surprisingly) in her desire to lead a “normal” life with Ben in Boca. (Her date, for those interested, was played by Lochlyn Monroe, recognizable from such productions as Freddy v Jason and Charmed.)
Now, the exchange with Lucifer, Crowley and Rowena in the “throne room” of Hell seemed a tad confused. In the past, it has taken extreme measures and enormous power to lock Lucifer in the Cage. Crowley also stated that Lucifer couldn’t be returned to the Cage while in his Vessel – despite having been locked in the Cage last time while possessing Sam (and of course, I realize Sam was driving at the time, nevertheless). With all that in mind, I’m not clear what the plan was, truly, on confronting Lucifer with such little reinforcements (and contradictory statements?) this time around. I’m also a tad fuzzy as to what damaging the vessel was meant to achieve as far as extracting Lucifer from said vessel and returning him to the Cage – it really only served to piss him off, kind of like sticking a demon-possessed human with a steak knife might wound the vessel, but it isn’t going to make the demon jump ship. So, this entire encounter, while interesting enough visually (and verbally, always with Crowley) seemed a tad… unclear all around. Thoughts?
So, while fuzzy in motive, didn’t ultimately detract from plot – Crowley wants Lucifer gone. That is clear. So the question is – how long before Crowley recruits the Winchesters and one vengeful/remorseful Castiel into this mission? And, what will this mean for BMoL “relationship” cultivation?
The Patience of a Good Manipulator
So, Toni was our bad cop gone off the reservation where Mick was the supervisor stepping in, apologetically, to clean up after an “overzealous” employee. Hmmm. Maybe. But I’m more inclined to say that’s an extreme and loose interpretation of the circumstances. After all – when one interrogation tactic doesn’t work, a good soldier knows how to change the conditions to suit their purposes. True enough, Mick reprimanded Toni for her “vinegar” rather than “honey” approach but then he also stated outright that he has no issues killing the Winchesters if push comes to shove and that he’d called in Mr. Ketch as well. A teaser which presented some curious glimpses at everything but the face of this curious character who has been built up as incredibly threatening and I’ll admit, my interests are piqued.
Beyond the sex-dream manipulations (which we knew from the jump weren’t real, because, come on – as if Sam would go there with Toni) and torture tactics, the BMoL are attention-grabbing so far. Very little back story and far too many intimate details on Sam and Dean, they have just enough to inspire nervousness and offer good potential on the human-villain front.
There are mixed feelings on Sam’s rescue – largely because of the Sam/Dean reunion factor. So, let’s take it one step at a time, shall we?
Dean is captured and dragged into the creepy torture/mind-sex dungeon, much to Sam’s shock, having believed (again) that Dean was dead. Initial reaction? Surprise/shock. Toni immediately strings Dean up like a holiday turkey, wondering aloud if Sam will be so stoic watching his snarky big brother be tortured, demonstrating with a blow to Dean using snazzy brass knuckles that appear to have warding on them.
A short while later, Toni is apparently taking a bathroom break, Sam tells Dean that “Angry Spice” is in fact part of the not so defunct BMoL. Toni is then back, before any conversation can continue, threatening to cut key pain points on Dean all the while condescending to their intelligence (rather foolishly since the Winchesters have obviously been at this a while and survived some incredible things, including extensive unique scenarios requiring more than blades and brute force).
Before Toni can do more damage, Mama Winchester is there – to both Toni and Sam’s shock. In this scene, there are a number of things to love in about the 30 second segment:
First, Mary telling Toni to “Get away from my boys.”
Ultimately there is a great fight that ensues between Mary and Toni and we get the first, true demonstration of Mary Winchester, as an adult, as a hunter. It’s a few moments of some beautiful chaos that includes Toni finally getting some of the abuse she’s doled out returned to her. When Toni manages to get the upper hand using a Chinese mind control paralysis on Mary, Dean takes her down because she underestimated him – another great moment. And then we meet Mick, who brought Cas in, allegedly as a show of good faith.
We don’t have any reunions or explanations in these moments – but then, this is the creepy dungeon with cameras and bad guys, so – time to head home. There is no reunion scene between the brothers this time; and yes, Sam’s reaction is a tad underwhelming. However, I give him the benefit of the doubt because he’s been tortured for a while at this point and he might even perceive Dean as a hallucination initially. Of course, Toni is also hoping to use Dean as a tool against Sam so emotion is dangerous too.
And ultimately, we’ve had a few brother reunions over the years – while I’m never averse to watching the BM moments – the other family moments in the episode and information that was communicated was fundamental as well. And who knows, maybe the boys had a long conversation with tears and hugs about Dean not dying while driving home?
Nevertheless, would it have been great to see? Yes.
Pie and Memories
Finally, let’s look at those ending moments in the bunker. It was a short couple of scenes, but rich with emotion. We have the humour of Mary watching Dean eat pie like it’s both his first and last meal – much to Sam’s amusement, after the boys eat a meal that Mary didn’t cook but reheated. Dean discovers mom doesn’t in fact cook as he remembers, she shops.
In a killer exchange, Sam and Mary finally have their private moments. As sweetly as could be, Sam nervously delivers Mary a cup of tea and offers to be a sounding board if she needs to talk, expressing understanding about what it’s like to come back after being away. Mary asks Sam about getting out and coming back, and Jared is at the top of his game here:
“…this is my family. My family hunts, you know? It's what we do. Mom. For me... just, um... having you here... fills in the biggest blank.”
This is a beautiful moment and there is the first, real connection between Mary and Sam as mother and son. When Sam offers his mother the journal, hoping it will help her fill in some blanks, she takes it with both affection and trepidation – after all it is a side of her deceased husband she never comprehended.
The musical overlay on the three Winchesters is thoughtful in the last shots of the bunker. We have Sam, obviously reflecting on his mom and everything that has happened – of the three of them, he seems most “okay” with the situation (that’s relative, of course). We have Mary, reading through John’s journal and looking at pictures, processing the life he led with their sons without her – it will be interesting what she concludes from this, ultimately.
And then, we have Dean. Curiously, he seemed to be struggling. Sitting in the kitchen, drinking and looking at old photos of him and mom. He expressed to Castiel that he had trouble talking to her and now he’s learning his memories aren’t exact either. In his fantasy world ("What Is and What Should Never Be") Mary did cook of course; and who knows what picture John painted combined with visions a four-year-old would have. Perhaps it will be Dean, not Sam, who struggles the most forging a relationship with Mary. Sam has no memories as we know, Dean has held onto a picture of who his mom is for 30 plus years – that’s hard to let go.
So far, so good. Season twelve is demonstrating it’s potential with a second solid episode laying some great groundwork for the direction of the rest of the season. We were offered a good look at the relationships of our characters, villains included, with a focus on the Winchesters, and while other plots are clearly being prepared (i.e. Lucifer) we haven’t had our main characters with a split focus just yet, which has been refreshing. Good pacing, nice action and some beautiful acting this week.
All our heroes are home and gearing up something adventurous next week!