There has been a lot of talk lately about Jody and the women of Supernatural. In honor of the upcoming spin-off about Jody and her wayward sisters, I wanted to review an episode that had some of my favorite women characters featured in it. This episode is also very entertaining and well-written. I do love Ellen, and Ava is a great character (who should have gone down a different path and came back to our show, now and then), but the main thrill here is the battle between Sam, Dean, and Gordon.
The Road So Far
Sam and Dean have just survived their ordeal in “Croatoan,” and the boys aren’t doing very well after finding out that Sam is immune to the demon virus. They are just about to talk about some of the secrets between them.
This episode starts out with a troubled young man who is talking to a doctor, but the poor kid is ambushed and stabbed by a man in the dark. In the next scene after the title card , we see Sam and Dean standing next to a wooden fence; a lake in the background and a ginormous tree in the foreground. Dean says, “Before Dad died he…he told me something – something about you.”
After their very emotional conversation, the boys go to their motel to calm down and think. Sam, however, wants to research and find more special children, so he sneaks off to go see Ellen and Ash at The Roadhouse. He then goes to the town of the murdered kid from the opening scene, where he meets up with Ava. She is another special child who sees visions of the future. Unfortunately, their sleuthing is interrupted when an old enemy tries to kill Sam. Never fear, Dean comes charging to the rescue and our boys handle themselves quite well.
One of the best scenes in all of Supernatural is in this episode. That’s one of the reasons that I wanted to review this one, even if readers are thinking that this story isn’t really about strong woman characters. This episode was written and directed by women, so there. I’ll get back to that later, but for now, let’s contemplate the wonders of Younger Sam and Dean, and this marvelous scene between them.
Poor Dean really doesn’t want to tell Sam what John told him before he died, but Dean just has to get it out. The words that his dad said to him are screaming in his head and he just has to tell Sam about it. Sam is furrowing his massive brow as he’s trying to understand what Dean is telling him. Anger is setting in as he realizes that Dean knew about this for a long time, but didn’t tell him because Dad said not to. It upsets Sam when Dean follows John’s orders, especially as this time those orders were about him. Jensen is so good at these displays of intense emotion. He has tears in his voice as he is trying to control his emotions and it’s so wonderful. I’m also struck by the perfection of Jensen’s face. Those pretty eyes, long lashes, perfect nose, little cleft chin, arched eyebrows… curved lips…what was I writing about? Oh yeah, Jared is very cute too, but is still growing into his adult face at this point in time. Anyway, back to the story.
This clever episode tricks us by making us think that Sam has just been obliterated by a grenade, but no, it’s just our introduction to Ava Wilson, played by Katherine Isabelle. I liked Ava from the start; there is something about a cute, not overly gorgeous, slightly insecure, and off-key kind of lady that appeals to me, I guess. Maybe it's because she seems like a real person, not a perfectly shaped, perfect hair type lady that we often get on Supernatural. That’s enough peeking into my inner psyche, because Sam has arrived at The Roadhouse.
I liked Ellen, Jo, and Ash at The Roadhouse and the small glimpse into the lives of other hunters. The world of the show seems so much smaller these days. I miss all the other people that Sam and Dean could interact with. I wasn’t a big fan of Jo right away but she did grow on me. I liked the brave way that she acted when she was held captive by that deceased serial killer, and she did fish Dean out of the water after Demon Meg/Sam shot him. Ellen, though, I liked right away. She has that tough, yet sweet and motherly essence about her that is very soothing. I always like it when Sam and Dean have a mother figure to talk to. We got “Mary” in season twelve, instead of Sam and Dean’s Mom, but that’s another topic.
Ava and Sam are very cute together, don’t you think? I do. The conversation that they have about dead mothers and wedding plans is awfully adorable. It’s also adorable when Ellen is talking to Dean on the phone; he’s worried about Sammy because he swore that he’d look out for that kid. Aww. I like to think that Ava was really a nice person, it’s just that future events corrupted her in some terrible way.
Dean is relieved to see Sam through the window of his motel room and even happier when he sees that Sam is actually with a girl. Dean’s always a little too interested in Sam’s love life if you ask me but whatever. The action ramps up when shots are fired. The action scenes and the dialog in this episode are top-notch. I don’t think that there is one wasted or slow scene. Sam watches a lot of TJ Hooker, that’s so funny. That’s the one with Heather Locklear and William Shatner. I remember that one, it was mildly entertaining. Anyhow, I love the code word and Sam and Dean’s tense phone call with Gordon listening.
Gordon is a fabulous bad guy. He thinks that he’s doing the right thing by hunting Sam and tells Dean that Sam is “fair game.” It must be so hard to have to listen to Gordon tell him how evil Sam is, but Dean remains defiant. Gordon is clearly not quite totally sane, but he does seem to believe everything that he is saying. For him, Sam is a monster, and he must die.
It’s so stressful watching Dean, all tied up, as he hears Sam start to come in from the back, just like Gordon knew he would. Jensen gets to do all his acting bound and gagged this whole time but he’s still great to watch. His fists are clenched as he tries to turn and see what is happening to Sam. Jensen only gets to act with his eyes, but those gorgeous eyes are more than enough to see what he is feeling. At least Dean gets to hear Sam talking to Gordon after the last explosion and then we get a fight scene. It’s a little hard to believe that Sam took down scary Gordon, especially with a broken hand, but then maybe training does prevail over madness. “It’s Sam” - that’s the last thing that our hero says to Gordon. Ha, good one Sam. You'll always be Sammy to me, though.
Of course, the best part is when Sam staggers over to Dean to untie him from the chair. Dean’s twisting around to look at Sam and Sam’s so tired that he just kneels to untie Dean, with neither one of them saying a word. As soon as Dean is untied, he bends down to lift Sammy up so he can check out his injuries. Okay, I’m melting, and it’s not just because it’s almost 100 degrees outside. A moment like this one between the brothers is one of the reasons that I am so obsessed with this show. I like shows about weird things that go bump in the night, but it’s these emotional beats that make this show so compelling in the first place.
Gordon, though, isn’t done yet. He pops up like a demented Jack-in-the-Box (I think I borrowed that phrase from King’s The Shining) and starts shooting. Luckily, Sam had called the cops previously and they arrive to take Gordon away. Dean is a little testy with Ellen on the phone because Gordon mentioned The Roadhouse. Dean definitely doesn’t want the hunters at that place to get word of Sam’s little problem.
Be still my heart, we get a talk in Baby about what Dean is willing to do to protect Sam and Sam is even willing to joke about Dean having to kill him. They’re on the same side and it’s very sweet. It doesn’t look good for Ava, though. There’s a lot of blood at Ava’s place, a dead boyfriend, but no Ava.
I love this episode. Sometimes I forget how awesome Supernatural is, even this early in the long and winding story.
The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where
But I'm strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain't heavy, he's my brother ---The Hollies
This amazing episode was written by Raelle Tucker, who wrote great episodes of our show in seasons one and two and it's directed by Rachel Talalay. Great job, ladies. Sterling K. Brown is also a reason that this episode is so enthralling. He makes Gordon Walker such a chilling and ruthless character.
And now, I give you a tribute to the awesome lady characters that I love to watch.
Random Examples of Strong Women in Television
Buffy Sommers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer - I love Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy; she is so little and cute, but also can be intimidating and scary. The Undead have much to fear when The Slayer comes to town. Buffy is also emotional and very human - add great storytelling, a wonderful supporting cast, and it’s TV gold.
Brenda Leigh Johnson, The Closer - I adore Kyra Sedgwick, who is brilliant in this police drama. It’s so easy to underestimate sweet little Deputy Chief Johnson, but criminals do that at their own peril. This lady is tough and smart, but also somehow gets herself into the funniest situations. She’s not above manipulating anyone, even her own loved ones when needed, but she always closes her case.
Jamie Sommers, The Bionic Woman - Forget The Six Million Dollar Man, my favorite superhero of the Seventies was a pretty lady with some handy artificial limbs. I liked this show because it was about Jamie’s emotional struggles with her new life, not just action and stunts.
Samantha Carter, Stargate: SG-1 - I don’t think that I can name a human female character as strong as this lady. She’s a scientific genius who could save herself, and her whole unit, even with broken limbs and a gaping wound. She would just sew herself up with some vines, or something, and keep right on going.
Dana Scully, The X-Files - She is also very smart, but very human. She’s not afraid to follow her partner into the dark and even though she does need a rescue now and then, she definitely can take care of herself. She’s the voice of reason and an amazing character. Gillian Anderson is also very good in “The Fall.”
Catherine Cawood, Happy Valley - This English crime drama is beautiful to look at, heartbreaking, thrilling, and well-acted. The main reason to watch is Sarah Lancashire who brings gritty realism to her over-worked and over-stressed character. I’m fascinated with this series and the trials of the residents of this not-so-happy Valley.
Jessica Jones, Jessica Jones - Based on the description of this comic adaptation, I wasn’t very interested in watching, at first. So many people recommended it, including people on this site, that I gave it a try. Jessica is amazing. I love her cynical but fierce demeanor, and her story is wonderful and full of awesome supporting characters.
Sydney Bristow, Alias - Tall, beautiful, and smart. She can also bring her foot up to the face of a very large man and knock him out. Sydney is also so sweet and vulnerable. Those bad guys need to stop taking pieces out of her life; she loses so much, but still carries on.
Aeryn Sun, Farscape – One of the bravest ladies on the small screen. She probably knows fifty ways to kill someone with her little finger, but learning to love - that’s her biggest accomplishment.
Strong Honorable Mentions
Sarah Linden,The Killing – Even when the show falters, Mireille Enos makes Linden shine.
The Companions, Doctor Who – I loved Amy and Rose, especially.
Echo, Dollhouse – Near the end of the first season, Echo becomes the heart and conscience of the show.
Queen Elizabeth, The Crown – So young, but so determined.
Earp Sisters, Wynonna Earp – Don’t mess with these sisters.
Kiera Cameron, Continuum – Does everything she can to find her way home.
Katherine Pierce, The Vampire Diaries – Elena’s okay, but I loved the scenes with this scary lady.
Lydia Martin, Teen Wolf – Nothing gets this feisty Teen down for long.
Ellie Miller, Broadchurch – Even when it causes heartbreak, this cop does her job.
Joyce Byers, Stranger Things – This is a mom that you don’t underestimate.
Laura Holt, Remington Steele – Her partner was very cute, but Laura was always the one that I was rooting for.
Xena, Xena: Warrior Princess – I was bored by Hercules, but I followed this Princess all the way to the end.
Olivia Dunham, Fringe – She had so many great story arcs and she always came through to the other side.
Julianna Crain, The Man in the High Castle – Even Hitler cannot stop her.
Captain Janeway, Star Trek: Voyager – I love this lady and her strong but warm way of commanding.
Liv Moore, I Zombie – The character’s name says it all. Keep smiling, Liv - being dead isn’t all bad.
Sarah, Cosima, Alison, and Helena, Orphan Black – All the sisters are amazing women, played by one amazing actress.
The Women of Fargo – This show does a great job showcasing strong, capable women.
Quinn King, Unreal – I loved the first season. Quinn and her producers are horrible people, but such fun to watch.
Mother, Bates Motel – When Mother comes out, you’d better just run.
The Women of Firefly – This series is made perfect by these talented ladies. I loved River, especially.
Agent 99, Get Smart – Oh 99, thanks for keeping Agent Smart alive.
Murphy Brown, Murphy Brown – Candice Bergen received five Emmy Awards for this series. She finally took herself out of Emmy consideration so that someone else would have a chance.
Peggy Olsen, Mad Men – This girl was smart and made her own way to success.
Colleen McMurphy, China Beach – This character goes through so much during the Vietnam War; I was always in awe of how strong she was.
Well, that’s it – a great episode with wonderful performances by our leading men, with some help from some tough ladies. Let me know what strong women you enjoy watching, or reading about. I just stuck with television, but any media is open for discussion. The first time that I read Gone with the Wind, I was amazed at how wonderful it was; it’s even better than the movie. Scarlett has her flaws, but she was a survivor.
Bye for Now