Supernatural 8.18 Review: Rugrats All Growed Up

SPN freaks and geeks

Hello my lovlies! Well Junkies, we’re closing in on the home stretch. Only 5 more episodes left in this season. That makes me both happy and sad. Happy because we’ve made it through what I would consider a very solid season (and yay on season 9!) but also sad because next comes the long and dreary summer hellatus. But we’re not going to think about hellatus right now. We’re just going to stay on this S8 ride. We still have trials to go through, tablets to find, and butts to kick. So we’ll just hang on to that for now. Quite frankly though, after the emotional rollercoaster of last week’s episode, I’m kind of glad we got a chance to take a bit of a step back from all of that for a minute. This standalone episode was pretty good, but it wasn’t the greatest that Supernatural has ever done. Of course, I must admit that I demand a whole lot more from this show than I demand from almost every other show on television because I know just how awesome Supernatural can be when they put their minds to it. That being said, let’s chat a little bit about ‘Freaks and Geeks.’

This episode was penned by Adam Glass, and I gotta say that I’m moderately disappointed. Admittedly, Adam Glass’s scripts are very much hit or miss. Sometimes he writes emotionally deep, intriguing, powerful episodes like ‘Citizen Fang’ but other times he writes standard, predictable episodes like ‘Freaks and Geeks.’ I really hate when I can pretty much call everything that’s going to happen in the first 10 minutes of an episode, and that’s what happened here. I was already on to who Victor was and what he was doing. There was no real dramatic tension for me in the whole story except for maybe during the last few minutes when it looked like Krissy was going to kill Victor. It wasn’t the actors fault. Every actor in the episode did a good job. It was definitely the writing, and this writing was just lazy. It would’ve been more creative and dramatic for Victor to not have been the creep and, if he had to die, to die trying to save his kids. It would’ve been a much better ending than the one we got for him. On the upside I will say that this episode didn’t have some of the pacing problems that some of Glass’s other scripts have had. Everything seemed to flow relatively smoothly even if predictably.

SPN freaks and geeks 2This episode also dealt with a couple of issues that have kind of been at the heart of Supernatural from the beginning. Do kids really have a place in the hunting world and do you have a choice in hunting? Let’s deal with the kids issue first. I’ve always been of 2 minds about this issue. On the one hand, in the world that Supernatural has created, hunters are necessary. They are the only thing standing between us and all the creepy crawlies of the world. Their job is to protect innocent people from evil, and more often than not, hunter’s don’t live long enough to collect social security. There needs to be a next generation of good hunters to continue standing between humans and all the evil things that want to eat us. The only way that really happens is for the older, more experienced hunters to teach the youngsters how its done. Dean and his interactions with the Apple Dumpling Gang (Krissy in particular) provide a perfect example of this. It’s not news that Dean has suffered more in his life than anyone should have to bear. But along the way, he’s learned a lot about hunting and about life in general. His knowledge, experience and how he worked the case was in stark contrast to the shoot first, ask questions never mentality that Victor was teaching the Apple Dumpling Gang. Dean immediately recognized that something was off about the first vamp he saw the kids kill. He also noticed the blue van sitting outside the motel that none of the kids noticed. He got bad vibes about the girl being tied up in the motel room. And he almost immediately recognized that the girl in the cabin was a freshly turned vamp and there was still a possibility to save her. He also said that hunting isn’t just about killing. Victor wasn’t teaching the Apple Dumpling Gang any of that. He wasn’t teaching them how to really work a case. He wasn’t teaching them how recognize the patterns of behavior of the things they were hunting. He simply gave them a target and told them to go kill it. He wasn’t teaching them how to be hunters. He was teaching them how to be killers. Thankfully, the Gang decided to listen to what Dean had to say and I think they may have actually learned something. If it wasn’t against everything Dean believed, I think he would make a really good mentor for the next generation.

On the other hand, hunters have a very short life expectancy and a very lonely existence. It’s not something that any parent would want for their child or that any decent human being would want for another human being. Hunters don’t get the chance to live a normal, safe life. They don’t get the chance to have a home. Hunters don’t get many of the opportunities and comforts that they’re putting themselves in danger to protect for others. There’s a total loss of innocence that happens when a kid becomes a hunter and, like the Winchesters (Dean in particular), they’re forced to grow up before they’re cognitively able to process all of the pain, loss, fear, loneliness, and death that accompanies the hunting lifestyle.

Now let’s deal with choice. Supernatural has also made it pretty clear that 99.9% of the folks who get into hunting get into it because something nasty killed one (or several) of their loved ones. Basically, hunting was chosen for them. They never chose hunting. Once their eyes were opened to what was really out there in the dark, there was no turning back. So did they really have a choice in the matter? Or was it just fate? The Winchesters have always operated from the position that you always have choices, but I don’t know that that’s necessarily true. Dean and Sam never really had a choice in becoming hunters because John forced it upon them when they were just kids. The same is true of most other kids who grew up in the life. Their parent(s) were hunters and hunting was all the kid ever knew. How could you have a choice? You could choose to walk away from hunting, but as we’ve seen over and over again, even when you’re out you’re not really out.

SPN freaks and geeks 3 The kids in ‘Freaks and Geeks’ were sort of denied the opportunity to choose though. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. They were given a chance to choose, but the deck was stacked. Victor and his vamp accomplice not only manipulated circumstances to lead the Apple Dumpling Gang down the hunting path, but they stalked and profiled the kids to make sure they made the right “choice.” I can’t say that I didn’t understand Victor’s motivation because I did. He wanted them to be better hunters than the generation before them, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Being better hunters meant that not only did they have the appropriate skills to fight the creepy crawlies, but they also had more balance in their lives. That balance is something that’s sorely missing from most of the other hunters we’ve seen throughout the course of the series. But at the same time, he wasn’t teaching them to be better hunters. Not really. He was only teaching them how to kill. He wasn’t teaching them to protect the innocent. He wasn’t teaching them any practical hunting skills aside from the physical. The truth is, Victor was alone and afraid, and he’d never really gotten past his family’s death. I don’t think any of that justifies what Victor did though and I don’t have any sympathy for him either.

One other thing that was kind of mentioned in passing but that kind of piqued my interest was the fallout from the leviathan fiasco. We haven’t really heard anything about the leviathans since the Purgatory storyline (sadly) ended. In theory, there are still a bunch of leviathan running around but now without a leader. Does that mean that all of the leviathan that were strategically placed in various law enforcement agencies and so forth are gone now? Does it mean that they’re all fighting amongst themselves for power now? Did they all get sucked back to Purgatory when Dick Roman met his demise? Basically, I’d like to know what happened just to close that chapter.  I’m not overly anxious to jump back too deep into that story because quite frankly, I found it pretty boring last season. But I would like for the Boys to run into a leviathan somewhere down the road just so we can find out what happened.

I will admit that I wasn’t overly excited about Krissy Chambers coming back because I didn’t really like her in last season’s ‘Adventures in Babysitting.’ She was bratty and annoying. Not to mention she almost cost Dean, Sam, and her dad their lives. Needless to say, I really didn’t want to see her again. However, she didn’t annoy me nearly as much this time as she did last time. She was still kind of a bratty teenager, but that’s to be expected of teenagers I suppose. Obviously life had hardened her a bit since we last saw her, so she was significantly more grown up. She was also more willing to listen to Dean this time around. She seemed to recognized that Dean cared about her and his experience could benefit her. Plus, I think deep down maybe she felt like something was off with Victor even if she didn’t want to admit it to herself. Krissy actually reminded me of Jo a little bit in this episode. Let’s just hope she doesn’t meet the same fate. The actress who portrayed Krissy, Madison McLaughlin, also seems to have matured some as an actress. That’s not saying she was bad the first time around because she wasn’t. But she seemed much more confident and relaxed this time around. The whole Apple Dumpling Gang actually did a a really good job.

Despite the predictability of the plot, this was still a decent episode. I found it amusing that Sam asked Dean if he wanted to talk about his feelings since that whole incident with Castiel in the crypt. Seriously? You’re asking Dean Winchester to voluntarily talk about his feelings? Have you met your brother, Sam? Although, I think that was more Sam making a point that he’s kind of getting annoyed by Dean asking him if he’s alright all the time. Sam doesn’t want to focus on that any more than Dean wants to focus on his feelings. And I gotta admit, I’m with Sam on this one. Sam (and we) know Dean is concerned, but asking Sam if he’s alright every time he sneezes is going to get really old really fast.  Sam promised Dean that he would be honest about his physical condition from here on out, so let’s just give him a break for now. I cannot begin to say how excited I am for next week’s episode. Not only do we get to see the 2nd trial, but we get Benny back! I, for one, have missed his cute and cuddly face. Plus I really enjoyed the Dean/Benny dynamic, so I’m excited for his return.

Well, Supernatural Junkies, that’s pretty much it. We’ve got 5 more episodes in this season then hellatus, then season 9! Yay! So until next time: peace, love, and joy to all. 🙂

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Supernatural 8.17 Review: Family Don’t End with Blood

Goodbye Stranger

Hello my Supernatural Junkies! It has been absolutely FOREVER since our last cyber meeting, but we’re back! Supernatural came back from spring break with one of the best episodes of the season, and that’s saying something since I’ve really enjoyed S8. I was looking for the right words to describe my feelings about this episode, but honestly, I have no words. When Supernatural is firing on all cylinders (as it most certainly was in this installment) it tends to leave me rather speechless. There was so much going on and so many emotions, I had to watch the episode about 3 times before I could nail down what I wanted to say about it. So let’s not waste any more time.

I have to start off by saying that however much they’re paying Robbie Thompson isn’t enough. He has solidified himself as one of my favorite Supernatural writers second only to Ben Edlund. Much like Edlund, Thompson is able to capture the drama, action, and dark humor that is unique to Supernatural. He not only understands each of the characters individually, he understands the Supernatural universe as a whole. Watching his episodes, you wouldn’t know that he just came on board in S7 because he has such a firm grasp of Supernatural’s past. There were a number of shoutouts to earlier seasons in ‘Goodbye Stranger,’ and they fit seamlessly into the current story. Recalling those past moments allowed us to really see the growth of these characters over the past 8 and half years. Seriously, give this man a raise.

I can’t say that I’m a hardcore Castiel fan, but I have enjoyed watching his evolution over the course of the last several seasons. I’ve also always loved the dynamic he brings to the show whenever he’s on it. However, it has seemed that the writers have struggled to find a place for Cas over the last couple of seasons and I can understand their pain. Cas is one of the most powerful beings we’ve ever dealt with, and it’s difficult to figure out how to keep him in the story while not completely removing urgency from the Boys story. Well, it looks like they’ve finally found a place for Cas. It looks like he may not necessarily be interacting with the Boys all that much (at least for the moment) but since Cas is such an interesting character all on his own, I don’t think that’ll be a problem.

Watching Cas’s journey in this episode, I had a really wild thought. It seemed like Naomi was somehow able to separate Cas’s mind from his body. I know. It doesn’t make much sense, but watching the scene where Cas was beating Dean it seemed to me that his mind was in heaven fighting with her while his vessel was still on Earth. Naomi even at one point told Cas to let his vessel do what he knew deep down was the right thing to do. I don’t know. It just seemed a little weird. I also found it a bit weird that Naomi’s office seemed to change colors as Cas was breaking free from her grip. I don’t know if that necessarily has anything to do with Naomi’s hold over him, but it was kind of interesting to me.

Speaking of Cas beating Dean, that scene ranks right at the top of ‘painful Supernatural scenes that I’ll never forget.’ Let me say first of all, it should be a felony to destroy the national treasure that is Jensen Ackles’ face. That being said, I always figured that Dean would be the key to Cas breaking Naomi’s hold over him. I just didn’t know it would happen in such a painful and brutal way. The cold open of the episode was jarring, but Naomi made a fatal mistake in trying to re-train Cas to kill Dean. None of those Deans was really Dean. Sure, the Fake!Dean was pleading for his life, but she had no way of knowing that Dean’s love is what would get through to Cas. She doesn’t understand family and she doesn’t understand love. Especially not the kind of love for family that the Winchesters (Dean in particular) display. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Dean allow himself to get beaten to a pulp by someone he loves in an effort to reach them. He was able to get through to John at the end of S1 and Sam at the end of S5 the same way. Dean has always put his family above everything, and ultimately that’s a bond that can never be broken and that’s what Dean was appealing to. Naomi made a mistake in forcing Cas to choose between heaven and the Winchesters. Cas learned about love, loyalty, and family from them. He understands that in a way that Naomi never will and Dean’s pleas reminded him of that and gave him the strength to break free. That scene in the crypt was extremely nuanced and probably the most powerful scene of the entire episode. Cas looked genuinely horrified when he realized that he’d nearly beat his best friend to death. That was like a knife to my heart. Dean just twisted the knife when he leaned back from Cas in fear, not realizing he no longer had reason to be afraid, as Cas raised his hand to heal him. Excellent work by Ackles and Collins. Just excellent.

I can’t say I was surprised that we lost Meg. About halfway through the episode I started getting the feeling she wasn’t going to survive this time. By the time she got to that (rather amusing) conversation with Sam, I knew she was a goner because she basically said she was tired. She was tired of running. She was tired of fighting. She was tired of the blurred lines and complexity of the current landscape. She was just ready to be done with all of it. The reason she understood Sam’s desire for normal (aside from the fact that she’s been in his noggin before) is that she was right there with him. Granted, her normal involves being evil and killing people, but she wanted things to go back to the way they were. She seemed to realize that she was never really going to be able to carve out a place for herself in the new regime, so she decided to take a stand. I think that’s probably why she didn’t even flinch when Crowley told her the Boys were trying to close the gates of Hell. I felt like she told Sam to run not so much because she was trying to die heroically, but she just wanted to go out fighting. I don’t know how I feel about losing Meg though. She was certainly an interesting, layered character who added a great deal to the Supernatural universe. But I don’t really know that she necessarily fit into the story anymore. There was obviously a sense of nostalgia for her because she’s been causing trouble for the Boys since S1, but I think at the end of the day I’m glad her story is done.

Sam and Dean seem to be on much more solid footing now than they’ve been in a while. Sam has been trying to pretend that he’s fine, but Dean isn’t an idiot. He’s known the whole time that Sam isn’t ok. Sam didn’t seem to be trying to hide his worsening condition out of any sort of malicious intent though. He wanted, no, NEEDED to believe that he was ok and he kept telling Dean that he was fine because he was trying to convince himself of that. I didn’t really expect Dean (and we) would confront Sam’s health so bluntly, but it really needed to happen. It puts both Sam and Dean at risk for Sam to be so off his game. It’ll be interesting to see how they move forward with Sam being unable to consistently, effectively defend himself. I’m also really concerned because of what Cas said about Sam being broken in ways that even he can’t heal. That’s extremely ominous. I really loved the way Dean handled Sam’s denials about his condition. Dean didn’t get angry. He was just honest with Sam, and Sam chose to be honest with Dean in return. That shows growth on both Dean and Sam’s part. Let’s just hope it lasts because Supernatural works best when the Winchesters are on the same page.

All of the pieces came together to form what I think is one of Supernatural’s best hours of the series, and that is saying something considering how high some of Supernatural’s episodes have soared. And I don’t know if it was just me, but I felt like Naomi and Crowley had more than just a passing, antagonistic past. It seemed like either they had worked together before or they were involved in some other twisted, intimate relationship. Maybe it’s just the way Crowley relates to people, but it just seems like there’s more to their relationship.

Well, those are the thoughts I was able to cobble together about this episode. Until next time; peace, love, and joy to all.