Supernatural 8.08 Review: Hunteri Hilarious

Hello my fellow Supernatural Junkies! I hope that everyone had a really nice Thanksgiving holiday. I know I did. The only downside was, of course, no new Supernatural. So I was quite anxious for my favorite show to return this week, and it certainly came back with a bang. Literally. The word BANG! came out of Dean’s gun on flag. HA! ‘Hunteri Heroici’ was an extremely different episode, even for this show. One of the things I’ve always loved about Supernatural is their willingness to step outside the box and kind of push the boundaries. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. This time, I think it worked wonderfully. I absolutely LOVED this episode. It had a perfect blend of humor (Cas interrogating a cat and then the cat calling him a dumbass; I mean c’mon, that’s hilarious!) and drama. I was kind of surprised that Andrew Dabb delivered such a wonderful episode because usually his (and Daniel Loflin’s) episodes are hit or miss. This was Dabb’s first solo writing credit on the show, and it was definitely a hit. He did a really good job with the pacing which is something that normally feels off about his and Loflin’s episodes. But kudos to him for writing a very good episode. That last fight at the bank alone was worth the price of admission. There were a lot of great things about this episode, but two things really jumped out at me.

First, the brief conversation between Dean and Cas was heartbreaking and wonderfully acted by Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins. It showed a different dynamic in the Dean/Cas relationship. I could be wrong, but I don’t recall Dean ever asking Cas to talk to him. I think Dean always kind of assumed that if Cas had something to say, he would just say it. But Dean above all others should know that’s not generally how people operate when they’re burdened with a metric ton of guilt. I don’t think Dean really understood until that conversation just how deeply Cas feels about what he did. And truth be told, no matter how many lives Cas saves or how much good he does going forward, I don’t think he’ll ever really forgive himself for what he did as God!Cas. I think it was important for him to verbalize his feelings though, and who else could he share his pain with other than Dean? Dean is not only Cas’s best friend, he’s also one of the few people that can truly understand doing something that you’re so ashamed of that you spend the rest of your life trying to atone for it. This conversation also showed a different side of Dean. For most of his life Dean has carried around so much guilt about things that aren’t his fault that he’s literally been crushed by it. Now, however, it seems that he’s taken Cas’s message of last week to heart. Dean might finally be beginning to understand and accept that every bad thing that happens isn’t his fault and it ain’t his to carry. He’s in a much better place emotionally to try to help Cas deal with his guilt over causing so much destruction. I really liked that when Cas opened up to Dean, Dean didn’t try to offer solutions or words of wisdom to Cas; he just listened. Sometimes that’s all you really need your friends to do; just listen.

Second, that ending. I’ve heard the theory floating around on the internet that Sam’s past year is all an illusion because he suffered a complete mental break after Dean disappeared. Prior to last night’s episode, I didn’t really give any thought to that because it seemed a bit far-fetched (even for this show). However, there are several things about this episode that I think may lend some credence to that theory. (1)Sam seemed to know way too much about taking refuge inside your own mind. I don’t think it had anything to do with his hellucinations because those were most certainly not pleasant for him. But he seemed really happy with Amelia and it seems that he felt safe. That is what Sam always wanted. Going all the way back to the Pilot, Sam never said he wanted normal; he wanted safe. That’s what he had with Amelia. Sam seemed to truly understand why Fred would want to stay in the safe world he created in his head perhaps because that’s what Sam had done? (2)The conversation that Sam had with Amelia’s father seemed rather odd. It seemed more than just a concerned father looking out for his daughter. It seemed like someone (or something) was telling Sam that hiding there wasn’t going to help him. The father seemed too, I don’t know, on the nose. (3)The way that Don all of a sudden turned up not dead. If the theory is correct that Amelia and all of that isn’t real, then when she said that “Don” wasn’t dead, that could’ve been Sam’s mind saying that “Dean” isn’t dead. But if that’s the case, how would Sam, even subconsciously, know that? Someone (or something) would have to tell him. Which leads me to my (current) theory.

Perhaps the angels did infiltrate Sam’s mind. If we go with the theory that Sam did indeed suffer a total mental break, then he would’ve been out of commission, and judging from Naomi’s interest in Sam and Dean’s quest for the tablets, she needed him back in the game. To what end, I’m not sure yet. But perhaps the angels infiltrated his mind in a different way. What if Sam didn’t actually break? What if he did actually have that time with Amelia, but it was all an angelic creation? We’ve seen the angels totally create a reality for the Boys before in S4 ‘It’s a Terrible Life.’ In that reality they had memories that were obviously not real. Zachariah was also a part of that false reality. He was playing a role and waiting for the right moment to reveal the truth to Dean. And although we don’t know the extent of Naomi’s abilities, we’ve seen that she can manipulate Castiel’s mind and memories, so why wouldn’t she be able to do that to Sam as well? It would explain how, if Sam had really suffered a mental break and was hiding out in his head, she would be able to tell him that Dean is alive. It would also explain why Amelia’s dad was so stuck on Sam and Amelia not living in a dream world. But if Naomi did infiltrate Sam’s mind at that time and plant those memories, the question still remains why? What’s the endgame? That ending also raised more questions: If Sam did not actually break, why plant the memories of that year at all? How much time elapsed between Amelia finding out that Don wasn’t dead and Sam leaving? Why did Sam leave like that? Who was that outside the house? So many questions!

I really want to find out whether Sam’s past year is all straightforward or whether there is something a bit more nefarious going on here. Jeremy Carver did say that we were going to be playing with perception this year, and we’ve already seen that Dean’s perception of his Purgatory escape was very skewed. Maybe Sam’s perception of his past year is also just as skewed. We’ll just have to wait to find out. One thing I did appreciate about the Sam/Amelia flashbacks is that Amelia seemed MUCH less bitchy than she has in the past. She was much more relateable. I still don’t think Lianne Balaban and Jared Padalecki have all that much chemistry though. It was better than in past flashbacks, but still kind of meh. Like I said though, LOVED this episode. I can’t believe we’re already almost to the mid-season hiatus, but I am loving S8 so far.

Supernatural 8.07 Review: Feels Like Old Times

It’s fairly rare for a show to stay on the air long enough for fans to be able to say that an episode feels like a “classic” episode, but that’s exactly what this felt like. Classic Supernatural. Team Free Will got back together to hunt demons and save people. Loved it! We jumped back into the mythology after a few weeks of MOTW episodes. Everyone involved did a fantastic job, but this was really the Dean and Cas show. Some people have complained that Castiel (and all the angels) have overstayed their welcome, but Jeremy Carver has found a fantastic way to organically weave them back into the story without overshadowing Sam and Dean’s journey. I really loved “A Little Slice of Kevin,” so without further fanfare, here are my thoughts:

The stuff with Kevin and Mrs. Tran kind of annoyed me. It reinforced just how stupid it was for Kevin to ditch the Winchesters. I understand he was upset that Dean was about to kill his mother, and sure, take a few days. But to continue running didn’t make sense. Especially after witnessing just how outmatched he was. He may have been able to survive ok during the year that the Winchesters were MIA, but he didn’t have an overbearing, inexperienced mother tagging along causing trouble. The Trans barely know enough to protective themselves and even that was just book, or in this case tablet, knowledge. They didn’t know or understand the practicalities of living on the run. If Kevin and Mrs. Tran knew anything, they would’ve known not to trust anyone; especially a witch. It just goes to show that civilians don’t belong in the hunting world and they most certainly shouldn’t run off on the only people who can keep them alive.  I found it amusing that they’ve spent all this time running from the Winchesters, but when the inevitable happened, who did they call?

I said after the season premiere that I figured we were going to such a much darker, more sinister Crowley this season. Looks like I was right. Not only was Crowley torturing angels and kidnapping people; he was indiscriminately killing innocent people. Crowley has, up to this point, been bad, but he’s never really been evil. Crowley has been trying to be the Big Bad almost the entire time he’s been on the scene, but up until now, he’s never struck me as big bad material. This time though he’s got a powerful desire to ensure that the Winchesters do not achieve their goal. So yeah. He’s stepped up his game, and it makes sense that he’d pull out all the stops. He needs those tablets and he needs Kevin. Or rather, he needs a prophet. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Kevin. And if Kevin and his mother decide to be stupid again, it won’t be Kevin. It will be the next prophet in line.

Now on to the real meat and potatoes of this episode: Dean and Cas. I was very excited to see Cas back. At the end of ‘What’s Up Tiger Mommy’ when we saw Cas’s hand supposedly slip from Dean’s grip, I said that perhaps the portal sucked Dean through and pushed Cas back. Well, I was half right. The portal did suck Dean through. After Cas shoved him in and intentionally let go of Dean’s hand. One of the hopes I said I had for season 8 is that Dean and Cas would have the opportunity to repair their relationship. Consider their relationship repaired. Dean sliced, diced, and clawed his way through Purgatory to find his friend,  and Cas fought and clawed his way through Purgatory to make sure that his friend got out. If that ain’t love for your family then I don’t know what is. It’s further proof that it doesn’t matter what family does to each other. At the end of the day, you’re family. And the love you have for each other transcends any wrongs (actual or imagined) that you’ve done to each other. That’s Dean and Cas’ story. It all makes sense now why Dean has been so cagey about how he escaped from Purgatory. It had nothing to do with him partnering with Benny. It had everything to do with how guilty he felt that Cas got left behind. He’s been shouldering that weight the whole time he’s been back, and I can see him not wanting to talk about it with Sam. Or anyone else for that matter. He felt like a failure yet again, and those feelings of grief and guilt clouded his memory of what really happened during that Purgatory escape. I really loved how Cas handled that. He let Dean remember what really happened and then he (rightfully) pointed out that blame doesn’t always have to be assessed. People can make choices and although we may not comprehend or agree with the choices our loved ones make, those choices are theirs to make. That’s something I don’t think Dean is ever going to be able to grasp. He’s always had so much heaped upon his shoulders that I don’t think he knows any other way to relate other than to blame himself whenever things go sideways. Cas’s quiet words to Dean were meant to absolve Dean from guilt and let him see that everything doesn’t always rest on his shoulders. It made perfect sense that Cas would choose to remain in Purgatory to atone for his sins. And although Cas said he didn’t know how to tell Dean that he was staying, I think it was more than that. After Dean found Cas down by the river, Dean made it perfectly clear that he wasn’t leaving Purgatory without Cas. Cas knew that if he had told Dean he was going to stay, Dean would’ve stayed too and he didn’t want that for Dean. Jensen and Misha, once again, knocked it completely out of the park. Excellent work by both of them.  Just as an aside, I really love how Purgatory was shot. It was very gray, like all of the color had been drained from the world. Kind of reminds me of the opening credits to Tales from the Darkside.

I really like where Sam and Dean’s relationship was this week. After last week’s explosion, it was nice to see Sam support Dean when he really needed it. I think Sam has learned that he can’t push Dean to talk about things, but that doesn’t mean that Sam doesn’t want Dean to talk. It’s just now he understands that he’s got to let Dean come to it in his own time. I was kind of surprised that Dean came clean so quickly about seeing what he thought were hallucinations of Cas. I suppose he was just feeling so much guilt about it that he had to unload. The moment when Dean thought he saw Cas outside their hotel room was perfectly played by Ackles and Padalecki. Sam more than anyone can understand survivor’s guilt and hallucinations. So he when told Dean that he needed to let go of that guilt, Sam was coming from a place of total understanding. It was a bit different from the moment after Cas returned. It was very brief, but the look that Sam gave Dean when Dean was talking to Cas about their Purgatory escape tells me that Sam truly has no idea what Dean went through down there. Purgatory is not like Hell, so even though Sam may be able to empathize, he will never truly understand. That creates a problem because that also means he will never be able to truly understand the bond that Dean and Benny formed in Purgatory.

I’m very interested in this new angel we saw. She looks like she might be the head of the Angelic CIA. No one knows they exist and they just snatch people up whenever they want. I don’t know what kind of control/power she’s able to exert over Cas, but hopefully it won’t lead him to betray the Winchesters again. He and Dean just fixed their friendship gosh darn it! But I would like to know why she is so interested in the Winchesters’ movements. Why are they so important to her? If she’s powerful enough to make Cas forget their meetings, why doesn’t she do her own spying? If she holds true to form with the other angels, whatever she has up her sleeve for the Winchesters is probably not good at all.

This was a fantastic episode and just what I need to sustain me through the Thanksgiving break. I love the fact that Carver has introduced a compendium of tablets. It stands to reason that if there’s one about leviathans and one about demons, there’s one for every creature on the face of the earth. Which would explain why the angels are desperate to make sure they get the tablet about angels. It would also mean that if the Boys can find all the tablets, they can banish all the evil creepy crawlies from earth forever. After all, the tablets do say that they are “for the protection of mankind.” Plus, having all those tablets all over the world sets up a great springboard for another couple of seasons. Excellent episode and excellent work by everyone involved.

Supernatural 8.06: Communication Failure

I don’t care what anyone says, I am thoroughly enjoying Supernatural’s eighth season. I have always liked the MOTW format, so I really dig that we’re getting back to that. I have also said that Supernatural works best when Sam and Dean’s relationship is the focus of the season, and I think it is certainly the focus this season. However, one of the side effects of the Boys relationship being front and center is that the Supernatural family becomes very, um, vocal about how each character is being written. Inevitably Samgirls feel like Sam is being demonized; Deangirls feel like Dean is being demonized; Casgirls feel like nobody respects the profound bond that he and Dean share; and Bobbygirls just sob because they miss Bobby so much. I can’t blame the Bobbygirls on that one actually. At any rate, let me be clear: I am not a Samgirl, Deangirl, Casgirl, or Bobbygirl. I am a Supernaturalgirl. I love all of these characters and I think they each add something to this story. That being said, there are a few things I want to mention about “Southern Comfort.”

Supernatural has the tendency to hit the audience over the head with the Boys’ issues by having their case of the week directly deal with whatever is bugging the brothers this week. Some people have a problem with this, but I don’t. I think sometimes life works out that way, so I don’t mind it working that way in the Supernatural universe. I especially don’t mind it when the case/monster/whatever is engaging which this spectre was. The only thing I didn’t particularly care for regarding the case was showing us how the possessed penny got from the Confederate soldier’s grave into Dean’s hand. Once they told us it was the penny, it doesn’t really matter how it got passed from person to person. It only matters that it got passed around and, believe it or not, I think we’re smart enough to figure out how it got from point A to point B. Another little issue I have is the soap opera stares off into the distance every time Sam flashes back to his time with Amelia (who I’ll discuss in a minute). I don’t know if they intended those scenes to be as hilarious as I find them, but they need to just stop. The transitions are much more effective when one of the characters walks toward the camera and we disappear into a flashback. For example, in “Blood Brother” after Dean takes out a vampire in the hallway, he walks toward the camera until he blocks the shot and that’s the transition into a Purgatory flashback. Much more effective and much less comical. Speaking of Sam…

I’m…confused about Sam. On the one hand, I can understand why Sam ran. Dean is the rock that Sam leans on. With all the loss the Winchesters have suffered over the years, Dean was always there to hold Sam up and vise versa. After Dean disappeared at the end of last season, the earth shifted out from under Sam’s feet. The one constant in his life was gone to parts unknown. He had no one left. So yeah. He ran. Sam has always dealt with things (or rather doesn’t deal with them) by running away, so his explanation here that that’s why he ran makes sense. It’s true to Sam’s character. What doesn’t make sense is how Sam doesn’t understand why Dean won’t kill Benny. During that first conversation about Benny, Sam said he understood that Dean had to team up with Benny to survive Purgatory but now that they’re topside and Dean doesn’t need Benny anymore he should’ve killed him. That’s just not the way Dean operates. It’s never been the way Dean operates, and Sam should know that. One of my favorite characteristics about Dean is his loyalty, and that’s not something he just hands out like Halloween candy. Once you’ve earned it, he will move heaven and earth for you. Dean is right that Sam can’t possibly understand Purgatory. It’s not like Hell. It’s not like being stuck in the cage. Purgatory is its own experience, and it’s an experience that Dean and Benny shared. Benny is, for the moment at least, the only person topside that can truly understand what Dean went through in Purgatory. I honestly don’t understand how Sam can’t recognize that. Furthermore, Sam comparing Benny to Amy isn’t a fair comparison. Benny hasn’t killed any people. He’s drinking donated blood to survive. Amy, on the other hand, had killed 4 people. I’ve always believed that Dean made the right call on Amy, and Sam just threw that in Dean’s face because he’s angry about Dean lying to him. As far as Sam knows, Benny hasn’t done anything to anyone so why is he so gung ho to kill him?

Dean has so many pent up emotions I’m surprised that he hasn’t given himself an ulcer by now. He never really confronts his feelings so much as he pushes them to the side so he can keep going. Since he never confronts them, he’s never able to work through/get past them. So even when he says that he’s over something, he’s really not because all he’s done is put a pin in it. So in this episode when he got possessed and unloaded on Sam, that was years of feelings of betrayal, disappointment, resentment, and anger coming out of him. Everything Dean said needed to be said, but it was still painful to watch him hurt Sam like that. Everything that Dean said was true (with the exception of the stuff from when Sam was soulless) and it’s stuff that he really should’ve said a long time ago. Sam and Dean’s biggest problem is that they really do not communicate. They talk AT each other instead of TO each other which leaves each of them feeling like their voice hasn’t been heard. So nothing gets worked out because they haven’t ever really talked about it. It also doesn’t help that every time they get into an argument, Sam threatens to leave Dean. He knows that’s Dean’s greatest fear, and he regularly uses it to make Dean fall in line. So whether Dean is in the wrong or not (and he wasn’t wrong here), he apologizes so Sam won’t leave. I also thought that Sam’s threat to kill Benny was completely unnecessary and it was his effort to “win” their argument. It doesn’t make sense to me that Sam would set up a situation where Dean has to choose between him and Benny. Especially when he knows that he’s been the center of Dean’s universe their whole lives. Something that struck me about that scene was Dean’s reaction to Sam’s threat. Dean gave him the ice cold stare that he usually only reserves for monsters and other creepy crawlies. I don’t recall ever seeing Dean look at Sam that way, and I’m not entirely sure what it means yet but it can’t be good.

Now let’s talk about Garth. Some folks don’t like his character, but I love Garth. I didn’t love the episode in which he was introduced. As a matter of fact, I’m still trying to pretend that S7, TFAW didn’t actually happen. But I digress. I liked Garth from the beginning. He’s an efficient enough hunter (as evidenced by the fact that he’s still alive), but he’s also extremely adorkable and hilarious. Introducing him as the “new Bobby” was a bold step to take. And it worked for me. We learned from S6 “Weekend at Bobby’s” just how much the entire hunting community depended on Bobby, so it stands to reason that his death (*sob*) would leave a massive void. Just as an aside, one thing SPN hasn’t ever really done is show us just how broad the scope of the hunting community is. But the fact that Bobby was obviously the go-to guy for most of them lets us see just how important he was. But anyways. Back to “Southern Comfort.” When I first heard that Garth was going to be the “new Bobby” I was concerned because you can’t just replace Bobby. However, after watching this episode I realize that Garth isn’t the new Bobby. Garth is still Garth. He’s just the guy who stepped up to the plate when no one else would. Why? Because that’s what Bobby would’ve done. He had a lot of respect for Bobby and, in his own way, he’s trying to honor Bobby’s memory. Garth picking up Bobby’s job and catchphrases is much like Dean dressing and talking like John. I can totally understand the Boys’ (especially Dean’s) reaction to Garth’s new job responsibilities, but I really liked that Garth reminded Dean that he and Sam weren’t the only ones who lost Bobby. If Dean had had time to properly mourn for Bobby, maybe he wouldn’t have been quite so hostile toward Garth. Ok. Maybe he would have because he’s Dean, but the fact remains that Dean hasn’t really had time to properly grieve Bobby whatwith going to Purgatory and all. But I don’t think he’s ever considered that other hunters might miss Bobby just as much as he does. I like that Garth is now the hunter giving out advice and I really like DJ Qualls’ chemistry with Jensen and Jared. Also, I have been saying for years that the Supernatural universe needs to be repopulated, so it’s nice to have a recurring character show up from time to time.

Now on to Amelia. You know, I am really trying to like her. I mean I REALLY am, but the writers aren’t giving me much to work with. Last week, they did an ok job of softening her for me. They gave her a little depth, but even then she came off as kind of self-righteous. This episode didn’t do anything to quash those thoughts. It’s totally understandable that she would want to leave the place and the people the reminded her of her dead husband. But what I didn’t get was her hostility toward Sam after they slept together and she told him about her loss. Before Sam could say or do anything, she jumped on him about pitying her even though he wasn’t. Empathy and pity aren’t the same thing and he was empathizing with her because he truly understood what she was going through. Then when Sam came back and tried to explain to her that he didn’t pity her, she snarkily said that now she pitied him. Once again she came across as mean-spirited and self-righteous. Very unlikable. And because Amelia is so unlikable, that made the Sam/Amelia flashback parts of the episode tedious. My friend Katrina suggests I just give Amelia a little more time to grow on me, and I’m trying. But unless there are drastic changes in her character, she’s going solidly in the ‘don’t like her’ category.

Despite my couple of nitpicks, I enjoyed “Southern Comfort.” I have enjoyed season 8 thus far. As much as I hate to see my Winchester boys fight, they absolutely needed to. And unlike the Amy storyline from last season, I feel like this conflict is organic to the story and makes some sort of sense given everything they’ve gone through. All in all, very solid episode.

Supernatural 8.05 Review: Vampirates Y’all

Supernatural, I am in love with you again. After last week’s highly disappointing episode, I really needed Blood Brother to be good, and it was. Ben Edlund never fails to bring the awesome, and Guy Bee has quickly become one of my favorite Supernatural directors. This was an excellent episode and it served as a springboard for what I’m hoping will be another fantastic episode next week. But before I start singing the praises of an episode that hasn’t aired yet, let’s talk about Blood Brother.

This week, we got a really good look at Benny. It usually takes Supernatural longer than 5 episodes to give us as much backstory on supporting characters as we got on Benny last night. Heck, we didn’t find out how Bobby got into hunting until about midway through S3. But last night, we got a real good look at why Benny ended up in Purgatory and why he was so anxious to get back topside. I just want to pause here and say that I found it particularly hilarious to have yuppie vampires (complete with polos and popped collars) feeding off the yacht club crowd. Like I said, Ben Edlund is awesome. But back to Benny. He ran into some trouble while he was hunting down his maker, and he called Dean to help him out. Dean, to Sam’s dismay, dropped what he was doing and went to help Benny out. Benny tells Dean that he was his maker’s favorite until he decided to ditch the nest because he fell in love with a woman named Andrea. Love will make you do some very strange things, and in the Supernatural universe it has led the characters to take drastic action (i.e. John selling his soul for Dean, Dean selling his soul for Sam, Sam taking control from Lucifer). In this case, love led Benny to stop killing humans and turn his back on his nest. Through Andrea he was able to remember the beauty and value of human life, so he walked away from the nest. For that, his maker hunted them down and killed them…or so Benny thought. Dean and Benny locate the nest only to find that the maker has turned Andrea instead of killing her. Long story short, Dean kills lots of vampirates while Benny takes out the maker and his lieutenant. He wants Andrea to leave with him, but she’s no longer the woman he fell in love with and she doesn’t want to leave. Dean ended up taking her out before she killed Benny.

Supernatural has tried on several occasions to tell the story of sympathetic monsters (i.e. Madison, Lucky, and Amy), and I think that it’s worked to a certain extent. But at the end of the day, all of those monsters had killed humans and were likely to kill again. So as sympathetic as they were, they still needed to die. I don’t think Benny fits into that category. Yes, Benny is a vampire and he had fed on humans in the past, but by the time he got sent to Purgatory he hadn’t been feeding on humans for some time. Furthermore, there’s no indication that he’s feeding on humans now. So the question becomes, does he need to die simply because he’s a vampire? Or should he be allowed to try to continue living off donated blood? One of the main themes of Supernatural is redemption, and I don’t think Benny should be exempt from the opportunity to redeem himself. Dean’s bond with Benny led to what was perhaps my favorite scene of the episode –Sam meeting Benny for the first time. There wasn’t really any dialog in that scene, but there was a whole lot said. Sam reaching for his machete and Dean shaking him off with just a look and a shake of his head. It was beautifully shot and wonderfully acted by Ackles, Padalecki, and Ollson. I’m not sure I trust Benny completely yet, but after last night’s episode, I want to trust him. I want to believe that the bond he and Dean forged in Purgatory is real. Speaking of Purgatory…

I am really loving the flashbacks to Purgatory. I especially like how they’re shot. The colors harsh and we’re generally given a 360 degree shot from Dean’s POV so we can see that he’s literally got monsters coming at him from all sides. I also like the fact that we’re able to see the evolution of the Dean/Benny relationship in those Purgatory flashbacks. Dean is initially very wary of Benny and rightfully so. Benny is, after all, a monster. But even after Dean and Benny make an agreement to get Dean out of Purgatory, Dean doesn’t fully trust him. They were fighting back to back, but even then, Dean kept Benny at arm’s length. It wasn’t until Benny killed a leviathan to save Cas that Dean finally trusted him. Now, the argument could be made that Benny killed that leviathan to earn Dean’s trust more than to save Cas. But I think Benny saved Cas because he knew how much Cas meant to Dean. Just as an aside, I got a pretty good chuckle out of the conversation about Cas being Benny’s aunt.

We also got some movement on the Sam/Amelia storyline this week. I’m glad for this because I was really leaning toward not liking Amelia. I didn’t like the way she was introduced and I didn’t like her first interactions with Sam. She came off as snarky and self-righteous. I was not impressed. Thankfully, this episode softened her for me. I’m really glad because if something hadn’t been done about her, it would’ve been awful to have to sit through that part of Sam’s story. But I like how she was presented here. She was a bit less snarky and a little more relateable. Now, I’d like to know more about her and about how she changed Sam. I’m looking forward to that storyline because we’ll learn more about not only what Sam did during his year away from Dean, but who Sam became during that year. When Amelia and Sam met, they were in the same place. They were both lost and full of grief. Their worlds had spun out of control and they didn’t know how they were going to find solid footing again. When they found each other, they found stable ground. I’m not saying it’s necessarily healthy to form a relationship based upon shared feelings of loss, but if that’s what it takes to help you begin to heal, then that’s what you do. I don’t think Sam wants to be with her just so he can quit hunting. I really believe Sam loves her as much as he’s able. Furthermore, he’s had a taste of normal with her and he liked it. It’s no longer just an idea or an unattainable dream. It’s something he’s actually experienced and something he is now willing to fight for. I also really like how Sam’s memories of his past year are shot. The colors are extremely bright and slightly hazy, like a dream. It’s in stark contrast to the sharp, harsh tones of Purgatory.

This was an excellent episode, and I am really loving this season so far. I think it would be beneficial to have a Dean flashback episode and a Sam flashback episode so we can get their past year from their perspective. But I like where Carver and Co. are taking us and I’m excited about next week’s episode. It looks like all the tension between the Brothers Winchester will be coming to a head. Good times. That’s all for now junkies. Until next time, peace, love, and joy. 🙂

SPN 8.04 Review: Supernatural meets The Blair Witch Project

Hello my fellow Supernatural Junkies. Tonight’s episode of Supernatural was unconventional (even for this show), and I didn’t really care for it. Thus, I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. Bitten certainly won’t top my list of favorite SPN episodes, but it wasn’t the worst either (Bugs still holds that distinction). There was no development on the season long mytharc or on the Boys’ relationship, but I’m ok with that for now. If we were 12 or 13 episodes into the season and did an episode like this, I would be pretty pissed. But this episode came early enough that it’s alright that it didn’t deal with major story arcs and didn’t feature a whole lot of the Winchesters. There are, however, a few things I want to point out.

This is not the first time that Supernatural has played with the form of the show. One thing I’ve always appreciated about Supernatural is their willingness to experiment with storytelling. It keeps things interesting and it allows for some artistic freedom.  Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I must say that I have never liked films shot on handheld cams or that “found footage” crap. I hated The Blair Witch Project and I actively avoided Chronicle and all of those Paranormal Activity movies. I am just not a fan of that style of film making. That being said, “Ghostfacers” from season 3 was shot almost exactly like this episode, but I actually enjoyed “Ghostfacers.” After thinking about it for a little bit, I’ve concluded that I liked “Ghostfacers” better because I enjoyed those characters much more. They were interesting and at times downright funny. I was much more engaged in that story and more invested in those character outcomes. I cannot say the same for “Bitten.” It wasn’t the acting. The actors did just fine. It was how shallow, boring, and generic the characters were. I didn’t care about Michael and Kate’s lovefest. I didn’t care that Brian was jealous. I just didn’t care about them at all. And if I’m going to watch an episode in which the Winchesters are almost totally absent, I want the characters to be much more interesting than these kids were.

When speaking about superheroes and supervillains, my father always says that heroes were heroes long before they became super and likewise villains were always villains. Receiving the power simply revealed what they were already. That’s something this episode touched on. Brian wanted to be bitten because he wanted to feel power. He wanted to get the girl. He wanted to be the big man. He wanted to step out of his friend’s shadow. He was jealous, insecure and angry before he got bitten. The bite didn’t change that. It simply amplified those feelings which resulted in him killing the only real friend he had. Supernatural has kind of dealt with this concept before, but it was in such a controversial episode (yes, I’m looking at you Amy in “The Girl Next Door”) that I think people lost the message. A clearer illustration of this point is Gordon Walker from “Fresh Blood” back in season 3. When Dean tried to reason with Gordon after he got turned into a vampire, Gordon responded, “No. I’m a monster.” I don’t think even he knew just how true those words were. The truth is, Gordon was a monster long before he got turned into a vampire. He killed because he liked it. If he saved a few people in the process, that was fine. But he was really in it for the thrill of the kill. Getting turned into a vampire simply gave him an excuse to do what came naturally to him. People are what they are. And the power doesn’t change that.

Supernatural has never been a show to shy away from the grey areas, and there was a pretty big one here. On the one hand, Kate is a monster. She’s a werewolf. And if history has taught us anything on Supernatural, she’s going to kill someone. Or maybe even a bunch of someones before a hunter stops her. On the other hand, one of the lessons from “Bloodlust” in S2 was that just because something isn’t human doesn’t necessarily mean that its evil i.e. Lenore. At the end of that episode, Dean began to question whether he’d been killing things that didn’t deserve killing simply because they weren’t human. He ponders that here too. Dean is a guy that, historically, doesn’t deal in shades of grey and he also adheres to a very strict code. Dean’s code says that as long as you aren’t killing humans, you’re not evil and he’s gonna let you be. That’s the conclusion he reached here. Technically, Kate is a monster and somewhere down the road, she may kill someone. But right here, right now she hadn’t killed anyone. So they let her go. I think there are valid arguments both for going after her to kill her now and for letting her go and try to survive on animals. But in this instance, I think the Boys made the right call.

Well, that’s pretty much it folks. Like I said before, this episode won’t top my list of must-rewatch. But I appreciate Supernatural’s willingness to experiment with form and push the envelope. I’m REALLY looking forward to getting back into some Purgatory stuff next week. And I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen when Sam meets Benny. So until next time Junkies, peace, love, and joy to all.

The Problem(s) with Revolution

Since Revolution is on a break this week to make room for the final Presidential debate, I thought I’d take this time to write my thoughts about the show thus far. Let me start off by saying that I really want to like this show. The premise is quite compelling. The world has essentially returned to the dark ages because all the power has gone out. Not just electricity either. Batteries too. Nothing requiring power works. People have had to learn how to grow their own food and make due with arrows, swords, knives, and crossbows for weapons. The world is controlled by various militias that keep the peace but also scare the crap out of all the civilians. It’s promising. So, I am really having a hard time with how terrible this show has been thus far. In my view, there are a few things wrong that Revolution needs to fix if they want to keep me.

First, the show has major writing problems. The pace is entirely too slow. I find myself looking at the clock about 15 minutes into the episode and being disappointed that it’s only 15 mins into the episode. Revolution is not pulling me into its story. It’s not engaging me. I rarely get up to go to the bathroom during a show, because I don’t want to miss anything. That’s not the case with Revolution. That’s disturbing coming from from Eric Kripke and JJ Abrams. I am obviously a Supernatural junkie, so I know that Kripke is capable of better than what’s going on with Revolution. I know that he is capable of telling an engaging, coherent story that will leave me desperate for the next episode. I was discussing this problem with a friend of mine, and she suggested that Revolution just needs to find its legs. To a certain extent, I think that’s true. In the beginning, especially with genre shows, you have to take some time to establish the rules of the universe and the character relationships. However, if the characters are engaging, then that set-up doesn’t feel laborious. The writing for most of these characters is weak at best. I kind of like Zak Orth’s Aaron because he’s slightly (very slightly) amusing. But the other characters are mostly forgettable. Giancarlo Esposito and Billy Burke seem to get the best stuff. Or maybe they’re just making lemonade out of lemons. I was also a liking Anna Lise Phillips’s Maggie Foster, but TPTB decided that the only interesting female character needed to die in the 2nd or 3rd episode. Bad call guys because Charlie is most certainly not an engaging character. As a matter of fact, she is annoying and much more immature than someone of her age would be after having gone through the blackout and its aftermath. Not only that. She’s actively stupid. I’m still trying to figure out what her aversion is to following simple instructions. Miles tells her they need to do A to get Danny back, so she goes and does B because, well, she’s stupid. Then of course she has to sit down and cry about it. Or if she’s not crying, she’s yelling at Miles as if it’s somehow his fault. And they’ve also had a few moments where she’s supposed to be the voice of moral superiority over Miles, but the truth is, she comes off less morally superior and more bratty; talking about things way above her pay grade. There is absolutely nothing redeeming about her character at this point. And if TPTB don’t figure out how to write their lead better, they are going to lose this viewer. Because few things bother me more than stupid female leads on genre shows.

Second, this show has casting issues. Casting is just as important as writing is on a show. The actors need to embody their characters and they need to have presence on the screen. Revolution’s casting has been spotty at best. Billy Burke is a fantastic casting choice. He brings depth to Miles Matheson. He is a man with a past that he regrets and consequences that he can see played out daily.  He plays Miles as a man that believed he was doing a good thing, but in the end it all went very wrong. But most importantly, he keeps me engaged the entire time he’s onscreen. The same is true of Giancarlo Esposito’s Captain Tom Neville. I don’t think Giancarlo Esposito has ever been in anything where he asn’t been amazing. Revolution is no exception. He plays Neville with the kind of dark ruthlessness I would imagine a person needs to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. He understands that a smile can be much more sinister than a scowl. He is cold and cruel. And I just want to pause here for a moment to point out something Revolution has (I think) been trying to make clear through Neville. People are what they are, and circumstances only reveal what’s already inside a person. In Neville’s case, prior to the blackout he was a violent, vicious, sadistic man, but he never showed that to the world because it wasn’t socially acceptable. He didn’t think he could get away with it. After the blackout, however, he was free to let that out. It was socially acceptable. Not only that, it was encouraged. I think Danny nailed it when he told Neville that he (Neville) didn’t join the militia because he wanted a better life. He joined the militia because he likes killing. Zak Orth and David Lyons do a solid enough job with Aaron and Sebastian Monroe respectively. Revolution’s primary casting problem is Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie. Much of the problem with Charlie has to do with the writing as I mentioned above. But the casting is also an issue. Spiridakos does not command the screen. And she always looks like she’s not entirely sure of what’s going on at any given moment. It’s as if she knows she should be thinking something, but she’s got nothing going on in her head. There are no subtleties or nuances to her performance, and it’s as if she’s just regurgitating the lines she learned for this week. And watching her cry for the umpteenth time during an episode makes me have very bad thoughts.

Finally, the filming on Revolution has been, for the most part, horrible. They have gone totally overboard with the shaky cam. It is simply beyond ridiculous. At one point, I was watching 3 characters having a conversation, and I was so distracted by the camera movement that I yelled at my tv in frustration. There is absolutely no reason, NONE, that the camera should look like there’s an earthquake going on while the characters are standing stationary having a conversation. It completely takes me out of the plot action. And since I’m already kind of bored by the story and annoyed by the characters, I have a hard time getting back into it. Shaky cam is lazy filmmaking. STOP IT! In case it’s unclear, I hate, hate, HATE shaky cam.

So, that’s where I am with Revolution right now. I really want to like this series because, as I said, it has an interesting premise. Not only that, there aren’t all that many genre shows on network tv. But if they don’t figure out how to fix this writing and stop it with the shaky cam, I’m just not going to be able to stick with it.

SPN 8.03 Review: It’ll Rip Your Heart Out…Literally

 

I had to watch this episode twice before I could really form an opinion about it. The conclusion I reached is, it was ok. I liked it. Didn’t love it. But it was a solid showing. We stepped back from the mythology a bit to focus on Sam and Dean’s relationship, and I’m glad we did. And let me just get this out of the way. I tend to like the MOTW episodes, but I am SO over people eating human hearts. These same writers did this last season in ‘Shut Up, Dr. Phil’ with the hearts in the cupcakes, and I wasn’t a fan of it then either. That’s just unnecessarily gross.

I will say that Jensen Ackles is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors. He’s much more confident behind the camera, and that’s even more impressive when you consider that he had so much more time in front of the camera this go round. He made some very cool choices with the lighting and tone of several scenes. I especially liked the way the scene was shot when the Boys were reading all the letters to Betsy. I also enjoyed the brief scene between Jensen and his dad Alan Ackles. That one made me chuckle. It would be nice to have him come back at some point. At any rate, the MOTW was kind of bland, but the development of the Boys relationship pretty much made up for that.The primary achievement of this episode was to give us a more in-depth look at each character’s motivations this season.

On the one hand, Sam has come to the realization that there really is a life outside of hunting. Sam has always wanted normal, but he just resigned himself to the fact that was something he could never have. He basically decided that he only had one option and that was hunting. However, at the end of S7, when he had no one and nothing left, he discovered a new world. A world in which he was able to have a place to call home. A place where he was able to have love and peace. A place where he was able to have normal. And unlike Dean back in S6, Sam allowed himself to truly be in the moment and experience that life. For nearly a decade, Sam has literally carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. He’s also carried massive amounts of guilt from the consequences of his bad decisions. He never really saw any end but death, and even that wasn’t going to be pretty. With Amelia, though, he was able to see a real life. Now, he can see a light at the end of the tunnel. He can see other avenues to explore. He’s not locked into the hunting life. After having experienced that, how could he not continue to not only want it for himself, but actively pursue it?

On the other hand, Dean has also come to a realization. He’s realized that he’s a warrior and what he does matters. For the last couple seasons, Dean has been wallowing in despair and grief because he didn’t feel like anything he did mattered anymore. He felt like he wasn’t making a difference, and no matter how many times he saved the world it was never going to be enough. Then he went to Purgatory. He got a concentrated dose of evil-hunting, and it made him realize that’s why he’s on earth. It may not be pretty and it may not be all fun, but it’s who he is. He even said so much in this episode. He belongs on the road, with his brother, hunting evil and saving people. That realization is part of why Dean is having such a hard time wrapping his head around Sam’s desire to leave. When Dean left hunting to be with Lisa and Ben, he never really left. He knew that his brother was in the cage. He knew that Bobby was still out there. Additionally, he was mourning the loss of his brother. He always kind of had one foot in hunting even when he was supposed to be out. He never really allowed himself to try and really be happy in the normal life. So when he looks at normal, he views it as claustrophobic and painful. It’s not something to be desired for people like himself and Sam. It’s something to be desired for people who aren’t warriors. Dean doesn’t seem to understand that Sam doesn’t view himself as a warrior. Dean is a hunter because he chooses to be, not because he has to be. Sam was always a hunter because he had to be, not because he chose to be. Dean comes off as being condescending toward Sam for looking into college and so forth because Dean has always needed hunting and he believes Sam needs it too. He cannot fathom someone going through the things they’ve gone through and not having hunting in his bones. Also, Dean is remembering what it felt like when he walked away from hunting, and he can’t see that Sam’s situation is completely different from his own.

On the upside, at least Sam and Dean are being honest with each other. It’s both refreshing and sad at the same time. It’s refreshing because in times past they never would’ve been as upfront as they are being now. They would have sugar-coated what they had to say or just not talked about it at all. It’s sad because of just how brutally frank they’re being with each other. Sam flat out said that he’s walking away after they find Kevin and close the gates. Dean said, and still firmly believes, that Sam is gonna get back in the grove and not walk away. This is a conversation that needs to happen, but the lack of compassion on the part of both of them is sad given how much they love each other. It also emphasizes the point that although they’re talking, they are most certainly not communicating. Neither is able to grasp the other’s reasons for doing what he’s doing. And as difficult as it is to watch the Boys fight, this shows a great deal of character growth and development. They’re actually having the serious, difficult conversations that they need to have but that they tried to avoid in seasons past. Yes, we’re sort of back to S1 in character motivations, but at the same time, we’re not. Both of these guys have matured and their decisions/motivations now aren’t reactions to someone else’s decisions for them. These guys are making these choices now because this is what they want.

Well, that’s pretty much it from me. I’d love to hear what y’all think. Did you laugh at Dean’s face when the chubby runner was drinking that nasty-looking green health drink? I admit, I was making pretty much that same face too.