The Emotional, the Rational, and the In Between: Episode 8.12

Know what’s great about fandom? We all do it differently. That’s never so obvious as on the morning after a new episode of Supernatural has aired, and we’re all scouring the internet for reviews and recaps, and weighing in with our own (wildly divergent but always passionate) opinions. If you read widely enough, you can find someone who loves every little thing about an episode and is practically expiring from the squee – and then you can find someone who loathes the exact same little things and is on the verge of self-combusting with rage. “It was awesome, Dean and Sam were themselves again, OMG!” “How could they slaughter the characters like that, WTF?” Reading review after review can give you a bit of whiplash after a while.

Alarmingly often, Kathy and Lynn are on the opposite ends of that spectrum, which has made our eight year roadtrip through SPN fandom together a lot more interesting. And a lot more like a rollercoaster. Kathy’s a damn talented critic – hey, it’s what she does. Isn’t it what all our English professors did?? All those years of literary criticism have given her a keen eye for anything that’s out of place or not entirely based on logic, and she may be shy about some things, but pointing those out? Not so much. Lynn’s a psychologist, a profession more focused on making people feel better than pointing out their glaring deficiencies. Maybe this explains why we tend to see Show differently – and why we expect that the rest of fandom will disagree too. Never a dull moment in fandom – and isn’t that part of the point?

Here are the things that made Lynn love this episode: Sam and Dean were in it. No really, that’s her first and most important criteria. And if Sam and Dean were in it A LOT, like in practically every scene, her love meter jumps up even higher. Not only were Sam and Dean onscreen a lot in this episode (sorry Jared and Jensen, but Lynn is happiest when you’re working your pretty little butts off…) but the story revolved around the Winchesters again, for what seemed like the first time in a long time. And that means I cared again. Saving the world is all well and good, but when it comes to ramping up my emotional investment to off the charts, give me the Winchesters’ personal story over a global one any day. It’s not that continuity isn’t important to Lynn – the familiar strains of the Winchesters-have-an-emotional-moment theme song were playing at the appropriate times, and Dean ate a burger while Sam ate a salad. Continuity, guys! Even more important, Dean expressed the sentiment that made Lynn fall in love with him in the first place – there ain’t nothin’ more important than saving Sammy. There ain’t nothin’ more important to Lynn than hearing those words come out of Dean Winchester’s lovely mouth.

Here’s what made Kathy go “Huh? Really? They did/didn’t do what????” They bring in a character – the boys’ lost grandfather – who they believe abandoned their father – and the emotional reaction to this is that Dean gets pissy for a little bit and then gets over it? And then that grandfather *dies* in their arms – literally – and they get over it????? This episode had so much angst potential! Squandered!! Absolutely squandered!! If they just wanted this to be an information dump – “Hey boys, guess what? Your family tree has hunters hanging from every branch!!” – then why present them with their grandfather in the flesh? Of course all was not griping at Kathy’s house. Like Lynn, she was happy that the boys weren’t being pissy with each other for a change, and that they were back on the same “Family is everything” page. What’s not to like about that after all? 🙂

Eight seasons and multiple showrunners in, so there are plot holes scattered around that make you turn your ankle and stumble from time to time, and we’ve each had to endure storylines that made us cringe (cough Amelia cough), but having Sam and Dean back on the same page and at the center of the Show makes up for a helluva lot in our book. So does having the boys in single layer tee shirts sprawled out on their widdle beds and Dean stealing Sam’s pillow in the middle of the night, which ensures plenty of fanfic to distract from any possible retconning. We’re easily distracted, so what?

It’s also nice that a theme of the recent episodes seems to be that geeks rule. Sam and Dean have a geeky nerdy brainy legacy on their father’s side – Henry was a smart nerdy guy who was also a hero. We liked that Abbadon was played by a great actress who really sold the scary. We loved the beautiful 1950s sets and the way Serge Ladouceur directed. We’re big Serge fans – if you haven’t already read it, check out our interview with him earlier on this blog. He shares some fascinating insights about filming SPN:

Bob Singer’s recent Huff Post interview had some vague spoilers that made us squee for an alarmingly long time (the boys get a place to do their bromance thing? Bring it!) And yay for Cas being an integral part of the story and Benny and Charlie popping up again. But there were some cringe-worthy moments in it too, and we don’t deny that we’ve got a wishlist of places we wish Show would go, and an OMGpleasenoooo list of places we wish it wouldn’t. Inevitably we’ll all get some of both as the season goes on, and sometimes we’ll have to assume that John Winchester’s stepfather was a mechanic and Castiel lost a few feathers in the backseat of the Impala once upon a time (fanfic time again…). And inevitably Lynn and Kathy will hash it out just the like the rest of fandom. Can’t wait!

14 thoughts on “The Emotional, the Rational, and the In Between: Episode 8.12

  • For me, this episode was the best we’ve had since Season 3. (Okay, maybe I need to go back and rewatch Season 4, but right now I stand by my opinion.) And Kathy, seriously, by now, the boys are so shell shocked, and have gone through so much that I think that what they just lost will probably take a while to sink in. Can you say numb? I know that’s how I’d feel. I thought that Dean got over his pissy fit because he realized that Grandpappy hadn’t in fact just bailed and run out on John on purpose after all. Seemed reasonable to me.

    I do hope that this episode will continue the upswing of Sam and Dean together against the world now, and stop allowing secondary characters to drive the story. That’s been my main gripe against the season up until hiatus. I like Benny, but I absolutely don’t care more about him than I do about Sam and Dean. I just plain thought the whole Amelia thing was utterly fatuous, and ditto for the whole Angel Radio thing. Five precious minutes of our show was wasted on gratuitous angel torture and there is an increasing tendency of Show to waste time on pseudo-enochian babble (Or it could be real enochian babble for what I know) instead of giving us intelligent dialogue or even action. I just plain don’t care about the Angel CIA, and the whole plot seems to be shoe-horned in for fanservice. If you want to keep Castiel as a character, that’s fine, but give him a part to play in the story that actually matters to the rest of the canon. Crowley is a lovely villain, but right now he’s compromised his delightfully mysterious, puckish persona and we’ve seen him smoke out. We’ve seen his eyes change. We’ve seen him actively perform gratuitously random acts of nastiness, and those things have lessened his stature in my eyes. That makes me sad.

    So I welcome the show taking a turn towards the light. Show me Sam and Dean as brothers together against the whole of the realms of evil, and I’m in for the long haul. Show me happy domestic Sam (or Dean) and I’ll be in the kitchen, ignoring it and waiting for the writers to actually watch the show from the start and get a clue about how the boys would behave. Or you could ask Jared and Jensen; they know.

    Bottom line – Loved this week’s show. A+. More please.

    • Taking a turn towards the light — I like that image! God knows the poor boys could use a little brightness, or at least the comfort of sharing the same space against the dark 🙂 Lynn is with you on the ‘more please’. And weirdly referring to herself in the third person….

    • I totally agree! I’m not a fan of cas,or the angel storyline,because somehow,somewhere its become more important then the boys story,and that is NOT the supernatural I love. supernatural is and will always be the boys story. Focus on them and their story drives the ratings up…when its not…ratings start to go down.

  • Even though it was nice to see the brothers working together, I hope we do hear more about the previous issues the brothers had because, as of right now, it’s only Dean who has admitted any kind of mistake and it’s only Dean who has taken any kind of blame. It’s a little one-sided right now and, until Sam admits to his mistakes and takes his portion of the blame, the relationship will still be broken.

    • I’d love to hear more from Sam – and *see* more too, for that matter. Especially what Sam went through when Dean was gone, so that we have a better understanding and maybe a bit more empathy. Dean is doing a better job of that right now than fandom is, but he’s pretty good at being understanding and forgiving when it comes to Sam.

      • Dean has owned up to his mistakes and the relationship won’t be fixed until Sam owns up to his. Sam isn’t blameless in the issues and in what happened in 8.09, so Dean shouldn’t be the only one to take the blame.

  • While I’m thrilled to have Sam and Dean once more acting as though they can stand being in the same room, I do feel like this season is giving me whiplash. The whole first third (or so) of the season seemed so artificial and contrived that I felt like I wasn’t even watching Supernatural. I’m utterly bewildered by Sam’s actions before, during and immediately after Dean’s time in purgatory, and having a hard time getting around the way Dean has apparently just forgotten his (well-deserved imo) anger and resentment.

    I love where the show appears to be going as far as the Legacy storyline, but it’s tempered by my need for answers and consistency in both plot and characterization. I hope the rest of this season doesn’t disappoint in that regard.

    • I hope so too, and even I (Lynn the ever optimistic…) have felt the effects of whiplash from time to time this season. Parts really did seem artificial and contrived and possibly stolen from a soap opera, and it’s hard to get our heads around Sam’s reaction to the loss of Dean without actually being able to *see* it. As for Dean forgetting his anger, that part I can believe. When it comes to Sam, Dean is a pretty understanding guy. And I’m assuming the boys have had enough off-camera heart to hearts that Dean gets why Sam did what he did much more than we do. I’m envious.

      • I don’t know, for me the reason I really think the relationship issues have to have more exploration is that for Dean, the issues must be festering. If we’re to believe the previous issues festered (and they were presented as if Dean had done NO processing at all of Ruby and Soulless Sam), then why wouldn’t Sam’s ultimatum about Benny fester? If Dean has to accept he can’t dictate how Sam feels about family (and I agree with Sam there’s no reason Dean should be able to), why should Sam be able to dictate who Dean feels is a brother? I can’t believe Dean has no guilt about cutting Benny loose when he called for help. Loyalty is so important to Dean.

        If the moving past issues isn’t reciprocal, how can it be healthy? This season, Dean had to let much of his unhealthy burden of guilt and shame go in Purgatory, and after Purgatory, he and Castiel had really lovely scenes of Cas telling Dean he took too much guilt on and he had no need to. That was great character growth. Now with Sam, Dean’s taking on unneeded guilt again. I don’t see the boys having off screen heart to hearts–that would be terrible story telling in an arc concentrated on their issues. I think Dean is just supposed to be slipping back into the role he’s always taken, which is the opposite of maturity and growth.

        No doubt the next time the writers want an emotional arc, we’ll get Dean’s festering feelings erupting again, just like this time.

        Sigh. However, I am looking forward to the new mythology and I am glad the boys are dealing better with each other. But it feels more like a reset than good story telling. I loved Purgatory and Benny and Cas this season, but other than that, I’m good with a reset, so I’m onboard for the rest of the season.

  • Both of you take deep breaths and/or a rent a beach cottage somewhere. Sorry, ladies, but your review was the silliest, most buzzword laden, pretentious nonsense I’ve ever read about SPN!

    Season 8 is magnificent. Try to keep up, exercise some tolerance, and just enjoy it. Jeesh!

    • I love your username so much that I can’t stop smiling — that scene is so damn funny. We really do need to rent a beach cottage somewhere (though we’d probably still find something to disagree about….) 🙂

  • It is fascinating how different fans view the show and what’s most important to each fan! I love that they mix it up, between the comedy & drama with the horror and SciFi elements, but most important to me is the emotional depth of the characters. I thought they touched on emotional truths with the brothers in this episode and their dealings with their grandfather, but there was so much potential that was cut short by Henry’s death. I only wish they’d managed to write Henry in to more episodes!

    I do hope the writers revisit the emotional wounds of the brothers, why Dean is still touchy about his abandonment issues, how Sam not looking for him fed into that old wound and why he was initially opposed to Granddad because of the perception that he abandoned John as a kid. That’s a common theme and great emotional material to let Jensen loose. The brothers need to talk about these things.

    I know Dean will always forgive and protect Sam. That taking care of Sammy is paramount to him. Right now, after the beginnings of the season, I need to feel that same love and protectiveness from Sam. I KNOW Sam does feel the same about Dean. I’ve known it since AHBL2 and Fresh Blood, when Sam TOLD Dean and made him feel it too. It’s just been a very long time since it’s been truly demonstrated and felt. THAT’s what we need to have an emotional connection on.

    Like in Jump the Shark where Dean reacted to Adam by defending Dad and feeling slighted by what Adam got that they didn’t, Dean reacted to Henry with anger and bitterness. I think they came to respect and understand each other, but a little more exploration and ‘feeling’ would have been nice to see. I’m hoping Sam and Dean have that talk, about Henry, about John, and most importantly about their brotherhood!

    Always great to hear your thoughts.


    • I think we’d both love seeing and hearing the evidence of Sam’s devotion and protectiveness too. Like you, I know it’s there, and can infer it in his description of how lost and devastated he was with Dean gone, but Dean needs to hear that – and we need to see it. That’s what flashbacks were made for, after all! Always great to hear your thoughts too, thank you 🙂

    • I want to hear that Sam values Dean as much as we’ve seen Dean value Sam. However, I also need to hear Sam admit to Dean his (Sam’s) mistakes this season, including in 8.09, with regard to Martin and Benny and Sam’s jealousy of Benny. Sam has seem to hate Benny from the get-go and it has to be more than just that Benny is a vampire because Sam has let vampires go and even this season, they let the werewolf from “Bitten” go.

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