Damned if Season 9’s second episode didn’t continue the wild ride that this season is turning out to be. Once again, the anticipation leading up to the episode was contagious, as everyone held their breath waiting to see if the momentum begun in the premiere would continue. The fandom seems as energized as Sam and Dean, who seem more motivated than they’ve been in a long time by being on the same side again and having something they understand to fight against. There’s something almost old school about the Winchesters going up against angels and demons – it feels familiar to me, and to them. Dangerous, yes, but they have some idea what they’re dealing with, and so do we. There’s a sort of cowboy western feel about the season, Sam and Dean going in with “guns blazing” and shoulder to shoulder, like back in the good old days (also known as Seasons 1 through 4). Jensen’s comment that Dean is ‘back in the driver’s seat’ rings true – Dean is in leader mode, confident and cocky despite the guilt that’s underneath, and clearly happy and relieved to have Sam back to 100% and at his side.
No wonder the CW’s Tuesday night had its highest ratings in four years!
Thanks for a great script, Andrew Dabb. Also, were the boys looking even more gorgeous than usual?? Thank you Serge and Guy Bee for every single decision you made while shooting, because…DAMN. The image of Sam flanked by Ezekiel’s torn and frayed wings was amazing – I literally gasped. Then fanned myself. Kudos to the best VFX team in the business once again!
This episode sets up Kevin as a major player in the season’s fight. I love the evolution of this character, how he’s found his strength and yet retains a sensitivity that the Winchesters themselves buried long ago, by necessity. I love how quick he is and how smart; and I love that he can still cry openly for his mother’s death, and for Dean accepting him as part of their weird little family. He may not be a hunter, but his skills as a hacker are just as useful. Kevin Solo was so awesome I made some sort of dolphin noises. Osric and Ackles have chemistry too – they can both portray strong emotion and never go over the top, so I believe every second of it. When Dean says that he and Sam would die for Kevin? I believed him. And as much as Dean protests that he’s “not with the whole “love and….love” thing, he may not say it, but he lives it more fearlessly and whole-heartedly than just about anyone. When Dean Winchester says you’re family, he is ALL IN.
Some people felt that Dean’s speech to Kevin came off as manipulative and less than sincere – that perhaps he used the word ‘family’ because that’s what Kevin is craving and needing. But I don’t think that was the reason, or at least not the only one. Family is the most important thing in the world to Dean, and always has been, ever since his own was devastated. It’s what Dean wants most, and when he finds someone he can trust and allow himself to care about, that’s how he wants to see them. I think Kevin – and Cas – fit that category. Dean wants them to be his family.
It might have been an odd decision for Abbadon to come back in her old meatsuit (and to be reanimated without clothes but with red nail polish and lipstick….sideeye…), but I can’t really care because Alaina Huffman is just that awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much chemistry between Dean and a woman, and that includes the ones he’s slept with. (Also she has damn good taste – who hasn’t been eyeing that ‘perfect vessel’?) If there’s not fanfic out there already with Dean on his knees and Abbadon yanking his head back by the hair and manhandling him like a badass then I don’t know fandom at all. Dirtybadwrong at its best.
Huffman can hold her own in scenes with any of the cast, with just enough humor and snark to make her the sort of villain you can’t actually bring yourself to hate. She’s a lot like the king she wants to dethrone in that. And while Abaddon flirted with Dean, Crowley continued to flirt with Sam. Thanks for that interesting visual of Sam in leather bustier and stilettos, Crowley. Putting the S-A-M into S & M indeed. More fic that’s gotta be out there somewhere. After nine seasons, SPN still does a better job of inspiring fannish creativity than just about any other show!
Nice to see a competent female hunter, who was able to lure a vamp efficiently to his death. Though if female hunters are gonna dress in such skimpy outfits, how come we can’t get Sam and Dean out of their multiple layers? I mean, hell, if Daisy Dukes are practical for her, why aren’t the boys at least taking their shirts off and rolling up their jeans to wash the Impala more often? Fair is fair, wardrobe! Dressing her like that made it seem like she was in the episode for eye candy more than serious character addition. I’ll reserve judgment for now – maybe she was dressed that way because she was trying to lure the vamp to stop (though it seems likely he stopped for the blood, not for the sex, so what was the point….) But if she comes back in another episode and that’s her standard hunting attire? Um, no.
Tracy’s accusation that Sam essentially killed her parents was a shock – the look on Sam’s face was heartbreaking. But it gave Dean the chance to defend Sam and remind her (and us) that making mistakes is part of being human. I think, after some of Dean’s judgmental words to Sam in the past, I needed to know that he really does understand that Sam was doing what he thought was right. Dean’s having his own firsthand experience now with good intentions and possibly not-so-good outcomes, after all. Dean’s conversations with Tracy and Kevin, and later his talk with Sam, show us how far the brothers have come, and that they are more on the same page now than they’ve been in a very long time.
Padalecki is doing a great job being Samzekiel – his voice, his mannerisms, even his gestures change when he’s being Zeke. I’m still working on what seemed to be the theme of this episode – trust. I want to trust Zeke, but the fact that being in Sam’s body is such a good thing for him (as well as for Sam) makes me keep wavering. I guess time will tell. In the meantime, I’m happy to have him protect Sam when Dean isn’t there to do it.
Possession is a common trope in fanfic to allow us to ‘see inside’ that character to what they’re really thinking and feeling, especially when they would never say it aloud. Zeke serves that function here, as he tells Dean how Sam really feels and reassures him that he did the right thing. Both Dean and Sam have doubted each other’s love at some points, which has been tremendously painful for them. Zeke can tell Dean definitively that Sam loves him – Sam said yes out of that love, just as Dean made the choice he did out of love. Dean is predictably uncomfortable having that conversation, but I was grinning in my living room.
So far, the possession seems to be having a positive impact on Sam. “I realize it’s crazy out there and we have trouble coming for us, but I look around and I see friends and family. I’m happy with my life for the first time in forever. Things are good.” That happiness, however, just makes the whole thorny issue of it not being Sam’s choice ever more complicated. Well done, Show. I’m glad they’re not glossing over it – we see how torn up Dean is about it, how guilty he feels. When Sam says that he’s happy with his life for the first time in forever, Dean should be able to drink it up and be happy too. Instead, he glances away and takes a drink, the guilt getting in the way of his joy. And isn’t that just what happens? The emotions here seem genuine, and that makes them all the more powerful. I like that they’re not sweeping Dean’s guilt about his decision to save Sam and not close the gates under the rug either. I like it when Show doesn’t duck the tough stuff.
I’m unspoiled, but I hear that next week we’ll find out how Cas is doing, as the major intersecting story lines for the season continue to be laid out. There’s so much potential in this new version of Cas, and we can’t wait to see what Show does with it!
The other thing that’s brought an amazing energy to Season 9 is having so many of the cast and crew join fandom on Twitter to live tweet the episodes. Jared, Mark and Osric bantered in tweets, director Guy Norman Bee gave us behind the scenes info, and writer Adam Glass hopped online to congratulate his colleagues. The reciprocal relationship between fans and producers that we’ve written several books about was very much in evidence, with many of the actors watching “as fans” alongside the rest of us.
Jared tweeted that he was watching Mark and Osric’s scenes “as a fan” – he even added the smiley face after. (And tweeted a photo of him and his adorable son watching)
Adam Glass to Jared: You knocked it out of the park, buddy.
You can read all the tweets storified on the SupernaturalWiki. Some of them were priceless.
Jared: I love doing the running and shooting shots. For a second, you feel so tough that you almost forget you’re wearing make-up.
Adam Glass: (possibly letting his shipping preference be known…) Can’t wait for this Dean Abaddon scene!
Osric (speaking for all of fandom): Holy smokes.. Angel Sam is so buff!
Also, if we weren’t already flustered enough from all the hotness onscreen, Jared decided to tease fandom with some tantalizing imagery…
Jared: It was SO hot in the bus! Under the camera frame, my shirt was untucked and unbuttoned and so were my pants… Ventilation. Hah 🙂
I’ll leave you with that image. And with a couple of my favorite lines from the episode.
Dean: You with me?
Sam: You know it.