Well, that was a wild ride! Supernatural’s ‘Form and Void’ (not the catchiest title – I miss Kripke’s provocative episode names) was nevertheless one of those episodes that seemed to fly by, keeping me on the edge of my seat and biting my nails when it wasn’t making me squee over how badass it looked – and sounded. The music was, as one fan put it, ‘jacked up’ – it wasn’t SPN’s usual fare, but it really worked to keep the pace quick throughout.
In fact, instead of dragging, there was so much going on that I felt like my head was spinning at times. And I’m not entirely sure I’m going to remember everything that happened after a single watch, but here are the things that struck me.
Creepy Creepy Creepy!
The good stuff first. This episode played like a true mini horror movie, complete with a terrifying evil baby spelling out ‘Feed Me’ in building blocks on the wall. I admit I started screaming when that happened – it was just so terrifying, seeing this tiny innocent looking baby gleefully flinging the blocks across the room and making a demand. It’s a horror movie staple, tapping into some deep psychological fear we have of those mysterious little beings who come into the world needing so much.
(I was momentarily distracted yelling at the grandmother that it’s no longer okay to put a baby down for a nap all swaddled and blanketed up like that, though, and that her old crib in the attic was probably no longer baby-safe….)
Anyway, creepy creepy creepy. Soon Amara is eating souls and growing up super fast like some demented combination of Little Shop of Horrors, The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby. Scary! And yes, some of that has been done before on Supernatural – flashback to the Slice Girls and little girl Lilith in her fancy dress. It’s inevitable that the Show will be somewhat derivative in its eleventh season, so I can handwave most of that easily enough.
And poor Jenna, she didn’t do soulless nearly as well as Sam Winchester. As someone on Tumblr noted:
Sam Winchester soulless: do you have bigger teacups?
Everyone else soulless: murder and mayhem
He really is SamFuckingWinchester!
The return of Crowley was oh so sweet. I was semi-unspoiled, so even though I knew that Crowley would of course be back, I wasn’t expecting him to be the ‘Father’ waiting for Dean. I actually squealed out loud when he said “Hello, son.” Dean’s face! Priceless.
Those two still have that sort of bitter exes vibe going, left over from their bromance breakup. I’m not entirely sure why Dean didn’t just try to kill him (or why Crowley merely tossed Dean into the closet…instead of killing him outright) but I’m putting both down to the lingering something or other that the two seem to have for each other.
As usual, Crowley (aka Daphne) gets the best lines.
I burst into laughter at his “Dean was a rather scrumptious young altar boy.”
Why yes, I’m sure he was…
And those weren’t the only ones. Sheppard gets to be the voice of the fandom at times, poking fun at the things we like to talk about – or quibble with – online. “The child likes you. No surprise, really. You’re very maternal.” “Agent Pathetic-Has-Been-Rockstar.” “Well hello, plot twist!”
Mark is fond of saying there should be a spinoff called “Oh, Crowley”. I’m beginning to think he’s right.
And while I love the leftover angstiness that Crowley and Dean’s failed bromance has left behind, I also loved seeing badass Crowley make a return.
“I’m not your bloody sidekick!”
First time I’ve been a wee bit scared of Crowley in a while. It felt good.
And his last scene, luring little girl Amara into his van with human soul ‘candy’? Both cheeky and chilling. Just like Crowley should be.
Jared and Jensen had both talked about the changed stakes for the Winchesters this season – they can die now and not come back. In fact, they will apparently not get to go to heaven or hell, but will be sent out into the emptiness. What exactly is The Empty? Will we find out?
I suppose as long as they’re out there together, I can stand the thought, though I’d much prefer the soulmate-shared heaven that we were promised. I do like that we need to worry about Sam and Dean dying again though. And Billie the reaper sold the menacing seriousness of it. *shivers*
I loved Sam’s prayer in the hospital chapel. Loved that he prayed for Dean, asking for Dean to have a life, that he deserves that. I love that he thinks first of his brother, though I wish he wasn’t quite so quick to be okay with his own death. Jared did a fabulous job with that scene, and really sold Sam’s love as well as his desperation and guilt. It was the only time during this episode that I reached for the tissues. Sam just looked so beat up, so thoroughly damaged through and through. Not just physically, but emotionally. Is there anything the reaper could have said to him that would have cut more, considering his past?
“You’re unclean. In the biblical sense.”
Ouch. Just ouch. Sam’s deepest, longstanding fear, that he’s not worthy, that he’s somehow tainted and unclean.
I’m not even sure we know what this rabid plague thing is, and I didn’t think it was biblical, but I guess that means it’s tied to the Darkness? Hmm. Anyway, Jared made me cry. Kudos, Jared.
And I will never not love Smart!Sam, McGyvering himself weapons from the small town hardware store, and saving people (and himself) even when he’s looking like he’s just about to fall down and give up.
All the Pretty
Brilliant camera work on the scene afterwards, Sam on his knees in the hall amidst the dead bodies railing at God or whoever is sending him the visions, demanding “What does that mean?!”
(And what ARE those visions? What DOES it mean? Are Lucifer and Michael sending him visions from the cage??? What’s going to happen? AAAHHH!)
And was that VFX or does Jared need lots and lots of eyedrops after that scene?? It hurts just looking at that image, seriously.
There were a lot of interesting camera angles that made for extra dramatic scenes. And of course, as always, Show was beautiful. I don’t think Serge is capable of making it not look beautiful.
Great VFX throughout, including the creepy baby and blocks scene, the throbbing black veins in Sam’s neck and face, and the hospital scene when we see the shadow of the reaper’s hand reaching out for the dead Zompires. So chilling, and so well done!
And as I said before, I loved the instrumental music – it was much more rock and roll than we usually get, but it really worked. It kept a frenzied pace, and the hour seemed to fly by even more quickly than usual.
Boys and Girls and Angels and Reapers
I also liked the return of Hannah, with Lee Majdoub again doing a fabulous job of showing much more of the character than the dialogue provided. It seemed that there were still strong emotions between Hannah and Castiel, on both their parts, although they find themselves on opposite sides.
I liked that it was Hannah being attacked that finally compelled Cas to break free and take out those angels who were such DICKS. (I’m so over the angels – they used to be interesting characters, but recently they’re so one dimensional, all bad and no good, that they’re just boring.) Though I did like Psoriasis Angel’s snark.
I’m glad Show is playing a bit looser and less constricted with gender this season. Hannah in a male vessel but still very much Hannah is an interesting commentary on angels and gender, and opens up the question of Castiel’s as well. Erica Carroll has said that she didn’t play Hannah with a gender per se, although she was aware of and experienced some of the emotions of the woman who was her vessel. Lee seems to be playing the character in the same way. It was fun watching the two Hannahs (Lee and Erica) compliment each other’s performances on Twitter during the episode run. Though Erica did take time to bust Lee: I give you the character, and she gets killed??
I think most people were sorry to see Hannah go. Especially because Erica and Lee played her with so much nuance and made her feel so real.
I also loved the new reaper, Billie. Not only did she play that role with a menace that I haven’t felt about reapers in a long time, but she did it with a great singing voice. Her rendition of the Supernatural classic “Oh Death” was hauntingly beautiful. And she’s a woman of color who isn’t a size 0! Can we have more of her please?
ETA: Nearly forgot to say that I also liked the casual way we find out that Jenna isn’t straight and Dean’s non-reaction to that piece of information. Keep it up, Show. I feel like fandom is finally wearing off on you a little.
Misha Collins got some scenes he could really sink his teeth into in this episode. He got to scream his voice hoarse being tortured once again, which can’t be a picnic, but it was an effective way of reminding us how much we care about Cas and how much he’s willing to endure not to give up the Winchesters. It was also a reminder of how much I hate every angel who isn’t Cas or Hannah. Misha sold the torture scenes, a little too much (which is a good thing). That is to say, I found them hard to watch, which is the reaction you want if you’re doing a torture scene.
Then Cas got to be a badass again (I miss badass Cas!) as he finally took out the dick Angels. I’m not entirely sure how much of that was Rowena’s attack dog spell and how much was Cas just having freaking HAD IT, but it was a great scene.
The ending scene, with Cas collapsed and bleeding and asking for the Winchesters’ help, was touching. So all three are back at the bunker. What now?
Dean Dean Dean
There were a few Dean moments that stuck with me, though a lot of his time onscreen was driving Jenna and Amara around or talking to Sam-who-wouldn’t-tell-him-he-was-dying on the phone. Pretty sure Crowley’s not the only one who has a thing for Dean’s maternal side. Watching him with that baby probably melted the majority of viewers, and it’s a nice call back to Dean’s role in ‘mothering’ Sammy throughout their childhood too.
I loved every single word (and look) exchanged between Dean and Crowley, and the show down between them was so quick and unexpected that it made me gasp. Crowley is Crowley again, tossing Dean across the room with a flick of the wrist.
And then we got some badass Dean, skewering Crowley to the wall and then stalking off down the hallway brandishing a knife to do what he had to do (or at least try). Give me badass Dean every day, please! Mmmm. Then he got to roll around on the floor with Jenna (Laci Mailey) (until she ended up on the ceiling, as women sometimes do on Supernatural).
Did Crowley really get bored, or is he less keen on seeing Dean killed than he lets on?
So there was a lot I really liked. But there were a few things that bothered me. First and foremost, I’m never totally happy when Sam and Dean are separated for 97% of the episode. I know Jared and Jensen need time off, but I don’t have to like it. I will never like it.
I also felt a bit cheated out of the Croatoan-esque Sam rescue I was expecting. The entire episode, I kept wanting Dean to get in the Impala and get the hell back to Sam so he could help save him, and instead he kept turning the car around and heading back to save other people. (Of course, this is understandable since Sam didn’t bloody TELL Dean that he was infected….grrr).
I thought we were gearing up for a dramatic Dean races back and barely gets to a dying Sam in time scene, and instead Sam went from falling over almost-dead to OMG I’ve got it, let me just google biblically unclean and pull out my oh-so-rare jug of holy water and light something on fire! I actually said (to an empty room) Wait, is that it? Is he cured?
It was so quick, it felt thoroughly anti-climactic. I mean, I’m glad Sam showed off his smarts and all that, but really, just like that?
Erica Carroll tweeted: “Sam needs to join the World Health Organization with the rate he finds cures.”
Hehehe. But yes.
I am glad that Sam remembered to brush his fine fine hair out of the way before he put the flaming marshmallow to his neck, but mostly that scene just didn’t work for me. It seemed too quick and easy after all the build up.
And the fact that Sam apparently NEVER tells Dean how close he was to dying is really annoying. The Winchesters keep talking about changing, but secret-keeping is apparently not part of that resolve. Boo.
On the other hand, SamFuckingWinchester! Smart as hell and a big damn hero to boot. I’m glad he got to save people, reinforcing his new mantra of ‘we have to save as many of them as we can.’ I hope that went a long way to relieving that 500 ton burden of guilt that Sam is carrying around.
While I loved the way Lisa Berry sang it, I also didn’t entirely like the way ‘Oh Death’ was used in this episode. When Sam heard that song, I was momentarily very confused. It has never been used as part of the show, only as a soundtrack for Death – but Sam was *hearing* it this time. What?? The fact that a reaper was singing it doesn’t really make sense to me – it was written as a commentary ON the show, not to be sung as part of the show. That’s a sort of meta that doesn’t really work for me, and it threw me right out of the narrative with a WTF sort of jarring reaction. I love meta in the show, but this time, not so much. Though I guess it was an inexpensive way to use a great song if you have the rights and the actress happens to be able to sing it and sing it well.
We get about one minute of Winchesters together at the end of the episode, as the boys return home. They find an injured Cas collapsed amongst the books, asking for help. He’s still bloody, but he has taken the time to put his trench coat back on. I guess he’s grown attached to it. Unlike poor Misha. That was a nice moment, with Cas going to Sam and Dean for help. We’ll see just how much help the Winchesters can be with that ‘attack dog’ spell – clearly they’ll need Rowena’s help to remove it, which means yay, more Ruth Connell!
And just to make the evening sweeter, Jared posted some J2 manipped fanart on his Instagram, which just warms my heart.
I love this cast, and how much they appreciate fandom in all our creative glory.
All in all, I’m very excited for next week’s episode – especially because it’s the one directed by Jensen Ackles!
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