The mid-season finale of Supernatural won’t go down in history as one of my favorites, much to my disappointment. I didn’t hate it – it kept my interest throughout, so there’s that. Some of that sustained interest was me shaking my head and muttering “too soon, too soon,” and some of it was me shaking my head and demanding of my television “what the hell is even happening?” and occasionally it was me going “mmm boys in handcuffs,” but I wasn’t bored.
The episode moved the season’s arc forward, following Lucifer in his vessel-hopping reign of wreaking havoc right into the President of the United States, and eventually managing to drive him out. Yay for a moment of Winchesters success! Crowley and Cas continue to be a team, and Rowena joins in to help, all of them united in their very evident hatred of Lucifer. Along the way, the British Men of Letters reappear to seemingly save the day and Lucifer manages to create a Nephilim who will undoubtedly be a problem going forward. The cliffhanger ending sees Cas losing the Nephlim’s mother to be in a diner and the Winchesters managing to get themselves arrested. That’s a pretty good plot, and I like where we ended up, but there were some frustrations along the way.
Let’s talk about some of those first. The beginning was anviliciously packed with explanations a regular viewer didn’t need, including flashbacks to what had happened approximately ten seconds ago and way too much scene time devoted to people who I don’t care about (ie, who are not the Winchesters, Cas or Crowley).
Then there was the problem, throughout the episode, of what exactly Castiel (and to a lesser extent, Crowley) can do. Cas is an angel again, somewhat powered down but still an angel. I was hoping for more badass Cas this season, while keeping in mind that Cas can’t be at full power and constantly standing by as deus ex machina to save the day. But we seem to be getting this confusing mix of sometimes powerful and sometimes woefully inept and powerless Cas, and I never know which flavor to expect. Also, it makes no sense! He can mind whammy someone one minute and then lose Kelly in the bathroom the next. Huh??
While it was clearly necessary to get where we’re going, I found the Winchesters’ capture hard to believe. Cas and Crowley saunter off without making sure the Winchesters get out safely – why no angel mind whammy, or at the very least Cas could have kept the doors closed until they got away, couldn’t he? Then Sam and Dean just hover not-very-helpfully over the not-dead president, knowing the secret service is right outside? WHAT? Do not give me stupid Winchesters, Show, that is not what I signed up for! Why didn’t Cas mind whammy the agents into forgetting they ever saw Sam and Dean there? Honestly even Jared and Jensen looked a bit confused about why they weren’t running or hiding or something!
Massaging canon into whatever suits the immediate needs of the present episode and ignoring what that does to continuity doesn’t work well on this show. I’d like to just handwave those problems, I really would, but that’s not the kind of fan I am and honestly? It’s not the kind of fandom this is. Logical gaps are going to rankle, especially when the main characters are all doing things that make no sense.
One of the things I worried about when the British MoL were introduced with such a violent and horrible treatment of Sam was that somehow the show would excuse them for the torture they enacted on him – and that even worse, somehow Sam himself would. The fact that he dialed Mick (even if he did hang up) brought back that nauseous feeling that was plaguing me in some of this season’s earlier episodes. Really? Look, I know that Sam is a forgiving soul, and that he tends to put everyone else before himself and his own feelings. I know he gets focused on getting the job done and doing what needs to be done to accomplish that, it’s part of what makes him the hero he is. But this? This didn’t sit well. It’s exactly what I was afraid of, and I really didn’t want to see it happen.
I’m ambivalent about some of the other things that happened. Mr. Ketch (David Haydn-Jones) is an interesting villain (please let him remain one, and Lady Toni too), though I hated him saving the day. The actor has some charisma and is suitably annoying while also being menacing, so perhaps he’ll be a worthy adversary for the Winchesters and their friends.
I loved that Sam was able to dispatch Lucifer (to somewhere, though I’m not sure exactly where – is he really in the golden egg thingy or did he escape down the vent?) and I really REALLY loved Jared’s acting in that scene as he struggled mightily to contain Lucifer, so much rage in his voice as he ground out, ‘Go to Hell!’ I loved Dean’s hopeful optimism, so wanting to believe that they got him, too. Sam hates Lucifer for all that he did to him in the cage and all the psychological torment that resulted afterward, but Dean hates him just as much – for what he did to Sam. Seeing the brothers grab a fleeting moment of happiness and sense of accomplishment warmed my heart (even as I immediately went uh oh…)
But as much as I enjoyed those things, the golden egg thingy seemed a bit too convenient. If they’re really serious about doing good and fighting monsters, why didn’t the BmoL pull that out when the apocalypse was brewing? When the Darkness was threatening the earth? Why didn’t they offer that help until now? It was such a big thing back in the day that the ONLY way to send Lucifer back to the Cage was to actually jump in with him inside you – it was the basis of one of my favorite episodes and the whole reason that Sam ended up trapped and traumatized and then soulless.
My feelings about LOTUS were mixed as well. One of the things I love about Supernatural is that the show isn’t afraid to tackle controversial topics and take risks, but this one felt almost TOO topical! President Lucifer casually suggesting that people should be nuked was more chilling than funny. Misha Collins, never one to mince words, live tweeted:
Misha: A man elected as President of the USA turned out to be possessed by Satan (& tonight, the same storyline played out on #Supernatural).
The episode was written well before the election, but I definitely yelled “too soon” more than once.
There were a few things that I out and out liked though. As always, the show looked beautiful, and the VFX was awesome. I loved that we actually got to see someone USE a grenade launcher, while the Winchesters huddled behind Baby, who will always protect her boys.
And the early scenes of Dean and Sam discovering all the dead priests scattered all over in the darkness was SO creepy and scary – so very Supernatural. You really have to hand it to those boys, they are about a million times braver than I am!
I thought the actor portraying President Jeff (which made me laugh every time because that’s my son’s name and it just struck me as a funny thing to call a president) did a good job making him thoroughly creepy even when he was smiling a kinda-sorta-sentimental smile while contemplating making a baby. David Chisum did an excellent job; however, this was not the shirtless scene fandom has been clamoring for, Show!
I’m not particularly interested in exploring the ins and outs of Lucifer’s psyche – especially if it means much less Sam and Dean on my television – but every actor who has portrayed him has been able to show some nuances. Lucifer’s bratty and has a hot temper and doesn’t care about anyone but himself, but he’s also a wounded child who acts out like a four year old when he doesn’t get his way or when someone wounds his narcissistic pride. I don’t sympathize with him, but he’s not a simplistic character.
That said, I was perfectly happy to see him disappear down the vent or into the magic egg or wherever the hell he went – especially because it gave Sam Winchester a chance to express a lot of pent up rage and then to vanquish him heroically. Go Sammy! (And go Jared, who knocked it out of the park with his acting in that scene).
Clearly Lucifer will be back. After all, there’s his offspring to contend with. That gave Jensen one of the episode’s best lines when Dean finds out about the nephilim.
Dean: I didn’t know he was dating.
We got a tiny bit of humor as Team Free Will Plus Two try to convince the president’s girlfriend (Courtney Ford) that he’s not who he used to be, which means we got one Dean smile at least. And LOTUS showed his true colors soon enough, thanks to more excellent VFX.
The guest cast (Ford, Chisum and Haydn-Jones) all did a great job and their characters were well written. It’s just that I don’t CARE very much about those characters – write me Sam and Dean and Cas who are believable and recognizable and I’ll care a whole lot more!
But I was talking about what I liked, wasn’t I? I also enjoyed Rowena and Crowley. In my review of last week’s episode, I said that I hoped we’d see more emotionality between Crowley and Rowena – and I got my wish! Rowena’s reaction when Crowley explodes her latest abandoning fiance all over her was delightful – just when you might have expected her to protest, she is touched by her son’s gesture. Only on Supernatural!
Rowena: (splattered in blood and guts) That’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever done for me.
Did you catch how Crowley touched Rowena’s shoulder protectively later? I did. And I liked it. I’m eager to see where their (complicated) relationship goes this season.
In fact, I liked Crowley’s part in this episode throughout. He got some of the best lines too.
Sam: Crowley, could we just get the damn news without the drama?
Crowley: Can I get you without the flannel? No. Still, I endure.
I’m still enjoying the odd couple team up of Cas and Crowley too, and the Winchesters’ eye rolling at their aliases. Hey, they learned from you, boys.
I generally don’t like anything about the British Men of Letters, but I have to hand it to Show that Mr. Ketch having a grenade launcher was a nice touch, if only because it gave Ackles a chance to show us once again Dean’s mini obsession with them. Mr. Ketch has the potential to be pretty scary – he clearly doesn’t like the Winchesters and he clearly doesn’t like angels. (I did love that Cas stood up for himself though – Misha played that perfectly).
We end the episode with a cliffhanger, though not the sort of one that has me gasping and yelling “OMG!!” Cas lets Kelly slip out the back door, rather inexplicably. And Sam and Dean are captured and carted off to who knows where. I realize that captured Winchesters in cuffs and chains should probably not be so hot – blame too much fic reading – but I’m intrigued by where that leaves us when we pick up again in January.
There could be the potential for some interesting developments in the future when the show returns from winter hiatus, so I’m hanging onto hope that the 2017 trajectory will be one that really pulls me in!
Until then, get through Hellatus however you can – maybe read a few of our books on Supernatural! Links to check out Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls, Fan Phenomena: Supernatural and Fandom At The Crossroads on amazon are on this page!
Big thanks to @kayb625 for the pretty screencaps.