Here’s one thing you cannot say about last week’s Supernatural episode: “Eh, not much happened…” A lot happened, that’s for sure. Some of it was a shock, some of it wasn’t; some of it I liked; some of it I most definitely did not. It’s a beautiful spring day on the East coast, so let’s start with the good stuff.
1. The return of hunter Eileen Leahy (and actress Shoshannah Stern). I loved the character in her debut episode, as did just about everyone in the fandom, and miracle of miracles, Eileen actually survived the episode, so I was hopeful she’d be back. Eileen is seamlessly integrated back into the narrative, giving the boys some intel that intersects with their current search for Kelly Kline. I loved watching Sam and Dean’s frank appreciation of Eileen and her hunting skills – the genuine pride on their faces as they both said ‘Nice work, Eileen’. I also loved the care they both took to be sure she could see them when they were talking with her via iPad or in person – it’s those little touches that only happen on a show when someone cares. I interviewed Shoshannah after her first episode, and she talked about her choice to have the character read lips as well as she does.
Shoshannah: When I started thinking about her, and she’d been hunting on her own since she was sixteen, I started thinking about this deaf FBI agent who actually existed and had a show based on her. She had taught herself how to read lips extraordinarily well. I personally can’t read lips as well as Eileen can, but it made sense to me that since she was so well-trained as a hunter, she’d develop that kind of skill, one that had elements of fantasy, but was still grounded in reality.
I love that Shoshannah put so much thought into creating the character, and that they kept the consistency of that from episode to episode. I also loved the consistency of referencing, in a way, Sam’s mistake in signing during the first episode. This time, he gets it right – and what he’s signing is ‘it was a mistake’. Nicely done, show.
I also just plain love that Eileen is such a badass, like when she encountered the demon cleaning up after Dagon.
Demon: (sneering) Hunter.
Eileen: (right before she kills him) Demon.
Sam and Dean: Nice.
Eileen got to be badass again when she grabs the Colt and tries to kill Dagon, missing only because it’s not so easy to shoot a Prince of Hell who can see it coming and get out of the way (or because she was in the process of poofing out of there anyway). Shoshannah is also excellent at the emotional scenes – her horror at accidentally killing someone who was “not a monster” (arguable, since Rennie was one of the BMoL and I’m beginning to define them as monsters instead of human) and her admission to Sam and Dean that she’s not okay.
At least Eileen got wrapped up in a heartfelt Sam hug, which is quite comforting, as anyone who has ever been hugged by Jared Padalecki surely knows. I’m not shipping Sam and Eileen though – I agree with what Padalecki said about it not making any sense for the Winchesters to have romantic relationships on the show. Dean appears to agree. Either that or he’s just being the big brother he is.
Eileen (smiling at Sam from the ipad): Bye Sam.
Sam: (smiling adorably back) Bye.
Dean: Oh, that’s cute…
Eileen is actually a lot like Dean, which is a compliment in my book and in Sam’s.
Eileen (when red shirt Rennie is monologuing) No one cares.
Later Dean says the same thing. So I do think there’s some chemistry between Sam and Eileen, but I also don’t think it makes sense for them to pursue it. But I hope we see Eileen again — she survived the episode, though she has a death sentence on her head courtesy of the BMoL. Fingers crossed!
Shoshannah’s live tweets just added to the fun.
@Shoshannah7: That scene in the bunker ranks among my top favorites. It was so much fun. I taught the boys so many dirty signs #SPNSignLanguage
Of course she did!
And about that hug…
@Shoshannah7: I have a lot of hair. We had to make sure it was out of my face so @JensenAckles stepped in to show @jarpad how to hug me. Was fine with it.
I’m sure you were, Shoshannah. Not only a Sam hug, but a Dean hug too!
2. Mick’s redemption arc. I haven’t been a huge Mick Davies fan, but the character has been the most interesting BMoL from the start and this episode took his character development exponentially farther. And I have been an Adam Fergus fan for his deft portrayal! Of course, as I listened to how Mick was saved from the streets by the BMoL Artful Dodger style and thus is so blindly loyal to them that he murdered his best friend as a kid to prove it, I started thinking uh oh. Every time Mick had a nightmare about the murder of his friend, wracked with guilt, I worried more about his longevity. Sure enough, things come to a head for Mick in this episode, and not in a good way.
Throughout the episode, Mick’s confrontations with the Winchesters show his growing ambivalence to “follow the Code”, with Sam and Dean challenging him repeatedly as to why and encouraging him to think for himself. When faced with yet another directive to kill a human (this time Eileen for her accidental shooting of BMoL red shirt Rennie), Mick is clearly torn.
Dean: Screw the code. You don’t have to do this.
Sam: You’re better than that. You only have to answer to your own code.
Sam finally gets through to Mick, telling him that he can make his own choices. That has been a theme of Supernatural from the start, and it was explored nicely here, if somewhat predictably.
The final confrontation comes near the end of the episode, as the villainous Dr. Hess lays down the law. Lady Bevell (I can’t hear her name without wanting to gag, btw) is right. Hunters are dogs, no good if they don’t obey. Eileen must be killed, and the Winchesters must stand trial and if they’re guilty, be executed. Assimilate or eliminate.
Mick knows what that means; he has probably seen through the BMoL’s hypocrisy for a long time without wanting to. He defends Sam and Dean and the way they make decisions based on their sense of what’s right.
Mick: I’m a man now. And I choose to do the right thing.
And that is the signal for Dr. Hess to nod to Mr. Ketch, who executes his colleague just like that. There was never any indication that Mick and Ketch were at all friendly, but the cold bloodedness of the kill was still chilling.
Fandom (early part of the episode): Okay, this character can stay…
Fandom: Oh, right, this is Supernatural….
And there went the only BMoL who I could stomach. I’m going to need a whole bottle of Tums for the next episode, I fear.
3. The Lucifer and Crowley show. We find out that Lucifer’s show of submission for Crowley is just that – a show. While Crowley does indeed have a hold on him, Lucifer pretending to willingly submit is just a calculated ploy to get Crowley’s guard down. I loved the subtleties Mark Pellegrino brought to that, Lucifer’s dismal kicked-puppy look as he licks the floor oh so convincing.
I chatted with Pellegrino on the weekend about the episode, and complimented him on those subtleties. Mark particularly enjoyed how Lucifer messed with the hapless demon who was giving him the physical exam – the way Lucifer stands uncomfortably close, holds the other demon with his arm around his neck, an unsettling mix of flirtatious and threatening, sealed with a kiss that was anything but affectionate. It made ME queasy, so I can’t imagine what it did to that poor demon.
I liked all that – and Lucifer’s sassy winking and double talk as he pretended to give his submission speech to Crowley’s assembled demons (while negating it with his expression and glowing red eyes). What I didn’t like was reducing Crowley to such a fool once again. I thought we’d established that Crowley is far from a fool – so did he really turn Lucifer around to face his demon minions so that he couldn’t see his face??? Did he really fall for the submission routine so easily?? Or are we just seeing double double double crosses between these two? I hope so, because they are both formidable enemies and that’s what makes it so interesting between them. (Something else that Pellegrino allowed that Lucifer enjoyed).
If it does turn out that Crowley really is that stupid, I’ll be annoyed. I don’t like when the writers seem to write a scene as a way to get from A to B, but not taking into account that the path doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense.
4. Cas mentions! At least Dean was attempting to call Castiel on the phone in this episode, and Sam and Dean appear to be a bit worried about him. It’s always a fine line between constant mentions when Misha isn’t in an episode and not mentioning Cas at all for multiple episodes. I think a lot of fans felt better that the Winchesters are still worrying about him after their emotional reaction to his almost-death.
5. And that brings me to Sam and Dean. Here’s where there were some things I liked and some I most definitely didn’t. I liked Sam and Dean being a united front repeatedly – during this episode and during this season. We get a little glimpse of Winchester domesticity (one of my favorite things in the world) as they come home with their bags of groceries. When they find Mick there they confront him about breaking into “our home”, and I get a little happy shiver, because it IS. They sit on the table side by side, shoulders touching, a literal united front.
That happens several times throughout the episode, interspersed with small slices of Winchester brotherly ribbing and drinking and hangover recovering.
Also, I’ll take more forceful Dean escorting Kelly Kline to the Impala please. Come with me. Ummm…okay?
That’s all good.
What’s not so good?
1. Not enough Sam and Dean. There were long stretches that didn’t include the brothers at all, and that always makes me unhappy. I get it, they’re super busy, young families. But Supernatural is not Supernatural without Sam and Dean, and I feel their absence acutely every time they’re offscreen somewhere for a period of time.
I’ll get back to the last scene, because I loved that last image so much. But let’s talk about the other things I didn’t like.
2. Hogwarts…I mean, Kendricks. Which had so much of a deliberate Hogwarts vibe that it made me start to giggle, even when it wasn’t supposed to be funny. This is a great shot, but it was distracting how on the nose it all was.
3. Mary and Mr. Ketch. Even before they took a roll in the sheets together, every time Mary smiled at him somewhat flirtatiously, I felt queasy. As I’ve said before, I realize that Mary doesn’t know all the things he’s done, but we do. And that feels very bad. I’ve said before that he seemed to be trying to manipulate her, separating her from family, sizing her up and demonstrating his understanding of her. It all seemed so insidious, like an abusive situation, and it’s been hard to stomach. And now this!
I didn’t particularly like that the episode tries to create a bit of sympathy for Ketch by making it clear that he has some feelings for Mary that she doesn’t return. She’s just using him, but he seems to want more, though of course he denies it. That wasn’t enough for me to manufacture any sympathy for the character though – in fact, I’m surprised how many people seemed to start happily down that road. With the things he’s done and the way he’s done them? No way. I can’t go there. (Though I do give David Haydn-Jones a ton of credit for managing to portray that hint of vulnerability. The character is fascinating, but sympathy? I don’t think so. If he has a redemption arc coming, I’m going to be left in the dust for it, I think.)
It’s the same fear I’ve had about Mary all season long – I’m still assuming her redemption arc is coming, and I’m still not sure I can go there either. They took her so far in the opposite direction – and sleeping with Mr. Ketch just solidified it even further – that I’m not sure there’s any coming back from that. Ketch is aligned with Lady Bevell, who mercilessly tortured Mary’s SON. Her sleeping with him makes my stomach turn.
I’m really looking forward to chatting with Haydn-Jones about this character, because he really has done an incredible job making Ketch both interesting and disturbing – I’m going to have a hard time taking off my psychologist hat for that conversation though!
I was also put off by Mary’s contention that she used to be the type of person “built for” relationships, meaning her marriage to John.
Mary: But that was a long time ago.
Was it? Her whole problem with accepting Sam and Dean as her sons in the beginning seemed to be that she was freshly separated from loving husband John and baby sons Sammy and Dean, and so she didn’t have room in her heart for the adult versions. Now, just a short time later, that was “a long time ago”? I’m fine with Mary getting some, people connect physically to get past emotional loss all the time, and Mary is as entitled as anyone. But why oh why did it have to be Ketch?
I’m torn because there are some points Show is trying to make that I want to go with – Mary’s insistence that she can “have it all” and not have to choose between hunting and her family sounds like it should be a good thing, and I want to buy in. It’s a pretty clear analogy to real life challenges facing women, and a challenge I can relate to personally. But they’ve written Mary in such a way that I find it hard to go along with her even when I like what she’s saying!
I assume they’re setting up a confrontation for Mr. Ketch, who’s been tasked with killing ALL the Winchesters. But they certainly didn’t do the character of Mary any favors by the way they got him there.
So where does that leave us? There’s a lot of excitement for the last few episodes of this season among the cast, which gives me hope that some of the strange directions Show has headed this season will be explained and I’ll just go OHHHHHH, that’s why. At least I hope that’s what will happen!
In the meantime, I’m still giggling over the promo for next week (which yay we’re getting promos again!)
Dean: Hello, goat dude?
That is just so Dean Winchester, and it made me happy.
I’ll end with the last scene, which also made me very happy. Sam and Dean are having another domestic Winchesters moment in the bunker. Sam hands over a wrapped object to his brother, and Dean slowly, carefully, reverently unwraps it. The Colt.
Dean takes it out, holds it up, sights down the barrel. Flashbacks from the early seasons, Dean shooting Azazel with this same gun, make the emotion well up in me.
Dean: Welcome back, sweetheart.
Me and most of the fandom: Melts.
I wonder what tomorrow night will bring….I had some interesting chats with the cast last weekend, and suffice it to say that they are very excited about a couple of the upcoming episodes – and proud of the work they’ve done on those. That alone makes me optimistic for the rest of the season. And I’ll also get to see Dean say “Hello, goat boy?” So there’s that.
If you’re in the LA area and want to come party with us and some of the authors of Family Don’t End With Blood, both actors and fans, check out the book release party we’re throwing on May 10 – tickets at familydontendwithblood.com. And be sure to pre-order your own copy and get some free Supernatural gifts too!
Caps by @kayb625