Supernatural ‘Destiny’s Child’ – Some Fun and Some Tears Before A Last Hiatus

I honestly did not think it was possible to be even MORE emotional and off balance while watching the last episodes of Supernatural – but for this week’s episode, that turned out not to be true. Not only are we in the midst of a global pandemic and in the last eight episodes of the series, we learned shortly before the new episode aired that it would be the last one to air for an indeterminate amount of time.

Showrunner Andrew Dabb broke the news, saying that while they had filmed through episode 18 of 20, the post production was only finished through this week’s episode, 15.13. So Monday’s episode, Destiny’s Child, will be the last episode of Supernatural to air in its regular planned manner. The last one perhaps to air in this season, with no clue when it will be safe to finish the ones that are filmed or to film the ones that are not. Dabb, along with producer Jim Michaels and Misha Collins by video yesterday, did reassure the stunned fandom that they would, at some point, return to “finish what we started.”

A fandom that was already dealing with a lot is now dealing with a lot more! All those things made watching this week’s episode a different experience than it usually is for me. I was incredibly grateful to HAVE a new episode to watch, to pull me out of that always lurking anxiety that keeps threatening to overwhelm me, and to give me a healthy and welcomed escape for an hour. Supernatural has been both an inspiration and a healthy escape for me for going on fifteen years, and once again, I was acutely aware that I need it more than ever. There was a little bit of panic at the thought of not having it anymore as we go through this very difficult time in isolation, I’m not gonna lie. New episodes are all encompassing for me in a way that rewatching old episodes is not, though rewatches are definitely going to be part of my plan going forward!

Destiny’s Child was a mixed bag, as pretty much of all Season 15 has been, but there were quite a few parts that I thoroughly enjoyed – enough to pull me out of the present reality and make me forget for some precious minutes that we’re living in a real life apocalypse! I’m so grateful for that.

So, let’s wade in. The THEN included both Rachel Miner as Meg and Gen Padalecki as Ruby. The entire fandom knew that Gen and Danneel would be in this episode thanks to tons of promotion, but huh, why was Meg in there? I was not spoiled for that return at the start of the episode, so I just filed it away as maybe. I adore Rachel Miner and have wanted her to be back for a while. Also there was a whole helluva lot of pizza in the THEN, which made me kinda hungry. (That’s a good sign that you don’t have COVID19, so yay)

As the episode begins, Sam and Dean are startled out of doing research by a weird noise, so they run down the hall to see what’s going on. As they open the door to the Armory, a bright flash of light appears, and then a lovely little Fiat. And Savage Garden’s “I Want You” starts to play!

This is an idiosyncratic detour, but I LOVE that song and it is, for me, a Supernatural song. That’s because it was the music to one of the very first Supernatural fan vids that I discovered when I first fell down the rabbit hole of loving the show way back circa 2006. I had a youtube playlist of maybe 20 videos that I used to watch over and over and over, and that was one of them. (As I recall, it was pretty much still photos of Jensen Ackles that someone had collected and put to music. As you do.)

I sat there grinning happily at just the music cue, and then it got better. Close shot of one sockless ankle in a snazzy shoe stepping out of the Fiat; close shot of yet another snazzy shoe stepping out of the other side. Pull back to AU Sam and Dean from another universe (which we were all also spoiled for but I didn’t even care because I was just GIMME!)

AUSam to AUDean: Bro, we did it!

The two fist bump – which made me grin even more because that’s what Jared and Jensen do after every joint convention panel they do in real life, so it seemed like a little meta nod.

Actual Sam: Dean?

AUDean: Sam?

Actual Dean: Sam?

AUSam: Dean?

gifs jaredandjensen

It was a Rocky Horror Picture Show moment, so I expected a “Rocky?” “Uh” but honestly, it was just a wonderful little moment thanks to the comedic talents of both these actors.

Actual Winchesters: What the hell?

AU Winchesters simultaneously: What the heck?

Then poof, they’re gone.

Me: Noooooooooooooooooo bring them back!

I have a conflicted relationship with the writers of this episode (Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner), who have written some things that make me furious but who also have written some solid episodes – or parts of episodes. This scene and its dialogue were A+, so credit where it’s due. (That won’t be the case for all of the episode, alas). But I’m all for what some of my timeline was calling the “Fancychesters”.

Sam and Dean run off to tell Castiel, who responds with a very understandable response: I’m not understanding you.

One of the things I loved about this episode was that it gave the cast the opportunity to really show off their considerable gifts for subtle humor. Misha Collins, in just that one line, made me laugh out loud. They are all SO good at it, with their facial expressions and delivery. And credit too for the writing that gives them the chance.

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Supernatural Returns For Its Final Run with Galaxy Brain 15.12

 

I’m in an entirely new headspace for watching the last episodes of Supernatural, which is making writing a recap and review an entirely new challenge. There’s a big part of me that just wants to watch and drink it up, absorb every last morsel of experience with my favorite fictional characters and savor it, no matter what. I am acutely aware, every single second that I’m watching, that my last minutes with the Winchesters and company are ticking down. The other part of me is aware of the same thing but reacts instead with “omg please don’t waste a single moment of these last minutes!” That part is more likely to get frustrated when it seems like those precious moments are indeed wasted.

That’s complex enough, but I am also acutely aware that there are competing motivations here. As a fan, I want the last eight episodes to be satisfying – to continue the story that has meant so much to me and to wrap it up in a way that makes sense and honors the characters I love. For the people who actually make the show – the cast, the crew, and the writers – the motivation is different; more personal, more idiosyncratic. I value the fictional story and characters; they value their workplace and their colleagues and perhaps their legacy with this show. I’m most concerned about wrapping the story; they may be most concerned about saying goodbye to friends and coworkers, or about wrapping their own part of the story instead of the holistic one. Nobody is right or wrong, but it means we’re going to want different things and respond to things differently as we head toward the end.

And as if all that wasn’t complex enough, COVID19 has changed the entire landscape of the world and made Supernatural ending even more emotional than it already was – and much more complicated. Some days, it seems like the world is crumbling around us, and I realize that I need Supernatural more than ever. Yes, I know it’s “just a television show”, but it has been a lifeline for many fans for a decade and a half. I don’t know when we’ve ever needed that lifeline more than right now, in the grip of a global pandemic that is attacking people’s health, safety and livelihoods. When this beloved show is gone, the world will seem that much colder and scarier. I think we’ll make sure the lifeline is still there in terms of the fan community and continuing to engage with the cast in whatever they’re doing, but we won’t have the ongoing story itself to immerse ourselves in. That just means my emotions are running higher than ever about Supernatural ending!

And finally, the ending itself is all up in the air right now. Filming was suspended at the end of last week, as it had just begun on the penultimate (I know, nobody says penultimate…) episode, 15.19. The last one to finish filming was 15.18, which likely left us in a cliffhanger situation without an end. Yesterday producer Jim Michaels reassured a worried fandom that once it was safe to resume, they would “finish what we started” but the uncertainty just adds to the anxiety of impending loss. Will the crew who has been a part of this family since the start be able to be there to resume too? I’m trying to take heart from what Michaels said and not worry, but it seems like worry is a lot of what I’m doing right now!

That said, I was glad to have Supernatural return on Monday night with episode 15.12, Galaxy Brain, written by Robert Berens and Meredith Glynn, and directed by Richard Speight, Jr. It wasn’t a keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your seat episode by any means, but its last scene did set up the foundation for how the rest of the series will go. I didn’t jump up and down and scream about how much I love this show as I was watching, but it had its moments that were satisfying – as well as a few head scratchers.  Mostly, it made me aware that we all participate in this show for different reasons and have different motivations, so for some, this episode satisfied, and for others, it frustrated.

I had a few emotional moments, so I always count that as a win.

Rob Benedict returns as Chuck on ‘Earth 2’ as the episode begins, in a Radio Shed with a hapless and very relatable employee trying to sell him a universal remote. I had to laugh at how right they got it, memories of once-beloved Radio Shack stores making me all kinds of nostalgic.

I enjoyed the nod to Rob’s actual band, Louden Swain, as one of their songs plays in the store – with a lyric that includes “I had a dream that I ate your heart” that is just too perfect considering Jack’s charge from Billie this season. In fact, the fake store was so well done by Jerry Wanek and his amazing crew that director Richard Speight, Jr. tweeted that a few people came in off the street to try to buy a phone!

Chuck then goes full on meta – a little too on the nose for me at this point, even though I usually enjoy the meta. I enjoy it less now that we have so little time – I just want episodes that focus on saving people, hunting things, the family business. And I find myself wanting to stay ‘in the story’ more, knowing I have so little of it left.

Chuck: It’s monologue time.

Me: Okay, Show. We get it.

Employee: Sir, this is a Radio Shed.

That was one of the best lines in the episode and it made me laugh out loud. Kudos to Nicco DelRio for that delivery and Speight’s directing.

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Supernatural Wins with ‘The Gamblers’ 

 

It feels SO good to sit down to write a review of my favorite show and be overflowing with love for it, like I’ve been so many countless times over the past fifteen years. We have nine episodes left of Supernatural, and all I want is to feel like this – grateful, inspired, in love, dreading the end. The relief is like a physical thing, to feel this way right now, as melodramatic as that might sound.

So, let me do some squeeing, because I’ve missed it!  I enjoyed this episode by Davy Perez and Meredith Glynn so much that I just want to go scene by scene and savor it all over again.

THEN:  (Moment of inappropriate giggling because they actually used the vampire Dean hiss in the ‘Then’ montage. Ahem. Okay, sorry.)

The opening is another musical montage, which seems to be a thing now for the Show, but it works especially well because the song is so damn fitting. “North to Alaska” is exactly where Sam and Dean are headed, and the song actually starts off with the lyrics “Big Sam left Seattle…” and something about his brother, and how perfect is that? Meanwhile, some poor guy named Leonard is losing at pool and losing his cool and clearly about to die. He loses, gets kicked out of the pool hall, falls in the dirt and can’t find his now-broken glasses ala the Lord of the Flies scene I’ve never gotten over and then gets run down by an 18 wheeler. In other words, quintessential Supernatural beginning.

As Sam and Dean make their way to Alaska, Sam texts with Eileen and Dean snarks about turning off the sound. Eileen is skeptical about this trek they’re on and so is Sam, but Dean insists they need to try, and is hanging onto hope.

Dean: It’s there, it’s gotta be. Chuck wants us weak, because he’s coming for us, Sammy.

So on they go (Baby might be down on her luck but apparently she can still drive all the way to Alaska, and the Winchesters are a whole lot better at getting through those Canadian border stops than I am most of the time even with their currently shitty luck!)

Sam’s asleep in the car like he often is in the best fanfic, and Dean of course wakes him like any big brother would, with a slap and a ‘Hey!’

Brothers.

Dean’s stopping for food, because he ate everything they had in the cooler while Sam slept.

Sam: (affronted) We’re on a budget!

Gifs sasquatchandleatherjacket

Jared Padalecki has such a knack for making even a simple line so funny and so Sam, and I laughed out loud at that. The Winchesters are down to their last $4.60, so all they can get is a cup of coffee and a slice of pie.

Dean: Two forks?

I laughed again, realized I was thoroughly enjoying the episode, and became practically euphoric at the realization.

Gif sasquatchandleatherjacket

Sam gives Dean grief about not being able to have cheese and Dean gives him an affronted look right back.

Dean: Dude, Lactaid!

Me: This episode is everything!

Much of the episode – dialogue included – really did read like fanfic, and that is my highest compliment. It means the writers get the characters as well as we do, and that feels incredibly good. Sam and Dean and Cas and Jack were Sam and Dean and Cas and Jack!

Dean turns his 1000 watt smile on the waitress and they find out there’s a “magic pool hall” in the middle of nowhere and that people like poor Leonard don’t come back from it.

Sam: Now we know the down side – it might kill you.

Dean is much more optimistic.

Dean: This is my game – hell, our game!

He reminds Sam of all the memories they have of playing pool.

Sam: (frowning) Yeah, because we had to eat!

Me: Yep, definitely have read that fic.

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Supernatural ‘The Heroes’ Journey’ – Sort Of?

 

Last week’s Supernatural episode, the ironically titled “The Heroes’ Journey”, was one of those episodes that made me laugh at first, but then kind of disturbed me. Not simultaneously, luckily. I was tempted to just write up the things I giggled at when they were happening and try to shut off my higher cognitive functions to prevent any other feelings, but it turns out I’m just not built that way. So to everyone on twitter who advised me “not to think too deeply about it”, my apologies. Maybe just read the first part of this if you don’t want to think too much and just enjoy the amusing parts.

I really enjoyed the first part of the episode; I went into this one just looking to be entertained.  Most of us knew the premise was something about Sam and Dean having “normal people problems”, which sounds pretty innocuous and has the potential to be funny. After all, Jared and Jensen are gifted at comedy, so maybe this would be a chance for them to exercise those comic chops as well as a chance for me not to gnash my teeth. And for a while, that worked. My first tweet of the night was “OMG I’m loving this episode!”  Jared and Jensen were clearly having a good time with it, and just that is enough to make me happy too. They have always loved the humorous moments, and they play off each other seamlessly.

The beginning cage match sequence was unusual. It was impressively choreographed by the brilliant Rob Hayter, and the music and slo mo and direction were interesting. The problem is, it was three whole minutes long out of the 42 we get in an episode, and I don’t give a damn about whoever those two monsters are, so I got antsy even as I could appreciate the artistry of the scene. With less than 8 hours left with the Winchesters and company, I selfishly want every moment!

Then we’re following Dean to the Quik Mart with jaunty piano music that lets us know things are going to be weird (My guess is that the awesome Jay Gruska had alot of fun with this episode too). It’s clearly a terrible horrible no good very bad day as Dean’s Charlie-guaranteed credit card doesn’t work, he’s got a toothache that prevents him from enjoying his usual fare, and he gets a traffic ticket at his habitual spot. Meanwhile, Sam is cooking dinner for them at the bunker and burns the whatever in the oven and then inexplicably tries to pick up a pot of boiling pasta without oven mitts and spills it all over. Dean comes home calling for Sam, and Sam trips up the stairs to the kitchen. Then starts sneezing his head off, snot everywhere.

I mean, it was alot! Jared and Jensen cavorted through it looking like they were having the time of their lives.

Also, I love domestic Sam cooking dinner in the bunker’s amazing kitchen.

Gif jaredandjensen

Jared and Jensen pull this off like you’d expect, as in they’re hilarious, and I was amused – I thought it clearly must be a curse since it was so over the top, one thing after another and certainly far outside “normal”. Garth calls and asks for their help, and they start driving to his house – and Baby craps out. Noooooo not Baby! Dean, who it’s established knows how to take that car apart and put her back together again, seems to flood her and then doesn’t even look under the hood, which is….weird.

Me: I guess that’s part of the curse? Weird.

They get to Garth’s, and he and his wife have an older daughter and young twins (sort of like Ackles in real life!)  Garth hugs Dean, saying “you smell so good” (this nod to Dean’s attractiveness  seems like a bit of a meta commentary – since it’s what everyone who has ever had a photo op with Jensen Ackles walks away saying!)  It also ties into some of the more thinky thoughts I eventually let into consciousness about the episode.

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Supernatural Returns From Last Mid Season Hiatus with ‘The Trap’

 

Supernatural returned from its very last mid season hiatus with an episode that fans waited for with a wide range of emotions, which is probably going to be par for the course for the last eleven episodes of the series. I have mixed feelings every time an episode airs, because it’s one episode closer to the end, and because it’s one more chance to take the show somewhere I may not want to follow, knowing there’s no time for that to change anymore. This is not an easy thing, staying with a show you’ve loved for fifteen years to the bitter end! It feels like an emotional and psychological risk, which is something I’ve never experienced before with television.

I’m actually really looking forward to next week’s episode, which will be a ‘funny’ one – at least in parts. I feel like I need a break from all the angst and stress! To think, this used to be my stress reliever!

So here are the things I liked and the things that didn’t work too well for me. It was a kickass ‘The Road So Far’. I watch those beginnings and am always in awe of just what a remarkable show this is. We also had an amazing Shaving People Punting Things video the week before, which made this next string of episodes look truly epic. I think sometimes those editors get the show better than anyone!

Anyway, the episode was split into two story lines, as it so often is. Sam and Eileen wake up tied to chairs, captured by Chuck. I’ve said before that I thought Chuck had a hand in manipulating Sam and Eileen and it turns out that yes, he put her in Sam’s path and made that spell fall out (that was obviously too much of a coincidence) and let Sam being a good person do the rest. What an awful thing for Eileen and Sam to find out. How do you have any hope of sorting out which of your feelings are real and which aren’t? Worse yet, did you really have agency (and the capacity for any kind of consent) when you acted on those feelings? Chuck really is a bad bad guy. I’m still confused as to why Sam looked so conflicted about his relationship with Eileen the entire time, though. Side effect of Chuck’s “nudges”? Was he somehow sensing the interference? We may never know.

Chuck’s explanation is particularly cruel.

Chuck: I couldn’t see you. I needed eyes and ears on the inside… well, eyes.

Ouch. If you wanted to turn Chuck into an irredeemable villain, Show, that’s a good way to do it. So vicious and pointed. Rob delivered it perfectly; I could appreciate that even as I literally cringed hearing it.

I love that Eileen shot back, “Screw you.”

Shoshannah Stern delivers the line with all the venom and badassery it warranted.

Yeah, screw you, Chuck! (But not you, Rob, I still adore you)

Meanwhile, Dean is worrying about not being able to reach Sam, not knowing that Sam and Eileen are captured. I also love that Eileen almost did screw Chuck over by managing to place a call to Dean (more badassery). I’m assuming her phone has a convert to text feature because Dean kept yelling “Eileen?” into the phone.  Unfortunately, Chuck realizes and picks up.

Dean: Chuck, you dick!

Chuck: Bye, Dean.

Dean tracks Sam’s phone, and smart Winchesters make me happy. Cas is also doing something smart – making Leviathan bullets out of Borax.

Dean: We need to go!

Cas: To Purgatory.

Not what Dean meant; he’s understandably focused on saving Sam and Eileen. They argue, and Dean says he’s not leaving Sam, because he’s Dean.

Cas: Stop being so stupid!

I was taken aback by that. Castiel in this episode is written as had-it-up-to-here, bristling with anger and resentment. We don’t always see Castiel’s emotions come to the surface, but I think he’s every bit as angry as Dean has been, to the point where he’s harsh and sometimes cold. It’s not the “badass Cas” which we’ve seen before, it’s as though he’s so angry that he’s put up a wall.

The episode had a lot to say about anger, but not all of it was easy to decipher. We saw Dean’s anger come spilling out in his initial fight with Cas, in which he lashes out with some hurtful things. Everyone expresses anger differently, and in this episode we saw Castiel’s anger too. I think he walked out on that fight with Dean because it was just too painful, but it was also clearly because he was angry. Otherwise he would have picked up Sam’s phone calls. His response to anger is to withdraw and then to put up a cold shoulder and refuse to be reached, literally or figuratively. Maybe I can’t stop my psychologist brain from kicking in, but this is a familiar pattern. One person goes on the attack, spewing hurtful words, then the other withdraws and puts up a wall. Both are expressions of anger and intended to hurt. Often one of those people is very afraid of abandonment; in this case, that applies to both of them, so the withdrawal and stonewalling is an effective counterattack (that probably impact Dean’s later breakdown).

Cas points out that they have no way to kill Chuck and that going to Purgatory and doing the spell is the way they’ll save Sam – and the world.

Surprisingly, Dean goes along fairly quickly, which I didn’t expect. I had a little trouble with that instant capitulation, much like the scene in the tunnels in Season 13 when Dean tries to go after an in-peril Sam and Cas stops him. Dean seemed a little too easy to convince here too. However, Cas does have a point, so maybe Dean just reluctantly agreed. The pacing (or the editing?) was wonky in this episode, so perhaps some things that were meant to be conveyed just didn’t come through.

Back to the casino (isn’t it interesting that Chuck has taken up residence at a casino? He loves rolling the dice and playing the odds, especially when it’s with other people’s lives.)

Chuck does a lot of dialoguing in this episode, which Rob Benedict pulls off quite well. He decides to dig out the god bullet in Sam’s shoulder that he realizes is keeping him weak, but hesitates. (I at first thought it was because it would hurt Chuck too, because isn’t that exactly what we’ve been told in canon? But no, that’s apparently been discarded, because Chuck calmly plays guitar while Sam has a knife dug into him). For some reason, Sam thinks it would be a good idea to taunt God while he’s holding a knife to him, ridiculing Chuck for not being able to get his hands dirty.

Sam: You just like to watch.

Oooh, Sam. Good one. But still not sure it’s a great idea…

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