Shock, Awe, Heartbreak – Must Be an Episode of Supernatural!

 

There are few things more fun than watching a brand new Supernatural episode while actually AT a Supernatural convention. That’s how I got to watch last week’s episode, Bring ‘Em Back Alive, with my con roomie and partner in crime, Kim. We perched on the edge of our hotel beds balancing  cheeseburgers and fries and settled in for an episode we were both mostly unspoiled for, which ended up making all the difference!

Like most episodes written by Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner, this one was jam packed full of things happening – in multiple story lines, no less. We bounce back and forth between Dean and Ketch in the AU, Sam and Cas and Gabriel in the bunker, Lucifer and Jo in Heaven, and Asmodeus in the dark and dreary room from where he rules the demons and tries to figure out how to get his captive archangel back. I usually don’t like bouncing back and forth, like at ALL, but in this episode three of the four story lines were convergent so it wasn’t as grating as it might have been. Either that or so much was happening that my head was spinning too much to notice, because whoa, was there a lot of action!

Read more

‘The Thing’ – Iconic Supernatural!

 

Two great episodes in a row, Season 13! We’re on a roll! I loved this week’s Supernatural episode for all the reasons that I love the Show itself. There is nothing more iconic Supernatural than one brother losing – and then saving — the other, and that’s exactly what happened in ‘The Thing’. There’s also nothing more iconic for this Show than the Winchesters being brothers, and we got that too – the balance between the humor and the emotional was exactly what I most love about this Show. Thank you, Davy Perez, for writing such an entertaining and satisfying episode.

The episode was chock full of protective Winchesters, which is my favorite flavor. Sometimes they were protecting a monster-god who was going to turn around and try to eat them, but that’s in keeping with the mistaken identity theme that Season 13 has had going from the start. (I’m still not 100% sure about Cas). This time it was Sandy Porter – well, the young woman who used to be Sandy Porter and is now the god Yokoth (Magda Apanowicz). I have to hand it to Yokoth, she played an alarmingly realistic version of woman-who’s-mysteriously-awakened-after-100-years. I suppose she was just biding her time until she figured out who to eat and who to breed with (Dean Winchester because of course it is) but she did a great job of it, looking all mystified and damsel-in-distressy. Sam and Dean, good guys that they are, totally fall for it.

After the opening scene in which Sandy is sacrificed to the tentacle monster by the creepy chanting robe-wearing people (shout out to the VFX wizards who made a tentacle monster genuinely SCARY), Sam and Dean are in the bunker trying to find that elusive last ingredient so they can open a rift of their own and get Mom and Jack back. Sam, ever the diligent researcher, has fallen asleep on the table. So Dean, ever the considerate big brother, proceeds to affix derogatory post it notes all over his back.

Ackles is so good at the subtle facial expressions as Dean tries hard not to wake Sam up, shaking his head no no no when Sam stirs and then resuming his little game when he falls back to sleep. When Sam does wake up, Dean not so casually pretends he was doing absolutely nothing – Sam is clearly suspicious, because he knows his brother, but can’t find anything amiss. It hearkened back to Season 1, when the brothers were constantly playful with each other, and I loved that little interlude.

The fact that Dean is playing this little game only for the benefit of the two of them somehow made it even more endearing. The reminder that no matter what else they’ve been through, Sam and Dean are still and always brothers, was so very welcomed.

Read more

A Night of Fright Is A Total Delight! Scoobynatural

 

Last week’s Supernatural episode was one of the special ones – unlikely, risky, innovative, the sort of episode that when you hear the idea half of you is going “What now?” and the other half is immediately jumping up and down and yelling “Hell yeah!”  One of the things I cherish most about this Show that I’ve loved for thirteen years is its fearlessness. It started life on a network that disappeared by the time its first season was over, with a person in charge who didn’t understand what it was or why anyone would like it, managed to get picked up on the successor network that no one expected to make a long term go of it, sat precariously on the bubble for its first four or five seasons, and half the time since, and yet all that time the show never “played it safe”. As Jensen Ackles said when he and Jared Padalecki appeared on ‘The Talk’, at their audition the show broke protocol – and they’ve been breaking it ever since!

In the past it’s been an episode that takes place on a television set, with all the meta commentary that brings; incorporating Supernatural the book series directly into Supernatural the television show; the boys zapped into sitcom hell by the Trickster; an episode that revolved around ghost sickness and saw Dean screaming in terror over house cats and running from tiny dogs; an episode shot entirely from the point of view of the Winchesters’ beloved Impala; and the meta episode of all meta episodes in which Jared and Jensen play Sam and Dean playing Jared and Jensen. When it came time to celebrate Supernatural’s 200th episode, they marked that milestone with an episode titled “Fanfiction” which was an homage to every aspect of fandom, even the ones not usually talked about. I don’t think there’s another show that has dared to go so meta so often, and the brilliant writers and actors have pulled it off every single time.

The latest experimental episode, Scoobynatural, was no exception. An epic crossover worthy of the best fanfic, the episode saw Sam and Dean sucked into their brand new big screen TV and right into Dean’s favorite cartoon, Scooby Doo. The episode took over a year to finish, so the anticipation has been building for some time. Warner Bros. did their part lining up some talk show appearances, and the airing of the episode also coincided with Supernatural’s third appearance at PaleyFest, so that meant the fandom has had a veritable feast of Supernatural content for the past month. And it has been glorious!

One of the things you can count on about an episode of Supernatural is that some people will love it and some people will hate it, sometimes for exactly the same things. But Scoobynatural is one of those very rare episodes that most people agreed on – not everyone was over the moon for it, but few had any issues with it and a lot of fans absolutely loved it. It doesn’t hurt that the cast clearly had a blast making it and as fans of Scooby Doo themselves, their enthusiasm shone through every time they talked about it. Jared, Jensen and Misha were glowing at PaleyFest, happy to greet the gathered throng of fans and answer questions about the show. Even the Impala showed up, posing alongside the Mystery Machine in anticipation of the crossover.

When Thursday night was finally here, I grabbed a slice of pie and sat down to watch, not really knowing exactly what to expect. The episode started off with a bang – literally. BOOM! Dean Winchester hits the floor, wrestling with….a giant stuffed dinosaur?? BOOM! In comes Sam Winchester, leaping into frame. We have a lovely moment of Winchester teamwork as Dean yells for Sam to roll out of the way and tosses his lighter to send the giant plushie bursting into flames.

Read more

A Most Happy Review for Supernatural A Most Holy Man!

 

I really enjoyed last week’s Supernatural episode, which feels really good to say. I don’t like not loving episodes – it makes me feel like my entire universe is somehow tilted in a wrong direction – so it’s almost a relief when Show comes back with an episode that I can thoroughly enjoy. From the very first scenes, I loved the look of it – the dark and dimly lit, atmospheric quality that it had. In some ways, it was very much an old school Supernatural episode, dark (literally) and full of twists and turns and Winchesters on a hunt for something personally important to them. Struggling with conflicting ideas of what’s right and wrong and whether the ends justify the means and struggling with their own faith in the face of overwhelming odds and too many losses. All the while teasing each other in the easy way that brothers who know they have each others’ backs no matter what can do – and knowing when the other doesn’t need teasing, but listening and empathy, and giving it freely. All that was in this episode, together with a double-triple (quadruple?) game of Clue with the Winchesters in the middle. Thank you, Bob Singer and Andrew Dabb, for writing such a satisfying episode.

I’ve come to like Amanda Tapping’s directing very much – she doesn’t rush, allows us to revel in the gorgeous lighting and cinematography that Serge Ladouceur and his team invariably bring, and to savor the beauty of the actors onscreen too. Chris Lennertz added a unique score that underscored the feeling that we were back in time throughout the episode, giving it a surreal noir feel that made it both fun and quirky. I like fun and quirky.

With Castiel tracking down clues in Syria (did he have to fly there?) Sam is in research mode, which is also old school, and Dean tired of pizza and wryly noting that the internet is not just for porn, Avenue Q classic aside. So off they go to try to find the blood of a saint, which leads them to a lady named Margaret (Leanne Lapp) who also looks like she’s right out of another era. All the set dec reinforced that feeling, with old hotels full of potted palms and flocked wallpaper and sconces for lighting – I felt like we were in the Tower of Terror ride lobby at Disney! (That is a very positive association for me…I love that ride…)  Margaret definitely appreciates what a handsome man Sam Winchester is, for which I totally could not blame her – also Jared’s acting as Sam literally jumps when she unexpectedly (and pointedly) lays her hand over his on the table was A+. He quickly clues in and uses her attraction to his benefit. Also A+. Smart Sammy.  Dean, on the other hand, definitely does not appreciate Margaret’s blatant appreciation of his little brother, which of course Jensen conveys with just his facial expressions.  Eyeroll much, Dean?

Read more

Supernatural 13.14 – Good Intentions!

 

It’s Monday morning and I’m still sitting here pondering the last episode of Supernatural. Make no mistake, my enthusiasm for the Show is as healthy as ever – otherwise I wouldn’t have spent the last three days thinking about it! This season has been uneven for me, with some wonderful episodes and some wonderful moments even in episodes I didn’t love, but when I get two in a row that don’t show me as much of the Winchesters’ perspectives as I need to see, I get impatient for more of what drew me into this show in the first place. This week’s episode was written by one of my favorite writers. Meredith Glynn wrote the incredible ‘Regarding Dean’, one of my favorite episodes of the entire series – so I went into this episode with high hopes after being disappointed by the last one three weeks ago. There were definitely things I liked about this episode, and it was indeed well written, but it didn’t leave me jumping up and down and screaming about my love of my Show, which is where I really like to be at the end of a new episode.

Someone on Tumblr wrote a provocative little post after this week’s episode about how Supernatural was never meant to be an ensemble show. The premise that drew me in was the story of these two brothers – two characters who have fascinated me for going on thirteen years. I enjoy Sam and Dean’s relationships with the other important people in their lives, which enriches my understanding of them, but Sam and Dean are my route in, and if I don’t have that route in, I feel too much on the outside instead of immersed like I want to be. The episodes that relegate Sam and Dean to more of a supporting role don’t have the emotional resonance for me that I’ve come to count on with this show. They may be good episodes in the sense of a self contained 42 minutes of drama, but they don’t give me that unique thrill that watching Supernatural does.  I’m the last person to suggest that anyone should keep up the sort of pace that Jared and Jensen have for the past twelve years because I care about them as human beings, but some have suggested that a shorter season would be a win/win alternative and I think I’d be down with that.

Let me be clear – I really liked a lot of this episode. Just not fangirl-thrilled-jump-up-and-down-OMG-I-love-this-Show kind of like, but like nevertheless. I think the scenes I enjoyed the most were the ones in the AU. I realize that seems to contradict what I said before about Sam and Dean being my route in since they weren’t even in the AU, but it’s not just having them onscreen, it’s having an emotional and psychological focus on them, and that didn’t happen in the ‘real world’ portion of the past few episodes either. The AU story was well done, it just didn’t leave me squeeful.

I liked the opening scene with Jack dreaming of being back “home” with Sam and Dean, even if I recognized it as a manipulated image from the start. The glimpse of what Jack longs for — his fantasy of Dean saying “You, me and the kid, home safe where he belongs” was heartbreaking. It’s so much the theme of Supernatural, that longing for family, the ability to create those bonds both with blood and without, and I was reminded how young Jack is with that glimpse, and how much he does long for that sort of family love and acceptance. For whatever it’s worth, Jack has bonded with Sam and Dean. They are his attachment figures, the first people who protected him and nurtured him. That early bond is powerful, resistant to a lot of outside attacks (as Michael (Christian Keyes) and Zachariah (Chad Rook) are finding out).  Jack’s deepest desire is to do right by Sam and Dean, to save them as they have saved him – I wanted to cry when his cruelly manipulated dream took such a dark turn and he was unable to save them.

Read more