Back to Happily Squeeing – over Supernatural ‘Nihilism’!

 

I spent Supernatural’s mid season hiatus guardedly optimistic about the second half of Season 14 after feeling less than elated about the end of the first half. Then I was out of the country last Thursday when my favorite show returned and couldn’t watch until now – so imagine my absolute joy when I finally sat down to watch ‘Nihilism’ and sat there riveted the entire time. I might have yelled “YES!” and “That’s my Show!” more than once, and I might have had a big grin on my face at times that probably weren’t even appropriate for big grins, but I was just so happy to have my Show back! Thank you, Steve Yockey, for that beautiful story, and Amanda Tapping for that beautiful direction.

It’s already Thursday again so this is less a review or recap and more a few emotional reactions and thoughts as we gear up for tonight’s new episode and get closer to the 300th episode that I’m so anticipating.

‘Nihilism’ had some nostalgic touches, which almost always puts a smile on my face. I’ve been watching this Show for 14 years, and it feels good when the Show remembers its own history and acknowledges its own fandom. Dean’s fantasy world in his own head where Michael has trapped him is full of those touches – it’s Rocky’s Bar, complete with a stuffed squirrel wrapped around a Margiekugel’s beer bottle, a tap from “FB Beer Company” and references to “an IPA from Austin”.  The little in-group nods to Dean’s nickname of ‘Squirrel’, a Scoobynatural nod with ‘Daphne Loves Fred’ carved into the bar, and Jensen’s real life (Family Business Beer Company) brewery in Austin were happy making.

Although that taxidermied squirrel kinda brought back some unusual con memories….you know what? Never mind.

And who’s Dean’s partner in his dreamt up ideal world? None other than Pamela Barnes, the woman who unapologetically appreciated both Winchesters’ assets and always told it like it is (threesome, anyone?). I can see Dean appreciating a woman like that, and I have always appreciated her too.  I also love Traci Dinwiddie, who was a guest at some of the first Supernatural cons, and was so happy to see her back on the show.

The fact that Dean’s fantasy world has him being a badass brawling bar owner (who’s famous…) repeatedly beheading attacking monsters was so perfect – so very very Dean.  Of course he’d still be hunting monsters and saving people, even in a dream world! Also that gives us interesting shots like this…

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Emotionally Powerful, Just How I like It – Supernatural Byzantium

 

I watched last week’s Supernatural episode at a Supernatural convention in Jacksonville with my friend , YouTuber Alana King. That meant we recorded our reactions live for her video, much of which consisted of me making stunned faces and needing lots of tissues, which our helpful friend Christina kept tossing over from off camera. Alana and I were in shock half the time, so there are long stretches of us frozen with our jaws hanging open (which is not very attractive NGL) but when we did get animated, there was a lot to say.  I’ll link the video at the end if you’d like to laugh at us. Feel free!

Now that the con is over and I’ve had time to do a rewatch, I’ve got some deeper thoughts and some praise for pretty much everyone who had a hand in crafting this episode – and that makes me one happy fangirl!

The episode begins with Jack’s three dads sitting at his bedside, doing just what Rowena said – watching over him as he dies.  (Cue my first wobbly lower lip).  Sam is right there next to him, so much sadness in his expressive eyes. Dean is across the room, struggling to hold it together, hands gripping the sides of the dresser telegraphing all the emotion he’s trying not to show. Cas stands watching over all of them, blue eyes troubled.

Jack is the one dealing with his impending death the best, saying that maybe this is how it’s supposed to be and asking his dads not to be sad.

Dean: Don’t give me that meant to be crap.

Jack starts to cough, having trouble breathing, and Dean walks out, unable to watch someone he loves suffering. He’s angry, as he always is when life hands someone he cares about a raw deal.  He punches the wall like he did when  Bobby was dying, even as Jack asks Sam to tell Dean that it’s okay. The role reversal here at the end of Jack’s life is painful, Jack trying so hard to comfort the three men who are already grieving him.

Jack: Sam, what happens next, for someone like me?

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Things Get Serious with Supernatural ‘Funeralia’

The ominously titled “Funeralia,” written by Steve Yockey and directed by (one of my favorite directors) Nina Lopez-Corrado, kept the momentum going as Supernatural nears the end of Season 13. I had a few quibbles with this episode, but there was quite a bit that I loved a lot.

This episode had only two story lines going, which made the back and forth feel less overwhelming than it sometimes does, and I appreciated that. It let the emotional impact of both story arcs come through much more clearly, and honestly, that’s usually my favorite thing about an episode of this show. Adventure is good, but I watch for the emotional resonance, for the characters who are so real that they feel things – and I can feel with them.

Story line number one was Castiel and the fate of Heaven and the Angels. I am not always very adept at following the angelic story lines because they seem to shift from time to time when I’m not paying enough attention (or maybe that’s why I don’t pay enough attention). In this episode, Naomi reminds Cas (who apparently already knew) that Heaven is powered by angels, and without angels, all the souls housed there will fall to earth as ghosts. Huh? Weren’t there whole seasons when no one – Cas included – was at all concerned about the angel population and everyone seemed very willing to lead armies against other angel factions and kill lots of angels? Was nobody worried about Heaven being out of power as a result?? There was a time when Metatron ejected all the angels from Heaven, so I’m not sure how it kept being powered up then (or maybe he left a few dozen up there?) I also didn’t think it was powered by angels in the first place – wasn’t it powered by souls? And that’s why everyone wanted them from Purgatory? And then there was also the reapers are actually angels thing, which nobody mentioned this time, but I think that went away rather quickly which is probably for the best.

At any rate, I was a bit confused by all that new information about Heaven. Angel and Heaven canon in this Show tend to be a bit flexible, which is not my favorite thing. I was also confused about why no one told Cas that Lucifer was actually in Heaven – and where is he, for that matter? Or Jo?

Those quibbles aside, Misha Collins and Amanda Tapping made the Heaven story line compelling anyway, because they were both so damn good.
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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?

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Lynn and Kim talk Supernatural and its ‘Various and Sundry Villains’

I haven’t seen so much commentary on a Supernatural episode – and not just by the big outlets who routinely cover the show – in a long time. I’m talking fannish thinky thoughts – on Tumblr, on Twitter, on Facebook, even on LiveJournal! And that says something about ‘Various and Sundry Villains’ and the way Steve Yockey wrote the characters and the story arc this week. It was also the week to honor female directors and filmmakers, so having Amanda Tapping back to direct was wonderful – and she did an amazing job. Not only did the humor come through, but Tapping filmed the emotional scenes in a powerful way – often in ultra close ups, evoking the intimacy of the moment we were witnessing. (And also showing off our very beautiful cast…)

Ruth with director Amanda Tapping – tweet Ruth Connell

So here are my own thinky thoughts to add to the mix, and because everyone had something to say about this episode, here are some of Kim’s (my talented photographer friend) too. Amusingly, we agree passionately about some things and have a completely different take on others. But that’s how fandom should be! What we have in common is a deep love for this Show, which lets us disagree and still have lots in common.

Like most, I loved a lot about the episode, or at least I loved the overwhelming majority of the episode. The two very emotional scenes were award worthy, no question.  There were some times when the episode felt like a roller coaster though – or more accurately a Wild Mouse – because every so often it would lurch to a stop and leave me hanging onto the lap bar going wait, what? There was an unnevenness to it that was jarring at times, and that was confusing – perhaps because there was a TON happening. We’re back to multiple story lines, and that switch back and forth never sits entirely well with me. Every time I get deeply invested in what’s happening we switch to the other story line and I have a moment of irritation before I can make that mental switch too. It’s a common thing on Supernatural, but I don’t entirely enjoy it. My brain likes to go deep and then stay there, especially when my emotions are deeply engaged, as they were in much of this episode.

Kim is much more forgiving. At least she thinks she is…

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