Two In A Row! Supernatural Does What It Does Best With ‘Damaged Goods’

I don’t quite know what to do with myself – this is two weeks in a row that I’ve been absolutely blown away by how GOOD the Supernatural episode was. I must have become accustomed to getting a good episode here and there and every now and then a great one, and having the ones in between be frustrating in some way or not quite satisfying. I didn’t even realize how accustomed to that I’d become, but apparently having two fabulous episodes back to back is almost too much for me – I haven’t felt this euphoric about the Show in a while, and it feels amazing to be back to fangirling my little heart out over Supernatural.

Thank you, Show! Thank you Steve Yockey for last week’s episode and Davy Perez for this week’s episode. The cast never disappoints — even when I’m disappointed in the episode itself, I’m never anything but impressed with all of them. But this week and last week, something special happened. That spark, that magic, that “lightning in a bottle” that first captivated me about this Show returned. This week and last week, Jared and Jensen were onscreen together after being apart for much of this season, and I was blown away all over again by how much emotional impact they bring to Sam and Dean when the brothers are interacting. That’s what made me fall in love with this Show, and what I found so compelling – and I’ve missed it. Something happens when those two are onscreen together, when the emotions are so intense and so palpable and so REAL and I can feel everything Sam and Dean are feeling. It’s magic, pure magic.

Damaged Goods was also heartbreaking and horrifying, but that too is what Supernatural has always been about. From the moment we see Dean packing up his duffel, there’s a sense of foreboding. He leaves his room and glances down the hall, almost wistfully. Was he regretting not being able to say goodbye to Cas and Jack? Regretting leaving the place he’s come to call home? He finds Sam in the library, hard at work trying to figure out a way to vanquish Michael and save his brother. Dean overtly expresses his appreciation, and that’s…. odd? Then he says he wants to go see Mom, sounding downright sentimental, and he doesn’t want Sam to come along, and … uh oh. Every alarm bell in my head starts going off. Dean’s going to do something stupid and sacrificial, clearly.

When Dean starts to leave and then suddenly veers to pull Sam into a hug from behind, I already want to cry because something very bad is clearly about to happen. Ackles is brilliant in this small, quiet scene. The way it looks like he’s trying to leave without touching Sam, but he’s pulled almost like a magnetic force, and the way he clutches Sam to him, almost kissing him on the head – it’s almost more maternal than brotherly, so full of affection it makes my heart ache.

“Take care, Sammy,” he says, and forces himself to leave.

Sam stares after him, looking as worried as I’m feeling.

Caps itsokaysammy

Such a small scene, but so much of what this Show is about. The love between these two brothers, the shared history of sacrifice and courage and saving each other and the world and trying to do the right thing – it all adds up to become this intense emotional experience when you’ve been following the Winchesters’ story for going on fourteen years. We know them; we know, as Dean rests his chin on Sam’s head and pulls Sam to him, that this is goodbye.

And that fucking hurts.

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What The Hell Did He See In Dean’s Head? Supernatural 14.05 Nightmare Logic

 

This week’s Supernatural episode didn’t leave me jumping up and down and squeeing to the rooftops – but that’s not actually a complaint. Instead it left me scratching my head and wondering where the hell we’re going from here and what the hell the Djinn saw in Dean’s mind. That’s a feeling I often had in the early seasons of Supernatural, so once again, that makes me a happy fangirl. (Not that I don’t have things to critique, of course…)

The episode started out slow, and at the first break I was feeling a bit meh about it. This surprised me because I usually enjoy Meredith Glynn’s writing quite a bit. It took me a little while to realize that the pace was slower than I’ve grown used to – but once again, that turned out to be a good thing. Instead of ten different plot lines zigzagging through the episode, Glynn and director Darren Grant took their time, following each scene and letting the anticipation or suspense or fear or whatever emotion build before bringing it to a climax. The pace was slower, so you could savor moments like Dean and Sam exploring a dark and scary crypt or Sam fearlessly going up to the attic or Dean quietly bonding with Sasha. I just have gotten used to a faster pace on this Show, so it took until the halfway point for me to realize I was actually appreciating the Show taking its time for a change.

The beginning scene is Maggie, whose name half of my timeline can’t remember, which says something that isn’t good. She’s hunting alone for some reason, and not very competently. Sure enough, she’s attacked and taken down by something that looks like a ghoul. I scratch my head. That’s not the reaction Show was going for most likely, but I honestly cannot manufacture much feeling about the AU hunters. There are way too many of them and I don’t like them in the bunker and that all translates into me just not caring very much what happens to them. Maggie has never seemed like someone who should be a hunter, and we haven’t been given any reason to care about her. It’s like she’s the only one of the random AU people who has a name, so she keeps getting tossed into the story. Sorry, Maggie. At least I’m remembering your name.

Then we’re in the overcrowded bunker, Chief Sam briefing a bunch of AU hunters. He’s all awkward when Dean walks in, which is telling – Sam is clearly not comfortable being the leader when Dean is around. I’m not sure I’m all that comfortable with this new dynamic either, but Dean seems more at ease than either me or Sam.

Dean: You kids have fun out there.

He teases Sam to break the awkwardness, telling him that he did a great job with the whole camp counselor vibe and offering to get him a whistle.

Dean: And they’re checking in? That’s adorable.

It’s not, however, adorable that Sam isn’t getting enough sleep. Protective big brother Dean gets on his back about it, clearly worried. Dean stays in this mode when Sam gets upset that Maggie (Katherine Evans) didn’t check in, trying to reassure Sam that she might still be alive. Poor Sam, his reserves clearly on zero and feeling the burden of responsibility, immediately starts catastrophizing and falling into hopelessness, so it’s a good thing Dean is back to pull him out of it. The brothers are always a good team when they’re together, always knowing what the other one needs to hear in order to keep going. There was a lot of that in this episode, and I appreciate every moment.

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A Supernatural Joy Ride with ‘Mint Condition’

 

There are few things more satisfying than watching a new episode of your favorite show with a bunch of people who share your passion. I was in Minneapolis for a Supernatural convention last Thursday, so of course I was looking forward to watching the show with fellow fans. After a few minutes of panic upon finding out that my hotel didn’t even carry The CW, I took to twitter to see if anyone would take pity on me and invite me over to watch. In a city full of fans, that took about ten seconds, so when 7 pm rolled around I was happily curled up on the sofa in the honors floor suite of some friends’ hotel. We had crackers and cheese and wine and soda and the free buffet that nobody else was apparently interested in – and then the lovely man in charge of the suite kept making us sandwiches and bringing them in for us to try! Ever have those sort of moments when you’re sure that life is too good to be real? This was one of them.

Davy Perez is one of my favorite Supernatural writers, and the previews for ‘Mint Condition’ suggested it would be a fun Halloween-horror-movie-themed episode, but you never know. It turns out, this episode was even more fun than I expected, and an especially good episode to watch with fellow fans. The episode also had some underlying messages that weren’t just there for the fun, which made it a multllayered and sometimes surprisingly meta episode as well.

Perez knows his horror movie tropes, that’s for sure. The episode opens in a comic shop, jam packed full of superhero lunchboxes and action figures and posters, including one for “Hell Hazers”, the film being made in one of the show’s first meta episodes, Hollywood Babylon. I adore when the show references its own history, so that made me squee out loud for the first time in this episode but definitely not the last. The television in the comic shop is tuned to Shocker TV. On screen, Hatchetman says his signature line “time to slice and dice” and then the young guy working at the shop turns it off – and proceeds to stuff a brand new Thundercats Panthro figure into his backpack.

Everyone in the room: Uh oh.

We quickly learn that Stuart isn’t exactly a model employee and in fact is given to angry outbursts and ugly and stigmatizing name-calling. Especially when someone accuses him of being weak, as in not being able to beat up Superman.

When I watched this episode live, it was like being taken on a rollicking roller coaster ride along with my friends, and it was pure joy. On rewatch, the darker themes came through, including some commentary on troll-infested internet culture and the messages about masculinity that can end up being so toxic. Stuart’s barely contained rage when someone threatens his ideas about masculinity (ie, you should be strong enough to beat up Superman or you’ll be a virgin for your whole life) is scarier than most horror tropes in the midst of so much real life violence springing from similar fears and rage. It comes out in Stuart’s treatment of a customer, his outburst at a delayed pizza delivery, and even in his berating fellow players and storming off in the midst of a Fortnite game online.  Stuart, for me, hit a little too close to reality for me to stomach him easily. Or feel much sympathy!

But back to the show. Angry Stuart, kicked out by his roommate and back to living in his mother’s basement, regards his stolen Panthro figure. And then it TURNS ITS HEAD!!!! I legit screamed – look, I admit I have a bit of a thing about dolls and figures coming to life. Too many horror movies as a kid perhaps, but OMG there is nothing more horrifying than thinking that’s a possibility. Following the classic horror movie protocol, Stuart leans in close and ASKS the Panthro what it’s doing.

Everyone in the room: NOOOOO! RUN AWAY!!

Of course he doesn’t, and the fierce little (possessed) Panthro beats the crap out of him with its little nunchucks.  SO creepy!

Back to the bunker, where Dean Winchester is sprawled out on his bed, socked feet up on the nightstand, head on a pillow watching television and eating pizza. Let me repeat. Dean Winchester is sprawled out on his bed. The camera doesn’t exactly do a slow pan as in that early seasons episode (you know the one, black boxers, tee shirt…) but it’s a nice visual, just saying.

 

There’s a Hell Hazers III movie ad, which again makes me squee with continuity joy, and then Dean’s Hatchetman marathon continues. Dean repeats the tag line along with the film: “Time to slice and dice”.

Everyone in the room: Fanboy Dean!!

One of my favorite flavors.

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‘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.

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Five Things To Love about Supernatural ‘Breakdown’ (Okay, maybe 6…)

 

I have to teach on Thursday nights this semester, which means I can’t watch Supernatural live. This makes me very cranky, which should surprise no one. But this week, I think it might have been a blessing in disguise. I came home and jumped on twitter to ask the SPNFamily whether I needed tissues at the ready to watch this episode. What came back was a barrage of suggestions, and not just for tissues:

Tissues and a security blanket….Tissues and a teddy bear… Tissues and a stiff drink….Tissues and a heart rate monitor…

Wait, a what? It was clear this episode was not going to be easy to watch. But because I’m a long time Supernatural fan, all that did was ramp up my excitement! Sure, I gathered my tissues and blankie and a glass of wine, hoping my heart would hold out without the monitor, but I was jumping with anticipation more than dread. It’s been 13 seasons of Supernatural scaring me and disturbing me and breaking my heart and I’m still watching, after all. (It makes those rare times we get affection and triumph and saving the day all the sweeter).

Breakdown did not disappoint. So instead of a recap, here’s what I loved about this episode. In no particular order other than I’m saving the one I really want to go on and on about until last. Read more