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 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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Lynn and Nightsky Watch Supernatural ‘The Rupture’ – With Lots of Tissues!

 

The third episode of Supernatural’s fifteenth and final season in some ways felt like the first – the first of this season that really felt like my Show. Written by Robert Berens and directed by Supernatural veteran director Charles Beeson, it was a rollercoaster of a story that had me on the edge of my seat (literally) and then all out sobbing (also literally). Sometimes it seems masochistic to say, but this is what I want from my Show – I want to FEEL. And damn, did I ever feel during this episode! All the kudos to Berens, Beeson, set dec wizard Jerry Wanek, Adam Williams and his VFX crew, and the incredible actors who brought this episode to life. And made me cry so much.

After watching it live last night, I picked up my good friend Nightsky from the Winchester Family Business at the airport this morning and we decided to do a rewatch together – and to just blog our reactions real time. So here are our thoughts – and feelings, lots of feelings – about ‘The Rupture.’ Don’t worry, I had the tissues ready.

The Road So Far pops up onscreen. Here we go, folks!

Lynn: Argh I have to sit through some of that ridiculous second episode again. Do not want.

Nightsky: I thought it was a little spoilery that they included that clip that Sam has to be the one who kills Rowena. As if fandom has forgotten that??

Lynn: Seriously.

Ghost guy from last week appears onscreen.

Nightsky: ARGH

Lynn: SAME

Then we were off with episode 3. We start off with an interesting new hunter.

Nightsky: I like that they pulled in other hunters, since they’re not the only hunters in the country.

Lynn: And she had some personality too. She was sassy.

Then our heroes (and heroine) set off to try a new spell from Rowena, who has changed into a frankly amazing pink dress. Rowena is oddly optimistic about the chances of success.

Lynn: Oh no Rowena, stop with the optimism, it never ends well on Supernatural!

Nightsky: I appreciated the consistency that they referred back to how they left those people back at the gym with the reference to the anxious townspeople though.

Lynn: Continuity FTW!

Ghosts are flying up out of the huge crack as our heroes walk by.

Nightsky: Where were these ghosts for the past three days? Late to the party? The doors of hell open and it takes you three days to get out?

Lynn:  I’m totally confused by these souls/ghosts. Why do some of them have to possess bodies and others just show up looking like they did in life, like Jack the Ripper or the woman in white? I don’t get it.

We had no answer.

Rowena and her pink dress are beautiful in the creepy crypt, though. Just sayin.

They barricade  themselves in. Banging starts on the door.

Nightsky: Okay, why are ghosts now banging on the door? They just were strolling through the cemetery like they were on their way to high tea, totally unconcerned.

Lynn: I got nothin’.

Rowena starts her incantation as Sam, Dean, Castiel and Belphagor look on.

 

Lynn: I wonder if this is the scene where she accidentally said “vulva” and J2M cracked up. (Turns out it was the next scene with all of them and Ruth doing an incantation)

Nightsky: Berens was so proud of that pink dress. At first I thought it was an odd choice for a red head, but in that scene her eyes glow pink and the ghost attacks on the wall glow pink as her spell works and maybe that was a nice tip of the hat that this was a woman doing this.

Lynn: Her eyes were totally violet.

Nightsky: Totally pink.

Yes, we’re still friends. There are too many ghosts for Rowena’s power to hold and she collapses on the floor, gasping.

Rowena: We’re all going to die!

And that was just the beginning of the episode!

Rowena asks for a drink and Sam solicitously offers her water.

Rowena: A REAL drink.

Dean shrugs like, I got nothin’.

Sam looks at Dean like oh come on, I KNOW you have a flask. Dean tries to avoid, but Sam gives him that I’m-your-brother-and-I-know-you look until Dean reluctantly hands it over.

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Supernatural at Comic Con: Press Room Interview Videos

The Supernatural press room is always one of the most well run press rooms in the entire Comic Con experience, but it’s also always a nerve wracking experience that I sit through biting my nails terrified my table won’t get to chat with everyone. In fact, we almost didn’t get a chance to talk with Jared Padalecki at all as they ran late, but he was nice enough to stop over for a few minutes before heading out. I was so flustered by almost missing him that I didn’t realize that I never turned off my video recording of the person we were chatting with before him, and thus spent several hours convinced that I somehow had not recorded Jared’s interview at all! Tears were shed. And then tears of joy as we found it!

Here’s our chat with Jensen Ackles, in which he talks about coming to an understanding of the show’s projected ending, and gets a little emotional thinking about filming that last ending scene – that they’ve already set aside an added day for. Tissues anyone?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QpkTXPf1HQ

And here’s our little chat with Jared Padalecki. Since we only had 30 seconds, I was elected the question asker – Jared talks about his reaction and Jensen’s reaction to hearing about the show’s ending and why it’s so important to him that there’s “peace when you are done” for the brothers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X223Zew95wg

We were incredibly lucky to have some extra time with Misha Collins, and to get rather deep into a conversation about what Supernatural is about and how unique it is that the show has been able to focus so much on brotherhood and to explore masculinity in a different way. Misha was asked to move along to the next table at one point, but then there was no room for him so he said F it and came back and picked up the great conversation, much to our great joy. With bonus Jared tickling Misha’s ear, because that’s how this cast rolls.

Also? Misha has a great new cookbook out called the Adventurous Eaters Club that everyone should check out! It’s available on amazon or at Barnes and Noble stores!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBwHdOXQRfg

Alex Calvert asked me to toss him a psychological question (or a good question, depending on which one of us you ask) so I attempted it. Alex tackles Jack’s mental and emotional state at the end of Season 14, along with what might be coming up for him and his character.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7lv9egaEhA&feature=youtu.be

We also had some great chats with writers and producers Eugenie Ross-Leming, Brad Buckner and Robert Berens, and showrunners Andrew Dabb and Bob Singer.

Berens expressed excitement about the ending of the series, saying that it would surprise people without subverting the emotional imperative of closing out the story. To say that I’m dying to know what they have in store, equal parts anxious and excited, is not an understatement!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-ZkbaWWgSE

Showrunner Bob Singer confided that he’s talking with Eric Kripke later this week about the ending of the show and that Jensen had also chatted with him. He also had some lovely things to say about the fandom, including reminiscing about his first convention experience, which I also remember!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGy3jl-mpgc

Writer Eugenie Ross-Leming talked about how the characters are coping with their new knowledge that some of their past wins may not have been a result of free will, and how Castiel helps Dean come to terms with it when he’s struggling.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPY87lAixt8

Brad Buckner talked about the emotionality of the Supernatural panel that preceded the press room, especially when the actors were asked to reflect on their many years on the show. He shared that all Supernatural scripts always end with “To Be Continued” – and that the other day the writers all realized that Andrew is now writing a script that will instead say “The End”. Cue lots of sniffling at our table.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MBE9z4M4Ws

Showrunner Andrew Dabb joked that he was just going to “wing it” with the last episode. More seriously, he said what he’s crafting is something that will make sense as an emotional ending for these characters. Which I do think is what we’re all hoping for!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHjhnG5w2gw

My head was spinning with how much insight we got about the next and final season, and my stomach was in knots with anxiety thinking about what that ending everyone is talking about is really going to be!

Stay tuned for Season 15 – and for more Supernatural coverage from Comic Con 2019!

–Lynn.

 

Supernatural Absence – Double Meanings and Iconic Things

 

I’ve come to the conclusion that the last episodes of Season 14 and the entirety of Season 15 of Supernatural are going to be a master class in grief and loss. It’s impossible for me to experience the show, the conventions, the fandom or anything else related to the Show without the spectre of its ending coloring my reactions. That was very much in evidence at the convention in Chicago last weekend and in last week’s episode, the aptly  named “Absence.” Supernatural’s absence? That’s pretty much all I can think about right now!

Coincidentally, I’m in the midst of teaching a graduate course in grief and loss to a bunch of counselors in training, so I’m immersed in current research and theory about what sort of things we experience as a loss and the myriad ways in which we grieve them. In a way, that’s making what’s happening with Supernatural and its fandom easier to understand, but in another way, it’s tempting me to grab onto one of the coping strategies for grief that sometimes comes back to kick you in the butt – denial, avoidance, intellectualizing, call it what you will. I’ve been doing a lot of all three, and let me just say up front that it probably influenced my reaction to this episode. As fandom used to say all the time back in the day to acknowledge and validate differing points of view, your mileage may vary.

In fact, my friend Laurena (who helms the Winchester Family Business) and I spent the con weekend together – and boy, did we ever have different perspectives on ‘Absence’! Then again, we’ve had different perspectives on Mary Winchester all along. And while we’re both mired in anticipatory grief about Supernatural ending, that meant we had a very different experience of this episode.

Let me say at the outset that I think director Nina Lopez-Corrado (whose work is incredible) and writer Robert Berens (who has written some amazing episodes) did an excellent job of taking the story where it needed to go. The actors all did an amazing job bringing the emotions that needed to saturate the story. That said, as a viewer, I was unusually reticent to go where they wanted to take me. (Laurena, on the other hand, fell down that rabbit hole and landed HARD).

I watched the episode on Thursday night after a long day of work, and then did a re-watch when I returned from the Chicago convention on Monday night. My second viewing was also impacted by having “Sammies with Sam” at the con  – that is, a little meet and greet with Samantha Smith while we ate delicious PBJ sandwiches. I love Samantha and I loved hearing her insights about Mary and about the Show. It was quite clear that she too was grieving, and that shared grief changed my experience of the episode on rewatch a bit. Suffice it to say, this is an episode review that was extraordinarily complicated!

We start off with Sam and Dean returning from the events of 14.17, glad to be home and to share beers as they traditionally do. Dean expresses his relief about Sam being alive in typically minimizing fashion, making a joke about “another miraculous Sam Winchester survival” – when we know he was completely undone by those few minutes of Sam being gone.  But that’s Dean.

Sam and Dean acknowledge Jack’s role in saving the day and say they’re glad to have a get out of jail free card, and if you didn’t know that Jack was on his way out before, you certainly did then. No show can have a consistent character who’s a get out of jail free card for long, since it dilutes the urgency of everything that happens. RIP Jack. (sobbing)

The opening scene is well done, the sense of dread slowly growing as the boys try to find Jack and Mary, and then Mary’s phone ominously rings at the other end of the table.

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