Supernatural Episode Reviews
First of all, there's no way for me to cover this review without spoilers. But these are the kind of spoilers everyone's gonna be screaming about anyway, for the most part, unless you're some sort of social media ninja. Some moments I will not cover in full because there was a lot of great emotional impact at certain moments that can't be properly construed in a smooth review and I do encourage people to watch this episode.
Second of all, this is a BuckLeming episode. A lot of scenes get split across, so there's a few points I'm actually going to shift exact order of revelation if it isn't appropriate to flow so the review doesn't jive all over the place and bulk a few corresponding scenes.
I'll give a tally at the end of various notes to glean.
13x18: Bring 'Em Back Alive
Review by: Minerva J Davis/Ghost of Bobby
Written by: Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming
Directed by: Amyn Kaderali
Apocalypse world seems to have strangely pleasant looking winters compared to thundery summers. Dean and Ketch are pitched into an apocalyptic Christmas and, being short of Sam and Cas to mother-hen Dean, Ketch quickly assumes wife mode to try to keep them moving. Despite disagreements, they come to terms and troop on within a few minutes with promises of enduring social conflict and brothers in arms looming on the winter wonderland horizon.
Within minutes the rhythm is pulsing with well placed music, and the duo take cover to watch an angel execution start to fall down. The big spoiler comes into play for something else the fandom has been screaming for years, and I legitimately screamed even though I KNEW it was coming. Well, not knew-knew, but with the announcement of "getting the team back together" and another face from the AU, and Felicia's recent activity on twitter with the fandom, I had my suspicions. Didn't keep me from screaming.
Charlie is yet again a badass and a leader of the resistance against the angels, sparing her life long enough for them to take her back to camp to try to smack her around and get intel on the resistance and so on. Honestly this is the first episode I gained true interest in the AU's dynamic since the idea was presented. Until then, I was waiting for this temporary journey to speed itself over and get us towards an ending, but now I'm thinking of all the backstories and alternate tales that can be told, how these characters we loved survived once the world did start to end. Anyone smell another spinoff some day in the future? I dunno. Who knows. This is basically this generation's Star Trek at this point.
(And another Misha reaction meme is born.)
Annnnd cut to Sam, and Castiel, who since his rebirth has regained a good deal of his sass and spunk. I can't put into words how amused I was at the line they dropped us in the previews. Even spoiled, I grinned, despite knowing what was around the corner: Gabriel, torn and shredded.
I was conflicted in a lot of ways about this scene -- or, sideplot? It stretches across the entire episode while Dean cavorts through AU-land. They were the character interactions we wanted, but Gabe was just so shredded. The content we deserve, but not the content we need right now? I did find myself with one particular gripe, which may be personal: Sam's dialogue with Gabriel while trying to break through to him.
Sam is great with empathy when need be. He's a survivor of TERRIBLE trauma and knows all too well of being locked inside his own head. While they textually, in dialogue, acknowledge that as a statement, the actual execution through other dialogue seems to be lacking it. Hey, Gabe, it's me, do you remember this TRIGGER? And this terrible TRIGGER? When you TRIGGERED? I just want to see if he remembers the TRIGGER. This seemed to lack a great deal of finesse that Sam was more deserving of displaying. I let it go, recognizing it wasn't from what was necessarily my favorite authors on the show, and the scene moved on to other parts of this puzzle.
(Results to be expected)
In the interim, Lucifer is highly regretting wifing Jo, who's essentially asking him what he's doing with his life while he putzes around in heaven. Apparently Lucifer is still kind of out of it on ruling things and resource management, but I guess after being in the cage for an eternity, popping out, and getting shoved in and out on repeat, he has a few millennia he's gotten rusty. Asmodeus isn't having much better luck, fiddling with his balls neurotically and equally impatient with his suit-wives.
I'm going to hold comment on the Sam-Cas-Gabe transition to bulk out commentary of part of that together, and instead focus on a highlight of the episode: Lucifer fancying himself as God. The Forrest Gump prayer was a quaint easter egg. He quickly grows tired of "whining," but quickly tunes in to an exorcism. And I'm sorry. THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST SCENES OF THE EPISODE OH MY GOD.
There's a full The Exorcist in play, demon in a girl strapped to a bed pulling all the classics, bloodied, drooling, mangled voice and writhing while mocking the priests for their cam girl addictions and whatever else. Full theatrics are in play until Lucifer, rubbing his temples in the corner, calls out a "FELLAS" and the scene stops dead. The demon stops shaking the bed, "Ah, crap."
A+++ and it only just got better timed throughout the scene.
This is the kind of thing any sort of review would spoil the further it goes. The humor and timing can only be appreciated in person.
If you watch the episode for nothing else, watch it for this scene. I don't care anyone's opinions of anyone in particular. I legitimately loved this. Please watch this. I can't emphasize enough. I mean, it's a personal preference, I guess, but let it be said - and take this in the best intended ways - I'm not necessarily a huge Mark P fan. Neither is my girlfriend. We both loved the hell out of this despite her uh, very vocal opinions of him and my general neutrality. Just to put that out there.
Meanwhile, Ketch continues to fulfill wifely duties of tracking after Dean, scolding his unwillingness to use stealth while rushing to save Charlie. Dean clearly refuses to lose her a second time, even if it isn't necessarily "His Charlie." This quickly backfires. Or... shoulderfires. Ketch covers a downed Dean, they bro-wer through it, and Dean takes no snit once the situation is controlled. A few gunshots later and they know where to find Charlie and take off with Dean unrelenting. A few hours of walk is promised for them before they can reach the angel's POW camp for the resistance.
Ketch: "You don't look good,"
Dean: "Yeah well, you're not my type either."
Dean, wounded, refuses to slow while Ketch wonders over who this Charlie may have been - old girlfriend? Break his heart? This is a theme that actually staggers through the episode, despite us all knowing better. Dean isn't slowing... until he's falling on himself and once Ketch checks the wound, it's not just a standard bleed - it's outright toxic. Ketch recognizes the wound and poison as similar to one the Men of Letters used to disable targets while Dean snaps back,
Ketch prepares an antitoxin from his own knowledge while Dean accuses them of being dicks, to which Ketch admits he is guilty.
"How's it look, mom?"
Now, back to the Sam-Cas-Gabe arrangement
The fandom has been crying, for some time, to give Sam and Cas, and Sam and Gabe, and Cas and Gabe, respectively time together to work things out on a personal level. I only wish we'd had more time to really bring reconciliations. Gabe is out of his gourd, All Work No Play Make Gabby Dull Archangel writing on the walls. There's parts of the Enochian that read biblical verses if translated, but Castiel quickly sources out the fresher story telling of Gabriel's survival (pretty much what most people speculated), vacation, porn stars, and capture-and-sale and Asmodeus' feeding upon him.
But then it falls down to a few points the episode gets weak, and why. I don't often speak down about authors or act like I know 'better' than them (I may critique episode flow and things like that, but not 'character representation'), but here's a BuckLeming episode in full swing - some points can be spot on, then others break out like this. They WANTED to show Sam as empathetic but on an actual psychology level that was just like chewing on a foot while trying to force feed him his own grace. Then Sam promises no more trigger, trigger, trigger or trigger - again, just feeling to lack the finesse deserved of Sam. "I've been there. I'm just like you." is the general theme. They wanted to show empathy... they... tried? I feel like Jared did well with the lines he was provided, but there's only so much to be done with that.
Speaking of tried, while punching through this raw dialogue that in my opinion should have been refined, BuckLeming seems to take a moment to reflect on what they're doing this episode. Well, they're making up for killing Charlie, who was Robbie Thompson's baby. What else of Thompson's did people love? Well, Thompson seemed into the gay angel ship stuff. People loved that "We need you... I need you" line, let's just shoe-horn that in at the back end of this awkward trigger-fest dialogue and let that be what clicks Gabe online. Okay... good... I guess?
And... porn stars.
Still, that was deadass "SeE wE cAn paRaLLel tOo!"
[leans to side, whispering] 'Everybody loved Charlie.'
[whispers back] 'Quick what else did Robbie do that they love? They call him Dad Prime'
[whisper] 'We Need You I Need You'
[whiswhis] 'Oh yeah and people like the gay angel ships'
Honestly there were so many better ways to use that line, even later in the episode - which I'll mention - if it had to be used but I felt like Sam, in general, deserved a lot better dialogue this episode. I'm glad he GOT as much focus as he did, but it just felt raw and unrefined and despite Jared's fantastic efforts it just didn't seem to fit the thoughtful, versed-in-trauma Sam Winchester I know. Maybe that's just me.
But back to the temporary bromance of the AU, Dean's still struggling despite the anti-poison merit badge award, but refuses to give up time to save Charlie. Collapsing again, he concedes to rest and Ketch continues to quip admittedly charmingly, opting to revisit talk of Charlie, which Dean tries to resist. Ketch needs to know what deserves being so ... well, stupid. Dean, burdened by history of Charlie, becomes evident to Ketch who needs to know the story. And Charlie was like family - a sister to him, Dean remembers - of her efforts, and virtues... and her gruesome murder. And he would not fail her again.
And for the first time, I actually resonated with bringing back Ketch. I've loved David, but admittedly was not particularly fond of his return. Reflecting on his own past sins, Ketch decides to do better. This can not be - and should not be - encapsulated in a review; this should not be spoiled. This was an earnest moment to appreciate Ketch if he hasn't claimed you yet. Of course, we know the fate of characters that start getting redemption arcs in this show, but still.
"Impossible and stupid, eh? You say that like it's a bad thing." - Dean
As a brief series of breakaways: Asmodeus, rubbing his balls, clicks on to Gabriel's location and quickly issues a threatening phonecall to the Earth-1 Winchester crew, setting Gabriel into panic mode while still recovering. But of course, Sam and Cas choose to do everything they can to secure the bunker and protect Gabriel. Meanwhile, Lucifer continues to gripe about his position, and is shortly completely chewed out by his not-wife. Luce admits he's absolutely full of crap about rebuilding heaven's forces. Sister Jo is not taking any of his crap. She's not even letting him take his OWN crap. It almost costs her when she takes it a step too far, but in the end she walks out, empowered by the scene of essentially telling the God-Devil to screw himself and stop complaining. Dean and Ketch unabashedly blow into the Angel POW crap with an enormous array of angel killing bullets. Charlie doesn't know Dean - time to go. Yes, these transitions are as quick as it seems like, but they are honestly very smoothly handled. Amyn Kaderali, directing handled BuckLeming's shifting narrative with surprising ease. I was quite pleased with this, as she's only directed two episodes for us before and even great hands sometimes make BuckLeming's transition style kinda like plotsalad, but despite a few edits that seemed rushed in timing - probably not even Amyn's fault as much as the editors and time constraints - we flowed this whole EPISODE pretty well. In like five minutes more plot went down than we've gotten in the last few episodes.
We now focus on the bunker being overpowered despite Sam's masterful warding, which admittedly left me wondering - that was some Amara-level power. How much Angel Juice did this guy DRINK what the hell? But the battle scene was worth it. Both Sam and Cas held their own fabulously, though Castiel admittedly downed both. That's just the way battle falls down though. That wouldn't help when Asmodeus walked in to claim what was his, more demons seeing out Gabriel frozen in terror. Sam and Cas are BOTH utterly overpowered and helpless in the face of it until Gabriel's eyes activate.
Asmodeus attempts to intimidate the angel, but a portion of his power had been given to him and the classic pose of angel glow and wings stands him off. Gabriel recovers himself and does some DBZ Ki ball deflection before insulting the suit and making him some Kentucky Fried Demon with a trickster's grin and angel's eyes.
Charlie's still sassy in the AU trying to understand the situation. She demands to know how-very friendly Dean was. Either we have some interesting narrative framework being set out or they're actively challenging the perpetual assumption of "woman next to man on TV show, woman must attach to man," because Charlie is told she was into chicks, and Charlie likes her. Charlie... likes Charlie. Yeah. Charlie's Charlie, just not one that knew the Winchesters, and I'm still coping with that. He tries to ask about Jack and Mary, Charlie maintains disbelief until showing her the fading rift.
(particular A+ on explaining the situation with the corpse laid out right in front of him)
Gabriel's similarly having trouble processing his end of the situation while they deluge him with information, maybe a little too fast. Maybe the penalty of the hard-press dialogue this episode but Gabe is like hah, no! Thanks! For the rescue, and the redemption arc! But deuces! They implore him, Gabe just shoulders the responsibility onto them; Cas tries to challenge him about their father's creation. Honestly, I feel like - in drawing parallelism, and stepping away from the shipping zone, the "I need you, we need you" would have fit much better in Castiel's mouth here, brother to brother, and had more impact but I guess that wouldn't have fit current plot needs. Walking away runs in the family, and so does winging out at inopportune moments.
AU-Squad debates. The gate is closing, Dean needs to get back, Ketch wants to stay to find them, "Bring back Sam, your angel, and Gabriel, the bloody Navy Seals-" but he should stay.
("You mean, like... get our angelS." "I said what I said.")
Charlie pledges too; it's her world. He doesn't want to lose her again - he tells her that. Her answer is best left for you to hear. Before they have time to really consider, an angel squad comes up behind, leaving Dean to stagger back in to the bunker and the gate to close. And to find that everything they've worked for is up in flames. The bunker is trashed. Gabriel is missing and so is his grace, and their keys for the gate are thus gone. Dean returns with nothing, to nothing, gripping his head in frustration.
EVERY TIME WE GET CLOSE!
BUCKLEMING WRITES AN EPISODE AND STUFF EXPLODES!
EVERY FREAKING TIME!
Wait, that isn't what Dean said? Cuz that's pretty much what I heard.
(This screenshot is more important than we think.)
Sam and Cas try to enforce Dean as he crumbles though they look no better themselves, unknowing what to say; Dean, unable to even look at them leaving them only one option: find Gabriel.
We know our next direction -- Gabriel. Ketch has run a redemption arc that has reached out to me, as a hold out in the audience that kept reservations on his return -- meaning we know what's probably about to happen. And if that happens for Charlie -- bless, some form of her is back at least -- I'll personally be happy. Ketch is proving a vital ally to the Winchesters, evolving less out of selfish survival and more into Doing The Right Thing, in silent echo of Mick, who he may have indirectly reflected on without words amidst some of his dialogue today. We know we'll see more of Gabriel, and I have my suspicions on how, but I won't reach that far ahead. We're down one Big Bad, now it's just a matter of saving the Fam and dealing with the Lucifer/Michael. You know. Just.
We're getting the team back together like the showrunners said, so I'm honestly interested what lies in the episodes ahead. Looks like Sam's getting around on a fun crack-ship level. First Sabriel, teasers of Samwitch next week - hey, it's been a while since my boy's gotten some love. Not... not like that. But if it's like that okay. I don't think he'd mind. Either way, amusing.
The episode itself was actually fun on a GA level, if you click your brain off for certain parts - I know that’s a weird thing to say but GA generally don’t stalk for plot holes. But I try to watch first on a GA appreciation level, then do a rewatch on a clinical level. Sometimes my brain still dissects things on my first watch but I TRY, okay?
Yes there WERE plot holes. Because Asmodeus sucked on an angel for a while he can punch through the bunker warding like Amara? OKIE DOKIE.
Despite TRYING not to be overly analytical on my first watch, the Sam-Cas-Gabe story was STILL uncomfortable and weird to me. Sam’s dialogue lacked any true empathy I would expect out of him. They textualized like I TOTALLY GET IT AND IM TOTES LIKE YOU but in the end, it was one heartless, soulless trigger after trigger while trying to force him to remember which does NOT seem like Sam. Much less the awkward “We/I need you” shoehorn. Jared literally LOOKED uncomfortable in most of these moments to me, like - baby was doing his best with what he had and trying to reason into it but he wasn’t emphatic. He tried to be heartfelt but there was just something missing and that wasn’t his fault. I’m 99% sure he felt something was off here too but couldn’t verbalize what to the team to know how to change it up.
But it feels like reviewing this episode requires breaking out the AU and Bunker storylines, and respectively Buckner and Leming (which, while I’m speculating, from what I know of how they talk in interviews, I’m seriously like 99.9% about who wrote which end. I feel Buckner did fantastic. Leming cacked the bed on a few occasions but at least there was SOME good content there and it gave us back things we deserve. So that’s something. But if we split the primary stories off like watching and reviewing two different episodes, between the two authors, one would be getting a 10/10 from me and another would be getting a 1/10. I'm giving that a 5/10.
No visible faults. Smooth transitions of rapid fire storyline even in the center where they pitched us scenario and scene one after the other before the bunker battle. A few points felt rush-paced, but that may be more editing; I just don't have a category for that so it goes here.
I'm knocking a few points only because that part was REALLY uncomfortable to me and I feel like Sam Deserved Better. The whole arrangement deserved better. The weird parallel was either unnecessary or in the wrong mouth. The vague power threshold of Asmodeus Amara-level. They managed to lob in humor somehow with Luce, and I enjoyed him beyond what I had in a while. I finally came to appreciate Ketch. AU-side was strong, Bunker side had gaping flaws. The curse of the cowriters.
8/10 - Pretty good. I do kind of feel uneasy about how easy the bunker got overwhelmed so on a canon stan level I'm kind of bothered. But I see what they're doing, understand what they're doing, and I'm fairly content at least with the AU side, and the CONCEPT given to us Bunker side, despite delivery.
General result: 7.3/10
Above average/Good. Not like "top 10 episodes of all time" like Scooby was a few back, but it's definitely worth a watch even just BEYOND being a canon/plot staple episode. Great character engagements abound AU-side; great character engagement PREMISES bunker side that needed more work. A few quirks here and there. Most of it was well enough on point.
But back to this shot:
I think this tells us a lot of our future of this show. And I mean that both in story of the season, and just general set, crew, and more. Within the constraints of our plot arc, Dean's finally had his happy go lucky streak after his grief arc come completely crashing down on him. While I hope for more openness and recovery from Sam like we've seen, for the last few years, whether there's listed co-stars or not (and possibly risking triggering some fans), Jensen and Dean have kinda stolen the show as the most pivotal character. While there are arguments of imbalances and placement, we're being shown a perfect triangle of family here, shadowing him. Misha Collins and Castiel are in more episodes this season than ever before, we got a Ackles-Collins panel for the first time on US soil at Hon Con, and they've been promoting him further and further as a lead. While I'm not gonna say "He'll be in every episode," the series' increasing focus on ensemble cast and rebuilding family with Dabb and Singer's comment of "bringing the team back together," with folks like Bobby and Charlie - we're looking at a literal on screen iconization of the future of this family - through the end of this season, and likely well beyond it. And with the support at Dean's back, the ability to turn around and face those who have his back, hopefully a redistribution and balancing of the various weights on the character shoulders as a proper triad.
And that's my take.
A Most Holy Man -- 13x15
Since this is my first review for Changing Channels, I'm going to clarify a few points.
· Spoilers will be involved.
· I'm sassy.
· I will review writing, directing, editing, continuity and consistency, with only a touch of plot review, as plot is largely opinion. All reviews are opinion, but that's the biggest grey zone.
So here we go.
The episode unsurprisingly starts much like I expected: Cas is off in bumscrew Egypt (or Syria, apparently) and the Winchesters briefly overview this while everyone's scrambling for parts. One recurring question I had, and much of my timeline has had: how did Cas get there? Did he take a plane? Did he apply for a Visa? Castiel fans can hope this is a hint that his wings were restored upon his return from the Empty, and I reserve any judgment about that until we get a positive or negative (though I'm gonna bank towards 'no'); otherwise, we got a pretty funny plothole that has filled my timeline with memes.
(Meme courtesy of my sassy twitterfriend @GunmetalNGrace)
I will say that regardless of wings-or-no, even if he has wings back, that's the kind of thing that deserves far better exposition than "oh by the way he swung to get us legit hummus and the TreeFruit overseas." And if not at all, we're going to have to edit-back and mark "gaping plothole." Minding Dabb's habit of paralleling parallels, I'm going to guess this blot on canon history wasn't him since similar issues came back during old Singer episodes in S6. Maybe I'm wrong. Just a hunch.
But I mean - expectable. We generally get Castiel in about half of the season and the episode leaves us for more bro-feels. So, while Cas is dodging bullets in Syria, and possibly customs, we're left with the brothers up a creek on the Seal of Solomon (which might point them straight at Colonel Sanders if we jive with lore, but you never know with this show), and chasing down black market Catholic artifacts. Cool.
Next step: Creepy eyebrow chick. I'm going to give it straight: this was so incredibly awkward. I get that it was meant to be awkward, but we even got persistent flashes of Dean's face just to remind us how awkward it was on top of all of the awkward. While Amanda Tapping is generally solid as a director, she has her moments I less-than-jive with some of her decisions (like-)
Or the really awkward flailing Cas had in Dagon's grip that episode, which may have partially been a budget shortage but damn, don't focus on it so much please.
I know Tapping is popular with the fanbase, but these are just moments I've had distinct disassociation from the flow of an episode due to her choices. And you don't have to agree with me, that's cool. Even so, the constant flicker to Dean in an already blatantly awkward scene didn't strike me as necessary. With as much overwhelming screentime as Jensen has gotten recently, and stark camera focus, it didn't seem entirely needed to continue reminding us he was there. I get that Jensen is awesome and
reactionary, but it was the same reaction. Every time. Jared's deserved more screenshow lately, so it was kind of weird to keep cutting out repeatedly to show us the same face. Over and over.
(It was a real tough call choosing between the same zoning expressions or the same eyeroll he flashed every time. Real tough. It was a time warp of bored eyerolls interrupting what would have been Sam acting-into Eyebrow Lady.)
Even still, I brushed it off and kept on. There's always a moment we can bicker about. No point splitting hairs.
At this point, we go to meet donut-eating dude. Knowing this was a Maltese parody, and minding the uncomfortably overplayed flirting scene, I settled into his behavior being legitimate satire. Too long, didn't read, the brothers banter right-and-wrong, Sam continues to air on being more respectively "good," Dean pledges in the vein of whatever-it-takes still.
I felt a bit of a jar between narrative, to be honest. While Singer is known for writing good brother-episodes, there was a distinctly pointless "flirt mindlessly with Book Girl to pretend we're still in season 3" that happens mostly with Singer, BuckLeming, and on the occasion he's surfaced, Bring; it's really a minor gripe, but worth an eyeroll enough that my non-shipping-of-any-type GA audience girlfriend went "And theeeere's Singer." When someone who's never had a fandom account and only vaguely hears her more fandom-deep friends talk nerdy calls out the narrative tone-shift, there may be a problem.
Minding the parody, I didn't flinch at the obvious "had to bump into dude that's acting shady," and went along. It was another of Singer's "old switcheroos," in the end - or a series of them through the episode, also in the vein with Maltese. Sam takes more head trauma, but at least this time Dean at least lays a sharp crack about the writer's habit of gonging Sam over the skull lately. Along the way, Sam and Dean get held up and taken to the Mob Boss, which is where I really started running into issues. While Donut Dude (Greenstreet) and Eyebrow Lady (Margaret) were satirically played, this guy seemed to be into it. He was taking his role more seriously. While the other villains were stage acting, this was... trying to actually jive with Sam and Dean. Which actually threw me off worse than the satirical acting, because now, I'm not even sure how I'm supposed to be interpreting this episode.
Oh and this dude is wearing Cas' trench coat. I guess they figured with it buttoned up we'd not notice it's literally the exact same coat. Or he shops at the same place as the Empty.
("Sir! We've run out of trenchcoats for everyone in this episode!" "Ehh button Cas' coat up, they won't notice. He never buttons.")
At this point Sam and Dean have agreed to work with two conflicting sides over the missing skull. Cool. Tension, and stuff.
So back to the switcheroo-chain.
So thief dude is dead after shady dude leaves, but shady dude is actually good dude. Good dude is a priest who has a very heartfelt talk and, I swear to god, I hope nobody after this talk in the lobby was in any way surprised about him being the Most Holy Man. Shady Dude, who gave Sam his twenty-seventh concussion on the season, now formally known as Father Lucca Camilleri, explains the theft, the purity of his intent to get it, and not knowing who brained him.
Honestly, I appreciated Lucca. Given, his speech and resume sounded kind of like some crazy foreign priest version of Misha Collins - and frankly, so did his later antics. He was, probably, my greatest highlight on the story of this episode. Rattling out my confusion on the base tone of the episode, he was a temporary character I was begging to the gods to not get knocked dead in the presence of Sam and Dean (and Singer's pen). I was completely convinced he'd get dropped for them to get the blood of a Most
Holy Man. He gave them both some talks and considerations they really needed. Dean got extra time there, while Sam got to take the charge.
Sam shines as the net-guru, tracks a package, they follow it with Lucca alongside and... Here's where things got really weird for me, full stop.
We ultimately get into the showdown of Donut Dude, Eyebrow Lady, Serious Mobster, and Vague Hitman over the Skull. Sam walks in with the briefcase while Dean and Lucca monitor what's going on. Lucca endearingly distracts the guard, and Dean moves in while Lucca prays vehemently and basically prepares to kiss his ass goodbye to do the right thing.
At this point, we're at a bizarre crux where Team Parody and Team Serious are coming to a head. I had completely expected Sam to do some sassy thing with "The most zeros" by legit writing down the foreign currency value, so I was disappointed we didn't get that. Meanwhile, I'm trying to jive through this literal narrative wall of comedy-versus-tension that's buzzing in the room before the slow mo gun fight breaks out. In this moment, the only thing I cared about was Lucca. He was a developed character, consistently played, worth SOMETHING, and clearly our Holy Man they needed blood of. I actually did not want him to die. We knew Sam and Dean wouldn't. There's no tension there.
But for all the missed Noir-esque blur transitions by the editing team earlier (in favor of awkward flirt-to- flirt-to-donut hops), now we get the drawn out scene where the only thing I'm saying in my head is "PLEASE DON'T KILL MALTESE MISHA COLLINS." So I will give them - they made me think they did (due to my complete belief the authors are out to subject us to crippling pain wherever possible).
But on a directing level, I really, really feel like Tapping should have pulled her team in a little tighter. By the end, I had no idea how I was supposed to be interpreting this episode, or these villains. The only connecting point up until here that I had is for one character I'm 99.9% sure we'll never see again. I mean, sure, we got some Sam-Dean engagement but up until this threshold? Really nothing stuck out. Some cleared throats, a few jabs; even tied to the radiator it just felt underwhelming. By the time the fight was done, Sam and Dean were shocked about the Holy Man thing, but got the blood and tada.
Aside from Lucca, the real highlight of the episode was the ending. Sam's strain again manifests and again, as he has through most of the season to everyone around him, Dean reached out to ask what was on his mind. With Dean's grief arc and "win" given to him, he's able to be the emotional support Sam, that Sam was for him in other recent episodes. Sam is fretting over the end of the road for them. There's always a new disaster, or a new monster. This echoes us back to Season 12, where Dean was worrying
over their legacy when they were gone. As Sam gave him faith in the future before, and through his grief, Dean issued back his own faith - given a boost by Lucca - that they'd find the way.
Supernatural is indeed gearing us for an ending - for their new world, their legacy, their peace when they are done. As Sam has been Dean's shining light in the dark, it's Dean's turn to step forward in emotional support now.
Overall, what I can say of the episode is:
· It's effectively a Monster of the Week, with people and an item instead. MOTW episodes generally have a case, and a few minutes of legitimate brother bonding at the end. We got that here.
· The tone of the episode seems confused even to itself. This is a mix of the co-writing effect, and of some direction.
May some of the fandom shoot me down, but I feel Tapping should have gotten better reign on her bit role actors to
declare a tone, and again, awkward Dean-reaction blip.
· The music was... there. It existed.
· The editing tried to be Noir at the end but missed opportunities at the start, so that also led to feeling of inconsistency.
· There were moments of a few sharp lines, but ultimately dialogue wasn't breathtaking.
· Nothing about the twists and turns surprised me, but that could just be me.
· I was honestly just expecting a lot more from a double-showrunner-written episode. No big landmark plot, nothing. That's a personal preference, though, and won't fall into my final review nor something for the General Audience to even be considering.
Redundant reactions and lack of consistency on the crew she could have corrected. The vision was not there and led to a bizarre and awkward standoff. Otherwise it's just base and solid.
Either a plot hole or a terrible way to give a major character point. Narrative we could feel the break on. Some missed opportunities at writing like the radiator. Otherwise, basic brothers, basic Monster of the Week style plot, We Found The Thing. Good, solid brother moment at the end.
General Experience: 5/10
I didn't know what I was supposed to think or feel. Most episodes let me just immerse myself in a vibe, this one's shifted around so much I couldn't tell what the vibe I was supposed to even get was. It was, in general, "an average viewing experience." It's not one I'd recommend. I wouldn't put it on a Roadmap For Beginner Viewers - the end beat is "They talked a few minutes, had an adventure, got The Thing." Unless you count Lucca, people are literally missing nothing if they skip it.
Basically: Overwhelmingly average. I wouldn't say it's the "worst ever," but it's just nothing to make most of the audience wildly excited. Beyond the above points, I'd say the best attribute of the episode is that it had a lot of strong Sam presence, but there were a few other ways that could have been improved too.
On the other hand, I am wildly excited for Scoobynatural. At least I won't be confused on the intent and tone of that one. And there's me throwing myself to the wolves on the first review, for a new site, while poking all the bears.
("Dude, she's toast.")