Apologies for this one being a bit later than anticipated. Apply the usual excuses of life as you see fit. But we're here now, yeah? And it's time to ramble on. I don't think I'll have as much categorical organization this time around (it's almost midnight Thursday night here, and I don't have that kind of brain power left). This is basically straight-up Gaelic reaction post with a list chaser.
Let me start with Castiel's storyline as it's currently my least favorite. My personal opinion (and this is JUST my opinion, not meant to offend anyone or negate another's opinion) is that Castiel is the most interesting when he's directly connected to the brothers, impacting them in some way. Then it's like magic, the way they all click, the angst and the humor. But when his story is separated and carried along on some kind of parallel track (as they did much of S9 and S10), I must confess...I bore easily.
I know that there are necessary threads being tugged here -- Metatron being missing, for one, and Cas the one responsible for his jailbreak. Not to mention Rowena and the residual vestiges of her curse. So, I know I need to pay attention and file away bits of information, but it wasn't until the boys showed back up at the bunker and found Cas crumpled behind that big pyramid of books doing his best Jeff-Goldblum-in-The-Fly impression ("Help...me....") that I felt myself re-engage with him. I was disappointed that they had Hannah -- his seemingly one angelic ally -- betray him and set him up for torture. Honestly, as I write this, I think I'm just generally disappointed in the angels, and it's not really Castiel at all. The way the angels are and have been depicted, it is easier to root for a demon's redemption than for an angel to be heroic.
I wanted to be sad that Hannah was killed when Ephram and Jonah pushed Castiel one brain-rod too far, but really, I was just relieved that she was gone along with the others and Castiel could get back to our boys where he is not only safer, but makes a difference. The angels lambasted him for choosing the Winchesters over Heaven every time he's faced with such a decision, but...can you blame him? The Winchesters have gone to inhuman lengths to save him, defend him, protect him. All Heaven has done is abandon him, betray him, torture him, accuse him, use him. Heaven may be where Castiel is from, but the Winchesters are family.
I'm looking forward to the writing to shift away from singling Castiel's storyline out as a necessary parallel run and blending his plight with that of the brothers'.
Let's talk about the brothers, then. We begin with them separated as we left them, Sam stubbornly determined to find the cure for the ragers -- especially since he is up against his own ticking clock -- and Dean trying to get Jenna and baby Amara to some place safe. I almost wish we would have been able to have the first two episodes as a two-hour premiere. The flow of the shows just felt like the week between was one long commercial break. I'll give them this: while I scoffed at Sam having to find a cure in hours, by himself, to a zombie-like disease that they knew nothing about caused by an entity that pre-dated God...they way they had him ultimately pull it off was both in-character and believable.
Though, I couldn't help but chuckle a bit at the giant flaming marshmallow used to burn away his darkness (yes, okay, I know it wasn't really a marshmallow, but come on...tell me you didn't see it, too).
I liked his ingenuity as he ransacked the hardware store and MacGyver'd a distraction and shock-stick to trap another 'rager'. When his captured 'rager' expired, though, without revealing anything Sam could work with, his plea to God for help tugged at something inside of me not just for the sake of the character, but on a personal level. Especially the, "I don't even know if you're out there, but if you are, we need your help. We need to know there's hope. We need a sign." I can't imagine there hasn't been at least one time in our lives we haven't reached that point -- that point where desperation drives faith ahead of doubt. The only thing that had me frowning a bit was his self-sacrificing statement that he (once again) was okay with dying if that was supposed to be what happened but that Dean deserved better, deserved a life.
I believe that is true, of course -- that Dean deserves a life -- and I love Sam for saying that in his Hail Mary prayer (so to speak), but I also hate that Sam said it. He has been here before. Several times. That I am okay with dying, I should die, I deserve to die place. It isn't about his hope for Dean, it's about his hopelessness for himself. It gives me such a hollow feeling on his behalf. I don't hear that and feel wonder at his selflessness, I feel worry about his apparent lack of self-preservation. Because I care about him and because of what losing him would ultimately do to Dean. What is it going to take for Sam to realize that praying for Dean to have a life means that Sam needs to live, too.
I'm not sure if I understood that random, Hell-like vision of the hooks and spears and wires and screaming and pain and gah, Sam saw -- except for the fact that it immediately made me think of Dean on the meathooks in Hell -- but his helpless cry of, "What does that mean?!" totally resonated with me. Mysterious ways, indeed. Was it God -- actually The Big Guy Himself -- sending that random vision to Sam? Was it maybe Lucifer screaming out from the Cage through whatever fledgling bond they may have because of Sam's once-demonic-blood? Inquiring minds and all that. But it was a good catalyst to driving Sam back to what he'd started and what he'd always done best in a hunt: research. And I really liked that it was research that saved him and not some random ooo, try this magic spell and/or potion type of a cure/solution.
When I was a kid I, like probably every other girl my age, watched pretty much every episode of Little House on the Prairie. I remember one episode where Pa was away somewhere and Ma cut her leg really badly and it became infected. She was feverish and delirious and turned to her Bible for comfort and read a verse where the words cut it off were highlighted. I can still remember the utter horror I felt when she grabbed a ginormous knife and I was convinced she was going to cut off her leg. Of course, she only opened the wound so that the infection could escape, but that was a seriously scarring episode. I felt the exact same way when Sam was piecing together the clues of purification by fire and using holy oil. I was honestly like, OMG the dude is going to light himself on fire.
Thank goodness for the flaming holy marshmallow.
I have to wonder if in that roadtrip from Superior back to the bunker (what was that, like, 3-4 hours?) Sam told Dean how he cured the remaining 'ragers'. Especially since they walked into the bunker talking about Amara like Dean had just brought it up so they clearly hadn't been talking about that craziness while on the road. What do those guys talk about on those long trips? It would have been pretty easy for Sam to tell Dean about finding the cure without mentioning that he was the initial test case, but I still think that's going to come back on them somehow (and did you notice how Sam was holding his neck as though kinda-sorta hiding a burn mark from his brother?).
Speaking of Dean, his bond with Amara is going to be an interesting one as this season plays out. I wouldn't be surprised to see her keep him from dying just to protect herself - and I wouldn't be surprised for him to (once again) be willing to die to end The Darkness. But in the meantime (while she still was a baby) I loved seeing Dean hold that baby. We're talking unicorns dancing on rainbows kind of loved. And hello adorableness, how stinkin' cute was that baby? I swear when she used the Force to toss the FEED ME blocks against the wall, she actually smirked. I was pleasantly surprised to see the evolution of Amara. Keeping her as a baby would have been tough because of the instinct to protect, but there is seriously nothing creepier than a possessed or evil little kid (Lillith, anyone?). And the fact that she eats souls? Come on. That is the work of an evil genius.
Because our show has trained me to be suspicious of everyone, I gave Jenna's grandma the stink eye from the moment we saw her -- so much so I never saw soulless!Jenna coming. When she walked into that kitchen, she was one creepy, dead-eyed chick. I probably should never have said I liked her last episode, though. I'm pretty sure I doomed her. Sorry, Jenna. You were a good egg, when you had your soul. The best part, though, about Amara's evil-Jedi skills emerging was getting Crowley back. Like Crowley Crowley. At first his banter with Dean was so familiar and funny I wasn't sure if he was still nursing his wounds from Dean no longer being his bestie or not...but then when he killed Jenna and threw Dean through the closet doors, I was fairly certain that King of Hell was back.
And I'm sorry, but how bad ass was Dean's angel-sword high-five to Crowley? Loved that he pinned him to the wall and showed him the Demon-Killing Knife. Kind of a literally the only reason you're alive is because I'm allowing it move. Dean didn't really have much to do this episode besides reunite with Crowley and discover, one-beat behind the whole time, that kids really do grow up fast these days. Especially on a diet of souls. But it was good to see him in action (don't judge me - I liked watching him shake off that head-ringing toss through the closet door) and see him doing his best to protect the baby and Jenna. It's our Dean (even with whatever 'bond' he's got going on) and not the man who was once a demon.
I'm going to wrap the reaction part of this with my favorite reveal of the whole episode: Billie the Reaper. First? The song? Are you kidding me? That was all kinds of awesome. This Reaper (a Toni Braxton look alike) is no fan of the Winchesters. They killed her boss and have been dodging her kind for way too long. We wondered what the ramifications for killing Death would be? Well, looks like at least one of them is actual death. Dean removed one of their allies when he turned Death's sickle back on him. This time? If/when one of the boy's dies? There's no Heaven, no Hell, there's nothing. The Empty. It sounds horrifying and satisfying at the same time. At last, death has dominion over them. There won't be any deals, no slipping through a crack in the space/time continuum into Purgatory, no Angel of the Lord pulling them free of a rack. This time, they would be gone, and (to me) that means no more, "I'm okay with dying" or sacrificing without thinking it through.
Now, I don't want that to be their ultimate reward, but at the same time? Heaven doesn't really seem that much better than Purgatory and only a few steps up from Hell in this 'verse. So, they have some serious work to do to set this cockeyed reality back on center. Good thing they like their job!
What I liked:
- Sam's whole MacGyver scene to catch the 'rager'.
- Dean + baby = UNF
- "Chics dig me."
- "You look like poop on parade!"
- "What's your name?" "Bite me." "Okay...Bite Me."
- Baby Amara using the Force to fling blocks against the wall demanding FEED ME. Serious holy sh*t moment, there.
- The hilariously predictable way Dean answered his phone, "Ghostbusters," right after Grandma asked, "Who're we gonna call?" I mean, it was an obvious joke (because why would Dean just answer "ghostbusters"??) but it had me cracking up.
- Dean power-sliding the Impala.
- "Who knows what was in that giant crazy fart?" "Vivid, thanks."
- Billie the Reaper and her chillingly awesome rendition of "Oh, Death."
- Billie telling Sam that "it's over" ... next time they die, it's into The Empty for them (you ever wonder if the writers are just so done making up names?)
- Sam self-consciously looking at his gun then tucking it into his waistband as he enters the chapel.
- Sam's prayer.
- Father Crowley's smug, "Hello, my son."
- Dean being described by Crowley as a "scrunptious young altar boy." Just. So. Wrong.
- "I'm sorry, Agent Pathetic Has-Been Rocker! Did I offend your delicate sensibilities?"
- The way everyone is either afraid of or has a healthy respect for The Darkness. Makes it feel like an honest-to-goodness actual threat (as opposed to, say, Eve).
- "Well, hello, plot twist." My thoughts exactly, Father Crowley.
- CAS SMASH (that was really the only good thing about that whole scene was Cas finally having enough).
- The holy flaming marshmallow.
- "We don't know what ancient, world-shattering evil we're dealing with here, but by all means, let them know we're coming!"
- "Listen, Velma, this isn't the Scooby Gang."
- "I'm way more of a Daphne."
- Sam playing 'Sugar Shack' to lure in the 'ragers'.
- Crowley going all Spock on us with his, "Fascinating" comment in response to realizing Jenna is no longer in possession of her soul.
- Watching Amara literally age. Creep. Eee.
- "C'mon, darling, don't play coy."
- Dean's angel-sword high-five, pinning Crowley to the wall.
- "We gotta get a maid."
- Crowley 'feeding' Amara. This is a dangerous duo, methinks.
Not so much:
- The convenient writing around the spread of the 'rager' infection. That whole some change fast, some change slow thing was a decent hand-wave for me.
- The fact that we jumped from Sam and the three cured ragers rounding up the rest of the infected to cure them and Dean discovering Amara was not in her crib to both of them walking into the bunker, talking as if they didn't just spend a few hours in the car together about how Amara is now a little girl. C'mon, guys. Transitions.
- The angels. Stop torturing Cas. If you're so worried about Metatron, how about sending some of these black-suited minions out to scour the Earth for him rather than beat up on a compromised angel? Try doing something useful for a change.
- Help me! Where have we seen the woman who played Jenna's grandma before?! At first I thought maybe it was the Fudgin' god from Season 3, but I know it's not her. Still, she was so familiar!
- I wonder if Hannah really couldn't heal Cas or just...didn't. Since she orchestrated the whole torture/rescue scenario, both would be plausible, but if she didn't, then there feels like more hope for the boys to help cure Cas of this curse.
- I need to know more about this 'bond' The Darkness/Amara has with Dean. I hope they play that up more -- he knows when she's strong, when she's weak. I mean, I wouldn't even care if it was like a Harry Potter-Voldemort, dream-connection thing. Dean feels pain in his arm where the Mark once was when she's wreaking havoc. Something tangible like that. I'm sure it won't go that far...but it would be cool (IMO).
- Who wants to lay bets on how long it will be before Sam tells Dean about Billie the Reaper? Kind of important information, that.
- Why didn't Dean kill Crowley? I mean, aside from the fact that we all love Mark Sheppard, going from a character perspective -- he had both the angel sword and the Demon-Killing Knife, Crowley made it clear he was ready to kill Dean...what stayed Dean's hand? Latent affection for the guy? He's too familiar with him now? An idea he could be of use? I have to ponder that one a bit.
Thanks, as always, for reading, guys! I think I got back to everyone last week. I'll try to keep doing so. Slainte!