*tents hand over eyes and peers into the large expanse of the interwebs*....
As promised, I bring you my...
(.gif by supernutjapan - thank you!)
I've missed you guys. It's fun having our weekly 'chats' (even if said 'chats' consist of me reading your comments and scrambling to reply before the next episode). I missed the what-ifs and the if-onlys and wtfs. So, as this is my first opportunity all month to talk SPN, I hope you'll indulge me some genuine rambling (assuming you're all still out there...those crickets can be loud, yeah?).
Once upon a time, there wasn't such a thing as Netflix. Or DVRs. The word 'binge' was not associated with watching a TV series and commercials slowed everything down. If one wanted to watch multiple episodes in a row, one had to wait weeks to collect the episode on a VHS tape and their FastFoward button on the remote was all-but worn away from frequent use. That, or (*gasp*) wait until the season was over and purchase the series.
I will readily admit to binge-watching. I did so with Daredevil (bless you, Netflix), the first 3 seasons of Teen Wolf, all of DaVinci's Demons, Dexter, Homeland, I mean...I could go on. I love immersing myself into the story; I see the plot unfold so much more clearly when I bunch episodes together rather than spread them across weeks and the occasional hiatus. I also see the inevitable repetition that only the rare show seems able to avoid. But it's still fun to emerge from hours spent visually soaking up a story, blink bleary-eyed at the world and wonder how it is that everything still looks the same as it did before I hit play on the first episode.
Watching three SPN episodes in a row held a similar sensation; I am not ashamed to admit that it was an incredibly appealing way to watch our boys traverse the slowly unspooling plot - so much so that I flirted with the idea of going to a monthly collection of reviews. But...then there was the missing you guys thing. So.
Coming off the high that was watching 11.04, I wasn't sure how things would go. I mean, it is going to be really hard for them to top that episode, IMO. While they weren't exactly the brilliance of Baby, these last three episodes were entertaining--and one was downright creepy as heck. The theme of siblings and sacrifice is strong this season, and I swear every time I hear someone warn ominously that The Darkness is coming, I have to stifle the urge to whisper, "The North remembers." Thank you, Game of Thrones.
So, let me see if I can sum up where we are. I'll start with some broad thoughts on the arc, briefly break down each episode, then share my lists. Done and done.
Turns out God has a sister.
I will admit to you that upon hearing that little revelation my reaction was basically along the lines of...WHAT?! Are you freaking kidding me?! Every cell in my body is resisting the impossibility of...wait, what did Metatron just say about humans needing God to be a singular, all-powerful being? Huh, yeah, okay, that actually makes me...right and this 'verse is rife with sibling significance between Michael and Lucifer, Cain and Abel, Dean and Sam...and what could be more heartbreaking and universe-rendering than God having to sacrifice his own sister for the sake of humanity...okay, okay, while I still have an actual physical reaction to this line of storytelling, I see how it works in this 'verse...let's see where they take it...carry on, Show.
I find it intriguing that they have involved God to such a degree in this arc. The part of me that is tired of the angels isn't sure if I like incorporating more Heavenly components to the brothers' plight. But...the part of me that is looking at this from a broader picture realizes we can't not go here. We never really tied up the Cage thread, did we? And as long as Castiel is part of Team Free Will, the angels are going to be running amuck across the prose, aren't they? And even though Dean isn't marked by Cain any longer, they've still tied him to the Mark, so...yeah. God's sister. Why the hell not?
Though, don't get me started on the musing of who their parents were, or if maybe some writer dipped their pen into the midichlorian well. I'm not quite ready to separate myself from all of my personal truths for the sake of our Show.
Here's where my head is with the arc thus far. We'll see how quickly this is shot down. In a 'verse where siblings seem to be the representation of dark and light, based on choice or destiny, we have God and Amara. God decided to create humans (still a bit murky on the why there) but in order to do so, he had to sacrifice his sister. Pretty sure we're going to find out more about that--and I'm willing to bet it'll be from Amara's PoV. But she wasn't all that keen on being erased and put up a helluva fight, forcing God to bring all of his forces to bear and defeat her, for the first "greater good" battle. Lucifer, one of God's best, most loyal warriors, bore the burden of carrying the lock to Amara's prison--which seems to have been within the Earth.
But the weight of that sacrifice/betrayal poisoned Lucifer through the lock and soon he rose up, challenging God. Perhaps even challenging God's choice to imprison his own sister, who knows. Instead of locking Lucifer away, though, God creates Hell and allows (IMO) Lucifer to rule over it, providing his creation--humans--a consequence for choosing poorly. Following this line of thinking, I'm wondering if God decided that the "kinder" punishment of separating Lucifer from his brothers and home rather than locking him away as he did Amara was actually because he felt guilty (I mean, if God can have a sister, one can surmise that he can feel remorse/guilt) for being part of the catalyst for Lucifer's ultimate betrayal.
So, Michael is the angelic representation of light, Lucifer of dark and while brothers, they are now mortal enemies. Lucifer cons Cain into taking on his Mark--the lock that keeps Amara imprisoned--and we know that story. Cain eventually becomes the first demon, lays waste to legions, lives in solitude until Dean Winchester (whose very existence was orchestrated by angelic intervention) finds him, then passes his Mark on. So far, in this 'verse God has betrayled and sacrificed his sister and locked her away somewhere, been the cause for poisoning one of his own and sent him first to Hell, then ultimately to the Cage, helped create the first demon, and moved the chess pieces for the human vessels of Lucifer and Michael to trigger Armageddon.
From a certain point of view, it might appear that the birth of Dean and Sam Winchester was God's way of fixing what he'd wrought by creating the Earth in the first place: the banishment/betrayal/imprisonment of his sister.
But...God created/allowed Free Will (perhaps as a failsafe...a 'prove me wrong' hope) and despite being part of a Heavenly chess game, Dean and Sam thwarted the big Vessel Death Match and stopped Armageddon before it ever really started. Which you'd think would hit the reset button, but instead it triggered a chain of events that even the most powerful beings haven't been able to foresee. Maybe that's why God is still MIA in this 'verse. For millennia, things had happened according to his plans, until the Winchesters arrived on the scene and now the universe is like a parachute of whiffle balls, everything up in the air and bouncing around randomly. Maybe he's just waiting to see where everything lands. Maybe he's curious to see what his creation is truly capable of. Or was, at least. Until now.
See, the light/dark thing seems to be rather interchangeable. Take Cain and Abel--everyone assumed Cain was dark, Abel light, until we heard Cain's story and found out why he made that deal with the Devil. Cain was the murderer, yes, but it seems Abel wasn't so lily-white prior to his death, and Cain's actions could actually be seen as just and right. Then we get to our boys. Sam was Lucifer's vessel and spent a fair amount of time without a soul. From that perspective, it could seem that he was dark and Dean light (with Dean being the Righteous Man and Michael's vessel). Until you take into account that Dean bore the Mark of Cain--and was himself 'poisoned' by the lock on Amara's prison--died, and became a demon for a time. Who's the dark one now?
This is all leading me to think that The Darkness--Amara--is more ambiguous than we might first think. We all want God to be the good guy and Amara to be evil (or, at least, I do). But I think maybe it's more complicated than that. The one thing that has been constant from (literally) the beginning is the concept of having to sacrifice what is most precious to you--in this 'verse, apparently, that's your sibling--for the greater good. Our boys have been asked to do that so many times I've totally lost count. And yet they haven't. They've pretty plainly said they would do basically anything to try to save the world, but they won't do that. Meatloaf would be proud.
So, with demons and angels having drinks together, monsters creating more of their own out of basic protection, Amara sucking souls left and right with alternating homicidal results, the boys have their hands pretty full. Add to that the fact that Amara is not only God's sister, but that he was responsible for what happened to her--purposely sacrificed her for the sake of his creation--and that Sam is getting (really confusing and not a little scary) visions he believes are from God, you've got yourself a conundrum wrapped in a riddle surrounded by a question mark.
My guess is, God (as Chuck or as a fiery ball of power, who knows) is going to be the key ingredient to lock Amara away, or we'll somehow end up swapping Lucifer and Michael with God and Amara in The Cage. I'm not sure what I want to see happen there. I just know what I don't want: the boys once more at opposite ends of dark and light or having either of them be the latest Sacrifice For The Greater Good in this ongoing sibling saga. But I am worried about that because of Dean's obvious connection to Amara. But let's save that for the episode breakdown.
A couple of years ago, my dear friend ThruTerrysEyes took me to stay at this fantastic old hotel called The Crescent in Eureka Springs, AR. It was the inspiration for the hotel in her story, Moonstar, which she knew has always been a favorite of mine. The hotel was supposed to be haunted--it has a really creepy history and was touted as America's Most Haunted Hotel. We went on a Ghost Tour the evening we were there, wandering the old, creaky staircase and balconies, listening to the ghost stories and guest "encounters" and laughing quietly as we totally denied being scared in the slightest. However, that night I didn't sleep a wink, thinking I heard someone in our room, feeling the bed shift as though someone sat down on the corner, my imagination taking my blood pressure on a wild ride. Terry, bless her, slept like she was going to be graded on it later. I think one of us might have been a bit more susceptible to the mental breadcrumbs the ghost tour guide scattered liberally throughout the evening.
Episode 11.05 immediately reminded me of that night. I loved how the boys found the hunt--Sam's serial killer fetish, Dean's indulgence--and how eager Sam was to check it all out. Reminded me a bit of Season 2's "Playthings" -- right down to getting the room with the queen-sized bed. I liked seeing them use EMF meters and debunking the "haunted" Borden house. But the best part of the episode wasn't the MotW spin, it was the layering of Amara's impact on the world.
I liked that they showed various reactions to losing one's soul--mainly because I was troubled by how quickly pretty, sweet deputy Jenna turned into a Terminator-esque killer after Amara ate her soul. Sam was very robo!Sam without his soul, but he wasn't a voided-out killer like she was. I didn't want them to suddenly change that and make us hand-wave soullessness. So, Len's confusion about basically not caring about anything, but not really being troubled about not caring, juxtaposed with Sydney's zen-like bliss at not having to feel that pain she walked around with constantly helped capture the many degrees of humanity.
I liked the boys being as close to honest with each other as they'll probably ever really come, though I do have to wonder if/when Sam will share with Dean what he learned from Billy the Reaper. And I really want Dean to open up a bit more to Sam about his fear regarding his connection to Amara. But I can forgive both of those right now because Sam has a lot of other things on his mind and Dean, well....he probably wouldn't even know where to start and talking about it might just make it a bit too real.
Basic thing I took from this epi was that the boys still know their old-school best practices when hunting for ghosts (or non-ghosts, as it were) and now they can add "soulless humans" to their list of things they have to worry about with Amara in the world.
Our Little World
This was the most arc-heavy of the three and to be honest, probably rank at the bottom of my list. Which is not to say I didn't like it, just that the others held more entertainment value for me. One of the things I have been most impressed with this season is how closely each of the iterations of Amara have resembled one another. As we transitioned from pre-teen to teen Amara in this episode I was struck by how not just the eyes and hair, but the mouth, cheekbones, shape of her face...I mean, these Amaras could be sisters. I haven't checked the actress’s names, but well done casting department. And each one has been equally as chilling.
I was surprised to have the soulless!Len story wrap up so quickly with this very next episode. I expected him to be someone who challenged the boys a bit down the road--especially in light of Sam's broadening his revitalized 'no kill' policy to include demons. Of the two, Sam's always been the one more reluctant to kill--except of course for when he was soulless himself--but cuffing demons rather than killing them isn't something I've seen in either one of them since the earlier seasons. It's both encouraging (save the meat suits!) and worrisome (the odds are not in their favor!) but I like how it enhances the differences between Sam's "maybe God is listening to my prayers" hope and Dean's "we're in this on our own, just like always" grit.
This was the episode, of course, where Metatron ancestry.com'd God for us and revealed Amara to be his sister...which means we also had to see Metatron again. I wasn't exactly thrilled about that, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. First of all, having him out there being all Nightcrawler and selling his almost snuff-films to the local news, prompted Castiel to push past his PTSD-induced agoraphobia (as a result of Rowena's curse) and actually leave the bunker (all Jenny Jones and no trench coat makes Cas a dull boy). And secondly, he had the demon tablet. I'm not sure what that's ultimately going to do to help our boys, but I'm sure something will come of it.
Finally, we also saw some tangible, physical evidence of Amara's connection with Dean. Seeing him push his obvious anxiety about what The Darkness had said to him in the big cloud down repeatedly, compartmentalizing as he does with everything else, so that he could engage on this hunt and back Sam up had my stomach knotting up a bit. And of course they got separated and of course Dean was the one charged with killing what they thought was essentially a 12-year-old girl. I mean, the set up was pretty glaringly obvious, but it had to be that way in order for us to see the Dean/Amara encounter.
The interesting thing for me was Crowley revealing that he was ready to kill Dean, despite their "summer of love." He hadn't been able to bring himself to do it before, but apparently spending time around Amara and considering what it was he really wanted pushed him to remember their roles: hunter and demon. To me, that was more surprising than Amara stepping in to stop him. I expected her to do that, really. Have to wonder what this means for our friendly neighborhood King of Hell, though. Does he claim temporary insanity and try to re-ingratiate himself back with the Winchesters as protection from his protégé? Is this the season that sees the end of Crowley?
I have to confess, I was almost...uncomfortable when Amara and Dean finally faced off. The energy between them felt almost sexually charged to me, the way she practically ate him up with her eyes and the way he sort of swayed toward her. And if it had been the grown-up Amara we saw in the cloud, I don't know that I would have thought anything of it. But the ingénue...it had me head-tilting a bit. Age-disparity aside, after that encounter, I worry more about this 'connection' Amara has with Dean. She protected him. He can't kill her. I wonder if he could let her die? This is thread has serious potential for some good angst, says I.
This one was my favorite. It was basically arc-free (which isn't why it was my favorite); a true MotW. And it was creepy as hell, ya'll. By the time I got to this one, it was pretty late and I was already clutching my pillow, but the minute I saw that dude with the bunny head standing at the window I wanted to grab the popcorn salt and surround my couch with it. The silent, Mike Meyers-like way that Bunny Man went about his killing was just...and then not being able to get the head off, I couldn't...I mean. Creepy.
I liked that it was a genuine ghost hunt this time. And I loved that Sheriff Donna was back in the mix. I adore her, yeah, you betcha. She's just real. She and Jodie are my hands-down favorite guest-stars. I hope we see Jodie again this season (and they don't kill her...always afraid of saying I like someone too loud--sorry, Jenna). The ghost M.O. was original, I thought. Being stuck to his costumes and possessing the wearer. And the deaths were seriously gruesome. Especially the clown in the hospital finishing off the coach with a scalpel to the neck. Gah.
But how awesome was the encounter with Sam and that killer clown in the elevator?! I mean, as soon as we saw the clown enter the hospital you just knew Sam was going to be the one to fight it. I loved how this bad-assed hunter literally had to visibly brace himself, take a deep breath, and then go in for the attack. I don't know if I've ever been that afraid of something tangible. Okay, well, except maybe spiders. Or anything with more than four legs. But that’s it, I swear. *shifty-eyes*
Chester, the ghost, had a sad story, as many of the deaths are. I didn't blame him for seeking vengeance, honestly. And I wouldn't have blamed his sister for being extra cautious in protecting her kid, but not by letting the locals "take care of it." Poor Chester. This one didn't really advance the arc as much as it solidified the sibling issues. Especially when Chester's sister said she had been "sticking up for him her whole life" and found herself suddenly worried she might have missed something because of that. Missed something evil within her slightly strange brother. I couldn't help but wonder what overtones we were to have subtly picked up from that comparison.
All I know is, I won't look at mardis-gras jesters quite the same way. And Anya was right: bunnies are evil. (Cookies for anyone who gets that reference.)
General Thoughts Of Really No Consequence But I'm Telling You Anyway
I am really liking the brotherly vibe this season. It's too early for me to make a call on where I might rank this season, but I am looking forward to seeing the episodes, so that's something, right? There have been seasons in the past that felt more like...familial obligation, in a way. But not this season. And I know how it makes me sound, but oh well -- I'm liking that the boys are getting a bit roughed up this season. I really want some realistic physical consequences to the situations they get themselves in. They aren't superheroes, they're just heroes. Just regular guys heading into battle with nothing but flannel and canvas to protect them. I've been a bit spoiled of late seeing some physical consequences for acts of bravery (Daredevil, I'm looking at you) and I like seeing it bring a bit more realism to our Show. Even if they do have a bestie who is an angel and can heal them with a touch if they let him.
However, I will say that if they keep throwing Dean through and into glass things and not have him stabbed by said glass, I'm going to call BS. Yes, it's an impressive shot and helps show the power of whatever baddie they're up against, but come on. I've gone through glass before and I did not come out unscathed (seventeen stitches, thanks). And...they seem to be separated, more often than not, when the fit hits the shan. Keep our boys together and let them mend each other -- like in Season 4's "I Know What You Did Last Summer." I'm not asking for much. Just a little brotherly patching up.
And if you're keeping score at home...if we're going with a light/dark theme for the siblings--and Sam is now the light with his prayers and messages from God (maybe) and Dean is the dark because of his link to Amara via the Mark--then I want them to pull another Stull Cemetery move where they basically flip off the universe and find another way. I want Dean to find his faith--in something bigger than the two of them--and I want that faith to pay off. I want Sam to be rewarded for constantly trying to do the right thing. I don't know if I can really take another "brothers are ripped apart by This Really Awful Thing That Could Have Been Avoided If They Talked To Each Other" situation, like we've had in so many seasons past. I want this vibe to keep steady.
Ready for some lists?
- Mention of Ghost Facers (I miss those guys)
- “And now we’re in the Shining.”
- “Working with family can be tough.” You ain't just whistlin' Dixie, man.
- “Bottled toilet water?! Why do you keep spraying it?!”
- Agents Gabriel and Collins. Nicely played, Show.
- Sydney the babysitter's hair. Seriously, loved that blue.
- “I don’t think fan covers it.”
- “Whole town’s panicking like it’s The Purge.”
- Amara says that Lizzie has serial killer eyes
- “He doesn’t even know he’s been Hoovered yet.”
- “You were one chilly droid.”
- The looks between Dean and Sam when Len is describing how he feels. HA!
- “Dean – you want to be a little more blunt?!”
- “Excuse me, drunk girl?”
- Dean seeing that Sam is about to work his way free & providing the distraction to aid in their escape (only to be "rescued" by soulless!Len and an axe).
- “I’m not gonna lie; that’s worrisome.”
- Dean’s eyes as Len says “going through the motions as long as I can” -- it's so clear how much he relates to that feeling
- “This is going to hurt me way more than it hurts you.”
- “Our ranks have been a bit thin since Amara…ate everybody.”
- “Rise and shine, Buttercup.” Amy Blair (if you're reading) this totally made me think of you.
- “Where’d you ditch the body?” “School playground.” “C’mon.”
- “I keep forgetting about you and Crowley’s ‘summer of love’.”
- “I don’t have a clue what I’m doing here. Moment to moment, what makes you happy, what sets you off. I can’t even begin to forge a connection. But I do know you’re growing so fast and it terrifies me.” Says pretty much every parent of a teenager everywhere the end.
- “Reality [TV] is the great literature of our era.” Sad that this actually feels true.
- “You trying out some kind of ‘no kill’ policy?” Good question.
- "All right…two outta three.” Atta boy, Sammy.
- Dean's face the whole time Crowley had him pinned to the post--from realizing that Crowley really did want to kill him, to seeing Amara attack Crowley (and--gah!--break his arm!), to realizing Amara was bargaining for him, to being set free. I could have not seen anyone else in the room and known exactly what was unfolding just by watching his quicksilver eyes. *fans self*
- “In order to create the world, God had to give up the only thing he’d ever known. He had to betray and sacrifice his only kin. The Darkness. His sister.” Um…interesting.
- Sam’s vision of…the Cage?!?!
- Not gonna lie, the bunny at the window totally creeped me out.
- Sam praying in his room - “Please…what are you trying to say?” Dean being a totally nosey older brother - “You want privacy, close your door.”
- “What do you mean, killer bunny?”
- Dean “If you’ve got a wild hair….” Sam = eye-roll
- Agents Savage and Elliot. Loving the aliases being back on track. *grins*
- “Hurt myself?! I do cross-fit.”
- Sam trapped on elevator with clown. I know. I'm evil. But seriously.
- “No, Dean, I’m joking because clowns are really funny to me.”
- “Your life’s one big poop storm, isn’t it?”
- The attraction between Dean and Amara. That was a different kind of creepy from the bunny.
- Metatron (though that's basically just on principle...he wasn't that bad in the episode)
- Not sure exactly how I feel about Sam not killing demons. I get that he wants to save the "meat suits"...but if he doesn't exorcise the demons, he's just leaving them with enemies to fight. And how many pairs of handcuffs does he have, anyway? This does not sound like a sustainable plan.
- "Girl, You'll Be A Woman, Soon"...I just...have never liked that song. Because, reasons.
- Sam identifying Donna by saying "Fat-sucker, Donna"? I frowned at him. But then, so did Dean, so I felt better.
Two big questions on my mind right now:
- What does/will the Dean/Amara connection mean?! I am so intrigued by that one. It's probably the thing that has me most hooked at this point.
- What does/will Sam seeing The Cage in his vision mean? That Lucifer or Michael can help contain Amara? That they need the Horseman's rings to open the Cage send her to hang out with her nephews? That Sam is the key to catching her, since he did time in The Cage? I mean, if we're talking siblings and sacrifice, having Dean be tied to Amara and Sam be the key to locking her/them away would be pretty sacrificial.
- What, if anything, does/will the Demon Tablet be able to tell them (maybe even something about The Cage)?
- Will Metatron stay human and does this mean we're basically done with him (please oh please oh please)?
- Is Crowley back on the enemy list for Dean, now that he saw the demon was really willing to kill him? Or will Crowley recant now that he's seen what Amara is willing to do to protect Dean?