If I ruled the world, all of these great little nuggets we're seeing of the boys' past and layers within the MotW stories would fold into something truly deep and meaningful when the sh*t hits the fan in the last three episodes of the season (as we all know it will). Each of these potentially "nothing much" episodes have held something significant for me. Something about our boys that we/I needed to be reminded of or didn't actually know.
Like the title of the episode hinted, this particular story delved into substance way Beyond the Mat. I've never been a fan of wrestling. The violence for violence sake part of that show, the over-the-top performances, the drama...none of it ever appealed to me. I took a second look at MMA after I watched Warriors, but without Tom Hardy's manpain and the story of the brothers, I couldn't deal. I know this will amuse some of you who read as I've been asked before if it's possible for me to write a story where someone doesn't get hurt (the answer is yes, but also I don't want to), but to me, the hurt/comfort factor of my fanfiction stories is purposeful. It leads the character through some experience or emotion.
With wrestling like this, with pro-names like The Hangman and Hell Raiser and Lawless, for me it's just pointless pain and violence and that holds no interest for me. But then, as they have been doing all season, the Show pulled back a layer. They revealed to us a happy family memory where John and his boys were just...John and his boys. Enjoying a sport and creating heroes. They gave us Dean's first non-hunter hero: Gunnar Lawless. They gave us Sam's first crush (whose poster he most definitely did not have hanging over his bed...*shifty eyes*). They gave us history and roots and meaning and I was forced to think this nutty, I'm going crazy in the bunker with no leads and no way to help so let's go to the funeral of this old wrestler dude idea of Dean's held some weight.
Of course they'd find a hunt. That was probably the only potentially cheesy part of it. Of course they'd see that John's favorite wrestler had died--relatively nearby--and decide to randomly attend his funeral ('cause...who does that?) and realize while there that it's actually a case. But even that had me thinking...was it random? Yes, it's convenient writing, but like I said, if I ruled the world these little pieces would ultimately form together to create a bigger picture, perhaps orchestrated by someone/thing with a much broader view of everything. I mean, who is to say that taking out The Crossroads Demon With No Name wasn't a key peg in this crazy Jenga tower? *expressive shrug*
Once I got past my own personal eye-roll session that the episode involved wrestling and saw the story for the gem that it was, I was captivated. I am loving how the boys are just...just boys this season. Brothers. They aren't in a We're On a Mission from God mindset or constantly burdened with purpose and tragedy. They aren't hiding Really Big Secrets from each other; they aren't angry with each other or intent on their own agendas.
They're just getting through this. There's been enough pain, enough death, and there's certainly enough fault to go around.
It felt good to see Sam willingly set aside his research--regardless of how important he felt it was--when Dean very honestly confessed that he was burnt. And he looked it, man. Dean was just done in by all the things that they hadn't been able to do, all the lost battles. Losing Cas to his choice and watching Delphine sacrifice herself on the sub were just two too many hits for our boy. And after all, "The world's still gonna be screwed tomorrow, right?"
Seeing Sam turn from serious, weight-of-the-world thirty-something hunter to a fifteen year old boy when he saw Rio was fantastic, but not quite as awesome as watching Dean go full-on fan-boy at the opportunity for meeting his all-time favorite, Gunnar Lawless. That whole thing just built from the adorably awkward handshake at the funeral to the hope that he'd get tossed the glove to his playing--actually, legitimately playing--in the empty ring (we won't mention that painful dismount...heh). I don't think I'm going to be able to let that go anytime soon. In fact, on dark days? I'm going to cue up that scene with Dean in the empty ring and just play it on a loop.
The wresters were truly layered as well. I enjoyed Rio's dedication to "her boys" and how her focus was on keeping them safe, though she couldn't have known she was no match for what truly aimed to hurt them. I enjoyed the heartbreaking (for Dean, anyway) reveal of Gunnar having sold his soul for a title he held for only a week and was now being forced to kill on a demon's whim to keep the Hell Hounds at bay.
Talk about a morality tale: make sure what you want in this world it's truly worth your soul, boys and girls, because there are no take-backs.
But I think my favorite wrestler story was Harley's. He was the hot-head we all thought (or at least I did...and the boys did) was the bad guy and he turned out to be the most morally incorruptible of all of them. When faced with the choice between giving up his life and selling his soul, he bravely says no, and he totally won me over forever (which, sadly for him, turned out to be not that long) with his rebuttal of the demon's offer.
"If you're a demon, that means there's a Hell. And if there's a hell, there's a Heaven. And I'm not giving up my shot at paradise for a belt I can in on my own." Atta boy, Harley. I hope your room in Heaven is decked out with belts and wresting rings where you stand with your fist raised high.
I like that when the boys realized it was Gunnar killing everyone at the behest of that Nameless CRD they didn't try to find some desperate way to save him from the Hell Hounds. Even though he was Dean's hero in this particular universe. I liked that Gunnar saved the boys by killing the demon, even though he knew it would summon the Hounds, because Dean convinced him it was never too late to do the right thing. And I liked that Gunnar owned that he had this coming, and the boys allowed it and walked away. It was a realistic ending--sad, but realistic. Which is an odd statement to make about Hell Hounds coming to tear someone up and drag them away.
However, I will say that after getting thrown through that many walls, Dean really shouldn't have been able to walk away at all. At the very least, he should have been supported by Sam after getting his bell seriously wrung. But...I guess they had some extra CW Magic Cream in their pockets.
I think my favorite scene with the brothers, though, above all the lighthearted fanboying and wrestling ring antics, was the last five minutes. The return to the bunker with Dean looking sad and exhausted and more burnt-out than he had before they left for the funeral and Sam looking equal parts worried and restless as he kept his eyes on his brother. I loved Sam instinctively stating that they would get Cas back--especially as he'd been the proponent of the possibility that Cas didn't want to be rescued earlier in the episode. He could see how much Dean needed to believe that--almost over believing that they could beat Amara. And Sam's learned something over these last many years: it doesn't matter if he thinks it's possible, it matters if Dean needs to believe that it's possible. Whatever 'it' is.
I loved Dean quoting Gunnar and saying that they would keep grinding. "No matter much it hurts or how hard it gets. And that's how we're going to win." But my favorite line was Sam's immediate: "Damn right."
Damn right they're going to keep at it. If they're facing giants with nothing but rocks in their slingshots, damn right they're going down swinging. And they're doing it together.
Before I get to my lists, I have to take a moment to discuss Crowley and Casifer. I'm just going to say it: I missed Crowley. Like our Crowley, if that is actually a thing we're saying. It was kind of a relief to see him suited up and spiffy once more. Watching Casifer treat him like a dog--I mean, licking the floor of Hell? Can you get any lower?--was starting to get a bit painful and...overdone. I was a little bummed that he was double-crossed, though I expected it. I mean, if there's no honor among thieves, there's certainly no loyalty among demons. There is only respect for whoever wields the most power.
Double-entendres aside, I was glad to see that there was actually more than one Hand of God. And now we know two very important things: a demon can wield the power of God and survive and apparently, all Hands of God are apparently one-hit wonders. So, if they find another one, they better not waste it smiting some double-crossing demon. It does make me wonder a few things, though, which I'll capture below.
Thanks for hanging with me, those of you who have. I would apologize yet again for this being later than I'd like, but if you'd seen my week, you'd be amazed that it's here at all.
- The bunker table turned into Research Central with obligatory super-sized aspirin bottle on hand.
- Casifer channeling his inner Alec Baldwin/Glengarry Glen Ross: "Always. Be. Closing."
- "Should I go say hi? I should go say hi. I'm gonna go say hi."
- Dean telling Gunnar Lawless that he got his first B&E at 10 because he wanted to see him on PPV.
- Sam awkwardly denying that he had Rio's poster above his bed (he SO did).
- "World's still gonna be screwed tomorrow, right?"
- "You drink enough, it'll be just like old times."
- D: "Town after town, putting your ass on the line for next to nothing? No money, no glory?" S: "You realize you just literally described our jobs."
- Gunnar winking at Dean when he's thrown from the ring and Dean practically glowing because of it. <3
- "Did he get in a tickle fight with Edward Scissorhands?" "Dude."
- Actually, the multitude of times Sam said "Dude" throughout the entire episode.
- Dean. Playing. In. The. Ring. I need a gif of that. Someone please go search tumblr and report back to me.
- "Buried the lead on that one, huh?"
- Gunnar and Dean comparing scars.
- "One thing I learned: you gotta keep on grinding, no matter what's in your way." << And that's why John loved these guys, says me.
- Dean's brilliant plan to tests shots with holy water and ending up with him sh*t faced and hung over.
- S: "What happened?" D: "Mostly tequila cut with holy water."
- Harley telling the Nameless CRD to basically go screw himself, only much more eloquently.
- The fact that Crowley had a collection of the Supernatural books by Carver Edlund.
- The Rod of Aaron being a Hand of God.
- "With all due respect, Simmons, I don't think you can handle my rod." Ah, there you are, Crowley.
- Casifer's cocky, entitled, "You know I invented the double-cross. Like, literally." Followed shortly thereafter by Crowley's dangerous, confident, "I perfected the double-cross. Like, literally." Is it okay to cheer for something evil if they're trying to best a worse evil?
- CRD: "The name's--" Boys: "We don't care." HA! *claps*
- "You made me bleed my own blood."
- Crowley escaping. (*tiny yay!*)
- D: "And that's how we're gonna win." S: "Damn right."
- Convenient writing. That's always bugged me on our show.
- Killing the dad. Meaning, I wish he hadn't been a dad, just some drunk fan.
- Dean being able to walk away after that beat-down by Gunnar.
- Did anyone else wonder if Crowley knew Simmons was double-crossing him and was just using her? I kinda did.
- So, we've seen two Hands of God: a piece of the Arc of the Covenant and the Rod of Aaron. Don't we/they know someone who is a collector of ancient, rare, Biblical-time artifacts? Had the First Blade? Could probably have things like...a splinter from Noah's Ark, or David's slingshot, or Joshua's horn or something like that? Just...saying.
- If the Hand of God only has power for one strike and that power will kill a mortal, I find myself thinking through scenarios that involve sacrifice -- especially of The Righteous Man -- as well as scenarios that involve trusting the devil. They've left us with enough possibilities we could paper Speculation City right now.
- Do you think Crowley's going to head for the Winchesters? Since his CRDs are running amuck and apparently everyone in Hell hates him, he doesn't have a lot of places to hide.
- Okay, what was Dean's FBI Agent name? It's making me crazy. I thought I heard 'Rusamoff'??