Multiple blessings on thruterryseyes for her taping talent and many thanks to the flist for the links that I'll have to use until I can figure out the TV station/cable connundrum.
First? I’ve missed these guys. The eye catches, the tense faces, the quick grins, the way they say each others’ names… I swear tonight it was as if I was finally able to take a deep breath. How bad is that? Please tell me ya’ll felt the same way. Some of you? Anyone?
Second? OMFG. It’s been awhile since I’ve literally jumped back from my TV screen. Lordy.
I haven't watched anything during the hiatus that wasn't centered on my two-year-old's viewing habits. I thought about watching epi 4.10 in preparation, but ran out of time. So when Then flashed across the screen, I was honestly unprepared for the emotional reaction to seeing Dean slowly crumble through demonish taunts and teases until he reveal to Sam that he'd lost count of how many souls...
This character (not to mention the actor who embodies him) has me by the throat. There was so much in this episode that built upon Dean's heavy heart, his weary soul, the idea that people simply aren't built to withstand the torment of watching the time tick by until their untimely--and insanely painful--demise. Add to that the torture of Hell (and my thoughts? no matter what your religious preference, the idea of a place of unmitigated torture is fairly universal), and the inevitable giving-in, and the unexpected rescue simply to return to the same life he'd left where smells death every day and the only person he truly loves on earth is always in peril... and he's only human.
My heart literally aches for this character. And Jensen Ackles carries this pain and this burden so incredibly well. So much of it is held in his eyes--it's a wonder to me that the actor in real life doesn't have his own demons to fight that he draws upon to give credibility to Dean.
While I have some bones to pick with Jeremy Carver's writing of this episode, that aspect--the aspect of Dean's character and Sam's reaction to his brother's experiences and pain--were rather spot-on. The place they've brought the brothers to is interestingly even-keeled. It's not just about who has demon blood and who went to Hell. The human weaknesses and frailty are present in both. And no longer do I think Dean looked at Sam with hurt, betrayal, or disappointment when he saw him use the "Force" on Samhain in the mausoleum.
Now? Looking back, I see fear in Dean's eyes. Fear that his experiences in Hell that haunted his dreams were, perhaps, a family trait...
But, I digress. Let me see if I can be somewhat coherent as for the first time I actually have notes. Novel concept, eh?
When we first saw the pale-faced supposed ghost emerge to kill the scuzzy-looking old geezer, I couldn't help but think that the same make-up artist who had dressed up the psychotic nurse in Folsom Prison Blues was once more employed for this creepy guest star. Her eyes, above all, creeped me out.
The shot of the Impala on a back road just outside of a livestock gate was somehow beautiful. I don't know what it was about that, but that image just evoked so much of the truth of their lives--always moving, never still, never safe, hiding from normal, living one step behind peace and two steps in front of death.
Sam asleep in the back seat (although, I do have to wonder at the muscle cramps from folding that lanky body in that space) was rather adorable. As was Dean behind the wheel, quietly reading by flashlight so as not to disturb his brother. No music or anything. A quick, almost staccato conversation and we find out that it's been about a month since Dean revealed "the rack" to Sam, and since that time, they've been moving from job to job, all-go-no-quit, moving like sharks lest stillness suffocate them.
Sam's "you're exhausted" and "you're running on fumes" had me hurting for both of them: Sam because he doesn't know what to do to help his brother, Dean because Sam is right and he'll never be able to outrun his past. No one can. I think a balance of confession is in order. Dean absorbed with a bit of shocked repulsion what happened with Sam while he was "down under." Sam absorbed with brokenhearted helplessness what happened to Dean in Hell. And now we're left with stilted conversations and not-quite hurt feelings. Sam can't even said "I'm sure her life was hell" without his brother jumping down his throat with a "like you know what hell is like."
Not fair. Hell is subjective, Dean. The time is coming when they need to face the fact that it was Hell for both of them--just different kinds of pain. Neither better or worse than the other. And if they behave as the brothers they are, I honestly see them coming to blows before they stop, take a breath, and realize that the only way they are going to survive whatever lives they have left is if they do so together.
Sorry... I'm apparently easily distracted this go-round. It's just been so long since we've seen them.
So, they decide to go to Stratton, NE, to what seems to be your basic ghost case. Can I just say? Watching Dean walk up the stairs into that house... holy. crap. It's those damned bow-legs. Okay, sorry. I'm back.
So, we have Supergirl as the Mom, and the Dad was "Hank" from Homefront. Anyone remember that one? Kyle Chandler's first TV show? *ahem* Have to say it took awhile for Danny to grow on me (and seriously? Danny? there is seriously a love of The Shining among the SPN writing team), but eventually I did finally care about the kid. And I liked Sis from the beginning. Even if her sighting of the girl in the window was rather ala Amityville.
The home inspector fake IDs were classic. And I just love how coolly both brothers pull that off--not one flinch. Not one tell saying "I'm sooo not who I say I am." Impressive.
I was rather intrigued by this ghost story, and I think it was good timing to bring us back into the former rhythm of the show by reminding us that these guys have a job--they hunt the things that go bump in the night, regardless of what/who they are. And even if there is the threat of Armageddon, and even if they have both angels and demons as lovers, and even if there is a bigger picture, that doesn't mean they don't do the job. So, good on the writing team for that. Also? Creepy-ass story, that. W. T. F?
That said, there were some holes that had me hmmming. For example? If a ball rolls out of a supposedly empty closet? You don't make nice (stupid kid). You run like hell (although, that I can write off to kids being stupid and not seeing enough scary movies). And? Why would a girl who flinches away from light be standing in a window looking out during the day? And? How did someone who had been hidden away from the world all their lives learn how to spell "Go" and "Too Late" (this last pointed out to me by the ever-wise Thru Terrys Eyes)?
I liked the plot of the family trying to make a fresh start and dangling the mystery of who Andy was to them. It really worked to give that family depth and make us care about what happened to them as much as Dean did. Plus? It gave Dean that extra push to make doing the right thing more than just doing the right thing. It because the mission. God, the way his eyes went hollow when he had to tell them about stupid asshole uncle Ted's demise... *pets Dean*
The part with the dog licking the girls hand...then the dog walking in the room?! Good GOD did I quib. We're talking full-on skeeved out. BLECH. Well, done, show. Then, with the brothers breaking in, the dog running out, chaos ensuing, I just kept saying, "this is not good, this is not good." The crying dog... the blood. For never having encountered people before that chick was heinously vicious in her psychotic mind mangling.
And then? The worst happened. She slit the Impala's tires. AND? Took the guns. That was the first real clue that we weren't dealing with your run-of-the-mill ghost. That, and the fact that she appeared outside of the house. I started guessing revenant, spell... something to keep that girl the same age as when she supposedly hung herself...
Danny associating the brothers with Scooby-Doo instead of the X-files was a cute, refreshing twist. I loved Dean strong-arming stupid asshole uncle Ted against the wall with his "I've got a gun" bluff. Mrrroowww. But his "I'm not letting that bastard or anyone else die tonight" right there warned us that death was coming for one of them and Dean was going to feel it. When "psycho Nell" crossed the salt circle, my curiosity meter buried into the red. I think Terry bit her tongue in half trying not to give anything away while I was busy yelling at Dean to duck! Hit her! Watch out!
Just when they convince the family to run for it, we find out that Danny is gone. Of course. Not of course like stupid writers, but of course like it figures something would keep them there. So, they all split up, which, as per usual, is a bad idea. Sam watches the fam in the shed while Dean and stupid asshole uncle Ted go search the crawlspaces in the house, leading us to one of Dean's best lines in the show: "Please nobody grab my leg, please nobody grab my leg..."
WORD! I was thinking the same thing. I remember reading Bag of Bones by Stephen King and there was a scene where the character entered a darkened basement, descending even darker stairs, and a small (ghost) hand reaches out and grabs his ankles and I swear I hid under the covers for about four hours. I was thirty. Shut-up.
Anyway, Dean enters non-ghost-girl's "kitchen" of squirrels and rats and, apparently, dog ("It's what's for dinner.") I'm so focused on what Dean is doing that it doesn't occur to me to worry about stupid asshole uncle Ted until he turns and HISS, ghost girl turns him into a kabob and poor Dean is left hiding his light in the hole, holding his breath, and waiting until she scurries past, while stupid asshole uncle Ted's corpse dangles open-mouthed next to his head. Gah.
I did get somewhat irritated with Supergirl giving up on Danny. As a mom, I say, you don't believe they're dead until you see a body. Until then, they're out there and there's always hope. Of course, that was before I found out she'd already lost a child to a car accident--her oldest. How one recovers from that, I hope to never have to find out. Especially when you have two more to continue to live for.
Okay, so Sam took his sweet time (just kidding) reading the daughter's diary. He finally finds Dean and reveals that the daughter who hung herself had been pregnant... and that her father had been her baby's father. To quote Dean. "Oh, gross."
Essentially, with that, what Jeremy Carver did was tell us the story about three totally screwed-up families. The co-dependent, evil-fighting, Winchesters, both who have seen a version of Hell that has hurt them worse than they'd ever felt before, both who have managed to somehow miraculously survive it, both who are walking forward, ever forward, on trembling legs, reaching out blindly and hoping someone good will reach back.
The tagedy-sticken American family who have tasted the death of their oldest and have resisted the ramifications such a death can evoke: tearing apart a marriage. They are still together, but they are wounded and their children are left to deal with their own loss and the pain of watching their parents try to put their lives back together.
The incestuous, back-woods, evil Nebraska Hillbillies. The father who lost not only his mate, but apparently his mind when his wife died in childbirth. Who molested his daughter, impregnating her and making her ashamed of what he made her do until she, herself, was distraught and insane enough to take her own life after giving birth. Who hid her offspring in the flippin' walls of his house until his own death. Deservedly so.
Man. What did that writer have for breakfast??
The girl eating rats in front of poor bound and gagged Danny... EWWW. Although, the nightvision effect was kinda cool. When Dean climbs down the dumbwaiter after Danny, my stomach went tense. I didn't like this situation at all. Dean was fragile--he would never admit it, of course, but he was. And his need to save Danny was soooo telling of his desire to make up for crawling off the rack and working with Alistair instead of against him, as is his nature. He had to find that kid, and he had to find him alive...
Which, he did, and then the biggest shocker of all? Psycho Nell has a BROTHER! Which, Danny reveals just before Dean is jumped. Gah! Danny escapes and the whole time I'm saying "hello! might wanna mention that Dean is fighting psycho Nell's BROTHER!!" But... he doesn't. He trembles and weeps and clings to his papa, and the mom in me finally gives the kid a break. Sam does hear his brother struggling, though, but by the time he emerges on the scene, Dean has retrieved his lost gun and puts two into the brother's chest, killing him.
And then... the pained "son of a bitch" look that crosses Dean's face tells you all you need to know about what his feeling about that action. He couldn't have done anything else, but when you're mired that deep in self-flagellation, you can't see your way out. So, the Dad kills psycho Nell to save the Mom and sister, and... the family is saved. All is right in the world, right?
Wrong. Tires replaced, guns in trunk, boys escaping with a "mutual appreciation" of the police and we're at the end with a highway underpass picnic and a heart-to-heart of sorts (which has become the norm for these guys).
Sam tries to give his brother an out--saying the he was in Hell he couldn't help what he did. But Dean sucks the wind out of that with an "I enjoyed it, Sam. I tortured souls, and I liked it... Because... the pain just slipped away."
Dean can't not remember that. And I don't know if he'll ever forgive himself for that. But there's no blame in his brother's eyes. Or, for that matter, with us. As I was saying earlier in this ramble, there is only so much the human psyche, the human soul can withstand. There is only so much torture and torment and pain and loss and hopelessness that Dean could resist before he felt as though his humanity was burned from him (even though it couldn't have been completely gone, else there wouldn't be anything for Castiel to save) and there was nothing for it but to join in and for the love of God, make the pain go away.
I think that reveal brings the brothers to the most even playing field they've been on in years. Since before John died. Sam was a "special kid" and had visions and Dean was literally scrambling to keep up and stay ahead of the game. Then Sam died and Dean lost ground. Dean's sacrifice put him back on the board, and Sam spent a year trying to keep the inevitable from happening. Then Dean died and Sam lost ground. Dean was pulled from Hell by an angel and Sam ignited his latent powers and who the hell knows what was going to pull them apart--but with one confession, the brother saved by angels and the brother with demon blood are once again both simply human.
Okay, I have to go get ready to see My Blood Valentine. I hope this ramble was partially worth the wait. Next week's will come on Friday as well; however, I do have a friend with DISH network and I'm hoping to pop over there Friday morning with a bribe of coffee to see her taped episode so that I don't have to wait for a download.