The Official Supernatural: “Various and Sundry Villains” (13.12) Live Recap Thread


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Starting now.

Then recap of “Regarding Dean” last season and then bringing us up to speed with Lucifer’s depowering subplot this season. I sure hope the last time we see Asmodeus this week is in the recap because bleah.

Cut to Now on I-135 Just North of Wichita, KS. A guy named Dale walks into a liquor store and exchanges grunts with the store clerk (indicating they know each other). He sees two blondes giggling in the security camera and goes over to investigate. They are, of course, pretty blondes. And once one of them slips a hex bag in his coat pocket while the other one says a spell in Latin, he immediately falls in love.

They then ask him where Lebanon, KS is (he says he’s never heard of it, which seems unlikely) and then they con him into robbing the liquor store and giving them all the money and booze. He also kills the clerk, Marty.

When he comes out, they brain him with a sledgehammer, because their mother always told them to make deaths “look non-magical” so as to avoid attracting the attention of Hunters. Which is fortunate, since these two girls don’t look as though they’ve got a lot going on upstairs, in addition to being spree-killer witches. Also, the actresses are overdoing it just a tad.

Cue title cards.

Sam’s working at a table in the Bunker. Dean walks in from another room with some books from the MoL library he’s found on otherworldly dimensions. He struggles with one called “Jour et Nuit,” despite having no trouble with the Latin titles of the others, and Sam has to tell him it’s French and pronounce it correctly. Either this is bad writing or the show’s portraying Sam as pretty naive here, since Dean wouldn’t have been able to determine that any of these books were about otherworldly dimensions unless, y’know, he could read Latin and French (and we already know he can read Latin). Which means he’s just messing with Sam to get Sam to look through the books for a way to find Jack so that he can go out on a beer run.

Oh, and by the way, Sam is still in full-on Negative Nelly mode. Because it’s halfway through the season and reasons.

There is also a brief discussion about how “Castiel” checks in every day, as we see Castiel in prison, being taunted by one of Asmodeus’ demons. The demon (named “Dipper” for Idon’tcarewhatreason) also taunts Lucifer, who is annoyed that his jail cell is too warded for him to escape. For the moment. Boy, demons sure are stupid on this show, aren’t they?

After the demon leaves, Castiel mocks Lucifer (because Colonel Sanders – sorry, Asmodeus – is so “smart” that he allowed his two captive angels to be in adjoining cells so they could plot their escape) and Lucifer tries to get Castiel to give him some of his grace so they can both escape. Castiel’s not buying it, not even when Lucifer brings up his own grace-eating days. Castiel also mocks Lucifer when Lucifer calls Asmodeus his “weakest creation,” even after admitting that Asmodeus managed to learn shapeshifting/illusion on his own. Castiel wonders aloud that if Lucifer is being imprisoned by his weakest creation, what does that make him?

Dean is returning from his beer run when he encounters the witches from the teaser in the parking lot (they sure do hang around liquor stores a lot). One sister is screaming for help for the other sister, then slips a hex bag in his coat pocket when he leans over the other sister to help and says the Latin words (“Aegrota amore”) again. As with Dale, Dean’s eyes glow pink and he becomes putty in the women’s hands, kissing the “injured” sister at the first one’s suggestion.

It turns out they know his name and were looking for him. Being under the spell, Dean does not see this as odd.

Sam greets Dean as he comes back into the Bunker. Dean is giddy and “twitter-pated” (his own words). He talks about being in love and would be charmingly goofy if the show weren’t playing what is basically roofie-rape for laughs. Sam starts to realize this is not one of Dean’s usual volatile moods when Dean takes out the Black Grimoire and starts to walk out with it, declaring that it’s a “gift” for his new lady-love, Jamie.

I gotta give Sam credit here for twigging very quickly something’s wrong and trying to handle Dean with kid gloves (since Dean, already volatile, can be extremely dangerous under a spell of compulsion like this). He mentions Becky and the love spell, but Dean starts to turn scary, all while smiling and sunny and basically channeling Clayne Crawford in Lethal Weapon (no, really; Ackles gets him just about dead-on). Sam manages to snag the keys, so Dean says he’ll just walk. Sam tries to grab his arm, and that’s when Dean whips around and cold-cocks him. Knocks him right out. He does say to an unconscious Sam as he walks off that he will give him an ice pack after he returns. Not even the strongest love spell seems capable of subsuming his brotherly instincts.

I have to laugh at the people who are complaining and wondering since when has Dean been stronger than Sam? Um, I dunno, since always? The only time Sam was able to beat Dean was when he was drunk on demon blood and Dean didn’t want to fight him in “When the Levee Breaks.” In fact, it was a major plot point that Sam was able to beat Dean under those circumstances when he never could, otherwise.

The other thing is that it’s never been fully resolved how fully human Dean remains after a year in Purgatory and having the MoC. Chuck did say that Dean would be forever “tainted” by it and Dean did retain abilities specific to Amara in season 11. And we know Dean is still able to do things like fight multiple demons at once, which ought to be beyond human capacity.

Dean arrives back at the parking lot with the book. The sisters are smiling, though one of the girls grumps that they wanted the Impala, too (no shocker that was a no-go for Dean, even under compulsion). They were just discussing in Valley-speak whether to “make the call” and the younger one says she won’t. They’re just going to use the book for their own purposes and not call whomever they apparently stole it for.

They are about to brain Dean with the sledgehammer when Sam shows up in the Impala and comes out, gun drawn. But Dean attacks him and knocks him over as Sam tries to get the hex bag out (having figured out the situation pretty quickly, despite his concussion).

Then the sisters do a very, very stupid thing for which I lose all respect for them as villains – they just drive away. They don’t try to kill the Brothers. They just leave.

Anyhoo, Sam gets the hex bag out (it’s pink, of course), but before he can burn it, Dean starts to choke him out, while apologizing. But then the bag burns and the spell breaks in a pink flash. And Rowena shows up.

Cut back to Lucifer (because sure, now that Rowena’s back from the dead, what I wanted to see was more played-out Lucifer, but at least we get some Castiel mocking him, so there’s that). Lucifer is trying to make a stick lift, though apparently unable to (hmm). Dipper comes past and tells Castiel Asmodeus has “big plans” for him once he returns.

Lucifer yells after the departing demon that alt-Michael will come over from the other ‘verse and kill them all. We then get a very odd bit of infodump. Lucifer proceeds to As-You-Know-Bob to Castiel that no matter the version of Michael in whatever universe, Michael is ruthless and determined and tunnel-visioned and will get over to the SPNverse by sheer force of will.

This makes no sense for two reasons. One is that Castiel is also an angel and knows perfectly well what Michael is like. Yes, Lucifer has had an encounter with alt-verse Michael that Castiel hasn’t, but Castiel hardly needs to pump Lucifer for info about what all versions of Michael have in common.

Second, if Michael is so scary and determined and blahblahblah, why is this universe’s version of him still in the damned Cage?

Lucifer then starts talking about how much alt-Michael is torturing Mary and how it’s like nothing he’s ever seen. Dear God, I am so tired of this show’s ongoing obsession with comparisons of who got tortured the most.

Anyhoo, Castiel finally shuts him up with talking about Jack, how Jack is a lot like his mother and wants to do good, and how Jack resurrected Castiel from the Empty. Lucifer is so mad that he finally is able to TK the stick into the wall. Which gives him an idea.

Cut back to Rowena at the Bunker with the Brothers. Yes, she’s in the Bunker. Also, she’s pouring the three of them whiskeys. Which the Brothers are willing to drink. And nothing bad comes of it.

They ask her how she’s still alive. She’s cagey about just how (and they don’t mention their encounter with Arthur and what he told her about the resurrection device she gave him). She just says that it took a very long time to heal this time round and she doesn’t want to have to go through it again. She admits to having put a tracking spell on the book (hence why she’s there now) and calls Dean “lover” (at which Dean looks less-than-nonplussed and Sam smiles). A joke about “fifth base” in which Rowena teases Dean about his being roofied and supposed lack of sexual expertise fails, though.

There’s also a sad moment when Rowena finds out that Crowley is dead. It’s a nicely gauged mix of emotions as she reacts with both anger and hurt. The Brothers’ insistence that he died a hero doesn’t comfort her, since she’d prefer a “living” (so to speak) son, “even one who hated me,” to one who is dead and gone forever. Of course, there’s her grandson, but he’s in Heaven. Which she can’t reach.

It turns out that what she’s after is a spell in the book that would break a binding the Grand Coven once put on her. Needless to say, Sam and Dean aren’t too thrilled about the idea of just giving her more power. But they do, in the end, agree to work with her to get the book back. And then they’ll talk.

I should probably refresh everyone’s memories that the Black Grimoire is the book of spells the Brothers “liberated” from the Cajun witches Rowena helped them defeat in “Regarding Dean.”

I like this scene. Everyone in it is a thief, murderer and con artist, and they’re all working angles. And yet, you can tell there’s a shared camaraderie. When Rowena claims she’s “changed,” I find myself hoping she really has and I think the Brothers kind of do, too. The two MOTWs seem quite flat in comparison.

So, naturally, guess where we go next? A hardware store where the witches are trying to read the book they stole (they kinda suck at it) and magicking a staff guy. The younger girl, Jennie, seems to have the magical talent, though that’s not saying much. A young African American woman working there calls them out on shoplifting, to which they respond with some downright nasty snootiness. Ooooh, burn.

They then read that they need a human soul for their spell, so they zero in on an innocent young stock boy. I’m guessing, from “Regarding Dean,” they mean the spell the Cajun witches were using to try to resurrect their brother.

Back at a house, they’re reading the book over the body of an older woman. Jamie shows Jennie a photo. They’re in it with the woman. It’s their mom. They have a discussion over Jennie’s uncertainty whether she can work the resurrection spell and how much they miss their mother. This is probably intended to add some depth to their characterization, but between the Valley-speak and the references to how many people their mother murdered in her lifetime (and how many people they are willing to murder now to bring her back) the scene manages to generate no sympathy for them whatsoever.

We then hear a man’s voice from the other side of the room. It’s the poor stock boy, who is completely enspelled. Coolly asking Jamie if they still need that spell (Jamie, of course, says yes), Jenny strolls over the boy and stabs him to death. Then she walks away.

The Brothers and Rowena (in the backseat) arrive in Stillwater, OK. Rowena says that her tracking spell on the book really only works for general location and when it’s moving – and it’s stopped moving. They have to ask around to find the sisters. She offers to interrogate the locals herself, but the Brothers point out that her methods tend to be extreme and fatal. Or extremely fatal. Take your pick.

Sam offers to babysit Rowena in the car, while Dean goes out and does interviews. Rowena makes a final suggestion – that Dean talk to the woman. She says she’s pretty sure “these girls aren’t popular with other women.” We see Dean quickly process this and nod, taking the suggestion on board. Rowena doesn’t insult Dean by asking him if he knows how to talk to women about other women. She knows he can talk to women about all sorts of things. After all, she (and we) are pretty certain he lied about not remembering the conversation she had with him in “Regarding Dean” about Chuck and Amara.

Cut to Castiel and Lucifer. Castiel is entertaining the demon, Dipper, by insulting Lucifer. But this turns out to be a trick. When Dipper goes to mock Lucifer, Lucifer yanks him up against the bars, then reaches through them (despite the sparks) and stabs him in the neck with the stick. This somehow breaks the warding, both on his door and Castiel’s. The demon turns around and gets smote by Castiel.

Naturally, more demons show up, but Lucifer and Castiel somehow have angel swords now, so this ought to be a short fight.

In the car, Rowena is bored and asks for music. Sam points out they only have Dean’s hard rock collection. Exasperated, Rowena says that surely she can “enslave” a few townspeople to tell them what they need to know.

Sam: I’m pretty sure you can. I’m also pretty sure you shouldn’t.

Rowena: Bless your precious little heart. You just described my entire life.

Ah, Rowena, how I missed thee.

In a surprisingly thoughtful moment, Sam gently tells Rowena that even if she gets hold of the book, it won’t help. She’ll still feel “helpless.” Rowena at first doesn’t want to talk about it (her fear of Lucifer is quite genuine). Then she gets teary and admits the scariest part of Lucifer’s burning her alive and crushing her skull – “he showed me his face. His true face. I’m scared, Sam. All the time.”

At that point, Sam admits that he’s seen it, too, and it “still keeps me up at night.” When she asks him how he deals with it, Sam admits that he really doesn’t. Mostly, there’s always a new world-busting crisis, so he just “pushes it down” (much like his brother with his own traumas). He could talk to Dean, whom he knows would listen, but for whatever reason, he never does. In a weird way, I think Sam may actually find comfort that Dean would listen, even if he never unburdens himself to Dean, just as he and Rowena find some comfort in unburdening themselves to each other in this scene. Awww.

Dean goes into the same hardware store where Jamie and Jennie were earlier and he encounters the same clerk who called them out on shoplifting. She’s skeptical at first of his intentions (though she definitely likes the tall drink of water standing in front of her), but when he makes it clear he’s there for revenge not love, she has no problem whatsoever giving up the address of “the Plum sisters,” whom she also calls “a whole mess of trouble.”

“You going to be really mean?” she asks.

“Yeah,” Dean replies, in a tone with a whole lot of intent.

“‘Cause somebody sure needs to be,” she finishes, giving him the address. Can we see her again? I like her.

Sam is telling Rowena that it doesn’t matter if she gets her power back, she’ll always feel helpless, as Dean returns to the car. At that moment, Rowena gets out, claiming to need some fresh air. But when Dean rather stupidly says he has the address, Rowena gets a look at it and then tosses down a hex bag, shouting, “Manete! (Stand!)” before fleeing.

As the Brothers try to get the hex bag (and Dean calls Sam an idiot for letting Rowena get under his guard), Rowena goes to the address. There the two witches are arguing about their spell having gone wrong (the poor clerk is quite dead at this point, still smiling). Rowena comes in and growls at them about not waiting for her. Turns out she was the one they were supposed to call and she had them get the book for her, after telling them about the Winchesters and where it was. But they double-crossed her. Shocker.

Anyhoo, it turns out they already did the spell on their mother and brought her back as a mindless, violent, magic-proof zombie who goes after Rowena. As she barricades herself in another room, they think this is funny because … well … they’re really dumb.

Sam finally manages to get the hex bag and Dean burns it. Then they go after the witches.

Meanwhile, Castiel and Lucifer are escaping from that old sanitorium the show is always using as a set. Lucifer tries to persuade Castiel to give him his grace, then tries to stab it out of him. Instead, Castiel stabs him, saying “This is me learning from my mistakes.”

At their house, the sisters are still mocking Rowena when the Brothers enter. The sisters aren’t terribly impressed by the Brothers’ guns, but Dean unwisely tells them they have witch-killing bullets, so the sisters use a TK spell (one they just learned, I guess) and then go after the Brothers with a knife and a hammer and superstrength. Sam gets his ass kicked, though Dean holds his own pretty well against Jamie (and is even winning), until Jamie calls for help and Jennie hits him in the leg with her hammer.

But the sisters are distracted by Rowena shouting for advice on how to deal with a magical zombie, and Dean suggesting shooting the mother. When Rowena actually does, though, the sisters inexplicably keep going after the Brothers. This gives Rowena time to recover a bit and use an “Impetus Bestiarum” spell (the one she used on that poor prostitute in her second appearance) on them, then compels them to kill each other. Though looking a bit startled, the Brothers don’t make any effort to interfere.

Still favoring his knee from the hammer blow, Dean insists they take the Black Grimoire back. As Sam goes to get it from Rowena, who whispers desperately to Sam that she can’t “feel that helpless again.” She then appears to leave empty-handed, but Dean watches her go with a considering look.

Back at the Bunker, Dean is still hurting and is disgusted at himself for having fallen for a love spell (didn’t see any choice for him in the matter, but okay). But as they drink beers, Dean points out to Sam, “You do know Rowena is not our friend, right?” He then opens the book. The page with the spell on it that Rowena was seeking is missing, torn out. Dean wasn’t fooled.

Sam admits he let her take it and that if she “breaks bad,” he’ll kill her himself. But he feels that if she encounters Lucifer again, he’s on Team Rowena and wants her to be able to “make him suffer.”

Dean accurately pegs this as part of Sam’s depression. Sam says that Rowena’s not the only one who “feels helpless.” He admits that he started the season with a plan that involved Jack, but with Jack gone, he doesn’t know what to do. Dean says calmly, “We’ll figure it out.” Sam asks how, when they have no plan? Dean just steadily says that the two of them will “figure it out.” Sam looks less sure, but doesn’t argue.

In the last scene, Rowena is kneeling inside a pentacle/devil’s trap with candles. She recites in Latin, asking for her “voice” back and ending with “Fiam invicta!” (I am invincible!). She also cuts her throat vertically, though this doesn’t kill her. As she bleeds from her eyes, glowing purple bonds surrounding her break and the candles gutter out. She smiles, totally healed, and then her eyes glow blue. Possibly not an angelic blue (though who knows? Maybe she said yes to Michael in the Cage and that’s how she resurrected), but still a very unsettling color. Also unsettling is the smile.

Credits


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The Official Supernatural: “Breakdown” (13.11) Live Recap Thread


We need your help!

Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee.

My collected recaps and reviews of season one, which first appeared on Innsmouth Free Press, are now up (with a few extras) on Kindle. The Kindle version is available through  Amazon. The print version is also up. If you buy the print version, you get a Kindle copy thrown in for free. I also get paid if you get it on Kindle Unlimited (for free), read the Kindle version, or lend it to a friend via the Kindle Owners Lending Library. Just FYI.

Starting now.

Then recap of Donna stuff and (weirdly enough) Dean’s very-ugly vampire cure from season six.

Cut to Now and a cellar lab with newspapers of missing people on the walls and jars full of nasty stuff on the shelves, where a man is screaming for mercy and a bone saw is a cutting away as a masked, aproned figure with rubber gloves strolls past torture instruments worthy of the Spanish Inquisition. There’s blood and what looks like a severed arm. And it’s all set to 50s girl group The Chantels singing “Look in the Eyes.”

Cut to Oshkosh, NE at Manny’s Truck Stop (missing an apostrophe as an injoke for singer/songwriter Jason Manns). A young woman is trying to get gas with her card, but the pump declines the card and tells her to go see the cashier. As she enters the gas station/diner, an assortment of late-night characters look up from their meals, including a preacher who has a van outside that says “Jesus Saves” on the back window.

A creepy young man is reading about aliens in a newspaper at the register. The girl goes up to him and says the machine won’t take her card. He takes that and demands her ID, as well, then hits on her bigtime. The creep is off the scale with this boy and she notices. Either he’s a red herring or heavily involved in what was going in with the previous scene. I’m hoping for the former because he is naaaaaasssty.

One thing we get from that scene is that her last name is “Hanscum,” so she appears to be related to Donna Hanscum in some way. We get stalkervision of the girl as she pumps her gas and then she’s accosted by one of the diner denizens (a long-haired, homeless-looking guy) who offers to wash her windows. She politely declines and flees in her car as he stares after her.

But later, she has a very flat tire on Route 88 and has to stop. She tries to flag down a truck, but it blows right past her. She then discovers something that looks like a shuriken or a caltrop in the tire. Then she’s attacked from behind by a guy in a mask, who beats her up some then drags her off, screaming. To her credit, she fights all the way.

Cue title cards.

Cue Sam moping in bed for a really long time. Dean pounds on the door, saying he’s making pancakes because Sam won’t come out. Then, at 10:00, Sam’s cell phone rings. It’s Donna.

Sam brings it out to Dean. Donna says her niece (Doomed Teaser Gal) is missing. She knows this isn’t the Brothers’ kind of thing (well, they have gone Hunting for less), but Dean immediately tells her to text them address and they will come over.

When the Brothers show up, Donna is distraught, blaming herself for her niece’s disappearance. The Brothers both reassure her it’s not her fault.

Dean goes inside to find Doug (who is apparently dating Donna now) and encounters a shirty FBI agent right after he discovers the caltrop/shuriken in the niece’s tire. Not even Doug intervening gets the guy to chill. Hmm.

Dean manages to lie his way out of it with the agent by saying he’s the niece’s family, but then has to tapdance out of lying to Doug about being Donna’s cousin.

The FBI agent gives a meeting where he says this fits the pattern of a serial abductor who goes south for the winter. None of the victims has turned up since disappearing. Oh, and this has been going on for 12 years.

Dean offers to help, while Sam gives him ample bitchface via side-eye. Later at their motel, Sam complains that this isn’t their kind of case and he’s worried they’ll get rousted by the “real” FBI. Plus, he thinks Dean’s attempt to recruit truckers via CB to find the niece is stupid. Sam, what is this? Season one? Grow up.

But it does give Dean the chance to turn Sam’s harsh pep talks from earlier in the season right back on his brother. Oh, sweet, sweet turnabout is fair play. Dean says they will power through as they always do. They’ll find Jack and their mom. But for now, Donna needs their help and they’re going to help her.

Go Dean.

Sam admits that he wants to help Donna, too, and Dean says he knows that.

Dean gets a call on the CB from a woman who says she wants to meet with him at a different diner than the one in the teaser at noon the next day. Dean goes off to talk to her and she tells him about the niece, Wendy’s, entry into the cafe the other night. It turns out the woman was the trucker who passed Wendy by. She had been in a huge hurry and didn’t feel she could stop. She said that needing to gas up was the only reason she even stopped at the truck stop because that place has always given her a creepy vibe. But now she feels bad about having passed Wendy by and wants to help.

As it turns out, she was the biracial woman with the mohawk who was sitting with the preacher. He’s now being brought in as a possible suspect for the “Butterfly” serial kidnapper. The FBI guy shows Donna a piece of clothing that was on the guy, that she identifies as Wendy’s.

When Sam and the FBI guy go into the interview room, the preacher insists he wants lawyer, even after the FBI guy roughs him up and Sam pulls the guy off.

But then Donna comes in. She starts off slow, talking about how lawyers aren’t well-respected in the Bible, so why would the preacher want one? Then she revs up a bit to talking about how it’s Friday and a small town and the preacher won’t even get a public defender until Monday. He’ll spend the weekend in a cell with some very rough types. Or he can answer her questions now and be out of there.

Meanwhile, Doug finds Dean and asks him about Donna (thinking Dean is her cousin). He says she’s been distant lately, not her usual sunny, chatty self. Dean tapdances some more, this time around Donna’s secret identity as a Hunter. You’re welcome, Donna.

The two of them go to the teaser diner (which Dean is casing). There, they meet window-washer guy. Dean and then Doug ask him about Wendy. He admits he saw her. Dean hands him some money. He talks a lot more.

He says that the creep at the register–Marlon–quite fancied Wendy. After she left, he got in his car and went after her. Dean mmm-hmms cynically about this, while Doug looks a bit sick.

Meanwhile, Donna gets the preacher talking  and mentions he flashed a young girl and picked up a young boy. He insists his wife knows and they’re working through it, that he’s weak, but not a bad person. When Donna pulls out the shirt, he gets scared and when she yells at him, “DON’T LIE TO GOD!” he breaks down in terror and insists, sobbing, it’s not him.

Outside the room, Donna and Sam agree that they believe him, while the FBI weakly protests about the evidence. Sam points out that the evidence could have been planted. Why would a criminal mastermind slip up like that after 12 years (well, Sam, you are a fan of serial killer narratives; they do get cocky and decompensate after a while)? Neither Sam nor Donna questions whether Mr. I’ve Been Chasing This Guy For 12 Years might have planted something in the preacher’s van and they’re a little too open about their theory in front of him for my comfort.

Meanwhile, Dean and Doug are “interviewing” Marlon. Marlon starts the interaction off by being his usual dick self. Dean cuts to the chase and smacks Marlon’s head on the counter a couple of times (“how we do things in the FBI”) until Marlon shows them a live feed of one Luis Fernando (the kidnapping victim before Wendy, according to FBI guy). There’s a dollar number at the bottom of the feed and users on the side are bidding. It’s a live auction.

As the guy cries and begs, the masked figure from the teaser starts to cut something off with the saw. Dean says, “They’re selling him off, piece by piece.” Unable to watch, Doug looks down and misses Marlon’s smirk, but Dean doesn’t. Dean recoils.

Dean and Doug call Sam and Donna, and have them watch the same bit of video. Sickened, Sam turns it off. Marlon snarks about Sam being “Vegan” and Doug smacks him upside the head.

“It’s how they do it in the FBI,” he comments and Donna glares sideways at Dean. She knows where Doug got that from.

The talk quickly turns to why this auction is happening. The comments on the side (“Yum!”) of the screen indicate the guy was being cut up for food. “For monsters,” Donna blurts out and then regrets it when Doug asks what she’s talking about (there’s a hilarious reaction cut to Dean, who is standing between them and doesn’t seem to know where to look). Donna tells Doug she’ll tell him later.

They interrogate Marlon, who shrugs and says he does it for the money. If he sees someone nobody will miss, he makes a call and gets some money. Well, Marlon, honey, you done screwed up this time.

Another live auction pops up. This time, it’s Wendy. Donna looks sick and leaves the room. When Doug follows her, she ends up giving him The Talk. She admits that Sam and Dean aren’t blood family but a different sort of fraternity altogether: “They kill monsters.” They’re Hunters and so is she.

Meanwhile, Dean is trying to get Sam to hack the cam, but Sam insists it’s “dark web” stuff. Um…what happened to what Frank taught Dean?

Anyhoo, Sam suggests they call FBI Guy, who comes up with a location while Marlon just chills and listens. I’m sure that since we are now near the end of the episode’s third act that absolutely nothing bad will come of this decision. [/sarcasm]

The Brothers rush off to the location (Wendy’s vivisection will start in an hour). Dean tells Sam to go in the back, while he, Donna, Doug and Marlon go in the front. Inside, Dean and Donna go on ahead, while Doug hangs back to guard Marlon. Donna promises Doug she will explain everything to him when she gets back.

Doug may not get that chance. As soon as they leave, Marlon attacks him, showing vampire teeth, and forces Doug to drink his blood. But not before being an asshat about Donna. Marlon really is too dumb to live. Or unlive, as the case may be.

In the back, Sam encounters the FBI guy and has him go in behind him. He gets clocked in the head by FBI Guy.

Meanwhile, as Dean and Donna close in, the clock starts to run out for Wendy. I’m just gonna interject here that I love it when these two hunt together. It’s like the Doctor and Donna, but it’s Supernatural and Dean has unresolved romantic longings for Donna.

The masked figure starts up some more R&B, but when Dean and Donna enter the room where it is, they find it empty with just a cassette player.

When they come back, they find Doug with fangs and Dean has to knock him out with dead man’s blood to get him off Donna. Marlon unwisely decides to return to the scene of the crime (told you he was stupid). Dean says great, that will make it easy to get the vamp blood they need to cure Doug (Dean must know that cure by heart by now). Before he can behead Marlon (who honestly thinks he can take Dean – ha), Donna blasts out one of Marlon’s knees and orders Dean to get the blood (Dean looks all tingly at Donna taking control like that). When Marlon bleats that she’ll kill him, she says that’s happening, anyway. The only choice is “fast or slow” and that depends on how fast he starts talking.

Sam wakes up strapped to a table in a very bloody room. FBI Guy (Clegg) is telling the guy in the mask to pull the camera back so they can get a full view of Sam. These MOTWs must be Sam stans.

So, Clegg says he recognized the Brothers from the Impala (really? And not the voluminous FBI files both brothers have?). He proceeds to supervillain monologue that there are hundreds of thousands of monsters out there (try tens of millions worldwide, as stated in season six, dumbass) and he’s providing an important service for those who “pass.” He says he serves them “people other people won’t miss.” If he didn’t, they would just go nuts and the Brothers couldn’t stop them. As if the Brothers were the only Hunters in the world or couldn’t take out monsters en masse (as they have, more than once).

But no matter. It’s an obvious bullshit excuse to mask the selfish desire to make pots of money off other people’s misery. Sam calls him on it and tells him to go to Hell. Clegg, being rather naive about the ways of Hell, says he’ll see Sam there and starts up the bidding for Sam, piece by piece. Clegg laughs at Sam’s attempts to stall, saying there’s no way Dean will get there in time to save him.

In the Impala, Dean is driving as they race toward where Sam and Wendy are (she’s had a temporary reprieve thanks to Sam’s auction). Donna is in the backseat, feeding Doug the vampire cure. When she asks Dean if it will work, he replies, “It worked on me.” They have to leave Doug unconscious in the car while they go in.

I’m assuming Marlon’s dead. Kinda sad we didn’t get to see that.

Dean and Donna enter the warehouse all X-Files-ish and split up. Donna finds Wendy alive, but lets her guard down in her relief. Masked Teaser Dude attacks her, kicking her in the back with his signature move. She loses her gun. But Donna’s a fighter. She grabs a pry bar and whacks him a few times. He loses his machete (might be a bolo). She picks it up and stabs him through the heart with it.

Meanwhile, Clegg, in a pig mask, is auctioning off Sam‘s heart to the tune of $500,000, while two werewolves avidly compete for it. He then says he normally cuts a heart out really slowly, to make sure it hurts, but with Dean out there (you know, the Really Dangerous Winchester as opposed to the Very Dangerous Winchester), he’s gotta make it quick. He pulls out a gun and aims it at Sam’s head. The camera angle strays and we hear a shot. Then we see blood coming out of a hole in Clegg’s shirt and he drops, shot through the heart by Dean, who has just entered the room. Sam’s look turns from horror to confusion to relief.

Later, Doug wakes up on a motel room couch, Donna by his side and the Brothers watching. Donna tells him Wendy is all right and in a hospital. Doug’s been cured, but he doesn’t feel better. Donna tries to reassure him and Dean tries to back her up, but Doug’s having none of it. Not everyone can handle finding out about the supernatural world and Doug’s part of that larger “blue pill” group. He leaves and Sam gives Donna Dean’s old speech about how you can’t let people get too close or they get hurt. Then he leaves.

Dean just puts his hand on Donna’s shoulder while she cries. I know it’s way too soon for her, five minutes after a big breakup like that, but damn, I am shipping Dean and Donna so hard right now. What is that, Deanna (yes, I know that was his grandmother’s name)?

In the car going back to the Bunker, Dean points out that Sam was a bit harsh to Donna. Sam retorts, “When has knowing us worked out  well for anyone?”

Oh, I dunno, Sam, you mean, besides the thousands of people you’ve saved over the years (and the billions who didn’t have to deal with an apocalypse or five)? Dean points this out, but Sam’s head is so firmly up his own ass that he actually brings up Kaia, of all people. Kaia? Really, Sam? You barely knew Kaia. And with those Bad Place creatures coming after her, she’d have died sooner than later on her own, anyway.

Sam then insists he’s not “in a dark place,” he’s just being “realistic”
and things really do suck. He starts whining about how things can only end “bloody” and “bad” for them both. Hate to break this to you, Sam, but it’s unlikely Death and Chuck will be allowing your brother to die any time soon.

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The Official Supernatural: “Wayward Sisters” (13.10) Live Recap Thread


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My collected recaps and reviews of season one, which first appeared on Innsmouth Free Press, are now up (with a few extras) on Kindle. The Kindle version is available through  Amazon. The print version is also up. If you buy the print version, you get a Kindle copy thrown in for free.

Starting now.

Overlong recap introducing all the female characters who would be in the spin-off, should it occur. Could be edited down a bit. Definitely needs something more than a rather boring hard rock tune that sounds as though they got a knockoff of a Melissa Etheridge song instead of getting an actual Melissa Etheridge song. “Royal Station 4/16” would have done nicely here. Or maybe “Ruins.” Or “2001.”

Just sayin’: 2:13 is an awfully long montage, especially set to generic rock.

Cut to Patience showing up at Jody’s door. She’s had a vision and it involves Jody apparently dying.

Cut to Now.

In some random shack in the middle of nowhere, two werewolves disguised as white-trash lowlifes (not a real stretch) are threatening a young girl who kinda looks like the girl ghost in season two’s “Playthings.” A delivery truck shows up (we get a rather CGI’d overhead view of it coming in). It’s Claire, disguised as a delivery girl. The one werewolf who was taunting the little girl is so dumb, he has to read the address label saying “Mr. Werewolf” before he gets it. Half a second later, he gets a shotgun load in the gut that tosses him across the room.

The second werewolf puts up more of a fight and bloodies Claire’s lip a bit before she stabs him. Then a mother werewolf shows up just to get shot. Yeah, the dialogue’s not the best this week.

As Claire sends the girl back to her mother, she gets a call from Jody. Jody reprises Dean’s line about John not having been home for a few days, this time for the Brothers Winchester, and asks Claire to come back to her house.

Cue title cards, which seem a little more extended than usual.

At the house, Jody and Alex are determining that Donna and Walt (still salty he’s still alive) haven’t heard from Sam and Dean, either. Gee, where were these idiots when Sam and Dean got locked up in a sooper-sekrit government facility last year for a month and a half? For that matter, what about when Dean went missing in Purgatory for a year? Sam and/or Dean go missing all the time, so why the DEFCON-1 alert status all of a sudden?

Claire arrives and the sneak peek about her awkward reunion with Alex and Jody ensues, as well as her introduction to Patience. As cocky and arrogant as Claire is in this scene, I can grok her being upset about Patience appearing to have replaced her. FYI, Jody, if you really want to get Claire to come back home, maybe don’t turn her room into storage or hand off her clothing to some random new girl five minutes before you know she’s arriving. That doesn’t rhyme with “Welcome back.”

Patience seems quite bland, including after Alex leaves to go to work at the hospital (Claire is annoyed because she thinks all hands should be on deck for finding the Brothers) and when she starts relating her vision. It turns out Jody doesn’t die in it – Claire does. Maybe.

Claire turns bratty and says that sitting back and making a plan is a bad idea. Yeah…um…no. Pretty sure that’s the best idea, girl. Then she storms out. It’s rather sad that this is what she got from watching Dean. Dean’s the most cold-blooded planner of them all. That’s why he’s still here.

Oh, and they’ve been clued into Kaia’s existence by a phone message from Sam.

Meanwhile, it turns out to be a good idea that Alex went off to work, since Kaia has been found by the roadside and loaded into an ambulance, while some creepy, hissing thing watches from the shadows. Quickie flashback during all this to the coda from last week when the Brothers first arrived in the Bad Place.

At the hospital, Alex is being the perfect nurse and we finally get some good lines. After Claire comments on her nurse scrubs, Alex shoots back: “It’s a uniform. What’s your excuse?”

Claire: I look great.

Alex: You look like Biker Barbie.

They have a discussion about how Alex knew about the vision and their differing approaches to protecting Jody. As they do, Alex is looking up Kaia in the system and finds a Jane Doe just being checked into the hospital. Wow. How plot-convenient.

When Claire goes down there, Kaia spots her and they share an intensely slashy staring contest right before Kaia decides to do a runner. I facepalm at this show’s really poor knowledge of medicine. Once again. Ain’t nobody going nowhere with the colossal headache that comes from a concussion, let alone with Kaia’s fleetness of foot.

Claire comes in and cuts right to the chase, saying she knows Sam and Dean. Kaia, apparently having completely reset her learning curve from the beginning of the previous episode, tries to run away, anyway. Until she’s accosted outside by the creepy thing that was stalking her. It has glowing red eyes, kicks Claire’s ass, gets shot by Jody (who, also conveniently, pops up out of nowhere) and then bleeds fluorescent blue blood when Claire stabs it in the throat.

And then they take the body home, where Alex pulls on some gloves and gets cracking on an autopsy with almost obscene glee. The Brothers would be so proud.

Claire talks to Kaia. They compare scars and Kaia talks about the Bad Place, how she knows the creature from there and they usually “travel in packs.” I know some really like Kaia, but so far, she seems to have about three emotional settings – Coward, Victim, and Tremulous Hero – and I’m quickly growing tired of all of them. Anyhoo, Claire asks her about Sam and Dean.

It’s more interesting in the garage, where Alex is pulling off the creature’s mask to reveal lots of mandibles. Alex and Jody suggest Patience not scream. Patience suggests that puking is more likely. Claire enters and informs them that Kaia knows what the creature is. Kaia offers that she is a dreamwalker and then fills in the others on how she helped the Brothers open a rift (she doesn’t mention Jack) and they got stuck in the Bad Place. She’s sure that if they did, they are already dead, but Claire says that the rift is still open, so they can go find the Brothers.

Cut to Sam and Dean (who are actually not dead at all), and immediately, the banter improves. Dean is eating a lizard over a fire (“It’s a lizard, Sam – it tastes like lizard”), while Sam is cringing and saying they should go find the rift. Dean points out that the last rift only lasted “a couple of hours” and they’ve already been there two days. So, the rift could be already closed, they could be there for a while, and Sam needs to suck it up and eat something.

When they hear a faraway monster call that seems to be approaching, they run away, but not before Dean goes back to grab the rest of the lizard.

Back at Jody’s, Alex finds Patience punking out and packing to leave. Patience is freaked out and says she’s “not a fighter.” Maybe if she goes back now, Daddy will take her back. Alex points out that Patience can’t just turn back the clock like that and that there’s more to dealing with the supernatural world than fighting. Patience leaves, anyway, but when she reaches the car, she has a vision of more creatures bursting through the windows. She runs back inside and tells them, including a skeptical Claire, that they all have to leave. Kaia says they’re after her.

Later, we see the creatures burst through the windows, just as Patience predicted. But the girls are watching it on a security cam from the car. They’ve already left for the barge. Patience, who is driving, asks Claire if she believes her now.

After daybreak, Jody has them stop. She tells them she called in backup. Donna shows up, armed to the teeth (including a flamethrower – and y’all wonder why Dean has so much Ducky love for her?). She has become a vampire hunter and it seems she’s quite good at it. It turns out they don’t actually know where they’re going, yet, because Kaia didn’t know and needs some prodding to come up with enough clues for Jody and Alex to figure out it’s the Larsen Brothers Shipyard off Route 14.

Jody and Donna decide to go on ahead. Jody leaves Claire in charge of Alex and the civilians and Claire reluctantly agrees.

Meanwhile, in Monster Land, Sam and Dean are being stalked by a refugee from Sword of Shannara, a hooded figure with a spear who manages to take out both of them. I call shenanigans on this. Maybe the figure could take out Sam, who hasn’t been eating much the past day or two, but Dean? Dean survived a year in Purgatory and came out on top. He even had fun. And he fights multiple demons with relative ease. Plus, he and Sam would be armed to the teeth. Why don’t they have their guns out at least?

It doesn’t help that the fight is very poorly done in typical  choppy Arrowverse style (that’s not a compliment) where there is so much cutting to cover up the lack of fighting skills among certain parties that you can barely see what’s happening. Nope. Not at all impressed. The show’s done pretty well so far in avoiding dumbing down the Brothers to make a new character look better, but this is an egregious exception.

Jody and Donna scope out the shipyard and then go in. The incidental music for this scene is rather cool. They pass by an angel sword melted into the ground and hear a hissing from the upper deck of the ship (looks like a ferry) they’re on.

Back at Base Camp, Kaia and Claire bond (more slashy overtones) over Kaia realizing Claire is scared. Claire admits that she’s been shaken by Patience’s vision. Why she’s admitting this to Kaia, I just don’t know. But when she declares that “Sam and Dean saved my life” and she has to return the favor, Kaia offers to come with. I know this is intended to make Kaia look heroic, but it sounds vaguely ridiculous: “I was a cowardly lion when those menz were around, but I shall follow you to the ends of the multiverse, fair lady.”

Not helping is that the show’s writers (who are downright obsessed with their meta) seem blissfully unaware that this whole storyline is an old and very sexist Western trope as old as the media hills known as “The menfolk are out on a cattle run/incapacitated, so it’s up to the little ladies to save the day.” And it’s looking as though we’re about to get the variation of “All the adults get themselves taken out, so now the kids have to save the day.” You’d think the show would at least bother with a little more onscreen explanation about why these random characters all immediately banded together to find and save Sam and Dean, seeing as how it’s still called Supernatural and the protagonists are still Sam and Dean.

On an upper deck, Jody and Donna find the rift. Jody wants to go in immediately because reasons – sorry, because she’s afraid that if she doesn’t go in right that second, Claire will and then will get killed. Or something. Points to Donna for thinking this reason is stupid, especially after Jody admits her thinking is clouded by not wanting to “lose another child.”

This conversation is cut off by their hearing more rift creatures. Well, duh, if the rift is open and these things hunt in packs, it makes perfect sense that not only one crossed over, y’know?

The creatures, btw, are exceedingly cheesy when alive and look exactly like what they are – stuntmen in monster costumes.

Over in Monster Land, Sam wakes up at night and Dean, who is already awake, calls the figure with the spear “Darth Dickwad,” even though it’s pretty obviously a female figure. The figure bangs on a giant skull and the creature they heard before responds from a distance.

Meanwhile, Claire and the others are saddling up, while Jody and Donna are stuck inside an abandoned car. They’re saved by Claire with a flamethrower. The others are just standing behind her, even though Jody warns that there’s “another one.”

Claire hears the hissing and immediately goes upstairs. Jody realizes it’s closing as it starts to fade. Claire insists on going in to save the Brothers.

Downstairs, Donna give Patience a (very) quick rundown on how to use a shotgun, but a whole bunch of creatures show up and the women flee upstairs. As Donna and Jody and the others hunt monsters, Claire goes into the rift with Kaia. Because let’s not leave the one person who knows how to go other worlds back in ours, or anything.

In the Bad Place, Claire and Kaia immediately find and cut Sam and Dean loose, but when they all run back to the rift, the hooded figure tosses its spear at Claire and hits Kaia instead when she steps in front of Claire. They hold hands and Kaia dies (here at the CW, we bury allllll our gays, especially if they’re WoCs!). The Brothers pull out angel swords, which the hooded figure apparently did not bother to take away from them (now they do? And what about their guns?), and Dean prevents Claire from going after the figure, who is now, you know, totally unarmed. The three of them flee back through rift, but not before some creepy giant CGI troll shows up and peers over the trees.

As Jody cradles Claire, Patience (who has finally made her first monster kill) realizes that was her vision and Kaia was the one who died.

Afterward, the Brothers leave, asking Jody to thank Claire when Claire is able to hear it. The adults worry about more rifts and more creatures, but Jody assures the Brothers that since they’ve got saving the world covered, she and the girls can take care of Sioux Falls.

Claire mourns and Jody has a talk with her. Claire finally realizes that going in half-cocked gets innocent people killed.

Downstairs, Patience is still shocked at having ganked something and Claire starts a journal. There’s a cheesy voiceover from Claire about how she needs “my family…my army,” and she’s going to kill the thing that killed Kaia, as they montage at the dinner table.

Meanwhile, a big old rift appears again in Sioux Falls and through it steps the hooded figure, which pulls back its hood to reveal an evil, smirking Kaia, because killing off a redshirt character we’ve barely met and have no investment in, but who appeared to be a regular, and replacing her (it’s frequently a her) with an evil doppleganger isn’t a huge cliche at all.

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Review: Supernatural: “Tombstone” (13.06)


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[lots o’ spoilers ahead]


I was not in the least impressed by Davy Perez last season. He wrote some pretty stinky codswallop, especially at Dean’s expense. “American Nightmare” was terrible. “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” managed to ruin Hell Hounds in the way that notorious Nepotism Duo entry “Of Grave Importance” managed to ruin ghosts and Ghost!Bobby in season seven. I especially like to pretend that Tarantino tribute/ripoff (“Stuck in the Middle with You”) never happened – and that’s coming from a Mary fan.

“Tombstone,” however, is surprisingly good.

While “Frontierland” was hardly serious throughout, “Tombstone” is a more modern-day, more noirish take on the Western genre. It wouldn’t hurt for them to do more of these. Dean’s geeking out over gunfighters (and TFW 2.0’s reactions) was a hoot. There were some nice takes on Western tropes (like the shootout at the bank). And the set design people outdid themselves on that motel room. Goodness, it’s been a while since we had one that gloriously in-your-face.

One thing I really liked was the low-key way the episode did two Native American characters, simply by casting them and playing out an Old West revenge storyline with them (the bank security guard Jack accidentally killed (Jason Asuncion) and the bank teller (Hana Kinani) were also played by PoC actors). Both Eric Schweig (Sarge AKA Joe Philips) and Paul C. Grenier (Carl Philips, Sarge’s murdered nephew) are First Nations. In fact, they were both in a Canadian series about a First Nations reserve, called Blackstone, that ran for five seasons. I couldn’t find Grenier’s tribe, but Schweig is a renowned Inuit artist, in addition to his acting career, and also works with the homeless in Vancouver and stressed First Nations communities all over Canada. If he looks familiar, it’s because he played the hot, doomed Uncas in Last of the Mohicans (1992).

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I can’t prove it, unfortunately, but I have a sneaking suspicion Perez (or possibly director Nina Lopez-Corrado, who would have had more control over casting) was strongly inspired by a book called Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, which came out in April of last year. This noirish true crime book (a film is already in the works) retells the horrifying story of a conspiracy that ultimately took at least 24 lives in Osage County during the Jazz Age of the early 1920s. It reads a lot like a cross between Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

The victims, all members of the Osage tribe or white friends and relatives, were systematically murdered by other white friends and relatives in a plot to grab Osage “headrights.” The Osage tribe had bought the land in the county in the 1890s under the impression that it was too barren for any white people to try to steal it. Cannily, they became aware that oil was on the land around the same time they bought it and managed to secure all mineral rights, creating an “underground reservation.” Each full-blooded tribal member then had a full “headright” to this underground reservation, equally divided among the tribe of two thousand members.

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Needless to say, once oil was struck, the Osage became millionaires, which (mostly) improved their material lives to a stratospheric extent. Alas, the U.S. government of the time (apparently feeling it had not already screwed over the Osage enough) became worried about these “childlike” Native Americans having too much money and set up a system of custodianship for pretty much every full-blooded Osage. The guardians, of course, were mostly white (though some were part Native-American from other tribes) and they did a gruesome job of fleecing the Osage.

In addition, there was the aforementioned plot to murder an entire family of sisters and their mother to gain all their mineral headrights, which the author believes was only a smallish clutch among perhaps hundreds of similar, individual murders and conspiracies. Not even extreme wealth could protect the Osage from genocide.

Fortunately, the Osage survived this and are now a thriving tribe. But they remember that period as a very dark time in the tribe’s history. Since this period followed on the one where they all were driven off their ancestral lands, saw the bison herds destroyed, nearly starved to death, and had an entire generation of their children carted off to brutal reservation schools intended to turn them into obedient servants of white people, that’s really saying something.

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A lot of the conspirators were lowlifes from the dying frontier of the West – cattle rustlers-turned-respectably corrupt ranchers and politicians, gunslingers-turned-bank robbers – and they fell upon this late bonanza of the Underground Reservation with a truly ghoulish relish. I trust you’re beginning to see some of the parallels I’m talking about with this episode.

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If you look at the episode in this context, Sarge’s turn toward vigilantism to avenge his nephew (also a cop) while his (probably white) boss is out of town makes far more sense. Despite being walking targets, the Osage did everything they could think of to solve the murders and they did eventually get the custodianship system reversed. They petitioned politicians, hired lawyers and private investigators, and even considered taking the law into their own hands. They grew pretty desperate. It wasn’t until a former Texas Ranger named Tom White, now heading up an FBI investigation, came in with a crack, if eccentric, team of Old West characters (including the first Native American FBI agent), in 1925 that the conspiracy was cracked and even then, many peripheral or individual murders remained officially unsolved (though the investigators had their suspects and suspicions).

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That’s what makes Sarge’s alliance with Dean so much fun (Dean even dresses in the episode a lot like Tom White did in an old photograph from his Texas Ranger days and how Texas Rangers dress today). When Sarge bluntly tells Dean after the bank robbery that some Old West justice is about to commence, he’s pleased to find that Dean is entirely of the same bent (being a Hunter). Not only won’t they stand in each other’s way, they immediately team up. And when they finally get the drop on the Ghoul (this week’s MOTW) who murdered young Officer Philips and is impersonating a dead, white gunslinger from the Old West, it’s probably not a coincidence that Dean and Sarge are able to work it so that Sarge makes the kill.

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Personally, I think Sarge would make a good Hunter. I hope he returns in a future episode (and doesn’t immediately get killed off). I liked how Dean immediately clued in that the dead deputy was Sarge’s nephew (thanks to Sarge’s anger and the same last name) and that he assumed Sarge was the Sheriff until Sarge corrected him.

Dean’s going after Sarge down the Ghoul’s tunnels in the graveyard (adlibbed to the max by Jensen Ackles) is also hilariously off the chain. The script even gets in a callback to Die Hard by way of season two’s “Hollywood Babylon.” Dean does love his Die Hard refs.

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Fans, of course, were long awaiting the return of Castiel and his teaming up with Dean, though the show never allows this to go on for long in the MOTWs before coming up with a stupid reason in a subsequent episode for Castiel to disappear for a few episodes, or at least not be in any scenes with the Brothers. I mean, I sorta, kinda get that Misha Collins is really easy to make laugh, but since the instigator of that sort of thing is usually Jared Padalecki, I’m not too impressed by that as an excuse not to have Dean and Castiel scenes.

Anyhoo, Castiel and Dean’s (re)entrance as co-investigators is a hoot and Collins works Castiel’s fish-out-of-water shtick for all it’s worth. There were some nice musical cues. “Space Cowboy” by the Steve Miller Band is one of my all-time favorite rock songs and was on my bucket list for appearing on this show, so that one’s obvious.

But it was also cute to become acquainted with “They Call Me Zombie” by the Messer Chups (AKA the Bonecollectors). The show doesn’t always use “hip” newer music very well, but this song by a cute, 50s-B-horror-movie-inspired Russian band from St. Petersburg fits in nicely with the show’s tone and introduces Athena Lopez as a Goth girl well. She’s another one who could come back and I’d be fine with it. Though she really needs to start locking the doors if she’s going to wear headphones at work.

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Was less into “Hot Rod Rockin'” by Thaddeus Rose & the Thorns, which sounded a bit more generically rockabilly, but you can’t have everything. Admittedly, I’ve never been a big rockabilly fan.

I thought it was a bit amusing that after the incident with the bank guard, Dean packed the rest of TFW 2.0 back off to the Bunker and finished the job himself, teaming up with local talent (Sarge). When all is said and done, Dean does Hunting better than anyone else, but it’s interesting that as soon as things got serious, he went it alone – and the others didn’t argue with him as much as they could have.

It’s also interesting that Dean’s knowledge of Western gunslingers allowed him to immediately identify the Ghoul’s disguise and that his intuition (his “spidey sense,” as the scripts put it) allowed him to discount Athena almost immediately. As he pointed out, as an undertaker, she wouldn’t need to steal bodies from a graveyard. Of course Dean would know this – eating brains as an undertaker was Amy the Kitsune’s method of feeding before she turned serial killer to serve her cute moppet fresh brains in season seven’s “The Girl Next Door.”

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Some of the other elements in the story didn’t do as much for me. Speaking of which, now I remember one reason why Kelly Kline annoys me – the actress who plays her, Courtney Ford, played that evil bitch who shot Daniel on Revenge. She seems to have hooked up with the CW’s acting stable and is now over on Legends of Tomorrow, apparently playing another Elektra-complexed evil bitch (gotta say, she makes those memorable). Anyhoo, the sooner they get rid of the drippy character that is Kelly, the happier I’ll be. She is sticking around far too long in flashbacks.

Jack has been starting to grow on me a bit, and some of the earlier stuff in the ep was cute. Like his waking Dean, who rises up, primal-screaming, bleary-eyed and heavily armed. Man, that is a bad idea, as Castiel (who, as we know from “In the Beginning,” likes to watch Dean sleep) tries to warn Jack before Jack does it: “I told you he’s an angry sleeper – like a bear.”

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Alexander Calvert also milks it later, with Jack side-eyeing Dean nervously. Just because Jack can’t be killed by known weapons, doesn’t mean Dean doesn’t scare him. These things make Jack’s quickie bond with the Brothers seem more real and organic, so kudos to Calvert for that, and for making Jack’s affection for Castiel seem innocent and genuine (despite the rather-tainted origins of that in the execrable from-the-womb brainwashing storyline of last season). He has an easy chemistry with Misha Collins, as well. This is no mean feat. Such insta-grown-super-babies more usually end up like the whiny Connor on Angel, though granted, it’s still early days for Jack.

But Jack’s funk and his abruptly leaving at the end of the episode feel artificial and forced. It’s basically there because the writers decided it was time for Jack to strike out on his own. It doesn’t seem to grow from the story itself. While it’s nice (and, frankly, natural, particularly after Dean’s Team Free Will 2.0 speech: “Two salty Hunters, one half-angel kid, and a dude that just came back from the dead again. Team Free Will 2.0”) for the rest of TFW to reassure Jack that this is not a mistake he can never walk back from, their attempts to make Jack feel better just reinforce how out-of-nowhere Jack’s decision (and sudden and precise command of his powers after his central conflict of the episode being that he can’t do that) is. In such a circumstance, Dean’s calling Jack “family” also seems just a tad rushed.

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In addition, while I like Athena, I don’t like that she basically ended up little more than Dave’s unsuspecting girlfriend and a red herring when it turned out she had no clue what he’d been up to (and no sympathy once he turned to murder). Plus, I thought their relationship was creepy from the get-go, not because she was a goth undertaker who aspired to be a film FX tech and he was a Ghoul who ate dead bodies and took their forms, but because he was stalkery and condescending and didn’t respect her boundaries even before he turned on her. Another creepy white dude. Yay.

That seems to be the only reason she was written as an Abby Sciuto from NCIS knockoff. And while I like that the side characters were almost all Hispanic and other People of Color, the villain at the middle of it was still a generic white guy (or impersonating him, anyway). Both Jonathan Cherry (Dave Mather) and Sarah Troyer (Athena Lopez) are experienced with low-budget horror. They may have been cast for that reason, but overall I found Ghoul!Dave a tad bland. Spending so much time on his relationship with Athena because she was just his girlfriend in the episode felt like wheelspinning.

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I thought it was quite clever for the MOTW to be a ghoul gnawing on an Old West gunslinger rather than a Shapeshifter or a Ghost, or that the real Dave Mather was a monster back in the day (and the tunnels were a nice touch). The real Mather was quite a piece of work, dancing on both sides of the law in Dodge City (the setting of this week’s episode) and racking up quite a body count until he fell off one side somewhere around 1885. A colorful character like the Mysterious Dave wasn’t likely to stay breathing and off the map for long. In terms of who knew who, the Old West was smaller than you might think. But all confirmed sightings ended after 1885. He was declared dead (albeit with no body) in 1887.

No one knows if he really was dead at that point, but a lot of bad things could happen to you in the Old West, where the average life expectancy was only 47 years and you could disappear into the wilderness, never to be seen by other humans alive again. So, the likelihood of Mather (who was already in his thirties at that point) living to a ripe old age was always going to be low.

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All of these elements never quite gelled for me when it came to Ghoul!Dave, though. A lot of the problem was that it’s the third time this season the show has done this trope (woman menaced by MOTW played by a somewhat-older male actor in a creepy stalker way) and it’s by far the weakest example. I noted in my review for that episode that I didn’t care for it in “Patience,” where the Wraith’s creepiness seemed overly sexual in an OOC way that didn’t fit the previous Wraith modus operandi. It worked better in “The Big Empty,” where the woman was also a monster (physically) and had a bad past connected to the male MOTW that made sense for Shapeshifters and for which she chose to atone.

In “Tombstone,” it’s just filler and relegates a potentially interesting female character to Damsel in Distress status. Portraying a guest female character as irrelevant, in a reactionary gender role at the climax of the episode, just because she’s an ordinary human, isn’t the best message to send, particularly this season.

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Next: War of the Worlds: The Nepotism Duo return with another confusing tale about the alt-SPNverse, Lucifer, alt-Michael and Asmodeus.


You can find my live recap of “Tombstone” here.


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Whispers, Spoilers & Speculation Corner: 01/18/18


Happy New Year Everyone!


We need your help!

Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee.

My collected recaps and reviews of season one, which first appeared on Innsmouth Free Press, are now up (with a few extras) on Kindle. The print version is also up, though the cover’s needing a little tweaking right now. I’ll be putting up corrections for the cover in the next day or so. Everything else looks good.

You can also check out my latest anthology story, “Light a Candle, Curse the Darkness,” in Arkham Detective Agency: A Lovecraftian-Noir Tribute to C.J. Henderson.

Heather will be on hiatus for a bit. We’ll let you know when she comes back.

You can access previous spoilers columns at Innsmouth Free Press here.


Supernatural (Thursday nights, 8pm, CW)
By Paula R. Stiles

Check out my Patreon page. Help me keep this column going, pay Heather, and help me do my Supernatural reviews.

My reviews of “The Big Empty” (13.04) and “Advanced Thanatology” (13.05) are now up. My review for “Tombstone” (13.06) will be up tonight. My live recap for episode 13.09 is also up.

The show is back tonight from Christmas hiatus at 8pm with the backdoor pilot “Wayward Sisters” (13.10). I will live-recap it tomorrow night here and on Wayward Children.

Season 13 titles so far: “Lost and Found” (13.01), synopsis and photos, promo, preview, sneak peeks, and Shaving People, Punting Things, as well as live recap and review; “The Rising Son” (13.02) synopsis and photos and promo; “Patience” (the first spinoff set-up episode) (13.03) synopsis; “The Big Empty” (13.04) synopsis, promo and official photos; “Advanced Thanatology” (13.05) synopsis, photos and promo; “Tombstone” (13.06) synopsis, promo and photos; “War of the Worlds” (13.07) synopsis photos, sneak peek and promo; “The Scorpion and the Frog” (13.08) synopsis, photos, promo and sneak peek; “The Bad Place” (13.09) (airing December 7) synopsis, photos, sneak peeks and promo; Christmas Break; “Wayward Sisters” (13.10, backdoor pilot for the spinoff, airs January 18), synopsis, photos, sneak peeks, featurette, interviews and promos, second promo and related tweets; “Breakdown” (13.11) synopsis and photos, this is supposed to be Donna-heavy; “Various & Sundry Villains” (13.12) (previously called “The Midnight Train” and originally, the title was “Stakes on a Train”) synopsis, Rowena returns; “Devil’s Bargain” (13.13), written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming, introducing Danneel Ackles as a faith healer named Sister Jo who is blackmailed by Lucifer, set photos here; “Only the Best Intentions” (13.14) Jack, alt-Michael, alt-Bobby and Mary all return; “A Most Holy Man” (13.15); “ScoobyNatural” (13.16, cartoon episode, appears in March), “The Thing” (13.17); “Bring ’em Back Alive” (13.18).

Rowena’s return has been confirmed and it sounds as though she won’t be dead, after all. The synopsis for 13.12 is up:

“Various & Sundry Villains” – (8:00-9:00 p.m. ET) (Content Rating TBD) (HDTV)

THE WITCH IS BACK – Dean (Jensen Ackles) falls victim to a couple of witches, sisters Jamie (guest star Jordan Clair Robbins) and Jennie Plum (guest star Elise Gatien), who manage to steal a powerful book of spells from the Winchester brothers. When Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean go after the book, they get help from a powerful and surprising ally when Rowena (guest star Ruth Connell), back from the dead, intervenes to assist them. Amanda Tapping directed the episode written by Steve Yockey (#1312). Original airdate 2/1/2018.

Episode 13.11 (“Breakdown”) has promotional photos up.

The “Wayward Sisters” (13.10) episode has three sneak peaks and a featurette out. Kim Rhodes also did a new interview with Variety.

The show is heading to Paleyfest for the first time in years. They’ll appear at 6:45pm on March 20.

The CW’s midseason promo is up. If you blink, you’ll miss Sam and Dean at 0:10-12.

Warner Bros has announced details about the upcoming Wayward Sisters spin-off. As we already know, it will star Kim Rhodes (Jody Mills) and the rumor that Briana Buckmaster (Donna Hanscum) is in it was confirmed. Also starring will be Kathryn Newton (Claire Novak) and Alex Jones (Katherine Ramdeen), as well as new character Patience Turner (played by Clark Backo). Another new character, Kaia (Yadira Guevar-Prip), has been added to the main cast list. Kaia’s “gift” will be the ability to spirit travel.

The spin-off premise and new characters has been introduced via several episodes in season 13. Patience will be introduced in “Patience” (13.03), which also brings back season one character Missouri Moseley (who is Patience’s estranged grandmother and from whom Patience has inherited her psychic gift). The actual backdoor pilot will be “Wayward Sisters” (13.10). Donna will also get a major episode in “Breakdown” (13.11).

Star Kim Rhodes told EW that there’s a good in-SPNverse reason why the show will be set in a single location (Sioux Falls) instead of moving around. Rhymes with “Hellmouth,” I’ll bet. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion it’s to do with the rip between universes in that crappy old boat from 12.09.

There’s a new promo out for the spin-off that’s Claire-centric.

Season 12 is out on Amazon.

The count for Supernatural calendars for 2018 is now five: a charity calendar called If I Could Tell You: The Women of Supernatural that is sadly no longer available, two large calendars out on July 1, one mini calendar on September 1, and a Creation Entertainment calendar that came out on December 1 (also no longer available).

The show is currently averaging a 0.6 in the demo, putting it second on the network and even with last season. Between this and the resurgence of Riverdale, the CW is the only broadcast network that has not dropped in average demo since last season.

The show had a repeat last week that came in at 0.2/1 in the demo (0.246 in the unrounded overnights) and 1.03 million in audience in the overnights. It was preempted by holiday programming during Christmas week.


Like this column? You can help keep it going by contributing monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), making a one-time donation through Paypal, or buying us a coffee.


Review: Supernatural: “Advanced Thanatology” (13.05)


We need your help!

Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee. Want more of my recaps and reviews? Check out The Supernatural Codex: Season 1, out on Kindle and in print.


[lots o’ spoilers ahead]


Imagine that you live like a mayfly, growing up in a violent life where people die young and nasty, repeatedly told you are nothing but a blunt tool in the service of other, better folk. Expecting to go out bloody and savage at a young age, unmourned, forgotten almost as soon as you die. Expecting … hoping at some point … that at least it won’t last forever and someday, very soon, you will find peace, even if it’s the peace of oblivion. You are surrounded by people who do all sorts of horrific things to live another day, but you? You’re ready to go pretty much any time.

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Now imagine that you are suddenly faced with being dragged, kicking and screaming, out of obscurity, held up into the light, made the light, the barrier, the firewall between Light and Dark, Firewall with a capital ‘F.’ And you start to realize, as you cheat – no, are cheated of – death over and over that your life may eventually end bloody, but it’s going to be a long time. Maybe even geologically speaking. Even to the point where you could outlive the angels, and certainly the demons, you previously thought immortal. That you are too important to die, that you have been given what you’ve seen so many others commit murder, betrayal and far worse to gain just a taste of.

And you even begin to suspect, after so many years of neglect and abuse, that the universe didn’t do this to hurt you. It did it out of love, this making you immortal. And not just immortal – eternal.

Imagine this new truth is dropped on you like a neutron bomb a moment after you thought you’d finally discovered the perfect way to commit suicide.

You wouldn’t feel blessed. You’d feel cursed. You’d feel like Dean Winchester near the end of this episode.

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I’m not sure yet if this is a top favorite, but I think I can consider “Advanced Thanatology” a favorite of the episodes so far this season and a genuinely entertaining, thought-provoking, re-watchable one. The episode does a very good job of staying on topic in terms of its central concept. There is Dean, who is profoundly, fundamentally, clinically depressed, trying to party his depression away. There is a young boy Dean tries to save who is snatched from life young and terrified. As in season one’s “Faith,” Dean tries to switch places with the boy, but is simply told that’s not the way things are. Dean’s life is important. The boy’s is just done. There is the loss of his devoted, down-to-earth mother (movingly played by Alisen Down, who was also in season eight’s “Trial and Error”). There is the sinister creepiness of the insane doctor, evoking pretty heavily both Dean’s fears about shrinks last week and the mad scientist doc of season one’s “Asylum.”

I think that’s what makes this central conflict so complex. It’s not just a case of a person who is not allowed to die, or who has become immortal and bored with it. It’s a case of someone who lives in a universe where life is short and hard, a prize taken away before anyone has had enough of it. This person assumes, especially since he is not important enough for second chances or extensions, that his life will be especially short and hard. As Dean puts it this week, “It doesn’t matter. I don’t matter.”

And then, like some lost scion of royalty in a fairy tale, this person is raised from the gutter of human life, by beings who represent eternal concepts, and given a place on Mount Olympus, in the ninth sphere of Paradise, the Empyrean, and told that he can’t die because he is far, far too important to die. Without him, the universe would be toast. And to emphasize this (perhaps just to placate him and give him motivation to continue on), they include his beloved brother in the blessing, a brother for whom he would (and has) died. And then they even bring back his best friend.

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This is not a curse, to be singled out, spotlighted, in such a way. It just feels like one to Dean Winchester. Since the climactic scene with Billie is from Dean’s POV, it does indeed seem as though she is cruel in dangling the possibility of death – of many deaths – in front of him, before snatching it away. It’s subtle, but if you mind the signs in the story, especially when Dean glances up after Billie mentions the “shelf” of his deaths (a clever and evocative image of a very esoteric concept), that entire library of Ws is devoted just to him. In addition, two of the “deaths” Billie mentions have already happened to him or been avoided, and the third is in the very next episode. It begs the question of whether, depending on Dean’s choices, any of these deaths will ever prove truly final.

One macabrely amusing moment is when Jessica the panicked red-headed Reaper enters the W archive and blurts out, “Dean Winchester is in the Veil!” Clearly, this is a DEFCON-1 moment for Reapers at this point. Dean has become such an accomplished shaman and psychopomp (not to mention slayer of Reapers and other angels) that not only does he treat his spirit walk as an ordinary event, but his mere presence in their realm terrifies Reapers. Hence the phrase, “advanced thanatology.” It’s also notable that we will soon see that there are people who dreamwalk between worlds pretty often, yet the only time Death gets concerned is when Dean Winchester does it.

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Back when I was about twenty, I read a book called Once a Warrior King by David Donovan. It’s a memoir by a young first lieutenant who served as an advisor in a remote part of Vietnam during the War. Through an unfortunate and unforeseeable sequence of events, Donovan abruptly found himself the highest political authority in that area, with the power of life and death over everyone there. People bowed to him, fought him, admired him and reviled him as if he were the most important person in that region. He discovered that unlike many of his comrades, his job involved as much the impossible task of helping the people he served and improving their lives in a war zone as it did blowing up the enemy.

Around the time I read the book, I was elected to the captain’s position on a college rescue squad that was the second busiest ambulance squad in the state. I found myself going to EMS meetings where I represented the emergency care options of 14,000 people in five towns, as well as transport for a regional neonatal care unit. ER directors twice my age, sometimes grudgingly, treated me as an equal. It was a shock to the system. As one alumnus member bluntly told me, I had wanted a grownup’s job, so it was time to grow up and do it.

A few years later, when I was in Peace Corps in Cameroon, one of my farmers came to me one day and asked if I would intercede for him in a local dispute to our village’s de facto “mayor,” as I was his “patron.” I agreed, though I didn’t think my influence would do much good. To my surprise, the mayor greeted me warmly and readily agreed to my farmer’s request. I had lived in Boubara for a year and a half at that point, and had somehow remained blissfully aware until then that not only was I fairly high up in the village, but I was apparently among the top four officials out of six thousand people.

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Were these revelations ego boosts? To a certain extent, though I always felt they were undeserved ones. The position atop a pyramid feels pretty precarious. As far as I was concerned, the position, not the person, was important. Leadership is ultimately about service. If you’re all about the gold crown, you’re missing the point.

These roles also came with huge responsibilities and major real-world consequences, for many people, if/when I screwed up – and I worried a lot about screwing up. I made fully as many enemies as I did friends, simply as a matter of course. They, too, came with the job. I’m sure not everyone I knew during that time think I served well. I’d like to think that some people did, though.

C.S. Lewis puts it brilliantly in his fifth Narnia book, The Horse and His Boy:

For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land.

Dean has always been acutely aware of the rough side of this equation. He’s taken many blows and won many enemies in his determination to hold by his unique motto: “Saving people, Hunting things: The Family Business.” What he has not understood up to this point is why the fact he came up with that idea makes him more than a rather filthy-minded footsoldier in the endless war between Light and Dark.

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I think that Billie is trying to make a point. And as reluctant as he still is to acknowledge that, I think Dean is finally beginning to understand what she means, what Chuck meant, what Amara meant. Jensen Ackles does a really nice job with this as he deadpans a polite “Hmm” every so often as Billie drops bomb after mindblowing bomb of cosmic revelation about his position in the SPNverse. Dean no longer bows to Death. These two are now equals, bargaining with almost amiable hostility over the fate of a hundred souls. It’s even possible that Death now bows to Dean, or soon will.

I’ll admit it. I like Billie. I just thought her previous motivation made her look stupid and petty. So, I was happy to see her promotion rectified that. She’s a worthy successor to the previous Death.

Problem is, Dean is still human and that kind of thing will break your mind. He’s not all right at the end (“I’m pretty far from okay”), by any means, but he does now have the tools to keep going once he sees Castiel at the phone booth, an embodiment of at least one of his prayers answered against all odds. What shape he’ll be in for the rest of the season is a whole other story.

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Sam’s had a fair amount of growth in the past few seasons, so it’s interesting to see how he fields what is basically part two (after this week) of trying to talk his brother off the ledge. His performance on that score last week was less than edifying. Not only did he try to bully Dean into group therapy, but he did so on a highly risky case when the two of them needed to be at their most alert and clear-headed. That case turned out to involve an MOTW that has done Dean considerable psychological and social damage in the past. And on top of that, Sam insisted on bringing Jack along. Not his finest hour. This week, he seems to be trying reverse psychology by indulging all of Dean’s favorite quirks, including his paranoia about crazy shrinks, though Dean sees him coming a mile away.

The episode doesn’t spell it out, but it’s gotta hurt Sam’s heart just a little when he hears Dean parrot back to him the cruel speech he served Dean at the end of “The Purge” years ago, about how Dean thought he was doing good, helping, making a difference, but really wasn’t. We see Sam grimace when Dean echoes this speech, clearly having taken it to heart and been wounded near to death with the slow-acting poison of it.

Sam can try to make up for all this with two-word apologies like “I’m sorry” (season four) and “I lied” (season nine), or more elaborate groveling like his speech about trusting the LoL in the penultimate (I don’t care what J2 say about that word; I love using it – penultimate, penultimate, penultimate) episode of last season. It won’t change the fact that more often over the years, he has spoken venom and anger, sometimes even hate, and that his brother is more emotionally primed to register abuse, anyway.

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While the sequence of Sam pampering/kissing up to Dean is amusing (and Dean passed out on the floor with his tie on his head and a big, pink bra around his neck is a hoot), I’m not sure Sam even knows what to do to make it up to his brother, let alone help Dean heal and become well. It’s a long, uphill battle, to be sure, and it is by no means all Sam’s fault that Dean is this way. John (and Mary’s death, it must be said) had a big hand in it, as well as all the self-inflicted wounds Dean has incurred along the way. It’s certainly going to take a lot more than “bullets, bacon and booze,” even “a lot of booze,” for Dean to pull out of this flat spin.

Admittedly, Sam does have a point about Dean’s “bossiness.” For all his poor self-esteem, Dean has frequently stepped into the role of King with effortless grace and arrogance, literally as if he were born to it. This is played for laughs for a bit in this episode with lines like “What happened to you being nice to me?” and “You are forgiven.” And when Dean is well, relatively speaking, it’s a constitutional monarchy with all of TFW getting a say.

But when things get ugly, shit goes down, and Dean’s mental health goes to a dark, dark place, it becomes, as he himself puts it in season nine, “not a democracy. This is a dictatorship.” And that’s when Dean makes unilateral decisions, such as killing himself to make a spirit walk from which he does not intend to return, simply to rescue Sam from a few angry ghosts that the two of them could probably banish a different way. At those times, Dean’s recklessness (“insouciance” as 2014!Apocalypse Castiel once put it) tips over into self-destructive and suicidal behavior that needs, at the very least, a gentle restraining hand on the arm, as Jody did to Dean in “Patience.”

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Finally, this was a properly satisfying MOTW this week. I’m glad the show is once again remembering that it’s supposed to be horror, not paranormal romance. Yeah, it went off into mytharc in the third act, but the first two acts did have a real Hunt that was actively resolved.

That doctor was extremely creepy (notice how he simply tosses Sam aside and goes after Dean, his preferred type of victim?). As unsympathetic as I found Evan (Doomed Teaser Kid), who was composed of unadulterated idiot, I found his death properly chilling. In fact, all of the scenes in the haunted house (a series of sets the show has used many times before, with all sorts of different lighting) were straight-up horror, no chaser, and the twist of the angry, confused ghosts coming after the Brothers after the doc was ganked was disturbing, regardless of our knowing the Brothers would (somehow) get out of it alive.

Shawn’s fate was also horrific and sad. He and Evan didn’t intend to trespass on such deadly territory, but then, innocence and ignorance are not always an effective defense against the dark. His poor mother is left with her lifelong grief, (undeserved) guilt, lots of questions and a dead body, with “closure” being a mocking concept, all underscored by a classic Steppenwolf song about second chances. Shawn and Evan’s slightly wiser friend Mike will live on, also plagued with guilt he doesn’t deserve.
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The drill evokes trepanning (on top of lobotomy), a brutally ancient way to deal with both head trauma and depression. The plague masks were also a nice twist. The episode does mention their origin, though some more elaboration seems in order. The bird-like plague mask in the episode dates in design at least to the 17th century (medical historians consider it an early kind of HAZMAT suit), but was intended to deal with a much-older problem – the Black Death, which has tormented Eurasia and North Africa periodically since the 14th century. The Black Death had such a high body count and was so traumatic for the cultures who suffered under it that it contributes elements to most of our horror tales today.

The Black Death tended to kill off medical personnel from physicians to nuns and monks at a much higher rate than the population they treated, which was equally demoralizing for the healers and the patients. The masks were intended to protect physicians from the plague (though their historical efficacy is a matter of great debate), but they also tended to scare the hell out of the patients. It’s probably not much of a surprise that the horrific bird-demons of Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights bear a striking resemblance to these later plague masks.

In this MOTW’s case, the crazy doctor also appears to use the mask to highlight his evil intentions and hide his identity, much like the killers in slasher flicks like Friday the 13th, Halloween and My Bloody Valentine. It’s pretty effective in making what was once a human (and is still a human soul) seem eerily inhuman and alien. All in all, an effective recycling of concepts (like the house full of captive ghosts from season seven’s “Of Grave Importance” or the sinister ghost shrink from “Asylum”) from both greater and lesser episodes.


Next: Tombstone: A puzzling case with ties to the Old West gives Dean a chance to indulge his Inner Texas Ranger.


You can find my live recap of “Advanced Thanatology” here.


Like this column? You can help keep it going by contributing monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), making a one-time donation through Paypal, or buying us a coffee.


Review: Supernatural: “The Big Empty” (13.04)


We need your help!

Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee. Want more of my recaps and reviews? Check out The Supernatural Codex: Season 1, out on Kindle and in print.


[lots o’ spoilers ahead]


This isn’t one of my favorites of the season, though it did have a character (Mia the grief counselor) I rather liked and would like to see again. The counselor was played by the doomed fake psychic from “The Mentalists,” something the show’s writers obviously remembered. There was a fairly extended injoke near the beginning about how Mia Vallens could possibly be a medium who was accidentally (or intentionally) calling back vengeful, troubled spirits from beyond the grave. In “The Mentalists,” Rukiya Bernard played a fake medium named Camille who got killed by a ghost that had been summoned by a vengeful medium.

I quite liked Bernard in “The Mentalists” and found her very personable. So, I was bummed when the character got killed off and happy to see her again here. I was also glad that she didn’t get killed off this time, which means she could recur (although the actress does have a recurring role on Van Helsing, so there’s that wrinkle). We may not see her again on this show, but she might pop up in Wayward Sisters.

Now, I also thought Mia was an absolutely terrible family counselor, but more on that in a minute. In general, her heart was in the right place and when the chips were down, she preferred to die rather than hurt anyone in her new life (something Dean very much noticed). She took the job to help people and used her talent as a Shapeshifter in a benign way – not to mess with people, but to give them closure.

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This is a radical departure from the Shapeshifters we’ve seen in the past, but it makes sense we’d only meet the psychopaths. Shapeshifters with anything remotely close to normal in psychology would keep a very low profile to avoid Hunters. It would take an unusual circumstance to flush one out, as we see here.

Mia had a somewhat different background than other Shapeshifters we’ve met. The parent Shapeshifter was her mother, rather than a passing and malicious male Shapeshifter impersonating her mother’s husband or partner and blowing up her relationship (what seems to be the root cause of your average psychopathic Shapeshifter’s Daddy-tried-to-kill-me-with-a-shovel issues). This may have contributed to her more stable personality. She only briefly mentions her mother, but the tone is one of love and trust.

The male Shapeshifter who is her ex and stalker is the more common type we see. One interesting clue about their ugly relationship right after the reveal of her MOTW nature is that her alibi for the first murder is that she was volunteering at a battered women’s shelter.

If you think about it, Shapeshifters are among the most human of the monster species. They don’t eat people, or need to. They are essentially human, aside from their ability (and need) to shapeshift. They can blend into society. It therefore makes sense that they would have relationships very close to those of ordinary humans. It’s just that the way they breed and their inability to stop shifting as babies and children tend to create a fractured atmosphere of fear and hatred in the parental figures who are supposed to be nurturing them and bonding with them.

Mia’s method of using her ability to help her patients was a bit “Eh, okay, I guess.” It felt like a ripoff of season three’s “Long Distance Caller,” which already was an uneven episode. Didn’t help that once again, whoever edited the beginning recap gave away the MOTW right off the bat. That was a bit annoying.

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Also odd is that the juxtaposition of good PoC girl vs evil white boy was repeated from last week’s “Patience.” Then again, why complain? Season one had its fair share of cute, rich white girls being menaced by white male MOTWs – “Hookman,” “Skin,” even “Dead in the Water.” There are worse patterns than one that repeatedly presents non-cliched, heroic Women of Color with their own stories.

As for the evil Shapeshifter, he was marginally less annoying than the Wraith from last week, so there’s that. Of course, once we knew the MOTW was a shapeshifter, it was easy to pick him out as the one person around the good counselor who didn’t quite fit in. Though the red herring about the Asian assistant who had five cats and looked a bit like the second male victim impersonated in “Skin” was cute. And there was a really cool gross-out moment as Jensen Ackles (having some fun playing a monster character for the first time in a while) ripped his own face off.

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But damn, is Mia a terrible therapist. Granted, she doesn’t get a whole lot of info from the Brothers and Jack before they find out she’s a Shapeshifter, but what was up with coming down on Dean like a hammer, while totally letting Sam off the hook? I get that Jack comes across as sincere and not contributing (at least, not consciously) to the toxic dynamic between Sam and Dean, except as a point of conflict, but there was a lot more going wrong between those three than Dean’s anger.

Look, Dean is a powder keg. Granted, Dean is always volatile, but he’s clearly ill, clearly grieving, and other characters have not dealt with it nearly as much as they probably should, considering how much pain he’s in. And as even just his conversation this week makes clear, he has some major trust issues regarding psychiatry, which means stepping lightly would be much more professional and therapeutic than verbally rapping his knuckles with a ruler.

It’s not just that his view of shrinks comes from television and movies (hence his reference to Hannibal Lecter this week). In the past, he’s been tortured by the ghost of a mad scientist psychiatrist who experimented on his patients. And then there was the Brothers’ first Wraith (especially fresh in Dean’s mind after last week’s episode), who was a psychiatric nurse. For Dean, shrinks equal monsters and while Mia turns out to be a good person, she doesn’t exactly break that streak.

And yes, he’s angry, but he has ample reason to be. There’s no way he couldn’t be angry under the circumstances. There’s no way he would be feeling any other way about Jack, and his attempt to bring himself closure by saying Mary is dead and trying to move on makes sense. In light of the facts, it’s even rational, if cold and hard.

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And I get that Dean is intended to be the one who is speaking brutal, even unkind, truths about what is going on, while Sam “keeps the faith,” as Dean puts it at the end of the episode. But again, that doesn’t let Sam off the hook for how he’s coming across. There’s a lot more going on with Sam emotionally than just trying to cover up his own grief by trying to raise Jack. What he’s doing is every bit as toxic as Dean’s rage.

The thing is that Sam spends almost all of “The Big Empty” trying to manipulate events, and people, to follow the script he wants. Neither Dean nor Jack wants Jack to go on a Hunt at the beginning of the episode. Sam ignores what they want, cajoles and lies (or at least tarts up) about how Dean feels to Jack and vice versa, to get them out on the road together. And then, once he does, he tries to bully Dean into parenting Jack – not just helping Sam parent Jack, but doing it all himself. And all of this, even Sam has to admit, is to “help” Jack regain his ability to reopen the portal that leads to the alt-SPNverse and rescue their mother.

Why? Because Sam didn’t take his many chances last season to bond with her (aside from hanging out with her for a bit at the LoL Quonset Hut). Sure, I get that Sam didn’t have a good template growing up to create a mother-son bond (Dean and Mary’s bond was pretty unique), and that Mary was being distant. But last season, not only was Sam holding his mother at arm’s length, but he was trying to get Dean to do it, too, all under the excuse of giving her “some space.” Sam doesn’t seem to be comfortable with emotion or closeness unless he is the one in control, pulling the strings, arm’s length while making others take all the emotional risks. And boy, does he pull some strings in this episode.

Unsurprisingly, Dean digs in his heels and fights back, saying he never signed on for that and he’s not going to do it now. He says he won’t interfere with Sam if he wants to parent Jack, but Sam’s doing that one alone.

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Even Jack questions Sam on the same point. This is really saying something, since Jack is trying to be as agreeable as possible. Jack even tells Dean about wanting to help Sam in his plan to get Mary back. Even at this point, we can see the seed of that obsession germinating. In an early sign that he’s warming to Jack, Dean warns him, “Sam’s plans don’t always work out.” Boy, doesn’t Dean know it, too.

Yet, Sam just keeps on going with it and not once does Mia (the therapist) ever call him out on his manipulation, even though he’s causing both Dean and Jack pain, and even putting Jack at risk. In fact, so clueless and self-absorbed is Sam portrayed this week that he walks into a situation, when he knows a dangerous Shapeshifter is on the roam, with his weapon stowed simply because he heard Dean’s voice and assumes it’s Dean. Of course, it’s not Dean; it’s the Shapeshifter. And Jack is forced to use his power to save Sam.

Also, the things Sam complains about Dean being “mean” to Jack about are not necessarily things Jack doesn’t want to do. The dramatic irony here seems to be that Sam is projecting his own issues with John onto Jack, while Dean wants nothing to do with the kid, yet Jack identifies with Dean a lot more than he does with Sam.

Sam tells Jack near the beginning that Dean will appreciate Jack making the effort to help. Jack is eager to do so, but he has no clue what to do on a Hunt. It’s lampshaded that he can’t even read an EMF meter and it’s no surprise he can’t read people at all. He’s cute and friendly and good for a climactic deus ex machina save, but the rest of the time, he’s flat-out useless on a Hunt and needs to be babysat.

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So, it makes sense for Dean to have Jack dig the grave for their first MOTW suspect. Maybe not all by himself, but Jack is young and strong, and doesn’t seem to mind. That he can do and pretty well. Plus, the clearly stated orders Sam claims Jack doesn’t like, Jack actually appreciates. As I said previously, Jack gravitates toward Dean for a reason: Dean doesn’t lie to him. Jack says repeatedly that he is confused and bothered by lies. This is a big deal for him.

Jack is actually more bothered by how Sam keeps snowing him and talking around the issues that worry him rather than just being honest, than he is by Dean’s hostility. Remember that Jack is just a baby. He doesn’t get complexity, yet. Sam’s attempts to reassure him may actually scare him more than Dean’s gruffness. At least with Dean, Jack always knows where he stands. So, when Dean compliments him at the end of the episode, Jack is happy. He knows it’s real and he knows it’s hard-won. Dean wouldn’t just say that unless he felt it.

More ominous is Jack’s admission to his fake-mom that he is himself lying. He says he pretends to have feelings, to “feel bad,” about hurting people. This confirms Dean’s concerns (though Dean never finds out) that Jack is not quite the cheerful, kindly innocent he claims to be.

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On the other hand, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, character-wise, for Jack. Jack says he doesn’t feel bad, while feeling bad. His powers come out when he feels threatened, but also when people he cares about are threatened. Despite his sometimes-robotic-by-way-of-the-Boy-Scouts demeanor, Jack shows a lot of emotions and cheerful, apparently benign, interest in the world.

Thing is, he’s a baby. And yeah, he talked to his mom in the womb, but clearly, he doesn’t remember a whole lot about it if the only real memories he has of her come from that video she made for him. So, how is Jack learning about these human emotions he’s faking? Why isn’t he acting more like, say, Lucifer or Michael? Indifferent and cold?

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Speaking of gee, that sure didn’t make much sense, what the heck was going on with Castiel’s storyline this week? Was that canon crackfic or what? Misha Collins sure had fun, I’ll give him that (even if some of it felt like cheap soundstage filler).

But whoo, how many problems popped up here? On the one hand, okay, cool, we finally saw the Empty and found out where angels and demons go when they die. And we had another hint or two about where Chuck and Amara came from. And the show got its obligatory pop culture reference in (to a 2003 neo-noir indie comedy) with the title.

But what is up with this new being? Is it a god? If it’s awake and talking in a way that Castiel can understand, doesn’t that mean it’s been awake in the past? How did Chuck’s creations affect it, or Chuck’s disputes with his sister? Is the Empty where Amara was trapped for billions of years? Is the Empty entity really older and more powerful than Chuck and Amara? If so, why has Chuck been able to bring Castiel back over and over and over again? Why did he say he could bring back the dead archangels Gabriel and Raphael, but that it would take some extra time and work? What about Reapers? How does the Empty figure in with the multiverse concept we now have going on? And why does the Empty, a philosophically scary concept to be sure, sound just like every other superpowered blowhard the show has had over the past 13 seasons?

I mean, great, Castiel’s back now. Awesome. But a lot of questions were left unanswered (did the Empty entity come back with Castiel? Is it possible for other dead angels and demons to come back from the Empty now?) and there’s no sign as of yet that even half of them will get answered.

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Next: Advanced Thanatology: The Brothers encounter an extremely violent ghost, which leads them to a surprise reunion with an old frenemy.


You can find my live recap of “The Big Empty” here.


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Whispers, Spoilers & Speculation Corner: 01/08/18: The New Year’s Edition


Happy New Year Everyone!


We need your help!

Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee.

My collected recaps and reviews of season one, which first appeared on Innsmouth Free Press, are now up (with a few extras) on Kindle. The print version is also up, though the cover’s needing a little tweaking right now. I’ll be putting up corrections for the cover in the next day or so. Everything else looks good.

You can also check out my latest anthology story, “Light a Candle, Curse the Darkness,” in Arkham Detective Agency: A Lovecraftian-Noir Tribute to C.J. Henderson.

Heather will be on hiatus for a bit. We’ll let you know when she comes back.

You can access previous spoilers columns at Innsmouth Free Press here.


Supernatural (Thursday nights, 8pm, CW)
By Paula R. Stiles

Apologies for the delay, but there was basically nothing on the spoilers chart to report until late this past week. Now, with the new year, we’re cranking things back up.

Check out my Patreon page. Help me keep this column going, pay Heather, and help me do my Supernatural reviews.

My reviews of “The Rising Son” (13.02) and “Patience” (13.03) are now up, with more to come. My live recap for episode 13.09 is also up.

The show will return from Christmas hiatus on January 18.

Season 13 titles so far: “Lost and Found” (13.01), synopsis and photos, promo, preview, sneak peeks, and Shaving People, Punting Things, as well as live recap and review; “The Rising Son” (13.02) synopsis and photos and promo; “Patience” (the first spinoff set-up episode) (13.03) synopsis; “The Big Empty” (13.04) synopsis, promo and official photos; “Advanced Thanatology” (13.05) synopsis, photos and promo; “Tombstone” (13.06) synopsis, promo and photos; “War of the Worlds” (13.07) synopsis photos, sneak peek and promo; “The Scorpion and the Frog” (13.08) synopsis, photos, promo and sneak peek; “The Bad Place” (13.09) (airing December 7) synopsis, photos, sneak peeks and promo; Christmas Break; “Wayward Sisters” (13.10, backdoor pilot for the spinoff, airs January 18), synopsis, photos, interviews and first promo, second promo and related tweets; “Breakdown” (13.11) synopsis, this is supposed to be Donna-heavy; “Various & Sundry Villains” (13.12) (previously called “The Midnight Train” and originally, the title was “Stakes on a Train”) Rowena returns; “Devil’s Bargain” (13.13), written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming, introducing Danneel Ackles as a faith healer named Sister Jo who is blackmailed by Lucifer, set photos here; “Only the Best Intentions” (13.14) Jack, alt-Michael, alt-Bobby and Mary all return; “A Most Holy Man” (13.15); “ScoobyNatural” (13.16, cartoon episode, appears in March), “The Thing” (13.17); “Bring ’em Back Alive” (13.18).

The debate about what Donna-centric episode 13.11 will be called and what it’s about has been resolved. The synopsis is up:

SUPERNATURAL
“Breakdown” – (8:00-9:00 p.m. ET) (Content Rating TBD) (HDTV)

TIME TO RETURN THE FAVOR – Donna (guest star Briana Buckmaster) calls Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) for help after her niece, Wendy (guest star Sarah Dugdale), goes missing. The three hunters discover Wendy was kidnapped by a man who sells human parts to monsters in a grotesque online auction and race to save her before it is too late. Amyn Kaderali directed the episode written by Davy Perez (#1311). Original airdate 1/25/2018.

Alexander Calvert gave an interview to Elle in which he talked about the fandom’s reaction to him, convention life, and the Instagram account he and his girlfriend have up for his very fluffy and adorable cat, The Lord Tyrion.

Set info is coming out about episode 13.14 (“Only the Best Intentions”), which began filming on January 2. Christian Keys (alt-Michael) tweeted a photo of himself with Calvert as they went back to filming in the new year (Calvert also tweeted about filming in a forest). This indicates alt-Michael and Jack will be in 13.14 and interacting in the same scene. It appears that alt-Bobby will also be in this episode, since Jim Beaver tweeted a first-look selfie the next day and mentioned filming with Samantha Smith (Mary) in mud (reportedly in Belcarra Park in Port Moody). She responded in the same thread by showing her alt-verse costume on the floor. Hmmm, could it be our alt-world cast are now in the SPNverse as of 13.14? Or in the Bad Place? Or do they get back in this episode, since there’s filming in the quarry that’s the alt-verse set this week?

Danneel and her husband will be opening up their new brewery, The Family Business, for … uh … business in Dripping Springs, TX on my birthday. And I’ll be stuck up here. Oh, well.

CW head Mark Pedowitz has re-upped his contract with the network. He also issued his annual “This show isn’t going anywhere until the leads hang it up” announcement. While he was cagey in a recent interview about making it official (because they’re not ready to announce show renewals), it’s highly doubtful the show won’t get a 14th season – and a full one, at that – unless Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles don’t want to return.

Supernatural alumnus Sterling K. Brown (Gordon Walker) won a Golden Globe award this week for best actor in his latest role in series This Is Us. He’d previously won an Emmy last fall for the same role.

Richard Speight Jr. has a new interview out about directing the show.

Warner Bros has announced details about the upcoming Wayward Sisters spin-off. As we already know, it will star Kim Rhodes (Jody Mills) and the rumor that Briana Buckmaster (Donna Hanscum) is in it was confirmed. Also starring will be Kathryn Newton (Claire Novak) and Alex Jones (Katherine Ramdeen), as well as new lead character Patience Turner (played by Clark Backo). Another new character, Kaia (Yadira Guevar-Prip), has been added to the main cast list. Kaia’s “gift” will be the ability to spirit travel.

The spin-off premise and new characters will be introduced via several episodes in season 13. Patience will be introduced in “Patience” (13.03), which also brings back season one character Missouri Moseley (who is Patience’s estranged grandmother and from whom Patience has inherited her psychic gift). The actual backdoor pilot will be “Wayward Sisters” (13.10).

Star Kim Rhodes told EW that there’s a good in-SPNverse reason why the show will be set in a single location (Sioux Falls) instead of moving around. Rhymes with “Hellmouth,” I’ll bet. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion it’s to do with the rip between universes in that crappy old boat from 12.09.

There’s a new promo out for the spin-off that’s Claire-centric.

Season 12 is out on Amazon.

The count for Supernatural calendars for 2018 is now five: a charity calendar called If I Could Tell You: The Women of Supernatural that is sadly no longer available, two large calendars out on July 1, one mini calendar on September 1, and a Creation Entertainment calendar that came out on December 1 (also no longer available).

The show is currently averaging a 0.6 in the demo, putting it second on the network and even with last season. Between this and the resurgence of Riverdale, the CW is the only broadcast network that has not dropped in average demo since last season.

The show had a repeat last week that came in at 0.2/1 in the demo (0.246 in the unrounded overnights) and 1.03 million in audience in the overnights. It was preempted by holiday programming during Christmas week.


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Review: Supernatural: “Patience” (13.03)


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Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee. Want more of my recaps and reviews? Check out The Supernatural Codex: Season 1, out on Kindle and in print.


[lots o’ spoilers ahead]


While this episode was by no means perfect, I’m happy to report my relief when I first watched it that it was not half as boring as the previous one, albeit it ran a trifle long in some spots (it was only about two minutes over the usual time, but some of that dragged a bit). I was also pleased to find, despite some serious flaws in the character’s central conflict, that I rather liked Patience and the actress who played her. This was a very good thing. After “Rising Son,” I was beginning to wonder if it was time to hang it up with this show.

I was also happy to discover that even though this was the first of the lead-up episodes to the backdoor pilot for the new spin-off, Wayward Sisters, it had a fair bit of conflict and action involving Sam and Dean, who each had a storyline this week. Last season suffered greatly from Sam and Dean: Guest Stars in Their Own Show Syndrome. So far this season, that’s been greatly alleviated, at least for Jensen Ackles, who’s not fielding any newborns at home this year.

The funniest (and most reassuring in terms of how the new show will go over with fans) thing is that everyone has a different favorite. They like Claire, but they hate Patience. They like Kaia, but they hate Alex. They think Jody and Donna should be Hunting, but just together and not with any younger charges. Nobody can agree except that a lot of fans have already picked a favorite, if only in relation to at least one other character they feel shouldn’t be on the show. This indicates that fans in general have already got past the initial phase of accepting the overall concept of a group of women Hunting together and mentoring each other. They just can’t agree on which characters they think should be in that group. Considering most fans can’t really agree on liking Sam, Dean, Castiel, Crowley, and so on, even after 13 seasons, that’s a good sign for Wayward Sisters, not bad.

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Which is not to say the episode (or even the new show’s franchise concept so far) lacks flaws. Missouri Moseley returns in this one. Remember her? Season one? Kripke-penned “Home”? Let me refresh your memory – she was an African American psychic who fawned over Sam a lot and smacked Dean upside the head for … uh … reasons. Or something. That Missouri.

Now, obviously, there was some unfinished business between her and the Brothers, so you could say she had a reason to come back. Was this addressed? Nope. Sam doesn’t even see Missouri this time round. He’s too busy babysitting Jack for more than a quick phone call, and he and Dean have a fight over just sending Jody to deal with it before Dean goes off to help her. Dean gets no apology or even acknowledgement of any kind from her about her previous treatment of him (though she does commiserate with him on his “recent losses,” which she senses in his mind, so there’s that). In fact, when he makes the logical protest to her staying behind (while there’s a psychic-eating monster on the loose), Missouri’s Inner Bitch comes roaring out. Consider those loose ends still dangling.

Anyway, she’s only there to introduce a younger, prettier psychic, her granddaughter Patience. God forbid the CW have an older, gifted female (let alone an older female PoC) character as a main lead. I didn’t love the way Missouri was fridged to jumpstart the title character’s story.

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It bothered me that not only were the two PoC female leads for Wayward Sisters introduced very late in the day, but they were introduced in a fundamentally different way from that of Claire and Alex, who were introduced as victims of the supernatural (like Sam, Dean, Jody and Donna), rather than as essentially supernatural beings (like Patience and Kaia). Also, the CW has an extremely poor track record with PoC female characters with powers, wherein they end up powerful handmaidens to white girls. Bonnie from The Vampire Diaries fairly leaps to mind here.

Not helping is the way Patience’s father, James, is portrayed. It’s one thing to be introduced to the supernatural world in a traumatic way. A lot of people will go straight to denial, initially, as the show has demonstrated many times. But James was raised in the Life. He knows the supernatural exists. Hell, he can even work divination magic. He just wants to stick his head in the sand, even if it gets his mother and daughter killed.

The thing is that if you read between the lines (and remember how Missouri was introduced almost 12 seasons ago), there’s plenty of reason for James to resent his mother. Missouri dragged him along with her on down the road to Hunting supernatural things and it seems pretty clear that it traumatized him. The catalyst for their final estrangement may have been Missouri’s cocky miscalculation about the fate of his wife (Patience’s mother), but it’s clear a lot of bad things happened before that.

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But the writing wants us to believe that James is the bad guy here. Since the episode never addresses the stark contrast in how Missouri treated Sam (with powers) and Dean (no powers as far she could see) in season one, it neatly avoids addressing the pretty stark contrast between Missouri’s treatment of James her son (no apparent powers) and Patience her granddaughter (practically a Mary Sue). Missouri is a bigot when it comes to plain, old, ordinary humans. It’s therefore a tad difficult to believe the episode’s portrayal of James – a man old enough to have a teenage daughter and successful enough to be raising her in a safe, nurturing, upper-middle-class environment – as too immature to forgive his saintly mother.

It doesn’t help that the episode is wildly inconsistent in portraying Missouri and Patience’s talents. Dean tells Jody that Missouri can read objects, but what we actually see her do, for the most part, is read minds to a limited extent and foretell the future in blurry images. That’s not reading the past from objects, Show. Reading objects is a different ESP talent.

Also, we’re apparently supposed to get the idea from that that she is able to foretell her and the MOTW’s futures enough to determine that she can’t escape the MOTW, at least not without endangering her family (she specifically sees James, but then talks about Patience to him). How is this even possible when you have two new variables – Dean and Jody – in the equation? That smacks of overly convenient writing. You’d think Missouri would have learned from the mistake she made in predicting the fate of James’ wife/Patience’s mom that her powers are not infallible, but nope.

In addition, the family member who ends up in immediate danger is Patience, not James. Patience is threatened by the MOTW immediately after he kills her grandmother. It seems he was able to kill Missouri, and then zip past Dean and Jody to attack Patience before they could even contact James. I call shenanigans on that timing.

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In fact, I call shenanigans on that whole MOTW, but let’s finish talking about Patience’s powers, first. Patience initially has a dream that warns her of both her grandmother’s death and the MOTW’s attack on her later at the school. This dream seems to be a mix of literal precognition (the attack) and metaphor (her grandmother’s ghost warning her). Okay, this is a dream we’re talking about, so a little funky logic is acceptable.

But then, after she’s captured, Patience has a prolonged waking vision of her father, Jody and then Dean being killed, which allows her to warn each of them about the MOTW’s attack. But this is a different kind of precog from what she previously showed and all three types are different from what Missouri had.

This may seem like nitpicking, but if you look at how Sam’s precog was shown in the first two seasons, it’s very consistent and that’s pretty important to the story. He has quick flashes, usually of something fatal happening, accompanied by nasty headaches. If he acts on them, he is usually able to stop the event from happening, though something else bad may happen, instead. Sometimes, he has dreams. Less often, he has waking visions. But they are always the same kind of thing.

Precog and even telepathy are shown similarly for other characters such as Psykids like Ava (in “Hunted”) and Andy (sending Dean a vision in “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 1”), and even Chuck in “The Monster at the End of This Book.” We also have a clear origin for these visions. The Psykids apparently get theirs from Azazel, while Chuck gets them from the angels. Yes, I know we later find out Chuck is God, but his conversation with Zachariah at the end of that episode makes it clear the angels are sending him visions. Maybe they’re even sending them to the Psykids. Who knows? But the point is that these visions of the future don’t just pop up out of nowhere.

Missouri and Patience’s visions do, which means they’re much more malleable and “magical” in the sense of being overly convenient writing divorced from the logic of the worldbuilding. The characters don’t have these visions because the visions make sense in the context of the story. They have them just to move the story along.

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Now let’s check out the MOTW. Unfortunately, whoever made up the recap spoiled the crap out of the MOTW “surprise” (admittedly, that cat came right out of the bag in the teaser, anyway), which is that the MOTW was a Wraith. I don’t think a Wraith was the right MOTW for what the episode wanted to do and the actor they got was definitely not right to convey what they wanted. Or maybe he was, which kinda makes it worse.

Now, the Wraith’s targeting psychics was fine, as far as it went. We know Wraiths like to feed on a specific kind of human, often a “soft” target that can’t fight back very well. And therein lies the problem. The Wraith we first met in “Sam, Interrupted” in season five was working at a psych hospital, targeting patients. If they weren’t psychotic when they came in, they sure were by the time the Wraith was ready to feed on them. The Wraith possessed a toxin, spread via touch, that made people psychotic. This particular Wraith actually enjoyed the taste of brains under extreme psychological distress and played an Angel of Mercy to get them. Subsequent mentions of them followed a similar pattern.

Aside from targeting those who generally can’t fight back very well (psychics, who are otherwise ordinary humans), the Wraith in “Patience” follows none of these rules. He doesn’t bother to poison or weaken his targets. He simply attacks them and overpowers them.

He doesn’t treat them as food, either. The actor who plays the Wraith plays feeding as a straight-up sexual serial-killing thing, which is not how the Wraith in “Sam, Interrupted” acted. The Wraith in “Patience” attacks women, specifically, and creeps all over them. The Wraith in “Sam, Interrupted” attacked different types of people, which actually made it scarier because it was hard to see a pattern at first, let alone who could be the Wraith. You couldn’t see it coming.

In “Patience,” we know right away. There’s no mystery about it whatsoever, especially since there is no attempt to give any backstory to the MOTW aside from where he got his predilection for psychic brains. It’s all very CW. In a bad way.

And it also means that the Wraith is way overpowered for this type of MOTW. I can see him taking out James, maybe even Jody, if he got lucky. But Dean? On top of the other two? Nope. Not the organized and well-armed way they came in.

Now, if the writers had used an MOTW that was known for being fast and strong, I might buy that. A Vampire or a Shapeshifter or a Djinn I could see. Or if they’d argued that this was the Alpha Wraith, maybe. But as it was, I didn’t buy this particular MOTW, or his ability to fight and evade and take down healthy human prey.

Hell, even Patience was able to break off the Wraith’s stinger (the way Dean did in “Sam, Interrupted,” albeit while barely able to stay upright due to being poisoned). Not exactly an intimidating monster. I just didn’t buy that he could take Dean at full strength, let alone Dean on top of Jody and James. And if the MOTW wasn’t that dangerous, that makes Patience’s precog flashes rather silly and unnecessary to the plot.

I got the impression that we were supposed to have the usual balance of opinions between Sam and Dean this week, where Sam was on one side and Dean on the other, and we were supposed to see both sides as having merit. Which was sort of true if you squinted, but only because the writing kept Telling us Dean’s judgement was off, while actually Showing something a bit different.

For a start, not only is Dean in character for telling Patience at the end to grab as much Normal as she can, but he’s right. Hunting never ends well for the Hunter. As Dean has put it many different ways in the past, “it ends bloody or sad … you’re covered in blood until you’re covered in your own blood.”

So, when Jody tells Patience that Dean’s wrong and that if Patience wants to get into the Life and use her “gift,” she can call her, I just want to suggest that Jody first tell Patience why she lived alone in a big, old, empty house before she took in Claire and Alex. Gee, whatever happened to her husband and son? Patience deserves to hear that story before she makes her decision.

Yes, the supernatural world is the real world on this show. Yes, once you become aware of it, you see it everywhere. Even worse, it becomes aware of you. But step into the shadows, engage too closely, and your projected lifespan drops like a stone.

Dean’s not wrong (neither is James, really). It’s just very hard to get away from the supernatural world once you get plunged into it.

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Then there’s Sam’s “training” of Jack. Points, at least, for the show having Sam remember that he used to be psychic, too … sort of. Sam talks about being different when he was younger and worrying about having a “darkness” inside him, that Dean and Castiel helped him fight it, so there’s that. But then Sam proceeds (as he always has) to make it All About Sam and try to push Jack into learning more about his powers, even though it’s really obvious that Jack is afraid to use them.

Now, Jack does mention Dean saying he’s evil, but he also brings up the reasons why Dean feels that way and agrees with them. He did kill his mother by being born. He has hurt people. He has lost control of his powers. He even mentions feeling Asmodeus in his mind, pushing him and coopting his powers, during his attempt to raise the Shedim the previous episode. But what Sam mostly latches onto (as he very belatedly decides to stop pushing Jack) is that Jack is afraid of Dean (despite being physically invulnerable), not that Sam is doing pretty much the same thing to Jack that Asmodeus did and for equally selfish reasons – and that this bothers Jack a whole lot.

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When Dean gets back, the hints throughout the episode that all is not well with him (such as Jody holding him back when he starts to ream James out for lying to Patience) come to a head. Sam calls Dean on being so harsh to Jack and threatening him (even though Dean’s been very upfront about that, so it should hardly be a surprise to Sam).

To the writers’ credit, they do have Dean finally calling Sam out right back on Sam’s less-than-altruistic motives for getting Jack to learn how to control his powers, saying that Sam doesn’t really care about Jack. He just wants to use Jack’s powers to get Mary back, using Jack as “an interdimensional can opener.” And there isn’t a whole in this episode that contradicts Dean on that point.

Dean would never come out and say this, but Sam’s example of himself as a person Dean saved in spite of Sam’s being a “freak” is also a poor one – Sam hurt a lot of people because Dean didn’t kill him. Not that the angels and demons would have allowed Sam to stay dead, but still.

In the end, Dean can’t hold back. His barely leashed pain and rage pour out as he yells that he “can’t even look at the kid” because he blames Jack directly for losing Mary and Castiel.

Unfortunately, he does that as Jack is listening nearby (which seems uncharacteristically dumb). This accidentally sparks Jack’s powers as Jack spontaneously tries to do something “good” and also reaches out to his foster daddy, Castiel. In the process, Castiel wakes up someplace dark and weird.

But that’s for next time.

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Next: The Big Empty: While trying to figure out who is killing a grief counselor’s patients, the Brothers and Jack end up in family therapy. Meanwhile, Castiel wakes up somewhere dark and strange.


You can find my live recap of “Patience” here.


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Review: Supernatural: “The Rising Son” (13.02)


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[lots o’ spoilers ahead]


I have a confession to make – yes, I was very busy this past fall, but the main reason I have been putting off reviewing this episode is that it was boring. Very, very boring. And on top of the previous episode (the season premiere, no less), I just couldn’t hack rewatching boring one more time, at least for a while.

Well, I’ve rewatched it now, so let’s buckle down and get to it. I’d like to review everything for this season up to this point before the show returns on January 18.

This was not a good episode. If anything, it was worse than the previous week, a bit like the Nepotism Duo’s take on the same themes Dabb had introduced. Yikes.

The pacing dragged and there was an endless amount of infodumpy dialogue that damned near put me to sleep. When one of the most intriguing parts is a scene you never got to see (Dean hallucinating sheep on the road), there’s a problem.

As usual with these two writers, the episode was overstuffed with characters and ideas, none of them developed beyond the thinnest of surface levels. Questionable racial overtones popped up in the one loyal demon having an African American host and acting in a servile manner (as if the writers watched Get Out and completely missed the point of the film) toward the new YED, but also in giving alt-Michael an African-American vessel. I’m all for diversity, but someone clearly didn’t think through the Unfortunate Implications involved in that casting (coughJefferson and Sally Hemingscoughcough) or just plain forgot all about the Very Important Bloodlines storyline from the first five seasons. And I don’t mean that terrible backdoor pilot.

Someone in the comments here (I think it was Eva) suggested that alt-Michael is using one of alt-Raphael’s vessels, which would be cool, if true. I doubt these writers are that subtle, but it would be fun if alt-Michael isn’t really alt-Michael but alt-Raphael or even an angel who got souped up the way Godstiel did. That would actually make him look pretty clever and devious. This storyline desperately needs some kind of twist. After all, if alt-Michael is looking for archangel grace (oops, that’s a bit later on), why not hunt down alt-Gabriel or bring in alt-Raphael? Where are they?

I also was suspicious of Lucifer not recognizing alt-Michael (or the angel squad not recognizing Lucifer). Angels and archangels are supposed to be able to recognize each other, just as angels and demons can see true demon faces. Being in an alternate timeline shouldn’t change that. But the writing was so messy that it was really hard to tell if this was a red herring or just a plothole.

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I wanted to be impressed by alt-Michael, but something was off with him. Granted, the clumsy fist-fight between archangels didn’t help with either his or Lucifer’s gravitas. Who even thought that was a good idea? But I dunno. He just felt one-dimensional.

Speaking of archangels, what was up with Lucifer wandering around barren dunes with Mary in tow, complaining that she couldn’t keep up? He’s an angel. He still has wings. He can pick her up and fly all over the world multiple times in an eyeblink. I get that he was trying to stay under the radar a bit, but come on. Even that didn’t work out for him, or Mary.

I can’t even with what they did to poor Mary. She encounters a single human, who happens to be a male Hunter, who claims wimminfolk can’t be Hunters and he hasn’t seen a woman in who knows when. So, what does he immediately try to do? Rape her at gunpoint. And is she able to defend herself, this woman who was actually doing just fine on her own against all sorts of humans and creatures all last year? Nope. She needs Lucifer to come in and save the day by … punching the guy through the torso from behind. Eugh. I can’t believe this script was half-written by a woman.

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But hey, this is also a script that demands Dean get yet another kickass fight in which he senses the demon behind him, thrashes it good and hard, but can’t land the final blow, so he needs to get saved by Sam who … stabs the demon from behind. I sense a theme.

Look, I get it. Jared Padalecki is in his thirties now and has suffered some pretty brutal injuries on set over the years. I don’t blame him for wanting to dial it back on the stunts. But the way the writers are choosing to write around this is not cutting it. Sam needs to be doing his own stuff, not stealing Dean’s wins at the last minute. Not even Dean getting the next demon with the thrown angel sword made that less annoying. It’s bad writing. Give Sam fights (or other important work) Padalecki can do without hurting himself. Leave Dean’s fights alone.

There’s this general trend of obviousness and over-explaining in the episode of things that need a little mystery, while enormous plotholes are left alone, reminiscent of other winners from this duo like the best-forgotten Ghost!Bobby-centric episode, “Of Grave Importance.” For example, why are we suddenly shown a demon like Asmodeus teleporting away, when before, a demon would just walk out of frame or smoke off whenever other characters turned their backs? Why are we now shown archangels, who can fly at the speed of light (or faster), as slow-arcing fireballs, when showing the look on the face of a human, and putting the sound of wings on the soundtrack as an angel flew off, was effective enough?

What’s with the stupid fistfight between two beings who can incinerate half the planet between them? We suddenly have the budget to show angels flying and demons teleporting, but we don’t have any money left over for some decent FX and fight choreography between two archangels?

I suppose we have to talk about the new YED, AKA the latest attempt to spit on both Azazel and Crowley’s memories with the fans simultaneously. Even Dean calls Asmodeus Colonel Sanders a few episodes later, but the fandom was way ahead of him.

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Asmodeus (and, for that matter, Lucifer) is an obvious attempt to replace the departed Crowley. Now mind you, lots of characters have come and gone on this show. It is on its 13th season, after all. And I get that some sort of bad blood behind the scenes precipitated Crowley’s abrupt departure and Mark Sheppard’s absence from this past season’s gag reel. The character had been around a long time, probably well past his sell-by date. As I’d been telling people for years, he was as expendable as the rest of the supporting cast (except for Castiel because they already tried writing him out and it didn’t go well).

But the way they wrote him out and then completely ignored the character came off as simultaneously clumsy and mean-spirited. He had a lot of fans, Show. Respect that.

Adding to this, Asmodeus plain sucks as a character, let alone a major villain. He’s one-note and that one note grates. His powers don’t make sense. His motivation doesn’t make sense (I get he’s pretending to be Lucifer’s lackey to gain power and rule Hell, but why raise the Shedim?). And he lacks charm. Plus, constantly having him played by other actors reduces the audience investment in the main actor (Jeffrey Vincent Parise) and his performance. It’s a thankless task, poor guy.

The worst part is that if they hadn’t killed Crowley off, he’d be doing what Asmodeus is currently doing. Hell, he already did that poisonous father figure storyline twice – once with Kevin and once with Amara. Mark Sheppard even claimed at a con that Dabb had wanted to get rid of Crowley for a while, presumably because the character was played out, yet here we have a brand-new character and he’s got the same old tired storyline. He’s so freakin’ one-dimensional that he twirls (well … strokes) his mustache. I mean, come on.

Not to mention, what’s the deal with trying to spy on the Brothers by impersonating (not even possessing) other people? Why then leave just two demons from Central Casting to deal with the Brothers when it’s later shown he could just choke them out? Why would he even think Jack already had some kind of emotional connection to Team Free Will? It all makes him look weak and stupid, to the point where Sam has to be written like an idiot to build up this new baddie. Dean, at least, doesn’t trust the overly friendly bartender, even if he never finds out about her human doppleganger’s murder.

No wonder this new YED/Princes of Hell storyline doesn’t work (in stark contrast to the Knights of Hell/Mark of Cain plot, which did). The original YED, Azazel, was largely an unknown. He was creepy, unique, mysterious, fanatical. Even after we learned his agenda, we never learned much about him. He never lost his mystery.

The new YEDs are painfully overexplained, with too much Tell and not much Show. Why are we shown Asmodeus with shapeshifting powers and scars on his host body? Why would a demon even need shapeshifting powers when it can possess someone at will (so why cut the bartender’s throat or impersonate a Prophet when you can possess them?). How the hell does a creature consisting of black smoke manifest scars on the human it’s possessing? Speaking of which, why are the allegedly demonic Shedim solid monsters? Folks, that stuff belongs on the Makes No Sense shelf, not in an episode. It adds nothing to the show and contradicts previous canon.

And what’s the deal with the Shedim, who are about as scary as Care Bears? Why not – oh, I dunno – rewatch “Shadow” from season one and bring back the Daevas? They were scary. Ah, but that would involve having to set that very stupid scene in the middle of some random field in anything but broad, freakin’ daylight. Because nothing says “scary,” especially on this show, like making it look as though Keith Szarabajka’s about to race through the fields shouting, “If you dig it, they will come!”

Speaking of Szarabajka, while I’m thrilled to have him back (love me some 80s Equalizer nostalgia), what the hell was going on with Donatello? I can sort of see Dean not really reacting to Donatello’s revelation that Amara sucked out his soul a year past. As Sam points out to Jack, Dean’s not firing on all cylinders mentally right now. Already emotionally overloaded, he may just be rolling with the idea that if Donatello’s okay with his current situation, and isn’t hurting anyone (the Mr. Rogers reference), then that situation’s dealt with for the moment. Triage and all that.

Also, Dean is feeling lost after Chuck apparently ignored his prayer and has never felt comfortable with using his relationship with Amara, who is every bit as volatile and unpredictable as he is. He’s not likely to call on her if Chuck didn’t answer, even if it’s entirely possible she’d be more likely to show up.

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But what’s going on with Sam? Sam’s had no soul in the past. He knows what it’s like. It’s always bothered him, seeing other people without souls. Yet here he is, shrugging off Donatello’s lack of soul as if it’s not a big deal. What do they mostly talk about when Sam is fooled by the fake “Donatello” (Asmodeus in disguise)? Jack, of course. Yet, Sam never twigs that maybe this obsession with Jack and his burgeoning superpowers is just a tad odd for a man who has no one else to talk with about the fact that he’s missing his soul, especially the only two people who might be able to help him get it back (not like Amara would miss it).

It’s funny that I’ve been seeing all these complaints about Dean being “mean” and “whiny” and cruel to puir Jack, but nothing about how Sam is way too calm about all this. In fact, I’m not terribly surprised that Jack is choosing to look up to Dean. Dean’s the only one being honest with him. It’s also possible that Jack imprinted on Dean a bit via his imprinting on Castiel (who is obsessed with Dean). Weirdly enough, Jack may only really feel safe with Dean. Look at how Dean was the only one who noticed he was repeatedly stabbing himself. Jack is desperately seeking boundaries, control, over his powers (not really to expand them) and only Dean offers those boundaries.

Dean’s promise at the end of the episode probably was intended to be reassuring on some level. It was exactly the promise Dean was begging to exact from Sam and Castiel when he had the MoC. Jack may be in a similar position (losing control to darkness and not wanting to hurt innocents, but also unable to die), so Dean offers him the only reassurance he thinks would be helpful. If Jack does go dark (as he fears), Dean will be the one who takes care of it. If Jack doesn’t go dark, well, Dean’s not going to let anyone else kill Jack but himself. So, if Jack turns out to be good, Dean’s got his back.

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This is, of course, leaving aside all the stuff about how this is a perfectly natural reaction from Dean, and completely in character. Why wouldn’t Dean feel this way? From his perspective, Jack had a direct hand in Kelly and Castiel basically marching to their deaths (Jack may not have meant to, but they were definitely brainwashed to some extent). Jack also created the rift that took away or helped destroy Mary, Castiel and Crowley. Everything Dean has heard that’s remotely reliable indicates Jack will be a willing tool of his father, Lucifer, in wrecking the world (again), since that’s what he was created to be. Why wouldn’t Dean want to destroy Jack?

Dean’s grief-fueled madness, and Sam’s reaction to it, is also problematic for Sam’s characterization. Sam “reassures” Jack in an avuncular tone that Dean just has his wires crossed and doesn’t really want to kill Jack. Um … first of all, it’s painfully obvious that killing Jack is precisely what Dean does want to do, considering that’s the first action he goes for after his prayer to Chuck apparently fails. If Jack weren’t covered with thick plot armor – sorry, invulnerable to angel blades – he’d be dead, already.

Second, the way Sam frames it, in an almost jovial voice, makes it clear that if it comes down to Dean or Jack, Jack’s screwed as far as Sam is concerned. He won’t protect Jack if it really comes to it.

Now, Jack’s just a baby. How else can he be anything but freaked out by that lack of reassurance? No wonder he clings to Dean’s brutal honesty. At least, if he can win Dean’s affection and loyalty, he’ll know it’s real.

In fact, Sam sounds indistinguishable in his “concern” for Jack from Asmodeus or the angels. He only seems to want Jack around for Jack’s powers (showing a lot of rather creepy interest in them) and what those powers can do for him and Dean.

The thing is that Alexander Calvert (Jack) actually has a reasonably high amount of chemistry with both Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. Their characters’ adoption of Jack and attempts to raise Jack work because there’s actual affection there. That kind of chemistry doesn’t just happen, so I can see why the show would want to keep him around.

Alas, as a written character, Jack is a hot mess and he’s not fitting into the storyline at all well. He’s ridiculously overpowered and in his current state is an obvious deus ex machina. Adding to the suspension-of-disbelief carnage, convenient new powers pop up every week, aiding the writers a little too much in getting out of self-inflicted plot corners, to the point of making the situation a whole lot less scary than it could be. They need to power him down. They also need to play out this Lucifer baby-daddy-from-Hell storyline and move on.

The only actually interesting thing about the writing for this kid is that the Brothers are trying to raise him. Dean’s had parenting experience. Sam has almost none. So, it makes sense Sam is only able to relate to Jack as the young man he appears to be, whereas Dean understands better that Jack is just a baby. A super-powered baby, but still … just a child. Who needs a lot of guidance.

I can understand giving him a bit of power so he has enough plot armor to survive around the Brothers (unlike poor Kevin), but he’s got way too much right now and it kills the story tension. I mean, come on, that Impala ride to the rescue in Act Four was painfully slow. And I get that Jack is young, but the ruse to get him to let the Shedim out was so obvious it made him look stupid. Let’s stop doing that, Show.

One thing I will say is that the season began to improve considerably after this episode. “Rising Son” even looks a bit better in retrospect, mainly because some storylines that seemed to be going in a really annoying direction (and probably would have in earlier seasons) progressed or resolved better after this episode than I expected. But that doesn’t actually make it a good episode in its own right.

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Next: Patience: We probably didn’t need Missouri Moseley to return at this point. But she does, in an episode that introduces one of the last two main characters for the upcoming spin-off, Wayward Sisters.


You can find my live recap of “Rising Son” here.


Like this column? You can help keep it going by contributing monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), making a one-time donation through Paypal, or buying us a coffee.


Blog for scifi writer and medieval historian Paula R. Stiles