The Official Supernatural: “Funeralia” (13.19) Live Recap Thread


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Recap of Rowena and the season so far, sort of.

Cut to Now. Rowena is in Portland, OR when she gets a call from the Brothers and Castiel, asking for help in finding Gabriel. Rowena is a bit distracted (and says so) by doing something she’s pretty sure the Brothers wouldn’t like if they found out about it. Sure enough, she hexes a snotty young woman a moment or two later, causing her to burst, screaming into flame.

Credits


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The Official Supernatural: “Let the Good Times Roll” (13.23 – Season Finale) Live Recap Thread


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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 and is on sale through this Friday. 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. Reviews also help with sales. Just FYI.

Yeah, yeah. I skipped ahead. Don’t worry; I’ll do the others. It’s just that this one is a-buzzin’ and I want to watch/live recap it all the way through.

Laissez les bons temps rouler.

Recap of the season so far with, of course, “Carry On, Wayward Son,” which begins with a quick voiceover by Dean (and segues into a quick request from Rowena for music). ‘Cause that’s never ominous in a season finale, or anything. The recap ends with alt-Michael and Lucifer being left in the alt-SPNverse.

Cut to Now, with Sam in the Bunker explaining to the alt-SPNverse refugees how our world sucks so much more normally than theirs. There’s a joke about Trump and alt-Bobby gets to deliver it.

Sam gets a call from Dean, who is with Castiel and Jack near a harbor. It seems to they are celebrating getting everyone (they care about) back from the alt-SPNverse by Hunting some dockside werewolves because … reasons. As you do. Just roll with it, I guess.

Castiel starts off the carnage by stabbing one werewolf who’s outside on a smoking break. The Brothers and Jack then bust into the shack, where two other werewolves are discussing the Kardashians. Jack freezes the werewolves, while Dean and Sam fill them full of silver.

Meanwhile, alt-Bobby (now dressed just like “our” Bobby) is taking a nice walk in the rain with Mary. They infodump that Ketch has taken off, while Rowena and alt-Charlie are on a road trip (as long as anything involving Charlie stays off my screen, I’m good, but I sure hope this doesn’t mean the writers are now going to ruin Rowena to make alt-Charlie Sue look fabulous). Anyhoo, alt-Bobby admits that while they can’t go back home without an archangel, he’s not sure he even wants to. It’s nice here (he says as he makes cow eyes at Mary, who looks flattered).

Sadly, this is Supernatural, so the mood is immediately shattered by their discovering Maggie (remember her? The refugee the Brothers helped through a tunnel a few episodes back?) in the path with her head smashed on a rock.

Cue title cards.

Cut to the sneak peek where the Brothers talking about retiring. Sam is surprised that Dean would want to retire. Dean says that if he knew people were safe from monsters, he’d do it, happily, then go live on a beach with Sam and Castiel, and some umbrella drinks. Yeah, that sort of conversation never ends well.

After Sam goes off to do whatever, Dean hears Jack in his room, having a nightmare. Apparently, this is one of the rare times when Jack sleeps. It turns out Jack has nightmares about people he couldn’t save in the alt-SPNverse. Dean wakes him up (Jack wakes up in a less scary mood than Dean does) and reassures him that he has those dreams, too. Jack said he promised to save those people, but wasn’t “strong enough.” Dean tells him it’s not about being strong. If Jack weren’t strong, he wouldn’t have made it back. You just have to keep going and understand you’ll make mistakes some times. But Jack’s family and that’s all that matters.

Hmm. This is getting a bit worrisome. These are the kinds of conversations main characters have right before they get written off.

Sam comes in with a phone call. It’s about Maggie, whose dead body we see next, still on the ground in the rain. Jack is upset, saying he couldn’t protect her. Everyone tries to figure out what’s going on, since all the usual suspects are back in alt-SPNverse. They interview her friend who came over with her from the alt-SPNverse. The friend is shocked to hear she’s dead, saying she expected they would be safe here. She says Maggie had snuck out the night before to see a boy at a local quickie mart she was sweet on (so, I guess a fair bit of time has passed, then). As soon as Jack hears this, he flies off to the quickie mart. Uh-oh.

At the quickie mart, the kid in question is just putting stuff away, minding his own business, when Jack comes in and slams him into one of the freezer shelves. He starts choking the kid, demanding to know why he killed Maggie. The kid has no idea what he’s talking about. Castiel shows up and tries to stop him, but Jack slams him into some shelves. Sam and Dean come in, and an exasperated Dean shoots Jack to snap him out of it. They quickly show him that the kid didn’t kill Maggie, especially when he looks devastated at finding out she’s dead.

Jack runs back out into the woods and starts hitting himself, crying and wondering why he always hurts people. Then he hears angel wings and Lucifer appears behind him. Jack asks if he’s real and Lucifer hedges about how he got there. Lucifer claims that Sam left him behind and lied when he said alt-Michael killed him. Lucifer is all sweetness and light to Jack, but Jack cuts to the chase and asks how Lucifer got through the closed rift. Lucifer dances around this, too, and tries to tell Jack he’s not really human, that they have a lot in common. Ewww. Jack, I know you’re a baby, but jeez. It’s sad when Lucifer is so obvious that he can only fool an infant.

Lucifer suggests they go to some other planet. Jack compares it to Star Wars, but isn’t so sure about leaving Sam, Dean and Castiel behind.

Back in the quickie mart, the Brothers and Castiel try to cover up what happened with the kid by calling the incident “a training exercise” and saying they’re FBI. This is working pretty well until they hear the whine of an angel. A very, very powerful angel. An archangel, in fact. They tell the kid to run (hate to break this to you, kid, but I think your job’s about to go belly up) and he does.

The whining increases and then they see the impossible. Dean tells them to run outside, just as the windows on the quickie mart blow out. Alt-Michael stalks after them, smug as ever. Dean is already pulling some holy oil out of the trunk, lighting it, and tossing out at Michael’s feet. This makes Castiel’s incipient suicide run at alt-Michael unnecessary, since it temporarily stops the archangel, and they flee in the Impala.

Mary and alt-Bobby are discussing who could have killed Maggie when Jack walks in with Lucifer. It’s not a happy reunion, to put it mildly. Lucifer calls alt-Bobby “Longmire.” Lucifer tries to shmooze everyone by healing Maggie and bringing her back from the dead (while continuing to insult Sam to Jack and in front of Mary), his eyes glowing. Jack is impressed by this, enough to leave with Lucifer. Meanwhile, Mary has sent alt-Bobby to call the Brothers. How does alt-Bobby know how to use a cell phone if he’s been living in an Apocalypse World most of his life?

The Brothers come in, but Jack and Lucifer are already gone. Dean goes to call Jody and the other Hunters (alt-Bobby is impressed that Dean has an entire network of Hunters on speed-dial), while Castiel goes to see if there’s any angel chatter, even though they’re almost all locked up in Heaven now. Castiel later reports that it’s all silent on that front, which is unnerving.

Sam talks to Maggie, who is reluctant to talk at first. Then she says she didn’t see her killer’s face, only his eyes. Cut rather obviously to Lucifer and Jack, ostensibly getting ready to leave on their cosmic voyage.

In the Bunker, things go rapidly downhill as someone “knocks” on the door with an enormous boom. Dean insists Mary and alt-Bobby take Maggie and escape through the garage (overriding Mary’s protests), then he and Sam pull out their guns, as they and Castiel turn to confront alt-Michael busting the door down (dammit, gonna have to fix that door again).

Bullets and attempted angel-blade stabbings have no effect. Alt-Michael tosses Sam and Castiel aside, and focuses on Dean, saying that Dean will be the first soul he purges in his great crusade (this seems like rather a large plothole, considering “our” Michael was well aware of who Dean would be as his chosen vessel long before Dean was born). Dean insults him back, even as alt-Michael chokes him slowly, enjoying it. In the process, alt-Michael admits he made a deal (in flashback, we see it’s with Lucifer) to come through the doorway.

On the floor, Sam desperately prays to Jack, hoping Jack can hear him. Jack is temporarily distracted by Lucifer’s star-trekkin’ BS, though a sour note creeps in when Lucifer slips up and mentions wanting to make some “improvements.” But then Jack hears Sam’s prayer and comes back, just in time to stop alt-Michael from fully choking Dean to death.

Jack slams alt-Michael into a post. Lucifer flies in after him, as Jack starts doing Very Bad Things to alt-Michael, making him bleed from his eyes and ears. But Lucifer gets outed as the villain he is by alt-Michael, who screams, “Lucifer, we had a deal!”

Awkward.

Even Jack can see this red flag. As everyone compares notes, Sam tells Jack that Maggie saw the “red, glowing eyes” of her killer. Yep, it was Lucifer. Jack forces Lucifer to tell the truth. Lucifer killed her because she saw him “scouting out the Bunker.” He “crushed her skull” and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Disillusioned, Jack says, “You’re not my father. You’re a monster.” Lucifer is too weak to do much besides roar impotently and whine (alt-Michael is still hurting too much to do more than let his head loll). At least, until Jack lets him get too close. Then Lucifer springs on him, cuts his throat (not fatally) with his archangel blade, and drains his considerable grace (which takes remarkably little time). I’m honestly not sure from the dialogue, but considering his track record, I’m guessing this was Lucifer’s Plan A all along.

Lucifer then heals up the wound (there’s still some grace there, but Jack looks semi-conscious, at best) and disappears with him in a flash of light. As they do, Sam and Castiel both rush forward to grab them. Castiel is tossed back, but Sam disappears with them. To where, no one knows.

Lucifer lands them in a church, where he beats up first Sam (talking about how they’re going to “break up” permanently now) and then Jack, when Jack tries to stagger to Sam’s aid. Lucifer informs Sam (as if Sam didn’t know) that Jack has killed quite a few people. Sam says it doesn’t matter. As Dean said before, Sam says that Jack is “family.”

Lucifer, always disloyal to his own kin, is unimpressed. He tells Sam that “family blows.” To prove it, he drops his archangel blade in front of them and tells them that one of them can walk out, but not without killing the other (it’s doubtful he intends either of them to survive, but first things first). Lucifer also Evil Overlord monologues about how, if one of them lives, in the seven-to-ten days it would take him to “unravel the universe,” the survivor might figure out how to stop him. Or not. Lucifer fully intends to destroy everything and recreate it in his image.

Sam picks up the archangel blade and hands it to Jack, telling Jack to kill him. Instead, Jack starts to stab himself, telling Sam “I love you. I love all of you.”

Meanwhile, Michael is informing Dean that Lucifer is “juiced up” on Jack’s grace and now powerful enough to destroy the universe. All of the universe (“And you thought I was bad?”). He’s actually all for going to kill Lucifer, but his meatsuit is incapacitated and Lucifer is now much more powerful than before.

Dean has an idea, a horrible, no-good idea that alt-Michael may (or may not, considering he was fully willing to kill Dean before) have already been angling for. What if Michael had his Ultimate Weapon, the Michael Sword? Alt-Michael admits he knows who Dean is (which is a bit puzzling, considering he was just trying to kill Dean and was fully intent on killing Dean first, implying he saw Dean as the greatest threat in this new universe) and further admits that yes, it might be possible, the two of them together, to kill Lucifer.

Castiel starts to protest, but Dean says, “Lucifer has Sam. He has Jack. Cas, I don’t have a choice!”

Ah, but it’s Dean, so Dean has conditions. And before we protest that alt-Michael doesn’t have to honor these conditions, remember Death’s ongoing grumpiness about broken deals. Deals for a major supernaturally powerful being are a big deal in the SPNverse and breaking them has major consequences. So, when Dean calls it “a one-time deal” and flat-out says he will be in charge, with alt-Michael having no say and only providing the power, somewhere, someone with more power than alt-Michael is taking notes.

Just as Jack is slowly, agonizingly stabbing himself to death, a bright light appears behind him. It is DeanMichael (Hunterwings, maybe?), his own archangel sword in hand, just landed and unfolding his wings.

I gotta say, this is a pretty damned awesome image that will surely be copied over and over again this summer. Too bad about the way-over-the-top Ten Commandments music that accompanies it.

Anyhoo, Sam calls Dean’s name and Dean responds in kind, cueing us that this is Dean and not alt-Michael in charge.

Lucifer says, “You let my brother in.”

Dean acknowledges this, saying they had a common goal – “we both want to gut your ass.”

Lucifer charges like a bull and Dean starts off well by kicking him across the room. Unfortunately, the rest of the fight goes less well for Dean, especially once they start flying at each other, though he does quite a bit better than Sam and Jack.

Dean drops his sword and Lucifer starts beating on him in mid-air. Then he decides that stabbing’s too good for Dean (Michael doesn’t even get a mention; Lucifer clearly sees his true nemesis as Dean Winchester) and starts to smite him.

Sam then decides to grab the sword and toss it to Dean in one of the cheesier (and more literal) “wind beneath my wings” moments the show’s produced. Dean grabs it and stabs Lucifer, then falls back to earth as Lucifer blasts light out every orifice, then literally crashes and burns.

Afterward, Lucifer lies amidst the charred and glowing remnants of his wings. Sam and Dean and Jack share a bring “It’s Miller Time!” moment, made temporarily sweeter by Dean correcting Sam’s “You did it!” to “We did it!”

But this is the season finale and we’ve got a few minutes of airtime left, so of course this does not end well.

Dean suddenly doubles over in pain and screams, “We had a deal!” (Remember when alt-Michael screamed that at Lucifer and how that worked out for Lucifer? Just saying.) Then, he straightens up, only what straightens up is no longer Dean.

Sam rather unnecessarily supplies who this new/old being is: “Michael.”

Alt-Michael glances around appraisingly (some really nice acting from Ackles here), then, looking straight ahead, says in a cold and taunting tone to his vessel, “Thanks for the suit.” He flies off, leaving a horrified Sam and Jack.

In the Bunker, Mary and alt-Bobby rush in to find a devastated Castiel.

Later, on a rainy street corner, we see a man walking down the street in 1920s gangster garb (as much as I didn’t care for the Ten Commandments musical cue in the previous scene, I love the hell out of the Untouchables musical cue in this one), looking around him in wonder. He looks like Dean, but … isn’t. Right before the credits roll, the camera freezes on his sinister smile and glowing blue eyes. Michael.

Credits


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The Official Supernatural: “Bring ’em Back Alive” (13.18) Live Recap Thread


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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 and is on sale through this Friday. 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. Reviews also help with sales. Just FYI.

Recap of Gabriel, Mary and Jack in the alt-SPNverse, and the last few minutes of the previous episode.

Cut to Now, where Dean and Ketch appear in the alt-verse and it’s now winter (probably because it was winter in Vancouver when they filmed this). Dean is having trouble getting his bearings, which gives Ketch the opening to suggest he might tag along as “backup.” Dean is skeptical, but lets him.

Ketch starts to realize they’re not in Kansas, anymore, when they pass a charred body tied to a tree as they go under a bridge. Dean tells him to get down when some angels start to cross the bridge then stop. They have prisoners, whom they randomly proceed to execute on the bridge for crimes of rebelling against Michael.

They kill the first two, even as Ketch is restraining Dean from interfering. Then they get to the last one. After they uncover her hood, the head angel actually stops the other one, giving Dean time to get a good look at her and see it’s the alt-SPNverse of Charlie.

SMITE HER. SMITE HER NOW.

Cue title cards.

Look, I get that some fans really loved and missed Charlie (though there’s a good bit of evidence they were and are a minority of the fandom), but I was not one of them. And I can’t say Felicia Day’s acting has improved in the interim. The writing for Charlie (this is a Nepotism Duo ep, so keep your expectations low) certainly hasn’t, remaining so terrible that it belongs in another show.

So, Charlie gets hit on by the head angel, who calls her “not the usual human scum.” Oh, God help us, please move on, Show. After some infodumping about her being in the “inner circle” of the rebellion, which is apparently now being led by Mary and Jack, so Dean can conveniently overhear and get his bearings, they decide to take her back to the “Northern Camp” and fly off with her.

Back at the Bunker, Castiel (remember him?) has returned and is extremely not-thrilled to hear that Dean has gone off to the alt-SPNverse. When Sam tries to reassure him by saying that Ketch went with Dean, Castiel snarks, “Because that’s so much better!”

Sam says that Dean insisted on going alone and that they need to take care of Gabriel. Castiel becomes more subdued when they come to Gabriel’s room and he sees the condition his elder brother is in.

Sam, for some reason, has brought in food (angels don’t need to eat). He explains that Gabriel has suffered from years of torture and having his grace drained. It turns out he hasn’t brought food, per se, but some of Gabriel’s own grace to restore him. When they try to give it to Gabriel, though, he refuses to open his mouth and scrambles away from them in terror.

Up on Heaven, Lucifer is playing Solitaire (literally: He’s playing a card game) when Sister Jo comes in. She is unhappy that he is sitting around, expecting to be worshiped, doing nothing to improve the angels’ situation. When Duma comes in, Lucifer tries to draw her into cowing Jo, but Duma refuses to get involved. Duma also wants to know when Lucifer is going to start doing things to help Heaven, but all Lucifer is interested in is where is Jack. Duma says there are very few angels left and they can’t find him. As his eyes glow threateningly, Lucifer tells her to try harder. Frightened, Duma leaves.

Less impressed, Jo also leaves, telling Lucifer that if he wants to be treated like God, he needs to start acting like Him.

In his demon lair, Asmodeus is grumpy that he can’t find Gabriel, or even sense him. He bullies a terrified demon, rather like Lucifer bullying Duma. Lotta pointless macho posturing in this episode.

In alt-SPNverse, Dean is trying to get to where Charlie is so he can rescue her and (ostensibly) find Mary and Jack. Ketch calls him on it, saying that Dean is making it personal for some reason. Ketch is frustrated by Dean’s lack of stealth (though Dean makes a good point that they need speed over stealth right now) and this catches up to Dean when a human bounty hunter shoots him and tries to capture him to take him to a POW camp. Ketch gets into a fight with the man, but it’s not until Dean gets up and shoots the man in the kneecap that the man talks. They find out where the camp is and head there.

At the Bunker, Castiel tries to talk to Gabriel, who has covered the walls of his room with symbols. It turns out to be Gabriel’s story since his apparent death. He faked it by letting Lucifer stab a fake him and think it was the real him.

Gabriel then moved to Monte Carlo and shacked up with porn stars. So, you could say he took on the persona of Charlie Sheen. He was then captured and sold to Asmodeus, who fed on his grace, going from the weakest of the Princes of Hell to the strongest. When Sam wonders why Gabriel is not speaking, Castiel says that maybe he can’t. Sam wonders if maybe Gabriel won’t speak, because he feels it’s safer.

Up in Heaven, Lucifer thinks a new suit and shades will make him God (has he seen how Dad dressed? Wait – yes, he has!). He then sits back down on his throne to hear the prayers of humans. But they are all begging and he deems them pathetic, not worth his time.

The chant of an exorcism, however, piques his interest, so he goes down to earth to investigate. In a parody of The Exorcist (film, TV show, take your pick), two priests are trying to exorcise a young woman, calling the demon inside her “Satan.” Lucifer points out that it’s just a minor demon named “Anthony” and exorcises it out through a vent. The young woman falls back onto the bed, unconscious.

When the younger priest asks who he is, Lucifer makes the mistake of telling them his true name. They’re shocked and horrified, prompting an annoyed rant from Lucifer about how Chuck made him the cosmic “fall guy.”

The priests freak out and start spattering him with holy water and prayers. Annoyed, Lucifer smites them into black smoke, then is annoyed at himself for doing so.

Back in alt-SPNverse (yeah, as usual with a Nep Duo script, far too many storylines and none of them done properly or in any depth), Dean starts to feel ill, but passes it off as nothing. Considering he doesn’t (and shouldn’t) trust Ketch as far as he can kick him in the nuts, I think that’s still pretty sensible. Unfortunately, his condition quickly deteriorates and he passes out into a tree in the middle of Ketch trying to snark an explanation about Charlie out of him. Ketch shows concern, determines that Dean has a high fever, and quickly discovers the bullet wound is a nasty black color that is spreading across Dean’s shoulder.

Ketch makes up an antidote out of some paste on the fly. As you do. It seems the symptoms are much like a poison the LoL used to incapacitate monsters and if you don’t get the antidote, you die a nasty death. Yay.  Oh, and the cure’s painful, too. Of course.

Back at the Bunker, Castiel is trying to angel-talk to Gabriel or read his mind or something. I dunno. Oh, I see. He’s saying he can’t heal Gabriel. He’s just trying to reach his older brother. Gabriel remains catatonic. Sam then tries to give Gabriel a pep-talk about how they’re both “different” from the rest of their family. Oh, Sam. Still banging away at that crap.

But, Sam adds, even though he got out (or thought he did), he realized that his family needed him, and that their mission is also his. Hunting is his life now. He’s chosen it. It’s how he helps the world. Gabriel can help the world, too, if he wakes up. The world needs him. Sam needs him. Even if it was more fun hanging out with “hookers in Monte Carlo.”

The big speech appears to have no effect. Defeated, Sam turns away toward the door. Behind him, Gabriel says, “Porn stars. They were porn stars, Sam.” And his eyes glow.

Unfortunately, Asmodeus is able to sense that on his throne.

Back in alt-SPNverse, Dean is unable to go on, even after being “cured,” and is forced to stop and rest. When Ketch presses him more about why Charlie is so important, Dean goes on and on and on about how Charlie was a special snowflake and he wasn’t able to save her. He then asks Ketch why he’s so interested. Ketch admits that he’s got a lot of people who died on his watch. Problem was, he didn’t even try to save them. Now he realizes that the “duty” he followed was hollow and he doesn’t know how to find redemption. Dean helpfully points out that this is because Ketch sucks.

Ketch sighs and gets up, then reaches out to help Dean up. He figures that maybe if he can help save alt-Charlie, he can redeem himself a tiny bit. Meanwhile, I’m wishing he and Dean would just leave well enough alone.

Meanwhile, Charlie is getting tortured by the most inept angels ever and being all defiant and stuff. Except, remember how angels can find out whatever they want from a human by “reading” their soul (per “The Third Man”)? Guess the Nep Duo forgot all about that.

Back at the Bunker (I know! It’s dizzying!), Sam and Castiel have given Gabriel the remaining vial of his grace because why the hell not? Not like Dean and Ketch won’t ever get stranded over in alt-SPNverse. It restores him a bit, but not completely.

Right on cue, Sam gets a call from Asmodeus, who demands Gabriel back. Sam says he’s hanging up, but doesn’t, allowing Asmodeus to rant and rave and give TFW a ten-minute warning. Well, alrighty-then. Gabriel, of course, looks terrified.

Up in Heaven, Lucifer is whining to Sister Jo about how nobody deserves his awesomeness, as he yanks off his coat and tie. When Sister Jo suggests he’s “giving up,” Lucifer says no, he’s going to find Jack and use his son to remake the world in his own image, where everyone worships him.

Sister Jo’s not buying it. She basically calls Lucifer a loser (which he is), saying he should “make good on your promises,” like “fixing Heaven” and giving the angels back their wings (hmm, isn’t there a certain archangel still in the Cage who could do that?).

Lucifer then lets the cat out of the bag – he can’t do any of that. Whether he isn’t powerful enough right now (his answer implies otherwise) or was never that powerful, he lied. Furious, Sister Jo berates him, saying he’s not even trying that hard to find his son because Jack will probably regard him with contempt, too. Unfortunately for her, she gets too close and Lucifer grabs her. Eyes glowing red, he nearly chokes the life out of her, but releases her at the last moment.

Backing away, Sister Jo rubs her throat and says, “And now you don’t have me.” Then she stalks out. Oooh, could feel that burn all the way down the multiverse.

Zooming back to alt-SPNverse, Dean and Ketch have found the angel camp, at a surprisingly intact old farmhouse with a silo, where, for who knows what reason, wood fires are burning (I don’t see why the angels would bother to let the prisoners burn fires to keep warm). A small band of prisoners is led out into the courtyard. Again, why would the angels keep prisoners?

Anyhoo, the head torturer angel goes off on a speech about how the Resistance is being broken, blah-blah-blah, and they bring out Charlie to be executed. Instead of the usual smiting, they tie her to a post and (I swear to God I am not joking), out comes a dude in goggles to behead her with a scimitar. ‘Cause let’s add a little dash of Islamophobia to this tonedeaf and rushed crap sandwich of an episode.

Sadly, Dean and Ketch figure out a plan and come in, guns blazing (after Dean tosses in a grenade) before this can happen. They shoot down most of the angels with their angel-killing bullets, except for the dastardly head torturer dude, who ducks into an outhouse and flies away (okay, it’s probably not an outhouse, but it looks like one).

Then Dean rescues Charlie, who appears to be the only human left alive besides him and Ketch. Nice rescue. Go team.

Back at the Bunker (weee! Everybody down a shot!), Gabriel is freaking out as Asmodeus is sending him bad-touch vibes, while Castiel watches him, concerned (remember when Castiel could do angel stuff? I miss that). Or something. Sam comes in and says he’s “warded” the rest of the Bunker, but is unsure it “will be enough.” Suddenly, the emergency lights and klaxons go on. Pretty sure it wasn’t enough, Sam.

[Sorry, needed a brief kitten break from this nonsense. These babies are three weeks old and freakin’ adorable. Been watching them on YouTube since they were born.]

Okay, back we go. Sam and Castiel go to investigate (which is dumb, leaving Gabriel alone), Castiel with an angel sword and Sam with a … machete? Really, Sam? Okay.

Anyhoo, the sigils Sam painted are glowing and fritzing. Then they start to go out one by one. Gotta say that’s a cool effect.

Sam and Castiel get attacked by demons with angel blades. Stabbing and smiting ensues, and they win the fight. But it’s a diversion for Asmodeus to come in and disarm/disable them, while two other demons drag out Gabriel. Asmodeus monologues a bit about how powerful he is, which is nonsense, of course. The archangel grace he shouldn’t be able to survive that’s in his body is what’s powerful, not him. Think Asmodeus is a tad high on his own methane.

But as the demons drag a struggling Gabriel up the stairs, and Asmodeus tortures Sam and Castiel with more monologuing and vaguely shown internal damage, Gabriel rallies. He tosses the demons over the stairs (apparently killing them, though that’s now how you kill demons), insta-cleans himself up, and shows his wings.

Asmodeus rather desperately tries to regain control of the situation by declaring “You’re too weak!” Gabriel responds with a cutting comment (that the entire fandom, plus Dean, has been thinking since Day One) about Asmodeus’ “dumbass suit,” then torches him from the inside.

And there was much rejoicing [yaaaayyyyy].

Unfortunately, after Sam and Castiel bring him up to speed and welcome him to TFW 2.0, Gabriel decides that’s not for him and bails on them (he still has wings, remember). Oops.

Meanwhile, in the alt-SPNverse, Dean is bringing alt-Charlie (who is every bit as obnoxious as “our” Charlie) up to speed on their side of the rift and how he wants to find Jack and his mother. The thing alt-Charlie actually balks at is the idea that Mary is his mother. Umm … odd thing to have issues with, but okay. Nevertheless, when they arrive at the rift, she becomes a believer. Well, that was quick.

But when Dean wants to take her through the rift, she and Ketch balk. Charlie wants to stay and fight for her world and Ketch does, too, because reasons. Dean hands Charlie a gun and goes back. Meanwhile, the evil torturer angel shows up with reinforcements (who walk into the fight because why use their wings, right?).

When Dean gets back, he has to explain why he’s alone. Then Sam and Castiel have to explain all that happened with Gabriel and how he bailed on them. Dean is … displeased.

Jensen Ackles has had to do this type of scene before, but it’s pretty cool (and unsettling) how he manages to wring some new subtext from Dean’s anger this time, and introduce some different body language. And how Sam and Castiel look like frightened lieutenants who have failed their leader rather than equal members of the team.

So, when Dean freaks out, it only seems initially like a repeat of, say, how he freaked out when Kevin died. Then he gets cold. Really cold. And when Castiel promises Dean they will find Gabriel, and Dean looks directly at the camera while saying, “We’d better,” I swear I saw ice crystals forming on the screen.

Credits


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The Official Supernatural: “The Thing” (13.17) 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 and is on sale through this Friday. 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. Reviews also help with sales. Just FYI.

Recap of the MoL and of Asmodeus showing Ketch the captured Gabriel, which reminds us how the writers screwed up those storylines.

Cut to Portsmouth, RI in 1925. Some guys in robes are sacrificing a young blonde flapper on an altar, chanting “Insanidox Koth Munto,” using a cup of angel grace and a crystal amulet. A doorway of purple light appears overhead, triggered by the glow from the grace through the amulet. The girl screams as a tentacle reaches down from the doorway, the cultists chanting, “Yokoth! Yokoth!”

Cue title cards.

Sam is asleep on top of his research in the MoL library.  Since Sam is asleep, this is a perfect time for Dean to stick prank Post-It notes on Sam’s back.

Sam wakes up without noticing his new accessories (or Dean’s guilty look) and they start infodumping about the Seal of Solomon. Apparently, it’s “unearthly.” They go back down to the archives (“I LOVE BOOKS!” Dean declares sarcastically) and go at it.

Later, Sam discovers the notes in the mirror, but at that moment, Dean walks in with a metal box, which contains a story about the Seal, which the MoL found in Israel in 1917. It was later brought to Portsmouth. Dean makes a “jinkies!” comment that irritates Sam. It seems Dean’s been quoting Scooby-Doo a lot lately. Gee, wonder why.

Sam then brings up a new bit of MoL lore. Seems they had “capitula” (which Sam translates as “chapter houses”) all over the U.S., including one in Jamestown (implying they’ve been in North America since the beginning of English colonization). Off the Brothers go on a road trip, where they find a surprisingly intact, square brick building and a rotting car covered in vines. The entrance to the capitulum turns out to be a manhole cover with a lock that readily accepts the Bunker’s key (just roll with it, y’all). Dean goes in first.

Inside, they find very familiar corridors (except for a triangular sign with an eye that Dean points out) and a much-smaller version of the Bunker library, also in surprisingly good condition. This does not thrill Dean, but he does find the first clue. As Sam is saying he’s not sure where to begin (but quickly and conveniently discovers a folder about the Seal), Dean finds some old photographs. One of them, of a Sandy Porter, is of Doomed Teaser Gal.

Sam accidentally knocks some objects off the shelf as he picks up the Seal folder. Shortly afterward, the Brothers hear a woman cry for help from deep inside the capitulum. They go running to help. Me, I’d saunter slowly while trying to figure out if it’s a real person or a trap, but that’s just me.

The Brothers bust through a door, only to discover the same room from the teaser and DTG still chained to the altar, alive and apparently quite well. Still young, too. Dean, recalling the photo, asks her if she’s Sandy Porter, born in 1903, and she says yes. To her, mere moments have passed.

Meanwhile,  Ketch is at Demon Central, being blocked by a henchdemon because, even though Asmodeus summoned him, Asmodeus doesn’t really want to see him right now.

Ugh. I know I was just dying to see more of this storyline. Weren’t you? Yes, it should lead to whatever’s going on with Gabriel, but you just know they’re gonna drag this out. Painfully.

Stuck reading children’s books, Ketch is able to sneak past the demon guards while they’re watching kitten video. Inside, Asmodeus is extracting archangel grace from a helpless Gabriel and … injecting it into himself.

Now, I call bullshit on this. I really do. Just a regular angel’s grace like Anna’s disintegrated the host body of a WED. Even if Asmodeus could survive such an injection, canon has stated over and over again that his host could not.

Anyhoo.

After some back-and-forth banter about how Asmodeus owns Ketch, even as Ketch protests too much, Ketch is sent back to the waiting room. I’m not kidding. Told you they’d drag this out.

Meanwhile, the Brothers explain things to Sandy (mostly offscreen) and then take her to a diner, where Dean puts Jay Ramsey’s “Better Luck Next Time” for her on the table jukebox. She’s fascinated by all the weird technology around her (as one would be), and surprised to be still alive, but what’s especially interesting is that the cook behind the grill appears to recognize her. Hmm. Sporting a rather obvious tat on his wrist like the symbol in the capitulum, he makes a call to a woman who is standing near the altar there. She calls him “Marco” and it seems they “have a problem.”

Sandy explains to them that she met a man who told her he was part of “a secret club … the Men of Letters.” This basically confirms the MoL were willing to engage in human sacrifice, oh, yay. As Sam gets the story out of her in flashbacks, Dean reassures that she is safe. Little, of course, do they know that even the short-order cooks are cultists in this town.

Sandy’s recollection extends a bit past the teaser, to show the tentacle wrapping around her. She insists the MoL were “feeding” her to the “monster.” As the waitress comes in to offer her coffee, Sandy leaves the diner in tears.

Meanwhile, the cook is drugging/poisoning the food and pulling out a short scimitar from the oven.

Back to Ketch and Asmodeus. As Gabriel watches, Asmodeus gets out of Ketch that he knows Castiel was in Palestine, then infodumps (to remind us) that the Brothers are looking for the spell Donatello found in the Demon Tablet. Asmodeus then beats the crap out of Ketch to make him fall in line, which will almost certainly cause Ketch to rebel against him because reasons. And it’s Ketch.

I’m so over Asmodeus.

Back at the diner, the Brothers are trying to figure out what Sandy has become. They don’t appear to believe she could still be human (trapped in a time spell like Dorothy from the Oz ep, for example), while Dean is skeptical that this is the MoL’s doing, since it doesn’t seem to be there style. That’s so sweet and naive after last year’s Psycho LoL storyline, especially with Ketch being in the B plot this week. Personally, I think the MoL are quite capable of engaging in human sacrifice.

Anyhoo, Sam gets his food first and ends up drugged. Meanwhile, a young man who was hitting on one of the other waitresses sees some red-robed cultists outside. He warns the whole diner before Dean eats his food and then Sam passes out. Dean has to fight a diner full of cultists, while Sam is kidnapped. Sandy stabs the last one from behind, “saving” Dean. As soon as he realizes Sam is kidnapped, Dean makes some Molotov cocktails on the fly (as you do), while the cultists cut off all outside contact for the diner.

Meanwhile, the two lead cultists (the cook and the woman he was talking to) take Sam off into the woods and have a talk. In a rather unconvincing (but obviously telegraphed) twist, they turn out to be “good guys.” At any rate, they don’t want to kill Sam. They want to stop Sandy.

It seems that the sacrifice did go through as planned. Their ancestor, an MoL named Diego Rivera, went insane after serving in WWI, went rogue, and formed a cult. He decided to “cleanse” the world by summoning two gods, Yokoth and his mate, from another dimension to bring a new paradise. Instead, after Sandy got possessed, she ate most of the cultists and the survivors managed to trap the god, then put the capitulum on lockdown. The MoL “disavowed” the entire incident.

Meanwhile, Asmodeus is pontificating to Ketch that he wants to be redeemed, but never can be. Even when Ketch points out that he has a soul, Asmodeus is unimpressed, saying that just makes Ketch weak. Predictably, as soon as Asmodeus leaves, Ketch grabs frightened Gabriel and the archangel blade and bails, killing the demon who mocked him at the beginning of the episode, along the way. Yeah, I totally didn’t see that coming, either.

At the diner (while Dean is in back, preparing to rescue Sam), the two waitresses send the young man to find out why the cultists have suddenly disappeared. He finds the dead in the parking lot. Then he’s attacked by Sandy, who finishes eating him just as Dean comes out. This is right after the two cultists with Sam tell him that as long as they’ve been starving the goddess, she’s been kept weak. But if she feeds, well, they’re pretty screwed. Oops. They also say that “when she’s not feeding, she’s breeding.” She kidnaps Dean and the female cultist realizes that when Dean is not among the dead, he must have been taken for the other option. Double oops.

Dean wakes up on the altar. Now he’s the sacrificial maiden (more or less). Sandy is beside him, preparing the goblet. When he calls her Sandy, she says that Sandy has “been dead for a long time.”

Dean: Okay, I’ll play. What’s your name?

Sandy [eyes glowing, in an unearthly growl]: Yokoth. Star of Madness. Ravager of Galaxies. Mother of Faceless Humans.

Yes, in case y’all were wondering, we are indeed in Fake Lovecraft Mythos Land.  In case the tentacles didn’t clue you in.

Even if Dean were not an expert at getting villains to Evil Overlord monologue, Yokoth would be easy to get going. She says that she and her mate Glythur were supposed to both come through, but the rift shut before he could make it. She now intends to open the rift and let him through, whereupon he will possess Dean (because Yokoth has a wee crush on our hot, unstable Hunter Hero) and they will eat their way through the SPNverse. She’s really looking forward to that, since they’ve already consumed most of the universe they come from.

She opens the rift with a concoction of what look like human hearts and the aforementioned angel grace, and a tentacle comes through. Dean manages to head-dodge it a time or two, just as Sam and the others rush in. As they fruitlessly attack Yokoth, Dean manages to pull out his pocket knife and pick his chains. Then he leans over to snatch the Seal of Solomon from Yokoth and toss it to the female cultist. She catches it and shouts a counterspell, closing the rift. As it does, Yokoth is conveniently (and unwillingly) snatched up by her mate and dragged back to the other realm. Which solves the problem of what to do with Yokoth rather neatly.

All I can say is, poor Sandy. I sure hope her soul escaped somehow after she died and wasn’t consumed, or something. Or worse, trapped in the other realm inside Yokoth.

Afterward, the Brothers consult with the two cultists, who hand over the Seal of Solomon pretty willingly, albeit with cautions on its limitations (such as that you need something that was already in the realm you’re seeking, that the spell only lasts for 24 hours, and that you never know quite what you’ll get on the other side). Also, they need archangel grace. The Brothers know most of these limitations, already, which helps persuade the cultists that they know what they’re doing.

Back at the Bunker, Sam and Dean are surprised to see Ketch and pull guns on him. Ketch brings out Gabriel, a vial of archangel grace, and the archangel blade as peace offerings. The only thing he really seeks is sanctuary from Asmodeus (which may be a tall order, the Brothers are the most likely to be able to protect him). Sam is skeptical, but Dean shrugs and agrees. Whatever it takes to get their mom and Jack back.

Later, as Sam is cutting the thread sewing Gabriel’s mouth shut (but Gabriel remains silent), Dean comes in, ready to go to the alt-SPNverse. Sam is shocked, but Dean points out that time is a-wasting and they need to get on it.

He also tells Sam that he’s going alone. Not even Ketch coming in, saying he’s going with Dean, changes Dean’s mind. Dean’s reasoning is actually pretty sound. Someone needs to watch Gabriel. Also, if Dean gets trapped over there, they need someone/thing who’s been over there to open the rift and come get him, which would be Sam. And as for Ketch, Dean doesn’t care if Ketch dies. As a matter of fact, Dean would be pretty okay with that.

So, they open the rift and set their watches. And then Dean and Ketch go through.

Credits


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Review: Supernatural: “Wayward Sisters” (13.10)


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[lots o’ spoilers ahead]


I’ve been dawdling over this review for months, largely because, on top of working full-time as an English tutor and museum science educator, I just finished a semester full of an internship for finishing up my Historic Preservation Technology degree and College Algebra (for my sins). Well, I passed those classes and graduated on Friday – and the CW has passed on picking up Wayward Sisters after months of strongly implying the series was practically a go for launch. And the season 13 finale is on Thursday.

So, now seems like a good time to revisit this episode.

I usually try to start with something positive in reviews and get to the critical stuff later on. There are some episodes where it’s more difficult to find the positive than others (translation: almost all of the Nepotism Duo entries). However, with this one, I’m going to spin the format around and go with the critical stuff first, then the viability of the characters, then the viability of the spin-off this backdoor pilot was intended to introduce. I think this spin-off’s actually pretty doable, with some tweaks, but it’s going to take a bit to explain that, and why the potential spin-off is fairly unique. I’ve seen some concerns by posters (legit concerns), though, and I want to discuss them first. Not everyone would want to sit through the viability discussion on the spin-off to get to the review of the episode itself.

Also, I’ve been trying to go in order with the episode reviews, but since there’s a whole lot of talk about the spin-off right now, I’m going to talk about this one and then go back to catching up with the other episodes I haven’t reviewed yet, this season. Also, it means I can put off reviewing yet another dull and cluttered episode by the Nepotism Duo (“War of the Worlds” (13.07)) a little while longer.

So, here’s the Bad, the Mixed and the Good.

waywardsistersnew

The Bad

Let’s talk about why some posters weren’t overly thrilled with the way the episode was set up. They were on to something. The basic premise is a hoary Western cliché that was old when Gunsmoke was on. It’s called “The men are incapacitated/out of town, and the wimminfolk have to step in and save the day.”

A signal example of why this isn’t exactly the most feminist trope ever popped up in 1978 in the original Battlestar Galactica‘s early episode, “Lost Planet of the Gods, Part I.” In it, most of the fleet’s (male) Viper pilots fall ill with a mystery virus, forcing a reluctant (and sexist) Apollo to rely on a bunch of new recruits. Most of them are young women and one of them is his new bride, Serena.

Lots of strident faux-feminist speechifying from the female characters and “down to earth,” condescending sarcasm from the male characters ensue. Naturally, as soon as the men are back on their feet, the women revert to being helpers and girlfriends, and fade into the background once more. In Serena’s case, she straight-up gets killed off in a Doomed Girlfriend in a Coma plot.

That’s the problem with the trope. It’s based on the idea that women are inherently weaker (and dumber) than men, and will only be called upon to engage in such heroic measures in an emergency when the men can’t protect them. As soon as the emergency is over, traditional gender roles snap right back into place and the women return to their kitchens. I’ll bet women who worked in the factories and trades during WWII, and lost their jobs to returning (male) GIs, cringed every time they saw this trope.

Now, obviously, the Wayward Sisters don’t quite revert to their previous roles at the end of the episode. In fact, part of what makes using this trope so awkward in this case is that it’s simply unnecessary for bringing these particular women into action. Jody, Donna, Alex and Claire are already actively Hunting. They’ve even specialized, Donna with Vampires and Claire (apparently) with Werewolves, aside from a smattering of other monsters (ghosts, not so much). Meanwhile, Alex has acquired a certain expertise in autopsying the supernatural.

This is all something of which the Brothers are well aware, having worked with Jody and Alex as recently as episode three of the season because they trust these women and their skills. Only the two new characters, Patience and Kaia (who have superpowers, but are otherwise total newbies to the Life) struggle to fit in. When Patience goes into battle with the other women, a gun is shoved into her hands and she gets offhand noises of approval when she finally manages to kill a monster.

So, why the condescending nonsense about the Little Women riding to the rescue and the dumbing down of the Brothers to accommodate the introduction of the women’s new team? Lousy, tone-deaf writing, that’s why.

Even the task the women have set themselves basically involves their staying at home in one place, waiting for the monsters to come to them, as opposed to the Brothers’ traveling around the country, putting out supernatural brushfires. Not so feminist and progressive, Show. Just sayin’.

This pops up repeatedly in the wheel-spinning the show has Sam and Dean do in the Bad Place. I saw a lot of spec that the mothershow would get canceled midway through season 14 to make way for the spin-off (pretty darned unlikely now). I think that would have been a very, very bad idea if the network wanted the mothershow’s core audience to accept the spin-off (and, at least a few months ago, it seemed apparent that they did).

Ever since the Dawn Ostroff era, saltgunners have been extremely sensitive to any hint that the CW is trying to kill off Supernatural (not least because Ostroff repeatedly did try to do that). Replacing it directly with a spin-off involving a different cast and premise would bring down that paranoia and wrath on the new show. It would kill the spin-off right at the start.

If they had taken this to series, unless Padalecki and Ackles had wanted out right away, I didn’t see the mothershow checking out before the end of season 15, in order to give the new show a good boost and remove any sense that the mothershow was being summarily replaced. Granted, that’s all moot now, unless the CW actually listens to the fan backlash over its failure to pick up the series. But this is a network where its ostensibly female-lead series are even more misogynistic than its male-lead series, while touting the mere fact it has any female-lead series in the first place as something great and progressive, so you probably shouldn’t hold your breath.

Do the showrunners and network understand this dynamic, especially after the ignominious crash-and-burn of previous would-be backdoor pilot, “Bloodlines” (which fans roundly hated for being terrible storytelling and barely even fitting into the SPNverse)? Well … some of the writing and direction this episode could have been a lot more reassuring on that level (and the network’s decision to pick up Yet Another Spin-off of The Vampire Diaries that is even less female-lead than the previous two shows kinda says it all for them).

If the Bad Place really was as deadly as Kaia kept saying it was (she claimed the Brothers wouldn’t last more than a few hours and they made it at least two days), there were better ways to show that than to write Sam and Dean as plot-stupid and suddenly unable to fight their way out of a wet paper bag with a hole in it and a pink neon sign in Kidprint font saying EXIT HERE. There simply was no way that EVOL!Kaia could have taken them both down, even though the plot was writing them as too stupid to pull out their angel swords (which EVOL!Kaia apparently never thought to take from them) until they reached the rift, let alone their guns. Guns trump a cute stick with a blade on it 99% of the time.

Sure, Meg managed it in season one. But she’s a demon and she enlisted help. Plus, that was season one.

Even the figure taking them by surprise was a dumb idea. That whole sequence failed to do what it was supposed to do – make EVOL!Kaia look badass – and just served to irritate the mothershow’s usual audience. I get that the Brothers couldn’t be the focus of the story in the sense of screentime, but their sojourn in the Bad Place could have been written a lot better. A few cute bits about Dean automatically going survivalist and Sam (unrealistically) being squeamish about eating a lizard didn’t cut it.

I mean, come on, writers. The Brothers spent most of season one looking for their father, but that was because he didn’t want to be found, not because he was too dumb to get out of his own mess.

Also not cutting it were a few random and vague references to the importance of the Brothers to the new team. Padalecki and Ackles could easily have had more time off, and the focus could still be on the women, without making the connection between them all so damned generic. This was a golden opportunity to show how much influence the Brothers have had on the next generation of Hunters, and deflect fan anger away from the new interlopers, by showing that the Sisters had an emotional connection with Sam and Dean.

Instead, the writers blew it with a few platitudes that made Claire’s motivation, especially, seem as shallow as a kiddie pool. They wouldn’t have even needed to invent a Woobie character for her to lose if they’d done a little more digging into why she would want to rush off to save Sam and Dean.

I wasn’t wowed, either, by the equally-lazy cliché of Jody and Donna (the adults) going off to investigate the boat and then having to be rescued by the teen girl pack. Well … more like Claire with a flamethrower while the others stood around looking awkward. The image definitely cut down on the danger vibe at the end of the scene.

Admittedly, part of that was another fail of the Bad Place set-up. Those creepy monsters that came through were not even remotely scary. They looked and were filmed like exactly what they were – athletic stunt guys doing parkour in creepy monster suits. The only time one looked cool and like an actual MOTW was when Alex was cutting up a dead one and removing its Mad-Max-style facemask.

Another problem with this was all the mucking about with Kaia and her character development (or sheer lack thereof). I’ll talk a bit in the section on characters about why making her and Claire a romantic couple was actually the most successful (or, at least, the least unsuccessful) aspect of their dynamic. For now, let’s focus on why that twist at the end was oh-so-not-good.

There was a common tactic in action and syndicated fantasy shows of the 80s and 90s to introduce a likeable character who appeared to be part of the main cast and then kill that character off right away, either in the pilot or the next episode or two. Basically, he or she was a disguised Red Shirt. The intent was to give the illusion that anyone could be killed off, even though everyone else usually proceeded to have adamantium plot armor until at least the end of the season.

With Kaia, they seem to have added on the cliché of replacing a likeable auxiliary character (especially one played by a PoC) with an EVOL version. Remember Sydney’s roommate in Alias? Like that. Sometimes, this works (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had a doozy of a reveal involving Doctor Bashir, and I don’t mean the part about his being Khan-adjacent), but more often, it doesn’t, especially if the switch is permanent.

Part of the problem is that we just barely met Kaia and already, they’re rebooting her. Even if this person wearing Kaia’s face is really her with a personality change, as opposed to an EVOL alt-version of her or a monster taking on her appearance, she’s been rebooted. And it’s not as though we were especially attached to the person they just killed off, so there’s even less emotional investment in the reboot.

You have to care about an original in order to care about a reboot. This isn’t a situation like Fred and Illyria in Angel. We’ve barely met Kaia, so there’s little reason to care about her fate.

It just feels like a cheap way to introduce a really powerful character (at least, in terms of superpowers) very briefly to scatter characters into new configurations and then kill her off because she’s too superpowerful for weekly MOTW use. Plus, Dean would totally have wanted to go after his mom right now at the end of 13.10 if the Kaia of 13.09 were still alive.

So, the whole episode was locking down the new team and the premise, and not only was one character left swinging in the wind, but the writers intentionally did that. Rest assured that as this backdoor pilot isn’t going to series, we’re not likely ever to see a resolution to what happened here, any more than we had any resolution to the twist at the end of “Bloodlines” (not that anybody cared about that, but still). Look at how Jody and Donna and the rest of the crew just up and disappeared after the Donna-centric episode following this one.

Kaia’s been the focus of two episodes now and she still doesn’t feel like a real person. She feels more like a checklist of attributes, most of them making her a victim rather than a character. I feel as though the writers keep shoving her in my face (LOOK, LOOK, SHE’S A POOR INDIGENOUS STREET WAIF, FEEL SORRY FOR HER, HOW DARE YOU NOT FEEL SORRY FOR HER?), which gives me a headache and irritates me with the writers’ constant attempts to handwave their own sketchy writing. Don’t give me retro characterization and then try to guilt me into accepting it as groundbreaking writing in diversity.

While her bonding with Claire was a nice idea, it felt extremely rushed (especially with all the slashy overtones). I could see Claire feeling bad that she’d failed to save an innocent she’d sworn to protect (like the little girl at the beginning), but flinging herself into Jody’s arms and weeping as though she’d lost the love of her life after Kaia’s death? That I don’t get.

I could see her grieving over Dean like that, or Castiel (who gets zero concern from Claire or anyone else this episode, despite also being in the wind at this point as far as they know). It’s certainly how she grieved over her mother. And in the episode where she gets turned into a werewolf, we see Dean leave the room when he believes she is dying because he can’t watch. So, there is a bond between those two. But Kaia? Claire knew her for all of five minutes. Where is all of this emotion coming from?

And why does Kaia suddenly decide to trust her after flatly refusing to help Jack or the Brothers? That seems vaguely misandrist. It’s the same lesbian-knight-saves-superpowered-damsel-in-distress conflict as the one involving Charlie and the fairy in “LARP and the Real Girl,” except that this time, the fairy dies and is a WoC (Woman of Color). The plot eventually resolves into a case where a WoC with sparkly powers gets fridged to motivate a white character who is being presented as the episode’s Hero. Hmmm, yeah, nope, not so progressive.

Also, Kaia wasn’t very sympathetic in either of her episodes. She was whiny and helpless and not even very good at escaping humans, let alone taking care of herself against supernatural creatures. She seemed to oscillate between fearful “Well, screw you all; I’m leaving you to clean up my multiverse mess” and “I shall face my fears by coming over to the other world and helping you, fair Claire.”

I never got any sense of responsibility for her own actions, let alone heroism, from Kaia. Granted, it was a stupid idea to let her actually go with Claire to the Bad Place, since she was the only one who could find it, but a little stepping-up-to-the-plate seemed in order for her being part of the team. She seemed very selfish and immature, except for the jarring shift to “By golly, I will help you” at the end of both this and the previous episodes.

It might have worked with an older and more experienced actress, but really, a lot of it was down to the poor writing and weird direction. I also sensed, from the terrible and choppy way the fight scene in the Bad Place was staged (a lot like the very frustrating cutting back and forth in the dark that you see in Arrow), that a natural at stage-fighting she’s not. It reminded me of all the dancing around Katie Cassidy’s lack of stage-fighting skills in season three.

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The Mixed

On the opposite end of the spectrum from Kaia, I think Jody and Donna were the best-realized of the characters. Sure, they’ve had multiple episodes to develop and the characters are also played by older and more experienced actresses. But also, I think a lot of it came down to the fact that Jody and Donna have their own supernatural-rooted conflicts, based on their being cops in a rural area, and Jody’s loss of her husband and son to monsters. Plus, their training and experience as law enforcement officers have given them a jump-start on the skills they need to survive as Hunters.

They don’t suffer from constant comparisons to Sam and Dean because their central character conflicts aren’t directly pilfered from Sam and Dean. I’d definitely watch a show with just Jody and Donna (I especially liked their incidental theme music while they were boarding the boat). They make a great team and come across as salty old Hunters in the Winchester tradition, already. I’m rather less certain I’d watch a show with just the younger women.

Some people had issues with Donna due to her accent and boisterously pro-gun attitude, but Jody was the one who struck me as a bit of a weathervane character in “Wayward Sisters.” I don’t mind Donna’s accent. She’s an obvious homage to Marge Gunderson in Fargo, whom I love as a character. I love the series, too (plenty of broad accents in that).

You may ask why I hated the RP English accents of last season, but had no problem with Donna’s. Let’s just say that the RP accents of characters like Bela and Toni were genuinely fake, and represented some weird and ugly national stereotypes. But there are some people in the U.S. who actually talk like Donna and certainly some who act like her. And that regional stereotype really is more broad than negative.

More to the point, she’s not an antagonist, and is a solid and capable Hunter. Donna may have issues with her weight and with men (especially her jerkoff ex), but she is fully confident and competent Hunting Vampires.

Jody is fine this episode when she’s off with Donna, but she flip-flops a lot whenever she’s with Claire. She wants Claire to be safe. No, she wants to let Claire go save the world. Make up your mind, Jody.

In the process, she also ends up ignoring Alex, a girl she previously had gone to bat for with the Brothers to save her when Alex was forcibly turned into a Vampire and they were considering killing her. I get that Jody’s desire to create another family to replace the one that died (no matter how much she may protest that’s not so) fuels this emotional conflict. But the writing for it could be a lot better and not portray Jody as an emotional jellyfish. Also, there was no way she should have let Kaia go through the multiverse rip with Claire.

I noticed a lot of questions on social media about why Claire gets so much prominence in the backdoor pilot (and honestly, I hope the series doesn’t go the route of an ensemble cast where one character gets far more coverage than anyone else). Her being white and blonde seems a rather obvious factor. But more so is that as a character, she’s been around longer than any of the other characters in the spin-off (since season four’s “The Rapture”), though Kathryn Newton has only been playing Claire since season ten, when the character popped up again after a six-season hiatus.

Another cogent reason is that Claire is a legacy member of Team Free Will. Castiel has been wearing her (now-dead) father’s body since before he met the Brothers and she has also harbored him as a vessel. So, she has a direct “familial” connection to the Brothers. It helps that Newton seems pretty comfortable with all the physical stuff of the role.

That said, Claire, despite having a lot of roots in the mothershow, is still a bit nebulous in terms of motivation and character. I noted before that I thought making her lesbian – or at least bisexual – was actually a good idea. It defuses a potentially problematical aspect of her character to this point – she has developed a monumental crush on Dean, which has caused a fair amount of unease for both Dean and Jody.

Dean actually loves Claire dearly, enough that, as I said before, he was forced to leave the room when she took the torturous werewolf cure last season and didn’t want her to go through with it due to the high mortality rate. But he loves her as a father and would never, ever sleep with her. He is acutely aware of the fact that he is twice her age and that she is effectively his best friend’s mortal daughter. Claire may talk about how much she owes both Sam and Dean (and she does have a bond with Sam, as well). But she is carrying a big, bright, sparkly Daddy-Figure torch for Dean and this has caused him to put some emotional distance between them.

If Claire is gay, then this soft ground firms up considerably for the writers. The highly inappropriate puppy-dog-love chemistry with this scarred Hunter old enough to be her daddy becomes much less squicky and turns into more appropriate father-daughter chemistry.

Dean has also distanced himself because he appears to blame himself for her self-destructive path into Hunting and sees himself as a terrible role model. Jody, on the other hand, appears to see that Dean’s very mental health issues make him a good role model for troubled young Hunters like Claire because he is a survivor who has used his own damage to become a Hero. A damaged person like Dean, much more than some unattainable paragon of virtue, gives hope to the damaged people who enter Hunting as a major avocation or even full-time profession. Him they can emulate.

One problem is that Claire strives to be like Dean without quite understanding who Dean is or what makes him a great Hunter and Hero. Claire goes in, half-cocked and guns blazing, without understanding that one of the most cunning, sneaky, and strategic people in the SPNverse is Dean Winchester. If Dean does go in big, dumb and beautiful, that’s a tactic, not a sign that he’s too dopey or prideful to do it any other way.

Claire, now being fully orphaned, also doesn’t quite get Dean’s loyalty and devotion to family. The person who gets this, weirdly enough, is Alex. So, while Claire thinks she’s being like Dean, Alex is being like Dean. Claire is more like season-one Sam in that she is seeking revenge and being a hot-head. Alex is staying home and backing Jody up. We even saw her save Jody from a brainwashed Mary last season.

Alex also has important support skills in that she is now a nurse or in nursing school, or something. Let’s hope the show actually starts researching emergency medicine a bit better from now on to suit her role (because she and the others will probably be back, at least on the mothershow). Alex (like Sam) is really only in Hunting out of loyalty to Jody and also (like Sam) feels tainted by her years with a vampire family. Like Sam, Alex is seeking a kind of normal that is so idealized it probably doesn’t exist, while not feeling especially worthy of it or able to identify and find it.

Unfortunately, while Alex got in some good Dean-style lines (“You look like Biker Barbie”), she had very little development aside from some bonding with Claire and Jody. She was effectively shunted aside by all the other characters.

So, let’s talk about Patience. Patience got a full-episode introduction earlier this season in the eponymous “Patience” (13.03). Admittedly, she comes off as bland and low-key in this one compared to all the over-the-topness of certain other characters, but I think her character arc worked the best of them.

Alex desires Normal. Patience just left Normal behind in Atlanta and went off on a Hero’s Journey. She wants to use her power of prophecy to help people. She even basically got disowned by her father in the previous episode for leaving to come to Jody’s. So, Patience may look boring at the moment, but a lot is going on with her.

In addition, Patience also had a few checks on her ego about the above big mission to save others. For one thing, everyone else (except for Kaia, who was kinda grandfathered in) knew a lot more about Hunting and handling guns than she did. For another, the vision that sent her to Jody’s in the first place to try to save Claire ended up saving no one. Not only did it come true, but Patience belatedly realized that it came true because she had misinterpreted it. What she had thought was Claire’s death was actually Claire grieving over Kaia’s death. Prophecy isn’t quite as straightforward as she thought or as the show made it look in her first episode. This is humbling for her.

It’s also really, really nice to see an African American woman who isn’t a condescending stereotype. Patience is boring, middle-class, and academically smart, and that’s the whole point. Technically, she doesn’t have to be there. She has a stable home she could return to. Despite losing her mother and grandmother at a young age, she’s not rocked by trauma and forced out onto the road. She’s a volunteer. She just wants to do something good with her gift.

What makes no sense, though (and I can’t believe I’m saying this because I hated the incessant, years-long focus on Sam’s psychic storyline), is that Sam never has a conversation with her about her visions. Her visions are almost exactly the same as his psychic abilities in the first two seasons, and her grandmother lampshaded Sam’s abilities like crazy back in season one. But nope, not a peep between Sam and Patience about it. Sam has no conversation with Kaia about it, either, for that matter, nor does Dean ever bring up with her the considerable amount of dreamwalking and travel beween worlds he’s done. That absence was glaring to me.

But unlike some fans, I actually don’t mind the women being on the show and I think the focus on the spin-off gave the writing a direction last season distinctly lacked (let’s be honest – Lucifer on the Loose was boring as hell. So was anything to do with the LoL). But considering Sam and Dean are the inspiration for the formation of the Wayward Sisters in-verse, the least the show could do was have some more expression about what that means. A little vague mumbling from Claire and Jody about how Sam and Dean are missing (really? Those guys go missing more often than a tomcat on the prowl) and the women owe them doesn’t cut it. I’d like to see how that thinking has evolved to this point. I mean, hell, every time Bobby and/or Rufus popped up in their later appearances, the show practically went into hagiography mode. I did not sense anything inspirational or special about the Brothers’ appearance in this episode (though there were hints with Dean in the Patience episode).

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The Good

As for SPN being sexist or misogynistic, simply put, it’s not. Women have always been portrayed as Hunters or potential Hunters in the show. They handle weapons. They kill things. They kick ass.

Patience was actually slapped on the back for killing a human-like monster this week. Women don’t get to kill anything on American TV without a huge negative deal made about it, let alone praised for it. Yet, after the Sisters killed all those things, it was Miller Time. The only dampener was the loss of a comrade, not any squeamishness or guilt over killing monsters.

The potential for a female-led storyline has always been there, which is a lot more than I can say for The Vampire Diaries (where the two male leads metaphorically smothered the female lead) or The Originals (where women are either victims or evil bitches – sorry, evil witches), two supposedly female-oriented CW dark fantasy shows that utterly fail to be feminist.

Legends of Tomorrow plays up Sara’s character a whole lot, but the sole other female character (who is always a WoC) seems to get switched in and out interchangeably, rendering women barely a third of the cast. Similarly, male characters also dominate Arrow and the female characters are either love interests, annoying little sister types or screeching harpies (oh, hello, Laurel).

I love Kara and her sister’s relationship on Supergirl (not to mention Alex’s coming out), but dear God, if I have to hear her apologize and grovel one more time for something a male lead never would have been dunned on, I’m gonna scream. Same deal with iZombie and the title character having to be “nice” to everyone (she’s a freakin’ zombie, people!).

Jane the Virgin is female-centric, but it’s also basically a soap opera – very traditional roles for women. And have you seen lowest-rated-show-in-network-history-for-two-whole-seasons Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? Sure, the songs are bouncy, but between the songs are long, arid, grim stretches of the title character actually being a crazy ex-girlfriend, doing things that a male character in film or TV rom-com or adventure would be considered heroic for doing (even though, in the real world, they would indeed be creepy and stalkerish). The only difference is that it’s a woman doing it and women are never portrayed positively doing this stuff. It’s a really negative portrayal.

This baffles me, since Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is hailed as feminist, yet it’s about as anti-feminist as it can be. It breaks no new cinematic ground whatsoever.

There’s The 100 (which I never got into much), but even they did a Bury Your Gay Girls storyline and the showrunners never figured out why that was a problem.

Black Lightning started out a bit iffy on that score (Lynn and her youngest daughter are both rather annoying cliches at the start), but Anissa at the drug store was about the most badass intro to a character’s new powers under fluorescent lighting since we saw Demon!Dean take out an Amara fan at the beginning of season ten. Any showrunners for the “Wayward Sisters” spin-off ought to have taken notes.

There’s a reason why some female viewers like SPN but really dislike other CW shows. And it’s not self-hate or internalized misogyny. The CW claims to have young women as its target audience, but most of its entries are every bit as sexist and misogynistic as the rest of TV.

Not a surprise, considering the network is no more welcoming to women and People of Color as producers than any other network. The pro-Girl Power thing is all just a big marketing dodge. On Supernatural, it’s downright refreshing to see women kill multiple human-like monsters, handle guns, and brag about their weapons collection, without an ounce of remorse or squeamishness (and several actresses from Samantha Ferris to Cyndy Sampson to Marisa Ramirez to Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster have commented over the years on how refreshing it is to get to handle weapons and do real stunts). Go team.

This is usually the point where we get into how a woman can be strong and feminist without wielding a gun or other weapon. And that’s true. But don’t discount the number of contortions TV or film writers go through to avoid having women – ordinary women – get physical in fights and, especially, handle guns. If the only way a woman can be strong compared to men is never in a fight, that’s a problem. If the only way a woman can be strong compared to ordinary men is if she has superpowers (especially if she has to keep apologizing for having them), that’s a big problem. Supernatural doesn’t have that problem. It never did.

Dabb isn’t all that great a writer or showrunner, and he lacks the kind of support Kripke had in the early years. But the world of SPN was established years before he came on board. It is one that has always portrayed characters from many walks of life, both genders, different cultures, different ethnicities, and GLBT who were solid Hunters, years before that was actually fashionable. It’s easy to forget that shows like Highlander portrayed women as physically and even mentally inferior to men, to the point where it seemed a ludicrous idea that a woman Immortal could ever win the Game without cheating. Hence, the female-lead sequel, Raven, bombed horribly, despite having a likable female lead who had been a fan favorite on the previous show. Admittedly, the unlikable male lead and the misogynistic writing didn’t help, but neither did six seasons of the previous show telling us an Immortal woman was so useless in a fight that even a really ancient Immortal like Cassandra couldn’t team up with Methos and take out the rest of the Horsemen. Or any of the Horsemen, for that matter, despite her being almost as old as they were.

As for the much-vaunted Buffy and Angel, if you watch them again, you’ll see a lot of traditional gender roles for women who aren’t superpowered superheroes. For every Buffy, there are five Willows or even Freds. Shows where women are regularly shown as strong, capable and lethal in a physical fight (like Xena: Warrior Princess, or even the far-more-recent Lost Girl) are rare. And even then, the women in Xena wore some pretty revealing outfits clearly not intended to attract a straight female audience (though the Xena showrunners happily pandered to the enthusiastically lesbian portion of their fandom that grew up, at least for the most part).

So, it was no small thing when, a full season before an annoyed Dean informed Jo Harvelle that he had no problems with female Hunters, just idiots, an equally annoyed Dean handed young Kat in “Asylum” a saltgun because she was the one with the gun skills and the moxie, not her dippy boyfriend. And it was Kat who tagged along with Dean and got some grumpy instruction in Hunting from him.

The show has definitely had its issues with portraying gender and women’s issues over the years (and the godawful fight scene in which Sam and Dean are dumbed down enough to get taken down by a lame hooded figure with a blade on a stick is unfortunately not a first), but it’s also tried hard to portray a world where women are in no way inferior to men, as a group, when it comes to battling supernaturally dangerous creatures. Even if that means physically.

This is how “Wayward Sisters” can have an all-female cast of new and established Hunter characters who still feel as though they belong in the SPNverse (as opposed to the obnoxiously snobby One Percenter monsters of “Bloodlines,” which felt like Supernatural: The Originals, which is not a compliment). The casting is extremely critical for such a show (as we saw with the casting of Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles). So, even though the writing for “Wayward Sisters” was creaky, cliched and often tonedeaf, while the direction was uncharacteristically clumsy for show veteran Phil Sgriccia, the chemistry the women on this team have (which is mostly considerable) overcame that because it had the worldbuilding at its back (like Xena) rather than undercutting it (like Highlander: The Raven). The new show can always get new, and better, showrunners, certainly better writers, but none of that would do it any good if the cast chemistry weren’t there.

Fortunately, the cast chemistry is there, especially for Jody and Donna, and Claire and Alex. Patience is bland, but the actress seems capable of taking her somewhere (her reaction to her first monster kill was a hoot) with some decent writing.

So, while there are definitely improvements to be made, and some things could go horrendously wrong (especially with the current showrunning and writing team), I think there are some solid bones here on which to build a new show. Too bad it didn’t get picked up.

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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.


I’ll be doing my live recap of “The Thing” here later tonight or tomorrow. I’ll try to catch up with the recaps of the rest of the season before Thursday night. Wish me luck.


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