The Official Supernatural: “Beat the Devil” (13.21) 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 basically of the whole Get Lucifer plot and the gathering together of allies against alt-Michael. Cut to NOW and Dean eating a seventh slice of pizza around the Bunker map table while Mary teases him, and Castiel and Jack count his pieces. Sam follows Mary out to the kitchen, helping her carry boxes. She thanks him for coming after her and Jack. And then he wakes up. Obviously, it was a dream, but after the recap, it’s a tad jarring and not in a good way.

Later, there is infodumping in the Bunker as everyone waits for Gabriel to pull out some more grace (while in Dean’s room, no less). But Gabriel isn’t able to produce quite enough and the rift Rowena creates quickly wilts (far, far, far too many impotence jokes in this scene).

So, now what? Castiel states the obvious. They have to find Lucifer and get at least some of his grace.

Cue title cards.

We come back to Sam being mighty unhappy about this new chain of events, but for once, someone is willing to tell him to suck it up. Castiel tells Sam that he, too, let Lucifer in. And it was painful and horrible and invasive and a big mistake. But the fact of the matter is that he and Sam both let Lucifer out of the Cage and now he’s their responsibility. Sam has no snarky response to this and, also for once, Dean doesn’t rush to his defense. So, Sam has to pull on his Big Boy pants and go with the plan. But they’re still stuck with the 24-hour limit, until Sam figures something out.

In the Library, Gabriel and Rowena are alone together for apparently the first time. He lamely tries to explain that he normally has a lot more grace than that. She snarks back at him about impotence (really, what is it with this line of “comedy”?). They start making cow eyes at each other and before you know it, TFW is returning to Rowena and Gabriel getting jiggy behind a column. The reaction shots are priceless (especially Castiel, who just looks at the floor).

Dean just says, “Sam has a plan.”

At a bar, somewhere, Lucifer is trying mighty hard to get drunk. He rambles at the bartender about how he can’t sense his son, anymore, and he’s totally done with the whole conflict between Heaven and Hell. When the bartender mentions Jack’s name, Lucifer becomes suspicious. But then he also becomes woozy.

Lo and behold, the bartender turns into Gabriel. Then Rowena shows up. A groggy Lucifer giggles that he’s killed them both, yet here they are. It turns out that Rowena spelled the latest bottle Gabriel gave to Lucifer. Then she magically binds him. Lucifer whines to Gabriel to just kill him, but Gabriel knocks him out, instead.

Back in the Bunker, Lucifer wakes up to all of the people he’s spent the most time tormenting. Sam infodumps that they are going to slowly drain Lucifer’s grace to keep the portal open as long as they need to get Jack and Mary back. So, Sam, Dean, Castiel and Gabriel go through (interestingly enough, Dean is last and he throws Lucifer a cold look as he passes by him). Rowena stays behind to maintain the spell and keep an eye on Lucifer. I’m sure this will end well.

There’s a pretty stupid moment when they pass through and go down a hillside. Only Dean manages the entry with class. Gabriel, for a bit of low comedy, ends up with his face in Castiel’s crotch. Castiel concentrates and decides they’re in former-Kentucky (which actually looks quite unspoiled, all things considered). So, they head north.

I know Castiel doesn’t have wings, anymore, but I don’t quite get why Gabriel doesn’t just transport everyone. Give him a shot of Lucifer’s grace and he still has his wings, you know? Are they worried about staying under the angel radar? It’s never explained.

Back in the Bunker, Lucifer taunts Rowena about being the women staying behind. When this fails (after all, she knows he’s not going to be the one to kill her), he starts singing minstrel songs (“Camptown Ladies,” to be exact). Berens, I’m embarrassed for you.

In the alt-SPNverse, Castiel tells Gabriel about the Heaven situation and Naomi’s offer (uh…has he told this to Sam and Dean, yet?). Gabriel says he doesn’t think they’ll want him back, since he’s a screw-up. Castiel points out that the previous administration ran Heaven into the ground, so maybe a screw-up would work better.

Meanwhile, Dean is commenting on how Sam seems so much “lighter.” Okay, now, Dean was drinking again last episode and now Sam is talking about how everything is coming up roses. Do we have a (temporary, of course) Winchester death coming up here?

Anyhoo, Sam asks, isn’t Dean happy that they’re so close? Dean doesn’t say anything. Uh-oh.

Suddenly, they hear a woman scream and a man shouting in the distance. Gabriel keeps saying, “Not our world, not our problem, right, guys?” but nobody’s listening. The Brothers go toward the sound and find two people fighting off a crazed vampire. After some beheading, they question them. The girl, Maggie, says they were heading north with seven other people through the Morehead Tunnel to Dayton. But they got caught in a nest of vamps and only the two of them escaped. The monsters are all starving because the angels killed off so many humans, so they’ve lost all ability to reason. Maggie says they could go around, but the pass takes a lot longer. The entire conversation sounds like Plot Couponing at a D&D game.

Gabriel points out that it also is safer (and what the hell happened with his wings?), but Sam starts shmoozing them about they don’t have time and how his group has encountered many vampires before. Vampires don’t scare them. Oh, dear, Sam. Do shut up. You’re not the brother who spent a year in Purgatory.

Back at the Bunker, Lucifer has found Rowena’s pressure point – bragging about the last time he nearly killed her. She finally breaks and comes over in a rage. But she has some taunts of her own. She tells him TFW is currently reuniting with his son in the alt-SPNverse. Lucifer hadn’t known this. Unfortunately, it gives him the strength of ten Grinches (or something) and, despite leaking grace for the past day or so (and already being a quart or two low), he manages to break free of her magical bonds and throw her into a wall, where he starts to choke her. But he takes too long Evil Overlord monologuing and manages to squeak out “Defendatur!” which tosses him backwards – through the portal.

A horrified Rowena realizes a second later what she’s done. Her first impulse is to pack up (including the Book of the Damned) and flee. But the better nature she’s been growing since her encounters with Chuck and Amara gets the better of her and she comes back. Then she tries to figure out a way to keep the portal open.

At the tunnel, everyone goes in with light sticks and such, Dean on point. The guy Maggie’s with trips over something and Maggie unhelpfully screams (what happened to being quiet?). It turns out he tripped over a bloodied and slashed child’s backpack. Yay, but at least it’s a little horror in all the plot stupidity.

They come upon a vampire feeding on a family. The vampire roars and attacks them. It gets beheaded. But everyone is sort of bunched up and following Dean at a slight distance, so it’s fairly easy for a vamp to silently slip down from the ceiling and follow them. Except that didn’t Maggie just say a little while before that the monsters are so hungry, they’ve gone blood-simple? So, what’s with the slow and patient stalking?

Anyhoo, the little party soon gets attacked. Maggie shrieks a lot and her friend goes to rescue her. This vamp gets beheaded, too. How Maggie managed to survive so long, let alone get out of the tunnel the first time, without either getting eaten by monsters or shot by her exasperated companions, I really do not know.

The party arrives at an open part of the cave under a sinkhole, through which it’s raining (a weirdly beautiful location). Dean finds a tunnel further along, but it’s blocked. He says they need to clear it. As Castiel and Gabriel move in to do so (presumably because of angel superstrength, but I suspect it’s mainly to distract those two characters while Other Things Happen), Sam and the other guy rather inexplicably split up to go look at the scenery, leaving a nervous Maggie alone under the sinkhole with an adze. This splitting up strikes me as a really stupid thing to do. I’m sure no good with come of it.

And no good does.

Vamps attack Maggie’s friend, first. I’ll give her this – she does rush over to try to save him, even if she’s utterly useless about it. He’s quickly dragged off as Dean and Sam rush over. Dean is temporarily shoved against a wall by a vamp while saving Maggie, as Sam gets pig-piled and has his throat ripped out. Dean sees it all and can’t do anything about it (admittedly, many of Sam’s actions leading up to this moment were not the best, so it’s hard not to feel less than broken up over his becoming, however temporarily, monster chow). Sam is dragged off before Dean can free himself. Dean kills two vamps as Castiel runs after Sam, but Castiel soon comes back, saying they can’t save Sam and there’s no time (nobody even stops to worry about Maggie’s bud). Dean is horrified.

Gee, if only they had someone in their party with superstrength and wings. Hmm.

Later, they’re out in the open. Dean is walking ahead like an automaton, clearly shell-shocked. Sam’s death keeps running through his head. Maggie tries to offer her condolences, but Dean just stares at her until she mercifully shuts up. When they arrive at the camp, Castiel can’t pass through the warding (Maggie seems completely unfazed that Castiel and Gabriel are angels, even though she lives in a world where angels are trying to kill all humans), so Gabriel burns out the warding. This brings human sentries running and, for some reason, Mary is right with them. She recognizes Castiel. Dean practically falls into her arms and, when she asks him where Sam is, he weeps.

There’s a whole lot of stupid in this episode, but Dean’s grief and Rowena’s Hero turn back at the Bunker are easily its best (and only genuinely good) parts.

Too bad this is almost immediately upended by showing Sam “dead” in the vampire lair and then revived. Welp, that Winchester death was awful quick.

It turns out Lucifer brought him back (after having recharged a bit by “eating” a bunch of low-level angels, even though angel canon used to be that “borrowed” grace harmed an angel) and is holding back the vampires. He wants Sam to bring him to the camp so that he can “have a relationship” with Jack.

At the end, Jack is not responding well to news of Sam’s death, and Dean is telling Mary he has to go back for Sam’s body, when the alarm rings and Sam stumbles into camp. Everyone looks happy – until Lucifer strolls in behind him. Gotta say, despite how irritated I frequently was with Sam this episode, Jared Padalecki does a nice job of conveying through Sam’s guilty look how much like a Judas Goat he feels at that moment. Granted, it was an impossible choice, but still, Sam’s not going to feel good about it. And it will have repercussions.

Credits.

Sorry, guys, but I’m gonna have to do the last one tomorrow. Then I’ll do the season premiere. It’s late and I’m tired and I gotta work in a few hours.


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Halloween in North Carolina, Day #12: Tales from Guilford County (1917)


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Parsons, Elsie Clews. “Tales from Guilford County.” The Journal of American Folklore, 30:116 (Apr.-Jun. 1917): 168-200.


This is the oldest of the books that I’m reviewing this month and as you can see, it’s technically an article. That said, it’s a densely packed, 32-page article that has almost as much information as some of the books I’ve reviewed. Some of those books are also heavily indebted to this article, so in it goes.

The article itself collects various tales (62 in all, not including variations within a tale) from a specific county in North Carolina in the early 20th century. Parsons (1875-1941) was a pretty major folklorist of the day, collecting Caribbean tales, as well as an anthropologist concentrating on Native American cultures, so you’ll see her pop up elsewhere, such as with her article on animal tales. She was not a Southerner, let alone a North Carolinian.

What Parsons gathers here is a grab-bag of different types of tales. There are animal tales that may go back to Africa (notably of the Brer Rabbit type). Others are based on well-known European tales like Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare.” There are also some ghost stories.

There are several stories about the Devil, several about witches, and one about Bluebeard. That last one is especially interesting, since Parsons’ theory is that these stories originally derive from the Bahamas prior to the Revolutionary War, even though most of the storytellers were native North Carolinians. Canadian horror writer Nalo Hopkinson, whose story, “The Glass Bottle Trick,” is based on the Bluebeard legend, is originally from Jamaica, so Parsons may have been on to something. The Bluebeard legend is also popular in NC and appears in several of the North Carolina collections I’ve read.

I’m not a huge fan of Parsons’ style. The way she transcribes African American dialect (the title aside, all of the storytellers recorded in this article are African American Southerners, whereas Parsons is white and a Yankee) has not dated well. It reads a lot more like Amos and Andy than it does like how real people speak and it’s pretty distracting.

I’m also not wowed by her relative lack of notes. She has an introduction in which she explains her Bahamas origin theory. She also gives (very brief) bios of her unnamed storytellers. These mostly include their ages, where they were born, and where they lived, and that’s about it. The most detailed bio is for the eldest, a woman who was born before the Civil War. That woman also tends to recount the most coherent and detailed stories.

Parsons also doesn’t do a very good job of gleaning info out of the storytellers beyond the surface level. While some of these are classics that have been told and retold many times since the article came out, like “Dividing the Souls,” “The Black Cat,” and “The Woman-Cat,” others are confusing and lack critical parts to them (like “Woman on Housetop” and “The Talking Bones”). Some would be quite chilling with a little more story flesh to them (notably, the vicious, disemboweling ghost in “The Spitting Haint”). But Parsons never seems to ask any questions or give more than the most basic footnotes to put any of them into context.

Overall, though there’s some material here still left to mine if you’re a horror writer, this one is mainly for the folklorist or the completist.


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The Official Supernatural: “Unfinished Business” (13.20) 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. I’m posting reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my research all month long on Patreon.

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.

Extended recap of Gabriel stuff leading up to his killing Asmodeus and flying off to points unknown a couple of episodes ago. Hey y’all, I wonder if Gabriel’s coming back? [/sarcasm, heavy duty variety]

Cut to NOW and a guy with a kazoo (Louden Swain ref, I’ll bet) who looks a lot like Gabriel calling out a guy named “Fenrir Odinsbane” in a dark alley. Fenrir looks like a scruffy biker and not a world-killing wolf. Oh, Show, honey, you’re not really gonna do that to Fenrir, are ya? ‘Cause that’s just sad.

So, Fenrir is basically a werewolf dude with a glowy face tattoo, big teeth, and extendable claws. Whatever. He’s obviously a Doomed Teaser Monster, so let’s keep rolling.

Fenrir recognizes Gabriel (or is it?), but when they fight (Gabriel claims he always said he’d “do this honorably”), Fenrir is surprised when he bleeds. “Gabriel” then kills him by stabbing through himself into Fenrir’s chest. Then he checks his name off on a list that also includes Narfi (a son of Loki) and Sleipnir (he’s gonna kill Odin’s horse?).

Cue title cards.

Cut to the Brothers in a motel room (oh, here comes the obligatory introductory pre-Hunt infodump to explain what the hell we just saw in the teaser). Dean is getting off the phone and expressing frustration that they can’t find Gabriel. He’s somewhat mollified when he kicks the bed and discovers it has Magic Fingers. Sam is equally impatient, though to do what, I’m not sure. Go to Texas, which is the other place Gabriel would be in, maybe? This is supposed to be Colorado.

As they debate about how they are going to find Gabriel, there’s a knock on their door. It’s Gabriel and he’s wounded. So…looks like the teaser guy who looked like Gabriel is Gabriel.

Cut to Jack and Mary in the alt-SPNverse (which completely kills the momentum). Jack has just come back from killing alt-Balthazar and he has thirty more refugees. Mary points out they barely have supplies for the ones already there. Boy, Jack sure was cocky last season, wasn’t he?

Anyhoo, a guy comes up and tells them that word is alt-Michael’s angels are leaving his fortress. Jack scans out to it (um…wasn’t that Kaia’s ability?) and finds it empty. He’s convinced alt-Michael left because he was afraid of Jack. Mary tries to warn him that it’s a trap, but he’s determined to go. He tells her he’ll keep her (and, by extension, the team with them) safe.

At the motel, it turns out the wound Gabriel suffered was a slash wound from Fenrir. Gabriel sought out the Brothers, hoping to regain some of his grace because he is still weak. They tell him they used what they didn’t give him on a rift. He’s not thrilled and starts to leave, but his wound is pretty deep. So, he takes a nap instead. While they wait, the Brothers infodump – sorry, discuss – the situation.

They may not have much time for rumination. At the scene of Fenrir’s body, an older, bearded biker dude and a younger, nattily dressed boy, are checking out their “brother”‘s corpse. When the biker dude tastes Gabriel’s blood and deems it “archangel” blood (thus apparently confirming the real Gabriel is with the Brothers), the younger one decides to call their “father.” So, I’m guessing this is Narfi and Sleipnir.

They show up at the motel room, just as Gabriel is about to bail. Again.

They show their glowy green face tattoos (Sleipnir’s is a horse head). Gabriel helpfully identifies them as Norse demigods. Narfi attacks Sam and starts choking him. Dean fends Sleipnir off with a chair and manages to throw him over his shoulder. As he turns to help Sam, Gabriel stabs Narfi from behind and scares off Sleipnir.

Back in alt-SPNverse, Jack and Mary check out alt-Michael’s “fortress” and a weird map he left behind on an altar. Their team finds alt-Kevin in a dungeon and brings him in. The team wants to kill him, but when Kevin starts babbling about a spell, Mary gently asks him what he means. It turns out alt-Michael is going to a place down south where the walls between worlds are thin, so he can invade the regular SPNverse.

Back at the motel, the Brothers come back from sticking Narfi in a car crusher and demand some answers from a handcuffed Gabriel. Gabriel is, as usual, evasive, but they’re not going anywhere until he talks. So, in a flashback sequence full of montage, he does.

It turns out (at least, according to Gabriel) that when he ran off to Vegas with the porn stars, he lay low with Fenrir, Narfi and Sleipnir. But they allegedly got frightened that Lucifer would win the Apocalypse and find out they had hidden Gabriel, so they betrayed him. But to make a profit, they sold him to Asmodeus, who apparently didn’t tell Lucifer his brother was still alive. Now, Gabriel is seeking revenge.

More debating in alt-SPNverse as everybody but Jack tries to figure out why alt-Michael is being so obvious.

Cut back to the motel, where it turns out Gabriel actually has four swords, so which other god is he after? Turns out it’s Loki, the Trickster with whom he changed identities. He found Loki in a cave a long time ago, tied down with a snake dripping venom in his eyes (this is from myth) and freed him. In exchange, when the war between the archangels began, Loki helped him disappear. But now they’re enemies, for mumblety-mumblety reasons, and Loki was the one who ordered Gabriel sold to Asmodeus. Gabriel wants revenge.

Sam feels sympathetic toward Gabriel, who keeps acting as though Dean (or, for that matter, Sam) was never tortured in Hell. Dean is less impressed and points out that revenge never got their family much. And when Gabriel shows Dean his “kill list,” and says he’s going to go in order, Dean is very unimpressed. Also, I think, very suspicious. But off they go (after Gabriel agrees to help them if they help him), five minutes down the road to where Loki has turned a dive motel room into a palatial suite from Monte Carlo (yeah, I know I said Vegas before). To the tune of Spanish guitar.

Back in the alt-SPNverse, Mary tries to give the voice of experience to Jack, who still insists on going after alt-Michael. But he’s interrupted by alt-Kevin, who has been turned into a soul bomb by alt-Michael and sold a bill of goods about how he’ll be with his mom in Heaven. He blows himself up and Jack is only able to save Mary. Nice going there, Jack.

The Brothers and Gabriel show up at the motel, right after Sleipnir and a bodyguard. Gabriel is ranting about how the Brothers can kill everyone else, but he wants Sleipnir and Loki, himself. Dean tells him to knock it off with the elaborate plans and sure enough, everything’s blown to hell when the elevator opens and there are Sleipnir and his bodyguard. Sleipnir yells, “Get ’em!” and Gabriel blows the hallway light.

As Sam and Gabriel take the guards out and the lights come on to Gabriel stabbing Sleipnir, Dean has grabbed the bokken for Loki and slipped off to the penthouse suite.

Once there, Dean finds out that Loki wanted revenge for Gabriel getting his father, Odin, killed by Lucifer (in season five’s “Hammer of the Gods”). He had given his face to Gabriel only in exchange for Gabriel giving up being part of the archangel war forever. Once Gabriel got back in the game, he broke that promise.

Dean stabs Loki, but it’s just a projection, albeit a projection that can punch. Sam comes in and shoots it and it disappears.

Meanwhile, in a hallway, Loki is waiting for Gabriel, who doesn’t have the right sword and also doesn’t have his archangel powers back, yet. Loki proceeds to beat the crap out of Gabriel, saying he’s always expected someone to swoop in and save him, but no one will do it now.

The Brothers rush in and Dean tosses the sword to Gabriel, who gets Loki on the pointy end. Loki mocks him, saying he’s always “stood for nothing and in the end, you’ll die for nothing.”

“You first,” Gabriel says, then stabs him.

Afterward, he thanks the Brothers and drives off with them in the car, looking pensive.

In the alt-SPNverse, Jack has gone from arrogance to guilt, blaming himself for what happened. Mary tells him that you can’t prepare for everything (even though she was warning him before). Gotta admit that these alt-SPNverse interludes are quite boring and break up the momentum.

At the very end, Sam infodumps that Castiel is helping Gabriel “settle in,” while Rowena works on a spell, then decides to yell at Dean for going off without him and Gabriel during the fight. Dean says he’s not going to watch Sam die again, the way he did at the end of “Swan Song.” He doesn’t care about his own life and never has, but he’s going to make sure Sam doesn’t die again his watch.

Sam replies that they always do things together and that if they have to die, they’ll die together, too. Which would sound fine if he didn’t say it in that now-patented, pissy, “It’s somehow still all your fault, Dean” voice he’s been using the past 13 seasons, most of which he’s spent trying to ditch his brother like a three-day-old tuna sandwich.

Anyhoo…two more to go and then I’m all caught up for season 14.

Credits.


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