Tag Archives: Supernatural

The Official Supernatural: “ScoobyNatural” (13.16) Live Recap Thread


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

In case you’ve been under a rock all day, the show got renewed.

We begin with Dean getting tossed around a shop by a giant, possessed … uh … green dinosaur. Really. We know it’s possessed by something because its eyes keep glowing. Sam jumps into the fray and tackles the dino. As Sam pins it down, Dean pours holy oil on it, then yells at Sam to get out of the way as he tosses a lighter on it. The dinosaur thrashes around, burning, then explodes into a shower of green and white confetti. Just in case you were expecting this to be a serious episode.

As the Brothers get their breath back, the shopkeeper (named Alan) stands up from behind his counter and asks if it’s over. Sam says yes and apologizes for the mess, but Alan heads him off at the guilt pass.

Alan: You guys just took down an evil plushie that was trying to kill me. We’re all good!

Another guy comes in, whom Alan introduces as owning most of the real estate in the general area. The guy is suspicious of the Brothers, but this doesn’t stop Dean from taking Alan up on his offer to give them anything in his store. Dean chooses a large screen color TV, around which he creates a “Dean cave” back at the Bunker, while Sam tries to research how and by what an evil stuff dinosaur could have been possessed.

When Dean shows Sam the Dean Cave, Sam asks how Dean found the time to organize the room. Dean tells him that you just make time, which probably translates to Dean being totally sleepless and wired on something. But let’s not go down that rabbit hole.

When Dean hits the remote on the TV, something strange happens. The same violet light that appeared in the dinosaur’s eyes lights up the TV screen and then flashes out at the Brothers. They disappear …

… and reappear inside a cartoon.

After an initial mutual freak-out, Sam starts to dither a bit more on his own that maybe it’s a dream. Dean slaps him (leaving a literal, if temporary, handprint) and tells him to focus. Sam’s still stuck on whether they’re inside the TV or what. Dean says that maybe it’s an angel thing, or the Trickster.

Sam: But he’s dead.

Dean: Or … is he?

Obvious foreshadowing is obvious.

Dean quickly boils it down to: In order get out, they have to forge on, so when they discover the Impala right next to them (when Sam questions this, Dean suggests it’s because the keys are in his pocket), they get out on the road and drive to the tune of “Dean’s Dirty Organ.”

They soon arrive at a malt shop, which Sam is rather sarcastic about. Dean says they should just pull in, go inside, ask some questions, and get their bearings. But then they see a shocking sight. The Mystery Machine is parked outside. They are inside a Scooby-Doo cartoon.

Cue animated title cards with the title “Scoobynatural.”

[sigh] We’re gonna get a cartoon spin-off now, aren’t we?

The Brothers enter the malt shop and Dean immediately spots the Scooby Gang dancing, while Scooby himself is drinking a series of milkshakes. Dean fanboys, but Sam is more skeptical. Why would Dean care so much? Dean points out that they watched Scooby-Doo their entire childhood. He calls the Scooby Gang “our role models.”

Dean: Just think about it – we do the same thing. We go to spooky places. We solve mysteries. We fight ghosts.

When Sam points out that their ghosts are real and dangerous, and they don’t have a talking dog, Dean compares Castiel to one.

So, the Brothers introduce themselves to the Scooby Gang and try to get through to them that they’re famous. The Scooby Gang respond rather blankly to this, especially Daphne, who acts like a total airhead when Dean hits on her relentlessly right in front of Fred. Actually (spoiler alert), Daphne acts like a total airhead the entire episode and Dean hits on her relentlessly the whole time, and I can’t say I’m wowed by that dynamic at all, even if Dean is up front about his contempt for Fred.

So, the Scoobies are on a case. It seems Scooby-Doo just inherited a fortune from a mysterious Southern colonel (even in a cartoon episode, we just can’t escape the suckage that is Asmodeus). He saved the guy from drowning, but now the Colonel is dead and they’re off to visit his creepy old house. The Scooby Gang senses a mystery.

When Sam grumbles a bit too loudly about this, Dean pulls him aside for a much-needed attitude-adjustment chat. Sam complains that the cartoon world they’re in is so shallow that there isn’t even any print in the newspaper article about the Colonel’s death. Dean reminds him that the last time they ended up inside a TV (“Changing Channels”), they had to play along until they could get back out. So, he’s playing along. Sam reluctantly comes with as Dean easily weasels his way into riding with the Scoobies. But not before some road food involving Shaggy, Scooby – and Dean – eating their signature absolutely enormous sandwiches. Reportedly, this was Jensen Ackles’ favorite bit to voice in the episode.

Outside, Dean challenges Fred to a drag race, which (alas) the Mystery Machine easily wins when Fred beats Dean on the draw. Sam asks Dean why he hates Fred so much and Dean’s response boils down to “He’s perfect.” Oh, Dean.

Sam: Let it go, dude.

Dean [after a moment of apparent defeat]: NO.

At the creepy old mansion, Dean realizes they’re in the episode, “A Night of Fright Is No Delight.” This is a real episode, btw, from season one.

At the reading of the will (which is on a vinyl record), the Colonel tells his various heirs that each one will inherit a million dollars, but only if they can stay the night at his mansion. If any of them leaves, their share will go to the others who don’t. There’s one catch – the house is haunted. The startles Sam and frightens Scooby.

Sam complains that the conditions are ridiculous and can’t possibly be legal, causing Velma to tell him that ghosts don’t exist and these kinds of situations happen all the time. Sam starts to blurt out that sure, they happen inside a cartoon, but Dean stops him. Dean tells Sam that the Scooby Gang are “pure and good,” and the Brothers aren’t going to blow that for them by messing with their minds by telling them they’re inside a cartoon.

Sam grumbles that Dean just wants to get with Daphne. He has a point (Dean’s obsession with Daphne is pretty messed up), but so does Dean. There really isn’t any positive or beneficial point to destroying the Scooby Gang’s sense of their own reality, any more than Sam and Dean can just skip to the end of the story. After all the fantasy worlds they’ve been in, Sam should know that by now, but maybe Dean’s just more of a veteran of this multiple-worlds deal.

The lawyer, Cosgood, tells them he’ll be back in the morning and leaves with a creepy laugh. Dean tells Sam Cosgood is the bad guy of the episode. Sam rolls his eyes. If they watched Scooby-Doo their entire childhoods, shouldn’t Sam have a good chance of remembering this episode, too?

Anyhoo, one of the side characters (an heir) suggests they all turn in at 10pm, which gives Dean the chance to creep on Daphne some more. Sadly, she notes that “girls and boys don’t sleep together” and goes off to sleep with Velma. In the same bed. Oh, the possibilities. But since it’s written by two straight guys who totally didn’t see the #Metoo movement coming, that doesn’t go anywhere.

Dean and Sam have to sleep in the same room as Fred and Scooby (not sure where Shaggy is). As usual, Dean finds perks to their current situation. He loves wearing a nightshirt. Sam is in pajamas. So is Fred.

Meanwhile, the girls are talking about the Brothers. Daphne likes them and Velma thinks Dean is okay, but thinks Sam is an idiot for believing in ghosts. Daphne calls her on this, pointing out that Sam is just Velma’s type, and Velma blushes.

Meanwhile, what looks like a ghost is roaming the halls, cackling. One of the heirs is brushing his teeth when the lights flicker and his breath fogs up. He turns around to see the ghost, which goes after him with a knife while flaring pink light.

Meanwhile, Sam is complaining about Dean eating another sandwich while the others sleep. Dean uses his knowledge of the episode to note that in a minute or so, someone will go missing and “the Scoobies are gonna think that it’s a ghost. But really, it’s the lawyer, Cosgood Creeps, in disguise.” At that moment, they hear a scream. “Toldja,” Dean says.

Everyone runs toward the room from which emit the screams (note: The animation for this episode is better than the rather bare-bones animation of the original; Hanna-Barbera wasn’t known for sparing no expense). Inside the heir’s room, Daphne finds a body soaked in blood. Dean is confused, saying the “dummy bodies don’t show up until later,” but when Sam pulls off the blanket, the heir is really dead, stabbed to death. The Scooby Gang is shocked.

Fred utters the classic Scooby phrase: “Well, gang, it looks like we got another mystery on our hands.” The Brothers are flabbergasted at how cold-blooded the Scooby Gang is about the murder, as the Scoobies stroll off to look for clues, utterly unconcerned by what they’ve just seen.

Dean is confused, saying that nobody ever dies in Scooby-Doo. Sam worries that if the rules have changed so much that a character has died, they can, too. Dean is more worried about Scooby dying: “I’d take a bullet for that dog.”

In the drawing room, Shaggy and Scooby are frightened by the possibility that ghosts really exist, while Fred and Velma pooh-pooh the idea. But as Velma is taking a page from Sherlock Holmes, a creepy figure creeps past the window behind her. The Brothers get into position to ambush it as it opens the window, but Fred grabs it first, throwing it to the ground wrapped in a curtain. When Dean yanks off the curtain, it’s … Castiel.

Startled, the Brothers help him up and Dean introduces him to the Scooby-Gang. Shaggy and Scooby come right up to welcome him, prompting Castiel to note that Scooby talks. Apparently, the show writers forgot that Castiel can talk to animals and doesn’t find it strange in the least.

Dean asks Castiel how he got into the cartoon. There’s a flashback of Castiel returning from Syria with “fruit from the tree of life.” He recounts an amusing tale of killing most of the djinn who were guarding it, before striking up a bargain with the survivors and accidentally marrying their queen.

He entered the room where the cursed TV was, saw the Brothers starting their drag race with the Mystery Machine, saw pink and purple sparks, and was dragged into the cartoon. There’s previously been a creepy figure as the Impala roared away in the drag race. It turns out that was Castiel.

As the Brothers bring Castiel up to speed, Velma listens in, then mocks Sam for his belief in ghosts. Gotta say that even for simplistic cartoon characters, the Scooby Gang are annoyingly broad here, with the exception of Shaggy and Scooby, who are criminally underused so far. The voicework for them is great, though.

Suddenly, there’s a distant roar, the lights flicker, and the room turns cold, scaring Shaggy and Scooby. Cue a montage of lit lamps and flashlights, and ghost hands on window glass, as everyone investigates. The Brothers hear a side character getting sliced and diced inside a room, and investigate. But all the doors in the very long hallway slam shut and when Sam reaches for a doorknob, a ghostly hand slaps his flashlight aside.

Then the ghost makes its appearance. Shaggy and Scooby jump into each other’s and then Castiel’s arms. Fred tackles the ghost twice, which doesn’t help when the ghost disappears into the wall. The Brothers duck. There’s some discussion from Velma about how this couldn’t possibly be a ghost, then they all open the door to the room and find a side character ripped apart inside, with half of him tied to the ceiling. Dean nearly throws up. The Scooby Gang walks off, totally unfazed.

Sam asks Dean if the Scooby Gang is always this cold-blooded about dead bodies, but Dean is more concerned about the obvious signs of a real haunting. He thinks the cartoon itself is haunted.

Back downstairs, Fred’s plan is for everyone to split up and “go looking for clues.” The Brothers and Castiel think this is a terrible idea and Sam tries to tell the Scooby Gang that he and Dean can’t protect them if they do that. Velma calls Sam “chicken.”

They compromise on Dean going with Daphne (and, unwillingly, Fred), Velma off with Sam, and Castiel guarding Shaggy and Scooby. Up in the attic, Velma both insults and hits on Sam something heavy. Sam tries to give her The Talk, but Velma will have none of it, not even when they find a chest of possessed toys, covered with ectoplasm, that attack them and drive them out of the attic.

[will finish this tomorrow night]

[Back. Sorry, but I just got 12 trees from the Arbor Day Foundation and the only time I have to plant them as they merrily sprout from twigs is after I get home at dusk. It’s been kind of a busy week.]

Anyhoo, in the library, Dean is hitting on Daphne again and asking her what she likes in a man. She says the usual and then adds “an ascot,” which leaves Dean rather taken aback. Not lovin’ this subplot at all, but I do like when Dean notices a book standing out from the bookshelf (all the other books are painted on the background) and calls this to the attention of Daphne and Fred, who are dismissive about it, at least until a trapdoor appears underneath them and throws them down a long, twisty shaft to a cellar. There, in the dark, Dean thinks he’s talking to Daphne, but it turns out to be the ghost, who chases them.

But then, the ghost is also stalking Scooby, Shaggy and Castiel upstairs. And while I don’t mind at all that Castiel is in this story, why have Scooby and Shaggy been relegated to comic relief with Castiel when Scooby’s the actual star of the show? Why all the focus on Fred, Daphne and Velma, who are boring twits because they are the straight-man supporting characters? There’s not enough Scooby and Shaggy in this episode.

Scooby and Shaggy are frightened by the ghost and run from him. Castiel isn’t, at first, but when Scooby and Shaggy grab him, he’s suddenly telling them to run (cartoon logic, I tell ya).

Cue the classic Scooby-Doo theme song (finally), which involves lots of the old running-around gag (Scrappy-Doo even pops up during a run down the hallway through different doors, though the gag is mercifully brief), and Dean alternately protecting and hitting on a clueless Daphne. Think she’s more in danger from him than from the ghost, though she’s kinda into it toward the end of the montage.

The song ends with their boarding up all the doors and tumbling back into the drawing room. But the ghost busts through and tosses the Scooby Gang all over the place. Poor Shaggy even gets defenestrated, though Scooby goes after him and Castiel saves them both. Sam grabs some iron candlesticks, and he and Dean drive off the ghost.

Fred gets a bloody nose and Shaggy breaks his arm, which shocks the Scoobies to no end. Sam’s suggestion to Dean that they give the Scoobies The Talk backfires as the Scoobies totally freak out and turn on each other (Shaggy is especially bitter). Dean is forced to give them a rousing pep talk about how they are “heroes” and have beaten many a bad guy before. They can do this.

They’re game, but Velma points out that the Scoobies know nothing about real ghosts. Sam says that’s okay. And he and Dean show them the Impala’s trunk. Dean is a little horrified, saying giving salt guns and other such weapons to the Scoobies is a “Scooby-don’t.” But Fred finally wins Dean’s admiration when he says that “we have to do something” and that they can help.

Putting a hand on Fred’s shoulder and swearing for only the second time in the episode (at least in the cartoon world,” Dean says, “You’re fucking right you can.”

Cue Fred setting an elaborate, Goldbergian trap in the drawing room. The trap doesn’t quite work as planned. When Scooby, Shaggy and Castiel act as bait, they get the ghost after them, but accidentally get stuck in the trap. But Dean has a Plan B (“Fred’s plans never work”), which involves the ghost chasing the other Scoobies before being distracted by a book-pelting Scooby, who weighs the ghost down with some books and sends it down the trap door.

The ghost finds itself trapped inside a line of salt (there’s a neat effect of the barrier as it thrashes around inside it that the show usually can’t afford to do). After the Brothers and Castiel inform it that it’s trapped, it finally reveals its true form and identity. It’s a little boy. His soul was attached to a pocketknife, which the creepy neighbor guy of the pawn shop owner got hold of. The guy has been using it to force everyone in the area to sell their shops to him for cheap. That’s why he owns almost everything there. It’s why he compelled the ghost to attack Alan, the pawn shop owner, with the green Barney dinosaur plushie.

The ghost is happy to send them back to the real world after they promise to release it once they get there. But first, Dean asks a favor of it. The Scooby Gang is totally freaked out, so the ghost pretends to be Cosgood and the Scooby Gang reveal him. Castiel heals Shaggy on the sly, Velma acts all smug and then kisses Sam, and Dean says a goodbye to Daphne that she promptly forgets as she runs after Fred and the others leave. Then the ghost reappears, and the Brothers and Castiel are sent back to the real world.

At this point, even Sam is willing to admit that they just had a “cool” experience. Dean agrees, though much more enthusiastically, but quickly gets back down to business. He goes out and returns with a blowtorch and a sledgehammer. Smashing the TV, he finds the pocketknife. The little boy ghost reappears and asks if he will be with his beloved father now. The Brothers are gentle with him as Sam torches the pocketknife. The little boy’s ghost disappears in a puff of white light and smoke up to Heaven.

At the shop, Alan is about to sign away his business to Creepy Real Estate Guy (Jay). Fortunately, the Brothers show up with Castiel, Dean wearing an ascot. Sam and Castiel lay out the plan – he used the ghost to scare off all the local business people so he could buy up their property cheap. CREG tries to claim they can’t prove anything about a ghost. Sam agrees, which is why they hacked his accounts and found out he doesn’t pay his taxes.

As they watch him get put into the car, Sam realizes, “Velma was right. It was a shady real estate developer, after all.”

CREG [as he’s being put in the car]: It’s not fair! I’d have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids! [since when are Dean and Sam still kids? Let alone Castiel?]

Dean: [gasp!] He said it! He said the line! [looks straight at the camera] Scooby-Dooby-Doooooooo! [Sam and Castiel walk away in disgust]

Castiel: Dean, you’re not a talking dog.

Credits are in a different font this week and there’s a new theme song.


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The Official Supernatural: “A Most Holy Man” (13.15) Live Recap Thread


We need your help!

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

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

Right. So, we start at the convent of the Holy Sisters of Malta. There is no such thing, though Malta has many convents of nuns and monks. To answer CC’s question from the previous episode’s discussion, the terms “convent” or “monastery” can be used interchangeably for monks and nuns. Also, double monasteries of monks and nuns were a big thing in the early Middle Ages, until they were banned more-or-less permanently by the Second Council of Nicaea in 787. Some were even ruled over by abbesses.

But this is not one of those places. The man who sneaks out in the stone corridor after a small group of nuns passes by is in priestly garb (albeit somebody forgot to add the dog collar) and priestly confessors are allowed in convents for nuns.

He goes into a small chapel where a plain skull is on display in a glass case. Hmm, relics of bone are always in reliquaries that are exquisitely decorated with gold and jewels, as are often the relics themselves. This display is set up like a modern museum piece. I also get the impression that setting this teaser on Malta is intended to be a shout-out to the perennially (especially this year) popular Knights Templar via the film, The Maltese Falcon, while failing to realize that the crawl at the beginning of the film (based on Hammett’s own error in the book) is incorrect. The Templars no longer existed as a group by the 16th century and the military religious order that ruled Malta was actually the Knights of St John (the Hospitallers). More absence of pretty much any historical research on the part of this episode’s writers, Singer and Dabb. Not generally a good sign.

Anyhoo, predictably, he is caught out by a disapproving nun after smashing the case and grabbing the skull. Also predictably, he knocks her out (her groans emphasize that she is only stunned) and scarpers. In a double irony, he sarcastically asks for her forgiveness as he goes: As a nun, she can’t grant him absolution and he’s obviously not a real priest (the person who could). But I suspect he’s done far worse things than theft and beating down nuns, so I doubt it matters to him. He’d likely care a lot more if he knew Hell was real.

Cue title cards.

Cut to the Bunker, where we get the obligatory “Where are all the missing recurring characters this week?” wrap-up from Sam and Dean, with Dean taking in processing field reports while Sam does research. Sam can’t find anything about the Seal of Solomon. Dean says Castiel is in Syria, looking for a fruit from the Tree of Life (damn, was hoping we’d get an episode about that). Dean also reiterates that they can’t find Lucifer, so no archangel grace at the moment. That leaves the blood of a holy man on their dance card.

Sam figures they’re talking about a saint. Dean scoffs that this will be hard (try getting a knife and giving up some blood, dude; should work) while he eats cold pizza. Sam then infodumps about how many saintly relics (most of them likely fake) are being sold on the internet. He then mentions a possible seller – Margaret Astor. The Maltese Falcon shout-out No. 2: Mary Astor was the female lead in the film. They head to San Francisco (shout-out No. 3, as that’s where the film is set).

Margaret Astor is an elegant blonde who likes martinis (this is really more a Casablanca shout-out than The Maltese Falcon, but let’s roll with it). When the Brothers (in their regular rather than suits, for reasons I don’t quite understand) show up, she takes an immediate shine to Sam and blows Dean off pretty heavily. Dean rolls with it and Sam, after being initially startled, takes one for the team and flirts with her back. Margaret is flattered enough to ask what they need (even though she only usually takes personal referrals) and is surprised when Sam says they need “the blood of a saint.” When she asks him what that’s for, Sam is cagey, but says he’d be ever-so-grateful (while Dean tries hard not to gag next to him).

Margaret’s attraction to Sam goes just so far. She’ll only give them a name and an introduction to someone who might have some saint’s blood – a Mr. Greenstreet in Seattle. Shout-out No. 4, of course. Sydney Greenstreet played the main antagonist in the film. And, naturally, Mr. Greenstreet also turns out to be fat, like his sorta namesake, Kasper Gutman (Greenstreet’s character in the film). We meet him eating a donut.

For those of you wondering how the show can get away with this, it’s easy. Though the film may or may not still be in the public domain by now (technically, it should be as of two years ago, but it’s still a big moneymaker), it doesn’t really matter, since Warner Bros put out the film version we’re using here (Huston’s wasn’t the first, by far). While I’m pretty meh about the shallowness of historical research in the teaser, Huston’s version of The Maltese Falcon is one of my favorite films ever and Humphrey Bogart’s my favorite all-time actor. So, if the episode pulls this homage off, I’m pretty willing to be sanguine about all the silly history in a … shall we say … most holy way.

So, back to the show. The Brothers wisely put on suits to meet with the Fatman (sorry, Mr. Greenstreet). Dean introduces them as Sam and Dean Vaughn from Rhode Island. He asks them a question that catches them out about a fake family back east. He also calls them out on their cheap suits, especially when he finds out they want his sample of the blood of a saint, for which he paid quite a bit. This information is bought by Dean giving their real names, which Greenstreet doesn’t recognize. Considering the Brothers’ massive reputation in Occult circles, you’d think Greenstreet might have heard of them, but he shows no recognition. A hint that he is an ordinary villain and may not have what he says he possesses.

Nonetheless, he changes his mind and decides they are perhaps “not above a little chicanery.” He decides to hire them to get the stolen skull from the teaser out of the hands of a mob boss named Santino Scarpotti (a name Dean recognizes), who runs the Seattle mob. Dean asks whose skull it is. Greenstreet claims it’s that of St. Peter (yes, that St. Peter). The blood of the saint in question is that of St. Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits).

Dean agrees, but all Greenstreet really has to offer is that the exchange of the skull between the thief and the mob occurs the following night. When Dean notes that this not a lot of info, Greenstreet serenely replies, “I have faith.”

Outside, Sam is complaining that they’ve been reduced to thieves (dude, you’ve always been thieves. And grifters. And murderers, too). Dean is unimpressed, pointing out that neither of them is “perfect.”

Dean: Look, this isn’t a perfect world and if I’m not perfect saving it, so be it.

We then get some classic music: “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” by Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers from 1944 film Here Come the Waves. Dean also meets a girl who is reading a book called “Guarded by Demons.” They’re hitting it off when Sam cock-blocks Dean by calling him over to talk about research. Damn, Sam. Bad timing, much?

But Sam’s just so excited about his research, you see. He’s found Mr. Nun-Smacking Teaser Guy, a small-time criminal whose name is Antonio Miele, and who’s staying at the Patricia Hotel. The hotel name sounds like a huge shout-out to something, but I don’t think it’s to The Maltese Falcon. I think it’s to the femme fatale, Patricia, in Bogart-inspired French New Wave classic À bout de souffle (Breathless).

As the Brothers enter the hotel, Sam accidentally runs into a shifty-looking dude as he’s coming out of the elevator. Not a real shocker, then, that when they get to Miele’s floor, they find his door ajar, his room trashed, and Miele dead.

As the Brothers try to figure out what’s going on, they are rousted by a dodgy detective (or at least a guy pretending to be a detective). But he has a gun, so they have to take his “suggestion” that they handcuff themselves to a radiator while he tosses the room. Even so, they make it pretty clear they’re on to his disguise. He snarks he’s going to “call it in” as he leaves. Sam then quickly pulls out a handcuff key to unlock their cuffs and Dean jokes that Sam is “like the Boy Scouts, always prepared.” No, Dabb and Singer, apparently you don’t watch your own show – Dean is the brother who is a walking arsenal, including lockpicks, and who once got himself out of a set of handcuffs using a car aerial. But thanks for forgetting 13 years of your own damned canon, sports.

On their way out, they pass the guy Sam ran into, lurking behind a newspaper. As they leave (and the police pull up, fortunately oblivious to the Brothers in their respectable suits), Sam and Dean compare notes and bring us up to date because … reasons, I guess? Anyhoo, they round the corner to where the Impala is and run into a bunch of Scarpatti’s men. Who insist on taking them to Scarpatti. In the Impala. Dean gives up the keys under extreme duress. The mysterious man watches them leave, looking worried.

Scarpatti is listening to opera (not an aria I recognize) and stroking a cat as the Brothers come in. Last time I checked, James Bond was not noir, guys. Pretty kitty, though.

So, Scarpatti gets up and is all proud of himself that he’s figured out the Brothers’ true secret identity as the Winchesters and that they’ve supposedly been dead for six years (try 13 for Dean, but hey, who’s counting, amirite?). But he hasn’t doped out their super-sekrit double-sekrit-probation identities in the supernatural world. So, he’s still as lame as any of the other villains in this story so far. Nice cat, though.

Anyhoo, he wants the Brothers to double-cross Greenstreet because he’s a good Catholic (who already had a collection of relics) and Greenstreet is a dirty, low-down dealer in the sacred. Dean cheekily calls him out on his hypocrisy, just to move things along (thank you, Dean, I was looking at my watch an awful lot). Scarpatti admits he hired Miele to steal the skull and paid him half up front. He claims he didn’t kill Miele and tells the Brothers he will pay them if they find the skull and if they don’t, he’ll kill them. Dean looks not even remotely impressed.

Back at the hotel, Dean is convinced the answer they seek is still in Miele’s room, but alas, it’s a guarded crime scene now. So, Dean starts pulling fire alarms. This motivates the cops to evacuate the hotel, giving a skeptical Sam time to toss the room. He does find a note, but then the mysterious guy whacks him over the head with a vase or something because … reasons. This story is as full of poor logic as it is double-crosses.

Anyhoo, the mysterious guy leaves with a box, looking furtive, but is followed by the “cop” in a scene that tries to be noir, but ends up looking more like the camp 60s version of Batman. The fake cop knocks him out and takes the paper.

Meanwhile, Dean finds Sam and wakes him up. Outside, as they’re looking for the mysterious guy, Dean makes a pretty funny crack about how Sam’s “Disney princess hair” acts as like a crash helmet to protect him from concussions. Look at it this way, Dean – at least Sam didn’t get tied to a chair this time.

They find the mysterious guy unconscious in an alley. When he wakes up, they drag him back to a room, rifle through his stuff, and interrogate him. He says his name is Lucca Camilleri. Dean susses out from his ID that he’s a priest and is after the skull.

Lucca says he was commissioned by the nuns to get the skull back. It turns out Miele was a local hood, so when he vanished at the same time the skull did, it wasn’t tough to connect the dots. Lucca has come to the States to buy the skull back. He has a fair amount of money in his briefcase, though it’s probably not enough. Too bad the fake cop didn’t look in there. Why didn’t he look in there, again?

Anyhoo, Lucca is downcast because how he has to go back to his parish and explain how he lost their major symbol that they’ve had for generations (obvious reference to the set-up for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is obvious). When Dean points out that the world isn’t perfect, Lucca goes into a rant about how you should try to help, anyway, since the world never will be perfect. This motivates Sam to impulsively offer to help Lucca get the skull back.

Dean asks for a short conference with Sam about how problematical this new quest is. Sam suggests they get the skull, dodge Scarpatti somehow, meet with Greenstreet, get the saint’s blood, and doublecross him. Somehow. Dean is not impressed by this hairbrained scheme, so Sam asks Dean what he would do if someone stole the Impala (well … again) and Dean goes into a scary, homicidal state: “Murder. I’d murder ’em all. There’d be torture, I mean, lot of torture, first, but then there’d, it would end up with death. If I can’t have it, nobody can.”

In the Impala, Lucca still can’t remember the face of the man who hit him, but he does remember the number on the slip of paper. It turns out to be a tracking number for a package from Valetta, Malta. Hmm.

Sure enough, Fake Cop shows up to get the package, but the Brothers and Lucca are already staking him out. They follow him to a dock where another car also pulls up. Out gets Margaret Astor.

Inside a warehouse, she and Fake Cop (who is carrying the package) walk in. Fake Cop wants a raise. She says no. Her intended client? Scarpatti, who is not thrilled to be having to pay again for something he already paid to steal.

So, it turns out Margaret killed Miele – or had him killed – and if Scarpatti doesn’t pay up, she will sell the package to the other bidder. This is, of course, Greenstreet, who shows up with his own goons. After Fake Cop opens the package and pulls out a black velvet bag, revealing a plain skull (actually, a relic like that would be inside a well-decorated reliquary and/or be heavily encrusted with jewels and gold, itself), Margaret then starts the bidding.

In the car, Lucca and Dean are having a conversation about God. Lucca trusts in God. Dean says he really shouldn’t, since he knows for a fact God doesn’t care and won’t help. Lucca says that no, he means that all good things come from God, like what Sam is doing now, which is pretty recklessly coming in with Lucca’s box of money. As soon as he says the words, “Let’s make a deal,” Dean and Lucca go in.

While Lucca creates a distraction (by saying so), Dean chokes out all the guards then goes in alone. Meanwhile, both Greenstreet and Scarpatti whine about how Sam double-crossed them. Margaret cuts this short by saying she doesn’t care. Sam’s cute and he has money, too. She then gives everyone a piece of paper to write down their best price. The best price gets the skull.

Sam doesn’t quite have enough, though he stalls as long as he can. Scarpatti puts up three million, but then Greenstreet throws a wrench into the works by offering Fake Cop a million up front to kill Margaret and sell him the skull.

Unfortunately, Margaret unwisely turns her back on Fake Cop, who does shoot her. This starts a general shoot-out as Scarpatti and his men pull guns, Sam ducks for cover, and Dean comes in, guns blazing. As Lucca prays a Pater Noster and we get Gregorian monk chant on the soundtrack (sounds like a Dies Irae), Fake Cop shoots Scarpatti, tries to shoot Dean, gets blocked by Lucca (who gets shot), and gets shot by Sam. It turns out Lucca was only grazed, so praise be and all that.

The only bad guy left standing is Greenstreet. It turns out his story about having saint’s blood was a porky. Dean punches him out and the Brothers shop him to the police.

Then they send Lucca off at the airport, but (in the least surprising twist of a rather dull entry) it turns out he is the saint they were always looking for. It seems Sam found out that the Pope called Lucca an Apostolic Protonotary Supernumerary and Lucca says it means the Pope thought he was “a most holy man.” Oh, golly (and stuff and nonsense, as Lucca is far too timid and ineffectual to be a saint).

So, of course, they get some blood from him and take it home. Because they are creepy that way.

Back at the Bunker, Dean is looking at the vial of Lucca’s blood (which is strangely still fresh without any anticoagulant in it), while Sam is having a mini-meltdown about how they can’t save everyone and is it possible for there to be a world without monsters. Dean says he doesn’t know, but “I have faith.”

Credits.


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The Official Supernatural: “Good Intentions” (13.14) Live Recap Thread


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

Whoo, the title to this one was so boring, I kept having to look it up to remember it. Let’s get cracking.

Recap of the Donatello storyline, which does not bode too well for Donatello. Sorry, Mr. Redshirt Prophet. I’m gonna miss you, Keith.

Cut to Jack, who wakes up in the Bunker to hear the Brothers talking about how glad they are to have him back. Then the alarm goes off and smoke comes through the grate in the bottom of the door. He rushes out into the corridor to find that Sam and Dean are trapped inside a room and calling for help. He tries to use his power to break through the door, but he can’t get it open as they plead for their lives.

I’m sure it’s a surprise to no one watching this that it’s a mind game (am getting tired of the whole “Let’s make the protagonists look like fools” trope. It’s greatly overused of late). The only twist is that it’s alt-Zachariah doing some kind of mind control thing on Jack to get him to use his powers to make an interdimensional rift at alt-Michael’s behest. Alt-Michael tells Zachariah to hurry up and get it done, and Zachariah thinks he knows a way to do it. No, sadly, we do not get Kurt Fuller back.

Cue title cards.

Donatello is working on the Demon Tablet, writing down words and phrases: “blood,” “symbols,” “danger,” “open the tear into worlds,” “all will burn,” “the born one.” Comforting messages like that, while distorted voices that kind of sound like Sam and Dean harangue him.

Castiel knocks on the door and asks to come in. He brings breakfast and asks if Donatello is all right. Donatello says sure (as he hides something under a paper), but does comment that the tablet has a lot of power. He also says he’s “making progress.” As soon as Castiel leaves, Donatello uncovers the paper and keeps working on it.

In the kitchen, Dean is eating a plate-ful of bacon, while Sam kvetches. Business as usual on that end.

Dean: Dude, if bacon’s what kills me, I win.

He’s got a point.

So, Castiel comes in and we finally get what the plan was last week – they were going to tap some of Lucifer’s archangel grace for their spell. Okay, whatev.

Meanwhile, Jack finds himself on a misty beach near Vancouver. “Castiel” shows up and says he wanted to show Jack the world before it was ruined by humans. Except, like Apocalypse World has been “saved” by angels and look how that turned out. Hmm. “Castiel” claims that Jack has to use his powers to “save us all,” that Sam and Dean taught Jack to “fear” his powers.

Jack finally buys a clue from Vanna and realized this isn’t Castiel. He wakes up in the grody old church that is alt-Michael’s hideout. Losing patience, alt-Michael tosses Jack and alt-Zachariah into respective corners and then grabs Jack for “my way.” Because that’s been working so well so far.

Back to Donatello, who is writing down “between our world” and “mix thoroughly.” He looks squirrely and then we see him running through the halls into the kitchen with a piece of paper, yelling “Eureka!”

Sam looks at the paper. One surprise is that they have most of the ingredients. Another is that they don’t need archangel grace for this particular spell (Donatello looks shifty at this – hmm). A third is what they do need – “the hearts of Gog and Magog.”

Castiel says he’s “heard rumors,” but didn’t realize Gog and Magog were actual people. Donatello says they were warriors who had “enslaved half the Fertile Crescent” before being locked away beyond space and time. Castiel offers to go fight them and Dean says he’ll come with. As Castiel looks suspicious, Donatello too-cheerfully says he and Sam can stay behind to find the ingredients. I’m sure this will end well.

Cut to Jack getting dragged through a hallway. Remember Dean getting dragged through the angels in season nine premiere, “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here”? They rip that off. Poorly. Alt-Michael apparently needs a lantern to light his way as he drags Jack to a cell where he tosses him in. There, Jack finds Mary.

To her credit, Mary quickly figures out who Jack is when she hears his name. She tells him she was present at his birth. She’s also relieved to hear her sons aren’t in Apocalypse World.

Jack admits that Michael got inside his head and made him do things. Mary tells him she saw Michael’s grand plan when he got inside her head – he’s going to bring an army to the SPNverse (in other words, alt-Michael is a Bond Villain: Evil Overlord Variant). She explains to Jack that alt-Michael will hurt her to make Jack do what he wants. We also find out from the dialogue that it’s currently six months after Jack’s birth at the end of last season.

As they gear up to go, Dean asks Castiel how he’s doing. Castiel frets that he was brought back for a reason (Dean tells him Jack brought him back and Castiel looks a bit shifty, but doesn’t mention the Empty Entity), but so far, he’s failing Jack, that Michael (he doesn’t specify which one) is all about making war. Dean gives him a pep talk about how they will power through and off they go.

Meanwhile, Sam and Donatello are gathering ingredients, while Donatello runs through a series of Untrustworthy Expressions behind Sam’s back.

In a clearing in a forest in Vancouver, probably somewhere in Stanley Park, Dean and Castiel talk strategy. Castiel says that Donatello said Gog and Magog could only be killed “by a weapon touched by God” and promptly hands Dean an angel blade. Dean casually takes it (remember when angel blades were rare and awe-inspiring? Kinda miss those days) and Castiel does a summoning in Enochian, no spellwork.

At first, nothing happens and Dean gets sassy about Castiel’s Enochian pronunciation. Castiel is snippy in response, which causes Dean to roll his eyes.

Gog and Magog show up (behind Dean and Castiel, of course), making the earth shake with each step. They look more like Vikings than guys from Ancient Mesopotamia and they’re wearing leather diapers. Dean snickers to Castiel that they’re wearing loinclothes. No, man, those are diapers (which Dean finally acknowledges).

Meanwhile, Gog and Magog are commenting in Ancient Canaanite (more or less) on how “pretty” their latest adversaries are. They finally decide which one to attack. One goes after Castiel and the other after Dean.

Dean gets his angel blade shattered by a sword early on. When he yells to Castiel (who is getting tossed to the ground) about what to do next, Castiel shouts back that they can only be killed by weapons “forged by God,” which is different from what he said before.

Dean gets his guy into a headlock, but then gets flipped over. He avoids a sword cut, manages to get hold of Gog (think it’s Gog)’s sword and beheads him with it. Magog is about to make short work of Castiel when Dean stabs him from behind.

Dean [grumpily]: Forged by God; touched by God” – same thing.

But they run into a snag when Castiel goes to retrieve Magog’s heart and finds only sand. It turns out Gog and Magog are not human at all but magical constructs from before the Flood. They have no hearts. The thlot pickens.

Meanwhile, Mary is trying to get Jack to let alt-Michael kill her rather than open the door to the SPNverse. Jack insists he can save them both, but his powers keep going wonky and his head hurts. Mary admits her head hurts, too. She thought it was the torture, but now she wonders if it’s because the angel warding is so strong that even humans can feel it. She finds a place in the cell (conveniently near the only window) where she doesn’t have so much of headache and guesses that’s where the warding is weakest. Jack starts working on breaking through the window.

Back at the Bunker, Donatello is stalking an apparently oblivious Sam, who doesn’t hear a warning call on his cell from Dean. Donatello then smacks Sam in the head with a bottle and keeps on smacking.

So, alt-Michael is, to put it mildly, unhappy about Jack and Mary’s jailbreak. He orders Zachariah to go get Jack back, kill Mary in front of Jack (slowly), and not fail him again.

Meanwhile, Jack and Mary are running around the Apocalypse World set at night, trying to avoid anything on two legs. They quickly get rousted by alt-Bobby. He recognizes her as Mary Campbell and thinks she’s a ghost at first. She mentions Dean and Sam (in that order) and alt-Bobby remembers them. Jack is introduced as “a friend of the family.”

Back at the Bunker, Dean and Castiel arrive to find the place a bit trashed and Sam nursing a large welt on his head. He has a raving Donatello on lockdown in their dungeon. Castiel explains about how Gog and Magog didn’t have hearts, which means the spell was fake – Donatello was trying to send them to their deaths.

Alt-Bobby takes Mary and Jack to his camp and explains that the angels are systematically exterminating humans. As they bond over coffee spiked with whiskey (and Jack does puppet theater for a bunch of kids), alt-Bobby spells out that Mary of his world never made her demon deal, so John didn’t come back from the dead and she never had Dean and Sam (that order again). She says they saved her world. Alt-Bobby says he didn’t go back with them because he’s about the only thing his world has to save it.

He is rather less thrilled, however, when Mary admits that Jack is a Naphil, and insists Jack be out of the camp by dawn. Even when Mary says she’d leave, too, alt-Bobby insists that the angels turned on humans, despite initially seeming to be their allies, and Jack will, too.

Fortunately for Jack, the angels attack in the morning, apparently attracted by Jack using magic in his shadow puppets the night before. Mary tells Jack to run and gets a mission from a grumpy alt-Bobby to rescue as many kids as she can. Jack is running when he hears children screaming and goes back to help.

Meanwhile, Mary has been caught out by Zachariah, who is about to kill her when Jack shows up. Jack kills him, instead, then foils another attack by angels (not impressed by the whole fireball thing instead of wings) by blasting them out of the sky, saving the whole camp. Alt-Bobby is properly impressed.

Yeah, I kinda figured early on that Mary would end up a Mother figure to Jack.

Back at the Bunker, the Brothers try to interrogate Donatello, who cackles that he’s translated the entire Demon Tablet (didn’t Kevin already do that years ago? Why does it need to be translated again?), then does a suffocation spell on Dean. Dean’s okay once Sam gets him out into the corridor (just as a worried Castiel, who was watching on a monitor, shows up), but Donatello is clearly cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

TFW tries to figure out what went wrong with Donatello. Castiel insists that Prophets can’t be corrupted by the Tablets. They’re only “conduits” of God’s power. Sam then points out that Donatello no longer has his soul (this didn’t come up before?) and Castiel speculates that without the “filter” of the soul, Donatello was corrupted.

There’s then a flurry of discussion. Sam gets mopey and says they can never get Donatello’s soul back because Amara “ate” it. Dean doesn’t exactly contradict him, even though Amara told him once that all of the souls she ate still existed inside her, apparently as intact souls. So, theoretically, it’s just a case of ringing her up and persuading her to give it back, which, theoretically, Dean could do.

But this doesn’t happen. Instead, Castiel suggests putting Donatello down. That way, another Prophet will come into existence and they can use him/her to finish reading the Tablet. The Brothers aren’t thrilled by this idea, but they aren’t quite fast enough (okay, they don’t exactly rush) to stop him from going into the dungeon and forcibly stripping the spell from Donatello’s mind. It’s pretty clear he does this in large part because Donatello hurt Dean. Afterward, he seems odd and one wonders if he absorbed some of Donatello’s “corruption.”

Donatello isn’t dead, per se, but his mind is wiped and the Brothers are forced to leave him at a nearby hospital in a coma. Castiel tells them that Donatello was working for Asmodeus and that “some people can’t be saved.” Dean still calls him out on it, though Castiel justifies it as necessary because they are at war.

Castiel then gives them the ingredients for the spell: “the blood of an archangel, a fruit from the Tree of Life, the Seal of Solomon, and the blood of ‘a most holy man.'”

The episode closes on Dean’s thoughtful face as Castiel says, “It’s like you said, Dean, ‘Whatever it takes.'”

Credits


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The Official Supernatural: “Devil’s Bargain” (13.13) 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. The print version is also up. If you buy the print version, you get a Kindle copy thrown in for free. I also get paid if you get it on Kindle Unlimited (for free), read the Kindle version, or lend it to a friend via the Kindle Owners Lending Library. Just FYI.

Yeah, I know. I’ve been putting this off. What can I say? The Nep Duo eps are a huge snore for me.

Starting now.

Boring recap of the Nep Duo storyline so far this season reminding why I’m finding it so tedious. You’d have thought the show could have found somebody more competent to do episode 13 of season 13.

Cut to Now. Castiel is staggering through the woods, bleeding, yelling Lucifer’s name. He passes out and is found the next morning by two pubescent budding serial killers who gloat over finding a dead body – until he wakes up and scares them off.

He goes back to that creepy old mental hospital the show’s been filming since … oh … “The End” in season five, at least, but no Lucifer.

Nope, Lucifer is stalking some poor Cupid, who’s just trying to pair up a young woman on roller skates with a guy who drops a wedding cake to catch her. Lucifer rewards the poor guy by stealing his grace, interrogating him about finding more angels, and then killing him basically for kicks. Lucifer does realize that said angel now has a soul and will go to Heaven, where he can be interrogated by other angels, right (that was the storyline for Castiel)? And that (also per Castiel’s lost grace storyline) this stolen grace will only burn away inside him and eventually kill him, right?

Oh, but wait. It’s the Nep Duo. They don’t do tedious things like check up on canon before writing their dreck.

Also, is anyone else totally over Lucifer by now? I mean, completely for the duration of the show?

Cue title cards.

Oh, hey, look, the show’s actual protagonists. Dean is talking to Castiel, who has turned up at the Bunker and is filling Dean in on his kidnapping. Don’t get me started on how dumb it was for the Brothers not to check up on Castiel and find this out for themselves.

Sam is freaked out by the news that Lucifer is back in town, even depowered. It’s probably also not the wisest thing for Castiel to get so detailed about alt-Michael’s threat to the SPNverse, considering Dean is right there. Sam asks about Mary. Castiel confirms that Lucifer said she was still alive.

Cut to Lucifer having some after-effects from his grace meal. Gee, consequences for that? Do tell. But mostly this is just an excuse for the writers to engage in more tasteless homeless person jokes. Yay.

Also, once again, what the hell happened to Lucifer using his wings to fly anywhere he wants in the world in nanoseconds? Instead, we have Lucifer feeling hungry (um … why?) and begging for money because he can’t just fly into a burger joint and out with a dozen burgers before anyone notices – oh, wait. He can.

Another homeless guy takes him dumpster diving and tells him about a healer named Sister Jo. Lucifer starts to get an evil idea, which means she is probably an angel.

Meanwhile, two characters I have even less interest in (Asmodeus and Ketch) are discussing Lucifer’s escape. Ketch twits Asmodeus a bit about how he was out of town and Asmodeus hedges that it was super-duper important then doesn’t kill Ketch. Instead, he tasks Ketch with killing Lucifer while Lucifer is still weak because apparently, we can kill archangels while they are lacking a bit of grace. How does that work, exactly, when Chuck said in season 11 that archangels are fundamentally different even from angels?

Dean apologizes to Castiel for not realizing he’d been captured. Castiel admits that getting captured was on him (and that he knows Dean would have done something crazy to try to break him out if he’d known), and angsts about Jack and Mary. Good times.

Sam comes back from wherever he was with Donatello in tow. Dean lays out his plan to get Jack and Mary back, and then slam the door before alt-Michael can get through. Then they show Donatello the Demon Tablet which, as a Prophet, Donatello might be able to read, even though his talents are kinda different from Kevin’s. Donatello asks for chicken wings.

Cut to a woman (Danneel Ackles’ character) in a church. She is taking money from an older woman with a walker and then heals her with white light. Yup. Angel. She does this to a bunch of other paying customers, too. This is Sister Jo.

As Castiel and the Brothers find out about the dead Cupid (and Castiel identifies him as an angel), and worry Lucifer might get his mojo back, Lucifer has appeared in the crowd waiting to be healed by Sister Jo. After the session ends and the humans leave, Lucifer approaches her and calls her “Amael.” Yup. An angel. Unimpressed, Sister Jo/Amael easily identifies him as Lucifer, but she’s not scared or repulsed as the other angels have been in the past.

Amael explains that after the angels fell and the others were scrambling to find “housing” (vessels), she was more systematic in her search. She found a woman who was praying for her husband to be healed and they made a deal – the woman became Amael’s vessel in exchange for healing her husband. She was, as Amael puts it, extremely “grateful.” Amael realized that she could live comfortably on humans’ desperation for healing and longer life, and that she was actually a much better “businesswoman” than she had been an angel.

We find out how good a businesswoman she is when Lucifer pulls out his sword and goes after her. She points out that if he gives her “time to recharge” (implying that he will eventually recharge on his own, himself), he can take a little grace from her at a time. He helps her and she helps him. Lucifer looks intrigued.

Back to Sam, Dean and Castiel (bet you forgot all about them, eh?). Sam is casing the neighborhood and runs into the homeless guy who told Lucifer about Sister Jo. He also tells Sam about her, and that he told Lucifer about her. Hey, Sam, maybe get Castiel to heal this guy as a reward? No?

Anyhoo, back at the church (so much friggin’ jumping around), Lucifer is feeding off Sister Jo’s grace in a highly sexualized and vampiric way that is well within the Nep Duo’s usual wheelhouse of tone-deafness. Yuck. So, afterward, Sister Jo has to point out to him, using small words, that his killing of the poor Doomed Teaser Cupid was broadcast all over Angel Radio. Apparently, in addition to losing his grace, Lucifer has lost a few IQ points, because he didn’t figure that one out on his own.

Sure enough, guess who shows up at Sister Jo’s chapel? And all three are armed with angel swords. But when Castiel kicks in the door, all they find is … Ketch.

Ketch appeared to be ready to throw something, but doesn’t elaborate about what. Dean cuts to the chase and demands to know what Ketch is doing there. Ketch protests his innocence, but nobody’s impressed, and for once, Sam and Castiel waste no time backing Dean up, demanding instead to know whom Ketch is working for. None of TFW believes Ketch is just freelancing around the countryside, doing Good. So, Ketch tries to join up with the team.

Instead, after an exchange of disgusted glances, Castiel puts him to sleep, they dump him in the Impala’s trunk, and Dean sketches out a plan to bring him back to the Bunker, interrogate him, kill him, and dispose of his body really, really well. Castiel really likes this plan. So do I, so I’m sure it won’t happen now.

There is also a fly in the ointment. Sam has just found some video of Sister Jo healing people and Castiel immediately recognizes her as Amael. But if Lucifer killed her, too, where’s her body?

As they drive home, Sam gets an alert on his phone (he tapped into Sister Jo’s financials) that she just used her credit card. Hmm, seems she might be alive.

Ooops, here comes another highly sexualized scene of Lucifer feeding on Amael that reminds me (not fondly) of Sam feeding off Ruby’s demon blood. Ugh.

Afterward, Amael tells Lucifer that whenever she’s almost completely drained of grace, she experiences human emotions. Lucifer says he experienced them, too, but didn’t like them. Amael feels a bit differently. In Heaven, she received souls and that’s all she did. A soul would arrive, she would “push a button,” and the soul would be counted. She wanted to do other things, to “fix Heaven,” but none of the higher-ups would listen to her and only sent her back to her job. Gee, I guess the Nep Duo missed watching the episodes in seasons four and five when angels who so much as questioned things got brainwashed and/or turned into cinders.

Anyhoo, Amael doesn’t mind being fallen. Lucifer does and whines about being a daddy. The show continues to ignore that consuming angel grace that isn’t the angel’s is unhealthy for the angel doing the consuming.

Meanwhile, Asmodeus (yes, I know you didn’t miss him) gets news from a demon minion that they’ve found Donatello. Really? When did Asmodeus lose him?

Cut to Castiel accosting Donatello outside a chicken wings place to have a chat. You gotta love a show where you have to worry about the good guys’ intentions even more than the bad guys’.

Anyhoo, Castiel asks Donatello about his progress on the Demon Tablet (didn’t Kevin translate that thing a while back? What new info could it have?) and Donatello says he thinks he’s found a spell to get to the alt-SPNverse. Now why the Demon Tablet would have this sort of thing remains unexplained. Like … not even addressed.

So, Castiel is not really Castiel. He’s actually Asmodeus pretending to be Castiel. And he does some kind of forgetting spell on Donatello that we’ve never seen demons do before, just angels (because LOL!Canon, that’s why), while compelling him to tell him everything about said spell as he finds it out. Because I’m sure this won’t backfire on this pathetic character in any way.

As Donatello leaves, Colonel Sanders – sorry, Asmodeus – grabs one of his chicken wings, sniffs it, and tosses it away in disgust. I’ll bet the Nepotism Duo thought this would be some cute and gently mocking shout-out to the rather loud and negative fan reaction to the character, which just goes to show how clueless these two are.

Meanwhile, TFW (with Ketch still apparently in the trunk) is casing the motel where Amael and Lucifer are. Sam draws Amael out by calling the room and saying her credit card was declined. Once outside, TFW meets with her and establishes she is alive.

Amael is … economical … with the truth. She claims to be scared of Lucifer and that he wants her grace. She does give him up, though, saying he is in the motel room and is still weak. So, TFW goes in, assuming she’s with them, which is too bad. Up to this point, they’ve been smart and there’s nothing smart about trusting Sister Jo, especially once they find out she’s alive and unharmed by Lucifer. One would think they’d at least consider her loyalties iffy.

Lucifer’s indeed inside the room, reading the Bible (not as fun as it sounds, unfortunately). Amael tries to warn him when she knocks on the door by calling him “Lord Lucifer,” but as I said before, he’s pretty clueless. He’s therefore apparently surprised when TFW appear in the doorway when he opens it.

A standoff ensues because really, what does TFW have to take Lucifer down, even if he’s weak? No, seriously, what was the plan here? Sam tries to shoo Amael out the door while Lucifer tries to talk his way into a better strategic position for reasons that, frankly, escape me if he’s, you know, no longer as weak as he was.

So, then Amael breaks the standoff by literally breaking up TFW with TK. Except that she should be too weak to do that, having been drained not too long ago by Lucifer to, by her own admission, almost the point of humanity. So, she and Lucifer toss TFW around and Lucifer tortures them a bit, even as Amael is telling him to run for reasons that escape me and probably a good portion of the audience. If Lucifer’s stronger than they thought, why is he running again? And if he’s still unable to kill them thanks to what Chuck did to him in season 11, now would be an excellent time to bring that up again and spell it out, since the show spells out plenty of things it really doesn’t need to.

Ketch then suddenly appears in the doorway with something in his hand. Fortunately for Lucifer (as Amael runs to his side to protect or hide behind him or something), Ketch pauses dramatically in the doorway, which is plenty of time for even a being of Lucifer’s currently limited intellect to remember he has wings and fly away to some forest with Amael. Even so, once they get there, she still has to point out to him that there is a place, not on earth, they can still go – Heaven. And to think he thinks he’s going to meet up with his son and take over the world. Yikes.

Back in the motel room, Ketch is whining (again) that he just saved the Brothers’ lives and Dean reams him out for taking too long to toss the bomb. Ketch claims it was a demon grenade or something that he found in their trunk while escaping, so it wouldn’t have actually killed Lucifer, anyway. Which again begs the question of why he ran (or flew, if you prefer). If you were holding out a faint hope that this was part of some big plan between Ketch and TFW, sorry.

A pretty awkward discussion ensues as Ketch tries to fend off his impending execution by confessing he’s working for Asmodeus and offering to be a double (or triple) agent for TFW. To their credit, they laugh in his face, pointing out that admitting something they kinda suspected already about him doesn’t exactly make them trust him. Ketch then claims that Lucifer out and about is not something even he wants to see (certainly, his erstwhile demon boss doesn’t), let alone whatever is going on with alt-Michael. TFW looks uncomfortable, since they’re probably going to have to work with him now, even though they can see all the big, red “Danger, Will Robinson!” signs surrounding this idea.

Meanwhile, Lucifer is at that stupid angel gate in the playground, talking his way into becoming the ruler of Heaven by offering them the thing that they desperately want the most – to make new angels – and the other thing they want most – to give them their wings back. Even more reluctantly than TFW letting Ketch cozy up to them, the angels take him on board. I’m sure this will end well. I’m also pretty sure that Lucifer is lying about being able to make new angels, or at least that there is a catch.

Near the end (because we have to have multiple codas), TFW is sitting around the table, discussing whether or not they can trust Ketch (the consensus is “No, but we have no choice. For now”). Donatello is doing something weird with peeling the batter off his chicken wings, which I guess is supposed to be a sign of Asmodeus’ meddling with his mind. Dean is cleaning his guns and Donatello has a freak-out when Sam tries to give him a pep talk. Good times. Great mental health all round.

Up in Heaven, the angels are reluctantly kneeling to a smug Lucifer on his throne, with Amael as his main advisor. He’s going to need her, what with that lobotomy the writers have given him.

Meanwhile, Ketch is claiming to Asmodeus that he could have killed Lucifer, but just missed him (yeah, right). Asmodeus whines that they need to dispatch Lucifer as soon as possible (a feat no one has been able to manage for over 14 billion years, mind you), especially since TFW will try to use him to open the gate to the alt-SPNverse. Except that’s not what they’ve been trying to do. They’ve actually been trying to banish him back to the Cage. But let’s not confuse the Nepotism Duo with facts. We’re almost near the end of the episode, thank God.

Through this cloud of misguided hubris, Asmodeus has two final plot coupons – sorry, surprises – to deliver before we reach the credits, though. He’s found an archangel blade (and oh, look, it looks nothing whatsoever like the blades we’ve seen the archangels use, including on each other). When Ketch points out that even with an archangel blade, you need an archangel to wield it, Asmodeus shows him that he has Gabriel prisoner, with his mouth stitched shut. I’m sure that won’t end badly for Asmodeus, or anything.

Credits


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


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

Starting now.

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

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

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

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

Cue title cards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ah, Rowena, how I missed thee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits


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


We need your help!

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

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

Starting now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cue title cards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Dean.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Starting now.

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

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

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

Cut to Now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Claire: I look great.

Alex: You look like Biker Barbie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: Supernatural: “Tombstone” (13.06)


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[lots o’ spoilers ahead]


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

“Tombstone,” however, is surprisingly good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


Happy New Year Everyone!


We need your help!

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Season 12 is out on Amazon.

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

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

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


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Review: Supernatural: “Advanced Thanatology” (13.05)


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


[lots o’ spoilers ahead]


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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