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The Official Supernatural: “Optimism” (14.06) Live Recap Thread


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

Recap of the story so far and where the principles and guest stars at (the latter mainly being alt-Charlie). Odd, clicky soundtrack, as though they wanted “Time Has Come Today,” but couldn’t afford The Chamber Brothers again.

Cut to Now in McCook, Nebraska, with this weirdly upbeat ragtime piano tune that sounds like something Randy Newman would write (specifically, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” but it’s not). We swing down past a closeup of a bronze statue of a bearded man in 19th century garb to a perky young woman jaywalking across a street.

She says hi to an elderly man then opens up the town library for the day. Later, we see her shelving books, while confirming (rather unenthusiastically) a dinner date with one guy, fending off the creepy stalking of another, and complaining that nobody ever comes into the library, anymore.

Okay, first of all, I am very sick and tired of the cliche of the young, nerdy woman who has guys swooning over her and treats them mean (especially in an episode that’s bringing back Charlie). Second, has Steve Yockey just not been in a library, lately, ’cause all my local libraries are pretty busy. If only because they have free internet and job hunting resources. And I don’t exactly live in a book paradise. More like a bookstore desert.

So, Date Guy leaves the library, all libidoed up ’cause he’s going out tonight with the hot librarian. And we get what I do believe is the first actual Classic Rock (okay, it’s Disco) of the season – The Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.” That is, until he turns into a Doomed Teaser Guy and is grabbed by dead white hands into a bush, where he is messily murdered offscreen.

Cue title cards.

Jack is trying coffee with tons of sugar. Dean walks in and comments on this. Jack says that now he no longer has powers, “everything tastes different” and he can’t seem to figure out how to get the right taste on anything.

Jack says Sam went off on a hunt with alt-Charlie and didn’t tell Dean because Dean was already on an overnight drive to visit his mom and alt-Bobby. Sam left Jack behind to watch out for Dean because Sam is worried about Dean. That’s the story Sam told Jack, anyway.

Jack muses that Sam and alt-Charlie must be having a great time on their hunt. Cut to Sam and Charlie on a stakeout at a pest control place, in a pickup that looks suspiciously like the one Sam used while investigating Dean’s massacre of the late, unlamented Stynes.

Sam is so bored that he plays with a spinner, which is mildly amusing.

Dean notices that Jack has a cough, but Jack pretends it’s nothing and there’s no blood just yet. Jack tells Dean that Michael wasn’t his fault, then mentions he dug up some news about Doomed Teaser Guy, who was found dead with human bite marks. Jack wants to go hunting. Dean thinks it’s a bad idea and says he should go alone. Jack says he’s going stir crazy and feels guilty about not killing Michael when he had the chance. So, he eventually bugs Dean into letting him take him on a hunt. Dean tells Sam. Sam expresses concern, but doesn’t object (as if that would stop Dean). Alt-Charlie shrugs and comments that they’ve got four missing people and a jar of goo on their end. So far, so mysterious.

Dean and Jack arrive in town and first hit Dick’s Red Rooster Diner. Jack says it was the place where DTG (called “Winston”) spent his time on breakfast. This is the sneak peek where the counter person (who thinks she has a “working knowledge of the Constitution,” but doesn’t know any) is a jerk to them until Dean whips out some money and bribes her.

There follows a Fargo-like montage of local people (including Diner Jerk) talking about how sweet the librarian is, but since her boyfriend left, she can’t seem to keep boyfriends. They disappear or die and she’s just “bad luck.” It’s a little too on-the-nose, but Dean and Jack’s reactions are amusing.

Meanwhile, alt-Charlie is telling Sam that Dean will be okay, that he has friends. Sam then eulogizes her (dead) counterpart here, which rather-understandably makes alt-Charlie pretty uncomfortable. It turns out her life went very differently. She was working for Dick Roman (the real one, since the Leviathans never came out to play) and had a girlfriend named Kara. Everything was fine until the day alt-Michael and alt-Lucifer fought, causing a huge EMP wave to “fry” all the electronics in the U.S. Human society than fell into chaos and sometime during that, Kara died. Sam says that hasn’t happened in his reality and alt-Charlie just replies, “Yet.”

Back to the diner, where Dean has ordered Jack and him some pie and Jack is asking Dean about sex. As you do, when you’re about a year old and have the body of a teenage.

Dean and Jack mull over what to do about the librarian, Harper. Dean says that so much bad luck is a red flag that something is up, but Jack asks, how are they going to find out?

Dean’s idea is to run a Good Cop Bad Cop con on Harper, with Dean playing Bad Cop and Jack coming in to “save” Harper from his interrogation. I kinda like how unapologetically shady Dean is in this and how Jack enthusiastically goes along for the ride. Dean is a lot of things, but he’s also a great con man and thief.

Dean looks a little taken aback when Jack calls him an “old man,” but when he sees how eagerly Harper eats it up, he rolls with it and leaves. But he watches from the car (grumping privately about the insult) while Harper bonds with Jack (immediately taking him to her apartment for a book) and fends off her creepy, red-bearded stalker, Miles.

As Dean gets out to follow Jack and Harper, he hears Miles getting messily murdered offscreen in an alley, while putting out trash. When Dean investigates, he is watched from the bushes.

Back to Sam and Charlie. Charlie is reading through a lot of occult books, while Sam compliments her on her Hunting skills (FYI, Charlie hasn’t actually done any onscreen hunting at this point). This version of Charlie is the exact opposite of her perky SPNverse version. She wants to quit Hunting because all it ends up getting you is dead. Sam doesn’t understand why she would want to quit, which is pretty out-of-character for Sam, even now. I get that this is supposed to be an Anti-Charlie Charlie, and I guess that’s not a terrible idea, but the execution so far is still boring and the result is still a whiny Charlie.

Not only is alt-Charlie quitting Hunting, but this is her last case. She’s going to go off the grid and stay away from people and monsters.

Then they get to their MOTW (it appears we have two, since there are two hunts), something called a “Musca,” which is a man-sized fly. It turns out there is a “bad egg” of a male Musca that can’t find a mate and leaves its community to bind humans together and “nest.” Or something. Then then see someone (or something) sit down next to a pair of elderly women, wearing an all-black kind of combo of a Puritan minister and beekeeper’s outfit that completely obscures its face. It’s really lame. Like, the spider people in “Unforgiven” levels of lame.

At Harper’s apartment (which is bright and perky), Harper rather awkwardly flirts with Jack, who doesn’t get it. While she’s in the other room, getting the “book,” Jack drops a silver coin on the floor and covers his hands in holy water. When Harper appears to pass those tests, Jack covers a cough with a “Christo!” Dang, been a while (“Phantom Traveler” in season one) since anybody used that.

Jack says he’s from Lebanon. Harper says her family has been in her town for many generations and she’s “the last one.” To cover up a real bout of coughing, Jack sees a photo of Harper with a guy, whom she calls “Vance.” She says he was a former boyfriend who left town – and her – thus beginning her round of bad luck.

Harper stops Jack from answering a call to Dean and starts acting in love with him. Jack asks her where her bathroom is, goes in and answers the call (good Jack!). Dean is still at the site of Miles’ gruesome demise. As they’re talking about what/who is stalking the men around Harper, Dean gets attacked by the thing that apparently killed Miles. Jack hears the attack over the phone and rushes out of the bathroom.

When a worried Harper asks if she came on too strong, Jack reassures her that she didn’t. She asks if they should “go for coffee.” Before Jack can answer, Dean bursts in (having apparently not been messily murdered offscreen), making Harper scream in shock. Dean and Jack hurriedly do The Talk (not the sex talk, but the monster talk), while Dean grabs a chair and shoves it up under the doorknob to Harper’s apartment. They’re there to save her. When Harper asks, “Save me from what?!” the apartment door starts banging on cue and Dean says, “That!”

As Harper is asking who is out there, Dean says it’s a “what” and that “I thought it was a ghost until it punched me in the face.” (There’s an amusing exchange as Harper thinks Dean said it was a ghost and Jack says that no, Dean said it wasn’t.) Dean then spots a photo of Vance and picks it up, asking who it is and when he died.

Harper is very surprised to hear that Vance is dead, saying “He lives in Connecticut.”

“Not anymore,” Dean says (love Ackles’ delivery). Vance shouting Harper’s name from outside the door convinces her that it is, indeed, Vance.

As Vance busts the door down, Dean figures he’s some sort of revenant (a big callback to season two’s “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things,” in which Dean was also pretty messed up). Dean comments that silver will slow them down, but only one thing can kill them. He finds a silver knife in Harper’s apartment and grapples with Vance, yelling at Jack to get Harper out of there.

Meanwhile, it’s night and the Musca shows up at the bus stop (that’s what the bench turns out to be). Alt-Charlie is all for going after it, but Sam wants to wait. So, of course, a bus comes along and gives the Musca cover to kidnap a guy sitting next to it, except why would it wait until the bus came to do that if it doesn’t know two Hunters are sitting across the street. Isn’t it doing that right in front of a bus full of people?

Well, anyhoo, it finally gets them out of the truck to go after the thing, and Sam to shut up temporarily about trying to bully alt-Charlie into staying in Hunting. Thank God. ‘Cause that was really dull.

Back to the fight scene, which is actually fun. There’s an amusing Riverdale dig when Dean calls Vance “Archie.” But Vance, for whatever reason, decides not to continue fighting Dean (who is basically distracting him to help Jack and Harper escape, anyway) and runs after Harper and Jack. Who have run back to the library.

The storyline for Sam and alt-Charlie’s hunt is so damned thin that they actually infodump a conversation we never heard about how a “brass nail dipped in sugar water” is maybe the only thing that can kill a Musca. Alt-Charlie says they don’t have either of those things. Sam babbles that they can “improvise” before they bust into a warehouse with guns that apparently can’t actually kill the MOTW. Once inside, they comment on the stink and find a lot of flies and fly paper. Then they go stalking through the warehouse, nodding randomly to each other for no reason (I was like, “Whaaat?”).

Alt-Charlie finds a pile of bodies at the same time Sam finds the Musca’s briefcase. Turns out the Musca’s been chloroforming its victims. Charlie finds the latest one from the bus stop – he’s still alive – but manages to get grabbed by the Musca and tossed off the platform thing-y it has its victims on like the cast of Cats. This conveniently knocks her out. Sam comes in and finds her, only to be attacked by the Musca (which is a guy dressed like a mime, wearing a very dodgy bug mask that the director doesn’t let is see too closely amid all the jump camerawork). As it’s dripping goo on Sam for some reason, alt-Charlie wakes up and stabs it in the back, then Sam shoots it, and that is apparently all you need to kill it. So much for the brass nail and the sugar water.

So, back to the library, where Jack finds out the hard way that Harper and Vance are in cahoots (I know. Golly, and she seemed like such a nice girl, too). Harper killed him before he could leave town and it turns out she comes from “a long line of necromancers,” so she raised him from the dead and he was obsessed with her. Yeah, the infodump’s pretty heavy in this one.

Jack gets stalked around the stacks, but just when he’s thinking he needs to make a rush at Harper (which, as “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things” showed doesn’t actually work in getting rid of a revenant), he gets grabbed by Dean. Dean quietly brings Jack up to speed on how to kill Vance. So, Jack once again plays bait by shmoozing Harper and luring Vance out into the open. Dean gets in on it (Harper actually orders Vance to kill Dean at one point), but when Dean and Jack get demonic handcuffs on Vance, Harper pulls a runner.

Meanwhile, Sam and Charlie are in her truck, infodumping about how the last victim of the Musca will be okay, while we get a montage of the Musca’s people retrieving its body because apparently, once again, Sam and alt-Charlie didn’t salt and burn the damned body. Sam also persuades alt-Charlie to stay in Hunting, which probably means she’ll get sacrificed sometime this season. Whatever, Show.

Cut to a diner with Marty Robbins’ “I’ll Go on Alone” in the background. Harper is writing a letter to Jack in which she babbles on about finding him, killing him, and then bringing him back from the dead so they can be together forever. Seems she finally left McCook.

Back at the Bunker, Jack and Dean talk about stalking Vance to his gravebed with a silver stake (as in “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things”) over coffee (Jack) and whiskey (Dean). Dean tells Jack he did well. Jack tells Dean he should stop beating himself up over Michael and wants to go out on more hunts. Dean hedges and says he’ll discuss it with Sam when Sam gets back. At that point, Jack starts coughing again. He coughs up blood and starts bleeding from the nose. Then he collapses on the floor as Dean tries to revive him.

Credits

The ratings were up a little from last week, with the show tying for second on the network in demo with a 0.4/2 (0.397, unrounded) and coming in second for audience with 1.48 million.

Promo for next week.

Eh. I can’t say this one wowed me. There were some nice callbacks to seasons one and two in the first hunt, and Dean and Jack got some good bonding. Dean’s Salty Old Veteran shtick with Jack is a hoot. But it was a pretty thinly plotted hunt, with even flatter guest characters than usual. It certainly lacked the depth of “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things,” one of my favorite episodes ever, and it wasn’t nearly as creepy as “Phantom Traveler,” another early favorite of mine.

Part of the problem was having another hunt stuffed in with it and what the hell happened there? It’s not as though the show has never had the Brothers go off on separate hunts or storylines, so it’s perfectly capable of doing A/B plotting.

But this one mostly consisted of Sam and alt-Charlie sitting around in a pickup, watching a bus stop and waiting for an MOTW to show up. They kept talking about how they felt sorry for the Musca, but why would they? And that drippy montage at the end with the Musca community showing up to take away their errant member was completely unearned.

Not to mention, it made Sam and alt-Charlie look stupid because they should have salted and burned the body – all of the bodies, really. And the creature design for the Musca was … well, not very good. I’m hoping that montage doesn’t mean they’ll be coming back because no, just no.

Harper is obviously coming back. I can’t say I’m hugely thrilled about that, either. Perky evil can be fun, but there’s something missing with her and I don’t just mean that the character herself is short a few hash browns from her Happy Meal. It could just be the general lack of development for the storyline and then piling it on top of Jack’s health woes.

It was fairly obvious from the start that something was off with her. The possibility that she’d offed Vance crossed my mind rather early, but I can’t say I got much suspense out of it. I also can’t say I’m feeling much suspense about her stalking Jack, either. The whole bunny boiler thing seems pretty dated to me.

The fight scene between Dean and Vance was fun – too bad it kept getting undercut by the stakeout in the pickup truck. Ackles did some really snarky tee-offs on line deliveries this week. I also liked that Dean and Jack ran a con on Harper, not once but twice. She knew they were Hunters, but was utterly clueless about everything else (not least that Jack is not entirely human).

There was some good partner chemistry there between Dean and Jack, and it was nice to see Jack acknowledge that he made some critical errors that led up to Dean being backed into saying yes to Michael. The “old man” crack had me rolling my eyes along with Dean, but that’s mostly because it always makes the writers look like ageist idiots. That sort of thing may fly on other CW shows, but not this one.

Overall, a few nice bits (and Dean looks super-hot in a noir detective suit), but this one felt too thin. You need to work on plotting some more, writers.


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The Official Supernatural: “The Scar” (14.03) 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. I’m posting reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my research all month long on Patreon.

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

Recap of events up to this point. Still no rock and the incidental music is frequently dull this season.

Cut to Now and Dean walking back into the Bunker with Sam. Dean is already back in shirtsleeves and talking about how he doesn’t remember anything from saying yes in the Bunker to waking up in front of TFW:TEP at the end of last week. This is almost certainly a lie, since Dean was fully awake and fighting when he went up against Lucifer in the season finale.

Dean is a little shocked to see the Bunker’s HQ turned into an actual HQ (and where the hell were all these people last week, when Castiel was pulling double duty, babysitting Jack and Nick?), and even more so that people are already calling Sam “Chief” after just a few weeks. Yeah, I know. Convenient writing. Just roll with it.

Dean is reunited with Jack and Castiel, who seem glad to see him again, especially Castiel. Then Dean makes the excuse that he needs to go shower and leaves. As the others ask Sam if Dean is all right (think that’s a big old NO, Ghost Rider), and Sam hedges, we see Dean enter his room, take off his outer shirt, and spot a ginormous scar on his right shoulder in the mirror.

Cue title cards.

So, Dean hides this and pretends nothing’s wrong – wait, that’s only half-right. He actually goes to tell Sam and Castiel. No secrets. Who are you and what have you done with Dean Winchester?!

Dean insists that Castiel do a mind-meld (i.e., soul read, which, as we know from season six’s “The Third Man,” is extremely painful) to dig up his memories. Castiel finds some fragments of already-filmed stuff of Michael and his experiments, and seems puzzled why a powerful archangel would be creating monsters (you and me both, dude). He then discovers a new memory – one of DeanMichael getting stabbed in the shoulder, creating the odd scar. There’s a lot of screaming, but no blood (of course) and also no angel light (whoops, continuity error or just plain being cheap about the FX).

Dean has no idea what Castiel just dug up, so they call Jody. Not sure why, but it’s what they do.

Jody is getting a text from Claire (I think) about Alex’s laundry. Claire asks if Jody is on a hunt and Jody says no. Then she gets a call from TFW 1.0.

So, the reason they called her is that Dean recognized the figure that stabbed him/Michael as the same hooded figure that casually murdered Kaia in the “Bad Place” last season. We know (though they don’t) that this was Bad Place!Kaia, so I want to reiterate that she murdered her own counterpart in this world, without an ounce of apparent remorse. I’m thinking that will be important later.

Anyhoo, it turns out the hunt Jody wasn’t telling Claire about involves headless bodies with the same scar.

Dean immediately packs. He, Sam and Castiel are heading out when Jack comes in and wants to help. Sam and Castiel hedge, but Dean’s the one who gets blamed for “hurting” Jack’s feelings by saying he’s not strong enough to go. Yeah, because that’s much worse than taking him along and letting him get beaten to a pulp by demons – oh, wait.

Roadblock number 2 is a female Hunter coming in (apparently Yet Another alt-SPNverse Denizen) with the only survivor of a witch. The witch is dead, but she apparently hexed the girl with an ageing spell. Castiel can’t immediately cure her, so he stays behind to work on it. Dean forges ahead with just Sam.

Oh, by the way, it was established earlier in the ep that Nick is still in the wind and TFW:TEP has no idea he’s turned into a murderer.

In the car, Dean is speeding a bit (75 doesn’t really seem very fast, but okay) and Sam decides it’s time to get pissy and have The Talk about how Dean’s not acknowledging his feelings. Because this has gone so well before, mainly due to Sam always using what info he worms out of Dean to hurt Dean later. Just sayin’, Sam.

Sam whines that time may not have passed for Dean, but it passed for him and he’s worried and he wants Dean to tell him stuff Dean claims he doesn’t remember. Dean is charitable enough not to throw in Sam’s face the times Sam took off on him and did things and told Dean they were none of his business (not to mention that whole “year off” when Dean was in Purgatory and Sam didn’t look for him).

BTW, Dean thinks Sam needs to lose the beard. I’m kinda with him on that.

They arrive at Jody’s, in a meeting at night in the woods. Jody and Dean enthusiastically hug, and Jody admits she’s been hiding the hunt from Claire. Alex is still working at the hospital. Patience is still in school. Jody likes the beard. Dean rolls his eyes at Sam behind her back. Then Dean suggests they go right off into the hunt, even as Sam suggests they wait until daylight. Uh, Sam, honey, Jody just met you at night in the woods and said she doesn’t want to go home until the hunt is done. Go hunt.

There are three bodies so far. Jody thought they were human, but if they’re headless, you can’t really check to see if they’re vampires. Since, like, now vampires can bleed, and all. LOL!canon. And they might be werewolves

Back at the Bunker, Jack decides to pack a bag and leaves note to “Sam,Dean,Castiel.” But as he’s about to go do the Little Orphan Annie shtick, he hears voices down the hall. It’s Castiel and the Hunter, trying to cure the Damsel in Distress in the infirmary. When Jack comes in, Castiel explains that he can’t heal the girl because “the spell is too knotted.” Whatever that means. Castiel got hold of Rowena, who told him to try a reversal spell, but it’s complicated.

Castiel notices the backpack and asks if Jack is leaving. Jack, with a new look of determination, says no and enters the infirmary, presumably to help the girl.

Is the Hunter this week being played by the actress who played the detective in the Warner Bros cartoon ep? She was fun.

It’s daylight in the woods and Dean wants to split up. Sam and Jody veto the idea, so Dean just strides ahead and they run to catch up. Dean finds a campfire (still smoking) with three heads – three vampire heads – on poles in front of it.

Jody and Sam debate over whether it’s just a really big coincidence, or whether these are her three John Does as Dean confirms that they are vampires. But Jody is confused by this. She says that she took their blood home and had Alex examine it. The blood didn’t react to silver or anything like that. Well, vamps wouldn’t.

Dean crouches by the fire and checks out how long it’s been since it was last tended. Then he looks up over his shoulder and is startled by a vivid and hallucinatory flashback of the hooded figure that stabbed him, with the spear in its hands. When he looks up again, though, the figure is actually there and poised to strike. It’s not a flashback. It’s a flashforward, a premonition sort of like Patience’s gift, except briefer and more shadowy. I’m reminded of Zachariah’s claim in “Point of No Return” that Michael foresaw the day Dean would say yes in great detail (except that Dean didn’t quite say yes that day). So, Dean may have a new power. Kewl.

And before anybody starts going on about Dean is fully human, folks, that ship has sailed, hit an iceberg, sunk, been rediscovered and brought up by deep sea submersibles, and set up in a museum. And besides, Nick sure as hell isn’t just an ordinary guy, anymore, either, and it took Sam a hell of a long time to become fully human again – about ten seasons, to be exact. So, no, Dean is not fully human anymore, if he ever truly was.

Anyhoo, the whateveritis gives a startled Dean just enough warning to dodge a strike from the spear. A fight ensues in which the refugee from Arrow gets all Kung-Fu genre on the three of them. Though Dean probably would have won if the hood hadn’t come off and the person he saw looked just like Kaia. EVOL!Kaia (sadly, the actress still only has about three expressions) knocks Dean over, tosses her spear to a mound nearby, swan-leaps over a fence, grabs it, and runs away. All of this is entirely unnecessary for a real fight and looks fake. I hate the way EVOL!Kaia fights.

Back at the Bunker, Jack sits with the young girl, who tells him her life story. As subtext anvils rain down, she asks of Castiel is his dad. Jack says, “One of them,” smiling fondly. When he asks her if there’s anyone they can call, she says her mother, but she fears Mom would hate her. She ran away from home out of rebellion (Jack looks guilty) and was taken in, along with two other girls, by the witch. She says the witch gave them gifts (Jack notices a big, honking necklace that Castiel and the Hunter apparently didn’t), but then the witch turned mean. She locked them up and the other girls withered away to husks. Now, she is withering away, too, but even faster, and she’s scared. Jack reassures her that Castiel will find a solution.

In the woods, Dean is still striding ahead and Sam still wants to chew the fat. This is basically just an excuse by the writers for some infodumping from Sam about how he thinks Michael sent his super-vampires (I guess he somehow found a way to perfect them?) to kill EVOL!Kaia for reasons as-yet unknown. Dean’s like, yeah, all right, but that doesn’t change the plan. Which is, obviously, to find and capture EVOL!Kaia. As Dean walks off, Jody pats Sam on the shoulder and follows Dean. Yay, Jody.

Thanks to Dean’s tracking skills (which are still excellent), they can follow EVOL!Kaia. And they do, as the day passes again toward night.

In the Bunker, Castiel and the Hunter do a Latin spell together, but it only speeds up the ageing process and DiD starts to choke as Jack looks on, distressed. I check my watch.

By the way, it was also infodumped at the beginning that Mary and Bobby stayed back at Michael’s laboratory to … uh … clean up his experiments.

Back in the woods, Jody skips a call from Claire. She tells Sam she promised Claire that she would cover all human-related cases but would let Claire know about “anything monster-y.” This, however, would be too much. It seems that Kaia was Claire’s “first love” (well, yeah, it would be rather awkward to continue much further with Claire’s weird puppy-dog hero worship thing for Dean, since he’s twice her age and totally not into it, or ever address again that whole Daddy Issues stuff she had going with her Fagin dude that Dean killed). So, Jody is not going to tell Claire. Or, at least, she’s going to put it off as long as she can.

Jody asks Sam about how he and Dean are doing (more infodumping about feels!). Sam says that Dean is “working something out – alone” (hey, man, you asked Dean to address what Michael did to him and he said he was by going on this hunt). Sam doesn’t think Dean is any more ready for this hunt than Claire would be. Jody points out that maybe Dean needs to be on this hunt. After all, hunts are how Dean works out dark and destructive feelings. Dean’s entirely barren field of fucks in “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things” fairly leaps to mind here.

Boy, the woods are really nice and clean and open here in Vanco – I mean, Sioux Falls (and it was amusing to see Sam geek out once again about serial killers, to Jody’s consternation and Dean’s exasperation).

So, cut from Sam’s manly, brooding, bearded face to EVOL!Kaia dropping down into a crouch next to some cabin. She enters, briefly scans the interior, then goes to the sink for some water. After stealing some crackers, she comes back out. The creaking of wood warns her, but this turns out to be deliberate. She turns right into a gun butt from Dean, who was waiting on the porch. As she falls, Sam and Jody happen to be standing there (even though they weren’t when she walked out onto the porch. Continuity error, there).

Gotta say, that was pretty satisfying. I rewatched it a time or two. She’s a tad high on the Jerk Sue scale.

So, they tie her to a chair and interrogate her. After they confirm that she is the Kaia from the Bad Place, they ask her why she came through the rift. She refuses to say why, so Sam asks her why she’s (still) in Sioux Falls. She says it’s “because of him.” She means Michael and Dean confirms he’s no longer Michael. She snarks, “I know. You’re much weaker.” Because really, she wasn’t already obnoxious enough. Gotta say that seeing any version of Kaia ever again on this show was not high up on my wish list and this episode is not changing that opinion.

Anyhoo, Dean says, yeah, whatever, but “you’re still scared.” She claims she’s not scared of Dean (but she sure should be). She’s afraid of “them.” She means the monsters Michael has been sending after her. Every time she stops running, more come. As she speaks, we get a view of her camp, with three new super-vamps surveying the severed heads of their predecessors and snarling.

EVOL!Kaia claims she wasn’t trying to kill her double, with whom she claims to have had a Very Special Bond, but “the blonde” (Claire). Which is bullshit, of course, because if she’d actually cared about her double, and seen through her eyes, she would have known perfectly well not to try to kill Claire.

Jody says they need to get her back to the station for more security and protection. Dean says they have to “break her” right then and there. While Jody and Sam look a bit horrified, EVOL!Kaia smugly claims all Dean wants is the weapon she normally carries (but, for whatever reason, stashed someplace because Stuff to Keep the Plot Going). It does not seem to occur to her that these people who knew Kaia and “the blonde” might want to break her for less esoteric reasons – like revenge. For all her sparkly weapon and fancy martial arts, EVOL!Kaia is quite stupid.

By the way, back at the Bunker, DiD has died. As Castiel covers her face with a sheet, Jack weeps over her body, proclaiming that he could have saved her if he’d still had his own sparkly powers. Then he gets an idea (very belatedly). He pulls off the sheet, looks at the necklace, and asks the Hunter where she put the witch’s body. Um … excuse me? Didn’t the woman just salt and burn the witch on the spot? Nope, she brought her back to the morgue, where the witch is in the cooler. That was their first mistake. The second was not noticing the Big Honking Green Necklace On Her Neck that is identical to the one on DiD’s neck.

Some days, there just aren’t enough facepalms.

So, Jack explains in excruciating detail for Castiel, the Hunter and any of the slower members of the audience that the witch is still dead because the witch-killing bullet is still inside her. But the necklace drained DiD because it was trying to revive the witch, which it couldn’t do because the witch-killing bullet was still inside (really, it’s that spelled out). He yanks the necklace off her neck.

Back in the cabin, Dean is admitting that yes, he’s there for the weapon and is willing to torture EVOL!Kaia for it. He then tosses her around a bit, but EVOL!Kaia just smirks because sure, why would she be the least bit afraid of a guy who is wearing the face of the immensely powerful being that is sending monsters after her, 24/7? I’m not sure if the actress would be any better with more competent writing, but the script sure isn’t doing her any favors.

Meanwhile, Jody and Sam want to protect this puir widdle not-innocent who just bragged about killing her own double and trying to kill Claire. Pretty sure if Jody were actually in character in this scene, she’d be shoving Dean out of the way and cutting strips of skin off EVOL!Kaia.

Meanwhile, the vampires are coming. In case anybody still cares.

So, she claims that Dean is just like Michael, with his “threats” and “violence,” and she starts blathering on about how she “saw” Dean shove a gun in her double’s face (yet shows no fear because bad acting and awful writing make for a totally unrealistic character), and he’s afraid and “weak.” And this is the part where the script really crashes and burns for me.

Yeah, Dean forced Kaia to get into a car with him. And there’s been a lot of bashing of Dean (some fans really dig that) over the decision. Now, I’m okay with scenes where an antagonist calls Dean out on being so violent, but the ones that work (like, say, the interrogation scene in season one finale “Devil’s Trap”) involve much better writing and acting than this one.

The thing is that no other reaction from Dean in the scene where he threatens Kaia would have been in character. To Dean, Kaia was just shrugging off that she’d been helped out of a bad situation (the clinic) and refusing to help him, Sam and Jack rescue their mother, who was being tortured by Michael, right at that moment.

It wasn’t just that Kaia was afraid to help. It was that Kaia made it abundantly clear that she just didn’t give a shit. Too bad, so sad, getting on a bus now. If she hadn’t been afraid, she just wouldn’t have been bothered.

And just as an in-character Jody would have been ripping EVOL!Kaia apart rather than standing weakly by and mouthing platitudes about how torture is wrong (because Jody is a mama bear when it comes to Claire), an in-character Dean would have been bashed just as cheerfully by the same parts of fandom if he had not gone full-on Mad Max in 13.09 to save his mother, once he found out she was actually alive and – oh, yeah – being tortured by the archangel he was once supposed to say yes to, on anyone who got in his way.

But even this is rather beside the point because the very person who is calling Dean out on threatening Kaia is the one who murdered her. And excuse me, but murder (“accidental” for being the “wrong victim” or not) is far worse than a threat that isn’t actually carried out. So, screw you, EVOL!Kaia, you hypocritical little Psycho Sue, and get off my damned screen.

By the way, back at the Bunker, Jack brings the witch’s necklace back to the infirmary, smashes it, and DiD is instantly revived. So, there goes that B-plot.

In the cabin, more painful infodumping as we get a flashback to Michael appearing to EVOL!Kaia and offering her a place in his army if she gives him the spear. She attacks him (because, well, she’s stupid) and he easily evades her attacks (some nice stuntwork from Ackles, which unfortunately shows up the Kaia stuntwork in all its flaws) until she somehow manages to knock his feet out from under him and stab him in the shoulder. Not the heart, not the neck, not the eye, not anything that might have been, you know, effective. Just the shoulder.

Also, it’s pretty sad when the writers forget that full-power angels have wings and can easily outmaneuver a human using them, not to mention, smite them. Remember Anna against Mary in “The Song Remains the Same”? Like that. So, this fight is just straight-up lame.

Anyhoo, all is interrupted by the arrival (finally) of the super-vamps, who proceed to beat the crap out of Sam, Dean and Jody. A plot hole bubbles to the surface when one of the vamps insists he’s only there for EVOL!Kaia and they proceed to beat the crap out of Dean. Because I’m pretty sure that Michael’s vessel is still every bit as important as a spear that could kill him. If not more so.

The vamps are so dumb that when Dean frees Kaia by shooting her chair leg and she jumps out the window, they don’t follow her. So, it’s not a real shocker that she stabs one of them from behind, and then the other two conveniently turn around so she can whirl her big stick a few times and lop off their heads. She then pauses for a bit and Jody says hey, you came back instead of leaving us to die. EVOL!Kaia sullenly insists she came back to kill the monsters (because that totally makes sense – not) and then she bails.

Oh, please, Show, can’t you just kill her off offscreen? I’m begging you.

Afterward, Jody has a broken arm, but insists on driving herself home, after telling Dean not to blame himself (which is a bit like telling Dean not to breathe, but I appreciate her effort).

Back at the Bunker, Castiel visits Jack in his room and tells him he’s proud of him. The Hunter (who now has a name, Jules) is taking DiD back home to her mother. Can we keep Jules? She’s about the only decent thing about this trainwreck of an episode.

After Castiel leaves, Jack coughs up blood, but doesn’t tell anybody. Because it wouldn’t be a Supernatural episode without Secreth and Lieth.

In the car, Dean feels guilty for having said yes to Michael and says Sam was right (well … not really. About a lot of things). He just wanted to skip to the end where he got the weapon and killed the Big Bad. He says he never should have said yes (Sam, who would not be alive, and who knows full well what Lucifer was planning to do to the universe, had Dean not showed up at that church, says nothing to contradict him).

Dean then admits that he actually does remember all of being possessed. He doesn’t remember most of what Michael was doing, but he remembers the possession mostly as a kind of drowning and being too weak to overcome it. Which makes Sam’s whinging earlier in the ep about how he had to deal without Dean around, while Dean got to not remember the past few weeks, look pretty damned bad.

Credits.

This was a pretty inept script, full of endless, momentum-stopping, intelligence-insulting infodump, characters acting stupid or out of character simply to advance the plot, simplistic and linear plot turns (we still don’t even know why Michael left Dean, just how Dean got the scar), an unnecessary B plot, bad acting and some not-so-hot stuntwork, especially from the main guest star. Not what I would have liked to see from a Jody return or a Dean possession aftermath ep.

It’s probably therefore no big surprise the show got a fairly low rating of 0.4/2 in the demo and 1.39 million watching. in part due to audience bailing in the second half (though it seems that Legacies‘ unloved series premiere also dragged it down). Let’s hope next week has at least a tighter MOTW script because Show, you can do better than this.

Promo for next week.


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The Official Supernatural: “Gods and Monsters” (14.02) 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. I’m posting reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my research all month long on Patreon.

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

Hey, remember when I did a column for Innsmouth Free Press called “Gods and Monsters”? Good times. Of course, the original source for that title is the classic 1998 film about the last days of James Whale, director of Universal’s version of Frankenstein. Last week got its title from the Robert Heinlein novel about a young man who returns to Earth after being raised by Martians and inadvertently starts a cult.

Interminable recap of the situation so far, without even any decent rock music. I’m not one to complain when there isn’t a rock song in every episode, but it’s been a mighty dry spell of late.

Cut to Now and creepy, Gothic church full of cobwebs and detritus. And tied-up people. A man is tied to a chair, slowly bleeding into a cup from his throat. Michael approaches him and heals the cut, then takes the cup. He pours a little bit of grace (his grace?) from a vial into the cup of blood, saying “A little bit of this, a little bit of that.” Swirling it around, he then feeds it to the man.

At first, nothing much happens, and then the man starts glowing from within and his eyes burn out. He falls forward, dead.

“Too much ‘that,'” says Michael. Then, as Universal Horror Film music blares on the soundtrack, he twirls a curved set of knives and rhetorically asks the line of terrified tied-up people, “Who’s next?”

Cue title cards.

So, what is TFW: TEP getting up to these days? The show is so glad you asked (and this being the Nepotism Duo, you’re gonna get the answer in excruciating detail).  They’re finding a story about a pile of dead bodies in Duluth with their eyes burned out and immediately think, “Hey! It must be Michael!” as you do when there about five angels left on the planet and one of them is talking to you right then.

So, Sam gets Mary and Bobby together (because apparently, the redshirts we met in the season premiere are still off hunting vampires on the highways and Maggie is…somewhere).  He leaves Castiel behind to “babysit” (Castiel’s apt wording) Jack and Nick. Castiel admits that his angel grace would undoubtedly clue Michael in and that, even though his track record says this won’t end well, Jack and Nick do require babysitting. Jack is still moping about his lost grace and Nick is making everyone jumpy.

Absolutely no one mentions that this is undoubtedly a trap, just like the last time they thought they had Michael cornered, over in the alt-SPNverse. Remember Kevin 2.0?

And Sam still has Hiatus Beard.

Jack comes in and mopely agrees that he needs to stay behind. Later, Castiel visits Nick, who is having nasty flashbacks to Lucifer using his body to murder lots of people. He’s also hurt that Castiel won’t look at him…much.

Nick doesn’t remember why he said yes to Lucifer in the first place, until Castiel helps him remember. That his wife and child were murdered. Hey, we’re actually gonna find out what happened with that dropped plot.

Cut to TFW: TEP talking to the medical examiner in Duluth (as FBI agents). She conveniently gets a call so they can check the bodies on their own. Sam quickly discovers that one of the dead is a vampire. Bobby and Mary discover the other bodies were, too. And they see the scars for where Michael “bled” the vamps (we’ll leave aside the ongoing stupidity of dead bodies being able to bleed). They wonder why Michael is bleeding and smiting vampires, or “hunting” them in the first place.

Meanwhile, Michael is putting on a nice suit and putting down a brief rebellion from Dean, whose reflection is in the mirror? We know that won’t be the last time Dean fights back.

Castiel tells Jack about the time after the angels fell when he had no powers or wings, and how lost he felt. We get a tidbit that angel powers can take as long as a century to come back. So, that leaves the writers a lot of wiggle room, eh.

As Castiel is talking on the phone to the field team about why Michael would go after vampires, Nick comes in. Nick is upset because there’s no sign that the case of his wife and baby’s murders was ever solved. If he hadn’t said yes to Lucifer, he might have been able to keep the police on the case until it was solved. When Castiel goes to touch his shoulder, Nick comes up with a Lucifer-smite snap, as if on reflex. But when Castiel asks him what he was thinking at that moment, Nick doesn’t know. Castiel goes to touch him again and whatever he finds, he admits that Nick may be more “damaged” by Lucifer than any of them first thought.

Nick goes out to investigate his family’s murder. Castiel doesn’t stop him.

In a grotty motel room, TFW: TEP have tracked down a young woman who had showed up at the morgue to ask about her friends. She turns out to have been one of the people tied up in the church. She claims to have been just a “veggy” vamp, feeding on animals and tells them that she saw Michael’s experiments on her friends (though she didn’t see the part we did in the teaser about his archangel grace). She says she managed to escape. To get them to spare her life, she tells them where Michael went.

Cut to Michael, still all dressed up, entering a hotel room with a woman in a red dress. They exchange banter about how he picked her up in the bar and he is utterly unsurprised when she shows werewolf teeth. He tosses her across the room and orders her to call her “master” (I guess the werewolf Alpha is still alive).

Back at the Bunker, Nick is having a lot of trouble getting anyone in law enforcement to tell him about what happened to his family. It’s a cold case. His only lead is that a witness claimed to have seen someone leave the house and then claimed that they were mistaken.

Castiel tells Nick about Jimmy Novak and Nick calls him out for wearing a dead human. Before leaving to check on Jack, Castiel tells Nick, Jimmy and his family were “my greatest regret.”

Meanwhile, Michael is meeting with the werewolf leader, who isn’t an Alpha so much as a leader of a large pack. Michael makes it clear that he despises humans and that Chuck isn’t coming back any time soon. Which makes Michael the de facto God of this realm.

He offers the leader a way to rule the earth and take over from humans, as long as he volunteers his people to be experimented on. Michael downplays his previous failures with the vampires, which makes you wonder what kind of mistakes he made in the alt-SPNverse.

Jack has somehow gotten out of the Bunker and goes to visit his grandparents. He passes himself off as her assistant and tells them she gave birth to a son. He doesn’t tell them she’s dead. It’s a pretty awkward scene as he dances around the fact that he’s the grandson.

Vampire Girl is packing (TFW: TEP apparently having let her go) when Michael flies in. He tells her that Rule #1 is to have bait for a trap and Rule #2 is that “when the trap has been sprung, you don’t need the bait, anymore.” His eyes glow and he smites her from across the room without even turning to face her.

Castiel is not at all thrilled when Jack gets back, but they talk it out. Jack admits he couldn’t let them know that she is dead now.

The conversation takes a dark turn when Jack asks where TFW: TEP is. Jack thinks Dean can’t be saved and says that Michael has to die. Jack fails to understand that they don’t have any means to kill Michael and that the only way they can cage him is to separate him from Dean. So, killing Dean is so not an option.

Nick visits his neighbor, Artie, and has a talk with him. It turns out Artie was the witness. Artie says that he thought he saw “something,” but he must have been wrong. He starts to get nervous.

Nick gets pretty intense and starts accusing Artie of having beaten his family to death with a hammer. Nick beats him up, determined to get the truth out of him.

TFW: TEP go to the church and find the scene of Michael’s experiments. Then they’re attacked by hyped-up werewolves. Silver doesn’t work. Neither do angel blades, but beheading does.

The doors open and a figure appears. It’s not Michael; it’s Dean and he looks exhausted. He tells them that Michael “just left” and he doesn’t know why.

We cut back to Nick, who has beaten his neighbor to death with a hammer. Hmm.

Credits

Okay, Nick is an obvious parallel to Dean, so that’s not good. I feel a bit annoyed that they went this route with Nick, since it now makes it convenient to see him as EVOL.

I don’t quite know what trap Michael set with Dean, but this being Supernatural, it’s bound to backfire as much on Michael as on TFW. Think I’ve said this before, but I’ve thought for a while that Dean’s possession by Michael could be intermittent and if Michael thinks experimenting on his Sword with his own grace is a good idea, he’s got another think coming. This, of course, makes things that much more awkward for TFW, because that makes Dean pretty unsafe to be around.

As for the rest, damn, Nepotism Duo scripts are overly busy, aren’t they? I felt as though a whole lot of wheel-spinning happened this week.

Ratings for this week went up a bit from 0.468 to 0.485 (rounding up both weeks to 0.5) and from 1.49 million to 1.53 million.

The promo for next week is up.


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Supernatural: Season 14


We need your help!

Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee. I’m posting reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my research all month long in October on Patreon.

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

Here are all my live recaps and reviews in one, handy-dandy spot, for Season 14.


The Official Supernatural: “Stranger in a Strange Land” (14.01-Season Premiere) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Gods and Monsters” (14.02) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “The Scar” (14.03) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Mint Condition” (14.04) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Nightmare Logic” (14.05) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Optimism” (14.06) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Unhuman Nature” (14.07) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Byzantium” (14.08) Live Recap Thread


Season 12

Season 13


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.


Supernatural: Season 13


We need your help!

Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee. I’m posting reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my research all month long in October on Patreon.

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

Here are all my live recaps and reviews in one, handy-dandy spot, for Season 13.


The Official “Lost and Found” (13.01 – Season Premiere) Live Recap Thread

The Official “The Rising Son” (13.02) Live Recap Thread

The Official “Patience” (13.03) Live Recap Thread

The Official “The Big Empty” (13.04) Live Recap Thread

The Official “Advanced Thanatology” (13.05) Live Recap Thread

The Official “Tombstone” (13.06) Live Recap Thread

The Official “War of the Worlds” (13.07) Live Recap Thread

The Official “The Scorpion and the Frog” (13.08) Live Recap Thread

The Official “The Bad Place” (13.09 – pre-Christmas finale) Live Recap Thread

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

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

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

The Official Supernatural: “Devil’s Bargain” (13.13) Live Recap Thread

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

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

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

The Official Supernatural: “The Thing” (13.17) Live Recap Thread

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

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

The Official Supernatural: “Unfinished Business” (13.20) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Beat the Devil” (13.21) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Exodus” (13.22) Live Recap Thread

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


Season 12

Season 14


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The Official Supernatural: “Exodus” (13.22) 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. I’m posting reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my research all month long on Patreon.

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

Okay [cracks knuckles]. Let’s blow through this one and get to the season premiere.

So, we start with an overly long and detailed recap (two minutes) of the season so far. And we come back to Now, which is Sam getting hugged by Mary, while Dean asks him how he got away. Sam admits that Lucifer brought him back.

Lucifer, of course, immediately starts humble-bragging about what a great guy he is and immediately sidles up to a confused Jack. This sparks an instant custody battle between Dean and Castiel on one side and Lucifer on the other (Sam is conspicuously silent). Jack loses it and flies off, leaving them all behind.

Cue title cards.

Gabriel goes after Jack, while Dean yells at Lucifer. Lucifer claims he’s an ally now and he’s even beaten Michael once (as if!). No one believes him. To “prove” his point, Lucifer lets Castiel slap some demonic cuffs on him. Lucifer also tells them that he left Rowena enough grace for about 31 hours left of rift-time. So, Sam sets a clock. Yay. Flash to Rowena at the Bunker, getting a migraine trying to keep the thing open.

Sam apologizes to Dean for bringing Lucifer along. Dean tells him it’s fine, since Dean thought he was dead and now he’s alive again. Dean hugs him. Then they discuss Lucifer and Sam insists he will take care of Lucifer. Dean looks skeptical. Well, we all know how that turned out.

Jack, exhausted from flying around, leans against a tree trunk and recaps his entire friggin’ biography, hitting mostly on the mistakes. Bored now.

As Castiel is dragging him past her, Lucifer unwisely decides to taunt Mary (because that went so well with Rowena). She punches him in the face. Her sons, coming in from stage left, express appreciation.

That appreciation turns a bit sour when she tells them she’s staying in the alt-SPNverse to save a bunch of people she hardly knows. Both brothers protest (especially Dean), but she seems adamant. Oh, Mary, you can be such a bitch, sometimes.

Sam decides to break the deadlock by suggesting they bring everyone back. I’m not quite sure why Mary was so concerned about supplies before, because it turns out there are only 25 people in the camp. Jeez, a couple of episodes ago, she was acting as though they had hundreds. If you’re wondering why the writing got so linear, especially in favor of making Sam look like a Big Damn Hero for not much effort, and why the pacing drags with so much filler, yep, this is a Nepotism Duo script.

Jack comes back, just as Lucifer is trying to manipulate Castiel. Castiel tries to dissuade Jack from having conversation with Lucifer. It doesn’t go particularly well. Jack insists on talking to Lucifer and Lucifer immediately turns on the charm. Jack’s first question is “Why does everyone hate you?”

Lucifer whines and downplays and blames humans, though he falters a bit when Jack brings up his own mother. Lucifer is awfully persuasive and manages to make it seem as though he is the victim. The monologue goes on long enough for me to say “Y’all aren’t Shakespeare, Buckner and Ross-Leming. Wrap it up.”

Sure enough, Jack decides to be persuades by Lucifer’s greasy buttering up. And then they all walk out to the rift because it’s not as though they’ve got two archangels and a naphil who could fly everyone to the rift, one by one, pretty much instantly. Oh, wait.

Gabriel is getting chased by a group of angels (speaking of characters with wings not using them). He warns everyone and the two groups face off. Then Lucifer wastes the angel squad because it turns out the demonic cuffs don’t work on him in the alt-SPNverse. For convenient plot reasons.

Man, I hate recapping Nepotism Duo episodes.

So, after that damp squib of a conflict, everyone arrives at alt-Bobby’s. Alt-Bobby remembers the Brothers, is strangely nice to them, and generally protests far too much that he’s not basically Bobby resurrected. Okeydoke.

We hear that Ketch and alt-Charlie have gone off to hunt down some angel squad that’s executing Resistance members. Any excuse that keeps any version of Charlie off my screen is fine by me.

Lucifer is still shmoozing Jack with his own, weird distorted version of family history and Jack’s illustrious family tree. He tries to get Gabriel to play along, but Gabriel calls him out on it and stalks off.

Unfortunately, we “get” to see Ketch and alt-Charlie’s raid, such as it is (she gets herself easily captured and Ketch, completely out of character, gives up his weapon and surrenders). Morticia Addams channels my feelings, both about Charlie and The Cat in the Hat: “Oh, no. She lives.”

Sam, Dean and Mary are engaged in a recruitment speech for bringing people back so they can get some lore and return to beat alt-Michael when alt-Bobby magically gets news that alt-Charlie and Ketch were captured. How this news got back, let alone so quickly, and why the two of them were out there on a raid alone in the first place are not questions that are about to be answered. So, we’ll move on. The important thing here is that while Ketch is getting the crap beaten out of him and alt-Charlie is looking upset while tied to a chair, the Brothers decide to go rescue them. Because clearly, they don’t already have enough on their plate and alt-Bobby’s crew are clueless. Gee, if only they had some people on their side with wings – oh, wait.

Now, keep in mind that this is the second-to-last episode of the season, and the show really doesn’t have room for extra storylines. So, of course, now is the perfect time to bring all the plot momentum to a screeching halt so that we can have Ketch and alt-Charlie meet…wait for it, now…the alt-SPNverse version of Castiel. You heard me. And how do you know he’s EVOL!Cas? Because Misha Collins uses a really bad German accent and sneers a lot.

That’s good, because back at base camp, Dean is having Our!Cas torture the guy who set up Ketch and alt-Charlie into giving up their location. We surely don’t want to be confused, or anything.

Gabriel and Lucifer are told (by Dean) to stay back at the camp in case any angels come by. Because I’m sure they wouldn’t be useful on this raid, or anything, what with having wings. Gabriel tells Lucifer some cold, hard truths about Jack, that “he’s a kid; he likes shiny objects and magic tricks,” but that he is also fundamentally different from Lucifer. Whether it’s his human blood or his human upbringing, Jack is probably already mostly beyond Lucifer’s corruptive influence.

Lucifer insists he’s changed. Gabriel mocks this, pointing out he’s known Lucifer since the world began. Lucifer doesn’t love or feel empathy for anyone. And Chuck didn’t lock him up because Chuck was mean, but because Chuck realized he was a cancer of evil that would spread. Gabriel says that Lucifer was jealous of humans because Chuck loved them more than he loved Lucifer. He says it’s too late for Lucifer to change and he walks away.

Back to the interrogation, in which EVOL!Cas goes on and on and on a lot more about what a stone-cold badass alt-Charlie is, while Felicia Day gives off waves of scared fluffy-bunny vibes. He then basically does the same thing Our!Cas did to the guy back at base camp until the lights go out, and alt-Charlie screams a whole lot.

Damn, if I weren’t recapping this, I’d totally be FFing this whole scene. Well, soldiering through….

So, as EVOL!Cas runs outside to something-something, Jack takes out the guards, while Mary and her sons burst in and kill all the angels guarding the prisoners. Because angels totally can’t fly, anymore – oh, wait. Dean helps Ketch, while Sam helps alt-Charlie. Sam hugs a startled alt-Charlie (who seems none the worse for wear from her torture) and Ketch snarks about Dean saving him instead of the other way round.

Outside, Our!Cas catches up with EVOL!Cas and, after some banter about how they’re the same, dispatches him with an angel blade. Which makes sense in an interdimensional Circle of Life sort of way. I guess.

Back at the camp, Bobby tells the Brothers that everyone voted to go with them (well, wouldn’t you?). Now, the problem is how to get them there. Gee, if only they had some people in their ranks who could fly – YES, I KNOW IT’S A PLOTHOLE, BUT AT LEAST ADDRESS IT, SHOW.

Dean spots a bus at the edge of camp. Even though they have just a few hours left, Dean has it running by daylight. Because of course he does. And they only have half an hour and a half left (based on Lucifer’s seriously inexact estimate), but they can totally drive there in time. What tunnel full of vampires? That was so last episode.

So, Jack decides to waste even more time saying he’s going to go kill alt-Michael and check that off his To Do list, first. Sam and Lucifer talk him out of it. Kid, when the Devil is giving you good advice, you’ve really been heading in the wrong direction.

We then get an extended montage of the caravan driving through the woods because I guess the Nepotism Duo couldn’t stretch the melodrama quite enough to fill the run time (they even waste time on an obnoxious “bitches” line from alt-Charlie before she goes through the rift. So much hate). In the Bunker, an exhausted Rowena is saying a spell that extends the time for the rift to last. People start heading through, though not the people she expects, at first.

Back in the alt-SPNverse, alt-Michael arrives unexpectedly (okay, maybe only because nobody mentioned he might be coming). His landing kills most of the remaining redshirts, including at least one who had lines earlier. Maggie has gone through and a lot of other people. Gabriel decides to stay behind because he’s tired of running and Sam has been pushing Lucifer back. Lucifer fights alt-Michael first and gets his ass kicked. Gabriel tries and gets stabbed to death (though whether this is any more real than last time? Who knows?). Dean is horrified when he sees Gabriel get stabbed, but Sam urges him to go through the rift.

Sam has hung back for a reason. As Lucifer tries to follow him, he shoves him back to the ground, saying “How’d you think this was gonna end?” And then he goes through the rift. Alt-Michael tries to rush after them, but (presumably, after Sam yelled at Rowena to close it on the other side), the rift evaporates. Lucifer is trapped on the other side with alt-Michael.

Welp, that was mighty cold of Sam and I don’t blame him a bit.

At the Bunker, it’s Miller Time, though Jack is sad about . Sam tells Rowena he owes her (and she insists she will “collect”). She regrets not being able to leave the rift open any longer, so I guess Sam didn’t warn her to close it.

Dean mopes to Sam and Castiel about Gabriel’s death. When Castiel asks Dean about Lucifer, Dean calmly replies, “Sam handled it.” Oooh. Ice cold. Not only did Sam intentionally ditch Lucifer on the other side, but he and Dean had planned it beforehand.

Alt-Bobby gives a speech (because we’re still short a few minutes of air time) about their fallen redshirt comrades (who apparently don’t merit names), and how they’re gonna get strong and go back to the alt-SPNverse and kick it in the ass. Then he proposes a toast to the Brothers Winchester.

Too bad that deadline’s about to be rushed. On the other side of the rift, Gabriel is still dead, but Lucifer is alive and telling alt-Michael all about the spell to go through the rift (isn’t it the same one alt-Michael got from Kevin? Pretty sure it is). They make a deal. Lucifer will get his son and alt-Michael will get “everything else.”

Credits

Of course, I’ve already recapped the season finale here.

Alas, this one took me a while (as I said, Nepotism Duo episodes are a bit of a slog), so I’ll have to tackle the season premiere tomorrow evening. I do have it, though, so that shouldn’t be a problem.


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Review: Supernatural: “Let the Good Times Roll” (13.23 – Season Finale)


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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 and are currently on sale through this Friday (May 18). 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.


[lots o’ spoilers ahead]


You can find the recap thread for the episode here.

So, it finally happened. Dean Winchester said yes to the Archangel Michael. Well, more accurately, he said yes to an alternate version of Michael from another timeline. Sort of. With conditions. Which alt-Michael totally ignored after agreeing to them. But more on that in a bit. As well as some (hopeful?) predictions for season 14.

There was a lot of crashing-and-burning in this episode, by several characters. The biggest, of course, was Lucifer, whose crash-and-burn couldn’t have been more literal after Dean stabbed him with an archangel blade in the middle of being mega-smote (we always knew Dean was tough, but jeez). Lucifer had been on an extended storyline the past two seasons (post his sorta-reconciliation with Big Daddy) of having his power reduced, being unable to kill either Sam or Dean, being downgraded almost to human, and fathering a Naphil child. The implication from various bits of dialogue between him and the Brothers was that Chuck wanted Lucifer to learn something about the humans he had always so despised.

Well, Lucifer didn’t learn a thing. Or if he did, he threw it all away at the end and chose power. Personally, I was okay with this because I didn’t care much for Lucifer’s redemption tour in the first place. The way he tried to discredit and gaslight Sam, a human being he had cold-bloodedly twisted and tried to destroy for his own purposes since before birth, was just nasty.

Sure, ideally, a character should be dynamic and change and grow, but some characters are defined by their inability to grow, their flat and static nature. If Lucifer, a 14-billion-year-old archangel, hadn’t learned to be selfless and loving by now, it realistically wasn’t going to happen in a few months or a few years, or even a few centuries. As an extremely powerful and protean creature who was older than this universe, Lucifer arguably could change if he wanted to, but he never wanted to. Whenever he claimed to be turning over a new leaf, he was so clearly lying that he could only have fooled someone as young and naïve as his own son, Jack.

It was time for him to go. Permanently.

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Jack, too, had a crash-and-burn, and he, too, fell due to hubris. But unlike his father, who was hubris embodied, Jack had good intentions and found his power a great burden. The road to Hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions. The more he tried to help people, the more he made mistakes that seemed to make things worse, at least to him.

In reality, it was more that the results were mixed. Jack was discovering that it’s much easier to break than to build and that raw power can only do so much, especially if one lacks wisdom. We saw Jack become more and more frustrated in the episode, culminating in his realization that everyone else was right about his bio daddy. Jack then made a critical error and lost all his raw Naphil power to Lucifer in one terrible, game-changing slash of an archangel blade.

But in the tossing back and forth of Jack’s power like a soccer ball, we got to see Lucifer and Jack’s responses to it, and they contrasted sharply. Whereas Lucifer became drunk with power, rose to a great height, and then crashed to his doom, Jack seemed relieved to be shorn of his power.

Jack then made the decision Lucifer should have made, which was to sacrifice himself out of love in hopes of saving Sam and the rest of the world. That he was saved at the last minute (since the writers clearly want to keep him as a regular now) doesn’t change the magnitude of his choice and sacrifice.

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I’m sure that the writers will waffle and drag out the question of whether or not Jack ever gets his power back, but the usual pattern for any recurring-character-not-named-Dean-Winchester (or Sam pre-season six) is that they are never as naturally powerful again as they were early on. They might get some temporary upgrades by stealing someone else’s power, but their own, personal power does not come back. And Dean’s gradual upgrades have been balanced with an expansion of the heavy burden of his Family Business.

I was relieved to see the writers didn’t go the cheap, Kripke-approved route of upgrading Sam for the umpteenth time. Jared Padalecki got some nice opportunities to act this season as Sam slowly (and finally) opened up about how much the mere existence of Lucifer topside again terrified him. Never mind that Sam and his own chronic battles with hubris were the reason for both of Lucifer’s escapes from the Cage. Sam still gets to be afraid of Lucifer and Padalecki ran with it.

Fortunately, the writers forced Sam to be fully human in his final confrontation with Lucifer. That somehow made Sam’s vindication when Lucifer turned out be – yup – evil, after all, that much sweeter.

Sam willingly chose to go with Jack (however impulsive the gesture) when Lucifer kidnapped his kid. Sam then faced off against his former torturer and lifelong nemesis without even the certainty that the immunity Chuck had given him and Dean against Lucifer was still in effect. That, my droogs, takes guts. Sam pretty literally had to face his (almost) worst fear, knowing full well that he didn’t have any power to oppose Lucifer, to save either himself or Jack.

Sam didn’t even think about finding a way to regain his old powers, perhaps knowing they were too corrupting to oppose Lucifer effectively. For once, Sam made it all about the person he was trying to save and not about himself, which actually made Dean’s penultimate insistence on Lucifer’s defeat being a group effort sound fair this time round. That was a huge step forward for Sam. After over a decade of self-absorption and self-pity, Sam became a truly self-sacrificial Hero.

Weirdly enough, not too many fans noticed.

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Dean also fell (both literally and figuratively) into darkness, but Dean’s fall was qualitatively different from that of Lucifer and Jack, which made it even more tragic, if not in the Classical Greek sense that was for Lucifer and Jack. Lucifer and Jack sinned through hubris, with different results. Lucifer flew to a great height and then crashed to earth. Jack was fooled, lost his temper, and lost his powers. Once humbled, he then chose to die for family – his adopted family, not his creepy bio-dad.

Dean’s fall was the saddest because it occurred without hubris. Dean, motivated by desperation and his chronic low self-esteem, finally embraced his destiny and his doom. Some fans fault Dean for this choice, as Dean’s choices always get picked apart and slammed by various quarters of fandom. This is likely fostered by the illusion that Dean had some better choice. Dean is a character who may rail against fate, but in the end, he always plays the hand he’s dealt, the best way he can. But the writers invariably give him the worst possible cards, which invariably forces him into some horrifically self-destructive choice he never in a billion years would have made on his own, if he had any better options.

Of course this is fun to watch, and makes for great drama, which is why the writers keep doing it, but come on, people. Give the guy a break because the writers never do. The only reason he said yes to alt-Michael was because there were no other options at that point except to wait to die along with the rest of the world, knowing Sam and Jack would die (mostly likely horribly) first.

Dean’s self-esteem is low, but it ain’t that low. If he could have found another way (as he did in the red-herring gas station scene early in the episode where he temporarily saved everyone from alt-Michael via a cunning plan and some holy fire), he’d have done so. Having Castiel stand by, wringing his hands over the decision (a one-angel Greek Chorus was basically all Misha Collins got to do this week), didn’t make that decision any less necessary. In the end, Dean made the best bargain he could. That Dean always puts others first, without thinking, is the true superpower he uses to save the world. But that doesn’t mean he loves making those choices. Or that they don’t hurt.

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Though there were a lot of directorial problems with that climactic fight with Lucifer (Bob Singer’s really losing his touch), Jensen Ackles’ acting wasn’t one of those problems. He acted the hell out of it all, from Dean’s bargaining with alt-Michael all the way up through his final scene as alt-Michael. There’s a reason why fans on social media have been screen-capping and giffing the hell out of Dean’s entrance as an archangel (sans the silly Ten Commandments-style music), alt-Michael’s takeover, and alt-Michael at the very end.

But in between the big moments, Ackles keeps it going. After Dean falls to the church floor, he immediately forces himself to get up, jaw set. If you look at Dean in the background as Sam and Jack are investigating to see if Lucifer is really dead, Dean’s shoulders are heaving and he is clearly in distress.

This leads directly into Dean’s valiant effort to make everything okay one last time for his family before he becomes locked in a deadly struggle for control with alt-Michael and has his body taken over. Even the lines of strain as he fights smooth out in that transitional moment when he straightens up, blank-faced, after losing this second, internal battle. This moment is one of the most heartbreaking in 13 seasons of a show that regularly deals in tragedy. Ackles’ portrayal of Dean being taken over by alt-Michael is chilling, a moment of true horror. Even without the gruesome, Leviathan-like sound effects.

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Some fans have asked why Dean didn’t have an exit plan for dealing with alt-Michael after dealing with Lucifer. There’s the point that Dean didn’t have any other “good” choices besides making a deal with alt-Michael at the moment he said yes. But also, if you watch, Dean is still clutching alt-Michael’s archangel blade the entire time after he kills Lucifer. The logical fallback plan would be to stab himself with the archangel blade once he knew Lucifer was truly dead. Since he had an archangel inside him, suicide ought to have done the trick. It takes an archangel to kill an archangel. Nobody said it couldn’t be the same archangel.

So, why didn’t Dean do this? Well, remember that Lucifer had just smote him. No, Lucifer didn’t get the chance to finish the job, but we saw Dean screaming in pain before he stabbed Lucifer, following Sam’s “Wind beneath My Wings” moment of tossing him the archangel blade. Lucifer scrambled his brains pretty good. Lucifer had also just been beating on him and Dean was dazed.

While it’s true that Dean had an archangel inside him, so he could take more damage than usual, he was up against a charged-up fellow archangel, and he was in the driver’s seat. Dean probably took more of a beating than alt-Michael did and was still dazed afterward. That, and reassuring Sam and Jack, distracted him from immediate suicide, and alt-Michael took advantage of that distraction.

But one might ask, why would alt-Michael need Dean to be distracted in the first place in order to take over? Isn’t the archangel, not his vessel, usually the one in charge? Well … not necessarily. And probably not in this case.

Here we are getting into projections and predictions for next season. It’s really important to remember that Dean’s “yes” was conditional, that the dire consequences of breaking deals has been reiterated time and again the past couple of seasons, and that alt-Michael himself used exactly the same words Dean did later in the same episode (“We had a deal!”) to protest Lucifer’s breaking of their pact. Shortly thereafter, Lucifer ended up karmic toast.

It’s not exactly rocket science to think that might be some foreshadowing for how things pan out for alt-Michael’s betrayal of Dean. These writers are not subtle. They also tend to leave big plotholes. We may never find out, for example, why alt-Michael was so enthusiastically determined to beat Dean to death when he already knew Dean was the Michael Sword. That seems counterintuitive, but never mind.

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So, what deal, exactly, did Dean make? It was pretty simple – he would let alt-Michael in and be his “sword” if, and only if, alt-Michael took an extreme backseat and let Dean be in charge. Alt-Michael might be able to advise, but Dean would make all of the decisions.

We know that Dean is under direct watch by a Reaper, Jessica. She can’t interfere, but she can report back to her boss that an interloper from another timeline is curb-stomping Billie’s (and Chuck’s) designated caretaker in this timeline and trying to take it over. We already know that Billie wants to “fix” that kind of bleed and is unlikely to take kindly to alt-Michael’s crossing over to conquer a world not his own.

We also know that Billie!Death firmly believes in honoring deals (on top of rigidly maintaining the Natural Order). She’d be the first to point out to alt-Michael that he had a deal with Dean and the deal means that as long as they share Dean’s body, Dean is the one in charge. It’s a way for the storyline to continue after Dean has regained control over his body, and possibly for Dean keeping alt-Michael as a prisoner inside. Dean could effectively continue being an archangel (the Michael Sword is sentient and runs the show), while being unable to manifest or use those powers most times because then he’d risk losing control to alt-Michael again.

What makes this storyline more possible is that there is the awkward wrinkle that Billie’s not liable to feel very kindly toward the refugees from alt-Michael’s timeline, either. Or Jack. So, that sets up a dilemma for Team Free Will and even Dean (as he fights back against alt-Michael’s possession), because they won’t be quite as eager to accept any help Billie offers – or even contact her – as they might, otherwise.

In addition, the presence of the refugees is likely to complicate any rescue efforts for Dean (and it’s really unlikely that Dean will not survive this storyline. Really). TFW 2.0 will be anxious to save Dean from alt-Michael and expel alt-Michael from Dean’s body without harming Dean (or, at least, I certainly hope they will, but more on that in a moment). The refugees who’ve already suffered under alt-Michael are going to be a lot more sanguine about Dean’s fate. As long as they can take out alt-Michael permanently, they’re liable to see Dean’s death as tragic, but necessary. He made a decision (however much under duress). He alone faces the consequences.

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This will set up direct conflicts between Sam and them, of course, but also Jack and them, and between Mary and alt-Bobby, between whom a romance of sorts has been brewing, especially in this episode. Even Rowena, seeking redemption, is going to want to help save Dean, but alt-Charlie? Not so much.

Let’s say the writers don’t take the obvious and stupid way out, that they really want to drag this storyline on a bit (which, Bob Singer’s past ohgodohgodohgoddeanhasamytharcstorykillitwithfire kneejerk reactions aside, they really should want to do rather than wrap it up quickly and scramble to fill up the rest of the season with … something). A Saving Dean storyline has plenty of inherent conflict. The people who can mostly likely deal with alt-Michael are going to be divided on at least three fronts (TFW 2.0, Billie and her Reapers, and the alt-SPNverse refugees), so there will be some natural infighting there.

Dean himself can be portrayed pretty easily (and inexpensively) in his interior struggle to regain control as trapped in a nightmare version of a concentration camp in the alt-SPNverse. Regardless of whatever happened to alt-Michael’s previous vessel, Christian Keyes could return and play alt-Michael inside Dean’s head, taunting and tormenting him (one possible reason Keyes has suddenly joined the Creation con circuit). That would leave Jensen Ackles off the hook for playing against himself all the time, while also giving him a chance to play alt-Michael in the external SPNverse scenes.

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Dean could, for example, initially “wake” in the season premiere in a grotty cell with his hands cuffed behind his back, dazed and trying to piece things together, while alt-Michael makes plots and comes into conflict with TFW. I’ve seen fans argue that alt-Michael would put Dean in a paradisiacal fantasy world, but that would probably be more expensive to film (when they’ve still got that alt-SPNverse set to use) and wouldn’t fit the horror theme of the show. It’s more likely alt-Michael will torture Dean, however much that might be stupid in light of its giving Dean a reason and a way to fight back. Alt-Michael is sufficiently arrogant that he’d go that route, anyway, so it’s at least in character.

Once Dean remembered what happened, he would have a dilemma – does he try to expel alt-Michael, only for alt-Michael to find another vessel (or return to his old one if the poor guy isn’t already dust) and continue with his plans for multiverse domination? Or does he try to regain control and hold alt-Michael prisoner inside his own body? Or is there a way to toss alt-Michael into the Cage (though that’s been damaged, so it might not work) or even kill him in a way that won’t kill Dean permanently?

Yes, killing himself to kill alt-Michael would certainly occur to Dean, but folks, the show is just not going to let Dean kill himself permanently. So, a Harvey (yep, that’s both a James Stewart/giant pooka/rabbit and a Farscape reference) storyline seems pretty likely after the first few episodes, or maybe even half a season, if we’re lucky.

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The thing I dearly hope will not occur, though, is the writers continuing with their gratuitous Dean abuse. I’m thinking of stuff like “Soul Survivor” in season ten, where we see Sam strap down a very psychotic, demonized Dean in a dungeon, drug him up with consecrated blood against his will, and force him into a semblance of what Sam feels is “appropriate” sanity – and this ugly assault is apparently rewarded and condoned by the writers (the Nepotism Duo in this case. Shocker) by the end of the episode. I’m also thinking of Dean’s lifelong struggle with suicidal ideation. Remember how he outright committed suicide early last season and no one, not even Death, was surprised?

Dean is a popular fantasy character who has struggled for 13 seasons with severe mental illness. Suicidal levels of depression and low self-esteem, occasional bouts of psychosis, alcoholism, self-medicating, self-harm, social and separation anxiety, a total inability to fit in with “normal” society, and (of course) rampant PTSD, he’s got ’em all. Many people in this world look at a fictional character like Dean, who feels their same pain and despair, and take hope from the way he keeps soldiering on and being a Hero, even when he stumbles, even when he just wants to lie down and die.

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But writing a character like that involves taking responsibility for the message one sends. Too often, the show has generated some pretty ugly subtext through the way characters treat Dean and take advantage of him. Just as the writers have not done a particularly stellar job of portraying Sam’s own issues (Sam’s mental illness and addiction storylines seem to exist, going all the way back to Kripke, solely to prop Sam up as the woobiest woobie Hero ever), the way they have portrayed the responses of people around Dean to his mental health issues has been … kinda gross.

This needs to change.

It’s not just that it’s problematical for your lead actors to have launched a mental health charity (Always Keep Fighting) while your show writers continue to treat mental illness as a character flaw when it comes to Dean (talk about undermining your cast).

It’s not even that some fans agree.

It’s bad enough to hear people refer to Dean’s sacrificial act in this episode as a mistake or a flaw, that Dean “gave in” and “let” alt-Michael trick him, that that’s just Dean. That he’s always looking for ways to be self-destructive and that this isn’t heroic at all. An act that would be seen in any other character as putting the needs of literally everyone else over their own selfish survival is perceived in Dean as just another Thursday. As weakness, as not fighting his own darkness hard enough. “Sloppy, needy Dean,” as a demon once put it.

What is worse is to do it now, in the middle of a national debate about suicide, especially in the wake of the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Over and over, plaintively and sometimes angrily, friends and families of loved ones who have committed suicide, as well as survivors, point out that depression is not a mistake or a lack of moral character. It doesn’t make you weak if you feel despair and cannot see your way out of it.

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Supernatural desperately needs to change its tack on how the characters around Dean respond to his illness. It’s unrealistic for Dean to recover magically from something he’s suffered from all his life. That would be like expecting Tyrion on Game of Thrones to grow six feet tall.

But the writers can certainly change how they have characters respond to it and put Dean on a slow road to some kind of recovery. No more mean-spirited rants like Sam’s at the end of “Metamorphosis” or “The Purge.” No more of characters incessantly choosing anyone else over the needs of their own, clearly traumatized child standing right in front of them (Mary in season 12 and just a few episodes ago, lookin’ at you). No more “beating some sense” into Dean, or expressing how disappointed the character is in Dean for something that is really that character’s fault, the way Castiel has done over and over again.

Look, I get it. Trauma is drama and bad guys are gonna bad-guy. Angels and demons and monsters who resent Sam and Dean getting in the way of their smashing up the joint will always trash-talk the Brothers. No one expects either Lucifer or Michael (any version) to treat Dean (or Sam) well or do anything but tear away at his self-esteem. They’re the villains.

But it’s way past time for Sam and Mary and Castiel to stop disappearing up their own backsides whenever the black water threatens to pull Dean under. And while I appreciate that Jody wants to help and Claire thinks Dean is awesome, damage and all, it’s not helpful to keep ragging on Dean that he needs to treat himself better. He knows that. He just doesn’t have the first clue how to do it.

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Yes, it’s uncomfortable when someone you love seems locked in a death spiral, but the writers could be improving all of their recurring good-guy characters by having them stop projecting all their own crap onto Dean. Look at Jack – he doesn’t do that. He worships Dean. Yet, the show still managed to establish a relationship with interesting conflict between the two of them.

In fact, a Saving Dean storyline, where Dean is absent for a while (unlike Demon!Dean or MoC!Dean, who was basically just Dean with his anger and bloodlust externalized as a magical metaphor), could conceivably give the characters the story space needed to deal with that without trashing Dean even more. Ackles would still be in the story (he’s not going anywhere; he gets to play alt-Michael now), but Dean the character would be elsewhere, fighting a new battle. The other characters would get a chance to truly miss him and fight to get him back in a way that heals him rather than tears him down.

I think this is a really important thing for the writers to put at the top of their checklist this summer. This is a chance for them to change up a tangle of character arcs that has become toxic and unhealthy even to watch. It’s a way for them to truly represent and join the debate on mental illness (a debate in which their cast already has a voice) in a productive way. It’s time to grow up, Supernatural writers. Do it now.

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Fun lines:

Castiel [listening in on a pack of redneck werewolves]: They’re talking about whether Kylie Jenner would make a good mother. The consensus is “no.”
Dean: Yeah, well, that’s why I’m a  Khloé man.

Alt-Michael [being tortured by Jack]: Lucifer, we had a deal!

Lucifer [to everybody]: I’m not currently the bad guy here.

Lucifer [compelled by Jack to tell about Maggie’s murder]: She saw me when I was scouting out the Bunker. She saw me and she screamed. So, I crushed her skull with my bare hands. And it was warm and wet, and I liked it.

Alt-Michael: This is the end … of everything.
Dean: No. What if … what if you had your Sword?
Castiel: Dean, no!
Dean: I am your Sword, your perfect vessel. With me, you’d be stronger than you’ve ever been.
Alt-Michael: Oh, I know what you are.
Dean: If we work together, can we beat Lucifer?
Castiel: Dean!
Dean: Can we?
Alt-Michael: We have a chance.
Castiel: You can’t!
Dean [to Castiel]: Lucifer has Sam. He has Jack! Cas, I don’t have a choice! [to alt-Michael] If we do this, it’s a one-time deal. I’m in charge. You’re the engine, but I’m behind the wheel. Understand?

Jack [to Sam as he’s about to kill himself]: I love you. I love all of you.

Lucifer [to DeanMichael]: You let my brother in.
DeanMichael: Turns out we have something in common. We both want to gut your ass.

Dean [to alt-Michael inside him]: We had a deal!
Alt-Michael [to Dean after taking over]: Thanks for the suit.


Next: I’ll be finishing my live recap of “Funeralia” this week. I’ll try to catch up with the recaps of the rest of the season and do reviews over the rest of the summer.


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The Official Supernatural: “Funeralia” (13.19) 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. I’m posting reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my research all month long on Patreon.

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

Yes, I know. This recap accidentally got released unfinished into the wild months ago and the season premiere is tonight. Well, I still don’t get the CW live, so I won’t be able to recap the season 14 premiere until tomorrow night. But I can recap the rest of season 13 (since I skipped to the season finale) while Hurricane – pardon me – Tropical Storm Michael bad-touches us here in the Carolinas all night long.

Recap of Rowena and the season so far, sort of. As ghost is my witness, I was surprised to look back and realize that I really did recap the previous episode wherein Colonel Sanders got roasted, ’cause it was that unmemorable.

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

Title cards.

Unfortunately for Rowena, as Dean (first over coffee and then the inevitable beer) is trying to brainstorm with Castiel ways to find Gabriel somewhere in the SPNverse without Rowena’s help (and really not liking Castiel’s idea of going to the angels), Sam finds an article about Rowena’s hit on the young woman.

Dean is furious all over again with Sam for giving Rowena the page from the Book of the Damned that freed her powers. Sam admits that it may have been a mistake, but it’s one he will make up for if necessary.

So, off the Brothers go to find Rowena and figure out what the heck is going on. And off Castiel goes to talk to the angels. Much against Dean’s advice, but with his reluctant blessing.

Castiel arrives at the playground/portal to Heaven and finds a very depressed (and trying very hard to get drunk) angel named Indra guarding it. Indra is so down that he can’t even maintain any real hostility toward Castiel and basically asks him to put an angel sword through him. Yikes. When Castiel asks why, Indra tells him to go ahead and have a look in Heaven.

Upstairs, Castiel finds some very empty hallways. Then he encounters Dumah (the angel who had previously tried to entrap him) and two other angels. While they watch him silently, he blurts out his situation and requests help.

Then some unnerving happens. The lights flicker and a sound like an engine faltering hums around them.  When the lights come back up, he asks Duma was just happened. And then she does something even more unnerving. She offers him a truce.

As the Brothers are driving down the road, Dean reminds Sam that while Rowena can be a lot of fun and a useful ally, she also has a very, very dark side. The unspoken addition to that is “just like us.” But the a fundamental difference quickly becomes apparent when Jessica (remember the red-headed Reaper Dean met the last time he killed himself?) appears in the backseat.

She disappears as Dean slams on the brakes, but reappears after he pulls off to the side of the road. At first, Dean doesn’t recognize her, but as they approach her, he realizes who she is.  She says she was assigned by Death Herself to watch them. She also points out something pretty relevant – Dean never told Sam about her.

Jessica has arrived to announce that Death has made available as a “resource” to them. It turns out Rowena is killing people before their time and her body count is up to four (I guess that means the Fates are definitely toast). This is the main difference between the Brothers (well…Dean) and Rowena. They help police the Natural Order and fix it. Well, they do say the best way to catch a thief is to recruit one.

Sam turns her down flat and Dean grumps at him about it. But don’t worry. She’s bound to return.

Meanwhile, Rowena is getting a phone call that she grumps a bit to her bodyguard, Bernard, about, while moping over a framed photo of a young boy. The call is from the Winchesters and she refuses to take it while insisting to Bernard that they won’t be able to stop her since is “capable of anything now.” Her eyes glow violet.

At the gallery, the Brothers are investigating Doomed Teaser Gal’s ash shadow, while Sam hacks into her emails to try to find some clue to Rowena’s motivation. He finds something-kind-of-sort-of useful. It turns out the victim was a CFO of a drug company that mislabeled drugs and killed people. The CFO got off on a technicality.

But why would Rowena have killed someone like that? Dean finds a clue when he notices a faint ash pile behind the CFO’s ashes – and Sam finds a handy-dandy fake-medieval illumination of a Reaper turning into ash.

Dean says he’s got an idea. This involves going outside and sensibly asking Jessica for help. She shows up and, indeed helpfully, infodumps for them (after throwing Sam some well-deserved shade for blowing her off earlier). It turns out Rowena is killing people before their time (but, presumably, only bad people like the CFO) and then killing their Reapers when the Reapers show up. Jessica then infodumps to Sam about how there’s a ripple effect if people die before their time and don’t do things they were supposed to do (Dean knows all of this from “Appointment in Samarra,” since it was the main point of the episode, but stands there and listens as if he’s never heard it before).

If the ripple effect becomes too large, the Reapers have to do a system reset, “like the Black Death. Or a midsized war.” Well, the Black Death was considerably worse than even either of the World Wars, but we’ll let that be. The point is that the consequences of letting Rowena continue to mess with the Natural Order are BAD.

In Heaven, Castiel is standing in an empty anteroom while Heaven powers up and down around him. As he waits…and waits…he gets bored and does bored human things (ah, Castiel, bless yer heart).

Finally, Dumah shows up with the other two angels. She says they’ll be happy help him once he brings Gabriel back to Heaven. Castiel reiterates that he doesn’t have Gabriel, that he’s asking for help in looking for him, and Dumah admits this is a problem. When Castiel starts to get irritated at the delay, someone shows up – someone Castiel (and we) thought long dead. Naomi. Heaven’s lead torturer.

Naomi, like the others, is uncharacteristically subdued and relatively non-hostile. She openly admits that they are not refusing help because they don’t want to help him, but because they can’t.

Back in the car, Sam is saying that Rowena’s intended victims are linked – they all worked for Pirodine, the corrupt pharmaceuticals company. There’s only one left alive – the CEO.

Jessica appears in the backseat again (freaking Dean out) and tells them that the CEO is already bound for Hell, but his death date has changed to right now.

In the CEO’s backyard, he’s bleeding to death from a stab wound from Bernard. Rowena leans over him and tells him he’s got some retribution coming, but that’s not why she’s there. As her eyes glow violet, she looks around and sees Bernard’s Reaper, whom she then torches along with Martin, with the Mors Lumine curse, after the Reaper refuses her demand to summon Death.

At the scene afterward, Jessica tells the Brothers the Reaper’s name was Martin. They get a call from Rowena, who agrees to a chat. As she hangs up and asks Bernard if he’s ready (he cracks his knuckles), the Brothers debate, not over whether it’s a trap (obviously, it is), but what to do about it.

In Heaven, Castiel is meeting with Naomi. It’s not quite as violent and coercive as the last time, so there’s an improvement. But it’s the same old Naomi when she admits they never saw “eye to eye” and Castiel gets pissed. He points out that she tortured him and forced him to kill Dean repeatedly. She also killed a lot of people. “An apology would go a long way,” he notes.

She acknowledges that one would, then doesn’t give it, anyway.

Instead, she gets right down to business, explaining that she didn’t die from Metatron’s drill, but she was badly hurt. She had some of her henchangels put out that she was dead so she could recover and “put my thoughts back in my skull.” She’s not quite back up to speed, but she’s come out of hiding because she has no choice.

She then asks Castiel what “powers” Heaven and he says “angels.” Naomi agrees and talks about each angel being “a walking talking battery.”

Umm…no, Dabb & Co.? Season six made it pretty clear that human (and former human) souls powered the various afterlife realms. That would include Heaven. Otherwise, it wouldn’t make sense for Castiel to power himself up with souls in the first place.

Anyhoo, Naomi says that there are only nine angels in Heaven (including her and Castiel) and perhaps one or two more down on Earth. She obliquely refers to Lucifer’s attempted reign as a failed plan by the other angels to bring in an archangel for more power (Castiel wouldn’t have known about that side plot). Then she tells Castiel that if the angels burn out (and it eventually will), Heaven will fall apart at the seams and unless over a hundred billion ghosts upon the world.

Now, it would probably be possible to recruit the human souls into saving their own home, but it doesn’t appear to occur to Castiel and it certainly doesn’t appear to Naomi. As subdued as she is, she’s as arrogant as ever. It’s also pretty hard to say how much she is exaggerating or prevaricating about the situation (we know for a fact she’s dancing around the whole Lucifer-in-Heaven thing from a few episodes back).

In a cocktail lounge, Rowena and Bernard meet with the Brothers. They warn her about pissing off Death (though they don’t mention the consequences thing) and she tells them she’s trying to bring back her son, Fergus (AKA  Crowley). The Brothers set her back on her heels with the info Jessica gave them that the only way she ever dies is at Sam’s hands. When Sam tries to put demonic bracelets on her, though, she turns out to be an astra projection (she and Bernard are actually across the room).

Rowena and Bernard then run out the door into a series of hotel rooms, the Brothers in hot pursuit with guns full of witch-killing bullets. Bernard waits in ambush and lets Sam through, but then knocks Dean down. A pretty kick-ass fight between Dean and Bernard ensues. It turns out that Bernard is not being controlled by Rowena. He just thinks she’s hot and likes the potloads of money she’s paying him. So, he’s a psychopath. There’s an amusing bit where the elevator dings, a young couple appear as the doors open, and then the couple just closes the door and goes to a different floor.

Sam catches up with Rowena out in the alleyway and tries to explain (lamely) about the whole ripple effect thing. Rowena just tells him to shoot her. Predictably, that doesn’t work out. When he finally gears himself up to shoot her, she has turned around and she stops the bullet. Then she appears behind him and speaks a spell to put him to sleep.

Upstairs, Jessica appears to Dean and tells him he has to hurry, but says she can’t help him with Bernard because “clean hands” (i.e., no interference). Dean finally chokes Bernard out. As Jessica comments that Bernard is/was “a highly trained operative” and is impressed that Dean got the better of him, Dean rushes out into the alleyway. But Sam is already gone.

Sam wakes up in a chair (yep, kidnapped and tied to a chair again). Rowena uses an elaborate spell to try to kill him, presumably one where it would be very difficult to bring him back, as Sam tries to talk her out of it. Billie (Death) finally appears.

After recognizing her from the season 11 finale, Rowena demands that Billie bring Fergus back or she’ll kill Sam, saying it’s her fault Fergus became Crowley. Billie tells her to go ahead: “I’m not saying any of us will like what happens next, but I don’t do blackmail.”

Rowena appears to start killing a freaked-out Sam again, but instead, turns on Billie a frustrated blast of violet light. It barely ruffles Billie’s hair. As Rowena collapses to the floor, sobbing, Billie tells her that she would have killed Sam once, but now she’s changed. Some things can’t be changed, though, or taken back, and one of those is Fergus/Crowley’s permanent death.

Rowena asks in a hopeful voice whether Death will kill her, at least, but Death says no. She tells Rowena that she already knows her fate (as opposed to Dean who, as he puts it, has “a whole shelf”).

At this point, Dean bursts in with Jessica, bloody and armed. He sees Billie, who greets him and then tells him, “See you soon.” She and Jessica vanish (though presumably, Jessica is still watching them).

At the Heaven gate in the playground, Naomi once again asks Castiel to find Gabriel and bring him back. Castiel insists they will find a way to fix Heaven, but Naomi is not sure it can be fixed. Everything has to end. Yeah, whatever, Naomi. The show’s not going anywhere for a while. Meanwhile, Heaven is closed for business. At least, as far as Castiel getting in. Pretty sure the Reapers are still going back and forth (oh, but wait, have we already forgotten that they’re angels, too, Dabb & Singer?).

In the last scene, Sam asks an exhausted Dean and Rowena if they’re okay. Rowena feels bad for trying to kill Sam. Sam calls her not actually doing it “progress.” Dean calls it a “miracle.” Rowena admits a lot of her Dark Phoenix power has drained, but it’s pointed out to her that she is still the most powerful witch in the world.

The Brothers then lay on her that Lucifer is back. Rowena is pretty upset, but admits that knowing Sam will be the one to kill her, not Lucifer, is rather comforting. Sam says she can change her fate (not really helping, Sam). Rowena wonders if she can be redeemed. She seems quite touched when Dean says he believes she can.

They then ask her for help in finding Gabriel. We end on her pensive face.

Credits.

Hey, did y’all know I have three new kitties from this past summer named Rowena, Pyewacket and Castiel? Castiel just got spayed and she’s currently running around with a Cone of Shame. She looks like Offred from The Handmaid’s Tale.

On to the next one [cracks knuckles]. Yes, I know y’all are watching the season premiere, but I can’t do that until tomorrow, so….


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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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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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