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Recap and Review: Supernatural 12.10: Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets


By Paula R. Stiles


[spoilers ahoy for several seasons]


Tagline: Castiel’s past comes back to haunt him in the form of a vengeful woman and the sinister angel comrade who made her that way.


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Recap: Quick recap of Dean’s early relationship with Castiel and the boring Lucifer “baby mama drama” (as Dean puts it in the following episode episode). Can Kelly Kline please ride off with her hellspawn pregnancy to the Island of Forgotten Guest Characters and Dropped Plots?

Cut to Now and a striking African American woman playing a video game at a bar. The bartender notes that she does this every night and it’s closing time. She ignores him. He also notes that she beats the game every night and doesn’t have to. She ignores him.

A redhead in an eyepatch shows up and is a total bitch to the first woman. She refuses to get out of her way. When the first woman uses angel powers on her, the redhead calls her “Benjamin” and is unaffected. A brief fight ensues (excuse me if I don’t buy that any ordinary human, using the power of her soul or not, would have much of a chance a chance against even a de-winged angel). Benjamin gets beaten and calls for help, with the redhead encouraging her to do. We see three other angels, one of them Castiel in the Bunker, hearing it. The redhead says, “I’ve waited so long” and then stabs Benjamin to death. White light comes out and the redhead leaves.

Title cards.

Cut to Dean looking at a board in the Bunker, trying to figure out where Lucifer’s boring baby mama scampered off to. Sam comes in with coffee. It turns out Castiel set up the board. Dean is not thrilled that Castiel lost Baby Mama Kelly and wonders how she could have gone to ground the way she did (seeing as how she’s carrying a creature that every angel can sense for hundreds of miles). Sam then changes the subject to whether or not Dean has heard from Mary. Dean says yeah, she’s hunting a shapeshifter in Atlanta. When Dean offered to help, she said no, she could handle it alone.

Dean wonders aloud if Mary is getting back into hunting too quickly. Sam brushes off Dean’s concerns, even though Sam isn’t actually the one keeping in touch with Mom (bit passive-aggressive, there, Sam). Sam also calls Dean out on not speaking to Castiel. Dean points out that Castiel did something the previous episode (killing Billie the Reaper) that is supposed to have “cosmic consequences” and avers that doesn’t sound like a good thing.

As Sam is hemming and hawing over that, Castiel comes in, snarks at Dean, and tells them about Doomed Teaser Angel, who was once a comrade. Sam volunteers to come help and when Castiel, still in sarcasm mode, asks if that means both of them, Dean rather reluctantly says he’ll come along. To prevent Castiel from doing anything else that’s “stupid.”

Dean drives, of course. In the car, Sam tries to engineer a detente, which is ignored by both Dean and Castiel. Sam then tries the guilt trip to paper things over. Castiel finally tells them a bit about Benjamin, that he would never have put his vessel, a devout woman he’d found in Madrid, in harm’s way. She was his “friend” on top of being his vessel. Dean riles Castiel up a bit by being sarcastic about how Benjamin probably wouldn’t have run off half-cocked the way Castiel did the week before.

At the scene of the teaser crime, we see a charcoal outline of broken wings on a wall and meet the bartender again. He is shellshocked. Castiel is rude to the guy. Dean sees the bartender out, while Sam asks Castiel if he’s okay. Castiel is upset. Meanwhile, Dean finds an angel blade, which Castiel realizes isn’t Benjamin’s.

In a motel room, the annoying (sorry, mysterious) redhead is lying on a bed, whispering a spell. She opens her eyes and says Castiel’s name. As she grabs her suitcoat and leaves, she kisses her fingertips and touches a sepia photo of a little girl.

Outside a diner, Castiel tells Sam and Dean that before he led his own battalion (except, um, wasn’t Anna actually his commander?), he served under another angel named Ishim. Ishim is inside the diner, but Castiel doesn’t want the Brothers to come in with him. Ishim doesn’t like humans. “Ishim,” by the way, is an entire class of angels (and their leader may be Azazel or Metatron) who are closer to humans than any other angels, but here it’s used as a name for a single angel.

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Dean’s like, pfft, no, to that, especially when Castiel gets snarky again. So, no surprise that shortly after Castiel comes in and greets two angels (Ishim and Mirabel, who still have their vessels from the old days), Dean comes in. Neither angel is happy to see Castiel, blaming him for the fall from Heaven and the deaths of many angels (Balthazar and Uriel get name-dropped).

Right before Sam counts down to Dean “storming in,” and Dean enters the diner (insisting on sitting between Sam and Castiel across from Ishim), Ishim and Mirabel say that they’ve lost two other angels besides Benjamin since the Fall, in the same way. Despite this, Ishim sends Mirabel out alone to check whether anyone besides the Brothers has showed up (because splitting up isn’t dumb, or anything).

Predictably, Mirabel is caught off-guard in the alley by the redhead and quickly dispatched. And neither of the angels inside notices, despite all the hand-wringing over Benjamin’s broadcast-by-angel-radio death and previous episodes of angels noticing when another angel died nearby (I mean, it’s pretty darned bright and loud). Okeydoke.

Ishim and Dean don’t like each other. I mean, they really, really don’t like each other. There’s a staring contest as Ishim dumps a metric ton of sugar in his coffee/tea (what’s that about?), on which Dean comments with a nasty smile. Ishim calls Dean and Sam “monkeys,” while Dean tells him to “go to Hell.” Good times.

After Ishim leaves to find Mirabel, the Brothers dress Castiel down on putting up with Ishim’s crap. Castiel storms off after Ishim, who is getting attacked in the alley by the redhead after finding Mirabel’s body. Ishim recognizes her and tries to smite her, but she laughs and says she’s no longer “powerless.” Well, neither are demons and they can get smited, so I don’t really see how that works, but okay.

She grabs Ishim around the throat, but Castiel comes out and slashes her in the side, knocking her down (Castiel also recognizes her in a brief flashback to Olden Tymes). When the Brothers back him up with guns, she insists that she has no desire to hurt humans and blasts out light from her raised palm. Mind you, the Brothers have plenty of time to shoot her while she’s doing this, but nope. Dean ends up temporarily blinded and Sam dazzled. But Sam is still able to get the license plate number of the white convertible in which she roars off (because that car’s not inconspicuous, or anything).

Later, at an old church, Castiel tends to a wounded and weakened Ishim. Ishim can’t heal himself. Castiel clues Sam in that he recognized the woman and Dean (who has already noticed this) insists Castiel tell them what happened. We then get a saturated-color flashback to Orono, Maine, 1901.

Ishim is leading the way to a house through the woods. Mirabel and Benjamin are there, as is Castiel inside a young white woman. Ishim tells them that one of their angel brothers is living in sin with a human wife, and that the two have a daughter, a naphil (the show uses the plural term “nephilim” because hey, why do research?). Ishim says the girl has “a human soul mixed with angelic grace,” which is very dangerous. Is this more dangerous than Dean having hundreds of thousands of souls inside him last season? Who knows?

Despite the fact that the angels can actually track Lucifer’s unborn naphil child because they can sense nephilim (mentioned early in the episode), the angels in this scene just take Ishim at his word that the girl inside the house is a naphil. Um … show? Wouldn’t they be able to sense if the girl’s a naphil or not for themselves?

As they stride up to the house, the two other angels who later die offscreen (a man and a woman) join them. Not sure why these two weren’t in on the conversation that required a round robin of infodump, but I guess roles with lines are too expensive.

A man and a woman come out. The woman is the redhead. She calls the man “Achamel.” He tells her to go back inside and whispers in her ear. Looking frightened, she obeys. Achamel, who looks like Jesus, comes down the steps to have it out with Ishim, who goes off on his patented “filthy animals” rant about humans. Achamel hints that Ishim is the one who has something to hide with a retort about “shame.” Meanwhile, Castiel and the others look on coldly.

Achamel further hints that Ishim is being dishonest, then attacks him. The others grab him and Castiel pronounces judgment on him. When Achamel hears the charge of fathering a naphil, he looks shocked, but Ishim grabs him by the throat so he can’t speak. The other angels, being dumb as a box of hair, don’t notice any of this unsettling subtext. Mirabel stabs Achamel, killing him.

Ishim then tells the others to get rid of the vessel’s body, while he goes into the house to deal with the wife and the naphil alone. You know – the superpowerful, potentially world-killing naphil. Inside, out of sight, the woman shouts to Ishim to stay away from her daughter and then the child screams.

As I said, angels are dumb as a box of hair.

Case in point: In the present, Castiel insists it was a just mission, even though there are red flags all over the story and the Brothers are thoroughly disgusted with him and Ishim. Ishim identifies the redhead as Lily Sunder (of the episode’s title) and says he spared her. Dean guesses the obvious, that she now seeks vengeance. Hmm.

Ishim says she was a professor in apocalyptic literature (in the grand scheme of things, this is probably the least-idiotic dumb thing in this episode, but that’s still pretty anachronistic, especially for a woman) and that she is fluent in Enochian. He says she must have made a pact with a demon to remain young and gain powers. Except, you know, the part where she has angelic not demonic powers.

Dean says he and Sam will go talk to her, since she allegedly has no wish to hurt humans. Castiel begs to differ, saying it will take all of them to defeat her (well, I don’t see why, but Castiel can get off on these ridiculous tangents). He also says he still has to heal Ishim’s wound.

Castiel also gets pissy when Sam suggests that Lily’s got some justification for being angry, what with having her entire family murdered in front of her. Castiel swings it way the other way and asks if Sam thinks he and all the other angels deserved to die for that. Sam hedges because, well, yeah, that’s how blood vengeance is supposed to go. Castiel puts Sam on the spot by asking him if he’d let it go were he in Lily Sunder’s place. The answer to that, of course, is “no.”

Dean cuts off the rest of the conversation by saying that he and Sam are going alone to talk to her and that’s that. Meanwhile, Lily Sunder, in her motel room, is healing her own wound with white light and looking stern. Or something.

While he waits for the Brothers to come back, Castiel talks to Ishim and then heals him. Ishim is still on his anti-human rant, saying that angels are supposed to stay away from humans because humans are far more of a threat to them than the other way round (think Lily and the Brothers might feel differently). Ishim also doesn’t much like the way he perceives Sam and Dean “bossing” Castiel around. Castiel insists that his friendship with “Sam and Dean” (we know he mostly means Dean) has made him “stronger” not weaker. He discovers that Ishim’s wound is more serious than he’d thought, so it really drains him when he heals Ishim.

At the motel, the Brothers arrive at Lily Sunder’s room. Sam says Lily’s car was a rental. They find her in the hallway (right after Dean admits they may have to kill her if she won’t stop going after angels). She has two angel swords now (even though she left one behind at the scene of Benjamin’s murder) and seems to think the Brothers couldn’t stop her from killing Castiel. Stop laughing in the back, there.

Sam tries to talk her down with the reasonable approach while Dean looks skeptical. She is also skeptical, since (shocker) it seems Ishim fibbed a little. And left some things out. Well, that is why they decided to go get her side of the story. Once she realizes they’ve been lied to and don’t want to hurt her unless they have to, she unbends and tells them more of the flashback story.

A brief conversation over a doll between Lily and Achamel (shortly before the angel posse shows up) confirms that he is not the father. So … who is? Is it, say, Ishim, maybe? The daughter’s name was May and we find out that what Achamel whispered was for Lily to take her and run.

Does Lily do this? Well, not right away. Inside the house, she starts dithering over which papers to take while reassuring her daughter everything is okay. This, of course, gives Ishim time to blast the door open and come inside.

It also makes Lily look very stupid. This makes me not very sympathetic to her bitterness in the present when she admits she summoned him in the first place as soon as she found the spell to do so. She says she was always fascinated with angels and thought Ishim was “perfect” when she first met him. She also says that her daughter “was human,” that she had her before she ever did the summoning, or met an angel. But in doing so, she admits that she intentionally endangered her daughter by summoning a supernatural being with a child in the house.

In the flashback, Ishim bitterly calls her out on using him to get his secrets “for your precious studies.” When he tells her that he had confided in her because he loved her, she claims he never did and was just obsessed with her. Because yelling at your creepy ex when he has all the cards and you need to get out of the house with your daughter always works well in Lifetime movies – oh, wait.

Anyhoo, he gets angry about Lily having summoned Achamel to protect her from him (Ishim sees it as throwing him over for Achamel, which is … kinda true, actually). He pins Lily to a column and kills her daughter right in front of her, calling her “powerless” to stop him.

So, huge plothole here. If Lily is an expert in Enochian and knows more about angels than angels know about angels, why couldn’t she just make an angel-banishing sigil and blast everyone away as Ishim was coming in the door? Hell, as soon as she saw the angels coming? Then take her daughter and run like hell? Achabel wouldn’t have died. Neither would May. At least not then. And we know the episode writer knows this is an out because it’s a major plot point in the climax of the story.

I hate these sorts of plotholes because they’re so hand-wavy and lazy. Kind of like the ongoing thing since season five (thanks to Kripke) that Lucifer can’t be killed. Even though we’ve seen two archangels bite the dust, and even God and his sister nearly flatlined last season. But nooooo, we’re stuck with Lucifer until the end of time.

Back in the present, the Brothers are freaked out by Lily’s story and Dean tries to get hold of Castiel. Who doesn’t answer because a rejuvenated Ishim has stolen his phone. It seems Ishim hasn’t felt this good in a long time and Castiel is temporarily drained. Uh-oh.

So, Sam stays to watch Lily while Dean goes to warn Castiel. I’m sure this will end well.

In her motel room, Sam asks Lily the obvious question of why she waited so long to go on her roaring rampage of revenge. She says she couldn’t find the angels while they still had wings (which seems iffy when she could hear them talk, but okay). But she doesn’t explain why it’s taken her over two years to find all of them since they fell. I had a bit of trouble with that.

Sam asks her about Ishim’s claim that she made a pact. She says that no, she uses Enochian magic, fueled by her soul. But it’s not finite. She will eventually end up with no soul. Sam says that yeah, he gets that. She admits that she used to dream about her daughter, but now she doesn’t dream at all, because losing her soul makes her more and more emotionally detached. Sam gets that, too.

She warns Sam that Ishim will kill Dean. She claims that Ishim is “a big man in Heaven” and can’t afford to see his sins brought to light. This makes no sense. If Ishim really is that important in Heaven, 1. why have we never heard of him during all the many plots involving that place and 2. why didn’t he and his brethren just go hide back there? After all, the angels were forcibly called back to Heaven not long after they were thrown down. Some went willingly, of course, but some were killed because they refused. So, why are Ishim and his lieutenants out wandering around on earth now? They’re not Grigori.

Anyhoo, she loses a bit more of my sympathy when she says she’s fine with the current situation. Once Ishim kills Dean, Sam will be fine with killing Ishim, so she gets what she wants, eventually, anyway.

Cut to Dean entering the church and finding a weakened Castiel. Castiel explains that he healed Ishim. Dean tells him (without looking around for Ishim first) that Lily’s daughter was human and that he thinks Ishim “is playing you.”

Up pops Ishim behind Dean. Nope. Sure wasn’t expecting that. [/sarcasm]

So, Castiel belatedly compares notes with Ishim, who lies like a rug. Dean snarks that Ishim lies a lot worse than Lily. Mutual manly bitchiness ensues. Ishim tries to separate Castiel from Dean by insulting Dean and asking Castiel why he lets Dean boss him around. Castiel’s finally not buying it, though, and bears down on the question – was May human or a naphil? Ishim admits the truth by refusing to answer the question straight. In other words, May was human.

The fight breaks out when Dean pulls out his angel blade and gets slammed into a wall. Castiel tries to attack Ishim, but gets his ass handed to him. As Ishim beats him up, he pours out his anger and jealousy and envy. Castiel was the one who got to go to Hell and raise the Righteous Man. Now Ishim is going to cut out Castiel’s “human weakness” with his angel sword, just as he cut out his own. And he goes straight for Dean. Ohhh, dear.

Fortunately, while Castiel is getting beaten to a pulp (albeit getting in a punch or headbutt or two), Dean is thinking quickly. He cuts his hand and makes a banishing sigil. When Ishim approaches, Dean warns him to stay back. But Ishim has Dean’s number. As a helpless, beaten Castiel watches, Ishim points out to Dean that he would survive being blasted away, but Castiel might not. Unwilling to put Castiel in mortal harm’s way, Dean very reluctantly drops his hand. Then, with a grim and fatalistic look, he grasps his angel sword as Ishim smirks and comes after him.

But Sam and Lily arrive with good timing. Lily calls Ishim off by shouting his name. He turns to confront her, sarcastically calling her “my love.” As Sam rushes to Dean, apologizing for bring Lily along (Dean quickly forgives him), Ishim and Lily fight. It’s a pretty good fight, but he’s much stronger than before and soon bests her.

The Brothers come in and distract him by slicing him on the limbs. Enraged, he tosses them into a corner, but this gives Lily time to pull off her eyepatch and do a white-light jazz hand. Her blind eye glows as she declares she will “never be powerless again.” She Tks him into a wall. He’s not impressed, pushing away from it and approaching her the way Dean did Abaddon when he killed her. Before he can strike, though, Castiel stabs him from behind. Afterward, Castiel sinks to his knees, telling her “You held him for long enough.”

We get an overhead shot of Lily staring down at dead Ishim and his broken wings. Sam wonders if that’s it and Dean asks Lily, far more pointedly, “Are you done?” When Lily hedges that she’s been seeking revenge for over a century, Dean, even more pointedly, tells her it’s over (i.e., that he won’t let her kill Castiel, too.).

At that point, Castiel intervenes. He apologizes to Lily and tells her that if she can’t let it go, he will wait for her to come and finish him down the road. She thanks him and then just leaves. Oookay.

Back at the Bunker, Dean gives Castiel a beer, telling him “You earned it.”

The Brothers go into a stereo, extremely cleaned-up paean to how nice Castiel has been to them over the years, leaving out all the times he’s turned on them, betrayed them, run off with the butterflies, or just plain made dumb decisions. And Dean admits he’s not angry so much as “worried” that Castiel’s killing of Billie will turn ugly, what with all the “cosmic consequences” deal.

Then we get a boring retread of the whole nephilim plotline, how Lucifer’s child is dangerous and scary beyond measure, and they may have to kill a kid (assuming they can kill the kid). Which is just eye-rolling post-Amara. A group drinking session ensues.

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Review: I mostly enjoyed this one, but my goodness, were there enough plotholes to drive that truck through, or what? Also, Castiel acted childish for most of the episode. I wanted to slap him half the time. And Ishim was remarkably transparent in his motivations. Not that Lily Sunder was any great shakes as an anti-heroine.

Still, Ishim was a great villain and foil to Dean, specifically, in the sense of Ian Tracey and Jensen Ackles having a crackling good time playing off each other as brittle antagonists. There was never going to be any peace between those two. Their instant and mutual hatred had too much destructive resonance. Lily’s revenge story was bland in comparison.

It’s no secret that I’m as big a fan of Ian Tracey as of Jensen Ackles, so imagine my delight in seeing him return to the show and get some meaty conflict and fight scenes with Ackles this time round. Tracey is A-list in Canada (and, to my mind, Canadian A-list, consisting mostly of seasoned character actors rather than “stars,” is generally much stronger than Hollywood A-list), so it’s a rare treat to see him, Ackles, and Misha Collins get face time. Padalecki got that chance last time (season seven’s “Adventures in Babysitting”), but Ackles didn’t and Tracey’s character had a much smaller role in that one. However much I liked Lee Chambers, they killed him off between episodes and brought back Lee’s annoying daughter Krissy. That gives you an idea how disposable a redshirt he was.

I was rather put out that they killed Tracey’s character off again this time and made him a one-shot, though at least he had a lot of fun and scenery to chew in this one. I was further put out because Ishim was actually a much more interesting character than the title character.

Lily Sunder is a blah Vengeful Sue character and I have no desire to see her again. She’s got about three settings – frightened and helpless, angry, and smug – with little connection between them and equally little emotional connection to the audience.

Also, she’s far too overpowered in her initial scenes versus the two angels we see her kill, making her subtext too much of a predator and not enough of an avenger, even once we find out the truth (all Tell, no Show). This put the sympathy on the angels (especially Benjamin) and it never really came back to Lily. I felt sorry for Achamel and certainly for May, but I never felt very sorry for Lily.

After all, this is a woman who intentionally summoned an extremely powerful and deadly being, which resulted in the death of her daughter. Even if she had done it before her daughter was ever born, it was a dumb thing to do. If Lily had summoned a demon or used the Necronomicon to call up Cthulhu, the audience would hardly be sympathetic to her. The show indicates that humans in the SPNverse are really dumb about the true nature of angels and think they are good (which is the intended way of making her sympathetic, despite her reckless stupidity), but the audience knows better at this point.

Plus, any professor of apocalyptic lit would know that it is incredibly dangerous to summon angels. In traditional Christian lore, demons are just fallen angels. Even they serve God. Christ allowed some control over demons by humans in order to exorcize them. But unfallen angels still serve God directly and represent manifestations of His power and glory. Not only are they much more powerful than demons, but their position in Creation compared to humans is very different. Summoning them can be perceived as directly interfering with God’s will, so while angel grimoires may be considered white magic, they are still very iffy in moral terms.

This leads directly into Ishim’s bigoted rants about humans and angels remaining separate, and his resentment of Dean and Sam giving Castiel orders. This makes perfect sense if you consider that for an angel, like a demon, summoning is a compulsion. It’s unclear how compelled angels feel to answer (it probably depends on the power of the summoner versus the power of the summoned), but Castiel and other angels have made it clear they find a direct summons by a human to be a peremptory and insolent command, and they don’t like it.

Episode writer Steve Yockey makes Ishim look like a jealous, bitter, racist ex, but in the rules of the show itself, Ishim’s will may have been abrogated by Lily in the initial summoning. It appears she may have compelled him to love her and serve her, which makes her all kinds of unsympathetic, dead daughter or no. Regardless of how much Ishim was (or felt) compelled to do her bidding early on, she is the one who created the instrument that murdered her daughter by twisting an angel in the first place.

While Yockey probably didn’t intend any of that subtext, it therefore makes some sense that Castiel has no sympathy for Lily until Ishim threatens to murder Dean right in front of him. Castiel isn’t just being dumb about the daughter not being a naphil or inhuman in his indifference to the child’s death. Lily’s daughter is innocent, but her loss is just punishment for Lily’s defiance of the Natural Order and implied abrogation of Ishim’s free will.

But Ishim misreads what’s going on between Castiel and Dean. Dean did not initiate the relationship with Castiel and Dean. Yes, Dean commands Castiel loyalty and obedience, but both he and Castiel perceive this as just, both because of their friendship and because Castiel participated in the destruction of Dean’s family. Castiel serves Dean entirely of his own free will and Dean respects those terms.

Dean is not a parallel for Lily (as the dialogue states); he’s a parallel for her daughter. Therefore, he is an innocent. When Castiel kills Ishim to save Dean, he is belatedly making up for failing to save May. And the audience is all for this, not just because of the emotional investment in the “profound bond” between Castiel and Dean, and not just because, as the Firewall, Dean may not only have the ability to exercise true free will and even change Natural Order, but may even embody the Natural Order. It’s because Dean in this story is truly innocent.

Ishim drastically misinterprets the relationship between Castiel and Dean, perceiving it in the same toxic way as his own relationship with Lily. Lily does, too, at first, but changes enough to end her vendetta with the death of Ishim (the angel who actually murdered her daughter) at Castiel’s hands. However dimly, Lily senses that if she went after Castiel, Dean (and Sam) would end her. She may not want to hurt humans and they may be willing to let bygones be bygones if she stops there, but they’ve killed humans who practice black magic before. And they are very good at it.

I will give Alicia Witt credit for not making her as irritating as I expected Lily to be, and her fight scenes looked pretty good. I’m not a fan of Witt’s sarcastic delivery, and the character itself had some issues, but Witt did okay with the role, aside from the above problems of lack of range.

I suppose, if the writers do insist on bringing Lily back, she could mellow into a sort of Rowena-like frenemy, but I’m not nearly as into watching Witt as I am Ruth Connell. Also, I don’t like how Lily cold-bloodedly killed the vessels of the angels she also slaughtered (who were misled, not evil) and shrugged off all the collateral damage as an okay consequence of becoming sociopathic through using her soul to fuel her angel-like powers (something I have suggested was possible since season six).

Yes, Ishim murdered her daughter, but she’s the one who chose revenge. And being fine with standing by while Ishim murders Dean, or murdering innocent angel vessels while insisting she doesn’t want to harm any humans, doesn’t jibe with her claim that she’s a vengeful heroine in her story. I also wasn’t impressed by her never once showing an ounce of guilt over her inadvertent role in her daughter’s death in, y’know, summoning her daughter’s eventual murderer in the first place out of little more than religious fanaticism and academic curiosity. And there’s no sense she ever had any feelings for Ishim aside from accomplishment at having summoned an angel, so one can kind of see why he felt rejected.

It doesn’t help that she comes off as a bit of a user, summoning another angel to help her with her first angel when he becomes a problem and getting that angel killed without much remorse on her part. Or that the show has her kill off the other two angels in female vessels so that we’re left with fewer female characters at the end (really, show, it’s not necessary to have only one significant female character at a time in an episode. We’re 51% of the population, not something exotic like dancing bears).

Plus, there’s the plothole that she apparently knows Enochian and all this stuff about angels that Ishim taught her but not the banishing spell that Dean tried to use and she could have used to save her daughter. Not the sharpest tool in the shed is Lily Sunder. Then again, the characters in general have been written all season unnecessarily as thick as posts, similarly to how characters are written on other CW shows. It seems the new writers think this is the way to do things now.

Castiel rhapsodizing about Benjamin and his loving relationship with his vessel (and our seeing yet another PoC angelic character bite the dust in as many weeks) doesn’t make Lily look very sympathetic, either. I wish TV writers could figure out how to write female guest characters more sympathetically, or at least not so much like bitches all the time, because ugh. And no, the “surprise twist” didn’t improve things on that front. In fact, it made things much more confusing. In the Devil’s Baby Mama storyline, it’s clearly stated that angels can sense the conception of a naphil. Yet, the twist is that Lily’s little girl is just an ordinary human. How could the angels outside the house not sense that? It’s a big old plothole that’s never explained.

I still think that Ishim with his dark, angelic obsession was far more intriguing than Lily (hell, Benjamin was far more intriguing than Lily and I was sorry to see him/her go). He would have made a fabulous recurring antagonist for Castiel over the course of a season or so. He was so obsessed and they had so much history, and the hate chemistry with Dean was fantastic. Maybe we could get a flashback or two in a future episode (no-no, don’t burst my bubble of denial).

Part of the intrigue was the way the writers straight-up gave us a parallel to Castiel’s relationship with Dean in Ishim with Lily, one that went horribly wrong. As I’ve said in the past, I think Destiel (in the sense of a relationship that uses romance tropes) is canon on the show, just as Dowley is canon. In addition, these relationships aren’t just one-shots and don’t just exist to add tension. They actually change the plot and characters over time.

Crowley’s jealousy of Dean’s relationships with other men (including not only Castiel, but brother Sam) is the core of his personal conflict with Team Free Will, just as his loneliness stems from the persistent emotional rejection by his mother Rowena (hmm, something Crowley kinda has in common with Dean this season). Meanwhile, in Castiel’s obsession lies the core of his faith in God and the reason why Chuck keeps favoring him and resurrecting him. Castiel is the Firewall’s literal wingman and bodyguard.

Are we going to see teenage kissing and holding hands? Hell, no. These characters are a grown human man with emotional walls like Ancient Troy and a half-billion-year-old seraph. Note that the relationship between Ishim and Lily didn’t involve any cute teen romance tropes, either (unless we’re talking about this commercial and campaign about the difference between Young Love and abuse, which gets quoted in the episode). In fact, the idea that Lily’s daughter was a naphil turned out to be a red herring deliberately engineered by Ishim so that he could take revenge on Lily by killing the girl, and use his angel comrades to help him do it.

The story of Ishim and Lily (and even Benjamin and his ancient unnamed vessel) once again raised the specter I have talked about in the past that angels are designed to be obsessive. It’s in their DNA, as it were. They were created (possibly by the archangels rather than Chuck directly, as hinted late last season) to worship their father in every way possible and to obey their angelic superiors without question (as I said, dumb as a box of hair). When an angel transfers this obsessive love to a human, it can be overwhelming, even terrifying, for the human. With the power balance between them so far out of whack, it can become abusive in a human heartbeat.

Up to this point, we hadn’t known of any other such relationships between a human and an angel (unless you count Dean and Anna, which ended very badly), so we had nothing to compare. Anna seemed relatively fine, albeit suspicious of Castiel, until she was captured and reprogrammed. So, we had no way of knowing if the circular pattern of Castiel obsessing over Dean, becoming enraged with Dean over the least disagreement or mistake, possibly harming or betraying Dean, and then feeling remorseful, was how things went with angels and humans. Well … apparently, that’s about as good as it gets.

Naturally, the slashiest and most parallel it gets is when Ishim cannily calls Dean’s bluff about the angel-banishing sigil and Dean chooses not to use it, knowing full well that doing so will probably get him killed. This is right after Ishim tells Castiel he’s going to murder Dean right in front of him to get rid of Castiel’s “human” taint the way he did his own (by murdering Lily’s daughter and incurring her hatred). It’s also right before he sarcastically calls Lily, upon her arrival with Sam as part of the cavalry, “my love.” The subtext of curdled romantic obsession isn’t exactly subtle.

Castiel returns the favor by stabbing Ishim from behind to save Dean the way he did Billie the Reaper last week to save Mary (which was also, in a weird way, to “save” Dean – from watching his mother get killed again). Castiel’s reaction is the opposite to Ishim’s in that Ishim murders Lily’s family, whereas Castiel kills other angels in his own family (literally backstabs them) to save Dean’s family. And Dean chooses to give up a spell that could save his own life, even though he’s quite angry with Castiel, because it could kill Castiel. If that’s not true love on this show, I don’t know what is.

An historical aside: There was unlikely to be such a thing as a professorship in Apocalyptic Literature in the late 19th century. It would be a professorship in Divinity or in History of Religions, and women were not getting those back then. No American woman even got a Bachelor’s degree in Divinity until 1878 and it seems pretty unlikely such a woman would be residing in Maine in 1901. In addition, no respectable Victorian Era woman, widowed or single, would be living alone with her daughter in a swanky mansion without any servants or companions, angel guardian dude or no.

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Fun lines:

Sam: So, what’s the plan?
Dean: Well, we knock on [Lily’s] door, ask her nicely not to kill any more angels.
Sam: And if she says no?
Dean: Well, we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.

Ishim: I loved you.
Lily: You didn’t love me. You were obsessed with me. That isn’t love.

Ishim: [Lily]’s a liar.
Dean: Well, if she’s a liar, she’s pretty good at it. You, on the other hand, kinda suck.

Ishim: I used to envy you, Castiel. Can you believe that? You survived Hell. You were chosen by God. But now, look at you. You’re just sad and pathetically weak. So, now, I’m gonna help you. I’m gonna cure you of your human weakness, same way I cured my own. [pulls out his sword and goes after Dean]

Dean: [Ishim]’s dead. Are you done?
Lily: Revenge is all I’ve had for over a hundred years. It’s what I am.
Dean: Wrong answer. You’re done.


Next: Who We Are/All Along the Watchtower (season finale): British Men of Letters and Lucifer clash with Sam and Dean and Mary and Castiel. Hopefully, we end the season with a few less annoying antagonists.


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Supernatural: Why the British Men of Letters Just Don’t Work


By Paula R. Stiles


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This season of Supernatural has been like a slow trainwreck, with the tired old retread of Lucifer and his “baby mama drama” plot that both repeats last season’s much-better Amara storyline and retcons Lucifer’s redemption in it (plus, we’re now supposed to believe he’s the eldest because that’s not a total retcon of season five, or anything).

But we’ve also been subjected to one of the worst storylines of the entire show, a storyline that didn’t have to be bad, could even have been good, but was just plain awful. This storyline has done more to bring up old fault lines and prejudices that the current showrunners and head writers have previously demonstrated than anything since Sam had no soul.

In theory, the British Men of Letters (I call them the “LoL”) are a great idea. They’re a human group that could be either an ally or an enemy. They are affiliated with the Brothers by blood (according to Grandpa Winchester) and they are related to the Brothers’ current home, which Sam and Dean inherited through their heritage as Legacies. And they could have connections (as we have found) to preexisting recurring characters, King of Hell Crowley and his Scottish witch mother Rowena. Plus, they have sparkly toys.

Unfortunately, a good idea does not automatically equal great execution if the writing isn’t there – and this year, the writing just isn’t there. This storyline is a good example of flaws in the writing from all season long.

Supernatural --"First Blood"-- SN1209b_0077.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Adam Fergus as Mick Davies and David Haydn-Jones as Mr. Ketch -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Stereotypes Galore

So, how hideous are the jingoistic stereotypes in this storyline? Toni Bevell is a walking Posh Twat, an upperclass snob who looks down her nose at the Winchesters, criticizes their approach to hunting, and claims ownership over the entire United States (though, curiously, not Canada). Meanwhile, she engages in torture of people who haven’t done anything to her personally without an ounce of irony. Her (late) henchwoman, Ms Watt, is a butch stereotype straight out of the Amazon episode we all wish the show had never done. Mick Davies appears to have been inspired by the movie version of Oliver Twist (and, despite being identified as English, has an Irish nickname and is played by an Irish actor). Ketch seems to come from watching too much The Avengers. And Doctor Hess has already been compared to Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter. Unfavorably.

In light of the fact that all of these characters are stereotypes completely divorced from the writers’ actually knowing anybody from the UK (or anything first-hand about the British Isles), and that none of the actors is actually English (all the principles are Canadian or Irish), it’s not really a surprise that the LOL characters all sport some of the fakiest Received Pronunciation accents outside of BBC Radio and that there is no visible understanding among the writers that “British” and “English” are not interchangeable terms. This, predictably, has led to much mockery from across the Pond from the very beginning of this season.

Supernatural --"There's Something About Mary" -- SN1221a_0378.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Samantha Smith as Mary Winchester and David Haydn-Jones as Mr. Ketch -- Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW -- © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

What’s my motivation?!

I haven’t seen this much chaos over character motivation since the botched job that was Soulless Sam in season six. At the end of last season, we were introduced briefly to Toni Bevell’s cute little moppet (about whom I did not care) before she showed up at the Bunker and shot Sam in a cliffhanger that made no fan anxious about Sam’s fate (we all knew he would live).

Jump to this season and you’d think Toni would be all about reclaiming the Bunker for the use of her people, but nope. She and Ms Watt relocated to some farmhouse with a spacious cellar to torture Sam, leaving the Bunker completely open and unprotected for Dean and Castiel to return and reoccupy. Never mind that we just found out last week that the LoL could have changed the locks at any time.

So, strike one on motivation making any sense.

Now, mind you, the world nearly ended last season and it was pretty obvious that was going on. In fact, it looked an awful lot as though Toni’s trip to the U.S. was motivated by this global calamity. But noooo. Toni is far more interested in asking Sam questions about how the “network” of American Hunters works, even as she claims to know everything about him.

Okay, so, if she already knows everything about him, why isn’t she asking pertinent questions about things she doesn’t know about, like why the sun almost went out? Why ask questions about stuff she should already know? Is this an epic botch of As You Know, Sam or a straight-up plothole?

So, strike two and boy, these LoL are starting to look dumb.

At some point, you would think the show might have addressed the elephant in the room: If the LoL are so knowledgeable and powerful, where the hell have they been through all the apocalypses of the past decade? Where do they get off judging the Brothers when they have apparently sat out the near-Heat Death of the entire universe? Guess what? The show doesn’t even take a swing at that ball. It just pretends the issue isn’t there.

Then we get to Mick Davies and his character arc about two-thirds of the way through. We find out that he was plucked off the streets (because apparently, the writers are under the impression that Victorian England is still a thing and street urchins still pick pockets) and sent to Kendricks Academy. There, he is subjected to a test where he is forced to kill his best friend. It is strongly implied that this is a rite of passage that every single one of the LoL goes through during school.

[screeeeeeeeeeeeech!] Say, what, now?!

Let’s parse this out. First, according to Toni Bevell, creepy Arthur Ketch is supposed to be the scariest of the LoL and uniquely psychopathic, which is why Mick called him in, in the first place. If all of the LoL are “blooded” by killing their best friends, how does that make Ketch unique in any way? I mean, think about that.

And if every LoL member goes through this rite of passage, why do the LoL staffers who are killed by the Alpha Vampire come across as so … soft? None of them acts like a person who has killed before. They’re just techie redshirts. In fact, Mick himself struggles with killing even a newly turned werewolf girl. Where is the inevitable moral hardening that would come from such a rite of passage? The only character who shows it is Ketch and maybe Ms Watt. Even Toni and Doctor Hess don’t come off as particularly good at killing.

Second, the one introductory scene we have of Toni indicates she is emotionally attached to her child, albeit via a nanny. Nary a hint that she may lose him someday. Hardly a set-up for this later “twist” that her child will eventually be forced to kill or be killed.

We also find out right away that she is upperclass nobility (by way of Downtown Abbey, no doubt). Mick and (it is strongly hinted) Ketch are orphans. It sorta, kinda makes sense that they could be subjected to tests where they have to kill each other as kids and not be missed by British child services (yes, Britain has them). Even if the idea of half of the recruits being forced to murder the other half makes no sense from a corporate investment point of view.

But what about Toni Bevell? She’s a titled lady. Her child is nobility. Are we honestly to believe that the English upper class would be okay with sending their children to a school where half of them will inevitably be murdered by the other half? I get that public schools in Britain are rough with the bullying, but come on. And how do they cover that up, exactly? These are not children no one will miss.

Also, it’s a tiny bit difficult to claim that your corporate mantra is protecting innocent humans from monsters when your organization kills more children than any monster in your territory and has a deal with the King of Hell not to interfere in demon deals. How, exactly, are you protecting humans, again?

Strike three.

Now that we’re back in the dugout, let’s address the LoL’s alleged motivation for coming to the U.S. Let’s point out very quickly that the idea that a small foreign group like the LoL, who have never been any kind of major players in previous apocalyptic events, could take over a huge territory like the United States with a population almost six times that of the UK, is ludicrous. So, the idea that this is even a realistic goal, let alone one they consider their right, is hilarious in all the wrong ways. Dabb, Singer, Buckner, and Ross-Leming, folks, please – the War of 1812 was a long time ago. Move on.

Anyhoo, the LoL blame the Winchesters for lots of crazy things having gone on the past few years, while they themselves have kept Britain locked down nice and tight. You know, aside from that Banshee in Ireland, Bela’s demon deal, the angels falling, and so on. A few of these things have been addressed (like Crowley having made a deal with Doctor Hess to stay out of Britain, which smelled a lot like a belated retcon to cover up a plothole pointed out by fans and roundly mocked). But for the most part, the LoL come off like unimpressive blowhards.

Even if that elephant about their absence at all the recent apocalypses didn’t keep coming back to haunt the writers, a few toys and riling up the Alpha Vampire haven’t exactly made the LoL look like the big threat the writers obviously wanted them to be. And that’s not even getting into the fact that there’s no reason for Hell to make a deal with the LoL in Britain because there’s no indication the LoL are any threat to Hell in the first place. I mean, what’s in it for Hell?

This also blows all of their precious pearl-clutching over all the black magic and shenanigans the Brothers have engaged in over the years right out of the water. If you’ve got a deal with the King of Hell himself, your entire organization is basically hellbound. One could argue that if it were just a case of Mick having second thoughts about bringing in Ketch and Doctor Hess pulling the strings, the hypocrisy might at least make a sort of cliched sense – the rank and file knoweth not what corruption the upper echelons are getting into (as hinted early on).

But bring in Toni and her snobbery about a moral high ground that doesn’t exist (the best part was her calling Ketch a “psychopath,” which was a classic case of Pot taking a meeting with Kettle) and it all falls apart. Toni and Ketch know perfectly well what’s going on and what’s their reaction? They’re competing over which one literally cuts the throat of the other to move up the ladder. There’s hypocrisy and then there’s “Why would you even believe that?” You end up with far too many mental and moral contortions.

Oh, but we’re not quite done with the tangled mess the show has made of the LoL’s motivations. On top of all that, Mary got brainwashed in the last episode. Now let me get this straight – the LoL have the capability of brainwashing even the most resistant subject, but we’re to believe they decided to go with the much more time-consuming and labor-intensive (and vulnerable to being exposed) method of raising kids in a negative kind of Hogwart’s and forcing them to kill each other, instead? And if they do have access to this brainwashing, why did Mick even have any doubts or second thoughts? Hell, why even bother to kill off the other Hunters when you can just capture them and do your own Telefon program on them?

It’s as if Dabb & Co. took every motivation for every major group antagonist on the show (i.e., brainwashing for angels, “blooding” for the Stynes), at least every recent group, and threw it at the wall to see what stuck for the LoL. And what we ended up with was a big, bloody, unsatisfying Rorschach inkblot.

hess

Gender stuff

I’m not one of those fans who go to extremes on the show’s approach to gender issues. I think Supernatural actually has made a concerted effort for years to bring in more female and PoC, and especially GLBT, characters (with mixed success). Is it the best at this? No. Is it the worst? Not even close.

But it does have its ups and downs, and some writers are better than others (unfortunately, this season is being run by some of the worst). I didn’t think Charlie’s character was one of its finer moments. Though her Checklist Sue character was beloved in some quarters of fandom, her appearances really began to tank in the ratings after “PacMan Fever.” Whether or not that had to do with her being a lesbian character written by a straight male and played by a straight woman as a tonedeaf Manic Pixie Dream Girl who spent all her time hanging out with two guys, I don’t know, but the ratings alone were a good enough reason to write her out. It’s a little hard to take seriously the wailing and gnashing of teeth on Tumblr about how she was a fan favorite who got fridged by the mean old TPTB when a significant portion of the audience that happily watched the episodes before and after her last episode didn’t bother to show up for her swan song, resulting in the lowest audience for an episode up to that time.

This wasn’t the case with Eileen, who was summarily killed off in the teaser of last week’s episode (Rowena also looks not long for this world). And there’s something really unpleasant going on this season with the LoL female characters versus other female characters. The LoL women, per above, were/are hugely unpleasant stereotypes, yet we’re still stuck with the two worst of them.

At the same time, they are partly responsible for the woobie-death of at least one well-liked female character (Eileen). This was on top of an MOTW episode the week before in which two female characters (one of them recurring) were fridged so that their Anakin Skywalker-like “talented” male relative could be turned to the Dark Side. On top of all that crap, those three were a family of PoCs.

I’ve often referred to Toni as a “Twat” (a popular expletive in the UK) in the past and that has not been accidental. The writers have acted precious about any bad fan reaction to Toni and Doctor Hess (and the unfortunate yoking of Mary’s already-struggling storyline to the LoL), as though this is an indication of fan sexism against women. God forbid we call a character how she’s (intentionally) being written.

And then the show turned around and had Ketch refer to Toni last week as “a bitch.” In an episode co-written by a woman. Hypocrisy, much?

The show has done this emotional bait-and-switch before and it’s not the first show to do it, either. But it was especially egregious this season, likely because Eileen was popular along the lines of Ellen and Jo (yet didn’t get anything as good as their send-off). But Toni is no Meg. Or Abaddon. So, it’s not working. People don’t want to savor Toni’s villainy. They just want her gone.

It didn’t help that the show tried to do “meet cute” in the middle of Sam’s torture earlier this season, having a “sexy” scene of Toni effectively mind-raping Sam by having him hallucinate being in bed with her. Women using magic to mind-rape men has an ugly history in recent genre shows, such as when Adalind in the show Grimm mind-raped three different male characters three different times and had two babies out of it, but ended up with the third victim (whom she had spent the first four seasons tormenting) in a One True Ship the last season and a half because of Baby Brain. I’m not kidding.

See? This show could still be so much worse.

Grimm and Once Upon a Time have both promoted the idea that having a baby can turn an Evil female character Good for basically no reason save hormones and Motherly Love, while other evil or morally gray characters are “punished” by infertility. If members of the latter group do redeem themselves, they have to do it the slow way via actual redemptive acts and character development. Hence, Toni’s moppet takes on a sinister connotation (and notice how there’s nary a hint that nasty, shriveled up old maid Doctor Hess could be redeemed). Fortunately, the writers seem to have had just enough motherwit (so far) to realize that didn’t fly with the fans and have kept her from meeting cute anymore with Sam.

To make matters worse, the writers are being totally hypocritical about their sexism. They write the Brothers as weak rather than trying to make Toni strong. Otherwise, she’d be no threat whatsoever. Mick, Ketch, and Hess are no great shakes as antagonists, either (though I’ll give extra points to the actors playing Mick and Ketch, both for actively connecting with the fandom and enthusiastically selling what thin gruel they got onscreen). But at least they aren’t dressed up in tight clothes and kitten heels, let alone played by an actress who shows no appreciable stage-fighting talent.

supernatural-sam-winchester-jared-padalecki-lady-toni-elizabeth-blackmore

I suppose we’ll never know if Elizabeth Blackmore could have been good in the role when the writing and costuming never gave her a chance. Toni Bevell is Bela Talbot all over again including every mistake made with the character (albeit Lauren Cohan had a lot of charisma in the role that justified her being poached by The Walking Dead later on). It’s as if they never learned a thing from either Bela or Ruby’s reception by the fandom.

I know a lot of people have had issues with Mary’s arc this season (some of them legit). But at least she dresses and acts like someone who can kill monsters and is good at it. And Samantha Smith brings a grim gravitas to the role. There’s none of that in Toni and she desperately needed that kind of legitimacy to make sense as a character.

We even got her kneeing Dean in the groin last week (signalling that she’s a badass dealing with his sexism). But 1. Dean is the one lead character who already has to field all the writers’ most sexist ideas about gender as if he were a female lead and 2. Dean wasn’t being sexist in that scene. So, that subtext wasn’t justified.

In fact, I can think of a lot of fans who would love to watch him beat Toni’s face to a bloody pulp (not just that one punch near the beginning of the season) and then shoot her. She has, after all, tortured his brother, brainwashed his mother, captured and tortured him, and aided in the murder of at least one good friend. And that’s all on top of her group’s ludicrous and arrogant attempted invasion of his native land, while bragging about how they’ll run things so much better in their fascist way. A male character like that would have been dead by the end of the second episode this season.

The only reason Dean hasn’t yet rearranged her face is that the writers won’t let him: “The male Hero musn’t hit a girl.” Which is ridiculous. Dean is a much darker character than that and his uncharacteristic reticence just makes her look weak (along with frustrating the fans who don’t like her).

It looks as though the show is going to pull a Stynes-style massacre on the LoL this week, probably courtesy of Lucifer. I sure hope so, though I’d prefer the Winchesters get the primary kills. On the one hand, I mourn the loss of what could have been a good storyline (especially Mick and Ketch). On the other hand, I am so sick of these losers that I just want them given their send-off to Hell, never to be mentioned again.

Maybe Lucifer, Kelly, and their hate child can join them in show obscurity.

spneileen


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The Official “The Memory Remains” (12.18) Live Recap Thread


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Starting now with a lame recap of Mary/Retch and the LoL last week.

Cut to Now in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. Four teens (three boys and a girl) are hanging out, drinking, around a fire. One boy and girl are engaging in annoyingly unapologetic PDA. One of the other boys, Daryn, wants to watch, but his friend just wants to go home. As he walks along the creepy trail in the woods, he sees a bag of money, with a green glowstick. When he picks it up, he finds it’s a trap and gets tied to a tree, then his head smashed in by a goat-headed dude, in front of his friend, who has heard his cries for help.

Dean leaves yet another voice message for Castiel, then sits down for a talk with Sam while cleaning the Colt. Sam gets a message from Mick (you know…dead Mick) about DTG and off they go. Back at the poorly-defended LoL bunker, Retch says the bait is set to some henchdicks who will probably not survive the ep.

The Brothers talk to an oddly disengaged sheriff, who tells them about DTG’s bad family life and how he must have run away, while working on his taxidermy project.

The Brothers then talk to DTG’s friend (cue sneak peek) who tells them about DTG getting killed by “Black Bill.” Later at a diner, Sam says it’s a local legend. Dean hits on the blonde waitress, who is into it, and clocks out for the night.

Meanwhile, DTG’s friend gets yelled at by his boss about slacking at work due to his buddy’s death, goes out to his truck afterward, and gets attacked/killed by Black Bill.

The next morning, Dean says goodbye to the waitress at the same diner and meets Sam there. Then he snags Sam’s breakfast. Clearly, Dean has had sex.

Sam thinks he’s on to the MOTW, that it’s a satyr. His graphic description of how satyrs eat their prey puts Dean off Sam’s breakfast. Sam says DTG’s friend’s mom says he never made it home the night before, ditto didn’t show up for his job. There’s an inspection going on at the plant, which is owned by the sheriff. It’s a meat-packing plant. Convenient. Oh, and the sheriff is there. Acting sketchy.

DTG-F wakes up inside a freezer, which is conveniently signed outside as having a coolant leak. Sam and Dean walk past, but can’t hear him over the compressor noise. He finds his friend, dead and frozen, then is stalked and presumably killed by the MOTW.

At the diner, Sam is pissy about what Dean eats. It turns out Dean cross-checked the other victims’ names. They were all employees at the plant. Sam has found out that the company used to own everything in town, but the sheriff has been selling everything off. The Brothers check out the house, but not before “Mick” texts them and Sam texts back.

Cut to the LoL invading the Bunker for a reconnaissance you’d think that idiot Toni would have already done. I hope Dean set rat traps. Retch is especially crabby about Mick giving the Brothers the Colt, which was, y’know, theirs in the first place. Lots of people who have no claim on that thing sure get pissy about having its owners get it back.

Meanwhile, the Brothers find the sheriff’s “murder room” in the basement and get the jump on him when he comes downstairs. It turns out the family got rich by keeping a “monster” under its house and feeding it. It’s Moloch. We have flashbacks to the murders. The sheriff says when he became family head, he tried to clean things up and kept Moloch locked away, hoping he would “starve to death.” Obviously, it didn’t work so well.

Moloch was in the sub-basement. Not any more. They hear a noise upstairs. Dean goes to investigate, leaving Sam to guard the sheriff. There’s a goat suit upstairs. As he checks it out, some kid knocks him over the bannister and Sam in the basement with the sheriff, leaving Dean unconscious.

The sheriff grabs a cleaver, but it’s to help. When they come out, Dean is missing. Sam tracks his cell phone.

At the Bunker, to the shittiest faux-60s Brit spy music ever, the LoL do a really poor job of casing the joint. They need to piss off back to Britain, already. Where they can preferably die of ennui and never be spoken of again. Then Retch finds that photo of Mary and Young Dean and becomes thoughtful.

So, the guy who attacked Dean and has him tied up in the cooler is the sheriff’s half-brother and the plant manager. And he’s a whiny, monologuing dickhead who thinks he can control Moloch. His version of the Family Business is opposite to Dean’s. Dean gets locked in with Moloch.

Meanwhile, the LoL leave…something. Dear God, they suck. Juxtaposing an actually-decent MOTW with their nonsense really shows it up.

Oh, and Dean gets loose in record time. Leaving him stuck with the Minotaur–sorry, Moloch–while Sam and the sheriff enter the plant and get stalked by Loser Half-Bro.

Oh, hey, a decent stalking sequence involving Dean. PleaselethimgetthekillshowPleaselethimgetthekillshow
Pleaselethimgetthekillshow. And Sam gets attacked by Redneck Man. Who gets the drop on his brother, then gets shot. Sorry, dude, but you were not the Hero.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, SHOW? You have to give Sam the kill EVEN NOW? BOTH KILLS?

I am so done with the Dabb Era of this show.

So, Sam tries to hurt/comfort with Dean, which doesn’t help. The sheriff tells them they should go. It’s his family and his legacy–his mess to clean up.

Back at the Bunker, written plot-stupid so they are unaware of having been raided, Dean asks Sam what their legacy may be. Sam says that the people they saved will remember them, though that memory will fade, too. But that’s okay, since they “left the world a better place.” Dean wonders if the Bunker will go to some future Hunter and then carves his initials in the table. He has Sam do it, too.

Sam decides to call Retch, who bullshits them about Mick having returned to London and says they “report” to him, now. Oh, and he kept the photo of Mary, because surely, Dean won’t notice *that*. Idiot. Looking forward to his slow and painful demise.


I’ll also be simul-recapping on Wayward Children.


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The Official Ladies Drink Free (12.16) Recap Discussion Thread


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

Recap of Claire, werewolves (with the usual sad attempt to make werewolves sound “badass”), and Sam’s dumbass decision to join the LoL.

Cut to a girl coming out of a bar and getting busted by her older brother. As they walk home, the girl hears some breaking branches and sends her brother off on a wild goose chase while she walks back toward the bar, smug. But as the brother searches, her hears her scream. And finds her apparently dead. A thing with a mask attacks him and rips out his heart, then concentrates on the girl.

I hope she’s really dead because…yeah. Show’s still not batting 1000 on hiring actresses to play teens.

Cut to a room with no windows in the LoL bunker and a weird map where Dean is pissed off at Sam for the LoL making them wait. Dean says he’s going to wait in the car. Mick shows up, acts all stereotypically British (no, show, Brits are not all psychopaths) about the remaining bloodstains from the recent vampire attack.

Mick gives them the DTG case and wants to “tag along.” Dean is unimpressed.

Dean tells Sam he’s going to have to babysit Mick, who proceeds to brag in the car some more about his knowledge of werewolves and how the LoL killed off all the werewolves in Britain (sure…like the vampires, right?). The Brothers (rather unwisely) mention Garth as someone who has managed to live with lycanthropy, but Mick is not impressed.

Dean starts to like this hunt better when Mick checks them into a three-star hotel. And proceeds to skinny-dip in the pool the next morning. Dammit, Dean, you need to come visit my local YMCA. I could use some of that scenery while I’m doing laps.

At the hospital (the annoying younger sister died), the Brothers won’t let Mick talk to the girl and the mother won’t let them talk to the girl. Mick comes in with a lab coat and sends the mom out. The mom starts to open up to the Brothers, while Mick checks the girl’s bite. Uh-oh. Mick’s probably going to try to kill her, ’cause she’s almost certainly being turned. Sure enough–he lies to the Brothers about her having wounds.

The mother says that there are “Bigfoot truthers” sniffing around the case and mention a young girl with the “Fish and Wildlife Service” who turns out to sound like Claire.

Claire is out by her car when she gets a call–from Dean doing a mean impression of a Canadian park service guy and Yogi the Bear. She meets the Brothers and Mick at a restaurant. Claire is unimpressed. Mick excuses himself early–to file a report, he says–but it’s really to go kill the DTG at the hospital. Which he botches quite badly when she wolfs out in the middle of his sticking a needle in her IV. Loser.

At the hospital, DTG’s body has no wounds. Dean quickly figures out she must have wolfed out and healed before dying. Dean is clearly suspicious of Mick and Mick’s claim that he saw no bites on her, especially after the doctor says she was covered with wounds.

Dean apportions the troops–Sam and Claire to talk to the girl whom DTG was supposed to be sleep-overing with and Dean taking Mick to the bar. They talk to a guy with a tat who was hitting on Claire and DTG. Dean also easily catches Mick out in a lie and slams him for it outside, calling him out on having killed DTG. Mick claims that he and the LoL don’t have the “luxury” of letting monsters go, that they have a “code.” Dean is unimpressed.

So am I, because YOU ARE NOT IN YOUR OWN COUNTRY, MICK. Mick has *zero* grounds for bitching about how well Sam and Dean are doing things in *their* country. The LoL’s attempts to hunt in the U.S. are an invasion, pure and simple. They were not invited, by anyone.

Meanwhile, Claire tries to ditch Sam, whining that Jody doesn’t let her hunt and that the Brothers just pop in and out of her life, that they treat her like a kid. Sam suggests that if she doesn’t want to be treated like a kid, “then stop acting like one.” Go, Sam.

Naturally, Claire goes off in a huff, tries to hunt the werewolf on her own by acting as bait, and gets bitten. Ugh, Claire, come on. That was such a Jo Harvelle move.

So, Claire wakes up and sees an attacker, but it’s Sam, who helps her up. Back at the motel, both brothers are furious with Mick. Sam says they’re “done.” Dean tries to reassure Claire that she can live with lycanthropy, but she doesn’t want to do it. Sam says the LoL have a cure involving the blood from a sire, but Mick insists they’ve only done it successfully (1 in 10) on mice. The one human subject died horribly.

So, I’m guessing Mick is gonna die soon because he’s quite unsympathetic in this and not a learner.

So, the Brothers go to the bar to find the sire’s blood. They leave him with Claire, but Dean warns Mick that if anything happens to Claire, Dean will kill him. Mick doesn’t seem to take this seriously–he doesn’t understand that Dean would torture him first and that Dean is *good* at that.

As the Brothers look for the sire, Claire starts to freak out and asks Mick to shoot her. But Mick is having second thoughts about this whole “code” thing and tries to find ways to restrain her.

And, of course, the sire shows up. He knocks Mick down and knocks Claire out, then carries her off.

Ugh. The writing this season…ugh.

The Brothers come back and find Mick waking up. He says he put a tracker on her (this doesn’t actually make him worth being around because of all the dumb things he’s done that got everyone into trouble).

Meanwhile, at the monster’s pad, Loser Wolf Boy monologues at Claire about losing his pack to Hunters and tries to feed her a human heart. Mercifully, the Brothers show up with Mick. Dean knocks Claire out, while Mick gets the kill of the sire (because it seems that Andrew Dabb & Co. have no interest in giving Dean *any* monster kills, anymore). Then they dart a wolfed-out Claire with the “cure.”

Muting the incessant Riverdale adds because ugh.

Anyhoo, back from commercials and Claire is still going through the “cure.” Dean has to leave because he can’t stand to watch her in pain. She goes into a coma, or something. Sam thinks she’s dead and calls Dea back in. Dean comes in and can’t believe it. But then Claire’s wolf nails recede and she opens her eyes. She survived the cure.

Afterward, Dean thanks Mick for saving Claire, but both Brothers are not quite feeling forgiving. They tell him he screws up again and he’s done.

Claire thanks them for saving her. Sam asks her if she’s going to tell Jody. She says she’s not sure. Over a montage of Claire hugging Dean while Sam looks on, smiling, she leaves Jody a message and tells her she’s hunting alone, but will be back, and thanks her for being a mother to her. She drives off to Joan Jett’s “I’m a Wild One.”

So, you know how Alex got cured of vampirism and that was actually a good episode? Well…not this one so much.

Yay! We have our promos back! Promo for next week. You know how the LoL are supposedly ruled by Evil Old White Men? Try an Evil Old White Bitch. She sics Mick on the Brothers and on Eileen, who returns next week. Guess who’s unlikely to survive next week? I’m guessing Mick. EOWB may make it to the end of the season, unless they have Dean go full-on Styne Hunting in the penultimate episodes.


I’ll also be simul-recapping on Wayward Children.


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Whispers, Spoilers & Speculation Corner: 02/27/17


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Sci-fi Spoilerpalooza
By Heather S. Vina

There’s going to be another superhero four-way crossover on the CW with Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow. EW has up some details on the logistics of it from executive producer Andrew Kreisberg.

Speaking of CW Superhero shows, new show Black Lightning has found its lead in actor Cress Williams (Hart of Dixie).

In other networks’ shows’ superhero news, ABC’s Inhumans has announced its first casting with Game of Thrones villain Iwan Rheon being cast as Inhuman Maximus.

The 100: TV Line has up an interview with actress Nadia Hilker on the show’s latest casualty.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Yep, *Blank* is back! Count me in as someone who is not happy about it. I wasn’t fond of them to begin with. EW has up some spoilers on the upcoming stories from executive producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. TV Line has up some tidbits as well.

American Horror Story: Ryan Murphy clarified some details on the upcoming “inspired by” election season.

American Gods: The show finally has a premiere date! It will first air on Sunday, April 30 at 9pm ET/PT.

Arrow: TV Line has up the promotional photos for Oliver’s upcoming impeachment.

Doctor Who: There’s a new teaser trailer out for season ten.

Iron Fist: Spoiler TV has up the promotional poster for the series. IGN has up a video interview with actors David Wenham, Jessica Stroup and Tom Pelphrey. They also have one up with lead actor Finn Jones on the dynamic with his character and Luke Cage.

Legends of Tomorrow: The show is bringing in J.R.R. Tolkein as a character (à la George Lucas) in the season finale.

The Magicians: TV Insider has up an interview with actress Stella Maeve on Julia’s struggle with redemption.

The Originals: TV Line has up the promotional photos for the season premiere.

Star Trek Discovery: Games Radar has a handy rundown of all of the current information out on the show.

Supergirl: EW has up some scoop on the fallout of the Danvers’ girls’ father’s return.

Timeless: EW has up a season finale post-mortem with executive producers Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke. TV Line has up an interview with the duo as well. Still no word on whether or not the show has been renewed or cancelled, but the ratings did pick up for the last three episodes of season one.

The Vampire Diaries: EW has up a look back from actor Paul Wesley on his time as Stefan. They also have one from actress Kat Graham on her time as Bonnie.

The Walking Dead: EW has up an interview with actor Josh McDermitt on what Eugene is up to. They also have one up with actor Norman Reedus on the big Darryl/Carol reunion. Both EW and TV Line have up interviews with new actress Pollyanna McIntosh, who plays the Jadis, the enigmatic leader of the new junkyard gang.

Over at E!Online, the latest Spoiler Room has spoilers on shows Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Supergirl, Once Upon a Time, Shadowhunters, Legends of Tomorrow, The Walking Dead, and Arrow.


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

Check out my Patreon page. Help me keep this column going, pay Heather, and start doing Supernatural reviews again.

It’s official! The show has been renewed for a 13th season. This may well be (by a couple of weeks) the earliest renewal Supernatural has ever received.

The show has moved to 8pm. Still on Thursdays.

The Season 12 line-up (23 episodes) so far: “Keep Calm and Carry On” (12.01) official photos and press release; “Mamma Mia” (12.02) synopsis and photos; “The Foundry” (12.03) synopsis, official photos, sneak peek, and promo; “American Nightmare” (12.04) synopsis, official photos and promo; “The One You’ve Been Waiting For” (12.05) synopsis, promo and set photos; “Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox” (12.06) synopsis, photos and promo; “Rock Never Dies” (12.07) synopsis, photos and promo; “LOTUS” (12.08) synopsis, photos and promo; “First Blood” (12.09) synopsis, photos, promo and sneak peek, as well as an extended promo; “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” (12.10) (this is the one with Alicia Witt) synopsis, photos and promo, and sneak peek; “Regarding Dean” (12.11) tech survey card, synopsis, set photo, promo and official photos; “Stuck in the Middle (With You) (12.12) tech survey card, synopsis, preliminary photo (this one’s directed by Richard Speight Jr.), and official photos and promo; “Family Feud” (12.13) synopsis, promo and sneak peeks; “The Raid” (12.14) tech survey card, synopsis, and promo and official photos; “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” (12.15) tech survey card and synopsis; “Unnamed Episode” (12.16) tech survey card; Unnamed Episode (12.17) tech survey card; Unnamed Episode (12.18) tech survey card, and Unnamed Episode (12.19) tech survey card and partial title card.

FYI, tech survey cards have director info. For example, 12.19 will be directed by Amanda Tapping, who played the angel Naomi in season eight. It will be co-written by Robert Berens and Meredith Glynn.

The promo and official photos for this week’s ep, “The Raid” (12.14), are up.

Some recent onset video is out, apparently from last week.

It appears we won’t have any mini-hiatuses before mid-March.

IMDb message boards are now gone. To add to the screw job they already did to fans, they closed out the boards early. I’ve moved my Official live recaps to this site and simul-recapping at Wayward Friends.com, with reviews to follow.

Overnight ratings for “Family Feud” (12.13) dropped a bit in demo to 0.6/2 and audience to 1.62 million. For some reason, final same-night ratings are late this week. Programming Insider gave ratings for half-hours: 0.6/2 in both half-hours, with 1.65 million for the first half-hour and 1.59 million in the second. Spotted Ratings reported the show’s A18-49 demo as 0.64.


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Whispers, Spoilers & Speculation Corner: 02/06/17


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Sci-fi Spoilerpalooza
By Heather S. Vina

BIG news for Doctor Who fans: After a lot of rumors swirling around, Peter Capaldi has confirmed that he’s leaving the show. This year’s Christmas special will be his last as the Doctor. No word if the other rumor is true that Pearl Mackie, AKA new Companion Bill, will be leaving as well. The radio announcer who helped Peter announce it said it was a very emotional time for them both.

As to when the new Doctor will be announced, Radio Times has up an interview with new showrunner Chris Chibnall. The rumor is that he will be leading the hunt for a new Doctor beginning the middle of this year. He officially takes over the reins when Steven Moffat steps down at the end of this coming season.

As for my thoughts on who the new Doctor should be? I’m not sure. No one will top Matt Smith for me. As much as I like Peter, he never reached Matt’s heights. But I do hope the Doctor isn’t changed to female. I’m all for more female Timelords and female characters in general, but bring back the Rani or Romana or create a new Timelord. The Doctor is the Doctor. For over fifty years, he has firmly identified as male. That’s the Doctor for me.

12 Monkeys: EW has up a preview of the new season and its trippy 80s episode.

The 100: TV Line has up a recap and an interview with Jason Rothenberg on why that Clarke/Lexa moment in the season opener was so important. The TV Addict has up an interview with actors Eliza Taylor, Bob Morley and Richard Harmon on what is coming up for the show in season four. TV Line also has up a preview of the new season’s stories.

The Defenders: Comingsoon.net has up a set photo of Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones) and Charlie Cox (Daredevil) as their characters.

Doctor Who: BBC America has announced that season ten will premiere on April 15, 2017.

Emerald City: EW has up an interview with producer Shaun Cassidy, on episode six, which aired this past Friday.

The Expanse: io9 has up a preview with interviews for season two.

The Flash: TV Line has up the promotional photos for episode 12, which show Iris in some dire straits. TV Line has up some details on the songs that will be sung in the crossover with Supergirl.

Game of Thrones: UFC fighter Conor McGregor has debunked the rumor that he will be appearing in season seven of the show.

Legion: IGN has up an advanced review of the pilot episode.

Once Upon A Time: It’s official: The show is doing a musical episode.

Outlander: The show has cast actors Gary Young (The Shannara Chronicles) as Mr. Willoughby, a confidant of Jamie’s, and Charlie Hiett as Captain Thomas Leonard, an inexperienced captain of the ship that Jamie and Claire take.

Powerless: The new DC comedy show premiered this week. While it didn’t do very well in the ratings, what aired is a big departure from the original pilot that premiered back at Comic-Con 2016. io9, which saw the original pilot, has up a list of the biggest differences between the two versions.

Preacher: Per Dominic Cooper’s Twitter, filming for season two has begun.

The Shannara Chronicles: TV Line is reporting that four new actors have been added to the cast. Malese Jow (The Flash, Vampire Diaries) is Mareth, “an unpredictable young woman with magical abilities.” Vanessa Morgan (Finding Carter) is Lyria, “a mysterious woman who is romantically linked to Eretria.” Gentry White (UnREAL, TURN) is Garet, “a sly and charismatic bounty hunter known throughout the Four Lands as ‘The Weapons Master.'” Caroline Chikezie (Footballers’ Wives) is Tamlin, “the cunning queen of Leah, the only human Kingdom in the Four Lands.” Actor/writer Desmond Chiam is Riga, “a once revered general in the Eventine’s army, now the leader of an extremist group of Elvin soldiers known as The Crimson Austin.” Actors Austin Butler, Ivana Baquero, Manu Bennett, Aaron Jakubenko and Marcus Vanco from season one will be returning.

Per MTV, production on season two has begun in New Zealand. The season two synopsis: “The re-emergence of magic has the populace of the Four Lands terrified, and an organization called The Crimson is using fear and intimidation to sow discord among the races. Wil, scarred by the loss of Amberle and his separation from Eretria, has turned his back on his magical destiny to become a healer – until Mareth convinces him to rejoin the fight. After reuniting with Eretria, Wil and Mareth seek out Allanon, only to learn that Bandon is on a mission to resurrect a creature of darkest evil: The Warlock Lord.”

Star Trek Discovery: There’s a new teaser out for the show, with some glimpses of the new uniforms!

Supergirl: The show has cast former Lois Lane Teri Hatcher (Lois and Clark) as this season’s mysterious Big Bad. They’ve also cast actor Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, Andromeda) as one, as well. No details yet on either character. TV Line has up some details on the songs that will be sung in the crossover with The Flash. EW has up an interview with David Harewood on the upcoming J’Onn-featured episode.

Timeless: TV Line has up the promotional photos for Misha Collin’s guest appearance as Eliot Ness.

The Vampire Diaries: TV Line has confirmed that actor Steven R. McQueen will be returning to the show for the series finale. David Anders hinted on his Twitter that he might be making a return appearance as well. The character that exited Friday night might be killed off, but apparently the actor isn’t gone yet. And finally, there’s a cute set photo of Nina Dobrev reunited with Paul Wesley and Kevin Williamson.

The Walking Dead: EW has up an interview with Sonequa Martin-Green about where Sasha’s head is this season. IGN has up an exclusive preview for the second half of season seven, which premieres February 12.

Zoo: Actor Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing) has been cast as Dallas, the “leader of a shadowy group looking to stop the spread of the hybrids.” The show has also cast Athena Karkanis as Abigail, an “operative who does not shy away from dangerous situations and has a surprising tie to Jackson,” and Hilary Jardine (Van Helsing) as Tessa, “Jackson’s girlfriend who is instrumental in helping refugees to safety.”

Over at E!Online, the latest Spoiler Room has a spoiler on Timeless.

At TV Line, Matt’s Inside Line has spoilers on shows Once Upon a Time, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and The 100.


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

Check out my Patreon page. Help me keep this column going, pay Heather, and start doing Supernatural reviews again.

It’s official! The show has been renewed for a 13th season. This may well be (by a couple of weeks) the earliest renewal Supernatural has ever received.

The show has moved to 8pm.

The Season 12 line-up (23 episodes) so far: “Keep Calm and Carry On” (12.01) official photos and press release; “Mamma Mia” (12.02) synopsis and photos; “The Foundry” (12.03) synopsis, official photos, sneak peek, and promo; “American Nightmare” (12.04) synopsis, official photos and promo; “The One You’ve Been Waiting For” (12.05) synopsis, promo and set photos; “Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox” (12.06) synopsis, photos and promo; “Rock Never Dies” (12.07) synopsis, photos and promo; “LOTUS” (12.08) synopsis, photos and promo; “First Blood” (12.09) synopsis, photos, promo and sneak peek, as well as an extended promo; “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” (12.10) (this is the one with Alicia Witt) synopsis, photos and promo, and sneak peek; “Regarding Dean” (12.11) tech survey card, synopsis, set photo, promo and official photos; “Stuck in the Middle (With You) (12.12) tech survey card, synopsis and photo (this one’s directed by Richard Speight Jr.); “Family Feud” (12.13) synopsis; “The Raid” (12.14) tech survey card; “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” (12.15) tech survey card; “Unnamed Episode” (12.16) tech survey card; Unnamed Episode (12.17) tech survey card.

The promo and official photos for this week’s ep, “Regarding Dean,” are up.

The synopsis for “Family Feud” (12.13) is up. Oh, look. They decided to remember the plothole known as Gavin:

“Family Feud.”

SAM AND DEAN ASK ROWENA TO FIND CROWLEY’S SON – When Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) look into a murder at a museum, they learn a ghost from a merchant ship that sunk in 1723 may be at the heart of the mystery. After realizing “The Star” was the same ship that Crowley’s (Mark A. Sheppard) son Gavin McLeod (guest star Theo Devaney) should have been aboard, they enlist help from Rowena (guest star Ruth Connell) to track Gavin down. Kelly Kline (guest star Courtney Ford), still pregnant with Lucifer’s child, takes refuge with a demon after an angel attempts to kill her. PJ Pesce directed the episode written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming (#1213). Original airdate 2/23/2107.

From the above date, it appears we won’t have any mini-hiatuses before March.

The longtime (26 years) Internet Movie Database is ditching all of its message boards, including the one for Supernatural. Fans are not at all pleased. It won’t affect the show, but it will definitely affect the fandom.

Ratings for “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” (12.10) remained steady in demo at 0.6/2 and went up slightly in audience to 1.73 million.


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Killing IMdb: It’s the End of the Fan World as We Know It – And I Don’t Feel Fine


By Paula R. Stiles


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Yesterday, 26-year-old movie and TV series database IMDb (Internet Movie Database) announced that it was closing its message boards as of February 20, saying that they were “no longer providing a positive, useful experience for the vast majority of our more than 250 million monthly users worldwide.” It said that it was giving two weeks notice to allow fans to say their goodbyes.

Fandoms all over the internet promptly exploded. And it wasn’t pretty. People were angry, upset, even grieving. The announcement was an across-the-board fandom apocalypse and it was as unexpected as a city-sized asteroid suddenly appearing in the sky.

The passionate response may seem like an overreaction on the part of a few nerds, but IMDb wasn’t just another site. It was a major way for fans of film and TV media to meet other fans. I have several friends and artistic colleagues that I met there with whom I have worked on various projects over the years. It was a real hotbed for artists to meet and then scamper off to collaborate. IMDb itself even encouraged this by creating a fees-supported pro area and doing its best to turn the whole place into an industry site.

I’ve been lurking on IMDb since the late 1990s and finally registered in October of 2002. I’ve been hanging out there on nearly a daily basis for over a decade. I even had a Pro account that I won’t be renewing at the end of this month, and a page as a producer of various indie horror flicks. That’s close to two decades with the place. And now they’re turning out the lights.

Yes, there were trolls, but that was in large part due to IMDb’s hands-off and impersonal reporting policy that got everyone’s stuff deleted at times. The trolls came in because they knew IMDb wasn’t going to do jack. In fact, they’re now arriving in droves to get their last licks in before the lights go out, like looters in a city before a nuke hits.

On the other hand, the site’s impersonal nature avoided the pitfalls of crazy Big Name Fan moderators that choked off participation and reduced the range of opinions on other sites like the late, lamented Television without Pity. IMDb blaming the closure on troll activity was like an indifferent bystander blaming a sexual assault on a victim for not fighting back hard enough and then shooting the victim. It’s not as though IMDb tried very hard to correct the problem.

The most insulting thing is that IMDb wasn’t originally a corporate site. It was ours. And the message boards reflected that. IMDb began life as lists of actors and directors on a British Usenet group (remember them?) back in 1990. Yep, it predates the World Wide Web. It spent most of the 90s as a database on a server in Cardiff, Wales, then was bought out by Amazon in 1998.

Amazon, perhaps out of sheer laziness and cupidity, continued the fan participation by creating the message boards and allowing the site’s entries to be built via user-generated content (unsurprisingly, that lucrative database spanning a century of Hollywood and world media isn’t going anywhere, just the people who created it for free). It began to turn IMDb more into an industry site with the establishment of IMDbPro in 2002, but since this largely helped indie filmmakers who were themselves essentially fans, it didn’t change the nature of the beast.

Over the years, IMDb has increased user participation (and tried to claim copyright over everything generated on its site) while also becoming increasingly indifferent to moderating or fostering discussions on its boards. The site began cutting off the older ends of archives of the busier boards around the mid-to-late-2000s and even started to “prune out” archives of older films and canceled TV series around 2009. The apparent reason was a lack of server space to house so many old discussion threads.

It was well-known that the reporting system was automated and that bots, not people, made the decision to delete a post or thread if it had enough reports. Naturally, this led to abuse, bullying and stalking by trolls of other users. Really popular boards like those for HBO show Game of Thrones and AMC’s The Walking Dead, or films like The Dark Knight, became bywords for out-of-control troll activity. In recent times, African American movie boards like the one for hit film Hidden Figures, as well as boards for feminist films and television shows like the CW’s Supergirl, were targeted by racist and misogynistic trolls straight out of 4Chan and StormFront by way of Reddit.

The writing was on the wall for years. Like Naples, we all knew Mount Vesuvius would blow eventually. But the end, when it came, was sudden and unexpected.

Theories on the cause ranged from the site’s losing money on the boards, to the influx of toxic trolls (both proferred as causes by the site itself, so therefore probably not the real reasons), to threatened libel suits by Big Name Actors over criticism on movie boards, to Donald Trump.

The most likely cause is dumber, more mundane, and buried in the site announcement’s second paragraph. Currently, only about 10 million of their vaunted 250 million users patronize their social media and it seems they want to strong-arm the site’s users onto their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr, and Snapchat accounts. This attempt will almost certainly fail and may well kill the whole site in the end, but, like Yahoo’s ill-fated and clumsy revamp of its Groups section a few years ago, Teh Stupid will still be permanent.

The larger ramifications for fandoms, as well as artists, worldwide, will be unclear for a while. Other sites have come and gone, and are much missed, but fandom moved on. Nothing lasts forever and it certainly doesn’t last forever on the internet.

But IMDb’s fan participations predate social media. They even predate the World Wide Web. The site, however inadvertently in its latter years, had become an incubator for social interaction and discussion, even creation, of artistic endeavor. Now those fans and creators will scatter to the four winds to who knows where – but it likely won’t be to IMDb’s social media sites the way it hopes. It’s not the end of the world, but still, there is no joy in Mudville this February. IMDb has struck out.


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