The Official Supernatural: “Our Father Who Aren’t In Heaven” (15.08) Live Recap Thread


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Recap: We get a Then recap heavy on Adam (remember him?) and the season so far, including Chuck going dark and Eileen coming back from the dead.

Cut to Now. In a casino, while Henry Ford’s 1971 soul ballad “Take Me For What I Am” plays on the soundtrack, a young cocktail waitress in a nice silver dress is fearfully picking her way past and over the dead bodies of her patrons, bosses, and coworkers. She’s carrying a drink on a tray to a man at the slot machines who is winning every time. It’s Chuck.

When he takes the drink from her, he asks her if she laid off putting in so much rum this time. She says yes with a strangely optimistic smile, then closes her eyes briefly in terror when Chuck comments that’s good because she wouldn’t want to make him “cranky.” He tells her to “keep ’em comin’.” As she heads back to the bar, we get an overhead shot of all the dead people in the casino.

Cue title cards.

Cut to Eileen getting the worst of it in a back alley fight with a werewolf. She loses her pistol, but manages to get away in time to pull a very large knife. When she lunges back out, though, she almost gets Sam (and shouts his name in irritation). He blocks the blade and she shoves him to one side, just in time to stab the werewolf directly behind him. Sam looks a little winded by nearly getting stabbed.

Eileen quickly susses out that Sam was shadowing her (because she hadn’t left a note she was going on a hunt). While she declares this sweet, she also calls him out for being “overprotective.” Sam’s pissy response betrays an awful lot about his true feelings regarding gender roles.

Eileen just shrugs and walks off. Sadly, this will be one of the last times we see her being an independent badass.

Back at the Bunker, she’s having a hamburger, while Sam eats a healthy chicken salad. Dean comes in with something wrapped in a cloth. He thinks he has the solution they’ve been looking for to contain Chuck. He sets it on the table and flips open the cloth. It’s the Demon Tablet.

Sam is skeptical, Eileen confused. This makes possible an infodumpy reminder for the audience about what the Demon Tablet is and how someone (Kevin doesn’t get a mention) once translated it.

Dean’s theory, in a nutshell, is that Chuck dictated the Tablets so that humans could use them against demons and angels if he were “out of commission.” Dean thinks that since Chuck dictated these before he left Heaven, the implication of their existence is that Chuck is not “invincible.”

Astonished, Sam comments that Chuck has “an Achilles Heel.” There follows a rather stupid “joke” at Dean’s expense that Dean doesn’t recognize the term – though Ackles mostly turns it around by implying Dean is just messing with Sam’s head.

When Eileen asks if they can read the tablet, Dean says they can’t. But of course he knows someone who can.

Donatello is not at all happy to see Castiel show up at his door and tries to hide inside his house. Naturally, this doesn’t work and he ends up back at the Bunker, whining at TFW about how he really doesn’t want to get involved in any of this.

The Brothers explain that they want to lock Chuck up the way he once locked up his sister Amara. When Donatello asks why they don’t just kill him, Sam revives season 11 canon that if Chuck is killed, that will disrupt the balance of the SPNverse and it will die. So, that canon’s still a thing. They just want a way to lock Chuck up so the balance is still there, but he can’t destroy the world.

With a sigh (and a whole lot of fried chicken), Donatello gets down to it, so closely watched by Dean, Sam and Castiel that it makes him even squirellier. But eventually, he does find something. In Metatron’s glosses on Chuck’s dictation, the late, unlamented scribe talks about a “secret fear” that Chuck shares with no one. Unfortunately, the scribe does not add what that fear is.

Castiel points out that Lucifer was already cast down by the time Chuck dictated his tablets (this actually makes sense, as Lucifer was cast down for creating demons and Donatello is currently working on a Demon Tablet). So, the favorite at the time would have been Michael. However, just as Donatello is about to consider his job well-done and leave, Dean points out that Michael is in Hell. Well … except that Belphegor told them the Cage was one of the doors blown open down there. So, he might be out now.

Anyhoo, in the middle of a rant about how complicated the Brothers’ lives are, Donatello is possessed by Chuck, who gives them a warning to back off, with a sinister chuckle, threatening everyone they love. He should maybe take his own advice. Sam and Dean wouldn’t be fighting him in the first place if he hadn’t backed them into the corner of wanting to kill them and the SPNverse with them. They don’t have any choice but to fight back.

Castiel checks the warding (which is intact) and Dean suggests Donatello leave. Grabbing his coat and his bucket of chicken, the Prophet scampers off.

What TFW didn’t say to him was that they didn’t want him there because they now know Chuck could use him to spy on them. Dean says they can’t back down on the plan. Chuck would just kill all their loved ones eventually, anyway. Sam agrees, but Castiel has reservations about going to Hell to talk to Michael. Sarcastically, Dean tells him that if he’s that afraid to do it, he can just stay home. Castiel’s pissed, but Dean doesn’t care.

Later, Sam and Eileen make up the ingredients in a bowl, while Castiel and Dean watch. Dean then cuts his hand for the blood (it’s not explained why Dean, specifically, needs to do this). Castiel heals Dean’s hand and Dean gives him a perfunctory thank-you. As Eileen watches, Sam says the spell (which was originally Rowena’s), and Dean, Sam and Castiel put their hands on the bowl. A wind blows up, with pink lightning, and they disappear (the effect is very Charmed and I don’t mean the reboot). They reappear in Hell.

Castiel leads the way, since he was the one last down there a few episodes ago. They encounter some demons in female hosts. Dean tries to explain that they’re looking for whoever’s in charge, not trouble. Instead, he Sam and Castiel proceed to get their asses kicked in a comical and completely unrealistic way (at one point, Dean actually asks if any of them are winning). Really, Show? Why the hell do you pull this stupid pseudo-feminist crap?

Anyhoo, a woman’s voice shouts, “STOP!” in a Scottish accent and the demons back off in a hurry. The woman is Rowena, who has shown up with an entourage and in a flaming red pantsuit straight out of Saturday Night Fever. Go disco.

It turns out that since she died and (of course) ended up in Hell, Rowena has taken charge of the place and now rules in her son’s stead (“No one hands you anything, darlin’,” she drawls to Sam. “I took it!”). It also turns out that she is still Team Free Will. So, when the others (mostly Dean and some Sam) explain to her what’s going on about Chuck and that they need to find Michael, she bellows at her entourage to go find Michael, which they promptly march off to do. As the demons leave, she gives TFW a conspiratorial wink.

Back at the Bunker, Eileen is flipping through a book while literally keeping the flame alive for the rest of TFW (didn’t this used to be Rowena’s job? How ironic) when she gets some sort of Skype call from another Hunter, a woman who is quite shocked to find out that Eileen is alive. She’d heard Eileen died. Eileen just says, “It didn’t take.”

The other woman, Sue, once hunted briefly with Eileen and asks her to help her track down a traveling vampire nest. Eileen demures, saying she’s busy at the moment, but may join up later. After she hangs up, she sprinkles some herbs on the Giant Hell Train Bowl to keep the fire burning.

In Hell, Rowena is enjoying a nice single malt while sitting on her (probably formerly her son’s, though his preferred one topside had a lion motif, not cobras) throne. When Sam starts to apologize to her, she cuts him off, saying that actually, it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to her, so bygones. Sure, she misses some stuff, like Amazon delivery and “flesh on flesh sex” (the latter gets a double-take from Dean), but she’s quite enjoying being Queen.

To get him out of the room, she has Sam go get her a refill. Then she starts doing couples counseling for Dean and Castiel, who clearly aren’t getting along (sigh, really Nepotism Duo? This was the reason you brought her back? So, she could play Yenta for two male characters?). After mulling over her few regrets (notably, her failing her son), and how death is too late to take them back, she tells them to “fix it.” Sam returns with Rowena’s freshened-up drink, just as a demon enters and timidly informs his queen that Michael is no longer in Hell. They don’t know where he is.

But we do. Cut to Jaci’s Red Wagon, a 50s-style diner where Adam is getting a burger and totally enjoying it. He says he hasn’t “seen a burger in ten years” (again with these writers totally forgetting about the Hell time dilation thing, which was a major plot point back in the day). As Adam also gets a pizza, he talks to Michael, sitting across the table from him. They have an oddly amiable relationship (so much for being tortured in Hell). Adam is bitter about his older brothers leaving him to “rot” in the Cage (ignoring the part where he betrayed them), while Michael is unsure where to go once he parts ways with his old vessel (if he parts ways with his old vessel). Heaven doesn’t seem to appeal with his brothers gone and his father still MIA.

Back at the Bunker, Dean is calling Donatello and putting out feelers to see if he’s felt anything that might lead them to Michael (without mentioning Michael). Sam has been trying to find signs of Michael online, with no success.

Dean proceeds to pump Sam for info about Eileen’s whereabouts and I wonder why the show passed up the really obvious opportunity here for Dean to grapple with his possession by an alternate version of Michael only last year just so he can play Yenta for Sam and Eileen. Again. The only mention Dean makes is of recently being in “a dark place” before getting up and congratulating Sam on something neither of them could accomplish before.

Dean mentions having tried to live with Lisa and Ben (not mentioning that it was for over a year and that he was pretty successful at it, despite being miserable). Sam talks about having tried and failed at the domestic life in such a vague way that I’m not sure if the writers remember that Sam never told Dean about Amelia – or that she was married.

Cut back to the diner, where Adam is talking about getting a job. when Lilith shows up. Michael’s eyes glow. He’s not pleased. When he comments that she’s dead, she says she was brought back by God. Michael is skeptical that his father would send “an infernal speck of bile” like a demon to “fetch” him and he doesn’t “fetch,” anyway.

At first, Lilith casually brushes this insult off, pointing out that they once worked together to bring about the Apocalypse and make God come back, which didn’t work, but here He is, anyway. But when Michael balks, she gets irritated, grasping his wrist and saying she can’t go back without him: “I can’t fail Him.”

This proves to be a mistake. After a moment of hesitation, Michael’s eyes glow and blasts Lilith into white light atoms, leaving behind only a pile of clothes. When he looks around afterward, he sees how terrified the others in the diner are. With a sigh, he says, “Remember nothing” and snaps his fingers. Their memories wiped of the incident, the other patrons and employees go on with their business. Michael, now back in the driver’s seat, pushes away the remaining desert Adam was eating.

However, Donatello, washing a glass at home, drops it in the sink (where it shatters) and cries out. He felt the blast of power from Michael. He calls Dean, but has trouble saying where Michael is. He can now see Michael every time Michael moves and Michael is moving around a lot. He finally notes that Michael has stopped – in Cairo, Egypt. “Excuse me. I need bourbon,” he says and puts down the phone.

Dean tells Castiel, who is behind him out of focus, that they know where Michael is, “but we can’t get to him in time before he moves again.”

Castiel comes into focus: “Then we make him come to us.”

Castiel sits in a chair upstairs next to a chessboard and prays to Michael. He tells Michael that he understands he’s “been through a terrible ordeal” and tries to fill him in on the situation with Heaven and Chuck. He asks to ally with him, saying that God has turned into a supervillain.

Later, outside the Bunker, Castiel senses someone that night. Michael flies in. Castiel asks Michael if he remembers him.

Michael: You called me “Assbutt” and set me on fire. And then you helped send me to Hell.

I’d call that a ‘yes.’

Michael is highly skeptical about turning on his own father. He asks if Castiel is seeking forgiveness or has “come to beg.”

Castiel [flicking a lighter and firing up a ring of holy oil around Michael]: Oh, I didn’t come to beg.

Two shadowy figures appear on the other side of a plastic curtain. They enter. It’s Sam and Dean. Dean pulls out a set of angel handcuffs. Michael is not amused.

In the Bunker, Michael opines that this move is “stupid,” even for TFW (my, he needs to catch up, doesn’t he?). Dean shrugs this off, but it’s Sam Michael focuses on. Lord, I am so tired of seeing Dean’s unaddressed alt-Michael trauma (which occurred only last season) once again ignored in favor of Sam’s boring-ass Hell-pain, which was resolved all the way back in season seven. Move on from that, Show.

Michael still refuses to believe that Chuck has broke bad. Sam tries the Puppy Dog Eyes o’ Doom and Michael is not even remotely impressed. When Sam says that they were “wrong” to leave Adam in the Cage, Michael lets Adam take over.

Adam is not as nearly as hostile and certainly not insane. It’s heartbreaking to watch Dean realize that “Michael lets you … talk? I mean, he lets you … be?” Oh, hey, the writers remembered, after all.

Adam says that since he and Michael were alone in the Cage together, they came to “an understanding.”

Michael barges back in and tells them that he doesn’t believe them about Chuck, even though he himself got a taste of Chuck’s high-handedness when Lilith showed up. Dean points out that Michael’s belief that Chuck will bring in Paradise is not borne out by Chuck’s actions. Chuck gets bored with Paradise. As Michael grows angrier and angrier at their attempts to convince him, Adam comes back in and tells them that they need to back off. Michael’s “not listening.”

Dean steps forward and tells Adam that what they did to him was bad and can’t be taken back. Adam suggests that Dean could start with “I’m sorry.” Why just Dean, though? Why does Sam always get let off the hook for this sort of thing? I mean, look at how Rowena was all hunky-dory with Sam killing her earlier in the episode. Episodes and episodes wasted on endless Sam mangst and in the end, she just let it slide.

Anyhoo, Adam ends up alone, trying to talk Michael down. He points out that Sam and Dean did try to warn him about saying yes to Michael, and that they are sincere in their efforts to save and protect the world. He points out that if they’re saying Chuck has gone off the rails, it’s because they believe he has and … they’re probably right.

When Michael bitterly suggests that Adam has forgiven his brothers, he snaps back, “Oh, hell, no!” (though it does sound, at the very least, as though he’s willing to bury the hatchet and go with the bygones). He just says that maybe Michael, who points out he’s spent billions of years with Chuck, who created him with a thought, is wrong about his father.

But Michael is still obsessed with being the Good Son, even though Adam points out that “parents keep secrets.” Michael is afraid even to ask Chuck what his game plan is.

Back in the Library, Eileen is talking to Sue on not-Skype. Sue is strongly urging Eileen to come help her with the vampire nest before they get away. Does anybody not believe this is an obvious trap? I mean, besides Eileen? Especially when Sue apparently gets attacked?

Well, it appears Sam does. When Eileen goes to his room and tells him her “friend” (whom she barely knows) is in trouble, he comes with her without a single thought to checking out whether it’s real.

Castiel visits Michael, who is truculent. Castiel doesn’t even try to be nice. He “confesses” that he never really liked Michael, even when he “was just another angel.” Castiel, “paraphrasing a friend” (Dean, no doubt), says that Michael was “haughty” and “had an entire oak tree shoved up your ass.”

He ups the ante by saying that he pities Michael, who thought he was the “star,” God’s favorite, but was only a bit player. He leans close when he says this.

Predictably, Michael doesn’t respond well. He grabs Castiel, smacks his head against the table between them, tosses him over it, and then grabs him in a headlock from behind. But it is (of course) manipulation. Castiel was using a ruse to get close to Michael – his referencing Dean was the first clue. He manages to grab Michael by the head and forcibly show him his memories. These include basically a recap of Chuck the Writer, and they leave Michael red-faced and devastated.

Afterward, Dean enters the kitchen where Castiel is, on his way to get a beer from the fridge. Dean comments that maybe Castiel “went too far” and too fast with Michael. Michael has been “on lockdown” for a long time, after all. He then asks about Michael’s current condition. Castiel calls it “very distraught.”

Dean [impatiently]: Yeah, but what exactly did he say?

Castiel: “Leave. Get out. I want you dead.” We didn’t bond.

Castiel asks where Sam is and Dean mentions the hunt Sam went on with Eileen. Right at that moment, Sam and Eileen are arriving in an underground parking garage to find Sue’s van deserted with the doors wide open and no sign of a fight with vampires anywhere. Sue then shows up, acting shady, but she’s actually Chuck in disguise. Yup. Trap.

Back at the Bunker, Dean and Castiel’s rather stilted conversation (no, they haven’t “fixed” it, yet) is interrupted by an earthquake. It’s Michael. When they visit him, they find him now quite ready to cooperate. He feels betrayed by Chuck, especially by the part that he wasn’t even unique, that there were other versions of him, all abandoned by Chuck.

It turns out that Michael knows the spell used to lock up Amara back in the day. He says it can work on Chuck if Daddy is still weak and he’s willing to share the spell. Most of the ingredients are easy and already in the Bunker – myrrh, cassia and rock rose – but one is exceedingly difficult and dangerous to find. It’s called a Leviathan Blossom and it can only be found in – you got it – Purgatory. Dean cocks his head in an “oh, no” moment right before Michael even says it, knowing where this is going.

Michael snaps his fingers and makes a rift appear to Purgatory. Just like that. He tells them it will stay open for 12 hours. Then he politely asks them to take off the cuffs, which Dean rather reluctantly does.

Dean asks Michael if he’s coming with them, but nope, this is where Michael gets off the plot bus. As he turns to go, though, Dean asks to speak to Adam one last time. Adam comes out with a blue glow of the eyes, and Dean apologizes on behalf of both him and Sam for abandoning him: “You’re a good man. You didn’t deserve that.”

Adam’s face twists, almost in pain, as he ruefully understands that Dean has finally given him what he wanted most … and it doesn’t really change things. “Since when do we get what we deserve?” he says. “Good luck.” With a glance at Castiel, he leaves.

Dean and Castiel both turn to look at the rift.

Credits

The show dipped slightly to a 0.3/1 and dropped to 1.09 million in audience.

The preview for the next episode, “The Trap” (15.09) is up (spoiler alert: Looks like Sam ends up tied to yet another chair). The show returns on March 16 with Episode 5.12 (“Galaxy Brain”).

Review: I’ll start by reiterating what I’ve said in the past – I don’t think this season’s Chuck is Chuck. I think it’s the Empty Entity masquerading as Chuck. In fact, I don’t think we’ve seen the “real” Chuck since the end of season 11. Whether we are indeed getting a God-broke-bad storyline or one where the Empty Entity has imprisoned Chuck in the Empty (the being we saw Jack and Billie with at the very end of last season), at some point the show needs to show a card and explain why Chuck has changed so radically, to the point where he now wants to kill off his own creation.

It irritates me that we’re already 40% into the season (sigh, no, Twitter, this is not the halfway point, not even close. Calling it a “midseason finale” is just marketing bullshit) and still, we’re no further along in what’s going on with God than we were at the end of last season. Because of this, the season 15 mytharc has felt especially flabby, and has floundered and flapped about like a fish out of water. Put the damned fish back in the river and drop a few reveals, Show. It’s way past time. Us fans are getting bored out here.

But getting back to the Empty Entity theory – if Chuck is the EE, masquerading as Chuck, we already have part of the puzzle. The show has been awfully quiet about the Empty Entity this season, not even mentioning that Castiel never told the Winchesters about his deal with the EE (another lie from a dude who really needs to stop lying and blaming everyone else for his mistakes). That’s a big thing to drop, but hey, they’ve dropped big plots like that before. The Veil? What Veil?

More damning is that Chuck’s personality change isn’t that radical if he’s not Chuck and especially if he is the EE. His new personality fits the EE on the rampage in the SPNverse very well. He’s angry, nihilistic and petty. Sure, the old version of Chuck could be a bit petty and didn’t like to be challenged, but he generally liked his creations (and interacting with them in a reasonably benevolent way as long as they kissed his ass). He was willing to get locked away on their behalf in season 11, as long as his sister pinky-swore not to annihilate the SPNverse. So, wanting to end it now (because that’s what will be the actual result of the Brothers killing each other) is a polar-opposite switch for an eternal being tens of billions (at least) years old, in what is, to him, less than an eyeblink of time.

But it’s not at all a big switch for a being whose main stated purpose was to go back to his eternal sleep. If everything’s dead and gone, he can do that again. Plus, this was an entity that invaded Heaven to claim Jack as its own, and what did “Chuck” want, first and foremost (aside from assassinating Dean Winchester) last season? Jack, both dead and in the Empty.

Even the relative weakness makes sense. Chuck last season was weaker than before, even before Sam shot him. He had to follow a story and his creatures could still rebel against that story (not even just Dean). That would make sense. Just because the EE is supreme in his own realm, that doesn’t mean he has omnipotent (or even omniscient) powers in the SPNverse proper. And Chuck being EE even explains why he can easily bring back a character like Lilith from the Empty, when that was apparently a rather difficult thing to do in the past.

So, yeah, my money’s on a big reveal down the road (hopefully, not too far, because there ought to be a lot of story after that, not a backlog of wheel-spinning in front of it) that this version of Chuck is really the EE. But even if Chuck is Chuck, the show still owes us a reason why he had such a huge change of heart after season 11, even if it’s as lame as growing disenchanted and falling out with his sister.

I had somewhat mixed feelings about the episode overall. For a Nepotism Duo script, it was one of their better ones, though that still means it was pretty daft and shallow. I’d have argued that the quickie visit to Hell diminished Hell as a terrifying and remote realm (especially the Nep Duo once again forgetting that Hell moves on a different time scale than earth), but that ship sailed a long time ago and was torpedoed largely by these very writers. Ditto the quickie way to Purgatory and rehash of the season seven finale cliffhanger at the end of the episode.

I did enjoy Rowena’s return. Yeah, that was daft, too (boy, these idiots do love their ridiculously overpowered Witch Sue characters), but I like Rowena and Ruth Connell managed to sell it with a hefty dose of implied BDSM. I had a feeling she would return as the Queen of Hell and it was pretty satisfying to see it, even if it doesn’t change the part where they fridged a powerful female character to motivate a male one, or that this is likely a stand-in for what they would have had Crowley do in the last season, had Mark Sheppard been willing to return.

I had more mixed feelings about Michael and Adam. Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t thrilled to see Dean’s Michael storyline once again shoved aside for another bland guest character. Dean’s still-unresolved trauma from last season was scarcely addressed beyond a few quick lines. Even then, that was mostly Ackles’ emphasis, not so much the lines themselves.

I do have to give Jake Abel some kudos, though, for portraying Michael and Adam talking to themselves, and keeping it all separate. That took some skill. Obviously, Abel is (and looks) a decade older now, but that went well with Adam!Michael having been stuck in a prison for a very long time and it synced up better with Michael’s age than in “Swan Song,” when Abel looked way too young to play an ancient archangel.

The writers even addressed, however, briefly, Adam’s anger toward his brothers and later, rueful understanding that he ended up in Hell through his own choices, not theirs. This reminded me a bit of this week’s (episode five) reveal about Raffi in Star Trek: Picard. Raffi had spent most of the season so far feeling like a victim and blaming others for her misfortunes. Now I love Michelle Hurd (stopped watching SVU cold after the stupid way they wrote her out), but I was getting a little tired of Raffi’s pity party for one.

Boy, did she get checked on that this week. The effect, interestingly enough, was to make her more sympathetic. Only regulars on Star Trek shows get to have non-lethal arcs involving layers and regrets. The tragic thing was that she was (devastatingly) right, but she was also (equally devastatingly) wrong. You could say this about two other female characters this week, though I only sympathized with one of them (hint: it was the one with the blasters).

In Supernatural, taking the route of having an older, wiser Adam with regrets, who understood that he made choices that led to his being in the Cage, instead of a rabid madman supervillain, was a wise one. It gave him extra layers. It gave him (and Michael) depth and motivation. His willingness to negotiate a truce between his brothers and Michael showed a growth he hadn’t previously demonstrated, as did his willingness to hear Dean’s apology.

The truth is that by saying yes to Michael, Adam came very close to aiding and abetting the end of the world. That he recognized this and accepted responsibility for it made him sympathetic to the audience without making his brothers less sympathetic.

There were some inconsistencies in the writing that didn’t work for me, though. For a start, making Adam so subdued and Michael not really crazy was part of a pattern in the story of characters being less traumatized and more reasonable than you might expect. This is what led to Dean’s alt-Michael trauma being ignored. Again. So, in that sense, a lot of good potential drama was ignored in favor of a quick resolution.

Then there were some logic fails. In the diner, Michael is clearly angry at his father to the point of blasting Chuck’s messenger (Lilith) to ash. Yet, later on, he refuses to give up Chuck to TFW because he’s still loyal to him. And there’s no reason to believe he is lying in either case. That progression doesn’t track very well.

He also talks about being surprised that there even is a multiverse (alt-Michael implied he had been, too) and this doesn’t make sense. Michael is almost at the level of Death. Why wouldn’t he know that there were other versions of him when he can just make a rift to another realm within his own timeline with a snap of his fingers (boy, Raphael sure would have liked to be able to do that)?

Michael fares a lot better than Lilith, though. Poor thing, why did they even bother to bring her back? All the other “dead” characters have changed, like Rowena and Michael and Kevin (who is not even brought up this week, despite being the Prophet who translated the Demon Tablet).

Not Lilith. She is exactly the same as just before she died in season four (and it’s not the actress’ fault because she plays that version on point). This makes her perpetually behind the eight-ball and tragically unhip, about like the EVOL ghosts from the first couple of episodes this season, except that Lilith was once one of the show’s most memorable villains.

I was kinda relieved to see her go so soon while wondering why they bothered to bring her back at all, just to ruin her by making her a one-dimensional panto villain. They turned her into a bad joke and only she didn’t realize she was the punchline.

They could have done something with her resentment of being so directly at Chuck’s beck and call, but she didn’t seem to care enough about it for the audience to care with her. And in the end, we learned nothing new about her, her motivations, or her origins. They even dropped the baby blood angle. What was the point, Show?

The Kripke Years

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The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

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The Dabb Years

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Season 14

Season 15


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The Official Supernatural: “Last Call” (15.07) Live Recap Thread


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Recap: Standard recap of the mytharc so far, focusing heavily on Sam and Eileen, and Castiel’s recent vacation.

Cut to Now outside a very rural roadside bar in Texhoma, TX. A responsible young brunette (Angela) is trying to get her very drunk blonde friend (named Sally) to her car. Sally has to go barf, so her friend waits for her in the car, checking her messages. However, it’s not slatternly Sally who gets grabbed by the MOTW. It’s Angela. Sally turns around the find the entire car gone, along with poor Angela. Our only clue is Angela’s phone waving as she’s grabbed by someone (or something) in the backseat while Sally’s back is turned.

Angela wakes up in a cellar, tied to a chair with an IV tube running her blood to something scaly and blue in a very secure cage nearby. When Angela gets a glimpse of it, she screams.

Cue title cards.

Cut to Dean in his room in the Bunker, drinking heavily and looking through the news on his phone for a hunt. The news is remarkably quiet until he comes across an article with Angela’s photo and a headline that reads “MY FRIEND WAS RAPTURED WHILE I WAS DRUNK.” This piques Dean’s interest but good.

Dean appears, fully dressed, in the kitchen, where Sam and Eileen are all giggly, and making pancakes and bacon (despite Sam claiming to hate bacon a few episodes ago). Dean immediately susses out that they are hungover and, despite a subsequent brotherly conversation in the corridor outside about Sam leaving “a sock on the door” if he “gets lucky,” it seems fairly obvious that “hungover” is a euphemism for “got jiggy, already.”

Sam and Eileen both become concerned when Dean turns down an offer of free bacon and says he’s heading out for a drive. Sam follows him out into the hallway to ask what’s wrong. Dean says nothing is wrong, so Sam, rather reluctantly, tells him, “Call me if you need me.”

Dean [as he turns away and heads out]: Always do!

The funny thing is that Dean never does. He may need Sam emotionally, but he’s pretty self-sufficient on hunts like this. Yes, there are times when Sam has had to rescue him, too. Dean’s not invincible. But Dean doesn’t do calling for help. Especially when it’s pretty clear he needs to get out on the road and get the hell away from Sam for a while. Which happens, too. For some reason, Sam never understands why Dean has the same urges he gets to put some distance between them, from time to time.

As Sam comes back into the kitchen, Eileen asks what’s wrong. Sam says he’s not sure. Recently, Dean was very depressed about the revelations involving Chuck, to the point where Sam didn’t think he’d come out of it (it irritates me so, so very much that we saw almost none of this for Dean, yet we had Sam’s moping banged home for multiple episodes). So, surely, Dean coming out of his room and going out for a drive is good … right?

Oh, come on, Sam. You know better. Really, you do.

Outside the Texhoma police department, Dean (in FBI mufti) introduces himself to Sheriff Dillon, who is very photogenic and kinda dumb. The sheriff is convinced Angela Sully took herself off to Hollywood to become a star, as she has spoken of doing, even before her parents died a few years before. He says many kids do this and he himself lasted a full month there (“I coulda been the next Denzel”). Dean is a little nonplussed by this, especially when the sheriff says he’s photogenic enough for Hollywood himself (never mind he was only an AD in season two’s “Hollywood Babylon” and couldn’t act a single line in season six’s “The French Mistake”).

The sheriff does give Dean a lead, though – Sally. And her favorite hang-out, the bar we saw in the teaser – Swayze’s. So, that night, Dean heads out there in the Impala and his usual clothes. On the soundtrack is guest star Christian Kane’s “The House Rules,” and everything is an unsubtly affectionate homage to Patrick Swayze’s 1989 cult classic Road House. Dean is bemused by the combination of pickups and motorcycles parked outside.

Road House Rules

Inside, Dean finds a wide variety of blue-collar cliches and encounters a flirty brunette barmaid who likes what she sees, but insists on Dean tossing his cell phone into the basket she’s carrying. Seems one of the house rules is No Cell Phones. He asks her about Sally Anderson. She assures him that Sally will be in; the night’s special is Two for Tuesday. She gives him a slap on the ass as she leaves that Dean rather appreciates.

As he turns around, he notices the singer on the bandstand (who is singing the soundtrack song). As the song ends, Dean recognizes him and mutters the name, “Lee Webb.” Lee, of course, is played by guest star Christian Kane, who is a major genre alumnus going back to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

As Lee comes off the stage to engage with a female admirer, Dean approaches him. At first, there’s a glinty-eyed stare-down, but it’s just a fake-out. They then break it simultaneously and bear-hug. They know each other from way back. Lee says he owns the bar. Dean says he’s on a hunt, which surprises Lee (who apparently thought Dean was retired). After the barmaid gets a name (Lorna), they all go off to get drunk together.

Back at the Bunker, Sam and Eileen are doing research in the library (for real, that’s not a euphemism) and it looks very boring. They start eye-sexing and Eileen suggests they “take a break … do something ‘fun.'”

Eileen clearly thinks sex would be “fun,” but just as Sam is about to kiss the girl, Castiel shows up. Castiel says he’s there to help and is surprised to see Eileen alive. He asks where Dean is and looks disappointed when Sam says Dean “went out for a drive.” Sam explains they’re looking for signs of where to find Chuck or Lilith (another surprise resurrection for Castiel to digest).

Castiel says that “angel radio has been silent for months,” but has another idea. Maybe they can track Chuck via the wound he shares with Sam and the piece of Sam that is in Chuck. Well, aside from that sounding incredibly dangerous, it’s not a bad idea, so of course, Castiel wants to dive right into checking it out.

At the bar, Dean and Lee are reminiscing while Lorna plays a keen audience (I can’t get over how much this scenario resembles Dean’s dream bar that Michael locked him in). Lee is upset to hear about John’s death. Dean says John “always liked you … he said he’d never seen anybody better in a fight,” which Dean calls “high praise from the Old Man.”

Dean admits he hasn’t seen Lee since Sam went off to college (so over 15 years), that he thought Lee had been dead a while: “That’s usually how this ends, isn’t it?”

In answer, Lee references their last case together – “that cult thing in Arizona.” He says he did one more case near Texhoma and then hung it up. He got some money together, bought the bar, and retired. Dean asks him if he regrets leaving Hunting and Lee replies, “Not once.”

Back at the Bunker, Castiel’s cockamamie idea is to “probe” Sam’s wound using angel light. Sam, wisely, is skeptical about this (Eileen even more so), but lets Castiel do it, anyway. Because what could possibly go horribly wrong, amirite?

Quite a bit, as it turns out. Sam gets slammed into the wall of the Infirmary (where they’ve been conducting this little experiment) and ends up on a bed in a coma. Well, that’s convenient. They now don’t have to haul the Moose off to a bed.

Castiel calls Dean’s cell phone, but that, of course, is in a basket at the bar in Texhoma. In a flip on last week, Castiel is stuck leaving a frantic message of his own, while Dean is having shots with Lee and Lorna. Dean and Lee are sharing a story about a night with twins – no, triplets – whom they “split up fair and square.” For some reason, there are people in the fandom who believe this is confirmation that Dean had a sexual relationship with Lee. Um … no. Because according to Lee, they had sex with the women separately. Mind you, Dean did have a sexual relationship (which involved at least one orgy with triplets) with Crowley when he was a demon. But there’s no evidence in this episode that he and Lee ever did. In fact, Lorna keeps making cow eyes at Dean and he seems nonplussed. Guess it’s been a while since he got laid.

Back at the Bunker, Castiel calls Sergei, the Russian “shaman” from last season who was both treacherous and fairly useless in helping Jack. Sergei tries to beg off, saying he’s taking a favorite niece shopping, but Castiel calls in his favor to him, and threatens to find him and burn him alive if he doesn’t help. Then Castiel hangs up on him and calls someone else, whom he also asks for a favor.

Back at the bar, Dean is telling Lee about the events of season four episode “Yellow Fever.” Then he gets to why he’s there. When he shows Lee Angela’s photo, Lee claims he doesn’t know her (even though we saw her at the bar in the teaser), but backtracks when Lorna identifies her easily.

Lee then asks Dean why he’s still doing these hunts. Hasn’t he “moved on to something bigger and better by now”? Dean hedges on responding to that, just saying that “bigger doesn’t always mean better.” That someone needs to “look out for the little guy” since “God sure isn’t.”

Lee comments that this philosophy is pretty “dark” and Dean admits that “it’s been a rough decade, man.” But for now, he just wants to get back to admiring the bar and doing a little partying. While, of course, continuing the hunt. Lee suggests that Dean deserves a “break” from Hunting.

Lee’s idea is doing karaoke to a song John always used to put in the tapedeck when they were all going out on a hunt: the theme song to The Dukes of Hazzard (quite the ironic tune for two stone cold killers to sing along to). Lee gets the band going and wants Dean to come up on stage and do the song as a duet with him.

At first, Dean is very shy and unsure. There’s some nice Impostor Syndrome acting from Jensen Ackles here. But once he starts to get into it, he really cuts loose and the two of them have a good time while the audience cheers them on.

At the end of the set, they hear a woman shouting for help and go to her rescue (pretty literally leap off the stage to her defense with the motto “Roadhouse Rules”). Two roughnecks are harassing a young drunk blonde girl and refuse to leave. So, Dean and Lee “help” them out via the window and the saloon doors. Then Dean turns around and realizes the young woman is Sally, Angela’s drunk best friend, and it’s back to work on the hunt.

Back at the Bunker, Castiel is letting Sergei in through the front door. Let me reiterate this – instead of meeting him somewhere neutral, putting a bag over his head, driving him back to the Bunker, and taking the bag off only once they reached the infirmary (you know, the sensible thing), Castiel gives this guy he doesn’t like or trust directions to the Bunker and then just lets him in the front door. He then lets him walk through to the infirmary, getting a good eyeful (with running admiring commentary) all the freakin’ way.

Oh, Cas. Bless yer heart.

In the infirmary, Eileen is, I swear to Chuck, literally reduced to mopping Sam’s manly, comatose brow and begging Sergei to save his life. Ugh.

Sergei opens up an old-style physician’s bag, pulls out a crystal (where the hell did these writers get their ideas about Siberian shamans?!), and waves it over Sam as it glows. He then announces that Sam is dying.

Back at Swayze’s, Lee is fixing the window with a power drill while Dean interviews Sally. Sally is actually sober now (sort of), so that helps. She recounts her theory about Angela being raptured and how she wasn’t because she wasn’t worthy (Sally’s pretty dumb).

Lee gets sarcastic with her about the car being “raptured,” too, and has a quiet talk with Dean. He suggests they work the hunt together and Dean is game. Dean asks where one might dump a car. Lee suggests the lake, but Lorna (in passing) says if she were getting rid of a car, she’d do it in the local scrapyard, Merle’s. Dean tells an obviously stalling Lee to check the lake while he checks the scrapyard.

Back at the Bunker, Sergei says that Sam’s wound goes down to his soul, which is attached to something far away. If you probe it too hard, Sam’s soul will stretch like a rubber band and snap, killing him (well, except that we’ve seen people survive having no soul before). Can he cure it? He says he can.

In the scrapyard the next day, Dean is using a photo of Angela’s car to find it. Just when he’s about to give up, he turns and sees it. It’s been stripped of its doors, with its tires and bumpers piled on the roof. After looking in through the driver’s side, he pops the trunk. There’s Angela. She’s been dead a while (Dean’s recoil indicates decomp has set in). Then he hears the click of a gun behind him.

Alas, it’s Lee. He’s a bad guy. And I was just starting to like him. He bemoans Dean’s stubbornness in continuing the hunt then knocks him out.

Back at the Bunker, Sergei is putting some kind of dark paste on Sam’s Chuck wound. After a moment or two, Sam starts to convulse and he has a lot of flashbacks to Amara’s conversation with Chuck about Chuck not being “at full strength.”

Meanwhile, Sergei is coolly admitting that he gave Sam something that will kill him rather than cure him. He tries to blackmail Castiel, even when Eileen shoves him up against a wall out in the corridor. He tell her and Castiel that unless they give him “Death’s key,” he’ll let Sam die. And if he dies, so does Sam.

Death’s key (Sergei is happy to infodump) is a black key in the shape of a skeleton that opens Death’s library. You know … the one where Billie and Dean had their Very Interesting Conversation last year, before the whole season went down the Jack Sue tubes.

But Castiel is not playing along with the whole Being Blackmailed plan Sergei’s got going. Castiel just quietly, but firmly, tells Sergei that’s not how things are gonna roll. As his counter, he pulls out his phone and shows Sergei a surveillance photo of his niece, clearly taken without her knowing. He mentions alt-Bobby by name (probably not a good idea, but I guess we needed that dialogue to know) and that Bobby will kill Sergei’s niece if he doesn’t cooperate. Hence his previous phone call to that mysterious person.

It’s a ruthless tactic, but boy, does it work (and Eileen’s smile hints she was in on it). Sergei is forced to go back to Sam, wave his hands over him, and speak some mumbo-jumbo that sort of sounds like Greek. Et voilà, Sam is suddenly better.

When Sergei asks if everything’s “good” between them, Castiel just says coldly, “For now.” As he leaves, Sergei declares his admiration for Castiel acting so “Russian.” But of course, someone like Sergei will be looking for future opportunities for revenge and to get that key. And Castiel knows it.

Meanwhile, Dean is waking up in the same cellar, tied to the same chair, as poor Angela did in the teaser. And he gets a glimpse of the same monster across from him. Lee calls out from the top of the stairs if Dean is awake and comes down to stand, then crouch, in front of him.

Dean tries to talk to him, saying this isn’t like him. Lee says that maybe that used to be true, but that hunt in Arizona messed him up a lot more than he let on. It seems that unspecified monster destroyed an entire family, including children, and Lee became convinced that Hunters like him and Dean could never win in the end. So, he decided to “have a little fun” while he could, instead.

It turns out that his last hunt nera Texhoma was when he caught the creature in the stall. He calls it a marid (a type of Islamic demon). If you keep it fed, it gives you “money … good health … everything you dreamed of.”

When Dean points out that the price is innocent lives, Lee brushes this off. No one, he declares, is ever truly innocent. The world is a bleak place and no one truly cares about anybody.

“Well, I do!” Dean retorts.

Again, Lee shrugs this off, saying that’s why Dean is stuck in that chair. He starts up Dean’s IV conveying blood to the marid‘s cage (the gravity is a bit iffy on that one) and tells him that “after a few pints,” he’ll stop caring and just nod off. He insists that wasn’t what he wanted, but after Sally walked into the bar the night before, he knew Dean would just keep digging. ‘Cause that’s just the way Dean is. But if it’s going to be one of them who’s left standing, it’s going to be Lee. After patting Dean on the back, Lee returns upstairs, even as Dean calls his name after him.

The monster appears (there’s a sea monkey/Dagon theme going with it) and starts sucking on the blood from the IV. Realizing he doesn’t have a whole lot of time, Dean desperately starts rocking the chair until it comes apart and he falls to the side. As the marid starts banging on its cell door, he works frantically on the ropes and the IV. He gets loose just as the lock goes on the door. I love the look of “Oh, come on” on his face as he notices that.

Cut to Lee upstairs (the cellar is under the bar, behind a door that says, “PRIVATE. WE DON’T CALL 911,” with a drawing of a pistol aimed at the words), cleaning up. He shrugs off with a rather sad look the monster’s grunts downstairs until he hears a particularly loud roar that makes him realize it’s broken loose. He pull out the pistol he pulled on Dean at the scrapyard and starts to approach the door cautiously.

Loud, hard footsteps come up the stairs and the door creaks open. A head gets tossed through. Let’s just say it’s not Dean’s.

Lee looks pretty surprised. The door opens further and in comes Dean. Boy, does he look pissed. “Sorry about your friend,” he says.

Lee’s like, yeah, and then starts shooting. Dean dives behind the bar, where he finds a shotgun. “God bless Texas!” he mutters as he racks it. He fires back, startling Lee and forcing him to take cover. They exchange gunfire and both run out of ammunition. Lee is further surprised when Dean calls this out and has apparently been able to keep count of Lee’s shots.

Dean stands up and Lee comes out from behind the wall, and they ditch their guns. Lee tries to go back to the bromance with a “Hardcore, Brother.” But Dean’s having none of it: “Don’t act like we’re still friends. I don’t know you.”

Lee begs to differ. He says they’re the same. He just figured out the world was “broken.” Dean says that when it’s broken, you fix it.

Lee then tries the tactic of suggesting they just pretend this never happened. Dean could walk away. With clear reluctance, Dean says he can’t do that. Even though he really doesn’t want to take his old friend down, “I kill monsters.”

Lee: Want a shot at the title?

Dean: Don’t mind if I do.

There follows a vicious roundhouse fight, started by Dean ripping the table between them to one side and going after Lee. They trade some serious body punches and at one point, Dean flips Lee under a table. Lee gets a chair across his back. Dean gets both a beer bottle and a pool cue across the head (though he partially blocks both). Lee tries to stab Dean with the broken cue, but Dean manages to grab it, turn it, and stab Lee up against a doorjam instead. Lee has one final time to be surprised.

Lee: Why do you care so much?

Dean: Because someone has to.

Lee then says he’s “glad” Dean was the Hunter who got him and asks Dean to pull the cue out. Dean does and Lee falls down dead. Dean looks upset.

Cut to Dean hurrying back into the Bunker and finding Castiel. He says he got Castiel’s message and asks if Sam is okay. Castiel says yes, looking away with discomfort on his face, and then walks out. I guess that’s why he doesn’t notice how beat up Dean is, or ask why. Dean looks exasperated.

Cut to Sam in the infirmary, with Eileen at his side, telling Dean about his flashbacks. He says he was “inside Chuck’s head,” that “Chuck is weak” and “I think we can beat God.” Dean looks skeptical, but doesn’t contradict him.

Credits

After its mini-hiatus, the show rose in the demo back to a 0.3/2, but dropped again to 1.06 million in audience. Still something of a miracle in a season full of CW shows with demos and audience numbers well south of 0.3 and 1 million.

The preview and synopsis for the next episode are up.

Review: Woof, this turned out to be a long review. Well, some episodes have more to chew on than others.

Gotta love Dean. Sam was so pissy about Dean having a Mental Health Day that Dean took it on the road and killed some things. Those things included an old (human) friend who broke bad. You could say that Dean’s original estimation that Lee had been dead for years was not too far off. The old Lee, the Hunter who was fighting evil rather than feeding it, had been gone a long time.

This episode seemed to me half a classic and half a clips show version of the current season. Considering other bona fide classic episodes in other seasons like “First Born” or “The Vessel” have similarly lame B plots that most viewers choose not to remember, I’m comfortable with labeling “Last Call” a classic, at least for now (if it’s still memorable to me next year, it becomes a permanent classic).

It’s interesting that the B-story was, in fact, intended to keep the mytharc going because all it ended up doing was spin wheels. Sam went into a coma, had some flashbacks to previous episodes (hence the clip show element) while an anxious Eileen mopped his brow and Castiel made some calls, then woke up, declaring Chuck had been weakened and they could beat him. This was treated like some great revelation and I suppose that it was … to Team Free Will. The audience has already known this for weeks.

While this plot literally centered on Sam (because it was All About Saving Sam), it was actually Castiel’s arc. Castiel managed to get revenge on Sergei the Russian “shaman” who pulled a fast one on him a while ago. This was satisfying to watch (even if I wasn’t gagging to see Sergei back and it was pretty dumb for Castiel to let him into the Bunker like that). I was less impressed by his whining and raging at Dean’s voicemail and then stomping off in a huff as soon as Dean did show up, without even asking what happened (I don’t think Dean ever did fill anyone in on nearly getting killed on his hunt, but then, nobody asked, either). That was pretty childish. Kinda creeps me out that some fans saw romantic chemistry in that scene.

I don’t actually mind Castiel reverting to more of his old Asshole Angel of the Lord self. That can be fun to watch. I do, however, think there should be consequences for it in his relationships with others, especially humans. By no stretch of the imagination am I rooting for he and Dean to get into a romantic relationship that looks mighty unhealthy, abusive and dysfunctional. Castiel has often treated Dean very poorly in the past, using his greater angel strength and abilities to impose his will and ignore Dean’s consent to a lot of things. So, I’m gonna nope out of wanting any Destiel this season.

Eileen … oh, Lord. I want to like the return of Eileen, but the poor kid has already been reduced to the role of Sam’s Special Girlfriend. All she got to do was stand around and look anxious (though some of that appears to have been an act to back up Castiel’s clever double-cross). She didn’t even get to figure anything out regarding Sam’s situation. And both she and Castiel basically ignored the fact that Dean was uncharacteristically missing for most of the episode.

Dean’s storyline, on the other hand, was both a callback to old school Supernatural MOTWs and also a possible call forward. Last episode, Sam had to get rescued by Dean. This episode, Dean was betrayed by an old friend, nearly died (even ended up tied to a chair like Sam), and rescued himself. In the process, he killed a god.

Considering the mytharc, this was rather significant.

Yes, the marid was a very minor god (it’s a kind of djinn or ifrit in Islamic folklore), but it was still a god. It had a worshiper who fed it sacrifices and in return, it gave that worshiper good fortune, basically. In Supernatural terms, that’s a god.

It’s also a not-so-subtle parallel to Chuck. Chuck has been manipulating Sam and Dean to do certain things and make certain decisions, to the point where it seemed that they had no Free Will left and could not possibly win. But not only was Dean able to fight and kill the marid (which was an exceedingly formidable creature), but he was able to counteract the advantage it gave to Lee and also kill him. Keep in mind that even after all these years, Lee was fighting for his life and liable to be almost as, if not more, formidable a fighter as he reputably had been back in the day. So, a wounded, blood-drained, exhausted Dean being able to take him is a significant thing.

To get an idea of what advantage the marid had given Lee (and how this paralleled things with Chuck), look at the “Roadhouse Rules” scene. A great many electrons have been killed in the rather silly debate over whether Dean and Lee having a double-date with triplets makes Dean bi (um … no?), and whether or not Dean can sing canonically, to the point where a whole lot of fans seem to have missed some really obvious subtext.

Now, one could argue that Dean not being able to sing has never really been canon. He’s always sung around Sam (who is no Pavarotti and Chuck forbid Dean ever show Sam up), or as a demon (when he was drunk and intentionally singing poorly to piss off his unwilling audience). Jensen Ackles is, himself, quite a good singer (as is Christian Kane, who plays Lee). So, Kripke script notes aside, it’s never been settled one way or the other, despite how some fans choose to see it.

But here’s the thing – all that is completely irrelevant. The scene isn’t there just to indulge Jensen Ackles (or show off guest-star Kane’s singing chops) and help him sell his new album, as some have ungraciously suggested. It has a purpose – quite a major one, in fact – of foreshadowing the nature of the MOTW and quite-probably the mytharc (since such unsubtle MOTWs are usually intended as foreshadowing for the mytharc). And within that context, it makes perfect sense.

You see, in exchange for all those hapless human sacrifices, the marid is giving Lee luck. And charisma. And an almost-fairy tale life. His bar is wildly successful and always full. When he gets up onstage, he sings perfectly and the barflies cheer him on with no irony whatsoever. The ladies love him and he wins all bar fights (hence the comparison to the loop fantasy alt-Michael stuck Dean in last season).

So, when he mentions the song from their youth and that Dean deserves “a break,” he is briefly sharing that luck with Dean. That’s why Dean can sing so successfully. That’s why everyone cheers him on. That’s why the moment is followed by a “Roadhouse Rules” moment of bouncing the bad guys out the door. It has diddly-squat to do with any inherent talents Dean has.

And that’s why the fact that even though Dean thoroughly enjoys that moment, he immediately switches back to Hunter mode when he sees Sally, is so remarkable. Because Lee may be doing him a favor, but it’s one with secret strings, strings that Lee has used quite successfully for years (even a decade or two) to distract everyone else, including the dopey sheriff. Lee is trying to distract Dean, employing all of the magical luck the marid gives him. Failing that, he then tries to kill him (twice).

And in the end, none of it works. Lee, on a much smaller scale, is manipulating Dean in a way Dean can’t consciously see, just like Chuck. And it doesn’t work. So, the question becomes, What does that say and mean about Chuck’s influence on Dean?

Now, there’s an obvious question of whether Chuck sent Dean on this hunt (perhaps to break his spirit) and, since he doesn’t want Dean dead except at Sam’s hands, gave him the luck necessary to survive and prevail over Lee and the marid. That’s certainly possible. One could even argue that preternaturally helpful and lustful Lorna the barmaid was Chuck in disguise (though that never panned out and she appears to have been just a helpful Conflict and Exposition Fairy in the end).

And one wonders about Chuck’s possible motivation for that. Was it really to break Dean’s spirit? If so, it failed miserably and may have a sowed a seed Chuck wouldn’t want sprouting inside Dean’s mind. How would sending Dean against Lee make him more likely to kill, or get killed by, Sam? Is Chuck actually using reverse psychology to get Dean to go up against him and take him down? Is Chuck even Chuck? It’s easy to raise this possibility as a way to dismiss how much Free Will Dean exercised in this episode, but actually exploring Chuck’s motivations for such a scenario, especially regarding Dean, turns out to be a real rabbit hole. Dean definitely did not choose the blue pill this time round.

However (slight spoiler for the next few episodes here), so far, even that possibility hasn’t come up. Chuck’s been really obvious in the way he’s manipulated Sam and other characters, but not a peep about Dean and Lee and the marid. So, it really makes you wonder. We live in a society (sorry, Lindsay Ellis’ very informative media takes from a film school perspective on YouTube are a hoot. I highly recommend them).

Speaking of Lindsay Ellis, in her hot take of the Game of Thrones series finale that I just linked to (yes, it’s worth that hour and ten minutes of your time – hell, I’ve rewatched it at least twice), she starts off talking about theories regarding the nature of power and corruption. She cites biographer Robert Caro’s analysis of Lord Acton’s famous maxim: “All power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Following his multivolume biography of Lyndon B. Johnson and his classic 1974 biography of urban power broker Robert Moses, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (which, dammit, Lindsay, I did not need yet another book on my must read list), Caro suggests rather that:

What I believe is always true about power is that power always reveals. When you have enough power to do what you always wanted to do, you see what the guy always wanted to do [my bolding for emphasis].

Ellis then goes on, of course, to discuss how Game of Thrones addressed the concept of power in each of its characters, especially for season eight. She’s particularly scathing about season eight, which I think is deserved.

But a discussion of the nature of power is a pretty obvious one for a story whose basic plot is a bunch of One Percenters fighting so viciously and vociferously over a throne that they will kill each other, kill a bunch of innocents that they used as pawns, compromise all of their principles, and even ignore a potential apocalypse to attain their goal and then to keep it for however long they can. Power is the central theme for Game of Thrones.

“Power is power.”

Less obviously, power is also a central concept in Supernatural. The basic plot is one where human beings employ magic (usually black magic) to protect themselves and steal power from the greater beings of the universe – notably demons, angels and monsters (including pagan gods). The main plot revolves around a multigenerational use of necromancy and Faustian bargains by one family, for survival and revenge. And if there’s one thing necromancy and Faustian bargains have in common, it’s that they are all about the ultimate power – the power over life and death itself.

This explains why Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming’s OTT version of witches in later seasons doesn’t fit well with the rest of the show. Hunters already represent humans who practice magic to gain power, some with psychic powers, some not. Some are even monsters themselves. Witches were originally introduced with the idea that they fit in as civilians who practice black magic selfishly, for their own advancement – a subset of people who make deals with Crossroad Demons. But Lee is hardly the first or only Hunter to use magic for himself.

Where witches actually differ from Hunters in the show is that witches are urban or suburban and upper or at least upper-middle class, whereas Hunters are rural and blue collar, even straight-up poor and disenfranchised. Witches, at the end of the day, are hideous snobs.

Writers like Buckner and Ross-Leming, and Andrew Dabb, further put a moral spin on this (particularly against Dean) by presenting the witches (or, in the case of “Bloodlines,” rich, urban, One Percenter monster families) as more societally progressive than the blue collar Hunters like Dean in Flyover Country (who have actually be presented as societally progressive down-and-outers since the very start and are a hell of a lot more diverse than the witches).

This apparently tone-deaf attitude does make sense if you consider that Buckner and Ross-Leming’s idea of “progressive” was obsolete by the late-90s, at best, and that Dabb comes from writing comics, a genre that has long struggled with its own reactionary tendencies. It’s how Buckner and Ross-Leming can genuinely think a character set-up (a white warlock in a Southern city with a servile black female lover who also happens to be a dog) that would have been considered reactionary and offensive in 1850, let alone the 21st century, is more progressive than the marginal, impoverished, rural, blue collar, ethnically diverse culture Dean actually represents.

That right there, my droogs, is probably why “Bloodlines” went down in flames with the audience as a proposed spinoff pilot. The snobby, class-tone-deaf Downton Abbey With Vampires! attitude of other shows like the entire The Vampire Diaries franchise cannot, ever, be presented as good or root-able in the Supernatural franchise. This is simply due to fundamental audience investment in Hunter power dynamics and who’s the good guy underdog here. Mixing and matching these two incompatible views of how a supernatural society would work would not be acceptable even to the part of the audience that watches both (and yes, of course, there’s an overlap in fandom between the two).

So, of course, every single major character (and a lot of minor ones) has been tested in the crucible of power. They’ve all been given power and that has been used to reveal their true nature: When you have enough power to do what you always wanted to do, you see what the guy always wanted to do.

This theme is remarkably consistent throughout the entire series.

Here’s the other consistent theme. Every character in the series (even Death and now even God) has failed that test, has been corrupted by power, with only one exception: Dean Winchester.

Now, it’s not so much that Dean is a Reluctant Leader type along the lines of Jon Snow. Jon, bless his heart, was, in the end, just plain too incompetent to take up his Chosen One role (we’ll leave aside how Game of Thrones did all its female leaders dirty. That’s a depressing conversation for a whole other review). Dean is actually a natural leader and will step into any power vacuum to take over. He likes leading. It’s his natural default.

However.

What Dean is reluctant to do is to see himself as somehow superior to others due to being a leader. The fact that he has power, even great power, never goes to his head. He is really consistent in perceiving himself as a servant leader. Hence all the Jesus parallels that I’ve talked about in the past: The last shall be the first and all that.

And that is why Dean is the only SPN character who can (and ever could) handle even absolute power without being corrupted. Unlike everyone else, Dean does not take power to heart. Even with the Mark, the most it did was drive him insane and then he tried to take himself off the board permanently to avoid harming anyone else. Dean at his lowest points is a Dean who stops fighting and stops caring (which every character around him has done at some point, but somehow with him, it’s catastrophic or something), not a Dean who uses power to screw over everyone else.

Every other character who goes dark, does so over power. Sam, Lucifer, Castiel, Jack, even the first Death and Billie while she was still a Reaper, all go power-mad. Amara, while her grudge against Chuck was just, threw a season-long tantrum against his innocent creations, while she herself has called out her brother’s arrogance.

For Dean, power is not an ego-boo thing. It’s just a tool to get stuff done. You give Dean power and then you see what Dean always wanted to do. And what Dean always wanted to do was … The Family Business. Just making the SPNverse a kinder, fairer place one hunt at a time. Imperfectly, of course, because paragons of virtue are boring to watch, but that’s always his true North.

There’s another important question (since Dean does mention Chuck being an asshole God to Lee, albeit very obliquely in a way that would be clear only to the audience) regarding Dean paralleling Chuck. When Lee repeatedly asks Dean why he still cares, why he still tries to save people, why he still hunts and fights and kills and … well … judges monsters, Dean replies, “Somebody has to.” The fact that he’s not God is not going to stop Dean from trying singlehandedly to make the SPNverse a better place, even if Chuck can’t be bothered. I mean, this is a character who was successful in using his mind as a cage for the most powerful archangel in the SPNverse. And yes, I know he had critical help from Sam and Castiel in creating that cage, but once alt-Michael was inside? That was all Dean.

Which makes you wonder if Dean might actually be a better God than Chuck and how long it’s going to be before that solution occurs to Dean. I’m not saying that Dean is arrogant enough to think he’s as big as God (because that’s so not Dean, even if it’s occurred to literally every other character who’s acquired that much power save maybe Amara and Death), but as a tactic? A way to defeat Chuck? Hell, yeah, Dean would step up.

I want to end with some stuff about Lee. Christian Kane deserves a shout-out for his performance. Yeah, he’s got decades of stagefighting experience. Yeah, he and Jensen Ackles are friends. Yeah, he could probably do growly, charismatic, blue collar dude in his sleep at this point. But there is a reason he’s been a fan favorite since Buffy the Vampire Slayer and he showed it in this episode.

The thing is that with his introduction and positioning in the episode, it’s pretty clear right off Lee is going to end up the antagonist. Lorna is a more puzzling character. If she doesn’t turn out to be Chuck in disguise, or manipulated by him down the road, I guess she was just there to be an Exposition Fairy and sexually harass Dean. But Lee? Not a lot of room for nuance in the plot twist of his Sudden Yet Inevitable Betrayal at the end of the second act.

Yet, Kane manages to introduce that ambiguity, not only by making Lee just so gosh-darned likeable, but also by giving us foreshadowing of his betrayal with some squirrely, paranoid subtext at the bar. Normally, Dean would notice (and subconsciously, he kinda does, since he keeps on with the hunt), but the magic of the marid was probably messing with his brain. So, you’re left guessing and hoping against hope that maybe Lee won’t be the bad guy, after all.

It takes the death of an innocent to show that he’s crossed a line. Dean finding Angela’s body is a bleak end to his search, but it also shows how and why Dean cannot simply walk away from what Lee had done after killing the marid. Lee targeted, not Sally who was a selfish, drunken idiot, but loyal, responsible Angela. And he probably targeted Angela because Angela was protecting Sally, watching over her. After taking out Angela, he could always get to Sally later, when it was much easier and there was no one left to care. In light of his speech about why Dean still cares, and his sticking Dean in the same chair as Angela just for caring, that is (as he himself had said earlier), “dark.” It’s also mighty cold. Lee had to go down.

Personally, I’d have liked to have seen more stories involving Dean and Lee. Ackles and Kane had great chemistry, and played off each other well, especially in their interplay of regretful-yet-resolved expressions in that tragic last scene. But alas, the structure of the story pretty much guaranteed that was never going to happen. RIP Lee.


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14

Season 15


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The Official Supernatural: “Golden Time” (15.06) Live Recap Thread

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!


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It’s been a tough year, so I’m way behind on my recaps and reviews. I actually intended to be a few reviews more down the road, but the early part of December was busier than I expected and once I did hit a break, I kinda … faceplanted. Sorry. Hoping to be at least caught up with season 15 by the time it comes back from Hellatus in two weeks.

As of this review, I now have 58 episodes left to finish for previous seasons, plus the 14 after this one for the final (15th) season that started on October 10. That’s 72 total by next April. I currently have 151 coffees at $3 each on Ko-Fi (many thanks to those who have contributed so far!). If I get 300 coffees total, I will commit to doing one recap/review per week (retro or Season 15). If I get 400 coffees, I will commit to two. If I get 500 coffees, three reviews. If I get 600 coffees, four reviews. If I get 700 coffees, five reviews per week.

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

Other that that, any and all contributions are welcome! You can still find my reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my folklore research on Patreon.

Scroll down to find links to all of my recaps and reviews of all seasons up to this point.

Recap: After a rather standard recap of the season so far for Castiel and Rowena’s storylines, we cut to a hallway in a very nice apartment building (all marble walls and such). A young blonde woman in hipster plaid clothing and a long jacket strolls toward a door. She knocks and calls out to “Ms. Mcleod,” claiming to be a concerned neighbor. Yeah, right.

Hearing nothing, she leans down and whispers, “Aperiator” into the keyhole. The door opens.

To Cobra Ramone’s “So Quiet” on the soundtrack (shocker! Some actual rock!), the young woman (rather obviously a rival witch seeking to loot a dead witch’s stuff) starts trashing the place. The fact that she not only is ransacking it, but deliberately smashes things she doesn’t need to, says a lot about what kind of person she is. So, when she gives up for a moment in frustration and yells, “Come on! Where is the good stuff?” it’s hard to feel sorry for her when her nose and eyes start to bleed. Even when she doesn’t quite make it back to the door and the deadly hex Rowena left behind takes her out.

Cue title cards.

At the Bunker, Sam is on his laptop when something transparent, but not quite invisible, comes through the door. Sam senses it, but is more puzzled than alarmed. Dean enters the kitchen at that moment. He’s in a bathrobe and pajamas, eating cereal out of the box and reading the simple jokes on the back, while “marathoning Scooby-Doo.” Even though he is laughing and seems outwardly cheerful, it is clear that Dean is very, very, very depressed and taking a much-needed Mental Health Day. Or maybe a week. Or a month.

Sam decides this is problematical, even though he did exactly the same thing a few episodes ago, for at least a couple of weeks. But nope, he’s over that and busy looking for Chuck and why isn’t Dean taking this seriously? Screw you, Sam.

Dean does ask if Sam has found anything (that’s a big negative) and if he’s had any more dreams (also a big negative). Sam asks if Dean noticed anything when he first came in (nope) and suggests that maybe the dreams have stopped.

Dean is skeptical about that. He figures Chuck still has a plan for them – “The Winchester Bowl: Cain and Abel 2.0” – and won’t let up until it’s finished. “We don’t need to worry about finding him. He’ll find us.”

Meanwhile, Castiel is somewhere woodsy and folksy, getting himself let into Simmzy’s Bait and Tackle Shop. It turns out he’s been fishing to pass the time. He mentions Dean in passing (though not by name).

As he’s getting a new fishing map, Castiel notices that the friendly shop owner, Andy, is drinking the booze early in the morning. Andy admits that he’s a volunteer firefighter and they had a bad call last night. They pulled the dead body of a local teen, Shane Coogan, out of the lake. Andy says the weirdest thing was that the kid’s body was drained of its blood.

Back in Lebanon, Sam is jogging (it’s finally back into Vancouver’s long rainy season/fall, so we’re free of that damned incessant sunshine from the season’s earlier episodes). He quickly realizes something is up when his breath fogs. As he glances over toward the waterside, he sees the same transparency we saw in the Bunker. This time, it resolves into a ghost – that of Eileen Leahy, the badass, Irish (and deaf, thanks to the banshee that killed her parents) Hunter who was murdered-by-Hell Hound in season 12 by Arthur Ketch.

Back at the Bunker, she’s talking to the Brothers and Dean is asking her questions. It turns out that because she was dragged off by the Hell Hound, she ended up in Hell. When Chuck blew open all the doors, she got out of there as fast as she could and cleared the area before Belphegor’s barrier went up (note that this means there could still be some very naughty ghosts out there). It turns out she circled back and has been trying to get the Brothers to see her ever since.

She now has a huge dilemma. She has no desire to go back to Hell, but if she stays a ghost, she’ll “go crazy.” Dean explains to her that they already found out (via Kevin) that souls that have been in Hell can’t go to Heaven afterward (I really hate that stupid bit of LOL!canon the writers pulled out of their asses this season). Obviously, she’s disappointed, though she struggles to be philosophical about it.

As the Brothers go off to consult in the corridor, Sam whines that Dean didn’t “sugar coat it” about what Eileen faces. Dean’s like, whatever. He actually has a different idea. He suggests using a soul catcher (like the crystal Rowena used to capture the Hell ghosts in the first couple of episodes), one which would house only Eileen. It’s at least better than Hell or going insane on earth.

Sam says the magic is complicated, but Dean tells him that he’s now like “Rowena’s protege, Ginger Jr.” and can make it happen. Is Dean … aware of what Sam did to Rowena to force her to help him lift the MoC from Dean’s arm at the end of season 10? Because the writers sure have forgotten and it was actually a pretty ugly incident in Sam’s arc.

Sam admits that if “it’s what Eileen wants,” maybe he can find a crystal at Rowena’s apartment. Seems, after all this bitching at Dean about taking a day off, Sam still hasn’t gone over there to clear out her place. Yeah, seriously, screw you, Sam.

Sam is upset when Dean tells him to go ahead and take care of it. Seems Sam wants Dean to come over with him and hold his hand through the process. Dean points out that it’s “a milk run,” so “kick it in the ass.” And he walks off, leaving Sam looking pissy.

Castiel is at the sheriff’s office, trying to find out more about the dead kid. But it seems the sheriff is out getting his hair cut, as he does every Tuesday (pretty sure this is a Victor/Victoria reference).

A woman also sitting in the waiting room asks Castiel for help, since she’s heard he’s FBI (he says he’s on vacation) and the sheriff’s novel-reading receptionist is useless. Seems the woman is a mother who heard about the dead boy. Now her son is missing after having gone camping the night before. Castiel agrees to help her.

At a SureGas station, Sam is gassing up the Impala, while apologizing to Eileen for her situation and not being able to fix it. Well, turns out Dean was right and Eileen is fine with the solution they’ve got. It sure beats the other alternatives.

Sam then tells her he was once in Hell, too, but she says she doesn’t want to talk about it just yet. He uses sign language and she’s flattered (as a ghost, she wouldn’t be deaf, but the show has been making ghosts way too solid this season, anyway).

I have mixed feelings about this team-up. On the one hand, I liked Eileen and I like Shoshannah Stern. And I like that the show is doing representation for the deaf community with an actress who is actually deaf (not exactly common on television). And she did have chemistry with Sam in her first appearance.

On the other hand, the writing is already de-evolving her from Eileen Badass Scarred Hunter (the deafness being the MOTW-induced scar she grew up with) into Sam’s New Girlfriend We Sure Hope The Show Won’t Kill Off This Time. Sam treats her with a kind of syrupy condescension that doesn’t sit right with me. Even Dean, who is all for the relationship, calls Sam out on decisions Sam keeps making for Eileen instead of helping her with decisions she’s made herself.

Also, I can’t say I’m thrilled they fridged her in the first place, in a way very similar to how they fridged her character in Jericho. So, that leaves a bad taste, too.

Sam and Eileen arrive at the apartment, only to find the place trashed and the Doomed Teaser Witch on the floor. As Sam comes in, a nearby mirror ripples and there’s a quick cut out to a white service van, with the words “Keep ‘er Movin’: “you Go we Pack” on the side, in the parking lot outside. It turns out that two other witches inside it are scrying/spying on Sam as he discovers a convenient tattoo on the dead body that identifies her as a member of the Ordo Maleficarum (Order of Witches). In the van, the older witch has a red hood, violet eyes, and an Oirish accent.

Sam figures the young dead witch sprang a trap, but doesn’t stop to wonder if he will also be affected as he closes the doors and goes off to find the Macguffin somewhere in the apartment.

Back on Castiel’s summer vacation, he’s talking to the sheriff, who is even lazier than his receptionist. The sheriff identifies the woman Castiel just met as one Ellen Krakowski, a woman who just moved into the area and is a frequent complainer at the station. Needless to say, the sheriff is dismissive of her concerns about her son. He also dismisses the recent drowning victim as an OD, saying only tourists go missing in town, not locals.

Castiel makes his hostility about the sheriff’s sloppy detective work obvious, especially when the sheriff insists the body has already been “shipped off to Cheyenne,” so Castiel can’t examine it. The sheriff then starts questioning Castiel’s credentials, so Castiel gives him a number. This number goes to a cell phone in the Bunker that is part of a network similar to the set of landlines Bobby used to have to help Hunters with their fake law enforcement credentials. Dean happens to be walking by in his bathrobe when the phone rings and answers it (after some quick sorting to figure out which one it is and which name to use).

After identifying himself as Castiel’s boss, Dean has the sheriff put Castiel on the line. Very reluctantly, Castiel takes it. After pointing out that Sam has been trying to call him, Dean quickly tells him that Chuck is back and to start checking his messages, already. Then he hangs up. After looking uncomfortable and rubbing his face with the phone, Castiel fakes a response and hands the phone back to the sheriff. This wins a concession from the sheriff to hand over the records for the drowned boy, Shane.

In Rowena’s apartment, Sam realizes that there is nothing of value there. Where is Rowena’s real “stuff”? Eileen gets an idea and walks through a bookshelf wall, then calls out from the other side. It turns out to be small storeroom. Once Sam gets it open, he finds Rowena’s important stuff, including journals that she kept up until her death about all her spellwork. Eileen asks if Sam “missed her” and Sam admits that he killed her as part of a spell to stop the Hell ghosts and save the world.

Sam: You ever feel like you’re the punch line to some cosmic joke?

Eileen [passing her ghost hand through his]: Are you kidding?!

Yeah, Sam, get your head out and get with the program.

Sam says that “Rowena got it. I mean, she didn’t know all the details, but she knew the game was rigged, so this … magic … this was how she kept control.” Well, that’s an awfully benign way to put it, Sam.

As he waves the journal around, Sam accidentally knocks a paper out of it and is surprised to find out it’s a spell. It seems Rowena was trying to bring back Mary (even without a body) until she found out Mary was Heaven and decided not to finish it. However, he thinks he can finish the spell and use it to resurrect Eileen. Well, that’s convenient.

However, as soon as he gets the stuff into the trunk, he’s hexed. He finds the hex bag, just as the other two witches get out of their van and approach him because sure, that’s smart, and the older one calls him by name. Sam signs to Eileen to get Dean, right before the older witch conveniently banishes her, presumably back to the Bunker. Yeah, not the brightest logs on the Yule fire, these two.

Sam wakes up inside the van, tied to a chair (natch). The older witch starts Evil Overlord monologuing about how Rowena’s dead and they came for her stuff, but they didn’t think they could get at it until Sam came bumbling along because Rowena hexed the apartment and only Sam is immune.

The dead witch is Jacinda, her oldest daughter. The other girl is apparently her other daughter. That one has just made a doll from Sam’s hair and hands it to the older witch with a nasty smile. Her mother uses it to torture Sam.

Sam tries to make a deal to get them ingredients (not mentioning that he just put them in the Impala’s trunk, which the witches should have seen already), in exchange for the spell, but the mother refuses. She figures she needs it to bring Jacinda back and Death will only allow the spell to be used once. She’s just going to torture Sam into cooperating, instead.

How have these women lived as long as they have, again?

Meanwhile, Castiel is looking over the records of the dead and missing people around the lake (most of them look young) and making a pattern of x’s on a map. When he goes out to survey it, Ellen follows him (Ellen … Eileen … awfully similar names to use in the same episode for guest characters, Show). Seeing Castiel’s map and getting an explanation out of him, she insists her son wouldn’t come out to the lake because it’s not safe. There’s a silver mine in the area. Castiel has to agree to let her lead him there. She won’t just give him directions. Scenery’s nice, though cold – a foggy BC lake.

Sam is walking up to the apartment with other sister, Sam carrying a cardboard box, she the doll. He works out that her name is Emily and tries to sweet-talk her. It only partially works. She tortures him to make him shut up, but he gets a break when he enters the apartment and she sees her sister’s body.

Her reaction is strange. When Sam offers to cover up the body, she asks if he thinks Jacinda is pretty, since everyone else thought so. Sam points out that Jacinda is dead (i.e., dead bodies aren’t sexually attractive except to necrophiliacs). It turns out Jacinda bullied Emily pretty severely. When Sam shares a story about Dean putting Super Glue in his toothpaste, Emily shares that Jacinda made her invisible for a week, tried to sell her soul to a demon, and murdered her first crush with magic – “then she got mean.” She tells Sam to get packing. Nice family.

Castiel and Ellen are chatting as they walk to the silver mine. He tries to give her The Talk about monsters (he thinks the MOTW is a djinn, which makes a silver mine a rather strange lair for a creature averse to silver), but it’s interrupted by her son Caleb popping up unexpectedly on the trail.

Back at the apartment, Emily is still talking about how rotten Jacinda was – killing her pet rabbit for the bones, turning her tongue into a snake, which bit and disfigured her. Seeing how much she doesn’t want Jacinda revived, Sam tries to do a deal with her. If she lets him have the spell, he’ll give her Rowena’s books and she can use them to run away and hide from her mother. It doesn’t work. Calling him a liar, Emily takes pleasure in stabbing the doll to make Sam suffer.

Cut back to Castiel’s vacation, where he and Ellen are talking to her son. Caleb is reluctant to tell them what happened, at first, because he thinks they won’t believe him. Castiel reassures him that they will. Caleb then says he saw someone dragging a dead body to the lake. He was going to record it with his phone, but the murderer saw him. When he ran, he broke his ankle. He says the murderer was “a monster.” A literal one.

When Castiel asks if he “got a good look” at the murderer, a voice sounds behind him. It’s the sheriff. He’s the murderer. And he’s also a djinn.

When Castiel pulls out his angel blade, blocking him from shooting Caleb, the sheriff’s eyes glow blue and his djinn tattoos show up. He shoots Castiel. Castiel heals with an angry angel whine (greatly shocking Caleb and Ellen).

Going into a rant about “little men in positions of power,” he takes another a bullet without much harm, then grabs the djinn’s gun from him and throws him to the ground, where he stabs him to death with his angel blade. A whole lot.

Back at the apartment, Sam has the box filled and Emily wants him to hurry up and get out of the apartment with it. But Dean unexpectedly (for Emily) shows up, with Mom Witch at gunpoint. Emily threatens to voodoo-doll Sam to death and Dean says he could just shoot her mother, so they’ve got a “standoff.”

The mother then decides to call up her dead daughter for help. This goes well for the witches, at first, with Jacinda knocking Dean to the end of the hallway. But Ghost!Jacinda takes a little too long to gloat and Emily is distracted. This allows Sam to knock the doll out of her hand, drawing Mom’s attention. Mom starts torturing Sam, yelling at Emily to finish him. Emily picks up the doll and starts twisting it and Sam appears to be losing consciousness.

Meanwhile, Jacinda is still gloating when Eileen appears in front of her (the perils of calling up spirits is that you don’t know who-all will answer). Eileen says, “Not today … bitch!” and knocks her rather bodily back into the apartment. Eileen TKs after her and they have a pretty concrete fight for two ghosts.

This gives Dean the needed breather to recover his gun and shoot Emily, killing her and enraging Mom. Not really good with multi-tasking, Mom then starts killing Dean, but this gives Sam enough time to recover and tackle her. He then shoves a hex bag he stole from the apartment into her mouth and says a killing spell.

Dean rushes into the apartment (whaddaya know? He’s immune to Rowena’s hex, too), where Eileen is getting the worst of the ghost fight. Eileen points at Jacinda’s body and tells him to burn it. Admittedly, this is very much of an As You Know, Bob moment, but in Dean’s defense, this is the first time he’s seen or even known about Jacinda’s body there, so he may not have noticed it in the heat of the moment.

Dean grabs a decanter of (probably very expensive) booze and pours it on the body. Distracted with throttling Eileen, Jacinda takes a little too long to stand up and go after Dean, even as he fumbles the lighter. He torches her body and she goes up in flames, as her mother dies hexed in the hallway.

Back at the lake, Ellen is finally taking The Talk from earlier to heart. Castiel comes up, saying he threw the sheriff’s body into the lake. He then heals Caleb’s leg, but it take a lot more effort than healing himself did. Caleb and Ellen are appropriately amazed and grateful. Ellen asks if Castiel came from God. Castiel says he can’t tell them anything, except that he’s “grateful” he met her and “it’s time to get back in the game.”

In the Bunker, Sam is drawing up a bath and sprinkling it with herbs. He then pulls out Rowena’s spell. Eileen steps into the bath (now, they make her look ethereal?) and lies down, fully submerged. As Sam turns away (unable to look, I guess) and says the spell in Latin (it’s more of a prayer than a spell), Eileen changes from a ghost in full Hunter gear into a live naked girl. She comes up gasping out of the bath and stares at her wet fingers.

Sam doesn’t turn around until Eileen puts on a towel and steps over the edge of the tub. They touch hands, she signs “Thank you,” and they hug.

Dean is out in the map room/library, drinking his evening sixpack. Dean praises Sam’s baby-witch skills in saving Eileen (who is taking a much-needed nap) and says he didn’t do anything. Sam points out that Dean “killed a witch, saved my ass.”

As Dean looks uncomfortable (and admits that knowing all of their lives has been out of their control “messes with my head”), Sam tells him that they can “find a way to beat [Chuck] … ’cause we’re the guys that break the rules.” But Sam can’t do it alone. He needs Dean. He needs his “big brother.”

Credits

The show dropped in the demo to a 0.2/1 (the first time ever), but rose slightly to 1.14 million in audience.

The preview and synopsis for the next episode is up.

Review: I … didn’t actually hate this one. Mind you, it had issues, but there were some clever bits and it moved faster than previous entries this season (the pacing has been really dreary this year). And it took me awhile to get through the recap because the beginning, especially, post-teaser is rather dull. Still, it was a bit of an improvement on the earlier part of the season.

There was the way they introduced Eileen as a ghost, which was a bit creepy, and the idea of a witch who was also a ghost. Those were clever. Rather less clever (and definitely not ethereal) was the knock-down drag-out between them at the climax, but okay.

I also liked the opening song (which is apparently about a young couple committing suicide by drowning to escape an apocalypse) and the general premise made sense to me. It mirrors what we saw in season one’s “Dead Man’s Blood.” Just as Hunters descend on a dead Hunter’s house and strip it bare, so, too, would witches with one of their own. It’s bleak and Darwinian, but that’s the way the SPNverse is. Or, at least, the way it was before Dabb & Co. got hold of it.

Dean was an unmitigated hoot in his dead man’s robe and hot dog jammies, taking a much-much-much-needed-and-overdue Mental Health Day. He also got to save everyone, though I was irritated at the Dumb on Cue moment where Eileen, of all people, had to remind him to salt-and-burn a corpse to get rid of a ghost.

But even though it had better pacing than previous entries of the season, this one still dragged a tad and felt sluggish, except for the moments when Dean was onscreen. He wasn’t in this one a lot and that killed much of my interest in the goings-on for the other characters. Dean brings considerable energy to the show that is lacking in episodes he’s barely in. Which is why Dean is usually in a lot of episode space, even when he’s acting like expositional wallpaper. I’m sure the showrunners are aware that whenever he leaves, so does most of the dramatic air.

The idea behind the bitter dynamics for the witch family in question wasn’t half-bad, but the execution was lacking. And here is one of my biggest beefs with the story. I’ll grant you that aside from Rowena, the witch characters were never what you’d call fleshed out. Even with the Banes family, which had a clear sense of a loving witch mother and her two witch kids, the two female members were summarily fridged in one episode to motivate the one remaining male member to go dark.

But even the barely-introduced witches in “Regarding Dean” gave off more of a sense of family than the ones here and more of a sense of urgency. Sure, the witches in that one also intended to bring their sibling back, but they intended to do so using human sacrifice, which is no small task and does provide a spiritual engine for the spell (a life for a life). And the sister (who was otherwise a huge and thunderously stupid nutjob) showed real grief over her brother’s death. Death wasn’t just a quickie learning experience for her brother to her. Plus, there was their ugly connection to Rowena’s past.

In this episode, I had a hard time buying that Keegan Connor Tracy’s character (Tracy back for a third and final role on the show) was the other two witch characters’ mother, rather than just their senior. I mean, sure, witches don’t tend to look their age. And I get that she was a cold and indifferent mom, who actively fomented the rivalry between the dead golden girl and the mousy younger sister. But the way she airily talked about how they were just going to walk in there and take Rowena’s magic, while resurrecting the golden girl along the way, pretty much sucked all of the dramatic air out of that situation. If she didn’t care, I sure didn’t, either.

Also, it was flat-out ridiculous how little these witches seemed to know or understand about the Winchester Brothers. Sam and Dean are not obscure players in the SPNverse, and everyone and their witch mom knew Rowena worked with them. Why weren’t these witches prepared for Dean to show up to save Sam, or even for Sam pulling a fast one on them? It’s basically the same plot as for the season 13 episode “Various and Sundry Villains” and it’s not any better this time round.

Speaking of taking Rowena’s magic, I was so over how entitled Sam acted about it, especially when he got on Dean’s case about taking a sick day. Sam spent days, even weeks, sitting in his room moping after Rowena died, instead of sacking up and getting over to her apartment to make sure everything was locked down. What if an innocent civilian had gotten in there and been killed by the hex?

I mean, it was eye-rolling enough for the script to bang home how suddenly, Sam was a son of a witch (ignoring how Rowena only became the most powerful witch in the world by slaughtering her rivals and stealing their magic) and wasn’t that wonderful? Rowena’s fridging is the gift that keeps on giving for Sam.

But he had a responsibility to her legacy, seeing as how he’d been the one who killed her, and he fell down on the job. If the episode had been written to have him realize that, I’d have been more okay with it, but they glossed over that and also allowed Sam’s berating of Dean (who was still holding down the fort and propping up everyone else emotionally until this week) to go unchallenged.

And apparently, the fact that Sam can now do some basic spells is supposed to make up for that fact that he’s useless as a Hunter these days. It’s yet another case of the show’s writing strenuously snowflaking Sam’s every achievement instead of just letting the audience come to its own conclusions. I already know Sam is an experienced and deadly Hunter. I don’t need to be banged over the head with it.

Speaking of glossing things over, how about the show never even once acknowledging that Ketch was the one who sicced that Hell Hound on poor Eileen? You know, Ketch, the dead character we were supposed to feel sorry for just a few episodes ago? I guess we’re pretending that never happened, now?

Let’s check out the B-story. Well, Castiel is back in this one and it’s not looking good. A lot of his fans on Twitter (those who aren’t fantasizing about how Dean needs to apologize to Castiel for refusing to be his punching bag) focused on his wildly off power and that it’s waning, but less on how it’s waning.

We now seem to have a pretty clear pattern where, when he’s pissed, Castiel powers up just fine and then goes into overkill mode. We saw this with Belphegor and we saw it this week with the sheriff djinn. But when he wants to do something more benign, like heal someone else (rather than himself while in battle mode), it really drains him. The way Chuck is currently writing Castiel amplifies his more negative emotions and affect.

A big problem with this is that this is the final season and that when Castiel gets angry in this way (you know, petulant and feeling sorry for himself), he gets self-righteous. And when he gets self-righteous, that quickly leads to poor decision-making along the lines of Godstiel and Casifer. And I guess I need to remind those same fans that Godstiel was originally intended to be Castiel’s endgame story. He was not supposed to come back from that one, let alone by the end of season seven. So, this isn’t a good look for him or a good sign for his eventual fate this season.

I hope to be wrong. I’m not gonna lie – my idea of a great ending for the series is God!Dean watching Sam – retired or teaching Hunters – while flanked by Billy the Reaper and Castiel all repowered up with wings. Dean then turns to them and says, “We got work to do,” as he sets out to make the SPNverse a kinder and fairer place. But I’m not the writers and there’s no guarantee this lot will even let Castiel get out of the series alive, let alone regaining his wings.


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14

Season 15


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The Official Supernatural: “Proverbs 17:3” (15.05) Live Recap Thread


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It’s been a tough summer, so I’m way behind on my recaps and reviews. As of this review, I now have 48 episodes left to finish for previous seasons, plus the 15 after this one for the final (15th) season that started on October 10. That’s 64 total by next April. I currently have 151 coffees at $3 each on Ko-Fi (many thanks to those who have contributed so far!). If I get 300 coffees total, I will commit to doing one recap/review per week (retro or Season 15). If I get 400 coffees, I will commit to two. If I get 500 coffees, three reviews. If I get 600 coffees, four reviews. If I get 700 coffees, five reviews per week.

Other that that, any and all contributions are welcome! You can still find my reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my folklore research on Patreon.

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

Scroll down to find links to all of my recaps and reviews of all seasons up to this point.

Recap: Recap of the season so far, beginning with a quickie two-shot of Sam’s dream about killing Dean that was probably as long as the showrunners originally wanted it to be, ending with Castiel flouncing offstage for a few episodes.

Cut to Now. Three young women, all blonde and all affluent, are sitting inside a large tent. For some bizarre reason, they are dressed like a bunch of aged-out Girl Scouts on safari (one wears a floppy hat that’s shaped like a pith helmet), even though the caption reads that they are in Black Forest, Colorado. They are celebrating 11 years of annual camping trips and that this is their last one, since they are graduating from college and about to go their separate ways. Two of them (the two who keep sniping at each other) have jobs. The third, named Ashley, was only able to manage driving Uber, as some direct result of her getting a Philosophy degree. I shall check my snark on some white dudebro in Hollywood writing condescendingly about educational and financial decisions young women make. Suffice it to say that it’s not a good look for TV writers.

Anyhoo, after sampling some of her friends’ spiced rum, Ashley hears a rustling of bushes in the forest, but she’s the only one alarmed by it. The friend who mocked her degree before goes outside to get more rum. But a moment later, she screams and there’s a rushing noise on the soundtrack. Pith Helmet Girl calls her name (Julie), but there’s no answer. Against Ashley’s wordless protest, PHG goes to the tent flap to zip it closed. But she’s yanked out, with a scream, before she can. Ashley belts out her own scream.

Cue title cards.

Cut to the Bunker, where Sam is walking around with a saltgun and looking in bemusement at the number of unanswered texts he’s sent to Castiel (calling him ‘Cass’). Dean come in from a supply run having made a wonderful discovery – ghost pepper jerky. It only takes a few chews (and some barely suppressed amusement from Sam, who did try to warn him) before Dean realizes his horrible mistake. In the meantime (while Dean’s eyes are watering, and he’s gagging and sucking down water), Sam confirms that the three victims for their new hunt (with the Doomed Teaser Gals) has gone up to five. So, there are new victims out in them thar Colorado woods.

After Dean dashes off to the bathroom to throw up, we cut to a view of the Bunker corridors and then to Sam in a white suit (i.e., Samifer) sitting at the table in the Library. Dean, wearing his season five blue jacket, comes up behind him with the Colt. Saying “Please forgive me” (to which Samifer smiles coldly), Dean cocks the gun and shoots his brother in the back of the head. But Samifer quickly heals ( Dean should have known from season five, already) and lifts his head. Saying “Did you really think that would work? Poor, faithful Dean, we both knew it had to end this way,” he makes Dean spontaneously combust, while basking in the flames.

This turns out to be another nightmare, from which Sam wakes up in the Impala. Dean is driving (they’re on their way to Colorado). Dean asks him to tell him about it, but Sam demurs. Yes, Sam is still lying to Dean about his dreams.

They arrive in daylight and it turns out Dean has a different idea than their usual FBI suits – Fish and Wildlife, with some very old IDs for Ford and Hamill. The sheriff thinks Dean looks old for his ID (which is eye-rolling, since Jared Padalecki has changed much more significantly as he’s aged than Jensen Ackles, albeit Ackles’ voice has “aged” much more). She’s played by the same actress who played Tara the Hunter in season nine’s “First Born,” so I guess that’s final confirmation of Tara’s death. That sucks. I liked Tara. Always kinda hoped she’d somehow managed to survive. And I just retro-reviewed that episode, so it’s still fresh.

The sheriff tells them she thinks it’s a person, not an animal, who’s actually done the attacks because it ate the hearts of the two dead girls (we never find out anything about the other two dead people who were supposedly part of the body count). There’s only one survivor so far – Ashley from the teaser.

Her full name is Ashley Munroe and she’s still in the hospital, with a huge scratch down one side of her face, when the Brothers interview her. Sam asks her if she remembers anything. She has a flashback to running through the woods, being chased by a guy in red flannel, but is too afraid to speak in front of the male nurse. Sam has the nurse talk to him outside, while Dean interviews her alone.

Dean reassures her that “whatever you saw, we’ll believe you.” After a rather short amount of time, she admits that she was attacked by a man, but that this man was a “monster” with big teeth and claws (another flashback) that gave her the scratch and warned her to keep quiet. She begs him for protection. Dean confirms this monster as a werewolf and tells her that monsters are real. Holding her hand, he gives her The Talk and reassures her that everything will be all right. I am more confused by why he’s not checking her for bites with silver.

Dean and Sam consult in the hallway, where Dean fills Sam in. He also has a name – Andy May. Sam points out that it wasn’t a full moon (oh, Show, you decided to remember that bit of lore after ignoring it for so long?). Dean says Andy could be a Pureblood (and ergo, could turn at any time). Sam goes to get the address. Dean turns and looks through the window into Ashley’s room, where she looks terrified and cries to herself.

The Brothers roll up to a rustic cabin in the woods, in broad daylight, still dressed like Duck Dynasty rejects. Sam says Andy lives there with his brother Josh. Oh, look, everybody – blatant MOTW parallels to our lead characters.

So, the guy in the button-down shirt who answers claims he’s not Andy, but that the guy in the pullover white sweater is. Not-Andy is taller and hostile, and keeps throwing the Winchesters shade (including making a snarky age joke about Dean’s ID). This must be Josh. Andy is overly solicitous and helpful, in stark contrast to his brother. Both of them react to Ashley’s photo on Sam’s phone (nice way of outing her to the monsters, Sam), which Dean watches closely. Sam tries to get them to write down their phone number on his notepad, using a silver pen, and Josh recoils. Not very subtle, these two.

After Josh abruptly ends the conversation and practically shuts the door in their faces, Dean suggests to Sam that they shoot both werewolves right then and there. It’s a thought, at that. Would be a shorter episode, anyway.

As the Winchesters go to the Impala and drive away, Josh nervously watches them go. He berates Andy for babbling (and letting Ashley go), but Andy points out they wouldn’t be in this predicament if Josh hadn’t killed the other two girls. Apparently, Josh has been spiraling since their dad (also a werewolf, it seems) died. Josh manages to turn this around on Andy by saying they have to kill Ashley, now.

Just a note – Josh is significantly taller than his brother. Also the older one. Apparently.

That night at the Sleepy Bear Inn, the Winchesters are letting Ashley (who has checked out of the hospital) into their room. Dean offers to let her sleep there for the night, while they take another room next door. Dean’s plan is to go back to the cabin and off the two werewolf brothers before they can get up to any more heart-eating shenanigans. Sam frets that the hunt has been too “easy” so far, which Dean shrugs off.

Ashley throws a spanner in the works, though, when she asks Dean to watch over her until she falls asleep. Dean looks surprised, even chagrined, by the request, but agrees.

Speaking of “easy,” the werewolf brothers are staking out the motel in their rusty pickup. Despite Andy’s pointing out that the Winchesters are there, too, Josh figures it’ll be a breeze to go in and kidnap Ashley.

In the motel room, Dean is having trouble staying awake. He comes out of the bathroom after splashing water on his face. Ashley is in bed, still fully dressed, sitting up. She just took some of the pills the hospital gave her, which Dean adjudges “the good stuff” (he would know).

Ashley asks him if he likes his job. Dean admits that he still does. Yes, there’s “a lot of bad,” but he still does some good. She asks him if ever wanted to be anything else. “Jimi Hendrix,” he jokes.

Ashley talks a bit about her life – graduating from college, the bit about how she and her friends went camping together since they were kids, how she doesn’t have a job or anything. Dean tries to reassure her – “You got time.”

Ashley then says something really strange (and yes, Dean does notice this). She says, “Wouldn’t it be great if everything was just planned out for you? If it was all just already decided?”

“No,” Dean replies as Ashley goes to sleep. “Not really.”

The camera swings portentously down to the alarm clock on the bedstand between their beds (which reads a quarter to twelve). Then, after changing to 1:20 am, it swings back to Dean on his bed, deeply asleep. Sam wakes him up (Dean comes awake, ready to fight) and it turns out Ashley is missing. When Sam came back from getting some food, he found her gone and the door wide open. Without trying to explain, Dean grabs his jacket and runs out the door. Sam follows.

At their house, the werewolf brothers have her in their cellar or shed or kitchen, or something, tied up and gagged, facing a large collection of badly maintained carpentry tools and some blood-streaked metal walls. Why they didn’t kill her at the motel (or, for that matter, Dean) is not explained in the fight they’re having over whether to kill her now. Josh is all hot to kill her – not just to eliminate a witness, but because being a werewolf is awesome. Josh is so high on the smell of his own werewolf farts that he completely spaces the part where his brother is the one talking sense.

Outside, the Winchesters are arriving unnoticed as Dean is insisting the werewolves couldn’t have possibly taken Ashley while he was asleep. Which, considering he is still breathing and in possession of his heart, is a decent point. The werewolf brothers don’t hear them arrive, which I’m willing to attribute to soundproofing going both ways in their abbatoir – until Ashley screams and the Winchesters kick down the door in response.

Andy and Josh hear that and flee the abbatoir, right before the Winchesters enter. Dean puts his gun away long enough to cut Ashley loose. He gets her up and heading out the door as Sam covers them. Alas, Sam’s coverage doesn’t help much. As they are exiting through the living room, the werewolf brothers come down from the ceiling and ambush them. Sam immediately loses his gun.

As Ashley cowers in a corner, Josh goes after Dean and Andy goes after Sam. Both Sam and Dean do pretty badly (unrealistically so) in the fight and even Dean using a dried-up set of deer antlers off the wall against Josh doesn’t go as planned. I recall showrunner Andrew Dabb saying in a recent interview that the Winchesters would have a harder time on hunts thanks to Chuck. Well, that idea sounds nice on paper, but sucks in the execution. All it adds up to here is a boring fight where the Brothers Winchester are losing to two low-rent werewolves for no damned good reason. It’s not even LOL!canon. It’s just lame.

Anyhoo, Andy ends up with Dean’s gun, starts to aim it at Sam, looks agonized, then shoots his brother just as Josh is about to bite Dean. While Sam tries to talk him down, he rants a bit about how Josh was his brother, but was “never going to stop,” that Josh “was a monster and I’m a monster, too.” Then he shoots himself. Bye, Captain Obvious.

The Brothers are seriously confused. Dean even comments, “Well, that was weird.”

As Ashley comes out of the corner, looking freaked out, Dean tries to take her elbow to guide her gently out of the room. Instead, out of nowhere, Ashley shrieks, “DON’T TOUCH ME!” swings around, trips, and lands on the dried-out old antlers, which are suddenly like tensile steel and razor sharp, and pierce her torso in several places. They also appear to kill her instantly.

Sam and Dean are even more confused (not horrified by her sudden death, just confused). After a few seconds, she suddenly revives and says, “Well, this is a bitch.” She sits up, still ‘wearing’ the antlers, and whines, “And I was doing so well, too!” Then she stands up and TK’s the rack out of her back.

Sam says, “What are you?” ‘Ashley’ responds by rolling her eyes up white and we’re treated to a flashback of Sam killing Lilith at the end of season four in “Lucifer Rising.” Dean then says her name.

It turns out that Lilith was dead and in the Empty when Chuck came and revived her. Her mission? To set up the parallel of the two brother werewolves killing each other, seduce Dean, and get the all-killing gun from them that Chuck gave Dean to kill Jack and with which Sam shot Chuck. Oh, and she’s not allowed to kill them.

Dean tells her that if Chuck wants the “Equalizer” back (Lilith insists she won’t call it that; I’m totally calling it that now, just for spite), he can come get it himself.

Sam pulls out the Sparkly Spork and Dean an angel blade, but they give her too much time to prepare. She TKs them back, knocking Sam out. Dean appears to panic over Lilith threatening Sam, so to distract her, he says he’ll take her to the Equalizer if she spares Sam.

We get a reiteration that she can’t kill either of them (Chuck has her on a tight leash), but she can make Dean wish he were dead, if he crosses her. Even so, she keeps batting her eyes at him and making come-ons that aren’t particularly reciprocated. In fact, her boast about seducing Dean is rather sad, considering Dean’s facial expressions in her direction while he thought she was alive and still Ashley ranged from pity to annoyance and back again. We know what Dean’s like when he’s attracted to a woman and that ain’t it. And despite his little shrug when she asks him about the possibility after her reveal, there’s no way he’s going to sleep with a demon when he, himself, is not a demon.

Left behind, Sam has a dream in which he is beaten in the Bunker by Demon!Dean (how I missed you, sir!) and then stabbed to death with the First Blade. Sadly, it doesn’t last long – the dream, I mean.

Sam wakes up abruptly, alone in the cabin. He finds the werewolves’ rusty old pickup, and chases after Dean and Lilith.

In the Impala on the way to the motel, Dean actively pumps Lilith for info. She spills even more than he wants to hear. It turns out that she picked poor Ashley because (said in a robotic voice as if quoting Chuck) “of the three potential vessels, she had the nicest hair” (they’re hosts, not vessels, you numpty writers). She died to let Lucifer out of the Cage, which was apparently her greatest wish, for reasons she never makes clear (I never really got what was in all that for her). Now she’s stuck working for Chuck (the “everything planned out for you” line was Chuck’s). She can’t hurt him, but she can hurt Dean.

She also mentions that Chuck has “a pervy, pervy obsession” with Dean. And that Chuck’s favorite story ending is Sam and Dean killing each other. She even lampshades that the two werewolf brothers were “foreshadowing” because it seems the writers think the audience is too stupid to have figured it out for ourselves.

Back at the motel room, Dean balks and says he forgot that the Equalizer isn’t there. I don’t quite understand why Lilith jumped through so many hoops to get back to the place she was just a few hours ago, foreshadowing or no foreshadowing with werewolves, when her main mission was to get the Equalizer. Why not just put Dean to sleep and then ransack the room?

Anyhoo, she starts TK-slashing him in various places to torture him into complying. It doesn’t work, but it gives Sam enough time to come in with a gun and shoot her in the head with a devil’s trap bullet. She is temporarily stuck and the Winchesters flee as soon as she demonstrates that she’s not completely powerless. Sam says he can just kill her again. Lilith begs to differ, saying she “let” Sam kill her before. Oh, honey. You are so dumb, Lilith.

Anyhoo, Dean quickly realizes that they need to get out because she is powerful enough to rid herself of the bullet. Unfortunately, they only get halfway across the parking lot before she does. She freezes them in place and teleports in front of them.

So, after some painfully obvious deduction that the Equalizer isn’t in the motel room, and making a rather large leap of logic that they wouldn’t leave it in the Bunker, she decides it’s in the Impala. And it is. It’s in the glove compartment box.

She melts it right in front of them, to their despair, and then leaves after some gloating that she will “see you soon.” But she doesn’t take the metal, which is, you know, probably still magical.

Back at the Bunker, Sam calls Castiel and tries to warn him about Chuck being back, but it goes to voicemail. Dean comes in with beers and they discuss this latest startling development.

Dean has been holding up well so far this season, but he’s now having a hard time processing that Chuck is back. He tells Sam what Lilith said about one of them killing the other (but not that Chuck is obsessed with Dean). Sam then admits that he’s having dreams about Chuck’s endings and Dean is a tad irritated Sam never mentioned that before. Sam claims he thought it was just PTSD. He thinks the effect has to do with the bullet wound. Maybe Sam is “in [Chuck’s] head.” Sam is all about the plans to use this to their advantage.

Dean, however, is in despair: “How the hell are we supposed to fight God?”

Credits

The show got another 0.3/2 and went back up to 1.30 million in audience.

The preview and synopsis for the next episode (“Golden Time”) is up, as is the one for this week, which is Deancentric and guest-stars Christian Kane. It appears the show will go on Christmas hiatus until January 16 after the December 12 episode (15.08 – “Our Father Who Aren’t in Heaven”), though there’s a rumor one might air on December 19. Even with only 20 episodes in the season, this means over half the season will air in the spring. I sure hope the pace picks up before Christmas hiatus, but with the Nepotism Duo writing the December 12th ep, we’ll be lucky if that one wants us to keep watching at all.

Review: Oh, hi, Dean. Nice to see you in the mytharc again.

It’s frustrating that the newest and (quite frankly) most intriguing part of the storyline by far this week is the part that isn’t lampshaded repeatedly with flashbacks, and on-the-nose dialogue and situations. For example, the episode’s writer, Steve Yockey, flat-out quoted the passage cited in the episode’s title, as if fans were incapable of looking it up for ourselves: “The crucible [is] for silver and the furnace [is] for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.” He’s also stated that this is his last episode for the show. Though I enjoyed some of his previous entries, most of this one was a half-cooked slog, so I’m not overly sorry to see him go.

So, we’ll see what actually happens with that one (very significant) bit, which is Lilith’s throwaway line about Chuck’s “pervy, pervy obsession with” Dean. She decidedly does not mean Sam. She has basically no time for Sam these days. In fact, it’s fairly dizzying whether she’s trying to seduce Dean because she’s actually really into Dean now or because Chuck told her to.

This opens an intriguing possibility (which Dean doesn’t see, at least not this week) that Dean might be able to manipulate Chuck. It sure seems more likely to succeed than Sam’s hair-brained idea that Chuck has no idea Sam is in his head, or that Sam could influence Chuck, or even get intel on him. Sam was dead wrong, for example, that Chuck had left the SPNverse building and I see no reason why he’d be right now. Sam’s track record with manipulating powerful beings is downright pitiful, even if the show did decide to leave out the bits of his killing Lilith in season four that included Ruby manipulating him into it.

I also thought it was interesting that while Lilith told Dean Chuck’s favorite ending was one brother killing the other, the emphasis in Sam’s dreams from Chuck was heavily on Sam killing Dean. Even the Demon!Dean sequence had a flavor of warning, of “You’d better kill Dean before he kills you.” It was also the only dream in which the killer brother had a legitimate beef with the other. What Sam did to Dean to “cure” him was nasty and remained largely unaddressed afterward.

But Dean has some high-level notches on his seduction belt and the way he messed with Lilith (in ways she didn’t always notice) this week indicates he hasn’t lost his touch. Chuck’s own sister Amara found Dean immensely more intriguing than her own brother in season 11 (I guess that’s why the show had to write her out in the second episode of this season, huh?). And, of course, there’s the forgotten actual, onscreen toxic romance between Dean and Crowley, in which Dean, like a classic film noir femme fatale, had Crowley twisted right around his finger for years. And everyone noticed, including Crowley, but Crowley couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do a thing about it. So, the idea that Dean could use Chuck’s obsession with him, against Chuck, is not at all far-fetched.

Though I was rolling my eyes pretty hard at the way the episode wanted us to believe that Dean was toxic for poor Ashley. There were some serious plotholes for that character (not least the timeline of when Lilith actually possessed her and how Lilith manipulated the werewolf brothers). But the big one was – since when is Dean the brother who is deadly for his female partners? Seems to me Sam’s the one with the track record in girlfriends who end up roadkill. Dean’s partners have an excellent survival rate and leave pretty satisfied. Not that Dean seemed very interested in sleeping with Ashley.

Woof. Speaking of, I’d forgotten what a prattling, overenunciating moron Lilith was. Sure, she’s an overpowered moron, but the show has gotten to the point where that kind of character no longer impresses. We (and the Brothers) have already encountered far too many other characters who make Lilith look like an insect.

And that’s a lot of the problem. She worked well in context – as the powerful herald to the Devil Himself. But she’s way outta context now. Lucifer himself has been diminished and killed off (though sure, he could still come back from the Empty, though I hope not). And now that she’s working for Chuck, she’s actually less threatening than before because she can’t actually kill Sam and Dean.

It doesn’t help that even now, we still don’t know whatever truly motivated her. Freeing Lucifer was a goal, not a motivation. What did she see in it for her, getting herself killed for the cause? Well, we never found out in “Lucifer Rising” and we didn’t find out this week, either.

She started out on the show as the Devil’s Bitch. Now she’s become his daddy’s bitch. But throughout, she has remained Some More-Powerful Male Character’s Bitch. Unlike Abaddon, who cheerfully caught up to speed after being in a timewarp for half a century and immediately decided to go for being Queen of Hell (because Abaddon began and ended awesomely evil), Lilith is now permanently out of touch and permanently stuck being some dudebro’s disposable right-hand henchwoman. That’s not scary. That’s just sad.

Also, would it kill the writers to remember their own damned canon that people possessed by demons are “hosts” not “vessels,” as Lilith calls the poor kid she’s possessing this week? The actress was actually decent, keeping a clear demarcation between Lilith and poor Ashley, but there wasn’t a whole lot of “there” there for her to work with. The show even seems to want us to forget about that whole “babies on the menu” thing from season four.

So, we see Lilith berating the Brothers for being dumb (because they didn’t – and couldn’t have – anticipate a dead enemy returning from a place dead enemies don’t return from), while doing Very Dumb Things. Yeah, she melts the Equalizer (I’m gonna use that just out of spite because the writers had her hating it), but then she leaves the puddle of metal behind. I mean, it’s not as though the Equalizer was much use to them, anyway, but they might also be able to do something with that puddle of metal (because hello, what is one of Dean’s skills? Metallurgy).

And I was rolling my eyes pretty hard when she was monologuing about all the terrible things she was going to do to them to get the Equalizer, all of two seconds after she admitted that Chuck wouldn’t let her do anything permanent to them, anyway. Plus, by admitting that Chuck brought her back and needed the gun, she ended up giving the Brothers all kinds of intel (including that Chuck was weaker than they previous thought), while getting from them a semi-useless powerful gun that she melted down and then still left in their possession.

Like I said, not very bright. I mean, obviously, she doesn’t really care about the mission in the first place, but she “cared” (i.e., was intimidated by Chuck) enough to agree to do it in the first place to stay out of the Empty. So, maybe do better at it?


One good thing to come out of this was confirmation that it wasn’t just coincidence last season, Chuck honing in on Dean like that. Lilith refers to Chuck’s “pervy, pervy obsession” with Dean. But it sure was a long, boring MOTW slog to get to that one critical scene, the only one that advanced the plot in any significant way. You need to up the pace a bit, Show, both within episodes and with your mytharc.

The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14

Season 15


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The Official Supernatural: “Atomic Monsters” (15.04) Live Recap Thread


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

It’s been a tough summer, so I’m way behind on my recaps and reviews. As of this review, I now have 49 episodes left to finish for previous seasons, plus the 16 after this one for the final (15th) season that started on October 10. That’s 65 total by next April. I currently have 151 coffees at $3 each on Ko-Fi (many thanks to those who have contributed so far!). If I get 300 coffees total, I will commit to doing one recap/review per week (retro or Season 15). If I get 400 coffees, I will commit to two. If I get 500 coffees, three reviews. If I get 600 coffees, four reviews. If I get 700 coffees, five reviews per week.

Other that that, any and all contributions are welcome! You can still find my reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my folklore research on Patreon.

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

Scroll down to find links to all of my recaps and reviews of all seasons up to this point.

Recap: It’s a full moon over the Bunker, from which echoes gunfire. Inside, it’s down to emergency lighting and a man in a black suit is thrown into a wall at the T-junction of a corridor. His attacker, in stuttering stop-go slo-mo, comes into view. It’s Dean, bearded and looking even more like a survivalist than ever. Dean shoots the man, who then lights up from inside with dying demon light. Seems Dean and his Hunters have figured out how to make demon-killing bullets.

Dean kills some more demons (including multiples) in major badass fashion, steps over a bunch of dead comrades and demons, encounters a living comrade, and ends up in a room with another dying comrade. This one is Benny, but Benny appears to be … human? And beardless. Despite Dean’s reassurances that he will be fine, Benny knows the score. He says, “See you on the other side, brother,” and dies. Upset, Dean grabs a still-alive demon in the room and demands to know where “he” is. The demon tries it on with the snark, instead. Bad call. Dean shoots him in the head, lighting him up like a pinball machine.

Dean comes out into the library/map room to find Sam, all hopped up on demon blood and now superduperduper powerful (and even more irritating than last we saw this permutation of him in season four). Dean tries to talk Sam down as another Hunter tries to sneak up on Sam. But Sam senses the Hunter (even though this was not a talent any psykid ever had) and snaps his neck. Then, he snaps Dean’s and looks smug about it.

The scene jumbles and Sam wakes up in the Bunker. It turns out this was a nightmare (a longer version of the flash he had a couple of episodes ago when Castiel tried to heal his Chuck wound). He’s pretty upset about it.

Cue title cards.

Cut to Dean in the kitchen, quietly eating bacon (by this, I mean that his body language is very still and not just that he isn’t saying anything). Sam comes in, still at loose ends about his dream, but when Dean asks him if he’s okay, Sam brushes it off as just still being at loose ends about Rowena. Yep. He lies to Dean. I’m shocked, too.

Dean suggests Sam eat something, but Sam turns his nose up at Dean’s bacon, even when Dean tells him it’s the “veggie bacon you been asking for.” Okay, first of all, since when is Sam a vegetarian (some LOL!canon from episode writer Davy Perez there)? Second of all, Sam is a grown-ass man in his thirties. If he wants some “veggie bacon” to put in the fridge in Dean’s “Meat Man” kitchen, he can go do his own damned grocery shopping. Jesus, this show fails miserably at propping Sam up, sometimes, and just makes him look like a spoiled child.

On top of this, Dean has to try to buck Sam up, even as he confirms in the dialogue that Sam has been holing up in his room for days, letting Dean haul all the weight. Thanks, Sam.

Dean pulls up a hunt he’s researched and talks a reluctant Sam into going along, instead of Dean handling it himself or going with another Hunter. It’s a story in the Des Moines Herald, about a rash of cattle mutilations and one pretty blonde cheerleader who was “ripped to pieces,” in Beaverdale, Iowa. He also pranks Sam by getting him to eat the “veggie bacon” (yes, it’s really the real thing). The obvious intent is to cheer, or at least irritate, Sam out of his depressive navel-gazing. I mean, hey, it worked in season two.

In front of Beaverdale High School (in that annoying broad daylight that has become the hallmark of this final season), Sam is interviewing the principal, posing as an FBI agent in a suit. She tells him the victim, Susie, was pleasant and popular, involved with everything, with lots of friends and no enemies. When Sam asks about close friends, the principal directs him to a group led by a girl named “Veronica.” Yes, she really does. And really, Perez? It should have been “Heather.”

A middle-aged couple shows up, parents of a male student. The mother (a blonde – I swear they’re all blonde in this episode except for Veronica) is hot for the prayer service to be done and over with so they can get to the important stuff – the lacrosse game where her son is due to impress a visiting talent scout. Both the principal and Sam call Helicopter Mom out on her insensitivity, but that somehow doesn’t quite persuade her to stop being a complete twat. After the parents leave, the principal cynically comments that many of the parents at the high school are like HM.

Sam returns to the Impala, where Dean (also suited up) is eating a bag of chips. Dean’s time has been most productively spent at the morgue. He found a vampire fang and there were no defensive wounds on the victim, indicating she knew whoever killed her. When Sam points out that vampires don’t normally rip apart their victims, Dean says, “Apparently, this one does.”

We’re ten minutes in and all that’s really left to do is figure out who’s the vamp. We get a clue as a mascot in a Beaver suit rides by on a scooter. Dean smiles and comments that this is “awesome.”

Later that night, another blonde cheerleader is heading out to her car after practice, complaining about how “fake” Veronica is in her grief. She is then attacked, mid-scream, by something unseen.

The next day, the Brothers drive out to the woods, to the site where Susie’s body was found. The first thing they notice is that there is hardly any blood – the body was dumped. This is not the original kill site.

After Dean comments that the police are “freaked” by the case, Sam starts whinging about how people in the town are oblivious civilians, that Hunters like the Winchesters have to “carry the weight” of the truth about the world. Right away, Dean pulls out his flask of whiskey and starts drinking. Yeah, I’m hittin’ the hard nog just to get through Sam’s little rant, myself.

Sam gets a call from the principal about the kidnapped girl.

Cut to a guy putting his kids in the car to go camping. Out comes his wife with some motion sickness pills for one of the kids when they ride in a boat. It’s Becky Rosen, y’all, whom we have not seen since season seven. She seems happy in her life, but looking forward to having the house to herself for a few days while her family is off camping.

As the car drives away, Chuck appears on the other side of the street, waving creepily like Pennywise the Clown. Horrified, Becky starts to scamper back into the house, but Chuck runs after her and begs her to let him come in and talk. Rather reluctantly, she lets him in.

In the principal’s office, the principal is filling the Brothers in on the kidnapping of the second cheerleader, whose name is “Tori Taylor” (of course it is). Upon hearing that Tori is also a cheerleader, Dean comments that “someone has a fetish.” This gets the principal’s dander up because criminal profiling isn’t a thing in the SPNverse, anymore, I guess.

Back at Becky’s, Chuck notices a bunch of figures and such that seem related to the Winchester’s story (there are a lot of nice little visual Easter Eggs in this storyline thanks to Ackles’ direction, including a fabulous poster for “A Very Supernatural Christmas” and Funko Pop figurines of Sam, Dean and Castiel). Becky calls them her maquettes. She says that she is the “most successful” creator of “unofficial Supernatural merchandise” in the U.S. and possibly even the world.

She says she’s even continued writing her own fanfic (which Chuck disparages at every opportunity throughout the episode) of the Brothers doing ordinary things like laundry and talking. Chuck doesn’t think that’s very exciting, even after Becky tries to defend it as what fans “really” want to see instead of action, horror and drama.

Becky expresses regret for kidnapping and drugging Sam in “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!” and says that she got a lot of therapy after that. She said she finally realized that she wasn’t in love with the real Sam, but his character. Somehow … that doesn’t sound better. It seems to diminish Sam, somehow, and make him not seem as good as the fantasy.

Anyhoo, Becky has a pretty good sideline business in her fan figurines and she wants to get back to it because she’s behind in her orders. So, she tells Chuck to get to the point or she’ll kick him out. Chuck admits that he “had a falling out” with Sam and Dean, leaving him now “low on resources,” and that when he went to his sister for help, she blew him off. Becky easily sees through this using of her as his last best resort tactic from him and that he wants her to “fluff” him. But she’s not interested. She has a good life and “I don’t need you.”

Chuck whines that that’s the problem. “No one” needs him and “I kinda hate me right now … I don’t know what I’m doing. I feel so lost.” When Becky, now feeling a bit sorry for him, asks him what makes him feel better, he says that “writing” and “creating” do (uh-oh), so she encourages him to do that.

On a stone picnic bench in front of the school, Dean is talking to the mascot, whose name is Toby. Dean is also still eating.

Sam walks up, acting skeptical about Dean befriending the mascot (yeah, Sam’s early-seasons social snobbery is on full display this week). Dean points out that Toby has a full scholarship to Iowa University and is very observant: “He knows a lot about cheerleaders. In a mostly non-creepy sort of way.”

Dean shares a valuable bit of information about the school hierarchy that Toby shared with him – Susie was the Alpha female among the cheerleaders, Tory her second-in-command. Who takes charge now they’re gone? Veronica, of course.

At that moment, Veronica is running the Susie shrine in the gym and talking to a young jock. His name is Billy and it turns out he was Susie’s boyfriend. Veronica puts the heavy moves on him, but Billy’s mom interrupts them. And guess who she is? That’s right. It’s HM.

After Billy leaves with HM, Veronica goes to the podium and starts practicing her eulogy for Susie in a totally fake way. The Brothers enter and Dean alerts her to their presence by sarcastically clapping at her delivery. But as they gear up to take her down with some dead man’s blood (Sam is hiding the ginormous syringe behind his back), Sam notices that she is wearing braces. She can’t “fang out” with those, so they quickly and quietly leave. Outside, Sam thinks up a new lead when he spots a CCTV camera outside the school. Um … wouldn’t they have thought of that right off?

Back at Billy’s house, HM is bitching at him that she had to come into the school to retrieve him. Boy, is she tightly wound. When Dad comes in, she insists he talk to Billy. Dad just says, “Listen to your mother.”

Billy turns and leaves, instead. Mom is irritated and stalks off, declaring that she needs wine (since it seems she’s an alcoholic on top of being a pretentious twat).

Dad starts washing his hands, which are bloody. The camera strolls out through the pristine hallways of the house to the attached garage. In it, kidnapped teen Tori is tied up, with bloody arms, gagged and blindfolded. She wakes up and starts screaming into her gag.

Back at Becky’s, Chuck discovers to his chagrin that Becky doesn’t have anything stronger than cranapple juice. He says that he used to be able “to see Sam and Dean inside my head … just ripe for the picking.” But he can’t do that, anymore (as he talks, he rubs his wound from the magic bullet). Becky guesses that this is because Chuck has lost his Prophet powers and he hedges a yes. What he’s really admitting to is that he’s no longer omniscient.

She suggests he write a different story with different characters. He says he doesn’t want to. He really likes writing about Sam and Dean. She says that he’s basically just stalling (awww, and all for NaNoWriMo, too). After she lectures him sternly about procrastination, Chuck gets a brainwave. To her dismay, he decides to indulge it then and there by sitting down at her laptop and starting a new story.

Back in Beaverdale, the principal is showing the Brothers the CCTV footage. Tori’s kidnapping is clearly shown, but her assailant is wearing a mask and drags her offscreen. However, immediately afterward, another car roars off past hers in the parking lot and Sam gets the license plate number.

Back at Billy’s, he’s having a fight with his parents, especially his mom. She lays this huge guilt trip on him about all the “sacrifices” they made for him, but her intensity remains unexplained. She just comes off as unhinged, hyper-controlling and annoying as hell. She even gets all weepy and leaves the room. Dad asks him what he wants. Billy angrily says that he doesn’t want “any of this” and never did.

The doorbell rings and it’s the Brothers. As they come in, the girl in the garage starts struggling again. Dad sends Billy upstairs. Sam and Dean accuse Dad of being the vampire, though they initially just accuse him of kidnapping the girls. Tori knocks something down in the garage and Sam goes to investigate, as Dean continues to interrogate Dad, pulling out a machete.

Sam unties the dazed girl, who is attached to a blood bag, and starts to pick her up. But Evil Bitch Mom shows up with a gun and forces them to come back inside the house. Boy, is Dean disappointed when it turns out Sam couldn’t even watch his own back, let alone Dean’s. Though he does ask how the girl is doing. Sam says, “Not good,” as he lays her on the couch.

Dad tries to talk Crazy Mom into letting him take the fall. After all, gunfire would bring down real law enforcement and then things would get ugly.

Back at Becky’s, Becky is reading what Chuck just wrote and is not impressed. She tries to pretend that she likes it, but Chuck sees through her act. She finally admit that the villains are boring and the story is “low stakes … no Classic Rock. Nobody even mentions Cas.” Not his best.

Chuck gets an ugly look on his face: “You want jeopardy? You want danger?” He evicts her from her chair and then starts writing again: “I’ll give you danger.”

The impasse at the ‘rents’ house is fairly brief, since Billy comes back downstairs. Staring at Dad, Dean floats the Brothers’ theory that Dad is the vampire. But Sam then guesses it’s actually Billy.

Billy admits that after he was turned into a vampire (it’s not made clear how or exactly when), he tried to make do with cows (hence the cattle mutilations). But as he was making out with Susie in his truck one night, he lost control. He ended up killing her. Dean then guesses that the parents chopped Susie up and dumped her body in the woods.

Dad starts burbling on about how Dean doesn’t understand their motives because he’s never had a child (oh, so much clueless irony) and Mom is all for murdering the Brothers and burying them out back, “under the peonies.” These two have totally lost the plot.

Fortunately, Billy gets them to stand down and points out that it’s not going to work. He loved Susie and he killed her, and he knows he will kill again: “I’m a monster.”

He tells his parents to take the girl to the hospital, to blame the attack and kidnapping on him. He then tells them he is going to “take a ride” with Sam and Dean. Turning to them, he says, “Isn’t that how this works?”

Cue a montage (to Radio Company’s “Sounds of Someday”) of Tori being carried off to the hospital, while the teary-eyed parents (who really should have been horribly offed) give the police Billy’s photo, and of Dean beheading Billy out in the woods, while a pensive Sam watches.

Back at Becky’s, Chuck has finished and he looks all post-coital about it. Oh, this can’t be good. Becky’s just read the new stuff and she hates it. She thinks it’s “dark … horrible … hopeless.” Chuck is fine with that. His perfect image for his story is of a tombstone with just one name – Winchester – on it.

Becky’s family arrives home in the middle of this. Right before her husband walks in, Becky tells Chuck to leave (because explaining what your creepy ex is doing alone in the house with you, while your husband and kids were off on vacation, would be very awkward). But Chuck, all smiling and satisfied, says he’s fine where he is. As Becky begs “please” in a whisper, in walks her husband. He has just enough time to look confused at Chuck’s presence and cheery, sarcastic wave, before Chuck snaps his fingers and makes him dissolve in dust. The kids are noisily coming in and Chuck snaps them out of existence, too. Becky reacts in visceral horror to the erasures of her family.

Chuck smugly tells her that her family is not “dead, just away.” Then he tells her he’s God. Becky doesn’t believe this at first, but then quickly devolves into anger and then begging for Chuck to “bring them back,” saying “You can’t do this!”

“Oh, Becky,” Chuck says, as he snaps her out of existence, too, “I can do anything. I’m a writer.”

In the final car scene, Sam’s takeaway from the hunt, and Billy’s mom and dad’s shitty parenting, is that he and Dean would have done the same thing for Jack ([facepalm] Oh, Sam, come on). Rather noncommittally, Dean agrees, but says that he wanted to get them out on a hunt so that they could show they still make a difference. Dean insists they’re “free” now Chuck is gone. He mentions Rowena and Mary among their losses, in addition to Jack, but not Castiel. Some fans got chapped about this, but remember that Castiel isn’t dead. And that Sam apparently does not know that Castiel has bailed on them. Therefore, Castiel doesn’t belong on that list of dead (mostly female) allies.

Whiny Sam still manages to make it All About himself, saying he’s not able to let any of his old trauma go. Hell, he still thinks about Jessica. I should have been like “awww,” but to be honest, this whole speech sounded a tad pathetic in a “Don’t use Billy’s ‘rents as moral examples, Sam” kind of way.

Meanwhile, now alone at Becky’s, Chuck is writing more story and sneering evilly, while Sam and Dean dolls bobblehead on the desk next to him, beside a model tree and on top of a devil’s trap.

Credits

The episode got a 0.3/2 and dropped to 1.10 million in audience. Kind of a shame for Jensen Ackles’ last episode, though the DVR ratings will probably go up considerably (they’re not out, yet).

The preview and synopsis for the next episode are up.

Review: I … don ‘t know how I feel about this episode. I disliked the script – as in, a whole lot. And it did nothing whatsoever to restore my confidence that the show’s current writers have a clue what they’re doing. But the direction? Well, the direction deserved a better script and in the places where director Jensen Ackles got to do his thing, it worked very well. Also, there was some really good acting.

But boy, that script. Yuck. Also, I have no idea why it’s called “Atomic Monsters.” No one else seems to know, either.

There’s a small scene in the middle that sums up my ambivalence. The Brothers are outside the car in that annoying s15 broad daylight, in suits, talking about the case. This quickly devolves into Sam complaining about how oblivious the civilians on the case are to all the supernatural horror around them. When Dean points out that Sam used to want to be just like them (Dean doesn’t say “social climbing” and “elitist,” but it’s true), Sam’s grousing turns bitter and he mopes about all that they’ve lost.

Meanwhile, Dean is mmm-hmming and pulling out his ubiquitous flask of booze for a few hefty swigs. And not once does Sam notice that his brother is hitting the bottle (and though he does notice Dean eating a lot, he doesn’t put two and two together and realize that Dean is eating a lot). It’s a nicely understated scene about how each brother is (not) coping, but I find myself wondering if all of the stuff about Dean’s nonverbal non-coping was in the direction because the rest of the script is all Tralalalala Puir Sammy and Sam’s own obliviousness to Dean’s drinking makes Sam look like a tool.

It doesn’t help that what Dean is eating in that first scene after the credits is Mary’s favorite food – bacon. There he is, quietly mourning his mother (all over again) by eating breakfast as if she were still there. Not only doesn’t Sam notice that, but he downmouths the very idea of eating bacon that isn’t the veggie burger kind (he even gags when he realizes it’s the real thing). Nor does he mention Mary, since he’s too wrapped up in bemoaning having to put Rowena down like Old Yeller last week and is still hung up on the death of Mary’s murderer, whom he still insists on seeing as a foster son. And what does Dean do? Try to cheer Sam up by turning it into a prank. And does Sam respond? Nope. His head is too far up his own ass even to notice what Dean is trying to do.

It’s not that Sam isn’t sad or depressed, but when the story puts him next to someone who is just as sad and depressed, yet not only is Dean getting out there and taking care of business, but he’s also getting out there and taking care of Sam’s business for him, while Sam stays in his room and mopes, it makes it hard for me to care about Sam’s epic manpain.

Probably the best scene is the opening teaser, which turns out to be Sam’s dream (and possible vision of another reality that Chuck created). But again, this points up the deficits of the script. Jensen Ackles has said he asked to expand what was originally on the page into an extended fight scene. I’m not gonna lie – that scene is a thing of violent, tragic beauty. It’s basically Dean in a last stand with his Hunter team, who are loyal to him and who include a dying Benny, against Sam and a bunch of smarmy demons. Ackles directs action very well and the show’s still got a good crew to back him up.

But it suffers from the same flaw that “The End” did back in season five. It pits a fascinatingly flawed and scarred EndTimes!Dean against a bland Superpowerful Sam. And that version of Sam makes drying paint look action-packed. Nickifer had a character arc, so he could stick around for a while (too long, imho, but he did have a point and was scary for a while). But Samifer is simply the end result of Sam saying yes and the closer Sam got to being Lucifer’s vessel, the less of a personality he had (and what he retained was really unpleasant). At the point Lucifer possesses him in these AUs, Sam “dies” permanently and ceases to exist. Samifer, being Dean’s bane, then kills Dean. Except as an endgame character, Samifer has no point. So, once he shows up, the clock starts running on the fun because the moment he snaps Dean’s neck, the moment’s over. Mixing it up by having him “still” be Sam, but hopped up on demon blood, doesn’t improve matters.

And yet, as Ackles’ account heavily implies, the entire simplistic point of this scene was to get to that moment.

Another nice Easter egg of the episode was the montage near the end where the Brothers dispatch the MOTW. I was not the least bit impressed by the shallow, rich parents (that pains me, because I like Duncan Fraser). They came off as shrill and obnoxious, having no rational backstory for their delusional obsession with killing to protect their son (was this a metaphor for young athletes who are rapists or murderers or what?). It felt like a lazy stab at the recent college admissions scandal, but instead, we got stuck with a paint-by-numbers hunt involving an upper-class school, with cheerleaders and jocks, and a lot of shallow misogyny. Poor Susie barely exists except as a victim for her sympathetic-monster boyfriend to accidentally rip apart and Tori is basically a Damsel in Distress/blood bag.

There was a possibility here to tell an elegiac story in memorial for Rowena that highlighted her growth from an uncaring to an obsessive to a grieving mother, who eventually grew into a heroic figure. The script could have made into a metaphor of comparison the parents and their misogynistic focus on literally using dead girls’ bodies to save their son and fuel his sports career. But I sense that kind of depth never once occurred to Perez and the others in the writers room. They were too busy with their obvious and self-congratulatory meta involving Chuck the Writer Stand-In being an Angry God.

It’s not even that the ‘rents’ sociopathic self-absorption is left to subtext or metaphor – the script doesn’t address it at all. When Daddy and Mommy Dearest were whining that only a parent could understand why they cut up an innocent girl to cover for their son, and kidnapped another innocent girl to feed him with her blood, I kept wondering why no one else suggested they try that line on with Susie or Tori’s parents. See how forgiving they’d be.

The son was sympathetic, if only because he met the minimum requirements of decent human behavior that his parents didn’t, by not running from or fighting his fate in the form of the Brothers Winchester. He went to his death, knowing it was the right thing. But with how clearly the script wants us to perceive Billy, it’s that much more frustrating how vague and unsatisfying the writing is for his parents. Are we supposed to see them as evil? If so, why aren’t they messily dead by the end of the episode? If the script wants us to see them as desperate and confused, why are they so damned unsympathetic?

Bleah.

But the montage of Dean beheading Billy to Radio Company‘s mournful and bluesy “Sounds of Someday” was surprisingly effective. For those who have been hiding under a rock, Radio Company is the pairing between Ackles and his friend Steve Carlson, and Ackles sings lead vocals on this song. All that said, this isn’t just product placement or substituting soundtrack music for a rock standard. The song actually works with the montage. There’s a bleak, 70s roadhouse sound to it, with vaguely apocalyptic lyrics that set a mood rather than narrate a story.

I have mixed feelings about the scenes between Becky and Chuck. As much as I love the acting between them (Emily Perkins really nails Becky’s hard-won Soccer Mom maturity, and then her fear and despair as Chuck rips the veil off the true state of her universe in an almost Lovecraftian way), I still hate, hate hate the idea of Chuck as God. The more we dig into this storyline, the more I dig my heels in to resist it.

In order for the Winchesters to have any chance to beat him, then God has to become … well … not really God, anymore. He can’t be omniscient because then he’d anticipate every single thing they ever did or thought, or ever could do or think. He can’t be omnipotent, because then there’d be no way to beat him. He can’t be omnipresent or omnitemporal because then he’d be everywhere and everywhen, and not allow this situation to occur in the first place because he would have seen it coming billions of years away.

So, if he’s none of those things, how can he be God? Okay, he created the SPNverse, but that just makes him a demiurge, not God with a capital G. And Amara can’t be God, either, because she’s not omniscient. I’m still hoping there will be some twist in all this – such as that the Chuck we’ve seen since last season’s finale is actually the Empty Entity (since his current nihilistic attitude reflects the persona of the Empty Entity much more than what we’ve seen of Chuck over the years), but it still begs the question of why the “real” Chuck didn’t foresee this.

I get the impression, thanks to their constant obsession with the Thanos storyline in the Marvel films (and Andrew Dabb’s background in comics), that the writers are under the delusion that movie Thanos is a good villain. Lordie, no. Enough about that damned finger snap.

Thanos is a one-note antagonist, about on the level with a natural disaster but somehow less compelling. That’s why he gets killed off so early in the latest film. Thanos is simply not that interesting, even including his creepy relationship with his forcibly adopted daughters. What is interesting is how various characters react to the destruction that one snap (and how Thanos got the stones to make it happen) causes. So, modeling Chuck (a character who, to this point, has actually been fairly mysterious if not the least bit ineffable) after Thanos is a major mistake.

The question arises, “Why all the puppet strings?” Why does Chuck need to write a story in order to manipulate the Winchesters into doing what he wants? I mean, I get why that would work with Sam. Sam’s entire story has been about how he rebelled against one script (the Family Business and John’s blue collar revenge quest), only to find his very rebellion was another, deeper script being written by demons at Lucifer’s behest.

And I also get why it would work with Castiel. Castiel, as an angel, basically didn’t have any Free Will during his first appearances and we discover later that every time in the past he’d gotten some, it was erased by more angelic programming. Chuck was usually the one who kept bringing him back, so the subsequent chaos he sowed had to be been part of Chuck’s plan.

As for Jack, Chuck admitted outright in last season’s finale that Jack’s conception and birth and supposedly chaotic rampage of childish power were nothing more than an assassination attempt on Dean. As soon as Dean threw down the Equalizer gun and refused to shoot Jack, Jack became surplus to requirements. With a snap of his fingers, Chuck smote him. Even after Sam shot Chuck in revenge and made him angry, Chuck still had more than enough power to open all the gates of Hell. Jack, far from how he’d been built up over two seasons, was never a threat to his grandfather.

But that’s the thing – Chuck can smite anyone. He should be able to pop up in the Bunker at any time and kill everyone there. I mean, look what he did to Becky and her family.

What was so chilling about the acting and direction of the rather simplistic scriptwriting for their scenes was how we saw that Becky had grown up and was now happy, only to have her creepy ex pop in after he’d ghosted her nearly a decade before. Then slowly, in an increasingly dark sequence that felt like a predator stalking an unsuspecting and totally helpless prey, we saw Becky’s dawning horror as she realized that not only was Chuck God, but he really was The Monster At The End Of This Book. And then he smote her (yeah, I know he claimed that he didn’t actually kill her and her family, but they sure aren’t in the story, anymore).

So, why, when it comes to the Winchesters, is he writing a story, instead? We had this self-indulgent bullshit in season nine with Metatron and it was pretty tedious. And yeah, having Chuck the Author Insert smiting Becky the Fandom Insert was pretty mean-spirited (also inaccurate, since Dabb & Co. don’t have jobs without an audience). Authors, just because you’re building the world and creating the characters, that does not make you God in the story. Resist the urge to self-insert like that.

But we’re stuck with that concept here and therefore, we must wrestle with it [downs more rum and eggnog]. Why is Chuck pulling a Bond Villain and writing a story about the Winchesters instead of just visiting the Bunker, a-smitin’ as he goes, like not-quite-Samifer in the episode’s teaser? If he’s that mad at them, why give them a chance to wriggle out of his trap and get him back? Didn’t he already learn from Sam shooting him last season?

See, that’s the thing – Sam and Castiel may have proven unable to break free from Chuck’s predestination all their existence, but this is categorically not true for Dean. Dean has broken free of Chuck’s story at least three times and the third time was the end of last season. There’s been a lot of fan focus on Sam shooting Chuck (which took Chuck by surprise), but this was something that occurred in the wake of Dean taking Chuck by surprise by refusing to shoot Jack, and Chuck flipping the table over it.

It wasn’t until Dean flatly rejected Chuck’s order to pick up the gun and shoot Jack that Chuck smote Jack himself. Yeah, Chuck threw a tantrum after Sam shot him, but Sam didn’t shoot Chuck until after Dean defied him and after Chuck smote Jack. The decision that kicked things off was Dean refusing to bow to Chuck’s story, to Chuck’s will, even after Chuck switched to bargaining and offered Mary back (and why did he even need to bargain with Dean when he could smite Jack himself at any time?).

So, even if Chuck writes another story, Dean is bound to disobey and change it at some point. Because that’s just how Dean rolls. And once Dean rolls that way, it allows other characters (like Sam) also to break free. Why is Chuck choosing, again, to go this route? Why not just smite Dean? Dean even asked him why he didn’t do that and Chuck only tossed him into a tombstone after Dean physically went after him. That’s what gave Sam the opening to pick up the gun and shoot Chuck.

The thing with Becky (and what’s so bleak about it) is that to her, of course, she was the Hero of the story. Chuck brutally disabused her of that notion and casually swept her off the board. After all, she knows his current plan and might warn Sam and Dean about it. But also, he did it just because he could. And that begs the biggest question – why can’t he just do that to Sam and Dean?


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14

Season 15


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The Official Supernatural: “The Rupture” (15.03) Live Recap Thread


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

It’s been a tough summer, so I’m way behind on my recaps and reviews. As of this review, I now have 50 episodes left to finish for previous seasons, plus the 17 after this one for the final (15th) season that started on October 10. That’s 69 total by next April. I currently have 151 coffees at $3 each on Ko-Fi (many thanks to those who have contributed so far!). If I get 300 coffees total, I will commit to doing one recap/review per week (retro or Season 15). If I get 400 coffees, I will commit to two. If I get 500 coffees, three reviews. If I get 600 coffees, four reviews. If I get 700 coffees, five reviews per week.

Other that that, any and all contributions are welcome! You can still find my reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my folklore research on Patreon.

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

Scroll down to find links to all of my recaps and reviews of all seasons up to this point.

Recap: Boring recap with boring soundtrack music of the boring ghost apocalypse so far.

Cut to Now and two Hunters watching anxiously from a suburban street as the angry ghosts try Belphegor’s failing barrier. Meanwhile, TFW (consisting of Dean, Sam, Castiel, Belphegor and – most importantly – Rowena) is heading back out to the crypt where everyone got trapped at the beginning of the season. Which would be a nice bit of continuity, if Berens doesn’t promptly demonstrate he didn’t read the previous two episode scripts closely (if at all) when he has Sam say he sent some Hunters here and there and such to man the fort while they help Rowena strengthen the barrier.

Yeah. See, here’s the thing. You know what-all Dean’s been doing so far this season? Organizing the Hunters. Getting them to the town, setting up patrols, going out on patrols, checking up on missing Hunters who didn’t check in, getting attacked by errant ghosts. Know what Sam’s been doing? Well, pretty much everything but interact with the Hunters. That’s what Dean has been doing and since the Hunters have been mostly offscreen, that’s what Dean has been, too.

But nope. Not only does Berens just casually yank even that subplot away from Dean and hand it to Sam, giftwrapped, but we will see it used as a club against Dean in this very episode. It’s just … well, it’s substandard writing.

So, anyhoo, Rowena is all brimming with confidence about the spell, until she sets it up and it starts to work … until that moment when it totally doesn’t. Rowena falls down as the barrier continues to weaken and declares that they’re all screwed.

Cue title cards.

So, Sam is all solicitous to Rowena (and since when, Show? Even as late as last season, she was trying to kill him. Then there was that time a few seasons ago when he kidnapped her and held her prisoner as his pet witch). When Rowena insists she needs “a real drink,” Sam glares at Dean until Dean gives up his flask of booze. Because of course Berens wants to remind us that Dean is a drunk. I mean, yes, he is, but what’s the point in this exchange except to make him look bad?

Rowena says that the ghosts are too angry and too strong to be controlled. She might have been able to do something if she’d arrived earlier, but now it’s too late and they’re all gonna die when the barrier falls, in a matter of hours. When Dean suggests more crystals like the one she used last episode, Rowena says it would be “like tossing mousetraps at the Great Plague.”

Belphegor leaves, against Dean’s objections, and Castiel follows him out. Dean is angry, insisting there is still something they can do. Sam ostentatiously puts a hand out to forestall Dean’s anger. I roll my eyes.

Outside, Belphegor turns out to have a plan. He goes out to the rift where the CGI souls are exiting Hell (remember how all the doors of Hell opened? All of them? Not just this rift? Well, now it’s just this rift). He and Castiel look at it.

Dean is weaponing up and Sam tries to calm him down. Or something. Dean is angry with Chuck, but he’s determined not to let God win this time.

Back inside, Belphegor lays out his plan. It turns out that one way Lilith the demon (remember her? Seasons three and four?) had to control her demons was something called “Lilith’s Crook” (it will also be interchangeably called a “horn” because that’s what it really is, but hey, consistency’s for losers, amirite?). It was a weapon she could use to recall any and all of her demons (or any denizens of Hell). She never actually used it, and Crowley had other means to control his subjects (whom he hardly ever saw because he didn’t hang out in Hell much), but it’s still down there. They can use it to suck all the souls back inside.

Rowena, meanwhile, has invented a spell on the fly to heal the rift. The ingredients are simple, including lavender and an owl’s skull, among other things (“RIP Hedwig,” says Dean). She also needs an assistant and asks Sam to fill in. She claims he is basically a witch anyway (which is an extremely long callback to Ruby’s teachings to Sam, which he promptly forgot for seasons and seasons, but which Berens makes sound as though he’s awesome and special. Gag).

And, of course, there’s the job of being the “fulcrum” outside, unprotected, getting ready to toss the physical part of the spell into the rift to close it. Guess who gets volunteered? Yup. Dean.

Belphegor asks who is going to come with him as “protection.” Dean volunteers Castiel and points out that Castiel has been down there before (when he pulled Dean out of Hell beginning of season four, but we also know he was down there with Crowley in season six and then there was that time when the whole gang visited the Cage-Adjacent). Castiel isn’t thrilled by Dean’s offhand manner, and there’s a distinct chill between the two of them, but he can’t argue with Dean’s logic and goes along with it.

In a hospital fairly far away, Ketch wakes up in a bed. A nurse is talking to him as he tries to check himself out. Unfortunately for the nurse, when the doctor walks in, she’s possessed by a demon – Ardat. She TK-snaps the nurse’s neck.

She is not happy with Ketch, having hired him to find and kill Belphegor. Knowing this, he attacks her first. But she’s a demon and he’s weakened by his wounds. Also, he doesn’t have his usual toolkit ready at hand (it’s in the closet). Even though he does manage to kick her out into the hallway long enough to grab an angel blade, she overpowers him. She demands that he give up TFW and Belphegor, but he refuses. So, she rips out his heart and smiles. Death by Underwhelming Guest Demon. Bye, Ketch.

Back in the graveyard, as they head toward the rift, Belphegor points out to Castiel that if the rift closes, the angel will likely be stuck in Hell. Castiel says he’ll figure it out. But he looks doubtful as Belphegor points out further that no one in the rest of TFW looked very upset about his job.

A lot of fans zeroed in on Dean in this respect, but Sam and Rowena didn’t exactly step up and object, either. It’s all hands on deck and the odds of any of them making it out are pretty low at this point. I mean, Dean’s basically got the job of hanging out at the top of the rift, lobbing in a live grenade that could go off at any time.

But Castiel listens to this moldy old divisive demon dreck because the writing demands he hold the Idiot Ball this week, all episode, and Belphegor is basically telling him what he wants to hear.

When Castiel asks how to get down to Hell through the rift, Bephegor says he doesn’t know. So, Castiel shoves him in and jumps in after him.

The female Hunter from the teaser comes into the crypt with Rowena’s ingredients. I get that sneaking in past the ghosts would make one edgy and crabby, but it’s not a particularly good introduction for her to snipe at Rowena for being “rude” and downmouth TFW’s world-saving plan.

Especially stupid is the way she takes orders from Sam as her boss, when that hasn’t been Sam’s role this season. It’s been Dean’s.

At that moment, Dean gets a text from Ketch’s phone. It is, of course, Ardat, fishing for info and smiling evilly over a dead Ketch as she does so.

Castiel and Belphegor have found some stairs in Hell and descend them to a hallway full of monkish decor on their way to a large set of doors. Belphegor says he thinks Sam and Dean are starting to like him. Castiel begs to differ, but when Belphegor goads him a bit, he confesses that his big beef is that Belphegor is wearing Jack and that to Castiel, Belphegor is “an abomination” because “Jack was like a son to me.” Um … Castiel, honey, Jack was the abomination. Bephegor’s just a demon, doing what demons do.

So, they enter the room, which is being ransacked by another demon, who knows and is friendly with Belphegor. Castiel shoves him up against a wall and confirms with Belphegor that the new guy doesn’t have the Horn/Crook/whatever. So, he stabs the new demon.

Yeah. That’s a major problem with the past three episodes. Lots of one-shot characters with maybe two lines who suck up all the air time and get no development.

Anyhoo, Castiel and Belphegor locate the box, but it’s locked. The spell to open it is on the box, but it’s in Enochian. However, when Castiel reads it out loud, nothing happens. Belphegor tells him he has to sing it. Turns out Belphegor had a reason for bringing Castiel, after all.

Topside, Dean is getting into position behind a tombstone next to the rift. While wondering where Ketch is, and why everyone else is delaying, he pulls out a gigantic hex bag.

Things are going a bit pear-shaped elsewhere. Down in Hell, Ardat shows up just as Castiel gets the box open and knocks him out. Despite her monologuing about how she knew Belphegor would make a play for the crook/horn, or whatever the script is calling it at any given moment, and that he wants to rule Hell, she is strong enough to kick Belphegor and Castiel’s asses. At least, until Belphegor stabs her from behind. As Belphegor puts it, “Blah, blah, blah, she always was a talker.”

So, in an entirely predictable face-heel turn, Belphegor admits that he pulled a double-cross. The horn (it’s a ram’s horn) is a “siphon” (yet another freakin’ word for this thing). Belphegor intends to eat all the souls and become a sort of god. Well, we know how that all went with Godstiel in season seven, but if there’s one thing consistent about this show, it’s that Demons Are Definitely Stupid.

Belphegor starts blowing the horn and Castiel finds himself blasted back by a great wind. Upstairs, Sam is fretting about not being out where the action is, but gets his butt in gear when he hears the horn. He and Rowena start saying a spell in Latin to close the rift. Outside, by the rift, Dean sees ghosts being sucked back in. When the hex bag glows pink in his hand, he edges out from behind the tombstone and carefully tosses it into the rift.

Things then go exceedingly sideways and unfortunately, Castiel is the direct reason for it. In the worst possible bit of timing, he manages to tackle Belphegor, break the horn, and then smite the demon. There’s a moment when Belphegor tries to pretend that he’s Jack to get Castiel to stop, but remember, folks – Jack is in the Empty. He was never in Hell.

Castiel then proceeds to smite Belphegor into a charred corpse. The last time we saw this kind of overkill was when Jack killed Nick – you know, right before he also killed Mary. Not a good sign. Castiel looks devastated afterward, but it’s not clear whether he’s still just wallowing in grief over Jack or realizes how badly he’s screwed up now.

But Rowena, up top, knows. As Dean and Sam talk on the phone about the rift closing, but something being wrong, Rowena carves out her last “resurrection sachet.” When Sam notices what she’s doing, she explains that “magic can do anything” (but girl, you just said half an episode ago that it couldn’t – oh, never mind). She spouts some daft nonsense about how, if she dies, she can use her body to absorb the souls and take them back down to Hell. Or something. But she has to die for the spell to work and it seems, she has to do it permanently. And Sam has to kill her. She says it’s her prophecy.

As Rowena talks him into stabbing her (and she twists the knife), Castiel crawls out of the rift behind Dean and fills him in on why the plan down south went FUBAR. Dean isn’t thrilled, to say the least.

So, after she’s stabbed, Rowena starts walking slowly out of the crypt to the rift, sucking in souls through her wound as she goes. Once she’s done, she says, “Goodbye, boys!” and does an elegant swan song into the rift to a cheesy Irish flute. The rift closes behind her.

Afterward at the Bunker, Sam feels bad and Dean tries to cheer him up. Dean has been busy, making sure that the town stuff was wrapped up and confirms Ketch’s death. So, I guess that means Sam has been spending the commercial break wallowing. Super. Dean says it’s over and they’ve averted this last apocalypse. He tells Sam he “didn’t have a choice” about killing Rowena.

Out in the Library, Dean is drinking when Castiel shows up. Castiel says he’s sorry about Rowena. Dean gets mad at him and points out that Castiel’s response to Belphegor’s sudden and inevitable betrayal nearly got everyone killed. Rather than admit that he might have made the wrong decision, Castiel doubles down.

Castiel: The plan changed. Something went wrong. Something always goes wrong.

Dean: Yeah, why does that something always seem to be you?

I know I’m supposed to be all shocked and outraged at what Dean says (the scene’s writing and direction are certainly manipulative in that direction), but … well … he’s not wrong. When Castiel whines that his angelic powers are failing, that Dean no longer trusts him, won’t listen to him, and “no longer cares” about him, how is Dean supposed to respond?

It’s not as though Dean is anything but straightforward about why he’s angry – Castiel didn’t “stick to the plan” and now Rowena’s dead. What is incorrect in that statement? Dean’s not angry at Castiel for lacking sparkly powers. He’s angry with him for making lots of stupid decisions in a short amount of time that are getting people killed. Dean may have had, at best, an uneasy respect for Rowena, but Mary just died under similar circumstances. Of course he made that connection.

So, this being episode three of the season, rather than employing any self-examination, Castiel pisses off to wherever to do his own navel-gazing thing, whether or not Dean wants/needs him around or not. Only, this time, he tries to guilt-trip Dean into it being Dean driving him away, even though what Dean is actually doing is calling Castiel out on his poor decisions (Dean even asks Castiel where he’s going when Castiel leaves). Oh, Cas, bless your entitled, angelic little heart.

Credits

The show got a 0.3/2 and 1.24 million in audience, which was up from last week.

The preview and sneak peek for the next episode (an MOTW that is Jensen Ackles’ last directorial turn at bat for the show) are up.

Review: I have three major beefs with this episode. First, did Berens even read the first two scripts? I mean, it’s the conclusion of a three-parter, not an MOTW. So, why do we suddenly have Hunters kissing Sam’s ass and why have basically all the redshirts we would have missed if we blinked in the past two episodes been replaced by a woman we’ve never even seen before? Why is she all hero worshipping Sam when the only people who did that were the ones from the alt-SPNverse who got killed by alt-Michael last season?

Even more importantly, why was she ignoring Dean in favor of Sam when Dean was the one organizing all the Hunters earlier this season (you know, in the past two episodes of which this is the conclusion in the arc)? Does she not recognize her own boss? Why end this three-episode arc with the implication that Sam will lead Hunters? He mostly hangs out with Rowena for the episode inside a crypt and spent the previous two episodes moping over his new mytharc and trying to herd civilians away from the ghost danger zone (to which they were attracted like iron fillings-loaded lemmings).

This leads me to my second beef. Where the hell is Dean’s storyline this season? Show, it is the final season. Don’t think you can just ghost Dean and expect fans not to notice. They already have and boy, are some of them pissed.

The really sad thing is that Dean was actually doing quite a bit this episode, while Sam did hardly anything (even when he stabbed Rowena, she practically yanked the knife into herself with his hand on the blade). Yet, who got the play-by-play and inane in-show fan-cheering? Sam.

Who got a few perfunctory scenes that failed to acknowledge the bald truth of the situation that if Dean had died or otherwise been unable to throw the Big Honking Hex Bag into the Big Honking CGI Rocky Vulva, it wouldn’t have mattered what Sam or Rowena or Castiel or Belphegor did (well … aside from Belphegor wanting to be a ghost god). He was the link the ghosts should have been attacking. But there was no recognition in the story of that at all.

I need to see some actual Dean content this season or I’m just gonna start mentally checking out, right along with the asshole writers.

Then there is Sam. And there is Rowena. And since when are these two besties? Literally the last time we saw these two together last season, she was trying to murder him. Now, suddenly, he’s her apprentice? Say, what the hell?

And how gross is it, not only to fridge a female character to motivate a male character, but to have her get him to fridge her, with her friggin’ permission? Ew. Poor woman got fridged to service the manpain of both Sam and Castiel, neither of whom deserved that sacrifice.

Don’t get me started on the long, random stumble out to the rift, as she’s bleeding to death, to some really cheesy soundtrack music. Writers, this is a horror show on the CW, not an opera.

I’m pretty sure Bobo Berens has forgotten all about this, but when she got Sam to stab her by asking if he would let Dean die to save her (and he then got all stabbity), I immediately thought of Sam (in season 10) kidnapping Rowena, chaining her in a cellar, and forcing her to help him in his plan to take the Mark of Cain off Dean’s arm. Not only did we get Sam forcing Rowena’s cooperation and trying to kill Crowley (a plan that backfired disastrously on him when he only succeeded in burning off Crowley’s partial human cure instead), but he did it all behind Dean’s back and without Dean’s consent. And he ignored major red flags that it would cause a huge apocalypse (which it did), not because he wanted to save Dean, but because he wanted to keep Dean stuck to his side.

But now this season seems determined to skip over those pesky Jeremy Carver seasons where Sam was a dickhead (but at least made sense as a character and had actual growth) to return a fantasy version of season four (a version where Sam wasn’t turning into a major dickhead – sorry, going darkside). Except that now, all that effusive Tell from other characters about how awesome and important Sam is, is not just undercut by his ugly actions. It’s now backed up only by empty hot air as Sam sits around on his ass most of the time, fretting about joining Dean, who is largely offscreen and actually taking care of business. It doesn’t do either character any favors to have Sam’s storyline be all rapturous Tell and Dean’s all understated, perfunctory Show.

There were also ginormous plotholes. Most notably, if the ghosts were being sucked back inside, wasn’t Kevin sucked in, too? Why didn’t anybody worry about that? All those ghost and townspeople characters introduced and dropped the past two episodes? Yeah, don’t expect any closure on any redshirts. We’re too busy fridging Rowena and Ketch here. And don’t get me started on how cheap and unscary everything looks in bright sunlight rather than at night, as it should have been. We already did that rant last week.

Speaking of Ketch, I felt a bit bad about his death – until I remembered that he was the one who murdered Eileen using a dog whistle and an invisible Hell Hound. The Show wanted us to feel sorry for Ketch, but it also spent so much time keeping his motivations under wraps (to keep us guessing) that his 11th hour heroic heel-face turn came literally out of nowhere in terms of writing and foreshadowing.

It was therefore difficult not to notice the clumsy plotting where it was necessary to remove allies from the Brothers so that they wouldn’t proceed immediately in going after Chuck. So, the writers killed off Ketch, Rowena and Belphegor, had Castiel (once again, it’s like clockwork, I swear) go off in a multi-episode solo snit, and had the apocalypse apparently averted (however clumsily) so that the Brothers could go off on a few more last MOTW episodes.

Castiel really got on my last nerve this week. Look, the events leading up to (let alone immediately following) Mary’s death last season happened maybe a week ago in in-show time. Dean and Sam just barely burned their mother’s body, just barely watched Chuck kill her murderer, and have been fighting for their lives ever since.

Castiel wants to wallow incessantly in his grief over Jack, even to the point of buggering up TFW’s strategy to the point that Rowena had to sacrifice herself. Castiel. Got. Rowena. Killed. That’s what’s really fueling Dean’s anger this week. Yet, at the same time, he wants Dean to just “get over” Mary’s death in record time so that he can still hang out in the Bunker with the Winchesters and pretend he’s not a complete fuck-up.

I mean, yeah, all of TFW are powerful outcasts of some sort, but only one of them has been getting the others killed through sheer stupidity of late. It’s amazing how many female characters “misogynistic” Dean interacts with and who go on to have long, extended arcs on the show. And it’s funny how quickly similar female characters get killed off when they interact with “woke” Castiel and Sam.

The thing is that yes, Dean was cold when he “volunteered” Castiel to go down to Hell with Belphegor. But Dean was right (albeit succinct in the explanation) – as an angel who had been to the Pit before, Castiel was the best candidate to go, succeed and survive. And it’s not as though Dean was sitting pretty while Castiel did that. He had arguably the most important and dangerous job of them all.

Further, as Dean made painfully clear in the episode’s coda, everyone on TFW knew perfectly well that Belphegor was going to turn on them at some point (if anything, Dean telegraphed that a little too clearly to Belphegor). That’s why he sent Castiel as Belphegor’s minder. Not because he didn’t care or trust Castiel, but because he did trust Castiel.

And instead, Castiel let Belphegor into his head. Instead, he overkilled Belphegor in a way disturbingly reminiscent of how Jack killed Nick last season – right before he murdered Mary. Why? Because he wanted to believe what Belphegor said about Sam and Dean – especially Dean.

If Castiel can project his own anger and self-loathing onto Dean, then he won’t have to carry it, anymore. If he can blame Dean for not trusting him, he doesn’t have to blame himself for being untrustworthy. He doesn’t have to face that fact that he let a second-rate demon get into his head and get the drop on him, and that because of that, someone else died.

Now if the writing in the show were willing to acknowledge that this one is on Castiel and that he has to own up to it before he can move past it (“The Man Who Would Be King” in season six fairly leaps to mind as an excellent example), I’d be okay with this storyline. I mean, I wish the show weren’t wasting so much time in its final shortened season with stereotypically bitchy high school melodrama, but I’d appreciate the honesty of Castiel’s mistakes and see how they could lead to growth for the character.

But instead, Berens writes it like a teen girl BFF breakup and blames it on Dean. This blatant tongue bath for Destiel fans made that small part of the audience happy-sad, but it ruined Castiel as a character for large sections of the rest of the audience. You can’t prop up a character like that and not do some permanent damage to how the audience views them. “Ruined” is what Berens did to Castiel.


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14

Season 15


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


Revenge of Halloween in North Carolina, Day #26: Spooky North Carolina

Many apologies for the lateness of this. As some of you may have noticed, my site was down (for the second time in the month) for a day or two over the weekend. I’ll spare you the technical details, but it took a few calls and some shouting at my website provider to get things fixed. Unfortunately, that took up the time and energy I was going to use to do these reviews, my latest Supernatural review, and class work. So, I’m currently about five days behind. All this means is that we will be going into November with the ghost story reviews until we get the full 31 (possibly not every single day), though I will continue to post them as timed in October, so that all you need do is click on that month to get to them. Sorry about the delay.

Check out the rest of the month’s reviews here, and last year’s reviews here. If you enjoyed this review and want to help out with my folklore research, head on over to my Patreon page and join up, make a one-time donation on this site or directly through Paypal, or send me a coffee.

Schlosser, S.E. Spooky North Carolina: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore. Paul G. Hoffman, illustrator. Morris Book Publishing, 2009.

Having previously read another entry in this series (Spooky New Jersey) and found it underwhelming, I had an idea about the format for this one. The author takes stories from around a state and basically fictionalizes them. Even though she has a long bibliography at the end (from which she clearly took lots of “inspiration”), she doesn’t give a whole lot on which to confirm or deny her details. Even with a map supplied near the beginning, the stories often feel set in some vague Never Never Land. So, you certainly can’t rely on any of these as being the “true” account of a myth or legend.

Most of these stories were quite well-known, to the point where I often could tell where she embellished. I think only the ghost dog in the mirror (from Boone) and the healing ghost of the suicidal father (from Raleigh) were ones I had never heard of before as either a specific tale or a collection of tales.

I think my favorite was the Jesus tale from Bat Cave about an itinerant carpenter who is hired by a farmer to build a fence blocking out his neighbor, with whom the farmer has a long-time feud. Instead, the carpenter builds a bridge, reconciles the two neighbors, and heals the farmer’s crippled son, to boot.

Blackbeard’s ghost from Ocracoke, the Little Red Man of Old Salem, Tsali’s protective Cherokee spirit of Smoky Mountains National Park, the fictional White Doe of Roanoke Island, the Dare County woman haunted by her sister after stealing the ring off her dead finger, the Maco Light, the fratricidal man from Murphy “plucked” to death by his brother’s ghost, they’re all here. There are even some lesser-known stories like the (mysterious, but quite real phenomenon) Seneca Guns of the Outer Banks.

This narrative storytelling approach isn’t necessarily a problem for most people. But the other issue is that while some of these stories are well-written and entertaining, they’re not very chilling. I know for a fact these tales have been told in more harrowing ways elsewhere, but there wasn’t a lot of Boo Factor in this one. The illustrations don’t help in that they are folksy and interesting, but not eerie like the ones in Haunted Uwharries from last year. As I recall, Spooky New Jersey wasn’t very scary, either. There was only one exception (involving a Satanic hitchhiker) that I even remember, let alone remember it being unnerving (though, in fairness, that one was a doozy).

Just to check whether I’d finally become too jaded to get scared easily, anymore, by ghost story books, I read an article of ten scary, true stories told by law enforcement officers. It was pretty creepy. So, the fault, Dear Brutus, lies in this book. ‘Cause I ain’t that hard to creep out.

Because of all the embellishment, I found the extra detail in some of these stories less than compelling. It was most obvious in the Witch in the Mill story (from Edenton) that comes directly from Daniel Barefoot’s Haunted Hundred series. The Barefoot version does not have a daughter character (let alone one as a narrator) in it.

So, when I read a whole lot more detail in the Boo Hag story from Elizabeth City (mostly to do with the Haint Blue around the doors and windows keeping her out, and her preying on her husband to sell to her Boo Daddy) than I had encountered before in that legend, I was suspicious of the extra detail. Was it really part of the original Gullah legend or had the author added it in?

Other embellished stories suffered from the heavy emphasis on narrative and lack of analytical distance. The one about the Raven Mockers (from Cherokee), far from sounding like a straight-up heroic tale of a Cherokee shaman who protects his tribe from the titular witches (as you normally get in tales about Spearfinger, say), has the disturbing subtext of a vicious witchcraze straight out of Salem, Massachusetts. The author showed a similar disinterest in exploring the Unfortunate Implications in her tales about witches and cats. A lot of misery was caused by these superstitions (still is, one could argue), so I’m leery of signing off on being oblivious to their ugly real-life history.

The stories I liked best (besides the Jesus tale) were a collection of Mountain tales in the middle of the book about various kinds of premonitions and death omens. In one (from Pineola), a woman has an elaborate waking dream in which she correctly predicts a complicated series of events where her sister-in-law runs away with a man, who is then shot dead by the SIL’s own brother. In another (Watauga County), a old country doctor whose father dropped dead at the age of 62 after seeing his doppelgänger, has a similar encounter at the same age, in the woods returning from a night call early one morning. It doesn’t end well for him.

In his book on Scottish folklore, The Supernatural Highlands, Francis Thompson refers to people who have these kinds of precog waking dreams as “seers.” There’s quite a tradition surrounding them in Scottish Celtic lore. “The Coffin” (Fayetteville) fits easily into this tradition.

Are these stories badly told? No, not really. They pass the time easily enough. Just don’t expect them to be … well … scary.

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Revenge of Halloween in North Carolina, Day #25: Folk Arts and Folklife in and around Pitt County

Many apologies for the lateness of this. As some of you may have noticed, my site was down (for the second time in the month) for a day or two over the weekend. I’ll spare you the technical details, but it took a few calls and some shouting at my website provider to get things fixed. Unfortunately, that took up the time and energy I was going to use to do these reviews, my latest Supernatural review, and class work. So, I’m currently about five days behind. All this means is that we will be going into November with the ghost story reviews until we get the full 31, though I will continue to post them as timed in October, so that all you need to do is click on that month to get to them. Sorry about the delay.

Check out the rest of the month’s reviews here, and last year’s reviews here. If you enjoyed this review and want to help out with my folklore research, head on over to my Patreon page and join up, make a one-time donation on this site or directly through Paypal, or send me a coffee.

Baldwin, Karen, et al., eds. Folk Arts and Folklife in and around Pitt County: A Handbook and Resource Guide. Illustrated by David Norris. East Carolina University Folklore Archive, Department of English, Greenville, NC, 1990.

Folk Arts and Folklife in and around Pitt County (Pitt County, whose largest city is Greenville, is to the immediate southeast of me) is one of the more important folklore collections in North Carolina. Its introduction states that it’s intended as a resource for teachers (grade school and high school) in teaching about “folklife.” Only the last section involves itself with ghost tales and legends, though Henry Cowan, a cement sculptor and storyteller in the Material Arts section, also tells a supernatural tale or two about witches.

As you can guess, this book (which, alas, is not available online and was published in a very limited edition in 1990) comes out of the same tradition as that of Weird Tales of Martin County (which it mentions) and Whispers from the Past (which it doesn’t, though both came out the same year). There are sections on practitioners of the material arts and musical arts, occupational folklife, regional cookery, home medicine & midwifery, and (last and treated as least) narrative arts. Narrative Arts is where you find the rest of the witch tales, some ghost and UFO stories, and a short section about a tornado that hit a trailer park in 1984 because … it’s about the spread of urban legends, I guess. Honestly, I think they just didn’t know where else to put it.

“Folklife,” according to Lexico (the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary), is defined as “The way of life of a rural or traditional community. ” The book doesn’t give much of a definition of what it means by this word, but the impression I got was “Stuff old people do out in the country and isn’t that quaint.” Unfortunately, 1990 was back in the day when academics still tended to look down their noses at “folk” art and this book, unfortunately, follows in that tradition. It’s especially annoying to see now-famous whirligig makers Lester Gay and Vollis Simpson treated in a rather head-patting manner as quirky local eccentric inventors.

One could argue that the book is intended, basically, as a sort of textbook for grade school and high school, but that’s hardly an excuse. Tom Peete Cross managed to tell a rousing good tale in his copious footnotes for “Witchcraft in North Carolina” in 1919, while there was a lot more charging the horror engine for W.K. McNeil’s Ghost Stories from the American South (1985) than this book. This one comes across as condescending at times toward its subjects, a little pompous, and (too often) deadly dull.

The reason can be gleaned from a comparison to what the above two sources (as well as the Frank C. Brown Collection) did right. The introduction to Folk Arts and Folklife in and around Pitt County: A Handbook and Resource Guide claims that it was kept short (90 pages) because of limitations of space. It never explains why such limitations existed. Maybe someone thought a longer book wouldn’t fit the grade school format or maybe they ran out of budget.

But this leads to a rather odd mix of raw interview quotes of the subjects (who are often fascinating, especially Gospel/Jazz musicians like the Vines Sisters, just not presented that way) with some droning on about sociological theories of folklore and the barest minimum of context. And I think the lack of context is the real problem. You get a little biographical information about the subjects, but it’s bare bones. You get even less about the history of the towns in question.

Folklore motifs get the shortest shrift. The intros to the tales about the witch cat or the boyfriend’s head, for example, mention that these are old tropes, but don’t go any further and barely mention Stith Thompson. There are several family stories of dead relatives returning to haunt the living, with far more emphasis on the idea that this is how the family kept their history and far less exploration of them as actual ghost stories.

A quite-fascinating (if short) story about a car going dead near a sighting of mysterious red lights on NC 43 north of Rocky Mount (so, probably still in Nash County) is buried in the middle of a group of UFO stories (most of which sound like cases of mistaking an airplane or star/planet for an extraterrestrial craft). Thing is, this story could easily be a case of ghost lights and/or a roadside revenant, but the possibility is simply ignored. There’s a lot of that kind of thing in this book and that makes it a bit of a disappointment.

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Revenge of Halloween in North Carolina, Day #24: Haunted Plantations

Check out the rest of the month’s reviews here, and last year’s reviews here. If you enjoyed this review and want to help out with my folklore research, head on over to my Patreon page and join up, make a one-time donation on this site or directly through Paypal, or send me a coffee.

Buxton, Geordi. Haunted Plantations: Ghosts of Slavery and Legends of the Cotton Kingdoms. Arcadia Publishing, 2007.

This one is not, strictly speaking, set in North Carolina. It’s stories about ghosts (mostly) of slaves from the Lowcountry of South Carolina and Georgia. But as we’ve learned from other such collections, state borders don’t limit folklore that neatly. Enslaved African Americans in North Carolina labored and suffered under similar conditions.

The author’s premise is to explore the experience of African American slaves and of slavery through Antebellum ghost stories. Some of these go all the way back to the 17th century (and earlier for the Native American tales). This mostly works, though there are some silly flubs, like the dated theory that slave labor built the Pyramids.

After a slow start and some objectifying in the manner of what Tiya Miles complains about in Tales from the Haunted South, Buxton gets into the lives (and afterlives) of slaves in South Carolina and Georgia. This includes some asides about coastal Gullah culture (and some extended detail about the origins and meaning of haint blue paint on houses) and West African religion like the Mami Wata.

There are some odd detours. For example, early on, we get the tale of Monsieur Dutarque. A (white) French teacher, M. Dutarque has to leave town in a hurry after tying a young white plantation owner’s daughter to a tombstone all night and causing permanent paralysis in her face. He then ingratiates himself into another community, only to disappear at the end of the school year. The boys he was teaching discover only their papers on his desk, corrected and marked with failing grades in his blood.

Until some months later, anyway, when one of them decides to pull the bucket up from the old schoolhouse well.

We then get into some of the better known ghost stories about the Lowcountry, such as the mass suicide by drowning of a group of Igbo slaves, newly arrived in South Carolina from Africa, in 1803. Buxton explains how their beliefs would motivate them to do so as a way to return to the old country in spirit, if not in body, and the subsequent hauntings of the water there. These include singing and the sound of clanking chains from beneath the river water.

Another story from Savannah Harbor tells of a place where something unseen tries to capsize passing ships. Could it be the mass ghost of a French pirate slave ship from the Civil War that was capsized by escaping slaves?

He also devotes two chapters (from both sides of the conflict) to slave revolts, such as the Stono River Slave Rebellion (1739), which resulted in the passing of laws forbidding the education of slaves that restricted the rights of both slaves and slaveowners. Another slave revolt may (or may not) have been headed off in 1822 by the hanging of freedmen Denmark Vesey and Gullah Jack in Charleston. Who may, or may not, have been completely innocent of the crime of insurrection.

Another Charleston hanging (the last public one) leads to the unsettling tale of the arrest and summary hanging without trial for murder of teenager Daniel Duncan in 1911. The reason why it was the last public hanging is because three days later, while his body still hanged on display, a major hurricane slammed into Charleston. Residents took it as divine punishment for hanging what was probably an innocent child. It later became known as “Duncan’s Storm.”

More mysterious are the spectral riders who appeared at dusk to some firefighters near the beginning of the 21st century on James Island in South Carolina. These Lightwood Cowboys, originally slaves who herded cattle on the island’s plantations during Antebellum times, were apparently America’s first cowboys.

Equally mysterious, but more uncanny, is the specter of a woman who also appears at dusk. Also probably the ghost of a slave, she is seen beside Boone Hall Brickyard near Wampancheone Creek, still apparently making bricks. The saddest ghosts are the ones who cannot seem to break free from the sufferings of their lives in the afterlife.

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The Official Supernatural: “Raising Hell” (15.02) Live Recap Thread


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It’s been a tough summer, so I’m way behind on my recaps and reviews. As of this review, I now have 51 episodes left to finish for previous seasons, plus the 18 after this one for the final (15th) season that started on October 10. That’s 70 total by next April. I currently have 151 coffees at $3 each on Ko-Fi (many thanks to those who have contributed so far!). If I get 300 coffees total, I will commit to doing one recap/review per week (retro or Season 15). If I get 400 coffees, I will commit to two. If I get 500 coffees, three reviews. If I get 600 coffees, four reviews. If I get 700 coffees, five reviews per week.

Other that that, any and all contributions are welcome! You can still find my reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my folklore research on Patreon.

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

Scroll down to find links to all of my recaps and reviews of all seasons up to this point.

Recap: Recap of events up to this point. No rock music this time to distract from the stupidity.

Cut to Now in Harlan, KS, where a soccer mom is sneaking back into town to get her daughter’s asthma meds (why didn’t she grab them when she evacuated?) after dark. This woman is so dumb that when her very tall neighbor pops up in his bathrobe, she starts babbling small talk about her daughter’s spelling bee instead of being alarmed. It’s only when he walks toward her, never speaking, that she gets confused. By then, it’s too late. He stabs her to death.

Then he collapses as a ghost dusts out of him. The one looks like an Old West sheriff. In a Southern accent, he spells out the word “disembowel,” which is what he just did to the woman.

Cue title cards.

Back at the makeshift shelter in the local high school, Castiel is telling Sam that Doomed Teaser Soccer Mom (named “Nan”) is missing. Sam asks a nearby Hunter who has come in to help them with this latest apocalypse to go find out what’s happening with that. Then Sam gets up to make the least inspired speech ever to the restless townspeople, who all have questions he can’t answer. And why is Sam suddenly so socially awkward?

Meanwhile, Dean is being far more effective, patrolling the border of the town with Belphegor. Dean questions again why Belphegor is helping TFW and Belphegor says he just wants to put Hell back the way it was.

Their conversation is interrupted by a ghost trying the barrier. Dean comments that means it’s holding and Belphegor points out that won’t last. Dean shoots the ghost and it’s the one from the teaser. Belphegor identifies him as Frances Tumblety, AKA Jack the Ripper. Aside from the fact that Tumblety is one of the less credible candidates for Jack, he also was the son of Irish immigrants and grew up in Upstate New York. Bottom line? He would not sound Southern. But sure, Show, let’s just handwave that and make the quintessential British serial killer an American gentleman from the South. Why not?

Cut to daytime at the school auditorium, with three more moronic civilians deciding to sneak in and find DTSM. And sneak in they do, this time in broad daylight. [facepalm]

Meanwhile, Jack (the Ripper) is having a meeting with some seriously solid-looking and unscary ghosts. There’s a brief opportunity (when a ghost looks out an upstairs window when viewed from the street) to show her fading out from it. But aside from a brief shot of someone flickering down the staircase (in about the least scary way possible), these ghosts look like the living, but in stage makeup. Yay.

JacktR’s master plan? To break out of the barrier and engage in more murderous shenanigans. Just … you know … worldwide. In other words, he doesn’t really have a plan aside from breaking out. Strike Two and a whiff at making a situation, that should have been terrifying, even remotely chill-inducing.

As they sneak in, the village idiots hear the Hunters they evaded shooting at some ghosts. Then they encounter some more ghosts. They are shocked and scared, but it’s a little late. Especially since they don’t then do anything intelligent. Like run.

Back at the school, Sam and Castiel are arguing about what to tell the townspeople. Sam insists they can’t tell them anything about what’s really happening because the civilians are “barely holding it together.” Hmm, not so much, Sam. I see no evidence of that. If anything, they’re in a quite-cheerful-and-ridiculously-dangerous denial bubble that needed popping last week.

Rowena arrives in the middle of this: “Am I interrupting something juicy?”

So, the plan they want help from her about is to get her to create another crystal like the soul bomb they were going to use on Amara back in season 11. Rowena isn’t so sure she can pull that off a second time (also, was it really necessary to give Rowena a Dumb on Cue moment where Sam tells her that ghosts are souls, when she knew that in season 11?).

The conversation is interrupted by my favorite remaining Redshirt Hunter left alive popping up and saying they’ve got a problem. She then, alas, promptly disappears from the episode, but hey, at least the actress gets paid more for having a line than not. And we now have confirmation the character survived Rowena!Michael’s rampage last season.

Sam comes rushing out to the barrier, where Dean and Belphegor are looking at DTSM’s husband and their neighbor, who got ambushed by ghosts in the previous scene. Despite their obviously being possessed, Sam tries to reason with them and Dean gets smacked with a plot anvil to say, “They’re possessed!” when they start bleeding black goo tears.

JacktR appears out of nowhere. He demands that TFW let him and the other ghosts out, or he’ll kill the civilians. The possessing ghosts start ripping into the guts of the possessed people. Rather than having Sam and Dean solve this one the way they usually one (a saltgun charge to the chest), this is a moment for Ketch to make a grand entrance with a fancy new gun that shoots iron flakes that de-possess people. ‘Cause why use something that’s worked for 14 seasons when you can just make up something complicated and new?

Anyhoo, the gun works and all three ghosts flee while the civilians collapse. We never find out if they survived or not. In fact, they are not mentioned again.

FYI, if you’re not a fan of Ketch popping in like this, don’t worry. This is almost the last time he’ll get to be smart in the episode.

While explaining all this backstory (and that he “liberated” the gun from the LoL), Ketch flirts with Rowena (who, if you’ll recall, he once tortured and got a life-preserving spell from in exchange for her freedom). Despite their ugly history, she’s into it. Oh, boy. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

Hurrying on, Belphegor comes in and introduces himself, and the Brothers explain that Chuck killed Jack (not the Ripper). Everyone besides Belphegor looks far more downcast than pretty much anyone in the room besides Sam likely would truly feel. Then Ketch admits with some chagrin that he’s there to assassinate Belphegor on behalf of a demon named Ardat (in real-world mythology, an Ancient Sumerian demon who may be another name for Lilith, so she probably knew Belphegor when they were human). Because the show just barely remembered that demons got kicked out of Hell, too, but not that most of these ghosts would also be demons by now.

Somewhere in Nevada, Amara is having a massage when she’s startled by her brother Chuck (who smites her masseuse and replaces her). She’s not thrilled to see Chuck. After Chuck starts babbling about how great the Game of Thrones ending was (please tell that was sarcasm, Show), she cuts him short and demands to know why he’s bothering her when they agreed “to give each other space.”

At the school, yet another idiot civilian is whinging to Castiel about the missing people and saying that TFW promised to keep them safe. Well, yeah, but not from your own stupidity, dude. The angelic eyeroll Castiel makes as he walks away is pretty epic, old school Castiel.

Meanwhile, Dean is grumbling in surprise to Rowena over the list of ingredients for the soul catcher (that’s what he ends up calling it). This confuses me. Wouldn’t Dean already have a good idea what the ingredients were from the last time Rowena made one?

Rowena asks him about Ketch (yep, they’re going down that rabbit hole). Dean tells her to keep her eyes on the apocalypse and find someone less creepy than Ketch to bed. He doesn’t mention the whole “Ketch banged my mom” thing, but you could say that’s in character.

As Dean goes off to do something alone in a room, Castiel comes in and they have A Talk. Castiel apologizes about not warning Dean and Sam about Jack Sue going off the rails before he murdered Mary. Dean tells him to stop.

Dean, as it turns out, is having a much worse existential crisis than “just” losing his mother or being mad at Castiel about it. He argues that it’s now clear that Chuck engineered everything about their lives, that Free Will is an illusion, and that they never had any choice. They were always just “rats in a maze.”

Castiel disagrees. Even though he’s angry at Chuck for killing Jack Sue. He insists that there is something still real: “We are.”

A lot of Destielers think this means the show finally made Destiel “real.” Except, not really. At no point in the conversation are Castiel and Dean talking about their friendship, relationship, bond, whatever you call it. You need some kind of anchor for the subtext and it’s just not there.

It’s clear that Castiel means that the “rats” are real, even if Chuck manipulated them six ways to Sunday, not that he and Dean have a true gay love that can pierce the bonds of death or the Fourth Wall. I’m not saying the show has never “gone there” (boy, did it ever go there in “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets”), just that this is not one of those times.

Cut to night outside. Dean is patrolling with Ketch (why is Sam not doing any patrolling? Or, for that matter, Castiel?). Dean gives Ketch an ugly iron necklace to prevent possession. They talk some more about Chuck (whom Ketch always thought was “theoretical, more rumor than fact”) and then Ketch asks about Rowena. Oh, God, really, Show?

Fortunately, Dean gets a text alert that two Hunters have disappeared on patrol. So, they investigate a creepy warehouse (and don’t find the Hunters). Dean’s breath mists up. First Ketch and then Dean get knocked about by Lizzie Borden. But she’s called off by another ghost. Who turns out to be Ghost!Kevin.

Kevin is friendly and reasonably sane. He tells Dean he was going to contact them sooner, but he “just got here.” He breaks the bad news to Dean that Chuck sent him to Hell after promising to take him to Heaven – for reasons that remain entirely murky for the rest of the episode. The general theory in-show seems to be that Chuck did it for kicks. Kevin also warns them that he can feel the ghost warding fading. We never do find out what happened to those Hunters.

It turns out that because Chuck himself cast Kevin down, he has some scary rep with the ghosts that allows him some control. Dean suggests Kevin go undercover for them and Kevin smiles.

Back at Amara’s … hotel room? … Chuck has ordered a burger and is watching TV, but gets restless when it doesn’t arrive right away. Surely, he could just make his own waitstaff and his own burger.

Amara is trying to ignore him by doing yoga as he babbles on about being “on an extended break from my omniscient benevolence.” He wants the two of them to leave the world behind, even go to another dimension. Amara says no, that she has no interest in spending any time with him.

After some confusion, she realizes that he needs her for the first time ever (and he calls her his “big sis”). She touches his shoulder and sees the wound Sam shot him with. She realizes he’s “not at full strength” and is “afraid.” Chuck doesn’t look thrilled at her epiphany.

So, the next day, Sam and Dean are out patrolling again. Oh, hey, Sam does do that. As Sam dithers about the drawbacks of having Kevin go undercover, Dean points out their options are limited.

Sam snaps at Belphegor when the demon appears behind them, and complains that the warding is fading. When Dean tells the demon to charge it back up, Belphegor says that’s not possible with this kind of spell. Also, when Dean tells him they’re going to send Kevin up to Heaven afterward, Belphegor says that’s not possible. Once you go to Hell, you go to Hell. John and Bobby (Dean doesn’t mention himself) were exceptions that Chuck made himself. No one but Chuck can make exceptions.

Meanwhile, Chuck is exposing his wound, which is a twin to Sam’s, and touches it. He winces and in Harlan, so does Sam. Dean notices and doesn’t believe Sam’s protests that it’s “getting better.”

Back at the suburban house, JacktR is getting the other ghosts to try to break through the barrier as it weakens. Kevin ghosts in at that point. Kevin challenges JacktR, but it doesn’t go well. It turns out JacktR isn’t very impressed by Kevin and he knows Kevin was a Prophet who worked with the Winchesters. Kevin ends up their prisoner.

Back at the school, Rowena is cooking things up for her spell, and talking about right-brain vs. left-brain with Ketch. They flirt heavily (with some pretty bad double entendre dialogue nobody needed to hear and some terrible Bow Chicka Wow Wow soundtrack music). Ketch even finds a shortcut in her research that really turns Rowena on (and will be the last time in the episode that he’s smart).

Fortunately for the audience, Dean calls at that moment, pretty literally cock-blocking this interaction.

Cut to Rowena trotting down the street with a bag. For some reason (plot stupidity, it seems), she crosses through the barrier as a shortcut. JacktR shows up, and tells her to go tell Sam and Dean that he has Kevin and is willing to trade. Or something. It turns out he has a history with Rowena and that she barely survived their “relationship” a century and a half ago. Ketch shows up and tells Rowena to run, then shoots JacktR. But JacktR appears behind him and knocks him out as Rowena runs away.

So, Rowena gets to the Brothers and tells them the news. They show up at the house where the ghosts are holed up. JacktR starts “eating” Kevin in front of Sam and Dean to force them to comply with his demands, but it’s a trap. Rowena comes in with Castiel, and the soul catcher and gets most of the ghosts (but not Jack and three others). Rowena admits afterward that this crystal is less powerful than the last one and can only catch some ghosts at a time (why not use the original one?).

Back behind the barrier, Dean and Belphegor are talking about how its fading. Ketch shows up from inside the barrier, apparently okay. Dean shoots through the barrier at the ghosts, hitting some of them. Rowena and Castiel show up, and Rowena enters the barrier to suck up more ghosts. Ketch is standing beside her. It works … until Ketch backhands Rowena and grabs the crystal. He’s possessed by JacktR. The three other ghosts who escaped the house with him also show up, but they just stand there, grinning.

Unfortunately for Ketch!JacktR, he indulges in a bit of monologuing about how the crystal gives him the power to blow out the barrier. And gloating when Dean’s saltgun runs out. But Dean then just pulls out his pistol and shoots Ketch in the shoulder, twice. The crystal flies out of Ketch’s hand and Dean catches it. As JacktR morphs out of a collapsing Ketch, Dean hands the crystal to Rowena, who uses the crystal on the angry ghosts, with special venom reserved for JacktR.

We get little chance for suspense about whether Ketch is really dead. After the commercial break, he’s on a stretcher, going away in an ambulance as Dean sort-of (but not really) apologizes for shooting him with iron bullets. Ketch says, well, Dean killed him once, already, and he must have been “itching to do it again.” Except that Dean didn’t kill Ketch last time. That was Mary.

Castiel tries to heal Ketch’s wound, but worriedly admits to Sam afterward that he can’t. Sam shrugs it off as everyone being tired.

Ketch and Rowena share a lingering look as he’s put in the ambulance. Then she and Dean share a look. Yeah, we really didn’t need that subplot.

In the coda, Sam tells Dean that Kevin wants to leave the barrier. Kevin says he’d rather take his chances going crazy in the world than go back to Hell. It turns out that Belphegor can make a small hole in the barrier (but he can’t power it back up? Okay). Kevin says goodbye to the Brothers and says, “Love you guys.” Then he goes out through the hole and disappears. Belphegor, by the way, is inside the barrier with the Brothers when Kevin leaves. Wouldn’t he, too, be stuck inside it?

Cut to Amara, who has power-suited up and is heading out. She says she’s willing to co-exist with Chuck, just not in the same part of the multiverse. She’s guessed that he is way powered down (only able to “do a few parlor tricks”) and can’t leave the Earth without her help. She says she’s changed, but he hasn’t. She’s ditching him and gloats a bit that she’s now sealing him away as he once did her. She tells him he’s “got what you always wanted – you’re on your own.” And she leaves.

Back at the barrier, ghost fireballs are bombarding it. It’s weakening. Everyone, including Sam, looks at Dean and says they have to stop the ghosts from getting out. Dean’s like, “How?!”

Credits

The show got a 0.3/2 and 1.16 million in audience. Yes, that is another series low in audience, but the show still tied with Arrow for second place in demo and came in third in audience behind The Flash and Batwoman. I think it was one of only three CW shows last week to top a million. ‘Cause that’s how the CW rolls these days.

The preview for next week is up.

Review: Lord, was that one sure daft. I mean, it passed the time well enough, I guess, but it was frequently stupid. And busy. This writing duo has surely written worse, but then, we are talking about the same duo that thought a story involving a black woman in a dog collar, who was literally a dog and whose master was white, would somehow not be problematical at all. And then we had last week’s episode. So, that bar was already Limbo-low.

The episode had plotholes and changed-up canon galore, and an awful lot of characters on both sides of the story acting stupid just to move things along. Others were simply dropped with no resolution to their subplot, such as DTSM’s husband (who may or may not now be dead) and daughter (who may or may not now be an orphan, but is certainly now motherless since TFW found her mother’s body offscreen), or the two Hunters who disappeared through a plothole in a warehouse, never to be heard from again.

Then there was that moment when Ketch accused Dean of killing him once, already. While Dean has certainly tried, multiple times, to kill Ketch, it was Dean’s mother Mary who actually succeeded. And while I don’t mind Rowena getting her freak on however she wants, having her hook up with the male GOTW every time, just because, is kinda gross and demeaning for her character. What, it’s okay to trash Dean for hooking up with random women (which he hardly does anymore, anyway), but when Rowena does it, she gets a fandom High Five? Really?

Not to mention that Rowena’s being into Ketch after his torturing her in their last encounter isn’t kinky. It’s just nasty. We already know what Ketch torturing a woman he’s attracted to looks like and we saw Mary trying to shoot herself to get out of the situation. Oh, hell, no. Rowena deserves better. And, as Dean pointed out, higher standards.

I’m not entirely sure where the show is going with all these guest stars. There’s a distinct possibility that Rowena will check out of Hotel Winchester permanently next episode. But whether we’ve seen the last of Ketch (who is still alive, though with a wound Castiel can’t heal) and Kevin (who is a ghost, but still “alive” as a character in the story) is unclear. And I don’t think it’s unclear for the sake of suspense. I think it’s unclear for the same reason we never found out what happened to most of the redshirt characters this week – lazy and sloppy writing. The calling card of the Nepotism Duo who wrote this episode, but also business as usual for the writers room under their questionable leadership.

There are two fan misconceptions that have come out of this episode. I mentioned the first one, already – that when Castiel said that “we” were “real” to Dean’s “rats in a maze” speech, there’s no actual indication that he was talking about his relationship with Dean. He just meant that Free Will was a real thing for Chuck’s creatures, even if Chuck has manipulated them a lot and frequently acted as a puppet master.

I can’t say that I’ve been impressed by what we’ve got of either Dean or Castiel so far this season, let alone of them together. Mostly, they grump at each other about Jack. Dean saves the day (after all the guest star grandstanding this week and obsession with Sam’s new Speshul Storyline, ruthlessly save the day is precisely what Dean did). Castiel tries to heal people and can’t (or hovers over Rowena’s shoulder for some reason). I sure hope things pick up for both of them or this is gonna be a very long season.

The other misconception is about Sam’s wound. I see a lot of spec that Sam will get special, even godlike, superpowers from his connection to Chuck. While I wouldn’t put anything past these writers, that’s not how the connection has been set up so far. Chuck said last season about his weapon that whatever was visited on the person shot by the gun would also be visited on the shooter. Dean suggested the example that if the person shot died, so would the shooter, and Chuck confirmed this.

The thing is that in order for Sam to gain powers from Chuck, there would need to be a transfer of power. But in Chuck’s explanation, that’s not the case. Instead, it’s a transfer and sharing of damage from the gun. It’s more like sympathetic magic (sticking a pin in an object to cause harm to a person the object represents) than the vampiric power transfer of power this fan theory assumes.

While Chuck is definitely getting weaker, that doesn’t mean Sam is getting stronger. There’s no evidence that Sam is becoming, let alone replacing, Chuck, just that he is sharing Chuck’s growing pain and weakness.

This brings up a rather disturbing idea – is Chuck dying? If so, will the balance between Light and Dark be disrupted, destroying the SPNverse? Did Sam’s impulsive stupidity just doom the world (wouldn’t be the first time).

Is this what may bring Amara back to help TFW? She still doesn’t appear to care much about humans if her verbal shrug after Chuck smote her masseuse for kicks is any indication. So, I guess worrying about humanity still isn’t her thing. Then again, this version of Amara doesn’t seem to care about anything except hedonism and has totally forgotten about her bond with Dean Winchester. So, it’s hard to tell whether we’ve seen the last of her or she’s just going through an ennui phase.

Speaking of Chuck and Amara, their pettiness makes them too human and not godlike enough in this episode. I’m not talking about a conscious choice to make them petty (Greek gods were petty, too), but that they are portrayed thinking and caring about things that they shouldn’t and wouldn’t care about.

For example, why is Chuck complaining about not getting food when he doesn’t need to eat and could conjure up anything he wants, including the waitstaff? I can sort of see Amara liking massages, but what is the attraction for her in meditation? And why is she so slow to notice her brother’s condition when they are permanently and psychically linked (“Yin and Yang,” as Amara puts it)? Why is she unaware that Chuck opened Hell?

And what does Chuck know? When he touches his wound, there is no indication in the story that he is aware that Sam can feel it, too, or where Sam is, or how the whole ghost army situation is going. Is he just not following his own story, anymore, even as he’s in the middle of it?

This seems like the usual thing the show does at this time of the season. At the end of the previous season, they introduce a Big Bad that turns out to be a little bit too Big and Bad. So, they have to rein in said BB for that character to last (and the Brothers to survive) until the end of the season. So, the show has elected to limit God. That doesn’t mean the way they’re writing this storyline makes much sense.

This is also a reason why the ghosts are such a dud as a mytharc storyline. As I noted last week, they are pretty much the opposite of ethereal and that makes them not-scary. SPN ghosts are noted for being crazy violent (literally), but that also means they are effectively mindless.

Having ghosts plotting and coming up with nefarious plans is a bit like writing zombie as actual characters who can think and pick locks. The whole point of Romeroesque zombies as something different from other revenants like vampires is that they can’t think. Similarly, the Supernatural version of ghosts can’t, either. And yet, here we are, with ghosts plotting to take over the world, and it’s as boring as salt-less oatmeal.

And that doesn’t mean the show can escape those limitations for this type of MOTW so easily, or without unfortunate implications for the story. The writing for Jack the Ripper, for example, is bog-standard awful. Not only did they pick an historical suspect who was American, but they then cast an actor who didn’t look or sound anything like how that candidate did in real life.

Nor does he act like Jack the Ripper in his kill pattern (except that he’s about as thunderously stupid in his Evil Overlord planning as you would expect for the ghost of a maniac killer who escaped capture largely due to police incompetence). In the teaser, he disembowels a woman. But that is the very least of what the real Jack the Ripper did.

He was a sexual sadist who butchered his female victims in highly sexual ways. His last known victim, Mary Jane Kelly, was the youngest and reputedly the prettiest of the women. The killer left her sprawled in a sexualized position, carved to pieces, with no face. None of that vicious vibe appears in the teaser for this episode, let alone later on.

Apparently, portraying a young black woman in a master-slave position with a white man, complete with dog collar, is A-okay for these writers. But portraying an attack by Jack the Ripper with anything approaching historical accuracy is a CW bridge too far. Well, don’t pick Jack the Ripper as your EVOL spokesghost, then.


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14

Season 15


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Blog for scifi writer and medieval historian Paula R. Stiles