Last week’s “Supernatural” was the first written by Jeremy Adams, who I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with at Comic-Con last summer. He’s a great guy and a big fan of the show and the genre, and his enthusiasm for what he was writing came through in the episode – and was largely what I liked about it. The episode was split between more serious moments and pure fun, and it was the fun parts that will be most memorable about it for me.
Let me talk about that first because that’s what I enjoyed the most. The episode wasn’t actually a meta episode, but I don’t know that I’ve ever watched an episode thinking more about what was happening in “real life” and less about the characters and the story. To the extent that I couldn’t see Dean singing with Lee as much as Jensen Ackles singing with his old friend Christian Kane. Usually, that wouldn’t make me happy, because it’s the characters and the story that I love with all my heart.
But it’s the last season, the last chance that this cast has to do some of the things they’ve wanted to for a long time, and it was infectiously joyful to see Jensen so happy to be able to finally have Kane on his show – both of them were clearly having the time of their lives. I’ve had the privilege of seeing Jensen sing live, and some of those little mannerisms of seeming indecision were definitely his, and it made me smile.
I was oddly nostalgic myself about Jensen and Christian singing together on “Supernatural”, because one of the first times I saw Jensen sing (not in person, I wasn’t that lucky, but god bless the fans who filmed it) was at a Kane concert for Christian’s birthday. It was so rare and so special to see Jensen sing back then – and I must have watched that little clip… well, probably a lot. So seeing them perform together on the actual show was a reminder of how long they’ve known each other and how long I’ve been watching this show!
It’s rare we get to see Dean Winchester that happy, which was another reason it kept looking like Jensen to me instead of Dean – at first.
Toss in a few little meta commentaries about lip-synching Eye of the Tiger and that whole first scene in Swayze’s Bar was all about reality instead of fiction. (If that was all the episode was, I would’ve been sorely disappointed, though).
The other part of the episode that worked for me was Dean’s journey from apathy and feeling mostly hopeless to rediscovering his “always keep fighting” determination. The classic hero’s journey, with Dean coming out on the other side of his trauma and hopelessness, realizing who he is and what he wants and resolving to go after that. Lee is a mirror for Dean, at one point even saying “I am you – I just woke up and saw that the world was broken.”
That’s what Dean was on his way to becoming, to giving up just like that. But faced with who he would be if he did give up, Dean finds his motivation to keep going. Yeah, the world is seriously effed up, and it would be tempting to give up like Lee did and just look out for yourself. But that’s not Dean Winchester.
Dean: Then you fix it! You fight for it!
And that’s exactly what he’s now determined to do – or at least I’m hoping that’s where he is now and that he’ll stay there. I liked the way the character of Lee, a gifted hunter and fierce fighter who had gone dark side, provided the spark for Dean to make a decision about how he wanted to end up – a hunter, now and always. That’s my Show.
After all, as he says, someone’s gotta kill the bad guys.
Sam and Eileen had some cute moments, especially their post-Margaritas breakfast extravaganza and Sam’s embarrassing admission when Dean asks if they’re hung over.
Eileen clearly really cares for Sam, and hey, who can blame her for wanting to “do something fun”? That would definitely be fun. I’m still scratching my head that a romance for Sam in the middle of the last season is where we’re going but at least Eileen isn’t dead and Shoshannah is still gracing my tv screen!
And Castiel got to be the badass version of Cas that I like best – in fact, he was downright scary in this episode. I never knew Misha Collins could look quite that pissed off at the world, but damn, he really did. Cas seems to have come back from his clear-his-head time alone with a renewed determination to do what needs to be done in order to defeat Chuck (and Lilith now that he knows she’s back on the playing field).
Some of the rest of the episode didn’t work quite as well for me. Let’s recap. Drunk girls, one disappears – but the car too? Drunk girl thinks they were Raptured because it happened so fast, but really, how did Lee pull that off so silently and quickly? Was Sally THAT drunk and puking THAT long?
Dean is clearly desperate for a distraction, which isn’t unusual for Dean when he doesn’t feel like he’s able to do much or to go after who he really wants to go after (Chuck and Lilith). I do think it’s odd that he wants to go alone, when Sam and Eileen are ready and willing to back him up. He says it’s so they can have time to fool around if they want, but that seemed odd with so much going on right now. Anyway, he teases Sam about putting a sock on the door, which – what door? The front door? Sam’s bedroom? Does Dean regularly barge in there?
I don’t know, but Sam acquiesces to Dean leaving alone oddly easily, later saying uncertainly to Eileen that “his leaving, that’s a good sign, right?” In what universe is that a good sign? Dean leaving to “take a drive” is never a good thing. How can Sam think he’s okay when he just turned down a heaping plate of real bacon?? I’m not sure, but I guess we’re meant to think of it as a good sign since Dean left his room at least.
Dean’s idea of taking a drive is going all the way to Texas to work a case. Without telling Sam that he’s going all the way to Texas to work a case. It’s an odd time for Dean to lie to Sam, when he has a god wound in his shoulder and Lilith is on the loose. Not the best of ideas and you’d think Dean would know better by now. But they split up anyway, even though everyone should know that because they’re split up something bad is going to – oh boy, yep. Something very bad happens. To both of them.
Dean first checks in with the local sheriff. Put Sheriff Dillon on the good side of the episode, because I very much enjoyed his few minutes. In fact, I kinda wanna know more about his “whole month in Hollywood in which he could’ve been the next Denzel”. And I have to agree with his parting shot to Dean.
Sheriff: Hollywood ain’t that far. You could give show biz a shot for yourself. You’ve got the look.
Ain’t that the truth.
It was another little sorta-meta moment, but the Sheriff made it work.
Swayze’s Bar was a Jerry Wanek masterpiece, complete with Family Business Beer shout outs and lots of neon. Baby looks pretty as hell pulling into the parking lot.
One of my biggest WTF moments happened in this scene, though, when the manager lady told Dean he had to hand over his phone (“This is Texas, sweetheart, you can keep your gun”.)
I find it hard to believe that Dean would hand over his phone for hours on end when Sam has a wound that ties him to Chuck and Lilith is back on the board. I also was jarred by all the yay for guns stuff. I mean, this is “Supernatural” and they all use weapons, but the real life Texas commentary was a little too real in the midst of what’s happening all too often in the real world. Anyway, Dean recognizes his old buddy Lee, and Lee calls Dean “my boy” and they catch up over LOTS of alcohol. We get some interesting back story about Dean hunting with Lee while Sam was away at college, and how much John Winchester liked him, and that all sounds like a whole bunch of fics I’ve read so I enjoyed it. They drink to John, and Lee tells Dean he wanted out of the life and he doesn’t regret it – that he’s “living the dream”.
It’s an instant mirror for Dean, whose idea of living the dream was pretty similar when he was trapped in his fantasy world by Michael – running a bar alongside a comely bar manager. It’s what Dean has wished for, so it’s compelling for him, and here he is confronted with the evidence that maybe he could indeed have it. It makes the eventual realization of the price Lee willingly paid to get that dream, and how much arrogance and selfishness it took for him to decide he “deserved it,” all the more hard hitting for Dean when it all goes down. I thought that was very well done, so kudos, Jeremy.
Meanwhile, Sam and Eileen are researching, and then Eileen suggests a break and having some fun, with an adorable eyebrow cock from Shoshannah, and Sam reaches over…
And holds her hand, and…
Castiel bursts in! I had to laugh when that happened.
Cas to Eileen: I thought you were dead.
Eileen (wryly): Yeah. I got better.
Again, I laughed out loud. If you haven’t watched Shoshannah in “This Close,” you need to. She is just as gifted at comedy as she is at drama.
Cas explains that the Equalizer fired a piece of Sam’s soul – so there may be some of Sam inside Chuck.
Eileen: (making a face) Ewww.
Cas decides to probe Sam’s wound.
Sam: Probe it?
Eileen: Is this dangerous?
Sam pulls his shirt aside, which is a very attractive thing to behold indeed, and Cas starts “probing” him, and Sam is fine until… he’s not. In fact, he gets catapulted off the bed and smashes against the wall, and Jared Padalecki’s stunt double earned his salary that day for sure.
Cas calls Dean, frantic, but (inexplicably) Dean is still not even checking his messages let alone insisting he get his phone back. WHAT?
Cas, desperate, calls someone else. I actually shouted “Sergei? REALLY??” I mean, did anyone think that was a good idea?
Cas is taking no shit though.
Cas: If you don’t help me, I’ll find you and burn you alive.
Sergei: My, how your negotiation skills have improved.
Back at the bar, Dean and Lee get drunker and reminisce about the time they had a – fivesome? – with triplets, with Lee making sure to note that “we split ‘em up fair and square” and if you do the math on that you get some very interesting pictures of what went down that night. Fanfic, anyone? Also, Dean has a real thing about sleeping with twins and triplets.
It doesn’t take long before most of us realize that Lee isn’t the “good old boy” he claims to be. He claims not to recognize the missing girl in the photo, and the bar manager instantly calls him on it, saying “that’s Angela, she’s in here all the time.”
Everyone (except Dean Winchester): Shit.
For some reason, Dean doesn’t get that same vibe. Maybe he’s too drunk? Or too lulled by his past with Lee to be suspicious?
Lee tries to talk Dean into getting out of hunting, saying he deserves a break…or two.
Dean: Who’s gonna kill the bad guys?
Lee then distracts him with an invitation to come sing the song that John used to play them before a hunt to psych them up, calling Dean onstage with a “Come on, boy, you can’t just sit around lip synching Eye of the Tiger”. Another meta-ish moment, and then we get Jensen and Christian and a whole song.
What made it an even nicer moment was that the band that’s backing them up is made up of actual crew members, who also got a chance to be onscreen and immortalized on this show they’ve worked on for so many years. This crew is special, and the relationship between cast and crew is special, and I love that they got to shine like this. Members of the crew band “The Impalas” include Perry Battista, Tracy Dunlop, Chris Glyn Jones, Dave Weber, and Cam Beck.
Lee and Dean team up to toss out some drunken bullies too, cementing the “still got it” teamwork vibe, so that it’s all the more heartbreaking when Lee breaks ranks completely. There’s another totally suspicious moment when Lee tries to talk Dean out of looking for the missing car at the scrapyard and Dean once again misses the clear suspiciousness. He insists on going, and we get a beautiful scene of Dean walking up the aisle, looking smaller and smaller as he goes. Maybe a way to anticipate how lost he’s about to be when Lee turns on him.
He finds the dead girl in the trunk, and there’s a click – a gun at his head.
Boom, Lee knocks him out and hooks him up to the bloodletting contraption to feed the monster.
Meanwhile, Sergei arrives at the bunker.
I was gobsmacked that Castiel brought Sergei TO THE BUNKER to heal Sam. Why didn’t they move him somewhere else? Sergei, of all people, could make use of a billion dangerous and precious things that the Men of Letters have there, and they bring him right in the front door? Not even blindfolded?
Sergei tells Cas and Eileen that Sam is dying (very prettily). That his god wound stretches down to his very soul and also out into the world, connected to…someone.
Of course, this isn’t much of a reveal, because we the audience already know that.
Sergei also says that Castiel’s probing is killing Sam. So Dean is tied up being bled to death in a basement and Sam is dying from a wound probe. Yet next week, the Winchesters are apparently going to split up yet again!
Anyway, Sergei double-crosses them (shocking absolutely no one – and trying to bargain for the key to Death’s library that he knows is in the bunker). Instead of helping Sam, Sergei hastens his demise. As he does, Sam’s connection to Chuck allows him to see and hear Chuck, and so he knows that Chuck isn’t at full strength and also that he cannot see Sam and Dean anymore. Helpful, but again, not a revelation to all of us.
Interestingly, Sam clearly sees the part of the story Chuck typed out that became that iconic ending to Swan Song – the one that I loathe seeing in a different light now because it’s one of my favorite moments in the entire series. What does it mean that he saw that so clearly? I shudder to think.
Eileen throws herself at Sergei and chokes him when he refuses to help Sam, which was pretty badass.
Castiel also has a pretty vicious threat – if Sergei doesn’t help Sam, Cas will tell AU Bobby to kill his niece.
Cas: Fix Sam. NOW.
I have to say, I was shocked by this. Kill an innocent girl who has nothing to do with this? Would Cas really have done this? He sure as hell seemed like he would, but it was kinda horrifying. Maybe just a very good bluff? At any rate, Cas (and Misha Collins) pulled it off.
Look at that glare!
Sam wakes up with a gasp.
Dean wakes up with a gasp.
Lee explains that to a bound Dean that he became demoralized and cynical after realizing that so much evil existed, that they would never win – so he might as well have a little fun. He feeds the Marid fresh blood and it gives him money and good health in return. Livin’ the dream.
Lee: Aren’t we owed a little happiness? No one cares, Dean.
Dean: Well I do.
Lee starts the blood drip, patting Dean on the shoulder as he leaves. (Ackles’ expression on Dean’s face as he does that is priceless. It’s the little things).
You would think Lee would have done a better job trussing Dean up – he knows what a hunter can do – because it takes Dean about 0.3 seconds to break free. It takes the monster about 0.3 seconds to break free too, so Lee also didn’t do a bang up job with that monster cage either. There’s noises coming from the basement and upstairs Lee cocks his gun.
The door opens – and the Marid’s severed head rolls out. Followed by Dean Winchester, big damn hero. That was a really well directed moment, so kudos to Amyn Kaderali.
There’s a nicely choreographed gun fight followed by a nicely choreographed fist fight (which Jensen and Christian did some of – Jeremy Adams was nice enough to share some behind the scenes video of their practice sessions on set). Dean Winchester has been an epic badass in Season 15, I will say that! (Thanks, Rob Hayter!)
Lee suggests that Dean just walk away.
Dean: I can’t do that. I kill monsters.
Lee hits him with a pool cue (which unfortunately for Jensen didn’t break in real life when they were filming that) then tries to stab him with it, and Dean grabs it and stabs Lee instead. They freeze there, the cue embedded in Lee the only thing keeping him still alive. It’s an intimate moment, full of pain of all kinds, and Christian and Jensen killed it, showing us ALL the emotion.
Lee: Why do you care so much, Dean?
Dean: Because someone has to.
Lee: Well then, I’m glad it was you.
Dean pulls out the cue and Lee collapses, dead. Dean looks down, clearly sad, throws the pool cue down in disgust. Ackles makes it hurt.
In the last scene, they all come together again for two minutes at the bunker. Dean finds Cas there and they have an entirely awkward conversation because both are still angry. And they both suck at talking about it. The distance between them is clear from the blocking.
Dean: Hey. Sam, is he?
Cas: He’s fine.
Dean: Good. That’s good.
Cas: Yeah. (walks away)
Dean: (silently) Okay then.
Sam shares what he now knows, that we’ve known for a while.
Sam: I was in Chuck’s head. He’s weak. I think we can beat him. I think we can beat God.
It would have had more impact if that was a revelation to the audience too, but it gives them a good set up for going into the mid-season finale.
This was a pretty brutal episode, with Dean killing his old friend (also killing a human) and Castiel threatening to kill an innocent young girl. By the end, though, they’re all in a better position to be both determined and hopeful as we head into the mid season finale. The very last mid season finale….
I so want to be blown away by it, but I’m keeping my expectations tempered. There’s a lot happening this season because it’s the last, and cast and crew and producers and writers all have things they want to have happen before the show ends. Some of those will (hopefully) be the things I love about the Show and some won’t. There’s no way to please everyone, and I’m just one of those ‘everyones’, so I’m trying to take the moments that bring me joy and cherish them and shrug off the things that don’t.
I’m also dealing with a painful back injury, so even crossing my fingers hurts right now. Fingers still crossed though for “Supernatural,” this is important…
With the mid-season finale hitting Thursday, we’ll have a good month to wait for the final 12 episodes of “Supernatural” to hit. We’ll be waiting anxiously.