Eight episodes in, and Supernatural Season 13 is still going strong. Last week’s episode, the oddly and ominously named ‘The Scorpion and the Frog,’ which I will probably always refer to as the Heist episode, kept the winning streak going. Some of my favorite episodes of this show are the throwback episodes that feel like the early seasons, especially the “monster of the week” ones that give the mytharc a rest and let Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) do what Sam and Dean do best – hunt. This episode was still mytharc-related because Sam and Dean are motivated to undertake the heist in return for a Nephilim tracking spell, but it felt very old school. It was the Winchesters against the bad guys, and that was a lot of fun!
This season has been dark (albeit with bits of humor tossed in that make it all so much more bearable) – I think I started to feel a little beaten down just like Dean. So it was nice to see the Winchesters get some kind of win, even if it wasn’t the spell they were hoping for.
We start with a little demon theft, and a double-crossing crossroads demon who immediately reminded everyone of Crowley. I’m assuming that was intentional, but I’m not sure it was a great idea – most of the reaction I’ve seen was the same as my own. TOO SOON. We’re all grieving the loss of Crowley and Mark Sheppard, so nobody who seems to be any sort of replacement is going to be welcomed. I’m having a similar problem with Asmodeus, but this character seemed even closer. David Cubitt did a fine job of making Bart a character with personality, and it’s not his fault that I couldn’t stop missing Crowley, but my reaction threw me out of the story a bit.
Bart’s got a problem with Asmodeus too, so instead of giving the stolen Nephilim tracking spell to him, Bart calls the Winchesters.
That gives us a chance to peek in on the Winchesters at home in the bunker, which always makes me ridiculously happy. Dean is compulsively cleaning his guns, taking them apart and putting them back together with practiced ease like a scene from the best fanfiction. Hey, we know what to appreciate about the characters we love, what can I say? Jensen Ackles shared at the recent Supernatural convention last weekend that he actually learned to take the guns apart and put them back together for real – WITHOUT LOOKING. I mean, what? Is he trying to kill us all?
Bart, much like Crowley, has a grudging admiration for the Winchesters, having followed their exploits for a long time. When they meet, he even buys Dean a slice of cherry pie, and insists they’re “natural disrupters” just like he is.
Dean: Yeah, we’re twinsies.
Despite the pie, Dean is not having it.
Dean: You see, when a demon asks us to jump, we don’t ask how high. We ice their ass.
Bart: How very Dean of you. Sam, do me a favor, you’re the smart one. Look into that.
I loved that line, and this writer (Meredith Glynn) can pull it off, because I get the feeling that SHE knows Dean and Sam Winchester too. She writes them in a way I recognize, as the characters I fell in love with twelve years ago. I think I’ve paid her my highest compliment before – that she writes my Show like the best fanfiction writers do. This episode was no exception.
(Oh, and yes, of course, Dean ate the pie as soon as Bart left. You knew he would.)
Sam puts on his research hat (of course he does) and sure enough, the tracking spell is real, made for King Solomon to stalk his girlfriend the Queen of Sheba. I thoroughly enjoy when Show tosses in historical characters and remakes them to wind them into the Supernatural world.
Dean thinks this is a bad idea to go work for Bart – and of course he’s right, it will most definitely go sideways. These are the Winchesters, after all. But because this is Season 13 and Sam and Dean TALK to each other, Dean doesn’t call the shots all the time.
Sam: Jack is out there. He’s alone and he’s scared…and he’s dangerous. If this is our chance to find him, we have to take it.
What does Dean do? He listens. He doesn’t feel good about this, but he listens to Sam and then he reluctantly agrees. And we get a nice little moment in the bunker where the Winchesters are talking to each other. It doesn’t take that much to make me a happy fangirl, and the Winchesters talking is a big step in the right direction.
So Sam and Dean meet up with Bart, and we meet his two subordinates, a young woman named Smash and a demon named Grab. Once again, I wonder if Show is doing this on purpose, because Smash (aka Alice) reminds everyone of Charlie. And even though it’s been a while, it might still be TOO SOON. Honestly, it might be TOO SOON forever when it comes to Charlie. I like Alice, Christie Burke did an amazing job playing her, she was well written and acted and a great addition to the story. But I kept wondering if she was Charlie 2.0 just like Bart was Crowley 2.0, and that threw me out of the story once more.
It was so on my mind that when Sam later figures out that Alice sold her soul, I actually gasped when she responded.
Alice: And if I could take it back, I would. But sorry Charlie, I can’t.
I realize ‘Sorry, Charlie’ is a common expression, but woah, a bit on the nose.
Anyway, the boys conspire to kill Bart after they’ve gotten the other half of the spell – and after they have another conversation during which Dean listens to Sam, they head out on the heist with Smash and Grab. The thing Bart wants is being held by a creepy sort of 200 year old guy named Luther, so Sam acts as a distraction while Dean and company try to find the trunk that Bart described. That means we get to see Sammy driving the Impala, which is unusual – especially when Dean’s there, but hiding under some blankets.
Jared answered a question at last weekend’s convention about Sam driving the Impala. He said that although he actually loves classic cars in real life and knows a lot about fixing them up, he doesn’t think that’s important to Sam. Sam is content to have Dean as his “unpaid chauffeur”. To which Jensen Ackles indignantly replied, “I’m not unpaid.”
Dean gets snarky about Alice’s shoes while they’re hiding, which made me laugh because I have almost the same boots. Hopefully, I haven’t had them since the ‘90s but I can’t swear to it.
Dean: Hey Winona, the 90s called. They’d like their shoes back.
Because Meredith Glynn loves me – okay fine, because like I said Glynn knows who the Winchesters are and writes them in a way I can recognize – there’s a brief but very important moment as Dean gets out of the car to go find the trunk.
Dean: (leaning in the open window) Yeah.
Sam: Don’t get dead.
Dean: You too.
In other words, Winchester for I love you.
It’s those small moments that make this the show I love, and when we don’t witness them, it starts to seem less like that show. It’s those moments that make me care about these characters, so that my heart is in my throat like it should be when they’re in danger.
Luther (well played by Richard Brake) does seem pretty creepy. Sam calls himself John Dorgmunder, which amuses me, and gets to show off his smarts for a while – both his knowledge of monsters and his acting skills. Eventually Luther accuses him of being sent by Bart, since he’s been waiting for just that, and Sam gets thrown across the floor – and then literally dodges a bullet! Badass Sam F—king Winchester! He gets the demon knife and manages to stab Luther, only to find out (to his shock) that Luther can’t die as long as he’s on his property. Cue a knocked out Sammy. Ouch.
Meanwhile, Dean does some spell work to get the demon Grab past the wards, which lets him get to know Alice a little. At first he’s critical, telling her she shouldn’t be working with demons.
Alice: YOU are working with demons.
She pulls out an energy drink, takes a gulp, and burps loudly.
Dean: You’re weird.
Then he realizes the energy drink is the one he lived on when he was younger, and suddenly the two of them share a smile that’s actually real. Which means Dean looks about ten years old.
Once Grab (Matthew Kevin Anderson) arrives, he uses a spell to facilitate Dean’s I’ve-gone-to-hell-and-back blood leading the way to the safe that will only open for that. (Some fans were taken aback by Bart’s assertion that only Dean could do that, when Sam had been to hell too – Assistant director Kevin Parks and later the writer herself confirmed that it was the making of the deal that did it. Luther made a deal, and so did Dean – Sam just played big damn hero and jumped in the Cage).
The spell will point Dean toward the vault, Grab says.
Dean: Like I’m a… a vault compass?
Grab to Smash: And you said he was just a pretty face…
Ackles gets a chance to show off his awesome comedic skills as the spell kicks in and Dean’s arm jerks forward and propels him toward the vault like a puppet. Jensen said at the convention that the first take he really played it up, until director Bob Singer gave him the look and he was like okayyyy, dialing it down. The end result was hysterical, Dean thoroughly affronted by being turned into a vault puppet and fed up with Grab’s enjoyment of it.
Dean: (muttering) I hate this. I hate you. If something happens to my brother while we’re out here…
Grab: If your brothers’ too stupid to do his part, then that’s on him.
Dean: (spinning around and looking downright murderous) What did you say?
That right there? That’s the character I know and love. Protective big brother until the end. You do NOT diss Sammy to Dean, Grab.
Unfortunately the vault compass spell kicks in and yanks Dean back onto the path.
And later, to Grab: I will kill you.
Grab: I bet you say that to all the girls.
Despite his enjoyment of heckling him, I think maybe Grab had a bit of a thing for Dean. Hey, it’s understandable.
The next scene was pure comedy gold. Dean is confronted with the statue head and he clearly has to put his hand inside its mouth to open it – knowing that it requires his blood. This is the second time this season we’ve gotten to see Dean Winchester’s fearfulness, and I don’t think it’s incongruous at all. He’s a fearless hunter, he’ll rush in guns blazing, but when he has too much time to think about it and has to steel himself to go headfirst down a hole in the ground or stick his hand in a statue’s gaping mouth, he panics. It’s partly the unknown, and I can totally relate.
As Alice rolls her eyes and pushes him towards it, Dean tries to argue his way out of it.
Dean: There could be anything in there, right? There could be spiders! Spiny blade things…snakes… Spiders!
Ackles kills it, Dean staring wide eyed into the yawning abyss, talking to himself “go in go in…” and then backing away. Burke kills it too, her astonished expression the perfect counterpoint. Finally, he manages to stick his hand in, has a moment of Oh this wasn’t so bad, and then the apparatus inside clamps down on his hand. I actually screamed out loud when that happened, and Dean looked just as terrified. The thing pricks his fingertip and then releases him, Dean cradling his ‘wound’ and still freaked out.
Dean: it got me!
Alice does an eye roll that’s perfection, asking him if he’ll live. She stalks into the inner chamber and almost gets killed by an Indiana Jones style booby-trapped room with a dart in the neck. Dean pulls her back just in time. Enter Luther, who Dean shoots to no avail.
Dean: My brother, where is he? (Exactly what Dean would say at that moment, thankyouverymuch)
Sam, apparently having recovered from being knocked out and not well tied up by Luther, bursts into the room.
Sam: Dean, he’s immortal!
Dean: Punches him the face.
That was a true Indiana Jones moment.
Alice has run away while she could, so it’s Dean and Sam trying to figure out how to get to the safe inside the room. Luther is no help, tied up and duct taped after he grinned a smarmy grin and wished them luck.
We got lots of smart Sam this episode, as the Winchesters once again talk it through.
Sam mentions Entrapment, and Dean has a big brother moment.
Dean: (almost smiling) You saw Entrapment?
Sam: (shrugs) Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Dean: (totally smiling)
Once again, these felt like the brothers I know and love – and once again, that increases my investment in the story and in them being okay. Sam has a smart idea to get past the poisoned darts, using Luther as the target to spring them all as the boys give him a push and roll him into the room. Ouch.
Dean: That was awesome.
It kinda was. It was awesome seeing Sam and Dean working together, being smart and badass, and succeeding!
There were a few little glitches in the story that didn’t quite make sense to me – why didn’t Luther tie Sam up, or kill him, for that matter? And when Alice comes back and manages to open the safe so they can extract the trunk, they find Luther has escaped. Where did he go? To get a weapon maybe? At any rate, the Winchesters get the trunk outside and into Baby, and that conveniently gets Luther out of the house – and no longer immortal.
We get an awesome Impala scene as Luther blocks their way and prevents them from leaving. Dean throws her into reverse and actually drives her backwards like a total badass – leaving me totally fangirling.
Dean: When I angle this….
Sam: On it.
By this time, I was contemplating starting a Meredith Glynn fan club. I love when they communicate without the need for many (or sometimes any) words. And that spin of the car while Sam shoots out the window? Holy crap. BADASS BOYS.
The final confrontation scene where Bart appears and kills Luther was also a little glitchy. We find out that maybe Luther wasn’t the baddest of the bad guys after all, after making a deal with Bart but losing his son. The Winchesters realize just how awful Bart is, and start to second guess keeping their side of the deal – which would be handing over Bart’s bones so that no one would be able to burn them.
Dean looks at his brother.
Once again, that’s all it takes for them to be on the same page. They turn down Bart’s offer. But Sam is still being smart as hell, because he leaves a lighter lying there – if only Alice will have the guts to defy Bart and flick it on. The glitchiness is that Bart leaves way too much room for her (or anyone) to toss a match in there, and that’s what happens. As he goes up in flames, the boys belatedly realize he’s still holding the other half of the spell. It falls to the ground on fire, and – INEXPLICABLY – Smart Sam starts blowing on it to put it out. What?? Why didn’t he stomp on it with his big impervious boot? Does he not know that blowing on it was sure to backfire?
Small quibble, but sheesh boys.
The Winchesters drop Charlie – I mean, Alice – off at the bus station. She says she’s sorry and thanks them.
Dean calls to her as she goes up the stairs.
Dean: Hey Alice. Stay weird.
She makes him a nonverbal promise to do that.
Dean claps Sam on the shoulder in a ‘job well done’ nonverbal. There were a lot of nonverbal and barely verbals in this episode, and I loved every one of them. Sometimes you don’t need a ton of dialogue to say a lot, especially with characters that we know well and who know each other well.
Then we get something that put me over the moon. In its early seasons, the show usually ended with a “BM” – ala ‘Fan Fiction’, a Brother Moment. Just Dean and Sam in the car or in this case the bunker, Dean bringing Sam a beer. (Wearing a single layer. And yes, that’s a shallow comment, but it also says something about how the brothers are when they’re ‘home’. There’s a vulnerability to Dean when he’s wearing a single layer, some of his protective armor taken off and put away).
Dean: You okay?
Sam: Not really.
God, I love you, Season 13.
This time it’s Dean who tries to cheer Sam up, a big switch in the dynamic between the brothers this season.
Dean: We saved somebody, and that felt good.
Sam points out that Jack is still missing, they didn’t get the spell.
Dean: We’ll figure it out. We just keep working. Because that’s what we do.
Sam looks up. And something very very important happens that hasn’t happened much (at all?) this season. The family theme starts playing. Two notes of the piano version and I lost it. I honestly didn’t know whether to cry or smile my face off. I have missed that so much, missed scenes where the bond between the brothers was so there.
Sam: Feels good to hear you talk like that again.
Dean: I’ll drink to that.
I don’t know where we’re going, and there’s a lot of speculation out there. Does the title of this episode hint at the fact that everyone is, in the end, true to their own nature? Is that some foreshadowing when it comes to Jack? And there are lingering doubts about Cas too. I’m sure we didn’t see Entity Cas only to have him send Castiel back no questions asked. What did he do? Is Cas really Cas, or entirely Cas? The fact that we’re all asking so many questions is probably a good thing.
Meanwhile, Sam and Dean clink their beer bottles, like they’ve been doing since Season 1, and I sit there grinning at my television like a fool. You know what Bart said early on, ‘how very Dean’? Well, this episode? How very Supernatural. And that makes me very very happy.