Holy Terror – Supernatural 9.09 Lives Up To Its Title!
The mid-season finale of Supernatural is often when something very bad happens – in fact, it’s often when a character I’ve come to love and care about is brutally killed off. Ellen, Jo, Bobby….and now Kevin. The ending of this episode left me reeling, so shocked that for a while, I didn’t even need the ever-present box of tissues beside me. It took a few of the stages of grief before reality set in and I started to tear up. Is Kevin really gone? And why didn’t I see that coming?
More on that question later, but first, the rest of the episode before I ended up open-mouthed and staring in horror at my poor oft-abused television.
I was mostly unspoiled for this episode, including knowing who wrote it. That was probably a good thing, as this writing pair has written some of my least favorite episodes. Not knowing allowed me to watch with an open mind, and all in all, I thought this was a solid episode that delivered emotionally. The last scene has haunted me for the last two days, which must say something good about the writing and directing – and definitely the acting.
I’ve been prepared since the premiere for Ezekiel not being who he said he was, at least as far as his motivations, but not necessarily expecting him to be another angel all together! Gadreel is apparently an interesting biblical character – he was one of Lucifer’s generals in the rebellion, and let the serpent into the Garden of Eden. The connection to Lucifer can’t be a coincidence (at least I hope not, I’m giving Show more credit than that), but perhaps the most interesting thing about the plot twist is I’m pretty sure that if Gadreel is the serpent, Dean was the one seduced, so that makes him Eve. So is Sam the forbidden fruit then? Fanart, anyone??
Jared is playing Gadreel as an angel with ambiguous intent. He’s espousing what seems to be the theme of Season 9, “I did what I had to do,” again and again, and at times it looks like he means it when he says he wants to make up for his past mistakes and do the right thing. On the other hand, he just killed Kevin Tran! The parallels to Season 4 Sam, when he was hooked on demon blood and willing to do just about anything to kill Lilith, are chilling – including the “I did what I had to do” mantra. I have to take a moment and just marvel at the acting Padalecki is doing this season. The subtle differences between Jared as Sam, Ezekiel, Gadreel and Gadreel-as-Sam are amazing! I found myself sympathizing a bit with Gadreel because of the nuanced way Padalecki played him – guilty, wronged, with an almost childlike desire to please and be affirmed. Unfortunately, it’s Metatron he’s looking for affirmation from, and that’s inevitably going to go wrong. Anyone who’s counting on Metatron to help do anything remotely good is in for a big disappointment. Curtis Booger plays him as so sleazy that I literally cringe when the camera is too close up on his smarmy expressions and manipulative words.
The first part of the episode showed us what Castiel has been up to, and I really enjoyed the scenes of Cas once again determined to be a hunter and be helpful. Misha Collins can play subtle humor very well, and his naïve excitement at being teamed up with Dean and Sam again was both amusing and heartwarming. He so clearly looks up to the Winchesters and wants to emulate them, but that never quite works for him. He’s pretty adorable while he’s trying though. And despite the vulnerability of being human, Cas proves his heroism – he’s determined to stop the warring angel factions even if it means his own death. Also, as Osric noted in a live tweet, Collins looks damn good in a suit. Just saying.
I admit to doing a double take when Cas sliced his former torturer’s throat and consumed his grace – since when is that possible? Why did Anna have to go to such great lengths to find her OWN grace then? And why did Cas not do that before? Are we to assume that he wanted to remain human? Some sort of penance perhaps, or maybe a way of identifying with Sam and Dean, the beings he cares most about. At any rate, it seemed like an easy fix and came out of nowhere, completely throwing me out of the moment. So much for Castiel’s humanity. Will he still get to wear those great suits??
I’ve seen many fans and reviewers say this, and I have to agree – I’m just not very invested in the whole warring angel factions thing. There are too many angels and none of them are memorable, so I don’t pay enough attention and end up having to go back and try to figure out what the hell is going on. I miss charismatic angel bad guys like Zachariah!
There were some other light moments early on – Sam so confused about missing time, and Dean’s lame explanation. (And his “Would I lie?” – OUCH!)
The last scene was made so much more horrible because Kevin did trust Dean. I don’t think either of them took the designation of “family” lightly, and both had pledged their loyalty to each other and to Sam and Cas. In the end, that trust only made it easier for Gadreel to kill Kevin. His last words were to express how worried he was about Dean – that broke my heart! I might have screamed “NOOOOO!”, which is what I suspect Dean was screaming on the inside too. And then Dean’s murmured “Kevin…Kevin…” put me over the edge and made the tears start flowing. Ackles’ trademark “One Perfect Tear” (OPT TM) was just the icing on the cake.
Dean was utterly devastated. The full weight of the guilt he’s been carrying all season came down on him, and with it the terror of not knowing if he’s lost Sam too. Dean did all this – the lies, the secrecy, the risking other lives – to save Sam. Now it’s not clear if he managed to do that after all. Oh, Dean. What have you done? Also, how creepy is it that Dean’s own words (or perhaps Gadreel’s) – “There ain’t no me if there ain’t no you” – are coming back to haunt him. If, as Gadreel said, “There is no more Sam,” does he think that he’s pretty much destroyed Dean too? There’s so much truth in that statement, that I have to wonder the same thing.
And if Sam is alive (which of course he will be, since there ain’t no Supernatural if there ain’t no Sam and Dean), how will he react to knowing that his body killed Kevin? Was he aware at all of that while it was happening? I like that Show is going there – that it’s not shying away from the full extent of the horrors of possession and being forced to do things you don’t want to do.
Back to my original question. Why didn’t I see this coming? When Metatron handed Gadreel that slip of paper, why didn’t I think it might be Kevin? Because I didn’t want to. That’s how beloved the character of Kevin Tran has become – and how much I’ve come to like and respect Osric Chau, the actor who plays him. That I didn’t dare consider the possibility of losing Kevin made his death that much more powerful.
Oh Show, why? Why are you doing this to me? And how am I going to wait until January 14 for another episode???
As devastating as this episode was, if you were watching the West Coast feed, at least you didn’t feel like you were watching alone (even if your family consistently vacates the living room as soon as SPN comes on….) Osric Chau was live tweeting even as his character was being killed off.
Osric, a true fanboy himself, had written some fanfiction a few days earlier to express his feelings about Kevin Tran, wishing the character a happy birthday and fantasizing about his celebration with Sam and Dean in the bunker. Knowing that Osric knew at the time that Kevin would never see another birthday made the post heartbreaking. Reading it again actually necessitated even more tissues than the Show itself. Add to that Osric’s own tweet about what being on the Show had meant to him, and I needed another entire box of tissues.
Osric: As I was filming this last scene, I could not help but feel a deep sadness for what was to come. It was inevitable after all, of course it was, Kevin Tran advanced placement of Neighbor Michigan was supposed to die a less than heroic death by the end of Supernatural’s 7th season. Sam and Dean would take a moment to sigh in regret and then move on as they should and we would have done the same. This show was supposed to be nothing to me… but it became everything….I had prosthetics on my eyes so I couldn’t see, nor could my eyes be seen. That was for the best because it was in those moments that I said my farewells. To the studio, the houseboat, the Men of Letters bunker where I spent so much time. To craft services, the caterers, and the candy tray, where I spent even more time. To the faces I’ve gotten so used to seeing over the last two years, I had to say “see ya later” because I just couldn’t bring myself to say goodbye, all the while hoping that the glue holding my eye pieces in place weren’t in jeopardy of dissolving. It’s been an amazing ride and though I knew it was coming, it’s still this strange sensation that I can’t quite readily describe in this mindset. I’ve met so many wonderful people and I’ve made so many memories I’ll cherish for a lifetime.. but it’s that time where I say my thanks and take that last step into the fandom and let that world envelop me as I continue to support the show and the fans that have changed my life. Thank you for everything you’ve done, everything you’re doing, and everything you continue to do. Thank you. And yes, I do think #KevinLives. In all of our hearts
We’ve gotten to know Osric a bit over the last year (see our interview with him last month on this blog) and have come to love him – that made the loss of Kevin even more devastating.
Jared and Jensen were live tweeting together (or Sam and Dean were, as Jared put it….lol). For some reason, I find it rather adorable when they share Jared’s twitter. Every few tweets, Jared would start a tweet with “JA:” to let us know that it was Jensen commenting.
Misha Collins live tweeted too. Arrow star Stephen Amell joined in, as did frequent director Guy Norman Bee and bodyguard Clif Kosterman. And then, to make it even more awesome, ultimate fan Orlando Jones joined in. There were times when his tweets and gifs and Tumblr-esque graphics had me laughing out loud, and then the Show itself threw me right back into near tears. I had nearly as much whiplash as poor Dean trying to deal with Jared’s amazing shifts between “Zeke” and Sam.
Here are some of my favorite tweets of the evening:
Osric: I gotta say, Misha Collins looks good in a suit. Slowly learning how to appreciate suits.
Jared to Osric: Quit hitting on Misha
Osric: Don’t worry Jared, you’ll get your turn (smiley face)
Orlando Jones: Misha Collins is the king. I’m just fangirling over here #supersleepy style enjoying da #ProfoundBond
Stephen Amell: I thoroughly enjoy Jensen Ackles. I mean…I think he and Jared have enough PCA’s…But I do really, really enjoy them.
Fandom: What he said.
This prompted Jared and Jensen to post a photo of them watching the episode together, with their People’s Choice Award sandwiched between them.
This prompted….well, a lot.
Jared to Stephen Amell: This is how me and JA watch Supernatural. How do you watch Arrow?
Guy Norman Bee: What’s that shiny thing between you and how many ‘D’ cell batteries does it take?
Jared: It’s powered by the most amazing fans in the world! #spnfamily
Guy Norman Bee: Oh, my mistake, it’s just that sometimes I walk past your trailer and I hear….That sound…Uh, never mind…
Fandom: Falls over laughing
Guy Norman Bee: You’d think Sam would be much happier than he is, if that were the case. #someoneneedsaninstructionmanual
Fandom: *volunteers to instruct*
Maybe that was just me, actually.
When we interviewed Osric in October, he confided that he took a lot of grief on set after cosplaying Princess Bubblegum at a Supernatural convention. Apparently that was quite true.
Jared: We were messing with him so bad. JA: “Osric did not enjoy doing his coverage during this scene.”
Why do we think that was probably an understatement?
Osric to Jared: Well after Princess bubblegum happened I was ready for hard days on set.. you two delivered. Hard. How predictable!
Poor Osric. And during the scene when Dean calls Kevin ‘Cinderella’ –
Jared: JA: “great, now you’re gonna go as Cinderella to the next convention….”
Bodyguard4JandJ: I want to see Osric as Ariel next
Osric: Clif, please stop reading my mind!
Misha during the torture scene: In this scene, production said they were out of money for makeup, so they just had @bodyguard4JandJ and Osric beat the shit out of me.
Jared: JA: “bullshit, they put you in a room with de-winged butterflies and that’s how you emerged.”
Jared: I showed up on set during Misha’s torture scene…he was actually tied up…too bad I’m saving all of the trouble for when he directs!
Fandom: Run away, run away!
Bodyguard4JandJ: Misha on his knees, nothing new
When we got to the last climactic scene, Orlando Jones posted the perfect captioned photo:
Misha Collins to Orlando Jones: You post relevant photos on your feed so fast it makes me think you’re really just a bot amalgamating two twisted fandoms
Fandom: Don’t stop!
And Jensen Ackles made it impossible for me to stop crying.
Jared: JA: “Osric wasn’t there to look at. just the camera and dolly. I pictured Osric with his eyes burnt, and that he was gone.”
The live tweeting was so much fun, but – as often happens when this cast gets together – it was also heartwarming.
Jared: I have the actual piece of paper that Metatron handed me with the name of who to kill. Who wants to raise money for charity?
Osric: I’m in! I would be in the bidding for that. For Chariteh!
Jared to Osric: You can have it…it can go to your charity of choice.
Fandom: (once again) Awwwww
Fandom’s reaction was swift and wonderfully creative, as always. On Tumblr, blizzardean adapted a holiday classic in response to the episode:
Jingle bells, angels fell, Sammy went away
Kevin’s dead and Dean’s alone –
This is not okay
This photo edit appeared on LJ and took my breath away all over again. (If it’s your edit, please let me know!)
Fandom bard Alice Marie Music wrote an original song dedicated to the lost Prophet:
How are you dealing with ALLTHEFEELS after this episode? Send me your coping strategies so I can stop thinking about that last scene and biting my nails!
And remember, our book Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls makes a wonderful holiday gift – for you or your favorite fangirl or fanboy! Click the link at the top of the page to read.