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Counting Down to the End of Season 9 – Supernatural ‘King of the Damned’

May 9, 2014

xxx 9.21 moc flash

The pressure is on for the last few episodes of Supernatural Season 9, which means every moment has to count. That’s probably an unfair expectation, but watching “King of the Damned” this week, I found myself resenting the clock ticking down WAY too quickly.

I also found myself setting my expectations rather high, which is dangerous when you’re a passionate fan, but I couldn’t help it. I may have been muttering, “you only have a few more episodes to play alot out, Show, don’t mess it up!” Maybe.

The writers of this episode haven’t always been my favorite in the past, but some of their recent episodes have made me more hopeful, so I went into this episode with some cautious optimism. Did it pan out? Yes and no.

Of the no:

There were some things that didn’t quite work for me. To my great surprise, one of them was Abaddon’s death. Perhaps it lost some of its impact simply because I was expecting it, but I had a hard time staying immersed in the scene as it was playing out. It should have been full of tension – will Dean be able to move? Will he be able to retrieve the Blade with the power of his mind? Who’s stronger, Dean or Abbadon? I should have been on the edge of my seat (screaming at my poor television and annoying my family) but I wasn’t. I was interested, but not biting my nails – which is not what I expected.

xxx 9.21 moc 4

Okay, I did like this part...

Okay, I did like this part…

I know the scene worked well for some fans and not for others, and I’m not sure why. It was very brightly lit, which made every expression, every movement, more obvious – it was almost like I could see too much. And the scene stretched out over a long span of time without any dialogue, which somehow made it veer dangerously close to cheesy at times. The effects were well done, as they always are on this Show, but I found it hard to stay immersed in the scene. Usually Dean’s struggles captivate me (understatement…) but this time I wasn’t as blown away as I expected to be.

Supernatural often mixes the scary, the funny and the angsty into one episode, but the mix wasn’t always smooth in this episode. It was a somewhat humorous scene when the self-important angel Ezra was captured and awaiting the arrival of “him” – implied to be Metatron but in fact, Castiel – which meant that when Cas made his dramatic entrance, I burst into laughter. Then immediately wondered if that was the reaction they were going for. I still don’t know!

There were a couple of scenes where the music was so odd that it was distracting, and actually threw me out of the narrative. What was up with that??

Also partially in the WTF category was the “interrogation” scene when Sam and Dean question Ezra. The scene was played for laughs, and some of it was hysterical – that part goes in the Yes! category. But the fourth-wall-breaking portion of the scene goes right here. I usually love when Show breaks the fourth wall – there are entire chapters about Supernatural’s propensity to do just that in all our books. But it takes a deft hand to strike the right balance, which is the difference between an affectionate poke and a cruelly pointed stab.

Dean: I get it. You’re a fan.

Me: Oh no. Don’t go there, Show, not this episode….

Sam: A fan.

Dean: Look, just cuz you’re hot for Metatron, or Bieber, or Beckham…

Me: (groaning) Or Ackles, or Padalecki, or Collins, arghhhhh….

Dean: Just cuz you know everything about them, doesn’t mean you actually know them

Sam: Or that they even know you exist…

Me: (holding my ears) Make it stop…

Dean: Ooh, that’s cold, Sam.

Me: Yeah, it was. Too cold.

We’ve written three books challenging the negative stereotypes of fans as having delusional ‘parasocial relationships’ with celebrities who don’t know they exist and the shame it produces. I know that’s not how Jared or Jensen or Misha see it, since they’ve said so in our books – and read our books – but I didn’t need to hear that in canon, thankyouverymuch.

The Winchesters are judging you...

The Winchesters are judging you…

Okay, ‘nuff said. Let’s move on to the Yes! scenes –

The rest of that interrogation scene was solidly in Yes! Ohgodyes! territory. I love smart!Sam, and we had a banquet of that here. First, Sam quickly realizes that Dean is losing control now that the First Blade is in his hand, and pulls him back from killing the angel and losing the chance to get any information from him. Then he comes up with a brilliant plan on the spot, using the captive angel’s own sense of self-importance against him.

I love how quickly Dean catches on and goes along, the brothers working together seamlessly. It’s like old times, the two of them finishing each other’s sentences and communicating wordlessly, only needing a glance to plan the next manipulation. And it works! Perfectly. It was so sweet I can almost forget the whole ‘fan’ thing…

Boys!

Boys!

Like Season 1 Dean!

Like Season 1 Dean!

As I mentioned before, Abaddon’s death scene didn’t move me as much as I wish it had. On the other hand, the immediate aftermath of Abbadon’s death absolutely floored me. Dean totally losing it, giving in to the bloodlust utterly, was both terrifying and horrifying. It was that scene that brought all my emotion to the surface, instead of the more dramatic one that preceded it. Jensen embodied Dean’s unrestrained violence, and Jared perfectly portrayed Sam’s horror and fear as he watched his brother unravel. Once again, it was only Sam’s voice that eventually pulled Dean out of the near-psychotic rage that had consumed him.

Sam: “Dean! Stop!”

And then, more softly, with so much hurt and concern in his voice: “Dean, you can stop.”

It was only that permission, in Sam’s voice, that finally got through to Dean. The expression on Dean’s face when he drops the Blade and looks up at his brother is absolutely heartbreaking – he looks utterly lost, horribly broken. No wonder Sam is so worried.

"Dean, you can stop..."

“Dean, you can stop…”

Broken

Broken

I also loved that scene for its parallels to Season 4 Sam, especially the episode where Sam, at the height of his demon-blood-fueled power, kills Samhain in front of a horrified Dean. In that episode, Dean was just as terrified for Sam as Sam is now for Dean – there’s even a similar shot of the other brother bursting through the door just in time to see the killing.

I was unsure about the directing in Abbadon’s death scene, but in the one that followed? Spot on.

Sam and Cas had some interaction in this episode, and Sam actually got to talk about his experience of being possessed by Gadreel, which left me open-mouthed because WHAT? We’re getting some Sam pov??? OMG. I was so excited, I was hanging on Jared’s every word. He did a great job of portraying just how raw those wounds still are for Sam, and some clues to how he’s coping. Mostly by avoidance – as he says, he doesn’t like to talk about it. Cas pushes, though, and Sam puts his own discomfort aside and talks. And we learn more right along with Cas – both about Sam, and about Gadreel, who is becoming quite a fascinating character. I don’t know what to make of him, and I like that I don’t know.

Misha also got a chance to shine in this episode. He portrayed the reluctant leader that Castiel is becoming – in his interactions with Gadreel, especially, his combination of diplomacy and persuasion were pretty compelling. I think the angels are right — Castiel has it in him to be a leader.

Whether or not he got through to Gadreel remains to be seen.

xxx9.21 cas

Misha also does subtle humor so well, and he got to show some of that in this episode, shaking his head in confusion as to why the angels insist on calling him “Commander” — Dean’s reaction to that was priceless.

Misha also got a chance to show Castiel’s affectionate side, which pleased many fans. After a weekend at DCCon, where the actors hugged each other nonstop, it was nice to see that carry over with the characters too.

Awwww, boys :)

xxx 9.21 hug nutty 2

xxx 9.21 hug nutty 3

(Also, the angel command center looked really cool – kudos, Jerry Wanek!)

I am an unabashed Crowley fan, so I loved that we got so much delectable scenery chewing from Mark Sheppard. Crowley fascinates me as a character – he’s done horrible, horrible things, and yet I find myself rooting for him again and again. I loved that he triple crossed Abbadon to warn the Winchesters, and that he used their own special safeword to do it (Poughkeepsie….what a weird spelling…) That was a nice reminder of just how closely Crowley and the Winchesters have been working together, and how ambiguous their relationship has become.

And who but Crowley can pull off a line like “Nobody in the history of torture has been tortured with the torture that you will be tortured with” and make it both threatening and hysterical.

I also enjoyed the Crowley/Abbadon interaction, which had so much sassiness to it that it really could be a ship at this point. Their “wow” in unison as they marveled at poor Gavin’s cluelessness was a thing of beauty.

xxx 9.21 wow 2

I’ll miss Alaina Huffman, who imbued Abbadon with so much personality that she was far from a one-dimensional villain. Huffman’s acting chops are so good that she can hold her own in snarky scenes with Crowley, which is no mean feat. I’ll miss you, Alaina!

And Mark… He portrayed Crowley’s reluctant affection for his son so subtly that you can’t even pick out how you know that it’s killing him to see Gavin tortured – and yet you absolutely know it. That scene was another time I yelled at the television, I was so empathizing with Crowley’s pain at seeing his child tortured.

xxx 9.21 crowl nutty

We got some nice nods to canon continuity in this episode, which I really appreciate. (Not so much with Gavin’s character, alas). But there was a call back to Crowley making a deal for “3 more inches of willy” – an important bit of canon if I ever heard one! There was also Abbadon using the devil’s trap bullet that she learned from Henry Winchester. I love callbacks! Thanks, writers.

I also liked the cemetery scene, where Dean and Sam retrieve the First Blade. I no longer take for granted that we’ll get lots of Sam and Dean scenes this season, so any time I get the boys interacting and talking has me staring so hard at my screen it’s a wonder my eyeballs aren’t stuck there once the scene’s over. And this scene was beautiful – old school SPN. Darkly lit, not a little bit creepy. The brothers stroll into the cemetery in lockstep, perfectly in sync. They banter like brothers, and Sam not-so-subtly tries to keep Dean’s hands off the Blade, even if that means he has to dig through putrefied guts himself to retrieve it. Protective Sam, yum. And then there were the hellhounds. They freaking SCARED me! I realized after my heart stopped pounding like crazy that there’s not much on Supernatural that scares me – or the Winchesters – anymore. But hellhounds? They KILLED Dean once, and they killed Jo too. They fill me with dread, and the fact that we can’t see them makes them so much more terrifying. I think I’m a fan of the less you see, the scarier it is – and hellhounds are at the top of that list. I loved the photography and the directing, Sam and Dean full on sprinting, slamming the gates just in time. Phew! That’s the way I want Show to grab me!

Nice touch, Crowley talking his pets down over speaker phone.

It’s a bit of a tradition in Supernatural – or it has been in seasons past, at least — to save the last few minutes of an episode for a heart to heart conversation between the brothers, often in the Impala. I actually squeed out loud when that happened in this episode. Dean and Sam had an actual conversation – and Sam actually outright expressed his concern for his brother! And Dean called Sam “Sammy.” That right there is enough to leave me smiling.

Dean: “I didn’t tell you about the warning because I knew exactly what you we’re gonna do. You would make sure that you were right alongside me going into that room.”

Sam: “You mean like we always do. Because we’re actually partners in this and we watch each other’s backs.”

Dean: “I don’t expect you to understand.”

Sam: “Try me.”

Dean: “First time I touched that blade, I knew. I knew that I wouldn’t be stopped. I knew I would take down Abaddon and anything else if I had to. And it wasn’t a hero thing, you know, it wasn’t– It was just calm. I knew. And I had to go it alone, Sammy.”

xxx 9.21 car sam

xxx 9.21 car no 4

We get some important understanding about how the Blade is changing Dean here. He describes it as giving him a sense of calm, which echoes his description of Purgatory. Dean has always longed for a simpler way of seeing things, bristling over the complexity and the shades of gray in the world. He wants things more black and white, more concrete – I think because deep down he’s capable of empathy and sensitivity, and in his line of work, those emotions make everything too complicated. Purgatory simplified things, and that was a relief – the Blade seems to be doing the same.

I think one of the reasons that’s so compelling to Dean right now is that he is still hurting so much after Sam’s declaration that they’re partners not brothers, and that Dean only saved Sam because he’s selfish and doesn’t want to be alone. (I think Sam is still hurting too, obviously). When I spoke to Jensen Ackles in his meet and greet at DC Con, I asked him if Dean was ‘over’ that hurt, and he said no.

Jensen: No, I don’t think he’s over it, it’s still there, like a gaping wound. I think it plays into his decisions – like he has nothing left to lose…

He also referred to the Mark of Cain as an ‘addiction’ for Dean – that’s how Jensen is playing it, as something compelling, something that Dean wants to keep feeling. Like any addiction, it’s powerful because there is that “gaping wound” that can’t be filled otherwise. That sense of emptiness is what people try to fill with some kind of drug or behavior, something that brings ‘calm’ and makes the pain go away for a while. It made perfect sense to me when Jensen described how he, as an actor, has made sense of the story line – and you could see that play out in this week’s episode.

I interpreted Dean’s lie to Sam as both a way of keeping him safe (from Abbadon, but also from Dean himself, since I think he’s not entirely trusting himself when in the grip of the bloodlust) and a way of making sure that Abbadon couldn’t use Sam as a bargaining chip. Whether that’s foreshadowing a Cain and Abel type showdown, I don’t know – but I’m nervous.

Jensen’s response to my question about whether, as an actor, he’s satisfied with where the end of Season 9 left his character didn’t make me any less nervous:

Jensen: Well, let me say this. I got to the last script, and just went ‘Oh. Wow. Oh wow. They went there.’ And that’s not something I often say.

Lynn: (possibly open-mouthed. Literally) OMG!

Jensen: (with a definite smirk) So…. Enjoy!

Enjoy??? I’m biting my nails down to nothing!!

Fandom is conjecturing all over the place, which I admit is actually a lot of fun. In fact, some of our most enjoyable moments at the recent DC Con were spent over dinner and drinks with fellow fans, throwing out hypotheses about what the hell is going to happen in the next few episodes. Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook have been doing a lot of hypothesizing too.

Up until now, demon!Dean has only happened in “Alternate Universe” (or AU) fanfiction and fanart. But as one fan tweeted after this episode:

“Demon!Dean AU” after 9.21:

Did you mean: canon?

Other fans speculated in fanart.

By Mytharc4Dean Tumblr

By Mytharc4Dean Tumblr

Is this where we’re headed?? What the hell IS going to happen? When it comes down to the eleventh hour, will Sam save Dean? Will the Winchesters finally kill Crowley, or are they secretly as fond of him as I am? Will Gavin make sense of the 21st century, or will he wander on over to the set of ‘Sleepy Hollow’ (where he looks like he belongs) and find Orlando Jones? Will messing with the timeline be the thing that allows Metatron’s ending to be altered?

What do you think??

–Lynn
For more about Supernatural and its amazing fans,
read “Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls” and “Fan Phenomena:
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27 Comments leave one →
  1. May 9, 2014 3:36 am

    As usual, I’m nodding my head along with everything you write in your review. This week, especially, with Dean’s killing of Abaddon. (Or as one fan tweeted, “Abaggone”.) The only explanation I could come up with for not being emotionally involved in her demise is because it’s not the Winchester’s fight, really. It’s Crowley’s. True, Dean’s got the Mark and he has the Blade. But the problem with her taking over Hell was more of a “devil you know’ quandary, and not one of revenge or passion. It was just business. Dean promised to help and he did. And now he needs to decide if he’ll let Crowley live.

    (An aside: Gosh, I hope Dean lets Crowley live. I don’t know why, but any episode with the King of Hell makes me–and everyone besides the Winchesters, I think– happy. I offer this as further proof that the creators of SPN sold their souls to get to Season 10. I’d be worrying about Hellhounds, too. And you’re right, Lynn. Scary! So I’m going to assume Crowley will be wily and keep his distance from Dean and any blade he happens to weld.)

    A more compelling scene, I think, will occur with Metatron’s elimination. (I am confident he’ll get ganked. Because he deserves it. Even if he is Booger.) This is the Winchester’s real enemy and the one in whom they’re more emotionally invested. It’s a personal vendetta–because he killed Kevin! He tried to kill Cas! He’s played God, he’s betrayed everyone and everything and is, overall, the embodiment of a dick with wings. I know I’ll be cheering when he’s destroyed.

    What I’m also interested in is what’s going to happen with Gavin? If the writers don’t use this yummy bit of rule-breaking–especially after Sam yammered on about “the lore” and Dean made it plain that letting him stay in the 21st century was a no-go–I’m going to be cranky. Especially since we’ll see plenty of Crowley/Winchester interaction as a result. I’m hoping the consequences will be far-reaching and wretched and will bring some good fun to Season 10.

    Lynn, you created yet another thought-provoking review! As always, you’ve given clarity and provided insight for the weekly episode in a way that no one else does. You’re the best. Thank you!

  2. May 9, 2014 3:52 am

    Lynn-
    Thank you for putting it all out there in the review. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Like you, I’ll get the unpleasant out of the way first and finish with the good in my feedback.

    The Ugly – you called it, that breaking of the fourth was was …unnecessary roughness. We know there’s a power imbalance between fans and creators. Adam Glass and others have had more than one twit-pocalypse this year that showed the ugly places the relationship can go. So I can understand the motivation to remind us that they own the characters and can destroy our little world in a heartbeat. But I think it won’t change a damn thing and only adds hostility. So, I’m disappointed at what I consider a cheap shot. Note: I normally play these things off, but the dialog was just too on-the-nose to ignore.

    The Bad – again you’ve spotted everything. I knew Crowley would triple cross Abaddon before he did. I knew Dean would kill Abaddon as soon as he walked in the room. I had hoped she might smoke out and show up in S10. But that was not to be. So, I’ll put her hasty departure under the “lost potential” column. I didn’t enjoy the interrogation as much as everyone else. I can’t say why… I guess it just felt obvious. I mean I completely appreciated the clever Samtervention and Dean joining in seamlessly. I just knew how it would play out once they took that tack.

    The Good – Sam’s POV! The parallels with Sam being immune to the white demon blast/Dean overcoming Abaddon’s control. The parallel with the horror at the Samhain killing versus Sam’s reaction as Dean goes berserk. Season 4 is enriched by this parallel in S9. Finally, in addition to everything you’ve written, I would add the tragedy of Cas asking Dean to torture AGAIN. Dean is so firmly convinced his job is to be the Killing Machine. Every time he loses more humanity it hurts.

    Thanks for again a great review and an opportunity to provide feedback.

  3. May 9, 2014 4:07 am

    I agree with you for the most part. I’m always cautious when I see this writing team show up because they haven’t been my favorite. Their episodes tend to have odd pacing and the dialogue always seems so heavy-handed. There was some of that going on in this episode, but not as much as usual.

    I’m in the camp that enjoyed the Dean/Abbadon showdown. I will miss that character, but her death scene gave us an opportunity to see Dean when he allows himself to be controlled by the Blade. He’s scary. Very, very scary. I was totally engaged during that scene not because I didn’t know how it was going to end, but because I wanted to see how it would get to that end. I wanted to see how much of Dean was going to be in that fight and how much of the Mark was going to be in that fight. Being that the scene was so brightly lit, I saw all of it and it made me even more scared about Dean’s fate because I saw him get lost in there. I’m very much with you about the end of that scene where Sam calls Dean back from the edge. Jensen and Jared played the scene wonderfully. But I noticed that this time, it took longer for Dean to hear and respond to Sam and that’s disturbing. If Sam is the only one who’s able to pull Dean back, but Dean is less and less able to hear Sam calling him over the roar of blood, I’m afraid of what this means for Dean. Will there come a point where the Blade and bloodlust are so loud that he won’t be able to hear Sam at all? If so, how will Dean get back from the darkness? Will he even want to? So many questions!

    I’m also glad that the Boys FINALLY had a conversation that lasted more than a couple of sentences. They need to have a much longer, more in-depth conversation, but hopefully that will come later. One thing that stood out to me about this conversation, though, is how observant yet oblivious Sam seems to be when it comes to Dean. On the one hand, Sam can see that the Mark is changing Dean and he’s clearly worried. He can see, or he should be able to see, that Dean is going through the same thing he went through when he was addicted to demon blood. He’s noticed many of the changes in Dean’s behavior and attitude, and he’s been keeping a much closer eye on Dean lately. On the other hand, Sam couldn’t see that Dean didn’t send Sam to the basement because he was protecting Sam. Dean sent Sam to the basement because Dean was protecting himself. Dean knew that if Abbadon somehow possessed Sam or otherwise put him between herself and Dean, Dean might not be able to curb the bloodlust long enough for his big brother instincts to kick in causing him to hurt Sam. That’s not something that Dean would be able to live with. Yes, it was partly protecting Sam because that’s who Dean is, but I got the sense that was more for Dean’s benefit than Sam’s.I know Sam’s still got some open wounds about the Gadreel situation, and Dean’s obviously still hurting about Sam pulling away from him. Both of them are hurting and angry and their feelings are not without merit. But at the end of the day, these two guys are family and they love each other. It’s not a cure all, but it is a good place to start.

  4. May 9, 2014 4:34 am

    As far as Abaddon’s death goes, I guess I see her death as more of a catalyst for things to come than a big showdown. I felt the whole point was what was going on with Dean & the blade, which I felt was very richly accomplished. I can understand why some who might have been looking for a big showdown might’ve been disappointed–but with it coming at this point in the episodes, I wasn’t looking for a major production just yet. It was just a set up for upcoming episodes.

    Also, I liked the lighting in the Abaddon scenes. It was nice to actually be able to see what was going on. The scenes between Dean and Sam in the car are so dim, I could barely make out their expressions and, at times, their eyes were just glimmers in darkness–so I definitely appreciated the lighting for Abaddon’s death, I didn’t want to miss a single second of anyone’s expression.

    No offense, but I really feel that people are taking the “you’re a fan” part too seriously. I think I can understand why you all would be prone to take it to heart more than others because you’re extra aware of things like that due to all the research and thought you’ve put into it. But, really, it was a fun scene and I laughed not thinking anything of it. Later, when I found out people were offended, it really blew my mind. I felt like people were examining it too hard and being too sensitive. Becky felt like more of an insult than this did–partly because what was said is actually true.

    And Kripke’s 4th wall breaking wasn’t always smooth. There were several fans upset with him over his parting words in Swan Song via Chuck. I remember being mad about “The fans are always gonna bitch.” So, yeah, in comparison to that and Becky, I’m not really sure why people are feeling so upset over this.

    But I think we all have every reason to be nervous about the finale. Jensen’s words (and thank you so much for sharing) really amped the fear right up. *bites nails with everyone else* Probably, everyone will be such a mess after 9.23, we’ll need online counseling.

    • Jena permalink
      May 13, 2014 4:51 am

      Yeah, I have to agree with just about everything here. I thought the Abaddon death scene was the best one of the episode. I DO think they could have done so much more with it, though. The way that it was written, you’d never know that Dean and Abaddon had ever even met before this, much less had that ultra-sizzling scene together earlier in the season. As writers, I don’t see how you just waste that kind of UST and chemistry; but then again, we’ve gotten so little Dean and Cas this season, too. It’s strange. It’s like success in that area has been punished and not rewarded by the writers of this season-which again is sad, too, because I think the angel sl has suffered greatly because of the lack of any attachment to the brothers(especially Dean), at all. And I don’t think just throwing them all together on the screen in the last three episodes counts.

      I’m in it for the MoC sl, at this point. Jensen has been simply amazing as a Dean who is tragically spiraling downward again. And it looks like this time, there will be no saving him from hitting that rock bottom that he should have hit after his own Hell experience or after the losses of Sam and Cas and Bobby or after his year long stint in Purgatory and the loss of another kind of “brother” in Benny.

      I was so happy to hear Jensen say that Sam’s words in The Purge remain a “gaping wound” for Dean and something that has likely sent him over the edge. It’s about time, in this Dean fan’s opinion. *fingers crossed* that we’ll get some real pay-off in that area in these last two.
      Thanks for the write-up.

      • May 14, 2014 12:34 am

        I have to agree with novembersguest and Jena about how Abaddon was so impersonal about who has the Mark (“one of the Winchesters”) considering her history with Dean. Their previous encounter was anything but impersonal, so Dean having the Mark should have resonated more with her. But, I have such low expectations with these writers, that, even with that issue and some others, I still enjoyed this episode.

        I also agree that I thought the Dean-Abaddon scene was, as I said in my original post to this article, one of the best of the episode! Jensen was fantastic!

  5. bjxmas permalink
    May 9, 2014 4:58 am

    Wonderful review! I too had reservations with this episode, and the expectations I have going into the final three episodes always makes it a minefield of huge potential and treacherous points of contention. Brad and Eugenie have improved a lot but there is still a disconnect there at times where the tone and focus of their episodes just seem off to me and not Supernatural worthy. Their episodes that focus on magic and hocus-pocus seem more plots for Charmed than Winchester tales, more cutesy than horrific. The interrogation scene would have worked for me in any other setting, but not in the final three with Dean obviously teetering on the brink of darkness! If we were to refer back to any other prior episode, then my mind went to On The Head of a Pin! I WANTED to see Dean exhibit that scary darkness but instead they gave us a comedic scene that just seemed to lessen any perceived tension when instead they should have been building to the climax!

    It was major for Cas to ask Dean to torture again, major for Dean to say he was not only willing, but eager for it, major to witness the anxiety and concern that Sam would have and yet we didn’t get that payoff which is disappointing. My biggest disappointment was killing Abaddon and the way it was done. I LOVED all of Crowley’s scenes and the misdirects with whether he was going to side with Abaddon or the boys BUT it didn’t fully track why Abaddon didn’t strategize better! I expected her to be lying in wait for the boys when they went to recover the blade! Why would she allow Dean to ever touch it? Was she just that over-confident? Obviously the Mark made him more powerful than her and it was simply no contest, which after a season long build-up left me wanting. I wanted a physical brawl between them, more hands on and less magic, that is until we got the power of the blade and he lit her up! I also didn’t see why she kept Crowley alive for so long. Which brings us to the next question, why exactly did the boys keep him alive? I’m happy they did, but after all their talk of killing him next, it wasn’t satisfactorily explained and with him immobile from the devil’s trap bullet (warning them or not, he was still the big bad) it was the perfect time to end him. It all seemed a bit convenient to where the writers wanted the story to go, rather than organically driven by what the characters would actually do when put in the situation.

    It initially annoyed me that they left Gavin lose in the world and my thought was I don’t need another character to steal focus from what I want to see, mainly Dean and the influence of the Mark of Cain. After reading this review and the comments, particularly Jensen’s comment about them “going there” I’ve come to realize it is their “out” for whatever happens in the finale! Whatever terrible thing happens, because of the time-travel butterfly effect, next season can have them sending Gavin back, changing their past by changing his future and returning the world to the way it should have been. That can either be exciting or predictable…depending on how they handle it.

    I loved some of the dialogue and the truths they exposed. Sam’s talk with Cas about how it felt to be possessed was unexpected, refreshing and enlightening. Loved the brothers talk in the car, Sam’s concern and Dean’s honesty about how he knew the blade was affecting him and the calm that centers him when he is doing the job before him. All great stuff! I love how they ended their talk with Dean simply and plainly stating “no” to securing the blade away from him. It was dark and ominous and scary as all hell!

    I also agree on the graveyard hellhound scene! Brilliantly filmed and acted, it was the right mix of humor and horror, the very best of Supernatural, from the boys’ discussion of going in for the blade to their run to safety and then Crowley’s sweet talk to Juliet to stand down. That was perfection and what I love most about Supernatural!

    This was an episode that left niggling doubts for me, but on rewatch I enjoyed it more and more. There were just too many conveniences and left turns that didn’t quite track for me to feel it was the high level I expect at this point in the game. I also think it was rushed and tied up the Abaddon threat sooner than I expected or wanted. From the THEN segment, which was longer than any previous one, it was clear there was too much story to cram into 40 minutes and give all the facets the depth they deserved. I’m sad to see Alaina go, but then again, with that Gavin ripple effect, she could certainly be resurrected for S10. I certainly wouldn’t object to that!

    Thanks again for giving me so much to think about. That is always the beauty of Supernatural, so many possibilities and interpretations and yummy goodness to discuss!

    B.J.

  6. robynize permalink
    May 9, 2014 5:54 am

    I just wanted to add my thoughts on that whole fourth wall deal. For me, this was not show talking to us so much as it was Sam and Dean playing off of the Becky induced conventions and such. Remember Dean’s disdain at the whole “Sam and Dean story”? He was pissed off that folks thought their lives were up for entertainment. *nods* this is how I chose to take in what the boys were doing. Making use of what experiences they have had with their own “fans” I know for one J2M would NEVER go there, they love their fans, even the way out their ones. They validate us time and time again. So, that’s my two cents :)

    • bjxmas permalink
      May 9, 2014 6:13 am

      I like your view, it makes the scene go down easier! I remember the uproar over Becky and the whole image of the obsessed fan never, ever impacted me because I never felt that was “me”. I saw her totally as an over-the-top wacko played for laughs. I did cringe a little here with the lines and how it kind of hit closer to home. I agree, the Js and Misha appreciate their fans but some of us do know entirely too much about their own lives (hopefully more in a supportive, admire them sort of way), still with all the inside jokes and the writers push and pull with the fans over stories and such, this did seem like more of a dig, sort of a wake-up call to the fans to back off. In that respect, I thought it was unnecessary and in poor taste.

  7. Icarus permalink
    May 9, 2014 10:21 am

    I enjoyed your review and agree on some and not on others! I really did not like the shout out in the non torture scene, if Jensen and Jared don’t feel like that then I am surprised they went along with it so enthusiastically. I actually enjoyed the non torture scene, probably because at least the bros were on the same page and as we have been so starved of that, then any morsel is grabbed at, least by me. I am not so invested in the MOC arc after this episode, I don’t really find the idea that it makes Dean into a Berserker particularly interesting, I feel there are much better more interesting ways it could effect him, so hoping this is not the only effect we see. Can’t wait for the last two episodes although dreading them at the same time. Have read your book Fangasm, really interesting, well done for sticking at it!
    Icarus

  8. tweenpeaks permalink
    May 9, 2014 11:17 am

    Honestly I don’t want a remake of season 4. BTW everybody talks about parallels between blood demon and MoC but I don’t see many people talking about the parallel between the trials: 1° Sam kills the hellhound and he receives his “mark” – Dean kills the demons in Cain’s house and he receive the MoC. This is my question: is he worthy to be the new Cain or is he worthy to receive the mark because he is the chosen one for the angel trials?
    2° and 3° trials are inverted for dean:
    2° Sam saves Bobby’s soul from hell (Taxi driver was a nightmare I would like to forget) – Dean kills Abbadon
    3° Sam should convert a demon – Dean should kill an angel (I hope Metaballs).
    I mean that Sam had to save someone from hell and Dean should kill someone in heaven.
    People think that a brother will kill the other because of the bible story: well in the bible angels are not a bag of dicks! I have no problem with Demon Dean, but I don’t see where is the great cliffhanger or the twist: we know he is embracing the dark side .
    I know that Carver has lost his touch, but I still hope in something unexpected: demon Dean leaving Sam to go with Crowley, Dean killing Sam or Sam killing Dean or Dean killing Cas are obvious scenarios. Unexpected means unexpected: a great secret or lie, something about a character or a situation that we really don’t know or that we can’t suspect, something that can justify al the strange things happened this year and give a meaning to this meeee season. I’m happy for Dean mytharc after 5 years of nothing but the rest is a disaster.
    Ratings are going down for good reasons: angst, separation, lack of creativity, the same dynamics again and again are maybe good for the hysterical tumblr fandom but for the rest of the viewers is enough.
    I don’t care about dean darth vader and sam skywalker, and I already played with Soulriver Legacy of Cain – Dark Chronicles (spn writers really love this game).
    My theory: Dean will die consumed by the soulriver/first blade (burned alive?), then he will come back as a demon or some other bad, obscure supernatural thing.: welcome to the land of boredom, where the show is written by fans. I have enough of obvious conclusions, pathetic speeches and angst for the sake of the angst.

    FTR the title “do you believe in miracles” is a tribute to bobby Sienger “Midnight caller” episode. The plot talks about a mob family: mafia families are called clans, clan means tribe, tribes was the original name for bloodlines, just saying.
    In the same season Sienger wrote an episode called burned beyond recognition, I don’t know why but I thought about Dean.

  9. Tasha permalink
    May 9, 2014 11:20 am

    I just want to add my point of view on the introduction of Gavin in this episode. I think there is massive potential for this character….Why? Well, apart from the use of him as a hold over “feelings” (loved the way he said that!) Crowley & the comedic relief, a few lines of his dialogue proved very interesting to me. This guy has been thrown into the future to encounter the father he loathes (who by self admission loathes him back) but now daddy is a little different & not just in appearance, he’s the king of hell. Coming from a strongly religious period of time this is obviously going to be one hell (sorry) of a shock yet after a small amount of outrage we get to see a little into the workings of this lads mind when he says “so you can prevent me from burning in hell for eternity no matter what my sins?” Hmmmmm I said to myself that’s a pretty big free pass & an extraordinary position for a human to be in. It’s obvious this appeals to Gavin & also dad is no longer the embarrassing drunk he hated, he holds power & Gavin is being seduced. This situation between Crowley & his son sort of mirrors John Winchester & his sons (particularly Dean for reasons I’ll show in a minute) after all now hell is the family business. What is also obvious is that Gavin is emotionally immature shown by the I am getting on that boat tantrum (Crowley’s face! Lmao) Point being now that Gavin is out there & alive what is he going to do? He doesn’t have to fear hell, his morality has already shown to be a little lacking, is he going to assimilate into this new age? Will his humanity overcome this new sense of power? Or is he like Dean going to try & please his father (he wanted that hug badly, but tried not to show it) There are so many ways this could go that I’m sure it has to be explored more. Maybe there is a possibility he can take the Mark of Cain from Dean to save him? demonizing himself in the process? He has nothing to lose I doubt the Prince of hell will be going to heaven (if it ever gets sorted lol) maybe he’s gonna go nuts to make daddy proud? There is certainly an interesting set up for hell to not only have a king but a king in waiting & for Crowley to get some company & even up the numbers a bit more with the boys & their team. It’s would never be wise to trust dad too much though.

  10. May 9, 2014 2:18 pm

    I did think that conversation about fans was a bit of a slap in the face. And Abaddon’s death seemed too easy. I think Crowley has more up his sleeve and the “they went there” might have to do with both brothers dying. Not that it’s ever permanent!

  11. May 9, 2014 2:46 pm

    One of my favourite lines was when Crowley was cursing his humanity and feelings! Too funny.

  12. Nightsky permalink
    May 9, 2014 3:06 pm

    I am so surprised by your review! I was expecting the gushing that I’ve seen all over social media. The funny thing is that I completely agree with you!! I said so many of the same things in my review (which should be posted tomorrow on WFB), but I came at it from a little different angle. I have a theory as to why the fight scene didn’t blow us away. I’ll be interested in your opinion after you read it.
    I am not allowing myself to think of the finale. I know someone is going to die, and I can’t breathe if I speculate. One of my readers made a superb argument that Cas is going to die, and of course we are all worried about one of the brothers killing the other brother. Really, I can’t even think about it!
    Thanks lynn!

  13. Judyann permalink
    May 9, 2014 3:56 pm

    Totally agree with your comments. Sorry to see Abaddon go and did not care for the way her death played out. Would have loved to see her end up seducing Dean over to her side. That would have made a hot pairing!

    • bjxmas permalink
      May 9, 2014 5:34 pm

      YES! That’s where I thought (hoped) this was leading! Abaddon was smart & ruthless & seductive! Since she’d been around so long, and had survived the first massacre, wouldn’t that have been a fantastic plan for her? To control the power of Dean and the blade and pervert it to her own ends? MOC Dean would have been her enforcer, her mighty knight to bring back the horror of the Knights of Hell! It just seems like such a wasted opportunity to see Alaina and Jensen sizzle!

  14. May 9, 2014 10:17 pm

    Great review as always! I also felt left wanting with Abbadon’s death scene. It seemed…too easy? I thought there would be more struggle. When she realized he was besting her efforts to hold him off, I though she might fall back on some hand to hand combat. She IS a knight of Hell after all. But she just stood there and let him stab her…somewhat anti climatic. I am also, apparently, the only one bothered by all the wind. I didn’t feel it was necessary and seemed a bit on the campy side. (It also did goofy thing’s to Dean’s beautiful hair!) Also campy, to me, was the force grab of the blade. A lot of fans liked it, I felt it was a bit on the cheesy side.

    I WILL say I loved the aftermath of her death! Dean giving in to the killing frenzy was awesome and, at the same time, horrifying to see. The look in his eyes when he looks at his bloodied hand and then up at his brother…Jensen nailed it! He looked confused, lost, stunned…So many emotions balled into one look. I was heartbroken for him. How is it, though, that I can be so hurt and heartbroken for Dean and at the same time, so excited to see such a great story line for Dean! I have said it before, I truly hope they continue his story into season 10.

    Unlike some, I loved the interrogation (aside from the jab at fans that seemed like they were toeing the line a bit heavily. I like the idea of a previous commenter that said the fan jab was from Sam & Dean’s perspective and I’ll tell myself that to make it feel better. (So upset I’m not on the boys’ Christmas card lists.) But the whole scene, otherwise, was great to see. The boys were working together so smoothly, I almost forgot they were at odds with each other. It was SO great to see them smile!! When was the last time we saw Dean really smile like that!

    And now Cas. I like that he wants to end the angel war diplomatically but was fuming that he would ask Dean to possibly use torture to get info! How could he go there?!?! Even more sad that Dean was eager to do so. My response to Dean.. “Oh no. No, no, no, no, oh baby don’t go there…” So hard to watch. (As an aside, like a previous commenter, as much as I enjoyed seeing the boys working together, it WAS a bit of a let down after the build up.)

    Cas working on Gad is great! From the point we learned that Ezekiel was really Gad and what his story was, I’ve been secretly rooting for Gad. I SO badly want him to find the redemption he seeks. I’m hoping Cas can work a little light onto Metatron’s motives and Gad sees that he’s being played. I’m hoping for Gad to make that self sacrificing move that end’s the Metatron thing, or at least opens a door to allow Team Free Will to finish it.

    Gavin not going back in time? Gives the writers a blank slate. They can literally do anything! Lucifer in the cage? What cage? Never happened… Bobby dead? Who says? Boys could get a call from him in a month wondering why they haven’t been in touch… Think the new Star Trek movies…they messed with time which allowed them to essentially re write the whole story! I hope the writers don’t squander such a great opportunity to do all kinds of great and mischievous things!

    All in all, the “bright spots” far out weighed the campy cheese. Loved the episode and can’t wait for next Tuesday!

  15. Sara B permalink
    May 9, 2014 11:45 pm

    I have to admit I enjoyed the episode. I don’t think it was perfect, no show / movie / book is, but I did enjoy it. I also agree with some of the things you say in the review.
    First, that one line that I do not like.

    “Dean: Just cuz you know everything about them, doesn’t mean you actually know them
    Sam: Or that they even know you exist…”

    Yes, most of us aware of that fact writers, we actually don’t need the reminder, thanks. I get that there are people who take things too far and act as if because they are a fan they have a right to put the writers (etc) down when they don’t like something, but we’re not all like that. Like Sam said. That was cold. And uncalled for and unnecessary in my opinion. I didn’t catch what was said when I first watched the episode (too busy fangirling over the Beckham reference – what can I say, I’m British!), but when I saw the pictures and comments circulating the internet about this line and realised what the words were, I felt hurt. It just felt so personal – That really what they think of us?
    It also put a dampener on my pre-con excitement. I’m attending my first con next week and before I watched the episode I was super excited about it. Since this line, I’m not feeling it anymore – just left thinking ‘do I really want to go do this?’ I’m hoping that the excitement’s going to return before I go!
    I know I’m taking this too seriously – going to try and get over it now.

    So, moving on! The rest of that scene – I loved it! I just laughed all the way through it -, Ezra’s stupidity amused me; smart, sassy Sam is always awesome and the interaction between Sam and Dean was perfect! Good job on that front, writers.

    In fact, the interaction between the brother’s was great throughout – Sam’s concern for Dean was palpable and I loved that only Sam was able to pull Dean back from his ‘murderous calm’. It was also good to see Dean open up a little bit in the Impala about the effect the Blade has on him. I think we all long for these heartfelt moments between the Winchesters.

    The Cas hugs were beautiful things to witness – to think he used to be so awkward about stuff like that, aw Cas! The command centre was brilliant – as was Cas’ entrance, although I totally called it. As soon as the angels took Ezra, I just said “enter Castiel!” Can’t wait to see him take on Metatron – will that be soon, I wonder?

    Now, Gadreel – he has fascinated me from the start, but I honestly have never marked him down as the bad guy. From the beginning, I could only see him as this misunderstood angel who just wants to atone for what he did in Heaven – “I did what I had to do” being important in why I see him this way. I really want him to be the good guy and to be able to trust him – c’mon Gadreel, join Cas’ team!

    Crowley is definitely one of my favourite characters (again, I’m British, of course he is!) I trust the Show and Mark to deliver where Crowley is concerned – his lines are some of the best and the character is dark and dangerous and devious, but he’s also been on the side of Team Free Will more than once. I think that’s what I like most about Crowley, there’s more to him than just the antagonist. His humanity has only made him more interesting this season.

    Gavin McLeod – Oh the potential here! Surely his arrival in the 21st Century will be important – Doctor Who and Back to the Future, heck, Supernatural itself make clear that changing anything in the past can have a detrimental effect on the future! I am longing for something to happen because Crowley hasn’t sent Gavin back. And even if Gavin were to go back somehow, he can read now – that itself would have an effect! Please let us see more of Gavin and / or what effect he will have!

    Finally Abbadon. I agree that her death scene lacked… something. For me, I think it was just over so quickly, even though the actual death scene went so slowly. I guess, I was just expecting more of a fight when the time came to kill her. Much love to Alain Huffman though, she’s done a fabulous job of portraying Abaddon these past two seasons!

    Back to that last scene, I did like seeing Dean (Jensen) fighting against her power and succeed in pushing through that. The way the Blade flew to his hand too! Ooooo, exciting and terrifying ideas come to mind at that. I have several thoughts on potential endings for the season, all centred on the Mark of Dean. I still think there is a possibility that Dean will kill (or attempt to kill) Sam. I also like the demon!Dean idea and this is the only thing I can think of that might make Jensen have that “Oh wow” reaction, deaths aren’t a surprise on Supernatural, so it’s got to be something bigger, right?

    And I’ll leave you with that scary thought! ;)

    Sara

    (P.S – Apologies for the fan rant at the start! :) )

  16. Rick D permalink
    May 10, 2014 12:46 am

    Well after 7 crappy episodes in a row, they finally managed a halfway decent ep. I don’t know if it’s enough to rescue this train wreck of a season. I actually was surprised that they killed Abaddon, and it was over rather quick. The parts with Crowley’s son were boring, tedious and ultimately pointless. How can taking someone from a ship where everyone died affect the past in any way? Ridiculous.
    The only reason I liked this ep was because we finally got some payoff from the MoC, and the great scene where Sam and Dean worked together, like they used to when the show was good. I laughed out loud at the lines about “fans.”

    Hopefully the continuing drop in ratings convinces them that the 10th season should be the last. They’ve already gone too far.

    • bjxmas permalink
      May 10, 2014 2:23 am

      You are entitled to your opinion but if the rest of us are still enjoying the show and cast & crew want to continue, then if you aren’t getting satisfaction from it, I suggest you bow out and let the rest of us enjoy it. I may long for different scenes or directions, but I am still a huge fan of the show and everyone who brings it to us.

      As far as Gavin’s ripple effect, I took it as he could possibly change the future based on his presence when he is not supposed to be there. That gives them the chance at a do-over going forward, if they were to catch him and send him back at this point in time and prevent him from interfering.

      B.J.

      • Rick D permalink
        May 10, 2014 1:39 pm

        Don’t worry, I am bowing out. I’m only putting myself thru two more eps, just to finish the season in the futile hope that they actually have a satisfying conclusion. And I’m not the only one.

  17. Katherine D. permalink
    May 10, 2014 12:55 am

    I love your detailed and intelligent reviews and con reports, and look forward to the insight from you two on a weekly basis. I completely agree that the season wasn’t paced well and it seems as though they are cramming way too much into the last three episodes. Abaddon was killed way too quickly, and the brothers’ relationship still hasn’t been handled thoroughly enough for my satisfaction. Hopefully they will at least wrap up the Sam and Dean issues adequately enough to do justice to the relationship we have seen established over the last nine solid years. Hopefully they won’t rush through this or try to linger it into season 10!

  18. Kimmie permalink
    May 10, 2014 5:35 am

    As usual another great review. This show had/has me on edge. Not knowing what’s coming up is driving me nuts. Seeing Dean look so dark and seeing how Sam is trying to keep him away from the blade bc he knows it’s not good. Loved seeing the guys working together and the way Sam stopped Dean and was able to go straight into his bit and getting Dean on board(interrogation ). Seeing Sam hurting the way he was talking to Cas about Gadreel about killed me. All I wanted to do was hug/cry for him. Hearing how he felt was a nice change ( hope to see more). Now to the last part. Seeing Dean the way he was during the last screen had me holding my breath. He went from bloodlust thirsty to little boy scared in one instance. I thought it was gut wrenching. Kudos to Jared and Jensen for nailing it. Thanks again. Enjoy reading your reviews.

  19. May 12, 2014 2:08 pm

    This is a wonderful review. Sharp and precise. Although in terms of storylines, this season has a lot going for it, as a fan what I really want is for the brothers to make up. This cold, awkward vibe between them is hard to watch. I would be really disappointed if the brothers do not have a solid scene in the finale. Having said that, I do not think I will be getting my wish since there is so much ground to cover before the season ends. I like the fact that Sam is able to pull Dean out of his murderous ‘headspace’, if you will, but as the blade pulls Dean deeper under its spell, I do not know if Sam will be able to reach Dean anymore.

    Sam is not someone who is given to expressing his emotions if he can help it. In all honesty, Dean is a lot more comfortable making heartfelt declarations than he is. But if Sam expects to help Dean overcome the power of the Blade, he will have to put his heart on the table and tell his brother what he means to him. Whether they fight it out or resolve it peacefully is upto the writers. If this Mark of Cain arc does not have a solid Winchester patch-up scene at the end of its line, I will be hugely disappointed.

    Jared Padalecki knocked it out of the park this season. As Ezekiel, then Gadreel and now finally Sam, he has hit all the right notes. I hope to see more scenes between him and Misha Collins. Sam and Cas have a very interesting dynamic the show is yet to tap into.

    As far as Abbadon is concerned, I was sad to see her go. Although the scene between her and Dean is riveting, I still think she deserved to go with a louder bang. She is the Hell equivalent of an archangel after all. And Alaina Huffman was so deliciously evil as Abbadon. I will miss her perfectly manicured nails. Lets see what the next episode has in store. Supernatural has a lot to do before it wraps upm season 9. Here’s to a satisfying finale. :)

  20. May 14, 2014 12:21 am

    For the most part, I enjoyed this episode, yes, some parts were slow, mainly I thought the stuff with Crowley and his son.

    I’ll have to disagree with you about the Dean-Abaddon scene because I thought it was intense and tension-filled and I thought Jensen was amazing in it!

    The scene that I loved the most however was the final scene between Dean and Sam. I thought Jensen was brilliant and really sold that scene. It was a quiet, and yet powerful and intense scene and Jensen completely nailed it.

    I think Jensen has really nailed this whole season! All the different layers he’s conveyed, with and without dialogue, has been amazing. Jensen truly becomes Dean, he’s not just acting as Dean, he *is* Dean and he makes me feel for this character like I’ve never felt for a character before, whether it’s making an impossible choice, seeing a loved friend die, hearing your brother disown you and lash out verbally at you, taking on the Mark, that epic fight scene, touching and feeling the power of the Blade…it has been a pleasure to watch Jensen and his brilliance!

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