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Hopes and Fears for Supernatural’s Finale – 8.21, 8.22, and Are You Ready for 8.23?

May 10, 2013

clip show 2

With next week’s season finale almost upon us, what are you hoping will happen? And perhaps even more important, what are you praying will NOT happen?? The flip side of being this invested in a television show is that most of us really do care. A lot.

Our passionate connection to this Show and these characters makes being a Supernatural fan a wonderful, exhilarating, rewarding experience – but it’s also friggen’ terrifying. We have no control over where the story goes – quite literally over who lives and dies (or who might be a series regular or recurring guest star or someone who we only get to see at cons instead of on our screens) – and that means we’re at the mercy of The Powers That Be. That would explain why many of us are sitting here biting our nails and sending prayers to Jeremy Carver not to break our hearts into a billion pieces – or even worse, to disappoint us. We have high expectations for this Show, and more often than not, it’s exceeded them. Not always, though. Which explains the nail biting.

So as we sit here angsting about what’s going to happen next week, let’s review the last two episodes leading up to the finale. I loved 8.21, and let my expectations go sky high for 8.22. (Always ill-advised, but sometimes the fangirl in me just gets carried away!)

Why did I love The Great Escapist? It’s no secret that I love Ben Edlund’s writing, and having Robert Duncan McNeill direct was a killer combination. Edlund writes dialogue that sounds like people are actually speaking, and even more crucial, Dean and Sam and Cas sound like themselves. “Robbie” pulled a wonderful performance from all the actors, and he uses the camera to make every scene more powerful – the weaving and swaying perspective when poor Sam staggered down the hallway looking for Metatron had me equally dizzy, and the way he zoomed in on Cas sitting in Biggerson after Biggerson evoked Naomi getting closer and closer too. (Actually I have to thank Alice of @WinFamBusiness for that insight – we got a chance to have some fangirl quality time after NJCon watching SPN episodes on my couch. What else?)

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the acting, actually. Both Mark Sheppard and Amanda Tapping brought so much evil to their characters that I literally got chills when they got down to business. (Also, when are we gonna get a little of the delicious backstory of these two, who crackle with some kind of twisted history every time they’re onscreen together?) What a treat to have not one, but two, villains who can pull off BAD like that, and make you love and hate their characters simultaneously.

Jared played Fake!Sam with subtle differences that made it obvious to Kevin (and SPN fans who spend a fair amount of time studying the boys in detail….ahem….) that something was very wrong. I mean, when was the last time we saw actual Sam’s dimples?? Osric Chau hit it out of the box too – his exasperated video message to Sam and Dean, in which he tearfully admits failure and apologizes, had me tearing up too. And Misha gave us a Cas who, even broken and bleeding, remains defiant and determined (and pretty damn badass). Collins does bruised and bloodied almost as well as Ackles, but I was cheering out loud when he fished that bullet out with his bare hands and went right for the eye to take out Ion. (Ewww, but wow!)

There was a helluva lot of heroism going on in this episode. Kevin determined not to break this time, no matter what. Cas exercising his free will and trying desperately to do what he thinks is right, no matter what. Sam willing to turn himself inside out in order to undertake these trials. And Dean ready, willing and absolutely determined to do whatever it takes to make sure Sam succeeds and comes out alive on the other side. All four characters embody what heroism is – it’s not just the hero who ‘saves the day’, it’s all the people who sacrificed so he could do it. It’s every little victory along the way, carved out in blood and pain and loss. Not just on SPN, but in the “real world” too. The unsung heroes are out there giving and sacrificing every day.

Jeremy Carver began this season with an ominous suggestion that perception is just that – that things are not always what they seem. This episode continued throwing out hints that we can’t completely trust what we see and hear, that our perceptions are fallible and can be manipulated. When Sam remembered the rather unlikely family trip to the Grand Canyon when he was four, I initially assumed this was a manipulated memory, not a canon error (since previous episodes, and numerous pieces of fanfiction, made it clear that the boys had never been there). Sam remembering so many things that Dean didn’t remember seemed to support that theory, though it may just be that Sam’s memory is enhanced by what the trials are doing to him. But there have been so many nods to the malleability of perception – Crowley’s manipulation of Kevin’s memory and setting him up with the fake Sam and Dean, Naomi repeatedly wiping Castiel’s memory and manipulating his understanding of right and wrong, Cas correcting Dean’s misperception that he failed Cas and left him behind in Purgatory, even the idea that humans become gods themselves in writing their own stories. It’s all about perception – and misperception.

I’m fascinated by the idea of things not being what they seem, in part because I still want to hold out a tiny bit of hope that the whole Amelia thing was something else – anything else! Surely all those blurred images and picture-perfect-cake-in-the-park memories were manipulated by someone! Carver?? Anyone??

So obviously there were a lot of good things about this episode. But that’s not why I loved it. I loved it for the way it portrayed the Winchesters. When the brothers are on the outs, watching SPN is painful. Still compelling and fascinating and addictive, but painful. Much of Season 8 kept me trying to soothe the pain in my heart when Sam and Dean aren’t on the same page, and hoping against hope that Carver was going to bring them back together. Now that they are, back to back and fighting side by side the way they were when I first encountered them, I can look back and appreciate the emotional payoff of having had to wait for it. Because DAMN, it feels good!

Essentially this episode was one emotionally intense hurt/comfort story, with Edlund stacking up well against the best of the fanfiction writers. We wrote an entire book chapter in Fandom At The Crossroads about why hurt/comfort in fantasy is so compelling and so popular, and you can watch this episode and find an example of everything we analyze. Proving that either a) Edlund has been on LiveJournal for years, or b) Edlund has read at least one chapter of Crossroads.

Protective!Dean, I will readily admit, does it for me every time. Dean is a hero in just about every way imaginable, and he’s had his moments of proving it physically and directly. He’s strong, smart, and a total badass. But he’s Sam’s big brother too, and his caretaker for much of Sam’s childhood, and this has always been as much a part of his identity as his need to save the world or prove his machismo. In ‘The Great Escapist’, we get to see Dean once again show that side of himself, with the vulnerability and caring that come with it. He brings Sam food, making us get wibbly immediately when he cajoles Sam to eat by saying it’s just how their dad made it. He threatens to do the ‘airplane thing’ with the spoon, and I’m instantly bombarded with images from the boys’ childhood, little Sammy a stubborn 18-month-old refusing to eat and Dean still a little boy himself, resolutely taking care of his brother. Dean wraps Sam in a blanket, has a thermometer in his back pocket instead of a pistol.

“You gotta let me take care of you, man,” he says, and you can hear the worry in his voice.

Throughout the episode, Dean tries to do just that. He keeps a protective hand on Sam wherever they go, shielding him from threatening shotguns and making sure he doesn’t fall on his face when he’s just trying to walk down a hallway. He stays in front of Sam the entire episode, always putting himself between his brother and any perceived danger. When Sam finally collapses, Dean does what he’s made it his job to do – he takes care of Sam. In this case, he literally saves Sam’s life, immersing him in an ice bath to bring down his lethal fever.

(Shallow interjection: Wet!Sam wrapped in a towel is ridiculously hot.)

By the time this episode ends, we have a better understanding of the very personal reasons both Dean and Sam want to succeed in these trials. Yes, they want to close the gates of hell – they’re invested in the family business. As viewers and fans, so are we. But for the Winchesters – and us – to really care, we need a personal stake in these trials. Something that matters to us at our core.

For Dean, it’s about the same thing it has been since the very beginning of this Show – not just saving the world, but saving Sam.

“If we do this, you get better, right? You stop coughing up a lung and bumping into furniture.”

For Dean, that’s the payoff for completing the trials, as much as closing the gates of hell. That’s why I love Dean like I’ve never loved a fictional character (and perhaps never will again, which would make my boss and perhaps a few family members really happy….). And I care about the Winchesters succeeding so much more because of that personal investment.

For Sam, completing the trials has just as personal a reason – and it’s also one that’s been integral to the Show since the pilot. Sam keeps fighting his brother’s attempts to care for him because he wants the transformation that the trials are creating in him. He welcomes the pain of it because that’s part of the process – for the same reason that Dean needed to atone for his time as a torturer in hell and Cas needed to atone for his time playing ‘god’. Sam needs to come to find a way of feeling “purified”, and for him, it’s all about the blood. The blood that Azazel forced on him, the blood that Ruby lured him into taking, the things he did when they both were manipulating him. Sam senses that he’s being changed by the trials, and for the first time, is starting to believe he can be “clean” again. There are cleansing rituals in many cultures, often using starvation, dehydration and exhaustion to achieve an altered level of consciousness, which are a gateway to the next stage of development; for Sam, the trials seem to be serving a similar function.

As Sam becomes increasingly delirious and unguarded, he remembers that Dean used to read to him, stories from a comic “Knights of the Round Table”. My moment of ‘awww’ over this glimpse of young Sam and Dean is short-lived, though, as Sam confides that even then, he knew he’d never be able to be Sir Galahad, knew he wasn’t “clean”. Here’s where Sam Winchester breaks my heart – and Dean’s too. Tragically, Sam doesn’t remember ever feeling pure – his whole life he’s felt different, and “not good enough.” If I didn’t identify with Sam Winchester before, I sure as hell do now. Haven’t we all felt different at some point in our lives? Haven’t we all struggled with not feeling “good enough”?

The agony in Dean’s expression as he listens to his brother’s confession is so intense that it literally made me tear up. There’s nothing worse than knowing that someone you love thinks they’re flawed, and knowing they’ve lived in pain because of it.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Dean says, and we all know it’s true – all of us except Sam.

Cas and Kevin both defy the bad guys and stick to their resolution not to crack, and with a little help from Metatron, the boys end this episode ready to move forward and undertake the third trial. I end this episode fangirling Ben Edlund and barely able to wait a week before the next one.

We distracted ourselves by hanging out with our fellow fangirls all weekend at NJCon and appreciating the view of the boys onstage (all the guests were boys, oddly) and doing some interviews – then it was time for 8.22, the penultimate episode of Season 8.

“Clip Show” didn’t leave me as squeeful as 8.21, though it was far from horrible – and admittedly, my expectations were through the roof. It did have some nice moments, particularly when directly addressing some of the inconsistent writing in S8. Dean’s admission that they should have taken Kevin to the Batcave was nice to hear, since fandom has been screaming that for months now. I mean, DUH!

Crowley is becoming more and more loathsome, and thus more and more effective as a Big Bad. For a while, he was so full of quips and Mark Sheppard is so adorable that I was developing a grudging affection for him. This episode brought me back to hating and fearing Crowley, which is where the audience should be. Again, the emotional power comes from making his evil personal – he mocks the Winchester family motto, which has been adopted by the fandom as well. He co-opts the Supernatural novels, which have been used repeatedly to reference fandom, and uses them against the brothers to destroy all the good they’ve done. Again, this hits both the boys – and the fandom – where it hurts.

Sam and Dean don’t have much to cling to, except each other. Knowing they’ve saved people is what lets them keep going – how brilliant and horrific of Crowley to take that away from them. Talk about losing everything. Crowley shows us just how personal it is by killing Sarah in front of Sam, forcing the brothers to desperately attempt to save her, and having them fail. It hit Sam hard – it hit me hard.

I felt for Cas in this episode too. Dean doesn’t get past betrayal easily, and he’s still hurt by Castiel’s refusal to trust him (and undoubtedly by the beat-down Cas gave him too). We experience how much Cas wants to make things right with Dean by following him in his quest to bring Dean a peace offering of beef jerky, pie and Busty Asian Beauties. We all know these are Dean’s favorite things, so Castiel’s determination to find them for him resonates with all of us. I found myself saying “awww” out loud to the television once again, and then hoping nobody was listening. Shhhh.

On the other hand, I find it hard to believe that Cas still doesn’t know what eggs are or that freezer doors need to be closed. It’s funny, yes, but it’s pretty damn far from the badass version of Cas that we got last week. Inconsistencies have been an unfortunate theme of S8, and I’m hoping we don’t get any more of them in the finale.

Meanwhile, the Show has left me with a lot of questions. Is Metatron really a “pencil pusher”? Or is he really an archangel himself, with reasons of his own for wanting to manipulate Cas and the Winchesters? Is “curing a demon” possible, and can we ignore the unfortunate aftermath for the original inhabitant of the body? Is the time for ethical debates like that long past, or does it keep tugging at you? Did the Winchesters really go to the Grand Canyon, and were Sam’s memories of Amelia real or….okay, dropping it.

One of my fears for the finale is that the Batcave won’t survive into Season 9. I’ve written before about how much I love that the Winchesters finally have a home, and I admit I’ll be devastated if Carver takes it away. This episode, despite its gravity, gave me a few additional home-base tidbits:

Cas: I like this bunker. It’s orderly.
Sam: Give us a few months. Dean wants to get a Ping-Pong table.

Sam: So we have a dungeon.
Dean: Finally.

The Winchesters end this episode with Sam doubting whether they can actually do this, and Dean the one who’s got his brother’s back. Whatever doubts Dean may have harbored about Sam being able to succeed in the trials, they’ve been put to rest.

Dean: “Over the past couple of months I’ve seen him do crap I didn’t think was possible. Sure he’s miserable and he’s hurting but there’s not a doubt in my mind that he’s gonna cross the finish line. Not one.” “Even banged up, Sammy comes through.”

Once again, the Show makes sure that we, the fans, are as personally invested in these trials as the Winchesters. This time, they do it by invoking a piece of our shared history – an emotional attachment that the cast, crew and fandom all share. They quote Kim Manners.

Dean: “We’ll kick it in the ass like we always do. Are you with me?”

At those words, I burst into tears. The episode ends with Sam hesitating, but in my living room, I’m not. Come on, Show. Don’t let me down. I’m SO with you.

So what do you think? What are your hopes and fears for next week’s season finale??

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. May 10, 2013 7:52 pm

    Such a great little read! So much to think about in terms of what we know & what is yet to be revealed… I can’t wait to see what happens next!

    • spnfans permalink
      May 10, 2013 7:54 pm

      I know, right?? Neither can we!!!

  2. Ann Byassee permalink
    May 10, 2013 8:03 pm

    That “We’ll kick it in the ass” got me right in the gut. Not just because of where the boys are at the end of the episode, but also because it gave me a momentary flash of connection to the entire Supernatural family. It is almost a psychic connection. Everyone involved with the show and all of the fans know where that comes from and what it means without really having to think about it, and for just that brief time, we see the same layers of meaning in the words and have the same emotional reaction. As much as I love the show in and of itself, it is those dizzying moments of one-mindedness that make the experience of being a Supernatural fan so intense and extraordinary. Thank you for helping to voice that experience for us all.

    • spnfans permalink
      May 11, 2013 3:41 am

      Yes, exactly! Those moments of connection make this entire experience something I doubt will ever happen again. At this point, we all have so much shared history, and Show references it to pull us all in. No wonder I go through so many boxes of tissues….🙂

  3. dean4me permalink
    May 10, 2013 8:08 pm

    Good lord, what a great piece!! You hit every single thing I had rattling around in my head!! Angsty goodness and hurt/comfort always hit my sweet spot. And Carver? I want to kiss him on the lips for an awesome season. I forgive the inconsistencies, owing to different writers but over and over I’ve seen the “hand of Carver” move through the eps, guiding us back always to the central themes: the brothers, the job, the bond. Ugh. I too fear for what next Wednesday will bring and from some of the things the boys said in NJ (yeah, I already stalked all the vids I could find!) I fear there is definitely heartbreak ahead. But this season has brought back my Squee with a vengence!! I’ve loved this ride and can’t wait to board the Season 9 train!! Woot!!

    • spnfans permalink
      May 11, 2013 3:45 am

      I’m also stocking up on tissues for the finale….but whooooo, how awesome that we have S9!!

  4. May 10, 2013 8:10 pm

    I really don’t think we need to worry about losing the MoL bunker as a set–it was built and furnished with much care and detail and Jim Michaels tweeted back in the beginning that it was quite the expensive set–so I don’t think they’ll destroy it. Yet.😉 Also, *drags out dead horse, beats it* My hope is that there is indeed a much better explanation for Amelia and why Sam didn’t look for Dean. Yep, I just can’t let it go, 22 episodes later…lol. Enjoyed the essay very much!

    • spnfans permalink
      May 11, 2013 3:46 am

      Pretty sure many of us can’t let that go, it’s just too….BIG. Thanks for the reassurance about the bunker sticking around for a while. Phew🙂

  5. Liorah permalink
    May 10, 2013 8:38 pm

    Excellent piece. I do think you’re being generous about the Grand Canyon memory. I took it as yet another screw-up (albeit, not serious enough to mar the ep, which was pretty damn perfect!). But, with Edlund writing, maybe you’re right, maybe it is a false memory. But that would mean that Sam’s memory of the Knights of the Round Table would probably be false, too, and that was just too heart-wrenching not to be true. And Amelia — I believe she actually happened, but she’s best forgotten.😉

    My theory for next week: Crowley is the demon who will be cured. We’ll get to keep him next season and he’ll join Team Winchester. Sam will have completed the trials, but Abaddon, who will become the new Queen of Hell, will find a way to keep the gates open in spite of Sam’s success. Sam’s blood will be purified and he can let go of that guilt he’s been carrying since S.2.

    I don’t trust Metatron, and I wish Cas had thought to ask what the other 2 trials are, since Metatron obviously knows them off the top of his head. Still, I was relieved when the nephilim was indeed what MT said she was. I was terrified she was going to be just an ordinary girl.

    Shoot, just read dean4me’s comment and now I’ll have to watch the con videos and start panicking. I also have to find a tactful way to tell my friend’s husband to return the blu-rays I loaned him, because after Wednesday I’ll have to watch the entire series again to pass the hiatus!

    • spnfans permalink
      May 11, 2013 3:47 am

      Perfect way to pass hiatus! I suppose I’ll have to accept that too, that Amelia actually happened, but….wait, Amelia who??🙂

  6. Liz permalink
    May 10, 2013 9:48 pm

    II loved what you wrote: you clarified so many things for me and put it in much-needed perspective. I’m not very good at prophesying future episodes, so I will leave that to the experts, but the one thing I did want to comment on is Carver’s tendency to inject humor into an episode at the expense of logic, and it just isn’t worth it. That scene with Cas in the store buying Dean’s favorite things was perfect enough without adding Cas quirks (the eggs, the fridge) to it, which, as you put it, don’t make sense considering how long he’s been among humans. And when he grabs the guy’s shirt and demands the pie, I felt that was out of character and just going for a cheap laugh. It would have been more effective if he had demanded it in his usual monotone and Carver could have supplied him with a better line than the one he did.

    Outside of Sam and Dean leaving Abbadon on her own (really????) while they talked to Crowley on the phone, I felt the full force of Clip Show and I’m ready for anything in Sacrifice! I think.

    • spnfans permalink
      May 11, 2013 3:48 am

      I’ve thought I was ready too many times, only to have Show knock me over. (But yes, that’s one of the reasons I love it…) Agreed about the odd injections of humor – not to mention that horrible music they play when we’re supposed to find something funny. If we need that, it’s just NOT funny!

  7. TLoz permalink
    May 10, 2013 10:18 pm

    Always love reading your reviews. Of course I’ve my own thoughts on what is going to happen. I don’t think destroying the MoL Hobbit Hole is in the works just yet, so that fear isn’t something I have. I’m pretty sure it’ll eventually happen. Right now I feel like Carver has been doing a magnificent job of arranging all his pieces on the gameboard. As the end of season 8 is looming nigh, Carver is now playing against the fans with delightful ease. I can almost see him sitting in his office wringing his hands while chuckling a mighty evil chuckle. He knows just what game he is playing. Last night he hit us hard by exploiting some of our most beloved NPCs. It was a delightfully effective tactic. After the teaser I gasped, “Now this is getting personal.” While I don’t worry about the Winchester’s home, I worry about the character of Crowley. I knew that the Prince of Hell was going to have to bring his A Game to the show this season, because he was starting to look a little cartoonish. I’m glad he’s starting to show just how bad he can be. Could it be his swan’s song or are we going to see Crowley rowing around in the same boat with Cas next season?

    • spnfans permalink
      May 11, 2013 3:49 am

      Agreed that Crowley was getting a bit too cartoonish – he’s back in fine villainous form now! Still biting my nails over what will happen next week….

  8. Judy permalink
    May 10, 2013 11:27 pm

    Great overview of the episodes! I agree with you on almost everything but I have to admit to holding one unpopular opinon – I’m not nearly as enthusiastic by Dean’s main role this season as Sam’s caregiver. I do enjoy seeing Dean’s protective nature but for me, 10 episodes of it in a row without anything else to balance it out is a bit much. Dean’s too iconic and amazing of a character to relegate to feeding Sam soup while Sam strives to save humanity. So, besides my hope that TFW survives the finale, Sam recovers, and the profound bond is repaired, is that Dean moves out of the mytharc sidelines and is allowed an equal, active part again.

    • spnfans permalink
      May 11, 2013 3:52 am

      I get what you’re saying, and I do think Dean will be back in badass hero mode by next season. I love that he can be both, but apparently I never tire of seeing him in protective big brother mode. Like, ever. That said, I will totally enjoy him being back in badass mode too, promise🙂

  9. May 10, 2013 11:33 pm

    Even if Sam dies, we know he’ll be resurrected somehow, thank God–wherever he is, LOL! Love, Robin

    • spnfans permalink
      May 11, 2013 3:52 am

      Thank God (wherever he is) indeed!🙂

  10. Jen permalink
    May 11, 2013 1:31 am

    I am honestly left wondering how the heck they are going to cram everything in one episode. Cas has to do two angel tablet trials, Sam has to do the last one, then both Sam and Cas have to do whatever-it-is that actually closes the gates of heaven and hell, plus you know Abaddon is going to show up again, and apparently at some point Naomi captures Metatron as well. My guess is that the major cliffhanger is that somebody is going to fail. There’s just too much left to do. I do hope that Crowley manages to come out of it alive though. He’s just such a good villain, I’d honestly be sad to see him go. We haven’t had anybody as gripping as he is since Lucifer.

    • spnfans permalink
      May 11, 2013 3:53 am

      I was thinking that too — one episode left and so many loose ends! I’m crossing my fingers that Crowley survives also, he’s an amazing character. And Mark Sheppard is just so damn good!

    • Liorah permalink
      May 11, 2013 5:01 am

      I hope they don’t cram everything in! (I love how we talk about the finale as if it hadn’t been completed weeks ago, and we can still influence how it goes.)🙂 I was thinking the angel tablet plot line might carry into S.9.

      • spnfans permalink
        May 11, 2013 6:14 pm

        Hahaha, I know, too bad we can’t twist time so we can have more influence. Yes, it’s all about what we want😉

  11. May 11, 2013 3:37 am

    I am getting ready to watch tonight’s ep. Otherwise, I love them ALL & agree with everything
    except Crowley is getting to be a real pain….Love, Joy

    • spnfans permalink
      May 11, 2013 3:54 am

      Crowley is good at that, isn’t he?🙂

  12. May 11, 2013 4:28 pm

    This post was great! There’s really most of the things I’ve thought when I saw the last episodes, and I’m desperately waiting for this season’s finale.
    Crowley’s monolouge made me hate him and love him at the same time… brilliant acting, brilliant lines and so much evil I can’t be not touched by so much angst xD

    There are too much unresolved situations, and I hope they’ll find a way to solve them in the next season; and I also hope they’ll keep Castiel in the Team. I love him😀 And I noticed the incosistencies,too. But,whatever. I think this episode’s gonna be epic (at least I hope so hahaha).

    • spnfans permalink
      May 11, 2013 6:14 pm

      I’m with you! Hoping for an epic episode that brings me ALL THE FEELS!

  13. magichappening permalink
    May 11, 2013 7:16 pm

    Hi Kathy and Lynn🙂 Thanks very much for this review (LOVE the fact that you guys do individual episode reviews now!). It has taken me this long to process 8.21 and 8.22 (and apologies in advance for the length of this comment!)… to be honest, I am not terribly enthused with either episode…
    As I have become increasingly spoiler-phobic, I have even started putting my hand over the opening credits so that not only do I not see the casting credits, but I also avoid seeing who wrote and directed each episode. And I wonder if that might be one of the reasons I did not like 8.21 as much as most did. Was it knowing that it was a Ben Edlund episode skew the results and bias viewers in his favour? Maybe it’s just me…
    I mean, don’t get me wrong. There were definitely some scenes, plot points and lines in each episode that I thought were genius. But overall, I came away from both going ‘hmmm’, rather than ‘WOW!’
    Maybe this is because I myself am biased as I know they are the first two-thirds of a three-episode arc, and thus they are inherently unsatisfying and feel unfinished. But until I see the finale, these are not my favourite episodes. There were good parts, but for me neither hung together to form a coherent, cohesive whole. Rather they felt like the skeleton of a story or a building blocks, waiting to be fleshed out or coloured in…
    8.21:
    • Jared was brilliant this week as sick Sam; struggling, weakening, but determined.
    • ‘Edlund writes dialogue that sounds like people are actually speaking, and even more crucial, Dean and Sam and Cas sound like themselves.’ TOTALLY agree. Agree. So. Much. His and Robbie Thompson’s episodes should be required viewing for all the other writers, especially the ones who write in pairs!
    • ‘Osric Chau (’s) …video message to Sam and Dean, in which he tearfully admits failure and apologizes’ –really well done.
    • I liked your point about true heroism. It reminds me of a quote from On His Blindness by Milton: ‘They also serve who only stand and wait.’ This time it is Dean that has to stand and wait. I always think when people talk about how heroic it is to die for something you believe in, that true heroism is to LIVE, day in, day out for the same reason, rather than a one-time heroic act (courageous and self-sacrificing though that may be). And in this episode, as you point out, Dean is the protector, having to stand on the sidelines, but playing his part: ‘You gotta let me take care of you, man’. And, that oddly out-of-place piece of dialogue earlier in the season where Dean talks about being a grunt notwithstanding, I think that Dean’s ability to do this (and indeed back Sam’s plan for Lucifer) shows character-growth since he sacrificed his soul for Sam back in Season 2.
    • Grand Canyon-wise: ‘…it may just be that Sam’s memory is enhanced by what the trials are doing to him’ –this is definitely what I took it to be.
    • ‘Sam senses that he’s being changed by the trials, and for the first time, is starting to believe he can be “clean” again.’ I hadn’t thought of this, but it absolutely breaks my heart 
    8.22:
    • Very cool seeing Tommy and Sarah (Jenny was rather random, but I guess she was the third guest star they could book!) again. Shame they had to die, but clever twist.
    • I like that Dean is not giving Cas a carte blanche and that he has to earn forgiveness as they all do – and I really liked Cas’ shopping trip!…but I think it is unlikely given his history that Cas would blithely jump onboard the Metatron Alternative Trials train. The rationale shown to us in their conversations seemed unlikely to me to override Post-Destroyer-Post-Penance in Purgatory-Post-Dean –Freezing Him Out on the Tablet Hide and Seek –Cas’ caution.
    • Also, is there a reason that Cas did not immediately see that Metatron was an angel when they met?
    • I really like Abbadon and much prefer her to Crowley…I have liked Crowley periodically at different points over the last few seasons, and his using previously saved people as leverage was clever, but I’m afraid I found the whole phone monologue rather long. It also snapped me out of the story-world and reminded me I was watching a TV show (which I HATE!) as I remember thinking, ‘this is way too indulgent and they are only doing this coz they like Mark Sheppard’s voice’… I do agree with you though that ‘This episode brought me back to hating and fearing Crowley, which is where the audience should be’. I know I am in the minority with regards to Crowley, but I would be happy for Abbadon to take over (her reaction to hearing Crowley was King of Hell was great!).
    • I think it HIGHLY (‘with three exclamation points’!!!) unlikely that the experienced, hardened, canny, surviving-against-all-odds Winchesters, would leave one of the Knights of Hell alone, to take a non-urgent phone call and then proceed to go all the way outside to take it. Again, here I was snapped out of the story and thought ‘Sam and Dean would not risk taking their eyes off Abbadon for an incomprehensible veiled threat from an unknown number (before they knew it was Crowley). A bird in the hand and all that jazz… it felt like they had them go outside coz they had a cool location to shoot at, but not a good reason to go there…
    • The leaving Abbadon alone plot point was not a Smart Winchesters move, and for me, the ‘curing a demon’ revelation was similar. I mean, my first thought on hearing that phrase was that they meant a demon would be ‘undemoned’, as it was for many other viewers. The fact that this did not cross the Winchesters’ minds until they had seen the video of Father Thomas strained credulity for me…I do believe the Winchesters are fallible, and I am sure tired and stressed, but this felt to me more like dumbing them down…
    • I am totally with you on the ethical debates issue as well – I might actually write something about that over the Summer Hiatus…

    Maybe it’ll all come together brilliantly and satisfyingly next week, in which case I shall be very happy to eat my words! I do love this Show, and 8 years is a long time for the writers to keep all the balls in the air… but as I have been a fan for most of that time I guess every now and then something annoys me …reminds me of Chuck/Kripke’s comment:

    ‘Endings are hard… You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are …gonna bitch.’(!)

    • spnfans permalink
      May 11, 2013 9:47 pm

      I don’t disagree with you on your concerns, especially those moments of ‘really? They’re going outside now and leaving Abbadon there??’, but tend to attempt glossing over them as much as possible – because, as you say, nothing is more irksome than being pulled right out of an episode when I’m happily immersed in it! Endings are hard, which is why I’m still biting my nails…. and hoping for the best!

  14. Dee permalink
    August 28, 2013 9:30 pm

    I honestly think people are making way too much of the Grand Canyon thing. If Sam was four, that would have made Dean about seven and a half. My family talks about places we went when I was that age and if it weren’t for pictures I wouldn’t have even known about it. People forget things from their childhoods, happens all the time. I figured Sam remembering these things from such an early age was either a side effect of the trials or the fact that he was resonating from being in Metatron’s presence. Sometimes you just have to pick your battles with the Show and not get *too* nitpicky. Although I do agree that Kevin should have been moved to the MoL Bunker months ago. That one is just a no brainer.

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