Skip to content

Misha Collins Takes it Slow and Makes it Pretty – Supernatural’s Mother’s Little Helper

March 28, 2014
Warner Bros/The CW

Director!Misha – in a Sam shirt!

Supernatural is on a roll. Once again, I was swept along by this week’s episode, the hour going by way too quickly – and that’s exactly how I like it. Adam Glass’ script and Misha Collins’ directing were a heady combination, with the rest of the stellar cast and crew all bringing their A game for the first-time director.

When we spoke to Misha at VegasCon, the first thing we asked him about directing was, “So, do you have the bug now?”

More on his answer when we get the interview posted, but suffice it to say, our instincts about that were correct. And no wonder – he did an amazing job. I love Supernatural when it slows itself down enough that I can savor the beauty of each scene (and each character), taking in all the little glimpses of the boys’ surroundings that bring meaning to the scene and the story. Sometimes, due to the need to pack a lot of story into 42 minutes and the demands of editing an ambitious show down to that time limit, things get a bit choppy or feel a bit rushed. This episode didn’t – it lingered visually in a way that allowed me as a viewer to linger emotionally, absorbing the impact of everything that happened. It reminded me of the iconic scene of Sam dropping the coffee cup when John is dying, or the one of Dean leaning against the Impala, caught by a lens flare. Those are the moments you never forget, because they carry so much meaning. This episode was beautiful, right down to Serge Ladouceur’s unique take on the play of light and dark (nobody can show us a scene lit by flashlight like Serge) and the VFX effects were gorgeous. Misha and Serge together, along with the actors, did a great job of showing instead of telling, which made the episode even more powerful.

Take the scene where Dean is shooting pool while Crowley goads him into taking up the first blade again. (I may have watched this scene more than once. Okay, a lot more than once). It’s unhurried, full of tension, as Dean’s addiction and his ambivalence battle for control just under the surface. That the scene takes place over a ‘game’ is perfect, as Crowley and Dean parry, both knowing this is a different sort of competition. Misha doesn’t rush it, lets it play out in real time so we can feel the tension just as the characters do. (And damn, there was a lot of tension. I might have a bit of a competence kink, because Dean racking up the balls with his freaking elbows? Yeah. Hot. Also, Ackles slowly running his hand up his pool cue should be illegal. Didn’t he do the same damn thing in a scene from Dark Angel??) Let’s have a little trip down memory lane to when Ackles was Alec instead of Dean…

Alec plays pool

Alec plays pool

Dayum

Dayum

xxx 9.17 alec8

Stop that! No, never mind...

Stop that! No, never mind…

Tumblr gave those moments a lot of coverage, along with a fabulous thank you to Misha for the close-ups of Dean drinking beer after beer. I believe the caption was “Nobody gives better bottle than Dean.” I have to concur. And once again thank you, Misha, for all those incredible shots.

Glass deserves thanks too, for an episode that felt important on several levels. I liked the flashbacks to Henry and Josie, and was invested in their story because of their later relationship to Sam and Dean. Both actors have a lot of charisma, and they worked well together – even with their limited backstory, I felt for Josie. Alaina Huffman conveyed a lot of angsty longing in just a few looks and awkward bits of conversation. Though the woman-sacrifices-herself-for-desperate-love-of-a-man scenario isn’t my favorite, she made it seem real, if ill advised and tragic. And kudos to both the director and Jerry Wanek’s set dec team, because that (apparently real life) deserted convent was WAY creepy.

I usually hate Sam and Dean going their separate ways, and I admit that I groaned when Sam tried to get Dean to go along and he refused, but the separation worked this time – and it gave us so much information about where the boys are at emotionally. Sam is still angry and waiting for an apology from Dean, I have no doubt, but he’s also back to behaving like a concerned brother. No matter what, the brothers are attuned to each other, and Sam knows there’s something very wrong. He wants Dean to back him up, and he (mostly) keeps him in the loop, but it wasn’t all about hunting — there was more than one worried glance in Dean’s direction. It’s Sam who attempts communication this time, calmly and genuinely; it’s Dean who rebuffs him.

Worried!Sam

Worried!Sam

And that right there says a lot about Dean Winchester’s mental state. He’s still angry and clearly depressed, which often makes someone push away the very person who could help them most and who they most want to care about them (but won’t admit). That may be why he sends Sam off to hunt on his own even after Sam asks him to come along – he’s still thinking that Sam doesn’t care, so damn it, he’s trying not to care so much either. That’s partly why he hesitates before picking up his phone when he knows it’s Sam too. But it’s more than that. Dean seems to be in that dark place where someone starts to not care about anything that isn’t the thing they’re craving. Where they want to be left alone to just indulge in whatever it is they’re addicted to. Where they can’t think about or concentrate on anything else. Maybe it’s the Mark itself, hardening Dean, making him colder. Maybe he’s even a little scared to hunt with Sam, after experiencing the bloodlust that came with picking up the blade and knowing what Cain did to Abel – maybe it’s Dean’s well-established protective streak taken in a different direction. Whatever it is, Dean is changing. And that scares the hell out of me.

Kudos to Ackles for showing us Dean’s struggle in a million different ways – his shaky hand, the way he contemplates Crowley’s words, the single-mindedness with which he tries to escape with alcohol. And kudos to Collins for taking his time and capturing every one of those small tells, letting the full of impact of what’s happening to Dean come through. I’m not sure there’s anything Dean Winchester values more than keeping his precious ‘control’, and it’s unraveling right before our eyes, in agonizing detail. Dean has always been vulnerable to falling into the role of killer (after John’s death, in Hell, in Purgatory), and that has always simultaneously galvanized and scared him. Now, as he’s pulled in that direction again, his struggle is difficult to watch (and wonderful to watch, since thankfully this is fiction). I am loving having a story arc that I’m thoroughly fascinated by – I hate having to wait three weeks to find out what impact the Mark of Cain will have on Dean, and how that will play out. And that’s a great feeling, being on the edge of my seat every time there’s a mini-hiatus. Like the old days!

Oh Dean...

Oh Dean…

I admit I was a bit confused about Dean trekking off to a bar (though I’m glad he did, because that scene is awesome). Did he steal a car to get there? Sam had the Impala, so he clearly didn’t drive his own. And was that bar in the same town that Sam was working the job? It seemed to be, so I’m assuming that Dean was being a good hunting partner (and big brother) after all, making sure he was close by if Sam needed him. Don’t disabuse me of this notion.

Crowley and Dean in the bar was my favorite part of the entire episode. What a dance those two are doing! Crowley offers Dean some empathy, addict to addict, saying he knows what it’s like and encouraging Dean to embrace it. (As Crowley has apparently re-embraced his own addiction, to human blood. Why, we don’t know, but I’m intrigued). The parallels to Ruby are pretty clear at this point, but not so heavy handed that they pinged me. Crowley has his own way of manipulating Dean. He knows just how to needle Dean, just how close to the line to go in order to goad him forward, just how much skewed affection to infuse into his taunts to keep Dean from walking away. There’s a charge to their banter that’s just this side of sexual, and Crowley knows how to walk that line, how far to push Dean with aspersions of masculinity and comments that teasingly sexualize his love for Sam and his twisted partnership with Crowley alike.

Crowley: “You’re lying to Sam like he’s your wife. I guess that makes me your mistress.”

Perfect Crowley line is perfect.

(At this point, Misha tweeted: “Which of course makes Cas very jealous”. We love you, Misha.)

Damn, I can't help but love Crowley

Damn, I can’t help but love Crowley

I loved Sam in this week’s episode too. Sam being on his own lets us see him more clearly sometimes, as just Sam instead of Dean’s little brother – and this week I really liked what we got to see. (Other than Sam’s hair, which was very sixties and possibly gelled into submission).

Even with the unfortunate hair, Sam was strikingly gorgeous in his FBI suit, and he pinged my competence kink too by having the recorded exorcism on his phone. Nothing hotter than a smart Winchester! (Unless it’s a hot Winchester who’s also man enough to step up and call someone on it when a guy treats a waitress like crap in a local bar. Sam Winchester isn’t the kind of man who lets that stuff go, and damn, that just makes him 100 times hotter).

Sam. And his hair.

Sam. And his hair.

I also enjoyed Sam’s interactions with Julia Wilkinson, the former nun (who Adam Glass named after our fellow fangirl and awesome admin of the Superwiki, Jules – same last name! Can you say reciprocal relationship, anyone?) Their dialogue was poignant and meaningful, giving us insight into both Sister Julia’s regrets and Sam’s smarts, determination, and capacity for empathy. Empathic Sam is something I’ve been craving, and Glass gives us that here. I loved Sam in this episode, and that felt really good.

I admit to being a bit confused about the whole creating a demon army from stolen souls thing. Why have we always needed crossroads deals if demons could just take souls when they wanted to? Then again, this is a Knight of Hell, and we don’t really know exactly how she’s doing it, so I’ll let that one go and wait for more intel. I was also a little iffy about why the people whose souls Abaddon stole became so disturbed, and in some cases downright murderous, since Sam without his soul wasn’t just a mess of unbridled id without rationality. I’m assuming it’s because the process happened differently, and that also explains why these stolen souls could ease back into their own bodies without the agony that Sam felt (of course, his soul was damaged as well, so there’s that).

The scene where Sam releases the souls from their glowing bottles was beautiful (and totally reminded me of one of the best pieces of fanfic I’ve ever read, The Firefly That Loved Metallica. If you read fanfic, or just appreciate good writing, go find it.) The special effects were perfect, and Sam’s expression of wonder as he watches them float upward and head toward their soulless bodies was equally perfect. Jared’s acting, Misha’s directing, Glass’s script – whatever it was, it came together beautifully. I got a little choked up just thinking about how miraculous it is that Sam Winchester, who has been through so much, can still find beauty in such a moment. He looks almost childlike, naïve, and I found myself hoping that it heals something for him, makes up for some of the things he still feels guilty about. Sam knows what it’s like to be soulless, and for those five people, he helped them become whole.

Superb VFX - fr adamwilliams

Superb VFX – fr adamwilliams

Edit by clairvoyantsam

Edit by clairvoyantsam

The question for the remaining episodes of Season 9 is, how dark will Dean go? Will Dean giving in to his addiction be what it takes for him to understand how Sam felt back in Season 4, when he was the addict going down a dark road? Will watching Dean succumb and trying to pull him back be what it takes for Sam to understand how Dean felt in Season 4, watching Sam be taken over?

Perhaps it will take the brothers being pulled apart for both of them to understand each other and see each other clearly, not as they were when they left Stanford in Season 1, but as they are now — two men who have endured almost a decade of tragedy and struggle since then, who’ve been changed in the process, and yet two men whose love for each other is what has saved the world time and time again, and still burns brighter than just about anything. At this point, I think it’s about understanding even more than it’s about forgiveness. My fingers are still crossed. The Winchesters are at separate tables, but their gaze is on each other.

Divided

Divided

Meanwhile, there was a flurry of network promotion around this episode the likes of which we’ve rarely seen – where the hell was all this for the past nine years?? Misha worked his butt off doing interviews seemingly everywhere, then sat down for a Facebook chat to answer fan questions (the more unusual they were, the more likely they were to be answered, unsurprisingly).

Director Misha does PR. In his own way.

Director Misha does PR. In his own way.

He then live tweeted both coasts’ broadcasts. The poor guy must need a month to recuperate!

Favorite Misha tweet:

Fan: Was it easier or harder to work with Jensen and Jared when you were directing as opposed to acting with them?

Misha: There never has been nor will there ever be an environment in which it is easy to work with Jared and Jensen.

Considering the pies in the face he had to endure from his costars, he might have a point.

Boys.

Boys.

This review would be remiss if it didn’t mention the promo for the next new episode, which unfortunately is 3 weeks away. I think the promo had a lot of interesting stuff in it, but frankly I got stuck on “Dean Winchester is naked in the shower” and forgot the rest. One clever fan immediately coined the term #showerhellatus on twitter to reflect just how difficult it’s going to be for us all to wait for April 15. Luckily, fandom will help us pass the time. Almost instantaneously, there were screencaps on twitter (Thanks @amyinsydney) and gifs up on Tumblr. I love you, fandom.

Cap by sweetondean

Cap by sweetondean

What did you think of this episode and Misha’s directing? Let us know in the comments!

— Lynn
Read more of our interviews with Misha,
Jensen and Jared, and more of our fangirl
adventures, in ‘Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls’
by clicking the link at the top of the page

39 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2014 7:09 pm

    Good episode, and good review, but this whole soul harvesting thing has me scratching my head. Seems to contradict 8 years of demon lore/canon. Given the story lines in S9, did anyone ask Adam Glass if the location of the episode, Milton, IL, was a reference to Milton’s Paradise Lost?

    • blinderd8 permalink
      March 29, 2014 1:47 pm

      Milton shows up a lot. Anna Milton. Charlie Bradburry’s mom’s last name is Milton. Probably a reference to Milton’s Paradise lost and also writers like to re use names in this series.

    • March 29, 2014 1:48 pm

      I’m fairly certain this method of demon creation goes back to early Abaddon, when she indicated that they were going to take souls by force, rather than piddling around with deals a la Crowley.

      And to address the review: Remember, the MoL Bunker has that garage of fantabulous cars! Sure, they boys tend to forget, but let’s just say that this time, Dean remembered, and took a different classic car out on the road. Let’s hope Baby doesn’t get jealous.

    • April 2, 2014 8:25 pm

      Supernatural is my favorite show to watch on Tuesday nights. I like Jason Akals

      • April 2, 2014 8:28 pm

        I like that dean and Crowley are besets

      • chalynda permalink
        April 13, 2014 12:24 am

        i love him too! and its jensen ackles =)

  2. Kimmie permalink
    March 28, 2014 8:10 pm

    I loved this episode. It ranks up there with my all time favorites. It’s really hard to pick out anything that just randomly jumped out at me because I liked it all. Even though the brothers weren’t together it worked. Seeing Dean the way he was was awful. Knowing he was going through his own personal pain. Knowing that Sam is starting to worry about his brother is better for me. I am having I hard time putting my words down bc I have a lot to say. Misha did a awesome job. Thanks again for the review.

  3. GHfan110 permalink
    March 28, 2014 8:56 pm

    I loved the episode and your review. However, I did have a bit of a different take on Josie’s offer to allow Abaddon to possess her. While I do believe she had feelings for Henry and that was a huge part of her decision, I think it was more than that. Earlier that day, she had listened to Henry worry about Millie and John and question whether he was making the right decision in working with the Men of Letters. I think her decision to allow the possession was not only for Henry but also to protect those that Henry loved. If Henry was possessed, then Millie and John would lose their husband and father, and Abaddon may have killed Millie and John, as well. At least, I like to think this wasn’t all about sacrificing herself for a man, as I believe that would go against Josie’s nature as a someone willing to enter a man’s world and fight to be an equal. Instead, she sacrificed herself for the sake of an innocent woman and her child. That sounds better.

    • March 29, 2014 9:23 am

      That was my take-way from this episode too! If Josie hadn’t made that sacrifice, Abaddon would most assuredly have killed Henry’s family, and we would have no Sam and Dean!

    • blinderd8 permalink
      March 29, 2014 1:49 pm

      I’m with you. I think it was the thought of Millie and john that drove Josie to make the decision. Josie seems like an early feminist and certainly this attitude would drive Abaddon in modern times and make her lean in.

  4. March 29, 2014 1:58 am

    Love your review, as usual! I think Misha did an excellent job directing! The camera work when Crowley picked up the cue ball, alone, was fabulous! Watching Dean struggle with his internal demons was a thing of tragic beauty. I’m loving this story with him and hating how painful it is at the same time! Jensen did such an amazing job portraying his struggle. Again, the man is a master at telling stories without using words. I like to think that he didn’t go with Sam because he’s afraid of what he might do. His internal drive to ‘protect Sammy’ is still out weighing the drive for power, darkness, killing, whatever it may be. I can’t wait for the next episode, not only to see more of how this MArk of Cain business plays out, but also…Dean in the shower!!! Was there more to that promo? I don’t seem to recall….

  5. March 29, 2014 2:05 am

    Thank you for saying the things I didn’t have the opportunity to voice this week, given my schedule, travels, inability to watch live, and whatnot! I did love everything we got from and saw in this episode in terms of the brothers’ story, the incredible VFX, the beautiful lighting, and Misha’s very capable debut as a director, even though I had immediate issues with the soul-stealing thing. While I could credit Abbadon as a Knight of Hell having capabilities beyond the norm in soul-distilling terms, I couldn’t fathom how separating a soul from a living body could produce a demon for Abbadon’s army, since show canon is that demons are souls warped by their tortures in Hell. Sounds like a question for my next encounter with Adam Glass! Apart from that metaphysical issue, though, I thoroughly loved this episode – when I finally got to see it, a full day late!🙂

  6. March 29, 2014 2:09 am

    Oh; and I agree with those commenters who felt Josie’s decision to sacrifice herself came more out of her feeling that Henry – the married man who loved his wife and son enough to question the relative value of his role as a Man of Letters – had more to lose through being possessed than Josie herself did, given the lack of family love and position to which she alluded, than to helpless and hopeless love for Henry himself.🙂

    • March 29, 2014 5:56 am

      Lovely review. Great episode. My stomach was a total knot when it was over. The soul thing, yeah, I’ve been pondering that. It won’t ruin my love of the episode, but here are a couple of thoughts I had on it.

      -Yes, Knights of Hell could very well have powers we aren’t aware of. I mean the demon blade didn’t kill her back in S8. Who knows what they can do.

      -Yes, souls were said to have been tortured to become demons. Since it’s basically a soul, not the body that goes to hell and is tortured how do we know what Abaddon was having Agnes do to those souls in the jars. As someone said, Death I believe, they can be tortured and scarred as such. And if some of those souls had been there since 1958 Lord knows what they have had done to them.

      -As for the bodies left behind in this episode? Well, they were fresh so maybe the souls can find their way back home. I don’t know that they were all violent at first. It seemed they kind of built up to there final acts. Like a short fuse.

      Just a few thoughts and I hope they help you. I was going to see if you posted on WFB like you did before Mary, where you asked others to help you decipher something that didn’t seem right or canon. I was going to post this there. Kathy

  7. March 29, 2014 7:40 am

    I love how well you can analyze so much of every episode that I would have never considered. Of course, I only get to see them one time, but I still wouldn’t pick up on as much as you do. The nuances and subtleties.
    I love reading your blog. Thanks for writing these, and thanks for adding all the great photos.🙂

  8. blinderd8 permalink
    March 29, 2014 1:58 pm

    “It’s about the souls,” says Death to Dean in Chicago. Not that I have the answer but the supposition that Sam’s soul had been ripped to shreds by archangels in Hell so returning it to Sam required retrieving it from Hell. The souls in the jar could be in pristine condition and easily reenter the body. These souls seem to be from the people in the jail cells in Milton and have not been captive very long nor tortured. As far as the ease of taking souls, I figure 1. Abaddon imbues her demons with certain skills AND it is her nature to take what she wants. Crowley is true to his nature and enjoys the business like quality of the deal for the soul. He likes a challenge and has a fondness for at least 2 humans. He finds humans interesting -Abaddon does not. As far as mounting an army of demons- well I remember way back in season1/2 wasn’t Sam going to lead an army of demons? Remember the goal of Lucifer and now Abaddon is to bring Hell to our planet. This line of thought opens up a whole other thread. Yes, the time given by the talented first time director is most appreciated. And for the record, i actually liked Sam’s hair.

    • March 29, 2014 5:54 pm

      I like your considerations here, re. the souls and Abaddon. I’ll buy it! (Though I’m a fan of Sam’s hair early S8, so I’ll have to disagree with you a tad, there. ;))

      • blinderd8 permalink
        March 30, 2014 12:55 pm

        It was nice to see that Sam/Jared had ears:-).

  9. cheryl42 permalink
    March 29, 2014 5:11 pm

    Famine’s demons seemed to be able to take souls so I guess it isn’t as hard as we think.

    • Rick D permalink
      March 31, 2014 6:59 am

      That’s right. Good catch, Cheryl

    • njspnfan permalink
      March 31, 2014 5:15 pm

      Cheryl42 – true, but those people were dead, weren’t they?

  10. Freya922 permalink
    March 29, 2014 6:17 pm

    Marvelous review. I love this show so much, and you have such great insight, plus an ability to fangirl and be observant and critical at the same time. This was so satisfying, as you dove into everything from the lighting to the music to the hotness of pool-playing Dean (Alec)… Terrific. I had actually just seen that scene from Dark Angel for the first time, so I was struck by the similarity, too. This episode was wonderful, I thought, with character-perfect moments from everyone: Dean, Sam, Crowley, Henry. Julia was an example of something Supernatural does tremendously well: creating a rich, multidimensional character you care about, even just for the length of an episode.

  11. Arkine permalink
    March 29, 2014 6:23 pm

    I think the demons always could have done this, but, like with the Leviathans, it will cause a stir. Suddenly hundreds, or even millions, of people figure out that there really are things lurking in the shadows? Suddenly, you aren’t dealing with a few hundred hunters, you’re dealing with thousands, and those that don’t hunt will flock to their religion (to the angels or whatever) for protection. I believe this is what Crowley meant when he told Abbadon that her way would backfire. There is a balance (which is what Eve tried to explain), disrupt it and everything goes topsy-tervy pretty quick.

    As for the episode, I really enjoyed it. The writing, directing, acting, it all felt in tune with what we’ve come to expect.

  12. bjxmas permalink
    March 29, 2014 6:59 pm

    Wonderful review and episode! Mishas’s directing was beautiful and rich. He certainly knows how to spotlight Jensen’s best features! The pool scene was my favorite, seeing Dean and Crowley sparring is always a pleasure and there was such depth to the scene, so much going on without it being heavy-handed. Dean is spiraling but strong and I think it’s going to be an epic battle between what the Mark is doing to him and his own indomitable spirit. Did anyone mention that drinking an entire bottle of whiskey and chugging beers had no effect on him? Hunters’ Helper isn’t helping anymore, so how will he cope? By digging deep and finding that steel core of strength that drives Winchesters!

    Adam’s script was amazing! Most notably separating Jensen and Jared so they weren’t working such long hours on this episode and yet still keeping Sam and Dean together in spirit! It’s the same set-up Robbie used in Time After Time. It’s a nice change for us and the boys, pairing them up with other characters to discover a new rhythm, while keeping Sam and Dean as the focus of all that’s happening. Show has to do that to keep things fresh and it totally worked here. And it makes the Js scenes together that much more special, both the lingering looks and the tense distance.

    Serge’s lighting, with the souls and in the bunker, is breathtaking! Simply a beautiful, meaningful, mesmerizing hour of viewing pleasure! Kudos to all on this episode and the promise of what’s to come. I love when Supernatural gains momentum as we near the end of a season, catapulting us forward to that nerve-wracking cliffie I am sure is coming!

    As far as the soul-mining went, I liked how it reflects back to prior seasons and what Death said about souls. I agree that Crowley makes deals and Abaddon takes what she wants. For me it makes perfect sense, her turning souls into demons. Ruby told Dean that’s what happens when you sell your soul and go to hell, your humanity is burned away and you become what you’ve always hunted. For a Knight of Hell, accelerating the process seems reasonable and we didn’t really get a timeline on how long it took, the demon nuns still claiming souls years after. The only part I had issue with was why all the newly soulless people were so violently, sadistically self-destructive and murderous. I’d hate to think that we’re all that close to being completely evil. It’s one thing to be amoral and carefree about right and wrong, it’s another to actively kill and mutilate immediately upon the restraint of a soul.

    Again, brilliant episode, fitting together beautifully and proving once again how awesome Supernatural still is! Thanks for sharing and loving the show, cast & crew as much as I do!

    B.J.

    • blinderd8 permalink
      March 30, 2014 12:54 pm

      Your comment about how close any of us might come to being violent because of not having a soul is exactly one of the threads of the series. What differentiates humans from other creatures is consciousness of consequences. Certainly, Sam was kept in check by Dean when Sam had no soul, but Billy seems to indicate that without a soul the most base instinct or resentment turns violent. These folks in 9.17 had nobody to keep them in check. And Sam is well, a bit different from most humans until this season when he is so emotional and reactive- even to crime scenes that would not have made him wince in the past.

      • bjxmas permalink
        March 30, 2014 1:30 pm

        I agree, one of the ongoing themes of Supernatural is that line between right and wrong, and good and evil. I think the soul focus gives it a more substantial essence but I’ve always thought of it as their humanity. Different name, same concept! When Dean first got the Mark of Cain my first thought was this was going to test his humanity, push him towards the darkside and make the struggle even harder.

        It’s a great storyline for Dean because he’s always seemed a little harder, more focused on killing evil and more defined in what he thought was evil. They’ve introduced it in the past, with his torturing souls in Hell and with the purity of Purgatory, but this plot places it in more immediate terms and it seems like they’re going to dig deeper into what makes a man strong or heroic and how close can you get before you cross the line into brutality and vengeance. I’ve always believed in Dean’s humanity and I think his spirit will fight, but I also see Sam being the voice (his Samwise Gamgee) supporting him and pulling him back when the force of the blade grows too strong.

        It’s interesting that early on in the season, Robbie Thompson inferred that Dean was Sam’s Samwise and he made a point of saying that Samwise, to him, was the central character of LOTR! Maybe it was to throw us off track or, at the time, seemed designed to lessen the complaints that Dean was always Sam’s support and deserved is own purpose.

        The Mark of Cain story gives us that and I am so thankful for how it is developing and what’s to come for Dean and Jensen. Any time Supernatural can shake things up and change the playing field is a win in my book.

        B.J.

      • blinderd8 permalink
        March 30, 2014 6:30 pm

        And the episode where Dean admits first to not sleeping, he has been watching Rudy= a clear reference to LOTR and Crowley refers to the Blade as Dean’s precious. Pop culture.

  13. March 29, 2014 9:02 pm

    ” He knows just how to needle Dean, just how close to the line to go in order to goad him forward, just how much skewed affection to infuse into his taunts to keep Dean from walking away. There’s a charge to their banter that’s just this side of sexual, and Crowley knows how to walk that line, how far to push Dean with aspersions of masculinity and comments that teasingly sexualize his love for Sam and his twisted partnership with Crowley alike. ”

    I’m glad you pointed this out. Dean’s always done exceptionally well with finding casual hookups if so desires, and yet he sometimes acts surprised when someone is blatantly flirting. Does he forget that he’s atractive/sexy? I don’t know. But Crowley’s banter, I think, is..soothing? .. to Dean. Like he’s on confident, comfortable ground and it’s in the direction of positive vice all the negative self-talk he’s got on a loop in his head. Dean would never fall for blatant flattery, but this tone Crowley takes with him… I think it’s a smart angle.

    I’m not articulating this as well as I’d like, but even though I know Dean is not remotely attracted to Crowley (and frankly, vice-a-versa… I think Dean scares the shit out of Crowley), the flirty banter keeps Dean’s attention and I think that’s what you are pointing out.

    I was also stunned by how Jensen showed the weight of what Abaddon is doing settle onto him. It was a mid-distant shot but you could see it in the look on his face and the slump of his shoulders. Dean’s got no problem with a suicide mission as we know. It’s just now the stakes are even higher — he’s GOING to have to take up the blade and kill Abaddon. And he’s not seeing anyway out of it that does not risk him slipping back into the guy you tortured “for the pleasure of it” in Hell. That’s gotta be freaking him out.

  14. March 30, 2014 2:03 am

    I may be in the minority but I loved loved loved Sam hunting alone. He was smart, effective and pretty bad ass. He didn’t get knocked out or stangled. So i’d be ok with the boys being seperated and on differnt hunts more often. I’d love it more if Sam got to hunt with another hunter…someone who has to get to know Sam. Becomes a real friend to him.

    I’m also burnt out on the brother angst/conflict so I know thats affecting me pretty bad. How do reconcile your love for the brothers’ interaction/relationship vs the need for it (the conflict) to stop last year?

    Misha did an amazing job directing. I’d love to see him behind the helm again!

    • Rick D permalink
      March 31, 2014 7:11 am

      Well, I’m in the minority with you- I loved Sam hunting alone this ep. Loved seeing Sam stand up for the waitress, be a badass, and releasing the souls was kinda cool. I couldn’t help thinking, “Wow, this is what Sam would always be like, if a certain someone wasn’t always doubting his abilities.”

      Misha must have done a great job directing, because he didn’t have much to work with from the script. I found all the flashbacks and Dean & Crowley flapping their lips at each other to be a really boring snoozefest, and I doubt I’d give this ep a second viewing, unless I fast forwarded thru all the boring parts.

  15. editor burns permalink
    March 30, 2014 2:49 am

    As always, I’m happy to read your reviews and the comments of your followers, which add so much depth and perspective to the experience of every episode of SPN. I wish I could so intelligently discuss the show; I always end up just distracted by silly things. Like Sam’s hair. (You know, in the sixties they had huge curlers to get that flip; sometimes they used frozen orange juice cans…did Sam? Hm. I wonder…) Or the whole Freudian thing about cue balls and Dean’s really long stick. (Sometimes a pool cue is just a pool cue…but not when Dean is holding it that way ohmygod…) And Crowley–oh, Crowley, how can you be such a manipulative, egocentric demon and yet so adorable and loveable? You’re like a perverted Muppet.

    And yes, the episode was a visual feast. I think my personal fav was the one where Sam was driving to investigate; it was perfectly framed with the road and the fields and the trees and the mountains like a damn painting–with the Impala rumbling through. Just a quick flash of a nothing scene that felt like *something* because it was so visually beautiful. It reminded me of something Cas would have noticed. See what my Father has made? And the Winchesters, always moving through his work, constantly a part of it and somehow, always, the most interesting thing to see.

    Sigh. I just love this show, and the characters, and the people who make it, and the fans who make it better with gifs and art and fic and “stuff”. And these reviews. It’s not just a television show, it’s a communal experience, and I thank God there are people who are able to discuss it with intelligence and depth so that vapid people (like me) can get more out of it each week.

    • bjxmas permalink
      March 30, 2014 5:04 am

      I think your comment was quite insightful and entertaining, pointing out things I immensely enjoyed in the episode and offering a rich perspective on why we do love all things Supernatural! It is definitely an experience to be shared and if the people physically around me don’t want to talk incessantly about Show, then I always have my online pals to converse with and share the squee! I think Misha and Serge did a wonderful job of spotlighting Baby! Any time we get a picture postcard of her, either waiting for her boys as she is parked, or most especially roaring down the blacktop, I get a thrill.

      B.J.

      • March 30, 2014 5:07 pm

        Amen! I love Baby. I covet Baby. I want to WD40 Baby’s squeaky doors when Dean’s not looking because those hinges make me cringe. Honestly–the first time I noticed the show and stopped to pay attention (because Mommies don’t often watch tv, we’re just passing through on the way to yet another crises) it was because of Baby’s throaty rumble. (And Metallica.) I stopped and turned to see Jensen and Jared climbing out of that beautiful car and…well. Now I have lots of laundry and it can sit there.My boys are on!

  16. March 30, 2014 5:20 pm

    Completely agree about Misha’s directing style, and thanks for stating so clearly why the “slow down” feel was so important. I felt we got a careful, intimate look at Dean, and at Sam, in this episode, with the currents of the brother bond, Sam’s worry for Dean, Dean’s distance, ever-present, yet there’s exploration of Sam and Dean as themselves and their inner workings. Which I feel has been neglected on both sides–Dean, getting lost in being Sam’s savior as his identity (and his lack of self worth increasing) and Sam, his pov obscured by various possessions and things messing with his head. I felt especially we got a lot of *Sam* being Sam, himself. and I loved that. It was also especially poignant that he was the one to release the souls back to their home bodies, after RoboSam. This Dean arc, likewise, while scary is also very satisfying so far. That shot of Dean gripping the table, hand shaking, the pool scene (I will deny how many times I rewatch that! Deny everything!), his temptation and his fear/loathing towards the blade. I’m riveted. Also, and I can’t really clarify why, but despite Sam and Dean being physically separate in the episode, the interaction (indirect and direct) between them somehow managed to be more satisfying than it has been in a while. It’s kind of why I feel developing them each as characters is so needed lately, and far from harming the bro bond, it will only give more spark to the interaction.

    Crowley knows how to push every button. We saw him do it with Cas in S6 too.

    I enjoyed Josie and Henry’s back story as well. The MoL backhistory stuff is so fascinating and adds a lot of richness to the world of SPN, and both actors brought a lot with their screentime.

    Social media has changed a lot over the past few seasons, and I think this was just a convergence of things–Misha’s twitter popularity, and some changes just in the past year (Nielsen twitter ratings for example). It’s not that big show promotion doesn’t happen before, but this was a notable “event.” It was fun. Misha’s SPN directing debut was beautiful, he really has a touch. I hope he directs again!

    • Rick D permalink
      March 31, 2014 7:23 am

      I definitely agree about the brother’s separation- if this is what we get from it, I’m all for it.

      As much credit as Misha’s directing deserves, it always seems a shame to have it for this waste of a an ep. As nice a backstory is, for the ep as a whole- we didn’t learn anything and made zero progress on the story.

      • blinderd8 permalink
        March 31, 2014 12:59 pm

        Respectfully RickD, I think there was progress in the story. It further unwrapped Dean’s struggle with the MoC and the Dean that still protects a novice hunter(demon). Crowley’s true designs and feigned addiction(we think he kicked the habit)/manipulation just deepened the reason we love/hate him as a character. It explored how Abaddon is working her take over.This ep. got Sam on board for the Abaddon quest so the two can work together rather than Sam just going after Gadreel on his own and Dean after Abaddon. All plot lines need to collide at some point. While they are at separate tables, the focus is united. This episode also demonstrated just how great a hunter Sam can be and perhaps he has new thoughts about his survival having an upside. As he says to Julia, information she shared now, saved lives, he too is in that position. “Let it go” the past that is and contribute to the now to save people. He seems to be reflective when he says it to her. Is she redeemed from her non action? Redemption another current thread. The back story brought us Henry dedicating himself to “a noble cause” as does Sam by the end of the episode. The banter btwn Crowley and Dean is classic but further shows Dean’s struggle with all things Crowley, the MoC, his older brother advice kicking in, but that there is no physical action demonstrates just how neutralized he has been with all the action going on internally. He is also not sleeping or eating and drink has had not affect- is he immune? Changing from his human capabilities? The flashbacks to soulless Sam are not gratuitous.Not bashing Sam or Dean. IMHO I thought the writing was clever- use the back story to flesh out where Sam and Dean are in their POV about themselves and their missions. We can disagree as we all see different things in the show.

  17. April 1, 2014 2:30 am

    I’m on the fence re: this episode.

    I, like you, do not like to see the brothers separated. I think this separation this episode hit a little harder than it has previously simply because the brothers have been emotionally separated for so long. Essentially this entire season – entirely too long! For the entire first half of Season 9, we had Dean not really interacting with Sam, but with Gadreel. And now Sam & Dean are so at odds with each other, their interactions are just…blah. Kinda soulless in fact.

    I really miss the brotherly dynamic – just the simple brother jabs & jokes speckled through an episode. It is all so doom & gloom between them, & because the brother relationship really sets the tone for the entire show, SPN has just felt way to doom & gloom for me. I feel like I harp on this every single episode, but I really struggle to understand WHY the writers are doing this. I don’t feel like separating the brothers – physically & emotionally – is doing SPN any favors, not with its current execution.

    While some here have mentioned that they enjoyed Sam hunting alone, I was kinda bothered by it – because it seems so incredibly stupid. It has been proved time & time again on the show, that back-up, when hunting, is essential. Yeah, Sam rocked it this time, but it almost didn’t end awesomely for Sam. I do really appreciate that this episode really showcased just how much the MoC was affecting Dean though – no way, in his right mind, would Dean allow Sam to hunt alone like that, especially without seemingly an ounce of concern for him.

    I LOVED Crowley this episode. He is such a delicious bad guy. I was on the fence about his intentions earlier in the season, but now I am convinced he has been playing Dean (and Sam) like a finely tuned fiddle. I look forward to his continued scheming & can’t wait to see what his endgame REALLY is.

    While I thought the Henry & Josie background was somewhat intriguing, I was more intrigued by the souls – I REALLY hope the whole soul dynamic is explored more here. I’m quite fascinated by Abaddon’s need for souls, as well as the subtle hints that the MoC could be affecting Dean’s soul – he is very reminiscent of soulless!Sam, not to mention the whole not sleeping thing.

    So while this episode was not a favorite, it definitely opened up some possible story points that do really excite me.

  18. Hannah permalink
    April 2, 2014 4:06 pm

    I think it’s interesting to see how the MoC is taking away all of Dean’s coping/escape mechanisms except for violence. We’ve seen a few times that he isn’t sleeping (and I’m not sure he’s actually slept at all since he got the Mark). He also apparently can’t get drunk–I don’t really have much experience with alcohol, but even I can tell that with the amount Dean consumed this episode, he at least should have been affected in some way. And we haven’t seen him interested in women lately (besides some mild flirting), which is another good ol’ Dean escape mechanism. So it seems like the MoC is not only drawing him towards violence, it’s taking away all his other methods of not-drowning in that great big black hole inside him EXCEPT violence. And Dean is intimately acquainted with his own attraction to violence–how it felt to ‘enjoy’ torturing souls in Hell, and how Purgatory felt ‘pure’–and that’s why I think he’s scared (terrified, actually) of what he might do under the Mark’s influence. And yet he knows it’s the only way to kill Abbadon, so he’ll pick up the Blade anyway… and then???? I love seeing everyone’s theories on how this will play out in the end. Thanks for your lovely thoughts!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s