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How Far Will We Go To Love a Monster? Supernatural’s ‘Reichenbach’

October 17, 2014
Graphic by @izulec1992

Graphic by @izulec1992

At first I was tempted to just make this review a capslocked EEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!! That’s exactly how I felt after watching ‘Reichenbach’, not exactly coherent but filled with an intense desire to scream from the rooftops that our Show is the BEST Show and always will be. I’m sure my neighbors would have loved that. It’s Friday now and I’ve calmed down enough to be slightly more articulate and to think a little more coherently, though all of that inarticulate squee is still very much there.

By the way, what’s your guess on this episode’s title? I’d like to think it was for the philosopher Hans Reichenbach, who apparently was one of the first professors to encourage open discussion and debate (the way most of us who teach do now). Is the title an invitation to fandom to engage in some free-spirited discussion and debate about what’s really going on in Supernatural this season? I like to think so. Of course it apparently could also just be evidence that Andrew Dabb is a Sherlock (or possibly a SuperWhoLock) fan.

I usually have things to quibble about no matter how much I love an episode, but honestly, there isn’t anything of significance for me to quibble about this week. No, I don’t like Sam being so easy to get a jump on repeatedly, but I also think that this is a depleted, desperate Sam. He’s been frantically searching for his brother (and clearly not taking care of himself) for months and he’s distracted with his single-minded focus on finding Dean. No wonder Cole keeps surprising him. I wasn’t a fan of the cheesy instrumental music when Hannah tenderly laid his coat over a sleeping Cas – but let’s face it, if I were her, I would have done the same thing, and probably had the same affectionate look on my face.

xxxx 10.02 casnap

So yeah, no problem.

And that just leaves the good. And holy hell, was there ever a lot of good!

First, I loved the roller coaster pacing. Last week’s episode seemed to drag at times, and in all fairness, maybe that’s inevitable with a series opener that had to set up the rest of the story arc. But this week? It was like watching SPN in the early seasons, when I would scream at the clock and try to yell it into slowing down because NOOOOO, I needed more! That’s how this felt, and every time there was a commercial and I looked at the time I wanted to lodge a protest. It went too fast and was too damn good, and I needed more than 42 minutes, damn it!

I loved the way the episode looked. Serge Ladouceur and Jerry Wanek, has the color palette changed? Are the colors less saturated now, more like they were in the early seasons? Quite a few fans noticed and suggested this, and I’m hoping it’s intentional. I only knew it looked good, but didn’t know why. It looked like Supernatural, if that makes any sense. And that, obviously, is a good thing.

There were also some little things that were simply wonderful. Crowley’s minion demon with the fabulous hair. The little girl talking gleefully about her snot rocket. I’m not sure why people just up and leave their kids with Cas all the time, but I loved the interaction between the two of them.

Loved Castiel's tenderness with the little girl

Loved Castiel’s tenderness with the little girl

The tiny red pitchfork in Crowley’s drink was a nice touch. I love you, Show.

Dean’s break-up with Crowley was also priceless. I knew it was coming, but I had no idea it would be so delicious. I wonder if Crowley ever really believed that he could call Demon!Dean to heel, or if this is all a Crowley long con anyway. Regardless, his ordering Dean to go off and kill for him, and Dean offing the client instead of the wife, was perfect. Dean standing up to Crowley and shoving him to the floor? Holy crap. I don’t know about Crowley, but I was terrified! How forceful you are, Brad! Err, Dean.

Crowley seems to have a genuine soft spot for Dean, even if he’s also perfectly happy to use him for his own goals. The scene played intentionally like a stereotypical break-up, complete with “It’s not me, it’s you.” And Crowley morosely staring at their cowboy selfies on his phone while ‘Lonely Girl’ plays in the background. This is the kind of scene I love my Show for. Oh Crowley. How can I still feel for you when most of the time you’re such a dick?

Cap @SOB_DWinchester

Cap @SOB_DWinchester

My daughter actually wishes Show would make Crowley totally dark so she could have a villain to actually be scared of, and I can see the value in that (the YED, for example, was truly terrifying and there was no ambivalence when Dean finally killed him). On the other hand, I’m enjoying all the nuance, even if it isn’t horrifying in the Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad sense. I think Mark Sheppard is partly to blame for my affection for Crowley too. Or maybe I can just relate to anyone who’s besotted with Dean Winchester.

I complained last time (and more than a few times in S9) about how the angel story line hasn’t been integrated, and how much it jars me at times to switch back and forth between the arcs. In this episode, however, I thought it worked. First, I was a lot more interested in scenes which focused on just Cas and Hannah (with a little Metatron thrown in), instead of a bunch of angels I don’t know and don’t care about. Second, I sort of like the dynamic between them, though I didn’t expect to.

I liked Hannah this week – her growing affection for Cas, which she doesn’t completely understand, and her reluctant re-consideration of humans. Yes, it’s a theme we’ve seen the angels struggle with before, but I can buy it being an individual journey for many of them, and one they don’t tackle until confronted with the issue directly.

xxxx 10.02 cashan

I can also understand her protective skepticism about Cas hanging out with Sam and Dean.

Cas: Sam and Dean may be a little rough around the edges, but they’re the best men I’ve ever known. And they’re my friends.

This reminder comes at a time when I need to hear it, because right now Dean is a bit more than rough around the edges. And yet I keep wanting to insist, as Cas does, that he’s a good man, has always been a good man. That’s part of what we’re all struggling with right now, both the characters onscreen and the audience watching. How do you reconcile the heroic past of a beloved character with their trip to the dark side? How do you let go of your love for them – or can you? This is Sam’s struggle as much as mine, and now that he knows, I suspect it will be Castiel’s struggle too.

Cas and Hannah are also providing commentary on Dean and Sam’s story arc, which integrates the two story lines conceptually. Hannah, out of love, tries to make a deal with Metatron to save Cas. He refuses, saying that deals born of desperation always end in blood and tears. Hannah asks is she’s supposed to just let him die, and Castiel replies yes.

Cas: It’s my life. It’s my choice. And I don’t want this.

The image of Cas standing up to Metatron, shot between the bars, was powerful.

xxxx 10.02 cas4

That’s a comment on Season 9 certainly, and on previous seasons before that. The Winchesters have always struggled with how far to go to save each other, and it’s one of the reasons I’m hooked on this Show. But I want it to be acknowledged. I loved that scene, and loved both Cas and Hannah in it. This episode showed us Castiel’s humanity, so evident in his interaction with the little girl and his open, vulnerable smile. And it reminded us of his heroism too, and of all that he’s learned. I like Cas best with that mix of vulnerability and wisdom, and I’m enjoying watching Hannah discover more and more things to like about him too. I also like that Show is explicitly asking the hard questions about free will and choice and love, and not offering easy answers.

Also, I really enjoyed a glimpse of badass Hannah when Metatron tries some awkward flirting and insists she just wants to be dominated (by Cas….hmmm…) I wasn’t expecting her to reach out and slam his head against the bars, and damned if her blue eyes didn’t flash fire in that moment. Whew! Nice job, Erica Carroll.

Metatron got in some good lines too. Curtis Armstrong continues to pull off being amusing, annoying and terrifying all at once. “Asstiel” made me snicker, his taunting of Hannah made me cheer her response, and his shouts of “Dead man walking” following Castiel down the deserted stone hallways of Heaven’s jail was chilling.

How so creepy, Curtis Armstrong??

How so creepy, Curtis Armstrong??

Kudos to director Thomas J. Wright too for the amazing juxtaposed fight scenes in the episode, Cole whaling on poor Sam and Dean beating up the poor bouncer dude. Having just heard Jensen talk at length about the way they choreograph fight scenes, how they’re like a dance with a partner, I watched those scenes play out with his voice in my head. There’s a beauty to them, staged as they are, that the juxtaposition made even more obvious.

At the same time, my emotional reaction to watching Sam be brutally beaten changed my reaction to watching Dean beat up the bouncer – the bouncer guy was a stranger, not a character I would usually care about. But he was also an innocent human doing his job and didn’t deserve the beat-down any more than Sam did. The decision to play them in parallel really emphasized Dean’s lack of humanity, and put him squarely in the wrong. It was another poke at the fragile illusion I keep trying to cling to, that Dean, my favorite character of all time, is “not that bad.” Kudos, Mr. Wright. Way to sharpen the knife that’s trying to shatter that illusion.

Jared broke my heart in these scenes. He vividly portrayed Sam’s physical agony, and at the same time his unwavering courage and determination. I loved Sam Winchester so much in these moments, and that love for Sam made the violence truly horrifying. Not in the detached sort of way that we sometimes view horror movies, but with a real life sick-to-your-stomach revulsion. It’s the way we should feel about violence, and I like that Show reminds us of this.

So much pain and fear in the first shot — so much rage and determination in the second. Kudos, Jared.

xxxx 10.02 sam hurt

xxxx 10.02 sam

Those scenes were also a way to start teasing the monster/human (false) dichotomy. Is Dean more the monster, or is Cole, never mind his biological humanity? Or are they both, and I just don’t want to see it in the character I like to see as a hero?

I was just discussing this scene with my daughter, who found what Cole said about confronting monsters in Darfur one of the most interesting moments in the episode. Because really, when you think about it, the ‘monsters’ that Cole was describing are more terrifying than some of the monsters the Winchesters are hunting. Vampires and werewolves? I think I’m more terrified of ISIS and ebola right now actually, so I believe Cole when he says he’s seen monsters.

Daughter: I expected Sam, the almost-went-to-law-school-to-save-the-world guy, to stop fighting Cole and say “You know what, you’re right? Untie me, I’m going to med school to fight ebola….”

She’s always more critical than I am, but that made me laugh.

Dean and Lester provide another exploration of the theme. The character went from darkly amusing to just plain hateful rather quickly, and the moment he called Dean a punk ass demon, I knew he was done for. (Also he called Dean a freak, which oddly did my heart good to hear, since it’s usually Sam who has that term thrown at him). The frightening thing is, when I knew Dean was going to kill him? I was glad. I wanted it to be him, instead of the unfaithful wife. In that moment, I lost sight of the fact of that guy’s humanity with terrifying ease. And isn’t that what it means to be monstrous? It’s the excuse for all sorts of violence, after all – viewing someone as less than human.

Those two scenes together had a hell of a lot more to say than I realized at first viewing.

Cole (Travis Aaron Wade) remains an interesting character, and I like that he’s got shades of grey to him too. Like John Winchester, he cares about his family, but he’s also willing to leave them for the sake of his revenge-fueled quest. I get the feeling he was truly ready to die when he knew he couldn’t kill Dean, without a thought for what that would do to his wife or child. And I certainly hated him when he was beating on Sam – was he really going to use that hammer?? Is Cole, despite his humanity, what we would describe as a man or a monster?

xxxx 10.02 cole

On the other hand, he had one of my favorite lines of the night.

“Every night… I close my eyes and all I can see is your brother.”

Umm, me too. Though I think the images might be slightly different.

And finally, this episode brought the Winchesters back together. Having the brothers separated at the end of S9 meant that they were, in our minds, separated throughout the hiatus too. That long stretch of time worked to make us as viewers feel as desperate as Sam for him to find Dean. It’s been too long, we’ve waited too long – so when Sam finally walks into that bar, I was bouncing with anticipation. Of course, at the same time, I found myself near panicked, not knowing what would happen. Unlike last week, I wasn’t spoiled for much of anything, which I’m convinced is the best way to watch the Show.

Apparently Jared and Jensen also enforced some real-life separation to put them in the headspace that Sam and Dean were in. Jared tweeted that they did their own prep separately from each other to mimic the brothers’ separation. That tweet made me oddly emotional. I get a bit choked up every time I hear how much they care about this Show and how seriously they take the Show and their characters. And it worked. That scene SO worked.

The fact that Dean is just sitting there before Sam comes in, playing the piano and contemplating his own demonic nature as he slices his palm and watches it heal, made the scene even more poignant. I couldn’t help but read it as a glimpse of vulnerability, of indecision – as Dean pondering Crowley’s challenge to choose a side.

xxxx 10.02 piano3

There’s something about a man playing a piano that feels like vulnerability anyway – it didn’t seem like something a demon would do. Or maybe it seemed like something human Dean would do. It’s a quiet scene, and Dean’s face is unlined, relaxed, almost wistful. He looks like he’s waiting for something, longing for something, and I want it to be his brother. And his humanity.

Then Sam is there, and Dean’s quiet “Hiya Sam” keeps up the illusion I’m clinging to. For a few minutes anyway. And oh, Sam’s face when he finally finds Dean. When he sees his brother “alive” for the first time in months, after watching Dean die in his arms. After placing his cold, dead, lifeless body on the bed in the bunker. Imagine the mix of feelings he must have experienced — and somehow Padalecki conveys them all. Break my heart, why don’t you?

'Hiya, Sam...'

‘Hiya, Sam…’

The reunion. Oh Sam.

The reunion. Oh Sam.

When Dean gets up and says “I told you to let me go,” I was still hopeful, still wanting Dean to respond to Sam as Dean. Wanting to believe that Dean said that for Sam’s own good, as a way of protecting him. Something the Dean I love has always done.

Sam: You know I can’t do that… You don’t have to do this. We can fix it.

Dean: You don’t know what I’ve done. Maybe I have it coming.

Sam: I don’t care. You’re my brother and I’m here to take you home.

I lost it then, grabbing for the box of tissues that I always have at the ready when I’m watching this Show. As much as I hated Season 9 sometimes for where it took the brothers and how it drove a wedge between them – as much as I longed for Sam to tell Dean that yes, they are brothers, they’ll always be brothers – finally hearing it now, after so long, was like an avalanche of emotions. YES!

xxxx 10.02 sam3

There was never a time that I believed that Sam didn’t consider Dean his brother, but Dean believed it, and that hurt even more. Add to that Sam’s use of the word “home” for the bunker and I was overcome with emotion. Remember when Sam wasn’t so sure? Remember when Dean was so happy to finally have a home of his own, and so wanting Sam to feel that way too?

How powerful and terrible that Sam is there now, acknowledging their brotherhood and their home, and Dean is no longer at a place where he can feel it. His taunting repetition of Sam’s heartfelt words, with the dig that it sounded like a Lifetime movie, hit me so damn hard.

Dean taunts Sam. Ouch.

Dean taunts Sam. Ouch.

Dean: Cause right now I’m doing all I can not to come over there and rip your throat out.

That line just about made me fall to the floor. It was said with such sinister intent, almost growled. And that look on his face as he stares his brother down! Then he kept right on talking.

Dean: With my teeth.

When he adds the ‘with my teeth,’ he pokes his tongue through his teeth, and damned if it isn’t like he’s tasting it already. I had goosebumps. And fear wasn’t the only reason.

Too bad Cole interrupted that scene, though the Dean and Cole fight scene was also amazing. Demon!Dean toying with Cole was a disturbing mix of charming and scary as hell. With a burst of funny added in: Dean wins for the best line of the episode when he quotes The Princess Bride right in the middle of the knock-down-drag-out fight with Cole. I nearly choked on a fit of unexpected laughter. Leave it to Supernatural to mix it up like this so perfectly.

@rosewow22

@rosewow22

When we got back to Sam and Dean the confrontation just got more interesting. And hey, holy water actually worked for once! How many times has someone thrown holy water in Sam or Dean’s face when they come back from the dead – and of course there’s never a reaction. This time, it worked like a charm!

I loved that scene for more than the vindication of holy water finally being useful though. It was the first physical confrontation between Sam and Dean since Dean became a demon, and it was so charged the air in my living room was practically sizzling. I can’t imagine what was happening on set – were the canvas chairs spontaneously igniting into flames? Because there was so much heat between Sam and Dean, I feel certain something bit the dust. Sam using his smarts to overpower Dean with holy water, then wrenching his arm up to slap on the cuffs. And Dean flailing backwards with the other arm, playing right into Sam’s hands as he slapped on the other. Was that half intentional on Dean’s part? Did a part of him want to be caught? Or was he so enraged that he wasn’t thinking straight and lashed out blindly?

I honestly don’t know, but the air was sizzling anyway.

“Stop! Stop it, it’s over” Sam says, and Dean growls at him, bared teeth and all.

And that look that Dean gave Sam as he realized his brother had overpowered him? I didn’t know whether to run away screaming or go get a cold drink.

xxxx 10.02 deansamcapt

xxxx 10.02 deansamcapt2

It’s fascinating to see a Demon!Dean story line playing out in canon when I’ve read so much fanfiction that explored the dynamic between the brothers when Dean is a demon. So far, the canon version is remarkably similar to much of the fic, though I have no doubt they’ll diverge shortly. It adds an interesting twist to the viewing, and in some ways makes it even more interesting to see what these (canon) writers will do with the situation that so many fan writers have explored.

Padalecki is doing a fabulous job of making us feel Sam’s emotions – his determination, his fatigue, and his longing for his brother. He wants Dean back, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get him. I love that Sam, and I missed him terribly last season. Seeing that determination on Sam’s face and hearing him tell Dean he’s not giving up on him is everything I’ve been hoping for.

And Ackles is doing an amazing job portraying this version of Dean. He could have just played it dark dark dark, made Demon!Dean evil and terrifying. And he is terrifying, no question. The way he toyed with Cole as they were fighting, like a predator – a true cat and mouse game where you know who’s going to win. It was both disturbing and disturbingly hot. His cruel jabs at Sam were just painful, making fun of his brother’ sincerity and caring – all the things that human Dean would have given his right arm to hear. Demon!Dean can be ruthless, no question.

But Ackles is also playing it with so much nuance, offering tiny glimpses of what seems like Dean again and again, only to pull back and deny it, that I’m still as enthralled with the character as I’ve ever been. It’s maddening, crazy-making, and won’t let me give up hope. I constantly feel knocked off balance, not sure why Dean is doing what he’s doing, or how much I should let myself believe in his lingering humanity. Am I just being played for a fool? Is Sam? How brilliant of you, Show, to put me in this position.

I’ve been pondering why I’m so invested in believing that Dean is still Dean, that his humanity is still there. Wondering if I’m grasping at straws or seeing things that aren’t there, because I want to. This episode, combined with what Jensen said in Toronto, makes me think that’s exactly what Show wants me to be doing. It wants me wondering, it wants me off balance. Supernatural has always been an exploration of what it means to be human and what it means to be a monster, and has always intentionally blurred the lines between the two. It’s not a dichotomy, not on the Show and not in real life. Good people can do monstrous things and those we define as ‘monsters’ can do good. And I think that’s scary to us. We’re more comfortable with our false dichotomy that allows us to take the moral high ground and dole out punishment without guilt to the ‘monstrous’.

I love that Show is questioning that, blurring the lines with the very character who many of us define as a hero. Because he’s a demon now, does that mean he’s entirely monstrous? That demons are so different than humans? It has rarely been that black and white on Supernatural – not for demons or for angels or for humans. But I don’t think the complexity has ever been so obvious as it is now that it’s Dean Winchester we’re seeing as a demon.

In counterpoint, my daughter wishes that Show had the guts to really go there, to turn Dean Winchester as dark as Buffy turned Angel when he went bad. To really make us confront how much true evil we’re willing to accept in someone we call a hero. She makes an interesting point. If Show weren’t leaving some of Demon!Dean’s decisions up for interpretation – did he just kill asshole Lester because the idiot insulted him or because he didn’t want to obey Crowley?

Dean glares at Crowley. I shudder.

Dean glares at Crowley. I shudder.

Crowley stares back. Hmm.

Crowley stares back. Hmm.

Or was there a part of Dean who didn’t want to kill the woman and still wants to be the protector? (Gotta say, the look on Dean’s face when he shoved the first blade into Lester was absolutely chilling – he looked like he was enjoying that kill thoroughly…)

It’s up for interpretation though. Did he leave Sam for Sam’s own good or because he just doesn’t give a damn? We don’t know, and Show is making his behavior ambiguous enough that we can draw our own conclusions. But would we be doing this anyway, even if Show wasn’t throwing out hints/red herrings? Would I want so badly for Dean to be Dean that I’d see ambiguity anyway, and explain away evidence to the contrary? If Demon!Dean truly was a misogynistic murderous unfeeling asshole, how would I feel? Now that would be gutsy. And would be a courageous examination of the Show’s own commentary on masculinity and violence too. But I’m enjoying the way they’re playing it nuanced and letting me stew in my own confusion. For me, at least, the challenge to examine my own definition of monster is working.

I feel like there will be more hard questions to come. How dark can someone go and then come back from that? Is redemption always possible, and how much leeway will we allow before saying no, you’ve gone too far? And what is it that can bring someone back from that darkness? I hope Show is setting it up that love is the only thing – it brought Cain back, at least for a while. Now it’s Sam’s love that will be put to the test, and damn, I am SO ready for that. Will his love for Dean be enough to turn him away from the darkness? Will humanity be the side Dean chooses? And will we, the audience, accept him back as a hero despite the fact that we’ve seen firsthand his flaws and his darkness?

The fact that Sam still believes in Dean, still believes that there’s something of his brother in there, was both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Dean denies it, coming up with perfectly plausible reasons why what he did in sparing Cole’s life was far from mercy. Insisting he doesn’t care about the Impala.

Dean: It’s just a car.

Fandom: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Sam is the audience here, his pov is ours – and just like us, he’s clinging to the belief that Dean is still Dean. And that Sam can save him.

Once again we end with that terrifying and provocative line.

Dean: What I’m gonna do to you Sammy?…. Well that ain’t gonna be mercy either.

xxxx 10.02 deancar

xxxx 10.02 sam2

Once again that meant I ended up in a puddle on the floor with too many conflicting emotions to sort out (and still torn between running away screaming and getting that cold drink). And desperate for it to be next Tuesday!

I stayed up for the west coast feed , which Jared, Erica, Osric and Guy Bee live tweeted. I’m glad I did, though Jared’s tweets did nothing to calm me down. In fact they made me reach for the tissues all over again.

Fan: What happened to saving people, hunting things, the family business? Are we going to see any of that this season?

Jarpad: uhhhh….YES!!! Be patient, I gotta save Dean first!😉 #SPNFamily

I jumped up and screamed at that one. Yes! Save him Sam! Err, Jared. Also, the character bleed makes me unreasonably happy.

Jarpad: the Winchesters will always go to bat for each other, in their own special way. Their relationship proves that. #SPNFamily

That it does. To say that I’m excited for the rest of this season would be an understatement. And next week, we have Jensen directing and more Sam and Dean confrontation. After hearing Jensen talk about directing that pivotal scene like a cat and mouse game, I am on pins and needles trying to make it to Tuesday. Bring it!

–Lynn
To read more about Supernatural, check out
“Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls” and “Fan Phenomena
Supernatural” at the links at the top of this page

Caps from midnight-road.livejournal.com and The CW

38 Comments leave one →
  1. blinderd8 permalink
    October 17, 2014 6:14 pm

    Couldn’t agree with you more on all points. The change in make-up on Dean makes him a bit waxy or is it just my set?

  2. October 17, 2014 6:42 pm

    Oh Lynn, you perfectly summed up exactly how I felt this episode! Dean’s Inigo Montoya line was sheer perfection (Well Done Andrew Dabb!) because I was thinking exactly that about Cole’s character! When Sam said “home” I just about came apart at the seams! He now thinks of the bunker as HOME!! *sob* And what can I say about my boy Cas…I can’t stop alternating between wanting to soothe him and wanting to tuck him into bed to cuddle…I mean…get him well *wink*. The snot rocket scene had me laughing and awwwwwing just like everyone. And while I haven’t disliked Hannah, I wasn’t too sure about trusting her but I love a strong woman who’s not afraid to reach out and smack the bad guy’s head against the bars when he’s being a dick! As for Crowley, I adore Mark Sheppard and Crowley always seems to get the best lines! I can’t help but think he’s got a long game playing out here. There was that moment after Dean agreed to the “one time deal” of killing the wife for Crowley soul deal and Crowley says “Oh there’s one more thing you should know” and then we don’t hear what that was!!! Was it that the husband (Lester) was having an affair? Something to do with Sam? What was it?? WHAT??? Ugh! I stand and applaud Andrew Dabb on writing such a fan-freaking-tastic episode and bow at the feet of the cast and crew for once again delivering such an awe inspiring show! I’ll just be over here, holding my breath until Tuesday!

  3. chantalclaire permalink
    October 17, 2014 8:28 pm

    Like you I loved this episode. It tore me to shreds. Demon Dean is, to me, scary because he maintains some of the humour. How can one joke while being so brutal. It’s an indication of his total lack of burden for the people around him affected by his actions. Levity in the face of cruelty is so wrong. But the Show does it so right. Maybe I’m wrong to enjoy it so much. lol
    Ackles is scaring the crap out me with his portrayal of Deamon Dean. The subtle changes in his demeanour and the cold stares are uncomfortably frightening considering they used to have a depth of courageous feeling behind them and now all I see is baseness.
    Padalecki is also doing a fantastic job of showing us Sam’s desperation, bodily weakened state as a result of trying to save his big brother whilst still maintaining his fortitude and core strenth of belief in his purpose. Sam has often been a little hypocritical in his judgements of Dean’s actions.
    I think Dean’s explanation of why he let Cole live was brilliant. It revealed a cruel ness to Deamon Dean. It pushed the perversion of his soul to a whole new level for me. It was no longer just drinking, girls and violence. That little speech showed a level of cruelty that can only come from evil.
    Sorry for the long comment, I think I needed to write this. Please continue with the fantastic reviews and observations.
    BTW I was at the Toronto con and agree with everything your post stated. It was the BEST con I have ever attended and has left me with a feeling of affinity with the Supernatural family. Cheers!

  4. ariana permalink
    October 17, 2014 8:56 pm

    This was such an amazing episode and damn near perfect. Your review was spot on and said everything i was feeling so thank you and bravo! My only complaint has to do with Cole…if he was 13 years old eleven years ago, then that would make him 24 now. Why did they hire an actor who is older than Jared and Jensen for this role? His son is nine (he also played Tyler in the Plucky’s episode) did Cole become a father at 15? Also his military career seems extensive although still possible if he enlisted right out of highschool. I know it sounds like I’m nitpicking and maybe I am. I loved this episode so much but this aspect of the Cole story is not working for me. I wonder if he was cast before the whole story was hashed out. Whatever the case may be, it seems sloppy to me. Supernatural fans are dedicated and we pay attention. Anyway thanks!

    • KimL permalink
      October 18, 2014 3:39 pm

      I had the same complaint about the timeline. That bugged me as well. Maybe the kid isn’t Cole’s bio? I hate when stuff like that throws me out of an otherwise wonderful episode. Did anyone notice that nice looked a lot like Ruby’s demon knife? Because it shouldn’t be….

      • magichappening permalink
        October 18, 2014 6:40 pm

        I hadn’t even thought of Cole’s age! Good point, Ariana and Kim L🙂 I shall go with Kim’s interepretation: it’s not Cole’s biological kid.

  5. October 17, 2014 9:49 pm

    Yes, the violence was horrifying in this episode. I think the juxtaposition of things like the pitchfork in Crowley’s drink and the Inigo Montoya line helps with that–we relax for a minute or two and then there’s less distance between us and the person who gets hit in the next scene.

  6. TexasGreatGrams permalink
    October 18, 2014 12:06 am

    Once again, Lynn, you have summed up my feelings about the current episode of Show so much better than I ever could have. We always seem to be on the same page when it comes to this AMAZING incomparable Show. Jensen and Jared both should win Emmy’s for just the 1st 2 episodes. Their interpretation of Dean and Sam make us cry and send shivers down our spine and make them so real-that’s why we love them so much. Each year is more intense-acting, writing, cinematography, music-than the last (with the exception of season 7 with the Leviathans). Having met the real Jensen and Jared at a couple of the cons just intensifies my admiration and wonder at their performances as the brothers. You just gotta love them. I know we should not wish our lives away by wishing next Tuesday at 9/8c was here, but it is very difficult to wait 7 days each week, especially for episode 3 which has me really excitedly anticipatory. It has been a privilege meeting you just to let me know there are others who are as invested in this marvelous Show as am I. Thanks for your books and your weekly analysis.

  7. October 18, 2014 12:52 am

    Thank you Ariana for pointing out the age discrepancy of the character Cole and the actor. In the premiere I assumed he was between 35 and 40 and if anything he would’ve been playing older. There’s no way this guy is 25 or younger. It’s like watching the “teenagers” on 90210.

    I too was amazed by the morphed fight scenes. That pulled me in and I stayed captive the whole episode. Including that Dean growl. I’m not sure what part of my cave girl lizard brain responded to that but, um, yeah that was weirdly hot.

    Which is disturbing because I’m not holding out hope for Dean’s humanity. He was getting progressively darker before he died. I can’t imagine death improved the situation.

    Giving up the Blade was a bad idea. I think that Sam is going to need it to cure Dean. I doubt it’s as simple as using it to cut the mark off of him, but I’m betting that they need to get that back from Crowley. And that Sam-Crowley showdown will be epic.

    • blinderd8 permalink
      October 19, 2014 4:11 pm

      Sam knows how to cure a demon with blood but listening to the truth which is revealed during the process is going to hurt… a lot.

      • October 19, 2014 10:59 pm

        Even though Sam can cure a demon thanks to the trials and the exorcism tape, that line about the “mark not letting him go” makes me think that there will be some other step needed. But I am hoping to see the forced conversation between the brothers… If it happens. I want to see it, but I’m willing to bet we don’t get to. Their emotional standstill is like unresolved sexual tension – when it finally happens it will either have to change their dynamic (again) or be ignored. I’d bet on ignored, which should create more angsty moments for the rest of the season. Which isn’t a terrible thing plotwise.

      • October 20, 2014 12:51 pm

        oh I think Dean will let loose on Sam from years of frustration. Sort of like Crowley’s rank of his need to be loved, but Dean’s will be more of the pent up resentment. Now, not everything that is said while still in a demon state can be taken as totally true,just like when Sam is saying things and down deep he means something else. Dean reaching out to Sam during the process will clear the air, but only make it more dense once Dean is back to mostly himself. He still has the mark, but without the blade, so get ready for a hear pang.

  8. October 18, 2014 1:00 am

    Your review makes me think about how Castiel’s storyline parallels Dean’s, since from Cas we’re getting so many reminders of what’s good about humanity (love, art, hope, free will) as he “teaches” Hannah about what’s worth living (and dying) for vs. the chipping away at humanity that Dean seems to be doing — slowly eroding our faith in everything that makes him a hero (rescuing and protecting the helpless, loving and being loyal to friends and family). As useless as Castiel’s storyline sometimes feels, it does serve the purpose of helping us remember why we love Dean so much.

  9. October 18, 2014 1:25 am

    I watched 10:01 and 10:02 back to back on Wednesday, and all I can say is Oh. My. God.
    I love seeing good characters go evil, so I was really looking forward to Demon!Dean, but he surprised me at times. I didn’t expect him to leave Sam for dead, and I certainly didn’t expect him to want to kill Sam himself. The “I’ll rip your throat out” line chilled me to the bone, in a good way.
    I love the tension between Demon!Dean and Sam, honestly it reads like a hurt/comfort fic. I didn’t mind the brothers fighting in season 9, relationship worth its salt goes through as many ‘downs’ as ‘ups’. But in season nine Sam and Dean were cold to each other, this season they’re burning hot. Sam’s desperate to save Dean, Dean’s desperate to kill Sam. Sam and Dean are sparking off of each other, and it’s passion in every sense of the word.
    And can we please just give Jared an Emmy?! I don’t always think he’s the best at showing a character’s inner monologue, but in the first two episodes he was spot-on. When he say Dean in the convenience store we saw his relief that Dean was alive, then his crushing disappointment as Dean’s eyes flashed back. When Cole had Dean’s phone, we could see how he was desperate to talk to Dean, only barely holding himself back. And when he finally confronted Dean we saw how much he wanted to hug Dean and know that his brother was alive – and how much it killed him that he couldn’t.
    I really like the Sam that we’re seeing so far. Sam’s lost Dean three times so far, in season 3, 8, and now 10. In S3 he ran after his brother, trying to make a deal, trying to get more powerful through Ruby. In S8 he ran away from his brother, unable to take the pain anymore. This time he’s runner after Dean again, but he’s not the same self-destructive Sam that was in S4. This Sam knows how to live without Dean, can function without Dean (because of what he learned in S8), but he wants his brother by his side more than anything.
    I’m really intrigued by Cole’s character. He’ll be a great antagonist to Dean and Sam, and I love the way they set up the character- a kickass, ballsy guy who’s devoted to his family. Sound familiar?
    And now for Cas. Honey, I love you, but the writers don’t know how to deal with you. Cas has done nothing in the past two episodes other than drive around with Hannah and get in a fight. I loved the scene with a kid, but I like seeing Cas as an active force in the brother’s life. I don’t know why the writers think that they need to give him a separate storyline. We’ve done the ‘angels fighting for power’ plot in season 5, season 6, season 8, season 9…STAAAPPP.
    Also I can’t describe how much I DO NOT WANT Cas/Hannah. I’m not against the idea of giving Cas a love interest, but how about someone that isn’t as flat as cardboard? Her scene with Metratron was powerful and funny, but I have no other reasons to like her. Can we give Cas an interesting storyline, please?
    But I can’t complain too much, it’s early in the season. The first two episodes were gripping from start to finish. Mostly I want to see the same fire between Sam and Dean continue throughout the rest of the season- instead of characters passively being pulled along for the ride (Sam and Cas in, as much as I love it, season nine) I want to see characters desperately fighting for what they want.

    • October 18, 2014 2:22 am

      Excellent points.

      I agree that Cole is an interesting character. I should’ve pointed that out as well as his unbelievable age. I love the twist that he wasn’t a hunter. It’s like seeing what John Winchester would’ve done had he not gone to Missouri and learned about the supernatural.

      • October 18, 2014 2:33 am

        Yes! Or Dean in seasons 1 and two.

      • blinderd8 permalink
        October 19, 2014 4:14 pm

        or if Dean had not gone back for Sam.

  10. October 18, 2014 4:28 am

    Excellent recap, Lynn. I was a mess after that episode as well. Have not yet had a chance to rewatch (that’s on the schedule for this weekend), but am looking forward to it. Loving this season so far!

  11. Jensen fan permalink
    October 18, 2014 7:37 am

    Jensen Ackles deserves an Emmy …its high time now! he is just so awesome and amazing..love the way he is playing demon dean and he is making every scenes awesome and enjoyable,! love him so much

  12. Dee permalink
    October 18, 2014 5:01 pm

    Thank you so much, Lynn, for a very enjoyable and spot on recap of the ep. I look forward to more. Glad to find like-minded people to share this obsession with. Oddly I knew nothing about Supernatural before this summer and then power watched all 9 seasons. Can you imagine how insane that makes a person? What a lovely addiction 😉

    • ariana permalink
      October 18, 2014 6:36 pm

      I discovered Supernatural the summer before and marathoned seasons 1-8 in 3 weeks, and yes its crazy but in the best possible way. So glad to be part of the SPNfamily and to welcome you as well 😆

      • magichappening permalink
        October 18, 2014 6:37 pm

        Wow! And welcome!!

      • KimL permalink
        October 19, 2014 5:27 pm

        Me too! and I’ve watched it 3 times since. I have decided I’m nuts (in a good way)🙂

  13. magichappening permalink
    October 18, 2014 6:37 pm

    I LOVED the episode and thanks for the, as always, thoughtful and thought-provoking review, Lynn🙂 My reactions:

    ‘…episode’s title?’ My POV: the fall (s), a la Sherlock: DemonDean’s fall, Cole’s fall, Crowley’s fall and even Hannah’s fall.

    ‘I loved the roller coaster pacing’. Me too!

    ‘I loved the way the episode looked… has the color palette hanged? … It looked like Supernatural…’ Seconded and thirded!

    ‘I wasn’t spoiled for much of anything… the best way to watch the Show.’ Completely agree!
    ‘Dean shoving (Crowley) to the floor?’ Exxxxxcellent.

    ‘My daughter actually wishes Crowley would go totally dark…’ Yes, please!

    ‘…angel story line … thought it worked. I liked Hannah this week …’ Agreed. I think individual angels work. Angel wars don’t. Tis impossible to one-up the Apocalypse!

    Metatron: I have to say I wish Metatron had been killed at the end of Season 9, not Abbadon. So much more could have been done with the Queen and Alaina is phenomenal.

    ‘Kudos to director … for the amazing juxtaposed fight scenes…decision to play them in parallel …emphasized Dean’s lack of humanity, and put him squarely in the wrong… fragile illusion I keep trying to cling to, that Dean is “not that bad.” ‘ Good point!

    ‘…love for Sam made the violence truly horrifying…real life sick-to-your-stomach revulsion. It’s the way we should feel about violence…’ Agreed! Particularly as Sam’s scene was the distressingly familiar torture scene. I am a Supernatural fan through and through, but the seemingly blithe use of these scenes in seasons past (INCLUDING those done by the Winchesters) really bothers me.

    ‘Lester … went from darkly amusing to just plain hateful rather quickly …(Also he called Dean a freak, which oddly did my heart good to hear…’ Really good scene.

    ‘…frightening thing is, when I knew Dean was going to kill him? I was glad… I lost sight of the fact of that guy’s humanity with terrifying ease. And isn’t that what it means to be monstrous? Hadn’t thought of it like that. Disturbing point, well made.

    ‘Cole remains … interesting … and I like that he’s got shades of grey to him too. Like John Winchester…’ hadn’t thought of that! Goes to Nietsche’s famous line/one of Supernatural’s core themes: “… if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you”.

    ‘The fact that Dean is just sitting there before Sam comes in, playing the piano … a glimpse of vulnerability, of indecision … to choose a side.’ Fascinating!

    ‘When he adds the ‘with my teeth,’ he pokes his tongue through his teeth…like he’s tasting it already..’ Reminded me of Yellow Eyes.

    ‘Dean and Cole fight scene was also amazing…Dean toying with Cole was a disturbing mix of charming… scary …funny … Leave it to Supernatural…’ Yes!

    ‘Dean growls …And that look that Dean gave Sam as he realized his brother had overpowered him?’ Terrifying to see the smirking mask torn off. Major kudos, Mr Ackles.

    ‘Padalecki is doing a fabulous job … (Sam’s) determination, his fatigue, and his longing for his brother…I love that Sam, and I missed him terribly last season.’ So did I!

    ‘And Ackles is doing an amazing job portraying this version of Dean…The way he toyed with Cole as they were fighting… It was both disturbing and disturbingly hot.’ Agreed! Phew!

    A couple of times in the episode, Jensen’s Demon Dean’s expressions reminded me of Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men. Psychopathic and chilling.

    ‘Supernatural has always been an exploration of what it means to be human and what it means to be a monster…Good people can do monstrous things and those we define as ‘monsters’ can do good. And I think that’s scary to us.’ Exactly.

    ‘But Ackles is also playing it with so much nuance, offering tiny glimpses of what seems like Dean again and again, only to pull back and deny it, that I’m still as enthralled with the character as I’ve ever been.’ Seconded, third-ed, fourth-ed and fifth-ed!

    ‘If Demon!Dean truly was a misogynistic murderous unfeeling asshole, how would I feel? Now that would be gutsy… would be a courageous examination of the Show’s own commentary on masculinity and violence…’ Would it though? What would be the objective of that? This is the only point I’m not sure I agree with you on!

    ‘Dean: It’s just a car.’ Ouch!

    ‘Dean: What I’m gonna do to you Sammy?…. Well that ain’t gonna be mercy either.’ *shudder*

    • magichappening permalink
      October 18, 2014 6:42 pm

      Can’t believe after all that I left something out! But did anyone notice that Cole’s father was killed on June 21st? Summer solstice, right? Could be significant…
      (alright, now I’m really done!)

  14. October 18, 2014 8:48 pm

    Outstanding review as always.

    Question: Are you sure Dean didn’t feel the brotherhood/home comment OR did he recognize it was what former Dean always wanted and his laugh was a combination of bitterness and irony. Bitterness because Sam uses THAT argument after saying they weren’t brothers and the bunker wasn’t his home in S9. Note, Sam’s intentions in S9 don’t matter in this case. It’s what Dean took away from the conflict of S9. Irony because if Dean presumes Sam is sincere, it’s too late in Dean’s mind to go back. That way lies pain.

    In short, Dean may act indifferent to Sam, but I think he has to work to maintain that indifference.

    • blinderd8 permalink
      October 19, 2014 4:23 pm

      he is not indifferent to Sam. He doesn’t like him or want to be with him for anything. He is not his brother nor does he wish to be in his current form and yet Sam powers on.

  15. Sara B permalink
    October 18, 2014 8:54 pm

    Well if I’m honest, I enjoyed ‘Reichenbach’ a lot more than I enjoyed the season premiere. That’s not to say I didn’t like the premiere, just ‘Black’, for me, was a little… slow moving. I was kind of interested in the angel storyline and I enjoyed the Sam scenes (smart Sam on the phone with Crowley <3), but although I liked the Dean & Crowley scenes, there didn't seem to be enough going on with them. It was just Dean drinking and singing, I think I wanted more action out of Demon Dean. Like I was expecting way more from him.

    'Reichenbach' gave me exactly what I had wanted to see in the premiere, I think. We got to see this darker version of Dean and that's kind of what I want. Of course I want the Dean we know and love back…. eventually, but if we're going to have a demon Dean then I want him to be really pretty dark (shout out to season 2, 'Folsom Prison Blues' which has gotten me saying "really pretty [word]" all the time!!😉 Anyway…). I want to see him doing things that our Dean wouldn't do, saying things our Dean wouldn't say, because he's a demon and he doesn't care.

    Or doesn't he?

    Like you, I love the ambiguity of the show. How it leaves us questioning… just about everything. You just never know what exactly is going on with a character, we're left to consider and try and work things out and maybe eventually we'll be given the answer. I was just reading your interview with Richard Speight Jr about Gabriel's return last season. That moment in S9 is exactly the same. Gabriel appeared, we think he's alive, then it turns out the whole situation has been set up by Metatron and then Gabe disappears with a meaningful look and a click, then he's gone and we're left to wonder "was that really Gabriel?". We still have no real answer in the show (though Richard & the writers have said he is. For the record, I think it was too! I refuse to believe he's dead!)

    I think one of the most memorable things for me about this episode was those scenes at the beginning where Cole was torturing Sam and Dean was beating up the bouncer. The way the show shifted between the two scenes was perfect – they worked so well merged together like that. But yes, they were pretty horrific, especially the one with Sam and Cole. I cringed when Cole pressed down on Sam's injured arm – partly, I think, because it's JARED'S injured arm too and though I'm certain they wouldn't actually hurt Jared, I kind of felt like it could've been Jared in pain.

    I absolutely loved Dean's attitude throughout this episode too! How he was angry and dangerous at times, but he was also snarky and it was so deliciously wonderful. Even when it should've been horrifying and terrifying, the way Jensen would say certain things would add humour. I'm thinking of things like the Princess Bride reference and also the "Did you miss?" after mentioning how Cole had said he was going to put a bullet in Sam. It shouldn't have been funny… but it kind of was. How twisted is that?! Thanks show for making me like this!😉

    There's so much more I could say on the episode (I haven't mentioned Cas and Crowley), but I'm going to have to leave it here. All in all, I loved this weeks episode!🙂

    Oh! There is one more thing! If you can, I would recommend not watching the promos before. I watched the promos before the premiere and it did kind of ruin things for me. With episode 2, however, I somehow missed the promos so I wasn't expecting anything and it definitely improved my viewing of the episode! So far, I've managed to avoid the episode 3 promo!🙂

  16. KimL permalink
    October 19, 2014 5:31 pm

    I should also say, Lynn really glad I found your site, thank you for the space to discuss! Great recap/review

  17. Laura in Denver permalink
    October 21, 2014 6:06 pm

    I am new to this web site, like there is a lot of good commentary. Very positive toward the show we all seemed to love. Can’t wait for the new episode tonight and the dialog to follow!

  18. October 23, 2014 1:32 am

    So, I’m wondering if Crowley’s strong brotherly feelings for Dean could have something to do with his being humanized with Sam’s blood and not with purified blood. I think it would be cool if we found out that his feelings aren’t really his, but Sam’s. Thanks for the great analysis, Lynn. I just discovered your site this year after attending my first SPN convention in Vegas and now I’m addicted.

  19. October 28, 2014 12:45 am

    I found that Crowley treated Dean like the unruly child of divorced parents! “Here, Ive had enough of him, you take him back” !!

    Also, I dont believe that Dean killed Cole’s father. I hope that is a reveal later in the season, because otherwise, if that is it for Cole Vs Dean, it is a waste of a good sub – story.

    • October 28, 2014 1:19 pm

      I feel that Cole could be a sneaky way to introduce a spin off. How and why Cole became a hunter. I too think it was Cole’s perception as a child walking in after the fact and seeing Dean standing over his dead Dad; Chances are that Dean killed the monster that killed Cole’s Dad but COle didn’t see that piece. Dean as a demon couldn’t differentiate any of the particulars so he couldnt’t or wouldn’t clarify for Cole. Unless Cole’s heritage is monstr dad, but at 13 I think he might know and Cole is unaware of the entire Supernatural realm until Sam’s reveal. This would be a much better way to introduce a spin off b/c 1. it shows the making of a hunter 2. it gives fans a chance to absorb the idea of a spnoff and it follows the canon of the show without inventing separate lore. Vengeance against a demon who killed a loved one, research on supernatural, devoted family man,already trained as a warrior courtesy of the US military. Confrontation betwn Dean and Cole would be a perfect set up.

  20. amusawale permalink
    November 30, 2014 9:20 pm

    Actually at the end of the episode where Charlie goes away with Dorothy, Sam says “there’s no place like home” implying that he does look at the bunker as home. furthermore his explanation as to why he doesn’t want to call it home (that things always turn bad anywhere that he tries to make a home) seems to imply that he wasn’t calling the bunker ‘home’ because he didn’t want it to go bad on them.
    furthermore I have to disagree with the notion that one can only love a character when they conform to one’s notion of “good”. the fact that Dean turned “bad” because he’s a demon doesn’t mean you can’t love him. he’s still Dean. clearly Sam sees that even over all the bad – he’s still recognisably Dean. and that’s the remarkable bit; that good or bad, sick or sin, the love remains. its not conditional on Dean being the hero. But even through Dean’s darkness you can see that Sam is so used to Dean being the one who will pull the chestnuts out of the fire that he simply doesn’t believe that Dean (somewhere deep down) doesn’t want to come with him and be healed. Because that’s what Dean does. and he’s standing there with one good hand and a pair of handcuffs, probably expecting Dean to put them on himself – I really wonder what would have happened if Cole hadn’t arrived then. However the point is, Sam’s view of Dean hasn’t changed just because Dean became a Demon. he still sees him as his beloved brother regardless of ANYTHING. And that’s the beauty of Supernatural. Unconditional Love.

  21. December 1, 2014 5:05 pm

    just a postscript to my other post. Its the Dean that Dean sees in Sam’s eyes that will bring him back. that’s why he needs Sam. He needs to see the Dean that Sam sees in Sam’s eyes. that’s how Sam ‘keeps him human’. As for Sam, he just needs Dean to want him more than he wants anyone else in his life. Crowley was right about that. Dean is the only parent he knows. Dean is mommy. Dean is Daddy. Dean is the best big brother in the world. And even when he leaves Dean, he ends up coming back by himself because he needs Dean to know how to go on; when Dean is absent, Sam is lost. That’s why Ruby got to him when Dean was in hell, that’s why he ‘hit a dog’ when Dean was in purgatory. and that’s why he wasn’t really ever mad at Dean – even about the possession. he was more mad at Dean leaving.
    is this extremely confusing?

    • blinderd8 permalink
      December 2, 2014 12:58 pm

      Can love conquer all is the question of the ages.When Dean leaves Sam on his quest for the jawbone, Sam acknowledges Dean’s need to leave but makes the comment that it has nothing to do with the Gadreel deception, rather it is Dean’s choice to leave that has Sam steamed up. Bet Dean was steamed up when Sam left for Stanford as well. It’s just how they roll.

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