Director Richard Speight Jr. Helms a Wild Ride in Supernatural’s War of the Worlds

There was a new Supernatural episode last week even though in the US that day was the Thanksgiving holiday, which meant I was at a big family gathering and not in charge of what was going to be watched at 8 pm. Lucky for me, I have really considerate family members, because most of us ended up watching my favorite Show. However, I couldn’t exactly tell people not to make a sound (which is how I like to watch Supernatural. I mean, I make a lot of sounds, but the rest of the family should be quiet. What?) I kindly said “oh no, please feel free to keep chatting” when asked, even though I might have been gritting my teeth.

But it turns out that the episode was engaging enough that everyone ended up watching instead of chatting – thanks, I think, to Richard Speight Jr.’s directing. I’ve loved every episode Richard has directed, especially the last two, and especially especially ‘Just My Imagination’.  ‘War of the Worlds’, is not going to go down in history as one of my favorites, but thanks to Richard’s directing there was never a dull moment and I definitely wasn’t bored. It’s just that my favorite episodes have an emotional arc for the Winchesters, some of the brother moments I live for, some psychological insights into the main characters who I care about – something that grabs me and reminds me why I love this show. This episode didn’t have those things, but what it did have is excitement and surprises and reveals and some pretty epic fight scenes. Speight made sure all of that came through and kept me riveted.

We start out with strikingly beautiful images, which were so serene they didn’t look like they belonged on Supernatural. But it’s only Michael invading Lucifer’s brain to see what Earth is all about. Michael is not nice at all, which should be no surprise because angels on Supernatural are just about the most deplorable beings ever. Except for Castiel, who (as is pointed out in this episode) is truly a renegade. This fact about angels was quite confusing to the extended family members who decided to watch with me.

Michael locks Lucifer in an iron maiden and brutally tortures him, Lucifer screaming plaintively.

Family: Uh, I thought you said that guy Michael was an angel.

Me: Oh yeah, he is. Typical.

Family: Typical? And who’s that poor guy screaming and bleeding?

Me: Lucifer.

Family: Wait, the Devil? An angel is torturing the devil??

Me (silently) This was such a bad idea…

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Five for Five? Supernatural Advanced Thanatology

I was once again at a convention for last week’s Supernatural episode, so that meant trying frantically to set up the Family Don’t End With Blood vendor table and then running upstairs to borrow a friend’s hotel room to watch the episode. But this time, the hotel actually had the CW – yay!! So I was sitting perched on my friend’s bed watching all by myself, which didn’t stop me from making a lot of noise at times. Sorry, neighboring hotel rooms!

‘Advanced Thanatology’ is an unusual title for an episode, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one. Season 13 has been making me pretty happy so far, which means I now go into every episode with all my fingers and toes crossed because I desperately want them to keep the quality up. It’s nervewracking to be a fangirl, what can I say? This episode was written by one of the newer writers, Steve Yockey. And guess what? My finger and toe crossing worked! This is the fifth episode of the season, and the fifth one I liked. Woohoo!

We start with an unusually long opening sequence, in which a few foolish kids play out the horror film genre stereotype of ‘never do this unless you want to die’ behaviors. It was scary as hell, so I appreciated that, even though I admit that part way through I started mumbling ‘where are Sam and Dean, come on!’ I know, spoiled Supernatural fan. I just want my boys!

The actor playing Shawn, Seth Isaac Johnson, did an amazing job portraying his character’s terror though – and Alisen Down as his mom totally broke my heart. Someday I really am gonna send a gigantic fruit basket to Supernatural’s casting agency, because not only are the regulars incredible, most of the guest cast is too! The mom and son pair who were this week’s side characters served as the emotional push for Dean’s building sense of failure to go over the edge, because they portrayed fear and grief and loss so vividly. Shawn initially escapes, but he makes the other stereotypical horror film mistake of bringing home one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen – a plague mask from the haunted house of a deceased demented doctor. I was honestly afraid I’d have nightmares that night! Kudos props department, kudos.

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Lucky Season 13 Kicks Off for Supernatural!

 

Supernatural season premiere days are special. There’s so much anticipation and excitement, I swear it must be visible from space! In the early years of the Show, there was a much smaller group of fans who squeed together on the internet, but even then we were all so passionate that the feeling was incredible. Now the rest of the world has caught up – now there’s a special issue of Entertainment Weekly, there’s Jensen on Live, there’s Jared on Kimmel, there are interviews and videos and even the network tweets about the show coming back! That excitement that has always been there is magnified, but the sense of shared passion that has always been there is just the same.

Not every season premiere has been one of my favorite episodes, but this one I loved. The opening montage was excellent, set to the melancholy ‘Nothing Else Matters’ by Metallica as we remember how desolate and alone the Winchesters are as the season begins. (Also, Metallica!) The new title card is equally awesome – I actually gasped out loud when I saw it. (I watched with two kids and a dog, all with strict instructions to be totally silent, so they all grumbled every time I made involuntary noises. Oh well.)

She’s totally a fan

We open on Dean standing over Cas’ body, and Sam trying to communicate with Jack. In other words, right where we left off. Which made me very happy indeed. The times when the season premiere has started with a time jump have never sat well with me. I want to see EVERYTHING, Show, I don’t want you to cut things out!

This should be a surprise to no one at this point, but the cinematography was gorgeous. An early shot of the boys racing down the road in the Impala is especially beautiful and probably as complex to film – the camera behind then beside then finally in front of the car. I’m sure that wasn’t easy to pull off, but it really really worked. Sometimes Supernatural looks more like a feature film than a television show on the CW, which is a credit to all the talented crew members who make that magic happen. And especially to Serge Ladouceur and director Phil Sgriccia, who I am beyond grateful to still have with the show after all these years.

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The British Invasion Indeed – Supernatural 12.17

Here’s one thing you cannot say about last week’s Supernatural episode: “Eh, not much happened…” A lot happened, that’s for sure. Some of it was a shock, some of it wasn’t; some of it I liked; some of it I most definitely did not. It’s a beautiful spring day on the East coast, so let’s start with the good stuff.

1. The return of hunter Eileen Leahy (and actress Shoshannah Stern). I loved the character in her debut episode, as did just about everyone in the fandom, and miracle of miracles, Eileen actually survived the episode, so I was hopeful she’d be back. Eileen is seamlessly integrated back into the narrative, giving the boys some intel that intersects with their current search for Kelly Kline. I loved watching Sam and Dean’s frank appreciation of Eileen and her hunting skills – the genuine pride on their faces as they both said ‘Nice work, Eileen’. I also loved the care they both took to be sure she could see them when they were talking with her via iPad or in person – it’s those little touches that only happen on a show when someone cares. I interviewed Shoshannah after her first episode, and she talked about her choice to have the character read lips as well as she does.

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Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell – Supernatural 12.15

WB/The CW

Last week’s episode of Supernatural had something that never fails to make me a very happy fan indeed: The Winchesters listening to each other and trusting each other and telling each other the truth. THANK YOU, SHOW! (And writer Davy Perez). That alone is enough to make a good episode imho. But actually there was one more thing that will always make me happy – Winchesters in glasses. Is it hot in here?

So let’s talk about what I liked first, and then I’ll get to the things that didn’t quite work for me. I really really loved that last conversation between Sam and Dean, where Sam comes clean about working with the BMoL and Dean, instead of flying off the handle and feeling threatened and betrayed and thus shutting down, instead hears Sam out and they come to an agreement. Dean isn’t anywhere near trusting them – and I don’t think Sam is either – but the brothers are on the same page about cautiously taking what they can from the BMoL while still retaining their independence as hunters. How easy that will be I’m not at all sure, but the important thing is that the brothers are together in the decision. I don’t know if I’ve ever loved Sam more than when he steeled himself and told his brother the truth.

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