Supernatural ‘Exodus’ – Back From the AU and On to the Season Finale!

 

After my epic review of last week’s episode, I’ll try to make this one more concise – which I realize isn’t saying much with the bar that low. Exodus, the penultimate episode of Season 13, began with a lengthy recap, which caused me to start encouraging my television to “come on, get to it, we know what happened last week!”

I suppose it’s possible that someone forgot that Sam Winchester died in the last episode and that Lucifer brought him back and that he has just now walked into the rebel camp – where Sam sees Mary alive and Dean sees Sam alive. But I don’t know that person.

I do love that they pick up right where they left off, which doesn’t happen often enough and which gives the episode an extra sense of urgency and immediacy. Sam hugs Mary, who he’s been trying desperately to get to all season, and Dean stares at Sam over Mary’s shoulder like he almost can’t believe it, with a soft “Sam?”

As soon as Sam and Dean have a moment alone, they both need to reconnect after the intense emotions each has experienced – Dean’s devastation at losing Sam and Sam’s shame and guilt at being brought back by Lucifer and bringing him to the camp.

Sam: I’m sorry about all this.

I held my breath, waiting to see what Dean would say and my heart breaking for Sam – who has absolutely nothing to be sorry about but is always ALWAYS worried about disappointing his big brother.

Dean: Are you good?

Sam: I’m alive, yeah.

Dean: Well then you’ve got nothin’ to apologize for.

Me: OMG YES!

Dean pulls Sam into a hug, wraps him up so very tight, and you can see the moment when Sam lets go of that guilt and self-blame and just leans into it, letting his brother hold him. Realizing that it’s okay, that all Dean cares about is that Sam is alive and well and that’s all that matters.

Dean: I thought I lost you, man.

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Director (and Guest Star) Richard Speight Jr. Brings the Emotions in ‘Unfinished Business’

I am loving the lead up to Supernatural’s Season 13 finale. With four episodes remaining, this week’s ‘Unfinished Business’ kept up the momentum and continued the work of bringing the team together who will try to save the world (from AU Michael or Lucifer or the both of them). We’ve now gotten rid of Asmodeus to clear off the playing field a bit, and by the end of this episode Castiel, Gabriel and Rowena will all be in the bunker with the Winchesters getting ready to save Mary and Jack (oh, and the world).

Richard Speight, Jr. directed this episode, which wouldn’t be OMG AMAZING in itself since he has already directed multiple episodes. What makes it OMG AMAZING is that Richard ended up directing an episode in which he also is the featured guest star! They assign the directing schedule early on, so originally they didn’t know Gabriel would be getting an origin story, or that this would be it. When I sat down with Richard earlier this year after his first directing foray for Season 13, he knew he’d be directing episode 20 but had no idea what it would be. Turns out it’s one that stars his own character, Gabriel! Not one to be easily discouraged, Speight opted to do it anyway. He must have worked his butt off, but he pulled off a tour de force performance as not one guest character, but TWO – Gabriel and Loki!


Two of Speight’s previous directing outings have been favorites of mine, especially Season 11’s ‘Just My Imagination’ and Season 12’s ‘Stuck In The Middle With You’. The latter was beautifully directed and scored, the title and the music and the directing choices a loving tribute to Quentin Tarantino’s films. That was writer Davy Perez who wrote the nod to Tarantino, but Richard told me in an interview at that time that he then knew he could pick up the momentum and roll with it.

Richard: …I decided oh, I can totally go stylized with this, we’re gonna go cinematically stylized, and I can dive in and keep fanning the flames in that direction. So that led to a lot of Western themes that I put in there, and to a Western score that got put in…. I’m a big Sergio Leone fan, and it felt like there was a lot we sort of pulled from that.

‘Unfinished Business’ also lent itself to being cinematically stylized, from some of the filming choices to the set dec to the awesome music score by Jay Gruska that really set the episode apart. Gruska apparently composed original music even for Gabriel’s kazoo solo, which was perfect for the alley fight scene – and also worked as an homage to Supernatural actor and Richard Speight good friend Rob Benedict’s band, Louden Swain (fans who love the band join in with a kazoo chorus on one of their best-loved songs). Gruska’s score was integral to the cinematic styling of this episode, making some of the pivotal scenes more memorable.

In some of the previous episodes he has directed, I’ve been impressed with the beautiful cinematography and lighting and asked Richard about it. His appreciation for director of photography Serge Ladouceur’s talent makes their collaboration a particularly striking one. In War of the Worlds, for example, he said that he’d almost over-shot the sequence with Lucifer in the hanging cage being tormented by Michael because it just looked so cool!
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Things Get Serious with Supernatural ‘Funeralia’

The ominously titled “Funeralia,” written by Steve Yockey and directed by (one of my favorite directors) Nina Lopez-Corrado, kept the momentum going as Supernatural nears the end of Season 13. I had a few quibbles with this episode, but there was quite a bit that I loved a lot.

This episode had only two story lines going, which made the back and forth feel less overwhelming than it sometimes does, and I appreciated that. It let the emotional impact of both story arcs come through much more clearly, and honestly, that’s usually my favorite thing about an episode of this show. Adventure is good, but I watch for the emotional resonance, for the characters who are so real that they feel things – and I can feel with them.

Story line number one was Castiel and the fate of Heaven and the Angels. I am not always very adept at following the angelic story lines because they seem to shift from time to time when I’m not paying enough attention (or maybe that’s why I don’t pay enough attention). In this episode, Naomi reminds Cas (who apparently already knew) that Heaven is powered by angels, and without angels, all the souls housed there will fall to earth as ghosts. Huh? Weren’t there whole seasons when no one – Cas included – was at all concerned about the angel population and everyone seemed very willing to lead armies against other angel factions and kill lots of angels? Was nobody worried about Heaven being out of power as a result?? There was a time when Metatron ejected all the angels from Heaven, so I’m not sure how it kept being powered up then (or maybe he left a few dozen up there?) I also didn’t think it was powered by angels in the first place – wasn’t it powered by souls? And that’s why everyone wanted them from Purgatory? And then there was also the reapers are actually angels thing, which nobody mentioned this time, but I think that went away rather quickly which is probably for the best.

At any rate, I was a bit confused by all that new information about Heaven. Angel and Heaven canon in this Show tend to be a bit flexible, which is not my favorite thing. I was also confused about why no one told Cas that Lucifer was actually in Heaven – and where is he, for that matter? Or Jo?

Those quibbles aside, Misha Collins and Amanda Tapping made the Heaven story line compelling anyway, because they were both so damn good.
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‘The Thing’ – Iconic Supernatural!

 

Two great episodes in a row, Season 13! We’re on a roll! I loved this week’s Supernatural episode for all the reasons that I love the Show itself. There is nothing more iconic Supernatural than one brother losing – and then saving — the other, and that’s exactly what happened in ‘The Thing’. There’s also nothing more iconic for this Show than the Winchesters being brothers, and we got that too – the balance between the humor and the emotional was exactly what I most love about this Show. Thank you, Davy Perez, for writing such an entertaining and satisfying episode.

The episode was chock full of protective Winchesters, which is my favorite flavor. Sometimes they were protecting a monster-god who was going to turn around and try to eat them, but that’s in keeping with the mistaken identity theme that Season 13 has had going from the start. (I’m still not 100% sure about Cas). This time it was Sandy Porter – well, the young woman who used to be Sandy Porter and is now the god Yokoth (Magda Apanowicz). I have to hand it to Yokoth, she played an alarmingly realistic version of woman-who’s-mysteriously-awakened-after-100-years. I suppose she was just biding her time until she figured out who to eat and who to breed with (Dean Winchester because of course it is) but she did a great job of it, looking all mystified and damsel-in-distressy. Sam and Dean, good guys that they are, totally fall for it.

After the opening scene in which Sandy is sacrificed to the tentacle monster by the creepy chanting robe-wearing people (shout out to the VFX wizards who made a tentacle monster genuinely SCARY), Sam and Dean are in the bunker trying to find that elusive last ingredient so they can open a rift of their own and get Mom and Jack back. Sam, ever the diligent researcher, has fallen asleep on the table. So Dean, ever the considerate big brother, proceeds to affix derogatory post it notes all over his back.

Ackles is so good at the subtle facial expressions as Dean tries hard not to wake Sam up, shaking his head no no no when Sam stirs and then resuming his little game when he falls back to sleep. When Sam does wake up, Dean not so casually pretends he was doing absolutely nothing – Sam is clearly suspicious, because he knows his brother, but can’t find anything amiss. It hearkened back to Season 1, when the brothers were constantly playful with each other, and I loved that little interlude.

The fact that Dean is playing this little game only for the benefit of the two of them somehow made it even more endearing. The reminder that no matter what else they’ve been through, Sam and Dean are still and always brothers, was so very welcomed.

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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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