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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Ouch! Supernatural Gets Emotional with Twigs & Twine & Tasha Barnes

Sometimes it’s downright painful being a Supernatural fan! But I don’t mean that as a complaint—this is part of what the Show has always been. Two weeks in a row that were painful is tough to take, there’s no doubt about that, but there was a lot to appreciate in this week’s episode. Even the painful was just done so well! Grudging admiration, Steve Yockey, for the writing, Richard Speight Jr., for the directing, and all the actors for conveying the pain so brilliantly.

Before I do an actual recap, here are some of the reasons for my grudging admiration.

First, I love when an episode is a mirror for the Winchesters. This is a tradition going back all the way to the beginning, something Kripke liked to do and made work extremely well. Sometimes the mirror is a little too large and obvious, but in this case, I didn’t think we were too pounded over the head with it – or maybe I just enjoyed the pounding. Which sounds really wrong.

Max and Alicia, the witch twins, were immediately seen by fans as a mirror of Sam and Dean in their first episode. Their closeness, the way they talked at the same time and finished each other’s sentences, the way they squabbled but clearly always had each other’s backs – all of that reminded us of the Winchester brothers. Sibling pairs often are used in the show as a mirror for the brothers, so that wasn’t a surprise.

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The Evolution of Castiel (and Misha Collins’ Deft Portrayal) in Supernatural 12.10

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Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets is an odd title for a Supernatural episode. It sounds like something I might pick for a big bang fic that I can’t figure out how to title, because it’s unusual and might make people go, huh, I wonder what that one’s about? I sometimes really miss the days of classic rock episode titles. But other than the unusual title, this was a solid episode. I will always prefer the Winchesters onscreen 100% of the time (Jared and Jensen do not appreciate my preference, but this hasn’t deterred me), and I haven’t always been a fan of the angels/heaven storyline in the past, but this episode was less about angels in general and more about the one angel I care about – Cas.

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Much as we’ve been witness to the evolution of Sam and Dean’s views on when killing is justified and when it’s not, increasingly falling into the gray areas instead of black and white, we were able to see some growth in Castiel’s views in this episode. I was chilled by his coldness in the flashback scenes to the execution of Lily’s husband and child (though even then Cas was the only angel who flinched when the human in the house cried out). But other than that flinch, Castiel was at that time truly the ‘good little soldier’ that Dean has often been disparagingly called. The events of the present were a sharp contrast to that way of being, a reminder of how far Cas has come – and that, in contrast to what Ishim believed – that change is in large part due to his relationship with the Winchesters.

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Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox (and Another Great Supernatural Episode!)

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I was nervous about having so many new writers on my favorite show this season, but Thursday’s Supernatural episode proved once again that the new writers are doing their homework. Welcome to the family, Steve Yockey!

This episode had some great 80s rock, some remarkable VFX, some gorgeously lit scenes, and some amazing acting. And yes, the writing was great too. Let me list all the things I liked about this episode (nothing makes me happier than having an actual list!)

Those Are My Boys

I love having a plot that makes sense, and an emotional arc that makes me either reach for the tissues or bite my nails to the quick (or both) – but none of that is satisfying if I don’t recognize the characters I love. The risk with having new writers is that they won’t get it right – after all, eleven seasons of character development is a lot to catch up on! But Yockey clearly did his homework, and fandom very much appreciated it.

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