We are a little over halfway through the season and I think it’s time to sum up where we’ve been, where we’re going and add some secondary thoughts I’ve had about some of the episodes I’ve reviewed.
These are good solid openers for the season. Dean is a demon, hanging out with Crowley In Las Vegas, while Sam is on the hunt for him. I already gave a summation of my thoughts on these particular episodes.
This episode was written by Buckner and Ross-Leming, who are not two of my favorite writers, as they’ve tended to play fast and loose with the mythology, the plot, and the characters. But it turns out that this is a fairly good episode. It’s definitely in my top ten for the season, which means that maybe their previous mess-ups could be attributed to just laziness. Over the past two years, we’ve seen the show runners pull a tighter rein on these two, consequently, their storytelling abilities have improved. Sam gets to have a couple of moments in this episode, and even though I’m bi-bro, I still applaud anytime Sam gets the last word. The only real problem I had with this episode is the rather abrupt ending, with Castiel, swooping in to rescue Sam, at the last second
Let’s be clear, I don’t hate this episode but its never going to be one of my favorites, despite its many good points. The Pros: it passes the Bechdel test with flying colors. It wraps up a dangling story line. It has a direct bearing on the mythology of Sam and Dean, with Kate having to kill her sister for going all “wild thing”, after saving her life. Kate having to kill her sister, for being evil, is also a direct callback to the Cain and Abel mythology, with Sam making the choice to save Dean and possibly having to kill or be killed by Dean later.
It’s also a callback to the previous episode with Sam being hunted by Dean through the Bunker, (but as I stated in the above essay, I don’t think Dean was trying too hard to kill Sam. If Dean had really wanted Sam dead, I have no doubt, he would have succeeded.)
The Cons: I hate Kate. I just don’t like her. I was not clamoring for her return, either, although part of me knew it was inevitable. And this episode is strike two for her. The next time she shows up, the Winchesters better kill her, not just tie her up and then leave her alone long enough to escape.
This is definitely one of the livelier and more touching episodes, this season. I was dubious about the idea of the mixing of musical and fan fiction but the writers managed to successfully pull this off. The music wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be and even produced a little bit of eye irritation, at the end, and the show does women a solid, once again, passing the Bechdel Test.
I enjoyed the two young actresses and their interactions with the Winchesters and just how completely unimpressed they were. My only real quibble is that Calliope felt like an afterthought. I’ve noticed that the monster of the week often takes a backseat, to the mythology, in such episodes. Calliope didn’t feel like her presence had any bearing on the brothers relationship or ramifications for later in the season. At least not for me.
And hey! a Chuck/God cameo. It was really nice to see him again. He looked really good.
I think this is one of the weakest episodes this season. It had it’s moments, though but I’m going to put it at the bottom of my list because it was rather boring, plot wise. It started with an interesting premise but ultimately it was just a weak reiteration of the Sam/Dean relationship mythology. The monster was kind of sorry as well. Her family mistreated her by locking her away, so her response, when she gets free, is to choose to be monstrous, and kill everyone, thereby justifying that she should have remained locked up.
There are a couple of surprising family moments, with the son choosing to commit an evil act to save his family. His aim is off by threatening the Winchesters, but his sentiment is correct and its a shout-out to Sam “choosing” to commit evil deeds to save his brother. This is also a callback to my Deanmon essay (and indirectly, Cain), repeated in later episodes, about choosing to be a monster and the performance of evil.
Girls, Girls, Girls
I sort of like this episode for the introduction of Rowena. I think she’s a marvelous foil for Crowley and I kind of like her shady ass. (And yeah, she is extremely shady.) I have no idea what her game is. I suspect she wishes to usurp Crowley and become Queen of Hell. I’ll talk more about Crowley at some later date, but I think it will be very interesting if she gets it.
So far, the episodes this season have been very good about showing women as decision makers who affect the plot, have agency, backstories, and something to talk to each other about besides who is dating who, and this episode is no exception. Its also been a pretty good season for tying the plot lines to the relationship and mythology issues of the season, thereby creating a unifying theme and having the season feel cohesive. And once again, we get a callback to Soul Survivor, with Sam being chased by a raging psychotic and while he’s able to protect himself from the be-spelled woman, he is unable to affect any change in her behavior, just as he couldn’t with Dean in that episode.
A recurring theme this season is Sam being unable to save people, leading the viewers to question if this same theme will play out, between him and Dean, at the season finale. It’s interesting to note that many in the fandom believe that at some point Dean will kill Sam but I disagree. Every opportunity Dean had to kill or physically harm Sam, he chose not do so, including running away from the Bunker, after he became a demon. (See the Deanmon Essay in the link.)
The Things We Left Behind
I consider this to be another of the weaker episodes this season as I’m not a huge Castiel fan, but it was nice watching him go back to see what he could rescue of his host’s former existence. Hanna’s words to him, about how the Angels disrupt the lives of their hosts, is what spurred him to go looking for Claire. I like Claire, okay. I’m not a huge fan, though. I don’t identify with her or her situation and have a difficult time understanding any of her motivations except to think to myself, ” I wouldn’t have done that.” I’m certain there are viewer who understand her better than I do.
I think the plot, which was rather weak and not especially compelling for me, mainly served to put Dean in the position of giving in to the Mark of Cain, especially after we’ve had several conversations in the last couple of episodes about him living with the Mark. I was mostly not very interested in it until the end when Dean succumbed to its power.
The Hunter Games
This is another Buckner-Leming episode. This is not a bad episode for them. Once again I disliked Claire and her ability to blame everyone else for her troubles except herself. I Not for one moment did I think the two people she hired to hurt Dean would be a serious threat to him and I”m glad he didn’t succumb to the Marks power again and kill them.
This is an important episode for really only one reason – Metatron’s phrase about the river ending at the source. I think this is his flowery way of saying that Dean can only be saved by the very same deed that resulted in Cain’s damnation – killing his brother.(It ends as it begins.) I certainly hope there is another way besides that. I hope the brothers are able to outsmart it or get around that prophecy somehow
There’s No Place Like Home
I like Charlie but I don’t think this was a very strong episode. It’s not bad but it could have been much better. Dean was really off his game in this episode because Dark!Charlie just ran rings around him and Dean is usually much, much smarter than that. This is another episode about someone having to deal with the dark side of their personality and is another parallel to the Dean – Mark of Cain story line. In this episode, the option of Dean simply accepting his darkness as a part of who he is and simply trying to live with The Mark, is what’s being presented. These episodes seem to alternate between the idea of curing Dean through killing Sam, or Dean just attempting to live with the Mark, the way Cain did.
About A boy
This episode is, tentatively, a favorite for the season. I really enjoyed it. I liked the riff on Hansel and Gretel that was presented and it was nice seeing the young Dean again. This is another episode exploring Dean’s options for the future and how to deal with the Mark. Since the Mark disappeared when he was reverted to his teenage state, the idea that he could just grow up agai,n was an option on the table. Sam was totes not down with that idea and made his feelings about that clear, at the end of the episode, when he stated, he was just glad to have Dean back.
I haven’t forgotten the witch’s mention of Rowena and the Grand Coven. It will be interesting to know exactly how she betrayed them, if her betrayal had anything to do with Crowley’s birth and why they are chasing her now. What’s going to happen when they catch up to her and is this the reason she wants Crowley’s crown? After all, if she becomes Queen of Hell, that would effectively make her the Grand Coven’s boss, right?
Halt and Catch Fire
I got nothing. A rather ho-hum episode for me.
The Executioner’s Song
I just reviewed this one. I think it’s the best episode of the entire season, so far. Every season has that one stand-out that you just enjoy watching, over and over. I really liked Tim in Psyche, and he did a wonderful job as Cain. He and Jensen have great chemistry and watching the two of them, together again, since First Born, was a real treat.
The mythology and story lines are really shaping up this season, there is a definite through-line of the mythology, and the brothers relationship in every episode. We get callbacks, parallels and reminders all the way back to fifth season. No, this isn’t as good as Kripke’s run, but the past two years are shaping up very nicely.
This has been a good, solid season, so far. The writers have kept hitting their themes again and again, without getting sidetracked by minor issues. What would make this season truly excellent, is a great finale and then I can count season ten as one of my top favorites.
ETA: I forgot to add one of my top favorites! How could I do that?
I loved this episode for the way the writers approached these two older women. The writing in this episode was superb. I love Jodi and it was so much fun to watch her making friends with a person who is the complete opposite of her emotionally, but is every bit as determined and strong as she is. The show has had a real problem, in the past, with its depiction of women. It’s still not perfect. There’s no show that is, but this episode showed that the writers really appeared to be listening to the fans about those issues.
See: Foz Meadows review, on her website, along with mine at this one.