Sunday, November 20, 2011

Moving Day

I've moved my blog to new digs.  Google blogger has been fine, but I wanted a fresh start and new application to challenge myself - to both narrow and expand the scope of my writing (no, really!), and refine what skills I have.  I've set up my new blog with WordPress, called geekinthebreeze.  Please follow me down the rabbit hole, if you're so inclined.  If not, it's been a pleasure.

I'm not above using lolcats to do my talking for me, either.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I Want My Angel Back

After last week's episode of Supernatural, which was a soaring, sweeping and heart-breaking example of what the show's writers, actors and directors are capable of, I had my doubts that such amazing momentum could continue through the two remaining episodes "Let It Bleed" and "The Man Who Knew Too Much".  I hate it when I'm right about things like this.  Because I'm still trying to figure things out and nothing much happened that we didn't already know would happen, I'll do quick recaps of both episodes and move on to an extended Question section.


"Let It Bleed"

Dean is still angsty about Cas refusing to abandon his deal with Crowley.  Bobby tells the boys that Cas stole a Campbell journal from them that contains more clues about how to open Purgatory.  Fortunately, Bobby (suspicious bastard) had made a copy, and tries to head Cas off by following the same trail.  Meanwhile, Crowley and his demon thugs kidnap Lisa and Ben, increasing Dean's angst by a factor of ten at the very least.  The brothers call Balthazar for help and fill him in on Cas' plan.  Balthazar zaps away to confirm the facts with Cas and decides to keep helping him anyway.  Dean tries to torture Lisa and Ben's location out of a series of demons, and one of them breaks through the Devil's Trap.  Cas shows up and kills the demon and asks Dean, once again, to trust him.  Dean refuses.  Balthazar shows up, having sussed out the location of Lisa and Ben.  He takes the Winchesters there but is unable to enter the building because Crowley had thoroughly angel-proofed it.  Sam immediately gets knocked out and locked in a closet, and Dean kills some demons and sets Lisa and Ben free - except oh no!  Lisa's actually possessed by a demon!  She threatens Ben and taunts Dean and hints yet again that Dean is actually Ben's father, though she immediately says "Just kidding!"  Dean starts to recite the exorcism ritual and Lisa stabs herself so that she'll die once Dean finishes.  He scoops Lisa up, hands Ben a shotgun, and blasts his way out of there, picking Sam up on the way.  They rush Lisa to the hospital but she's dying anyway.  Cas shows up and apologizes, heals Lisa, and erases any memory of Dean from Lisa and Ben's minds.  Oh so sad.  Bobby follows a trail of Lovecraft clues to his former blonde professor lover, who is actually some kind of monster from Purgatory.  Bobby tells her that she's not safe and that Cas is on his way, but she tells him that she can take care of herself.  Cas snatches her easily.

"The Man Who Knew Too Much"

Sam has lost it.  The wall came down when Cas touched him, in order to prevent Bobby and the Winchesters from being able to stop him from opening Purgatory (the blonde monster lady told him how, and she died).  Now Sam is trapped inside his own mind, surrounded by menacing metaphors and whatnot.  Dean is freaking out, but Bobby tells him that this is exactly what Cas wants, so the two of them head out to stop Cas and Crowley.  Balthazar betrayed their location to them, even though he was harboring doubts about going against Cas.  Cas, holding a jar of blood for the ritual, tells Crowley that once they crack open Purgatory, he's not planning on sharing any of the souls with him.  He tells Crowley to flee or die, and Crowley chooses to flee.  Balthazar shows up and Cas kills him for his betrayal.  Crowley comes back with Rafael, however, having made a new deal.  Raf wants the souls from Purgatory, and tells Cas to flee or die.  Cas flees, after giving Raf the jar of blood.  Crowley and Rafael begin the ritual while Dean and Bobby sneak in the back.  They put up a token resistance but Crowley easily subdues them, and continues with the ritual.  It doesn't work.  Cas shows up, looking very smug.  Crowley realizes that Cas must have tricked them and switched jars.  Cas is now full of souls, demonstrating this by glowing really brightly.  Crowley gets his ass out of there, and Cas snaps his fingers and explodes Rafael.  Dean and Bobby cautiously approach Cas and tell him to put the souls back, but Cas refuses (he's totally high as a kite on all these souls).  Sam (having killed a few versions of himself in his mind) sneaks up behind him and stabs him with an angel sword, but it doesn't work.  Cas claims that he's not an angel anymore - he's a newer, better God, and they'd all better bow down to him before he explodes them, too.

Seriously.  That's it.  Let's get to the Questions part.

Questions that still need some freaking answers already:

WTF?!  (I don't think anything needs to be added to this one.)

So...  How about those Heavenly weapons then?  That sure turned out to be a major plot point - NOT!  We saw two of the weapons and heard vague mentions of others.  There was an entire meta-episode dedicated to Balthazar giving those weapons to Cas.  They were really talked up - remember when Cas said that whoever had the weapons won the war?  Now we get to the season finale and they aren't even mentioned.  Look, I'd accept that the weapons were a red herring if the writers had wrapped it all up a little better, but that didn't happen, and so it annoys me.

What about Death?  Death was the one who got Sam's soul back and told Dean that "it's all about the souls."  And it was.  But what does Death care about souls anyway?  He's just interested in the transitional period, if I understand correctly.  If it was important enough for him to mention, wouldn't it have been important enough for him to show up again at some point?  Apparently not.

Really?  The key to Purgatory was conveniently contained in Bobby's former lady friend?  All it took was some blood and a ritual to open the door?  The Lovecraft thing was cool, but really?  My disbelief can be suspended no further.

Exactly what was Crowley expecting to get out of a deal with Rafael?  Remember the whole Apocalypse thing?  How was he expecting to survive if he turned Rafael into a freaking God?  He's cagier than that.

Why, oh why did they have to bring up the Ben-might-really-be-Dean's-son thing AGAIN?  Hasn't this been asked and answered about a bajillion times? 

Speaking of Lisa and Bobby's blonde lady friend, where is the love for any women on this show?  You've got poor defenseless Lisa who needs to be rescued, but first, a little slut-shaming!  You just can't trust these nasty bitches that sleep with other guys, can you?  And stupid blonde monster lady, thinking that she could possibly protect herself, and then spilling her guts like a weak woman would. 

Why kill Balthazar?  He was entertaining, even though he had almost zero character development, and I would have liked to have seen more of him. 

And now we move on to Castiel.  Look, I like my characters to have a little ambiguity, and Supernatural usually excels at highlighting ambiguity.  What is "good"?  What is "evil"?  What is "right", and what is "wrong"?  Etc., etc., etc.  But what I don't like is a fundamental character change within the space of three episodes (at most).  The only way I can make sense of this is that the strain of dealing with Crowley and fighting a losing War in Heaven pushed Cas over the edge, and he's now gone completely mad.  I'm sure the addition of millions of souls didn't help, either.  Whatever it is that is telling Bobby and the Winchesters to bow down, it's not Cas.  Not really.  Maybe something other than the souls slipped through when Cas did the ritual.  Since Supernatural was kind enough to weave H.P. Lovecraft into all of this, I'm just going to cling to my belief that Cas is being possessed by Cthulu until I find out otherwise.

I want my angel back, damnit, and I feel like this whole season has been mis-handled.  The writers neglected Cas' character until "The Man Who Would Be King", and then shoe-horned in this major character flip.  To me, this speaks of either an inablility or lack of interest in introducing new characters and then keeping them.  I'm okay with Cas getting morally gray, but becoming a tyrannical God?  I'm not buying it, and if things don't progress to my satisfaction when the seventh season starts next fall, then my love for Supernatural beyond the fifth season will officially be dead. 

On the bright side, Burn Notice will start up soon.

Next Season:

Who even knows.

Monday, May 9, 2011

You're Still In Debt, Boys (Ungrateful Dicks)

Having had the weekend to process my feelings about Friday's episode of Supernatural (yes, seriously, it was that good.  Anyone who is not currently a fan must Netflix the series immediately.  It's all worth it by Season Four), I've decided to compile a list of all of the good things Castiel has done for Sam, Dean and Bobby, and compare it to a list of all the good things that Sam, Dean and Bobby have done for Castiel.  I am both a nerd and a fan, so this should not surprise anyone.

I'm doing this because I'm still reeling about how hard the Winchesters are being on Cas, and this is clearly a case of the pot calling the kettle black.  Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, and all that.  And judging by the comments on io9's recap, I'm not alone in this.  I'm hoping that we're left with some feeling of redemption for Cas by the end of the season, because he's certainly proved himself in the past.

Good Things Cas Has Done for the Winchesters:

1. Raising Dean from Hell (Season Four, "Lazarus Rising").  In this episode, angels are introduced as the flip side to the demon coin, and Cas' first appearance couldn't be more badass.  He brushes of multiple gunshot wounds and a knife to the heart as if they were nothing, and tells Dean that Heaven has plans for him.  And he introduces himself thusly: "I'm the one who gripped you tight and raised you from Perdition."

2. Sending Dean back in time to get the full backstory on Azazel's history with the Winchesters (Season Four, "In the Beginning").  Dean meets his mother, father, and maternal grandparents.  The deal Mary was forced to make with Azazel explains a lot, and while it was a painful experience for him, it was still good to know.

3. Cas stops Alastair from killing Dean (Season Four, "On the Head of a Pin").  Alastair broke out of the Devil's Trap with covert assistance from Uriel and beat the tar out of Dean.  Cas stabs him before he can finish the job, and gets the tar beat out him, too.

4. Cas gives Dean the means to stop Sam from dealing with Lilith (Season Four, "The Monster at the End of This Book").  Dean is desperate to keep Chuck's prophecy about Sam and Lilith from coming to pass, and Cas gives him a hint (wink wink, nudge nudge) about using an archangel to do it.

5. Cas tries to meet with Dean in order to tell him something important (Season Four, "The Rapture").  This gets his ass dragged back to Heaven by the other angels, where it is implied that they tortured Cas back into obedience.

6. Cas saves Sam and Dean, along with Jimmy's daughter, from demons (Season Four, "The Rapture").  When Cas' vessel, Jimmy, and the Winchesters are cornered by demons, Cas uses Jimmy's daughter as a vessel to save the day.

7. Cas rebels against Heaven at Dean's request, and sends him to Sam in order to prevent him from breaking the final seal, releasing Lucifer (Season Four, "Lucifer Rising").  Sadly, Sam does it anyway.

8. Cas dies trying hold off the archangel, buying time for Dean to stop Sam (Season Four, "Lucifer Rising"). 

9. Cas rescues Sam and Dean from Zachariah by coming back from the dead and killing two angels (Season Five, "Sympathy for the Devil").  When Cas decides on a course of action, he commits to it.  Having come back without knowing exactly how or why, his first instinct is to protect the Winchesters.

10. Cas carves Enochian sigil into the brothers' ribs, thereby hiding them from all angels (Season Five, "Sympathy for the Devil").  A much-needed measure of protection, since Dean is intended to be Michael's vessel and Sam is intended to be Lucifer's.

11. Cas saves Dean from Zachariah, who sent Dean into the future to see the consequences of refusing Michael (Season Five, "The End").  In it, we learn that Dean would become an even bigger asshole and willingly sacrifice Cas and other friends in order to get a shot at Lucifer.

12. Cas tries to rescue the brothers from Gabriel's TV Land, and gives them clues to the Trickster's true identity (Season Five, "Changing Channels").  Since Gabriel is an archangel, he easily thwarts Cas' attempts to save the boys, and sends him somewhere nasty.

13. Cas tracks down Crowley and the Colt (Season Five, "Abandon All Hope...").  Though Cas couldn't retrieve the Colt directly because of Enochian wards on Crowley's house, he led the Winchesters straight to him.

14. Cas is captured by Lucifer and refuses to join him (Season Five, "Abandon All Hope...").  When Cas tries to gather information about the Reapers, he's trapped in holy fire by Lucifer.  Lucifer asks him to join up, and Cas flatly refuses, saying that he won't let Lucifer take Sam as a vessel, and that he'd die before helping him.

15. Cas escapes the holy fire and zaps Sam and Dean away (Season Five, "Abandon All Hope...").  Cas breaks free of the holy fire and rescues the boys before Lucifer finishes summoning Death.

16. Cas meets with Anna, who has escaped from Heaven and is out to kill Sam (Season Five, "The Song Remains the Same").  Even though Anna's plan might be workable, Cas refuses to let her kill Sam, staying loyal to his friend.

17. Cas tracks Anna back to 1978 and takes the Winchesters back in time, despite the fact that he's running on his own steam and the trip weakens him considerably (Season Five, "The Song Remains the Same").

18. Cas helps the Winchesters get the story on the effects of Famine (Season Five, "My Bloody Valentine").  He catches a Cupid for some background, helps Dean lock Sam down, and tries to get Famine's ring before he's sidetracked by a tray of raw meat.

19. Cas, still reeling from the news of God's apathy and battling a truly massive hangover, helps the Winchesters kill the Whore of Babylon (Season Five, "99 Problems").  The Whore casts an Enochin spell on him, causing to collapse.

20. Cas drags Dean to Bobby's to keep him from saying yes to Michael (Season Five, "The Point of No Return"), where he also takes off to fight angels and get to resurrected Adam before Heaven does.  He finds Dean after he escapes and knocks some sense into him.  Then he single-handedly takes out the angels guarding the Beautiful Room to give Sam and Dean the chance to save Adam.  He does this by carving the banishing sigil into his chest, and disappears along with the rest of the angels.

21. Cas cuts Pestilence's ring from his finger, using up the last of his angelic power to resist the demon's assault of disease and saving the Winchesters in the process (Season Five, "Two Minutes to Midnight").  He also helps Sam and Bobby prevent the Croatoan virus from being distributed under the guise of a flu vaccine.

22. Cas banishes Adam/Michael with a Molotov cocktail of holy fire, giving Dean the chance to try to talk to Sam/Lucifer (Season Five, "Swan Song").  Lucifer gets pissed about this and explodes him into a million pieces.

23. Cas comes back to life and heals Dean of the serious pounding Lucifer gave him, and brings Bobby back to life as well (Season Five, "Swan Song").

Good Thing the Winchesters Have Done for Cas:

1. Dean hitting the demon Alastair in the head, preventing him from casting a spell on Cas (Season Four, "Heaven and Hell").  Alastair had Cas against the ropes, and would have banished the angel back to Heaven if Dean hadn't beaned the demon in the head.

2. Sam and Dean allow Cas the opportunity to capture Alastair (Season Four, "Death Takes a Holiday").  They didn't know they were doing it, and probably wouldn't have helped him out if they knew, so this barely counts.

3. Dean agrees to torture Alastair for information (Season Four, "On the Head of a Pin").  Though he was dragged into it against his will, and only agrees because Cas told him how much he wished he didn't have to.

4. Sam stops Alastair from sending Cas back to Heaven (Season Four, "On the Head of a Pin").  This was pretty incidental, as Sam was intending to save Dean anyway, and he drank a lot of demon blood to do it.

5. Sam and Dean keep Cas' vessel, Jimmy, alive long enough for him to drop back into him (Season Four, "The Rapture").  Sort of.  Sam ruins it by letting Jimmy get away, and Dean's plan to rescue Jimmy's family leads to the brothers' capture as well.

6. Dean inspires Cas to rebel and stop the Apocalypse from happening (Season Four, "Lucifer Rising").  Since this ultimately gave Cas a taste of freedom, I'll add it to this list, even though it also resulted in his death.

7. Dean lets Cas borrow his amulet to aid in his search for God (Season Five, "Good God, Y'All!").  Even though he grumbles and craps on Cas' idea in the process.  Cas gives him a little what-for.

8. Dean helps Cas track down and trap Rafael for a little interrogation (Season Five, "Free to Be You and Me").  Sadly, this accomplishes nothing but enlightening us all to what a dick Rafael is.

9. Sam and Dean trap Gabriel and force him to let Cas go (Season Five, "Changing Channels").  Though they first got all the information they could out of Gabriel, they eventually remembered their old buddy Cas.

10. Sam and Dean scrape Cas off the sidewalk after their time-travel and rent him a hotel room in which to recover (Season Five, "The Song Remains the Same").  They also prevent him from falling on the floor when Cas miraculously makes it back to the present.

11. Sam kills Famine, thus freeing Cas from his compulsion to scarf down raw meat (Season Five, "My Bloody Valentine").  So I guess Sam saved Cas from E. coli?

12. Sam and Dean do some recon in Heaven for Cas, since they happen to be dead anyway (Season Five, "Dark Side of the Moon").  They grumble a bit about it, though.

13. Dean kills the Whore of Babylon, supposedly ending the spell she cast on Cas (Season Five, "99 Problems").  He and Sam bring Cas back to the hotel and let him crash there until he recovers.

The Wrap-Up:

These are all just from the fourth and fifth seasons.  I could go on to mention all of the things Cas has done for the Winchesters in the sixth season, including raising Sam from the Cage, all on his own (even though he missed Sam's soul, I think we can cut him some slack because of how difficult it was).  Cas has basically been at their beck and call all season, and they haven't done much to help him out with his Civil War in Heaven.  Yes, Cas has been working with Crowley and keeping it from the Winchesters, but he's trying to keep Rafael from re-starting the Apocalypse.  He's protected them without them even knowing it, and they can't even refrain from condemning him from doing the same thing they've ALL done in the past. 

So, Dean.  Sam.  Bobby.  Cas is still ahead on the good deeds list, and way far ahead on the "dying for you" list.  You all need to grow up.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Price of Freedom

Last night's episode of Supernatural, "The Man Who Would Be King", set out to accomplish two things:

1. Recap the entire season from Castiel's perspective

2. Explain the development of his character into a new, possibly terminal, arc

Rather than recap this episode in as much detail as I have previously, I'll highlight the main themes and expand on them. 


After finishing this episode I was left with the impression that our quiet, unassuming angel has been screaming inside for help during the entirety of season six, and has received none.  Cas narrates his experience of suddenly being resurrected at the end of the fifth season.  He marvels at the fact that the Winchesters, with his and Bobby's help, were able to re-write the ending of the world's oldest story.  He recounts what he learned from his interactions with Sam and Dean - he learned to fight, to stand up for himself, and to make his own decisions.  Sure, this got him exploded by Sam/Lucifer, but he came back.  Cas came back without knowing why, without knowing exactly who brought him back, and without an understanding of what he's supposed to do now.  All he has is faith that God recognized his sacrifices and approved of what he'd done.  After healing Dean of his injuries and bringing Bobby back to life, Cas fought his way back into Hell to raise Sam alone, because he thought it was right.  When he deposited Sam in front of Lisa's house, he admits he should have known something was wrong when Sam walked away from the sight of his brother.

Upon his return to Heaven, Castiel is greeted by some of his fellow angels, who are astonished to see him alive.  They ask him what God wants them to do, and he tries to explain his concept of freedom to them.  He tells them that they are all free to choose their own paths, but the angels are unable to understand.  Angels were made to follow orders, not to make decisions.  Cas meets with Rafael at great personal risk, heady with the experience of having survived the unsurvivable.  Rafael is unmoved by recent events, and instructs Cas to publicly submit to him and renounce his rebellion so that the rest of the angels remember their place.  His first order of business is to release Michael and Lucifer from the Cage, and to fight the Final Battle as they all intended.  Cas refuses to submit and defies Rafael right there, and the archangel kicks him into next week.  It's abundantly clear that Cas cannot defeat him alone.

It's a cruel God that would put someone like Cas in such a situation, and not give him the means to do anything about it.

Faced with the decision to either submit to Rafael or die by his older brother's hand, Cas considers turning to the only person he can think of for help.  He watches Dean rake the leaves in Lisa's yard, invisible, and cannot bring himself to ask more from someone who's already sacrificed so much.  Then Crowley appears with a proposition.  Crowley doesn't want to lose his new position as King of Hell, and if Rafael succeeds in opening the Cage, that's exactly what will happen.  So Crowley invites Cas to draw Heaven into a Civil War to keep Rafael occupied while Crowley searches for Purgatory.  Once Purgatory is found, the two of them will split the souls in order to accomplish their respective goals.  Crowley tells Cas to capitalize on his apparent status as God's chosen and lead all the angels that would follow him into war.

At first Cas would have none of it - and then Crowley offered him a loan of fifty thousand hellbound souls, giving him enough power to strike a blow against Rafael and deliver an ultimatum to Heaven.  So we learn that Cas faked Crowley's death in "Caged Heat", and has given the Winchesters the runaround in their attempts to find the demon now.  He listens in on their conversations and hates himself for it.  He saves them from Crowley's demon hit squad, and threatens to back out of his deal with Crowley if the Winchesters come to harm.

All this time, Cas is plagued with doubt, constantly questioning himself and pouring out his uncertainty to a cold, unfeeling and unresponsive void.

Lying is against Cas' nature, and eventually he slips up and gives himself away.  And though it was Dean who was asking Sam and Bobby to give the angel the benefit of the doubt, it's Dean who lures him into a trap of holy fire.  They demand to know the truth, and as soon as Cas admits that he's been working with Crowley, they don't want to hear any more.  Cas tries to explain himself, trying to start from the beginning by telling Sam that he was the one who raised him from Hell.  Sam angrily cuts him off, demanding to know whether Cas brought him back soul-less on purpose.  Cas is truly hurt that Sam would even think that, and realizes that these mortals could never understand.  Their conversation is interrupted by demons closing in on them, and Cas orders them to run.  Crowley frees Cas from the holy fire and gleefully remarks on how friends can turn on each other.  He even ventures that he and Cas are the new Devil and the new God, working together.  Cas vehemently shoots this idea down, and tells him to leave.

Cas tries to reconcile with Dean, slipping past Bobby's ineffective angel wards with ease.  Dean tells Cas that he should stop working with Crowley, and Cas attempts to explain, yet again, that if he doesn't defeat Rafael then the Apocalypse will come around again.  Dean expands on the idea of how little family he has, and that he thinks of Cas like a brother.  He asks him, as a brother, not to do this.  Cas doesn't change his mind, believing that this is the only course of action for him.  Dean states that he will do what he must to stop him.

Cas finishes his narration, which all along was a prayer - one last prayer - to God, asking him if what he's doing is right.  He begs for a sign to tell him, either way...and gets nothing.

Thoughts and Questions:

So all of the forgiveness crap that Dean spouted to Sam and Bobby at Rufus' funeral apparently doesn't apply to Cas.  Sam started the Apocalypse - Cas is trying to keep it from happening again.  And if Rafael does succed in bringing the Final Battle about, guess who's back on the menu as a vessel.  That's right.  Sam.

Sam would still be rotting in Hell if it weren't for Cas - and gratitude was not forthcoming.

I call bullshit on Dean's "family first" claim.  When Dean says "family first", he means "Sam first".  Sam comes first before Bobby, Cas, Lisa and Ben - and Adam.  Dean spared exactly one thought for his half-brother this season, even though Adam suffered (and is still suffering) the same fate as Sam.  Dean acts as though he's personally betrayed whenever someone he claims as family does something he doesn't like.

Cas rebelled in the fourth season to keep Sam from starting the Apocalypse.  It wasn't enough.  He died.

Cas banished Michael with holy fire to give Dean the chance to speak to Sam/Lucifer.  It wasn't enough.  He died.

Cas is dealing with Crowley to keep Rafael from re-starting the Apocalypse.  The deal will go from bad to worse.  It won't be enough.  He's going to die.

In Two Weeks:

We're treated to a double-feature on May 20th.  Will Cas succeed and redeem himself? 

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Huh. Well That Was Easy

In last night's episode of Supernatural, "Mommy Dearest", our favorite foursome began their quest to hunt down and kill the Mother of All.  I predicted that they would fail, and fail miserably.  Why?  Because it's not even the end of the season yet, and all they've come across is a very brief and very obscure piece of lore that said that the Mother could be burned with Phoenix ashes (which they were barely able to get).  Not killed.  Not utterly destroyed.  Just burned.  Let's see how they did.


The episode opens with Eve walking into a bar, barefoot and in her skimpy white dress.  She brushes the cheek of a guy coming out of the bar (we know that bad things will happen to this dude now).  She kisses another guy inside (Arrrgh!) and touches a few more people, and they start turning into monsters and eating each other while Eve sips what we think is a Bloody Mary.  Huh.

Dean is busy loading shotgun shells with Phoenix ash, preparing to do battle with Eve.  He's skeptical about their effectiveness, since the ash doesn't seem to burn humans.  He demonstrates by smearing some on his arm.  Sam shrugs and says that it must be one of those things that only works on monsters, like iron.

Sam, Dean and Bobby are coming up empty on their search for Eve, so they decide to call in Castiel for his super special angel searching powers.  Cas comes back with a blast from the past, a non-human-eating vampire called Lenore, who we met in the second season along with Gordon.  Lenore's nest has abandoned her to obey the call of the wild (aka, Mother), and she is struggling to keep herself from eating humans.  In fact, she admits that she's slipped up and fed on human blood.  She gives the Winchesters Eve's location and begs them to kill her - Eve's voice is too difficult to resist.  Sam and Dean dither about keeping Lenore secure until they take care of the Mother, but Cas promptly destroys her with angel fire and tells them to quit wasting time. 

The four of them head to Oregon, glancing nervously around what seems to be a pretty normal town.  As they head into a diner for Bobby to do research on and complain about an iPad (PRODUCT PLACEMENT!), Cas discovers that his angel powers have been blocked.  He can't zap anywhere, and he can't burn monsters with angel fire.  Dean gripes about how useless Cas is without his powers and Cas (understandably) gets sulky and offended.  They split up into two teams: Dean and Cas with investigate the office of a doctor who has called in the CDC, while Sam and Bobby go to the doctor's house.  Team Dean discovers the body of the guy Eve touched, and Team Sam discover that the doctor has flown the coop - there's no trace of him anywhere.  As they head toward the dead guy's house, Cas notices someone exactly like him in the window.  Sam and Dean rush in and get the dying man (who is the orignial guy's friend but is now somehow a very sick shapeshifter) to tell them about the bar.

The bar is a complete mess of bodies, full of people with vampire teeth and wraith spikes, culminating in some kinid of new monster that has both.  Since Dean discovered this new monster, he calls them the Jefferson Starships (hard to kill, annoying as hell).  The police burst in on the four of them surrounded by dozens of bodies.  Dean ducks behind the bar in the confusion as the police arrest Sam, Bobby and Cas.  Sam sees the security video feed as they're escorted into the police station and freaks out, warning Cas and Bobby that the cops are actually Starships.  Dean comes in to save the day, beheading a few cops but leaving the sheriff alive for interrogation.  As Bobby puts the squeeze on Sheriff Starship, Sam and Dean clear the building and discover two boys bound and gagged in one of the cells.  It turns out that these are the sons of the disappeared doctor and his wife, who have become Starship food.  Touched beyond the capacity for rational thought at the sight of two orphaned brothers (Sob!), Sam and Dean take precious time driving the kids fifteen miles out of town to leave them with their uncle.  The car is silent, but it's completely obvious that Sam and Dean are completely lost in nostalgia for their "Us Against the World" childhood, and see themselves in these boys. 

Back at the police station, Cas is grumbling about wasting time, and Bobby tells him that the Winchesters have always done whatever they wanted to do.  Bobby's getting nowhere with Sheriff Starship, so Cas asks him for five minutes alone.  Bobby seems a little sickened by the screams coming from the interrogation room, and Sam and Dean get back just in time for Cas to come out, wiping his bloody hands.  Cas tells them that Eve is actually holed up in the diner they were in that afternoon, and there's a collective facepalm.  The camera pans back to the bloody mess in the interrogation room, and we see that apparently, Cas pulled the Starship's head off with his bare hands.  Not so useless now, right Dean?

Sam and Dean come up with a brilliant strategy of attack:  Sam and Dean will go into the diner alone, and then if they don't succeed, Cas and Bobby will try it.  See?  Brilliant.  Dean gives everyone a Phoenix bullet, and they head inside.  The diner is filled with starships.  The waitress comes over to take their order and introduces herself - she's Eve (we couldn't see if she had a nametag, but how awesome would it be if she did?).  Cue another facepalm as Sam and Dean realize that she was right under their nose before.  Eve explains that she was happy with the status quo - her monsters would turn a few people, a few hunters would kill a few monsters, whatever.  But with Crowley torturing and killing monsters to discover the location of Purgatory, she's angry now and just wants to take over the entire world.  That's why she developed the Starships.  In fact, the Starships are so perfect that not even Sam and Dean realized that they transported one of them out of town, ready to begin the world domination thing.  Cue another facepalm.

Eve takes the form of Sam and Dean's mother to highlight their major parental ISSUES.  They whine a little about that.  She offers them a deal: deliver Crowley to her, and she'll go back home without taking over the world.  The brothers are confused - Crowley's dead, right?  Eve insists that he's still alive and after monster souls (power source!), and then gloats as some Starships drag in Cas and Bobby.  She does some specific gloating to Cas, telling him that because she's older than he is, she knows what makes angels tick, and as long as she's around he'll have no power.  She threatens to turn Sam and Dean, to force them to do what she asks anyway.  Dean tells her to bite him, and she does.  Then she gets all burninated - Dean gloats a little as he explains that he took some of the ashes with a shot of whiskey, so his blood's contaminated with Phoenix ash.  Eve dies, the Starships go berserk, and Cas shouts for everyone to close their eyes as he burns them with angel fire. 

After the dust settles, so to speak, Cas heals Dean of his Eve bite and zaps them over to the kids' uncle's house so that they can stop the mini-Starships.  They discover the body of the uncle (death by children) and the bodies of the kids.  There's the smell of sulfur, so they conclude that a demon must have taken care of this somehow.  They tell Cas what Eve said about Crowley being alive, and Cas gets huffy, saying that he'll look into it immediately.  He vanishes.  Bobby wonders aloud if Cas is being straight with them - an angel wouldn't make a "mistake" burning a demon's bones unless he meant to.  Dean scoffs at this, but Sam quietly agrees with Bobby.  Back at the diner, Cas surveys the carnage as Crowley appears behind him, asking how many times he has to clean up the angel's messes.  (Dun dun DUNNNNN!)

Questions that still need answers:

Well, color me surprised.  I honestly didn't expect the Phoenix ashes would work, or at least that they wouldn't get the chance to use them effectively.  And Eve is dead.  After all of that build-up, she goes out like a punk.  Huh.

So who exactly is the Big Bad this season?  Does this mean it's Rafael?  Crowley?

Crowley's back, baby!  I can't even tell you how happy this makes me, because I was infuriated by his death in "Caged Heat", and by that entire episode.  Also, it makes perfect sense for Cas to be working with Crowley, because they both have the same ultimate goal: keep Lucifer and Michael caged for all eternity.  Neither of them want "Apocalypse II: The Armageddoning", and this is the "dirty little secret" that Rachel got all stabby about in the last episode. 

So Cas is after souls to defeat Rafael.  But how is he going to use them?  Does Rafael have access to more?  What the Hell is going on?

Next Week:

We find out exactly how hard Cas' life has been since he's had to fight the Civil War in Heaven.  Will the Winchesters understand?  Probably not.

Monday, April 25, 2011

When Fetish Meets Reality

Who needs a Delorean or a TARDIS when you have an angel in your pocket?  Friday's episode of Supernatural, "Frontierland", was another test of Castiel's mad time-traveling skillz and an exploration of shattered illusions.  Specifically, Dean's illusions.  Jump right in with me, won't you?


The episode begins with a high-noon showdown in the Old West, between Dean and some rugged squinty-eyed guy we've never seen before.  As the town's clock chimes the hour, the two of them square off and prepare to draw.  Cut to the funnest old-timey show title ever, accompanied by a macho Western men's chorus. 

48 hours earlier and 150 years later, Sam leads Dean and Bobby to the Campbell family library, which looks pretty abandoned since all of them are now dead.  The three of them rifle through the poorly-organized collection of books to try to find a chink in the armor of the Mother of All, who so far has done nothing but send an evil brain slug after them.  Not terribly impressive, as Big Bads go, but whatever.  Bobby finds an obscure reference to the ashes of a Phoenix being able to burn the Mother, so they get started on tracking down information about a Phoenix.  Dean discovers the journal of Samuel Colt (yes, that Colt) which contains a brief reference to the gun killing a Phoenix.  Colt thoughtfully provided a date as well, and Dean gets a great idea - why not travel back in time?  After all, they already know that a Phoenix will definitely be in Sunrise, Wyoming on March 5, 1856.  After Dean fails to sell this idea to Sam and Bobby with a Star Trek IV reference, he prays for Cas.

A new female angel shows up, presumably as a call-waiting service.  Her name is Rachel, and she says that she's come on Castiel's behalf.  Dean isn't on board with this, and insists on speaking to Cas.  Rachel wastes no time in launching a verbal assault, accusing them of calling Cas only when they need something and not being respectful of the fact that the angels are heavily invested in their Civil War (we thought she kind of had a point).  Cas pops down and puts a stop to it before things get ugly, and sends Rachel away.  She's obviously not pleased that he's taking the time to help the Winchesters, but she vanishes anyway.

As Dean is away on a "supply run", Cas explains to Sam that they will only have 24 hours to play cowboys.  Apparently the further back in time they are, the harder it is for Cas to bring them back.  If he were to wait longer than 24 hours, they'd likely be stuck in the past.  Dean shows up with his hands full of shopping bags.  He went to a Western apparel store so that he and Sam could "go native".  Sam doesn't want to play dress-up, however, and accuses Dean of having an Old West fetish and having all of Clint Eastwood's movies memorized line-for-line.  Dean insists that Sam at least wear the shirt, and he decks himself out in full "Western" gear, complete with poncho.  Cas has an awesome "Is it customary to wear a blanket?" line, and then zaps them back in time.  He then leaves Bobby, telling him to pray for him in 24 hours so that he can bring the boys back.

In 1856 Sunrise, Wyoming, the Winchesters mosey on into town just in time to witness a hanging.  The condemned man tells the judge, sheriff, and a shifty-looking guy that they're all going to burn for this, and then the trap door is opened.  Wincing at the brutality of old justice, Sam and Dean talk to the sheriff to see if he knows where Samuel Colt is.  After making fun of Dean for being too clean, the sheriff directs them to the saloon owner.  Dean is crestfallen when they enter the saloon, which has one or two drunken old prospectors and some tired-looking saloon girls.  "This is not awesome," Dean says, and he orders a whiskey for him and a sasparilla for Sam.  The saloon owner brings them their drinks and tells them that Colt has a cabin about 20 miles out of town.  A saloon girl tries to get friendly with Dean, but he's incredibly turned off by the syphilis sores on her face.  He then tries to drink his whiskey and finds that it's just about as smooth as gasoline.  Sam smirks as he enjoys his sasparilla.

The judge from the hanging comes into the saloon and goes upstairs with one of the girls, who lets out a blood-curdling shriek after a few minutes.  Sam and Dean rush upstairs to find that the judge is now a pile of ashes.  The girl swears that the judge-burning culprit is Elias Finch, the man who was hanged.  Dean and Sam raise their eyebrows at each other, and go check Finch's grave - which turns out to be empty.  The brothers split up - Sam takes a horse to find Samuel Colt, and Dean stays in town so that he can join the Finch-hunting posse.

Back in the present, Rachel summons Cas to an empty warehouse for a chat.  She demands to know if the rumors she's been hearing are true - apparently Cas has a "dirty little secret".  Cas, terrible liar that he is, gets shifty and uncomfortable, and tells her that he has to defeat Rafael.  Rachel tells him that he shouldn't do it this way, and Cas replies that he doesn't have a choice.  Rachel whips out her angel sword and stabs Cas in the chest, and he's barely able to keep it from piercing his heart.  The two of them duke it out, and though Cas is badly wounded, he uses his angel kung fu to stab Rachel.  He stares sadly down at her body framed by ashy shadow wings, and whispers an apology. 

Bobby's research is interrupted when Cas crash-lands in his kitchen.  Cas waves him off as he crawls toward the fridge and uses the blood from his wound to paint a sigil, then forces himself to get to his feet.  "Are we running or fighting?" asks Bobby, and gets his answer as Cas collapses into his arms.

Dean saunters back into the saloon in a brand-new wardrobe, one more suited to the flavor of the town.  "I look good," he says, and wonders where the posse is.  It turns out that the sheriff has also been burned to ashes, so Dean snags his sheriff star, completing his new ensemble.  He goes to the jail to find the shifty-looking guy (from the hanging) terrified for his life.  Dean stows him in the jail cell to use him as bait for Phoenix Finch. 

Sam reaches Colt's cabin after the gunsmith shoots a few demons, and asks him to come back into town with him.  Colt refuses, saying that he's hung up his hunting spurs for good.  Sam tells him that he's from the year 2011, and gives him his Blackberry to prove it.  Colt is unfazed by this, having seen so much in his lifetime that even a giant with a magic thingamajig is no big thing.  Sam yells at him for refusing to help, and demands that Colt hand over the gun.

Cas finally regains consciousness on Bobby's couch - there's only an hour left before he has to retrieve Sam and Dean.  Bobby is concerned about how beat the angel looks, and asks him what happened.  Cas tells him that Rafael corrupted Rachel, who betrayed and attacked him (liar, liar, pants on fire!).  He thanks Bobby for looking out for him - the sigil he painted was an angel-repelling ward.  Cas tells Bobby that he's too drained by his injury to bring Sam and Dean back, and that he can't call in another angel to do it.  The only way that Cas can regain enough power to get the job done is if Bobby allows him to touch his soul and siphon some of its energy.  This must be done carefully, however, or else Bobby could explode.

Phoenix Finch bursts into the jail, demanding that Dean open the cell so that he can get at the shift-looking guy.  Dean refuses, and notes that the Phoenix seems to be rendered powerless by iron, which is why he couldn't slip his shackles when he was being hanged.  Finch tells him that he was married to a human woman, and that shifty-looking guy had raped her when they came into town.  As Finch came to her rescue, shift-looking guy pulled his gun and shot both of them.  Of course, being a Phoenix, Finch didn't die, but his wife died in his arms.  The shots brought the sheriff, and they charged Finch with the murder and hung him to cover it up - the judge was in on it, too.  Dean agrees that all of this is very sad, but he has to kill him anyway.  Finch grabs a gun and shoots the shifty rapist guy (yay!), and Dean dives out the window to get away.

Sam somehow makes it back to town with the Colt (making the same trip before noon that took him all night before) and gives it to Dean, who immediately challenges Finch to a showdown.  They get all squinty-eyed at each other as the clock chimes.  They draw, and Dean kills him, burning the Phoenix to ashes.  He races to gather them up as (in the present) Cas re-charges using Bobby's soul power.  Cas yanks the Winchesters back before they can get the ashes, however (they cut it really close).  Dean demands that Cas send them back, but Sam points out that Cas is completely fried, and Bobby's not doing any better.  Suddenly, there's a knock at the door.  A delivery man hands Sam a package, which contains a bottle of Phoenix ashes and a note from Samuel Colt, explaining that he got Bobby's address from his Blackberry.  The Winchesters are ready to go Eve-hunting.

Questions that still need answers:

It seems as though I was right about souls being a power-source, and since Cas failed at minting souls in the last episode, he must be desperate to gather enough power to carry out his plan to defeat Rafael.  Whatever this plan is, it's not something that he feels comfortable about, and his followers probably don't either, judging from Rachel's reaction.  So what is the plan, and how is Cas going to use souls to accomplish it?

I really wish that the writers had structured the Phoenix mythology to allow the Winchesters to gather his ashes after a "death", rather than killing him for real with the Colt.  After all, the poor guy was just trying to avenge his wife's rape and murder.  He didn't seem too much of a monster to me. 

Are we really ready to hunt the Mother of All?  It seems as though the Winchesters are always willing to rush into anything once they think it has a shot at working.  We alert viewers know that it's too early for Eve to be defeated.

Next Week:

The Winchesters, Bobby, and Cas try to kill the Mother of All.  We will watch their failure with great interest.

Monday, April 18, 2011

What Might Have Been

Friday's episode of Supernatural, "My Heart Will Go On" was the perfect back-from-hiatus romp that we so desperately needed.  Seriously, this felt like a really long break, and we're impatient to see how the last few episodes of the season go.  When we last saw the Winchesters, they were helping Bobby say goodbye to Rufus, who was unnecessarily killed in the last episode.  Speaking of people who were unnecessarily killed, we saw a familiar face in this episode - but we'll get to that.


The episode begins with our soon-to-be-dead person, Garage Door Guy.  We knew immediately that this man would be Garage Door Guy, because the first thing he did was to prop open his garage door with a stick.  Never a good sign.  He starts fiddling with his Saturday project, and discovers that his beer has somehow translocated itself to another workbench.  As he goes for it, he slips on a skateboard and nearly impales his face on some gardening implements.  Close call.  Then he steps on some golf balls, which causes him to fall on his back, his head in the perfect position to be messily severed from his body by the garage door guillotine.  Hence, Garage Door Guy.

The Winchesters warily watch as Bobby leafs through books and pours himself drinks in a flurry of activity.  Neither Sam nor Dean seem to be willing to be the first to speak, but after losing a furious but silent game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Sam wonders aloud if Bobby might possibly think about taking a break anytime soon?  Please?  Bobby gets all growly and refuses, heading to the kitchen for coffee.  The brothers have a whispered discussion on whether or not to bring Bobby along on a job - the death of Garage Door Guy isn't the only strange fatal accident in that area.  They try to broach the subject, but Bobby shoots them down and tells them to get the hell out of there.  The boys are only too happy to go, and hope that Bobby will start feeling better when "she's" back.  Wait, what?

Then we see the Winchesters climb into the car - no, wait!  That's not their car!  It's a Mustang!  A black Mustang with orange racing stripes!  Where the hell is the Impala?!

When Sam and Dean roll into Garage Door Guy's hometown, they quickly learn that all of the victims of the strange and deadly accidents are from the same extended family.  A quick search of Garage Door Guy's garage yields a strange gold thread.  Sam and Dean decide to split up - Sam to do research (like he does!), and Dean to completely freak out a surviving member of Garage Door Guy's extended family.

Meanwhile, in a "Honey, I'm home!" moment, who should walk into Bobby's house but Ellen?!  That's right, awesome Ellen, who sacrificed herself with her daughter Jo back in the fifth season!  She gives Bobby a quick peck on the cheek and scolds him for not taking care of himself.  She busily unpacks some groceries, mentioning in passing that Jo is away on a hunting job (sadly, we don't get to see her).  The camera lingers on a photo of Bobby and Ellen, arms wrapped around each other, and we realize (with help from the dialogue, of course) that Bobby and Ellen are - somehow - happily married.  Whaaaa?

We see another soon-to-be-dead person, Copy Machine Lady, hard at work in her travel agency office.  How do we know this is Copy Machine Lady?  Because she dumps a stack of paper on the copier, blatantly wearing a long, flowing scarf.  She bustles around, talking on the phone to a prospective traveller to Cuba (Whaaaa?).  She finishes up the conversation and rummages in her bag for her car keys.  They're nowhere to be found - but then she spots them on the floor behind the copier.  As she reaches for them, the inevitable happens, and she is strangled when her scarf is caught by the office machine of death.

Sam calls Ellen when they reach a dead end in the case, and also to make sure that Bobby's all right.  She lets them know that Jo's working on a similar case, and has discovered that all of her victims' ancestors all came to America at the same time.  On the same ship, in fact.  Specifically, the Titanic.  Sam and Dean are baffled - what's the big deal with this ship?  It was just a big boat that crossed the ocean, just like it was supposed to.  They look into the history of the ship, and learn that it had a very close call with an iceberg on its maiden voyage.  The alert crewmember who spotted it just in time was a fellow by the name of I.P. Freely.  Their suspicions aroused, the Winchesters search for a picture, and see a familiar face looking back at them.  It's Balthazar.  They perform a summoning ritual lickety split in order to learn why Balthazar went back in time to save a ship.

It turns out that Balthazar didn't take his little field trip back in time in order to save the ship (and the people onboard), but rather to prevent both the movie Titanic and Celine Dion's lucrative and undeserved singing career (this rant is one of the best parts of the episode).  Unfortunately, the ripple effect of this massive history retcon is that all of the people who died when the Titanic sank went on to finish their lives and have lots of descendents.  Also, the Impala was never made (sob!).  Sam and Dean figure out that something is killing all of the Titanic survivors' progeny - about fifty thousand people.  They demand that Balthazar go back and sink the boat, but Balthazar tells them that if he does that, history will go back to the way it was, which means that Ellen and Jo will be dead.

Sam and Dean discuss all of this as they walk down the street, where they run into Garage Door Guy's distant lawyer relative - the one Dean freaked out when he told him his life was in danger.  They try to warn him, and are barely able to prevent him from being run over by a truck.  The guy is still freaked out, however, and in his efforts to get away from the Winchesters, he's hit by a bus.  Dean notes with amusement that the bus advertisement is for the guy's law practice, and Sam glares at him in disapproval.  Dean says "What?  Too soon?" and Sam replies "Yeah, Dean, I think six seconds is too soon."  Sam notices a woman watching them from the other side of the street, and they go into a large, empty restaurant kitchen to investigate.  Time freezes, and the woman turns on all of the gas burners on the stoves.  Dean's flashlight goes out, and he pulls out his lighter instead.  Just when our boys are going to be blown to smithereens, Castiel yanks them out of harm's way.  He tells them that Fate (one of the three, anyway) is angry about Balthazar's trip to the Titanic, and is trying to put things back into balance by killing all of the people who never should have been born.  Dean is pissed that he and Sam are now Fate's targets because of Balthazar, and he tells Cas that he needs new friends.  Cas angrily replies that he's trying to keep the ones he has.  The angel tells them that the only way for everyone to stay alive (Ellen and Jo, the Titanic progeny, the Winchesters themselves) is to kill Fate.  In order to draw her out into the open, they have to tempt her.

Sam and Dean psych themselves up for their Walk of Death.  They begin their casual stroll down the street and encounter kids on bikes, large scary dogs, jugglers with knives and fire, etc.  They eventually walk directly under a huge container that starts to crash down on them, but time freezes again.  Cas and Fate meet and start discussing the situation.  Fate is angry that she no longer knows what to do now that the Apocalypse has been averted, and refuses to allow the same kind of confusion in past eras in which the Fates had control.  She accuses Cas of trying to "mint souls" for his "war machine" and threatens to kill the Winchesters if he doesn't have Balthazar go back and undo his retcon.  Cas agrees, and stops Balthazar from sneaking up on Fate with his angel sword.

The Winchesters wake up in the Impala (Yes!  All is as it should be!) to the tune of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On".  They look at each other in astonishment, thinking that they shared a very strange dream.  Cas appears and tells them that it wasn't a dream, and he let them keep their memory of it so that they would know what he did for them.  He tells them that they taught him what freedom was - no destiny, no Fate, no Apocalypse - and that he still believes that it's worth fighting for.  He lets them believe that Balthazar really did change history just to prevent a terrible movie and its theme song, though he looks incredibly guilty about it.  Sam and Dean decide not to tell Bobby about their experience - now that Ellen has gone back to being dead, there's no need to torture him with what might have been.

Questions that still need answers:

What's the deal with the souls?  I'm still holding on to my belief that souls can be used as some sort of power source, and that's why angels and demons have collected them for Heaven and Hell for millennia.  But what is Cas planning, that he needs a lot of souls to do it?  We know that he's trying to win the War in Heaven, and that if he doesn't, the consequences will be terrible.  But he's looking awfully squeamish about the things he's doing to accomplish that.  We were extremely happy to see so much of him in this episode, however!

This is the first time we've really started to warm up to Balthazar, if only that it seems we share his taste in movies and music.  We know that he's likely to die (Come on.  You know it's true.  The most entertaining angels always die.), but we're starting to be really sorry about it. 

It was a cruel tease to briefly bring Ellen back.  She really is an awesome character, and her marriage to Bobby was extremely fitting.  We were very annoyed at the weird camera shots during her tearful moment with Bobby, however.  Close-ups of the eyes?  Really?

Next week:

Sam and Dean ask Castiel to send them back to the Old West to talk to Samuel Colt.  Yup.  That Samuel Colt.  It's going to be awesome!