ash48: (Sam in Dean's arms)
[personal profile] ash48
It's weird isn't it. We spend months and months waiting for the show to return and then when it has returned we spend months and months angsting over it. Some episodes create positive angst, some create negative angst.

This episode created a bit of both of those for me. So, ya know, nothing new really...;)

(this got rather long. Seems I had a bit to unpack...*oops*)



Such a mixed bag this one. Things to love, things to hate and things that made me go huh?

I'm not ranting or raving about it (I think the level of passion has burnt out after S9), but I am going to point out some things that I felt it lacked, and also the stuff I loved.

Before I start there is just something that needs to be quickly addressed. It has been troubling me and I'm not entirely sure how to reconcile it. Andrew Dabb (show runner) tweeted this before the episode aired:



Initially I thought the rather strange "romance" might have been in connection to Lucifer's character, but it turns out it was referring to Sam and Toni's opening scene (I believe). That scene was difficult in itself (which I'll chat about later), but Dabb referring to it as "romance"? I can't decide if it was a deliberate tease (knowing the fandom would react rather strongly to the notion of romance on the show) or he actually considered that scene romantic? Maybe he was simply have "fun" with alliteration. Or maybe he was just trolling. Which ever way, it added a new level of wrong to it all for me.

Anyway. Moving on...

Stuff I loved:

I've tried not to have "hopes" for anything this season but I confess that I was secretly hoping that Mary would acknowledge that she started all this with her deal with YED. And she did!! It is such a huge part of the entire SPN universe. I am so glad to see it acknowledged. I loved that she admitted to being scared to face Sam (as she should - she effectively sold Sam). I was equally thrilled that Dean didn't make any excuses for it. It's a crucial part of Mary's character and keeps that level of depth about her (and, of course, that damn Winchester guilt will be there too).

Lucifer is back to being menacing and scary. Yay! I loved Rick Springfield's portrayal of him. I remember having a major crush on Rick when he first appeared as Apollo's brother in the original Battlestar Gallatica, so it's great to see him on my fave show - and doing so well. The special (creepy!) effects were also great. The way Lucifer healed his host suggests that he'll be able to do that when the body starts to deteriorate. I know that would be new canon, but at least it's been addressed. If it's a way to keep Rick as Lucifer I don't care what it takes. :)

Dean and Mary's discussion in the car was satisfying. Mary learning that Sam actually got out of the hunting life (and Dean telling her proudly about him going to Stanford) and then Dean's wonderful line "besides the car all we had in this world was each other". I am enjoying the way Dean is responding to Mary - happy to have her back, but not sure where he fits in now.

I LOVED the way Dean's own words to Sam "I'm the eldest you have to do what I say" were used against him to show Mary's place in the family now. She said it as a way of staking her claim as the "boss", which is going to be an interesting dynamic for Dean to deal with I suspect. She also took his "good talk". There's potential a lot to be explore here.

The final scene between Mary and Sam was a stand out for me. The performances were fantastic. And it felt honest. It was awkward and difficult, but it made sense in terms of who the characters are. Sam not sure how to act around his mom (but desperate to connect) and Mary feeling guilty but desperately trying to find her ground. Their hug quite possibly saved the entire episode for me (if there hadn't had been that hug I'm not sure the TV would have survived my rage...). Jared's performance brought tears to my eyes.

I also loved the final shots of Mary, Dean and Sam (I was honestly shocked that we had a Sam POV shot - but bloody happy we did). The Mary and Dean shots were focussing on the family (Mary learning about John and Dean reminiscing, maybe even contemplating losing his idealised vision of his mom) but Sam's shot was a bit more ambiguous. It could have been him reflecting on his torture (though I doubt it?) or about how he feels about Mary being back. I don't know, but I don't think it matters. I like that it's open to interpretation.

Also loved:

Badass!Mary
Crowley in a white tux
Sam finally getting out of that awful cellar
The way Sam looked at Dean when he said "I thought you were dead".


Stuff I didn't love so much

So here's the thing. S11 ended with the separation of Sam and Dean (as seasons enders often do). The reason they end like that is because it creates the tension and the need to see them reunited. And each season they create different ways to bring them back together. In 12.01, even though the the pacing was slow-ish, there was still a sense of urgency. For some reason the sense of urgency just disappeared in this episode.

There were little details that led to that. Dean sitting calmly at his computer waiting for Cas to call was one of them. The fact that Cas was out doing the footwork by himself was also odd. I'm not sure why both Dean and Mary weren't doing that too? The lack of urgency was glaring. We know how frantic Dean gets when Sam is missing or hurt. Maybe it's just happened too many times now for them to worry about it now. Personally I think it was about the directing - the way it was shot made it feel like actually everything was ok.

The other extremely puzzling aspect of this episode was the extraordinarily anti-climatic reunion. I wonder if it's because the expectations of it were too high? The two episodes were essentially building up to that very moment, and then when it happened it just felt so underwhelming. I honestly felt they were going to have Sam just not believe his eyes when he saw Dean (and definitely Mary). With all the mind control I felt this was going to be a direction they would take. But they didn't even play on that.

One brother being tortured in front of the other should have also had an enormous emotional impact. But again, they seemed to barely register each other (was it a ploy maybe? To make Toni think they don't care that much about each other?). They could have easily played on Sam finally breaking because they had Dean - but Sam seems pretty disinterested. I put it down to him being physically and emotionally exhausted, but in terms of story telling, it should have been an extremely powerful scene. Toni probably should have also guessed that Dean may well have broken if he had to witness Sam being totured.

I wonder if stuff was shot but then cut out? Whatever happened it was a missed opportunity. And a shame, because boy was a looking forward to that moment.


Things that made me go hmmmmm

The opening scene with Sam in bed with Toni was truly horrifying and disturbing. I'm not saying that's actually a bad thing. This is a horror show after all. And it made some sense that it was another way to get Sam to talk, when clearly physical pain wasn't working. It's also consistent with the stuff that is done to Sam. The mind fuckery has been going on since Meg possessed him in S2. What IS troubling is knowing there will be absolutely no consequence from it. It's likely to never be mentioned again. Sam suffered horribly in the last two episodes and from past experience we know it amounts to very little for his character. They didn't address Sam's non-con possession in S9 so it's highly likely his mind-rape will be entirely forgotten. Which would be a major shame considering where they could go with it. Oh well, I've long stopped expecting the issues of consent in the show will ever be dealt with.

The cake scene was a little weird also. I totally understand why they probably did it - to add some levity, to re-create a "typical" family scene, to have a new truth revealed about Mary (she doesn't cook) and to allow some time for Sam to just stare at his mom in disbelief - but the timing was strange. Sam had just been rescued (Cas had clearly healed him) and instead of acknowledging any of his ordeal or even giving him time to adjust to Dean being alive it went straight to happy Dean eating pie. I'm not begrudging Dean his pie - he clearly needed it *g* - but I suppose after the anti-climatic reunion these also felt a little unsatisfying.

Why did Dean shoot the ceiling first instead of instantly shooting Toni? He could have instantly maimed her instead of allowing her to perform that spell. Even if she somehow still managed it, it would have been highly satisfying to see Dean act with the threat he made earlier.

Toni's motivations seemed weird in the end. I felt like she started off with a mission and then she kind of went rogue. In fact, she's a right psycho. After 12.01 I was thinking I'd be ok with some sort of redemption/realisation arc but now I'll find it extremely(!) hard to forgive for her mind-fuckery with Sam. And if she truly knew so much about Sam and Dean she would know that there were definitely better ways to get on side with them. Of course, I know it's story telling and having Sam tortured created tension (and *koff* hurt!Sam) but I'm not sure it made a lot of sense in the end.

I wonder where Cas went? I figure he's not living in the bunker but it's weird they didn't have a word about what he was up to. I suspect we will find out next week.


Mostly, I think it was a shame they gave Bucklemming this crucial episode. I'm constantly perplexed by them being given major myth arc eps when their writing is often lacking. I can't help wonder what this ep would have been like in the hands of Berens - someone who usually has a good handle on how to structure an episode and give every character major emotional notes.

But still. There was lots to love. I'm glad the boys are back together and I am really interested to see what happens with Mary in the mix. I think the tussle between Crowley and Lucifer will be cool. I'm also interested to see how Toni and this Mr Ketch figure into things. They seem to be the Big Bads this season - and so far they seem to be pretty damn horrible.

Bring on the MoTW eps! :D

Date: 2016-10-22 01:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] amberdreams.livejournal.com
I'm puzzled about giving this one to this writing duo - until I remember that Eugenie is Robert Singer's wife. I'm assuming this is the reason this pair keeps getting crucial episodes and why they are still on the team at all.

But that aside, I share your puzzlement and enjoyment of the same things. Mary's scene with Sam had me tearing up, and I haven't done that much in the last couple of seasons.
Edited Date: 2016-10-22 01:28 pm (UTC)

Date: 2016-10-23 03:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ash48.livejournal.com
I shed a wee tear last week at Mary and Dean's reunion and now again with Sam and Mary. I'm enjoying the way they are doing this more than I thought I would.

And yes, I suspect that's exactly the reason why the Duo keeps getting these significant episodes. My heart sank when I heard they were doing Sam and Dean's reunion. I knew we wouldn't be getting a hug, but I didn't expect it to be so hollow. I'm hoping Berens has a couple of follow up scenes next week.

Date: 2016-10-22 02:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zubeneschamali.livejournal.com
With you on the good points and the bad points. There were so many skipped pieces to this episode: how did Sam go from being free but trapped in the basement to being chained down again? How did Dean explain Mary's presence to Sam? I was also really annoyed that good!Brit showed up to release them all right after they had managed to free themselves, because that didn't take the wind out of their sails or anything. :/

I want a whole episode of Dean and Sam explaining to Mary what they think she should know about all that's happened to them. Mary asking, "What do you mean, you know what it's like to come back and not fit in?" and Sam being like, "When Cas pulled me out of Hell without my soul--" and Mary cutting in, "Wait, Hell?" and Sam being all, whoops, probably shouldn't tell Mom about that part, and Dean going, "Yeah, he saved the whole freaking WORLD," and Sam muttering, "Shut up, Dean." Cas suggesting Mary read the Gospels to catch up and Dean and Sam both being horrified at the thought. That kind of thing.

But I do want to know if the "human's trap" used on Dean will show up again, because that was pretty cool.

Date: 2016-10-23 03:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ash48.livejournal.com
Yes yes!! All that! I can only hope that maybe there will be of those reveals in later episodes (?). Mary reading John's journal will fill in her on the way the boys were raised. And you know, she could always just read the books (man, that would be quite something...).

I also wonder how much we've had to fill in for ourselves. We know that Cas healed Sam and there was a journey home - so did Dean fill Sam in on the Amara thing then?

But I do want to know if the "human's trap" used on Dean will show up again, because that was pretty cool.

Yes! I want to know more on this too. This would be highly significant if the boys were able to use something like this. Also - I wasn't sure if Dean was teleported? Or just trapped...(I'd have to watch again...)

Date: 2016-10-22 03:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] quickreaver.livejournal.com
I'm currently on the road and haven't had a chance to see the episode, but I couldn't resist reading your review because I trust your perspective and the suspense was KILLING me!

Most of my TL has been mortified over the episode, is all I can relay right now, but your review has prepared me and I'm (warily) looking forward to watching it as soon as I get home!

Date: 2016-10-23 03:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ash48.livejournal.com
Definitely worth a watch - especially for the good bits! It's just a crying shame the scene we were all DESPERATE to watch was such a fizzer (though yay to Sam being free from that hell hole!) . And now I am looking forward to fix-it fic to make it all better. :)

Date: 2016-10-22 03:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] roxymissrose.livejournal.com
After 12.01 I was thinking I'd be ok with some sort of redemption/realisation arc but now I'll find it extremely(!) hard to forgive for her mind-fuckery with Sam. And if she truly knew so much about Sam and Dean she would know that there were definitely better ways to get on side with them.

I agree with this. I'm afraid that somehow, some way, they will want her to be friends with the Winchesters down the line, sort of Crowley-style. The thought is horrifying, but I wouldn't put it past them.

Date: 2016-10-23 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ash48.livejournal.com
Yeah. She went too far to go back I feel. But I think you are right - she'll end up being a frenemy to the boys. If Sam has to work with her - and not have a visceral reaction to that (like he did with Lucifer las season) -I will probably scream.

Date: 2016-10-22 04:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellie-234.livejournal.com
There is not a line the show will not cross with Sam because they can just quick fix it.

And just move along.

Date: 2016-10-23 03:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ash48.livejournal.com
Yeah - they've crossed so many lines with Sam it just doesn't seem to matter any more. :(

Date: 2016-10-22 05:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] percysowner.livejournal.com
I pretty much agree with everything you said, both the good and the bad. Why they gave this episode to the duo, I'll never know.

For now, my head canon is Nancy the Nurse, who Sam drained in season 4, was a cousin of Toni. Her husband came over to look into something and Benny, after Dean brought him back from Purgatory and who was off the wagon, ate him. That's why Toni is so mad at the Winchesters and why she mentioned both Ruby and Benny. This will not redeem her in any way, just give her hatred more context. It will also never, ever happen.

Date: 2016-10-23 03:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ash48.livejournal.com
I love this head canon!! I would LOVE it if she actually has history from a past story. You're right - it won't happen, but it would be so cool if it did.

Date: 2016-10-22 07:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancing-adrift.livejournal.com
Awesome and spot-on review yet again, my dear. Almost sad that I feel like I have nothing to add XP

Date: 2016-10-23 10:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ash48.livejournal.com
Thanks hun! And don't feel sad! Thanks for reading and commenting. <3

Date: 2016-10-23 10:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ash48.livejournal.com
The let down is that hard part...:(

But yes!!

That did help! Thank you so much for the link. Perfect!

<3

Date: 2016-10-22 10:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gidgetgal9.livejournal.com
I feel like you did about this episode especially this- Mostly, I think it was a shame they gave Bucklemming this crucial episode. I'm constantly perplexed by them being given major myth arc eps when their writing is often lacking. I can't help wonder what this ep would have been like in the hands of Berens - someone who usually has a good handle on how to structure an episode and give every character major emotional notes.

I had low expectations due to the writing team so I think I was happily surprised by the things you mentioned that went well. Also, glad I didn't see the Dabb tweet prior to the episode because- yeah- WTF?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Date: 2016-10-23 10:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ash48.livejournal.com
I think it might not have helped that I spoiled myself for Twitter reaction before I watched the episode. I used to be a spoilerphobe but those days are long gone. I feel like I want to be prepared. Knowing it was a Duo ep made me want to be prepared.

I think Dabb's tweet was probably innocent - in that he just wanted to stir interest in the episode. The "romance" was added due to the alteration and it could have been referring to some of the other romantic elements.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

Date: 2016-10-23 06:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kazluvsbooks.livejournal.com
Maybe the romance Dabb meant was the Rowena date scene at the beginning? That would be the closest in the ep imo.

The special effects were really well used with Lucifer and I have no idea where show is going, but I hope it won't be just another hell takeover storyline and I sincerely wish that Sam will be the one to eventually kill him.

I find every scene with the Winchesters riveting, including Mary, and everything else good, but not a show I would bother watching. I know it's hard for the showrunners to find ways to give J2 a break, and I think they deserve it, we just need all the secondary storylines to tie in with them..

I thought Cas was great in this Ep, unlike S11, so that is good news! More like S5.

Jareds performance was spot on, he is really shining so far in S12, and Samantha Smith is better than I could have hoped. She apparently has been friends with the boys for years, so I am sure that gives them all an emotional connection.

Date: 2016-10-23 11:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ash48.livejournal.com
Maybe the romance Dabb meant was the Rowena date scene at the beginning? That would be the closest in the ep imo.

Yeah - he could have been referring to that. He could have also been referring to Vince's romance with his dead wife. Personally I think it was just his way of using alliteration - with rock and reunion.

but I hope it won't be just another hell takeover storyline and I sincerely wish that Sam will be the one to eventually kill him.

I'm with you there. It would be great to see them do something different with the hell story line. The idea of Lucifer taking of Heaven could be a different tack, but I have to admit I'm not that engaged in any of that. I think that there will be a Heaven/Hell storyline that doesn't really involved Sam and Dean, simply to give the Js some time off. I accept now that we can't have eps like we did in S1-3. And wow - Sam actually killing Lucifer? I don't like being overly negative but I'll be just thrilled if they remember Sam's connection to Lucifer. If he actually gets to kill him (or capture him) I think my heart with explode with joy!

I thought Cas was great in this Ep, unlike S11, so that is good news! More like S5.

I'm liking Cas more too (I wasn't a huge fan as Cas as Lucifer, but understood needing to give Cas something to do). I would love to see a competent Cas - someone who has learned from his experiences and can now be confident in his actions. I got a better "feel" about his relationship to Sam and Dean - desperate to save Sam and wanting to help Dean.

Jared has been amazing! He has developed into such a fine actor over the years. Glad to see him putting everything he has into the role. I definitely agree Sam Smith has a great connection with the Js - it's made all their scenes powerhouses. I'm SO excite by this!

Thanks for dropping by hun!

Date: 2016-10-24 12:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] madebyme-x.livejournal.com
We're on the same page! I too loved the Sam and Mary scene, it was perfect and brought a tear to my eye, and it definitely gave me the emotional hug I was craving.

It needed a brotherly moment, and I guess we saw Sam's initial shock at seeing Dean, but yes we needed more, and that scene could have been so much better if we'd seen Sam and Dean react more to Toni's torture threat; she got it right, and it should have worked, at least a little bit.

Toni does intrigue me. I do wonder if her apparent hatred of the Winchester's and her need to 'get rid of them' stems from some sort of personal history that we don't know yet? Maybe that would explain a few things.

Overall, it was a mixed bag with highs and a few missed opportunities. I'm also loving Mary, they're pitching her perfectly so far. Thank you for sharing your thoughts *hugs*

Date: 2016-10-26 12:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ash48.livejournal.com
Hey,

The Sam and Mary scene killed me! Jared knocked it out of the park.

I think it would have just been so nice to have had that bit more from the reunion. I mean, we can fill in the gaps, but how nice it would have been to have it on the screen. Oh well, I am actually really hopeful that the next ep might give us a bother moment (or two!).

I do wonder if her apparent hatred of the Winchester's and her need to 'get rid of them' stems from some sort of personal history

I would actually like this to be a later reveal. I'm not sure they've thought this far yet, but they might just add that to her story line. She's certainly psycho.

thanks for dropping by! x

Date: 2016-10-25 03:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] debbiel66.livejournal.com
Essentially, I felt like the episode was poorly written but beautifully acted -- Sam and Dean and Mary....and yes, even Cas--were spot-on, and they made the clunky pacing seem as poignant if the script was all that.

Who are the good writers these days? Wasn't there a new writer last season who was really promising? I'm thinking of maybe the episode where Sam was gut-shot? And oh no...I just remembered that Robbie Thompson is gone. Who is left???

Date: 2016-10-26 01:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ash48.livejournal.com
Yes! Poorly written but beautiful acted. :)

A few writers have left I think. Robbie Thompson definitely and I think maybe Nancy Won? In fact, I think a few have left. There's a few newbies so it will be interesting to see how they go.

Berens is my fave (writing the next ep). He always writes very well-rounded episodes - well structure with good pay offs. Even when episode are dealing with characters I don't like much he always manages to draw me in. I will dread the day he leaves. I liked Thompson - though he did quite bit of fan servicing (hello empty return of the amulet).

Shame that the Duo is still around (as long as Singer is involved the Duo will be around). Dabb has his ups and downs - hoping more ups than downs.

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