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curled around these images
just enough to make us dangerous
13.04 reaction / review  
5th-Nov-2017 07:46 pm
Ain't heavy
I was late watching the episode this week, hence a late review. I've also just been cast in a new play so I fear my time is going to be even more limited (though, I'm happy to be starting a new production *g*).



I loved this one. So many great things going on. :)

I have to start by mentioning how great the title was: "The Big Empty". So many layered meanings. Not just the literal place, but the emptiness that all the characters were experiencing - Dean empty of hope, Sam empty of closure, Jack empty with the loss of his mother and not knowing who he is and Cas caught in the actual Big Empty (and likely feeling the emptiness of being so alone). The theme of the episode was grief and the exploration of the emptiness that is left behind when you lose someone.

This episode was much needed. It finally addressed the issues going on with the boys and instead of them leaving words, feelings and emotions unsaid, they all came out and were beautifully dealt with by the end of the episode. That was key to the whole episode for me. IF the episode ended, like it did last week, without a firm resolution, it would have been extremely frustrating.

I shed a little tear a number of times. I can't believe, that even now, this show moves me so much. Pretty much everything that Jack does moves me. He could be a quite annoying character, but instead the actor (Alex Calvert) is giving an engaging, multi-layered performance. The scene where he was with his (shape shifter) mother was heartbreaking. Fantastic writing and performances.

Hearing Sam admit that he needed his mother to be alive so he could have more time with her to experience the bond that Dean had with her, was not only a shock (totally wasn't expecting that!), but also a wonderful revelation. How nice to actually hear Sam say what's going on inside his head. And even if people Sam think already bonded with Mary last season (I had someone say that on a twitter post), I think it's kind of irrelevant what WE think. If Sam feels he needs to bond more with his mom, then I take that to be his truth. In other words, IT WORKS FOR ME! :)

Sam and Jack's relationship continues to be a wonderful and interesting one. I LOVED that what Jack heard at the end of the last episode (NOW I can appreciate that scene ;D) was addressed straight away. Sam was so honest and straight forward. And it worked. (In other words, I had contrived tension - I'm glad they chose not to do that).

My last observation about Sam is how fucking amazing he is at sticking by Dean. It really struck me just how resilient and tenacious he is. He knows Dean SO well that he knows that some of those potentially hurtful words are just that...words. He just pushes through with some sort of faith that it will all work out. *happy sigh*

I loved Dean's journey through this episode also. Actually, I think this episode was mostly about getting Dean through his emptiness. Getting him to see how he's hurting those around him and to take the steps of opening up, accepting Jack and acknowledging Sam's hope. This could have all be heavy-handed, but the writing and structure of the script meant we saw an organic transition from his anger and emptiness to and acceptance and acknowledgement.

Once again, Jared and Jensen gave stella performances. These guys don't just phone these in.

Even the shape-shifter counsellor (Mia Vallens) was interesting. She was given a great back-story and provided a much needed truth for Jack - it doesn't matter what you are, it matters what you do.. She would know. I really enjoyed the actress's performance.

And now to Cas. I'm honestly stuck what to say here. As I was watching I wondered if it was because I'm not really a Cas fan that it didn't connect with me. I mean, I really loved the effects in the scene and I think I like the idea of an evil "thing" sleeping in this place (even though I'm not sure what that actually means). I just felt uncomfortable watching evil!Cas taunt Cas. Maybe that was the point? Though I suspect it was more about just not really buying the performance. I suspect this is personal and I hope that Cas fans did enjoy it.

What I did like was that little sneak peek at past!Cas. It reminded me just how much Cas has been through. I desperately want to re-connect with this character, but they seem to constantly find ways to alienate him. Those little moments helped. I just want to see some real honesty and development from Cas. He's got to stop being clueless and return to a re-newed confidence and bad-assery. Maybe this season will take him on that journey.

My only niggle was the shape shifter's changes. Why did she leave blood everywhere in that bathroom (and how did it get all over the shower curtain?) and what did she do with her skin when she changed into Jack's mother? *handwaves*. And didn't we have some episodes where shape shifters stopped shedding their skins? I can't clearly remember now...

The final scene between the brothers was wonderful. Dean asking Sam to keep hope for both of them was...*guh* It just brought the whole episode (and their grief AND their relationship) together. It brought them back on the same page (though I'll almost take bets that it might be forgotten next week? I hope not!) with a chance that they can now move forward.

Well done Show! Well, actually well done writer Meredith Glynn and director John Balham (one of my fave directors of the show).
Comments 
5th-Nov-2017 01:01 pm (UTC)
I haven't done a reaction post to this one mainly because my primary reaction was huge relief after last week's dreadful disappointment. But what you've written here pretty much mirrors what I was thinking and feeling throughout. Feeling! Dammit, I can't believe that this show still has the power to move me like it does, but, like you, the brothers and their new charge got to me.

I've seen reactions on tumblr from Cas fans who were ecstatic about the Empty performance, but I'm afraid I was both unmoved and at times wincing at the Cas/Empty Entity confrontation. I couldn't help thinking that they used Misha twice to save money/get their money's worth out of him, rather than as a plot point. And having Cas back does not fill me with joy. Hey ho. It is what it is.

Your comment about the shifter lore made me smile - I remember the fandom complaining at whatever episode it was where Buck Lemming completely ignored the painful and messy transitions set up back in Skin and had their shifter changing instantly and easily into whatever he wanted, without leaving a trail. It's nice to see another writer completely ignoring THEIR lore instead, LOL!

Congrats on the play!
5th-Nov-2017 01:34 pm (UTC)
my primary reaction was huge relief after last week's dreadful disappointment.

Yes. I still can't believe it. And not even the brother stuff (it makes more sense since this episode), but the lack of depth in Patience's character.

I've seen reactions on tumblr from Cas fans who were ecstatic about the Empty performance

Ah. I did wonder. I figure if you're a fan it might be more impressive. I have a lot of respect for Misha but pulling off this kind of performance is a challenge I think. I've been thinking on that scene and thinking it would have been so much more powerful if the Entity changed faces. Him being faced with characters for the past would have been much more powerful - but I think you're right about getting their money's worth. Bringing back past actors would be expensive.

it was where Buck Lemming completely ignored the painful and messy transitions

Haha! So I didn't imagine it! I loved that they went back to original lore. :) And I even loved the little lessons Jack was getting about their hunting lives. :)

Congrats on the play!

Thanks! It's a restoration comedy. Something that's rarely done - let alone on a community theatre level. Big frocks and huge wigs here I come! :)


5th-Nov-2017 01:40 pm (UTC)
Oh Restoration comedy! My friends at Uni did one of those, it was rather over the top hilarious. I think it was called Revenger's Tragedy.
6th-Nov-2017 10:54 am (UTC)
Oh I did The Revenger's Tragedy at Uni too! Wow, I had forgotten that.
5th-Nov-2017 02:18 pm (UTC)
I am in so much agreement with everything you say here. I LOVED this episode (although I really could’ve done without the Cas bits) and those scenes between Jack and his “mother” and Jack and Sam and later Sam and Dean had me in tears, which is the best thing ever and why I watch this show, sad to say :)

I LOVED getting into Sam’s head a little. His relationship with his mother is HIS relationship, not Dean’s, and he gets to see it however he wants to. When he described how he felt I wondered if part of his decision to go in with the Men of Letters last season was as a way to bond with Mary.

I agree that the major journey in this episode was Dean’s, but it also felt like Sam got to express why he needs to believe his mother is still alive, and that really meant a lot to me. To watch Jensen react to Sam’s suggestion that he should give up hope was phenomenal. These guys are amazing, for sure!
6th-Nov-2017 10:56 am (UTC)
if part of his decision to go in with the Men of Letters last season was as a way to bond with Mary.

Oh, interesting idea. That would have been an element of the story they could have explored. It would have made much more sense.

To watch Jensen react to Sam’s suggestion that he should give up hope was phenomenal.

I agree. It was another moment I really didn't expect - but was much needed and sooooo good. :)
5th-Nov-2017 02:25 pm (UTC)
I know many fans were really upset with Dean over the last few episodes...this episode was a reminder that we are getting weekly chapters and to have faith the show knows what it is doing. (And yes, sometimes they don't...but at least so far this season they do seem to have a plan...)
5th-Nov-2017 07:53 pm (UTC)
I've seen a LOT of upset among Dean fans. I hope this episode softens some of that, because honestly, as a Sam girl? Even I see that Dean is hurting and really lost in that pain, so much so that he can't see beyond it, and THAT'S UNDERSTANDABLE! I certainly don't hold it against him.

This episode was so rewarding, in that it not only opened a lot of baggage, it actually addressed the mess.
6th-Nov-2017 10:58 am (UTC)
*nods* Their story is broken up and it sometimes takes patience to see where they are heading. Personally, I'm still burned by S9 and the lack of resolutions to all their arguments so I still worry we won't get scenes like this. Glad to be proven wrong! :)
5th-Nov-2017 03:23 pm (UTC)
A honkin' big YES to everything you said!
6th-Nov-2017 10:59 am (UTC)
*thumbs up* :))
5th-Nov-2017 07:02 pm (UTC)
Nodding like crazy. It's like they haven't actually forgotten who their lead characters are, under all the false starts and misdirection. I was so glad to have Sam able--finally--to reveal his personal feelings, to voice them for himself, and for Dean to hear. And for Dean to relent a little--though it felt like a huge step for him--toward Jack, and even toward Sam.

I don't recall needing an emotional cigarette after an episode in a very long time.

6th-Nov-2017 11:01 am (UTC)
I don't recall needing an emotional cigarette after an episode in a very long time.

Haha! Back in the day when I was smoking I probably would have reached for one after this. :))

though it felt like a huge step for him

It was a huge step. One he didn't really want to take but could see that he needed too.
5th-Nov-2017 07:16 pm (UTC)
It was definitely a better episode. I thought the shifter actress did a great job with the part and I think the writers were clever in how they finagled the plot in order to get the group in front of a counselor, even if it was for only 5 minutes. (Sadly, fandom always does the show better than the show itself. I recently read Ourobouros which was wonderful, fairly similar, and also at times hilarious http://gedry.livejournal.com/199089.html)

I saw the show several days ago and can no longer remember what her explanation was for the body parts in the tub, and yes, the skin, what?

I also found the parts with Cas to be dull, though in my case I felt watching Misha play double was the most interesting part. It was also a rather sad statement about the character who has turned into a punching bag of failure and afterthought over the seasons. Pretty hard to imagine him anymore as the conflicted but still impressive being of S4.

Honestly, given the show's impending closure I don't know why they don't just run with the whole "babysitting the antichrist" theme and do a whole lot more with introducing a new being to the world as they know it and making it the centerpiece of the season.
7th-Nov-2017 10:56 am (UTC)
Sadly, fandom always does the show better than the show itself.

Ha! They do! :)

what her explanation was for the body parts in the tub, and yes, the skin, what?

I don't believe she gave any. I mean, it had to be there for Sam to discover but it seems weird that she'd just leave it all there (unless she had JUST changed and had no time to clean it up.

Pretty hard to imagine him anymore as the conflicted but still impressive being of S4.

So much this. That powerful, yet conflicted character was interesting. Now he is a punching bag - literally and figuratively. He seems to be beaten up all the time.

and do a whole lot more with introducing a new being to the world as they know it and making it the centerpiece of the season.

Which they might do yet? Usually the second half of the season takes a different direction so that entity character might be back.
5th-Nov-2017 09:08 pm (UTC)
I loved this episode!! Many feels.. Well done Show, indeed. :D

And I enjoyed Cas and "the thing". It worked for me. :)

But, man, Sam and Dean in their grubby clothes on that spotless white sofa! :O It made me nervous!! :'D
7th-Nov-2017 10:57 am (UTC)
And I enjoyed Cas and "the thing". It worked for me.

Yay! I'm glad it did. :))

But, man, Sam and Dean in their grubby clothes on that spotless white sofa! :O It made me nervous!! :'D

Ha!! :D
5th-Nov-2017 09:26 pm (UTC)
I reeeeeally enjoyed this episode! I think Meredith Glynn did an amazing job at writing authentic-feeling dialogue, fantastic auxiliary characters, and she didn't forget that the show is its most poignant when its looking at the convolution that is the Winchester family. (Wayward Sisters may be written as more of an ensemble cast, but SPN was not. Sorry, detractors. The Winchesters are SPN's bread and butter.)

Okay, before I forget, pretty sure Bloodlines was the episode wherein shifters didn't shed their skins. And as far as I can tell, the show is pretending that episode didn't even really happen, heh. I think Mia steps behind the door (where there may be a bathroom?) and shifts back there. The scene of Mia shifting into Kelly just didn't have time to deal with all that, understandably. Not important to the story. All good.

Back to the meat of the episode.

I loved that Jack confronted Sam with the 'can opener' accusation right from the get-go. Jack's lack of filter is a blessing. And God, I loved how masquerading as clients ended up in actual counselling for Sam and Dean (and Jack).

Personally, I'm not torqued at Dean. His anger is perfectly understandable. He's absolutely lost in it, and let's face it: we lash out at our family easiest, because they're there for us. They're immediate and we hope they won't hold it against us because they know us. And as much as no one likes to admit it, when Dean is angry at a person, he does lash out, sometimes physically. Dean's negative emotions (self-loathing, doubt, loneliness, hopelessness, betrayal) frequently manifest as anger; they pop right to the surface and simmer there, a protective layer of spines like a cactus, so no one will touch him. So no one will dig at the tenderness just under his skin.

I know my eyes got as big as saucers when Sam finally busted out his own feelings about Mary. We so seldom get what's actually percolating around in Sam's noggin. I was shocked that anyone on the show's writing team noted what I'd thought I'd noted, that Mary just wasn't relating to her youngest son like she was to her eldest, even though Sam was trying to be gentle and generous with her. Giving her tools to get to know them, giving her space to get her brain wrapped the whole weird situation. I was pretty sure it was just a case of me waxing bitter in my Sam!girl status, heh. My "HOLY SHIT, THEY WENT THERE" face had nothing to do with mourning Dean and everything to do with missing Mary. I was amazed and so, so heartened.

I also super enjoyed how Ms. Glynn wrote Jack. He not only got some emotional follow-thru, he was artfully employed to tell us stuff about Sam and Dean ... NOT VICE-VERSA. I'm a big Jack fan, not gonna lie. The actor is doing a bang up job, and I have no concrete idea how his story is going to sway. Guesses, yes, but nothing certain. IT'S EXCITING.

Re. Castiel? Welp, I'm fascinated by this not-Cas thing in The Empty, but Misha's accent was so hammy, it kinda threw me out of their scenes. And pretty sure we haven't seen the last of him. I have no proof so this isn't any sort of spoiler, but I don't think that was our Cas at the end of the episode; that was bizarro!Cas, I'm predicting. Which could get deliciously sticky!

This episode smartly gave us notes of importance about all the characters, both A and B plots. They all had lovely scenes. Dean, at the end, softening after having digested what Sam had said, was tremendous. Actually offering an apology? DANG, commit that to memory! And Sam admitting that he, too, had heard and digested what Dean had said (and showing how much he still leans on his big brother's opinion), again, tremendous. CHARACTER GROWTH, PEOPLE. Without the characters feeling manipulated to do stupid things by the writers, or without becoming things that we hardly recognize. Ms. Glynn hit it outta the park.

I AM MOST PLEASED!







7th-Nov-2017 11:13 am (UTC)
Hey! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. :)) That's all pretty much me too.

I'm fascinated by this not-Cas thing in The Empty,

I am very curious about the character and what they plan to do with it. Though I do hope it changes into another character so Misha doesn't have to play it any more. His accent was very off-putting. Much like Lucifer, I can appreciate what he's trying to do there - and sometimes it did succeed, but I just didn't feel it was consistent enough. Aaaannyway. Probably nice for Misha to have another version of Cas to play.

I'm such a Jack fan too! I kinda hope they don't make him "evil" 'cause think that would make me sad...

And *nods* and *nods* about Dean. All those things! I'm just so glad it was addressed now rather leave it any longer. :)

*hugs*
7th-Nov-2017 06:11 pm (UTC)
I'm such a Jack fan too! I kinda hope they don't make him "evil" 'cause think that would make me sad...

I'm gonna call it now (again, no spoiler because I have no inside track), but I predict it will feel as though Jack is veering towards the darkside, then he'll pull it together and go good at the end.

Sam needs a win here. His faith has been written to be so woefully misplaced for season after season (Ruby, the BMoL), and Dean has said as much in this episode. I'd love to see Sam's trust and hope be rewarded for once. :)
9th-Nov-2017 01:56 pm (UTC)
Yep. If they play it right it will be a tug of war between the two. I just hope Sam's faith in him will see him through (like Dean's faith in Sam did). Seeing a mirror between Dean and Sam and Sam and Jack would be pretty cool. I'm just not sure I trust the Show THAT much. We'll see! xx
6th-Nov-2017 12:42 am (UTC)
I had so many of the same thoughts as you did, and I'm beyond thrilled that so many of us are still here wanting to talk about the show and finding things that still move us emotionally. how wonderful is that??

Alex is doing an amazing job as Jack - I can't even believe how much I like the character and am rooting for him - and having so much Sam and Dean conversation (honest conversation!) makes me feel like we're going back in time. Excellent writing on this one, and even tho I also felt a little thrown out of the Cas scenes by the other Cas being sort of over the top, I'm curious to see where it's going from here.

I just hope we stay at this quality for the rest of the season!
7th-Nov-2017 11:17 am (UTC)
I'm beyond thrilled that so many of us are still here wanting to talk about the show and finding things that still move us emotionally. how wonderful is that??

I know right?! I can't believe it myself. In fact, I thought I wouldn't want to write reviews this season, but it seems it's still grabbing me! :)

I just hope we stay at this quality for the rest of the season!

Me too! And even though I can't see myself watching WS I really hope it's successful for those who are involved and will watch it. It would be cool to have a SPN spinoff. I just worry that they have missed the reason why SPN has been so successful (hint, it's not the monsters...;D).


7th-Nov-2017 04:00 pm (UTC)
I think the actors know that. But TPTB? Oy.
6th-Nov-2017 10:21 pm (UTC)
The ep was so very enjoyable!! It was so good to see and hear Sam tell what he's feeling. Like you, I didn't expect to see that.

It was good that Sam addressed what Jack heard at the end of 13x03, but Sam also very carefully left out that Lucifer is also in the AU.

I'm probably one of the few who didn't cry during the Jack/shifter!Kelly scene but I'm not really emotionally attached to Jack. I'm kinda surprised that the Sam/Dean talk scene at the end didn't make me cry either, but that's because I was feeling so content that the boys were talking things out. :D
7th-Nov-2017 11:19 am (UTC)
but Sam also very carefully left out that Lucifer is also in the AU.

Oooh, yes. That's going to be a whole new can of worms.

And probably lack of tears is a good thing! :)
7th-Nov-2017 11:56 am (UTC)
YES, YES!!!! I LOVED this episode, I truly did, and I think Meredith did an all around wonderful job. Bring us more!!!!

I was flawed by Sam's words about his mother, and I loved it and I felt his pain and it was great to just hear his thoughts and emotions and how he is struggling to deal with it. I can definitely follow Dean's struggle; he's in pain and is taking it out on those close to him, which is perfectly understandable and so very human and real, we all do it. And I loved the ending with Dean saying, I'm sorry,stick me with, be my hope *happy teary smile*

I found the Empty creature quite fascinating (I agree I would have liked an original character to play it, though!) and I loved how it formed out of the empty and black - that was cool. I liked the idea that all the angels and demons are asleep there, and that Cas only woke because of Jack. But I agree, I want more out of Cas this season, and I want him to have direction and some fierceness and be a bit more assertive.

A lovely reaction, and I'm so happy that you enjoyed it too! take care *hugs*
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