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just enough to make us dangerous
9.11 ep reaction / review 
24th-Jan-2014 12:33 am
Jared blah blah hair
This may be the longest reaction/review I've ever written. It's far too long and I really should shorten it but there seems to be so much to say. It's a mix of reaction and an attempt to understand some things that were going on.

Sacrifice, love, family, friendship, betrayal, choice, loyalty, redemption, forgiveness, revenge, pain, purpose, awareness, stupidity and stubbornness. I'm sure I've missed a few but wow, this show is dealing with a lot of stuff.

I am rather blown away by the continued intensity and epicness of the issues this season. On the surface I felt this episode really delivered. A new myth arc is revealed (of which Dean seems to be the centre of) and more questions are opened up. Digging a little deeper I felt there were a few problems in the ep - but ultimately it didn't diminish my thorough enjoyment of it.

The story:

I suppose the show was always heading toward a Dean and Sam / Cain and Abel story line. They flirted with it in an earlier episode (5.13) stating that Sam and Dean are direct descendants of these biblical brothers (though wouldn't everyone be descendants in some way? ::not thinking too hard about that one::). It's a curous place to insert this new story direction. The angel possession issue still hangs over the brothers' heads, the fallen angels are still a major issue and the fight for leadership in Hell still rages. Clearly this isn't quite enough for the brothers to deal with so Dean is given the Mark of Cain which I imagine will be tied into the season finale somehow. Personally, I think this is pretty exciting. Sure they probably should stick to one problem at a time, but (if handled well) the mix could prove to be really interesting. I'm hesitant to speculate where they might be heading with this but I see some major angst heading into the season finale. ;) (Though man, can Dean take any more life consuming "burdens"? Surely he (and Sam!) have had their fill.

The characters


It's hard to know where to even start with Dean this season. I'm inclined to say it's been a messy journey (much like Sam's last season), but I actually think it's becoming clearer as the season progressed. I know some won't agree with this (seeing some comments throughout the season that Dean's only job is to get thrown around), but right from his highly questionable decision to let an angel possess Sam in the first episode he's been heading to the very moment he accepted the Mark of Cain. He needed to be full of enough self hatred that receiving it was unquestioned. He didn't care about the "burden" Cain mentioned. He's so full of revenge and low self worth that he just doesn't care. I know we've been here before with Dean (season five in particular), but I have no problem revisiting this (Carver seems to want to revisit many of the deeper character issues presented to us in earlier seasons). It's got a slightly different twist to the last time (less alcohol involved for instance) and I think this is probably a Dean who has even more self loathing that he's ever done before.

But this is the thing that struck me the most:

I posted this on tumblr earlier

This Dean reminded me SO MUCH of season 5's "future" (2014) Dean. There was a constant steely, murderous intent that Dean carried throughout the episode. I love the way Jensen maintained that. I have no idea if it was his (their) intention to mirror "future" Dean, but I rather loved it. I honestly don't think we are heading toward that particular version of the future (though I might just love it if they did!), but I rather love that they may be hinting at it.

Dean and Crowley

Jensen seems to create a very strong chemistry with whomever he plays opposite (particularly with male characters). As questionable as this partnership was it was fun to watch - there was definitely a level of energy between the two of them. I am so much happier with this version of Crowley than previous ones. He's much more conniving and mysterious. It's hard to know just how "bad" he is. Being turned into a human at the end of the last season casts doubt over his level of evilness. I think the dialogue between Dean and Crowley was some of the best in the episode.

Dean and Cain

The chemistry was there again between Dean and Cain. There was a simmering danger and wariness between them. I actually felt Dean's "bravery" (though some might call it stubbornness or stupidity) as he kept hounding Cain. Dean sure seemed to have a death wish (again, much like the Dean we saw in S5 just before he said yes to Michael).

The actor playing Cain was perfect. He gave it the gravitas the character needed (I haven't actually seen this actor before. Clearly I have been living under a rock). He was fabulous to watch.

One of my absolute favourite moments in the episode was that little scene of Cain's POV (by his wife's grave). We didn't really need that scene, but it brought a wonderful quality to the whole episode. The character was well developed (for such a relatively brief appearance). He's no doubt been introduced as a mirror to both Sam and Dean (in terms of sacrifice, choice, doing the "wrong thing for the right reasons" etc) and it will be interesting to see just how many of his past actions will be reflected in Sam and Dean's. Will Dean be put in a position of having to kill his own brother in order to "save" him? Will he perhaps pick up where he left off in Hell and be (finally) confronted with the choices he's made in the past? Will he make a better choice than Cain did? We'll have to wait and see.

Sam and Castiel

Oh boy! This one's a tough one to discuss because I both loved and disliked it at the same time. I'm not sure how that is possible but there it is.

I have been longing to have some Sam and Cas interaction in FOREVER so I was thrilled that we finally got that. On the surface I enjoyed it. The banter was fun and any chance to see some Sam pain is going to grab my attention. I appreciated the attempt at giving us something between them (thank you Robbie!) but I can't for the life of me figure out what we actually got. I watched the episode a second time simply to try and figure out why the scenes between them existed (other than needing to have Sam and Cas on the screen).

It could be just to see them bond - perhaps share their common experiences (which I know many of us have been begging for). But why? I'm not entirely sure what was achieved by the end. I don't think Sam felt any better for the experience (though maybe he did?) and all Cas seemed to do was express his better "understanding" of Sam - which is nice and all that but I wonder how that is going to help him in the future? Maybe he'll have to explain something to Dean about Sam later on that will help Dean. I suppose time will tell why that was important (I know that sounds callous but because it didn't feel organic (more forced) I feel like there had to be a deeper reason for why Robbie felt that we needed to see a whole episode of Sam and Cas bonding (other than fan service). Don't get me wrong - I'm happy to see it but I'd like if there was a reason for it all.

It could have been about finding Gadreel. But that was a bust. So nothing was achieved there. Unless of course Cas DOES know where Gadreel is and didn't tell Sam? Which doesn't actually make a lot of sense to me because after all the touchy feely talk nothing will have truly been changed for Cas if he's deceiving Sam. I felt he genuinely acknowledged his humaness (in a very clunky way) so turning around and lying to Sam would have meant that was all for nothing. He even asks Sam to join him in his search for Metatron so I don't think there was any deception there.

It was most likely about us seeing Sam's state of mind and seeing Cas's his new angel self. I thought it was disappointing that Cas had to tell us how he's changed rather than us actually seeing it. I know we got to see him make a decision to stop torturing Sam but I did think we'd get to see his new understanding of humans gradually as the season progress. Instead we were mostly told how he's changed (though other than psycho power hungry Cas I never got the sense that he didn't feel for humans. And I'm sure he's understands guilt from what we saw in S7 and S8).

Mostly I just felt it was a little forced and actually awkward at times. As much as it was nice to get the hug I can't figure out what compelled Sam to hug Cas (and expect a hug in return). Was it because Cas told him his life meant something? Was he missing Dean maybe? Cas reached out to him so maybe he's simply grateful for that. Maybe he was just thankful for being completely healed.

That's all very very nitpicky. I didn't hate it and in fact loved that it probably goes some way to balance out the constant Dean and Cas scenes we get.


Oh Sam. Aside from the clunkiness of some of the Cas and Sam scenes I actually liked a lot of what Jared was doing with Sam. It bordered a little on self pity, but I think he reigned it in enough to see that it was more about his continued belief that he's not worthy to either save or live. I'm a little confused by Sam's return to feeling like this though because we've often seen Sam acknowledge that there are some things that happen that are out of his control. Cas telling Sam that they've both screwed up in the past jarred me a little because it made it seem like Sam has screwed up this time. Of all the times Sam may have screwed up (and S4 is the only major Sam screw up that comes to mind) this is the LEAST of the Sam screw ups. I don't get why he'd be feeling responsible for Kevin's death. He accepted what Soulless!Sam did quicker than what his body was made to do with an angel inside him.

But. It's also very Sam. *slaps him upside the head*. I would like to think that he's continuing to feel like this because he not only failed to complete the trials (at Dean's begging), but that his brother felt that he didn't have the strength to be told the truth about the angel possession (didn't trust him with it etc). Sam seems to have picked up from where he left off at the end of S8. He feels that he has let down his brother and learning that Dean didn't trust him enough to make a choice about his own life, is now feeling even worse. He's angry (I did get that sense when Cas mentioned Dean) but he's also on a mission of revenge (these boys and revenge) and (*sigh*) redemption.

It also matches with what we saw in Sam's head when he was prepared to die. Sam accepts his fate. He accepts pain and whatever it takes to make things right. It's both sad and incredibly admirable.

Dean leaving Sam at this time is a pretty bad move actually. I'd say Sam needs some reassurance from Dean that he's not a screw up. But Dean's clearly got other priorities at the moment so maybe Sam will have to work it out for himself.

I will say though that I'm not seeing a weakened Sam in these last 2 episodes. Sure he's suffering but he kicked ARSE when he booted out Gadreel in the last ep and he took on that pain LIKE A BOSS in this ep. I have no idea what they plan to do with his story line. I am reserving judgment until we get a clearer picture. I now have a clearer idea of what I'd like to see though. But I'll be patient...

Awesome moments

The fight scene with Dean and the demons was pretty awesome (and annoying - see below)

Tara was awesome (until she wasn't - see below). She's actually one of the few women I see on the show that I can actually picture Dean with. Dean is often paired with brunette, rather demur women but I think older, gutsy women are more his match. That's totally personal of course (and I'm seriously hoping someone might write some Dean/Tara).

Sam enduring the pain for what he perceived was a greater good was both incredibly painful but also a lot of what I love about Sam. He, like Dean, is ridiculously stubborn (or brave, depending how you look at it). I might not (yet) understand what they're doing with Sam's story but I like seeing this determined, driven and kickass nature of his.

Cain and bees and corn. Good call.

Cas and sandwiches. Just something about that.

Sam and Cas poring over books and researching together. <3

Both Sam and Dean saying (something like) "we'll find it". Even though the other isn't there they refer to themselves as "we". So much love for that. <3

And even though the boys weren't together in this episode it felt like they connected in their struggles

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY DEMONS FIGHT WITH THEIR FISTS! I mean I know it makes for some great action (thank you) but with a wave of their hand they can pin a human to a wall. Or have I missed something? Maybe only certain demons can do that? We've seen both and I'm confused what they can and can't do.

Such shame Robbie couldn't find a better way for Tara to be killed by that demon (I really wish she hadn't been killed because I would have LOVED to have seen more of her) - but the gun shot on the Devil's trap (and failure to re-make it) was seriously weak and not worthy of the character they set up for her.

Needle in the neck. Not so much an annoyance but a WHAAAAA! That was cringe worthy! The pain must have been there for a reason. Sam suffering must be important somehow (or maybe they just like Sam in extreme pain).

I'm not sure why Dean's attention shifted so quickly from hunting Gadreel to teaming up with Crowley to hunt for the first blade. I'm assuming he had no leads on Gad so this was the next best thing (I get it in terms of the story telling but after last week it seems Dean was hell bent of finding Gadreel).

So did Cas take ALL Gadreel's grace? All that was so messy. Cas stopped extracting the grace because his humanness took over and he couldn't continue to hurt Sam and yet it was suggested that all the grace was gone anyway. And then Sam was reverting to his pre-possessed state and then Cas healed him fully. Why didn't Cas do that earlier? Could Cas only do that when all the grace was gone? Ack! it hurts my brain. Probably something I shouldn't be thinking so hard about. I don't think I'll ever fully understand what was going on in the Cas and Sam scenes.

Did you make it this far? GOLD STAR for you! (Or rather, Sam is a clinging t-shirt for you!). If you didn't wade through all that blather I'm still keen to hear your thoughts.

Despite my niggles I really did love that episode. I voted "4" in my poll. Thanks to those who also voted. I LOVED knowing what you all thought - it was nice to see that the majority was 5/4. :)

(For super spoilerphobes - there's a small character spoiler in the first comment..;D)
23rd-Jan-2014 02:42 pm (UTC)
i dont know what to think... i liked only Dean and Cain scenes...didnt like Cas's scenes with Sam as you said, clumsiness there so i just dont know what to think. next week more Garth....i just cant with him :(

Edited at 2014-01-23 02:47 pm (UTC)
23rd-Jan-2014 02:47 pm (UTC)
I really liked what they were trying to do with Cas and Sam (and I'm going to be forever grateful that we actually got that), I'm just hoping it all means something in the future. I think it was mostly to see what lengths Sam was prepared to go to to make things right and for us to know that Cas has somehow changed.

(just saw your edit. Fortunately I adore that character so I'm actually pretty excited for that one…;D)

Edited at 2014-01-23 02:49 pm (UTC)
23rd-Jan-2014 02:50 pm (UTC)
I think Sam feels responsible for Kevin's death because if Sam had completed the trials, or said no to Dean, he'd be dead and Gadreel wouldn't have been there to kill Kevin.
23rd-Jan-2014 02:53 pm (UTC)
Ah yes. He'd be thinking that. He chose Dean instead of choosing to finish the trials and he'd be feeling guilty about that. :(
23rd-Jan-2014 02:58 pm (UTC)
Well, it depends on how much Biblical lore the show is keeping- if they're keeping Noah's flood then, yes, everyone is a descendent of Cain or Abel. If not, then Cain and Abel had brothers and sisters :)

I enjoyed the episode- perhaps my favorite of the season so far! My only problem was that the Sam and Cas scenes felt like an interruption to the action rather than part of the story. And I get tired of seeing Sam being tortured/in pain.
24th-Jan-2014 07:21 am (UTC)
It certainly was a damn fine episode. Might not be an all time fav of mine, but it would certainly be up there. :)
23rd-Jan-2014 03:01 pm (UTC)
I have nothing intelligent to say. Just a clarification.

1- In the Bible, Cain and Abel have no descendants. Abel dies before he bears children, and then Cain is forced to wander the earth, blah-blah-blah, also no children. So Sam and Dean can't be their descendants, no matter what 5.13 said.

I'm just going to assume that SPN is not paying attention to its continuity again. (Like the thing about the Grand Canyon)

2- Cas DID take away all of Gadreel's grace. At the beginning of the process he mentioned that every time he healed Sam, some of it disappeared. So in the end, when he chose to stop extracting the grace and healed Sam entirely, what was left of the grace inside Sam vanished.

The grace was what was healing Sam/keeping Sam alive. So when Cas was extracting it, Sam began reverting back to his physical state before the healing had begun. Then Cas did some of his own healing from the outside and fixed Sam (and destroying the rest of Gadreel's remaining grace).

Make sense?
23rd-Jan-2014 05:12 pm (UTC)
Oh! Thank you for #2 - finally that DOES make sense.
23rd-Jan-2014 03:12 pm (UTC)
So after a couple of gut-wrenching hours, I'm caught up. I've been thinking a lot about the end!verse connection. Dean's close to that head-space, I think. He's also back in Purgatory mode a bit. The twist is that he's the one bearing the mark tying him to Lucifer this time, not Sam. (Still, Lucifer, so maybe Mark Pellegrino.) The fact that Sam is still around as himself makes a huge difference no matter what else is going on.

I think in terms of this episode, the Sam and Cas scenes (aside from fan service) serve to show that Cas is in a different spot than he was in The End. He's had a taste of humanity in very different circumstances than in a war and croatoan ravaged landscape. Right now, he's the bridge between Sam and Dean. If anyone can get Sam to see he needs to go get Dean, it'll be Cas. He's got working angelic grace, too. I'm sort of confused about whether he got all of Gad's grace out of Sam or not. I bet there's a bit left in there. I think it's important that this resets Sam back to pre-Gad status because he's one injection and words from closing the gates of Hell even if Cas did do some healing.

And Yes! to Crowley the schemer. He knows way too much about the history and secrets of Hell to just have been a Scottish tailor making a deal.

Why don't demons use guns?
23rd-Jan-2014 05:11 pm (UTC)
I like the thought of Cas being the bridge between Sam and Dean - that not only makes sense, it also gives Cas a much firmer purpose in the story than I was thinking he has... I hope that is how they use him, because I'm not really interested in a Castiel Metatron showdown.
23rd-Jan-2014 03:17 pm (UTC)
Carver is re-writing S4, probably to "fix" what he think Kripke didn't do. The Mark is Dean's demon blood. Crowley is his Ruby. Abaddon (and possibly Gadreel if they can tie him in) is his Lilith. Dean gets the continuation of his hell arc that got dropped, leading to Sam finally being able to save him from ~perdition like he didn't get to do back after S3. Sam will be both Dean's Abel and his Colette, which shows the dichotomy of what Sam means to Dean, both the dark and the light.
23rd-Jan-2014 03:29 pm (UTC)
I like this! It makes real sense...
23rd-Jan-2014 03:26 pm (UTC)
The thing I'm really enjoying about this incarnation of Crowley is that they're giving him the *best* lines, all pertinent to the 60s and 70s, which must have been a bit of a heyday. "Laverne, Shirley, get in here," last week, and then in this one he refers to "my droogs" which is a Clockwork Orange reference...

Oh and: someone needs to write that heyday, I'm thinking!

Edited at 2014-01-23 03:26 pm (UTC)
24th-Jan-2014 07:37 am (UTC)
Oh yes! I love all those references (especially has I "get" them…;D). Crowley has been given some great one liners this season - so much better than all the shouting he's done previously.

23rd-Jan-2014 03:38 pm (UTC)
" Sam is a clinging t-shirt for you"
Ha,ha,ha! When Sam too his shirt off, my heart skipped, but alas that was all to be discarded. Also why? Neck was above shirt also; mean trickery, I do declare.
24th-Jan-2014 07:38 am (UTC)
Hey! Oh my heart was skipping a beat or two (and I may have watched that scene a few times now!).
23rd-Jan-2014 03:59 pm (UTC)
Yeah, while I wanted them, I found the Cas and Sam scenes rather muddled and unsubstantial too. One moment if Cas took all the grace - he would die - the next moment he had taken all the grace and healed Sam, was what I saw. My immediate thought on the hug was rather darker than everyone elses - I thought that maybe the spell had worked, but only for Sam, perhaps he did have a connection, and the hug was for what he was going to do next. (go after Gadreel alone)Still, the trailer for next week seems to have negated that.
I enjoyed the Dean/Crowley.Dean does seem to have gone of the rails a little, as he always does without Sam. Again, with the inconsistent demon powers - that so niggles.Also confused how Crowley will get the blade if salt water is involved, but maybe he has a per kraken.
24th-Jan-2014 07:44 am (UTC)
I thought that maybe the spell had worked, but only for Sam, perhaps he did have a connection, and the hug was for what he was going to do next

Oooh, that could have been interesting. They probably haven't gone down that path but if there had been some grace left it could mean Sam was able to see something that Cas couldn't. I think we would have been given more of a clue if either of them had seen something (show is not subtle), so I'm thinking it was definitely a bust.

Also confused how Crowley will get the blade if salt water is involved, but maybe he has a per kraken.

Oh indeed. Salt water - one would think salt would be a problem (I have a feeling we might have to hand wave that one…or a pet kraken would be a good solution.)
23rd-Jan-2014 04:43 pm (UTC)
My feeling thank god we finally gave Dean an arc. About freaking time. And I like it if Sam has to make descisions to get his brother back on track curious if Cass will be there to save his friend. I found Cass and Sam forced like well we have two characters what do we do with them. I would rather that if cass and sam have a friendship not forced with him at the bunker especially when he is suggesting they talk to dean or get dean in on what they are planning.

Dean and Crowley were great and Jensen man ah could watch that man for hours kick demons ass. Enjoyed Jensen playing off Mark and Timothy that was great.

My thinking is that since that is not Cass's grace in him its someone else it maybe some of cass in there but guessing he has to be influenced by the new grace. And I think he knows where Gadreel is and did not tell sam. Sam can't take on an angel and i like that druken dean knew what bar he worked at so dean has better leads then sam. If i were sam since Dean is hunting both gadreel and abaddon he would be better working with him. Anyway I like where the storyline is going. Going to be intresting to see how they work off each other in the next eps with garth.
24th-Jan-2014 07:49 am (UTC)
My feeling thank god we finally gave Dean an arc.

Hee, I have seen this sentiment around the place. Personally I've always considered Sam to have an arc, but I'm thinking people mean that he's someone directly affected by something supernatural. I'm excited for this new development.

My thinking is that since that is not Cass's grace in him its someone else it maybe some of cass in there but guessing he has to be influenced by the new grace.

Yeah, this is a good point. Though I'm pretty sure Cas's character arc is about him understanding what it is to be human after being human himself. I think that's pretty genuine. I have no idea what it means yet for him to have another angel's grace. Maybe grace doesn't have a personality - it just powers and angel. I suppose we'll have to see. I would hate to have had all that character development only to be told that it wasn't really him.

I'm very curious to see how they are going to bring them back together.
23rd-Jan-2014 05:06 pm (UTC)
I agree with just about everything you've said here, especially the Cas parts. I'm coming to the conclusion they really are only giving Cas so much story time as fan service, because they are not convincing me that they have any idea what to do with him. And he suffers from more character changes and inconsistencies at the hands of the writers than any other character.

Your demon fighting gripe has been bugging me for a long time. We've seen demons many times able to just snap a neck from a distance as well as, as you point out, fling people into walls - yet suddenly there are a bunch of demons who are nothing more than slightly souped up humans that are a bit hard to kill without a Ruby knife or angel blade - or, it seems, Cain power.

Which is interesting, because how come Cain's special powers don't have anything to do with Lucifer's mark? You'd have thought that might have been the distinguishing factor that made Cain such a powerful demon in the first place, yet he gave his mark to Dean AND kept it himself too. (I saw it was still on his arm before he red-lighted the demon army at the end. Weird. And confusing. I hope they are going to address this but I am not holding my breath.

Cain - "I haven't actually seen this actor before. Clearly I have been living under a rock" - me too! And he was one of the best guest actors they've had on for ages. I assume we will see him again as he is going to call Dean to him to kill him...

Oh and there's another point - I wasn't thinking that they've brought Cain in so Dean is going to have to kill Sam - because I assumed that the scenario that paralleled Cain and Able's situation has already happened to Sam and Dean - and Dean refused to kill Sam to stop him talking to Lucifer. So Dean didn't follow in Cain's footsteps there (either the biblical version or Cain's new version). And I have no idea if anything I write there makes sense. LOL
24th-Jan-2014 11:20 am (UTC)
I'm coming to the conclusion they really are only giving Cas so much story time as fan service, because they are not convincing me that they have any idea what to do with him.

*hands* I can't say I know either. Though a comment from a Cas fan suggests that this is good character development for him - so I accept that there's probably something going on for him here. I mean, I see it as Cas (finally) becoming the kind of angel that we imagine angels to be like (good and sympathetic to humans). The thing will be whether we get to see him be that. I think we were meant to in that episode, but I felt that we were told about it rather than actually see a "new" Cas. Unfortunately Cas is a victim of his own success. I'm sure TPTB do not want to face the backlash of killing him off so they need to keep creating story lines for him.

Which is interesting, because how come Cain's special powers don't have anything to do with Lucifer's mark?

Good question. If the mark contains any power then surely Dean would have that power now too? Or would Dean have to actually become a demon first before he got the power maybe? And I admit I didn't notice that Cain still had the part too. Hmmmm…curious.

And I have no idea if anything I write there makes sense.

Oh it makes great sense! I think that's a good observation. Dean has already prevented Sam from talking to lucifer so this has to be about something else (yay, because as much as I love what Jared did with Lucifer I don't want to go back there - unless it's to somehow reenact the future we saw in The End). I'm wondering now if this might have something to do with Sam having to somehow save Dean from becoming the "evil man" that the Mark signifies (I'd actually like to think so. I've been longing to see Sam save Dean from something major)

*bounces* Show is seriously BRINGING IT this season..

23rd-Jan-2014 05:16 pm (UTC)
My Dean love is still in abeyance, but I did enjoy Jensen's performance much more this week: I think he has fun with the darker edge (I absolutely loved his portrayal of 2014!Dean) and is engaged with it, so it didn't give me the embarrassing feeling that he was half overdoing it and half phoning it in that I got in his reaction to Kevin's death. And I do like the parallel with Cain: in all the contrasts and similarities between them, these are both people whose definitions of saving, protection, and love have turned into horror stories. But there's hope for Dean of choosing a different outcome: he could still turn the story around and learn to redefine his core values in ways that accept his brother's personhood rather than destroying it.

The Sam and Cas scenes suffered both from clunky writing (RT's besetting sin in heavy emotion -- I saw it in the Dean parts, too, with the anvilicious line about Dean's self-hatred, and that flaw appeared before in the "home" parts of the Oz episode and in Goodbye, Stranger) and from waving away a lot of important Cas characterization regarding guilt in order to have the frankly stupid "now I have been human and eaten peanut butter and I understand" moment. I'm still uncomfortable with the narrative harping on Sam's mistakes, especially at a point where Sam has been the victim of a massive, longterm violation and betrayal by someone else's choices, but it does make sense for Sam, I think: depression in the wake of body-violation is pretty common and natural. And I like that Sam tries to reclaim agency (and maybe ownership of his body) with a proactive attempt to do something risky for the good. I actually like the unhealthy edge of self-destructiveness rather than pure altruism there: Sam's half-constructive, half-damaging coping mechanisms have always been pleasing to me.

I hope that they are going somewhere where Sam's hard-learned lesson of reaching for salvation in response to guilt is something he can pass on to Dean, and that he can both save Dean (rather as he saved Cas in 7.1) and let Dean have the necessary growth of being responsible for saving himself. I also hope that Sam will stop turning blame so much inward and express his anger, for his own sake and even more for Dean's.
24th-Jan-2014 01:53 pm (UTC)
so it didn't give me the embarrassing feeling that he was half overdoing it and half phoning it in

Oh yes. I've been hesitant to mention that but until this episode I have feel like we haven't really seen a totally committed performance from Jensen. I like what he was doing in the pilot, but the rest has been a little lack lustre (though I suppose the material could be blamed for that). Both actors seem to shine when they are pushed. Jared has been eating it up, so it's great to see Dean follow suit.

(RT's besetting sin in heavy emotion

Yeah, I've been seeing this more and more from him. Robbie has been one of my favourite writers for a while, but he's becoming less subtle with the message he wants to get across. I was really disappointed that he made Cas say all that stuff to Sam about understanding him, his guilt and humans etc. An action and maybe one word would have done it. I do like the way he structures his scripts though.

And I like that Sam tries to reclaim agency (and maybe ownership of his body) with a proactive attempt to do something risky for the good.

Ah! that might be why we had to see the pain. I've been puzzled by the reason we had to see Sam physically suffer so much (the extraction didn't necessarily need to be excruciating - though I suppose it was the catalyst for Cas deciding to stop). Sam accepting and even welcoming pain seems to be some sort of self punishment.

I also hope that Sam will stop turning blame so much inward and express his anger, for his own sake and even more for Dean's.

Yeah. It might be something Dean needs to actually see to understand. Though I suspect Dean would rather see anger (it's something he was expecting after all) than a quiet acceptance. I imagine seeing Sam carry the blame for Kevin's death will eat him more than if Sam just punched him in the face.
23rd-Jan-2014 05:31 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow. Loved all of this.

Loved the Sam and Castiel bits, as I've always thought that Sam had more in common with Castiel than Dean ever did. (Also loved how Castiel pointed it out.) Absolutely ADORED the Dean - Crowley scenes, because as you said, chemistry. And yes, the actor who played Cain was perfection.

I had a ton of other thoughts, from the Sam-Dean / Cain-Abel connection, to Sam's apparent depression, to Castiel's apparent turnaround (and admission of guilt), to Crowley doing some very un-demonlike things . . . and especially how and why Tara died, because that may just be foreshadowing of the finest kind.

I'm afraid for the end of S9, because either the writers are going to carry through spectacularly with what was begun in this episode and kill us all . . . or they're going to drop the ball even more spectacularly and make a mess of something that could have been great.
(My faith in the writers is ever-shifting.) ;)
24th-Jan-2014 02:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks hun!

as I've always thought that Sam had more in common with Castiel than Dean ever did.

Oh yes. It's why I've been hanging out to have this (type of) scene between them. They really did mention all the things that probably needed to be said (it could have been a little less clunky, but I appreciate the idea of it. :)

and especially how and why Tara died, because that may just be foreshadowing of the finest kind.

Ooh, what do you mean? Tara's death actually had a purpose?? (that would be cool!)

(My faith in the writers is ever-shifting.) ;)

Oh mine too. I feel let down and then they give us stuff like the last two episodes (and the pilot). I'm pretty excited by what they have (mostly) been doing this season though. Still totally hooked….;)

23rd-Jan-2014 05:44 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed the episode and liked that the action paired Dean and Crowley while Sam and Cas got some screen time.

Sadly, I also felt the screen time they got was kind of awkward. And Cas mentioning how much Sam had screwed up ---- what? Cas hardly has room to talk as his past mistakes seem on par with Gadreel's in many respects. In addition, in the SAME EPISODE Dean is all "I'm gonna work with Crowley" and "I don't care about the consquences - give me this Cain mark that is Lucifer's doing so I can gank a demon" and Sam's mistakes are the ones highlighted in dialogue?

((sorry to rant a bit there -- I really did like the episode!))
ETA: All three characters have made mistakes over the past 9 seasons, I just found the way Cas chose to compare himself to Sam obstuse.

I did find it believable that Sam wouldn't have shrugged off guilt for Kevin so quickly, but Cas didn't help the matter. I guess the hug was Sam's way of thanking him for trying - like "A for effort man, but you suck at this" haha!

I did like the possibilities this mark of Cain is setting up though, and when Cain calls.... that ought to be interesting.

Crowley's not as demonic as he was. I'm wondering if the effects of the trials on him and his human blood addiction are going to come up again?
((spoiler free -- just wondering))

And I tried not to get too attached to Tara as it seemed logical the moment the walked into the pawn shop she wasn't going to make it. :/ I would've loved to hear more about her and John though - John kept a picture of her, he must've wanted to call - even if he didn't.

Edited at 2014-01-23 05:53 pm (UTC)
24th-Jan-2014 02:32 pm (UTC)

And Cas mentioning how much Sam had screwed up ---- what?

Hee, I know. I felt like saying - Sam hasn't actually screwed up that much. I mean, I know he let Lucifer out but he wasn't the only one responsible for that. He drank demon blood but other than that I'm not sure what his screw ups actually are? Of course, I know Sam doesn't think like that - he'd blame himself for bad weather if he had the chance.

((sorry to rant a bit there -- I really did like the episode!))

Ha! Never apologise for that. I think it's great to get little annoyances off our chests. It doesn't mean we don't love an ep any less.

I would've loved to hear more about her and John though

Oh yes. John's a bit like Dean in that regard I think. Love 'em and leave 'em.

23rd-Jan-2014 05:49 pm (UTC)
I agree with much that's been said here. Basically, I'm reserving judgment till the end of the season and I see what Carver, et al, do with things and stuff, plotlines, arc, character. I did enjoy this week's ep.

I did want to point out that the Cain actor, Timothy Omundson, plays Carlton Lassiter on the series Psych. I don't know if that series is available outside the US or not. But yeah, same actor. The beard makes a marked difference in how he's perceived.
24th-Jan-2014 02:42 pm (UTC)

Yeah, reserving judgement is a good idea. I'm mostly doing that too. It's hard to be overly critical when we haven't seen the entire story yet.

Timothy Omundson, plays Carlton Lassiter on the series Psych

I've seen references to him being on Psych. I've heard of the show but I've never watched it. He was incredibly good.
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