Aw Robbie Thompson. He sure knows how to tap into what fandom loves about the show. He's often criticised for that (which I get) but at a time when the show seems to be struggling to give (some) fans the thing that made them fall in love with the show in the first place, I think he provides a much needed balm.
Where with "Baby" and "Fan Fiction" he was writing "special" episodes that seemed almost independent of the series, this episode slotted itself into the current myth arc and worked as a solid MoTW.
I liked this episode a lot. I generally prefer MoTW eps (with small injections of myth arc), but this episode offered some quiet character notes that were successful due to Jared and Jensen's thoughtful performances and John Badham's compassionate direction. I love it when a director allows moments to linger. There was action, but he allowed the camera to stay on the actors in order to tell a deeper story. All the actors were strong in this episode and, as I have claimed before, I believe that comes down to the director.
A notable difference was Misha's performance as Lucifer. He's got huge shoes to fill after both Mark and Jared have played Lucifer, but this week's portrayal was more steady than last week's. I still think he has some "settling in" to do (namely getting rid of the face pulling), but it was certainly easier to watch.
But mostly it was the quiet characterisations and confirmation of the depth of love between the brothers that struck the biggest chord with me. I know we don't need to be constantly told that the boys love each other but it's bloody nice when do. I know it can be seen as fan pandering but at this stage (after 4 years of the brothers mostly being at odds with each other) I NEED THAT!
I just have to say…WHAT THE HELL is going on?! We have season after season of Sam sky-diving (leaving the scene so Dean can have a deep and meaningful with the character of the week) and pretty much being ignored (in terms of POV) and this season he's being given time to understand what's going on in his head. I am not complaining, but I'd love to know what's gone on behind the scenes to make this happen. Again - I'm not complaining! I'm loving it!
I am not going to dissect Sam's stuff because I just think there's too much disconnect (between what I feel I know about Sam and what the show tells me), but I will say this episode closed a chapter for him and I am glad about that. I think we can finally move past the "Sam didn't look for Dean - and the Amelia" storyline because this episode told us to. We will all have feeling/ideas/headcanons about that but this episode pretty much said "we're moving on now". And I am glad. Even though it ended up with Sam apologising (ugh - don't get me started), it fits into Sam's "I'm guilty of everything" characterisation and I'm just going with it. I hate that Sam continues to feel that he's let Dean down (and that Dean feels that Sam has actually let him down - even though he has also moved on from any of those let downs), but ranting about it is not going to achieve much. Let's just say it's probably the thing that makes me love Sam even more - he takes responsibility for hurting other people (even when he probably shouldn't).
I also loved that Sam was allowed to have emotions tied to his experience in the cage. He didn't just have to "get over it". The MoTW helped him connect to his feelings about his past, about Dean and about hunting. He was traumatised and we actually got to see that (be still my heart!)
So much love for Dean in this one. I am so so damn happy they have moved on from MoC (kind of a dick), full of guilt and self loathing Dean. I know "caring about Sam" is not everyone's favourite flavour of Dean, but it is mine. I don't hold the belief that everything about Dean has to be Sam, but I do love him being in-tune with Sam, trying to make Sam smile and just generally being nice to him. I prefer both of them being nice to each other actually. :) I would have liked Dean to counter Sam's apology with "we've both done things we regret" rather than confirm Sam needs to apologise for it, but it was nice to hear him say he's moved on and doesn't hold Sam countable (which I think was a message to fans. I'm sad they brought about a storyline in which that had to happen, but there it is).
It was also Dean's gentle nature with the victims, his sense of humour and genuine confusion over what's going on with Amara that I enjoyed. I really liked Jensen's performance in this ep - especially that final scene. It was wonderfully subtle.
We got more about his "connection" (attraction?) to Amara. This is really curious and I like that it's more complex than just a "trance". This episode suggests that Dean is feeling a level of love - it may not be real love, but for Dean it's giving him something he needs and possibly wants. Will this end up going anywhere? Who knows. The next writer might decide it's purely a supernatural bond and not explore Dean's deeper need to be in love. I might be reading too much into this, but it was one of the most intriguing elements in the episode. Delving into Dean's need for love is more interesting to me than his lack of self loathing. Though they are possibly connected.
Dean not telling Sam (but telling "Cas") is also interesting. I think it's mostly done to create the drama and tension, but in terms of the characterisation I think we can argue that Dean doesn't want to appear weak to Sam and as he doesn't really know what's going on he's afraid to say anything (in other words, I'm *handwaving*, because it's really only there to build up to some big reveal later on). Telling "Cas" gives Lucifer leverage and no doubt this will be used later on.
I loved the two female OC's - Eileen and Mildred. They were charming - and damn if they weren't me (ogling the boys!) It was nice that they ended up saving Sam and Dean - a nice twist. I love the introduction of a deaf hunter (though I suspect that would be tricky at times) - and that the actress playing her, Shoshannah Stern, is actually deaf. She brought a lot of heart to the role and it would be great to see her again. Dee Wallace as Mildred was gorgeous - a confident, flirty, content older woman appeals to me (for some reason…;D).
The brother banter was fun (and kinda delicious - if I wanted to "wincest" this ep it would be so damn easy!). It could have been cheesy, but the Js gave it heart and truth and pulled it off. It's great when they have the chance to play the roles as caring brothers rather than fighting each other. I don't know about you, but they seemed to embrace it (much like they did in "Baby").
Dean's vulnerable. Dean's "pining" for Amara. I'm so damn curious about this.
Lucifer on Earth seems to be about him genuinely wanting to smite Amara - which I suspect he'll probably do. Then Cas will have to beat him and…*meh* not going to speculate. Anything could happen I suppose.
Sam has a mementoes box. Nice addition to canon. It had the fake amulet in it (Robbie's choice I suspect) and pics of him and Dean as teens (swoon) and the famous family pic that he gave to Dean to break the MoC spell. And yeah - I'm sure Dean's real amulet is in there too. ;) It opens up that possibility now doesn't it?
More brother touching! This time it's Sam's turn to fuss over Dean. <3
Dean bashing his head against the wall freaked me out! That's gotta be some concussion.
"As long as we're together". Damn it show! Don't turn this on it's head in the next few eps. Ok? Good.
Beautiful bro mirroring with Sam starting out as the one tossing and turning in bed and it ending with Dean doing that.
Aw Robbie. As much as I don't like it when writers tap into fan's desires because they follow what we're up to on-line, I kinda love it too. If an episode leaves me with those kind of warm fuzzies I'll take it. So much better than feeling bitter and frustrated.