(it's mostly a surprise to me be because a) it was a Duo ep and b) it had Crowley and Rowena in it and I'm generally not that interested in their dramas)
I was ready to dismiss this episode as one that just wasn't going to be for me. I didn't make an effort to watch it while I was away because I just didn't think would be one that I'd like.
Turns out I did like it and, actually, it helped make more sense of what they're doing this season.
Sure, it had some MAJOR *head scratching* moments (which I'll touch on later) but because it had a couple of really good pay-offs (I'm all about the pay-offs!) it ended up being quite satisfying.
The main reason it worked for me is because Mary made more sense (compared to last week's episode where she seemed prepared to let her sons die) and Sam's torture was (finally!) mentioned. It also highlighted the theme that is running through this season - motherhood and parenting.
Sam and Dean were solid and I loved that when Sam was recalling his torture they cut to Dean's worried face. There was a lovely solidarity between them - especially when having to listen to what Mary has been up to.
I was relieved that Mary actually voiced her reasons for siding with the BMoL - they may be naive and short-sighted reasons, but at least she was able to let us know what's going on with her. I was also thankful she confessed to the boys - anytime a secret is out in the open is satisfying. I also really loved that we didn't get to hear what she said - just that she was giving them her reasons. I feel like I'm back on track with her characterisation after this episode.
I really liked the ghosty moments - they were pretty creepy and that's always a win. :)
I liked Gavin - his comment about not fitting mirrored Mary's and Cas's previous statements about not fitting in. He was also a good son (like Sam and Dean) to parents who aren't exactly paternal (maybe mirroring Mary and John?).
And I absolutely loved Mark's Lucifer. He is captivating to watch - his performance was devious, with an delicious edge of danger.
The music montage at the end was excellent.
All that said I think this episode works best without thinking too hard about it. Some of my *head scratches* were:
* I found it a tough sell that Crowley cared for Gavin at all. We've seen nothing of him since his last appearance and we've not seen Crowley develop a relationship with him. His death would have been much more powerful if that had been established before this episode. It did mirror the lack of connection we saw between Rowena and Oskar - the child she was supposed to have loved. I LIKED the revenge element from Rowena (very within her character), but it made little sense without us feeling anything for either of their losses.
* Cas seems to be having a very hard time locating Kelly, whereas others seemed to locate her easily (not surprising if she decides to walk backstreets by herself!)
* Time travel is always difficult to pull off and sending Gavin back would have changed so many timelines it's just not worth thinking about (not least that the teachers wouldn't have died so Sam and Dean wouldn't have investigated their deaths...etc. etc). Having Fiona appear during the spell also made no sense - he was being sent back so she wasn't bitter so that needed to happen before she/he died. Anyway *handwave*
* Crowley kept a rotting meat suit? Really? Why?! And how is it able to contain Lucifer now? (maybe I missed that piece of exposition).
After this episode I can see the potential for some interesting developments. I'd liked to be able to trust them with the exploration of parenting - if they can make it multi-faceted it could be really good. Even though I'm getting a sense that the show is getting kinda tired (or maybe that's just me?) it seems to be still managing to pull out some entertaining episodes.