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).