Supernatural: S13E12 – “Various and Sundry Villains”

 

     Hey everyone, I’m here and I have a lot of feelings about this episode so I’m ready to jump in to this discussion about “Various and Sundry Villains”.

Then:

     Rowena is back this episode so you might want to brush up on her appearances. Her first episode came back in episode 10.03 and then she was a pretty consistent recurring character ever since. Too many episodes to list here, anyway.  Check here if you want to see which episodes or just to brush up on her storyline. We will be seeing Cas and Lucifer this episode  and you might remember (since we haven’t seen them in a few episodes) that they are locked up in Asmodeus’ jail and Lucifer is running low on Grace. That makes him almost as helpless as an evil little baby. There were no callbacks to season 1 that I can see in this episode, so maybe these callbacks aren’t as deliberate as I thought they were. I’m certainly not seeing anything so far this season to suggest that season 1 is playing any large part in the storyline here in season 13.

Now:

      Two witches charm poor Dale into stealing and killing for them, then they kill him. Oh, and they’re on their way to Lebanon, where the bunker is. Hmmm. Speaking of the bunker, the boys are studying up to find an alternate way into the universe where Jack and Mary are. By the way, Dean should never get anywhere near French and Sam’s accent is…well, it’s not good. Dean’s all upbeat about finding an answer, but Sam’s a bit more cynical.

Dean – “It’s like you said, we just got to keep our heads down and do the work.”
Sam – “That’s what you said.”
Dean – “And I was right.”

         Never change, Dean! Dean is starting to think something’s up with Cas (Finally! Of course it’s Dean who realizes Cas is…off…with all the questions about Sam and Dean and no leads. But he’s not quite to the point of suspicion yet.) Dean decides to leave the books to Sam and go on a beer run.

Speaking of Cas, we check in on him and Luci cooling their heels in Asmodeus’ clink. The random demon guarding them (“They call me “Dipper.” “And you let them.”) cruises by once in a while to insult Luci’s…stick. (Bet that Chekov’s stick will come into play later on!) Luci snarks back like he’s at full power, but as Cas reminds him, he’s not at full power. This is exactly why all the demon minions feel comfortable enough insulting him the way they do. Luci tries to talk Cas into letting him eat some of his Grace so that he’ll be powerful enough to get them out of there, but Cas is absolutely not going to let Luci eat his Grace and become more powerful while Cas gets weaker. He calls it sick cannibalism. Luci reminds Cas not to be so harsh about him wanting to eat Cas’ Grace as Cas himself ate Grace when he needed to not so long ago. We also learn Luci views Asmodeus as his weakest creation, and that he has learned some new powers like shape-shifting that Luci never gave him. (What’s up there? Does it involve Ketch? Did he find some kind of magic for Asmodeus to increase his abilities?) Cas takes some pleasure in the fact that Luci just admitted he is too weak to beat even his weakest creation. That smile was everything!

At the beer store, Dean responds to a girl calling for help and it turns out it’s one of the witches from the intro (Sis 2) and her sister is lying on the ground (Sis 1). Sis 2 is asking Dean to help her “suddenly collapsed” sister as an excuse to slip a hex bag in his pocket, enchanting him to fall in love with Sis 1. Sis 2 tells Dean to kiss Sis 1 because that’s how you’re supposed to save your true love. That part is totally unnecessary for the spell, I think Sis 1 just told her sister to say that to get a kiss from Dean Winchester. Now me, I want my kisses to come willingly, but I can’t say as I blame her choice here either! Awake, Sis 1 asks if he is Dean Winchester (have they been trying this on all the guys at the beer store until they found him?)  and he admits he is.

    We cut back to the bunker where Sam says he thinks Dean was right and they should call Cas because…we never find out because Sam realizes Dean is not acting like himself.  He’s light and carefree and downright cheerful. Something must be wrong! I love that when Dean Winchester is given the excuse of being free from all of the worries and cares that weigh him down, Jensen Ackles gives us such a light and different portrayal of what Dean Winchester looks like free of that burden. Dean, with goofy smile plastered on his face, gushes… HE GUSHES!…about how he’s in love with “Jamie”. ( I wish my name was Jamie, I’d make that soundbite into my ringtone, the noise my computer makes when starting up, my answering message… every damn thing!) He tells Sam he’s going to ask her to move in with him, if that’s okay, all the while going about digging out the Black Grimoire from its hiding place. Sam, of course, wants to know what the hell Dean is doing, thinking Dean’s been spelled. But Dean’s thinking more of setting Sam up with Jamie’s sister than answering Sam. Awww, even spelled, Dean’s thinking of how to stay close with Sam! Sam isn’t convinced about the double wedding, so he tries to stop Dean, but Dean just lays him out with one punch. More proof that Dean is better at the fighting than Sam is. Every time the two boys have come up against each other, and Dean is really trying to win, he wins. The only exception was when Sam was hopped up on demon blood. And even then, I don’t think Dean’s heart was really in it.

So Dean heads back to his “true love” to hand over the book. Jamie’s about to crush his head in with the sledgehammer (rude!) when Sam drives up, demanding she get away from Dean and pointing his gun at her for emphasis. Dean isn’t too happy with that development and he attacks Sam again. The ladies use that moment to escape, just in case “the one with the hair actually wins”. (Not a chance!) Before Dean can put Sam down with a chokehold, (see!) they’re blasted apart and who before their wondering eyes should appear? It’s Rowena, herself, outside the store with the beer! And she comes in with a much missed “Hello boys!”

Back with Cas and Luci, “Dipper” lets Cas know that they have big plans for him once Asmodeus returns. (What, exactly, is he out doing?) Luci uses this moment to start working on Cas again to get his Grace. He reminds Cas that they need to be worried about getting ready to face Michael when he crosses over, not wasting time in a cell. Cas doesn’t even 100% believe Luci is telling the truth about Michael planning to come over to their universe. Luci assures him that if it’s Michael’s plan, it’s a done deal. Cas wonders how much time they have and Luci says it depends on how much time Michael wastes torturing Mary. Cas again thinks Luci is lying, and Luci says that Cas has him beat in the lying department, which is saying something. So…he’s basically saying he has told a lot of lies…then goes on to say he actually doesn’t lie, that it’s just bad press? He tells Cas that people just don’t like the hard truths he shares, so they label them as lies instead. So are you a huge liar Luci, or are you just misunderstood? Either way, Cas is holding his own in these exchanges and here he fights back by sharing some hard truths of his own. He tells Luci that Jack is nothing like him, he’s thoughtful and kind and caring. (I love just how much this bothers Luci!) Luci gets pissy and takes it out on his “little stick”. Oh, looks like some of his power is coming back. Is it enough to break him out? (And will he take Cas?) We’ll just have to wait to find out as we’re heading back to the bunker.

    The boys are with our favourite red-headed witch (who so far has not burned Dean to death) and they are wondering how she has managed to stay alive. Me too! I could have sworn that at some point after her last resurrection, Rowena said it was a one time only deal. Can anyone else confirm this or confirm that I’m mis-remembering?  Anyway, when asked if it was a resurrection spell, Rowena sort of hand-waves it away. Maybe to avoid the fact that the resurrection spell can’t be used twice and the writers didn’t want to commit to some other answer either? Perhaps. However she got here, she is here and she’s looking for the Black Grimoire. She wants it in order to use one of its spells to loosen the magical constraints the Grand Coven had placed on her back in the day. Why? Because she’s scared of Luci after he has now killed her twice, and if there’s a third time, she wants the “charm” to be on her side. Why did she show up just as the Grimoire has been stolen? Well, back when she last had hands on it, she placed a tracking spell on it so that she could feel if it was moved from the bunker. It was, so she came. The boys aren’t too interested in letting Rowena get her hands on the book (and more power) but because of her spell, she’s the only one who can lead them to the Grimoire. Therefore, they very reluctantly agree to work with her to retrieve the book.

Sam – “We’ve handled witches before.”
Dean – “You’re familiar with our work, right?”

Oh boys, you may be amazing hunters overall, but when it comes to witches, you just don’t have the wins to justify this level of cocky! The only witches you’ve defeated have been because you had help or because they were just “baby” witches. Any time you’ve come up against older witches, you’ve had a really tough time of it. And don’t forget that Rowena is one of the oldest witches you’ve faced, and one of the most powerful. Don’t rule her out just because she hasn’t yet decided to take you out once and for all! Rowena tries to convince them that she’s a changed witch since getting her skull slowly bashed in by Lucifer and she isn’t looking to dominate, just to protect herself. Oh, and she also wants to know just where Fergus is. *Gulp*

We check in on the witch sisters and find Sis 2 reading the Grimoire while Jamie is picking up supplies at the hardware store. Sis 2 is having trouble deciphering it, as it’s in the witches’ version of Olde English. It’s obvious that they’ve been here before as they know the cashier…and the cashier knows them as shoplifters. Sis 2 realizes they need a soul to sacrifice for the spell, so they enchant one of the guys working at the store. Risky!

    Rowena finds out Crowley is dead, sacrificed for the cause of good. Sam thinks she would have been proud of him (um, this is Rowena, not really a “side of good” kind of person) but Rowena says she’d rather have a live son who hates her than a dead hero to be proud of. Sam tries again, saying that because of Crowley, Lucifer is trapped in another dimension (Narrator: “He’s not.”) Rowena wisely knows that Lucifer will be back. Changing tack, the boys ask just what kind of damage the girls can do with the book. Rowena says she’s sure the two have big plans for it. Sam wisely says it seems like Rowena knows the two girls (Narrator: “She does.”) but she plays it off like she just remembers what it was like to be a witch at that age. She also gives them credit for outwitting Dean and wants to know if they got to “fifth base.” When Dean assures here there’s no such thing, she responds with “oh, you poor, sheltered boy!” Okay, now I NEED to know what fifth base is! Rowena tells the boys that if she helps them, she’s hoping they will change their minds about helping her protect herself by giving her the book. The boys quickly reassure her that they will never change their minds. (Narrator: “Sam does.”)

We’re back with the sisters and Sis 2 (now known as Jenny) is scared about doing the spell, as it’s the hardest one she’s ever attempted, by a long shot, and there’s so much to lose if the spell goes wrong. Apparently, they’re trying to revive their Mom to her previous healthy state. This whole time, we’ve only ever seen Jenny do magic, and again, this spell seems to rest solely on her shoulders. Other than having super strength later on (which Jenny could have spelled her with) we don’t see Jamie wielding any magical power at all. Is she even a witch? Or just a very weak one? This would have been a more interesting dynamic to explore here (one powered sister shouldering the load while the weak/non-powered one pressured and berated her) instead of what we got. This whole scene just felt like a waste of screen time for me. The acting felt flat, the writing was weak, and it didn’t matter in the slightest to the overall storyline. All we really needed here was to know they were trying to resurrect their Mom. We could also be told (though it isn’t strictly necessary) that Jenny had doubts about her ability to pull off the spell, and that the girls apparently had a resource they could call for help with the spell, but didn’t. We do see Jenny kill the guy from the hardware store at the end, but since we already knew how and why they grabbed him, that was also unnecessary. There were a lot of other things in this episode that could have used an extra 2 minutes to flesh things out, so that makes this waste kind of anger-inducing.

    *Side note: Every commercial break during this episode had ads for the new movie, Winchester, and every time I see that ad (especially during this show), I keep expecting the boys to show up for a salt and burn.*

The boys arrive in Stillwater, Oklahoma and Rowena tells them she can’t get them any closer than this as the tracking spell only gives her a general location. She offers to go work her magic (literally) on the townsfolk in order to find where the girls are. Since her magic tends to kill the people she uses it on, the boys prefer to just question people. So Dean gets out to start asking around while Sam stays in the car with Rowena. Rowena does give Dean some good advice before he leaves, telling him to start by questioning the women, as she gets the feeling these girls won’t be popular with other women.

In their cells, Cas is unleashing a string of insults at Luci as Dipper comes by to check on them. I get the feeling Cas really enjoyed that part of the plan! And plan it was as Luci has realized getting angry boosts his power just enough to break the warding on the cell and release him and Cas. (So, he does take Cas with him. I guess he still needs him to have a way to Jack.) Luci uses his “little stick” to get revenge on Dipper, because size doesn’t matter! Cas and Luci are about to escape when a handful of demons show up for them to fight through.

In the Impala, Rowena is getting bored and looking for entertainment. Sam gives zero fucks. Rowena asks again if he’s sure she can’t just enslave some townsfolk to tell them where the girls are.

Sam – “I’m very sure you
can, but I’m also very sure you shouldn’t.
Rowena – “Bless your precious heart, you’ve just described my entire life.”

I know Rowena has gotten a lot of fan flak, but I love her! Sam decides to drop some wisdom on Rowena by saying that getting the book isn’t going to actually make her feel safer. Rowena admits to Sam that to torture her, Lucifer showed her his true face and that she’s scared all the time now. Sam admits that he too has seen Lucifer’s true face. Rowena wants to know how he manages to deal with that, and Sam realizes, and admits, that he doesn’t really. He says that he just represses it in order to get on with each fight and crisis life keeps handing him, one after the other, but he hasn’t ever dealt with it. He knows Dean would listen if he ever tried to talk about it with him, but he has no idea how to even begin that conversation. I love this whole scene. The writing, the acting, the directing, all came together to make a really solid moment here. Rowena’s face as she makes her admission to Sam…fantastic work from Ruth Connell. I love how they are really dealing with this for Sam. It also really pisses me off for reasons I’ll get to later.

In the hardware store, Dean takes Rowena’s advice and it pays off. Poor put-upon Brenda gives up the girls’ location for the promise that the girls will get what’s coming to them…and for a very nice view as Dean walks out. I feel you Brenda!

    Sam is still trying to convince Rowena that even if she gets all the power that she’s trying for, it won’t make any difference to how helpless she’s feeling. In and of itself, I kind of agree with Sam. You need therapy or to talk with someone about what happened in order to try and deal with it and get past it. However, there are a lot of real life women who do find gaining power or strength helps them feel safe again after an attack, whether it’s working out, learning a martial art, or taking self-defense classes. Rowena may very well feel better with more power. That’s not to say she should be allowed to get that power, even if it would help, as it would likely come at other people’s expense. When Sam tells her that the helpless feeling never goes away (awww, Sammy!) she hops out of the car to take a minute to deal. “I’m not fleeing, don’t release the hounds!” Awww, a Crowley reference and a Mr. Burns reference in one! Dean comes back just then with the address for the girls. Rowena is ready to go (and I like to think that if they had brought her along, this next part never would have happened) but Dean is like “thanks for your help, we’ll take it from here.” So Rowena casts a spell sticking their feet to the ground, takes the address and leaves. Though, she does drop the hex bag somewhere Sam’s gargantuan wingspan can eventually reach with some effort. She could have just thrown it away, out of their reach!

Rowena sneaks into the girls’ house, where they are arguing about what to do. The spell has gone wrong and they don’t know why. Rowena comes in and…tells them they were supposed to get the book and wait for her. Double cross! Now, the timing of that doesn’t really make sense as Rowena says she only approached Sam and Dean after the girls left her behind, but the girls took off because Sam showed up to stop them and  Rowena came and got the boys almost immediately after that. How did she know the girls were ditching her at that point? They obviously did as they didn’t contact her later, but how would Rowena have known then that the plan was pooched? Unless the plan was for Rowena to show up in front of the boys, giving away the fact that she was alive in the process, and drive off with the girls, (which is a horrible plan!) then there’s no reason for her to think the plan was botched at that point.  I’m assuming the reason Rowena didn’t just grab the book herself is she wanted to keep the fact of her continued existence a secret from the boys. There’s nothing these baby witches do that Rowena couldn’t. So why give it away at the end? It’s a minor plot quibble though. So, Rowena confronts the girls and the girls are high on their own power right now and say they don’t need her anymore. Rowena tells them they can still do the deal, she’ll do the spell and then she gets the book, as witches of their level can’t really use it. The girls are insulted and try to show off their skill level by telling Rowena they have already (mostly) done the spell, and out comes zombie Mom. Rowena is like “Oh, you idiots, what have you done?” The girls set zombie Mom on Rowena, saying they’ll work on perfecting the spell after Rowena is dead. Rowena isn’t scared of a little zombie, except it seems that one of the side effects of this butchered spell is that their Mom is now magic proof. So how are they going to fix the spell if magic doesn’t work on her? Problem for another day. With no weapon, and now that her magic is useless, Rowena barricades herself in the kitchen.

Back with the boys, Sam is trying to reach the hex bag while Dean is scolding Sam for letting Rowena out of the car so she could get the advantage. He tells Sam she played him. Sam says she played both of them, but did she? Dean has not trusted her at all through any of this. And soft-hearted Sam tries to explain to Dean how she’s just running scared. Dean thinks she better be scared. Sam  snags the hex bag and throws it to Dean to burn. The boys are free and on their way.

    Cas and Luci are out on the street somewhere, looking beaten and bloodied and battle-weary. Cas thinks they need to keep moving as there will be more demons coming. Luci says all of this would be easier if he were stronger and makes a play again for Cas to give him some Grace. He says that since they just fought their way out together, he deserves some trust. Cas reminds him that the last time he trusted him, when they fought Amara, Luci totally betrayed him. Before he can even finish the sentence, Luci lunges for him with his angel blade, but Cas jumps back (mostly) in time. Luci promises he will leave Cas with some Grace, but Cas has learned his lesson with Luci and stabs him instead. I mean, way to go Cas! You learned your lesson and aren’t being so blindly naive here…but Michael is coming and you might actually need Luci. Plus, I love Mark Pellegrino, especially in this role. I do kind of doubt that this will end Lucifer. If it were that easy to kill him with an angel blade, where was this info back in season 5? I am interested in what this will mean going forward though. I was really hoping we’d get a Cas/Luci buddy cop situation like we did with Cas and Crowley when they were looking for Lucy in season 12.

    Back with the witch sisters, Rowena is still in the kitchen with zombie Mom trying to get in to kill her. Ever the deal-maker (I see where Crowley got his “King of the Crossroads” skills from!) Rowena is trying to make a deal with the girls, saying she will fix the spell for them, giving them their Mom back in the form they were hoping for, in exchange for the Grimoire. The girls, thinking they’re far more skilled than they are because they’ve been lucky so far, don’t think they need anything from Rowena and leave her to be Mom chow as they work on fixing the spell themselves. Right about now the boys show up and confront the girls. They aren’t too impressed that the boys brought guns to a witch fight…until Dean tells them they have witch killing bullets. Ummm, Dean? Maybe let them know that by how they die when the bullet enters their skulls instead of telling them when they can still do something about it? In all fairness, all the boys know is that the girls stole the Grimoire and they seem to be hereditary witches rather than demon deal witches, so I don’t think that warrants summary execution. Maybe the boys were willing to give them a chance to do the right thing. But we know they won’t do the right thing and they have been killing, so it’s a little frustrating. So the girls attack and start kicking the boys’ asses all over the place as they have magically augmented strength. Zombie Mom has broken into the kitchen and Rowena is looking for advice. Dean tells her to grab one of their guns and shoot the zombie witch in the head. She manages to do just that, which frees her up to take on the two sisters, who don’t have magical protection. She enslaves them, then, as they stand menacingly in front of the boys, she tells the girls to “end it.” Expecting to be attacked any minute, the boys are surprised when the girls turn on and kill each other. Rowena seemed to enjoy that a bit too much.

The boys confront Rowena about double-crossing them, but she says it was a triple cross, which means she ended on their side and they won, just as she planned. Dean’s not believing a word and tells her she’s not getting the Grimoire, so she can either hand it over or they’ll take it from her. Rowena makes one more appeal to Sam to help her, so she’s not helpless when Lucifer eventually returns, but Sam takes the book anyway. I actually thought at this point that Dean should count the pages, make sure they’re all still there, but at this point, we’re meant to think that Rowena leaves empty-handed.

    The boys are back in the Bunker, having a beer and commiserating over getting their asses handed to them by the witch sisters. Dean asks Sam if he remembers that Rowena is not their friend. Sam says he knows that, but Dean opens the Grimoire to show where a page has been recently torn out. (He must have heard me tell him to check it! I love smart!Dean!) Yeah, soft-hearted Sam strikes again. Cas learned his lesson this episode with Luci, but Sam hasn’t yet learned his. Sam tells Dean that he took a chance because if Rowena “breaks bad”, he will hunt her down and kill her himself (at the expense of how many innocents, Sam?) but if she’s right and she sees Lucifer again, he hopes she makes Lucifer suffer. Dean tells Sam he needs to get out of this dark place he’s in and Sam says he did it because he knows what Rowena is going through. Not just the being tortured by Lucifer part, but the feeling helpless part. Before, he had a plan to use Jack’s power to get to the other world and save their Mom. but now Jack’s gone, Mary’s still trapped in a hell-world and he has no idea how to save her now. Dean tells him they will find a way. Sam wants to know how, as they have no plan and no idea where to even look to find one. (I wanted to yell at him that they never have a plan for how to defeat the big bads, but they always end up finding one, so he should trust himself and his brother!) Dean tells him he has no idea how they will do what they need to do, but he’s sure they will find a way. Sam obviously isn’t buying the pep talk and goes to bed, leaving behind a frustrated Dean who doesn’t know how to help his kid brother.

We look in on Rowena, who is now casting the spell she got from the Grimoire. We see all of the magical shackles appear, then fall away and after it’s all over, we see a very scary looking Rowena. You better hope she doesn’t break bad Sam because I’m not sure you can kill her anymore, even with witch killing bullets!

So we end the episode not knowing if a Rowena who has newly maxed out her magic is a good or bad thing for our boys. She could be a great ally for helping get to Mary and/or taking out Michael, or she could just be one more problem the boys have to face. Maybe she could initially be willing to help protect this world from Michael, then finds out it means working with Lucifer and so she switches sides. Maybe Ketch looking for her for a refresh on his own resurrection spell will help swing her to one team or the other? I can hardly wait to find out. I just hope this doesn’t lead to Rowena burning Dean to death!

Now, there’s some question now about if Rowena was being sincere when she was opening up to Sam in the Impala, or just saying what she needed to say to appeal to Sam’s fear of Lucifer and his soft-hearted nature. It could be read either way right now, so there’s no right answer, but I like to think it was both. Ruth Connell’s performance seemed to read as though she meant it to be sincere. I think that Rowena would have no problem with using her own experience and trauma to con someone if that’s what the most appropriate approach was. I think Rowena was being absolutely sincere with Sam in the car, but she was also doing it just to appeal to him in order to get exactly what she wants. What do you all think? Was Rowena sincere, sincere but only to play Sam, or liar liar pants on fire? Let me know!

Okay, one other thing from this episode I want to touch on, and that’s the Sam storyline. I’m happy that Jared Padalecki got some juicy writing to sink his teeth into…it’s been a lot of Dean the first half of this season. I also appreciate that they’re digging into and exploring Sam’s issues …from as far back as season 6/7 too! That says a bit though about how the show operates, as well as something about the character, that we are only now exploring Sam’s issues from season 6 in season 13. I also hope that they don’t just let this drop and that they see Sam’s journey through.  I would love that! But as I said earlier, this also kind of pisses me off because in this one episode, Sam got more character development than Dean has seen in years. I don’t think Dean has really had a moment like Sam had in the car with Rowena, more than two times in this entire series. Don’t get me wrong, Dean has had a lot of emotional moments for sure, but most of those are dealing with a problem before him. In these moments, Dean expresses his “surface” or immediate emotions, then does what needs to be done, and moves on. Dean’s confession to Sam about his time in hell came close to being deeper, but it still fell a bit short. Dean confessed what happened, said he felt terrible and wished he couldn’t feel anything anymore…and that’s it. No real exploration in the show before or after about how he was dealing (or not) with those feelings, no exploration about how his deeper issues (like low self-esteem) were intersecting or being affected by this new trauma, and it was certainly never dealt with ever again, outside of Alastair rubbing it in a little bit more in “On the Head of a Pin” in 4.16. 3.10’s “Dream a Little Dream of Me” was the only time Dean ever really faced his underlying, long-standing issues with his father and his upbringing and his self-esteem or lack thereof. He admits his problems and battles with them, literally, and even “overcomes” them (to a small degree) by allowing that he deserves to live just as much as Sam and that he doesn’t want to go to hell. Season 12 episode 22, “Who We Are”, where Dean confronts his mother, is another good character moment, though it is almost as much in service of Mary’s character development as Dean’s, so I’d say Dean has had 1.75 of these kinds of developmental moments. That’s it, That’s all he has in 13 seasons. The rest has been all stuffing things down with food and booze, avoiding with lots of casual sex and when something does boil up that he can’t handle, he punches it back into submission.

Sam, on the other hand, has dealt with his issues with control and anger that helped fuel his demon blood addiction. He dealt with how he felt after Dean went to purgatory and he abandoned him and all of his other responsibilities, as well. He spent a large chunk of season  7 dealing with the repercussions of his time in hell, with Lucifer “following” him around in his head. Dean deals with things that happened to him, while Sam gets to deal with his feelings and issues along with the things that happened to him. Dean gets “Sam died and it made me sad so I’m going to go resurrect him so I don’t have to feel this anymore.” Sam gets “Dean died and it made me sad and angry, so I went on a bender until Ruby found me and gave me a purpose again and now I’m doing things I know I shouldn’t so that I can fulfill that purpose. Even after Dean came back and even though he’s telling me not to do this anymore, I think I know better so I’ll do whatever I have to to kill Lilith.” Sam gets a whole season fighting to show why he’s right for drinking demon blood and going after Lilith, then a whole season struggling with his guilt over it and his fight to redeem himself. Dean has barely changed. And even when Dean does get a moment of emotional clarity or development, it’s a speech in an episode and it usually has no lasting effect on the character over time. How many times does he have to be taught the lesson that some monsters aren’t necessarily bad and don’t deserve death? How many times does he have to learn not to lie to Sammy? I just want some character growth please! Maybe, if you go through the trouble of writing a moment of emotional clarity and learning for Dean, you make it stick? How about, if you make him struggle through something like a serious depression, you give us a real resolution and not a magical quick fix and we never talk about it again? I’m not asking for a Sam style struggle with his “demons” here, I want a Dean style resolution. (Resolution, not repression!)

    We just spent the first half of this season being told that Dean was in the worst place emotionally that he’s ever been in before. (I wish we’d been shown it, like we were in season 7, but leave that for now.) So here we have Dean in such a bad place, and how is that resolved? He gets a win with Cas’ return and he’s all better. (Just like season 7’s long day’s journey into night was magically cured by just fighting in Purgatory {one of Dean’s favourite repression tools}) And that would be okay, if Dean was a flighty character whose mood tends to switch on a dime, and he doesn’t hold on to things. But that is the polar opposite of who Dean is. We get hints all the time of the metaphorical demons Dean carries around with him daily, but we almost never get to see him show it, or actually talk about it, let alone deal with it. Okay, I know Dean isn’t the type of guy to talk about his feelings for the most part, but there has to be other ways to show him struggling and coping with what he’s been dealt. The same way we saw Sam struggle with his memories of hell or his guilt about freeing Lucifer or his guilt over abandoning Dean in purgatory. And not only did we see Sam deal with these things, we saw him resolve them in a way that allowed the character to move on. (Though I guess he hasn’t moved on from Lucifer as much as we thought.) And it would also be okay if the character of Dean doesn’t ever deal with a problem again, as long as the show does deal with it by showing you how this avoidance is affecting Dean. When you repress like that, these things have a way of seeping out one way or the other. There needs to be some consequences for Dean not dealing with his problems Or we need to deal with the problems in a real way and not just in a magical quick fix unless it’s an actual magical quick fix that, again, has consequences. I know I’m a self-confessed Dean girl so maybe I’m making more of this than is actually there but this has been a point of contention for me for a very long time. Probably since season 5. I don’t know, how do you guys feel? Do you feel like Dean’s character gets short shrift when it comes to dealing with his inner emotional life or do you feel that the way they deal with his character is a true representation and it doesn’t bother you? Do I need to accept that the show, overall, is never going to deal with Dean’s emotional issues in any meaningful way? (I say the show, because clearly some writers do give him some few and far between moments, but then they get dropped from the ongoing narrative.)  I’m really interested in getting some outside perspective.
The Road Ahead:

  • Will Rowena really end up burning Dean to death?
  • Is there a sob story Sam won’t fall for?
  • Was Rowena being sincere with Sam during their talk in the Impala, or just saying what she needed to say to get what she wanted? Or was it a bit of both?
  • Is Lucifer dead, injured, or just going to be severely pissed off?
  • What are the teams going to look like at the end of the season do you think? Will there be two teams or three? More? Who will side with who?
  • Do you want a Cas/Luci buddy cop show? If not, why on Earth not?
  • Does Dean need more real, in-depth character development?
  • Am I too obsessed with the issue of Dean’s character development?

Before I go, I have one more question. I’m feeling like these recap and reviews are getting too long and I’m thinking of dropping the recap part. What do you guys think? I do like the structure it gives me to discuss the episode, but then I feel that it’s too much. Do you come for the recap part of the equation or do you come for the review part? Do you also feel these are too long, or do you think this is a good length? I have written shorter University essays than I write in one of these weekly reviews. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, that’s it. I’m off for another week. Until next time, be good to each other. XO