The Laughter, the Tears, the Fear…
I readily admit that this episode, #20 in a season of 23, wasn’t what I was expecting. I figured it’d be more myth arc, main storyline, and at first blush, it didn’t seem so, but I’m thinking that deep down, simmering under the surface, it really was very much about the Mark of Cain and how Dean’s slow decent toward evil continues. It was the deep breath before the plunge into the final three episodes.
It also had another really cool prop, an angel sword! I want it! I want a lot of things from this show. Real, full on replicas with sharp edges and everything. The CW and the WB should hook up with the Nobel Collection and Make. This. Happen.
First the laughter. It’s an unusual episode of Supernatural where I’m laughing, sometimes hysterically, for a fairly large portion of the show. Usually, it’s a few chuckles here and there, a couple aww moments before the shit hits the fan. (Yes, I mean us fans. We are the fandom that loves to be tortured. We love it! Or we wouldn’t be watching this very often gut-wrenching, sob-inducing nightmare of a show! Someone should do a study on why.) But back to the fun stuff.
Right off, Cas is making me laugh by not having any idea how to manage with Claire, who is in a hospital with a concussion after being found outside a bar. Hmm. Suspicious much? Not-Dad Cas calls the Winchesters for help with dealing and won’t even go in to see his not-Daughter before backup arrives.
It’s even more amusing that Cas thinks Sam and Dean are better equipped to handle the situation because they themselves were troubled teens. Got news for you, Cas. They are still pretty troubled. They’re the poster boys for dysfunctional and yet, he has a point too. Somehow, they’ve managed.
The chuckles continue when Cas, Claire, and Dean go check out a corpse behind the same bar Claire was found and where Dean had roughed up the now dead guy she talked to.
Dean objects to taking the blame for killing the guy and Cas knows he didn’t. Dean was with him when they went shopping at the Hot Topical. (read that little bit of fan fiction missing scene here!) But, the fact that everyone in the room knows that Dean is more than capable of snapping at any moment drives home the underlying theme of the whole show. Dean is about to lose it. I didn’t really need the preview of next week’s episode to confirm the thought. While he’s doing an admirable job of hiding just how close to postal he is, he isn’t fooling me or anyone else.
Cas got Claire a Grumpy Cat! Which was too awesome and adorable, along with Hot Topic(al)’s response to said adorableness. I’m glad Claire turned off her snarky teen for a moment, though she did struggle not to roll her eyes. Her abandonment issues have built a big wall around her, making her wary of trust, but throughout the episode, we get to watch those walls crumble a little, even through the horror she’ll endure and maybe, just maybe, she’ll come out the other side all right after all. Maybe?
But before that, Cas grounds her. She can’t come along on the mission to scope out the place they think Amelia Novak was last spotted. Too dangerous. He doesn’t want anything to happen to her. Cas grounds Dean too, after that whole head-bashing scene at the bar and Sam agrees.
Dean doesn’t exactly appreciate being benched and says so, referencing that moment a year ago when Sam and Cas locked him up. Shouldn’t they remember what happened last time they benched Dean? At least they didn’t put him in the dungeon. Maybe they thought leaving him with Claire would keep him occupied with keeping her out of trouble. It worked to a degree and we get the next super awesome gem of a moment because of it: Dean and Claire playing mini-golf to pass the time.
This is where I completely lost it laughing. Snarky Dean is one of my favorite iterations of the character and boy, it does my heart good to see him having a nice time. Not only that, but knowing that Jensen Ackles and Kathryn Love Newton both play golf and have talked about it online, made it all the more funny to me. Just a teeny bit of real life bleed there and I loved it.
But alas, another awesome moment lead to some consternation in fandom: over Dean telling Claire that Cas, because her father Jimmy sacrificed his life, was able to save the world. The world, he says. As if saying that somehow, manically changes what Sam did or what Dean did to also save the world? How fandom? How? Here’s the thing; Claire didn’t need to hear that Dean sacrificed his own brother to save the world, or that Sam jumped into a hole to lock Lucifer back in his cage. All she needed to hear was what her father did and not anyone else. Dean knows what he did and what Sam did and what Cas did, the horrific effort it took to stop the apocalypse. The cast certainly knows it, who according to writer Robbie Thompson, changed the line in performance, aka while shooting. They trusted, perhaps foolishly, that we would get it, because really, it’s a bit of a ridiculous stretch to think they all somehow failed to remember what happened in Swan Song. It would really be nice if just once some elements of fandom actually trusted the Show, and didn’t throw a fit over incredibly obvious moments like this one where the line was changed to serve the story, specifically – Dean was telling Claire what she needed to hear.
Dean has been saying what everyone needs to hear, including himself. Telling Cas that Claire was better off on her own? Dean was telling Dean that he was better off on his own. He’s fairly well terrified that he’s going to end up doing what Cain said he would. He doesn’t think there’s an acceptable cure. He’s telling himself and everyone else that he’ll go down fighting. (Except when he does go down, when Dean fails the fight, the monster that’s left will be his brother’s to contend with!) He’s telling Sam what he needs to hear – I’m sorry I went off on my own. We’re stronger together than we are apart. I’m not giving up. I’m okay. I was just kidding when I said I wanted to bash some heads. Maybe Dean needed to hear that too while he’s waging this terrible war. One he is not winning.
Side note: Sam’s advice to Cas on how to deal with Claire and the need for family was a great moment and insight into how far Sam has come to realize what Dean did for him by having him possessed by Gadreel. He’s still alive. And if he had actually died, I think Dean would still be on this terrible road, so Sam is seeing how critical and necessary it is that he is still around, and I like seeing it. Sam and Cas together is one of my new favorite things show keeps doing. It’s good for Sam to have someone else to talk to. But I kept waiting for Cas to say, that’s not what Dean said. I think that would have been a nice warning clue for Sam. Not that he really needs one, but still.
So that bit of fun at the mini-golf was the last ray of sunshine for the rest of the show, with the small exception of Dean handing Claire a gun with ‘Happy Birthday. Don’t shoot me.’ Oh Dean. I’ve missed snarky, cute Dean Winchester quite a lot and I’m afraid we aren’t going to see him again for some time to come.
Cas finds Amelia and can’t heal her.
The tears. Claire reuniting with her mother was beautiful and heart wrenching, turning the new adult right back into a lost, little child, calling her Mommy and collapsing into her arms. And for a moment, I was deliriously happy, for Claire, for Amelia, for Cas, who wants so desperately to make it up to the family he promised to keep safe. Even for Sam and Dean, who are always invested in saving people, this family more so than others.
But Supernatural is sooooo not prone to giving us happy endings. Claire’s reunion is shattered when the grigori, the soul-sucking angel Tameil (cool name, awesome new mythology, dick angel) finds them and Amelia sacrifices her life to save her daughter.
Team Free Will arrives and one helluva brawl ensues.
Amelia dies in her daughters arms. It was so hard to watch Claire, weeping and struggling to lift dead weight, trying to shake her mother back to life. The whole thing left me in a great big puddle of tears, regardless of not having a deep, or long-lasting connection to Amelia. My heart broke for Claire and for Cas, who again, couldn’t save his family because Amelia’s soul was damaged in a way he couldn’t fix. No. Matter. What. He. Did. He failed to save the family he swore to protect. <<<< The Fear.
We were left with Claire forgiving Dean, Sam giving Claire some good advice – go to Jody Mills (SPINOFF!) and finally Sam telling Cas what he needed to hear, that Claire would be all right. Somehow, I don’t think so, and as she drove away in the back of a taxi with the incredible Willie Nelson song, Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain playing in the background, she sure doesn’t look like she’s okay.
Another side note: Lots of songs with Blue in the title lately. And not happy songs either. Behind Blue Eyes, Blue Eyes Crying, BLUES ARE TURNING BLACK! What the heck, show! I don’t believe in coincidence on Supernatural.
That moment where Amelia reunited with Jimmy in heaven kept me from being a complete wreck, and I think that’s the only time we’ve ever seen that on this show. I also loved the thought that Jimmy and Amelia are soul mates. It helped heal the anguish just a little bit but that made me cry even more. Happy, sad, mixed up Supernatural emotions.
Show was also telling us what we need to hear – that death isn’t necessarily good-bye, not on this show, and I think we’re all going to need that reminder as we barrel into the final episodes of what has been a truly remarkable 10th season. We’re being warned from all corners, by the cast, by the writers, by the PR department – it’s going to be a tough road ahead in true Supernatural fashion. We’re all going to be gutted! Stock up on tissues, liquor, and comfort food, folks. It is that time of year once again.