Friday, March 20, 2009

On the Head of a Pin

SO many questions answered!

1. John

I've been wondering for two seasons about John's time in hell. He seemed pretty serene when he walked out. But then we found that he'd been there for over a hundred years, and I wondered how he'd endured it. I still wonder that, but we at least know what he endured now. Pretty amazing that he could refuse Alistair's offer over and over, and I'm guessing it was knowing that his sons were safe that might have given him that strength. OR, it's possible that with his years of experience, he's read enough to have known what the first seal was, and therefore resist.

2. Sam

This is one of the narrative perfection things. I was glad the preview showed the short bit where Sam said it wasn't the psychic stuff he had a problem with. Ruby alluded to it last season, with telling Sam she knew how to tutn on his weapon, and that it took time to make him strong. At the time, I assumed she meant training and practice, and continued to think that after seeing him in action, but still they hinted that there was more. Something he was resisting (hmmm, here's a theme!).

It makes perfect sense. The potential for his powers was instilled by demon blood. Of course additional demon blood would enhance them, give him strength to develop them. Narratively, it's a beautiful thing.

Now, that doesn't mean I like it. Sam seems to have crossed a point-of-no-return line. On the other hand, he hasn't been displaying signs of addiction, for all that the pertinent scene indicated he is. He's gone six weeks without it, and even when he said "I need it," he didn't seem to mean physically, but because he couldn't help Dean without it.

I was also intrigued that when he said Dean wasn't strong enough, that he changed in hell, he said it with a hint of concern and no derision. He doesn't think less of his brother--maybe he's telling the truth when he says the siren's control was responsible, at least for how he said it, if not what he actually said.

3. Dean

Dean's been reacting pretty strongly to people dying lately. I mean, he's always hated it, but his protestations in "Death Takes a Holiday" were a little odd. "These are good people" doesn't really fit the guy who got shot, who I'd place on par with, say, the people who died in "Tall Tales." And he's really taken Pamela's death hard. He always cared about saving people, but not in such a personal way. I wonder if it's because he doesn't know where they are going, whether some of them would have been souls he'd have tortured if he were still in hell.

All season, we've discussed why Dean was taken out of hell. I said he was a tool in the war, someone the angels could use, but it's so much bigger, so much better than that. At this point, so much has been heaped on Dean that despite Jensen's incredible performance, despite the aching heart he inspired so many times during the episode, I found myself elated at the end. Sure, he's been beaten, physically and emotionally, but he's hit bottom. He has purpose now, clarity, and once he's had time to adjust, I'm confident he'll fully embrace his destiny.

Again, all the little details that feed into the revelation--the demon at the crossroads telling Sam that Dean was right where they wanted him...the reason the demons were so interested in getting him into hell and torturing him in the first place...heck, even Yellow-Eyes' willingness to allow Dean to live at he beginning of season two, and trading for John. Maybe in season 1 this wasn't Kripke's goal, but it all fits, doesn't it? Azazel was raising children to fight the angels once they were able to embark on the journey toward the apocalypse.

The only thing that doesn't fit is that if Dean is the key, if he holds all their fate in his hands, they've left him on his own and in danger a bit much.

4. The Angels

A couple of little things that jar here: Anna says she called in a couple of favors to get her old body. Well, it was atomized, so how could "favors" help?

Also, Castiel referred to how long he and Uriel had been away from home, but it's only been a few earth months. He told Dean angels are walking the earth for the first time in a couple thousand years, so even if you factor in the time they laid siege to hell, it doesn't seem to jive. Unless time away from heaven is longer, too. Like a month in heaven is a decade on earth, like a month on earth is a decade in hell.

Misty asked why the lights flicker when Anna arrives. I'm wondering if that's just politeness, letting Castiel know she's there.

So anyway, the whole angel mythology fascinates me. Uriel has always seemed an aberration, because Castiel is so implacable, and Anna fell becuase she wanted to feel, but Uriel feels a lot. Hatred, derision, anger, frustration. Now it makes sense. He was one crucial step away from fallen, himself.

His comment that God doesn't care, his unchecked actions being proof, reminds me of Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality, where the Incarnation of God had become enamored of his own visage. I remain impressed and thrilled with how they're handling the "religion" of it--that is, not applying religion to it at all. Religion tends to say "this is what is and you must accept it," while the writers are making it as complex and challenging as humanity itself is.

Like the whole doubt thing...angels are made to believe doubt is evil, that they can't ever question God's will. But the doubt Castiel feels turns out to not be related to God so much as it is to his superiors. Uriel got "put" in charge because Cas was getting too close to Dean, starting to care, which is a hindrance and a danger to angels, but that change ensured that Cas's orders weren't actually from his superiors or his father--they were from Uriel, who was as flawed as humans are.

I thought the acting in this episode was tremendous, all the way around. There wasn't enough Sam and Dean, but I didn't notice until the show was almost done, and therefore didn't care. Anna was never my favorite performance, but I cheered when she killed Uriel.

Favorite moments:

When Castiel deadpanned "Uriel is the funniest angel in the garrison. Ask anyone."

When they spirit away Dean and Sam goes, "Dammit!"

The look on Castiel's face when Sam kills Alistair.

The grace in Castiel's movements when he does something like turn the knife in Alistair or spin the valve on the water pipe.

When Anna says, "Maybe, maybe not. But there's still me."

All the extreme close-ups.

The look on Castiel's face when Dean says, "It's not me." Like something occurred to him. I might be reading too much into a very small flicker of time. When I saw that change in his expression, I thought, "It's Sam." But of course it can't be, unless they're misinterpreting the prophecy or whatever you'd call it. Still, I think Sam has a huge role to play in getting Dean to his destiny. (I know, that's a "duh" statement. Of course he does!)

I felt very drained when the episode was over, because there was so much intensity and so much to learn. But I was euphoric, too. The next two episodes, I think, are well-placed, allowing us to absorb what has happened, and lighten up a little (OMG, Dean's HAIR!), but man, am I looking forward to those last four episodes.

Final note: Jim Beaver posted on MySpace and Facebook yesterday that he was getting ready for his last day at work and was sad to be saying goodbye, and then later that he was about to film his last scene. A lot of people took that to mean more than last scene this season. I'm not going there. Jim Beaver is far too savvy to telegraph the death of his character like that. He's saying goodbye for a solid four months, at least. Of course he's sad! Let's just leave it at that until we see the finale. With the way they kill people off on this show, good (Pam) and bad (Uriel) alike, I can't discount the possibility totally. But I can ignore it, and will!
Final final note: I'm a little worried about Jensen. Christopher was obviously not really holding him off the floor, but he was digging his thumb really hard into Jensen's neck. How the heck did he not pass out? Or did he, and that's why it was so realistic?
Oh, shoot. One more final note. I officially hate Ruby now.


Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I want Dean to be the hero in the end though I know the brothers are in it together. Dean is the regular guy trying to do as his father wished, trying to protect his 'special' younger brother and never imagining his role is so important. I glady place my fate in his hands.
And I've always hated Ruby.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

You make good points! And interesting ones, considing being a normal guy living a normal life was Sam's goal originally.

Tracy Madison said...

This is a very intense episode. I'm still thinking about it.