Sunday, 16 December 2018

Supernatural S14E9 - a review (with spoilers)

“The Spear”

I must confess that I felt rather resentful and cheated that someone other than Jensen Ackles was going to play Michael. I tuned in to watch the episode most reluctantly, but ended up enjoying it a lot. Felisha Terrell did an excellent job portraying Michael – his calmness, ruthlessness, deadliness, calculation. However, as I watched her putting his monstrous plan into action, I couldn’t get rid of the ever persistent feeling that this was supposed to be Michael!Dean’s storyline – promised but unfulfilled. I couldn’t stop thinking that this was supposed to be Jensen Ackles’ part and that it was incredibly unfair that he didn’t get the chance to truly spread his archangel wings. I knew that he would knock it out of the park and when, at long last, at the very end of the episode Michael took over Dean’s body once again, Jensen Ackles was phenomenal. I swear I could watch the last few minutes of the episode over and over and over again.
His instant transformation from Dean to Michael was mind-blowing and the very last second as he raised his hand and clicked his fingers had me starting and gasping for breath. The chilling manner in which Jensen Ackles delivers Michael’s lines, the way he pronounces and articulates the words, even the way his freaking lips move – there is no trace of Dean anywhere. It is a completely different character, and though I know that he is evil and that he is torturing and taunting Dean as we speak, and that he wishes to turn the whole world into his designer monsterland, I can’t help admiring and enjoying the superb acting and wishing that he could stay for a little while longer. Michael finally explained why he left his true vessel (Dean was too attached to Sam, Castiel and Jack and wouldn't stop fighting him), how he managed to come back and why he waited so long to do it. I was satisfied. I sincerely hope that the writers and the showrunner will give Jensen Ackles an opportunity to play both Dean and Michael in the upcoming episodes. I’m sure it would be heartbreaking, but there’s so much potential and possibilities there!
I have been struggling a great deal with enjoying and accepting this season as more and more of its focus was taken away from the main characters and concentrated on third parties and their stories. I knew that this episode would decide whether I would continue to watch the show with any semblance of interest. I actually dreaded watching it. Especially, considering that I’m not a fan of Robert Berens. In the past I didn’t like his writing; I didn’t appreciate his bias; I resented his treatment of Dean’s character. I prepared myself for the worst and was pleasantly surprised when I actually enjoyed an episode written by him. However, he gave me what I have been looking forward to all along – Dean, Sam, Castiel and Jack working together as a team and balancing the story between the four of them, each one having his own part to play, without one character hijacking most of the story. There were a lot of great scenes with them – funny, sweet, domestic, heartwarming (Jack and Castiel in the kitchen of the bunker), heartbreaking (Dean believes that they got Jack back with no strings attached) – and I loved them all. I would also like to point out that despite the fact that the writers continue to push forward the idea of Sam as the leader (he makes all the calls and sends people on missions), when it’s time to act, Dean is the one who takes charge and Sam is the one who falls in line – and it is the most natural thing in the world.
I was impressed by how the scene between Dean, Castiel and Kaia played out; it was pretty nerve-wrecking and for a while there everything was hanging in the balance; also some lies by omission were exchanged, which could become a problem in future. However, I was surprised that Berens showed Dean as mature and rational human being for one. I loved Ketch’s short but entertaining appearance and his interaction with the boys - it was obvious that he was aiming for their approval and was rather discomfited that despite his valiant efforts and best intentions he still failed them. I never thought I would say this, but I miss having him around. It is a pity that both weapons that the boys were after in order to destroy Michael got – well – destroyed by Michael. Of course, that was precisely what Michael had been planning all along in order to completely crush Dean's spirit and finally subjugate him. I was puzzled by the fact that Michael decided to persuade Jack to join him, knowing full well how much he hates him and that he wants him dead. But I wonder if that was what Michael was truly after or whether he simply used Jack’s capture as the means to ensure that the boys were indeed there. I suppose he wanted Dean to hand deliver him the spear - and himself - two birds with one stone and all that. I mean, if he truly wanted Jack to join him and it wasn’t just a ruse, then it would have made so much sense for that infamous shaman to work for him and provide Castiel with Michael’s grace – with certain modifications already in place – in order to change Jack from within. I’m sure that with so many monsters at his command Michael knew that the boys were desperately looking for a way to save Jack. It would have been so easy to swoop in and trick them and then enjoy the show. Oh well… I am actually looking forward to the next episode.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Supernatural S14E8 - a review (with spoilers)


On tonight’s episode of “Jack the Nephilim” – a cross between a teenage drama and a soap-opera – Jack dies. Dean, Sam and Castiel grieve and drink and then decide to find a way to bring him back, because that’s what they do. They enlist the help of Lily Sunder, who once upon a time gave up her soul for a whole load of angel magic in order to avenge her daughter’s death and who, I assume, knows pretty much all there is to know about angels. They hope that she can find something that might help bring Jack back in the angel tablet translated by Kevin many seasons ago. However, when that plan falls through, Lily, who has changed quite a bit since the last time we saw her, growing old and white, provides them with another solution. She offers to give her angel magic – that draws power from a human soul, by the way – to Jack in order to cure him and bring him back to life. Apparently, as long as he uses it only to sustain himself, it won’t cost him much and he won’t even miss the piece of his soul that will be used.
It definitely sounds like something that could potentially backfire in the future (not that the writers of the show think that far ahead) – and yet Dean seems to be the only one who questions the wisdom of this plan and its possible ramifications for Jack and his soul. However, his protests are swiftly and vociferously overridden by Castiel (“Don’t you think Jack should decide for himself?”) and then Sam (“Because, for me, not doing this – that – that would be like letting him die all over again!). Of course, there’s also a price. Lily is ready to give them her magic to save Jack in exchange for a ticket to Heaven that Dean and Sam must provide her with so that she can reunite with her daughter there. This proves tricky, because her choices alone determine whether she goes up or down and no one can change that. So when she understands that she will go to Hell, considering that she killed a bunch of angels, she takes the deal off the table – until Dean appeals to her humanity and pleads with her not to make them go through what she herself went through when losing a child. It turns out that one selfless act can sway the scales of justice in one’s favour and Lily ends up in Heaven.
I enjoyed the whole sequence with Dean, Sam, Lily and Anubis. It is always a pleasure to watch Jensen and Jared and I liked the other actors and their interaction with them too. But! I would have appreciated it even more if the whole thing didn’t revolve around Jack. It could have been a case (does anyone still remember those?) or Michael-related. By the way, speaking about Michael – it seems that Dean’s blurry vision lasted only one episode just like his Michael flashbacks. I wonder if the writers who work on the show even read each other scripts, because they often seem so disconnected and missing important pieces and nuances that it seems more than likely that they don’t. If I worked with a team of writers, I would make sure that I knew exactly what they wrote and what precisely they wanted to convey and how to tie it in with the bigger picture. My theory about shaman and his connection to Michael fell through. I knew that I was giving the writers of the show more credit for mystery-building than they deserve – they obviously can’t see beyond their own individual episodes and miss all the varied possibilities, little connections and clues that could be sprinkled and threaded throughout the whole season, which once again proves my theory that there is no real interaction or understanding between them and that the story they are telling is not, in fact, a finely-woven tapestry one wishes it to be. I mean, if it were a book, such specific wording would definitely mean something, but on this show it was just a fluke. I must confess that I'm used to a more refined, subtle, and layered narrative. However, I don't think that it is unreasonable to expect a well-crafted story even on a show. 
Much to my chagrin, the other plotline was likewise Jack-centered and way too soapy and sappy for my liking. It took place in Heaven, where Castiel repaired to in order to pull Jack’s soul back into his body for Lily’s spell to work. There Jack was pursued by The Empty that wanted to claim him and take him where he actually belongs as half-angel. In order to save Jack, Castiel makes a deal with The Empty and offers himself in his stead. He says that he will go willingly as long as Jack goes home and expects to be taken right away as he reassures Jack that he made peace with his decision and that he is fine. However, The Empty has no intentions to take him now: “I want you to suffer. I want you to go back to your normal life and then forget about this and forget about me. And then, when you finally give yourself permission to be happy and let the sun shine on your face, that’s when I’ll come. That’s when I’ll come to drag you to nothing.” Castiel accepts the deal but tells Jack not to tell Dean and Sam so that they didn’t worry. Having technically saved Heaven from The Empty, Castiel gets rewarded by learning the possible location of Michael.
I must mention a moment that just about broke my heart. It was just after Jack died and Dean called Mary to tell her about what happened but had to leave a message on her voicemail with a resigned look on his face that pretty much confirmed that she continues to be unavailable. “Anyway, to tell you the truth, it would really be nice to hear your voice. If you could, uh, just call us back.” I just bet she doesn’t call them back often and they rarely get to hear her voice. And that’s just not right.
I feel more and more discouraged with each new episode, most of which I find mind-numbingly boring. I no longer believe that Sam and Dean will reclaim their position as the main leads of the show or that they will have any interesting episodes and storylines this season that won't involve Jack and his never-ending troubles, trials and tribulations. I also have a strong feeling that this could be the last one, because the showrunner is deliberately sabotaging the show with his inexpert management of the story, lazy attitude that results in countless plotholes and inconsistencies, and his complete lack of interest in the main characters. I also seriously consider giving up on the show... but I know that I can't.