10.13 – Halt & Catch Fire, A Review

By @Dancing_Adrift

Let’s talk Halt & Catch Fire!

I think the beginning is an excellent place to start – and the beginning of this episode was EXCELLENT. I laughed at the driver’s blind faith in Trini (I don’t trust GPS apps much), and I quickly fell in love with the dialogue (“What do you know? Your phone has 3G!”) and the creep factor (“Janet, get out of the truck!”). In true Supernatural style, the scene progressed from creepy as f*ck (possessed truck? Not cool, not cool!!), to cheesy (“Destination: dead ahead.” Oh Trini, you’re so punny), to EPIC in a matter of seconds. Major props to the VFX team for that killer shot (heehee, I can pun too) of the truck flying off the edge and into the title card. So freaking cool!!

Next, we have the opening scene with the brothers. I was thrilled at the inclusion of the croissookie – I always squee a little when there’s stuff like that which has a fandom connection (Jensen had tweeted a picture of the snack in December). Dean’s description of it, “Who cares [what’s in it]? It’s freaking awesome!” is a clear indication of how much he is enjoying it. Which brings me to my favorite aspect of this episode: the continuation of the Mark of Cain storyline.

The progression of the MoC over this and the past two episodes looks something like this:

  • There’s No Place Like Home: Dean goes to the extreme in healthy living in an attempt to quell the effects of the Mark. It’s clear the effect this has on him – he often had the shakes (a typical sign of someone recovering from drug addiction), and he was vocally upset, specifically in regard to the unpleasant health food. Despite his efforts, Dean still relapses when fighting Dark!Charlie, where he beats her to a point that horrified him (but made the shakes go away).
  • About a Boy: Dean is still upset about his relapse, as evidenced by his reluctance to enter the bar alone. But then my favorite MoC moment of the episode happened: “Screw it, I’m gonna believe in myself.” He comes to the realization that stopping his vices cold turkey isn’t going to work. The Mark’s control over him is not going to be stopped by external forces; he has to fight it through force of will.  So he starts to indulge in his vices again (takes the shot of alcohol, eats the cake, listens to whatever tunes he wants).
  • Halt & Catch Fire: This episode showed Dean struggling to find balance in his efforts to control the influence of the Mark.

I’ll go more into Dean’s struggle with controlling the Mark in a bit, but first I want to go back to that first bro scene and Sam and Dean’s conversation about Cas’s search for Cain. Dean makes it pretty clear that he’s given up hope of ever finding a cure for the Mark and that he’s tired of harboring false hope. He changes the subject quickly to the new case. Even before he verbally reveals in the last scene that his peace is found in helping people, this action shows it. Dean isn’t the type to sit around when he could be doing something productive. He has come to terms with the fact that finding a cure is a dead end so he makes the decision to direct his energies elsewhere.

This brings the boys to the college campus. One of the first things we notice here is Dean checking out all the female students – something he continues to do in several more scenes. At one point he even turns as though to follow them, but catches himself, saying, “I’m not gonna make it.” It’s apparent that he is attracted to the young women, but his body is saying “yes” and his mind is saying “no.” I saw this as a manifestation of the influence of the Mark. Prior to this we’ve seen Dean begin indulging again – in food, in drink, in music. But we haven’t seen him indulge in one of his favorite vices – women. I believe that Dean is doing his best to keep a tight rein on any impulses that directly involve other people, specifically if it involves physical contact, for fear that he will lose control and the Mark will cause him to hurt someone. To balance this he almost over indulges in his other vices. We see this with his enthusiasm for the cafeteria food. And we also see him take advantage of any opportunity to let off a little steam (two examples being where he busts through the caution tape after the girl is strangled by her laptop cord, and then again with what I’ve dubbed the #TissueToss when he’s consoling Delilah). Dean seems to be giving into his impulses as much as he can in an attempt to quiet the pull of the Mark, while remaining intensely focused on not hurting people in any way.

There is a lot that I loved about this episode, but I’m going to try wrapping it up (now that I’m home from PHXCon – AMAZING weekend, btw – and still haven’t finished this). So let me skip ahead – over all the great dialogue, the awesome VFX, the wonderful throw-backs (EMF, salt & burn, ghost story, etc.) – and jump straight to the final scene between Sam and Dean. I thought the episode told a decent story about dumb college students and vengeful ghosts, but what really thrilled me about the episode was the permeation throughout of the MoC storyline. Great tie-in between Andrew’s ghost finding peace and Dean using Andrew’s story to find a way to clearly express to his brother how he needs to move forward regarding the Mark. Jensen and Jared both did a phenomenal job portraying their characters’ frustrations. Dean is frustrated with dealing with a hopeless situation and Sam is frustrated at his brother’s seeming willingness to give up. But Sam listens to Dean and lets him get his feelings out (something new that has been rather important this season – Dean talking about his feelings and admitting that he’s NOT okay). I cheered for Dean at the end of this episode. I was so proud of him for choosing peace and having the courage and confidence to not only make that decision, but also to share that decision with Sam.

Dean says this to his brother, “I appreciate the effort, okay, I do. But the answer is not out there, it’s with me.” Sam said something similar to Dean at the end of The Hunter Games. “Maybe you have to fight that, you know? Maybe part of that powerful force has to be you.” It’s dialogue like this that makes me very excited to see where the MoC storyline is headed and I feel these statements are indicators of what is to come.

And since we all know that I wrote this after The Executioner’s Song aired, I would just like to add this: my excitement about the MoC storyline has not changed. Things with Cain did not go exactly the way I thought they might, but this story is in no way over (and I’m not entirely convinced that Cain’s part is over either). Can’t wait to see what the Supernatural team has in store for our brothers! Season 10 is shaping up to be one of the best seasons yet!

 

Scoutiegirl’s Review of “About a Boy” air date 2/10/2015

samdean1Adam Glass loves Dean Winchester.  No, I’m not creating a new ship, but it’s obvious that Adam feels a special affinity to the character.  This week’s episode is a case in point.  Just like its predecessor, Bad Boys, About a Boy gave us a view into the young Dean Winchester.  Granted, it was adult Dean in his own tween’s body, but still.  About a Boy was the comedic version of Bad Boys.

 

The premise is that adult Dean gets zapped by Hansel, who I must say didn’t age that well from his time in the Grimm Fairy Tale, into a child version of himself.  All the better for the witch, of the same fairy tale classic to eat him, my dear – Excuse me while I mix up my fairytale tropes.  Supernatural has tackled classic fairy tales before, to varying degrees of success.  Last night’s was, in my opinion, how it should be done. While not perfect, see my criticisms below, I loved how the episode took the classic fairy tale, and turned it into a great vehicle for the Winchesters.

 

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Dean was scared to leave Sam during the hunt, to question the bar patrons where the previous victim was last seen. He didn’t trust himself, and recognized that Sam could keep him in check, as far as the influence of the Mark of Cain. While this was subtly played, it is a milestone for Dean’s character. Dean has always been the one that had to be the protector. He now recognizes that Sam is perhaps stronger than he is, and that he needs Sam to get through this ordeal.
  • Dean admitted to being a “functional alcoholic” to fellow victim (and boozer) Tina. He hasdeandrunk previously always deflected his alcohol consumption. I think his recent attempts at living a clean life in order to mitigate the MoC’s influence has shown him that he does have some dependency there.
  • Sam still has total faith and determination that they will find a cure for the MoC. He won’t let Dean wallow in the bunker, and lose hope. I am so glad that the writers have decided to give us the version of Sam that, in the view of many fans, is true to his character and how he feels about his family. Sam’s character was done a great disservice in seasons 8 and 9 (can we please just purge Amelia from our memories?), but this year, Sam is more than making up for it. I really like how Sam is now the metaphorical older brother, protecting his brother. The role reversal is really working for the season.
  • Dylan Everett –is- young Dean Winchester. He reprised his role from Bad Boys, and quite simply nailed it. The casting department again showed their prowess at finding young youngdeanactors to portray child versions of established characters. Just like Colin Ford’s version of Sam, Dylan’s version of Dean really shines. While Dylan is actually 20 years old, playing a 14 year old version of Dean, it was totally believable.
  • The pubescent jokes were a gold mine. While we could see some of them coming from a mile away – “It’s up, it’s down, it’s up for no reason…” to Dean moving the front bench seat of the Impala up so that Sam’s knees are jammed under his own chin. They still all worked, and made me really appreciate this season’s ability to have some very dark themes, but still find room for comedy. This was seriously lacking in last season’s unrelenting angst-fest.Now for the lowlights, unfortunately:
  • Lesley Nicol, aka the Hansel & Gretel’s witchy version of Rachel Ray, really seemed flat. While she visually fit the bill, her accent was terrible. I think it was supposed to be German, but then it would flip into a childish British accent, and then, who knows what. It was really bad. I mean REALLY bad. I was looking forward to her guest appearance on the show, because I’m a huge fan of her on Downton Abbey. I am at a loss as to what happened there.leslie1
  • Continuity errors. OK, stay with me here. So, when adult Dean was zapped by Hansel into his younger version, his adult clothes were left at the scene, and he woke up dressed in smaller kid size clothes. However, when tween Dean was transformed back into adult Dean, his actual kid-sized clothes were magically made larger. WTH, people! That just doesn’t work for continuity’s sake, plus it robbed us from seeing adult Dean’s body crammed into too small clothes! We were kept from seeing a hoodie as a mid-riff that would give us a glimpse of Dean’s abs. Even if the show opted to just have the sleeves and slack be too short, that at least would’ve been an additional comedic point at the end. Sometimes I wonder what the wardrobe folks are thinking. First we have multiple layers of clothing, even in summer, and now this. I admit it; I’m a Dean girl, followed very closely as a Sam girl. So, this week’s episode was could’ve been as close to heaven as possible for me.

Having said that, it wasn’t perfection, but it was still one of my favorite episodes this year, and in my top ten for the whole series. I give it a 4 out of 5 rating.

 

LustyLauri’s review of “There’s No Place Like Home” original air date 01/28/15

Wow! So much happened in this week’s episode… so far I’ve watched it four times in two days and I’ve discovered something new every time.

  • Uh, guys? What the hell was that white crap on the plates? Those don’t look like any egg white omelets I’ve ever seen… regardless… Sam, ever the supportive brother, digs in like it’s the best damn egg white omelet he’s ever had. I’m hoping that there is some of this on the gag reel, because I’d love to know what our boys really thought about whatever it was they were eating.
  • I’m totally digging the research-in-the-bunker shots. Nicely done!!
  • I love the makeup effects in this episode, especially the differences in the two Charlies. Dark Charlie was harsh lines and all business while Good Charlie was softer and sweeter. I also liked the stitches on the judge’s face. I thought they looked quite realistic.
  • Special Agents Gabriel and Collins, from the band Genesis. Genesis means “In the beginning” which in turn made me think of “the river ends at the source”, which IMO also means at the beginning. So many possibilities!!! Will the boys go back to the Garden to face the serpent Lucifer? Will Cain face Abel as the two original human brothers? Do we end up back in Lawrence?? I need to know this NOW!
  • Kale = a shout out to Misha, the Kale King!
  • While I supremely loved the scene of the guys researching in the bunker, I think my favorite is when Dean ran out of the councilwoman’s house to chase Bad Charlie. All of that was shot in one long camera run from the time he leaves the house to the time Good Charlie pulls up in her adorable yellow car. Excellent work, guys & gals!!
  • Sam’s hair! Thank God that horrible haircut is finally growing out. Not to mention, Jared looks SO much better in this episode…he’s gained some weight back and ooooh it’s so good.
  • Secrets are bad. This means you, Dean Winchester.
  • MAMMOGRAMS!!! Get your boobs squeezed today and think of Dean while you do it.
  • Well, I never! If cheap boots and faded jeans are all it takes to make someone a hayseed…then I guess I’ve been a hayseed all my life. Thanks a lot, snooty real estate jerk-off.
  • Dean, Dean, Dean! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – never go in against Bad Charlie when DEATH is on the line!
  • The only thing I didn’t like about this episode was when Clive (old good Oz guy) was shot in the chest. To me, it looked obviously faked, like the blood was pouring out of a tube under the guy’s hand instead of from a wound. Sorry y’all, but they could have done that better.
  • Um…can I please have some of that magic green Oz rope so I can tie up a little bit of Sammy for myself? Thanks in advance!
  • Dean is horrified that he allowed Bad Charlie to goad him into violence. The expressions on his face at that moment broke my little hayseed heart.
  • <sniffle> Our little Charlie girl is all grown up!
  • “I forgive you” – Ultimately, this episode is about acceptance and forgiveness. There is darkness and light in every single one of us and we all have feelings that sometimes surface inappropriately. It is how we choose to react to the feelings that define us. I believe that one of the things Dean must do to conquer the Mark is to accept the things he has done in the past, and forgive himself. Our Dean has never been able to do that, and this could be a giant step forward out of the darkness and into the light. Prove it, Dean. We know you can.
  • I love that our guys are once again working together to save one of them, while also working to save themselves. One brother alone won’t be able to survive without the other. “You can do this. WE can do this.” Of course you can, Sam. Now make Dean believe it too.

ScoutieGirl’s review of “The Hunter Games” (original air date 1/20/15)

ScoutieGirl’s review of “The Hunter Games”
(original air date 1/20/15)

IMG_0604This week’s episode of Supernatural, “The Hunter Games” felt like a breath of fresh air – well, as fresh as the fetid air in a dark hallway infested with knife-wielding demons in hell could smell.  The opening scene shows our favorite snarky King of Hell being stabbed by his demon minions, ala Caesar on the Senate steps.  Even his faithful number 1, Guthrie takes a stab at him.  Come to find out, Crowley’s mum has used some nasty spell work to bring on this nightmare vision, in order to crank up her son’s paranoia and cast doubt on his supposedly loyal followers. I thought this scene was a fantastic way to start the episode.  Crowley was just recently abandoned by his “knight” in not-so-shining armor, Demon Dean, and now his dreams are plagued by his other followers turning on him as well.  Rowena wants her son to have no one to turn to, except herself.

Speaking of Mommy Dearest, Rowena obviously has plans for her son; it is one of the big story arcs this season.  What exactly does she have in mind as her end-game?  Is Crowley onto her, or is he slowly succumbing to an inherent need to trust his mother?  Remember that Crowley “Just wants to be loved, I deserve to be loved”.  How much effect does the remaining percentage of Sam’s purified blood still have on Crowley and his ability to resist the, albeit heavy-handed, affections of his ‘mum’?  The writers haven’t given us the answer to either question at this point.  Which I find to be especially delicious because we don’t know either character’s mind-set or final plans and the tension we feel in their scenes is heightened.  We suddenly find ourselves screaming at Crowley, telling him that Mommy is rotten and not to IMG_0609trust her, “Don’t open that door!”  Who knew we would root for the King of Hell?  I love the matchup between Rowena and Crowley, and full disclosure – Rowena is my favorite new character on the show since the addition of Charlie.  She can stand toe-to-toe with her demonic son and give as good (if not better) than she gets.  Additionally the casting of Ruth Connell in this role is one of the best and most fortuitous inclusions ever.  I can’t imagine a better fit for the role. Not only is she physically well suited – she looks like Morticia Addams cooler sister in her long dark dresses and wavy red hair – but she brings the right level of over-the-top campiness that really plays nicely against Mark Sheppard’s Crowley. While she’s definitely this season’s ‘baddie’, and you don’t want her to bring whatever her evil plans are to bear, you still find yourself wanting to see more of her on screen.  Her scenes stole the episode for me.

This is a good time to give a big shout-out to the VFX team for the scene where Rowena casts her spell from hell to spy on Crowley’s meeting with the Winchesters.  That was some great visual effects work, and really gave an expensive, cinematic feel to the episode.  I’m always happy when that group of talented artists gets to really show their stuff.

So, onto the Winchesters – the whole episode revolved around every character’s reaction or response to Dean’s situation with the Mark of Cain.  This episode was, in my opinion, one of the best at truly integrating every character into a single cohesive storyline.  So often over the last 3 years, Supernatural episodes are actually split into 2 separate shows, one with Sam and Dean’s storyline, and then a totally separate story with Cas and the angels. As viewers, we become immersed into one of the sub-shows, and boom!  Cut scene, and we’re taken right out of the moment and thrown into IMG_0619what feels like an entirely separate show.  Hunter Games, however, felt like a cohesive full ensemble effort focused on a single storyline, yet still showed each different character’s viewpoint.  Sam was still desperate to find a cure for his brother’s entanglement with the Mark.  He showed his concern over the horror of the massacre at Randy’s house, but held on to his determination to find a way to fix his brother.  Cas also had to deal with the effects of that massacre on his vessel’s daughter, Claire, in addition to his concern for his friend, Dean.  Claire wanted revenge against the person she saw as the murderer of her 2nd father, however misguided and independence from the creature that looked like her father.  Even the return of Metatron was connected to the Mark of Cain through his knowledge of how to vanquish its effect.   I found myself never leaving ‘the zone’ while I watched this episode.  It felt like I was watching a single storyline from beginning to end, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Having exhausted the lore in the MoL bunker,  the Winchesters and Cas are now desperate enough to try to  get  information from God’s scribe, Metatron.  I’m not the biggest fan of the Metatron character, the nerdy dude as big bad-guy just doesn’t quite do it for me.  I never totally bought the idea that Metatron could kill Dean Winchester when Dean was armed with the MoC AND the First Blade last year.  In this episode, Metatron takes a licking but keeps on ticking when Dean is trying to get him to give up any information he has on the MoC.  I just don’t see Metatron, that nerd that hid from the world in a locked room in a casino on a Native American reservation for centuries, having the fortitude to withstand a solid Dean Winchester beat down.  I think he would’ve caved, but the writer’s chose to have him declare he would rather die than help Dean find a solution.  Sorry, but that just doesn’t fit the character.  He did however leave us with the riddle “Behold, the river shall end at the source.”  I’m not even going to try and guess what that means at this point, but it’s a great way to generate fan interest and speculation.  Let me know your favorite theory in the comments.

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Here are some of my favorite highpoints:

  • The ever dapper Guthrie and his perfectly coiffed ‘stache. Sorry, buddy, we’re going to miss your suave presence, but not as much as Crowley will, I bet.
  • Cas, Sam and Dean all involved in the same storyline. Seasons 4-5 worked so well due in large part to these 3 characters and their dynamic, when they’re all working on the same storyline.
  • “You don’t cook, I don’t eat. It’s the perfect arrangement.” Crowley’s not totally convinced his mom is all June Cleaver just yet, but will he eventually fall for her tricks?
  • “But I’m your dickwad” and “How to pop this biblical zit” were two great Metatron lines that caused me to laugh out loud.
  • Cas’s pimp mobile needing a tune-up – it’s so different from Dean’s pampered Baby, but I’m starting to actually see the gold Lincoln as a new character on the show, and an extension of Cas’s personality.
  • Cas and Claire’s scenes were really well done and subtly nuanced in this episode, as opposed to the mid-season finale “The Things we Left Behind”, where I think they were a little heavy-handed.

So, I give this episode 4 out of 5 stars.  Great job all around and a good set up for the second half of the season.

ScoutieGirl, aka @scoutiegirl1