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