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EW Ultimate Guide to Supernatural

Family Don't End With Blood

Featuring a chapter from Nightsky!

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The 250th episode! Who knew way back when the mission was searching for John and mourning Jess that this is where we’d end up all these years later? First Blood was a bit of a different flavor for Supernatural – but then a lot of season twelve has been about changing it up in that sense and it worked, for the most part. The action style, the approach of the feds and the emotions delivered well. As a 250th tribute to the Winchester family we’ve come to love, all the marks were met.

 

“I’m listening.”

“Let me paint you a picture of a world without monsters, or demons….of a new world, a better world.”

Recruiting is a difficult task. You need to market yourself well and understand your audience to be effective at your job. The British Men of Letters have not and continue to fail in both of these areas, as was demonstrated watching Mick succinctly put in his place by American hunters like Wally.

 “I don't know you, and I ain't looking to take any orders from anyone. Especially limey paper pushers... So no offense, but you can take your offer and you can shove it up your ass. I'm sure it won't be too painful, what with those soft hands of yours, right?”

FB4This was amusing to watch, of course, and successfully demonstrated in one easy exchange the entirety of the problem with the BMoL: no frontline experience and total disrespect for those on said frontline. Sure, they train and study, they understand conceptually the nature of the sandbox their guarding. But they don’t actually touch the sand. Much like those big companies that get too top heavy and disregard suggestions of staff actually working at the ground level with great disdain, the British Men of Letters are too content to push the peons around from a great distance – it’s rather hard to see with one’s nose so high in the air, after all.

Nevertheless, Mary did join Mick in the end, open to hear his sales pitch. Plan or persuaded, only time will tell.

“Consequences…Cosmic”

A blood pact to save one Winchester and a Reaper’s death at midnight instead. Unique escape and clever writing, since we knew the boys could not actually be, well, dead. It was a question of who did they make a deal with and what were the terms?

I have two things to say about this. First, I truly expected Mary would die. The careful phrasing of “a Winchester” was so non-specific and Mary exists, out of time, for lack of a better phrase, that it seemed her bill had finally come due – both disappointingly unexpected and tragic, I thought. Until….Cas’ angel blade sliced through Billie like butter. Which brings me to the second thought.

FB10This was unexpected, so kudos for a twist in the Winchester deaths, which have been done – well, to death. Unfortunately, I’m not positive Billie ever got her due as a character so the death is a disappointing end in that sense. Billie arrived with such ominous promise of vengeance after Dean’s “murder” of Death, a promise never to be fulfilled.  

One final curiosity - cosmic consequences: what are they, who pays them (technically, Castiel broke the deal, not a Winchester; I mean what if Billie had stumbled and fallen on an Angel blade before she collected a Winchester that night?) and, most importantly, when?

 “Failure to Communicate”

It only seems apropos that after 250 episodes, Sam and Dean should die and come back again – it’s practically a wink to the audience at this point really. Nevertheless, it was stylish and surprising in the delivery, so let’s back up a moment and talk about the moments leading up to their “death” scene. The Fed put Sam and Dean in solitary confinement, correctly ascertaining that no form of “enhanced interrogation” would lead them to talk. Instead a grey, quiet hell of solitude was all they’d know for the rest of forever.

On a visual level these exchanges were perfectly crafted: the rooms were painstakingly bare, cold and colourless; a blend of mush beige nothing. For a brief moment I thought Dean’s prying of the screw was indicative of escape – instead it began the long, tedious marking of the days (6 weeks, 2 days and 10 hours to be exact). Finally, we can’t discount the acting during the speech delivered by our Fed in these cells.

FB2Though neither said anything, each character delivered: Dean maintained stoic neutrality throughout – never uttering a word nor shifting a muscle on the surface – focusing on prying his screw loose (no puns intended); for the most part Sam did the same except when the captor said he would do nothing, which caught Sam – clearly preparing for interrogation or worse- off guard.  Despite his demonstrated concern at the idea of being left alone in the cell for an extended period – ultimately Dean contacted Billie to barter, not Sam. “At least this way, one of use gets to keep fighting.”

“We made a pact. Bound in blood.”

The best parts of the episode on a whole came later, when the boys had escaped. These offered a complete demonstration of just what a combination the Winchester Brothers are – and what that means for those who challenge them, be they good, bad or otherwise:

Well, what we have here is a failure to communicate. 'Cause we're not trapped out here with you. You're trapped out here with us.”

And later…

“That's the truth…Now you can take that and do what you want with it. But if you come after us, you know what'll happen…. We're the guys that save that world.”

FB6

 “You Mean Too Much”

Sam and Dean were missing for over six weeks while held in captivity and of course that meant Cas and Mary had to carry on without them – and in some ways, fill the gap. In some cases, this relationship worked, in others it didn’t. The interactions between Mary and Castiel were limited, by and large, which makes extended commentary difficult but in a way it was this limited interaction that was part of the problem. Sam and Dean were missing, Kelly Klein is on the loose – these two should have been coordinating more smoothly and directly than was delivered. This is a minor complaint, in the grand scheme, noticeable only against some particularly great scenes, both character moments and action.

Beyond the Mary/Cas relationship, Castiel was a true Winchester here, caught in a spiral of guilt over his actions when he left Sam and Dean to be caught by the feds. His state of overwhelming disbelief when Dean finally calls says everything. Poor Castiel. He’s said it before and he’ll say it again: Castiel loves Sam and Dean, they are his family and without them, he is lost. Which is why he cannot abide one of them, including Mary, dying when Billie comes calling at midnight:

FB11“You know this world, this sad, doomed little world, it needs you. It needs every last Winchester it can get, and I will not let you die. I won't let any of you die. And I won't let you sacrifice yourselves. You mean too much to me, to everything. Yeah, you made a deal. You made a stupid deal, and I broke it. You're welcome.”

 Wow – somebody needed to hug him after that speech. Misha delivers some beautiful sentiments in this moment with Cas conveying strikingly what if feels like when you reach that moment of frustrated, anxious exhaustion, are trying to express how you feel, but you just can’t keep your emotions to yourself anymore. Strikingly done.

Final Thoughts

Sam and Dean are unquestionably bad asses who can take on anything from a vampire to a Home Alone invasion and succeed. They have some pretty great people around them when they need them too. The best moments happened when Sam and Dean were on screen – in particular rigging the house and taking on the FBI squad hunting them down. Against this background, the in-between exchanges with Cas and Mary were somewhat lackluster; though the final moments on the road with Billie certainly made up for any of this. The episode, on a whole, was enjoyable and absolutely worth a rewatch or two.

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