“I won’t let you sacrifice yourselves. You mean too much to me...to everything.”

Supernatural came back last night with a bang, and a few bloody deaths. “First Blood,” episode nine of season 12, was everything I’d hoped for. I’m a die-hard fan of Supernatural, so I tend to go a little easy on episodes that might not live up to my through-the-roof expectations, but even I will admit, this season has been up and down for me. “First Blood” reignited my faith in the show, not to say that I had none, it was just slightly lacking.

So what made this episode so special? Let’s start from the beginning.

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Humor was a nice way to begin, especially when there was nothing funny about Sam and Dean’s dire situation and Cas and Mary’s immense guilt. Wally, the surly American hunter Mick tried to recruit, gained my stamp of approval immediately. Right off the bat, he looked uninterested, picking his teeth and slurping his drink. The icing on the cake was him saying, “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.” Wally’s got a fan in me, as does Mick. I can’t help it. I like Mick and I dislike Mick. There’s something intriguing about a British man with perfectly manicured hair, wearing a sleek button down and a crisp jacket, typing away on an old-fashioned typewriter, also being the same man who orchestrates brutal murders. His hands may be clean of blood, but his conscience can’t possibly be. I’m interested in learning more about him and his past, which will hopefully be brought up at some point this season.

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“You left them.” Words Mary should not have said to Castiel. Good old Cas or Cass or whatever you want to call him. He made this episode in a lot of ways. Every time he came onscreen, I was internally going “awww...Cas,” feeling awfully sympathetic towards him and his big blue, puppy dog eyes. Mary shouldn’t have added to his guilt, though it was probably her projecting her own guilt of leaving her boys onto Cas, so it’s understandable. Cas standing outside of the motel looking distraught caused one melancholy song to drift through my head: “I’ll Just Wait Here Then.” Poor Cas. Later on, when Cas and Mary are in a bar, I thought it was a sweet, heart-splintering touch to have Cas say to Mary the exact amount of time Sam and Dean had been gone: six weeks, two days, and ten hours. And his eternal admiration for his human family pervaded every word he spoke of them, like when he lamented not being able to work a case, saying that if Sam and Dean would have been there, they would have “roll[ed] into town and save[d] the day.” To Cas, Sam and Dean are unbreakable, valiant heroes to whom he can’t compare.

Also in the bar scene, Mary reminded me of pep-talk pro, Sam, trying to reassure Cas that they would find Sam and Dean and were doing their best. Like mother, like son.

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The sequence of Sam and Dean stuck in the monotony of Site 94 was well done. The time-lapse of mindless tasks like pacing, push-ups, scratching the number of days into the wall, and “chow time” was effective in drawing me into that world. I began to feel the words “chow time” as more and more grating with each time they were said. Additionally, there were a few small moments in which the differences between Sam and Dean were exhibited. 

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As they were being questioned in the facility, both remained silent, but their expressions were telling of their character. Dean wore a mask of complete composure and indifference to his predicament, one that was occasionally borderline arrogant, and he refused to look his questioner in the eyes. On the other hand, Sam appeared to be nervous and shaken, and he flinched as the door slammed shut. They are both stoic, but Dean’s tough-guy persona held fast while Sam’s vulnerability showed. Along with that part, it was funny to see typical Dean trying the food and thinking “not bad,” while Sam sniffed it and cringed.

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Crowley appeared only briefly, for just enough time to add his sass and sip a fruity drink decorated with a tropical umbrella. He said he didn’t care about “moose” and “squirrel” being gone, but I think he did. He was sure they’d find a way to prevail, as they always do, so he didn’t feel the need to interfere. Frenemies is the only label I can think of befitting of their wacky relationship.

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Sam and Dean were throwing off some serious serial killer vibes out in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Not knowing them as characters, and just seeing them in a few particular scenes with severe expressions and elite fighting skills, I would’ve thought they were the bad guys. Since I do know them as characters, I was instead impressed by their war-like tactics, and didn’t, for a second, question their morality—which proved itself to be intact when they spared the lives of every soldier and even left a first aid kit for one of the most injured of the bunch. Mick and Mr. Ketch were not taken with their display of mercy, deeming it “unprofessional,” so it was clear that they would go back and finish the job. I enjoyed the contrast between the Winchester brothers (who are supposedly as bad as the monsters they hunt, according to Toni Bevell) letting the soldiers go because they were “just doing what they were told” and the British MOL (who are supposedly all about killing monsters to help humans) killing dozens of humans to cover up Sam and Dean’s trail. It seems the righteous British MOL are the ones in the wrong, not the good-natured brothers who saved the world. (Did anyone else feel proud when Sam said that? Because I sure did.)

I’m a sucker for hugs, so the reunion of the brothers and Mary and Cas was a highlight for me, as was the relief in Cas’s voice when Dean called him. No sitting alone in the dark with one dim light any longer, Cas would have his family back.

The ending is what pushed this episode over the edge, making it my favorite of the season (just beating out "Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox" and "American Nightmare"). Seemingly innocuous comments between Sam and Dean, such as “we have to talk about this,” “we’re kind of on the clock here,” and “six hours until midnight” held a dark weight revealed in the last moments of the episode. They were referring to, and counting down to, one of their impending deaths. Maybe I’m the only one who didn’t put the pieces together about Billie being involved in their escape. I guess I’m just so used to them dying and coming back to life that I didn’t think twice when it happened. I accepted it without questioning the logistics. Once their deal, accompanied by some flashbacks, was disclosed, I was not at all surprised when Mary volunteered herself; it’s the Winchester way: to sacrifice your life for those you love.

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What did shock me was Cas killing Billie. I love Billie because Supernatural is scarily proficient in convincing me that the "bad" gals and guys are lovable, no matter the blood they shed, so her death was the one downside of the episode. However, it was a necessary move on Cas’s part. I fully believed Mary was going to shoot herself. I didn’t see the loophole that Cas saw. Mary’s death is something I still think is inevitable by this season’s end. I’ve grown fond of her, but I don’t see her remaining in their lives forever.

Post Cas saving the day, my heart melted and I got goosebumps as our sweet, protective angel spoke his piece. “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 to much to me...to everything. Yeah, you made a deal, you made a stupid deal, and I broke it. You’re welcome.” Can we get a round of applause, please? Cas is the best.

"First Blood" was surprising, funny (when we needed some nice comic relief), suspenseful, Cas-full (I know that isn't a word, but we finally got more Cas!), and overall awesome.

I am thrilled with the outcome of this episode and can’t wait for the rest of this season! Who's with me?

 

Editor's Note: Ashley sent me a link to her blog where this review originally appeared. I liked her perspective and offered to post it here as a guest article. I added the pictures, courtesy of http://www.homeofthenutty.com/ . WFB Family, please make her feel welcome! - Nightsky