WFBBabyBanner

Follow Us

Text Size

Nightsky's New Book!

Family Don't End With Blood

Featuring a chapter from Nightsky!

Share This

Recap: "All Hell Breaks Loose Part 2"

Previously on Supernatural: Sam's dead! As in not breathing, stiff as a board, Smurf blue dead. Dean wasn't too happy about that.

Kripke goes for ripping our hearts out from the word go. The entire season's summed up by the traditional "Carry On Wayward Son", and Sam's death is more gripping to music. It's strange to hear "don't you cry no more" when Dean is weeping, but I digress because of the way Jensen rocked that scene.

The camera hovers over a very much dead Sam stretched out on a mattress in a dank room, with one completely devastated Dean leaning in the doorway, his wounded eyes fixed on his fallen brother. Judging by the amount of uneaten food lying around and Dean's five o'clock shadow, he's been holding his somber vigil for a while. The impression is made, Dean's a mess.

Read more: Recap: "All Hell Breaks Loose Part 2"

Recap: "All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1"

Okay, all that virtual arm twisting has paid off. Upon request, I pulled out the season two DVDs (okay, I picked them up from their reserved spot next to the TV) and took on two of the most gut-wrenching episodes done on this show. "All Hell Breaks Loose" is right. 

These episodes made their significant mark, escalating the mytharc to a whole new level. Part I was all about Sam and his test, Part II put Dean through his. Sam faced his evil destiny, and Dean, oh poor Dean, faced his worst nightmare. In the end, Dean came out as the most broken. Considering Sam's ordeal resulted in death, Dean sank pretty low.

Read more: Recap: "All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1"

Recap: "Heart"

I told everyone this would be a surprise. The question is, why review this one? There are two reasons. First, there isn't an episode other than "Ghostfacers" more polarizing among fans, thus that makes it worthy of a critical review.   Second, I felt like it.
 
"Heart" instantly commanded attention since it combined the writing of Sera Gamble with the direction of Kim Manners, which usually guarantees a memorable episode to come. However, many fans didn't like it because they thought it went overboard with the Sam strife and broke out all the anvils. Was the overwrought emotion in this one heavy handed? Yes. Was it compelling to watch? Yes. 
 
Upon deeper examination, I found "Heart" is far more complex that what appears on the surface. The episode isn't just about Sam. Dean is forced to face some realities as well, and in the end, it hits them both hard. Sure, it took an implausible setup to do it, but whatever, drama is drama. 

A Not So Memorable Look Back At "Bugs"

Recently I've been working on a retrospective of Season One, a season I've largely ignored from a critical viewpoint due to lack of time. Also recently, I've been on the fan forums seeking lively discussion and have mostly come across griping about character direction and Season Four in general, even though this is by far this best season of the series. So, put those two together, and I've easily got a way to change everyone's perspective. 
 
I'm going to show everyone what a bad episode is all about. I'm going to point out what happens when a horrible script, bad acting, crappy special effects and editing, substandard directing and even poor song choices collide. 
 
It's time to take a gut turning look back at "Bugs." 

Read more: A Not So Memorable Look Back At "Bugs"

Recap: "Mystery Spot"

It's no secret that my favorite episode of all time is "Mystery Spot". It was one of the very first reviews I ever wrote for blogcritics, and after going through it for reposting here, I found that review wasn't very good. This episode is so good, so spectacular in its detail, that it deserved its own full recap. This is by far my longest recap ever, and there are tons of pictures in it, so it isn't dialup friendly. Enjoy!

----------------------------------------------------------------------

The best episode of the series. There, I said it. Every single element that goes into making an episode clicked into high gear in this one and through an extremely fast paced and very unpredictable story everyone delivered big time. I'll make my argument, even though many have already told me I'm nuts.

Not only was "Mystery Spot" the best episode of the series, but it's one of the best written episodes for any TV show out there. Since my other favorite episode of season three is A Very Supernatural Christmas, Jeremy Carver owns me. In both scripts, this new staff writer offered stories with a dark humor edge, creative and intriguing plots, sharp and humorous dialogue that greatly energized the already incredible chemistry between the main characters, yet also managed to impress with deeply emotional and sentimental moments. That's a really fancy worded way of saying he rocks.

For this episode in particular, combine the flawless script with the brilliant directing of Kim Manners, some of the best set decoration and special effects of the series, and the usual top notch acting and we have an episode to be listed among the best. Jared especially took his performance to outstanding new heights, delivering his best episode to date by nailing Sam's long ordeal with incredible range and versatility. Of course the script demanded it, but he rose to the challenge brilliantly.

Sure, it was a Sam focused episode, but considering Sam's character has lacked deep exploration for two and a half seasons, this was both a welcome but very frightening glimpse into how dark he can become when pushed. Uncorked Dean last season was scary, but Sam in sociopathic killer mode was downright terrifying.

Any time a television show goes out of its way to do revealing character studies, I'll be the first to sing its praises.? Without character development, without seeing these people evolve either positively or negatively in the stressful circumstances set upon them, we all end up with TheBrady Bunch every week (yes, I'd love to see Dean Winchester nail Marcia Brady).

Read more: Recap: "Mystery Spot"

Jensen vs. Jared: I'm Going There

This is a debate I usually avoid, dismissing it as just a bunch of bored fans stirring up unnecessary trouble. Hell, I even chastised BuddyTV for bringing it up last month. However, two things this week triggered my addressing the issue. First, comments on my review of "Heaven and Hell" on blogcritics have turned into a huge "who's the better actor debate", and it's still going on today. Second, I've been rewriting the recap that I originally posted for "Mystery Spot" (since it was one of my first reviews written and it sucks), so I've been watching the episode again. If anyone thinks that Jared is an inferior actor truly hasn't watched this episode carefully. Or any of the episodes of the past two seasons.

What defines a "better actor"? An actor is only as good as the writers' development of the character. A good actor needs to take mediocre lines and turn them into something incredible as well as sell any dilemma through a series of looks and mannerisms, giving us far more to the story than what's on the page. Match a strong actor with a charismatic character and sparks fly. Those are the combos that end up on Emmy reels. Those are the combos that inspire fans and critics to gush for hours. It's all good, and Jensen Ackles easily fits the bill there.

So, what happens when you match an actor with a dark, brooding character? One that isn't open and often has to sell the internal conflict with tortured looks and nonverbal cues? One that often gives a haunting performance that is mostly noticed by those of us watching carefully and not by those waiting for the "in your face" Emmy submission performance? I'm the first to admit Jared Padalecki was very green when he started. It's been exciting to see him grow as an actor, and the turning point easily was "Born Under A Bad Sign". Since then, he blows me away just as much as Jensen with just his silent gloomy glares and weepy puppy dog eyes. No one sells a troubled Sam better.

The writers are very smart people for they craft their scripts every week to the strengths that their actors provide. Write a long piece of dialogue that showcases an intense emotional breakdown, character vulnerability and a gut wrenching weak moment that makes a viewer curse over why they didn't have a box of Kleenexes nearby and Jensen's your man. Despite all the fantastic emotional scenes from season four, my favorite Dean scene to date still is from "All Hell Breaks Loose Part II", when he delivers his punch-you-in-the-gut meltdown over his dead brother's body.
Jensen excels like none other too as the tough talking, won't take crap from anyone older brother whose confidence in the leadership department has gradually evolved over four seasons, now soaring to dramatic new heights. As Dean's trials grow more layered and complex, we never cease to be amazed over what Jensen brings each week. It's all fantastic, and as fans, we're giddy.

So, that makes Jensen the better actor, right? Did anyone watch the end of "Mystery Spot"? That scene crushes me every bit as the above mentioned scene from "All Hell Breaks Loose Part II", and there's only a fraction of the dialogue. Sam has been through a long ordeal, one that's lasted anywhere from nine months to a year. He finally has Dean back, but his efforts have left him very broken. Sam is so despondent, so crushed by everything and we witness it in the most powerful way just through his withdrawn behavior, his pained and faraway eyes, his faint smile at Dean's joke, and his somber gaze at the motel room before leaving. I have never been more haunted by a scene than that one, for any TV show. It made me worry very very much about Sammy.

Of course, Jared's triumph was "I Know What You Did Last Summer", but many people didn't notice because of Sam and Ruby. Sam the entire episode was raw emotionally, coasting on fumes, and on the brink of total self destruction. I bought every bit of it, and can someone tell me which scene had the big speech where Sam wallowed over his pain? There wasn't one. Again, Jared's strengths were played. Need more proof? The scenes in the motel and the Impala in "Metamorphosis", the end of "No Rest For The Wicked" (he's a far more emotional crier), the scene at the hospital near the end of "Bedtime Stories" and every single minute of "Mystery Spot".

Anyone who partakes in this debate forgets one very crucial thing, the key to this show's success is the on screen chemistry of the two actors together. The show wouldn't be anywhere near as good if it was only Jensen. If anyone doubts that, go ahead and sit through "In The Beginning" again. That was a decent episode that told us some outstanding back story and offered the best guest acting of the series, but come on, it wasn't the same without Sam. There was something missing. I still think both Dean and Sam should have been there together. It would have brought an emotional impact much like their first visit back to Lawrence in "Home".

The brotherly relationship is the core of the show. Not the demons, not the urban legends, not the action, not the secondary characters, not the freaks of the week that either make us cringe, laugh, or scream. The writing is strong, the directing is strong, the special effects and set decoration is top notch, but all that pales in comparison to what BOTH Jared and Jensen bring to Sam and Dean each week. They are the stars. If you doubt that, watch the mausoleum scene in "It's The Great Pumpkin Sam Winchester." Those two pulled off the most dramatic and jaw dropping brotherly moment of the series without saying a word.

Or, take the last scene in "Heaven and Hell", the one that started this entire debate. Raise your hand if you think that scene would have been just as good if we didn't see Sam's heartbreaking reactions in the background. It was Jensen's show for sure and he knocked it out of the park, but often we take those little background moments for granted, the ones that transform something good into something spectacular. That was an important BROTHERLY moment, and we can't forget that.

I'm sure eventually when this show is over both Jensen and Jared will go their separate ways and take new opportunities that will cater to their strengths as actors as well as challenge them in new ways. One will probably end up doing better commercially than the other. In the meantime though, let's enjoy what we've got with them together, for that is where we are truly blessed.

A Deeper Look At Season Three Sam Winchester

It's Sam's turn! As I'm sure many of you have picked up from my previous articles, I'm rather intrigued by the character of Sam Winchester. He's dark and mysterious, and I really need to look hard to even get a small grasp of what's he's all about. Dean's more open and since he's already hit rock bottom, there was nowhere to go but up, thus making his story far more inspiring. Sam is descending downward at a slow, uneasy pace, and it's my hunch the worst for Sam is yet to come in season four. In the meantime, season three gives us a compelling look at a character who's losing his grasp.

One thing that's obvious, the boy has issues. He always has, but in season three Sam wasn't likeable or empathetic like he had been in previous two seasons. He grew distant, especially with Dean, even though his only goal was to get him out of the deal. That obsession practically destroyed him. With each episode his frustration and desperation grew. Unlike Dean in "Dream A Little Dream Of Me", Sam's ordeal with the Trickster in "Mystery Spot" didn't inspire him to turn a corner and go forward. Instead, he turned irrational, and lost what little identity he had left.

Read more: A Deeper Look At Season Three Sam Winchester

A Deeper Look at Season Three Dean Winchester

I got back from vacation to some wonderful news about the upcoming season four from the Supernatural panel at Comic Con this weekend. For those interested in what was said, go to Supernatural Wiki for full reports. As excited as I am about the new season (and still trying hard to avoid spoilers), I'm still not done deconstructing all the great things from the previous ones. It's all I've got to kill time during the hiatus.

All season long, on Supernatural message boards, from comments on this blog, from comments on other blogs, I've read plenty of bitter disappointment by some over the direction of Dean Winchester's character in season three. I tried to take stock in these arguments, but when I went back through the episodes, all I saw was some spectacular character growth. Since "Dream A Little Dream of Me" came up again on Thursday, the episode that presents with an exclamation point a life changing event of self-actualization, I'm going meta on you all and examining the stunning evolution of season three Dean Winchester. Even I was surprised with the results.

Read more: A Deeper Look at Season Three Dean Winchester

Recap: "Jus In Bello"

Boy, did I get an interesting one for what turns out to be the only season three episode I have left to review. "Jus In Bello" is a highly buzzed episode from seasoned writer Sera Gamble, and it ended up being one of the highest rated of the season. As much great action, drama, and character display this episode had though, it wasn't flawless.

This was the only episode to feature both Ruby and Bela. Sadly, both were more irritating than normal. Sam was very dark and moody, and this episode gave us the worst ending of the series (okay, maybe tied with "Bugs"). Despite all this, Agent Henriksen proved to be a kick ass hunter and it was Dean Winchester's finest hour, thrilling us to the point where we overlooked most of the problems.

Read more: Recap: "Jus In Bello"