Barbara Kottmeier plays Corey Silver, the grieving widow. When she first appears, we can sense in Kottmeier's body language the grief and suffering that Corey is enduring. It draws us in, making us want to know more about her situation as we see her stuff the flowers into the trash bag---and tell the brothers, “My husband was killed in a car accident here nine months ago. We were newlyweds. Never even got to our first anniversary and to have to be reminded of that every time I look out my window or leave the house---” Kottmeier gives Corey a somber feel in her performance, mostly by how she carries herself and the softness with which she delivers her lines.
Kottmeier has great chemistry with Padalecki, building a gentle understanding between their characters that feeds both Corey and Sam's stories. It makes for a touching scene as Corey tells Sam about Andrew's return after his death. In her sharing, we can sense that Corey's grateful to Sam for someone that she can unload this secret to, and we see it in her expressions and the way she looks at Sam. Kottmeier gives Corey a somberness and vulnerability that plays off well against Padalecki's Sam. And as Sam is sympathetic in his patient listening, we can see Kottmeier make Corey all the more comfortable to talk about this with him.
She makes the bizarre nature of Andrew's return not only feel real, but makes it moving. She gives Corey a sincerity as she describes this online interaction---and how the person claiming to be Andrew only knew things her husband would know. Kottmeier makes it easy to identify with Corey's wish to have her husband back---especially with the grief so fresh. But as she delivers the line, “He was different. Focused. Revenge.” we can sense the doubt and fresh pain that this encounter has brought out in her.
Her best scene, however, is when we see Corey talk to Andrew through the phone---telling him that he has to stop. She pours all of her character's grief and love into that moment, making those emotions mingle in a way that makes our hearts ache as she has to somehow reach out to her husband's vengeful spirit. In many ways, too, we can see Kottmeier giving her character, Corey, the chance to say goodbye to him in a way she couldn't when he died. It makes her performance all the stronger, giving us an anchor to connect to her---and to Andrew as he finally chooses to move on. Kottmeier was a strong addition to the cast for this episode, and she made Corey Silver someone we could truly identify with.
Ali Milner plays college student Delilah. As the Winchesters first encounter her, we can tell that she's more than the random witness in the case. While she claims that there's “Nothing left to tell,” about what happened with her roommate, we can sense that there's something off about Delilah. It's all in how Milner plays the character, hesitating ever so slightly in her responses, as if they've been rehearsed. She also gives us a sense of Delilah's guilt here, even if we don't quite realize it.
As we see her with the Kyle, frantic that they may be found out by the FBI about what really happened to Andrew, Milner makes Delilah a frightened young woman. As she rants at him about coming clean, we know that our instincts based on her performance earlier in the episode were correct. And yet, we can also sense an anger and frustration in her character here that isn't just about the refusal to come clean from Kyle. Milner adds in a subtle layer of anger that points towards Delilah being angry with herself that leaves us wanting to know what she knows about this case. What is this secret that they're protecting?
Milner's best scenes are with Ackles as they prepare for Andrew's attack. As she sits in the salt circle, waiting and hoping that these two will deliver on their promise to protect her, we can sense that she's coming to terms with the odd situations she's now in. It's in the way she looks around her room. Milner makes it seem as if Delilah's seeing it for the first time. It's as if, by now knowing that the man they left to die has become a ghost has changed everything. It's this that allows her to connect with Dean, and Milner makes Delilah seem both guilty and innocent all at the same time. She's terribly guilty for not calling 911, for not pushing harder to do the right thing, and she wants to know how to fix it, and yet as she delivers the line, “So how do you deal?” we can't help but see how young and innocent she is. Delilah may have been involved in this tragic situation, but she didn't cause it. Her friend did.
As she listens to Dean's answer, we can see Milner connecting with Ackles as he delivers his lines. She is listening intently, her face an open book to the sadness and regret that Delilah is feeling. We relate to her because of this, and it allows us to care for her and the outcome of this case. As Andrew appears, we feel her fear as she flees with Dean down the halls, to the basement where they're inadvertently trapped with a phone that Andrew can manifest from. When he does, and he physically attacks her, Milner puts all the fear into her performance.
And when Delilah holds out the phone to allow Corey to talk to Andrew, Milner makes us see Delilah's expression. It is a sad one, as if she's finally getting the chance to give these two this chance when months ago she was part of what robbed them from having it. As she walks up to Corey's house in the aftermath, we can see that she's ready to make right what she did wrong---to follow Dean's advice. Once the door closes, we can only hope that they do. Milner made Delilah an engaging and moving.
Jensen Ackles proves that he is equally talented at both comedy and drama in “Halt and Catch Fire.” From the first moment we see Dean at the Bunker with his “croissookie” to the last moment with Sam in the car, we're either laughing or crying. It's in Ackles acting that Dean becomes a well rounded and full character that we connect with and totally believe.
Ackles does deadpan humor well in the opening scene. As we see the brothers walking through the library, he's chomping on a strange bakery item. And as Padalecki's Sam asks, “What in the world” to figure out what it is, Ackles doesn't skip a beat, as Dean tells him flatly, “It's a croisookie.” Ackles makes this funny here because he says it in a way that makes it seem like this should be common knowledge. And even though we know Dean most likely hadn't had one of these strange things before that moment, Ackles shows us that Dean's willing to take the plunge on eating it anyways---with relish.
As much as he relished eating this, though, Ackles shows us that Dean really enjoys the college cafeteria atmosphere best. And it also allows Ackles to give us some brilliant physical comedy work, too. The brothers, working on the case, stop to get some food while they piece together the information they know. Dean walks up with an overloaded cafeteria tray and sets it down. As Sam's giving him the information lowdown, he starts to eat. We've seen Dean do this hundreds of times, and yet Ackles kicks it up a notch here, eating with gusto the Chinese noodles and the pizza and everything else on the tray. Ackles gives us the gleeful little boy we know to be in Dean when he delivers the line, “College is better than Vegas.” Adding to the hilarity, Ackles makes sure to leave many noodles hanging out of his mouth, making Dean wear more of his food than actually eat it here. What makes this scene so funny, however, is that Ackles does this while managing to keep a straight face as the brothers exchange looks. We can tell, in Ackles' performance, that Dean is going over the top here on purpose, mostly to gross out his brother and to have fun. It's what makes this such a memorable and fun scene.
Just as he was able to make us giggle at Dean's silly food antics, though, Ackles also makes us feel deeply for Dean. This shows best in his scenes with both Milner and then Padalecki. His scenes with Milner are quiet and intimate. As the two of them are preparing for the ghost to attack, they take a moment to talk about what led to this moment. Milner's Delilah is struggling to come to grips with the nightmares she's come to suffer since the night of the accident---and her inaction. She asks Dean how he deals. Ackles shows Dean pausing to consider the young woman's question, and then he puts as much honest emotion into his delivery of Dean's answer as he possibly can. It's a vulnerable moment for the elder Winchester as he says, “Whiskey. Denial. I do my best to make things right, whatever they may be... For you maybe it's, maybe it's coming clean. You know finding a way to ask for forgiveness, but not breaking the bank at your local florist, I mean real forgiveness. You can't just bury stuff like this, you gotta deal with it.”
As he says these things, we can see Ackles showing that Dean is also internalizing his own statements, that he's trying to not just say these things to a scared girl that he's protecting---but that he's also saying it to himself, as if saying it out loud will make it as true for her as it will for him. We're watching, as Ackles delivers this statement, Dean have an epiphany, and it's moving because it feels real and organic in its profound subtlety.
When they're confronted by the ghost of Andrew, and he begs the man to choose between killing and peace, we see that epiphany deepen, giving us insight into Dean's mood and struggles.
But the best scene Ackles has in the episode is opposite Padalecki at the end. As they watch Delilah and Corey begin the healing process from afar, the brothers talk about the case and how it concluded. Dean tells his brother that he plans on following Andrew's lead---that he, too, will choose peace. As Sam starts to protest, he says, “No, I'm not going to give up. I appreciate the effort, okay I do. But the answer is not out there, it's with me. I need to be the one calling the shots here, okay? I can't keep waking up every morning with this false hope... I gotta know where I stand or else I'm gonna lose my freaking mind... So I'm gonna fight it, till I can't fight it anymore. And when all is said and done, I'll go down swinging.”
Ackles makes us feel deeply for Dean in this moment---as we understand why he's come to this decision. In his delivery, we can sense a gentleness, an understanding that the only way for Dean to continue is to focus on what he can do---not what he can't. For him, that's helping people. It's trying his best, and it's committing to the family business of “saving people, hunting things.” Now that Dean's come to this place, we're left to wonder how else Dean will reclaim his life from the Mark.
Jared Padalecki gives us a subtle Sam in “Halt and Catch Fire.” From the moment we see him question Dean's latest eating habit---complete with confused expression, to the last fierce expression we see in the closing conversation, we feel deeply what Sam feels through Padalecki's performance.
As Dean pushes back on Sam's excitement that Castiel is closing in on Cain, we see a pained expression cross Sam's face. Padalecki conveys all of Sam's concern and fears here as we see him wonder why his brother isn't as thrilled by this development as he is. He also shows us Sam's frustration as he starts to protest. And yet, we also see him pull back as Sam backs away to respect his brother's honest words---and to go with him on the case.
When the work the case, we can sense how comfortable it is for Sam. He's watching his brother with fond amusement as they walk the college campus. Padalecki shakes his head and smiles softly to convey this as Ackles has Dean chasing a few of the co-eds half heartedly. Padalecki also gives us great reactions to Dean's excessive eating habits as they discuss the case. While Ackles has all the food hanging off his face to show Dean's playful and boyish side, Padalecki has an expression of amused disgust at all the silly antics. When they discuss the roommate's deleted chats and Dean wonders if it's possible to retrieve something deleted, Padalecki puts Sam's subtle humor into the line, “I mean nothing ever really gets deleted from the internet. You knew that right?” He follows this up with the curious face as he wonders just what Dean might have deleted.
When the brothers split up, Padalecki is paired with Kottmeier's Corey. He gives us all the trademark sympathy we come to expect from Sam---and yet he adds more as we pick up on the nuances that give us insight into his story. He may be listening to Corey talk about her experience with the supernatural, but we can see him internalizing all she's saying and relating it to his own situation---and Dean's. Padalecki makes us connect with Sam here because we know just how emotional this story has to be for him---and that seeing her grief can remind him very much of his own, too.
Padalecki's best scene, however, is the one at the very end as they discuss the case. It's Sam that brings up that Corey and Delilah are following Andrew's lead to make peace. As he says this, Padalecki makes this gentle, and we can tell that Sam is both pleased and relieved that it has gone this way for them. But as Dean starts to tell him that he's done looking for a cure, Padalecki makes Sam not only emotionally distraught, he makes the younger Winchester fierce. It's all in his facial expressions as he looks aghast at Dean. Padalecki shows us that Sam's not quite ready to give up, and he doesn't want his brother to, either. He puts all of his emotion into the line, “So this is it, you're just gonna, you're just gonna give up?”
And yet, as we see him listen to Dean's response, we can't help but see Sam start to understand and accept that this is Dean's decision. His determination hasn't disappeared, however. We can see it in his face---and we know that he'll be with Dean until the end.
Best Lines of the Week:
Sam: Yeah. I mean nothing ever really gets deleted from the internet. You knew that right?
Dean: My peace is helping people, working cases. That's all I wanna do.
Sam: What in the world?
Dean: A croisookie.
Sam: A croisookie?
Dean: Yeah, it's the new cronut.
What were your favorite scenes? Which ones made you laugh or cry? Do you have any favorite lines?