It's spring break here in lovely central Ohio (at least for my kids) and this weekend I'm at a Taekwondo tournament in Kentucky, and next week I'm in the State of Delaware (don't ask).  So why do I bring up such a busy social agenda?  Easy, it means episode reviews are running behind. 

It's especially complex with "On The Head Of A Pin" because that episode was so shocking, so groundbreaking, so absolutely fucking fantastic that coming up with a sound review is proving to be a challenge.  I can give away the grade right now.  A+.  Top ten best episodes material.  So, since we're looking at earliest Sunday, likely Monday before a review will be published, luckily an alternate option has come up to hold you guys over until then. 

Elle2 was kind enough to send me her long, well thought out analysis.  I'm going to share her words with you, and feel free to give your opinions.  See that poll on the right hand side about Sam's powers?  It applies to this episode too, so if you haven't voted already, chime in!  Was this episode as brilliant as many of us think?  As Sam said in "I Know What You Did Last Summer", don't spare the details. 
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I'm So Floored By The Awesome by Elle2

First the Angels:

* Slightly disinclined w/ how much time they got until rewatching and thinking a bit more; I think this was a way to re-expand the myth arc once EK realized a 5th season was within reach (this ep. was likely written somewhere October/Nov and by then the need to expand was a reality)

* Uriel, a great bad a** demon and he came and left w/style. Never trusted him and now I know why. The fact that Dean now has angels gunning for him only broadens that story arc thus making the angels in the 5th season even more complex.

* Anna, her character has been enriched from Heaven and Hell where, although I didn't dislike her she was a bit of a whine. Her pointed questions to Castiel shows that she is a thinker and I love the part about [in sum or substance] "Do you really think a loving father would ask you [Castiel] to have him [Dean] doing this?" That gave Castiel pause and deepened his character as he gave considered thought and finally voice to his doubts.

Demons:

* Alistair, first off kudos to the actor, at first (last week and promos for this week) his speech was annoying but watching in full context with all the nuances he knocked it out of the park. Evil personified and I loved him. Glad he's toast though, don't like my SPN landscape cluttered, Bobby, Castiel and Ruby is enough)

* Ruby, [plugging in my toaster] the manipulative part was back and while GC doesn't carry the part to my liking, she was decent here and gave me the manipulative Ruby I've been wanting to see. She's scornful of the angels, something Sam would expect, she's willing to help find Dean, something she knows Sam wants/needs/demands and since that works for her plan [whatever that is] she's willing to give it to him. Where Ruby was gold tonight was in her interaction with Sam at the point of him wanting the blood...she's pouty at first which will play to Sam's softer side but when she really needs to seal the deal she goes for the brass ring = Dean. Ruby called him Sammy. Nobody calls him Sammy. [a point Sam was only to willing to slam Gordon with back in Bloodlust]

Just as she did in IKWYDLS, when Ruby really needs to push Sam she goes for what will work all the time = Dean.

Sam:

Oh, the development here is awesome. First off, great kudos to Jared for selling what could have been a lame line in an intense scene but he ups the scene to awesome with one word "DAMMIT!" The vocal and physical inflections were excellent.

For those out there upset at the lack of Sam tonight, I understand and other than noting that this seemed to be a pivotal episode that focused a lot on angels and what's going on outside the boys' day to day existence/experiences I have no explanation.

Aside from that however there was much complexity for Sam the character and Jared the actor played up every potential.

The opening road scene shows Sam's mindset...barrelling down a dark road(shades of ITB anyone??? Casteil: Your brother is going down a dark road/path or something of the like). He's barrelling down that dark road only seeing barely feet in front of him...not good. Second in that scene it's Sam driving not Dean -- Sam barely drives so it's always meaningful when he does...Sam is in control here. The conversation with Dean proves it.

Sam w/Ruby, all kinds of awesome in these scenes. First off he admits to Ruby that Dean doesn't have it anymore...he's not what he was...something happened to him down in the pit. We all know that Sam thinks this but here he gives voice to his reasoning: Dean didn't come back from Hell the same Dean. Here Sam shows some understanding and that is a great nugget to hold onto for the brotherbond. Understanding is the beginning ....

Love the subtle play of emotions/thoughts while Sam is telling Ruby that he doesn't like this, it's the last thing...and then he stops. He recognizes the lie he's been telling himself all along...it isn't the last thing he could be doing and likely he does like it, even if only a little. Pamela, you did not give your life or your final words in vain.

All along Sam has been pushed towards using his powers, from as far back as Nightmare, before he knew he had telekinesis he was pushed. Dean's death pushed him over the edge to use them and along the waymost notably in ITGPSW, IKWYDLS he was 'pushed', here he is pushed again. Dean is gone, Dean is in danger and while Sam recognizes the lies he's been telling himself, he can't get past the lure...he needs to power to save the day.

Sam has fully embraced his 'destiny' fate, the hand he's been dealt, in other words, Sam has rejected everything about the Sam from Pilot and pre-Pilot.

Dean:

Like Sam, the reversal is fully evident. Interesting that both characters back in After School Special were shown in complete 180 degree mode. The Dean of high school loved the life ...free cable, ice, magic fingers; Sam wanted school, to fit in. Adult Dean in After School Special couldn't wait to leave high school, he hated that place...he was reminded that he was different and that someone from the outside didn't see his life as cool, neat, awesome; all the things Dean was trying to convince himself that his life was -- even in After School Special Dean is struggling with the life he's always lead. Sam [adult] tried to convince himself he wasn't evil and similarly showed a longing to be free of the hunting life.

Now, we have Dean conceding that their life sucks and he's in essence given up. Sam is driving and Dean is just waking up from sleep, he's not even interested in staying awake and he no longer cares what Sam is doing and openly declares it. When have we ever heard Dean say Home Crappy Home...Dean hates this life.

PTSD anyone? Dean is not only depressed...he's lost all ability to navigate his way. It is interesting to note that he started to find himself again in nothing other than what Gordon long ago told him would sustain him -- and what Sam openly told him he needed to do at the beginning of the episode -- he got angry. If not for Uriel's devious ways...Dean would likely have killed Alistair off. Would it have fixed him, no, but it shows that his fighting edge is not gone completely either, no matter how devastated he was at the end.

The Bond Of Brothers:

It's as strong and as frayed as it's ever been.

1st off, Sam did not hesitate to go after Dean. He wasn't going to leave with Ruby or do whatever she had for him...no, she was going to help him find Dean. Since this worked for her plans she was a willing accomplice -- she knows how to manipulate.

2nd, Sam was in the unique position to intercede and try to shield Dean from Uriel. He not only physically stepped in front of Dean but he verbally protected as well.

3rd, Sam at the hospital bed *sigh, fangirl sigh* and demand, and I mean DEMAND for a miracle, NOW. No, Sam may be off the rails when it comes to demon blood but Dean is his brother and that does not change.

As for Dean, he's depressed, lost, devastated that Sam is lost to him and he can't see any way to fix it. Dean as we know is about family and now that Sam seems lost to him he's lost. He's just along for the ride now...but just like Sam of S1, he's not left.

Castiel:

Love this character more and more. It's Ruby that drives Sam's plot forward and it's Castiel that drives Dean's. We now know why Dean was raised from hell and Castiel's continued presence I'm figuring on loving.

Subtle, subtle, subtle seems to be Misha's orders and he executes brilliantly. There were so many moments to choose from so I'll pick only two that I think are critical and thus stand above the rest: First, his interaction with Sam at the hospital as Sam blames Dean's injuries on Castiel and Uriel. Castiel's "NO" shows that he's clearly shocked at the thought that he had a part in Dean's injury and he's in denial. Second, at the end as he absorbs Dean's words that he is not the man for the job...Castiel receives "revelation" I believe it is at that moment that next week's plot is born. I shan't go further but wait and see.

Production and Plot:

Mike Rohl did all kinds of awesome directing here. The dead angel on the pavement and the overhead shot is gorgeous. Dean and Alistair's close ups showing the give and take between the torturer and the tortured gave heightenend tension (BTW, Chris H. arms must have hurt!) Uriel's death, the driving of the Impala down the dark road...not necessarily in the correct lane either, Sammy...all fabulous.

A nitpick I have that perhaps will be answered later or closed or wiped away goes with the part of John's time in a hell. Why did the angels only lay siege on hell to try to stop Dean from being broken but apparently did not for John. Is there more there? It's obvious John had some freedom of movement to 'walk out of hell' so how did he get off the rack. If I dwell on it (and I could) it would ruin things for me and perhaps, just perhaps I'll keep to that which I preach [inwardly] to those in the fandom...wait and see, wait and see.

What I've come to realize, especially this season but last year's as well, is that 'tis better to save judgment/condemnation until the whole season is unfolded. Oftentimes going back and seeing prior episodes in light of future episodes holds more meaning.

Case in point:

Some were upset Dean seemed to have forgotten about the Impala in LR...yet we learn in YF and more fully in Heaven and Hell that he was gone for 40 years. In that context it makes sense that the joy of his life, his baby, his sweetheart, would be somewhat forgotten.

Further, the Bela character [ducks] is far more interesting to watch in earlier eps (Red Sky and Bad Day at Black Rock) now that she is seen in the context of Time is on my Side, it adds to the richness of the character.

Perhaps some things are errors or poorly thought through plot lines at the time of creation but the fact that the writers take the time to work to improve them later on speaks of the quality.

Where do we go from here? Well, Dean needs to be repaired and methinks this week's upcoming episode goes a long way to doing that. Perhaps it is shades of WIAWSNB, perhaps not, don't know but I believe it serves a greater purpose than just putting him in an office setting etc.

As for Sam...judging by upcoming titles there will be great exploration of Sam and since many, if not all of his secrets have been revealed -- and I'm betting Castiel will clue Dean in on that which he missed -- this is going to be a nailbiting, riproaring end to the season that will soon have me gasping and counting down the weeks, days and hours to the start of S5.

Comments  

Teller
# Teller 2009-03-20 23:53
Thank you, thank you thank you.

All of this is true.
1) Some people are complaining and saying the show isn't worth watching anymore because the relationship between the brothers is gone. NO! It isn't gone, it's just changed and show would be damn irresponsible if their relationship was the same as it was in the beginning. Major shit has gone down and show is doing an excellent job of reflecting that change.
2)This show is EPIC. It has ruined other television for me b/c when I watch other shows all I can think about is how it doesn't measure up to SPN.
3)I totally agree about Alastair's voice.
4)JENSEN ACKLES...the look he gives when Alastair first reveals his being the first seal, his face and "No...I don't believe your lying," might be the most intense/dramati c/heart-breakin g/ delivery I have ever seen. Ever.
5)I love Castiel's character but in the final scene I couldn't even focus on him because of Dean. Dean is so broken. I hurt for him, really, this episode was so good but so hard to watch.
elle
# elle 2009-03-21 00:42
Great analysis of the episode! Excellent insights about the characters and what is going on underneath the surface. I especially liked the explanation about Dean and the Impala-forgetti ng. I never really gave it much thought one way or the other, but I really liked what you had to offer on that. You are 100% right about little things that may appear to be loose threads or badly designed plot pieces coming together later – it’s one of the best parts of Supernatural.

First, I am in complete agreement with everyone else about Alastair's voice. A girlfriend and I were actually discussing that this morning.

Second, last night's episode was absolutely shattering in an incredible way. My heart was breaking for Dean - the poor guy never gets a break. Jensen Ackles was phenomenal - every emotion and feeling was right there and it was tragic, gut-wrenching and very, very real. Way back in “Heaven and Hell” when Dean was describing his time in Hell to Sam, I was almost certain he was going to say something about his father having last X number of years longer and finally that did come into play last night – I knew it wasn’t a stone that would be left unturned and boy, did they turn it all right.

Third, Sam drives me nuts! Now, allow me to explain that - I love the transformation the character has undergone because it's been a long, twisting journey with an excellent storyline. HOWEVER, I miss Sammy. And not Ruby's-Sammy, just to clarify. He's going to a dark place and every time he steps closer to the abyss and further away from Dean...well, my heart breaks for that too. It made me very, very sad (and, to be frank, somewhat upset with Sam) when he told Ruby that Dean wasn't capable because he wasn't strong anymore. Could he be further away from S1 Sammy?

[Ruby – she’s a stone bitch and that’s all I’m saying on her. No doubt in my mind she is not playing for the team she seems to be. Not after last night.
Uriel – never liked him (but in the good way you never “like” the best villains) – he was a great new level to this evermore complex game of Guess Their Intentions that Kripke has going on.]

Fourth, Castiel freaking ROCKS! He is the greatest addition to this show since Bobby Singer. Misha Collins is another exceptional actor that SPN has managed to suss out. I really love the continued relationship development between Dean and Cas (especially the nickname!) and Castiel’s obvious affection for Dean even though he can’t name the feeling and doesn’t really know how to express/explain it. The scope of emotion and turmoil that Misha can convey with one look is unbelievable.

So, after last night I am completely raw and know that I can’t be the only one a little bit relieved to see next week is (or at least appears to be) a lighter episode. And, based on the sneak-clips floating around, it’s another one for the SPN Top 10 Funnies. I’m glad, because I need some time to breathe and absorb after this latest bout of emotional torture.
Suze
# Suze 2009-03-24 09:37
OMFG! Crikey!

That was totally intense even in Swedish ( the only download I could find that hadn't been spiked, thanks chaps ... I forgive you for the misunderstandin g about the worms )
Awesome episode, thanks for the write-up Elle2, my brain hurts now ...
Poor Dean, guilt, guilt and more guilt with guilty sprinkles on top.
Aaargh, Sam! What are you doing! Impressive last- minute day-saving action nontheless.
Ruby, sneaky bitch is rocking the darkside, knew it all along.
Angels, I was really anti the whole heavenly host thing at the beginning of the season but that crunching sound is me eating my words. Castiel is just so bloody marvellous. Sigh, I'm even getting attached to that stupid coat. :D