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99 Problems:
 
I like this episode quite a bit. Michael Shanks can never go wrong and while I would have liked his character to have been a bit more front and center that is more because I just enjoy him as an actor. 
 
This is a very good follow up on what transpired in DSOTM. Dean is convinced they cannot win; Castiel is drunk because what else is a fallen angel to do now that he's learned that God isn't willing to intervene. Sam is taking up the leadership position as he sees that Dean is not and he's also very aware that all is not well with Dean; what happened at the end of DSOTM is not lost on Sam.
 
There is plenty to laugh about, Castiel drinking a liquor store and Misha's portrayal of a smashed angel is very good, and the introduction of the Whore of Babylon idea loosely translated from Revelation is actually quite good although not funny, but well done.
 
99 Problems succeeds best at taking Dean to"¦well, the Point of No Return. 
 
Point of No Return:
 
I reviewed this after it aired and I chose it as my pick for 'the' pivotal episode of Season 5. This is perhaps Jeremy Carver's final episode with Supernatural as he is embarking on a new project but perhaps - pretty please - we'll get an episode or two out of him just as we did for so many seasons with Cathyrn Humphries.
 
Action was not the main focus or impetus of this episode. While Castiel got a good fight scene in with the two angels at Adam's grave as well as the excellent effect of him blasting all the angels, himself included, to locations unknown this was mainly an episode where the characters talked.
 
Kurt Fuller got an excellent vehicle to send his character into the history books of Supernatural with snarky witticisms and underhanded, smarmy tricks. Kurt Fuller, like Mark Pellegrino can chew the scenery without once making it seem like he is chewing the scenery. I sometimes cue up this episode just to watch Kurt Fuller work his magic. Zach joins Azazel and Nicki Aycox' Meg and Robert Wisdom's Uriel and Mark Pellegrino as characters I hate to root for ('cause they're the bad guys) but love to see because the scene will always be very good.
 
This episode is all about family and love and holding on when someone is doing everything possible to push you away. Bobby, Castiel and Sam hold on tight and in the end, Dean finds a reason to hold on just as tight. It's a beautiful episode that epitomizes what Supernatural is all about, family, love, relationships, loyalty "“ the list could go on.
 
 
Hammer of the Gods:
 
I didn't mind this episode as much as some, although it was not a strong follow up to what had come before. Here Sam goes back to being the back-seat driver, the snot nosed kid brother. Why is it that all of a sudden Sam's not getting enough sleep and Dean needs him sharp? Aren't they both suffering sleep deprivation and both need each other sharp?
 
To me the main excellence of this episode are the scenes with Dean and Sam and the room full of gods and then any scene the Trickster/Gabriel is in; Lucifer making an appearance is just icing on the cake to me. 
 
Once again the family drama of Sam and Dean is played out by others. Gabriel can't kill his brother much as Dean has battled that fear for many a season. In the end, Gabriel joins Team Free Will and chooses to come down on the side of humanity; it doesn't end well for him but it didn't end well for Ellen and Jo either; this is a battle to end all battles so casualty count must be as high as the stakes. 
 
I don't mind the reveal at the end that the rings of the horsemen can cage Lucifer. This was somewhat hinted at earlier that the rings embodied a power in the horsemen. What does bother me is that this information was not suggested earlier because what would be the purpose of Sam and Dean keeping War's ring or for that matter Famine's when it appears as if Famine was destroyed by Sam rather than his ring being cut off. 
 
The idea of the rings doesn't bother me overall "“ sweet lord of the rings! "“ but the planning for it should have been hinted at earlier so that the continuity was stronger. I'm just saying.
 


 

Comments  

Yvonne
# Yvonne 2010-06-30 11:25
Great write up. I enjoy your reviews and perspective as well as reliving the episodes.

Starting to think I’m the only one who enjoyed ‘Swap Meat’. Perhaps it is because I didn’t have any expectations for body switching and I could simply enjoy the ride. I’ve often wondered as well how the town now treats Bobby, especially now that he’s walking again. Hoping the rumors are true, and we get a Bobby centric ep when Jensen directs.

Have to throw out a different opinion on Hammer of the Gods. It made perfect sense to me that Sam was lacking on sleep and worried. The poor guy saw his older brother jump off the Michael ledge. Sure, he caught himself and stabbed Zach through the face, but he did say yes. Sam must have felt he had to find another answer, or at least keep Dean on the move. Add that on top of all his other anxiety and it’s no wonder he fell into some old habits. Sam saw Dean at rock bottom and he was desperate to make sure that didn’t happen again. Dean’s reassurance that no one was giving up “especially me” seemed to take some weight off of Sam. That Dean even said that means Sam was worrying about it.

Love your articles. They’re excellent treatment for hellatus fever.
elle2
# elle2 2010-07-01 07:32
Hi, Yvonne,

You make some great points regarding Sam in Hammer of the Gods, hadn't thought about that, thank you.

The whole idea of Jared getting to act out Dean and vice versa has been something in the fandom for a few years (two at least) and while I'd have been happy if it didn't happen and likely happy if it did it's unfortunate that the whole concept was simply too difficult to pull off because it seemed to have caused a crash rewrite of what could have been a solid episode.

For me the biggest issues I have were that Sam got to be confused and looking fairly silly with the kid's family and those scenes were frankly boring and I was constantly distracted by Dean looking down at 'Sam' which kept throwing me out of the moment. I know, I should be able to suck it up and ignore it but I couldn't. Still, as I've said, perhaps five episodes I can miss altogether out of 104, not bad, in fact really, really awesome. I can't think of any other show I can say that about.

Glad you're enjoying the articles, with hellatus getting a wee bit longer, we'll have more time for reading and working through puzzles and whatnot.

:-)
Karen
# Karen 2010-07-01 10:10
Hi Elle2
Loved it, loved it, loved it…wait this sounds familiar.
The second half of the season was definitely stronger as well as emotionally draining. But I loved it.
That’s too bad about Swap Meat, I guess they did what they could do.
For me if they had left Jared playing the boys character while still being in Sam’s body it would of worked. But I guess for the young actor to get all of Sam’s characteristics and mannerisms down pat, would have been too difficult with the time they may already of lost with the change up.
I loved your vision of Dean being in the hammock, instead of the Angel/Devil dream, however I did find it amusing when I first watched it.
The only part I really hated about Hammer of the Gods was the senseless killing of the Trickster/Gabri el. Lucifer didn’t have to kill him, he could of sent him off somewhere until he got his big show down.
Suze
# Suze 2010-07-02 07:50
I think Swap Meat was a sweet enough idea but the wheels rather fell off in the execution, it did have some clunky bits but it wasn't totally dire ... I liked Hammer Of The Gods, although the idea seemed awfully similar to Neil Gaiman's book American Gods and they had a seriously weird selection of Gods on offer! It started out a bit wobbly and then picked up pace as it went along. The Trickster's postumous porno vid was wonderful! For what it's worth, I don't think he's dead and gone, everyone else who gets snuffed in the line of duty seems to get reconboobulated so why not our Gabe? He's just too good to lose, basically.

Still not sure about Swan Song, I think I'd built it up in my head until it was going to be the answer to Life, The Universe and Everything in 40 minutes of TV and then when it wasn't I was all miffed and huffish.

Never mind though ... I'm with you in the Oooh, What's In Store camp, it doesn't look to me like a simple re-set to Old Times either ... Just as long as they manage to work in a few You-Know-Whats I'll be happy! ;-)
Elle2
# Elle2 2010-07-02 09:36
Hi, Karen and Suze,

Thanks for the comments.

Karen, as for the Lucifer killing of Gabriel, I'd like to offer a slightly different take, it is senseless and I think that was the point. Lucifer, for all his desire to 'walk off the field' did everything he could to ensure the battle was joined on the field in the first place. He didn't have to raise the four horsemen, he didn't have to pursue Sam relentlessly and yes, he didn't have to kill Gabriel. I think all that just goes to show that he was 'having a temper tantrum' against daddy and no matter what, he was going to vent his anger; Gabriel, other gods, failing vessel notwithstanding.

DOn't get me wrong though, I absolutely was devastated at Gabriel's death.

Like Suze, I think he'll be back and for the following reason: (Courtesy of Bardicvoice and terribly paraphrased by me) God restored Castiel because Castiel made a choice using free will (that angels do have or Lucifer would never have fallen and taken a third of the heavenly host with him). Castiel chose 'family'. Dean was restored courtesy of Castiel who was granted that power by God, and Bobby too was restored by Castiel; both those men chose family.

Sam was returned from hell (I believe fully Sam) by God -- here's where Bardicvoice shows her genius -- but Sam wasn't returned until Dean followed through and chose starting a new life with Lisa rather than revenge or suicide; Sam started the breaking of the Winchester cycle of death and blood by offering himself up for sacrifice, Dean finished it by honoring the promise he made to Sam and thus the cycle was broken (Granted that's just Bardicvoice's thoughts on it but darn, that woman is quite brilliant in formulating her thoughts on the episodes and what they mean).

Finally, Gabriel chose humanity over the cycle of blood and destruction that Michael and Lucifer were so intent after thus it is entirely plausible and in keeping with what we've seen for God to restore him as he did Cas, by proxy Dean and Bobby, and Sam. I hope Bardicvoice is right, it makes logical sense to.

Yeah, Suze, Swan Song like the 100th episode carried a burden that could be too much to be carried. I came into both without any illusions and so while the 100th I was able to enjoy immediately, Swan Song was so devastating to me that I couldn't rewatch it until five weeks later but I still liked it very much.

Upon rewatch I liked it more and since I knew this wasn't the end I didn't expect it to tie everything up. We still are left with some delicious dangling threads for Season 6...not the least of which is is it fully Sam or something/someo ne else? I still come down on fully Sam and Bardicvoice's review only firmed that up for me.

We'll know in 12 weeks...that sounds long but since we've already come 7 weeks we're well on our way to the half-way point.

I'll keep hoping for some You-Know-Whats. ..or anything else that leads to wet-shirted goodness!
Evelyn
# Evelyn 2010-07-03 16:50
Alas, what can I say elle, another great look back on the second part of Season 5. I loved the trip down memory lane. Thanks for this.

I loved your comment about the missed opportunity in Song Remains the Same with Dean's dream. That would have been very cool to see Dean dreaming about a family life, maybe then when Dean goes to see Lisa it wouldn't have been so out of the blue. Yes, Dean starting to wish for a family life was briefly hinted at in conversations, but seeing this now be a part of his dreams - that would have tied everything together with a neat little bow.

As for My Bloody Valentine, when Dean sees the full power of Sam. Yes, he witnessed this power in previous episodes, but not to the extent he did in this one. So, it was no wonder that Dean "lost it". Finally witnessing as he did first hand, what his "Sammy" is truly capable of - truly heartbreaking.

Big question about 99 Problems. I enjoyed the episode. But, when they went to fight the demons, they brought along the knife - BUT where the heck was the Colt?!?!?!?!?!? They still had that weapon in their arsenal, but we hadn't seen it since Abandon All Hope. So, since they realized it couldn't kill Lucifer, did they just forget about it? It still was a useful weapon in their fight and to not see it in this episode, well, I thought that was a lost opportunity. Would also have loved to see a scene where they explained the demon killing powers of these weapons to some of the townsfolk.

Point of No Return is one of my favorites and yes, this is an episode about family. And although Bobby and Castiel are not Winchesters, these four men are more like family than some other families out there. It's beautiful to watch.

Good point about the rings - I always just thought that they kept them because if someone else got their hands on them, the power held within the rings could still be used for evil. Also would have loved to see Pestilence and Death get their own episode. Missed opportunities there.

I so look forward to Season 6 and the smaller, intimate moments they will be showing us. Swan Song set things up perfectly for this new beginning. I also believed that Sam was restored to his whole self and enjoyed the insight that was brought out that he wasn't restored until Dean fulfilled Sam's promise and thus breaking the cycle of Winchester's sacrificing themselves. Which brings to point another question, with that thought in mind - just how much time do we think has passed now since Dean went to find Lisa and Sam appearing. With the sacrificing cycle being broken - it leads me to think that quite a chunk of time has passed, because I think at any time Dean could have broken that promise and gone to search for Sam, so it makes me wonder. Hmmmmmmm. It will definitely be interesting come Episode 1 of Season 6 to find out how much time has passed. Anxiously looking forward to it.!
Elle2
# Elle2 2010-07-03 18:50
Hi, Eveyln

You are so right...where the heck was the Colt then. Excellent question. I too am wondering how much time has passed, a day, a few hours a week months? It's quite a topic in the fandom (at least it was last time I checked which wasn't recently.)

It would be interesting to see how that town deals with what it did, almost did and thought about doing. There sure is a lot of destruction going on there in Season 5!

Thanks for the comments...we'r e getting closer
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-07-04 14:28
Elle2, this is a great sequel to an already great part I - I think this season is my favourite so far (though even thinking which I like best is kinda ridiculous), and this account of the episodes brought back the episodes and its crucial scenes... ah.... tissues...

Thank you for this, Jas
elle2
# elle2 2010-07-04 18:31
Jas,

Glad you enjoyed the rewatch through this article. It's the hardest one I write out of any article I do and purposefully I do wait until all 22 eps are done so I can frame it properly...stil l, so much to catch in the season that I end up leaving plenty out. But that's what articles on specific characters or writers or pivotal episodes are for, to add those other bits in.

I know about the tissues, I keep 'em stocked up.

Enjoy being home!