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The Road So Far, Season Four…
Whew, we made it, the end of the Road So Far Series – for those of you who hung on this far, this means we’re mere days from the beginning of Season 5. Hooray! When I started this I had no idea what I was getting into, my original plan was to look back across the series and pick out those episodes that I considered to be game changers, episodes like Home and Faith and Crossroad Blues and others. As I got going I realized my muse preferred to simply spend some time with each and every episode, some for a moment others for longer. Thus The Road So Far series was born…as much fun as it has been, I’m glad we’re up to date, if for no other reason then it means I can count the days on just my hands until the beginning of Season 5.
So here we go, a look back at the incredible, all around game changing phenomena that was and is Season 4.
Lazarus Rising:
What can I say, it was 17 loong weeks since we last saw Dean screaming, impaled by hooks on a web of chains, begging for somebody, anybody to help him – SAM! I sat down gripped, psyched and ready for anything and this episode delivered. From the moment Dean clawed his way from the coffin beneath the earth I was right there with him.
What I didn’t get on screen with Bobby’s reaction to Dean’s death and burial I got through Bobby’s reaction to Dean’s reappearance and then his carefully worded explanation of how they buried him and his emotions at just how hard the last four months had been. Sometimes it is what you don’t see but rather imagine that packs a powerful punch and Jensen and Jim delivered.
I’ll never understand the purpose of having Ms. Cortese scantily dressed and insipidly spewing dialogue about ‘are you like together’ and then ‘call me’ other than to say that sometimes EK gets a little carried away with busting on the fandom and playing up the gaydom aspect but it’s an annoying little speck that quickly disappears when what we’ve (I’ve) been waiting for for years finally occurs – they hug. The brothers Winchester mutually hug, gripping each other and letting their emotions show through that physical contact that eases many a heartache. Thank you, Kim Manners.
This episode packed a punch with the reunions, the suspicions, the humor, the terror of watching Pamela’s eyes being burned out but then it delivered its final wallop with the entrance of all entrances, and reveals, Castiel – an angel. Lazarus Rising delivered all I could have hoped for a season premier to deliver, answers, questions, action, calm, tears, joy and left me satisfied that the last 17 weeks were worth the wait…now bring on episode 2…NOW!
Are You There, God; It’s Me, Dean Winchester:
Occasionally the show makes an effort to deliver the message of how much time has passed from the events prior. I appreciate those little details as it’s helpful in framing my understanding of where the characters are at a given point. Here we know it’s only three days since the events of Lazarus Rising. While we don’t know how much time passed between this episode and In the Beginning (and also because Monster Movie was moved out of sequence) we do know that the events of ITB and Metamorphosis are tied right together as are I Know What You Did Last Summer with Heaven and Hell, Death Takes a Holiday with On The Head of a Pin and The Rapture with When the Levee Breaks and Lucifer Rising. In looking at that list I note that all my critical episodes, those that must be viewed again and again, are included. Season 4 had a lot of must see episodes and even the so-called standalone or off-beat episodes such as Monster Movie, It’s A Terrible Life, Yellow Fever and others add nuances to the season that without which one is missing the full flavor. Good thing the DVDs are due out momentarily *edited since first written, mine arrived today, 9/1*
I sometimes cringe when series start to bring back former guests, whether I loved them or not, for a couple of reasons; first, it usually means there’s closure coming *sniff*, second it tends to lead to the warm up to jumping the shark and third, it’s frequently done poorly. AYTGIMDW passed over all those hurdles handily. I love that Sera Gamble posed the question here, through Meg, of just what was Sam doing with that demon Ruby and the body she was possessing. Then several episodes later Sera got to write the answer. She made us all wonder at Sam’s moral fabric and then gave us an out that some say was cheap and not satisfactory but to me it shows not only do the writers have an awareness of how their characters’ actions can and will be perceived but also have no desire to so thoroughly devolve the characters so that they are no longer redeemable.
There was a lot of discussion on the threads throughout the early part of the season that Sam was raping some poor innocent girl and then when it was shown that he wasn’t, there was an equally loud discussion that ‘they’ cheaped out. Sheesh. Good thing Sera Gamble and the rest don’t pay a whole lot of attention to us but rather stick to doing their jobs. I for one find it very telling for Sam’s character arc that while he was in deep grief and a downward spiral following Dean’s death he had not so fully been lost as to question what body Ruby ‘was riding.’ Compare that to the Sam at the end of the season who, while still deeply conflicted over drinking that innocent nurse’s blood chose to do so, thus killing not only the demon but the host. Yeah, Ruby had to die for having twisted Sam so badly. He’s very redeemable though, heavy burdens forever he will carry (ooh, sounds like Yoda) but very redeemable. *I could have put this in with I Know What You Did Last Summer but I wanted to finish the thought here, so when you get to that episode, refer back to here.* 


# Randal 2009-09-07 10:12
Ovaltine isn't all that good, even my kids won't drink it, and they love A Christmas Story.

As for the subtlety/blindi ng light of Sam's storyline, given their life of encountering monsters and spirits and whatnot that are hungry for 'something' (blood, revenge, human flesh, etc) or troubled, the odds are decent that they're going to encounter something that could be considered obvious as the Rougaru, and I think it was handled without a heavy hand, helped by deft acting.

Re: Yellow Fever. I can live with the 'oh shit, my gun!' (he WAS afraid of the fourth floor, after all, heh) but given that the husband had *killed* in a rage, I would imagine that those drawings would've have been destroyed/found and removed in the aftermath, not exist years down the line.

Grace In A Bottle (should that be trademarked?) didn't bother me as it's not as if there isn't a tradition of magical containers. I'm with you on the Pamela Barnes thing. Something that monumental is discovered through a 'lay on my Freudian couch' session?

And one thing that might be 'whatever' to most, but bugs the hell out of me is the choice of song for the Anna/Dean Let's Get It On: instead of Bad Company's version of Ready For Love, they should have used the original Mott the Hoople version. The instrumentation is a bit more melancholy, and Mick Ralphs' vocal is far more sad and longing than the rock god style of Paul Rodgers. I think the sentiment of the scene and the impending near-death would have been better served. But I'm probably more of a classic rock geek than the average viewer. :-)
# elle2 2009-09-07 16:58
Hi, Randal,

Great comments on the first 'almost' half of the season! Yellow Fever had a lot of holes but I give the new duo some credit for rising as the season went along, After School Special was an improvement and Jumpt the Shark really was quite excellent...sur prised the heck out of me they could do that so well.

As for your classic rock comments, admittedly (many times I've admitted) I'm not that in tune so I'm not able to appreciate fully your comments, however your analysis is excellent. The scene was a bit deeper than that song evoked so I'll be taking your word for it.

Great thoughts!
# Randal 2009-09-08 06:56
Thanks! Despite the holes, I loved Yellow Fever (another example of an episode that, if not perfect, still has something to offer. How many shows can say that?) but the others you mentioned are stellar. Jump the Shark played perfectly with the subject; even simple stuff like "Cousin Oliver's" helped deflate the inevitable 'oh shit' vibe of the unknown family member and the actors knocked it out of the park. The viewer him/herself could feel thrown for a serious loop along with the actors.
# elle 2009-09-08 13:47
Great examination of the first "half"! Those first ten episodes had me reeling and frankly, it was a relief to have a bit of a break. Yellow Fever, ah, I can't help but like that episode, gapping holes and all. I recently re-watched this one with my mom who was asking about said holes, I told her to just ignore them and enjoy the funny stuff. Plus, let's not forget - Eye of the Tiger! Perhaps that is what endears this episode to me so much.

I, like you, cannot fathom why there is such sniping about Sam's lack of focus/developme nt this season. Metamorphosis was pretty clear. This is one of my lower ranked episodes of the season simply because the ick factor was too much for me. Blood and gore is all well and good but there is something especially disturbing about the idea of consuming human flesh. Maybe that's just me. I loved how they handled the reveal - the Dean and Sam confrontation, it was well done in my humble opinion.

Wishful Thinking - ah, another classic. That Teddy Bear Suicide kills me each and every time - no matter how many times I watch it. As does the speech in the Impala to Wes(ley) about how humans are meant to be miserable. And of course, "Kneel before Todd!" All around great episode - laughs, emotion and character advancements.

IKWYDLS/H&H - I enjoyed these episodes, plain and simple. I didn't mind Anna, and I didn't even mind that she and Dean had some comfort nooky. The grace in a bottle - okay, that was little hokey but at the end of episode 10 - the big reveal about Dean in Hell totally eclipsed any flaws and made this a fantastic episode.

Off to read part 2 now! 8-)