Malleus Maleficarum:
 
I know many people do not like this episode, I do. It's not great, I grant you that but it is quite critical to the overall arc. MM cause that's way easier to spell introduces the concept of a new up and coming demon, enlightens us that all demons were once human repeating a theme for Dean's characterization and shows the masterfulness of Ruby's strategy. It also has some rock music (always good especially in light of the tightening financial constraints on the show), gives us some good Dean/Sam angst and was directed by Robert Singer, a favorite director of mine of this show, second only to Kim.
 
I've summed it up mostly above but I'll expand on one part here, the part where I suggest that there's a repetitious theme for Dean, here it's the idea that eventually Dean will become a demon. In In My Time Of Dying the fear or reality was that Dean would become an angry spirit if he didn't leave with Tessa. That's twice that Dean has been faced with becoming what he hates/hunts. Interesting that Sam is faced with the same reality as Dean, they're different, they're subtle (more so here) but both brothers face that future. Just noting that.  (Note from Alice:  I absolutely love the closing shot on this one.  Dean gets the shocking news, the camera pulls away and it's just him isolated in the parking lot, with only the Impala there.  The old girl is watching out for him.)

 
Dream A Little Dream Of Me:
 
I know I went into a fair bit in this one during my look at Cathryn Humphris' episodes so at the risk of repeating myself, here goes. Another episode I love, and for Season 3 I rate Fresh Blood, A Very Supernatural Christmas, Malleus Malificarum, Dream a Little Dream of Me, Mystery Spot and Jus In Bello, along with No Rest For The Wicked as the critical episodes of this season for the overall arc. I suppose I could drop this but it does much to show us Dean's deepening fears, Sam's deepening distress and once again proves how important Bobby is (and not just the least of which is because they would never have called Bela for help if it wasn't Bobby who was in trouble)
 
This one is very much a character driven episode, a Cathryn Humphris' speciality. I curl up with this one often, along with A Very Supernatural Christmas because both give us insight into the boys. I don't think I'll ever get enough of the Dean v. Dean scene or of learning about Bobby's wife. The effects, lighting, fades, the color saturation, set decoration all combine to make this a visual feast and the acting of course rises above. Jared as drunk Sam sets the stage for this somber episode and Sam's immediate grasp of how to manipulate the dream root and attack Jeremy troubles me.
 
As for Dean, Bobby's like a father to him, wow, that's a revelation of how much he was lacking a father. Finally, Dean confronts his fears of hell and decides to pitch in and help Sam help him thank you, Sam, for not giving up. Jensen's dual role of Dean and … Dean is superb. Bela is quite enjoyable here as she slips her nefarious soul into the background to help'. Bobby, now I understand how you became a hunter…oh, the pain you must carry.
 
-- as a special little blooper, if anyone has a copy of Supernatural the Official Season 3 Companion guide, check out the guest cast for this episode there's a oops there as the cast listing is the same listing as in Hunted. My guess, the writer has a template and forgot to erase the Season 2, Episode 10 guest cast when he went to Season 3, Episode 10 sorry, dude for pointing it out. 
 
Mystery Spot:
 
Trickster or Sam's dream? Illusion or reality? Was time bent or was it just a dream? We may never know, and sometimes that's more fun than the knowing for we can forever speculate.
 
We know (now) after In the Beginning that time is not easily bent'. Azazel was aware of this as well as he tells Dean that it takes someone with considerable juice to alter time. Granted we know the Trickster is a demi-god and thus significantly more powerful than you average evil but the beauty of Mystery Spot [along with Kim Manners, Dean electrocuted, “Do these tacos taste funny to you?” the desk falling splat, Sam going all postal with an ax, Asia and the hug…just to name a few, very few, things] is that we are left to wonder, did Sam dream this and his subconscious give some plausible explanation by inserting the Trickster, or did time really go on, Sam really live six months without Dean, really endure 100 plus Dean-deaths and then have time ripple back to the very spot it began.
 
We'll likely never know.
 
Eric Kripke was asked that question shortly after this episode aired and in his usual way when he's got a really good secret, gave away nothing. 
 
What is so significant about this episode is how it holds up [yes, that's a favorite saying of mine] after we've gone ahead in this journey. Need I even tell you that it's held up well or do you already know? I'll go bravely and tell you that it not only holds up, it improves.
 
Sam had the luxury of seeing life without Dean and yet still became consumed with his grief and then revenge. Clearly he learned very little, that's not judgment as his grief is real, painful and life-altering, I'm simply pointing out something that we've seen before. Sam will do anything, anything to save Dean, that includes such events of Faith, finding a faith healer and not questioning what was behind it until it was too late. Similar to that Sam is willing to search and look and believe that he can save Dean in In My Time Of Dying never once believing that all hope is lost. Clearly he got that from John, for unlike Sam in Faith, John knew what he was dealing with when he summoned Azazel and made the deal.

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Mystery Spot is fabulous for the directing, the acting, the sets, the music and on and on and on. Kim Manners did an awesome job (and Jared credits him immensely) for keeping his eye (and Jared's) on the ball at all times. Clearly it was Kim's vision that allowed Jared to devolve bit by bit in the filming of those repeated sequences. They filmed all the sequences at the same time, thus Jared and Jensen likely spent a day in that diner booth saying and doing just about the same things again and again and again. It was Jared that had to alter, devolve and then sharpen into anger and hunting mode, he did it brilliantly. 
 
Jensen was no slouch either keeping the mood light while Sam/Jared's darkened, repeating Dean's actions with only slight alterations that adjusted as Sam's altered. Jensen suffered much fake blood, eating, eating and lots of eating and gargling with real mouthwash for approximately 12 takes. I've never used that much mouthwash but have at times taken too strong a hit' of it when using it and it does leave the inside of your mouth tingling, and not the good tingling either.
 
I could type thousands of words on this and never ever cover all that is awesome about this episode. My suggestion is that you make a habit of watching it, once a month at a minimum. Also, check out Bardicvoice's review of it (Supernaturaltv.com, she has a reviews section there) and then of course our very own Alice has a lengthy recap that are a pleasure to dine on.
 
Jus In Bello:
 
Another excellent episode, not just by Sera Gamble, but in the overall season 3 this is an outstanding episode. Similar to Nightshifter this episode keeps almost all of the action tightly choreographed in one location, this time it's a police precinct. Bela once again sets the boys up for a fall let the booing and hissing commence but it's Ruby who pushes both boys to their limits morally. Dean is convinced that once the rules are thrown away, they become no better than those they battle against. I agree. Sam shows his continued conflict with the world of gray, sacrifice one to save thirty? No contest. I think where Sam errs here (on at least one level) is that he's not sacrificing himself here, not physically, but someone else. Totally different ballgame. 
 
Nancy is a wonderful character I could digress into the stereotyping that Hollywood is famous for, all Christians must somehow be mousy, meek little ones with seemingly no ability to fend for themselves, however, I'll give credit where credit is due; Nancy shows some moxie and that I like and it is far more indicative of someone who has something solid on which to stand, but I don't want to digress. Nancy may be meek and mild but she has faith, she has a sense of right and wrong, she stands courageous during a terrifying ordeal, not only does she seek out Sam and Dean in their cell and attempt to help them, curiosity first and then a willingness to help, but she also is the first to ask how Sam and Dean will protect themselves once the rest are given charms; she offers up the location of the rock salt when others are still questioning the use of condiments. She is intricate to Dean's plan of trapping all the demons inside and is quick and brave in her assistance at laying salt on the exterior of the building. I like Nancy a lot. She would be good to have next to you in a fight.
 
Nancy shows an aspect of Sam we'd seen back in Croatoan, sacrifice self to save others. I credit Sam's bravery, self-sacrifice in Croatoan, here his willingness to accept Nancy's offer shows his continued, gradual slide down that oh so slippery slope. I don't judge Sam for it, he's carrying a heavy burden, his own curse, Dean's impending death, the knowledge that Mary knew Azazel and that he had demon blood dripped in his mouth…all terrible burdens and since he's chosen to carry many of them alone, it only gets worse. 
 
Henricksen gets a wonderful sendoff in this episode, much like Gordon did in Fresh Blood hmm, another Sera Gamble script and while I wished fervently that Victor could have been allowed to become a hunter and perhaps show up now and again, I do like how his character ended, at last he understood the brothers and he helped cleanse that troublesome secondary plot line of the brothers being felons. Sure, they are felons but since the law enforcement world thinks they're dead, that bothersome little “B” storyline is done. I like my Supernatural world somewhat tidy, so it's nice that both the Gordon and Henricksen threads got closure this season, especially in light of all that Season 4 brings.
 
As I've written above, the part Ruby plays here is detailed in another article so I won't go into it here. Jus In Bello is a brilliant episode, it would have been an excellent season finale had the writers' strike continued, thankfully it ended up being an excellent three-quarter season finale, a prelude to the finale four.
 
As for the ending of the episode, I liked that both brothers were defeated, emotionally, at the end. It shows just how difficult their lives and the decisions they make are. As I stated in another article, Dean's plan was successful, were it not for Ruby short-circuiting the success by her partnering with Lilith, it would have ended happily. Lilith and Ruby had to do what they did for it sought to drive a subtle yet ever widening wedge between the brothers; one that continued through Season 4.
 
Ghostfacers:
 
I loved this episode! It is and was brilliant. I enjoyed it thoroughly the first time I saw it but now, having seen it in its placement with the full (well, as full as Season 3 was) season and with the benefit of the brilliant Season 4 behind it, it gets better and better. I enjoyed it the first time around because it is a hilarious send up of reality' shows of its ilk. I enjoyed it because I truly like the Ghostfacers, be they of the Hellhoundlair.com variety or the ghostfacers training video variety. I didn't mind the screen time they got because they are so quick and witty and comfortable in their silliness that it seemed effortless and also because I'll admit, good characters, that are truly characters' amuse me enough that I'll allow' Jared and Jensen some downtime so that they'll keep doing another season of Supernatural. If an episode now and again has less of J2 but we get five and maybe six -- quality seasons of Supernatural, I'll not complain.
 
Ghostfacers is a pure Ben Edlund script and I enjoy his quirky, dark, off-the-wall humor that has so much meta and so many inside jokes that I never understand them all but laugh anyway cause I figure there's something behind' what just happened.
 
Another reason I enjoyed this episode so much, it's obvious that all who filmed it enjoyed it, I joined in on their fun.

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Long-Distance Caller:
 
Crocotta, really? Not my favorite MOTW, not at all. Season 3 started a bit rough, got really, really awesome, lost its traction here and then ended really strong. Having read Eric Kripke's bit in the Season 3 Companion it's completely understandable what went wrong, a new baby in his personal life, an impending strike in his professional life and the death of their big bad in their Supernatural life is a perfect storm of chaos that, when I view Season 3 as a whole, shows.
 
I love Jeremy Carver's writing but this one doesn't enthrall me. I'm not sure why Sam is patient yet almost bored with Dean's insistence that Dad is calling and has a lead to be followed up on, especially in light of Sam's initial reluctance to take the job. I understand and appreciate Dean's abrupt 180 as he goes from gung ho on the job to follow dad's' clues that part Jeremy Carver got very well from a character standpoint. It shows a natural progression in the characterization that Dean was experiencing in this season as he is now very committed to saving his life, so much so that he will grasp at straws that he knows are false.
 
The Crocotta did not do much for me as a MOTW except for his salient comments about how alone people are in this world of technology. Sure we have multiple ways of communicating but we do so through e-mails and text messages and twitter and face book, the true connectedness of community, personal connections are gone, lost in the wires and transmitters, a sad but true commentary of present day living. We say we keep in touch more but the truth is we have no patience, no ability to grasp much beyond a quick slogan, and no attention span for much beyond a tweet. I love the closing shot showing the brothers side by side, alone yet together, together yet alone. Dean is facing death and hell; Sam is facing a solitary existence, a personal hell. Sad.
 
Time Is On My Side:
 
How brilliant of an actor is Billy Drago; brilliant. Too bad, for me, he was overshadowed by his makeup that much of what is so well, brilliant, about this actor was lost. I love Billy Drago and was greatly anticipating his performance, unfortunately for me I was disappointed, not because he didn't deliver, he did, but his makeup was so distracting that I couldn't find that one special bit he brings to his parts, his facial acting' if you will.
 
Still, I like this episode for what it showcases so brilliantly and much like Metamorphosis does it does it in your face; the differences between how Sam and Dean approach their problems or their fates. Dean keeps his moral compass here, despite the horror of hell, he keeps true to who he is. He's not going to become a monster even if that means keeping himself out of hell. If ever there was a bit of foreshadowing to Season 4 here be it! Sam is convinced that he can save Dean and like Faith, like In My Time of Dying, he's willing to do whatever it takes. I credit Sam for his doggedness for he said back in All Hell Breaks Loose II that he would save Dean and he didn't care what it took, he'll turn Dean into a monster if it means saving him. Too bad Sam has lost a bit of his moral compass, I'm not sure when turning someone into a monster saves them, it didn't save Madison and he's not sure it's good for himself but if it means keeping Dean alive he's all for it.
 
I love Sam and am not passing judgment, simply pointing out that the influence of Ruby and the terrible burden of knowing he has demon blood in him have taken their toll. And just as a curious something that has struck me all along, how does the one time event of Azazel dripping demon blood into Sam's mouth translate to him having demon blood in him forever. Blood dies' and gets purged from our system and new blood comes along. I'm wondering more and more if this isn't simply the power of suggestion, Azazel shows Sam in AHBLI that he dripped blood in his mouth and from that Sam extrapolates that he forever has demon blood inside him, yet according to the doctor in Croatoan there is no evidence of anything foreign in his blood. Perhaps this was just another moment of manipulation and proves more and more what Ruby said in Lucifer Rising, Sam didn't need the demon blood. *Sorry, I know that has little to do with Season 3 but I thought I'd pass that little thought on.*
 
Bela joins a long line of recurring characters who meet their end, and she does it in fine fashion. TIOMS ties up her storyline wonderfully and while I'll never love the character, I enjoy going back to Season 3 and watching all her episodes with hindsight firmly in place. Glad to see you go, Bela, you went with style, like Gordon and Henricksen. Season 3 was tough on the recurring, “B” story characters.

(Note From Alice:  I still can't get past the mellonballer.  If I show more than this, I'll lose my lunch.)

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No Rest For The Wicked:
 
What can I say about No Rest for the Wicked, I laughed, I cried, I screamed, I cried, cried some more and then a whole lot more for seventeen weeks.  This was the season finale that devastated me for weeks yes, weeks, I'm just that way. It had everything in it I could have hoped for, including Dean going to hell cause I just wanted the show to not cop out on that, and it had some things in it that I didn't need/want, as in a wee bit too much fun with the girl, the cake, the dead grandparents and all that gruesome stuff, still I loved it.
 
There were brother moments galore and I especially liked the opening scene with Sam telling Dean he was not going to hell. I loved seeing Sam in that moment as the caretaker to Dean…my fangirl heart melted a bit. *sigh* The brothers talked, several times, and Dean got to the bottom of something that had become a trend and now we know tis a family trend that self-sacrifice for the other only leads to blood, death and destruction. My, my, how the Trickster does know a thing or two wonder if he knew about Mary?
 
Once again the magnificence of Bobby was on display, I love how this character got deepened and expanded beyond the guy they go to when in trouble.' Devil's Trap alluded to the idea that Bobby was more to the Winchesters with the comment about Bobby wanting to see John and there being an undercurrent of tension between the two, but until Season 3 this was not really expanded upon besides the great scene between Dean and Bobby in the junk yard during AHBLII. This year we saw Bobby taking a more active role in Magnificent 7 and then with the development in DaLDoM and now here, Bobby is family. We've always known it; finally they' said it.
 
I've said it before that I can go back and forth on Eric Kripke's scripts as to which is my favorite and I probably always will am eagerly anticipating his next one!!!!! but in writing this little bit I have a hankering for an Eric Kripke marathon of Devil's Trap, In My Time Of Dying and No Rest For the Wicked. Eric has a way of taking on more than he can comfortably chew sometimes but he is never at a loss for the big moments' in his scripts, certainly not the major ones, and this one is no exception.

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Here we get Dean facing his demons square on, a character trait we've come to know. We get Sam considering all options no matter the cost another character trait we've come to know. Bobby is the voice of reason love Bobby Singer. There's plenty of humor, a reveal or two to tantalize and tease, as well as answers to a few things. Some music, plenty of irreverence, some blood and gore, a creepy little girl I liked her portrayal of Lilith. Frankly, when Lilith was a scary little girl she was creepy, all grown up not so much. Ah well.
 
No Rest for the Wicked, like Fresh Blood, A Very Supernatural Christmas, Malleus Maleficarum, Dream a Little Dream of Me, Mystery Spot, Jus In Bello all fit into my significant, must see viewing category for Season 3.
 
Writers' strike, casting about for a new direction with Azazel's demise, Eric's got a new baby boy (congratulations!) aside, this was an excellent season. Perhaps not as smooth as season 4, or as tight as season 2, it managed to hit all the right chords when it needed to. I loved it.
 
There you have it, the third installment of The Road So Far series…only one to go and I'm still watching and haven't begun writing so likely that'll come out mid- to late-August. Hope you're enjoying your Hellatus as much as I am (watching, reading, researching, voting, commenting, waiting, chewing nails, waiting…'tis all good)
 
Thanks for reading.
 
Elle2

Comments  

Suze
# Suze 2009-08-05 12:11
Well summed-up, Elle2. That's a good point about the demon blood ... Remember the late and unlamented Ruby's crack about Sam's not needing the feather to fly? What if Sam's been resigning himself to a fate that wasn't actually fated until he resigned himself to it?

Ow ... My head hurts now ... :lol:
elle2
# elle2 2009-08-06 15:56
Hi, Suze,

My head hurts too sometimes with all the head games going on here, darn those demons -- and not all the angels are very nice either. Sometimes we do talk ourselves into things that were never meant to be, no idea if that's what Kripke et al mean, I'm betting we find out though.
elle2
# elle2 2009-08-06 19:00
Wow, Mae, that's insightful -- and what a burden for both Sam and Dean -- I love those poor tortured, angst filled boys!

It does sort of make sense though, once Dean knew Dad traded his life for him in IMTOD, I think Dean was quite okay with trading his own for Sam's -- that and the whole, now my life will have meaning (ah, harkens back to Azazel telling Dean in DT that he wasn't really needed -- well, Dean sure showed him, not once but twice, brought back Sam and killed Azazel!
alysha
# alysha 2009-08-06 22:51
Nice work on recapping! There's so much to comment on, but I'll keep it to a few of the episodes.

"Jus in Bello" was so pivital in who the boys were and how they tick. It brought Lillith out into the open totally also. I thought Nancy was awesome. She seemed meek at first, but then you realized she had a strength of character. Remember how she said, "It's a choice" (in regards to not having had sex). She proved to be strong. I love Victor and lament his loss!!!!!!! He was so cool on so many levels. He was what Dean would have been if Dean had joined the FBI.

I have to say that in light of season 4, "Long Distance Caller" is better than you think. Why? This is the first episode where the boys argue and split up! Here we have Sam in a rental car going after the case (and being driven as always) while Dean is off on some emotional pursuit (and we do realize by now that Dean is definatelty the emo brother). I liked that this episode tied into season 4 in terms of the brother relationship.

Not my favorite season, but it did have some good moments.
elle2
# elle2 2009-08-07 08:23
Hi, Alysha,

You bring up a great point regarding LDC, sometimes it is not until several episodes later, or longer, that things shift a bit more into focus. This one did set the stage for Season 4 regarding the separation of the brothers -- probably part of why it's not one I go to watch that often -- still, there is a lot of brotherly angst, a reminder that Dean and John are linked very, very strongly -- not surprisingly remembering the events of Something Wicked as well as how John traded his life for Dean's and the burden that carried for Dean and it does show Sam's more driven side as well as has him getting into trouble as well as getting himself out of said trouble, and violently at that.

As for JIB, it rocked, I love that episode in so many ways, especially how it ended (despite the loss of Victor).

Not a great season but that's all done and gone by now and Season 4 more than made up for the six episode loss of Season 3.

Thanks for commenting.