(This is the review I posted on blogcritics yesterday.  This should not be confused with the full recap, which will be posted tomorrow or Wednesday.  Enjoy!)

Geez! Will poor Sam Winchester EVER catch a break? You know you're completely doomed while starting your new life when your dead girlfriend keeps showing up in the middle of the night, tells you things are hopeless and she was dead the second you both said hello. Or when hunters stop by and force feed you demon blood so you'll go back to your demon killing with your mind ways. Or when the dead girlfriend is really Lucifer who is ready to be fitted with his own Ginormotron meat suit. Even Dean doesn't want Sam back, although taking on the task of trying to get a fallen angel laid isn't as easy as it sounds.
Besides the fact that the plot twisting I just described will make anyone not familiar with the show go "WTF?" "Free To Be You and Me" so far is the best episode of season five. Considering Sam and Dean didn't have a single scene together, that's saying a lot. Again just like last year's "In the Beginning," Jeremy Carver delivers a well plotted and balanced script that ups the stakes for everyone (yes Mr. Carver, you still own me). J. Miller Tobin ("Born Under A Bad Sign", "A Very Supernatural Christmas") is back to direct and manages to bridge the two very different settings seamlessly. 
For both Sam and Dean, the hope of finding a way out of their grim destinies is getting slimmer. While both are still hidden from those forces that pursue them, the inevitability of becoming vessels for opposing foes in the greatest war ever told brings to question just powerful the free will of man can be.  Castiel too is hitting some major bumps in his quest for God and the quest for his own faith. All in all, epic doesn't begin to describe it.    
I'm very proud to announce that Elle has offered to step in and do the episode reviews until elle2 returns. She sent me her first one for "Free To Be You and Me." I'm thrilled with her point of view, so enjoy and tell elle what you think.

Thoughts on "Free to Be You and Me"

Overall Thoughts:

THEN: We are forced to relive the downward spiral of the brother’s relationship and the splitting of Team Winchester from last week’s episode. This episode served as the ideal continuation from last week’s devastating ending. Though it was sad to see the brother’s separate, after seeing this week’s episode I am even more certain it was necessary. I think Sam needed to be on his own to make the realization that he could be strong enough and that he could learn to forgive himself. For Dean’s part, while I can’t imagine that Sam wasn’t still on his mind 99% of the time, the tension-free environment was ideal for gaining perspective on a very messy situation. I truly believe that when the boys reunite (and notice my use of “when” not “if’), they will be better for their individual experiences.


-          “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, in my opinion, was very well used in this sequence cutting between Sam and Dean. I’m not a classic rock expert, but it worked for me! It is only episode three so this may be a premature assumption- but it looks like our wish for the return of classic rock has been granted!

-          The instrumental music during Sam and Lucifer’s conversation at the end was brilliant. It was just the right mix of eeriness, mystery and tension.

Minor Characters:

-          Hunter Trio - not much to say about them, but as a vehicle for getting Sam to a better place, I thought they were effective. It couldn’t be a demon; it had to be a human catalyst to convince him that he could change. That’s just what these three were.

Lindsay: mostly, she really annoyed me - so nosy and determined to cozy up to Sam that I was POSITIVE she was a demon - my money was on Meg. She sort of bugged me actually, too eager. Although, with Sam as a bartender, I’d find a reason to cry into a few cocktails just to be near him! I bet nosy wished she’d never talked to Sam beyond drink orders after that knife was held at her throat. Lindsay did serve a purpose - telling Sam that even he could be forgiven and that he could change - I think this affirmation helped him later as he spoke with Lucifer/Jess.

SAM: “People can change. There is reason for hope.”

The opening scene with Sam and Jessica set a sombre, sad tone. When Sam first lays eyes on Jessica, the love and relief on his face is heartbreaking. He’s missed her. Her name isn’t mentioned much these days, but from the expression, we know (not that we doubted) she’s never been a far away thought. I suspected that perhaps Jessica was Lucifer or some other entity meant to manipulate, but regardless I enjoyed seeing the intimacy between the two. “I miss you, so much.” Viewers weren’t privy to much of their relationship, but the tenderness was visible in the dream-sequence here.  Calling Sam out for his actions; perhaps reflecting his own internal thoughts on what’s been happening?

It’s interesting the parallel that’s drawn between Sam leaving hunting now and back when he went to Stanford. I think Jessica (even though she is really Lucifer) sums it up nicely -“different verse, same song” - bottom line, leaving doesn’t fix the problem, it just delays the inevitable and eventually, life catches up with you, no matter what. Jessica’s words aren’t surprising to Sam from his expression; he’s had these thoughts - he knows that he can’t run forever, but he’s in denial. He chokes back the tears, conflict easily read on his face.

Sam is clearly lost; he looks especially torn as he watched the three hunters walk away from him at the bar. Sam’s struggle with the other hunters was sad, but in a way I think it was cathartic for him. He said aloud what he’d done, admitted it. He fought and helped Lindsay without using any kind of powers, only his skills as a hunter, and what’s more, he didn’t consume the demon blood even when it was literally forced into his mouth. Sam needed this to happen; just like Dean needed a dose of reality back in It’s a Terrible Life. Hunting is his life. That’s all there is to it. Sam is capable of helping people without demon-juice and now he knows how strong he is capable of being; strength of will. Sam resisted the greatest temptation there will ever be - the blood was physically in his mouth and he chose not to drink it, not to be that guy again.

DEAN: “Eat it, Twilight!”

The sequence after the teaser, cutting between Sam and Dean was a fantastic technique. Dean in the opening sequence reminds me much of how he was in season two after John died. Systematically hunting everything and anything, recklessly even, in an effort to escape his own feelings. The scene where Dean cuts into the vampire and the result is blood on his face is reminiscent of “˜Bloodlust” - Dean is not in a good headspace.

This week, instead of Sam and Dean, we had Dean and Cas whose friendship, tentative though it may be, is intriguing and moving to watch. In this human world, Dean can function as a guidepost for Cas, who is very much out of his element. (I would have loved to witness the personal space conversation.) Castiel asks for Dean’s help, because he’s the only one who will help him, and Dean caves. What was most affecting about this exchange was Dean’s silent moment and the way his face softens before he vocalizes his consent to help Castiel.

 Dean understands what it is like to have (or at least, to feel like you have) nobody else to lean on, to have nobody by your side. It’s clear that there is affection between them, and I can’t help but wonder, given that the THEN reminded us of Castiel’s speech last week, if Dean isn’t motivated here because he feels guilty and obligated. It definitely wouldn’t be out of character for Dean to shoulder the guilt that Cas (somewhat unreasonably, though understandably) laid at his feet in the hospital last week. On the other hand, Dean is finally needed again. It’s been a long time since someone asked him for help, since someone needed him. Also, kudos to Jensen for delivering the “I didn’t poop for a week” line; I bet there are great outtakes of that one!

I found it interesting that Cas’ hooker lead to the mention of absent fathers and then later Cas and Dean compared missing dad stories. Dean and Castiel have a lot in common, more and more every episode. The parallels between the Winchester family and the battle of the angels doesn’t stop there. Raphael talks about how his “˜father left them with no instructions’ and I can’t help but think of Sam and Dean back in season one faced with the same scenario.

The roles Dean and Cas have taken on in relation to one another this season is different than before - Dean is almost a mentor to Castiel and at the same time, Castiel fills the part of Dean that needs companionship when Sam is unable to fill that role. Regarding Dean’s confession to Castiel that he felt better without Sammy; I didn’t believe it for a minute. Sounded like an attempt to convince himself things were better off this way when in reality, the experience with Cas made him miss Sammy all the more. I do believe it was a relief from the tension and strain that had existed between Sam and Dean for the past year, which had become especially taut since Lucifer Rising. This is a scenario in which Dean is assessing things based on the respite he is feeling being free from that long-term disconnect that has hung as a shadow between the boys, and is thus not a legitimate feeling, but a transient one that will quickly wane. In fact, from the look he gave the empty seat after Cas poofed away, I’d say he’s not far from that now. 

CASTIEL: “But today you’re my little bitch.”

There are no words to express how much I love his “human moments” - I truly hope we continue to have them and they don’t socialize Cas too much. The relationship between Dean and Castiel in this episode shifts dynamics to a certain extent.   Dean is without his right hand and while he is capable of functioning solo, we know he prefers not to. The relationship between Dean and Castiel has a different dynamic this season because they have no choice but to trust each other and share information. Also, Dean’s wit is always about ten times better when Cas is confused by it. Thelma and Louise - not quite as funny as the God-on-a-flatbread exchange, but definitely up there in my books.

The seriousness of “and the officer will tell us where the angel is” - well done, Misha! His acting was fantastic in this episode. I always think he is a great actor, but I thought he upped the game here; the deadpan delivery and comedic timing was awesome. The rhythm between Misha and Jensen in this episode reminded me of season one, with Sam and Dean. It was nice to have this tempo re-established, even if it wasn’t actually the boys themselves.

While the whole de-virgining of Castiel plan was hilarious to watch, it brought us to the point where Dean realizes just how long it’s been since he’s laughed and that was a sad moment. Watching Dean and Castiel’s adventures- Dean giving Cas the money and the advice about dealing with the lady - very older brother to me. I think part of the reason he enjoyed it so much was because Dean falls best into the role of caretaker and older brother; he’s hardwired this way. (And who didn’t love when Dean shucked the blame on Castiel for trapping Raphael, complete with the annoyed look that Cas shoots him? Very older brother in my opinion.)

Bad Ass Cas is my favourite, hands down. And he latinated! Sigh. He’s one spin behind the wheel of the Impala away from being an honorary Winchester. (Now, for the sake of the Impala, let’s hope the angel who can’t even hold his faux FBI badge upright, never perches in the driver seat.)

I have to appreciate the symmetry of Castiel confronting the “brother” who betrayed him at the same time as Sam and Dean have split. Family issues abound this season. Raphael was a scary dude - don’t want to meet him in a dark alley! This episode goes to Misha, who was all around superb in every scene, particularly as he walked away from Raphael in the ring of fire.

LUCIFER: “You’re the one Sam. You’re my vessel. My true vessel.”

Jess as Lucifer threw me, I’ll admit. I entertained the possibility that this was Lucifer initially, but given the dark lord’s insistence that he didn’t and wouldn’t use lies or trickery to reach his endgame, I disregarded him as a candidate. Stupid me. The character of Lucifer is really growing on me - I am enjoying the understated nature and gentleness, even, about him. Though we know he is Satan, he doesn’t ooze pure evil in the way that previous big bads of the Supernatural world have. For the most part, Lucifer is very up front - lays everything on the table. This is a character whose arc is going to be fascinating to watch. Mark Pellegrino plays it well too. I’ve not seen his previous work, with the exception of one episode of Lost, but he plays it with a subtle charm. I like that Lucifer, unlike most demons, doesn’t tease and taunt. Things just are - he’s very matter of fact about things and even enticing with the sly, manipulative empathy he extends.

“Cause it had to be you, Sam. It always had to be you.”

Damn you, Kripke! To leave us on that ominous, diabolically clever note?! Pure evil genius. Lucifer’s words echo, practically verbatim what Ruby said to Sam in Lucifer Rising and I can’t help but speculate on the demon prophecy out there with Sam’s name on it as a key player. This was destiny perhaps long before Mary made a deal with a yellow eyed demon. Only in episode three and already this season is brimming with the potential to be even more epic than season four.

Faellie was kind enough to let me share her recap and opinions of "Free To Be You And Me" from her livejournal site,
http://shopstewardess.livejournal.com/8442.html.  If you would like to share this recap, please link to this site or Faellie's livejournal.  Thanks so much Faellie for another unique viewpoint!  Happy reading everyone

Eat It Twilight

Then: Sam's addicted to demon blood, Jessica's dead, Dean is Michael's vessel, Castiel's been resurrected and is looking for God, who is not on a tortilla. Sam and Dean have separated.

Here you are, preview clips for "The End."  I'm warning you right now, I instantly busted out in tears over Clip #3.  Here's the official description courtesy of Warner Brothers:

Still estranged from Sam, Dean  is visited by Zachariah (guest star Kurt Fuller) who continues to pressure him to fulfill his destiny and become a vessel for the archangel Michael so that he can defeat Lucifer.  When Dean resists, he is thrust five years into the future to see the consequences of his decision - and a ravaged, desolate post-apocalyptic world.  Also stars Misha Collins as Castiel and also guest stars Rob Benedict as Chuck Shurley.  "The End" was written by Ben Edlund and directed by Steve Boyum. 

Today while playing the role of librarian, I pulled out the long neglected Supernatural series rating chart that I keep here for reference and added the first three episodes of season five. While I’m certainly enjoying season five so far as are all the diehard fans, it’s no secret that the ratings have been a bit disappointing. Heck, they’re worse than season three, and that was the basement ratings season. Or are they? Allow me to quell the fears I’ve seen out there with my usual vices of rationality and statistics. Below is why Supernatural’s lower ratings aren’t harming the show.
Okay, system issues done.  So what did you think? 

Just a word about the episode title.  "Free To Be You And Me" was a best selling childrens album from the 1970's and a cult classic for any child of that era.  What did that have to do with tonight's saga?  No idea.  I'll try to come up with that one.  No holding back, so much was thrown at us!  The trailer for next week!  Whoa!

For posterity, I'll post the rules again for reference:

-  Sam fans, Dean fans, Castiel fans, Sam haters, Dean haters, Castiel haters, all kinds are welcome.  If something upset you about THIS episode, feel free, rant away.  I will even protect you from blatant attacks by other posters (respectful disagreements though are allowed).  However, once you've stated your opinion, move on.  Do not repeat the same complaint over and over again.  Repeated complaints will be edited.  Spirited discussions are welcomed.  
-  Be respectful to other posters, and try to make your comments as constructive as possible.  Any disprespect or personal insults will be edited.   
-  DO NOT complain about spoilers on episodes that haven't aired yet.  ONLY aired material can be judged.  Any complaints about spoilers or speculation will be edited. 
-  If you want to gush about every detail, by all means, gush away!  After all, we love our show. 
-  If your post is long, copy it before hitting submit.  I wish I could say I had the best commenting module on the planet, but I don't.  The verification at the bottom is snippy sometimes. 
Wheee, episode two! To quote Dean from this episode, the hits just keep on coming. More angst for Winchesters, more end of the world saga, more fans left curled up in a ball at the end trying to recover from all the drama and distress. In other words, another classic.

It all begins with another musical montage, but instead of the seriously awesome "Lonely Is The Night" we got in "Are You There God It's Me Dean Winchester," we get a pretty lame "Long Long Way From Home" from Foreigner. Okay, really lame. The song really worked in "After School Special" but not as a prologue for the end of days. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I'll just end with that and move on.

One thing I do like is when the "Now" segment gets right to the Winchester saga and doesn't try to tease with the monster of the week. It starts with Bobby in a wheelchair, somberly looking out the window, while Sam stands in the doorway with concern. Oh, did I mention Phil Sgriccia is directing this? This means we're gonna get some pretty unique shots, like Bobby looking sad in the foreground while Sam watches in the background. Not unique for this show, but it's still really awesome in terms of emotional impact.

My review finally made its way to blogcritics today.  I apologize, but it went a little later than usual because of other work I did for them on behalf of The Big Bang Theory.  Better late than never!  There are already a couple of good comments there that get you thinking. 


Also, Bardicvoice's review is up at her livejournal. 


Wondering where elle2's review is?  Below is a message she sent for everyone: 


Taking a break…y’all…Elle2 

Hi all, I thought I’d drop a note to let you all know I’m taking a brief break from episode reviews. Frankly all, I’m exhausted. Work is excellent – thank, God, for I’m self-employed and paid by the job…so very, very happy it’s almost too much at times. My new puppy is a great joy and he takes a lot of time, all of which I’m happy to give. My creative energy is at an all time low, however, so instead of churning out reviews or thoughts or something trying to achieve coherence, I’m going to sit back and relax a bit and regroup.

Updated 9/22 - Go down to Misha Collins.  An old picture has been found!

I actually watched the very clever Emmy awards last night and got through all of it the first time in years.  Neil Patrick Harris turned something unbearable into something watchable, and one of his bits gave me a huge fit of inspiration for an off the wall article for today.  The writers for the show dug up the filmographies of all the presenters and brought out the most embarrassing or most obscure acting credit.  They used it to introduce each presenter when their turn came.  So, I did my own digging and found that this sort of fun can be done too with Jensen, Jared, Misha, and yes, even Jim.  Let's pretend our four stars were presenting at last night's Emmys.  How would you introduce them?  This is the stab I took.   


Better known for his recurring role of Malcom on the smash 1996 NBC comedy cult hit "Mr. Rhodes," a show inexplicably cancelled after 17 episodes, welcome Jensen Ackles!