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Back in early season nine a fellow blogger who shall remain nameless confided to me that they saw a big issue with “Supernatural.”  Carver and his writing team had no concrete plan -one hadn’t been spelled out yet.  If it ended up being that way by midseason, the season would fall apart before the end.  After taking in “Stairway To Heaven,” which is supposed to be the ultimate build up to the big showdown, this person is coming across as a freaking genius.  It’s episode 22 and there is still no plan.  

For those of us who have been with “Supernatural” since the early seasons, most of us don’t expect it to be the show it once was.  A lot has changed, as well as the characters.  But still, there’s the little things we hold dear that we’d like to see a lot of the time.  A fluid script, plotting that delivers the story in the direction that’s been forewarned all season while delivering something extra we hadn’t seen coming, something that makes us smile on occasion as well leave us completely shocked, a certain banter between the characters that’s lively and just something in general resembling a personality.  Sadly, that flare in writing has been missing in a lot of scripts and it was missing here. 

Keep in mind I often don’t like Andrew Dabb’s writing style.  I think “Dark Side of The Moon” was brilliant, but he’s had way more misses than hits.  There are four episodes in the history of “Supernatural” that get me cursing every time I see them mentioned and Andrew Dabb (with and without partner Daniel Loflin) has written three of them.  (“Hammer of The Gods,” “Season Seven: Time For A Wedding” and “Bloodlines.”  The other episode is “Man’s Best Friend with Benefits.”)  His attention to detail has never been the greatest, he struggles in bringing overall themes together, he rarely pays attention to what other writers have introduced and he’s always been a little hard and loose with canon.  I always cringed whenever his scripts came after a Ben Edlund one because he’d get the ideal setup from Ben with the story and do nothing with it.  

Granted “Stairway To Heaven” wasn’t all bad, and I have some great words later in this review for the whole Dean mytharc and the way Jensen has been killing it, but let me get the bad stuff out of the way first.  And there was a lot of that. 

What Didn’t Work

What was missing in “Stairway To Heaven?”  For one, there’s still no high stakes.  There’s no deep urgency driving these characters right now, except for Dean, and his issue is more of a dangerous (and freaking scary) affliction than a man on a vital mission to save the world.  Even the one guy who has the most to lose, Castiel, seems rather uninspired in his commander role.  Probably because he’s dying or something.  Good to see both Sam and Dean showing some real concern over that.  Everything seems like random events happening because they can with no real consequences.

The pacing of the episode was uneven.  Another big weakness of Dabb’s is he often takes too much of the hour for plot exposition.  Where some scripts will have you deep into the plot and action after only five minutes of build (name an Edlund script, a lot of Thompson’s too), we were a good twenty minutes into this episode before we moved past the first mark of the story (when Castiel and Sam found the “Heaven” room).  There’s only 42 minutes in an episode.  That’s not the sort of thing you need in episode 22, when the stakes are supposed to be soaring high and so much needs to be done before the finale.  It’s really important in this case because the rest of the season has failed to set much up.  Don’t know what I mean?  Watch “Arrow” season two.  Heck, watch “Supernatural” season two.  Gut wrenching storytelling that moves the mark forward every week, building up to the ultimate conflict.

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A lot of bits felt awkward, mostly at the angel HQ.  There was Dean accusing Castiel of arranging the suicide bombings.  That seemed forced.  Thankfully Sam’s aside (“Stow the baggage”) grounded us and got us back on track, but it’s that kind of weirdness that dulls the impact of a scene.   Then there’s Metatron.  Turns out this year’s big bad is nothing more than a dork who hated being one of the uncool kids in Heaven all these years.  Really?  Is that a worthy villain of our time?  Doesn’t it seem to you that Curtis Armstrong would love to get beyond his Revenge of The Nerd days?  His whole bit about being a likeable and funny guy was very uncomfortable, as was his trench coat.  Why did Dabb go for this angle?  It minimalizes Metatron, and that’s something you don’t want going into the final conflict.  It’s okay to show a villain’s weakness, but his overall personality shouldn’t be weak.  It wasn’t weak when he was introduced in last seasons “The Great Escapist.”  That is exactly a big reason why this season’s angel mytharc is failing. 

I have loved the angel storyline ever since it was introduced in season four, but it’s been totally botched this season.  Why?  For starters, angels have always been written as a bunch of selfish dicks.  Every time a sympathetic one comes along, he or she is killed or eventually made to look like a dick before he or she is killed.  There are no redeemable characters.  What happened to Malachi and his forces?  Why even bother to show him at all just to give him an off camera death?  Castiel is the only one we’ve truly gotten to know, and his predicaments wildly change like the weather.  He’s a savoir one week and a chump the next.  Now he’s dying and no one cares.  Who does that to such a beloved character?   Who finds that interesting?

As for the angels, they are fickle bunch and their constant changing of loyalties at the drop of a hat has always been irritating, but it’s even more so at this point.  It’s episode 22, I need action, not watching a bunch of shallow dicks change their minds AGAIN.   Metatron is an annoying dick who’s unfairly treating a bunch of dicks.  I’m sorry, but how can we get on board with this conflict? Is this the main conflict of the season?   It sounds like to me they should all blow each other up and call it the end.  When that happens, we as viewers will shrug and move on, not remotely invested in the story. 

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The bowling angel is the one who’s actually pegged the whole season so far.  He’s the voice of each individual writer.  Screw you all, I’m doing what I want.  (I’m thrilled he found a love of bowling though.  Some angels are adapting to earth nicely and like it).  There are so many ways to make the Heaven struggle exciting and no one seems committed to doing that.   Why not have a good old-fashioned war between Heaven and Hell with Sam and Dean square in the middle?  The brothers both hold alliances with Crowley and Castiel, which puts them in a big pickle not to mention it drives conflict.   How about secondary characters, like angels, be written sympathetically so we actually care about their cause and what happens to them?   Otherwise nothing is shocking us.  We see an angel killed or sacrificed and go, “whatever.”   Just another death.  These deaths stopped meaning something a lot time ago.

Another big problem with “Stairway To Heaven” is flow.  The scenes going back and forth were choppy and the two stories didn’t blend very well in terms of tone.  It’s supposed to make the plot look busy, but all they managed to do was confuse viewers and often bore us.  I know a lot of people were also upset the with continued botched canon regarding reapers.  I’m never going to buy that reapers are angels.  That is total crap.  Some where along the line two writers that have no respect for canon decided to make this happen and it’s sucked ever since.  However, we have to accept that it is canon now, so I guess we’ll just call them angels of Death.  That makes Death God in my book BTW.  Why don’t they just write that into canon too just to run with the whole crazy idea?  The fact is that if canon was the only thing wrong here, I’d be pretty damned happy.  Remember the Grand Canyon gaffe last year?  Well Ben Edlund went on Twitter this week and apologized for that, even giving a cute joke that he dropped “the canon ball” (I so love this man).  We can forgive because one comment on the Grand Canyon isn’t going to have lasting impact to the story.  This reaper lore has and I do wish the writers had explored this a lot more carefully before going down this path.   

There was absolutely no reason that Tessa needed to be in this story.  They could have brainwashed anyone.  Her entire presence felt out of place.  Andrew Dabb is the guy you never, ever want to bring back an old character.  His tactic is a cliché in television writing, he needs a token death, and by bringing back an old character just to off them that’s supposed to mean something.  Except in his case, we’ve been left scratching our heads asking, “Why was this death necessary?”  This is the guy that killed Gabriel (still extremely bitter!), Sarah in episode 22 last season (that still makes no sense) and now Tessa.  This is a desperate act of a writer who’s forgotten how to write passionate stories.  Case in point, remember “Abandon All Hope?”  That’s how you kill off a guest character, by making their sacrifice relevant to the overall mytharc.  Leave an impact that will sting for years to come.  Sorry, my mourning over Tessa lasted about ten seconds.

The Brothers

Before I get to the fascinating story of Dean,let me get my criticisms out of the way with the way they are treating Sam.  I have a lot of criticisms (scathing ones) of how Sam’s character has been handled this season, but I’m saving most of that for my traditional “Deeper Look at Sam Winchester” examination that I do at the end of each season.  For now, let’s stick with this episode. 

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It’s episode 22 of the season.  This the penultimate episode leading up to the finale. So WHY are Sam and Castiel only NOW having the “Does Dean seem different to you?” discussion?  In episode 20 of season four, Dean saw that Sam was off the rails and locked him in the panic room.  He had gotten way beyond “Does Sam seem different?” by that point.  Why did the writers drag their feet on the whole Mark of Cain thing when Dean got the damn thing in episode 11?  Why aren’t they taking that golden nugget of opportunity and running with it in terms of the impact on both brothers?  Last season did that for the most part with The Trials.  We got to see how much it was hurting Dean as well as Sam.  Yes, I know, many of you didn’t like Dean playing nervous mother, but at least we got to see him react to something.  Sam isn’t reacting much at all, just storming off to his room and giving us weary glances.  Ugh, way to make a beloved character seem like a total selfish dick. 

I get why there is brotherly conflict.  That sort of conflict is perfect in driving a story.  The turbulent relationship of Sam and Dean has always been the center focus of this series.  But conflict needs to be organic, not forced.  Season four is by far the best example of how conflict can be done right.   They tried to stick with each other, mostly out of obligation, but it slowly and progressively unraveled by the end of the season and lead to detrimental consequences.   This season unfortunately turns out to be the glaring example of conflict done wrong.  There’s been no gradual nothing.  All it’s been is a bunch of griping at each other and this week, Sam storming off in a tizzy when Dean went too far.  Where is the heartfelt “I won’t let my brother turn into a monster” speech?  Since when is Sam Winchester a spineless dude that won’t stand up to his brother?  (Scans prior seasons to see when he’s ever been like this, finds zero evidence).  He should have been taking action by now on Dean’s behavior and been more emotionally involved.  Or better yet, Sam could have stormed out the bunker door.  That’s probably what I would have done, but that wouldn’t have curbed my sense of outrage.  It just would have made more sense. 

Deep breath…okay, time for something positive.  Let’s talk about Dean.

The Good Part

Yes, there is a silver lining (dark silver) and that’s Jensen taking the total crap that he’s been given and spinning it into pure gold.  That is the mark of a great actor.  Despite the poor development and missed opportunities by the writers to build better conflict in the story, what we have been shown of Dean’s descent is brilliant, dark, disturbing, and it’s scaring the freaking crap out of me.  Dean has always struggled with his inner primal instinct, the one of a killer.  His words from “You Can’t Handle The Truth” still echo in my mind today: “But what I’m good at is slicing throats.  I ain’t a father, I’m a killer.  And there’s no changing that, I know that now.”   It’s his darkest inner demon, the absolute worst part of himself, and it’s been his relationship with Sam that’s grounded him and kept his inner killer from completely absorbing him.  You take Sam out of the equation (like they have with the “we’re not brothers” thing) and Dean risks giving into that very dark side of himself.

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When he first came in contact with the First Blade, naturally it scared the crap out of Dean.  The blade combined with the Mark of Cain eats away the humanity and taps into that inner primal instinct.  That’s why Dean was compatible.  We’ve had so many signs showing the slow erosion of Dean’s humanity layer (the long looks in the mirror, the angsty shower, the quiet moments of sheer panic).   The more Dean uses the blade, the more he turns into the uncontrollable monster with no human filter, Dean at his primal core.  Dean got to tap into that core in Purgatory, but the rules were different there.  He had to do that to survive and he could still control what he was.  He may have taken on the mark thinking he was doing it for survival, but in reality he was in just too much pain at the time to care about the consequences.  He’s learning them now and can no longer resist the temptations.

Dean has been running scared for so long, no wonder the sense of calm the blade gives him is attractive.  It gives him the power and leverage that he’s always been lacking against these big bads, ones that have destroyed his family and everyone he’s loved.  The question we can only ask now is does Dean have a stopping point?   Cain stopped for the love of his life, who he ended up accidentally killing with the blade, but not before he promised to stop being the killer he was.  Will Dean be able to stop when Sam is on that other end?  Castiel?  If the parallels to Cain and Abel come to fruition, the answer is no.  If that happens, if Dean does actually kill his brother, can Dean ever be saved?   He just slashed an angel while giving him a conciliatory handshake.  That goes against all the rules of men.   Has Dean just pushed himself into the point of no return with that gruesome act?  

The only one I think that truly gets how much the Mark of Cain is tearing apart Dean is Crowley, and he’s the one that started all this.  It’s quite brilliant if you think about it, and I really hope that plays into the finale.  Now that Abaddon is dead, Dean can focus his bloodlust on Metatron.  But what happens once he’s gone?  Who becomes next?  It seems in this pattern there will never be an end to Dean’s wrath, and that’s a very, very scary thing for his character.  He’s a weapon of mass destruction now.   No wonder Crowley wants that.   I imagine that Dean’s darkness and the Mark of Cain will be a big player in season ten.  Dean called the Mark a means to an end.  Was he talking about his end?  Is the purpose of the Mark of Cain to finish off his own sense of self destruction that he’s had all these years? 

One thing is for sure, this ain’t team free will and that message got through loud and clear.  Dean is off the rails and I’m sure none of us were feeling any warm fuzzies when Dean told Castiel confidently that the three of them could carry on the fight.  We weren’t supposed to.  This was the opposite feeling of the “Team Free Will” speech Dean gave in “The Song Remains The Same,” especially since Sam was off angry in his room.  Dean has evolved into something unrecognizable, and it’s both thrilling and freaky ass scary.  Who will be the one to stop him?  Can he be stopped?  Well done Jensen for knowing Dean’s story all too well.  When the actor is that in tune to his character, something so complex like a slow gradual descent can be pulled off in the most amazing ways – ways the scripts often fail to convey.       

So, while Dean’s mytharc is carrying on well, I’m still left with a rest of the season that makes no sense to me.  22 episodes and all I can tell about season nine at this point is the writers seem to be scrambling to the finish line so they don’t miss their writing deadlines.  “Stairway To Heaven” was a mess, but I shouldn’t be so harsh because this episode is a victim of just overall poor plotting for season nine. There are so many ways this episode could have taken us into the finale and didn’t.  I’m very interested to see what happens next in the world of Dean Winchester, but there is nothing about this setup that makes me feel like I’m going into the epic season ending showdown. 

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I have a ton of faith in Jeremy Carver to pull off something amazing like he did in last season’s “Sacrifice.”  If he manages to salvage anything out of season nine with one script, then TPTB need to enforce a mandate that this guy write more scripts.  Like all of them.  When it comes to pulling everything together in an emotionally satisfying way, Carver seems to be the only skilled writer left.  But I’ll let all that go until next week’s review.   For now it’s one homicidal brother against an insolent little brat angel that has a skewering coming.  I guess that’s better than nothing. 


# njspnfan 2014-05-16 13:08
Thank you, Alice... I agree with most of what you had to say. Not sure when the season started going off the rails for me; hoping they can pull it altogether in the season finale; guess I'll just have to wait and see.
# amyh 2014-05-16 13:35
I agree with you Alice. Also, its obvious the writers beleive Team Free Will does NOT include Sam. TFW is Dean adn Castiel. I dont know how Sam is supposed to 'walk in Deans shoes' if he isn't allowed to do anything but follow Dean or Cas around like a lacky. The writers have failed Jared and Sam iin a massive way. Sam needs POV. he needs dialogue. The audience needs to be abloe to get inside Sam s head in how he feels/thinks about Dean. And he needs to be SAm...whom we all know would have interogated Cas about the mark...he would have sought out Cain and pleaded with him for info. hell, he could have even summoned Able to get HIS PoV about his own death.

jensen is doing as always the writers have his back, supporting him with POV, dialogue, thoughts and action.
# njspnfan 2014-05-16 13:43
Amyh - I've given up on the writers being able to write for both brothers are the same time, keeping them both engaged in the story. This has been a ongoing issue for two seasons now. Oh well, maybe that's what the title of 9.23 "Do You Believe In Miracles" is referring to ;)
# Sharon 2014-05-16 14:21
I think for me Sam has not been allowed any cathartic moments , he has not been allowed to say boo to Gadreel and the possession was apparently like a 'shared' house. We have been running with Dean's MOC since episode 11 if the season has been driven by Dean's decisions then those decisions should impact both brothers so Sam should of been important in that respect as Dean has been reacting to Sam's decisions or actions. Outside of his words in the Purge which seems to of went down like a lead ballon we have not had a great deal to see.
# Prix68 2014-05-16 15:08
I remember in S7 Sera Gamble said she was going to strip away all the brothers' support systems. Well, she did take away Bobby but Carver has really taken everything away from us. The relationship between Sam and Dean was pulverized and now they are just two guys working together for no discernible reason. Cas, who was a warrior angel in S4, if a little clueless about humans, has become a parody of himself. Charlie is ridiculously in the fantasy world of Oz, Garth is a werewolf, yikes, reapers are who knows what and can do whatever is needed to fill a plot point. The angels are so boring and whiny that it makes you hope you go to hell when you die. Sam is brain dead apparently and Dean has become the scariest big bad in S9 and probably all or part of S10. Things are so far out of whack, I can't see how the show can be brought back to any semblance of it's former glory. Even if the season finale is fantastic, I will be waiting for episode 10.1 to spoil it. I was not one who liked last years season finale but I was at least glad the brothers were alive and on seemingly good terms. Episode 9.01 said the joke was on me. Too many writers with visions of grandeur and each telling their own story separate from each other and the central theme of Kripke's original show. I believe we have already gotten a spinoff of SPN. They just didn't bother to change the name and lead characters. A Supernatural Christmas was one of my all time favorite episodes and I still tear up when I see it but apparently that was a fluke where Carver was concerned. I very seldom watch old seasons anymore because it just makes these last 3 seasons harder to take. The miracle will be if there is indeed a point to the last two years.
# Puck 2014-05-16 20:28
Sam is brain dead apparently
After all those headshots can you blame him? ;) Seriously though I see your point. SGR8 was so much stronger than this or any other post-Kripke, but it too is still unmistakably post-Kripke.

WARNING: To my Kevin Trans, my whole metaphor is built on baseball lingo. Apologizes to nappi over the Subway Series.
Don't shoot me for saying this, but I wasn't a fan of S5. When they were good they made grand slams, but otherwise it seemed TPTB were content with letting the cast to score their runs as bases-loaded walks. How t. This season is the same idea, but only Jensen has really been given the pitches to successfully knock it out of the park...except Jared's discussion with Death in the premiere and Mark's "Cast that holy roller out!" I don't like it, but I accept it, because I believe when the dust settles Sam'n'Dean will get their groove back and be better for it as brothers. In baseball a .333 batting average is pretty damn good, and to my fellow non-mathletes that means hitting only a third of the pitches. Life is full of mistakes. Alice is right in that there's no real direction this season. The only path I see is Dean not dealing with the consequences of his mistakes. We've loved this show for so long (some longer than others), but let's love them enough to let them make their mistakes.

We've always known Sam is the rational one while Dean is more emotional (even when he masks it with alpha male bravado). It was a mistake for Dean to trick Sam against his will into living and not once has Dean really ever offered up an apology. I went back to look for a plot and could only describe the first half of the season as "Why Dean Needs Sam by His Side." They make for a great hunting team, they make us smile playfully digging at one another (leave it alone Carver or we'll find out where you live), and they try to look after each other and what's left of their family. Oh yeah, Cas was feeling under the weather and some other angel stuffs, too.

Let's talk about the one-two punch of "Bad Boys" and "Holy Terror." 'Boys' (like 'Wicked,' 'Christmas' and "Sacrifice") reminded viewers of this bond we were all fighting for even as guilt was eroding Dean. Then it came to a head and Kevin took the fall while puppet Sam was set loose. I don't think Dean has recovered from that moment. I don't think he's forgiven himself for doubting Sam that lead up to his younger brother's confession in the church and the subsequent possession. In fact, I doubt there's anything Dean has ever forgiven himself for doing. That, coupled with his fight with Sam (totally justified) propelled him into accepting the Mark. He still hasn't owned up to the consequences of what it's doing to him even if he acknowledges there has been side effects. Dean doesn't do consequences. The Mark, however, is not something Dean can ignore like the writers are known for doing to him (Lisa and Ben or selling his soul for Sam's life). It will haunt him. It has haunted him. Time will tell if Sam can knock it loose. The question is why did we have to go there?

Sorry I had a point about when did Dean backslide into treating Sam like a little kid again and why does Sam put up with that but I forgot where I was going with it...
# Puck 2014-05-16 20:39
Never mind. Just read nappi's post below. That's where I was headed.
# nappi815 2014-05-16 15:15
i guess it's in all how you look at it. you really can't top the apocalypse in regards to story. that's a biggie. sera gave it a shot with the leviathan story, but it wasn't as strong and not as threatening a plot. so when carver took over he went in a different direction than what we've seen in the past. his focus hasn't been so much on angels and demons as the controlling aspect of the story. they were merely the back story. carver's focus seems to be on the brothers.
ever since show began we've learned that the boys had their own personal issues/demons. most of the conflict between the boys over the years is due to the misperception that ea. have in regards to the other. this misperception originates from the boys own self loathing. we've been teased over the years, touching on the issues, but never has anyone explored them. not until carver.
when you watch the entire progression of s8 and s9 together, there is in fact a cohesive story. one that has moved forward. it's sam and dean's story. the one that hasn't yet been told. the one we are seeing now. for the first time in a while, i feel like the boys are the focus of the story now, as i always believed it should be and the back story belongs to the secondary characters, as i believe it should be.
the way i see it carver is having sam and dean face a monster they haven't truly dealt with before. sam and dean are finally facing themselves and their inner demons. they've fought alot of demons over the years, but none as formidable as their own. i think it's high time that sam and dean face off with these inner demons and kick their asses once and for all.
but this is a journey to be taken. this isn't something that would make sense to happen in just one episode. after years of burying crap it only makes sense that the dam finally cracks and it all comes pouring out in a deluge. dean is king of denial and avoidance. sam i would say is more like a prince. but things have started to change for the better even though it seems it hasn't. but i can see where it's all headed and i'm so very excited to get there.
it may seem like carver isn't doing anything but ruining sam and dean's relationship as if their relationship was all lollipops and candy canes. but as i watched over the years, i didn't see a healthy brotherly relationship between the boys..while i have no doubt of their love and the sacrifices they make for ea. other, beneath the surface the boys weren't really honest with ea. other. they don't know or truly understand ea. other. they are not equal in their relationship. it's not a brother relationship it's a parental one. there is a lot wrong and i for one tire of the constant repetition of mistakes made by the boys when they should in fact be learning from them.
carver took that first step and oh i am so glad he did. there is so much resentment because sam didn't look for dean. some find in unfathomable to understand that sam thought his brother dead, fell apart, couldn't bear the thought of staying in the life that killed every single person sam has ever loved and ran as far away from that life as he could. they don't understand how sam kept a promise to his brother that they wouldn't try to bring the other back if one of them had died. it seems that some cannot comprehend sam's ability to learn from past mistakes given his experiences and all of his suffering caused by extreme measure taken in the past. measures not only by dean, but by cas and in the case of his addiction to db, by sam himself. but sam has learned from his mistakes and the decisions he makes, like accepting his brother's death and not doing anything to try to bring him back, is part of sam's growth and maturation. this is a good thing.
dean on the other hand hasn't really been able to make that change as of yet. he talks a good game, but when sam does what dean asks him to do, dean condemns sam for it. instead of hearing sam when sam tells him he thought he was dead, dean only focus' on sam not looking for him. instead of hearing sam tell him that he drove around for months aimlessly and then he hit a dog, dean only hears there was a girl and then there wasn't and decides sam left dean in purgatory because of her. the first half of s8 focused on dean's misguided anger towards his brother. but if you really pay attention to the episodes, i found dean was really angry at himself and he took it out on his brother. he blames sam for leaving him in purgatory all the while angry at himself for leaving cas behind. he lets benny out of purgatory and lies to sam about it, claiming that benny is more of a brother than sam has ever been...but truly what did benny really offer dean? yes he protected him but that was just so he can get a ride out. true a friendship did develop, but what was that friendship truly based on? trust? i don't think so because if dean trusted benny then why hide him from sam? why did dean never let sam and benny meet? why did dean constantly ask benny if he was good? why did he greet benny with a machete? dean claimed he trusted benny, but i don't think that is true....but as i watch this season, i'm starting to understand why benny was so important to dean. given dean's penchant for killing and his previous confessions about taking pleasure in it, it's obvious that dean fears this darkness in himself. he told veritas he was a killer. he told ben that he was someone you didn't want at your dinner table. dean knows there is a darkness in him and he fears what he's capable of becoming. benny is a monster, not unlike what dean i fear does see himself as. when dean kills and benny is around, there's no guilt in it. benny has no conscience the way sam does. if dean kills in a way that sam deems unnecessary or if dean kills in a way that scares sam, sam will say something. sam is dean's conscience in a way. sam is his tie to humanity. with benny it was easy, dean could kill without regret. i think that's what dean and benny's connection was. in all honesty, when i saw dean with benny, i saw the darkness in dean. an example of that is dean's cold response to sam about martin asking for it. i felt benny was dangerous for dean and i think sam saved dean. sam stuck in purgatory was more than enough for dean's love to come shining through and sending benny back to purgatory to save sam, i believe saved dean and i don't mean in a physical way. when benny was gone, dean had returned to his self again. he was less dark. he laughed more. he was less tense. for a little while dean was ok. but neither one of the boys truly was...that was the second half of s8..bringing into focus sam and dean's inner demons.
dean wanted to take on the trials as a suicide mission. he saw it end one way and one way only and he was ready to die for the cause. this may seem heroic but i think it's quite telling of how messed up dean truly is inside. sam took over the trials to save his brother, to show him the light at the end of the tunnel, but it's more than that. we the audience know that for sam it's about redemption. by the time we get to the great escapist we see that it's more than just redemption for sam. for the first time ever in spn history, sam opens up about his feelings. he admits that he's felt tainted since he was a child. we come to understand that everything sam has done has been to prove himself. his inner battle has been to fight the darkness he knew was in him. sam also confessed that he saw himself to be a failure and that all he'd ever done is fail and disappoint dean. these are sam inner demons. these are his monsters that carver has brought to the forefront.
dean's confession to sam in the church brought sam off the ledge, dean's seeming trust and faith in sam helped sam keep the monsters at bay. but alas the monsters were not yet slain.
the story continues though ....we come into s9 with yet another monster for the boys to face. this time it's dean's inner demons, this is dean's most formidable foe to date. dean's issues of self loathing come into play again. his desperate need to save sam damned the consequences. the boundaries dean is willing to cross, the lies he's willing to tell, the collateral damage he's willing to accept so long as his brother remains by his side. this goes beyond love for a brother. this is more about dean and his inner demons and his fear to face them. this is the journey of self discovery for dean. it's one for sam as well. for sam's inner demon still lives. s9 has been about the boys coming face to face with these monsters.
sam assumed that dean saves him only because dean doesn't want to be alone. sam is right. i think dean not wanting to be alone a major factor. but dean loves sam and that too is why dean does what he does for sam. but sam's inner demons are winning. he asked dean what the upside to him being alive was. it goes back to his feeling that he's a disappointment to his brother, that dean lied to him so dean doesn't really trust in him. dean only said what he said at that church to keep sam from stopping the trials. he didn't really mean it. there's that self loathing in sam at play. he sees himself a failure so dean must too. that's why dean can't trust him. misperception rearing it's ugly head once again.
dean saw to it to punish himself for what he did to sam instead of facing sam and a confrontation. he ran. he took the moc without question because whatever it wrought on him, he deserved. dean continues to not listen to sam when he talks. instead of hearing sam tell him that if he wanted to be brothers then...dean only heard sam doesnt want to be brothers. sam didnt say that. he in fact had put that if in there indicating that they need to work on fixing what dean had damaged...but dean couldn't face what he'd done. he wanted to bury it all and move on. he didn't want to confront sam as sam had wanted dean to, to deal with it all, because then dean would be forced to face his inner demons. when sam told dean he wouldn't do what dean had done had situation been reversed, all dean heard was that sam wouldn't save him. sam didn't say that at all, but it's what dean heard. and why not, dean wouldn't save him, so why should sam?
the moc is taking dean's inner monster and bringing it to the light. dean's fear of being a monster himself, one that he projected onto sam (like calling him freak) is coming true. he's about to face the most formidable foe he's ever had to face ...himself.
that's the story that has been being told these last two season's into s10. the story isn't angels and demons. it isn't about crowley, metatron, abaddon or cas. those are the back stories. those are the filler eps. the real story is sam and dean. the big bad, their own inner demons.....carv er has told this story through every episode...going into s10 the boys will come face to face with the very thing they have feared since show began....they will have to face themselves.
the way carver has accomplished this has been a step by step process leading us to where we are now. sam and dean would never have been able to fight these monsters the way regular people do, by shelling out 100 bucks an hour for therapy. the only way for the winchesters to confront their inner demons is through circumstance. carver inevitably having the brothers walk in ea. other's shoes, is the only way that makes sense in the winchester world to deal with their problems. it's a fantastic idea. and it makes sense too. the way their story is being told will bring about a new understanding between the boys that they never had before. they will get to know what the other has experienced and come to understand ea. other's perspectives. but more than that, they will be able to start understanding their own motivations and start forgiving themselves for past transgressions. my hope is that once these boys come face to face and defeat their inner demons, they will learn to value themselves. once they do that, they will be able to see how much they truly value ea. other. the bond between the boys will be a stronger one. they will appreciate ea. other more and they will trust in ea. other more as well as in themselves. they will be a more formidable opponent against evil. i look forward to seeing carver and co. reach this goal. i guess the way i see it, carver's arc is like a dot to dot puzzle, you have to connect all the dots before you get the full picture. i always liked dot to dot puzzles. :)
# LEAH 2014-05-16 17:18
I just popped in to say great post nappi, I like your vision and insights. When you critique the characters it always seems fair to me. Thank you. You always give hope when it is most needed. Back to taking a break now. :-)
# lkeke35 2014-05-17 04:50
Nappi: Thank you, thank you, thank you:)
This is a most excellent post. I just want to thank you too for being one of the major positive voices on this site who is seeing the show as it is and not for wht it isn't or bc it's not doing what you want it to do.
You just echoed every thought I've ever had about the brothers relationship and what Carver is trying to do with it. I guess I'm one of the few whose satisfied with the direction he's taking their relationship which is why I'm not real broken up about this contention between them. I actually feel pretty good about it. I was more upset at their relationship in season five than this version. I don't like to see them fight but this is actually necessary and I trust Carvers endgame. Why? Bc he hasn't lied about what he's doing . He's also shown over and over again that though they're distanced now, the love is still there. The care and concern is still there. I can see it and point to it.

Every season there's a subset of the fandom that everyone has to constantly argue with over and over agin bc they get hung up on one line or sentence said in one episode and theyre like a dog with a bone and see everything that happens through that one line. No matter what you say to them or how much proof you show them, they insist on pulling their hair and gnashing their teeth about it for the rest of the season. Last season it was Sam not looking for. Dean and this season it's the "partners" comment. ( Now I just ignore such posts if I see them going in that direction, cuz I'm deeply tired of arguing about it. )

One of the most frustrating things I've seen in this fandom is the reliance on Deans point of view,when it has been clearly shown to us in season eight that Dean is an unreliable narrator. Dean sees everything that happens in their life and with each other through the lens of his own self loathing and ( remember his memory of him and. Cas in Purgatory? ). Bc Dean has a problem with Sam you've got fans hating on Sam and thinking whatever Dean is thinking about him. So Dean focuses all of his attention on Sam not looking for him and is unhappy about it and a subset of the fandom has hated Sam ever since. Sam gets wronged for nearly half a season, he makes that partners comment and suddenly all sympathy is just gone and he's the worst human being ever.

I also think that people keep forgetting that their relationship was never healthy. The boundaries were clearly not well kept and people keep forgetting that these are some grown a** men. Theyre not boys! They're not little Sammy and Dean! They are grown men and it's time for them to put away this childish relationship. Sam is like what ? In his mid thirties now? Dean is approaching forty. How does it look for a grown man to be making life decisions for another able bodied grown man? And Sam has put his foot down and said that's enough and is being vilified for it. Carver is just showing us the result of what happens when you continue to do the same thing over and over.

(Sam didn't do anything in season eight that he didn't make Dean promise to do in season five, and yet, bc Dean didn't like it, and these people are incapable of seeing any other viewpoint but his, they have been busting his butt for it ever since and nothing he will ever do from now to the end of time will Make them think any better of him and it gets tired trying to argue that Sam isn't the bad guy here. )

Since the last episode I've seen a lot of griping bc the show isn't doing what people expect or want but I'm going to remain positive. I m going to enjoy the show. Outside of maybe three episodes, I've loved this whole season and I'm not about to get talked out of it bc people refuse to see what's in front of them and keep lamenting about what's NOT happening. There were some excellent episodes this season and I plan to marathon the whole thing this summer.

Carver said he had a long game and we are only in the middle of it. I'm not a patient person but I have no choice but to wait and see what he lays out bc I kNOW ,when that final episode airs, it's going to be worth it. It may not be explosive but it will have depth and meaning and will be a fitting end to such an awesome show and I absolutely trust him to deliver. I won't be talked out of my optimism by "gloomy gusses" who would rather whine about what ain't happening rather than noticing what actually is happening and appreciating and that.
# nappi815 2014-05-17 09:27
amen padaleski:D

you know what I think....when sam told dean he would show him the light at the end of the tunnel....I think sam is that light. ;)

I still don't understand why so many are getting upset over the reaper stuff. the way I look at it. God made humans right? he made black ones, Asian ones, white ones, tall ones, short ones, smart ones, not so smart ones....there are lawyers, criminals, doctors, garbage men, journalists, actors, caretakers, firemen...etc.. .but in the end we're all people.
God made the angels before he made the why is it so hard to fathom that these angels all have different jobs. some are archangels, some are grunts, some are cherubs and some are reapers. some of these reapers stuck to their jobs...some went rogue....but they were all made by God and they are all the same some version of the same entity....angel . I mean Lucifer was an angel. Lilith was apparently a human corrupted into a demon...Lilith still was a human first.

spn hasn't really focused much on death or who created him. in the spn universe, did God create death to balance out life? God sees humans as ones to be revered over angels. did God not create death so that humans can live on in heaven? jesus died for our sins and granted us a place in heaven if we are worthy, but before that, before humans were given a second chance did they have a first chance? was heaven open to souls originally? God did create a heaven and a hell in the beginning did he not? so in the spn world who's to say that death, the grim reaper himself, was indeed not created by God, who in the spn world saw it fit to one day be reaped himself?

just saying that it makes perfect sense to me that reapers are angels originally created by God to work for the big daddy angel of death himself, Death. but that's just me;)

thank you all for your kind words. I do so appreciate that you even take time out of your busy days to read my posts...they are always so terribly verbose. :D
# E 2014-05-17 10:21
God made the angels before he made the why is it so hard to fathom that these angels all have different jobs. some are archangels, some are grunts, some are cherubs and some are reapers. some of these reapers stuck to their jobs...some went rogue....but they were all made by God and they are all the same some version of the same entity....angel.
Hi nappi!
You make a good point here, there is no reason for not accepting this as a logical conclusion to the dilemma of rogue reapers (a plot development that I loathe with the power of a thousand burning suns… too strong? ;)) or to reapers now suddenly being angels. Your view makes perfect sense to me as an explanation. The problem that I have with the entire concept however, is in the storytelling aspect of it; we shouldn't be getting an explanation for confusing aspects of the show from another fan (no matter how awesome you are!:D) we should be getting explanations like this from the writers. The truth is we have never been told ANYTHING at all about rogue reapers; they just showed up one day, functioning in a fully formed supernatural world in defiance of established rules and without an ounce of explanation. We've been forced to shoehorn them into canon in the only way that we can ourselves by coming up with theories (often very good ones) on fan forums. In story telling this is not a good thing. Certain aspects NEED to be handled by those building the world, and they need to be very careful about how they do it, especially when a new aspect is contrary to what we've seen before; it's not the change itself, its the way that change is handled on the show that is concerning to me. The care for details within their own world seems to be not such a big concern lately for the writers, I am sorry to say. Now, we find out that the reapers themselves are in fact angels… after all this time and without Dean saying "since when" or "how's that work" or "why am I just hearing this now?"; zero explanation for something that should have been obvious since season 2 or that should have been very carefully retconed with logical exposition explaining the change. If it's true that reapers are angels then why didn't Tessa tell Dean in season 2 if that has always been the case? Why not in season 3 when there was a whole episode about them or especially in season 6 when Tessa and Dean spent so much time together while he learned what a reaper is and how they operate. If the fact that reapers are really angels wasn't brought up at any other time since their introduction SEVEN years ago, then the inclusion of that fact now needs to be VERY carefully explained. Instead it's been handled as "gee, we're angels, didn't you know that?" not good IMO. The truth of the matter is that we, the audience, the consumer of this complex story, have never been told that the reapers are angels, or that angels come in classes or why some of them have gone rogue. That they come in classes, like races of people or that some are unhappy enough to go solo is a logical conclusion surely, but its explanation has not been on my television screen. When big changes are not discussed within the confines of the show, the change comes off as a mistake and not a progression in lore. I know writers hate expository dialogue, but sometimes its necessary. I don't have a problem with the fans explanations, some of them are very creative (often more creative then what I am seeing in the show :(), I am having a problem with the storytelling and lack of detail within the show itself. IMO the show needs to do a better job of tracking its own story, charting it's own lore and framing changes made to it. This whole rogue reapers and now reaper/angels are a big example of the lack of this type of crucial attention.
# Lilah_Kane 2014-05-16 16:20

I have stayed off the comments for a reason but when I read your text it gave me hope and I needed to come comment yours! You should write reviews. Seriously.
But anyway, I thank you for this. This kind of writing is sorely needed and you reminded me of Far Away Eyes.

Season final is soon. Can't wait. Now back to lurking. :)

- Lilah
# thisoldbag 2014-05-16 18:08
Oh Alice, I'm so sorry that you are not thrilled with the way things have been going. You are not wrong about some of the issues. But, I actually see Metatron a bit differently. He is trying to write his own story, but he doesn't have all the information he needs, he didn't really do his research properly and the details are escaping him. He underestimated the characters and has allowed the story to take on a life of its own. He thinks he is so clever coming up with all these manipulations, but they do what they will do and not pay any attention to the script. I am hoping this bites him in the ass.

Nappi815, wonderful comments, thank you.
# Alice 2014-05-16 22:22
What bothers me the most with Metatron is how each writer writes him differently. I like Carver and Edlund's take way better than Dabb. He's more menacing in their worlds. Underestimation is what undoes every villain in this show. That is the ultimate weakness and that's why Sam and Dean triumph. One person doesn't underestimate them, Crowley. I think he keeps them alive just because they're the most entertaining and worthy foes he's ever had.

Thanks for the comment!
# Ginger 2014-05-16 18:09
I had to go look up the names of the last three episodes before I could vote. I didn't go with that one, but the point is, I can name and even remember dialogue from exact episodes of the earlier seasons, and now I'm having to refresh my memory about the names of the episodes seen a week or two ago. Even then, I don't often remember what the episode was about.

You are not off the mark anywhere in this review, Alice, except I would say that Carver did write that lovely brother speech in Sacrifice, but he took all of that away five minutes into the 9.01. At this point, I think the plan is to not to bring the brothers' relationship back. Personally, I don't know what he could do now that would make me feel the same about the "heart" of the show.

I'm not going to get into all I feel about this season. More often than not, after every episode, I'm just mad, disgusted, or frustrated, wondering what the story is and where is the attention to characterizatio n for the two leads. The story is driving the characters, not the other way around, and if JA wasn't such a talented actor, his Mark story would be as big a mess as Sam and Cas are this season.

I think the whole season can be summarized by saying that there are really serious problems in the writers room. I have thought for a long time now that all of the writers are thinking about is an actor they want to bring back, and then writing a story for that character (actor), without thought to a season's through-story. What we have gotten is a bunch of tedious individual episodes with the writers settling on the MoC story for the Winchesters once they decided that had caught the fans' attention.

After seeing the extended promo for the finale, I am more dreading it than looking forward to it. It looks to me like it will be a poached Sam S4 story. I hope I am wrong.
Are You Kidding?
# Are You Kidding? 2014-05-16 18:46
Thank you Alice, for pointing out the elephants in the room in a rational and even-handed way. There is no plan, sums it up in a nutshell. Writers, actual writers, I mean to differentiate, will plot out a meaningful over-arcing story and then use the chapters (or episodes) to develop that story, to illuminate and highlight the plot points that are needed, hiding clues in the scenes, giving mood and tone to each paragraph they write, all of which develops the overall story - and it's meaning. Characters are developed. They learn from the events and from their history and from each other. It is an organic process as it should mimic the development of people going through life and becoming stronger or wiser or weaker and more fallible or whatever the case may be. And in the first 3 seasons, particularly, of the show, that's exactly what happened. Kripke kept a tight control on the writing process and every single episode, no matter how thin it might've been in the hunt aspect, developed the story, added information smoothly, exposed more of the characters and allowed them to deal with what they learned and with each other. They were rounded characters, not tropes, not cardboard placeholders, but real men with real feelings and thoughts of their own that they often struggled to share with each other. The family dramatic dynamic was built on with every win or fail they went through. The over-arcing story was developed with every episode. The finale of Season 1 was the most perfect that the show has ever managed, in terms of pace, timing and content. I still flinch back from the damned rig when it hits the side of the car and I've watched the episode more than a dozen times. Good writing, good acting and great direction.

While I could probably psychologically retcon, if I tried very hard, reasons for Carver's decision in S8-9, if I look through those seasons as an objective viewer the fact is that there was no plan there at all. Every single good story idea was sabotaged either immediately or shortly thereafter. Starting from a premise that Dean had spent a year with his inner monster, kept mostly human by Benny, a vampire, was a wonderful idea. It was dropped in episode 2. There was no explanation given for Sam not trying to find a way out for Dean. Not only was it out-of-characte r for Sam to have just bailed and run at the disappearance of his brother and Kevin, but there wasn't even an attempt to explain why. And inexplicably, within 1 episode of the brothers reuniting, Sam was angry. Why? I kept thinking there would be a reason but finally had to accept that Sam was angry because Carver wanted a conflict between the brothers and couldn't come up with a justifiable reason and that's all. With the finding of the Demon Word and the possibility of closing Hell, the writers room borrowed heavily from S3, using Dean's recklessness in being ready to throw his life away at the quest which was turned on its head mid-season by Sam completing the first trial. Things improved a little, although again, characterisatio n flaws and the dropping of Sam's anger, again without explanation, once Dean agreed to ditch his friend, made the character seem odd. Sam may have been hurting over losing Amelia, but then a writer blithely put in the typical guy out "We need to think about this" when that love was offered to him on a plate, and that completely destroyed any notion at all that Sam had actually been in love. Who doesn't know what that line means? Was there a terrible dilemma for Sam between taking what he wanted and doing the right thing and stepping back when Don returned? I agree with many posters here that not giving a look into Sam's head has been a terrible, terrible error on the part of the writers. Not only was nothing shown from Sam's point of view, even in the flashbacks which seemed to be more from Amelia's POV than Sam's, but they denied him the ability to talk it out with anyone as well. For a lead to behave inexplicably to the viewers ... well, that ain't good writing. And it never happened in the previous seasons. Sam got the chance to be seen and heard. The Men of Letters order was an extraordinary plot thread to have dropped, as was the Thule Society. So much was made of the store of knowledge and artefacts in the bunker and so little was subsequently delivered that one has to wonder if these writers have ever read a book in the genre (or at all) that they could miss the perfect opportunity to up the stakes for the hunters and give them the tools they needed. The tablets themselves were never explained. Kevin had little problem reading Leviathan, a lot more with Demon and more again with Angel - why? Even within that one small question, there are a hundred potential plots lurking, all of which beat the hell out of LARPing.

S9 ... well, Carver stated that they had no plot. They were going to throw things into the air and see what stuck. And it showed, didn't it? Multiple plot bunnies, none of which were developed. Everyone got a story except Sam and Dean, who stood around, occasionally discussing something but taking away no new knowledge from any of the episodes, and more importantly, not sitting down together and figuring out what the hell was going on. Of course, they couldn't, because the writers didn't know what the hell was going on.

I cannot, for the life of me, swallow an idea that Sam and Dean have been fighting their own demons in the last two seasons. Or maturing. Both brothers went through S5 and learned and grew and by the end they had matured. Sam had made his decision for himself, without a need for his brother's approval, and Dean had to let go of his role as protector and let him do it. How much more mature were they supposed to get? All I've really seen is that the writers room, either directed by or in agreement with Carver, have been pushing that hunting is a horrible, meaningless killer's life that no one should do and that some monsters (most) are just trying to get along with humans and should be left alone. Oh, and that fans should watch and shut up and if you don't like, don't watch! We have writers who tell the fans that he writes himself into Dean's character. We have writers whose idea of plausible plot is to explain a lack of electrical power by saying "it's magic". This show was never a fairytale. It began as a gritty, dark look at a world that lay behind the world like a shadow, full of plausible mythology and plausible ways of dealing with it and hunters who were skilled, knowledgeable and experienced in those methods and with those monsters. Nine years later, Dean and Sam have become so incompetent at hunting that often they are saved by non-hunters or wannabe hunters or the dreadful stupidity of the monsters themselves. What does that do to the characters? It belittles them to the point where the show doesn't need to see Sam and Dean - anyone will do.

I digress as usual. Your review cut to the chase, Alice, pointing out many of the inherent problems in the lack of skills of the story-telling and character development, not to mention basic skills like research and an interest in the genre. Like you, I was intrigued by the Mark as it seemed to have weight and the prospect of a change. I found myself becoming more and more disappointed however, as the overall plotting continued to fail to take advantage of yet another good plot bunny that has failed to develop. Dean's internal conflict, between the power of Mark (inherently evil? Perhaps. Not necessarily though since Cain overcame it. And power corrupts without being good or evil) and Dean's humanity. Speaking strictly from my own view, as I've seen the character through the years, Dean's core is his humanity, his moral understanding of right and wrong. The power of the Mark appeals to the layers of darkness that surround that core, begun in his lack of confidence in himself, his worries that Hell took something he can't get back, the effects on his soul, his knowledge that he has walked a fine line between hunter and monster because for him it will always be about getting the job done and dying in the process. And Sam's conflict between his feelings of betrayal of another angel possession and his fears of that his brother could become a worse monster than the world has ever seen if the Mark consumes him - had the writers thought of the season on those levels, there would have been riveting drama and tension between the brothers, within themselves and every episode could have (should have) highlighted those struggles against a simplified angel and/or demon problem. I agree too that with Abaddon's presence and stated intention of taking over, the dissenting factions of angels being forced to unite against a rising of Hell and Crowley and Castiel forcing loyalty issues would have made for absolutely spectacular tv suspense and drama, and something that would have elegantly and constructively paralleled the brothers' struggles and personal revelations of what was going on for them. And therein lies the rub. A writer - or a widely-read reader - could see the potential of the half-situations that were thrown in. And the show did not.

Done is done and gone is gone. I have no faith in the current team to produce anything but the same sort of disaster area as they've already shown. A lack of a coherent path, lack of knowledge (and more importantly, a deliberate indifference to) of the series past history, existing canon and lore and the characters themselves can't possibly produce anything that is going turn the sow's ear into a silk purse.
# Alice 2014-05-16 22:28
Wow, what a great post! That's the problem when you're a critical reviewer of TV, trying to explain to fans that there's more to an episode than a squee factor. Not that it's not important, but I have to judge deeper than that. I have always heavily focused on the writing in my reviews and I think a lot of fans don't get it when I take that angle. Thank you for thinking the way I do! It's refreshing. I wish I had a more thought out answer to your points, but let's just say you got a lot of nodding and "hell yeahs" from me.
# Grace232 2014-05-16 20:52
Alice, I appreciate your critical analysis. I admit that I do not agree with a lot of your points this time, but I always learn from your analysis (including this one) and I know you just trying to help the show, and I am grateful for that and for all you do with this site.

Thank you so much for your comment. That is how I see things between the brothers too, and cannot wait for Tuesday! I agree with Lilah - you should be writing reviews.
# SueB 2014-05-17 00:46
I guess I see Carver telegraphing his three year plan in neon letters. I completely agree that many of the individual episodes have some issues but the three year plan is pretty strong IMO and right on track.

Why Tessa? Because Tessa reminds Dean who is really suffering right now -- the souls of the dead stuck in limbo. I think Dean's goal is to get Kevin Tran and the rest of them to Heaven.
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2014-05-17 04:52
SueB, if you wouldn't mind, what do you think the three year plan is because I genuinely don't have a clue?
# Alice 2014-05-20 00:19
Thanks SueB! I would believe your theory that Tessa reminds Dean if it actually played out that way. She was just...there. It was poorly executed. Also, and I'm curious if anyone will bring this up with Carver at Comic Con, a three year plan means that they need to create sound material for three years. Looking at S9, it should have been a two year plan! :)
# swapnil 2014-05-23 05:29
Reapers were revealed as ANGELS OF DEATH when the reaper lore was revealed for the very first time in Season 1 in episode 12 FAITH. WHEN SAM & DEAN were researching about Grim Reapers.
# NOLANOLA 2014-05-23 09:35
.I tried to tell that to ARE YOU KIDDING, but you know whatever makes you all happy. :P
Are You Kidding?
# Are You Kidding? 2014-05-23 21:28
God, still on that? If you are going to use an episode to back up your assertions, you had better watch the episode again, or at least take a look at the transcript on Wiki:

You really think it's THE Grim Reaper? Like, angel of death, collect your soul, the whole deal?

No no no, not THE reaper, A reaper. There's reaper law in pretty much every culture on earth, it goes by 100 different names, it's possible that there's more than one of them.

But you said you saw a dude in a suit.

What, you think he shoulda been working the whole black robe thing?....You said it yourself that the clock stopped right? Reapers stop time. And you can only see 'em when they're coming at you which is why I could see it and you couldn't.
Nothing about the reapers being "angels of death" here, I'm afraid. Just Sam questioning if Dean means Death - the Angel of Death - which was kept more or less consistent in the seasons up until the writers of S8-9 stepped in and made up their own crap.
# cheryl42 2014-05-23 21:57
I actually did read the transcript today and yes it does say exactly what you have written. It could be argued either way. Sam is asking is it the Grim Reaper as in fact the angel of death. Dean is saying no it is not the angel of death but it is a reaper. So basically all that is being said here is it is not the Horseman Death but it is a reaper. And yes Dean says you can only see them when they are coming at you but nowhere does it say they absolutely cannot possess a human or that they are absolutely not angels who reap for the angel of Death. This issue is open for interpretation by some and not by others. Doesn't make anyone right or wrong. Just because the show has introduced another layer to the reaper lore doesn't mean that everyone who accepts that is wrong. Doesn't make them right either.
# LEAH 2014-05-24 00:21
I think it is ambiguous. At this point I am not even sure they knew about 'Death'. But with my "crappy" memory and all I am sure you will set me straight. What I do see is a sentence said by Sam where he is assuming there is only one reaper, which he refers to as the grim reaper, angel of death, collect your soul. He uses "THE" because he assumes there is only one reaper. Dean just lets him know there are many reapers not just one. Nowhere in that conversation does Dean say there is one head honcho and the other reapers do his bidding. Just because you capitalized THE does not mean they were talking about Death. Aside from that the very mention of angels in the same conversation should at least give some credence to the idea that reapers could be a type of angel. Also you said in an earlier comment that Death was "the angel of death" not a reaper, they worked for him. So how then could Death be THE grim reaper as you assert.
Are You Kidding?
# Are You Kidding? 2014-05-24 02:23

Funny, I thought I was posting a refute to the assertion that "Faith" had introduced lore about reapers being "angels of death". Nowhere in my post does the suggestion that this cleared up the argument over the canon being bent by the writers in S9 appear. As cheryl42 points out, the entire reaper lore is open to interpretation of varying degrees. There are no definitive terms and pararmeters laid out anywhere in the series. Sometimes comprehension is more important even than memory.
# LEAH 2014-05-24 03:06
I believe this whole thing got rolling over indignation about the idea that reapers might be some type of angel. And I completely agree with Cheryl that reaper lore is all open to interpretation. I believe that's what we said originally. This transcript is also open to interpretation. Simple.
# anonymousN 2014-05-17 03:04
For those of us who have been with “Supernatural” since the early seasons, most of us don’t expect it to be the show it once was. A lot has changed, as well as the characters. But still, there’s the little things we hold dear that we’d like to see a lot of the time. A fluid script, plotting that delivers the story in the direction that’s been forewarned all season while delivering something extra we hadn’t seen coming, something that makes us smile on occasion as well leave us completely shocked, a certain banter between the characters that’s lively and just something in general resembling a personality. Sadly, that flare in writing has been missing in a lot of scripts and it was missing here.
Agree.The MoC story does not have a flow which Kripke attained in his time .Dean's mytharc has for me been lacklustre.Also Sam's participation is minimal which also affects the mytharc.
While in season 4 Dean was not sidelined here Sam it affects my enjoyment.You have said in a better way which I have quoted below.Quote:
There’s no deep urgency driving these characters right now, except for Dean, and his issue is more of a dangerous (and freaking scary) affliction than a man on a vital mission to save the world.
A lot of bits felt awkward, mostly at the angel HQ. There was Dean accusing Castiel of arranging the suicide bombings. That seemed forced.
Then there’s Metatron. Turns out this year’s big bad is nothing more than a dork who hated being one of the uncool kids in Heaven all these years.
I was embarrassed for metatron which is odd.He is the antagonist but was too whiny.Quote:
Another big problem with “Stairway To Heaven” is flow. The scenes going back and forth were choppy and the two stories didn’t blend very well in terms of tone.
There was absolutely no reason that Tessa needed to be in this story. They could have brainwashed anyone. Her entire presence felt out of place. Andrew Dabb is the guy you never, ever want to bring back an old character. His tactic is a cliché in television writing, he needs a token death, and by bringing back an old character just to off them that’s supposed to mean something. Except in his case, we’ve been left scratching our heads asking, “Why was this death necessary?” This is the guy that killed Gabriel (still extremely bitter!), Sarah in episode 22 last season (that still makes no sense) and now Tessa. This is a desperate act of a writer who’s forgotten how to write passionate stories. Case in point, remember “Abandon All Hope?” That’s how you kill off a guest character, by making their sacrifice relevant to the overall mytharc. Leave an impact that will sting for years to come. Sorry, my mourning over Tessa lasted about ten seconds.
100 times yes.Quote:
Before I get to the fascinating story of Dean,let me get my criticisms out of the way with the way they are treating Sam.
You mean that person whose back I see mostly.They have not treated him as a lead that is what is worrying.Quote:
Yes, there is a silver lining (dark silver) and that’s Jensen taking the total crap that he’s been given and spinning it into pure gold.
This is where I disagree.For me the MoC story has (but mostly had) so much potential.But yeah I did not find even Jensen's acting make me interested in that because the MoC story is moving very very slowly.I find the mytharc affecting Jensen's acting negetively.May be I am spoiled by Kripke. season 4 is my all time favourite.Each and everyone Kripke,Jared,Je nsen, the other writers,Jim beaver the story...all were brilliant.

On a different note...The slow motion kill was laughable and was so confusing to watch.Better if there was no slow motion.I do not know whether Dean's growl was like a monster's growl because it was slow motion (slow motion normally changes the voice) or because of the MoC.
As someone mentioned for me Dean is Borderline irredeemable and I hope Jensen gets better material...Sam. ..who? Jensen atleast is getting some material (even if it is crap) ...Jared is given so little and some of that is cut off.
# E 2014-05-17 09:31
Nice, (and intense) review Alice. I don't disagree with a good part of what you are saying here. There currently doesn't seem to be any kind of plan in place unless the plan was the MoC all along, beginning all the way back with Sam not looking for Dean at the start of season 8. I could maybe buy into that being the overall BIG PLOT if it weren't for all of the subplots (angels, demons, Naomi, Amelia, Metatron, Abbadon, time traveling grandfathers etc…) muddying the waters, but I suppose it's possible. And as a Sam girl that would mean Sam has basically had zero story for the past two years, as the 'Not Looking' thing would also be just for the sake of getting Dean to his current MoC state, just as the angel possession story (which I was really on board with when it began) has turned out to be; a Dean motivator and nothing more. Actually, given how little insight we've had into Sam and his reasons for doing ANYTHING, this may actually not be too far off. A story line for a character can't exist if the character for which it was intended does not react to it and if no insight into how the character felt about things is given, and basically Sam has been given NO insight into any of these events, so maybe the 'Not Looking' and the Angel Possession have all about Dean all along, pushing him to get him to the state he's in now, because all we've seen about these supposed Sam story lines is how Dean feels about them. If that's true, the pacing has been pretty bad and the focus has been vague at best because if the MoC IS the true storyline going all the way back to the start of season 8, it sure hasn't been all that obvious. It also means that basically Sam has been without any kind of story of his own for the past two seasons. :(

And although I think Jensen is knocking it out of the park, pretty much as you say "taking crap and turning it into gold," I am having a hell of a time sympathizing with Dean ATM. Am I the only one? Is there anyone else out there who's also trying to find sympathy and concern for Dean and having trouble? I want to sympathize with him, I really, really do; he's been so beaten down by the hunting life, is so sure no one gives a crap about him, is convinced that's he's expendable and basically just a tool to be used in the various wars that he fights. And yet, even knowing all that, I basically want to slap him upside the head for being so blind, for refusing to see what is right in front of him, for not listening and only hearing what he wants to hear, for always thinking the worst of himself and of everyone else, particularly Sam and for jumping into dangerous situations without a single second of critical thinking. Dean still has the impetuous decision making process of a three-year-old and it appears that after a lifetime of hunting that the man has learned absolutely nothing. This kind of static unchanging attitude does not engender sympathy… well not from me at least. And let me be clear here, I am discussing Dean as a character and not Jensen as an actor, who is his awesome, thorough, detailed and committed best; I just don't like how Dean's being drawn as a character right now.

In season 4 Sam was being shown to slide down the same slippery slope that Dean's on now, but with Sam I really got the idea that he'd been manipulated since birth, that his whole life had been interfered with that he had these awful powers forced on him and was only trying to find a way to make something good come out of all the crap he'd been dealt his whole life. When Sam used his powers it was painful for him; not enjoyable, but he did it anyway because he was convinced he was doing the right thing; his intentions were noble even if his choices were foolish. And while that's not justification for what he did, it did allow for a certain kind of sympathy for him or at least an understanding of WHY he went in the direction he went in (at least for me anyway). With Dean and the Mark, I am not getting that. Dean created the situation that he's in currently by not listening, by being a dictator, by bulldozing over other the character's free will and now's the time for comeuppance. Dean is enjoying using the blade, relishes the sense of power that it gives him, he is not suffering from his continued use of the blade, there do not seem to be any negative side effects (not much that I can see anyway, not sleeping and a few longing looks in a mirror aren't cutting it for me in terms of insight on this). Additionally with Sam in season 4, we saw him struggle with his decisions; his "I wish I could stop" to Chuck and his agonizing over joining Ruby or not joining her… his stopping what he was doing only to be dragged in again and again created sympathy and tension; Sam was very much a person caught between opposing forces, torn about which direction to go in. Sam felt guilty, even when he felt he was doing the right thing, he still felt guilty and we could see that in him. It made me care why he was doing what he was doing, even if I could see that it was the wrong thing. Furthermore, until the end when Lucifer rose, it wasn't clear that what Sam was doing was the wrong thing. Season 4 was very interesting in that way; who was right, who was wrong, it wasn't entirely clear until the final result was in, which further created tension within the storyline itself. With the MoC it's pretty clear that this is not a good thing. There is no mystery (unless we get a reveal at some point) it all just looks basically like a BAD THING and now we have Dean relishing and enjoying that bad thing. And unlike with Sam in sea on 4, with Dean I don't see a struggle. He's on that MoC bandwagon and loving it. After using the blade one time, he's was hooked and now doesn't care about anything else; there's no struggle, there's no fear of what he's becoming, there's nothing indicating that Dean is concerned about what's happening to him in any way. He's hostile towards anyone or anything that gets between him and the blade, which I suppose has been OK for tension, but it does not generate any sympathy from me about the position that Dean is in. Its ironic that the man who's been the least accepting of anything Supernatural influencing his life over the years has given over so easily and totally to a Supernatural object, and has done so without a glimmer of hesitation, an ounce of caution or a shred of fear. I see enjoyment for the power that the blade is giving him, an inflated sense of his own importance, a dismissal of anyone else as now being inferior and a lack of concern or caring over anything that he used to be concerned for or cared about, all of which does not pre-dispose me toward Dean or his choices AT ALL. I don't begrudge Dean getting a storyline; he paid his dues in the second half of season 8 with the trials; he's earned this. And the story itself started out with such promise; the throwback to Cain and Abel (Winchester lineage!), but I do not like the direction that this story has gone in. The pacing is terrible, and the MoC has made Dean devolve into an unlikable dictator who's basically a megalomaniac. Usually in films with villains of this sort all we want to see is the megalomaniac taken down and punished. We don't want insight into them, we don't want sympathy, we want punishment, and that's where I am starting to get with Dean, and that is not a good thing when it comes to one of our leads characters in our beloved show.
# nappi815 2014-05-17 10:57
e, I don't sympathize with dean either but I don't think we are supposed to.

from the start of the series sam has been shown to be an innocent victim of dark forces, which have been manipulating him his entire life. we've seen him as a child scared when he learned the truth of his mother and what his father does and who longed for a life that was safe. he also spent his entire life knowing that he was unclean and after learning the truth about what was inside of him, sam has done nothing but try to prove that he was not evil, despite what flows through his body. not only that, but sam has been always believed that his brother cannot trust in him and deems him a failure in his eyes. sam has tried so desperately to prove his worth to his brother. it's easy to sympathize with sam's plight. it's easy to feel for him. it's easy to see how hard he tries and how he never gives up trying. despite all that's against sam, we see his faith shine through, mostly his faith in his brother. we've seen sam suffer and survive, we've seen him make mistakes and learn from them. now I see sam fight for his brother, as he's always done despite his hurt and anger. I see how he puts dean first and his own pain behind him. as dean's darkness grows, sam's light shines brighter. so maybe sam isn't just eye candy lurking in the background without a story. maybe sam's purpose is the most important of all....saving his brother.

now please don't get me wrong. in the past I have sympathized and understood dean. I haven't forgotten anything he's been through or sacrificed for his family. but I also know that dean's monster, his inner demon is one that is formidable and one not to be sympathized with. it's one that dean needs to face and destroy or it will destroy him. there is no room for sympathy here...dean is fighting for everything that is good within him. there is a darkness in dean that isn't supernatural in nature, one that he's feared for most of his life. it's been his driving force for most of the series. it is this darkness that has influenced dean's extreme behavior. dean has tortured and enjoyed it. he's taken satisfaction in killing before, he embraced the life as a hunter but yet sees himself as a killer as he's admitted to veritas in ychtt. he also told ben he was someone he wouldn't want at his dinner table. dean knows this darkness exists within him. it's also made him prone to hypocrisy. dean has repeated told sam what's dead should stay dead. he was broken when his father sold his soul for him leaving dean to live with the burden of guilt. yet he did the same to his brother. dean condemned sam for keeping his promise of accepting dean's death and not bringing him back. he saw it as sam leaving him in purgatory. yet when dean thought sam brought him back in s4 dean reamed sam for it. he was angry with sam for not hunting, claiming he had a responsibility and people died. yet dean gave up hunting and lived with lisa and ben. all the while, giving up responsibility and people died. he killed amy but lets benny free. the rules of monsterdom don't apply to benny as they do with all other monsters. dean blames sam for leaving him in purgatory when in fact it was dean who left cas behind, or so he believed. and with that belief eating away at him, he still never tried to find a way to get cas out..dean hates it when sam lies to him yet dean has done nothing but lie to sam this entire season... dean claims he wants sam to have that normal life, but yet the very notion that sam had been living normal with Amelia infuriated dean, so much so that he totally doesn't listen to sam when sam told him that he thought he was dead. that he drove for months wandering. that he had stopped hunting long before he ever even met Amelia. dean only heard there was a girl and thus decided that sam left him in purgatory for her. sam tells dean he wouldn't save him the same way, wouldn't do to him what dean had done, but all dean hears is sam wouldn't save him. this is dean's monster at work. dean's monster is destructive. dean's monster is hurtful and deceitful. dean's monster drives dean to extreme measures damned any consequences... .dean's dark monster is so strong and dean fears it so much that he would rather seek out his own punishment, like accepting the mark of cain, then to actually stay and confront his brother. own up to his actions and face the demon that causes dean to behave in such a wreckless manner ....this monster scares dean and thus dean is unable to face it. this is no cause for sympathy. dean's inner demon must be faced and conquered or it will destroy him and those he loves most. he can't do it alone it seems or he would have done so long ago. sam will be right by dean's side. he will help dean conquer his most formidable foe....himself. he will help dean come face to face with his greatest fear and dean will finally understand that the way to conquer it is to admit to knowing what that fear is. not only that, but with sam by his side as he always has been and always will be, dean will overcome his fear. he will win because he will understand how much sam loves and believes in him.

I think that's been carver's plan all along, to end the vicious repetitive cycle of making the same mistakes over and over. . I think carver's true plan is for the boys to face the issues carver has had a hand in creating so long ago, and conquering their inner demons. I think carver's plan is to create a relationship that is healthy and not one based on fear, self loathing and constant misperceptions. I think carver is planning on creating the most formidable weapon against evil that has ever walked this earth...the Winchester and improved .....

but that's just me.
# E 2014-05-17 13:51
Hi nappi.
This is a nice take on things, and quite possibly this is what was intended by the writers, but, maybe it's just me, but I'm not seeing it, at least not on the level that you are describing or that I'd like to. Maybe Dean IS fighting his inner monster, one dredged up to the surface by the Mark; that's a pretty cool actually and compelling too in a way that I don't find what's happening on the show to be. I guess when I say that I am having a hard time sympathizing with Dean what I really mean is I am having a hard time being interested in his struggle or caring about the danger he's in. Every time Dean has been on my screen lately, gnashing his teeth, growling out orders and being vicious, I basically want to turn the set off; I don't want to see, and not because I am scared or concerned for him, but because I don't care; I was literally rolling my eyes during the Abbadon death scene. Overkill is an understatement there with Dean blood drenched and snarling, looming over the dead Abbadon who suddenly looked incredibly small and vulnerable in that moment; I strangely felt more for her than for Dean in that moment. How weird is that?

Now, this isn't really Dean's fault and it certainly isn't Jensen's fault, as he can only do the best with what he's given (and he has), this is a problem with characterizatio n and pacing. Dean got the mark in episode 11 and since then we've seen and heard very little about it, and now all of a sudden it's a crisis? Where's the set up been, where are the little moments that make us wonder how he's coping? Why haven't we been watching tidbits of him slowly getting more erratic over time? There were some indications (maybe) like him killing the Thinman which seemed pretty cold, but since Dean didn't make a connection between his over the top violent reaction and his newly acquired Mark then how are we supposed to? And since he's never turned his violence on a complete innocent how are we supposed to tell the difference between violence encouraged by the Mark and his ordinary violence when it comes to supernatural creatures? How was the beheading of the Vampire in A4, a product of the blade supposedly, any different then him taking off the head of the Vamp with an industrial saw in season 2 when he was still reeling from John's death? How is his attitude now all that different from the way he was in purgatory? What is is about the Mark that makes it worse, more of a threat, more of a danger to Dean or those around him? It's not clear enough how the mark is effecting Dean that is different than how other things in his life have effected him. They need to make Dean's spiral out of control more obvious and they need to tell use what the repercussions are going to be for him. I think we may get some of that in the finale, but's it pretty late in the game for that IMO. Sam has seemed obtusely unobservant until lately, and even now his concern is lukewarm for how intense things are. Where is the Sam who used to say "stow your crap Dean" and would challenge his brother? Where is out walking encyclopedia of weird who can find out anything? Where is he when we and Dean need him so badly? He's passively saying to Cas "Dean seems a bit angry, doncha think?" And what about Cas? Are you telling me that an angel of the lord knows NOTHING about how the MoC operates? The Mark ISN'T an angel urban legend that all angels know about? Lame. They need Cas dumb so that the Mark can remain a mysterious non-mystery for a little longer but it doesn't make much sense that Crowley knows more about it than Cas does.

There were dozens of ways TPTB could have drawn Dean's and our attention to the Mark subtly over the past few episodes, but they haven't, not really, not clearly enough. The Mark could have been effecting Dean before the blade was ever discovered; we could have seen Dean wondering and worrying over what he could have possibly gotten himself into; we could have seen Dean grow desperate enough over what's happening to him that he stooped to going to Crowley for information, who could have then filled Dean's head with all kinds of horrors, scaring the crap out of him (and us!). Maybe that would have made me care about what's happening. The Mark itself could be causing Dean pain or making him uncomfortable; maybe they could have showed that the actual Mark is what's been keeping him awake nights; we can infer this, but it hasn't been shown. In season 4 there were many little ways that they showed Sam's subtle descent into blood addiction. There were the nosebleeds and headaches, the disheveled appearance and lethargy; remember the scene in The Rapture (definitely an episode on my all time 10 worst list) where Sam, deep into withdrawal, finally gets his hands on a small flask of demon blood, and he lets in pour out into his hand then licks it off his fingers with all the intensity and passion of a lover? It was one very small, (maybe 20 seconds) scene that spoke VOLUMES about Sam and how deep he had gone and it was one of many scenes like this playing out "in the background" of season 4. Sam confided that he was concerned about what he was doing to Chuck and he and Dean spoke TO EACH OTHER (what a novel concept) about the issue over and over, each giving their POV on the matter in the hopes that they could come to some kind of agreement, and at that point we didn't really know which side to go with, so the conversations seemed equally valid. The MOWs were designed to reflect on the boy's struggle directly (Metamorphosis, Monster Movie, Heaven and Hell, Family Remains, Yellow Fever, In the Beginning etc...) Now, with the Mark, nobody's talking about it when it would seem logical to do so; and unless we get some kind of clunky reveal to show that the Mark is actually the best thing since sliced bread, I going to say that having the Mark is a BAD thing, so no mystery involved with the underlying conflict either. Dean's soulful looks in the mirror did not tell us enough about how he was feeling, it was too general and the lack of conversation by anyone about the elephant in the room seems ludicrous given his recent behavior.

I can't help thinking that Sam had better story telling in season 4, when his arc was a mysterious conundrum hidden "in the background" then Dean is getting now while HIS story is fully disclosed and clearly in the foreground. The MoC arc held such tremendous potential, was so interesting in concept that I want to care about what's happening to him, but at the moment I can only think that since Dean himself set this whole thing up by walking blithely into the situation rather than face his brother about the angel possession, and taking on the blade without asking a single question about what he was getting into, I can't help feeling that Dean deserves what he's getting now. He wanted to punish himself by taking the Mark so how am I supposed to sympathize when he got what he asked for? So, I am trying to care what happens to him, I really am, but at the moment, I don't as much as I feel I should and that TPTB would probably like, and since there is absolutely NOTHING going on with the other half of this show, namely Sam, there is now not much to hold my interest. Sorry for the long winded answer; this blew up on me!
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2014-05-17 14:32
Sorry nappi815, but I disagree. I think we are supposed to sympathise with Dean, and sympathise greatly. If we were not then we would not have only Dean’s POV again this season. We would not have shot after shot of him looking forlorn, or miserable, or shocked at what Sam says. We would see him giving some thought to how Sam feels about what happened to him. We would have more scenes of Sam explaining himself to anyone. We would have exposition of how negatively Dean’s actions affected Sam. Instead what we got was the effect on Sam being minimised, and the effect on Dean being maximised. Sam says something, Dean mishears and that being what is brought up time and time again so that is what people remember; not what was said, but what Dean heard.

Dean has being doing the dark for seasons now but all the incidents you mentioned are moot in relation to Deans inner ‘monster’ that has to be tackled, because nothing is ever made of them. Sure, he killed Amy, but what of it? She was a monster, and there was no negative outcome (ie, what happened to Jacob) to his actions. In fact, he put his actions on Sam for that, saying that he had to do it because Sam couldn’t. At the end of the episode, Sam was the one who ended up apologising. Sure, he wasn't hunting and having barbeques etc while Sam was in hell, but nobody ever mentioned it so nothing was ever made of it. Sure, he kept Benny from Sam, but then Benny turns out to seemingly be the bestest vampire that ever lived so nothing was made of it. In fact, what Dean did is lost in the light of what Sam did. Dean sent the text, and put the responsibility for it on Sam. Dean lies constantly, but it’s never given as much focus as when Sam lies to him so nothing is made of Dean’s lies. Dean chooses an angel and a vampire over Sam but because he denies he did it, nothing is made of it. In fact, we get a big speech from Dean about how much he sacrifices ‘for’ Sam (so that should be reason enough for Sam to live). He didn’t try to get Castiel out of Purgatory, but that was turned around to make it Castiels choice, despite the fact that Dean believed he was responsible for letting him there and doing nothing, so nothing was ever made of Dean’s actions here. I think it was actually presented as him caring too much, as his decision to have Sam possessed was. Even last episode, Dean calls dictatorship, but it comes after Sam gets on his case about the blade so the sympathy lies with Dean. In other words, if Sam had just shut his mouth, Dean wouldn’t have said what he did. He attacks the female angel, but only after she says that Dean is a killer, so he was almost driven to it by the ‘mean’ things she said. The show never lets Dean’s actions stand on their own and the absolution in relation to his actions is endless. So when Dean starts coming out with the ‘I’m poison’ or ‘I’m a killer etc’, the words don’t tie up with how his actions are presented. On the contrary, those words evoke pity for Dean and the consequences of his actions are forgotten. In other words, Dean’s dark is not presented as being ‘bad’, so there is nothing to conquer.

If Carver does want to end the vicious repetitive cycle of making the same mistakes over and over again, then he would also give some time to the other side, as it were; he hasn’t. We’re two seasons in since Carver first started talking about maturity, and so far we've had nada. On the contrary, when Sam takes action to break that cycle, he’s condemned for it. Any explanation that Sam gives for his actions is given off screen so how can the audience decide for itself if it is, in fact, justifiable or maturity? Hell, even Bobby, whose idea it was in the first place, didn’t back what Sam did. How is Carver going to be able to sell breaking that endless cycle if he refuses to even have other characters support it? This notion of breaking the destructive cycle isn’t something you can just shove into the last 2 minutes of a season finale or whatnot and expect the audience to buy what you’re selling. It needs constant and consistent reinforcement and the show hasn’t given that. Sure, some fans have made valiant efforts to explain it, and have done so well, but what they come up with is never supported by what is shown on screen, because nothing is shown on screen. Secondly, the bulk of viewers are not going to go to huge efforts to understand a character and his actions, they pretty much just take what they get. Thirdly, it’s been two years since the idea of maturity was presented. It will probably be two and a half, maybe even three years before the maturity end game comes into play and that is, quite simply, far too long. Too much time will have passed and too much momentum lost since the idea was introduced to be able to deal with it satisfactorily.

The same applies with their relationship. All the show is doing is piling crap upon crap, with no signs of it coming to an end. That can’t be fixed with a quick hug and an ‘all is forgiven’.

I do like the idea that what they are aiming for is 'maturity, and I would love to see it. It would make for a great story, but the actual telling of that story has been abysmal, to such an extent that it's questionable as to whether that is the story they are trying to tell at all. The shoe on the other foot scenario only applies when they both get to do it. So far, Dean is trying every pair of Sam's Louboutin's and Sam is tiptoeing around, hiding in corners, in his bare feet. It's been like this for two seasons (and beyond), so it's hard to see that they will change that formula next season to get that other side.
# Jo1027 2014-05-17 21:44
Thank you Tim. You've stated my position eloquently.
# Alice 2014-05-20 00:17
E, thanks for your comment! There's a reason Sam's story in season four played out way different than Dean's this season. Because Sam's story was written way better. It came in a season where there was a clear plan and natural progression as to how it all played out. Creatively is was the best season of the show. That's what happens when a complex character spiral is handled by writers that actually care about that sort of thing and know their characters well. We did see how much Dean was struggling with the Mark of Cain in "Meta Fiction." That is the equivalent of Sam's crisis in "The Monster of The End of This Book." The key is that struggle needs to be consistently there week after week. It hasn't been for Dean while it was with Sam. That's why S9 is having such issues and if it wasn't for an actor like Jensen, none of the MOC crap would be sellable to the audience.

The fact that Dean is now relishing the MOC and the First Blade is very scary, just like when the desire for power from the demon blood overtook Sam. We saw Sam experience that doubt and regret in the S4 season finale, so I'm hoping some of Dean's human side comes through in the S9 finale. The point of the story is more compelling if we see those signs that he's not too far gone. If he is, then it just becomes a depressing an unwatchable story, much like this episode! I am Jeremy Carver's biggest fan when he's a writer. I know he'll do these characters justice. I just wish he wasn't the only writer on staff capable of doing so.
# Lynn 2014-05-17 12:01
Thoughtful analysis, Alice. I'm clinging to the Mark of Cain storyline that Jensen has sold so well, hoping that will bring enough gravitas to the finale to leave me the sobbing mess I usually am. But the pacing this season has been excruciating, and it almost doesn't seem like we *should* be at the finale with that kind of lead-up.
# Alice 2014-05-20 00:25
Thanks Lynn! I was waiting for my S9 equivalent of "When The Levee Breaks," which is one of my favorite episodes. That had Sam struggling in a deeply emotional and physical way by facing his inner demons and Dean trying to hold it all together with Bobby. This should have been that episode. The whole precursor to the big MOC showdown. Instead Sam and Castiel were actually trying to speculate what was wrong with Dean (duh!) and Sam stormed off to his bedroom mad like a child when Dean got mean. It's inexplicable the missed opportunities with the MOC storyline.
Are You Kidding?
# Are You Kidding? 2014-05-20 06:17
I was waiting for my S9 equivalent of "When The Levee Breaks," which is one of my favorite episodes. That had Sam struggling in a deeply emotional and physical way by facing his inner demons and Dean trying to hold it all together with Bobby.
Once again, you've nailed the point - this has been done. It was done justifiably and well, showing clearly how Sam thought about himself and his brother, and funnily enough, those issues were resolved for the character. Just as Dean accepted in Swan Song that he had to let go of being his brother's keeper if it was Sam's choice to take Lucifer into the cage. Done. Resolved. Unless Metatron's re-writing of history began before season 6, thus negating everything the brothers had already been through and thought about, there isn't a solid story reason for the constant regurgitation of earlier seasons - oh, except that the writers believe that the fans have the attention spans of gnats and want the same old conflicts played over and over, now from this brother, now from that one.

Is it really so hard to come up with something new? Something, perhaps, that arises from the deeper issues of responsibility and how Sam and Dean feel about themselves after the years of sacrificing and compromising principles, after trying and failing to atone? I thought the briefly run thread of Sam feeling that hunting could include something more than just each other and the losses in S8 was a solid start, particularly in view of Dean's certainty that it couldn't, the best they could (he could) hope for was to die in the fight, a gun in his hand. Of course, it was dropped without a ripple a few episodes later.

Vis a vis, the question of Carver's three-year plan. I haven't heard that, but what I did hear at the beginning of this season was Carver telling the media that they would have no plan this season - no over-arcing storyline, that they were going throw things in the air and see what stuck. How, exactly, is having no plan a part of a three-year story arc? Is it just me? Am I not understanding something? Is it semantics? Did he not mean it? I mean, come on, either there is a plan or there isn't, you can't have it both ways.
# dashnjo 2014-05-17 23:22
I agree with a lot of what you had to say Alice but i still overall liked the episode even if it left me screaming "No Dean!" at the end and worrying about the boys and Cas. But, yeah, there still isn't a clear picture of what's really at stake and that's worrisome. OK, Dean is in danger of losing himself to the Mark of of Cain but that was introduced in First Born (episode 11) and Sam and Cas should have discussed more about how Dean is acting plus Cas says in The Man Who Would be King that he remembers many things and one of those things was Cain and Abel so shouldn't he know more about it? Just seems like there hasn't been the slow buildup and it's a little disconcerting. And, yeah, obviously Metatron is a baddie and the angels being on earth isn't really a good thing and of course Cas wants to stop and the boys do as well, partially it seems because of what Metatron had Gadreel do to Kevin and maybe because Cas is actually asking for their help and he's their friend/family so they want to help but what is Metatron's end game? He hasn't been an outright threat to the boys and, so far, hasn't made any threats towards humanity so that seems kinda forced to me at the moment. Carver said at the SDCC last year that it was going to be just chaos with the angels on earth and, yeah, there have been humans tricked into letting themselves be used as vessels and many of them have died but the only real chaos has been with the brothers and their relationship. Yeah, Metatron needs to go down ... but the plan just isn't there.

And, yeah, why even bring Tessa back just to off her? I liked her character and when I heard she was going to be in the episode I was happy, then I heard she was at the heart of the angel conspiracy against Cas I was scared and then she's dead after maybe 5 minutes of screentime (I'm guessing there) when I was expecting her character to have more of an impact on the story. It could have been any of the Cas's followers (wasn't surprised Metatron had a mole amongst his followers at all ... of course he would send someone in) it really didn't need to be her. Then it makes me wonder where is Death? If his reapers are so upset because they can't do their job why isn't he going after Metatron? He said he would reap God so what's one arrogant angel? if Tessa hadn't been there I wouldn't even have thought that.

Anyways, I'm sure next week will bring everything together and tear it apart at the end because this show has a habit of leaving you hanging on a huge cliffhanger with one or both of the boys in pain and Cas doesn't fare any better than they do. I have my theories just like I did last year but the only thing I was right about last year was that Cas would be human at the end of it. No freaking idea about the rest! I didn't even guess what actually happened! I know Carver has said he has a plan to get them through to season 10, I just wish the episodes would build during the season instead of floundering around ... but I'll watch because I'm invested.
# E 2014-05-20 09:06
and Sam and Cas should have discussed more about how Dean is acting plus Cas says in The Man Who Would be King that he remembers many things and one of those things was Cain and Abel so shouldn't he know more about it?
I agree… When Tessa saw that Dean was carrying the First Blade her appalled responses to Dean was "What did you do?" making it seem like she knew all about the Mark and it's potential for evil. Why does Cas know less than a B grade reaper (reaper angel, whatever) than a warrior angel, one of God's favorites, who's been around since the dawn of man, in other words why is Cas so dumb? I'll tell you why… to keep us, the audience, somehow 'in the dark' about the effect of the MoC. But it isn't working, because we know all about the MoC, AND it's effects on Dean, and we know what its supposed to do as well, as we've been shown everything about the Mark except the ultimate cost in wearing the Mark. So, having no one ask anything about the Mark and what it means to wear it, to have none of the characters who SHOULD know about the Mark offer up any information about it makes ZERO sense and doesn't build tension, it destroys it through implausibility. The fact that Sam hasn't gone to Cas to grill him about the Mark episodes ago (or to Cain or by scouring the MoL library) and the fact that Cas seems to know nothing about it is ludicrous.
# percysowner 2014-05-20 09:25
I do wish that Sam and Cas had discussed the Mark more. They're not discussing it was obviously part of keeping the effects of the Mark hidden. The writers didn't want Dean to know how bad it could get, so no one could talk about how bad it could get, or they would look like real idiots for not telling Dean. It's like keeping the drinking of demon blood secret for most of season four or Sam being soulless for half of season six. We knew Sam was behaving differently but did not know the underlying cause. Here we know the underlying cause, but the writers wanted to keep the changes it wrought on the down low.

That said, I have some trouble saying Sam hasn't done enough. We saw him researching Cain and Abel within 2 episodes of finding out Dean had the Mark. The thing is it's hard to find much information on something that has LITERALLY affected only one person and that happened before written history. Add to that the fact that Cain hung with demons and human information on the Mark, Cain and how Dean getting the Mark is almost impossible. Plus Cain murdered all the demons that could have talked about the Mark, except for Abaddon and Sam couldn't exactly ask her out for a nice cup of tea and a little gossip about Cain and his Mark.

Cain was clear that once Dean and Crowley left he was going to pull up stakes and disappear again, so I don't blame Sam for not finding him. Would I have liked scenes of Sam looking? Well yeah, but he wasn't going to find him because Cain had remained hidden since at least Collette had died. I do find Sam not trying to grill Cas about the Mark to be a real issue. Cas is appalled Dean took the Mark, then walks away and Sam doesn't call him up and ask? Just silly. Prior to that, Cas wasn't relating with Sam and Dean and didn't know about the Mark. We saw the monolog with Cas talking about how long he has been around, Sam and Dean didn't. Sam was also possessed by Gadreel, who left the impression that the angels didn't have the whole story on his part in letting the snake into Eden. That lingering impression may have made Sam feel that Cas might not know the truth about other things. Even so, once Cas became aware of the Mark, they should have had a scene showing Sam questioning Cas. Or at least a scene with Cas brushing Sam off because he doesn't have the time to deal with it.
# Jaytee 2014-05-18 14:52
Hi Alice,

I'm sorry to hear you were less than impressed with this episode. It really was a love/hate one. I tend to agree that the pacing this season has been off, and that's spawned the other issues you mentioned, such as the clumsy treatment of Dean's MOC. It felt like nothing happened for like 8 episodes in a row, and several hiatuses didn't help matters. Moreover, I have trouble getting into the Angel stories at the best of times, and like you, I'm having particular trouble caring about Metatron and this latest war, aside from wanting Heaven re-opened.

Naturally (given that this is one of the Sammiest SPN sites on the web :p) I take some exception to how you're seeing Sam at this point. I don't think Sam is "non-reacting" to Dean's issues, and I think a bit part of the point is that he ISN'T acting as Dean did in S4. Sam has learned from experience. He's trying to keep Dean close, trying to keep the lines of communication open, trying to get him to talk. He's been visibly worried on several occasions. When Dean was confrontational with Sam in S4, Sam at that time responded by becoming more secretive about what he was doing, driving more wedges between the brothers. He's trying to avoid that, and so far has been pretty well in the loop about everything Dean's been up to with the Blade (even if he learns some of it after the fact). This way, he was able to do an end run around Dean torturing in King of the Damned, able to gently ask Dean to leave the Blade behind in this ep (even though it didn't work), able to mediate between Dean and Cas, able to talk Dean down after killing Abaddon, etc. While Dean is still deteriorating, Sam has had some marginal success with this approach. He's still there and in the know, able to work with Dean and mitigate his worse moments.

As for Sam walking off at the end- I've seen a few people struggle with this, but most get it. To start with, what few seem to be mentioning is that Dean turned around and walked away first. Secondly, Sam's facial expression is more worried/freaked out than angry. Third, he and Dean were back in the same room, like 5 minutes later. When you consider how triggering Dean's spiel must have been for Sam - the new John Winchester, ready to run Sam's life again, touching on Sam's issues of control and infantilization - Sam really could have handled things a lot worse. I figured he concluded that Dean was beyond reasoning at that point, further confrontation would make things worse, and so he may as well drop off his bag and try again when things were calmer. The fact that he and Dean were exchanging looks at the end, the look on Sam's face when Dean dove for Gadreel, the fact that Sam jumped to grab Dean (despite him having literally no reason to want Gadreel alive at this point) told me what I needed to know about Sam at that point :).

Not to say that this season has been perfect, or the writing/pacing, or Sam or his own writing- but TBH I've just loved the way they've had Sam handling Deans MOC issue, even if I wish he'd be a little less "silent" on the whole matter.
# Alice 2014-05-20 00:30
Thanks Jaytee! I'm a very big Sam fan and I don't know, I just don't think Sam is doing enough. Sam's always been hard to read. He internalizes everything. But just being worried for how many episodes has gotten tiring for me. I think you hit the nail on the head, I wish he'd be less silent about it and do something more. I guess we'll see what happens in the finale.
# Gwen 2014-05-20 04:54
Well, according to Jared's latest interview Jared doesn't think Sam has been doing enough either.

Rant ahead. Those folk who are happy with S9 probably won't want to read my ranty ramblings.

Despite enjoying some episodes a lot, overall, I have really struggled with this season. Even moreso than S7 or the first half of S8. My biggest issue is the Sam POV. Or, rather, the lack of Sam POV. The last time we had decent Sam POV was way back in S3 but this year, IMO, has been worse than ever. I was really pleased when we found out that Dean was getting the mytharc this season as I thought this would mean that Sam gets the insight/POV/emo tional arc. In past seasons Dean has got this when Sam got the mytharc. But this hasn't happened. Sam has been mostly silent. Why haven't we heard Sam's thoughts and feelings. Or seen him actually reacting to something? Can we not have him being knocked unconscious or sent out of the room or just up and leaving with an angsty expression on his face? Can he be given some actual dialogue? There's been next to no attention paid to his feelings about being possessed by Gadreel, his brief chat to Castiel way back in First Born was more about Castiel with Sam looking angsty; his one POV line got cut in Meta Fiction and he got sent away from Gadreel (and I was so looking forward to him confronting Gadreel). Yeah, sure Jared excels at the whole facial expression stuff but some actual dialogue would be nice too. Why has Sam's POV been relegated to angsty glances?
Lack of a sympathetic POV/writing for Sam despite being the victim has been hard to swallow and Sam's silence has been maddening. I get that he wasn't going to talk to Dean, they needed the brotherly conflict and non communication to continue to fuel Dean's dark storyline but couldn't Sam at least have talked to someone else?? Couldn't he have talked to Jodie? Regarding The MOC why haven't Sam and Castiel been discussing what's happening with Dean? Why haven't we seen Sam doing more? It would have taken a split second for the cameras to pan over Jared's shoulder so we see Sam researching The MOC on the laptop. As Amyh wrote upthread we all know Sam would be doing more. Why won't the writers write for Sam? I really miss Sera Gamble. She wrote Sam beautifully. I wish Carver would write more episodes as he writes Sam wonderfully too. But I'll shut up about this now and save the rest for your Deeper Look At Sam Winchester article.

But it's not just the writing of Sam, for me it's the writing overall. Yeah, the pacing is off but that's very often been an issue with Show; also, it seems to me (and this is just my personal viewpoint ) that, generally, the writing doesn't have the emotional depths that it once had. Where are the episodes like WTLB, IKWYDLS and PONR? Or episodes such as Hello Cruel World and Death's Door? Although perhaps it's just me wearing the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia.

As for the rest of the season I agree that the MOC story has been handled clumsily. The writers could have mined this storyline for every bit of angst, drama and action throughout these past weeks and weeks of episodes. Jensen has been great but the whole storyline could have been so much more.

As for the angel storyline, I've never been very interested in their stories but this year I have found the never ending angel wars almost impossible to get into. I lost interest in it all a long time ago.

I have been reading some interesting things about the finale and I am getting excited for it, something I didn't think would be possible a few weeks ago. I'm hoping for great things from Carver but even if it's brilliant I'm not sure it can salvage the season for me.
# E 2014-05-20 09:31
Lack of a sympathetic POV/writing for Sam despite being the victim has been hard to swallow and Sam's silence has been maddening. I get that he wasn't going to talk to Dean, they needed the brotherly conflict and non communication to continue to fuel Dean's dark storyline but couldn't Sam at least have talked to someone else??
Great post Gwen and I couldn't agree more! I particularly wanted to note the comment above as it made me think about how the brother conflict was handled in season 4. There seems to be some idea now that when the brothers are at odd with each other that they can't or shouldn't talk to one another, and I for one think that this is a HUGE mistake. In season 4, when the brothers were horribly and seemingly irrevocably conflicted they argued with EACH OTHER endlessly, for episodes over what their opposing views were, what there course of action should be, desperately trying to get the other one around to their POV and plan. There were intense an even violent confrontations: Metamorphosis, It's The Great Pumpkin, Sex and Violence: and heartfelt revelations: Family Remains, Monster Movie, Monster at the End of This Book, Afterschool Special etc…to frame the ongoing conflict. Why the current crop of writers feel that having the brothers NOT talk to each other about their conflict is reasonable or dramatically interesting is beyond me; it doesn't work.

If you don't mind my asking, where was the interview with Jared that you are referring to? I'd LOVE to read that. The J's are always saying that they are protective of their characters and I'd love to see that Jared is at least trying to fight some for Sam; God knows poor Sam needs a champion.
# Gwen 2014-05-20 10:10
Here you go, E.

There are some spoilers for the finale. Not really specific ones just talk about Sam's role in the finale. :)

That's so true about S4, we had Sam's dark arc and the boys' conflict but they still talked...and argued...and fought. We still got to hear them.
# Gwen 2014-05-20 10:10
Here you go, E.

There are some spoilers for the finale. Not really specific ones just talk about Sam's role in the finale. :)

That's so true about S4, we had Sam's dark arc and the boys' conflict but they still talked...and argued...and fought. We still got to hear them.
# swapnil 2014-05-23 05:25
Some where along the line two writers that have no respect for canon decided to make this happen and it’s sucked ever since. However, we have to accept that it is canon now, so I guess we’ll just call them angels of Death.
Reapers are actually called 'Angel of Death'. It was first revealed in FAITH, SEASON 1 EPISODE12 long before the whole lore of reapers in season 2 episode1 was revealed.