What can I say that hasn’t already been said? “The Foundry” was a well written, cohesive, dramatic tale that did everything in its power to effectively tell another chapter in the tragic yet heroic story of a family named Winchester. It hit all the right marks, had characters that were actually acting in character, and ran with two effective stories that both were strong from beginning to end.
Having said that, I still didn’t enjoy it.
I was at a loss these past few days, trying to figure out why this episode didn’t connect with me. Everything that makes an episode great was there on paper. Usually I’m very high on episodes with great writing and love to give credit where it is due. Once I gave it some thought though, the issue is really a continuation of what’s been bugging me all season so far. Tone. I realized that this shift to the more personal, “emotional” stories isn’t the kind of “Supernatural” I was hoping to see after all.
The Episode Worked
In breaking down the episode, there’s a lot of good things to say. Samantha Smith was nothing short of brilliant. She finally got a showcase worthy of her talents, aka a heartbreaking case of the week that could only be solved by a mother’s instinct. It was perfect for Mary, who decided to solve the case old school instead of following her son’s tactics of researching via Internet. She was smart, tough, and did things her own way instead following her sons’ methodical lead.
The B plot was even great. I loved Crowley and Castiel working together again. I’ve always believed their scenes are stronger when they’re together than apart. Something always seems to be missing when they have individual stories (aka they’re boring). When Rowena joined them in the end, it was even better. I’m easily on board with these three spending the whole rest of the season searching for Lucifer, with Sam and Dean joining for fun once in a while.
Heck, I was even enjoying the fact that the British Men of Letters was only vaguely mentioned and that Sam and Dean did try researching them in their archives. All that was found was an old letter that was mostly blacked out due to classified information. I caught that motorcycle though, which I took to be a clue of Mr. Ketch’s arrival and he’s following the Winchesters. The British MOL should definitely be taken in small doses and that’s exactly what we got.
The one cheap moment for me was Rowena’s quick elimination of Lucifer. I know, he’s not dead and will most certainly be back, but I was really loving Rick Springfield as Lucifer. His role was certainly hyped enough. Given the fact that his meatsuit was already starting to rot (good continuity there), something tells me that Springfield’s highly publicized stint is done. That really saddens me, because he had the role nailed and aging rock star really did have a nice ring for the Prince of Darkness. But yeah, I guess we’ll get more meatsuits, which doesn’t exactly thrill me. How many people have already gotten to play Lucifer? They want more?
However, Rowena’s spell was pretty cool and she proved that she is indeed the powerful, fearsome witch she’s always been made out to be. It’s amazing how many writers forget that and turn her into a cartoon character instead. Even without the Book of the Damned, she knows some tricks. I liked that Crowley showed some mild concern for her and Castiel’s call out on it was great. But honestly, if I’m going to remember this episode for anything, it’s Agents Beyonce and Z out on the road together. Yes, when those aliases were revealed, I do admit to laughing out loud quite a bit. Just when I think they run out of ways to show how clueless Castiel is with pop culture, they come up with a gem like this. Although, remember the days when Crowley actually drank nothing but Craig whiskey? Who thought it was a good idea to give him an umbrella drink habit? Just another way they keep neutering the King of Hell.
What Isn’t Working
So, why at the end did I click off this episode and decide that a re-watch was never happening? Why wasn’t I emotionally crushed at the end and bawling in tears over Sam and Dean’s latest setback and loss? I’m not going to dig deep into the analysis of Mary and her actions, mainly because I cannot top the brilliant job done by Nightsky in her recent “Threads.” Personally, I’m not sure I could go that deep. I can’t put myself into Mary’s shoes, even though I’m a mother myself. I would never leave my children no matter what, but asking yourself “What if you died and came back 30 years later?” is sort of like asking “What if I spontaneously combust?” It ain’t happening so why go through that kind of exercise?
Honestly, when I watched that scene as a long time viewer, I felt like I was being emotionally manipulated. Mary’s decision didn’t feel organic or right or follow any kind of progression. It felt like a contrived “shocking” plot twist written by writers that are desperate to create some sort of drama and tension. It reminded me of the whole Amy crap at the end of season seven’s “The Girl Next Door.” Sure, what we got was a well written scene and the acting was out of the freaking ballpark, but I still felt manipulated in the end. I had initial reservations about Mary’s return over the summer but she fit in so well in these three episodes that I held out hope that there was a real plan for her return. I hoped that they were going to run with this opportunity instead of waste it. So here it is episode three and she’s already gone. I know she will return, but that scene alone cheapened Mary’s resurrection for me. I’m not very interested at all in the fallout to come.
How many overly dramatic family setbacks and losses of Sam and Dean’s can I endure after twelve seasons? It’s especially tough when the previous episode ended with such a sweet moment between Sam and Mary. It’s only episode three. Why are we doing this “two steps forward, three steps back” crap already? Where’s the win or just basic forward movement? Where’s the good feeling from a good old fashioned kick ass family monster hunt? The Crowley/Castiel/Rowena story ended well, why did they have to pull the heartbreaking drama so soon? I expected this conversation to happen in a midseason finale, not now. I felt Mary’s decision was rushed and it didn’t add up.
The Red Headed Monster
The past four or five seasons have been VERY guilty of this and season twelve seems to be leading the charge. What fun is it to watch a show where it’s all setbacks and no hope is delivered? Despite Sam and Mary’s sweet scene last week, the ending of the three of them alone somberly struggling with their situations wasn’t exactly barn burning. It was freaking sad. I’m tired of my show making me freaking sad all the time.
I know things aren’t roses right now. The Winchesters definitely aren’t all smiles and joining each other in a chorus of “Everything is Awesome.” Heck, Sam should still be smarting from his whole being kidnapped and brutally tortured ordeal and yes, getting ripped from a Heavenly Paradise into the real world has to be a massive bummer for Mary. Then there’s Dean who…oh hell I’m not sure what’s up with Dean. The story, plain and simple, is being weighed down by too much drama. The show is taking itself way too seriously, especially for this point in the season. I should be pumped for what’s coming. I’m not.
I know I’m guilty of always going back to the first five season for examples, but it’s very obvious when watching the old DVDs that “Supernatural” was way more than a horror show. It was a blast to watch because it blended perfectly suspense, horror, action, humor and drama all surrounding a carefully plotted and unfolding mytharc. You never knew what you were going to get each week. The different types of stories we got were interesting and entertaining! Anyone remember the kick ass action, humor, and horror of “Nightshifter?” Where are those victories? Where is that type of edge of your seat action? Okay fine, that was an Edlund classic, so I’ll aim lower. Anyone remember “Yellow Fever”? Andrew Dabb should, he wrote it. Yep, we haven’t seen anything like that from him in a while.
Where’s the awesome, wise cracking, bad ass Dean Winchester we all know and love? Who is this guy that has been on my TV this season and why is he calling himself Dean? Where’s the suave sexy beast we got in “Monster Movie?” What happened to the brothers teasing each other and having some light hearted moments in between the suspense and horror? “Hell House” anyone? Remember when this used to be a weekly thing, not a once a year thing? The brotherly fun hasn’t been gone for years, proved by “Baby” last season. Everything doesn’t have to be a “The French Mistake” but think about it, when was the last time we got something really funny or crazy like “The French Mistake?”
Or how about a story that catches your interest early and keep moving all episode long? Remember when we didn’t lose interest so quickly? That used to be the norm, especially with a Jeremy Carver script (“In the Beginning,” “Mystery Spot,” “Point of No Return”). Season six even had several episodes like this even if they all didn’t blend together well. Speaking of season six, I heard the Jefferson Starship come on the radio the other day and I died laughing, thinking about “Mommy Dearest.” Has an episode done that for me recently? “Baby” is the only one that comes to mind. The show has become too focused on delivering moments instead of delivering memorable moments.
For me personally, the smaller stories of this season has also drastically slowed the pacing, weighing down the tone of a show that’s meant to be popcorn entertainment, thus leaving the episodes feeling more sluggish than intriguing. I’ve been checking the clock often lately to see when the end was coming. I never used to. I know that comparing what we get with the earlier seasons isn’t fair since it hasn’t been that show in a while, but when watching becomes more of a chore than enjoyment, something is very wrong.
I digress though, because maybe this overwrought drama is what the viewers want. If it’s working for most viewers then it’s all good and label me a heretic. I’m cool with that. But this is my escapism and if I want to be this depressed, I just need to watch the coverage of the current presidential election. So far what I’m seeing in season twelve isn’t standing out and I just can’t take any more sadness.
I refrain from giving a grade this week just because I’m letting my overall personal enjoyment cloud what was a well done episode. Robert Berens should be very proud of this effort. But I really hope the mood of this season will change soon. I just don’t think this much strife is doing much for a show that built a stellar reputation for having a great blend of humor, action, suspense and drama. I know this show will never go back to what it once was, but I’m still holding out for better.