Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Starting With This Episode: Review, Supernatural S10 E9, "The Things We Leave Behind"

After last year's mid-season finale, "Holy Terror," I was a sobbing mess. Even though there were plot holes and messiness, Gadreel killing Kevin and then leaving after telling Dean his brother was gone, OMG DEAN CRYING IT KILLED ME.

This season's mid-season finale?  Meh.  Really meh.  Written by Andrew Dabb and directed by Guy Norman Bee, "Things We Leave Behind" was a great example of being out of ideas and sloppy writing.

Even though I should know better than to take the promos seriously, I foolishly looked forward to MOC Dean making a reappearance.  One of the unpleasant effects of watching the promos is seeing the footage in context, causing both disappointment and anger.  The laughing diabolically?  Dean laughing (badly) at the Three Stooges.  Dean in a room strewn full of dead bodies?  A dream sequence.  Fuck you, Warner Brothers promo hacks.

Like last week, most of the episode did not involve the Winchesters.  Unlike last week, the A-plot was a derivative, dull, badly written rehash of any typical Law & Order: SVU but without Olivia.  I like Olivia.  Olivia would be kick-ass...sorry, my mind wandered.  When you start thinking Olivia Benson could kick the Winchesters's collective asses, that is NOT a good sign.

We start with a repeat of the opener of "Annie Alex Alexis Anne," with an angry teenager being pulled down an antiseptic hall and locked up.  Only this time it's Claire Novak, Jimmy's daughter, and instead of juvie, it's a group home.  The door opens, and Castiel enters, looking adorable.  He looked so adorable during this episode that I didn't hear how bad the dialogue was until rewatch.  Claire is righteously pissed.

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"It's because of YOU that I have this ridiculous hairstyle!"

Cas wants to apologize, not realizing the humans can hold major grudges.  Claire has every right to be homicidal.  Her father is dead (answering the question of what happened to Jimmy).  Her mother ran off to "find herself," although that makes no sense given that when we last saw them, Claire and her mom were probably going to be found and tortured by demons.  I would have had an easier time with the notion that Mrs. Novak handed Claire a lunchbox, put her on her grandmother's doorstep and said "see ya!", roaring off in a car to live with a far-away Incan tribe.  That makes no sense, but neither does Castiel busting her out and them awkwardly bonding.  SHE'S LOOKING AT HER DEAD FATHER'S FACE!  SHE SHOULD BE CURLED UP IN THE FETAL POSITION, WHIMPERING!  Fuck you, Supernatural.

Meanwhile, at the bunker, Jensen Ackles is demonstrating an actor's truism: it's easy to cry, but incredibly hard to laugh.  I offer as evidence:

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Doesn't it look more like someone bit down on his penis? 

He's watching the Three Stooges.  Sam joins him, giving Dean a grilled cheese sandwich.  Dean is ravenous.  He eats during the entire episode.  Usually the warning is: DEAN IS NOT EATING THAT CHEESEBURGER.  Now?  Not even kapok is safe.  Sam gives him an uneasy glance, and goes back to reading The Catcher In The Rye, which he's been meaning to get to for years.  What?  It's more interesting than what he's actually (not) doing.

Cas summons the Winchesters when Claire steals his wallet and takes off.  Claire is not an emergency.  “An emergency is a dead body or a wigged-out angel or the apocalypse, take 3.” I agree, Dean, let's blow this hot dog stand.  No?  Shit.

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The reason Sam's hair is so godawful is that they hope you'll be distracted by that and not by his absence from the script.

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Castiel and Claire say stuff.  Doesn't matter what.

Castiel and Claire do above-mentioned bonding, then Claire and her awful hairdo are gone with the wind.  She runs back to some dude in glasses named Randy, who manages to have not only no personality, but a degree of minus personality which is quite impressive.  He owes loan sharks, there's a kid in a Weiner Hut outfit, blah blah blah.  Bad Randy asks Claire to knock over a liquor store.

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Meanwhile, in Mildly Interesting Land, Crowley talks to Rowena, his mother.  It's a lame scene. Prior to letting her out, Crowley bitches to Gerald (a demon I love, which means he's dead meat):
“She was a horrible mother. Did I tell you the time she almost traded me for three pigs? Three! I was an attractive child, I could juggle. I was worth five pigs at least.”

Once Rowena appears, however, the dialogue takes a downward turn.  She left him when he was eight!  Poor widdle Crowley.  That's the best the show could come up with?  Abandonment issues?  Gerald has a MUCH better issue with his mother--she burned him with cigarettes.  Definite points to Gerald.  Get over it, Crowley, you little pussy.  The only good moment is Rowena admitting that Crowley was conceived during a winter solstice orgy.

Another thing: why is Hell so chintzy? I'm inclined to think there have been some major budget cuts on this show, probably to pay The Flash budget.  That show looks amazing.

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The grip on the set wrote this dialogue.

Gerald takes her back, then decides for no good reason to kill her.  Damn it!  Crowley asks him mother to join him.  Didn't this show used to star two brothers?

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Good-bye Gerald.  You would have made a good sidekick.

Castiel and the Winchesters repair to a tiki bar.  Dean's voice is so low Jensen Ackles is going to need a larynx transplant.  They talk about fathers; Dean tells a funny anecdote about going to a club when underage and his father dragging him out.  But when I'm hoping Dean will repeat (from "Dream A Little Dream") that his father was an obsessed bastard, Dean sings his praises, joined by Sam.  Fuck you, John Winchester.

Bad Randy has been cornered by the loan-sharks, led by a stereotype in a leather jacket and gold chains.  Stereotype demands Randy pay back or else.  Bad Randy hands over Claire.  Stereotype takes Claire upstairs for the obligatory near-rape scene.  We know she won't be raped because this isn't Law & Order: SVU, which I don't even watch but I'm beginning to think I should.

She fights back, but Castiel blasts open the door and takes Claire.  Castiel, Sam  Aren't you leaving, Dean?

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Sam is only thinking of his copy of Catcher In The Rye that he left in the car

The Stereotype and his gang beat up Dean.  Why isn't Sam in there?  "Holden Caulfield, you poor misunderstood kid. I get you, man."  The Stereotype doesn't realize beating the shit out of a guy who used to be a demon? Not a good idea.  Sam stops reading Catcher In The Rye when he hears the commotion inside.

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Look, Dean!  Sometimes dreams DO come true!

Sam, freaked, begs Dean to tell Sam he had no choice.  No can do, says Dean's expression.

So, after slogging through the previous hour, there are two good minutes at the end.

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Jeez, Jared's hands are as big as Jensen's head!

Random Thoughts:

I can't help it.  When the guys bond or reminisce, they look too old to be in this universe.  They make self-referential jokes about it. It makes me uncomfortable.

Wouldn't it have been twenty times as cool if Sam came in, jumped his brother, and restrained him the way he and Cas did last season?  Wouldn't it be cool if Sam had done...anything?  Fuck you, Jeremy Carver.

Next year: Dean goes off the deep end, Charlie re-appears, and Metatron is back!  I love Metatron.  He is such a joyous asshole.  Even if everything rapidly turns to shit, Metatron will be fun to watch.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Review, Supernatural Season 10, Episode 8, "Hibbing 911"

"Hibbing 911," written by Jenny Klein and directed by Tim Andrews, is a light, entertaining comedy involving an odd-couple of female sheriffs. Kim Rhodes and Brianna Buckmaster have real chemistry as no-bullshit Jody Mills and ray-of-sunshine Donna. 

Unfortunately, the episode also has the Winchester brothers. They are real wet blankets. Honestly, they are useless except to remind us at the end that the Mark of Cain is screwing up Dean. Not as badly as it did last season, but hey, we couldn't have more than a couple of episodes as a crazed demon, could we? I sure could have. Damn, they are boring. They might have been neutered, for all I know. (Note to self: never watch an early season episode before writing one of these.)

 Sam gets knocked out in every fight, the brothers get tied up, they do NOTHING inspired to mess up the monsters. Do they even bother with story boards, or they just xerox the same one over and over? When Sam was possessed by Gadreel, he had some pretty impressive fights, including when he and a demon crashed through a glass door, or when he was thrown into a clothes closet. Now, as I mentioned in my previous review, one punch and he's out. Come ON!! I hate to bring up early seasons, but...BAMF Sam, Research Sam, snarky to his brother Sam, angry Sam...I miss Sam.

Meanwhile, the Mark of Cain seems to have changed its power from Dean needing to kill to Dean needing to rub his arm once in a while and be kind of tense. Honestly, I don't have anything else to say about this episode.

Sheriff Jody Mills arrives at a Sheriffs' Retreat. She doesn't want to be there, in part because she's worried about leaving her former vampire daughter, Alex. One of the best running gags is Sheriff Mills arguing with Alex over the phone about not throwing a kegger in her surrogate mother's absence.

Once she gets there, she is greeted by an overpowering dose of sweetness in the form of Sheriff Donna, first seen last season in "Purge".

Donna's ex-husband, Doug, is also there.  Jody is partnered with Donna for the weekend. Jody can't get over how masochistic Donna is about her ex-husband. They sit at the bar, and Donna looks into the next room, where Doug is dancing with a pretty sheriff. Jody: “Honestly Donna, I just met the guy, but Doug seems like kind of a dick." Donna: “But he was my dick."

When Dean and Sam arrive, in their Fed suits, Jody gives Dean a hug, but saves the real juice for Sam--as who wouldn't?

"Don't mind us, we're contractually obligated to be here."
"But this episode would be so much better if you weren't!"
"Sorry, no can do."

Dean: “How’s Alex holding up?" Jody: “Awesome, already head of the cheer-leading squad." Sam: “Wow, really?" Jody: “No Sam, she smokes grass under the bleachers. But at least she’s not luring men to their deaths."

The plot: a group of vampires (who, for reasons unknown because it certainly wasn't necessary), eat all of the victims' flesh off their bones. What the fuck? Just go with it, if the people in charge don't care, why should I? Even if in the previous episode where Jody rescued Alex from her vampire family, they stuck close to the established lore?

Sam and Dean show up, Donna sees what she thinks is her boss killing someone, they all get caught and tied up in a barn...what? Oh, excuse me, I fell asleep.

Dean frees himself and goes wild on a couple of vamps, and Donna beheads the head vamp, an annoying teenager who's thousands of years old but never learned not to stop whining.

Donna has seen her sheriff friend with vamp teeth. And now needs a change of pants
"Donna, I understand.  I too once needed a change of pants."
Sam dutifully lets himself be knocked out by somebody smaller...again.

Meet the world's most annoying vampire

"Oh, crap, the writers think I'm Sam!"

Look! Even when he moves, that hair ain't going anywhere!

"I'm fine! The Mark of Cain isn't screwing with me at all! No, my nose isn't growing!"

"Gee, Dean, would be more interesting if I argued with you, but I'm busy being set decoration."

Random Thoughts

What are they doing with Sam's hair this season? It barely movies! Why don't they put him in one of these beanies he wears off-camera?

Is it me, or are Jensen and Jared barely trying anymore? They must be so tired of doing the same crap every season, even if they're not allowed to say so.

Next week: the midseason finale, wherein we are promised all sorts of awesome stuff. Yeah, right.