My reactions to the two episodes can be summed up by:
Second episode, "Hello, Cruel World":
Third episode, "The Girl Next Door":
[This is a real vanity plate that I actually saw. I think Arizona might be the mecca of weird vanity plates and weird bumper stickers. One of the many things that makes you say:
This kind of thing would never happen in Baja Arizona.]
Episodes one and two made me (more or less) feel this about the Winchesters:
Episode Three made me feel this.
“What is WRONG with you people? Huh?! I thought you were supposed to be FRIENDS! I thought you were supposed to LOVE each other! Your love is WEIRD! And TOXIC! And it destroys EVERYTHING IT TOUCHES!” (via http://msdaytime.tumblr.com/)
Anyway, in terms of the second episode: I enjoyed it, I really did. I do think my expectations were artificially heightened because of this awesome preview:
ALSO EMERGENCY BROADCAST ALERT: Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles interrupt this belated recap to be extra charming (weeks and weeks ago):
[I'm honestly not sure who I'm more in love with in this interview -- I think it actually might be the interviewer, because she's so obviously amusing herself with her own questions.]
Anyway, after the season premiere and the above clips I think my episode expectations got stratospheric. And the episode, though good, was not quite stratospheric. Imma break it down, pro and con style, entirely ripped off from i09
CON: We didn't get to see more Crazy!Cas!
Episode One, "Meet the New Boss" awesomely ended with the Leviathans, ancient monsters from Purgatory, taking over Cas, even though he was all cute and regretful and wanted to barf them back to whence they came. They claimed Cas was "dead" and seemed delightfully nuts:
So I was all excited for this "Cas acts nuts! Misha Collins gets to act all Not!Cas!" But...it was not to be. Before Leviastiel gets to do anything cool, he starts dripping black goo and Dean points out that there are too many monsters in there -- "Your vessel's gonna explode, ain't it?" So Leviastiel lumbers off to the sewers.
He ends up oozing into the public water supply and explodes in a black cloud that totally explains the title credits (exploded Cas, sure, but also-- gooey black monsters exploding into water system).
PRO: Dean saves Cas's trenchcoat.
We didn't see Cas's dead body, and I'm pretty durn sure he ain't "dead" --yes, the other Leviathans escaped into the water supply, but wouldn't the Boss Leviathan (and throughout the episode, the other Leviathans refer to a "Boss" who is organizing everyone) keep an angel's vessel around? It's established in this episode that Leviathans can mimic/clone/take over anyone's body, and when they do that, they know what that person knows. So Cas would be pretty useful in that regard -- he's a human body that has crazy amounts of supernatural/heavenly knowledge! I guess they could just clone him and eat him? But that makes me sad to think about.
Also, Dean folding up Cas's trenchcoat makes me sad.
PRO: Maybe if Cas comes back, he'll have another outfit!
As Dean folded up Cas's trench coat, I could feel a great disturbance and practically hear millions of CasGirls cry out in terror on Tumblr: that's all the send-off he gets?? And at first I was pissed, too, but then I thought -- with that little of a farewell, and no body, he's MOST DEFINITELY coming back and....maybe he'll get to wear something besides the trench coat!
The most fabulous Fug Girls share my love/hate of the CW, though with a different focus, and are currently recapping Ringer and Hart of Dixie. Recapping Supernatural would be singularly pointless for them, however, as their site is clothes focused, and recapping Supernatural with an emphasis of the clothes would go something like this: "And then they wore flannel again...I'm pretty sure the same flannel as last week, actually...and next week, more flannel...." Sam wearing a v-neck shirt or Dean ceasing to wear his leather jacket are pretty much epic events in the Supernatural costume world, and it says something that I'm very excited that after three and a half years a character might possibly wear a second outfit.
Anyway, in terms of Cas coming back or not -- I absolutely thinks he's coming back. Just like I was completely sure Bobby wasn't dead at the end of this episode. I even made a chart!
CON: When established that the Leviathans go through water, they play "Black Water" by the Doobie Brothers.
Get it? The water turns BLACK when the Leviathans take over! OH BLACK WATER! GETTIT???
|Thanks to here for this!|
The Leviathans take over a little girl. And it's creepy! Cause she's evil! And also a little girl! Sigh. They even made fun of the fact that Supernatural overuses creepy children back in season 5, when a nit-picky Supernatural fan got killed by creepy ghost children after complaining that Supernatural overuses creepy ghost children. Huh. Anywhoodle. Lots of creepy children. Just saying!
PRO: Weird Winchester domesticity.
I enjoyed the little nods to How Weird the Winchesters are -- we see Dean's version of disinfecting a cut on Sam's hand: pouring liquor on it. We see what they're living on (bottled water and power bars -- smart! No public water!). Part of the premise of the show is that they live on the road, essentially living out of hotels and their car (and more recently, Bobby's house). They have their own set of rules for basically everything, and I just enjoy seeing little moments of daily life that they take for granted (hustling pool to make money, Dean eating crappy food at diners while Sam orders salads, car trunk full of weapons, non-chalance about major injuries, etc.). It's just a reminder of the specific world of the show, where real-life concerns do sometimes interact with the Big Picture concerns of demons, angels, monsters, etc.
PRO: Continuity parade!
When Creepy Child Eight Million watches TV, they have a parade of in-jokes for Supernatural fans: they reference the eclipse from last episode (and hilariously call it a "Surprise Eclipse"); we hear about Biggerson's Pie Bar ("It's like a salad bar, but with pie!"), and, finally, Creepy Child Eight Million, Leviathan Edition, gets the idea to take over a doctor's body at a hospital while watching "Dr. Sexy, M.D."
PRO: Inherent horrific creepiness of hospitals pointed out.
When a Leviathan takes over a Dr. Sexy-like surgeon, he suggests a hospital to the other Leviathans as a great place to snack on people unnoticed: "Humans consider it a safe place. But the truth is, often they actually die here instead. And they never question it! I'm not kidding!"
PRO: Awesome ladies.
They made the smart decision to bring back Sheriff Jody Mills, who appeared in the not-very-good zombie episode in Season 5 and popped back in the Bobby-centric episode in Season 6. If your son turning out to be a zombie wasn't enough bad luck, Sheriff Mills ends up at the hospital where the Leviathans are turning into doctors and snacking on people.
|Kiss my ass, Dr. Monster Face|
Supernatural doesn't have a great track record with female characters, to say the least, but they've traditionally done the best when the boys interact with females in law enforcement -- some of the best one-off episodes involved help from a female police officer or D.A. or something of the kind. It gives the female characters power and agency of their own in a way that's different from Sam or Dean or Bobby -- basically on the same side, with different methods. So Sheriff Mills is a good choice and was done well here. Not only does she figure out that something creepy is going on right away, but she declines to sit around in the hospital and be eaten. When Leviathan Doctor urges her to stay calm (nothing's wrong! I totally just didn't eat that other patient's liver! You're just tired and overwrought!) she plays along and then yanks out her own IV like a boss and mutters the best line of the episode: "Kiss my ass, Dr. Monster Face."
Not only that, but it's hinted that there's a romantic THANG gonna develop between Bobby and Sheriff Mills -- I'm pretty sure that in the zombie episode her zombie son ate her husband, so she's totally single now!
In terms of her likely survival rate long-term, I'd say it's not good (see chart above) but I think they've gotten sensitive to the "women always die" thing --maybe she'll just get her memory wiped, like a certain lady last season? And Bobby has already killed his dead wife twice (demon and then zombie) and Cas and Crowley killed his purgatory girlfriend last season so...maybe Sheriff Mills will be okay?
PRO/CON/?: You can say that on network TV now? I'll be damned!
Sheriff Mills's roommate in the hospital (the one whose liver ends up getting chomped) delivers one of the most perplexing lines of the episode. When warning Sheriff Mills darkly not to trust the doctors (and this was even before they started getting taken over by Leviathans and munching on people). she says, "Do you know a study shows three quarters of doctors cheat on their exams? He might not know your appendix from your vagina!"
|Yeah, I said it|
CON: Luci gets old fast.
So, in episode one, I was super-impressed at the mind-fuckery they pulled on us -- Sam is hallucinating Lucifer, and then Lucifer starts messing with Sam by telling Sam that actually he's still in Hell: everything else is a hallucination! Sadly, there isn't very far to go with that -- Lucifer hangs out and snarks at Sam all episode and it gets rapidly less scary (though it remains highly amusing).
PRO: Luci makes fun of Season Six.
After watching the first episode, I pointed out that if indeed Sam is still in Hell and hallucinating everything, then Season Six was just a hallucination -- easy to believe that shite was cooked up by Lucifer, chuckle, chuckle, etc. In this episode, Lucifer points this out explicitly by saying, "You think this fruit bat fever dream is reality? You come back...I'm sorry, but with no soul? Like some peppy American Psycho? Till Saint Dean glues you back together again by buying you some magic amnesia?" BURN ON YOU, SEASON SIX AND SOULESS!SAM!
CON: Rape sub-text is text now? WHY?
Throughout Supernatural, hell is never shown but often implied, and it's hinted tremendously that hell involves rape (it being the worst place ever, etc.) The rape-references got crazy intense last season, where for a while it seemed like nary an episode could go by without some dubious "joke" about rape -- hell was referred to as "an eternity of demon rape"; Sam's soul was being "hate-banged" by Michael and Lucifer, etc. etc. etc. But all of it remained in the land of innuendo and "jokes" -- in the same way that any villain shows his power on Supernatural by Threatening Homoerotic Double Entrendre. Lucifer did his best THDE in "Meet the New Boss" when he purred at Sam, "No time, no spooning!" -- a line vague enough to be super chilling.
In "Hello, Cruel World" however, Lucifer -- whilst doing his best to convince Sam that Sam is still in hell -- shouts at him, "You're my bunk mate, buddy. You're my little bitch in every sense of the word!"
Why? Why did we need to go that explicit? What's next? Is Lucifer gonna draw a diagram? Explicitly define for us all the different implications of the word "bitch"? ("By 'bitch' I am of course referring to an implication of penetrative intercourse, used here in a pejorative, and, not coincidentally, feminized sense, in case you didn't understand the connotations of my usage the first time round....").
|I know, Sam, I much preferred keeping it sub-text, too.|
PRO: We get to see Dean as Lucifer! Deanifer! LuciDean!
CON: Not for very long. In fact, not long enough to be particularly creepy. Deanifer doesn't do anything particularly interesting, other than to be mean to Sam about how his brain is permanently broken. And he convinces Sam that an empty warehouse is actually an office building called "Morningstar Endeavors", which I assume houses this company:
PRO: Sam is very wide-eyed and adorable when he's all scared and doesn't know what is reality.
PRO: Dean actually references Dean's own time in hell to get through to Sam and convince him of what is real! CHARACTER CONTINUITY AND DEVELOPMENT FOREVER!
CON: The ultimate solution to Sam figuring out what is real is for him to poke a cut on his hand. Yup. That's not a metaphor for anything. That's the solution. They'd been making a big deal about how Sam had a cut hand so I figured it was important -- but...really? "Sam, poke this cut on your hand! It hurts, right? Now you know what's real and what isn't! You've solved one of the most perplexing philosophical problems of all time with a cut on your hand!" Um. Okay. Sure. Yeah. Let's go with that.
CON: The Leviathans burn Bobby's house down.
This could honestly be a pro or a con -- it's cool that the Leviathans were smart and crafty enough to think to burn down Bobby's house, full of all his books on supernatural stuff with which he manages to dues-ex-random-books Sam and Dean out of most of their problems ("I figured out what it is you're up against!"). But...we've established the Leviathans can't be killed by conventional methods multiple times in this episode. So what good is it burning all of Bobby's books? They didn't know what do, anyway. Plus, I will go ahead and jump to episode three (THE EPISODE THAT SHALL NOT BE RECAPPED) and say that in that episode Bobby is all, "Turns out I put back-up copies of my books all over the country!" and he GOES RIGHT BACK TO BEING DUES-EX-RANDOM-BOOKS ("the way you kill this creature is by..."). So burning the house made absolutely no difference at all.
|The answer? Why, I've got the answer right here!|
CON: Dean's voicemail to Bobby.
I gotta say, I feel a little smug on this one. In the initial reactions to this episode, most people thought this speech was awesome -- and it was awesome to hear how much Dean cares about Bobby and desperately doesn't want him to be dead. But what Dean says about Sam I found quite disturbing. Dean says that if Bobby's dead, "I swear, I'm gonna strap my beautiful mind brother into the car and drive us both off the pier."
Most people interpreted this is a moving indication of how Dean doesn't want to live without Sam, but I saw it quite differently. It's one thing to want to go down swinging with the person you love most -- there have been hints from the get-go that the show is going to go the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid route, not the least of which is that the showrunners came out and said that the theme for this season is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid -- but "going down fighting together" or even "joining hands and going off the cliff together Thelma and Louise style" is a different animal entirely from strapping your brother into the car and driving off the pier. That implies MURDER-SUICIDE, not some Noble-Probably-Suicidal-Togetherness-Gesture. It implies Dean thinks Sam is broken, beyond help -- and needs to be put down. That Sam isn't capable to make a basic live-or-die decision and that Dean would make it for him, even if that meant killing him. And, um, hello? Wasn't THE ENTIRETY OF THE FIRST FIVE SEASONS OF THE SHOW about how Dean refused to kill Sam, no matter how many evil things were fucking with them and pushing him to kill Sam? Even when it was suggested that it was DEAN'S DESTINY to kill Sam? And now he's like, "Well, if Bobby's dead, I guess I'm murdering Sam and then killing myself." EXCUSE ME, WHAT?
And in this very episode, what supposedly distinguished Dean from Lucifer-as-Dean was that Lucifer-as-Dean was telling Sam that he was broken beyond help -- that there was no fix, no hope, and that Sam might as well kill himself. And actual!Dean made a moving speech about how Sam could count on Dean to help Sam figure out what was real and what wasn't. So if Dean is truly willing to "strap Sam into the car and drive off the pier" then he really isn't that different from Lucifer-as-Dean: he's given up on Sam. He doesn't actually believe Sam can count on him and make it through all of this.
You're probably thinking, "Oh, Easy O, you crazy girl, you're reading way too much into this and over-thinking it." And I wondered if I was, too. But in the next episode (THE EPISODE THAT SHALL NOT BE RECAPPED), Dean actually comes out and says all this -- that he doesn't trust Sam and doesn't think things with Sam will ever change. We see the dark place Dean is in, and that he has given up, on himself and Sam. So -- actually...I totally called that.
PRO/CON: It turns out getting hit on the head and thrown into walls is actually quite bad for you.
After the Leviathans burn down Bobby's house, they come after Sam and Dean. Despite getting thrown against walls in practicially every episode, this time Dean....sort of trips? And it turns out that he broke his leg while tripping. So: huge, across-the-room wall slam like in the season finale and season premiere? No big! ....Tripping? BROKEN LEG WITH BONE SHOWING.
Despite getting hit over the head or choked out practically every episode, Sam gets hit on the head by a Leviathan and passes out before starting to seize; the episode ends with Sam and Dean in an ambulance, being taken to a HOSPITAL FULL OF LEVIATHANS. Pretty awesome ending, actually, except it goes nowhere in the next episode...leaving all the unusually injurious injuries and elaborate hospital set-up at the end of this episode singularly pointless in retrospect.
Alright, in terms of the EPISODE THAT SHALL NOT BE RECAPPED: I think if you read this recap or this recap or this recap, you'll get the basic idea.
Next up, a recap of 7.04 and 7.05. I actually -- after the bile of 7.03 -- quite enjoyed both of the next episodes, so I find myself reacting like this a lot. I was in full INTERNET RAGE agreement about episode three, but people are being so hard on four and five! I liked them.
Also, this is a promo for 7.06!