Note: This is my first official review for my new-ish blog. I expect to fumble a bit with the format. I’m not a professional reviewer and no one is ever going to pay me for this blog.
Bottom Line Upfront: Excellent start with a vastly different pace than S11.
Samantha Smith is an EXCELLENT add to the show. She was perfect IMO as Mary. So much was expressed in her body language and facials. I will be watching Dean and her multiple times this week. Highlights for me:
– Dean and Mary. Dean had ALL THE FACTS ofMary’s life. How many times did he hear those stories? And he just rattled them off with such reverence. *sigh* I am SUCH a sucker for Dean/Mary feels. And his whole body language around her is gentle. He’s treating her like he’s never treated anyone else. I don’t know how to explain it. But Jensen just knocked it out of the park. Squatting down to talk to her. The way he looked back to check on her as they drove (during that montage). If you rewatch, just see the way he moves around her. It’s so very well done. And yes, that LOOK when he hugged her. And of course, I loved his traumatized realization that his mother was recalling sexy times in the back of that car. Dean needs a good therapist. I volunteer as tribute.
– Cas is PISSED and he’s going to get to Sam. It doesn’t matter that Dean is back, Sam got taken on Cas’ watch and he’s going to FIND HIM. How I loved the hug. And Mary’s startled look. I’m guessing Dean left off the whole “bomb” story.
– Dean breaking that phone. It wasn’t the speech that did it for me. It’s the way he just crushed a phone in half, letting his anger out.
– Hormone-flashback-demon. That was an excellent bit there. I love when they give the one-off characters a chance to have a memorable moment.
– Mary’s trauma. They are NOT sugar coating this. Again, Sam Smith did a good job showing herself to be unsteady at times and then her training kicking in. I LOVED LOVED her staring at her hands after she killed Evol British Henchwoman. Plus the haunting looking she had during the montage.
– Defiant Sam. Such a BadAss. I like that Evil British Henchwoman gave up so quick. And the psycho-drugs? Child’s play. I also like the brutality of the fight between him and Lady McFullOfHerself. It felt very real. Excellent fight staging and directing for that scene (from Sam choking her to her escaping on the steps). Note: I have ZERO sympathy for Lady McFullOfHerself. I don’t want redemption for her.
Irritated about: I NEEDED Dean to get a good hit on Evol British Henchwoman. She died waaaaaaayyyy too easy. I don’t mind Mary getting the kill, but Dean needs to hit something.
All in all, it was a huge shift in pace fr
om the finale but I liked it. There was a grounded feeling to this episode. Little bits like showing them pushing the car off the road, getting coffee, etc.. I liked all of those details. There’s a reality to it. Jarring (good word usage Cas!) in the amount of tangible detail. It made me empathize with Mary’s POV (suddenly back amongst the living).
Second Watch Pickups:
– The montage lyrics actually are relevant but you can’t hear it. As it’s not an immediately recognizable hard rock tune for me, it didn’t give me as much of a buzz as other opener montages do.
– Nice touch: I didn’t question Mary’s acceptance of coming back from the dead the first time. Now I realize that may in part be due to her mentioning to Cas that she’s heard of it before. Even though it was separated from the actual “moment”, I think adding that line backstops her acceptance. That and seeing her reel from recalling her own death. Good dialog addition, nice acting.
– Cas is SO DONE with everything. I like how he just skips the niceties with the randoms. Misha did a good job of looking like a man still trudging forward in a very long march. He pauses for things that matter (Dean’s alive, comforting Mary). Otherwise, he’s very efficient and wastes no time. Good choice by both the writers and actor.
– Lady Toni’s dialog wasn’t as bad the second watch through. I think it’s her delivery. A little too flip. She needs to emphasize the sarcasm of the dialog a little more IMO and I might warm to her.
– Calling Crowley “Posh Spice”.
I’m kinda in love with that line. Kudos Andrew Dabb.
– The fight: I slowed it down a bit and then re-watched. Dean definitely underestimated her. He DID get the upper hand in the first few moves. But she got out of it pretty quickly and pushed him off. I think he counted on Cas taking her out (Sloppy Dean!). And Cas went for the sleepy-time move but was blocked by the de-powering brass knuckles. In the “second round”, well, she just beat them. Plain and simple. Again, underestimated. Lucky they aren’t dead. I’d like it if Sam gave him shit about that later but not likely.
– Who Sam saw: Kevin, Sarah, Dean, Meg (!), Mom, Dean, Jessica. I was a little stunned by showing Meg (when she got killed as they were retrieving the Angel tablet). As a Meg fan, I kinda like that Sam regrets her death. I KNOW she’s a demon and I do love Ellen and Jo more, but I admired Meg’s loyalty. So, I’m glad to see that Sam ending up feeling something for Meg despite their complicated history. Also glad they showed Sarah. I LOVE that a little MOTW character got such a lasting effect. Her death really sticks with Sam. All of these are the deaths Sam feels responsible for. Meg seems a weird add, but he left Meg to guard his exit, so I can see how she made the list.
– The final montage wor
ked so much better for me because of the haunting music and meaningful lyrics which I could hear. The lyrics emphasized the theme of feeling alone. Whereas the first montage was, by necessity, short snippets, the second montage was lovingly filmed with beautiful cinematography. Kudos to Phil Sgriccia on that. My lessons learned is that if you play a song I don’t immediately connect with (I didn’t recognize either song), we need to hear the lyrics if that’s it’s value added. And while the first one was functional, it didn’t give me a buzz. The second montage made me wish the episode was not over while providing some meaty imagery to contemplate. Mission accomplished.
So, the episode was good and it stood up to a second watching IMO. In fact, the details enhanced it, as usual, for me.
SPOILER BASED SPECULATION:
- We’ve heard from Dabb that the British MOL come back as more of a threat in the second part of the season (post break). Did you notice that the Brit capturing and killing the monster had a cross tattooed on his hand? I’m calling it now: British version of the Illuminati. Something is rotten in the state of Britain. I think we’ll get bits and pieces to make this a more compelling story. Dabb is setting up the hints now.
- Cas’ clear frustration is going to lead him to work with Crowley (see previews). This was well set-up in the premiere. I hope Cas keeps his no-nonsense attitude with Crowley.
- SPOILER FREE: Sam is in SUCH a dark place right now. This may have a longer-term consequence. The inclusion of Sarah in the hallucinations may be a clue.
- I am expecting Mary to be ‘resolved’ by EP9. They are filming that now. It’s the first post-Christmas episode. Dabb has said that the first part of the season focuses on Mary and the hunt for Lucifer. I don’t know HOW they resolve Mary (death, retirement, running a safe haven for hunter’s kid) but I don’t see her lasting all year.