A Sashurai’s Review: Supernatural – Season 11×05 (If The Darkness crafted a ring, it would be called the ring of Amara. Someone let Buffy know this)

SN 11x05

SUMMARY

A ghost story twists into a serial killing act purposed by the The Darkness itself as the Winchesters investigate what they perceive as the ghost of Lizzy Borden night stalking within a town in Massachusetts. Each murder brings them closer to the haunting revelation that Amara is getting older and is actively eating the souls of the townsfolk resulting in apathetic and murderous outcomes. When Sam and Dean confront the real threat, they begin to understand just how dangerous Amara can be.

INITIAL THOUGHTS

The ghost swerve was both a good and bad decision from my perspective. While I’m very picky about unique and well thought out ghost stories, I though they have a novel concept by becoming entangled with a rather famous axe-wielding killer. Most if not all ghost-centrick plots on SN deal with strangers and ghosts of strangers and rarely dip into historical context or mythological spirits. If Lizzie were a real ghost, I’d like to have seen that play out. Instead, we’re given a twist of results based on Amara hand picking mortals to eat the souls of which their bodies left behind becoming soulless and heartless. The existential atmosphere is what made up for this wayward plot which I’ll dive into in a bit. Overall, it wasn’t groundbreaking or well planned out, but I think it made for a descent addition to season 11.

RECAP

After a couple is murdered in a bed and breakfast in Massachusetts, Sam and Dean visit and investigate the possibility of a ghost haunting the place which specializes in Lizzie Borden mythology and memorabilia. The brothers quickly debunk the ghost theory and discover Amara is in town when they question a local named Len who lost his soul to Amara days prior. Upon continuing their investigation they cross paths with a young woman who also had her soul removed and is responsible for the series of deaths in town. She captures the brothers and laments that she feels more comfortable and peaceful in her situation and worships Amara as a goddess. Len saves the day by killing her and turns himself in based on a semblance of remembering how he originally would have acted if he still had a soul. The brothers leave town confident that they need to deal with Amara now more than ever. As they leave, Amara watches and speaks of meeting Dean again real soon.

THE GOOD

One thing to take away is the stylistic overview on how humans react when losing their souls. This show has more or less played with the concept that a soul is energy but not necessarily the whole persona of a being. While souls travel to heaven or turn into demons in hell, we’ve also seen examples of human bodies retaining consciousness and some subjective desires albeit without a sense of morality intact. Whether those bodies are just after-images of who they were and they’re real personas are either being digested in Amara or living peacefully in the afterlife, we’re seeing mortal shells carry on with darker or empty purposes. When Sam lost his soul, there was a long arc in dealing with how Sam was treated and what it meant in returning his soul to him. Some stories in the past have often used souls as a means to represent a person’s moral compass and emotional state and without it, humans are just prone to selfish primordial acts, usually dark in nature and unfazed by societal constructs. They can effectively turn into two separate entities, and in this case, Len is a case that represents one facet with out a soulless being reacts to their situation.

With Len, they wrote a character who settled on a what he remembered he used to be like which is ironic as most examples prior showcase humans as not caring about any old tires or old feelings when they were soulful. But since not all humans act the same way, we got to see a good human being retain a semblance of their prior self because its all they have to react instead of falling victim to the desires of murderous or callous acts. This kind of diversity is key is showcasing how humanity works in general. Not everyone is the same so it stands to reason there will be different reactions to being soulless and I’m glad they introduced that tonight.

THE BAD

I was looking forward to a very straightforward ghost plot involving Lizzie Borden. Not to say the second half was bad storytelling, I did like the direction they went, I’m just used to seeing how unique they attempt to tell new ghost stories and I was on board with this premise. If there’s a quota for nostalgic objects the ghost stories are the ones to utilize them the most. Shotgun salt, iron pikes, ghost scanners, all have a special place on the show as their tools to deal with ghosts. Yet none of it was needed this time.

I’m not sure I’m really convinced Amara would leave Crowley’s establishment unsupervised to visit the old stomping grounds of a serial killer that isn’t as notable as others in the past. She doing research and connecting to people and events that showcase the kind of darkness she’s essentially embodying, but Lizzie just seems too low key. Amara show a resonance to Lizzie’s plight, but at the same time, I just didn’t get the randomness of how Amara chose who to feed on. At this stage, I imagine he sucking the souls out of entire buildings in one sitting, but maybe they’re working their way up to it.

FAVORITE MOMENT

Len’s existential crises at the end. Mostly from the climax to his decision to turn himself in. Dean reacted with sentiment because he knew deep down Len wasn’t a bad person and didn’t want to reflect old habits especially with Sam preaching about saving everyone they come across who needs their help. Plus, it was refreshing to see a soulless human not completely fall into the darkness and contemplate one’s own design of reason for doing things.

CHARACTER MVP

I think Len came through unexpectedly this time. Even though he started and ended up as just a quirky individual who had one passion and had to question what his life was all about after he lost his soul. All his little moments such as ripping his thumb and his reaction to killing Sydney all helped paint an interesting picture about him leading to his choice to turn himself in, which a soulless Sam would never have done. If he became some minor regular character I wouldn’t be opposed to it.

ENDING THOUGHTS

Keeping Amara close by isn’t a bad idea. We can’t forget about her, but I also think her power needs to grow exponentially. As a youthful teen she doesn’t seem any more powerful than her previous age except she has more of a personality than before.

I’m guessing the Winchesters picked up HBO GO for Castiel because Netflix doesn’t carry The Wire. But they are right, he’d binge watch that and not come out for air till that show was done.

Nice little Ghostfacers pop. It’s good to know they are remembered even though the band split up. As well, the Genesis revival with Agent Collins and Gabriel, of the Phil and Peter variety. I’m starting to feel like they’re recycling old names though.

I’d like to think Amara will affect humans she comes in contact with in more interesting ways as we move forward with her practical abilities. I don’t know how crazy they’ll get but hopefully something more will come of it than just the soulless bunch.

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. It started as potential standard ghost story with a celebrity focal point character but ended up as a platform to showcase Amara and her affect on humans when she eats their souls. One story became another and though that’s not a bad approach, it maybe should have remained on one side of the fence or the other in dealing with the plot. Amara’s story is unfolding at a decent pace but she shouldn’t be too involved in the typical on-goings of normal hunter life. Let the season simmer into the big moments with Amara. When she starts ripping angel wings off and devouring their souls, then it’s time to get serious.

No more words

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