After an apparent suicide by an aged small-time wrestler, Sam and Dean pay their respects only to find a series of murders tied to the traveling wrestling group. When Dean discovers his idol, Gunner Lawless kidnapped a younger wrestler, they track him and find a cross-roads demon has been busy acquiring souls to do his killing. Meanwhile, Lucifer allows Crowley to believe he’s escaping with a demon ally. He goes to a secret hideout filled with artifacts and reveals a box containing another “right hand of God” item. Lucifer arrives to claim it but Crowley tricks him and uses the object, the rod of Aaron against him, killing the masquerading demon ally. Crowley then attempts to kill Lucifer but runs out of power and flees. Dean convinces Gunner to turn against his demon master and kill him but it summons the hounds of hell as his life is forfeit. He faces the hounds alone as Sam and Dean reluctantly leave him. Later, Dean swears to his brother that they will stop Lucifer, the Darkness and save Castiel.
A good old-fashioned knock-down drag-out brought to you by some WWE talent and the devil’s least-favorite demon. There was some quality moments saturated with Dean’s love for the old-timers who once played fame in his heart. I resonant a bit with this episode being an wrestling fan, so it was a fun tale to watch, though it does have a few hang ups and based on both plots never converging, I can’t say this episode was the best of its kind. More like an average production, but with enough heart to showcase Dean’s beloved hero taking the necessary step to redeem himself. Some stuff threw me off, but overall I found tonight’s episode slightly above average.
The wrestling element was the background not including Lucifer’s side quest. I liked the general concept as it played to Sam and Dean’s nostalgia as kids who enjoyed what they could on the road, more Dean than Sam of course. I wonder why it took 11 seasons to come up with an episode like this and if it were up to me, I would have easily pushed aside Lucifer’s angle to get more out of Gunner, Shawn, and Rio who seemed like quality characters who barely got enough screen time to matter. There was a good dynamic between everyone and Sam and Dean easily fit right into that atmosphere with Dean lamenting about the woes of what those wrestlers go through at their age and with little glory to spare, much in the limelight of “The Wrestler” as it showcases the same tragic tale.
The method used was okay, but ultimately I’m glad Crowley is for the moment freed from Lucifer’s cruel and harsh grip. Seeing him so wrapped up in insufferable servitude only deepened his resolve and even though he couldn’t get the job done, he’s still sly enough to prove that he’s no pushover. The rod looked as plain as ever but it got the job done. Where Crowley goes from here who can say, but I imagine he’ll cross paths with the Winchesters within the next episode or two.
As I touched on earlier, there wasn’t enough time developing the wrestling characters and I felt the small improvement Shawn made as a character learning from his mistakes was met with a brick wall as he was just killed anyway. That really made no sense to me. Rio wasn’t utilized for anything more than aged eye-candy and Gunner had to deal with his own demise for killing his master. I’ll admit that kind of ending for Gunner was heroically tragic, but I just felt there could have been more story here.
When Dean went into the ring and pranced around like a kid trying all the main wrestling tumbling acts. He did a variation of the Ric Flair strut including the vintage “wooo” that everyone should easily recognize. Again, I could have seen this kind of episode come about during season 1-3, but I’ll take it now. When Dean has this kind of fun you can’t help but absorb the same entertaining energy he emits.
I’d like to give it to Crowley for having the patience and fortitude to deal with Lucifer’s torture and still have the power to pull a fast one on him. It’s meant to show his worthiness as a mainstay character and as long as he keeps up his own endgame, he’ll do fine as a fourth side to this Winchester/Lucifer/Darkness duel. He has the power from the right hand of God, but as it’s been seen twice now, one use and it’s used up. No doubt, he’ll be on the look out for another hand of God artifact, assuming he has three hands.
When the Winchesters don’t care about the name of a demon trying to make a name for himself, then we don’t care. I’m never a fan of that kind of lack of investment. Sure, we’ve dealt with cross-roads demons enough times it’s cliché, but still, they don’t have to treat every single demon like they’re cannon fodder.
The name of the episode is taken from the documentary “Beyond The Mat” which detailed the lives of three wrestlers and the trials of tribulations with becoming, maintaining and recovering from stardom.
As much as I’m enjoying Misha have fun with Lucifer, I think I want to see him in a much darker tone, a no-nonsense devil who understands what he needs to do even though he wants to recapture his former glory. The quips and jokes and stolen movie quotes can only be taken so far before that kind of character becomes stale. He’s not there yet, but for me, he’s getting closer to that eventuality.
The new ending for this season is one brother or the other swearing to stop the Darkness. Usually they drive off on the road and passively stare as their secrets fester inside, but now its more short speeches on how they’re going to win the day. Nice confidence, but so far they have beyond nothing to work with against their foes.
7 out of 10. The wrestling angle was fun, The Miz cameo worked until they just killed him, and the Lucifer versus Crowley subplot might have been better suited adjacent to an episode that converged with the brothers. Some key moments weren’t utilized as well as I thought they could have been and characters like Gunner and Rio were served shorter segments that resulted in a bland ending for both the remorseful former champion and the attractive idol. With that said, I still enjoyed watching Dean’s reactions as he displayed the child-like characteristics with watching idols throw down. With Crowley free I’m expecting more engagement with him and the Winchesters as Lucifer bides his time to deal with Amara, which we still haven’t seen cross paths yet. I believe we’re in a bit of a break for the time being, but signs are showing that a massive confrontation will be going down soon. Here’s hoping for that epic fight. Thanks for reading.
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