A Sashurai’s Review: Supernatural – Season 9×23 (Open your eyes)

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Sam and Dean’s climactic tale settles into season 9’s finale, “Do You Believe in Miracles?” Never to stray away from leaving the audience hanging, season ten promises to begin with a new perspective on how a favored character will exist…as a demon.

Unbeknownst to my original theory, Sam and Dean were not thrust into a brother versus brother battle to stamp the end of the show. Instead, Sam and Dean manage to set aside their woes and frustrations and deal with Metatron as they intended. While the new direction of the show leaves me excited at the development, I can’t help but wonder if my expectations for an angelic finale was raised too high. Let’s quickly recap.

Sam and Castiel force Dean into a holding cell at HQ and then search for Gadriel who fled after Dean’s vicious attack. Dean summons Crowley to break him out and steal the first blade. Meanwhile, Metatron tells his new angel followers that he’s going on a trip and will explain himself when he returns. He travels to Indiana and ressurects a woman who was hit by a truck. Everyone nearby witnesses the miracle and a video catching the moment is uploaded online.

Sam and Cas find Gadriel and heal him. Afterward they devise a plan to find and destroy the angel tablet which is giving Metatron his strength. Sam finds Dean in Indiana and the two track down Metatron, leaving aside their differences for the moment.

Gadriel pretends to capture Cas and is allowed entry into Metatron’s domain but are both soon captured and placed in an angelic prison. Cas tries to reason with Ingrid who has sided with Metatron, but she won’t trust him. Gadriel submits to his fate and carves a sign on his chest and then stabs himself. He ignites and destroys the prison, allowing Cas to escape. Gadriel’s sacrifice convinces Ingrid to ally with Cas again.

Dean and Sam prepare to face Metatron but then Dean knocks his brother out saying it’s not his fight. Dean finds Metatron, who is protected by homeless people who have seen his miraculous acts. They allow him entry and he finds Metatron sitting alone. After Metatron fails to get through to Dean about how God didn’t care about humanity, the two battle. Metatron easily has the upper hand while Cas searches Metatron’s office for the angel tablet. Sam recovers and searches for Dean, and only finds him just as Metatron stabs Dean in the chest with an angel knife.

Metatron returns to his office and finds Castiel and the broken tablet. Cas goads Metatron into revealing his agenda which the angels overhear. Together they capture Metatron and put him in the angel prison.

Sam tries to carry Dean away, but Dean is mortally wounded. He tells Sam that he’s proud of “us” and then collapses into Sam, who hugs and cries over the death of his brother. After returning Dean back to HQ, Sam summons Crowley to force him to save Dean. Crowley appears in Dean’s room and reveals that he kept a specific story about Cain from Dean. Cain killed himself with the first blade and became a demon because of the mark. He then places the blade in Dean’s hand and tells him to wake up. Dean’s eyes open and they are black.

 

All it took was seeing Crowley appear in Dean’s room and I understood what the last frame of the episode would be. It’s a fascinating idea to turn Dean into a demon. I’m not certain if this was speculated by the fanbase, but kudos to any who called it early. My money had always been on a brotherly fight, one to settle an age old problem. Considering the amount of hellish changes Sam has gone through over the years, I’d say it was high time Dean received more of that “special” treatment. In some ways I can see Dean having a new sense of fun with his transformation. But the priority question is, will he still be “Dean” Dean? Becoming a demon is no picnic and from dozens of examples in the past, humans that become demons rarely maintain any form of humanity. I like this new concept, it’s fresh and offers a new layer of Sam and Dean relationship SNAFU.

The finale’s plot, as a whole, wasn’t as impressive as I had imagined. I thought big and wanted epic, but realistically I can understand the scale would have been too much for a show like this to tell meaningfully. It was always meant to be Metatron versus Dean, one on one. It was no Samifer versus Dean (and by versus I mean Dean getting repeatedly punched in the face several times) but it was a nice throwback. Dean can really sell desperation when he’s being pummeled to a bloody pulp. As for Metatron, he talked big for a little guy and never had the “ultimate” plan that should have made everyone blink twice at being played. It turns out Metatron was played by Castiel and now suffers in prison because of it. Maybe that’s where I feel the biggest let down was. It could spring several topical debates about how Metatron inserted himself into humanity to show and gain their trust. He was his own mouthpiece believing the tune he sang about blaming God for how humanity turned out. In the end, he was an idealist who served his own means to establish a new monarchy in heaven. He believes in a good story, but wasn’t smart enough to make his own come true.

Gadriel’s sendoff felt appropriate given the context we’ve been given for his character throughout season 9. He was Metatron’s instrument and a shadow from Lucifer’s past. He was probably the last truly recognizable angel the audience could identify with after destroying so many others from our historical knowledge. He died wanting to be remembered for something better other than what he was always known for. Letting the devil in. It was noble and fitting, even if he’s still a jerk for killing Kevin.

Is Castiel on borrowed time? It’s a puzzling question because Castiel needs angelic grace to remain alive. If any other rogue angel messes with him, then you’d think it’s an easy solution, but realistically, Castiel isn’t that kind of desperate angel. He’ll try to find other ways and if not, he’ll quietly accept his fate. He said it himself, he just wants to be an angel, not a leader. We’ve been given a hint that season ten will also focus on Castiel’s dilemma. It could be a simple episode or a seasonal arc. Either way, I doubt he’ll meet any kind of true end.

My favorite scene was the final one. I hung on each of Crowley’s words as he mysteriously explained his hidden story to Dean about Cain’s suicide. Crowley is best when he’s living in passive moments like these. He can battle and crack jokes like the best of the bunch, but when he’s relaxed and serious, his scenes can shine. And it was good there was no music to get in the way of the scene, it added more and more revelation to the plot as Crowley neared Dean’s body. And when Dean’s blackened eyes open the scene is complete. I enjoyed the moment. Not because of the cruel twist of fate on Dean’s soul, but because it makes perfect sense. There was never any hint that Dean was going to try and get rid of the mark once Metatron and Abaddon were killed. Nobody even questioned the possibility of Dean dissolving the mark or passing it along to another. Cain never reappeared wanting the mark back. The only logical course was to complete his transformation into what Cain was and that meant becoming a demon. I’m hoping Dean’s new state will be a season wide arc and not a quick “Let’s get everything back to normal” during the premiere. This deserves to be fleshed out. Sam survived many arcs in awkward and imbalanced situations like Dean’s and could create many new creative outlets for new stories as the brothers face another challenge.

On a side note, there’s a slight sense of circular play at work here. In the beginning of the season Sam is turned into a vessel for an angel, while at the end, Dean becomes the form of a demon. It’s opposite but also strangely mirror-like. Just an observation.

Overall, the episode had a less than stellar plot, but a very strong finish. The angel plot had to be the one to settle in the finale, though I believe Abaddon was a stronger villain in general over Metatron. As charismatic as Metatron tried to be, I just never truly believed he had the ability to follow through with his plan. He tried to act smarter with his storytelling techniques but fell for his own ego. Sam and Dean hit on their usual beats and at the end you saw once more that in the veil of death, Sam and Dean are truly brothers and neither wants to see the other die. It’s Sam’s turn to try and save Dean, also adding to the circular dynamic introduced at the beginning when Dean saved Sam. I believe Sam will try and understand Dean’s new change but also try and undo it with any and every spell he can think of. All we have to go on is Crowley’s humanity and a loose way to purge a demon of it’s demony-ness. Let’s not rush to that quite yet, I want to see how Dean reacts. Will be become evil and sinister? Will Crowley try and manipulate Dean into his cause? How will Castiel treat Dean after this? I like the questions and the uncertainty. As a whole, season 9 was on par with season 7, but no better. Some stand-alone plots really shined, but the over arcing angel story was less interesting than the demon tales. Keep the demons coming, and put the angels on the backburner for season 10. We’ll carry on until this fall. Thanks for reading, everyone!

 

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A Sashurai’s Review: Supernatural – Season 9×22 (Home alone trap trumps the ‘Breath of God’?)

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Metatron’s machinations have spelled the lowest point for our heroes, Sam and Dean as Castiel’s army of angels switch sides in light of Metatron’s dark scheme. There’s a bit of unsavory residue lingering on the both Dean’s bloodthirsty attitude and Metatron’s manipulating tactics. Our good-natured team is falling apart at the seams with captain crazy holding the one knife to rule them all. Is Gadriel the latest victim of Dean’s surrealistic psychosis? Only one more episode left to deal everyone’s fate card.

After a loyal angel of Cas is found dead, Sam, Dean, and the other angels discover that the angel, Orin, and others, have been sacrificing themselves to destroy Metatron’s follwers in the name of Cas. Castiel denies involvement as Sam tracks the mole of the group, Josiah. Dean sends Sam with Cas to investigate while he interrogates an angel, Flagstaff about Orin’s allies. Flagstaff mentions Constantine and Tessa, the reaper who once helped Dean in the past. Dean tracks her down and brings her to Cas’s HQ for questioning.

Meanwhile, Sam and Cas discover an abandoned structure in Montana and search it. Inside they find a room laughingly pictured as a heaven and are fooled by one of Metatron’s notes left for Cas. They find Josiah who is badly burned but conscious enough to declare he just wants to die and go home. After he dies, Sam and Cas return to his HQ.

Tessa tells Dean that she couldn’t stand hearing the screams of all the lost souls trapped outside of heaven and agreed to be a sacrifice for Castiel. When Dean threatens her with the first blade, she impales herself and thanks him before dying. Hannah and other angels blame Dean for murder and tie him up. When Sam and Cas return, Sam argues with Dean about secretly keeping the blade close as Cas receives a video call from Metatron, explaining that he survived one of Cas’s sacrificial angel bombings and offers Cas’s angels amnesty if they switch sides. He also tells them that Cas has stolen grace.

Hannah attempts to let Cas prove himself to his angels and tells him to punish Dean, but Cas refuses and all the angels leave to join Metatron. Gadriel then confronts Metatron about his dark plan, which Metatron explains as necessary. Back at the Men of Letters HQ, Gadriel goes to the team and offers his help, but Dean decides to slash Gadriel’s chest with the first blade as Cas and Sam attempt to hold him back.

Playing into the episode’s abrupt end, I can see Gadriel’s on borrowed time unless Cas expels more of his grace to heal that wound. Coming from the first blade, I’m not sure that’s a doable option, but never underestimate Cas’s ability to give what he owns for the greater good.

This episode brought to light a constant theme for the angels, in that they inevitably have to follow something or someone to maintain their existence. Metatron exposed this to a large degree. There is a bit of consistency issues in this type of story, only in that angels, like Castiel, Gabriel, and a few others, can dislodge from the mainframe of Heaven’s ideals. They can attain free will, even if it’s quirky will. Choices remain for any characters who at least appear human. In the long run, you can have a few interesting angelic characters, but not all the angels can be interesting. It’s time to wrap this angel season up and move on to more illogical constancies.

True to form, Dean places his emotions and gut instincts into his own plan and has made himself the permanent stick in the mud. I feel bad for Sam. Even when he was forced to tell Dean that their status as brothers was a low ball moment, Dean’s treatment of his brother as of late had been rather staunchly rude and unfair. Sam’s always going to be the more sensible of the two given reason and determination. Dean was called out by an angel over his violent methods, and Dean only grinned as he does in knowing, his violence is necessary in the world they live in. I’m not proud with what Dean has become and what he’ll turn into if he falls further. Killing Metatron only serves to push Dean deeper down the hole, unless Cain or Cas or some other character can remove that mark. Since Supernatural tends to offer cliffhangers as the seasonal prize for watching, I don’t expect a truly happy ending for anyone.

What’s missing, and I’ve stated it before, is a ransack of angels and demons vying for control. What better way to fool Metatron and his colossal writing ability than to have Sam and Dean ally with Crowley and his demons to ruin Metatron in exchange for whatever demons want nowadays. There’s plenty of bait and switch opportunities here and it gives Crowley reason to be in the finale. Maybe if there wasn’t a greenlight for season 10, an angel demon war to end all wars would have been a fine setting for a real finale. Aw well, until next year.

Let’s discuss Tessa for a bit. Her death, very much mirrored the death of Meg, in that, it completely felt unnecessary and pointless. Meg, I’m certain had a bigger fan base, but there wasn’t any reason to involve Tessa in this mess. The first blade must be amazingly strong if it can ruin a reaper. Hannah should have been more angry at Dean killing someone like Flagstaff and not Tessa. The effect, seems to be that Metatron has influence and can affect more than just angels. If that’s the case, he should have dome more with that and I’m certain Tessa’s death is just a one off considering the circumstances. Still, I liked Tessa for the few episodes she guest starred in, just like I enjoyed Meg’s character. More and more major and minor characters are being removed. As long as they never take out Death himself, then we’ll be good.

Overall, “Stairway to Heaven” wasn’t played to be a mystery. We knew that Metatron was playing Cas the entire time. We didn’t even need a scene of Metatron wearing a coat like Cas to seal that connection. It was just painfully obvious. Did that make this an inefficient episode? Not quite. Angel characters in abundance are boring, plain and simple. Cas is quirky and unintentionally funny, but droves of angels lack a certain resonance that continue to shape poorly. There aren’t any notable angels left to introduce. Gadriel was clever because his role was important, even if he himself wasn’t. That’s the only reason why I think the angel plot needs to end. There are still demon stories to tell and demons are what drove the show the first three seasons before angels started appearing. At least they made an impact then.

Sam and Dean need to get their act together. Dean is falling off of the map big time, and killing Metatron won’t put him back in order. Something else needs to be done and fast or Sam is going to end up the final sacrifice and put Dean in the darkest place he’s ever been. They’ve both been to hell and back. There’s no reason to make it a roundtrip for either one.

 

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A Sashurai’s Review: Supernatural – Season 9×21 (Anyone else feel that “Empire Strikes Back” vibe with Dean and the blade?)

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They say a gut stabbing is the sincerest form of fatality. Dean has finally performed at peak level and put to end one of the stronger demonic characters on the show. When a character dies in slow-motion, you know it’s a bit significant. Abaddon will be missed, until the next badass demon shows up.

Abaddon forces Crowley’s help by kidnapping his human son from 1723 Scotland and bringing him to the present. Crowley agrees to help to save his son from torture and lures Sam and Dean to the blade and then to the hotel where they are located. Meanwhile, Castiel meets with Gadriel and convinces him to at the very least, report on Metatron updates so they can put a stop to the angel on angel killings. Crowley is able to warn Dean about the trap set for them and makes sure Sam isn’t there when he finds Abaddon. As he does, Abaddon tries to subdue him but through the mark of Cain, Dean is able to battle through it and stabs Abaddon forever killing her. Afterward, Crowley takes his son away and let’s him live in the present as he was destined to die in a ship wreck. Later, Sam confronts Dean about what the blade may be doing to him and suggests locking it away for the time being. Dean simply answers “No.”

There’s a tab bit of disappointment at the way everything was handled, only in that it didn’t involve a shred of Angel vs. Demon battles. I understand for story purposes and budget reasons to add that such a feat would have probably been too much to ask for. It’s a shame, but I wish the Demon and Angel plot were so separate that they couldn’t have been linked together in some way toward the finale. That’s not to say it can’t still happen, but it definitely won’t be happening with Abaddon out of the picture. She had lofty goals for the most part and it would have been an interesting twist if she had plans to release Lucifer. There’s your underlying tie between both factions. I’m starting to think Lucifer will never play a part in this series ever again. Another shame.

For the Angel plot, I give Castiel credit. He got feedback from Sam to help peer into Gadriel’s senses regarding his involvement with Metatron. At first I thought for sure that Castiel set up the angel attack to help convince Gadriel to join his cause, but it’s a pretty risky move for Castiel to use since he’s trying to convince Gadriel that Metatron is the one deceiving him. Still, either way, it did the job and if Castiel’s hands are clean then Metatron is jumping the gun sending his own angels after his opposition, especially since he’s parading that he “knows the end” to the story. Is it a ploy, or does he hold a piece of omniscience? It’s also tough to come down on the fence on whether Gadriel is a redeemable character or not. His only real crime, that we know of, is his murder of Kevin. That’s something Sam and Dean won’t forgive easily. Castiel can, because he has an agenda and as a “commander” must make harder decisions than normal to get the results he needs to. If that means allying with Gadriel then so be it. My guess is that someone’s playing with Gadriel and it’s more likely that Metatron is. There’s no way he doesn’t know and understand what’s happening in this episode.

There was also a buoyant pleasantness with seeing Crowley interact on a ‘father to son’ level with his son. For the first time, his lasting emotions and human feelings actually have merit and point with this episode as he tries to reconcile with his failures as a father. Leaving Gavin in the present was the smart move. That kind of result has been done before, “Star Trek – Borg PC game” comes to mind, but all in all, it was the right call. I can’t imagine how weird a scene would go when Sam tries to convince the king of hell not to mettle with time, but it worked and now we can endure Crowley’s antics for a bit longer.

Now there’s the ever growing dissention between brothers. In our time-tested bumper, Dean finally admits how the blade has been affecting him. In small sips, you can see how Dean wants to explain it as a loving brother would be with keeping Sam safe, but instead, due in part to Sam’s past confessions on their status as family, Dean recoils and secures his need to make sure the job gets done without interference. He even flat out denies Sam’s request to hide the blade should they need it again. Dean is now dishing out a little of his own brand and Sam has no choice but to settle with it until the next crisis causes their further divergence or brotherly camaraderie. In the strongest sense, Dean knows he’s affected and doesn’t care and furthermore won’t listen to Sam’s suggestion. Castiel may need to step in and offer more of his personal guidance if anything’s going to be set right. I’m not so easily convinced that Sam and Dean are destined to recycle the tale of Cain and Abel, but considering we only have the angel plot left to deal with, it would fit the most in that realm.

Overall, I didn’t enjoy the separate tale between angels and demons, I wanted them to converge in a bigger showdown. Crowley can easily still get his demons involved but I doubt it will mean as much since he needs to tend to his own before rationalizing taking on heaven itself. It doesn’t fit with his motis operandi. I enjoyed the Crowley and son bonding and I think it stood as the highlight of the episode. Dean still maintains larger fragments of control but with each kill on that blade comes more and more violent turbulence. He’s holding his own but for how much longer. Does the mark get to be transferred to someone else after it’s all said and done? Will or can Cain take it back if necessary? And for some reason that jacket Dean wore seemed off, maybe too bright than normal. Maybe too clean. I miss Abaddon, she’ll be missed. Until next week.

 

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A Sashurai’s Review: Supernatural – Season 9×20 (I’ve seen Kindred the Embraced, and this is no Kindred)

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Supernatural follows suit after several years and opens the gate for a spin-off show to take shape. “Bloodlines” follows the path of a young vengeful human who loses his love and encounters the deep world of Chicago. With the help of Sam and Dean, they uncover a supernatural mob battle brewing with reasons to war.

I’ll save my first impressions till after the recap, but my objective statement is that the episode did it’s job with setting, character establishment, motivation, and scenarios detailing future events. I’ll write up my good and bad in the mix and hopefully come to a generous conclusion on whether this show deserves a full season run.

 

Within a private club at a restaurant in Chicago, Sal, a shifter mixes words with Julian, a werewolf. They tussle briefly before the club is attacked by a hooded man who wields silver-bladed claws. He mains and kills several supernatural creatures in the club and chases Sal outside. A human, Ennis Roth proposes to his love, Tam, outside the restaurant and are both caught in the middle of the attack. The hooded man accidentally kills Tam and then purposefully kills Sal then escapes. Ennis hears Sal’s dying words before realizing that Tam is dead and holds her body.

David, Sal’s younger brother gets a call from college to return home because Sal is dead.

After being interrogated by Freddie, a loyal to Margo, brother of Sal, Sam and Dean enter the room and ask their questions then leave without explaining anything. Ennis returns home and finds his father’s gun which contains silver bullets with X’s on them.

On one side, Margo speaks with Freddie about blaming and retaliating against Julian while at Julian’s home, he speaks with a D’jinn who suspects Margo’s retaliation. Julian’s sister, Violet is worried but Julian threatens her to stay out of it.

Ennis breaks into the club and searches for clues when a vampire worker arrives and sniffs him out. He is about to attack Ennis when Dean decapitates him. Sam explains who they are as Dean realizes that monsters are hunting monsters in the city. Sam encourages Ennis to stay away.

After David speaks with Margo about doubts of Julian’s involvement, he goes to Ennis disguised as Freddie, asking questions about the incident. Ennis corners him when he realizes he’s shifter and David explains what he’s trying to stop a war. He tells Ennis that the killer wasn’t a werewolf because the slashes on Ennis’s shirt were silver and werewolves don’t have silver claws.

David then catches Violet at her front door. They argue about her choosing not to run away with him when they had the chance a while ago. The hooded man attacks them and kidnaps Violet as Sam, Dean, and Ennis show up. The four track Violet’s location to an abandoned warehouse and split up. The hooded man reveals to Violet that he’s a human who lost his son and blames both Sal and Julian for his death. He then captures David and threatens to kill him causing Violet to begin transforming. She breaks free and slashes the man. Sam, Dean, and Ennis find them and Ennis shoots the man in vengeance.

Afterward, David returns Violet home and ponders why Sal’s last words were of saying he was sorry and had no choice. Violet remembers a scene where she intended to run away with David but Sal intercepted her and threatened to kill her if she didn’t return home saying that their kind had to remain pure. In the present, Violet kisses David but leaves abruptly. David returns home and informs Margo that he intends to return to the family. Margo feigns being happy about his decision.

Sam implores Ennis to stay out of the monster’s war as Dean gets a call from Castiel who has a beat on Metatron. Sam says they’ll call hunters in to come to Chicago and they leave. Ennis narrates that he’s involved and can’t back out now. As he searches the hooded man’s hideout, he gets a call from his father saying the monsters will kill him if he starts hunting.

 

WHAT WORKED

In dealing with spin-off shows there are many things to consider about the setup and fallout of a premise that takes the reigns of a singular episode. First and foremost, the show is taking roots in a specific world but has to maintain a different feel and look than its predecessor. I believe Bloodlines has the right direction in separating itself from Supernatural. With monsters clearly running and ruling the nightlife of Chicago, what disappears is the sudden sense of dread and horror-like openings that comes with Supernatural’s M.O. Now you have functioning creatures who intend to exist within the confines of certain rules and also a sense of entitlement to their area of ownership.

Bloodlines establishes a lot of characters very quickly, but each character has a singular drive and plays with mirror opposites in that there’s despicable and sensible creatures on both sides. It’s a very “Game of Thrones-y” style where no one family holds all the good or evil characters. This can effect good characters making bad decisions and vice-versa with bad characters giving in to more caring traits.

While Ennis plays the good human and defacto central character, there’s also David, who is the Supernatural equivalent of a main character as well. They will continue to interact as players do when one knows too much and the other knows too little about what’s going on. They’ll become friends and help each other out of plights until something pushes one of the characters over the edge.

Sam and Dean also played their roles at a respectable distance. Cue in the background guitars for their entrances and keep everything simple. Dean is snarky and Sam is concerned. Together they tackled the scenario as best they could while not leaving Ennis high and dry. It was appreciative that Sam mentioned bringing hunters into the mix. He knows there’s a city that needs to be handled even though they’re completely taken with the plot of Metatron. I can’t imagine the two returning to Chicago any time soon except to simply provide the explanation that they haven’t forgotten. They take the cases as they come. As long as they know hunters are in the city, they won’t need to investigate as frequently.

I also liked not knowing the other two creature families involved. We know of the Werewolves, Shifters, and D’Jinn, and one can assume the vampires play a large role as well leaving one last family. Dean mentioned Wraiths but I’m not sure that’s the final pick. In any case, it leaves breathing room to contemplate how expansive and diverse the Supernatural culture is within the city. For the first time we can experience multiple scenes of creatures trying to live normally and interacting with human qualities that creates drama.

One last positive is the reveal that Ennis’s dad is not dead and even warns Ennis to stay out of the hunt. It’s more than obvious that his father was once a hunter but either gave it up or encountered a scenario that caused him to leave. Ennis seems to resent him but at least there’s a mystery element that gives Ennis to search out for now that his vengeance has been satisfied.

 

WHAT DIDN”T WORK

Spinoffs are very difficult to get right and even harder to be successful inside of the parent show where the tone and characters are meant to be different than what we expect. If Bloodlines premiered of its own accord on its own time-slot, there would be plenty of breathing space to apply itself and not feel overshadowed by the parent series. Depending on how far the show strafes, certain expectations can be maintained. The Originals did not differ from the tone of The Vampire Diaries which allowed a smooth transition. It’s not completely rare but it can work.

There are, however, several failed versions of spin-offs that couldn’t quite make its mark. I’m talking to you, Highlander season 6. Sitcoms have done this for generations. Married with Children tried three times to spin off and couldn’t seal the deal. Is Bloodlines any different? Let’s examine where their pilot missed the mark.

Let’s begin with Ennis. Everything about his character annoyed me from the start. He’s proven to be resourceful, but that’s his only good trait. Principle characters are very difficult to get right out of the gate and Ennis is no exception. He’s not interesting in the slightest and while his drive for finding the killer made sense, he already completed his vengeance at the end of the episode. This could have stretched an entire season, but they chose to have him kill another human, the man responsible at the end of the pilot. That’s poor decision making. I see no reason a character like him should be continuously thrust into the creature mob war now that his entire motivation is gone. Of course a character like him will feel compelled to uncover what’s hiding in the city, but he lacks direction and further more, I don’t care if he ends up dead the next episode. He’s not a strong principle character and as a human he’ll be getting himself in way over his head surviving encounters he probably shouldn’t, realistically.

The Romeo and Juliet creature love-story has been done and done again. Violet and David love each other but can’t be together because of warring families. This isn’t going to end well, and I don’t mean from a storyline aspect. These are the good characters of the show and I’m fine with David’s role as someone who wants to keep the war from spilling over, but when Violet refrained from telling her that she was threatened by Sal to stay away made me cringe. I get that she’s trying to protect David’s image of Sal but for the sake of their relationship, she should have been honest. Storylines work just as well when there’s honesty thrown in the mix. She’s playing a dangerous game by protecting David like that and it’s a very naive thing to do. It doesn’t matter if they end up together or not. Violet ruined the moment when she kissed David in a very anti-climactic way. It was off and weird with no lasting sentiment. Even David seemed confused as he wiped the blood from his lip.

Margo is a typical headstrong female who will play for power and be very condescending, cynical, narrow-minded, and the Shifter’s “evil” sibling. There’s nothing immediately there to like at the moment. Moving on.

Julian is a typical headstrong male who will play for power and be very condescending, cynical, narrow-minded, and the Werewolf’s “evil” sibling. There’s nothing immediately there to like at the moment. Moving on.

If there’s any chance of salvaging the cast as it is, there has to be room to make them more than one-dimensional. David is the only character who remotely fits the bill right now because he started as someone who just as easily cheated in college but then stood up and joined the family to do what he feels is right. Everyone else, bland and boring.

Another thing is, why Chicago? If the show didn’t tell me it took place in Chicago, I wouldn’t have even guessed it. Supernatural is about traveling the countryside and experiencing the culture of small towns and large. Residential and commcerial. Business and underworld. In this show. There’s going to be clubs, restaurants, clubs, mansions, clubs, more restaurants, more underground clubs, and the occasional abandoned warehouses. Chicago is a big city, but there will only be one culture identified, the creature culture. Humans are the backdrop while it’s the creatures we’ll be studying to get to know. But again, why Chicago? Can there be more important reasons than just turf wars? I’m hoping there is.

Storylines are also very much a big deal in these kind of spin-off situations. If a spin-off show lasts long enough, it generally has to make itself important or else it falls under the shadow of the parent series and never truly finds it’s ground. Buffy and Angel are a good example of this. While Angel premiered on it’s own time slot, it still relied heavily on elements of the Buffy world to maintain credibility. It didn’t take long for the show to develop its own mythos and eventually became as good, if not more so, than Buffy for one main reason and that’s building the story. How can a creature mob war realistically ever match up to Angels and Demons vying for control of Earth? This world has already experienced the wrath of Lucifer and the 4 horsemen. Shifters and Werewolves contending for property rights will be a tough sell beyond a single season. Granted these can be very interwoven personal stories, but in all fairness, a show of this plot should have been introduced before season 4. After one backdoor pilot, I am not convinced it has a lot of ground to stand on. That can change once it fits into a time slot, but for now, I’m not wholeheartedly convinced.

As a final note on this list, I wanted to say that incorporating demons and angels into this turf war would be a fantastic idea especially if they show up very rarely, but at the same time, that’s the root of my problem earlier. Bloodlines can’t always rely on elements that made Supernatural or else the series will never come into its own. Considering we’ve already gone over the history of creatures “ala Eve in Season 6” there will be very little to uncover in terms of history when those kinds of plots begin to surface. It’s an awkward place to give a show a shot after nine years and an insurmountable amount of history before now. Wouldn’t a spin-off with Charlie’s adventure in Oz be so much more fun to watch?

Overall, I’m not very impressed with this trial run. Pieces worked, but the characters are all wrong. This isn’t the kind of show that’s going to fashion a new audience. It’ll be the same audience who will have to put up with a sister-show that doesn’t have any of the real appeal that made Supernatural a fun journey to watch and ride with. In the end, a pilot sets the stage. Everything can be looked at, retooled, and formatted to fit a little better when the show officially debuts. I’m still on board to see what happens, but I remain completely skeptical with continuing this new franchise. Just imagine the Ghostfacers showing up in Chicago. How would that turn out?

 

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A Sashurai’s Review: Supernatural – Season 9×19 (Emotions can be the bane of any vampire’s existence)

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Vamp stories have an interesting place in the world of Supernatural. They never quite reach the level of demon importance and are considered a bit of a nuisance to the Winchesters, but every now and then an episode can still revolve around a very common and tragic tale in the vampire mythos. Sam and Dean play the supporting role for once as Jody, an older but enduring character on the show, drives the focal point in tonight’s episode “Alex Annie Alexis Ann”

A young woman, Alexis, is placed in a holding room inside a Nebraskan police station. Left alone, she’s confronted by Cody, a vampire who threatens her, but is quickly dispatched by Jody. Sam and Dean arrive to assist and attempt to track down the vampire’s nest. When they interrogate Alexis, they realize she’s been willingly feeding herself to them for years and a “mother” figure is leading them. Sam and Dean have Jody take Alexis to a cabin outside of town to be safe while they search for the nest.

When they do, they find a lone vampire and capture him. During their questioning the vampire reveals that Alexis lured many humans to their nest to be fed on and likely enjoyed it. Meanwhile, Alexis is stubborn and mean toward Jody until she falls asleep, After being startled awake by Jody’s continued kindness, Jody discovers the vamps have found them. They kidnap Alexis and knock Jody out. Sam and Dean find her and tell her that they intent to raid the nest but that Alexis isn’t their priority because she was a willing member of the group. Jody doesn’t care and vows to save her.

At the nest, the mother vampire apologizes to Alexis for not turning her sooner and makes the offer, which Alexis accepts for fear of disappointment and shame. When they arrive, Sam and Dean and captured by two vampires as Jody enters the basement and finds that Alex is transitioning. The mother subdues and ties Jody up, wanting Alexis to feed on Jody, but Alexis refuses. Meanwhile, the vamps bleed Sam out and reach for Dean, but Dean wakes and stabs one vampire with dead man’s blood and decapitates the other in a manner Sam sees as enjoyment. Jody surmises that Alexis was named after the mother’s former daughter who she still yearns for. This upsets the mother who attempts to bite her but is stabbed by Alexis who had a syringe of blood. Jody then kills the mother. Later, Sam questions Dean about how he appeared when killing the vamp, but Dean dismisses it as “not a crime”. Jody appears and realizes how much she still hurts over the family she lost but plans to take care of Jody however she needs. Jody and Alexis are then seen talking about their pain and understanding what both have gone through.

A self-contained story of this caliber could have been told through any monster median. Choosing the vampire was the safer bet because over the course of many years, it has the most resonance when it comes to creatures and humans struggling with what it means to be human. In this specific circumstance, the details are in the woes of family loss and motherhood coping with that loss. Jody’s plight fit very well in this tale and even more so with an opposing force or, the “mother” vampire, who tried to deny her own emotional state yet named Ann after her own daughter.

There were a lot of cues, mostly the time spent at the cabin that solidified Jody’s role as the heroine of the episode. My only questionable character was Alexis herself. Dean is usually very accurate when he dulls down the basics of villainous characters. I suppose it was easier to believe that Alexis was doomed when she was shown with blood on her lips and I even half expected she would have a gruesome fate. If there’s one thing this show has trained us on, is that struggling moral characters can still die. Luckily, that wasn’t the case and Jody has a surrogate to watch over, at least for the immediate future.

I won’t pry too hard into Dean’s enjoyment with killing the vamp. It’s simply there to keep the focus that Dean is still undergoing severe mental changes and, when pushed to violence, will act on those new tendencies as he sees fit. There are times I forget how much strength a vampire has over a human, but also remember that with Dean’s mark of Cain can come ample determination. I think “bitch” was used one too many times once Dean said it. Felt like a lazy one liner, which Sam conveniently noticed and commented on. Dean’s reference to Sam not doing the same for him when he saved him was thoughtfully appropriate. Very subtle nuances there placed to remind the viewers that several episodes ago, they truthfully stopped being brothers a short time.

Another interesting theme was how the vamps reacted to living with Alexis over the years and agonized over her teen development. It was almost comical how one of the brothers sneered and complained over Alexis’s behaviors, much as a real brother would react with a sister, yet they looked out for her. It helped put Alexis in more of a gray world that Sam and Dean couldn’t just distinguish as good or evil. They painted the picture up in a bad light, but as we age and change, we may not want the life we’ve grown to know over the course of young adulthood. And one can argue that all of Alexis’s victims were deserving of their fate even through we were only witness to one. I wouldn’t be super surprised if we saw Alexis and Jody again, but I’m not counting on it this season.

Overall, I enjoyed this stand-alone episode. It helped draw some focus away from the Demon/Angel plot and got us reacquainted with an old type of enemy as we now draw into the next episode which will be the spinoff episode “Bloodlines”. Expect a lot of new character to intrigue, entice, and possibly annoy you as they drive their fangs and claws into their place in the Supernatural universe. Will any supporting characters enlist in this new series. Who knows. In nine years, you’d think someone would be alive and willing to make the trek. I’ll stay excited. We’ll see how much of a backseat Sam and Dean play out in this war in Chicago. Stay tuned, should be fun.

 

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A Sashurai’s Review: Supernatural – Season 9×18 (Casa Erotica 1-13 were all psychological thrillers…in bed)

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A bit of nostalgic fun returns as Supernatural plays with a few nonsensical red herrings complete with a welcomed cameo and a taste of finale’s to come.

Metatron seemingly invites the audience to partake in a story he’s writing detailing events with Sam, Dean, and Castiel. After Cas discovers dead angels surrounding a symbol, he and the Winchesters track Gadriel to Ogden. Sam and Dean trap Gadriel while Castiel is reunited with Gabriel who admits he faked his own death and hid away until the fall. He wants to resume his leadership role and convinces Cas to join him. They reach a gas station and are confronted by Metatron’s angels. Gabriel attempts to suade Cas in leading the renegade angels but Cas realizes through a continuity error that Gabriel isn’t real and that his trip was a set up. He then wakes tied up in a room with Metatron who informs him that Cas will play the villain in his story that he’s writing.

Sam leaves Dean alone with Gadriel to search for Cas and encounters Metatron who agrees to a trade, Cas for Gadriel. Meanwhile, Dean suffers more from Cain’s scar and nearly kills Gadriel but stops himself as Sam arrives to explain the trade. At Cas’s hotel, they attempt to trap Metatron who feigns capture and reveals he can’t be trapped. He still follows through with the trade and looks forward to seeing what Sam, Dean, and Cas will do. Cas discovers the mark of Cain on Dean and grows worried. Gadriel momentarily questions Metatron’s plan and Cas creates the symbol he saw earlier which calls many of the renegade angels to him as he succumbs to his role as their leader.

I’ll admit, I fell for Gabriel’s return up until he and Cas began driving. Something didn’t add up with the way Gabriel left his voicemail to the Winchesters. That felt a little too strange for a happenstance reunion of the trickster archangel. Luckily, it turned out to be a ruse. I did however appreciate Gabriel’s eyebrow nod with Castiel’s questions with whether Gabriel truly survived or not. Realistically, I’m hoping no. As much as I’d enjoy more trickster goodness and savvy puns, Gabriel needed to die by Lucifer’s hands and stay dead. That would be a 4 1/2 year let down otherwise and I’m certain some fans wouldn’t like the retcon regardless if it brought him back or not.

I’m also hoping I understood the reference correctly with Metatron burning one of Chuck’s books. I know for eons there’s still the theory that Chuck “could” be God, even though I’m fairly certain that’s been unofficially debunked. Metatron still referenced God being a “first draft” kind of character. There’s dramatic irony in there but the main thing I take away from this is that Metatron burns a story that happened and prepares to write his own. Even if Chuck was more than he seems, Metatron wants to own the story and write it to his advantage. Does this mean the angel tablet indeed has given him super dominion over the plot of the show? It’s interesting to think about. Metatron prefers to think of stories as what drives us, humans and supernatural alike. He understands rewrites and uses several writing terms to explain parts of the plot to Cas. He also infused Cas with all his movie and book knowledge, which I hope comes in handy in future episodes with Cas’s awkward reactions to pop culture of the past and present.

The mark of Cain was left a bit in the dust in this episode. Keeping it attached on Dean’s radar is fine, but removing the moment when Dean chooses to not kill Gadriel…again, but the wrong move. It would have made more sense if the whole scene centered around Dean feeling like he needed to kill Gadriel because of the mark and not after the fact. For beat purposes I get the pacing of the episode as Sam needed a chance to drive back and find Dean in his bloodied position, but leaving that scene out felt rushed and unnecessary. I hold no love for Gadriel and even though it seems Gadriel may be on some cusp with questioning Metatron’s plan, it still doesn’t matter. He crossed the brothers and won’t be trusted ever again. Even Cas’s discovery of the mark was barely handled with nothing more than a vague warning to Sam to “keep an eye on him” If Cas knows the destructive capability of the mark and got upset when he found out, he should be doing a lot more than just giving idle warnings. Maybe he doesn’t know truly what will happen to Dean but it felt very shoehorned in for this episode.

Still no demon/angel crossover plot yet. I’m beginning to feel like Supernatural is divided between two shows. The Winchesters are surrounded by many enemies but the real fight between Angel and Demon has yet to begin. I’m just hoping it still does at this point. I don’t want to see separate resolutions without some kind of epic battle between the two. Maybe it’s a season ten thing, I’m not sure. That sure feels like it would be dragging a bit. Abaddon and Metatron need to have a few serious scenes together, I’m sure they’d steal the entire episode if they did.

Overall, I enjoyed the direction “Meta Fiction” went. It wasn’t too over the top with pop-culture puns, or dense full of self title references. One can never tell where Metatron’s “meta” schtick starts and stops, but throwing in Gabriel for a few moments was a positive and proved to show that the show hasn’t forgotten one of the better angels of the series. Only one episode remains before “Bloodlines” begins. Who will appear? Who will steal the show? How connected will Sam and Dean be in the beginning, if at all? Lot’s of questions coming our way. Stay tuned for the next installments.

 

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A Sashurai’s Review: Supernatural – Season 9×17 (Harsh punishment for any who complain about repeat meatloaf night)

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Abaddon’s possession of Josie is explained as Sam investigates a series of murders and attacks by a random group of residents in Milton, Illinois. Meanwhile, Crowley manipulates Dean into giving into his quest with hunting Abaddon regardless of the consequences. Sam discovers through an older woman, Julia, that in 1958, Henry and Josie investigated a church filled with demons and encountered Abaddon who knocks Henry out and plans to take him over. Josie offers herself instead and Abaddon possesses her with plans to study the Men of Letters group. In the present, Sam searches the old church and finds a demon who was instructed by Abaddon to steal souls and transform them into demons that will be loyal to Abaddon when she decides to take over Hell. Sam stops the demon and returns the souls to their human bodies. Afterwards, he returns to Dean and admits that they need to find Abaddon as soon as possible.

To begin, this was a very well rounded episode. This time, it was Dean’s turn to shy away from explanation and fear, even giving into more drink than usual. It makes sense that he’s entirely too hesitant to tell Sam what he’s going through, which spells an obvious disaster segment soon to follow. Crowley plays to his strengths and subtlety sways Dean to a stronger cause to find and kill Abaddon. The structure hear is that Crowley wants Dean to embrace what the mark of Cain is doing to him. It will make it easier for Dean to do what he needs to do, and with consequences not an issue, it stands to reason that Sam will be very caught in the middle of this mental struggle soon enough.

It seems that Crowley is making sure he has a sure bet with Dean as his only true weapon against Abaddon and her quietly growing army. I didn’t think Crowley’s “embracing” his addiction line was very useful. Since we didn’t see Crowley reaction, we have no way of knowing if he’s really playing it cool or if he’s really still suffering inside. One would think if he keeps injecting human blood into his body he’ll eventually begin to change, but that doesn’t seem to be the long term goal here. Maybe Crowley is doing less evil things, but his mannerisms and attitude suggest he’s the same old Crowley. Perhaps a selfless act is in order to show us what’s really happening to him.

It was good to see Sam on his own battling the case. He’s still proving to be resourceful, inquisitive, and clever especially with the phone carrying a chant to expel the demon. Although, I swear the chant changes all the time, both in words and length. It brings up an interesting subject on how human vocals play a part in the expulsion of demons. If all it takes is a recording of the incantation, there could be smarter ways to combat demons without relying on their own vocals to perform it. How close does the demon need to be to be affected by the words? Can Sam and Dean simply play the incantation over a bunch of radio broadcasts or TV news channels and expel demons that way? Or was this simply a one off situation?

Josie and Henry’s moments leading up to Abaddon’s slaughter of the Men of Letters was insightful. It showed us Josie’s human side before being taken over and even a bit of sadness with finding out that Henry wasn’t “in love” with her. All of Henry’s hope for the future will be crushed and we all know it and can do nothing except accept the inevitable. Will there be a chance to return Josie to normal if Abaddon is stopped? I’m not counting on it, but it would be interesting to see another character out of time returned.

Also a nice throwback to Sam’s soulless state back in season six. After nine seasons, those brothers have experienced a few mountains of chaotic events including a run with soulless Sam. Random flashback, or strategically placed reminder?

As far as supporting characters go for singular episode arcs, Julia was a bit of a tragic person. Fear and shame can have a lasting effect on a person and in her case there was little she could do on the matter even after the situation was resolved. It goes to show that even if characters survive, they may continue to suffer from their choices that haunt them.

Overall, it was an enjoyable episode. Dean’s slippage and reminder of Magnus saying he’ll begin to like what using the blade did to him will only grow exponentially leaving Sam an unwilling target. Crowley’s addiction is left ambiguous, but I’m hoping there’s still room to showcase a positive change in his behavior. Maybe we’ve been seeing it all this time and don’t fully understand it. Sam is showing that he understands the need to destroy Abaddon which leaves their situation a bit more enlightened. Will they actively search the other factories to stop Abaddon’s minions from creating her army? There’s been little development with the angel-plot, which I imagine is time to reinsert into the big picture. In a way Castiel and Crowley are physical representation of Dean’s angel and devil on the shoulders. Both trying to convince him with what he should do. I realize Cas hasn’t made much of an impact in that regard, but I think there’s fragments of that concept floating about. Bit of a break coming up, so we’ll return on April 15th. Two more episodes until “Tribes”.

 

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