I'll begin by stating I had high expectations for this episode: Mid-Season Finale, the exciting promo, the ominous title, the whole nine yards. By the end of the ep, I was a little disappointed and underwhelmed. Not to say I didn't enjoy it, but the hype didn't live up to the expectations. And even looking back and comparing it to other Mid-Season Finales, all I can think of this one was, "That's it???".
But anyway...let's get to the review.
Ah, so the images of Dean from the promo all bloody with the dead bodies was indeed from a nightmare. I knew it! Love the shaky breaths when Dean wakes up. Jensen's gotten even better at that since the hell nightmares from Season 4. ;) Oh, and black t-shirt FTW! *guh*
We get to see Claire again...a bit more grown up. Now a rebellious, trouble-making teenager put into the isolation room of a group home after shoplifting. She's a bit frustrated...
Cas somehow found out where Claire was. Awesome, awesome job on the casting, btw. That blend from the younger Claire to this one was pretty seamless. She's not happy to see Castiel. Oh...Jimmy's gone...has been since Cas blew up in Season 4...or was it 5? Cas just wants to help Claire because he's hurt her so much. Turns out her mom just took off to go find herself. Geez.
So he tries to take custody of Claire....and the meeting is awkward, to say the least. Cas isn't very convincing as the long-missing father who works as an...exterminator. LOL Love the switch to a higher-pitched voice. Hee! Custody is denied.
OMG Dean's watching the Three Stooges. I've said it before...what the hell is with guys and the Stooges??? I don't get it. :P But I do love hearing him laugh like that because it's been far too long. The problem is...we know Dean's normally not this happy, which can only mean he's using it as a cover. Thing is...Sam's seeing that, too. Awwww...and Sam made Dean a grilled cheese sandwich. Mmmmm....Dean dives right in.
Sam: You want some alone time with that thing?
Don't disturb Dean in his food orgy, Sam. :P
And Sam spies the Mark on Dean's arm before finally joining in on the laughter with his brother.
Not terribly surprising that Cas busts Claire out of the group home.
In hell, Rowena gets a new cell-mate...and tries to talk Gerald into letting her talk to her son. It falls on deaf ears.
Cas and Claire are at a restaurant. Yeah, dude, ketchup's totally a vegetable. :P She points out that Cas has changed - less stuck up and more a "doof".
Castiel: Before, I was very self-assured. I was convinced I was on this righteous path. Now I realize that there is no righteous path, it's just people trying to do their best in a world where it's far too easy to do your worst.
She's starting to warm up to him, but she wants nothing else from Cas, but he tries to convince her they should stay together. Yeah, Cas...."I have to pee" is teenage for I'm-gonna-ditch-you. And she just grabbed his car keys. So cute how he tries to buy her some things...like he knows what a teenage girl wants. LOL Ooops! Claire actually stole his wallet. He spots her outside, but she gets in somebody's car before he can stop her. Wait, why didn't she steal his car keys? I mean, how did they get to the restaurant? She could have easily just taken his car. Oh, well....
Oooh, Sharkey's restaurant! A real location to find! :D
Of course, Cas called the boys, but Dean's not convinced this is a real emergency.
Dean: An emergency is a dead body, okay? Or - or - or a wigged out angel or the apocalypse, take 3. Some chick bolting on you is not an emergency. That's...That's every Friday night for Sam.
Heehee! Sam's not happy about that. But Cas insists that he's responsible for her so the boys stick around: Sam to go question people at the group home and Dean to hang out at the restaurant with Cas.
Castiel: Is ketchup a vegetable?
Dean: Hell, yes.
Love the sneaky look around the restaurant before Dean snatches Cas's hamburger. :P Cas laments that he's helped some people, but hurt some as well.
Dean: So you're having a mid-life crisis?
Castiel: Well, I'm extremely old. I think I'm entitled.
Dean: Cas, listen to me. There's some stuff you just gotta let go. Okay? The people you let down, the ones you can't save...You gotta forget about'em, for your own good.
Castiel: Is that what you do?
Dean: That's the opposite of what I do. But...I ain't exactly a role model.
Castiel: That's not true.
Dean: [Chuckles] Yeah.
I love the look of pure admiration Cas has on his face here when he looks at Dean. Like he's looking at a true, dear friend who he really does look up to. Then he asks Dean how he's doing and of course, Dean says he's great, but Cas can see right through it "No, you're not." Dean says he's no longer a demon, which is a plus, but he's still got the Mark. Cas asks about it effecting Dean and he has flashbacks to his nightmare.
Dean: Cas, I need you to promise me something.
Castiel: Of course.
Dean: If I do go dark side, you gotta take me out.
Castiel: What do you mean?
Dean: Knife me, smite me, throw me into the freakin' sun. Whatever. And don't let Sam get in the way, because he'll try. I can't go down that road again, man. I can't be that thing again.
Yeah, like killing Dean is going to be easy for Cas...
Back in Hell, Rowena and her cell-mate are chatting. Turns out the gal got smuggled up topside when she wasn't on the list to be up there. Rowena was a horrible mother.
Crowley: Did I tell you the time she almost traded me for three pigs? Three! I was an attractive child. I could juggle. I was worth five pigs at least.
Heehee! Priceless writing there. :)
And Crowley hates his name, too...Fergus. "Sounds like a venereal disease, and not the fun kind."
Gerald figures why not kill mom, since Crowley hates her so much, but the King of Hell has plans. Hmmm....
Yay! Another kid from the Wiener Hut! Nice to see that used again. :)
So Dustin and Claire are living with a guy named Randy...and he needs money. A loan shark is coming for his cash, tonight. The boys and Cas are waiting for Dustin when he reports for work at the Wiener Hut to get info. on Claire. Of course, Dean's eating again. lol
Turns out Claire is about to rob a Gas N' Sip at gunpoint. Luckily, Cas stops her just in time and drags her into the alley where she sees Sam & Dean again. Love the boys just leaning against the Impala's hood like that. :)
Dean: Whoa. Hey, Miley Cyrus, settle.
Claire: Eat me, Hasselhoff.
Remember in 2x21 when Sam showed Andy the gas receipt with "D. Hasselhoff" on it where Dean had signed it so Andy could send a psychic message? I love little call-backs like that!
Cas tries to talk reason with Claire, but it's not working and she points the gun at him and then the boys. She blames them for her dad's death as much as Castiel, "You stood there while this monster took my dad." She says she used to pray to Cas to bring her dad back and that he's not sorry, he's just guilty. They try to talk her out of going back to Randy, but she says he took care of her when no one else would "He's my family."
In hell, Crowley's agreed to see Rowena. They go over old times...like her saying he'd wind up in a gutter in his own sick. She was only trying to motivate him to aim higher, which clearly he has. She asks how he did die and his face falls. Doesn't wanna own up to that demon deal, I guess. Apparently she took off on him when he was 8 years old. A disagreement with the locals and she had to disappear...for hundreds of years. He doesn't even know who his father was because he was conceived during a winter solstice orgy and Rowena wasn't taking names. Heh. She tells him that he can trust her because they're blood, family...not like his supposed family of demons who would stab him in the back if they could. She approaches him and he rejects her touch to his face, but not the kiss she gives on his forehead. It's kind of sweet, but then Martin Denny's "Quiet Village" starts playing and it seems more like a kiss from a devil than a kindly mother. Great music cue!
Boys at a Tiki bar!!!! Great set by Jerry Wanek. :)
Cas is sad over letting Claire down and losing her, but the boys try to console him and say there's nothing much he can do. Then they get to talking about fathers and how Cas never knew his and he asks Dean if he loved his father. Dean answers, "With everything I had." Sam says he loved John, too, but it wasn't always easy. Dean admits John wouldn't win any Father-of-the-year awards, but he was there when they needed him.
Then the boys get to telling Cas about when they went to New York with their dad. John didn't like that city: too big, too busy, and he hated the Yankees...but after the boys bugged him, they did a whole day seeing the sights and eating too much pizza. Then underage Dean snuck out to CBGB and got totally drunk (first time) and wasted on whatever was in the drinks. Love Sam's perplexed face when Cas says he knows what that place is. :P Then John busted into the joint, yelling Dean's name and the place went all quiet and a dude with a "kill everything" tattoo told John, "Sorry, sir." Heh. "John friggin' Winchester" indeed. :)
John saved Dean that night and of course Dean was furious about his dad embarrassing him and told him he hated him. John turned to Dean and said, "Son, you don't like me? That's fine. It's not my job to be liked. It's my job to raise you right." I LOVE how Dean tells most of the story, but Sam fills in things here and there, including that quote from John. You can see the respect in each of the guys' faces for their old man. It's nice to see that...especially from Sam, knowing how much the two of them butted heads over the years.
Castiel: Do you think Claire is in trouble.
Dean: She's hanging out with a guy named Randy. She's in trouble.
The loan shark & his goons have showed up at Randy's place by the time Claire returns. Turns out Randy's been playing the ponies and owes $5,000. He'll give Randy a break if he hands Claire over. Randy pulls the family card, but this guy sees right through it. "I know the con, alright? You find some kid with major league daddy issues, and then you get her to steal for you. Cut the proud papa act." And of course Randy gives her up...
Rowena is tossed back into the cell, but she spills that she knows who's been smuggling demons up from hell...it's Gerald. He doesn't take too kindly to that and starts choking Rowena. But Crowley kills him...nice stab through the mouth! He then invites mom to come along....hmmmm.
Oh, man....this is not good for Claire. :( Good on her for fighting back though. Then Cas and the boys show up! And poor Claire can be heard screaming upstairs...Cas saves her, but she gives the jerk some nasty kicks of her own before Cas stops her. There's still 2 guys with Randy when Dean orders Sam and Cas to get Claire out of the house. Dean stays behind...uh, oh. Then the lead guy smashes a bottle on Dean's head. Ouch! The Mark kicks in...oh, now you've done it.
Dean: You guys don't wanna do this.
The others get out to the car and then hear fighting from the house. It all turns beautifully to slow motion as Sam turns to look back. And we see Dean kneeling on the floor, knife in hand, very much as we saw him in the nightmare, but with different dead bodies all around....now it's Randy and the goons. And instead of a lost look on Dean's face it's dark...the killer is back. He doesn't snap out of it until he hears Claire scream and Sam say his name. Sam puts down his gun and holds Dean's face in his hands. OMG Hold me now!
Sam: Tell me you had to do this.
Dean: I did...I didn't mean to.
Sam: No. Tell me it was them or you!
Dean can't even answer Sam...can't even look into his brother's eyes at first. And Sam is just so upset and Cas is horrified. Wow. And this was some swift killing, too. There are 5 guys total, the room is a mess...the Mark must be giving Dean some super speed as well.
Okay, on second viewing I will admit the ending works a bit better. It is a very intense and powerful scene and a great way to end things for the hiatus. However...it's no cliff hanger. "Croatoan", now there was a cliffy! I remember trying to speculate what John told Dean about Sam for weeks! But I digress...
A strong ep, and I think they wove the 3 story lines together very well. I never felt we were stuck with one too long. It did feel a little light on the brothers, but again, after the second viewing even that seems to effect me less.
*** Wonder what Crowley has in plan for his mom? Can he trust her? Probably not.
*** Seems like Claire might finally be willing to let Cas help her, but what does he expect to do? He can't give her dad back and he has no experience in being a father. I'm wondering where they're headed with this since Cas can't give up his host like Hannah did.
*** I must admit I'm a little disappointed in Sam in that final scene. He knew something was up with Dean. He saw the signs, even if he didn't voice them much. Despite Dean telling him to leave the house, Sam shouldn't have left him alone. Sure, he probably thought Dean was right behind him, but he got in the friggin' car! Shouldn't Sam have hesitated, even just stood by the car and waited for Dean? And what about the safety factor - even though Dean was armed, so were those goons and yet Sam left his brother to face those 4 guys alone? What about backing Dean up? If Sam had been there he could have stopped the one dude from hitting Dean with the bottle, which set everything off. Though you gotta wonder...why just a bottle? Why now, after the previous fights Dean's been in? Anyway...just saying that the set up was a little convenient? Poor, even? Probably would have made more sense to have that lead dude sneak up and lock the door behind Sam, keeping him out, then hit Dean with the bottle. Then Sam would have to fight to get back in there and it wouldn't seem like he dropped the ball on keeping an eye on his brother. //My two cents//
*** It was so nice to hear the boys talk about John after such a long time. And it was a positive, loving story. Sadly, the show has not been too kind to John's character over the years and since we have to take what they present to us, it's tainted my view of him. I don't want to dislike John, but I haven't been too happy with the way he treated his boys ("Faith" & "Home" for starters, anyone?). So this story went a long way in restoring some of my faith in him as a parent. It's good that the boys respect and love their dad, despite what he had to do sometimes.
Edit: I can't believe I forgot to talk about Dean.
*** As for Dean...oh, my precious Dean. So lost at the beginning of the ep and so devastated by the end. I think it's safe to say that the Mark has taken over again. Whatever Dean was trying to do to keep it at bay is no longer working...if it ever was. Seems like the Mark didn't really need a specific trigger, but simply time to re-activate? Because Dean's been in violent situations prior to this and since being demon-cured and he didn't Hulk out like this. So what happens now? Will Sam have to lock Dean up in the bunker again? Somehow they're going to have to figure a way to dispose of the Mark...without killing Dean preferably. But how far down the road to dark side will Dean end up going until then? *worries*
Hiatus until January 20th everyone.