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SPN 8.01 - We Need to Talk About Kevin

WOW! Time flies. It's been so long since I've posted anything regarding Supernatural. Last Wednesday night, I caught the show's season premier. I was very excited about where the story is going this time and wanted to jot down my thoughts right away. Alas, my best laid plan was interrupted by RL. Nonetheless, here's what made me so happy:

My foremost thought was: "Oh my friggin' god! Finally Dean has a story line!" Seriously, I was disheartened by the glaring lack thereof last season. Sure, there was the time travel episode where Dean got to dress in spiffy 1940s garbs, accessorized with a Tommy Gun, and paired with a cool sidekick; but that was an one-off standalone episode; and for the rest of the time, Dean was very much relegated to the role of reflecting and reacting to what was going on with the other characters. When the development of the main reason that attracted me to the show got stale and insipid, I felt the show was getting old fast.

Thankfully season 8 started under a new show-runner--the returning veteran SPN writer Jeremy Carver. Right away, Dean returned with a bang! Or shall I say, in bright light, literally. I find the glimpses of Dean's time in and post Purgatory equally compelling. The shallowness in me couldn't help gushing at the way Dean's prettiness dirtied by blood, sweat, and mud. I must say Jensen Ackles has an uncanny ability for portraying badassery and vulnerability all at once. He also has great chemistry with any co-star he shares screen with. I once read someone commented to the extent that he probably will have chemistry with a potted plant. Jokes aside, I don't think that comment is too far off actually. In this case, Dean's chemistry with Benny lends credence to their relationship and made this new character interesting. Of course, Ty Olsson did a terrific job portraying the vampire, allowing glimpse of layers in the characterization. The funny thing is I only recognized the actor as "Captain Kelly" from Battlestar Galactica. It wasn't until I read others' comments that I found out he actually portrayed another vampire Eli on the show earlier. I had zero memory of that character. I must've not paid any attention to him back then. How could the same actor draw such contrasting impressions? The obvious explanation is the way the characters were written. But I couldn't help wondering if the fact Eli never shared any interaction with Dean had anything to do with it also. Correction: I dugged out my season 2 videos and verified that Dean did have a "blink and you will miss" scene with Eli, it's just not very meaningful.

I love the symmetry of the hugs Dean gave Benny and Sam even though I can see some fans might object to the difference Dean reacted in these hugs, or the fact Dean hugged Benny the vampire at all. Correct me if I'm wrong, Dean was never comfortable at hugging anyone other than members of his family or extended family. So the full bodied contact with Benny here effectively demonstrated the camaraderie between the two. How did Dean come to regard the thing he hunted with vigor as "brother"? I'm intrigued. The breathtaking smile Dean flashed at the end of the hug is a testament to the pure joy he had for making out of Purgatory. In contrast, Dean looked so lost and hurt for a brief moment when he hugged Sam. This gave hints to the hardship Dean endured in the past year, and foreshadowed the struggle he would have in accepting the choices Sam made while Dean was stuck in a nether world. On a side note, I love the scene of Dean awkwardly staring at rows of snacks in a vending machine just before a flashback, and the scene in which Dean sat on the floor of the motel room despite much more comfortable seating options readily available. Both of these little details are evidence of Dean's current discomfort with topside's civil world. I really like the idea of Dean having difficulty readjusting to life in normalcy.

Speaking of Sam's choices, while it is true that I've struggled with staying engaged in the Sam-centric direction the show has taken for the past two seasons, and I may have lost interest in the character on its own (I may write a separate post to explain this later), I have to say that I don't buy it that Sam never looked for Dean after Dean vanished without a trace right in front of his eyes. Nope, not even a bit that I can believe Sam willingly abandoned his brother to his own fate. I think there is a story there that's more than what met the eyes. For example, who was that shadowy figure lurking outside of the house Sam shared with his ex-girlfriend? Did Sam know he was under mysterious surveillance? Did that have anything to do with Sam quit hunting? Also I don't think we ever got verbal confirmation from Sam that he didn't search high and low for Dean, did we? I think we all assumed, including Dean, that that was the case from Sam's silence and expression, but what was Sam not saying? Sam may have gone civilian for awhile, but I'm happy to see that synchronicity between the brothers was still there when called upon during the scene where Dean killed the Demon after Sam slipped him the knife. Whatever divergent paths the boys are thrown into, Dean and Sam will always come together in the end.

There was an element in the episode that I had problem with though. I really didn't like the way Sam's (ex)girlfriend was introduced. I find the vet annoyingly judgmental and unprofessional. She also appeared quite manipulative based on the way she guilt tripped Sam, whom she barely met and knew nothing about, to take in the dog. None of these traits endeared the character to me, and made me wonder why Carver wrote her like that? If it did turn out Sam gave up on Dean to settle in a life with the vet and the dog, at least the writer should write the girl less irritating, I would think.

Look wise, I think they did a good job at showing Purgatory. I like the color-splash like scenes where everything except leaves are shown in almost black and white. This in a way befits Dean's fascinating take on the place as being "pure". I can imagine there weren't many choices down there: hunt or being hunted, nothing else in between.

Soundtrack wise, I think Styx's "Man in the Wilderness" was an excellent choice when they showed Dean come back from Purgatory. No, I knew nothing of the song before this, and I have since downloaded it from iTune. If nothing else, Supernatural certainly expanded my music listening experience.

All in all, this is a satisfactory first episode of the season. I am now stoked. I can't wait to watch another new episode tonight!

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
corbyinoz
Oct. 11th, 2012 07:40 am (UTC)
'I must say Jensen Ackles has an uncanny ability for portraying badassery and vulnerability all at once.'

YES!!! And it's the single most important factor for me when falling hard and heavy for a male character. I can't cope with the emo, whiny types; I can't cope with the macho, Stallone/ Willis/ Schwarzenegger - you know what I mean - type. But someone who is strong, and competent, and tough but *also* vulnerable - slays me. Gone. Done. And Dean has got that field covered, thanks to Jensen's portrayal. He manages to convey that inner life, that doubt amidst the fierce protectiveness, that brings both into sharp relief. Not many can do it effectively. He does. He's gold. I just wonder when movie makers will realise?

And I completely agree with everything else you've written here. I, too, didn't know the Styx song, but it was perfect.

Off to watch tonight's episode, after I cook dinner (barramundi) and put Small One to bed.
xwacky
Oct. 12th, 2012 04:57 am (UTC)
IKR?! Me too. I really can't stand whiny emo types. I can tolerate or even appreciate when the emo is over the conflict between one's sense of honor and whatever awful things he had to do to get the job done; but I can't abide those "my life sucks (because I'm aggrieved by...<insert whatever unjust done to him>...)" whiners.

I too love Dean because he is a multi-layered complex character. But I think that complexity didn't just come from the writers. Privately I've always thought Kripke so lucky to have Jensen playing Dean Winchester because on paper, this character could easily come off formulaic and two dimensional. But Jensen has breathed life into Dean, gave him not only soldier like toughness, but a heart too. :)

I had to look up what is barramundi. I love all kinds of fish! Currently I'm on a kick for branzini (or bronzini), which also a type of seabass. Yum! Your dinner sounds delicious! *g*


Edited at 2012-10-12 04:59 am (UTC)
layne67
Oct. 11th, 2012 08:42 am (UTC)
Totally agree with what you said on Jensen having chemistry with anyone and anything. Lol I guess that's why the Impala became almost human in the show as well as the amulet and the leather jacket. That was all Jensen rubbing off on them!
xwacky
Oct. 12th, 2012 05:01 am (UTC)
LOL! You are quite right. ;)


God, I know the leather jacket is a lost cause, but I want to see the amulet make a come back so bad!
(Anonymous)
Oct. 12th, 2012 12:31 am (UTC)
X!!!!!!! It's been a long time! I always love reading your insights to this (and other ;) ) shows. I agree with everything you said here. I am looking forward to this season and hope it doesn't disappoint. I am also looking forward to your takes on the episodes!!!

Have a great day!!!
mick
xwacky
Oct. 12th, 2012 05:12 am (UTC)
Mick! ((((((HUGS))))))

It's been a long time indeed. I got a lot busy with work, plus the past two seasons didn't inspire me much, so I kinda stay hidden in my corner. ;)

I miss trading thoughts with you on the shows we watch though. It's always so much fun because we seem to always share similar taste on characters and plots, etc.

In my spare time, I wondered if you still watch SPN because I felt so meh about last season. I'm so glad Carver is now taking over the helm. I too hope the season won't disappoint. But at the very least, Dean got a story arc under him, and it looks pretty awesome so far. *g*
(Anonymous)
Oct. 12th, 2012 02:34 pm (UTC)
n my spare time, I wondered if you still watch SPN because I felt so meh about last season.

I had to LOL at this--I didn't really watch the last 2 seasons faithfully! I would see some episodes that looked interesting (like the time travel episode), but I was so over the whole "something is wrong with Sam--again!" thing, that I missed quite a bit of the show! I didn't buy the DVD's for the last two seasons, either. I got to where I would record each episode and then read reviews on-line to see if I thought it was something I wanted to see.

So far, I've liked what I've seen for this season. Hopefully that will continue!!!

mick
xwacky
Oct. 15th, 2012 08:00 pm (UTC)
LOL! I watched 95% of season 7 on recording and made used of Fast Forward button a lot. Sometimes I FF through an entire episode just to catch glimpses of Dean's reactions. For example, that awful "Season 7 Time for a Wedding" episode, Dean's numerous facial expressions, especially when Sam declared Becky as his soulmate cracked me up!

Alas, I know exactly what you mean. I've been doing some rewatching of the past seasons because I was so bored with season 7. As far as Sam went, with the exception of the shortened season 3, I feel for the most part, the character was either being whiny or he was really fragile. By season 7, I was getting really tired of the "something is wrong with Sam" trope. Besides I think the writer did a terrible job with the whole "Sam's time in the Pit and aftermath" storyline.

For me, the issue started with the characterization of Lucifer. In my opinion, the writers really didn't know what to do with him. I feel they couldn't make up their mind to make the character pure evil like what they did with Alastair, or to make him somewhat sympathetic to the audience. By the time Lucifer went down in "Swan Song", he resembled nothing but a bratty juvenile with power to threw an apocalyptic tantrum because he didn't get Daddy, or Daddy didn't get him. Imagine Sam locked up with him and the dour Michael alone, I just couldn't feel him suffering the bone chilling, soul crushing tortures like those Dean experienced in the hands of Alastair.
i_o_r_h_a_e_l
Oct. 12th, 2012 01:58 pm (UTC)
Your opinion about Sam not looking for Dean is exactly the same as mine. Though I don't know if I'm going to get the answer for that or no, knowing SPN writers. Heh.

Talking about Dean's chemistry with anyone/anything, I have to say that he never has chemistry with any girls that are supposed to have romantic relationship with him. But once it's just a girl/woman, everything is okaaay. Heheh. You can have different opinion about this, though. :)

Btw, I have to confess something about Sam. I think I'm totally like you meaning that we're only interested in Dean, who cares about others. Is that right? I couldn't care less about Sam and however his character is written. In the beginning of the series I found it terribly boring every time an ep is a Sam-centric one, so I really didn't like AHBL 1 at that time. But now since Castiel showed up, I guess Sam is such a lesser evil. Now I want Dean 'and' Sam, and I will hate episodes that have Castiel in them. Therefore I don't really like 8-02 or perhaps I just skip Castiel's part. Huh. Who does he think he is? When will he realize in Dean's life there is no one but Sam. :P

By the way, you're not Castiel lover, right? :)
xwacky
Oct. 15th, 2012 08:51 pm (UTC)
Mmmm, I do beg to differ in regard to Jensen's chemistry with female actors. In Supernatural alone, I think Dean had great chemistry with Bella. He also had loads of chemistry with Lisa. Not that I ship the pair, but I recognize that pair was set up for failure, and in that framework, the chemistry between them was the only thing that made me sad when Dean had to let her go. Dean had an unique relationship with Jo too. But IMO Alona Tal being a young actress, lacked gravitas next to Jensen, so to that end, Jo's relationship with Dean was too much of a one-sided little girl hero worshiping/crushing on Dean. I should also mention that (the "Titanic Hand" at the end of the scene notwithstanding) Dean's sex scene with Anna at the back of the Impala was my all time favorite sex scenes on the show so far! ;p

I do not ship Dean and Castiel, and I abhor the moniker "Destiel" -- it's too much like "Diestel", which is a brand of turkey we have here in California. Sam and Dean are still and always will be my OTP, despite me not really care for Sam right now.

With that being said, relationships on a show always take second place after individual characters in my regard. In other words, what matters to me are always going to be the characters' development that have me glued to the show. In the case of Supernatural, it's solely Dean Winchester at the moment. I liked Castiel fine when he didn't take the center stage of a story. I don't find the character himself too interesting. But I like the angst Castiel, or rather his fate wrought on Dean's conscience (shown in 8.02).
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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